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Comment Re:oblig (Score 1) 50

1.6 meters tall... 55 kilos in weight... impassive facial expressions and unfashionable Chinese jackets... playing mediocre table tennis... my god, they've invented San Jose State!

Comment Re:Fundies just can't stand the heat (Score 1) 943

There is no way to check this claim.

That is the exact reason this claim, and miracles in general, are incompatible with science.

If I drop a basketball, the "accident" part of the ball (the orange part we can see and weigh) falls to the earth. However, I insist there is also a "substance" part of the ball that flies upward when I drop it. The "substance" rises to geosynchronous orbit, takes on the shape of a beehive hairdo, and stays there forever. However, this "substance" is made of something completely unobservable and the orbiting beehives of it will never be detected. I mean, what's the point? If I wrote a journal article on it for Gravity Monthly and said it was "compatible" with the existing science, I'd be laughed out of the field.

Comment Re:And I call (Score 1) 111

Incidentally...stacks of live ammo pointed at compressed oxygen canisters? Seriously?

OK, it was rarely that bad, though I did see things like empty pallets stacked to within inches of the fire sprinklers, gas cans stored in unventilated stationery rooms, and plenty of other violations of common sense and/or the fire codes.

There was a famous incident we studied in classes where a small fire started in a big warehouse (Kmart I believe). Or at least, it should have remained small and been quickly contained by fire sprinklers. But one of the pallets that caught on fire was a bunch of cans of some pressurized flammable aerosol thing, like WD-40 or hairspray or something. The heated cans exploded and became torches that skittered all over warehouse, lighting everything in their path on fire. Pretty soon the sprinklers were overwhelmed and a cool $100 million was up in smoke. So now, warehouses are required to keep pressurized flammables in a chain link cage so they can't shoot too far (but again, sometimes we'd find them just sitting out, ready for another War of 1812 re-enactment). Fun stuff.

You are spot on about the measuring and the forms. People are busy, and can't take half their entire day just to watch you do paperwork. If you're in the South, just talk huntin' and fishin' for five minutes, and most warehouse guys will be ready to donate you a kidney.

Comment Re:And I call (Score 4, Interesting) 111

I totally second that. For me, it was a tie and a clipboard, and my (totally true and legit) story that I worked for the building's property insurance company and needed to look everywhere and anywhere for risks (blocked doors, covered sprinklers, stacks of live ammo pointed at compressed oxygen canisters, that sort of thing). People would let me into the most amazingly sensitive areas, oftentimes with no escort, just a slap on the back and a "give the key fob back to Tina when you're done". Three hours later I would know every corner of the place.

I ain't that charismatic, so I conclude the clipboard is key.

Comment Re:Too real (Score 1) 134

I don't think we're that far off from having the processing power to do this in real time, for simple things at least. I know it's a different technique, but we already have real time line markers painted on the field for (American) football broadcasts, and they even look consistent from multiple camera angles.

I read a sci-fi story a long time ago (early 80s?) in which one of the plot points was hackers (or whatever) hijacking of the outgoing TV signal of a person announcing election results, of some kind of dictator, I think. In this story, way ahead of its time, their software analyzed the person's face and voice patterns on-the-fly from the first few seconds of the broadcast, and then substituted in a fake video signal with the same face and voice announcing different election results nationwide. Hilarity ensues (OK not really, I remember it being kind of dark).

Anyone in this crowd source happen to know what story this was? Again, I think we're not far off from this being very feasible.

Comment Re:who gets phone #2 before his wife? (Score 1) 287

Call the 0 phone, let it ring... hang up...
Call the 1 phone, let it ring... hang up...
And so on... See, you can send Woz a binary message which he could re-construct just by looking at the timestamps of the missed calls on his phones! Number of cell-phone minutes used? Zero! The cell phone companies will soon be on to his little scheme!

Comment Re:As a prius driver (Score 2) 247

'Tis nothing of the sort. What's "wrong" with the grid is that demand is higher during the day than at night. This is a well-understood condition that we've had pretty much since air conditioning was invented. We frequently have so much cheap power available at night that the wholesale (hourly or 5-minute) price paid to generators goes negative (i.e. you are charged for burdening the system with your extra energy). On the flip side, we have expensive generators sitting around all year for the peaks, that only get to run for a few hours on hot afternoons. Charging cars (or anything else) at night when it's cheap and paying them to retrieve power during the day (when it's expensive) is simply a way of postponing or eliminating the need for that next super-expensive power plant that you use only at peak times. Sure, you lose some of that power in the round-trip, but if the price difference from night to day is large enough, you come out ahead.

Comment Productivity doesn't just dissapear either (Score 1) 357

What I wonder is whether bad economic times are good for open-source software development. Seems to me when there are a bunch of unemployed technical types around, they'd have more time to devote to working on the software, which could have lasting economic benefits all around. At least, I think that's what I'd try to work on if I lost my job. Being employed in other areas full time, I'm just a user, not a contributor to the continuous improvement of available software. Am I just being idealistic?

Comment Re:Open source cannibalizes ... (Score 4, Insightful) 357

And it's not like companies like GOOG do generate any (direct and indirect) economic activity.

Do you remember what it was like trying to search for anything before Google? Everything else was useless by comparison. Let us not take for granted how easy Google made it to locate useful and relevant information quickly. Sure, they are now essentially an advertising company, but their positive effect on the productivity of hundreds of millions of people has been huge.

(Said the guy surfing Slashdot).

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