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Comment Threat? You're joking, right? (Score 3, Informative) 524

No US passenger airline has equipped with ADS-B yet. In fact, most of them are fighting tooth and nail *not* to, because they don't want to spend the money.

The only thing the bogeyman of "terrorists" would be able to track with this app is UPS aircraft (UPS is helping the FAA test NextGen and has fleetwide ADS-B now, IIRC) and private planes that have chosen to equip with ADS-B.

This is a non-story. Next.


Comment Re:So, basically, Stop Brown People For Being Brow (Score 1) 260

"You have heard of decompression, right?"

This question presumes facts not in evidence, namely that a bullet hole (the supposedly inevitable result of "untrained armed citizens" defending themselves aboard an aircraft) will cause the aircraft to lose pressurization. In reality, there have been pop-sci "studies" (Mythbusters is not exactly rigorous academic science, but it'll do for our purposes here: ) that show an aircraft has no difficulty at all maintaining adequate pressurization with bullet holes -- yes, holes, plural -- penetrating the pressure vessel.

I'm not advocating that we should let *anyone* on an airplane with a weapon who hasn't been adequately trained in its use, but to hide behind "we'd all pop like frogs in a vacuum bell!" is just silly. I'd be a lot more worried about what would happen in the inevitable case of an armed civilian who has had one drink too many and experiences a bit of "air rage" at the kid kicking his seat, the stinky passenger next to him, the (perceived) rude flight attendant, etc. That *will* happen, and sooner rather than later. The risk to the airplane is minor compared to the risk that some wackjob, who is not in any way a terrorist, will snap and seriously hurt or kill someone. It's very nearly happened on several occasions *without* loaded firearms being involved.


Comment Re:Christ (Score 1) 289

Half the people on this site probably weren't even alive when Windows 3.1 came out

In which case, now would seem a very appropriate time to quote Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Perhaps it would be instructive to have a link in TFS to something explaining exactly *why* the Windows 3.1 calculator was so deficient in its abilities. You know, for the kiddies who weren't alive back then.


Comment Re:zero-risk? (Score 1) 710

To be totally fair to the grandparent poster, the designs of both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were vulnerable to multiple points of mechanical failure (Chernobyl didn't even have a containment building!), and even these dated designs would have held up but for the human error involved. Remember, if the staff at Chernobyl had actually followed their procedures and hadn't been conducting a test with improper staffing, the accident never would have happened. And in the case of TMI, if the indicator lamp in the control room had indicated valve position, rather than the presence of power across the actuator solenoid, the operators would have known the valve was stuck open and been aware that they were facing a loss of coolant.

Furthermore, in terms of overall manufacturing experience, humanity does not have the level of expertise with nuclear reactors that we have with, say, cars or airplanes or computers. To have only two major failures out of the first 1000 units built is pretty impressive for any device.

Then again, how do you measure "reliability" here? Does one failure doom a device to the "failure" column forever, even if it operated flawlessly for years prior to the failure? What constitutes a "failure", anyway? Escape of radiation to the atmosphere? Or escape of radiation greater than a certain level? Or something less serious than a radiation escape? In terms of "dangerous" radiation releases per operating hour, the GP is probably right in accidents being a seven-sigma phenomenon.

Of course, this is complicated stuff. If it was easy, we wouldn't be having this discussion, and you do have a pretty good point in that real-world results are what matters here. The consequences of failure are severe, and "only" three-sigma reliability isn't good enough. But we've learned very important lessons from both major accidents, and current designs take those lessons into account. Future designs will, too.


Comment Re:Charities? (Score 1) 464

You've created a lovely strawman and torn him down quite nicely. People do not "just decide" to get second- and third-trimester abortions; aborting a pregnancy after the first trimester is very dangerous to the mother, and third-trimester abortions are normally only done in situations where carrying the baby to term is almost certain to kill the mother.

Abortion as a means of birth control is not a choice I would ever personally advocate to a friend or partner, but it's also none of my business (or yours) what a woman chooses to do with her body. You don't like it, fine, but don't make disingenuous and fallacious arguments in support of your point while condemning the same in other people. That's hypocrisy of the worst kind.


Comment Re:Apple patented this? (Score 1) 439

Finally, someone who gets it. It only took 80 or so up-modded responses to the story before someone said exactly what I was thinking from the get-go: that Apple is patenting this to *prevent* anyone from pulling this crap on iPhone users. See also this story from last year in a similar vein:


Comment Re:TFA sucks (Score 1) 404

Perhaps, but it also lacks any substance beyond "this happened", most likely because it's a rehash (possibly even a direct syndication) of a wire story that was put out on the wire by a newspaper, not a legal expert. Actually, the Trib had a better story on its *own* site than the article that got published here.


Comment TFA sucks (Score 4, Informative) 404

is much better -- it's written by actual legal scholars and discusses what the specific "deeply disturbing" comments were. Sometimes the hometown major newspaper isn't actually the best place to get articles, Slashdot.


Comment Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (Score 1) 656

Please. "Online music sales" and "music library manager software" are not, by any means, the same thing. Apple may have a de facto monopoly on the online music business, but iTunes is definitely not the only music library manager out there, and it isn't even the only one capable of playing files purchased via iTunes. Songbird and WinAmp (yes, that's still around) are two alternatives that come to mind, either of which could easily be made to support -- via proper and official means -- the syncing of iTunes's XML library file with a third-party device. Writing software to do it themselves is also an option for Palm, and one they're clearly capable of, as they've written sync software for ages.

The bottom line here is that Palm is being lazy, and now they're actively shooting themselves in the foot by intentionally violating the USB spec. If Apple wants to prevent devices that violate the USB spec from connecting to its computers, by all means, go ahead. Who knows what other parts of the USB spec Palm might be planning to selectively ignore in the future?


Comment Grammar fail (Score 1) 120

I know I'm a couple hours late to the party, but this is just sad...

My RSS reader shows changes in feeds. The original RSS summary for this article had "its" without the apostrophe -- correctly, as anyone with half a brain knows. The latest RSS feed, and the actual story page, show "it's". Hint: if you can't replace "it's" with "it is" in the sentence, it's (yes, really) wrong.

Oh, yeah, and this is a really cool photo and etc.


Comment Re:Chrome 2 (Score 1) 243

So RockMelt is a commercial Flock.

Yeah, ask Flock how that's working out for them. Better yet, ask a neutral third party how that's working out for Flock. I don't think there's any future in RockMelt if "social networking" is their browser business model.


Comment Re:Take back the seconds (Score 1) 383

Don't they already have my number in the missed calls log?

Not if the call came in when the phone was turned off or out of service range (for example, when the recipient is on an airplane). At least, I've yet to see a phone on T-Mobile or AT&T that can tell you what calls you missed while it was turned off. (AT&T's Visual Voicemail on the iPhone, at least, allows you to see who left a voicemail and what time it was, but I'm not sure how it handles callers who aren't already in your contact list. That obviously requires that the caller leave a voicemail, however.)


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Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell