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Comment Change for the sake of change (Score 1) 683

This very different new theme and the window button changes don't seem to serve any purpose other than to make new visual changes for a new release.

Ubuntu might do better if they kept a better measure of consistency in the look-and-feel and user interface between versions.

For example, the shut down and log out buttons were separated in 9.10 and there is no longer any good way to have a single button that can simply shut down, standby, hibernate, and log out. There was no real need to change this and not provide a way of doing what was possible before.

Also, the volume control was merged into the notification area (to improve usability no doubt). The problem with this for me is when I watch a fullscreen something on my primary monitor, I cannot simply place a volume control applet on the other and scroll up and down to change the volume like I could before without making the primary notification area sit on the second monitor.

Change for the sake of change just doesn't seem like the way to promote a good Operating System. There will always be detractors, but Ubuntu should aim to have the level of consistency it needs for people to identify it (over a period of time longer than 6 months) as a particular brand.

Additionally, I personally would hate to see the old human theme disappear over time because a newer Macintosh-like theme takes some artist's fancy. I think the old human theme really captured the essence of the term "Ubuntu" (and the icons looked easier to associate with the tasks and didn't take so much space).

Comment Re:For Science! (Score 5, Funny) 793

Dear Sir

You are cordially invited to a free dinner party. We have spare food and drink that would otherwise go to waste. There's a lovely selection of blood red wine and mixed bits soup.

Please bring your own salt and pepper shakers, and a bottle of sauce. We have a policy here that you sprinkle some of these ingredients over your body when you walk in -- just an old tradition.

You are welcome to bring as many friends as you like, on the condition they are healthy (preferably tall and fat).

Don't pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity.

From your friends in the castle on the hill with the lightning.

Comment Re:Consistent Histories? (Score 3, Interesting) 365

So the idea here is apparently that the energy itself can be transmitted instantly, but you can't actually transmit information this way. Just energy.

No, energy can't be transmitted instantly... you apparently still need the classical channel in order to know what measurement to perform in the receiving end, just like in good old quantum teleportation.

Yes. However, that is for one measurement. To really know what speed you are limited to before you can get surplus energy out on one end (eaten on the other of course), you also need to know how many possibilities there are for measurement, and how much energy you would lose in measuring the "wrong" variable.

For instance, you could set up, say 100 such entanglements in parallel and then measure at random whether some spin is up or down at some time of some particle or whatever would be necessary at random. Chances maybe good that you get the extra energy out on, say 2 of these 10 measurements and end up coming out on top. If this were possible, you might be able to beat the classical channel speed limit all together (albeit with somewhat diminished output) over large distances.

Science

Why the First Cowboy To Draw Always Gets Shot 398

cremeglace writes "Have you ever noticed that the first cowboy to draw his gun in a Hollywood Western is invariably the one to get shot? Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr did, once arranging mock duels to test the validity of this cinematic curiosity. Researchers have now confirmed that people indeed move faster if they are reacting, rather than acting first."
NASA

NASA Tests All-Composite Prototype Crew Module 67

coondoggie writes "With an eye toward building safer, lighter and tougher spacecraft, NASA said today its prototype space crew module made up of composite materials handled tests simulating structural stresses of launch and atmospheric reentry. The idea behind NASA's Composite Crew Module project is to test new structural materials for possible future NASA spacecraft. According to NASA, composite materials are being looked at because they are stiff and lightweight and can be formed into complex shapes that may be more structurally efficient. In space travel, where every additional pound of weight drives costs higher, any weight savings provides increased payload capacity and potentially reduces mission expense."
Biotech

Scientists To Breed the Auroch From Extinction 277

ImNotARealPerson writes "Scientists in Italy are hoping to breed back from extinction the mighty auroch, a bovine species which has been extinct since 1627. The auroch weighed 2,200 pounds (1000kg) and its shoulders stood at 6'6". The beasts once roamed most of Asia and northern Africa. The animal was depicted in cave paintings and Julius Caesar described it as being a little less in size than an elephant. A member of the Consortium for Experimental Biotechnology suggests that 99% of the auroch's DNA can be recreated from genetic material found in surviving bone material. Wikipedia mentions that researchers in Poland are working on the same problem."

Comment Re:More than a million? (Score 2, Funny) 395

And make sure you adhere to coding rules that maximize the number of lines and readability at the same time:

i.e. have blank lines inserted in between every line of code, all brackets require a separate line for themselves, comments on separate lines, wrap lines with more than 10 characters, and -- above all -- expand out loops in full (include goto's).

Comment Re:How much can Cowboy Neal carry? (Score 1) 362

> A photon has no mass...

Not true. A photon has no rest mass, but a photon is never at rest. The mass of a photon is E/c^2 where E=h*frequency.

It's a real problem too. If only those photons would slow down I'd be able to leave my basement. Maybe I should invest in one of those large hollow balls to commute in the daylight, so I don't get bogged down by billions of photons from above.

Comment Re:What can you actuallu *use* one for? (Score 1) 257

Actually, one with the ability to "write" on, at a high resolution for smooth curves and such would be astronomically useful for students in hard science courses that use a lot of special symbols that are awkward to get on a normal keyboard.

Also, the ability to easily format equations, and quickly take pictures from the same device would make it a great note taking tool. Together with a maths package, it could be easier to write and solve equations, plot data, etc. on this thing. Not to mention, you and anyone else will have the advantage of being able to read the notes you took in class (important come exam time) and print multiple copies.

Someone's is bound to cock up the sensitivity or character/formatting recognition; cripple the applications or ease of which to interact with them (by making it run with pauses or something); etc -- it just would be too good to be true for $400-$500.

Science

94 New Species Described By CA Academy of Sciences 52

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences traversed four continents and two oceans to uncover 94 new species in 2009, proving that while sometimes in this digital age the world can feel like a small place, much of it has yet to be explored. Among the 94 discoveries were 65 arthropods, 14 plants, 8 fishes, 5 sea slugs, one coral, and one fossil mammal. Why does it matter? As Dr. David Mindell, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the Academy, explained, 'Humans rely on healthy ecosystems, made up of organisms and their environments. Creating a comprehensive inventory of life on our planet is critical for understanding and managing resources. Yet a great many life-forms remain to be discovered and described.'"
Science

Aussie Scientists Find Coconut-Carrying Octopus 205

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from an AP report: "Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal. The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot. ... 'I was gobsmacked,' said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. 'I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh.'"

Comment Re:Not more safe (Score 1) 611

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with the first paragraph, I take issue with the second:

You can make a machine smarter, but people keep getting dumber all the time. At some point you just have to say to those people forget it, you're not going to learn, you're not worth trying to explain it to. Here's your Etch-a-Sketch.

From the context of an article on malware, are the users really getting dumber with time? Who really wants to learn about antivirus/security practises? This is the job of the techies, not something to foist on unsuspecting users. You cock this up it's your problem.

I hope you are not one of those people in tech-support who says to me to click on something I've already clicked on several times, then continues with the line that they would have to be sitting in front of the machine because it is "too hard" for me to understand, and who is a general waste of time to call with a computer problem.

The good ones almost always will solve a problem over the phone efficiently, be a pleasure to converse with, and not overtly insult their clients intelligence. They may even teach the average user something in the process (the user is unlikely to learn through doing if all they get is looked down on). You should ask yourself how would you like to be treated if you asked what's happening on the screen, and someone's running a quantum physics simulation.

Comment Damage Control by Preventative Means (Score 1) 122

Show something colorful/educational about computing on computer display terminals. However, make sure that when the kid get too close or touches the screen, he/she gets a good zap. That'll make them think twice about damaging the equipment.

(In case you are a moderator, I am of course joking, and not trying to give informative advice here).

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