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Submission + - Europe sets sights on asteroid tracking radars (

coondoggie writes: "The European Space Agency today said it would develop a radar system that will be capable of tracking space hazards such as asteroids and orbital debris. ESA and France's Office National d'Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales — research center will work with five other partners in France, Spain and Switzerland to this month design a test surveillance radar and develop a $6 million demonstrator model."

Submission + - How secure is VOIP from my internet provider?

Wandering_Burr writes: I recently added VOIP to my TWC bundle as it is actually slightly cheaper than not having it. They provided an Arris modem and told me to hook my phone up to it.

What I haven't been able to find is if/how they encrypt the data between the Arris and their network. Skype is transparent about their encryption, but is it safe enough to use TWC (or 8x8, AT&T U-Verse) or others to call my bank and do business without having to worry there might be an eavesdropper?

Comment Re:If it was anyone other than Ridley Scott (Score 1) 288

Not to defend the Bay Transformer franchise, but unfortunately that detail is rather true to the series. When I watched the original series as a kid, I hated Spike and his family, because they were always stealing camera time away from... just about anybody more interesting. There were so many robots in the Transformers line, so many opportunities, but it had to open with Bumblebee rolling in to the garage and chumming with his human pals.

I've always found it a bit insulting, even as I grew up, that these kids' shows about non-human things (Smurfs, Transformers, etc.) have to have an "ambassador" to their world, in the form of a young human that the viewers can identify with. It's as if the producers believe that little kids would have absolutely no frame of reference and be completely unable to comprehend the themes surrounding a bunch of non-human yet highly anthropomorphized characters.

Comment Re:...what was the point? (Score 1) 161

To make things worse, in G+ I see ways of muting individual posts and outright blocking a user (which does more than just mute their posts and in my opinion is more of a nuke you'd use on stalkers and during painful breakups.) Typically if a user on Facebook got too spammy I'd just hide their future posts and they could natter on all they like. A quick solution would be to remove them from your general stream, but there seems to be no way to do that without removing them completely from your circles. The only way to retain them in a circle yet filter out their posts is to make a "pariah" circle, drop that user in the circle and only that circle, and then individually browse all non-pariah streams by circle, which is a heck of a lot less convenient than the "hide" drop-down in Facebook. Blocking the user is a bit too harsh, as I may still want them to see my posts, but if they start playing games that update me on the welfare of their pet baby seal every hour or so, removing them from all my circles may be my only recourse!

Comment Re:Couldn't be worse (Score 1) 368

I used it. It was fairly functional and effective for its day, but the problem was the Brazilians. When you tried to start up an interest group, even if you specified English as the language, it was more often than not overrun with posts in Portuguese, many of them stating not much more than "Hey, who else out there is Brazilian!?!!" I've got nothing against Brazilians -- it could just have easily been the Vietnamese or the Indians. I think no small number of English speakers felt alienated by an increasing number of semi- or fully-nude torsos trivializing their pages with banter they couldn't understand. A lot of these alienated users jumped ship early to a more comforting platform and didn't return. Perhaps the site has much better controls now -- maybe it's better than Facebook even, but every time I think about Orkut, those images of tan, funloving Brazilians clogging up my pages leer back at me.

Comment Re:Not bad! (Score 1) 226

I remember that much about him as well. However, in the movie, his expended power manifests itself in several different ways -- from awesome energy shockwaves to power pellets he can deploy to flicks of a finger loaded with kinetic energy. I expected more of the latter -- that is, punches and other strikes disproportionately loaded with energy. I'm not complaining, but I just didn't have a very good feel for his power's mechanics.

I thought that Kevin Bacon, while not really resembling Shaw very well, still made a captivating villain. I especially enjoyed his brief depiction as a Nazi scientist at the very beginning of the movie. The latest Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me has a small but enjoyable interview with him regarding, among other things, his role as Shaw. :) And I can totally see see him with muttonchops!

Comment Not bad! (Score 1) 226

I read a lot of old school X-Men comic books growing up, and while there were plenty of inconsistencies both when measured against the X-Men canon and even internally, I found that the overall excellent writing and clever use of mutant powers won me over. This movie was a lot more subtle than its predecessors, from the 60's touches to the stronger focus on the characters, and I appreciated that.

They made some weird choices for characters. I don't know if Darwin even has a precedent (probably not, given his character's treatment), but who was the guy who blew the tornadoes? Azazel was also an odd choice. He doesn't really belong in the Hellfire club, from what I can tell, though he does set up Nightcrawler fairly well.

Spoiler (and an example of internal inconsistency) -- what the devil happened to all of that energy Shaw sucked out of the submarine? I felt his powers were somewhat poorly defined to begin with, but when you suck a nuclear submarine's batteries dry, doesn't that energy go *somewhere*? I suppose it could be explained away in one way or another, but it would have made a lot more sense if there were an explosion or some other kind of awesome manifestation of the power he ate.

Comment Re:Not bothered (Score 1) 1162

Ah, I wasn't decrying the end of physical media as we know it. I was referring to media married to a particular format and marketed as such. There may be a fantastic new 3-D storage sugarcube drive in the future, but I don't see movies being specifically released on this format. I don't think we'll see proclamations like "Now on DVD and Blu-Ray" after ads, because it will need to be "Now on DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu, Netflix, Itunes, Verizon, XBox Live, etc."

Comment Re:Not bothered (Score 2) 1162

I think your mention of Netflix is more of a reason why the uptake for Blu-Ray is so slow, and it's the same reason why Blockbuster has gone down in flames -- physical media just isn't as lucrative as it used to be. Before fast Internet speeds, DVDs had no real media competitor besides dwindling VHS players with their obvious disadvantages. Blu-Ray came out in the age of streaming media and portable storage small enough to fit on your keychain. I haven't bought anything on physical media for years now, with the exception of a few good books. I think this is the end of the line: I doubt there will ever be a successor to Blu-Ray as a physical format -- instead, its successor, if you could call it that, will be an algorithm like .mkv or .avi++ or some sort of fabulous content distribution infrastructure built off the cloud.

Comment Re:regauarding e books (Score 1) 204

A couple of good places to get free ebooks are:

There are quite a few others, but many of these sites share 90% of the same content anyhow. I've got a Kindle and greatly enjoy it, but like many of the other readers here, I balk at the ridiculous prices for ebooks (wow, a dollar off the electronic edition!!). There's a great backlog of classics out there that are freely available, so I'm not really wanting for leisure reading content. I guess I'll just have to wait for Going Rogue to go public domain!

Comment Re:Neither reviewer liked it (Score 1) 429

Wow, I was complaining about this very thing to my friends as well. Clouds and lightning? Vehicles that burn rubber and leave marks on the grid? I was a bit disappointed that they didn't carry cyberspace physics further, rather than trying to match them to a real-world experience. In the cyberspace, you can break all the laws you want -- no gravity, no momentum... you could even play with time, though I don't think I'd recommend going down that path. The older Tron seemed to have a more pure vision of cyberspace, though perhaps that's just because their rendering computers lacked the processing power to show a Recognizer wobbling as it landed or to put pretty clouds in the sky.

Comment Re:Neither reviewer liked it (Score 1) 429


Not just that, but Quorra did make it through -- does she have internal organs? Does her antivirus software recognize chicken pox? Somehow I can conceptualize the idea of a brain being translated into cyberspace more than I can understand how programs existing on a computer can be fully fleshed-out to exist in our world.

Comment Re:I think most people missed the point (Score 1) 429

I think one reason the flashbacks didn't bother you as much is that the folks behind Tron, perhaps a bit apologetically, conceal the young Flynn more in the real life flashbacks than they did in cyberspace. It took them forever to reveal young Flynn at the beginning, as most of the shots were in shadow and from behind. When they did flash his face, it wasn't for long, and he was soon out the door.

I noticed his computerized plastic surgery in both forms, and it bugged me. I wish the uncanny valley effect were intentional, but I'm pretty sure that if they could have made a more realistic face, they would have done it.

Comment Re:I think most people missed the point (Score 1) 429

I tried to use that same reasoning on myself, because CLU does look really weird (the mouth, especially). It certainly does add to his creepiness.

Your assertion might hold, but unfortunately they do show a few shots of the "young" Jeff Bridges in real life, and he's had the same CGI makeover as CLU in the computer system. :^( I think it would have been cool if, as the Legacy title suggests, he really is lacking the sophistication of higher programs, visual or otherwise. Bring back the MCP!

Comment Re:good (Score 1) 762

I tend to agree that it was the best so far, but I also think SGU had so much untapped potential that became entangled with the trappings of soap-opera caliber relationships and irritatingly pointless antics where they returned to Earth via the stones. I don't care about what's happening on Earth. I don't care that the HR lady's lesbian relationship is strained being 20 kabillion miles from her lover. I'm in this more for the science and the vast promise of the entire universe.

I did think a few things were quite well-done:

  • I greatly enjoyed the universe. Instead of landing in yet another deciduous midwestern forest like every stargate seemed to point to, the planets in SGU had radically different terrain. Ice planets, deserts, wastelands, jungles... very few of which had even signs of civilization. Space in SGU was much emptier, mysterious, perilous, and realistic.
  • Along with that, I enjoyed the music (not the crooning pop montage at the end of the episodes). It... really felt "spacey" to me. :)
  • I thought the aliens were very well-done in this series -- especially the little guys on the seed ship. They were truly alien and unknown, unlike the Wraith, who stomped about in their dingy scary ship wearing scary makeup and scary clothes and hissing scarily at the camera for the umpteenth scary time. The scariness of the wraith was so exaggerated that they simply became ludicrous caricatures of antagonists.

I'm not going to shed tears at its departure, because while it had potential, I got the feeling the writers would never really get around to harness it, being instead trapped with a middle school mentality amidst the intrigues of the crew. It's a shame, though, because they did get many things right.

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