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Comment Re:Sucked out of an airplane? Not likely (Score 1) 286

Mythbusters does less science than the catholic church.

Not surprising, given that the entire university system was invented by Catholic monks who sought to uncover the physical rules of the universe. (Investigating the rules of physics was seen as investigating God's work, and therefore a holy endeavour.)

Comment Re:good question (Score 1) 286

I know that other cpuntries will xray your tablet, so such a plot will be obvious. They will also xray your laptop and such explosive will show up as a big incongruous block. I can't speak for those 8 countries but i would be surprised if they did not xray baggage.

It's a bit of an open secret, this -- a laptop battery shows up on an x-ray as a big block, and an appropriately-shaped explosive device in a battery compartment is therefore not incongruous. This is why we had to switch on our laptops at security in the late naughties, and still do in some airports. What baffles me is how this latest move helps -- a laptop in hand luggage can easily be x-rayed, swab tested and sniffed by a dog. A laptop wrapped up in the middle of a hold bag is a lot harder to check.

Comment Re:Reminds me of a conversation with a colleague (Score 5, Insightful) 286

A major factor is the tribal nature of societies, which don't transition well into nationhood because its government institutions become tribal, nepotistic, and so simply raise resentment amongst the youth who are not well connected. Look at the global corruption index for a measure of why having fair, open, meritocratic, institutions are essential for countries to "work". And how do you make an institution meritocratic and fair if everyone you hire is tribalistic and used to the tribal loyalty and connections way of doing business?

Two problems:

1) Tribalism is a massive problem because we (the west) didn't give any consideration to tribal boundaries when we carved the Middle East and Africa into "colonies", and we didn't try to correct that before we granted independence, so the modern countries share the same moronic borders as the old colonies

2) Tribalism isn't even the biggest problem -- we've continually interfered in the building of power structures in the quest for cheap mineral resources for our countries' companies. We've installed dictator after dictator, constantly destabilising the region decade after decade.

Comment Re:plausible? (Score 2) 286

Every single time a new "threat" has been promoted (shoebombs, binary liquid juju etc), there are people all over the internet saying "yeah, but the easiest way would be to replace your laptop battery with a block of C4. They look the same on the X-ray.

They've been saying this for the best part of 20 years, and only now has it become a credible threat? Terrorists don't read the internet enough....

Comment Re:Note to self (Score 1) 227

Lots of current models of printer can print JPEGs off memory sticks -- compute power has returned to the printer. But even then, an open-source printer with an open source driver would be in the same place.

I'm sure it would start as a niche geek item, but there would be sectors that would quickly see the benefits -- small language schools, tutors etc.

Not to mention the number of manufacturers in China that would quickly commoditise the thing.

Comment Re:Note to self (Score 4, Interesting) 227

PSA: Canon printers (at least the cheapo models I've bought at walmart) will use whatever cartridge and let you bleed them completely dry, instead of suddenly refusing to work when they hit 10% full or whatever like some models. IIRC a warning light turns on when you're low on ink but you're free to just ignore it.

Plus you don't need a color cartridge installed if you only want to print b&w.

As I recall it, back in the 90s, clogged nozzles were a huge problem for inkjet printers. Canon addressed the problem by making the print-head assembly part of the cartridge, so if there was problem with the heads, new ink sorted it -- it resulted in a more expensive ink cartridge, but it was a selling point for a lot of customers. I believe Canon still have the heads on the cartridge (or at least for some models), although now with the massive profit margins on cartridges, theirs don't seem to be much different in price from other manufacturers'.

This has also meant that with Canon, you can run ink cartridges as low as you like without risking damage to your printer -- with Epson etc, if you run the ink too low, you risk getting an airlock in the print head, killing the printer, so the devices are set to avoid letting you do that. This is also why Epson printers run so much ink through the heads after a cartridge change -- to clear the heads just in case the user had left it lying a week or so between changes.

But if printers were designed to be maintainable, with modular heads that could be snapped out and replaced, this wouldn't be a problem....

Comment Re:Note to self (Score 1) 227

never buy anything Lexmark.

There's more to it than that though -- the entire printer market is a mess that's good for manufacturers, but bad for consumers, the economy and the environment.

There has been no major innovation in printing technology since the start of the century. Ink dot sizes are limited by physics and as small as they need to be for most consumer uses. Manufacturers basically sell us the same thing every five years. To encourage us to upgrade, they make the cartridges harder to buy locally... but that strategy is now useless as all they've achieved is that it's now a practical impossibility for any average-sized shop to stock ink cartridges, and you can only get them from superstores or order them online, and in the process they've killed off stationers, as they can't supply the office consumables you're mostly likely to want to buy at short notice. As a result, we're dumping otherwise serviceable printers at an unsustainable rate (and in the process, we're ditching working scanners, too). And the custom firmware on each one means that you have to ditch a working wifi printer and spring for a new one because that new tablet you got for Christmas only uses a particular protocol.

It is time that someone stepped up to the plate and produced an international standard for serviceable inkjet printers with a standard head assembly that can be easily pulled out and replaced on breaking, featuring refillable ink reservoirs, and with a standard firmware that can be updated when new protocols like Airprint come out.

A modular design that means you can upgrade from A4 printing to A3 by buying a bigger case with a longer print track. Where upgrading from mono to 4-ink or even to 7 ink isn't a matter of buying a whole new machine, but just swapping out the head assembly.

Not only would this reduce waste and long-term running costs, but local shops would be able to stock ink and printer supplies again. Everyone wins. Except HP, Epson and Lexmark.

Comment Re: (Score 1) 125

Currently Python is most popular language as it is very easy to learn. The reason is we don't need to have much experience of coding to learn this language.

I'm not sure that's true in a general. Python is at heart just another generic C-alike.

Python's strength lies in the fact that it was designed with iterables at its core, and for k in keys: is a lot easier to deal with than for (i=0; i . In a sense, this makes it easier to learn -- iterables just make for more accessible and readily understandable learning tasks -- but at the end of the day, a heck of a lot of teaching syllabuses still assume C-style programming, whether simply because that's the way it was before or because the course organisers want to teach a generic paradigm and want their students to be able to transfer to C easily.

As I understand it, Python is the most common language used in high school computing classes in Scotland; however, the national curriculum mandates teaching of arrays and the number-controlled for loop. Python doesn't have arrays (the CS curriculum talks about fixed length and all data being of the same type, and kids can quickly find out for themselves that that's not true in Python) and everyone ends up teaching kids to write for i in range(0,len(listname)): and then immediately item=listname[i] rather than for item in listname .

This sort of contortion hides the logic behind Python and makes programming seem even more arcane and arbitrary.

Comment Re:There can only be one response. Get a Rope (Score 1) 542

3. Battlestar Galactica (2003). The 70s show it was a "re-imagining" of was rather cheesy, like most TV and sci-fi stuff in the 70s. The 2003 mini-series was fantastic, and the follow-up TV show was great too, for about 2 seasons. Unfortunately, it jumped the shark after that, somewhere around season 3.

The original Battlestar Galactica was cheesy, but that was necessary. It was designed to be straightforward "stuff of legend" fare. It was an epic, an Odyssey. There were hugh holes in the plot -- why were the 12 colonies so close to each other, but the 13th randomly so far away? How did the Cylons keep catching up with a fleet that was heading at full speed in a straight line away? If they had the technology to do that, why not just get to Earth before the colonists and wait for them there, having subjugated the entire planet?

The flying-in-a-straight-line problem arose in both the remake and Star Trek Voyager and was essentially waved away, but the more serious the story, the harder it is to keep the holes hidden -- it's an uncanny valley for narrative plots.

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