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Comment Re:I like the UK plugs (Score 1) 1174

I'm not sure why you say the earth pin being on top or bottom matters.

It wouldn't do us much good anyway, as we have most of our receptacles the wrong way around anyway.

Surely if most sockets have the earth pin on the bottom, then you could make the plug (or wall-wart) so that the cord comes out at that end, and still have plugs that sit against the wall like the UK ones? What is it that I'm missing?

Contrary to the picture shown in TFA, Australian plugs are orientated so that the earth pin is at the bottom (their picture is upside-down). Both flush-fitting (cord out the bottom) and standard (cord coming straight out) plugs are readily available.

(Interestingly, China adopted the Australian plug as their national standard a few years ago... but they turned it up-side down so that earth *is* on the top - I have no idea why!)

Robotics

iRobot Introduces Morphing Blob Robot 177

Aristos Mazer sends word of research out of iRobot on a "chembot," or morphing blob robot, that looks like dough and moves by shifting its sides from solid-like to liquid-like states. This will allow it, in theory and after lots of refinement, to pass through cracks by squeezing. iRobot calls the new technique "jamming." The research project was funded by DARPA. The video clearly shows the early stage the work is in, but when you think about it the possibilities are a little unsettling.
Censorship

CBS Interactive Sued For Distributing Green Dam 133

Dotnaught writes "Solid Oak Software, maker of Internet filter CYBERsitter, on Monday filed a $1.2 million copyright infringement lawsuit against CBS Interactive's ZDNet China for distributing the Green Dam Internet filtering software. Green Dam was going to be mandatory on all PCs in China starting in July, but widespread criticism, including reports of stolen code, forced the Chinese government to reconsider. The lawsuit, if it succeeds, could force companies to give more thought to the risks of complying with mandates from foreign governments that violate US laws."
Input Devices

Software To Flatten a Photographed Book? 172

davidy writes "I have photographed some pages of a book for reading on my PDA. This is much faster than scanning and I don't have to carry the heavy books. However, the photographed books are not as nice: curved, skewed, and shadowed, as opposed to the much flatter, cleaner scanned books. I have searched for software that can flatten the pages for better reading on the PDA. So far I have come across Unpaper and Scan Tailor. Unpaper doesn't seem to have a windows GUI, and Scan Tailor doesn't unskew well. I remember reading about Google's technique of converting books to e-books with a camera and a laser overlay. Is there any home user software that can do a similar job without the need for a laser overlay or other sophisticated (and patented) technology?"

Comment OT (Score 1) 863

Your Sig: "Gay Marriage redefines your marriage as "no different than that of a gay couple". - Paraphrased from hitchkitty"

I'm intrigued, and not sure if you're on the "support" or "oppose" side of the gay marriage debate. I think that's one of the reasons people oppose gay marriage - they don't want their marriage to be seen the same way as gay marriage, since they have an irrational hatred/distaste/whatever of gay people and can't possibly believe that they might actually have a "real" relationship.

Are you one of these people, or are you putting this on your sig to show how absurd you think the idea is?

Earth

"Gigantic Jets" Blast Electricity Into the Ionosphere 168

New Scientist has an update on the so-called "gigantic jets" first discovered in 2003 — these are lightning bolts that reach from cloud tops upward into the ionosphere, as high as 90 kilometers. (There's a video at the link.) What's new is that researchers from Duke University have managed to measure the electrical discharge from a gigantic jet and confirm that they carry as much energy skyward as ordinary lightning strikes carry to the ground. According to the article, "Gigantic jets are one of a host of new atmospheric phenomena discovered in recent years. Other examples are sprites and blue jets."

Comment Re:If the IP works, it's not a block (Score 1) 142

China's blocking system also includes manipulating DNS. Chinese DNS servers currently return toally random IP addresses for www.youtube.com; and queries to non-Chinese DNS servers are transparently proxied and altered with the same effect. I haven't seen a case of DNS being blocked without a corresponding IP block, but it's certainly do-able. I don't think just saying "but the IPs aren't blocked, it's only a DNS problem!" doesn't mean it's not the gov't doing it.

Comment Re:calm down chinaphiles... (Score 1) 142

Part of what China's blocking/filtering systems do is to transparently filter all DNS requests. e.g. to block YouTube at the moment, not only do they do IP filtering, but they screw with the DNS. If I try to look up www.youtube.com, I get a totally random, totally different IP address each time. This happens EVEN if point dig/nslookup/resolv.conf to a DNS server outside China... they just transparently filter it and give me a bugus response.

So a "failure of DNS", as you put it, doesn't necessarily absolve China of anything. The "failure" could well have been deliberately caused.

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