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Submission + - Expanding the Electricity Grid May Be A Mistake (

Al writes: "An article in Technology Review argues that plans to string new high-voltage lines across the U.S. to bring wind power from the midsection of the country to the coasts, could be an expensive mistake. What's needed instead are improved local and regional electricity transmission, the development of an efficient and adaptable smart grid, and the demonstration of technology such as carbon capture and sequestration, which could prove a cheaper way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions than transmitting power from North Dakota to New York City."

Submission + - Massive VisaBuxx $23 Quadrillion "Glitch"

myob1776 writes: Visa Buxx is a funded debit card program that allows parents to give their kids Visa debit cards that are funded from parent accounts. Parents can monitor the spending and funding, etc. Our kids travel a lot for sports and so we find the cards useful.

There appears to have been a massive software problem with the Visa Buxx system yesterday. I received an email from Visa Buxx informing me that my son's account was overdrawn, due to a purchase he'd made from Applebees — in the amount of $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 (that's 23 quadrillion — I had to look it up).

After checking with him to make sure he really hadn't purchased 23 quadrillion dollars worth of food from Applebees — he's really not that big an eater — I called to dispute the transaction. A tired-sounding customer service rep interrupted me: "Are you calling about the $23 trillion dollar charge?" I corrected her "Actually, it's 23 quadrillion. I looked it up." According to her this was the result of a "glitch" that affected many, many other accounts. Until it's worked out — meaning, until Visa figures out why it happened and confirms that my son did not really spend $23 quadrillion dollars at Applebees — the accounts are frozen.

Comment Re:Huh??? (Score 2, Interesting) 503

The BBC report that I heard on the radio this morning didn't suggest that the "soliciting purr" sounded recognizably like a baby's cry - but if you stick a recording of it through a spectrum analyzer you find that it has some of the same frequency components as a baby cry embedded in it. So the sound puts humans on edge and plays on their subconscious in such a way that they want to satisfy the cat and make it stop.

Operating Systems

Submission + - Google Announce Chrome OS Plans

Neil writes: "The official Google Blog features an announcement this morning that the company is going ahead with plans to develop the Chrome browser into a fully-fledged operating system distribution, targeted at x86 and ARM netbooks. The project is separate from Android, but is also based on a Linux kernel and will be open sourced. It is lated for release to consumers in the second half of 2010."

Comment Re:Apple and Xiph (Score 1) 459

Respectfully disagree - codifying existing practice and getting the browser developers to buy into incremental improvements to the status quo is what got us to HTML4 and the original CSS specs, which I would suggest is basically the last time non-trivial improvements to the standards used to deliver web pages saw wide-spread adoption.

In contrast, whenever the language designers have tried to forge a path without involving the people who will write the web pages and develop the software the new standards have been largely ignored - for example: HTML3.0 and XHTML (and I write that as an XHTML fan).

Comment Re:If you give up the inch, they'll take the mile (Score 1) 901

It is intended as a consumer protection measure - it is only legal to offer to sell beer by the pint, half-pint, or third-pint (a rare measure, though it has become popular at real-ale festivals in recent years) because it makes it trivial to compare pricing from one establishment to the next. It is more difficult to gauge value for money (especially when tipsy!) if you've got to look at the menu or a notice to find out how many centi-litres (or whatever) are supposed to be in a bar's beer glasses and then do mental arithmetic to compare that with the place down the road where the measures are different.

The fact that the mandated measure is pints rather than half-litres is mostly down to the fact that the laws regulating these things are very old (though the fact that there would be a "little Englander" backlash against changing the traditional measures has no doubt put governments off revising and updating the legislation!).

Comment Re:Of course this calls for (Score 3, Insightful) 307

What if the original poster has an high definition display which doesn't have HDMI inputs (many such "HD ready" TV sets were sold before HDMI was standardised a couple of years go)? The fact that he/she checked the capabilities of the analogue component output with the manufacturer and the seller before purchasing suggests this might well be the case ...

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