Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment There are so many options,,,,, (Score 1) 376

There are so many ways that a ham can make contact from anywhere on the planet that it's staggering.

While VHF/UHF repeater coverage in Colorado is excellent because most of the repeaters are on top of mountains, you can also find a lot of places in the back-country where you can't hit a repeater because some @#$%^ mountain is in the way ;)

You could also communicate via satellite. There are ~20 amateur radio satellites currently operating.

Then there are the "traditional" methods using HF frequencies.

The Amateur Radio Relay League (the national ham group) runs an exercise annually that focuses on various modes of operating in the field. Hence the name, Field Day. Unfortunately, it was last month.

But the ARRL or a local ham club will be a better resource than random ramblings here. Check them out (or find a local club) at

Comment Rules Of Alien Contact (Score 1) 1015

The aliens in The Killing Star aren't concerned with conquest or resources, they are concerned with risk! The authors introduce the three laws of alien contact, which as best I recall are:
  1. Nice guys don't get to the top of the food chain
  2. My species survival is more important to me, than you species survival is to me
  3. In case of conflict, see rules one and two

The point being that any interstellar capable civilization can easily destroy planets. MAD may not be an adequate deterrent when you are talking about the death of your home planet and possibly your entire species. The viewpoint of the Killing Star aliens is that any such risk is too great, and must be eliminated preemptively.

Comment Re:Well, to be fair, (Score 1) 746

> it does look like a whole lot like a Barrett .50 sniper rifle

Maybe if you look at it upside down with an astigmatism. But it is similar to the French GIAT FAMAS rifle or the canceled H&K XM8.

The Seattle area was also somewhat sensitized by a guy closed down I-5 last week after firing shots from "an AK-47-style rifle." I find it interesting that the normally anti evil assault weapons Seattle Times made the distinction that it was not an actual (i.e. full automatic capable) AK-47.

Of course, Seattle is not exactly 2nd Amendment friendly under the best of circumstances.

Comment So What's The Big Deal? (Score 1) 410

Lots of Civil War re-enactors have built artillery pieces before. There are whole batteries of them! As for it going to an eleven year old, he will have a great deal of difficulty moving it around without dad's truck. Ammunition will cost over $20/round, so he won't be firing it very often. Before we all became politically correct (and more urbanized) after WWII, a boy would often get "his first rifle long before he has his first long trousers." This kid has a lot less potential to get into mischief with a howitzer than he does with a .22 rifle!

P.S. With a little research, dad could have bought one of these for a lot less than $6K.

Comment Why Not Dead-End Microcells? (Score 1) 785

Instead of jamming, which is illegal, why don't schools (and theaters, etc) set up their own phone microcells (picocells?)? Force phones in the building to associate with the inside cell, then set that cell to signal "No Circuits Available". There would also be no connection to the "real" cellular infrastructure, so no problem with incoming calls or texts.

I may not have the terminology correct, but this should work both technically and legally.

Comment Get Real (Score 1) 474

If you think your name, address, employment history, etc. are secret, you are living in a fantasy world. If you've ever used a job board, or emailed a resume, the details of your entire work history are probably out there too. LinkedIn serves a useful purpose in that maintains the "link" between associates, even when they change jobs or email addresses. There are LinkedIn junkies who try to link to everyone they possibly can. Others only link to "real" associates. I do the latter, and find it quite useful.

Comment Three Laws of Alien Conact (Score 1) 774

Just remember the Three Laws of Alien Contact:
  1. Nice guys don't get to the top of the food chain.
  2. My species survival is more important to me, than your species survival is to me.
  3. In case of conflict, see rules #1 and #2.

Might be better if we don't hear anyone else, given how much noise we are making. Any response could easily be relativistic!

Comment Re:Of course! It's all so simple! (Score 1) 897

Laugh all you want, but I think an interstate monorail system is exactly what we could use.

A monorail could be built with pre-fabricated components along existing interstate highway right-of-ways with minimal traffic disruption. Limiting stations to every ~500 miles or so reduces need for real estate, and allows the trains to get up to some speeds.

Having a workable interstate train system would reduce airport congestion, save fuel, and be _relatively_ immune to terrorists (if you crash a train, you only crash one train. Track and pylons can be rebuilt). It would also be a hell of a lot faster for medium distances than air travel these days when you factor in all the crap you fo through at the airport. If you offered trains with auto-carriers, you could drive on here, and drive off 1,000 miles later.

If you worry about unfair competition to airlines, let them invest in the system.

Obama is looking for a way to spark the economy, this could be ideal.

Slashdot Top Deals

Make sure your code does nothing gracefully.