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Comment Not too surprising (Score 5, Interesting) 164

Someone else (who I think I saw here on Slashdot the last time Voyager was mentioned) had a great analogy for what we're likely seeing. I can't take credit for this at all, but I think it makes a lot of sense.

Suppose we're a small probe, making our way off an island, down the beach, and into the ocean. All we have is a wind-speed detector, and a water detector. As we near the water, waves start lapping over us. When they do, our wind-speed detector says "no wind", and our water detector says "we're wet." Have we entered the ocean yet? The answer is "not quite, but we're really darn close."

It doesn't seem surprising to me at all that the boundary neither perfectly uniform, nor stationary in time. I think we'll be in this transition band for a while.

Comment Re:Equal rights (Score 1) 832

Even if this is discrimination, I'm also not clear that this is discrimination against fathers. It might well be discrimination against mothers. Fathers only have to spend eight weeks caring for the new baby. Mothers have to spend twelve.

After which you send it to the centralized child care facility, so the child is never a burden to either parent ever again?

I'm pretty sure both parents are on the hook for child care for as long as the child is a child. The issue is whether they're also on the hook for going to a job other than raising their child.

Comment Re:Equal rights (Score 1) 832

My high-tech employer only offers TWO weeks paid paternity leave. TWO. Not the generous eight that Yahoo! offers. That was probably considered progressive in the US in the 60s, but seems hopelessly behind the curve in high tech today. One of my coworkers took an extra two weeks out of his own vacation time to spend a total of four paid weeks with his newborn daughter.

I personally have 8 weeks of vacation time built up, because work keeps me busy enough that I never feel like I can take the time I'm entitled to off. I don't even feel like I can ask for the time off, and it's technically already mine. The culture works against it. We're a country of workaholics, and we're made to feel bad when we ask for a little space.

If we really wanted to do things "right" here in the US, I'd have to ensure I built up a big enough cushion that my wife and I could remain unemployed (and thus, unpaid) for a couple years. And then, hope I could find a job after 2 years out of high tech. Hmmm... yeah, seems unlikely. Or, at least, feels unlikely, even if perception doesn't match reality.

Ah, the American dream: To make enough money that you no longer have to work for a living. For the vast majority of us, it will always remain a dream.

Comment Re: Equal rights (Score 1) 832

Why it is that every time the moron politicians of the world reach for the cutting budget scissors they cut education, healthcare and social programs?

Hint: It's usually a rich politician whose family and friends wouldn't suffer the cuts directly. They sell it by painting the beneficiaries as slackers that are a drain on society, as opposed to the reality. These things solidify the very base of society.

Net result? An ever widening chasm between the haves and the have-nots. That chasm strains the very notion of society.

Submission + - Under the Smogberry Trees: Kickstarter aims for Dr. Demento Documentary (

Mr Z writes: A favorite of geeks, nerds and quirky folk everywhere, Dr. Demento has been a fixture since 1975, bringing funny, demented music to us all. Dr. Demento both inspired and helped launch many artists, including such diverse talents as Weird Al Yankovic and Richard Cheese.

The group at Meep Morp Studio are working to put together a documentary about both the good Dr. himself as well as his alter ego, the globally respected musicologist and historian Barret Hansen.

The catch? They have a a Kickstarter here that still has 40% to go in the next 5 days. That's a pretty tight deadline. But, if even a small fraction of Slashdotters that have enjoyed Dr. Demento over the years pitch in a nice dinner's worth of dollars each, this documentary will get made.

Comment Re:Missing Option (Score 1) 135

You either needed a PEB + Editor/Assembler (which I didn't have), or you could by the Mini Memory cartridge which comes with the Line-by-Line Assembler (which I did have) that left you 768 bytes free to program at location >7D00 (out of 4K total battery-backed memory)

You certainly could not, however, program assembly code on an unexpanded TI-99/4A. You needed at least the Mini Memory cartridge.

TI Extended BASIC didn't have PEEK and POKE in the same sense as other Microsoft BASICs. In other computers, you could literally read and write any location. TI Extended BASIC let you PEEK certain locations, but not really POKE anywhere.

The Mini-Memory did add a PEEKV and POKEV that let you manipulate VDP RAM, but again, that required the Mini Memory cartridge. (I don't know if E/A also provided anything like that; I didn't have E/A.) And if Mini Memory's plugged in, you don't get TI Extended BASIC.

Comment Re:You're a contractor. Your "secrets" are yours (Score 2) 292

There are a lot of good points in this thread. It's worth noting that there's no direct replacement for experience. You bring N years of experience to the job, and the only thing that can bring you N years of experience is N years of doing the job. While you can teach some the broad lessons (and, I would say, teach them specifically in the context of this app; you're not a professor and you're not teaching a class), there's no replacement for experience.

When I was fresh out of college, I could write programs that did very interesting and useful things. Now it's *mumblety* years later, and I know for a fact I would write my programs far differently now, with generally much better outcomes in maintainability, scalability and flexibility. Much of that was learned through trial and error—ie. experience. That only comes with time and practice.


Spinning Black Hole's Edge Rotates At Nearly the Speed of Light 227

astroengine writes "Astronomers have directly measured the spin of a black hole for the first time by detecting the mind-bending relativistic effects that warp space-time at the very edge of its event horizon. By monitoring X-ray emissions from iron ions (iron atoms with some electrons missing) trapped in the black hole's accretion disk, the rapidly-rotating inner edge of the disk of hot material has provided direct information about how fast the black hole is spinning. Astronomers used NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) — that was launched into Earth orbit in June 2012 — and the European observatory XMM-Newton measured X-ray radiation as a tool to directly infer the spin of NGC 1365's black hole. 'What excites me is the fact that we are able to do this for the very massive black holes at the centers of galaxies but we can also make the same measurement for black holes in our galaxy ... black holes that resulted from the explosion of a star ... The fact we can extend this from billions of solar masses to 10 solar masses is pretty cool,' Fiona Harrison, professor of physics and astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., and principal investigator of the NuSTAR mission, told Discovery News."

Comment Re:CMOS (Score 1) 126

Sure, very little current flows through the transistor's gate. But, the transistors themselves are imperfect switches, and so you get some current flowing from Vdd to Vss all the time anyway. For the products I tend to work on, around half or more of the power consumption comes from leakage, amazingly.

For the uninitiated: CMOS gates consist of a pair of complementary switches. One set connects Vdd (the positive voltage indicating a logic '1') to the output node, and the other set connects Vss or GND (the zero voltage indicating a logic '0') to the output node. The way CMOS works, there should only be one path from either Vdd or Vss to the output node. All other paths must be open.

The simplest example is an inverter. It has two switches. The switch from Vdd to output opens with the input is 1 and closes when the input is 0. The switch from Vss to output does the opposite: Closes when the input is 1 and opens when the input is 0.

CMOS burns power two main ways. The first and most obvious way is through switching, also called dynamic power. When the output goes to '1', the gate outputs a high voltage. This voltage then charges all of the gates connected to that output. Even if the gates don't leak, they still end up taking on a certain amount of charge due to their capacitance. The total charge taken on is V*C, where V is the voltage and C is the total capacitance of all the inputs this gate drives. Later, when the gate's output switches to 0, all that charge flows back out to ground. The more often you switch an output from 1 to 0, the more charge you ratchet from Vdd to Vss. Furthermore, while you're switching, there's often a very brief period when the two switches are both slightly closed. You can get some current racing directly from Vdd to Vss at this time.

The second, perhaps less obvious way CMOS burns power is through leakage. Modern transistors are far from perfect switches. When they're closed, they conduct, and when they're open they also conduct, just not as well. This leads to a phenomenon known as leakage. That is, even when the gates aren't switching, there's a constant current from Vdd to Vss, because the transistors haven't completely cut off the current flow. You can sometimes address this by lowering the input voltage or using transistors with different threshold voltages, but that trades off speed for leakage.

So, while the promise of CMOS is that no current flows when gates don't switch, the actuality is that tiny transistors in modern processes aren't as good at holding up to that ideal.

Comment Re:Black white or grey (Score 1) 242

How about some data? 3Q11 saw around 750K units world wide for plasma and LCD public displays according to this link., whereas the North American and Chinese LCD and plasma TV market for 3Q12 was closer to 54M units, according to this link from the same source.

And before you cry foul because I picked different years, please note I picked the same quarter, and the peak quarter for the year for both years. You can also look at the Y/Y growth and extrapolate the 2011 numbers from 2012. The Y/Y growth numbers were negative, meaning it fell slightly, and yet TVs are about 2 orders of magnitude larger than public displays.

So, yeah, I was off a bit. It's 2 orders of magnitude. Still, that drives a lot more economies of scale in the TV market.

That's the total market for public displays. Now what proportion of these public displays are actually appropriate for e-Ink? And how does that compare to consumer uses, such as e-readers for volume?

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