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Comment Re:I wonder if NOVA got it right. (Score 1) 116

BTW, for those of you outside the US, the above video link won't work.

I have a friend in Canada who, at least in the recent past with some alternate PBS shows, has been able to view video directly from the PBS site. So ... Canadians may at least want to give that link a try. (And I'd be interested to hear if it does end up working for anyone there.)

Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

I don't see how that can work at all.

My initial reaction is to agree with you, but an optimist's response would probably be something like, "Is that a reason to not even try?"

And as soon as I start to think that way, I consider just -- as you suggest -- managing to get cities assembled into their own intranets (not even necessarily connected with one another). Would that not be some type of victory?

And who's to say that, if that were to happen, some corporation or conglomeration of non-profits wouldn't come along and donate "dark fibre/fiber" to connect some of those cities with each other for the good of human-kind?

Or that after setting up city intranets, someone discovers a way to send data using pulsed streams of neutrinos, and that that technology is found to be economically viable enough that it can be used for connecting at least the largest of those city intranets?

Who can predict the future? And seriously ... is there a reason to not even try?

Comment Re:And let's just clarify a few things. (Score 5, Informative) 609


Air marshal leaves plane after dropping bullets

Passenger Finds Loaded Ammunition Clip on Southwest Flight

US air marshal leaves gun in airport restroom

Air Marshal Causes International Incident

Air Marshal Accused of Rape at Gunpoint

Marshals Fight Battle in Air and on Ground

From that last article:

"How would you describe the management in the air marshal service?" CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian asked a current air marshal.

"Sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-disabled vet group, grossly incompetent," said the marshal, whose identity was concealed. "That's the general consensus among air marshals."

Nearly two dozen current or former marshals have told CBS News the agency is dominated by an "old boys club" of white, male supervisors -- mainly ex-secret service agents who, they allege, routinely discriminate, intimidate and retaliate against employees who question their actions or authority.

"This behavior has just spread like a cancer and it's out of control," the marshal said.

Well ... it sounds like you called it right: ridiculous.

Comment Re:News For Nerds (Score 0, Offtopic) 290

If it's any consolation I don't think it's just Slashdot. A general-topic discussion site I heard about here on Slashdot years and years ago is It used to be a truly excellent place for really thought-provoking discussions. I think things have slowed down simply due to dwindling participation. Maybe that's at the core of the changes you see in Slashdot -- the prime contributors are finding they've got less and less "free" time to contribute to online discussion forums?

Comment Welcome to Earth (Score 2, Insightful) 444

I'm disappointed it's a negative reaction that actually prompted me to log in for the first time in a over a year, but this story is crazy. The whole idea is crazy. Not because of technological limitations, but because we don't have a prayer of paying for it.

A few days ago, copponex wrote:

"America is basically like a 7-11 that's about to go under. The shelves are barely stocked, the sign has been broken for months, and nobody really gives a shit because they've been watching the boss raid the cash drawer for years."

I want to believe NASA could pull this off -- and by 2025 -- but I think it's tragically unrealistic from a financial perspective.

Submission + - The NSA wiretapping story nobody wanted (

CWmike writes: "They sometimes call national security the third rail of politics. Touch it and, politically, you're dead. The cliché doesn't seem far off the mark after reading Mark Klein's new book, "Wiring up the Big Brother Machine ... and Fighting It." It's an account of his experiences as the whistleblower who exposed a secret room at a Folsom Street facility in San Francisco that was apparently used to monitor the Internet communications of ordinary Americans. Amazingly, however, nobody wanted to hear his story. In his book he talks about meetings with reporters and privacy groups that went nowhere until a fateful January 20, 2006, meeting with Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Bankston was preparing a lawsuit that he hoped would put a stop to the wiretap program, and Klein was just the kind of witness the EFF was looking for. He spoke with Robert McMillan for an interview."

Submission + - Neighbourhood Cable Co. ? 1

An anonymous reader writes: With the US deadline for transition to over the air digital TV and Canada not far behind, everyone is buying antennas and amplifiers to receive the best signal possible. Being that I live in a house and have a 50ft tower for ham radio, I had an idea. Since I have no problem receiving distant stations but none of my neighbours have such a beast, why can't we some how share what channels I receive? Running coax isn't an option and kinda defeats another goal of being open to everyone. Privacy is also of utmost importance so slingboxes probably wouldn't work too well for this.

I have a few ideas about how it can be done and one I'm leaning toward is sharing over a mesh type network (ala wifi) via multicast to anyone who can hear. Obviously that presents some issues of its own. Ideal would be something small and embedded I could mount on the tower or a single box with multiple dual tuner cards in it.

Having two tier service by running cat5 or fiber is possible (their cost to run the cable) as well but there should still be an open way to watch over wifi. I'm not looking to make a profit off it though.

So what are some other possibilities to consider? Has anyone else tried this? In trailer parks or apartment buildings for example?

Comment Re:Cute robot (Score 5, Interesting) 197

Your post reminds me a little of the "Postal Experiments" that I remember reading about amongst some comments here on Slashdot nearly 10 years ago:

We sent a variety of unpackaged items to U.S. destinations, appropriately stamped for weight and size, as well as a few items packaged as noted. We sent items that loosely fit into the following general categories: valuable, sentimental, unwieldy, pointless, potentially suspicious, and disgusting.

It's tough to say what my personal favorite was, but I think the helium-filled balloon at least deserves special mention. :-)

Comment Re:Why number pads? (Score 5, Informative) 523

> why did the phone guys make theirs upside-down?

Go to the "Keyboards" section of this course outline and follow the link to the PDF copy of the "Bell Labs 1960 study". In short, it's because that configuration ranked highly for inputting phone numbers. If you take a look at the image provided of the button-based phone's predecessor you'll see that 7, 8, 9, and 0 are at the bottom and 1, 2, and 3 are at the top. I'd guess that made that structure more familiar to the test subjects, along with the fact that English is read from left to right, and from ... in case you hadn't noticed ... top to bottom. With those two points in mind, my question to you is, why are the keys on numeric keypads and calculators upside-down? :-)

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