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Comment Re:I really don't understand this drone applicatio (Score 3, Insightful) 43

My believe is that they intend to fly hundreds of these. If you have 100 tethers from 0 to 60,000 ft or so, I believe that you would have many aircraft accidents. Recall that the British used tethered balloons to protect themselves from German air raids. There is no way that you could see those tethers while flying, until you were very close to them -- then it would be too late to avoid.

There are a dozen or so tethered balloons around the border of the US now, so far there have been no incidents that I know of -- but the border is a place where pilots are very observant. Also, the balloons are only at about 10,000 ft or so, so most planes are far higher.

Comment Re:That doesn't work because... (Score 1) 159

You can't change the angle at which the scene is rendered by interpolating between frames.

It's not the raw framerate. It's that the scene your viewing has to match where you're looking that quickly or you get motion sick.

While the parent is Anonymous coward, please rate him up, as that is correct.

Comment This is why Zuckerberg is covering all earth (Score 1) 202

Facebook is either going to fly a few thousand WiFi drones or thousands of WiFi satellites to cover the entire planet. Why would they be doing that?

While I think that Pirate Bay guys suck hard (I spent my life creating content that they pirated), I don't think in this particular case he's wrong.

Comment Re:This guy couldn't be more wrong (Score 1) 630

OTEC has been "coming" forever, I went to a presentation that reads astonishingly like that Wikipedia article 40 years ago when I started college. The mechanisms were the same, the idea of using the energy to generate chemicals rather than send electricity through long cables was the same (back then they were suggested ammonia rather than hydrogen, but that's in the Wikipedia article too.)

Curious that the efficiency could be up to 6% -- now, granted, we're not using that temperature difference at all now, but still -- 6%? Solar panels can be up to 30% or more now.

If we were going to use OTEC for hydrogen to power, say, 10% of the cars in the world -- wouldn't we need tens of thousands of plants, each costing millions of dollars?

Comment I had a similar incident in my Cessna (Score 2) 120

I was flying along the coast, just south of San Francisco, when a small dot caught my eye. Flying is typically 99% boring and 1% terrifying -- this was the 1% that day -- I thought it was another plane headed right for me.

About a second later, it was clear that it was a small balloon, and I flew right past it. Just for fun, I entered a 360 degree turn to see it again -- the fun part was that as I came around it was still caught in the vortex from my wing, and was spinning madly! I was surprised, as it probably took well over a minute to make the turn; I didn't realize that even 1,500 lb Cessnas would generate vortices with that much endurance. I treated big jets with a lot more respect after that.

Comment Re:Failed at basic math. (Score 1) 368

Actually, the last 6 months were the hottest of those six months on record. And not by a little bit -- recent 'record heat' has been tenths of a degree hotter, now it's like a whole degree hotter. Not just hotter than average, the hottest ever. April will certainly be the next one. Sorry Charcharodon -- you're just wrong.

Comment Sugar is sugar... (Score 1) 221

It's so easy to justify consuming almost anything, because there are thousands of web pages that say "that is good for you!" Coffee, chocolate, fruit juice, whatever. Some of these are, of course, created by the companies that sell these foods and drinks -- but I think most of it comes from the fact that everybody eats -- and while almost any other subject will only address a fraction of people, foods and drinks are obviously part of everybody's life. So, there's talk about food every day in the newspaper, on the news cable channels...and now on Slashdot.

Comment Very odd camera design (Score 1) 142

One of the most essential parts of the 'immersive' experience of VR is 3D. Many VR cameras, like the Nokia OZO, do good 3D -- the cameras are spaced reasonably close to the distance between eyes, and the cameras are wide enough angle that you can calculate good 3D info from the multiple views. It's odd that Samsung is putting out just a 360-degree camera, not one that captures depth, when their display will clearly show 3D.

Comment What's going to happen? (Score 2) 1105

People aren't looking very far ahead. Immediately all the GOP leaders said that they won't confirm a nomination, and many have asked Obama not to make a nomination. On the other hand, Obama immediately said that he will make a nomination. So, that's likely to be the first public thing to happen.

Obama will likely pick somebody with impeccable credentials, but more importantly, a toughness to survive 11 months of vitriolic attacks -- because he's going to insist that the nominee maintain his or her determination to be confirmed. If he nominates somebody who pulls out after a few months, that would be devastating to Obama and the Democrats. And while that might limit the number of nominees to 10% of what they would be in normal (or, perhaps, historic) times, Obama will find somebody. It will likely be somebody who isn't strongly politically polarized.

And the GOP will immediately insist that they won't confirm him or her. Little question about that. That's when it gets interesting.

Obama will likely use the fact that the GOP Senators are blocking a reasonable candidate to attack them, and likely attack the ones who are at most risk to lose their elections this year. If Obama can make these senators look more like jerks -- and I think he probably can -- then things may change.

I think that the most politcally reasonable thing for the GOP to do would be to vote on the nominee, and just vote him or her down. Obama can probably nominate three or four people during the next eight months, the GOP taking a few months to evaluate each one would be typical and easily defensible.

I don't like it, but that's what I think will happen.

Comment Re:6178 acres? (Score 1) 298

This is in California, where the land is probably 10x as valuable. Also about 10 square miles of space, maybe 5 square miles of solar cells. Another three of four square miles of solar cells 5 miles ESE of this spot.

https://www.google.com/maps/@3...

This is desert. Deserts will be covered on solar cells within 20 years.

Comment 14 years ago I answered questions on /. about VFX (Score 4, Interesting) 232

It's fun re-reading the questions and my answers on Slashdot back in 2002.

Back then somebody asked how to get into the field -- I said it was a bad idea (and it was at the time!) -- and perhaps that's true again. I left the biz a couple of years ago.

That said, as people note about Mad Max: Fury Road just about every shot of complex films is a VFX shot. Mad Max had insanely complex, aggressive, and unique practical effects, but there were still 2,000 VFX shots -- and there had to be!

When I started in VFX back on movies like Terminator 2 I told my friends that the one of the big points of VFX was safety. You can support stunt people with heavy cables, and remove them in post -- or replace the heads of stunt people with the lead actors so that they won't be in danger. This is still true, and will always be true.

One of the most interesting films nominated for VFX this year (not mentioned in the article) was the spectacular Ex Machina. Hundreds of beautiful VFX shots, that were a vital part of the story. Among the things that makes that movie special is that the VFX team was integral to the design of the film -- the budget was so small, that they had to work together with the director, set designer, etc to come up with a way to tell the story beautifully and inexpensively. The VFX budget was only $1.5M, probably 2% of the VFX budget for Avengers: Age of Ultron (not nominated!) The VFX Oscar winner a couple of years ago, Gravity was similar in that respect, the VFX team helped plan, and then shoot, every shot -- and then shooting the movie was incredibly quick. Perhaps this will happen more in the future of VFX, I hope so -- as it allows the VFX team to participate more intimately in the filmmaking.

Another thing that's not mentioned in the article is that a lot of filmmaking is about cost. VFX is these days often a heck of a lot cheaper than practical effects. Not just the cost of building things, but the time it takes to shoot them (a typical movie these days costs on the order of $300K/day)

CG VFX are not dying, not by any means. They may get to be more seamless (I hope so!) and more about telling the story and less about flashy hoo-haw. Every significant budget movie has a huge VFX component, and that's just not going to change.

Again, reading my questions and answers from my relative youth were interesting -- and foreshadow a lot of what happened in the last 14 years. One of the questions, though, was curiously wrong. I had thought that patents would rip through the industry, as it did to early effects work back in the 60's and 70's, but that didn't happen. What did happen was the studios have found ways to convince foreign (mostly) governments to finance VFX work in those countries, this has pretty much wiped out a huge portion of VFX in the US.

A bit of sadness is that my old company Hammerhead Productions that I started (and discussed in the article) is closing down after 21 years...but most of the questions and answers bring a smile. Thanks Slashdot!

Comment Re:Morphing (Score 1) 232

The best morphing ever done was Michael Jackson's Black or White video. It was also one of the first pieces that was done, starting about four months after I wrote the morphing tool.

The thing is, it took about a woman-year to do the work, it was really a tremendous amount of detailed effort. Once it was done, and was so close to perfect, nobody wanted to spend that kind of money again.

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