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Comment Re:This is a sad day for the tech world (Score 2) 1027

I feel that the "mechanical safety is to aircraft engineers argument as openness is to average people" argument is a bit lacking. Most average people care about the safety of the aircraft that they fly in, not just aircraft engineers. The average person might not know how it works, why it works, or what it takes to fix it. The average person just wants it to work (which is the same argument a lot of people make about Macs / iProducts ... "they just work"). Shoot, you could almost argue that aircraft engineers would prefer to work in a closed environment (or at least tightly-controlled) if you look at issues like the Airbus A380 issue wherein major delays were caused by problems transferring design files between two versions of the same software within two companies. Controlling everything in-house enables you to control the manufacturing, testing, reworking, etc. A lot like in Apple.

Comment Re:Smartphone (Score 2) 69

While the smartphone element is very much over-hyped for those of us in the developed and connected parts of the world, it can be very significant for people who don't have the luxury of a desktop PC and high-resolution monitor in their doctor's office. Imagine a traveling physician in [insert remote area: Alaska, Appalachia, the Peruvian Andes, Subsaharan Africa, the Hindu-Kush, Siberia] that can use two very portable devices to provide a level of diagnosis otherwise unavailable in those regions without incurring otherwise expensive or time-consuming travel expenses for each patient.

Comment Re:How about 0 critical bugs? (Score 1) 88

Reading comprehension fail. Dries is saying that they will not develop new features if they have 15 critical bugs - they will keep the count beneath the stated number. They are doing this so that "at most the release is only 15 critical bugs away from being ready" ... the basic premise of this statement is that the release will not be ready until the 15 critical bugs are resolved.

The new features are more important than bug free code.

What was stated in the article is the exact inverse of the problem you are claiming. They are stating that they will stop new feature development if there are more than 15 critical bugs. Their statement is about bug-free code being more important than new features.

Comment Re:From all residents outside the [ant]arctic circ (Score 1) 88

The only people in the US that will be able to see it live in Alaska - likely an extremely insignificant portion of the /. crowd.

On behalf of the Alaskans who are a part of the /. crowd, I would like to convivially wave an insignificant digit in your general direction. Sadly, you will not be able to see my digit-waving-display, just as you won't be able to see the aurora display tonight.

If it makes you feel any better, our weather here in Anchorage will not likely permit viewing, either ... damn clouds.

Comment Re:Great for filtering, but - (Score 1) 327

As a person who has spent time handling boom (I hate that the plural of boom is boom in the oil-spill response world) while training for emergency spill response here in Alaska, a few things.

The trawling concept is not that far removed from dragging boom around, and would be subject to some of the same problems prone to traditional boom designs. Notably, oil has a tendency to spill over the top of boom when the current or tow speed is greater than half of a knot (that is very, very slow). While not a problem when chasing fish, it would defeat the purpose of dragging stuff through the water to collect oil.

If, as recommended, a more traditional surface trawl design was used, including an open mouth that is submerged and a boom / cork line that is floating, some additional benefits could be realized. Crude can quickly become mixed into the water column as the boat and boom move through the water, and a lot of oil can actually go under boom as it is towed. The trawling design would help here, although it may also gather animals beneath the oil/water line and force them into a concentrated bag of the stuff ... not so ideal.

One of the shortcomings of current boom design is the fact that you are going to pick up a lot of water with the oil (models of the "harbor buster" have little pouches that fill with oil and sea water and serve to contain the crude prior to throwing in a simmer to pull out the oil). Modify boom to be made of this material AND add possible changes to make it more "trawl-like" in its subsurface design, and some improvement might be seen.

Comment Re:Great for filtering, but - (Score 4, Informative) 327

I am speaking as the son of a commercial fisherman who still typically takes some vacation time from the office life to work the black cod fishery here in Alaska, and as a person who has gone through the SERV's training to get my HAZWOPER Tier 1 certification (basically, taught how to do crude recovery on open water and near-shore operations). I have spent time both in the class and on the water drilling emergency response up here.

One of the things discussed during our breaks was that the survival rate of rescued birds and mammals was somewhere around 10% during the Exxon disaster. That does not include all of the wildlife that was missed ... these were the lucky ones. Not to say that saving 10% of the recovered birds (at a very high individual cost) is a bad thing, mind you.

Perhaps the best quote of the day on this topic basically boiled down to "pictures of people scrubbing ducks is just good PR."

The whole process of what you described as "skimming" (which is very different in the recovery lingo - means using a floating pump system to recover oil, not dragging stuff through the water) would likely kill all animals that were captured. Critters would be submerged within a cloth net of oil and gunk. Regular trawling is damaging enough to them ... surface trawling with this would only make it that much worse. That said, it would be a great way to do animal body recovery, getting the toxin-laden animals out of the food system and away from the scavengers that would eat their remains.

Comment Re:How Cheap? (Score 2, Informative) 370

I feel that your math is a little on the high side of things here. I suppose that 10 shows may be a fairly normal number for people to care about and track in an American household, but the per-person rating is high. Would the husband, wife, and children all watch separate shows with no overlap? I find that unlikely ... many of the shows would be "family time" events. Your American Idols, Myth Busters, House, etc will likely have multiple people watching them. Additionally, why is there the 3-season multiplier in there? I don't fully track that logic. To give a range of numbers more fitting to me (engaged man living with fiance, no kids) ... $2 a show, 5 shows regularly watched, 2 family members, 26 episodes, 1 season. $520 dollars for a year of our shows. While still high (I can buy a season's DVD set for what ... 50 to 100 bucks?), it isn't as preposterous to imagine someone paying my number as opposed to the $6000+ that you are figuring. I would like to point out that I, too, am of the TV-free lifestyle. Occasional Hulu watching, and new DVD series whenever I get sick for a couple of days. I have not yet figured out what my sweet-spot is for paying for the "privilege" of television. I am not sure that there is one, as each hour of TV has a high cost due to it mostly wasting my time.

Comment Re:The 40 hour work week is God given (Score 1) 547

Eight hours a day, five days a week was good enough for illiterate industrial workers doing manual labor when it was invented 150 years ago. I see no reason it shouldn't be a perfect fit for highly educated software engineers in 2010!!

Wait, you get to work with highly educated software engineers? Lucky ...

Comment Re:Hopefully they aren't too effective.. (Score 2, Informative) 347

The key term that they used in the article was "bacterial virus", which is also known as a bacteriophage, which is a virus that acts specifically on a bacterial host. Fish may come and go, but bacteria will be around for a wee bit yet. However, there is still the issue that the virus itself does not "split water", but merely serves as scaffolding for the other components in the process.

Comment Re:How are we supposed to understand this? (Score 1) 1671

You have been modded as +5, Insightful, so perhaps I am completely misreading your comment. Based upon the wording, though, it sounds as though you posted this without watching or researching much into this sensitive topic. If I am wrong, my apologies for correcting you.

To respond to your comments:
  • The patrol was not walking down a street. They were in the air, in an Apache gunship.
  • There were no video cameras, aside from the ones the US military had, and perhaps some on the cellphones that were being used by the people on the ground at the time of the attack.
  • The people DID have cameras and stands. The lens, based upon other stuff that I have read, and the image of the photographers gear after the fact (the image from the video was too blurry to be certain), was a 70-200 f2.8L IS USM Canon lens. Pretty big, has a tripod mound on the bottom, and does look impressive. Almost like a weapon from the front. When the Apache circled behind him and saw no extended tube over his shoulder AND people gathered where the backblast would be, they should have made sure they had a positive ID on the target before they engaged.
  • The word on the ground (from the people that called in air support) was that the ACTUAL targets were on a roof somewhere nearby. Not wandering the streets.
  • These guys were responding to a call for support nearby, and found these folks instead. You can see in the video that, after everyone is dead, the helicopter crew states at 16:19 "Hey, whoever was talking about rooftops, know that all the personnel we engaged were ground level. I say again ground level."
  • Rules of engagement call for positive ID before firing. They indicate a need to provide a warning shot or verbal warning. Neither happened.
  • Perhaps there is no need to punish the soldiers for shooting the wrong people. War is messy, and accidents will happen. What needs to be punished is the misinformation about the event told by the military, even after their investigation into the incident (some of their reports indicated that the reporters were killed in crossfire between coalition forces, Iraqi police forces, US military, and insurgents ... all we see or hear about here are a helicopter crew and some civilians, with ground forces coming in from nearby).

As to the guys being merciless killing machines, I doubt it. However, they are showing some (expected but disturbing) callous behavior.

  • 03:23 All right, hahaha, I hit [shot] 'em...
  • 04:31 Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards. [...] 04:36 Nice.
  • (Spoken about the wounded reporter, crawling after being shot)06:33 Come on, buddy. [...] 06:38 All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.
  • (Spoken about the people in the van, helping the wounded)07:36 Picking up the wounded? [...] 07:38 Yeah, we're trying to get permission to engage. [...] 07:41 Come on, let us shoot!
  • 10:11 Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! [...] 10:14 Ha ha!
  • (Talking about how a child is wounded)16:57 Roger. Ah damn. Oh well.
  • (Talking about the Bradley vehicles rolling in) 18:29 I think they just drove over a body. [...] 18:31 Hey hey! [...] 18:32 Yeah! [...] 18:37 Maybe it was just a visual illusion, but it looked like it. [...] 18:41 Well, they're dead, so. [...]

Again, my issue is not that war should be pretty and full of sunshine and puppies, but that our leaders need to be honest with us, especially when asked directly. Fear of losing public support, as happened in Vietnam, is not a sufficient reason as far as I am concerned.

Comment Re:Video: Why apache gunners are horrible policeme (Score 1) 1671

Perhaps you hide behind a corner pointing something at a gunship because you are a wartime photographer, with what appears to be a Canon camera with a 70-200 f2.8L IS USM zoom telephoto lens, working in an area near a conflict. RPGs have a pretty nasty backblast ... the kind of thing that you would be mindful of if you had a group with you. They would be put at serious risk if you shot with them in the blast area, which would have been the case if the camera was actually an RPG.

If you watch the video or read the transcript, you hear them claim several things about the supposed RPG - shot was fired, he was about to fire, he was targeting another position before he fired, etc. Perhaps we are all missing something, but there was no telltale sign of an RPG coming from the camera lens. But I will grant that the giant lens does bear a resemblance to a weapon ... they should have properly identified it, as may things were not adding up. You will hear discussion about how the initial reports of incoming shots were due to a group of people on a rooftop, at which point the crew in the air indicates that they did not engage anyone on a roof.

After the photographers, crowd, and van full of people are dead:

14:53 Bushmaster or element. Which Element called in Crazyhorse to engage the eight-elem- eight-men team on top of a roof.
16:19 Hey, whoever was talking about rooftops, know that all the personnel we engaged were ground level. I say again ground level.

ROE state that you are to positively identify (PID) the target before engaging. The gunship was called in to handle hostiles on a rooftop. They found a crew of people on the ground in the area and opened fire. The supposed RPG-carrying militant had not fired a shot, nor had he cleared the area behind him in preparation to shoot an RPG. There was no protruding launch tube behind the supposed militant, which would have been the case had he been carrying an RPG. Given that all of these things didn't add up, they should have taken more time to make sure they had the right target.

All of that said, war is messy. That isn't my big beef. I don't agree with a lot of things about the war, but that is not my main issue ... what I find most angering is the fact that the military and the government made several claims that appear to be entirely fabricated ... trying to dig up the sources that I had last night (news articles and the like), which basically had the government saying (after their review of the footage) that it was the result of cooperative efforts between Iraqi national police forces, the US military, and coalition forces responding to and engaging hostiles. The photographers were caught in the crossfire. The series of lies angers me. The truth of a messy war is easier to swallow than realizing, now more than ever, that we cannot trust the PR spin on how so many of the accidents have happened.

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