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Comment Bacteriophage Therapy (Score 1) 296

    If antibiotics fail, the decades of Soviet research (pre and post-wall Georgia in particular) into bacteriophages may prove to be humanities' savior.

  Have a nasty superbug that antibiotics can't treat? Somewhere out there are equally evil viruses that love to hunt and eat that specific type of bacterium, leaving the host untouched.

Discovering and curating them may be crucial in the near future.

Comment Re:A-10 is an overhyped obsolete POS (Score 2) 325

There's no reason for people to think so digitally about this. Systems degradation can be important.

They: Cover tank in reactive armor to defeat or diminish missiles.

You: 1 second hose tank with 30mm DU, the wingman 5 seconds behind you takes the missile shot. Your burst rips all the crap off the outside of their tank, the missile penetrates and destroys it. A few thousand dollars worth of ballistic ammo defeats or diminishes their half million dollar deterrence system, allowing your $70,000 Hellfire missile to killshot the tank.

Comment Re:Maybe both have their place. (Score 1) 325

Didn't we learn our lesson? Hell, even a $49 combo toaster oven waffler clock radio coffee maker sold at Sears in 1977 would teach you that "all in one" systems usually perform each role with mediocre quality at best, and excels at none of them.

The F-35 is a giant flying compromise whose most powerful defense system is the anti-cancellation sensor that blows manufacturing subcontract chaff across tens of states and dozens of different congressional districts making a program scale-down or cancellation kill shot nearly impossible.

Comment Apple, your Ex Girlfriend and Inertia (Score 1) 191

Apple is becoming the girlfriend who you started becoming disenchanted with a year ago, but keep seeing because you know each other and have relationship inertia, and it's easier to coast than the scary challenge of starting over.

So, Apple continues to offer less value to consumers yet demands the same, or higher price points. With customers locked into iTunes, locked into iMessage, locked into the app ecosystem on both mobile and desktop, this is a calculated gamble that they can put ho-hum parts in a box on your desk and you won't ask them to get their shit boxed and moved out by the weekend.

And I'm keeping the fucking dog and the espresso machine.

Comment Re:Courage vs Ego (Score 1) 761

Ego drives Apple.

You'd never guess from their slick video presentations at the yearly press conference that everything in their phone is made by, was invented by, and was assembled by dozens of other companies. Their processors are fabbed by other people, the camera module was created by other people, batteries, wifi & bluetooth radios, batteries, dozens of other parts other people. it's really unclear exactly WHAT Apple makes aside from software and advertising.

The brilliant Israeli engineer behind the A series mobile processor designs? Worked at Intel and IBM before Apple poached him. All three parties were sued by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation over significant processor design patent violations - All of which WARF won, or were hastily settled before trial.

I take that back. It's clear what Apple makes. Apple makes desire. They manufacture wanting.

The passage from Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography where he explains how Jobs spent a few weeks in Paris, walking the streets in the luxury goods district, carefully examining the store interiors, signage, display hardware, merchandise, and speaking with employees - At luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Cartier and others - All companies that take inexpensive materials and through the magic of design, advertising and strategic marketing create luxury products costing huge multiples of their material costs - That passage was extremely telling and greatly helps explain how Apple turns ~$200 worth of components into $650-1000+ devices that people shit themselves over.

Comment 1.8 Million Truckers Are Terrified. (Score 1) 381

According to Wikipedia /2006 data, there were 1.8 million operators of heavy trucks in the United States alone. That number does not including the dispatchers, logistics and other office staff that works to support the huge number of drivers.

All those men and women, working quietly, almost invisibly plying the roads and highways of the country to get your ice cream, flat screens and blue jeans to stores.

The trucking and logistics companies that employ these drivers must be positively salivating at the prospect of firing 1.8 million truck drivers that can each earn potentially $50-70,000 per year with owner-operators earning close to six figures after expenses. Truck drivers that can only legally drive N hours before Y hours DOT mandated down time. Truck drivers that fall asleep, fiddle with the radio, talk on the phone, and through statistically unavoidable human error cause terrible accidents. And this is what the industry will sell America when explaining why they are causing one of the single largest layoffs in American history, throwing the economy into recession as a significant percentage of the American workforce finds themselves unemployed at ages, and without skills allowing ready transition to other employment.

No, it will be about "improving highway safety" and "relieving workers from the tedium of bad jobs." What!? You claim this is about saving money? No salaries, no benefits, and we can run twice as much freight in the same time period because the automated trucks never have to sleep? Why, of COURSE NOT. This is about SAFETY, folks!

The large companies that already run hundreds or thousands of trucks will fire all their drivers. The most successful automation systems will be those that can be readily retrofitted to the existing livery of tractors. They will add additional fuel tanks to the trucks to extend their range. A network of terminals and warehouses will spring up around the major interstates. Trucks will platoon two meters apart at 50 miles per hour for maximum fuel economy and drive non stop on Interstates criss-crossing the country, only pulling off into freight yards in the countryside to drop their trailer, where a human driver will do the last-50-mile delivery to the customer. These last mile delivery truck drivers will become lower paid, poor or no benefit package monkeys earning a fraction of the salary that current OTR Over The Road drivers are paid now.

The problem gentle reader isn't that technology is causing jobs to be replaced by automation, but the PACE of technology replacing jobs by automation is increasing far faster than society seems capable of finding new avenues for those affected to support themselves in comparable, meaningful and fulfilling work.

The President will go on TV to announce a toothless jobs bill earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars for terminated drivers to attend community college to retrain for "exciting careers as solar panel installers!" when most will, in all likelihood, end up working minimum wage jobs at the nearest Autozone parts counter.

Capitalism the Machine(tm) will not stop until absolutely everyone in the United States sits in a cubicle 10 hours a day pushing pixels in Microsoft Office 2035 and all industry and service work has been replaced by foreign manufacturing, robots or exploited immigrants.

".. a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder value."

Comment Coal Powered Cars Are Awesome. /s (Score 0) 123

I love Tesla. I wish I owned one. But we still have a long way to go towards cleaner energy, and Electric Vehicles are just playing a sly shell game with gas & particulate emission, shuffling it across town to the coal fired electric plant that's shoveling that juice into your wall charger.

Let me introduce you to the people most excited over the Tesla Model 3 pre-order:

We need a national energy policy that promotes a mesh of wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro and nuclear on an epic scale. It needs to be half mandate, half significant financial incentive.

Exxon, BP, et al need to stop thinking of themselves as just "oil companies" and start thinking of themselves as "energy companies."

According to a 2012 article from Bloomberg, one new offshore oil platform cost $650 million dollars. What do the numbers look like if BP put a $650 million wind farm at sea, get the federal government to pay for the transmission lines back to shore to sell power to the local utility companies? According to a recent Purdue University study on Wind Turbines, typical 1.5 megawatt turbines by GE & Vestas have a 20 year service life.

When will household rooftop solar be mainstream? Not something used only by granola-munching superliberals like actor Ed Begley JR?

If Electric Vehicles are to replace the industrialized world's fleet of gas & diesel powered automobiles, these challenges need to be met:

1, Establish battery recycling programs on an industrial scale, comparable to the high-90 percentile rate at which current lead-acid car batteries are recycled.

2, Solve current Electric Vehicle range problems with a massive network of rapid chargers or modular automated battery module swap stations.

        A. If the petroleum companies repurposed the drive-through car wash at their filling stations into automated battery pack changeout systems, that solves both massive water waste and range anxiety in one stroke. The changeout system sockets and supercharges the depleted packs in the storage basement below the drive-through floor. Drivers pay a petrol-competitive fee for the battery swap.

        B. Destination locations - Shopping malls, strip malls, theme parks, large restaurants, parking garages, highway rest plazas - Install rapid charging stations. This acts as a draw, which will be popular with the merchants clustered around the charging stations. Tap to pay, loyalty card discount programs, various incentive programs to draw consumers to X mall vs Y mall across town, etc. - Everyone wins. Again, range anxiety is solved. Thirty minute supercharge time - idle time- becomes "I'm going to get a sandwich at that deli" time, or "I'm taking the kids into the Disney Store" time. What retailer wouldn't love having a parking lot full of rapid charge stations in a world full of Electric Vehicles.

3, Solve future Electric Vehicle range anxiety with improved battery chemistries.
        A. Longer runtime between charges
        B. Faster charge times
        C. Chemistry must support battery module rebuild-ability, recycle-ability, lowest possible eco footprint

4, Understand and accept the slow adoption curve, balance against petro fuels

EV adoption can't happen overnight no matter how quickly the recharge, range and consumer price picture changes. We still need petrochemical fuels for the foreseeable future. Think of it as a teeter-totter. On one side, EV's are at the bottom, inching up slowly. High on the other side are petrochem powered internal combustion engines - Gasoline cars, diesel Semi Tractor-Trailers, commercial equipment - Bulldozers, farm tractors. Specialty kerosene vehicles - Aviation fuels. Passenger jets, military jets & rotorcraft.

It will be a slow shift over many decades as the EV side of the seesaw comes up and the petrochemical side slowly goes down. And the petro side will never completely touch the ground - Those fuels, lubricants, and chemicals will be necessary for a long time until replacements can be found - if ever.

I love the Tesla cars. I watched the Model 3 press event. I wish I had the pocket change laying around to buy one. But we as a civilization have larger structural problems to solve than just designing a stylish passenger vehicle with a semi-affordable price. The entire SYSTEM of how energy is produced and delivered needs to change from the bottom up.

Comment Re:Lucasfilm and Disney are scumbags.... (Score 1) 198

Remember when electronic music artist Joel "Deadmau5" Zimmerman was sued by Disney because his mouse helmet was too close to Mickey Mouse for Disney's' comfort? Well, Deadmau5 won.

Disney took it reasonably well.

No wait, I'm kidding, they started using actual clips of Deadmau5's music in their TV shows without licensing or attribution, and it took a very ugly and public threat of lawsuit by Zimmermans' lawyers, including Joel putting the entire C&D order on Twitter in PDF format one page at a time before Disney capitulated.

Comedian Adam Carolla has stated repeatedly on his podcast from his own personal experience, and that of his numerous industry friends that Disney is the cheapest, most frustrating studio to work with in the business. They come at people with the asshole "we're the big company, it's a privilege to work with us" attitude, lowball everyone on compensation while they reap record industry profits.

I have no doubt their employees on the content creation side are among the best in the world. Their C suite is filled with people you'd throw a cinderblock, leaving the life preserver on the dock.

Comment Re:Is it news? (Score 5, Interesting) 202

It has been alleged for years that they can also remotely activate the built in microphone(s).

This is problematic as the internal microphones - such as the one(s) used in most Apple MacBook models - are internal, and don't feature a single, easily plugged or taped-over hole. Rather they use the thousands of perforations in the speaker grille (in the MacBook Pro) or other non-obvious openings.

The real issue here is that Americans used to believe their intelligence services were careful, and used traditional investigative techniques to build significant evidence to obtain wiretapping or eavesdropping warrants. In the post-Snowden world in which we live, that curtain was savagely ripped away, revealing the malevolent bulk meta data trawling, phone tapping, email sifting cloud storage plundering intelligence agency wizards trampling the constitution underfoot on a scale that should have Mount Rushmore weeping giant granite tears.

I have yet to see a single article where a single one of these federal agencies has been asked by a journalist to provide an example of a spectacular attack that was thwarted by all this Stazi level intelligence apparatus. Not one. You would think they would trot out precrime planning stage arrests on a regular basis to assuage the fears of an anxious public, but NooooOoOo, no such luck. Just trust us, folks!

Comment Re:Why would Disney do this? (Score 1) 262

Week One, 100 level first year Business Intro class at every college and university in the United States. Gather round the campfire, sing along everyone -

".. a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder profits/shareholder value."

Public traded corporations, as people, are sociopathic. Failure to maximize profits is malfeasance. Employees exist as resources to be managed.

IT exists as a cost center within most corporations. It doesn't earn money - it's a money sink. It's viewed as a necessary evil by the bean counters to keep the the gears turning - To keep Outlook strangling your will to live with 100 unread emails as you unlock your $600 Dell workstation every morning, Powerpoint decks carefully crafted to optimally dispirit you in hourlong lunch meetings where the leveraged synergy tumbling out of the projector could have been reduced to 10 bullet points on a post-it note - or an email.

IT managers and middle don't have much to "win" with. Meeting project deadlines, otherwise the job is to simply maintain the status quo. Keep the machinery humming. When you do your job well, you're invisible. Invisible doesn't get promoted. The Sales & Marketing guys have numbers to brag over. Those numbers directly translate to dollars in the company's pocket.

Some mid to upper level Disney technology officer wanted something to brag about. They took a fleeting glance at Disney's operations and decided that their (presumably) top quality, experienced IT people could be replaced with H1B robots earning half the salary. H1B robots have a legal minimum salary that's frequently half that of their American counterparts. H1B robots legal status in the U.S. is directly tied to their visa; losing the visa puts them out of status and in violation of federal law. This creates a system where the corporation has enormous and undue influence over the H1B workers' job. Be model employees - or else. Work 60 hour weeks. Come in Saturdays. Do the shit work no one else wants to touch. Do it with a smile. Do it with a smile for less than half the salary your predecessor earned, or we can terminate you on a whim, throwing you out of status, forcing you to leave the country at penalty of US law.

What a dream for employers. Half the pay, and the crushing weight of the US Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services and Department of Homeland Security constantly on your mind as you're at the office at 7:15 yet another evening at your 8-5 job.

Comment Re:Star Wars People vs. Star Trek People (Score 1) 363

Star Wars is space opera.. emotionally captivating fantasy.

Star Trek entices people with amazing possibilities in our near future. I feel this is the reason the engineer-heavy Slashdot audience voted Star Trek higher. Star Trek - particularly the newer shows, like Next Generation, Voyager, DS9 - always used technobabble to explain situations using our current understanding of physics and other disciplines as closely as possible, only filling in the cracks with scriptwriter hocus-pocus for suspension of disbelief.

Something altruistic in our nature wants us to believe that technological advances will carry us to the stars in a time frame roughly similar to the gap from the American colonial revolutionary war to modern day.

Space Opera with fantastical impractical "technology" largely implemented for visual effects "Wow" factor and plot nudging, vs. a futurists' imagineering of what could actually resemble humanity's near future.

Comment Re:Stargate SG-1 (Score 2) 363

I'd throw you an up vote if I could. SG-1 was brilliant.

It's necessary to remember that Stargate SG-1 was produced specifically to provide family accessible SciFi entertainment - And it succeeded brilliantly, given the show's loyal fanbase, very long run, and continued success in global syndication. Not unlike MASH, somewhere - at some point during the day - a rerun of SG1 is on, on some 2nd tier regional TV channel.

The show was expertly produced and ran like a well oiled machine. During its broadcast run, the principle actors were highly sought after - and did quite well for themselves - making several annual appearances at Creation SciFi conventions in major US and EU cities.

Much respect to the show runners for creating the Amanda Tapping role long before the current wave of neofeminist handwringing over gender imbalance in STEM fields. The Major / Colonel Samantha Carter character was a fantastic, smart, capable role model. When you write characters with enough depth and positivity that the US Air Force proactively contacts YOU to shoot an episode & story line about a brilliant young female cadet at the Air Force Academy, you're probably doing something right.

Stargate deserves a TV weekly reboot sometime in the not-distant future. Don't go gloomy and brooding like Stargate Universe - stick with the formula. A quartet of well written characters going on fantastic adventures in new places every week, solving difficult problems.

Comment Teledesic, The 1990s Called (Score 2) 123

Yeah, I remember this when it was called "Teledesic", from the mid-90s, when Craig McCaw, Bill Gates & Prince Bin Alawaleed threw $9 billion in a hat to create a Low Earth Orbit satellite internet company.

So, we have yet to solve some of the staggering problems behind this concept.

1, Cost.
2, Cost
3, Cost
4, Semi-acceptible downstream speeds, latency-choked laggy dialup upstream speeds making video/audio streaming, uploading to cloud services, etc wholly impractical. The only workable solution is to use traditional terrestrial last-mile technology (cable, dsl, etc.) for the upstream. Which wholly defeats the point of satellite internet.

I thought Sir Richard was smarter than this.

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