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Comment Re:Major Metric (Score 1) 312

Going to the metric system require us to exchange a system with a several non-decimal conversions (i.e. 12 inches = 1 foot, 2 cups = 1 pint, 16 ounces = 1 pound) to one with decimal conversions, of which 16 are required to be memorized in the order of increasing or decreasing units.


Most people never need to bother beyond milli, centi, desi and kilo. And, hey, the conversion is always decimal based so you just need to know the names. Desi and centi are not "regular" 3 orders of magnitude units but you do need to measure 1dl for cooking and 1cm is a lot more useful measure than 1mm for everyday business.

Beyond that, doing actual calculations, even simple ones, gets ugly fast on silly units. Figuring out the cubic kilometer thing is public school math, many people would get it wrong for sure but the principle is exactly the same never mind which units are used. Now most people don't do math with real life objects on day to day business which explains why so many people don't "get" metrics.

As I said, foot and pound are perfectly good units. Just adjust the adjacent stuff to work on decimal scale and you're peachy.

Comment Major Metric (Score 1) 312

Nice try but the real meat of the metric system is that it works in ten-based system. Everyone can figure out how many millimeters are in a kilometre or how many cubic meters would you have in a cubic kilometre.

Good luck with that on the silly units. Foot would be perfectly good unit if broke down into ten inches and ten feet would work out to one yard..

Comment Re:I'll believe it when I see it (Score 1) 157

"There's plenty to be found on the moon."

Like air, water, a magnetosphere, people? Like that? What, precisely do you think is on the Moon that we don't have here? It's the same table of chemical elements all across the universe as far as I know.

Hmm, water, hence air, check. Relatively low gravity well, check. Plenty of sunlight sans atmosphere, check. It's a stupendous gas/water station as soon as someone gets a water => oxygen/hydrogen facility running there. Yeah, getting there in the 1st place is pretty hard but once you have ability to refill tanks from moon..

Comment Re:Privately-funded? (Score 1) 475

Well, WB and BG are donating serious amounts of money to charities. After a couple of billions I do think you can start thinking a little bit out of the box beyond accumulating the next billion. Bill Gates has made his personal foundation focus on curing Malaria. Whatever you think of history of Microsoft, that's pretty worthy goal.

No sci-fi appeal, thought. Unless they device mosquito genotherapy that goes horribly wrong..

Comment Re:Purely Stupid (Score 1) 475

This could happen in our lifetime. We could already be living this if NASA hadn't given up on Orion in the 1960s because of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This is the future of space travel, not tiny chemical rockets which cost tens of thousands of dollars to move a kilogram.

But you see, son, we did those nuclear tests for a good cause. Without those tests we wouldn't have the capability to destroy all life on earth five times over today. God bless America!

Seriously, thought, if you think of the rabid opposition to patently clean, efficient and safe nuclear fission power plants, you'd have ecoterrorists suicidebombing the project from get go. Luckily we have other options rather than the crude nuclear impulse engine. Some examples do things like using reactor core to superheat propellant which gives you crazy delta-v for the mass, bit like ion engines. Only this thing can generate serious thrust as well.

Still has bad nucular-word in it. Let's hope Obama's IMHO smart push to privatise space industry allows private launch companies to think out of the box on this one. After all a private company doesn't really answer to voters the same way as goverment institutions do. Unfortunately the goverment still regulates private efforts..

Still, Greenpeace spreads scaremongering about some rather modest fission piles contained in space probes wiping out half of the population on earth (or something like that), just imagine the propaganda about bona fide serious nuclear propulsion..

Comment Re:Will not work (Score 1) 645

While the pirate attacks really push the "They are attacking Us" buttons, and the outcomes are occasionally really bad for unlucky crew members, none of the responses from shippers, insurers, or countries involved suggest that they are a serious economic nuisance.

There is in fact navy presence in the area. Even a well-known blue waters superpower like Finland sent a corvette.

The problem is that
a) Actual warships are tremendously expensive
b) Warships are meant to fight other warships, not to deter pirates, so they're a tremendous overkill

British navy guy in The Register suggested some time ago that the right naval response for pirate hunting would be to get some freight ships and convert them to helo tenders. Helicopters can go all around the place quickly so they can in fact respond to pirate attacks at sea. On the other hand the fleet auxiliary tender would be rather cheap compared to a billion-euro destroyer full of high tech gizmos designed to fight nuclear submarines, jet fighters and seaskimming missiles.

Would a stint hunting somali pirates in a glorified freighter be exciting to naval officers and/or boost for career? Hell no. So therefore such low-cost solution is not considered, instead we get nice lines on CV for captains of destroyers looking for a position in admiralty..

Comment History of PC audio (Score 1) 348

At any rate, it isn't that the MT-32 was the be-all, end-all or anything, it is that the person doing the demo didn't understand what they were doing. Also I suspect the original track was composed for the MT-32. A lot of games in that era were composed for the MT-32, and then arranged for other popular devices like the Adlib.

The fact is that Roland MT-32 / LAPC-1 were for long time be-all end-all of PC audio. In fact most game music was composed for this particular synth was exactly because the alternatives were SO bad and the composers, being musically oriented people, wanted something that didn't sound like absolute crap. It's not like MT-32/LAPC-1 ever was that popular. And Sierra's Larry 3 theme sure made you soil your pants on Roland after cheap tinny synth-sound of Adlib/Soundblaster..

This is actually one lost piece of computer history. As far as I know, there is no real emulator for MT-32 which can reproduce the customized instruments possible with that synth and used extensively by composers. Even if you have the (copyrighted) original ROM, it just gives you the stock samples, not the customization, unless there's an emulator for the actual syntheziser chip.

PC sound was really stagnated for really long time, much thanks to creative's absolute domination of the market. GUS was a brave attempt at a paradigm shift but ultimately fell flat on it's face, only to be reincarnated by creative copying the concept with AWE32 and such. With Win95 standardizing the audio interface, Creative came up with EAX to again get a stranglehold of PC audio. It wasn't until Vista made soundcard a commodity DAC with no special hardware caps used at all that the sound card scene became open. Unfortunately it also made lowest common denominator (AC'97 with digital out) de-facto standard. As far as I know, if you want to have fancy audio processing, it has to be all done in software now. Not that it REALLY matters when everyone has at least dual core with majority of games not using the 2nd core (3rd, 4th..) core for anything much.

Comment Re:Much more primitive than we expect (Score 1) 648

Also, 1 million mph? Yeah, that's very very fast. But for covering interstellar distances, it's still a crawl. For example, to reach Proxima Centauri at that oh-so-impressive-sounding speed would take almost three thousand years.

Bussard ramjet is pretty standard fare in more reasonable sci-fi. First we'd have to have a robust space infrastructure in place, thought. It'll take seriously long time to colonize and exploit resources in solar system only.

The way things are going now I'm not holding my breath over seeing proper orbital shipyard or asteroid belt manufacturing ability in my lifetime.

Then again, these things have a kind of bottleneck for progress so the 1st one is enormously expensive but the 2nd one far less so.

Think how industrial revolution got started, things didn't exactly stop at the level of 1st steam engines or machine shops.

Comment Re:The problem with HTC in reality is (Score 1) 544

Acer... they just pulled the screw your existing customers by not supporting them stunt on the Liquid One. While having good hardware, the phone is a no buy.

Excuse me?

The 2.1 firmware leaks for A1 are apparently falling from the sky then? It's not like Acer is about to publish official eclair firmware? In modaco forum they're up to 3rd leaked 2.1 firmware now unless I'm mistaken.

Acer has also released 1.6 firmware update that helps on the abysmal release battery life. This phone still needs a 3rd party battery, thought.

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