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Comment Re:Touchscreens just as bad as texting (Score 1) 217

I would agree - i do wonder sometimes if the car makers have actually done any testing to evaluate the usability of their shiny new gadgets. 4.6 secs seems to me like quite a short time compared to some of the in-car distractions i've seen. At least they've stopped drivers from being able to watch movies whilst the car is moving...

Comment About time (Score 2) 101

Definitely time someone with a bit of clout stood up to the scientific publishers. Their business model made a bit of sense in the days when things had to be typeset, printed and distributed, but with modern electronic distribution it is little better than a Mafia-style extortion racket. I'd love to know what they actually do for their money - researchers do the research, write the paper, review the paper and (at least in my field) act as journal editors. And they do these at no cost to the publisher because they are either publically or industrially funded. That the publisher is able to take the copyright and then charge the people who actually funded it to read it, is an ongoing disgrace and (i think) should be an embarrassment to an industry/community which generally prides itself on its open-ness and its "freedom".

Comment He's right about academic publishing (Score 4, Interesting) 242

I know a lot of academics are becoming annoyed by the publishers and their business models. Frankly its a disgrace that most research isn't freely available to the general public. More often than not they have paid for it via taxation and university fees (most research, at least in europe where i am, is taxpayer funded). Add to that the fact that the academics do the work, write the papers, review the papers (for free i might add) and mostly act as journal editors (for free again), and its hard to see really what the publishers are doing beyond hosting the PDF.

Oh and the best bit - when you submit your paper to the publisher, you also sign over copyright. So they even own all the taxpayer funded work. Actually i was wrong at the start, its beyond a disgrace.

Comment They killed it too early (Score 1) 179

A revolutionary rethinking of how we communicate will always take time to gain inertia. Real people have busy schedules, and you can't just tell everyone you are ditching email etc and moving onto the Wave: You have to get reluctant collaborators onboard and lineup a good project or two with which to get the hang of it at the start. This is never going to happen in 3 months, and i think google know this. I can't help but feel that they cancelled for some fundamental failing that they are not talking about.

Still, i hope it doesn't go away. It has so much potential that it deserves to be developed.

Comment Re:Big advantage? (Score 1) 147

I'm not sure i'd class Liq He as an advantage. Having worked with it i'd call it a pain in the arse, and totally unsuitable for computer cooling. Low heat capacity and insanely low temp mean it has to be transported and stored in large, very well insulated containers, so it lacks the easy mobility of liq N2. Transferring liq He from one container to another also requires some skill if you don't want to evaporate the whole lot during transfer.

Oh, did i mention it gives you splendid burns too.

Comment Re:Business Plan? (Score 2, Informative) 80

This is true, but they still need a large user-base to pay for launching a constellation of satellites into space. This was the problem with Iridium v1 - it cost a fortune to setup and not enough people used it because microwave mobile networks were cheaper.

The same problem still exists - the mobiles we all have and love are a better solution for the majority of the market, and that won't change with Iridium v2. Iridium appeals to users who need connectivity everywhere on the planet, and maybe those wanting extra privacy arising from not going via conventional networks. But thats not a lot of people in the overall scheme of things, especially when you are talking about putting up a load of satellites. It surprises me that they have enough users to be able to afford this upgrade.

Comment Re:Incorrect (Score 4, Informative) 447

Wedding photography has a very well established business plan where the base fee covers the basic costs of the photographer, and the prints supply the profit. You are not paying twice for the same thing - the real cost has simply been split up in a way which is convenient to both the photographer and the customer. As it is not exactly an uncompetitive industry, and you don't see many wedding photogs turning up in Porsches, i'd say the pricing and model were pretty fair.

The reasons for the model relate to the photographer having control over his/her reputation, not to screwing the customer - when photos were still taken on film, the quality of the final print had as much to do with the printing process as the actual taking of the picture. Retaining control over that was important to the reputation of the photographer - if he actually handed you a stack of negatives and let you have them printed by any old mail order company, the lousy final prints would impact his reputation. You *could* argue it is an outdated model now, with the rise of electronic media, but most couples still want prints, and the same problem actually still remains - giving out jpg's and letting people print at home or from a cheap online outlet is going to result in exactly the same quality/reputation problem as in the film days.

The industry is adapting to modern times though, so you will now find some wedding photogs will include a DVD of low resolution images for you to put on the web (and many will host a web presence for you as part of the package). But any you find who are willing to give you full size images and reproduction rights for anything less than a big pile of money are probably not the quality of photographer you want covering your wedding anyway.

Comment What if MS go bust? (Score 1) 819

What happens to the authentication if MS goes out of business?

Ok, so its an unlikely scenario, but having someone as big as MS do this will set the trend for web based authentication of everything. How many small companies are going to follow this lead, forcing regular security checks down the throats of customers on the basis that it is an "Industry Standard" way of doing things. And how many of those are going to go bust in a year or two, leaving customers up s**t creak with no method of propulsion?

Comment Re:Safety Critical (Score 1) 913

The problem with any tech is that it's nearly impossible to make it perfect. In some situations like airbags, you can make the system very simple and independent, so it's not prone to failure.

Airbags aren't perfect. I know that for sure as i blew the side impact bag in a VW when a tyre popped. How do you think the car knows whether to deploy an airbag? A lateral g sensor, or in more advanced systems there may be sensors in the doors/pillars. Its still electronics that can go wrong.

Comment Re:I predict a boom in Chinese research. (Score 5, Interesting) 292

My experience echoes this - i review for a number of materials science journals and i've noticed a steady increase in the quality of work coming from the chinese universities. Its becoming well written (in english, which is not easy for them i think) and increasingly relevant. I would predict that before long they will need us less than we need them. The only case of blatant cheating (copying and pasting "nano particles" all over a SEM picture) came from india, not china.

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