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Comment Ignore the doom prophets and go Rift or Vive (Score 1) 141

I run a museum with a public VR setup, introduced last July. After looking at HTC Vive and Oculus Rift I decided the Rift was better for our situation because it's more comfortable and the visuals scored better with my test audiences. IMO the resolution and overall visual experience is close enough that it's not a big deal but I do give the edge to the Rift. I also love the Touch controllers but I haven't tried the Vive controller so I can't compare.

You can safely ignore the people who claim VR is dead or doesn't work.

VR is a huge hit at our museum, possibly our most popular attraction. We have regular visitors who come back just for the VR. We have an active gaming community full of people who never want to go back to screen games. The educational applications are enormous. The software is growing and improving all the time.

At this stage anything other than Rift or Vive won't give you a decent VR experience. They are fine in their own way but they're not the real thing.

Comment Re:Melodramatic much? (Score 2) 84

While I struggle to see how this story is relevant to Slashdot, I do see how it would be heartbreaking. Just because the landscape changes naturally doesn't mean you shouldn't be sad when you lose a thing of beauty. Disagree if you like but I think a compassionate person would at least empathize with the locals.

Comment Re:As if they ever meant anything (Score 1) 167

My best friend from school went on to become operations manager for the biggest chain of record stores in my country (it's a small country and the chain has since folded). His job was to decide which singles would occupy the top spots on the charts. The worst-kept secret in the music industry was the "Monday morning phone call" in which my friend would discuss the charts with various other influential people and then make the final decision on what would be #1 etc.

Interestingly there were rumours among the general public about how the charts were rigged by inflating sales and other convoluted methods. My friend laughed at those rumours and said it was nothing so complicated - he just decided what he thought should be #1 and that's what happened. To be fair it wasn't completely corrupt - it wasn't a case of who paid the most money - it was a mixture of what my friend thought should genuinely be #1 and what he wanted to sell the most of. So partly corrupt, just not completely.

Comment Re:I've been in the game a while... (Score 3, Interesting) 60

Pretty sure this thing never really mattered.

Oh it mattered. In the mid/late nineties it was a very important part of SEO. Back in the days when it was actually cool to be involved in SEO, DMOZ was one of the very few human-curated and trusted directory of genuine websites. It was enormously influential and surprisingly difficult to get into. There were also rules about "duplicate sites" which actually just meant "similar in concept" - they actually thought that each idea only needed one website per category. It seems incredibly quaint and naive now, but if you weren't the first website of your type listed in a category, you risked summary judgement as a copycat and excluded forever.

DMOZ was also mirrored all over the place. In the early days of Google Pagerank, link numbers were all that mattered and DMOZ gave you a large number for free. Of course DMOZ itself was high PR too. Honestly,every time I got a website into DMOZ I had a party to mark the occasion.

Of course it didn't last, nor should it have. The submission process became a joke. New submissions weren't even being considered while outdated sites kept their listings. Editing wars got petty (I was an editor for my geographic region but I eventually walked away). It was very sad to see its demise but frankly I was lucky to have been accepted into its ranks early - if I had been a few years later I would have been excluded and disadvantaged. It was a nice idea suited to a younger less mature Internet.

Comment Re:Any chance... (Score 1) 71

SpaceX's broadcasts started out less watchable than a 12YO's Youtube channel but within a year had become slick and entertaining. NASA TV has improved somewhat over the years but still is nowhere as entertaining as it should be. I do feel for the folks at NASA though - their public outreach program suffers from underfunding and uncertainty so it's not entirely their fault.

Comment Re:Kids these days... (Score 1) 408

It's true that proximity is one of the top drivers for making a story newsworthy, so local news will always have a strong interest value. The problem for local newspapers isn't consumer interest, it's advertiser value. My wife sells advertising for our local paper and she's finding it increasingly difficult to compete with Facebook and other advertising opportunities. The cost of producing local content (even for digital-only distribution) is very high per head of target audience, so advertising is correspondingly expensive.

Most local papers these days are owned by large media companies as a way to control local content rather than as good business units in themselves.

Comment Re:Hijacked! (Score 3, Insightful) 317

You won't find many people in the space community who disagree with you - these are all desirable goals. Sadly I think they're pipedreams for the foreseeable future.

1. Think naval reactors or other self contained, compact reactors.

Anything containing the word "nuclear" is a non-starter for political reasons. Sure we all want it and we understand that it can be safe, but it's still a non-starter until some non-western country does it - then western governments might take more of an interest.

2. Indefinitely sustainable environmental system.

I refer you to Biosphere2. AFAIK there has been very little progress since then towards a truly closed ecosystem.

3. Magnetic Shielding.

Great idea that I hope will happen. For now the cost and development time is too great versus conventional shielding. Also the actual risk from radiation may not be a severe as many people assume.

4. "Artificial" gravity.

Definitely should be more work done on this one, but it does present serious engineering challenges and a development cycle that most program managers see as too long.

5. Lastly...engines. Banks of ion engines, the infamous and yet to be proven EM drive

Hopefully we'll see results from space-based EM drive tests soon, but this and ion drives are still a very long way from being practical for crewed spacecraft.

...we need to think long term (i know, I know) instead of to the latest publicity stunt.

Therein lies the problem. No one with the power to make these decisions thinks that far ahead, so these things are likely to remain on the wish-list. At least with conventional technologies we have a pragmatic way forward. My only hope is that you turn out to be right and the things you're talking about do get development funding soon, but realistically I don't see it.

Comment Re:My business went Linux, then back to Windows (Score 1) 557

...stop using Microsoft Office files, including your employees, don't even look at them again, ever. That's what I had to do with my business and I haven't had any issues with it.

I assume that your business doesn't have to deal with any other businesses. Not so for me. The problem isn't working with my own documents, it's having to work with and collaborate on documents with other organizations.

Comment My business went Linux, then back to Windows (Score 5, Interesting) 557

I own a private museum with about 100 computer-driven displays and half a dozen admin/office PCs. Originally I used Linux for 95% of it. Ten years later I have 2 Linux boxes left and the rest are Windows 10. I used to believe all the pro-Linux arguments I'm reading again here, but in the real world there are just too many problems with Linux. It's not any one problem - it's the plethora of annoying niggles that eventually wear you down. For example:

- Unavoidable but incompatible 3rd party hardware and software.
- "Linux-compatible" versions of software that are just crap.
- Driver issues.
- Minor but frequent differences in the way MS Office docs are rendered.
- Browser rendering differences and problems with 3rd party websites (shouldn't happen but does - nothing I can do about that).
+ many, many more little things.

If I was a better sysadmin/programmer and enjoyed spending time addressing these issues then maybe I could make Linux work better. But I'm not and I don't, so Windows it is.

Comment Re:Talk about dodging a bullet (Score 2) 39

It doesn't make sense for them to just sit around drawing a salary but maybe that's exactly what they get.

No, astronauts don't just sit around. If you add up the hours of an astronaut's career you'll see that even those with the most flight time spend almost all their time on the ground except a few relatively short stints in space. They are involved in all sorts of activities including R&D, developing missions, testing procedures, etc. It's a busy life. Most astronaut's I've spoken to say you have to treat the actual spaceflight as the icing on the cake rather than the focus of the job.

Comment Level of harm is relative (Score 1) 560

Of all the pro-legalization groups I follow, not one of them claims that marijuana is harmless. They claim it is *relatively* harmless, i.e. less damaging to individuals and society than other common choices such as alcohol. It's not a "safe" choice, it's a less dangerous one.

If this is true, and assuming you're happy to let people use some recreational drugs in moderation (e.g. alcohol), it follows that marijuana should be one of the legal options.

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