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Comment Re:fraud ISP = obama internet (Score 1) 65

Canadian broadband really depends on where you live, but in my experience while it's quite expensive everywhere, it's fairly fast and reliable in Western Canada and much less so in Eastern Canada.

At least that's my personal experience with BC vs Ontario
* Bell=Suck
* Rogers=Suck
* Shaw=Good, though not cheap
* Telus Fibre=Good (though Telus tech support is kinda suck as they love to blame you for issues on their end)

Submission + - Light Sail propulsion could reach Sirius sooner than Alpha Centauri (arxiv.org)

RockDoctor writes: A recent proposition to launch probes to other star systems driven by lasers which remain in the Solar system has garnered considerable attention. But recently published work suggests that there are unexpected complexities to the system.

One would think that the closest star systems would be the easiest to reach. But unless you are content with a fly-by examination of the star system, with much reduced science returns, you will need to decelerate the probe at the far end, without any infrastructure to assist with the braking.

By combining both light-pressure braking and gravitational slingshots, a team of German, French and Chilean astronomers discover that the brightness of the destination star can significantly increase deceleration, and thus travel time (because higher flight velocities can be used. Sling-shotting around a companion star to lengthen deceleration times can help shed flight velocity to allow capture into a stable orbit.

The 4.37 light year distant binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B could be reached in 75 years from Earth. Covering the 0.24 light year distance to Proxima Centauri depends on arriving at the correct relative orientations of Alpha Centauri A and B in their mutual 80 year orbit for the sling shot to work. Without a companion star, Proxima Centauri can only absorb a final leg velocity of about 1280km/s, so that leg of the trip would take an additional 46 years.

Using the same performance characteristics for the light sail the corresponding duration for an approach to the Sirius system, almost twice as far away (8.58ly), is a mere 68.9 years, making it (and it's white dwarf companion) possibly a more attractive target.

Of course, none of this addresses the question of how to get any data from there to here. Or, indeed, how to manage a project that will last longer than a working lifetime. There are also issues of aiming — the motion of the Alpha Centauri system isn't well-enough known at the moment to achieve the precise manoeuvring needed without course corrections (and so, data transmission from there to here) en route.

Comment About time (Score 2) 84

I've been wondering for quite a while when we could have something like this. The question is how the processing works for the card, for example
a) Does it process against a chip in the card which allows the card to pass information to the pin-pad or not (good to prevent use of stolen cards)
b) Does it process against the pin-pad allowing a transaction to be verified (good to transactions from cloned cards)

The first choice is good to reduce the more immediate impact of card theft, and better from a privacy perspective. The second is more effective against somebody cloning your card - which around here is more common - but it means that your CC company presumably needs your biometric info. It also allows the use of fingerprints as a password replacement (pin-pad)

Comment Re:Contact (Score 1) 1219

Interesting thought. I've read the book series (well, all the books I could find locally, they're a bit hard to track down) and watched the various Stargate series, but never really connected the two. There are similarities in the backplot, but I'm fairly sure that alien parasites is a not uncommon concept and wormholes for travel is similarly common in sci-fi.

Good books, though.

Comment From a fingerprint, no (Score 1) 166

Honestly, while it isn't possible for a smartphone to do a quick-and-dirty disease assessment from a fingerprint, I wouldn't be surprised if mobile devices in the future come with attachments or accessories that could do blood analysis or more given the right software.

I'd imagine that a device that takes a sample and sends it to a medical professional for diagnosis isn't that far in the future at all, if it doesn't already exist.

Comment Re:Schneider/Amstrad CPC 6128 (Score 1) 857

Finally, I had to read thousands of posts just to find that hardly anyone had an Amstrad!

I got my CPC 464 in 1986, with green screen and built-in tape deck.

The taoe deck had azimuth problems throughout it's lifetime, constantly drifting and needing to be re-adjusted - I remember Gauntlet being very troublesome to load!

When I was 14 I bought a 286 Compaq Laptop with hard-earned paper delivery money, it had a lovely sharp B&W VGA screen, and pirated Windows 3.1, motivated by games like Midwinter 2 and Day of the Tentacle!

I also used Borland tools a lot on this machine, especially later when doing my Computing A-Level. Borland C++ and Borland Turbo Pascal are still valuable teaching tools today, even on this old old (sic) silicon.

Submission + - SeqBox - Container format that can survive total loss of file system structures (github.com)

MarcoPon writes: SeqBox let you encode a file in such a way that, even if the file system become completely toasted, partition info are lost, and so on, it's still possible to reconstruct the SBX container just by looking at the raw sectors themselves.
The tools have been tested in a variety of platform and with different file systems.

Standard disclaimer: I'm the author.

Comment Re:People are more worried about jobs (Score 1) 416

And rightfully they should be. Not being able to download an illegitimate copy of content shouldn't be a major issue for most folks.

What *is* an issue is that services we're paying for are being scraped for our personal information - which is often not securely stored - for their own profit, massively under-deliver from what is promised, are anti-competitive to the point where the established players sue to maintain their monopoly, and that we have demonised legitimate methods of transferring information because some people mis-use them.

Net neutrality often only *makes sense* to the techies, but I guarantee you that crappy performance, high bills, and unavailable content etc all affect the average person, the problem is that they don't correlate the evil behaviour of ISP's and gov't in this arena to the rising affordability of daily life. Until DRM meant you can't fix your John Deere, most people didn't care, and while concern over some of this is growing it's still often restricted to small segments where the effects are obvious.

Comment Re:Common Sense calling - Women have babies (Score 1) 238

I wasn't indicating that there weren't social issues, but from a legal perspective. From that side, you are legally entitled to parental leave the same as a female. Yeah, your employer might not like it, but if they try to deny it or punish you for it then that's when the legal troubles start.

Now whether or not you can afford to pursue the legal avenue is pretty much the same as any other workplace harassment, etc etc issues.

Comment Re:Simple math... (Score 1) 339

Depending the game, nobody *has* to win, but it's a trade-off between potential returns and the money/time "invested".

For myself, the cost of a lottery ticket is less than a cup of fancy coffee these days. It's a minimum cost for a minimal chance at a significant return.
Am I likely to win? Nope. I don't really expect to either, but for $3-5 I can at least daydream about what I might do *if* I won, and it would be more life-changing than most other things I could do.

I'm not sure that politics always fit the same logic, but I suppose the mentality of "I'm certainly not happy with things now so any small chance of change works for me" is tangentially related.

Comment Re:Just offer more money (Score 2) 300

Yeah. It's been a while since I've used it, but they taught us all COBOL in one of the basic University courses because certain large'ish local businesses still used it.

It's actually a rather fun language, and nifty for writing out nicely aligned and formatted reports. The compiler is also usually good at catching obvious errors, but $deity help you if you misplace a period in the wrong place and have to debug the code afterwards.

For $250/h+ though, I'd be more than happy to contract out my services in fixing up some old COBOL code.

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