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Comment Re:If you're doing nothing wrong... (Score 1) 137

Did you have a :look at the pictures they took that night? That's no cheap beginner scope. Looks like a decent polar-mounted 8" SC with at least a good DSLR camera. The guy is not the typical stargazer, and believe me (I'm there right now), you don't find easily these scopes in the shops in Kabul. This might very well be the best (civilian) scope in the country.

Comment Re:That unique identifies marsh gas... (Score 1) 80

From the paper:
"We implemented a very simple algorithm to heuristically estimate whether a given ngerprint might be an evolved version of a ngerprint seen previously. [...] Excluding users whose ngerprints changed because they disabled javascript (a common case in response to visiting, but perhaps not so common in the real world), our heuristic made a correct guess in 65% of cases, an incorrect guess in 0.56% of cases, and no guess in 35% of cases. 99.1% of guesses were correct, while the false positive rate was 0.86%. Our algorithm was clearly very crude, and no doubt could be significantly improved with effort."

Comment DVD drive (Score 1) 715

I voted "hamster", as I suppose that's the thing they put in DVD drives that die so easily. On my last 3 laptops, the first thing that stopped working well was DVD drives. Then, in quick order:
- the connector for AC adapter and/or the adapter itself;
- a random key on the keyboard;
- the battery.

I keep replacing parts, but eventually I buy a new laptop because the current one seems to have seen too many wars.
Only once (HP laptop, AMD processor) did it really go beyond: the hard drive, then a couple of months later, the motherboard, so ill-designed it died from overheating.

I guess all that says a lot about how I use my laptops: I travel a lot, to dusty places with bad electricity supply, and use them 14 hours a day (eating, drinking, smoking). Will soon have to replace the wetware as well, I guess.

Comment Re:Client side? Good luck. (Score 1) 212

The idea is not to force everybody to install it, but only propose it to users who have been spotted "illegally sharing protected content".

Users are supposed to install this software suite after the first or second "strike", so that they can't claim their internet access has been used by someone else for illegal purposes without their knowledge. If they don't, they're liable to be prosecuted for negligence in securing their internet access and computer.

On top of the classic spam control, anti-virus, parental control and firewall, the system is meant to warn users if they perform "suspicious actions", and generate an encrypted log of warnings and whereas they stopped after the warning or ignored them.

I for one would welcome such a (very stupid) scheme, as it shouldn't be too difficult to bypass, providing a "good faith certificate" for cheap. But for many users, it is very probably going to prove extremely annoying (remember Windows User Account Control), if not dangerous.

Comment Re:Longevity (Score 1) 280

NASA and their contractors have shown they can build stuff that lasts (like the Mars Rovers, Voyager, the Space Shuttle or any of the hundreds of satellites).

Most of these probes and their instruments far outlive their original mission duration -- Voyager 1 being the best known example. I've always wondered what part of that extended lifetime could be reasonably expected, and what part really comes as a surprise.

I guess engineers compute probability of failure for various instruments: any idea if they are usually right?


Submission + - Mozilla Delivers A Faster Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 (

CWmike writes: "Mozilla late yesterday fired the latest shot in the browser wars by releasing Firefox 3.5 Beta 4, the newest development preview of the company's next-gen browser, which has been delayed several times and now is tentatively slated to ship before the end of June. Computerworld's tests showed that Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 is about 19% faster than Beta 4 in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark; both betas were considerably faster than the production browser, Firefox 3.0.10, which was also released yesterday."

Submission + - Most Distant Known Object in Universe (

G3CK0 writes: "Scientists at NASA's Swift satellite and Gemini Observatory on Mauna Kea have observed the most distant object in our universe. The object, a Gamma ray burst, has been measured at a redshift of z = 8.2. The light from this object has been traveling over 13 of the estimated 13.7 billion year age of the universe. An interesting note, this observation falls under what is know as a TOO (Target of Opportunity). Normal observations at Gemini are carried out via queue mode. When time sensitive events happen, a decision can be made to suspend the queue (and classical observing) in order to observe the TOO."

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