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Portables

Video OLPC Now Distributes Kid-Friendly Tablets, Not Just Notebooks (Video) 55

Giulia D'Amico, Business Development VP for One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) talks about the new OLPC tablets, which are now available in the U.S. through Target, Amazon, Walmart, and other retailers, with some of the $150 sales price for each tablet going to support the OLPC project in places like Uruguay, Cambodia, Rwanda, and other countries where a tablet loaded with teaching software is a way better deal than trying to supply all the books a child needs for six or eight years of school. While there are many Android tablets for sale for less than $150, Giulia points out that the OLPC tablets contain up to $300 worth of software. Plus, of course, just as with almost any other Android device, there are many thousands of apps available for it through Google Play. And let's not forget the original OLPC laptop. It has been redesigned, and renamed the OLPC XO-4 and looks much cooler than the original. You can learn more about it through olpc.tv, which has videos from the introduction of both the OPLC tablet and the XO-4 at CES 2013. OLPC has shipped close to 3 million laptops so far, and is working to port Sugar to Android so that the laptop and the tablet can use the same software. One more thing: OLPC is now focusing on software rather than hardware. When the project started at MIT, back in 2006 or so, there was no suitable hardware available. Today, many companies make low-cost tablets and keyboards for them, so there's no real need for OLPC to make its own instead of using existing hardware.
Space

Video Why We Need to Keep Our Night Skies Dark (Video) 130

Kelly Beatty has a unique perspective on the world of astronomy: Beatty's been on the staff of Sky & Telescope magazine for nearly 40 years as a writer and editor, including a stint heading "Night Sky" magazine. He's also written what's been called "the definitive guide for the armchair astronomer," and teaches astronomy to people of all ages. (He even has an asteroid named after him.) Besides being fascinated with the objects we can see in Earth's skies, Beatty takes the skies themselves seriously: his Twitter handle is NightSkyGuy for a reason. We talked a few weeks ago, in dark-skied rural Maine, about his involvement with the International Dark-Sky Association, and why you should care about ubiquitous light pollution, even if you don't have a deep interest in star-gazing. (And it's not just to be courteous to your neighbors.)

Comment Once they prove commitment .... (Score -1, Offtopic) 132

Once the company shows its commitment to continue the support for the platform, they will come. Who will come?

Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers,

Some hack to overcome the lameness filter:

The seax was found in the River Thames near Battersea by Henry J. Briggs, a labourer, in early 1857.[note 1] Briggs sold it to the British Museum, and on 21 May 1857 it was exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries of London by Augustus Wollaston Franks (an antiquary who worked at the Antiquities Department of the British Museum), when it was described as "resembling the Scramasax of the Franks, of which examples are very rare in England; and bears a row of runic characters inlaid in gold".[2] Since then the weapon has usually been called the Thames scramasax; but the term scramasax (from Old Frankish *scrâmasahs) is only attested once, in the History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, and the meaning of the scrama- element is uncertain,[3] so recent scholarship prefers the term long seax or long sax for this type of weapon.[4][5]

Comment Re:Metal working mastery ... (Score 2) 47

For an individual, yes, smithing is very hard. I think we had smithy in my third semester, I think and probably made a C. For a society? Smithy does not require great flights of imagination or crucial insight. People have been making stone tools for 2 million years, fire for half a million years, constantly looking to harden stone/wood/bone tools by charring them in fire etc. So they would have noticed, unlike flint, the meteorite rock bends, but it could be beaten into a sharp edge repeatedly.

On the other hand, it boggles my mind how they discovered smelting. Definitely by poking around the remnants of campfires serendipitously started on ore rich ground would have been the starting point. But still that is the difficult part, identifying ore deposits and coming up with a process to make the metal without fully understanding the chemistry, purely by trial and error. That was incredible.

Comment Metal working mastery ... (Score 5, Informative) 47

The metal working mastery consisted of basically heating the damn thing and beating the hell out of it with a hammer. Finding iron ore, smelting it down and extracting the metal are the difficult thing to do. Once you have the metal, beating it into shape is no big deal. For example the legendary Viking swords +Ulfberht were made by the Vikings by importing high carbon steel from the Middle East via the Volga trade routes. (Of course, the Viking might have discovered and then lost the technology to produce high carbon steel, but the facts Viking were trading with Middle East via Volga, and the Middle East was making high carbon Wootz steels by that time lends credence to this theory).

Making the metal from ore require mastery, making non load bearing artifacts out of metal requires just muscle.

Comment Fake blackberry skin has some value. (Score 4, Funny) 176

One of the old posts in slashdot suggested people with desirable phones like iPhones and Samsung androids to get fake blackberry like skin to make the phone less attractive to thieves and snatchers. So if Blackberry copyrights the skin design they can actually make some money off their own suckitude.

Comment No senior exec is going to be held accountable (Score 3) 179

No matter what happens, some one else faces the consequences, when it comes to these banks. There is bad security, bad implementation, total lack of understanding of how their systems could be breached. They will fire a few techies, for poor security. But the bigwigs drawing big salary, even their bonus would not be touched. May be they will get more bonus for taking a firm stand and firing these techies who show up to work in jeans and ear rings.

Even when they lie through their teeth to sell junk as gold to others they don't end up in jail. We all will pay, through more bank fees, more insurance costs, more taxes to bail them out. And they will dance all the way to their own private bank.

Comment Re:Didn't we mock this yesterday already? (Score 1) 155

I did not make this video nor did I choose its subject matter. All I did was edit it & write the intro paragraph. Some may have noticed that the Cryonics Institute is a non-profit, and may realize that we do *not* take money to make videos unless said videos are clearly marked "advertisement" or "sponsored content" or something along those lines. Like these: http://tv.slashdot.org/sponsored/ See? A "sponsored video" section.

And yes, for those who don't know, I was the editor in chief of the company that owned Slashdot for many years, and -- my low 3-digit UID hints at this -- I was reading and posting on Slashdot before it was corporatized, and did my best for a long time to (sigh) keep the marketing types from messing the site up.

I retired in 2008. Now I collect SSI (I had several massive heart attacks) and work part-time doing Slashdot video work, plus I write a weekly column called Cheap Computing for TechTarget -- http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/cheap-computing/ -- and occasional blog posts for AllLEDLighting.com -- http://www.allledlighting.com/ --and other specialized, tech-oriented websites.

If you want to blame me for... well, for anything... no problem. I can handle it. I'm not in a management position, so saying bad things to or about me won't change anything. In fact, it's possible that I agree with many of your complaints but don't have the power to do anything about them.

And that said, now it's time for a gin and tonic here on Florida's West coast. :)

Cheers!

- Robin 'Roblimo' Miller
Bradenton Florida USA

       

Biotech

Video The Cryonics Institute Offers a Chance at Immortality (Video #2) 155

Today's interviewee is Cryonics Institute (CI) Director Andy Zawacki, who takes Slashdot's Robert Rozeboom into the facility where they keep the tanks with frozen people in them. Yesterday, Rob talked with David Ettinger, who is both the group's lawyer and the son of CI founder Robert Ettinger. For those of you who are obsessed with the process of vitrification, here's a link to a story about The Cryonics Institute's 69th Patient and how she was taken care of, starting at the moment of her deanimation (AKA death). The story has anatomical drawings, charts, and color pictures of Andy carrying out the actual procedure. But Cryonics, while endorsed as a concept by numerous scientists, may not be as good a way to insure immortality as transplanting your brain into a fresh (probably robotic) body, as Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov hopes to do by 2035. There are also many groups that claim to offer spiritual (as opposed to corporeal) immortality. Which method of living forever works best? That remains to be seen, assuming any of them work at all. Perhaps we'll find out after the Singularity.

Comment Re:Slashvertisement (Score 0) 254

"Also roblimo and his slashvertisements are all so blatant, it's insulting."

I don't mind if you want to blame me for everything wrong with the world, including /. videos and posts you don't like. After having worked on Slashdot most of the time since 1999, my skin is so thick that nothing you say is going to bother me.

It's better for you to blame me than someone who might be more easily offended, so please keep it up. :)

Biotech

Video The Cryonics Institute Offers a Chance at Immortality (Video) 254

Do you want to be frozen after you die, in hopes of being revived a century or two (or maybe ten) in the future? It can cost less than an electric car. That's what the Cryonics Institute (CI) offers. David Ettinger, today's interviewee, is both the son of CI founder Robert Ettinger and CI's lawyer. In this video, among other things, he talks about arrangements that were made for his father's demise, and how they were able to start the cryopreservation process almost immediately after he expired. Is Cryonics the best chance at immortality for those of us likely to die before the Singularity arrives, and gives all of us the tools we need to live forever? David Ettinger obviously thinks so. (This is Video #1 of 2. The second one is scheduled to run tomorrow. It's an interview with CI Director Andy Zawacki, who takes us into the facility where the frozen bodies are stored.)

Comment People don't understand legalese either. (Score 2) 277

The idea of making computers understand humans is like using vernier calipers to measure the thickness of cotton candy. The yardstick is too precise for the quantity being measured. Just look how horrible and convoluted things get when some one human being tries to define some unambiguously for another human being. This is the situation in legislation, tax code, insurance contracts and wills and testament. Harder you try to define it without doubt or ambiguity, harder it gets, and creates more "loopholes". Fixing loop holes creates more loop holes. The imprecision of human language is like a mandlebrot set, zoom in and zoom in again and again, and still things are as imprecise as the previous levels.

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