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Comment My experience with the USPS (Score 1) 126

A decade or two ago I was a hard core EBay re-seller, as a sort of side hobby I had Chinese movies (generally VCDs!) shipped in-mass and re-sold them in the normal mail, I used USPS and often the cheaper media mail rate. I sent hundreds (thousands?) of packages and not once, ever, did I have a problem with packages being sent in the post office getting lost or damaged. A couple times it took a week or two longer than it should.

Comment Re:That's no moon (Score 1) 198

My thinking has been too Earth-bound to consider the Sol - Jupiter relationship. But I see others are thinking about it; there are several lay articles and apparently some more serious articles on the web. But I haven't done any critical reading on the subject.

There does seem to be a correlation between Jupiter's orbital period and the sunspot cycle as both are roughly 11 years. But if there is an underlying mechanism (not conveniently dismissible as "coincidence"), it seems more likely that the mechanisms are electromagnetic rather than gravitational. Which would suggest a 3 body problem, with Saturn's impact on the electrodynamics modifying any solar - jovian model.

This is not some resurrection of an "electric universe" theory. Jupiter, Saturn, and even Earth all create distortions in the solar wind, and it should hardly be surprising if these large scale distortions did not feedback in some way to the coronal events. Whether this feedback is a significant moderator of coronal activity should be the question; that there is some feedback can be stipulated.

Comment Re:Talk about a subset of a subset (Score 1) 61

The 1% of Linux users among the 1% of gamers currently playing VR. I think that's about 7 people tops.

As a proponent of both Linux and VR, I am sadly going to have to say that I'll be staying away from that unholy combo.

VR is fledgling technology that struggles to be quite what everyone wants it to be, supported by an established platform with carefully optimised drivers.

Linux is an established technology in everything but mainstream gaming, with graphics drivers that struggle to perform as well as their windows counterparts.

Jamming the two together? Why yes, I do like chilli powder in my eyes. It'll hurt a lot less than all the googling needed to get it working properly.

Comment Re:That's no moon (Score 1) 198

That's one of those foolish rules put forth by the idiocy contingent of the IAU.

The barycenter of the Earth - Moon binary is outside of the Earth's hard inner core, in the region of the liquid outer core. This is the center or neutral point of the tidal forces acting on the Earth. No one has yet looked at the effects of these tides on the outer core's liquidity, or its electromagnetic properties, mostly because astronomers look upward and geologists look downward and there is a very serious failure for either to look at what the other group is finding.

How significant is the displacement of the Earth's core from the barycenter? It is significant enough to cause the Earth's orbit about the Sun to deviate 6,000 miles twelve times a year from what it would be if the Earth was a solitary body, instead of part of a binary system. Depending on your frame of reference, that deviation is twice to four times as much as the radius of the Moon.

In practical terms up until now this has had no direct impact on human activity. That now changes: when we start using laser beams to communicate and control exploration vehicles beyond Earth orbits, we will have to take the binary nature of the Earth - Moon pair into account or the lasers will miss their targets by thousands of miles.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 4, Interesting) 198


TL;DR but I got through enough of it to realize that most, and maybe all, the points are cogent. Above post should be stuffed down the throats of every IAU member who voted for their absurd definition of planet until they can regurgitate those points, with meaning.

Some astronomers are stupid. The phrase "educated beyond the level of their intelligence" comes to mind. This idiots should have been taught somewhere along the way that their expertise in one narrow field does not endow them with the authority to mess about in other disciplines like linguistics.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 2) 198

Good points. But they are basically off topic.

It doesn't matter one whit what terms scientists use in their cloistered jargons. That's why they have jargons.

It does matter when a body of scientists attempts to mold the common tongue to their narrow purposes. Which is what happened with the IAU: they overstepped their area of authority, which is astronomy, to dabble in an area where none of them have any training or standing, which is the study of natural languages, or linguistics. It makes them look like a troop of highly educated baboons, and is one more proof that some people with advanced degrees have been educated beyond the level of their intelligence.

Scientific communities do have an appropriate role in shaping the common tongue, but that is done through education and continued discussion. Never by fiat.

Comment Re: Richard Feynman was an athiest (Score 1) 198

Truth, justice, and The American Way are not science either. Yet these irrational things have more impact on your life than the tiny little subset of the universe that is all that science can ever know.

I do not disagree with you, but I find that your statement has no inherent value and that you are contributing nothing worthwhile to the conversation.

Comment Re:That's no moon (Score 4, Interesting) 198

Any "space-trash" that demands to be listed as something else needs to be immediately identified as a "sentient being", and on behalf of all of us Earthlings the UN needs to publicly apologize to him/her/it. That is simple playground rules: you don't want to insult anybody that much bigger than you are.

As to everything else, I think the planetary geologists have it right. If it is big enough to be rounded of its own volition, it is a planet. And planets that go around another planet more quickly than they go around their star are also moons.

Corollary: that makes Earth the larger part of a binary planetary system. Which puts proper emphasis on the way the Moon creates tides that keeps the hydrosphere stirred up, which has had a major impact on how life has evolved here. Exoplanetary explorers should look for other binary planets in the Goldilocks zone as these are much more likely to have life that is similar to Earth life.

(Is a "bazinga!" called for here? Was this just another Sheldon impersonation, or did I accidentally say something insightful?)

Comment Re:Oh please (Score 1) 204

It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools for his shoddy workmanship.

It is a poor craftsman that uses shoddy tools in the first place. Selecting good tools is a core skill for any craftsman.

Same thing.

The take-away: If you don't know how to use PHP to build secure systems, use some other tool. If you don't know how to use any other tool, don't try to do secure systems.

In every case, the fault is with the programmer, not PHP.

Comment Re:Not obvious (Score 3) 151

My first taste of "proper" VR was on a mate's Rift DK1. I think that was great because it was the novelty. What I took away from that was the genuine fear of falling off of high things, which I don't get gaming normally. The 2D screen is a safe level of isolation from the world of the game.

Nowadays, I'm playing VR on a budget - an old business i5 machine with a second hand GTX 970 and PSU slapped into it, plus an eBay Rift DK2 which didn't cost a lot. The DK2 has worked with everything I've tried on Steam VR, to give me a feel as to whether to fork out for a "proper" expensive headset.

The thrill of "being in" a game world doesn't wear off. Subnautica and Obduction are such examples. In Obduction there are paths to walk along alongside a mountain with a huge drop to one side. It looks pretty on a monitor, but it's awe-inspiring in VR. The same with standing and looking up at structures that tower above you - much more immersive in VR. Subnautica is just beautiful to swim around.

But, it is a bit tiring on the eyes. The screen door effect is completely annoying - sometimes I can get submerged in the game enough to ignore it but not for long because it's right there in my face. I understand the CV1 and Vive are better in that regard than the DK2, but it's still there to an extent. The technology needs to move on at least another generation to really make it properly viable in my opinion (caveat - I've not tried the CV1 or Vive yet - but I read reviews that grumble to an extent about the screen door effect).

So I play both 2D and VR - the former usually if I am sitting with someone and want to talk and share the experience. VR when I want to feel what the world is like around me.

When I'm playing 2D, I feel like I'm missing out on the immersion.
When I'm playing in VR, I feel like I'm missing out on a nice detailed screen without obvious pixels and that annoying screen door effect.

VR is where gaming will end up, I don't doubt it. I really want it to be good enough to use all the time. For me the DK2 isn't quite up to it, but I still can't resist strapping it on for a couple of hours to get the feel of a place that can't be captured in 2D.

And there is still the huge entertainment factor of having guests over and watching them try to stand up while on a VR rollercoaster. It was worth the expense just for those laughs.

3DTV I don't care for at all. Tried it, it was OK. But VR is something else.

Comment Re:Oh please (Score 1) 204

To repeat: quit blaming the language for the lack of skills of the programmer.

Programmers who are incompetent in PHP should not attempt to build secure systems with it. Those who do attempt to do so should really not be involved in making secure systems in any language, since they have demonstrated that they do not know how to assess the limitations of their tools, let alone work properly within those limitations.

It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools for his shoddy workmanship.

Comment Re:Shade, eh? (Score 1) 126

Reading your post on a 15"MBP Retina display with the display running at full rez (>>what stock OSX will let you run it at) and the amount of screen real estate is awesome. More than on the 27" Dell sitting next to it. Yes people I work with complain they have trouble reading it, but I do fine with it. I wouldn't need that if @#$@# app & web devs didn't waste so much space these days, but what can I do...

Comment Re:Sorry (Score 4, Insightful) 641

If in fact this was a father's grieving rant, then I agree with your sentiment. Give him space.

Unfortunately there are features in this story that suggest that this might be the beginning of a wrongful death suit against Tesla. The mention of a lawyer being involved, and therefore presumably advising the "distraught" father about what to say in public. How big a settlement might be squeezed from Tesla? If you are going for a fat settlement, then you don't need a winning case, you don't have to be able to prove anything. You just need to demonstrate that you can be a massive pain in the butt until you are paid off. Will we next be hearing comparisons between Tesla's acceleration pedal and the Ford Pinto's gas tank?

People who are truly grieving usually don't make such a public spectacle of it.

Comment Re:Idiot (Score 1) 641

Building a case for a lawsuit against Tesla is not appropriate for a grieving father, either. But he already has his legal dog sniffing around, and one of the things they are looking at is whether they could present a case that Tesla failed to nannify their car sufficiently. Remember, in this kind of high visibility case, you don't need to have a winning argument in order to exact a fat settlement. You only need to be able to threaten that you can make enough noise to damage Tesla's reputation.

I don't own a Tesla and if I was given one I'd sell it or give it away: it doesn't fit my lifestyle. But I've been following Tesla's development. Their engineering is sound and their approach to vehicle safety is very good. But barring nannystate features like an obligatory breathalyzer before the car will start, there is no more Tesla can do to protect against the drunk driver.

Comment Re:Radiation wrecks robots? (Score 1) 307

Our engineering for safe and inexpensive nuclear power is excellent for every component of these complex systems.

However we need to re-engineer the humans who design, build, and run these things. A failure of the human component will eventually destroy every fission reactor, and there are multiple paths of failure. Including allowing the wrong kind of cat litter to make it past the specifications.

I am pessimistic about fission reactors.OTOH, we have been making great strides forward on wind and solar power generation, and the only remaining major problem, storing power at peak production to meet the demands of peak usage, could be handled with technologies we already know.

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