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Comment Straws don't make good siphons anyways. (Score 1) 360

A siphon (at least the kind in the article) generally means a u-shaped tube that pulls liquid up over the top and down again. I suppose a couple of bendy straws stuck together might work with a bit of tape, but holes are still a problem because it breaks the pressure seal and stops the slug of falling liquid from applying force to the container. I am sure in a couple of days we will all be able to see u-tube hypobaric siphon action on youtube.

Comment Re:Great..... (Score 2) 112

I have to wonder... is there a chance that John McAfee did all of that far out stuff just to make his name look bad, so that Intel would stop using it? He sold the right to use the name a long time ago, but was still getting hate mail about the crappy software. Since he would have had no legal case to stop Intel from using the name, perhaps, just perhaps he was doing all this stuff in the last year to get the result announced at CES. Intel is going to re-brand the software this year. Could it be that he is actually an evil genius who planned it this way? My personal suspicion was that the stuff in Belize was just as messed up as it seemed, but the ranting and raving on the internet and generally crafting such a bad-boy persona may have been brought up a couple notches to help get his name off the software. I can't imagine a guy like that wouldn't have at least considered making use of the media to push that personal agenda. Not withstanding the scantily clad women, I would love to use his uninstall procedure one of these days. Too bad it's my work computer that is stuck with the software.

Comment I switched to feedly (Score 2) 335

The switchover was simple - log in with my goolge account and authorize it. The layout is clean, and the app form on my phone is prompt and beautiful. Thanks google for making me switch... Feedly kicks google readers butt. Feedly may not be the beat alternative, but it was the only one I tried after reading a few reviews of the options. I didn't feel the need to look any further.

Comment Sounds like a teachable moment (Score 2) 284

The best solution is to use this event as a jumping point into securing it right... No matter what technical solution you come up with, the weakest link are the people. Education, some firings, and getting a better vendor are the real next step. Remote access can be a marvellous tool to getting problems straightened out without flying people in, but it sounds like these are the kind of people you wouldn't let walk unescorted in the plant...

Comment Gravimeter in milligals (Score 1) 328

Measures the local force of gravity in milligals. 1 gal is 1 cm/s^2 of accelleration, so accurate to 1/1000 of that. Although modern units have computers to assist with making the measurement, the device is suprisingly simple: a very precisely calibrated spring-mass balance system with a micrometer thumb screw for adjusting the amount of extension of the spring necessary to balance the force of gravity. The device is used in combination with seismic surveys to figure out the density and location of rock layers underground for oil and mineral prospecting.

Comment Even if developers are liable, are they negligent? (Score 1) 550

From the article:

“The question is ‘Are they being negligent?’. The usual test is ‘Are they applying contemporary standards to the quality of their work?’,”

It seems to me that at the moment the contemporary standards are that almost all software has security holes. The "contemporary standards" are that this is acceptable -- very few customers with very specific needs can afford to insist otherwise, and even they have to build in redundancy and monitoring systems to handle the case where something doesn't work as advertised.

If the authors argument is based on contemporary standards, it's not a very good one.

Comment Re:They are even dumber than they seem. (Score 5, Interesting) 936

There are many examples of "living fossils" -- living things that are essentially unchanged from dinosaur era fossil records including some varieties of crocodiles, fish, turtles, etc. A live 'dinosaur' would just be a bonus for these people.

What I find most telling is that these 'schools' choose the most ridiculous possible example rather than look for the obvious ones. The argument still wouldn't stand up to the vast number of samples of extinct and changing fossils over time, but it would at least be based on scientific observations that are reliable and readily confirmed.

Comment Emacs vs VIM: Who cares? (Score 2) 271

Honestly, both are excellent text editors. I, like most programmers, use the one that was favored at my university. Not because it was necessarily better, but because lots of other people used it and helped me get over the learning curve. I still use VIM today on every operating system I use or am forced to use.

At the end of the day, the text editor I use has to be something I use so well that I am not thinking about the text editor - I am thinking about the text I want to edit.

Can't we all just get along?

Comment Use it or lose it (Score 2) 229

I think that governments should be lobbied to enact patent reform to require patent holders to actively use and promote the patented technology within some timeframe of the patent being granted in order to continue to have patent protection. My reasoning is this: If a patent is so intrinsically valuable to you that it was worth filing the patent in the first place, then you must capitalize on it to be able to protect it. If you can't get funding or sell licenses to get a product to market within a reasonable amount of time, you lose the right to get the courts to do that for you. Seeing as most things truly deserving of patent protection are put in use and on sale while the patent is still pending or not yet filed, I don't think this would harm the kinds of industries that patents were designed to work for, while patent holding companies and trolls would be under the requirement to actually do something with their portfolio instead of waiting for someone else to do the hard work and then forcing them to pay through the courts. A side effect of this is that pharmaceuticals companies that decide a medicine is not worth selling and shut it down would also lose protection.

The core of the idea is to recognize that the ideas embodied by patents have no value unless someone is using them - 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. If you have the idea, and develop far enough to patent it, you can get some time protection to get it into production, but there needs to be a limit to how long you get protection without making reasonable efforts.

Comment People, lots of them (Score 1) 130

Having followed closely academically organized meteorite finds, it turns out that what you need most of all is human eyes and lots of them. Assuming you have figured out where to look already, walking a grid pattern is one of the most effective ways. I suppose a metal detector will help with some kinds of meteorites, but really, the human eye is one of the best tools for the job.

Comment Mashup: faster than the solar wind (Score 1) 229

On my feed reader, this item came up beside some stuff about http://www.fasterthanthewind.org/ where a vehicle made a record for sailing down wind at just shy of 3 times the speed of the wind. They did so by turning the problem on it's side and inside out a bit -- you can read more there if you want to. In any case, I was beginning to wonder if the concepts (not the mechanics, but the energy balances they achieved) could be used to make a solar sailing space craft that travels down the solar wind at some pretty impressive speeds.

Just a thought. I have no idea what that would look like, and the solar wind is pretty fast, so it may not make much sense (unless the system would at least increase the rate of accelleration over the current design of sail for the same surface area.) None the less, I would love to see if someone who understands the physics better than I could take a go at what such a system would look like, and what would have to be changed or discovered to make it happen.

Comment Focal Length, type? (Score 1) 377

4" is a wide definition. The focal length, optical type (a 4" refactor is a very different beast than a 4" reflector, and there are lots of options in-between), and available eyepieces factor in. None the less, planetary targets are usually impressive.

The moon is always a good choice. Don't wait for a full moon -- partial phases are more interesting because the lighting and shadows emphasize just how bumpy the moon is.

I have a 4" F13 scope (roughly 52" focal length -- 1350mm), and it's not bad for brighter nebulae as well, such as M42 in orion, and galaxies such as the Andromeda galaxy.

Comment Re:How ironic (Score 1) 238

I expect that part of the problem here is the low population density compared to other markets.
Simply put, Canada has about the same landmass of the continental united states (I had to look that up, but it's actually surprisingly close), but only 1/10 the number of people. The population density of the USA is listed as 32 people per km^2, Canada is 3.2/km^2. A few city-only serivces have existed: Fido, for example, but they were bought up because Canadians travel alot, and really really want good coverage on the major highways. When you are 200-300 km from anywhere, it's kinda nice to have a bar or two on your phone. That means that it is hard to draw customers to the city-only services in the long term.

Don't get me wrong: Rogers and friends are still turning an insane profit on our backs, but sometimes that is just the way it works. At least those profits are mostly staying in Canadian hands.

To build out a new cellular network takes a considerable amount of capital to provide coverage for enough people to make it worthwhile. I don't think the cell operators need collusion to keep the prices high -- since a new player either needs the money and time to build out a network, or they have to pay an existing player to offer a virtual cell network -- and you can bet that the existing players are .

The only reason we are getting new carriers finally is that the CRTC stepped in and is forcing existing players to provide that virtual network capability at a wholesale price that lets the new carriers compete. In other words, they are regulating a way to prevent the carriers from a making such a big profit and opening the field to competition. Some of that competition is being funded from non-canadian sources, which I am not sure is such a great thing: It will be years before the competition amongst carriers makes a dent in the rates we are paying, and in the meanwhile, that means sending the profits out of the country, which for Canada has never been such a good thing.

I think what it comes down to is that all the options suck, and the new options suck just as bad as the old ones, and it's only going to get worse.

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