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Comment Re:Biofuel (Score 1) 157

Yeah, set up a digester that takes biodegradable material and generates methane. Should be cheap enough to leave a plastic tub or three at each school so they can continue to observe/monitor and look at the effects of input material, temperature and the like on the rate of gas prodduction.


Comment Spiderman Pyjamas (Score 2) 58

Information technology used *anywhere* in the Aussie government should be approved by Defense Signals Directorate, the assessment doesn't mean it's going to be used by military personnel ("security forces") for sensitive tasks.

I'm not surprised they are evaluating the iPhone/iPad. It's trendy, is probably cheaper than Blackberry (AFAIK only currently evaluated smart phone product) and it has all the hallmarks of classic "Spiderman Pyjamas" for style aware executives. Probably more a case of people having private iPhones and being underwhelmed by the available approved options.

No doubt they'll get pressure to assess Andriod next.

Comment Diaspora motivating Appleseed (Score 2, Interesting) 266

In which case Disapora is worth some effort even if all it does is motivate Appleseed back into life. I found this article after reading Tim Berners-Lee's recent article. On hiatus since 2007 is not exactly a reassuring release history either.

Other comments about the lardy nature of Diaspora have also convinced me to only try it if I can put it one someone else's server.


Comment What alternatives? (Score 1) 266

None of the contenders are anywhere near complete (at least the last time I went looking). It will take a few years with people that care about this sort of thing to mature the various projects. If we wait for a "good experience the first time", it will be a long while. I'm prepared to put up with quite a bit if it means long term options for open social networks. For example by creating testbeds for open social APIs.

99% of people don't care and are going to stay on Facebook. These projects are not for those people. At least until TBL's recent prognostications about the emerging Walled Gardens come true.


Comment Welcome to Richard Stallman's future (Score 1, Insightful) 338

Apparently the new MacBook Air borrows features from iOS and we can expect to see more iOS "features" in OSX as time goes by. I can't see any proprietary operating system provider to not be tempted by this level of consumer/vendor control and taxation. Steve's just be the first to realise that handcuffs are best slipped on gently over a period of time rather than ham fisted "Plays For Sure" edicts.

Why is today's Slashdot reading more and more like an RMS essay?

Fortunately Windows is too much of a sprawling shanty town to be readily ammenable to similar attempts for a while yet.

Comment Too many notes! (Score 1) 371

I particularly like this report about the judgement where "the flute riff made up only 5.8 per cent" of the song. Five point eight percent? You have got to be kidding me!

It speaks volumes when the legal system must resort to distillation and quantification of art to such spurious accuracy. It reeks of the text book explainging the linear programming of poetry that gets ripped up in Dead Poets Society or the King of Austria as portrayed in Amadeus, "And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect!".


Comment Policies WILL change (Score 1) 419

First up, why bother with all the elctoral "Kevin 07" paraphenalia if I'm not voting for the guy?

Second, Julia will pursue different policies to Kevin (if she doesn't we're toast).

I can appreciate how some people might be put out when the PM is replaced by a) Someone else and b) They proceed to change the promises.

Counter to that: a) She was the deputy at least (somewhat by chance) and b) The new deal is likely to be closer to what Kevin promised anyhow


Comment Re:Don't waste your time (Score 1) 114

The data is outright modelled and cannot take into account a bunch of factors that limit the actual signal strength. I had a somewhat heated discussion with a saleperson who was convinced that their telco had actually sent someone with a meter to measure the reception at 100 metre intervals across some wild and rugged terrain. It would be funny to take some samples and quantiatively demonstrate the exaggeration in each provider's coverage maps, the tabloid media would lap up the right analysis.


Comment Modelled data (Score 1) 114

Most providers use modelled data to estimate signal strength as it's too expensive to actually measure every point within their coverage. You might be able to obtain and use modelled coverage (which is mostly based on putting virtual towers into a digital terrain model) and undertake some validation. This would provide a meaure of the optimism usually present in modelled coverage. Actual coverage is usually going to be less due to buildings, weather, trees and other rubbish you rarely see in a DTM. Validation of published coverage maps would also require far fewer observations ("field work") than creating your own map from scratch.

Suck the whole lot into Quantum GIS (FOSS) and generate a text dump of obesrved/modelled coverage to analyse statistically in R (also FOSS).


Comment Just one ingredient (Score 3, Informative) 190

As well as the shiny interface, what makes Google is oodles of current, hi-res imagery and enough grunt to make the same base set of data available to a large chunk of the world's population.

Taken as a complete product, I can't see anything remotely in the ballpark. FOSS can do software, but data and servers to cough it up is not a software issue. Bing has data, but from what I've seen their data currecny and resolution is trailing Google. Due to the economies of scale involved, catching up would probably need deep pockets.



Italy Floats Official Permission Requirement for Web Video Uploads 131

An anonymous reader writes with some bad news from Italy, noting that new rules proposed there would "require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web." Understandably, some say such controls represent a conflict of interest for Silvio Berlusconi, "who exercises political control over the state broadcaster RAI in his role as prime minister and is also the owner of Italy's largest private broadcaster, Mediaset."

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