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Journal Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.


Quantum Physics For Everybody 145

fiziko writes in with a self-described "blatant self-promotion" of a worthwhile service for those wishing to go beyond Khan Academy physics: namely Bureau 42's Summer School. "As those who subscribe to the 'Sci-Fi News' slashbox may know, Bureau 42 has launched its first Summer School. This year we're doing a nine-part series (every Monday in July and August) taking readers from high school physics to graduate level physics, with no particular mathematical background required. Follow the link for part 1."

Comment Re:Same Lights Common in Migraineurs, too (Score 1) 269

I'll second this; it pretty much matches my experience too. My auras are an interesting experience (or would be if they didn't signify several hours worth of misery). It feels like a portion of my vision simply "isn't there"... not "blacked out" or anything, but just gone. I'm wondering if there's any relationship to the sensation of blindness.

Comment Power & Heat (Score 2, Interesting) 53

It's funny... when the tech industry first started talking about switching to light instead of electricity for the chip insides, the biggest motivating factor was speed. How much faster (usually determined in "clock" speed even) can we make a chip if we can use photons instead of electrons? These days, I'm more interested in other factors:
  • How much electricity (per unit of performance) does it use?
  • How much heat does it put out?
  • How much smaller can we make the chip and its supporting components?

This is a result of the highly-clustered, highly-mobile computing age we live in today. A single fast chip isn't as applicable any more. Give us tiny and low-power.


Submission + - Why Asexual Organisms Are on Their Last Legs

Hugh Pickens writes: "The NY Times reports that asexual organisms are extremely rare but bdelloid rotifers reproduce asexually and seem to have speciated as extensively as sexually reproducing organisms. Now researchers say they can explain how the tiny freshwater invertebrates have been able to reproduce without sex for over 30 million years. Rotifers dwell in the most ephemeral of freshwater habitats. Not just in small puddles, but in the transient layer of moisture sometimes found on moss or lichens—even on mushrooms where dessication is a routine occurrence providing the key to how bdelloids evade the constraints of the Red Queen Hypothesis — the theory that asexual lineages are quickly ended by coevolving parasites and pathogens. The researchers raised populations of the rotifers in a lab, and observed that the asexual invertebrates could rid themselves of a deadly fungal parasite by drying themselves up completely and blowing away with the wind to new territory. By doing so, the rotifers became so desiccated that their parasites could not survive the punishing conditions. The rotifers were then able to ride the breeze and start afresh in new, presumably parasite-free pastures proving that there can be advantages to reproducing without sex: "You don't have to find a mate," says Johns Logsdon, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Iowa. "If you find a mate you don't have to worry about things like venereal disease, you don't have to worry about getting attacked in the process of a sex act.""

Comment Re:Contract breaking? (Score 1) 238

You and I might see the logic in the argument, but I doubt there's much legal leg to stand on even if you cared to try and fight it. They're not "refusing to provide service", they're "requiring an update" for a problem which happens to (somehow) conflict with an essential (911) service. Install the fix, and you're back in action, so they're not denying you much at all. All of this will be covered under the Terms of Service I'm sure. I doubt any judge will go for the "they should be doing better than they are" argument.

Comment On top of all that... (Score 5, Informative) 238

The user-applied fix isn't available for Mac or Windows 7 users. Those users are required to call into the Rogers tech support line to get the fix.

I did that, and had to wait on hold for over 30 minutes while the phone support waded through the (expected) deluge of calls. When I got through, I was told that I could either:

  • Go to a Rogers store to get the fix
  • Have a micro-SD card shipped to me (3-5 biz days wait) that contained a fix. (I don't know why they couldn't offer the fix for download).

I stopped in the Rogers store to get the fix. I waited for about 20 minutes while the customer support people (calling them "techs" wouldn't be accurate) installed the fix software on their in-store computers. Then I was told that the fix would wipe my phone. Did I have a backup? I said no; I haven't been able to find any evidence of Rogers-capable phone-sync software that works on my Mac (it's all Windows only). The store person offered to make a backup there, but after doing so he said that it only backed up my contacts, not my apps or settings (IMO the important parts). I walked out hoping that the SD solution will be better, but at best, I'm locked out of my wireless Internet service for 3-5 days.

It's hard to imagine how Rogers could have made this process worse.

Comment Re:Wash your hands! (Score 1) 374

This is good advice, and gives me an opportunity to speak to the community at large: some of us who go to cons and are in a position to shake tons of hands politely decline. It's not because we're being dicks, it's because we know it's a good way to substantially decrease our chances of catching and spreading any germs.

Comment Oh, cruel irony (Score 2, Interesting) 374

I played the PAX Pandemic game, where the Enforcers handed out stickers to attendees that read [Carrier] [Infected] or [Immune] (There was also a [Patient Zero].

I got the [Immune] sticker, and by the time I got home on Monday, it was clear that I had the flu. I've had a fever between 100 and 104 all week that finally broke last night, but I'm going to the doctor today because I think whatever I had settled into my lungs. I'll tell him about the H1N1 outbreak and get tested if he wants to run the test, but at this point I think it's safe to assume that I was [Immune] to the Pig Plague, but definitely [Infected] with the damn PAX pox.

Even though it's been a week of misery, it was entirely worth it, and I don't regret going to PAX for a single second.


Use Your Cell Phone To Diagnose Blood Diseases 63

A group of research engineers at Berkeley have developed a mobile phone microscope that can photograph microbes in your blood, and analyze them for disease. The group hopes the device will be useful to doctors in developing countries to diagnose blood diseases in the field. The device uses a phone attachment with an LED, and magnified images are fed into the cell phone camera. Software installed on the phone analyzes bacterial counts, or the images can be sent to labs for quick analysis. UC Berkeley bioengineer Dan Fletcher led the CellScope research team. He said, "The same regions of the world that lack access to adequate health facilities are, paradoxically, well-served by mobile phone networks. We can take advantage of these mobile networks to bring low-cost, easy-to-use lab equipment out to more remote settings . . . We had to disabuse ourselves of the notion that we needed to spend many thousands on a mercury arc lamp and high-sensitivity camera to get a meaningful image. We found that a high-powered LED — which retails for just a few dollars — coupled with a typical camera phone could produce a clinical quality image sufficient for our goal of detecting in a field setting some of the most common diseases in the developing world."

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