Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment It's Star Trek (Score 1) 283

As a direct continuation of the original series, it hits the mark. Same sort of story, same sort of style.

Whether that is a good or a bad thing is up to you, but if you like the original series, you'll like this, and if you hated it, you'll hate this.

Personally, I think it did well by doing a character-oriented and fundamentally optimistic story. Far, far too much science fiction these days is depressing - grimdark futures, endless dystopias, and a constant cycle of getting darker and edgier. It avoided both that, and the second persistant flaw, overly raised stakes - at worst, the Enterprise was in danger, but never more, and rarely even that. While this continuation failed to correct the third major flaw I see in modern scifi - the use of pseudoscience and handwaved technology as magic, failing to try to actually predict or speculate where existing science and technology are taking us - it did so in devotion to the original series. It would not have been Star Trek without the often unscientific plots.

That is really the only failure of this attempt. They tried to exactly continue Trek, instead of trying to improve upon it. I'm pretty sure they spent quite a bit of time trying to get the CGI Enterprise to look like a plastic model, making the lighting look like an old TV show. Hell, they even cut to commercial breaks, even used 4:3 instead of 16:9. The only signs this was made in 2013 instead of 1973 are the occasional nods to The Next Generation.

Perhaps expecting them to try to do *better* than Star Trek isn't realistic. Maybe they decided nostalgia was better than some marginal technical improvements. I don't know.

I'm legitimately impressed with everything else. By fan-vid standards, this was amazing. It was even entertaining as a work on its own. I'll probably watch the next episode, if they make one. I just feel like there's still a void out there that needs filling - a piece of optimistic science fiction that actually cares for the science in its own right.

Someone's probably going to tell me that if I want something like that, I should write it myself. Maybe I will.

Comment Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (Score 5, Interesting) 568

The cost of the SFP+ module is nothing against the cost of burying 500km of fiber. Those fibers used to carry 1Mbps when they were laid in the trenches, and were almost all dark. Now they can carry 200,000 Mbps, and they're still almost all dark. At the current pace of progress there is no reason to believe most of it will ever need to be lit up.

Google is putting in the fiber in KC and so far there are no complaints about oversubscription. Google designs and manufactures their own switches, fabrics and ports - as anyone pulling that volume should do, so they aren't paying retail prices, markup and all that jazz. It's not even proper Ethernet. Perhaps Google is using a better fanout than you are thinking, also, with 200Gbps links to the neighborhood. They claim to be turning a profit with $70/mo unmetered, unfiltered, uncapped symmetric gigabit fiber to the door. Why don't you ask Google how they're pulling that off when these cable companies claim they'll go broke if their subscribers saturate the measly 15-30Mbps they're given.

Also, Google is manufacturing the fiber terminal switch and wifi router, the set-top box, the tablet. They didn't just buy Motorola for the phones.

Comment Re:eh (Score 1) 568

Charge per unit plans, that don't place any barriers to excessive usage, and unexpected bills, inevitably backfire. (...) In response the ISP's all set up "unlimited" plans, which have a fixed limit of usage per month. After you hit your quota they throttle your connection back to modem-ish speeds to prevent you from using too much more bandwidth. Without cutting you off completely. You may then have the option of paying for another unit of bandwidth, or bumping your monthly plan permanently.

This is the only sane way to do it, automatic overage billing is the work of the devil. One of the really huge benefits of going to broadband over pay per minute dial-up was that the price was fixed. No more surprises, no way for anything to hijack the line and cause you crazy expenses. They use the same principle here on "unlimited" 3G/4G mobile broadband plans still, if you hit the cap you're slowed to a crawl then the ball is in your court.

Comment Re:The sad thing is... (Score 5, Insightful) 267

I'm sure that when he got into office after promising to repeal or reform the patriot act, the NSA and other people sat him down and told him the way it is, and that was that.

He voted in favor of wiretapping shortly before getting elected. If you thought he was going to repeal it, you were naive. He indicated clearly what he was going to do, and you should have known beforehand what you were getting.

I'm not saying McCain would have been better but you shouldn't fool yourself.

Comment Re:Well, he's not wrong (Score 1) 479

Fuel cells are theoretically more energy efficient than carnot engines - theoretically up to about 80% vs. about 58%. In most cases gasoline engines run (IIRC) more like 30-35% efficiency. That 80% assumes a high temperature fuel cell and using the waste heat to generate some more power. According to Wikipedia, "The energy efficiency of a fuel cell is generally between 40–60%, or up to 85% efficient if waste heat is captured for use."

On side note, those great big power plants - coal, gas, oil, or nuke, all generate more heat than electricity. At present we are not using that heat, just evaporating a lot of water. IMHO it could be used in some places to heat and (with all that CO2) accelerate growth in big greenhouses, or perhaps other applications.

Comment Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (Score 2) 479

Many folks don't realize that hydrogen is not the only possibility for fuel cells; there are methanol fuel cells, ammonia fuel cells, and even some fuel cells that use diesel or kerosene (e.g. Cheap Diesel-Powered Fuel Cells). I think the last two use high temperatures (250C) to break the diesel or kerosene down to smaller molecules, then use those directly in the fuel cell.

I suspect that for these types of cells, the key factors would be whether the fuel cell requires exotic or expensive metals like platinum, whether they can handle impurities in the fuel, and whether they can be used immediately or require some period of warm-up. In this case 'impurities' would be more chemistry than physical - for instance (just guessing) paraffins might be a very bad thing.

High temp diesel cells might be good for long haul trucks or other vehicles that are likely to run all day, even including occasional stops. A battery big enough to run for the first 10 minutes might handle the quick startup issue.

Of course, hydrocarbon based fuel cells don't solve the carbon dioxide issue. Perhaps there would be a way to recycle the CO2 back into a holding tank. But they would solve the noise issue!

Comment Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (Score 1) 568

Bandwidth is "too cheap to meter". The practice of metering and capping it it for every user adds costs to every user that exceeds the cost of the bandwidth itself. Therefore by insisting on metering you are saying that you are willing to pay more and get less, so that others who use more than you can pay even more. This is a very unhealthy position to take.

Comment Re:Help us Google Fiber! You're our only hope. (Score 4, Informative) 568

The end is near my ass. I'm in Los Angeles and I still only have one option for broadband access at any reasonable speed -- and it's Time Warner Cable. The end is nowhere near until we somehow break the monopolistic (or duopolistic) stranglehold these bastards enjoy in any given market. Apparently this stranglehold is in large part perpetuated by political deals these ISPs have made with local government (e.g., the City of Los Angeles) wherein the city gets kickbacks from the ISP for rights of way, etc. Because local governments are dependent on these kickbacks to support their budget, there is no competition. It's a form of payola.

If you're in a coverage area, check them out. I'm 6000 feet from the CO, and get 14mbit down, 1.3mbit upstream -- no monthly bandwidth caps, and their pricing includes a real analog phone line (not VoIP) with unlimited long distance. For about double the price, you can get business DSL that bonds 2 lines to give you about double the speed.

I was getting 50mbit/10mbit from Comcast, but dropped them after moving to Sonic because once a week I'd see latency and packet loss so severe that the line was unusable.

Comment Re:Hydrogen is indeed quite dangerous... (Score 1) 479

I worked on a near-shore oil (seismic) exploration crew a long time ago, which used high pressure air to blow calibrated bubbles in the ocean. The air was at 3500 PSI and was carried from compressor to 'guns' via 1/2 inch high pressure hose. One of the guys on the crew before I got there happened to be in the way when one of those hoses broke, and swung around spraying air at 3500 PSI. The air cut his arm right to the bone, as it passed by.

Slashdot Top Deals

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman