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Comment Re:Are you ready for an EMP ?? (Score 2) 190

It's a lot of reading, but the EMP commission report seems to be the most thorough review of the possible impacts of EMP.

I read "One Second After" which paints the end-of-the-world scenario that the OP posits, and then I read the EMP Commission report. My impression was that the actual impact would be awful, but not as bad as the book proposes. The premise of "One Second After" is that almost everything is totally destroyed... all electronics, power, telecommunications, and modern transportation. In reality, only a subset would be affected. For example, from the EMP Commission report:

an EMP attack would disrupt or damage a functionally significant fraction of the electronic
circuits in the Nation’s civilian telecommunications systems in the geographic region exposed to EMP.

Note that it didn't say *all* telecommunications would be damaged. In fact, it later says that there will still be enough surviving infrastructure to overload the circuits from people making calls. Even just a few operational phone lines would go a long way to facilitating emergency response across communities.

However, the report rightly notes that all our infrastructure is interrelated and damage in one infrastructure area can impact others. Notably:

The Commission has concluded that the electrical system within the NERC region so disrupted
will collapse with near certainty. [...] This loss is very large geographically and restoration is very likely to be beyond short-term emergency
backup generators and batteries.

Which means even the parts of the telecommunications infrastructure that survive would be without power to keep it going.

EMP may not send us back to the dark ages, but it is a very serious threat. Also keep in mind that the report was written in 2008, and our dependence on electronics has only increased since then.

Comment Buy some guy's book (Score 1) 479

You can sort through the 100's of responses and attempt to summarize, or you can just buy this e-book from GigaOm. I'm not affiliated with the author, but I do like GigaOm, and their Cord Cutter series has been really good

Cut the Cord: All You Need to Know to Drop Cable
Cut the Cord: All You Need to Know to Drop Cable (link with referral code if so inclined)

To answer the question, the best way to watch TV is AT&T's U-Verse: nice responsive UI, good channel selection, whole home DVR. But if you want the best bang for the buck, here's what I did:

- Roku with Netflix. Added Amazon for one-off purchases. Also have a Hulu Plus subscription, but haven't found it useful yet.
- Antenna for over the air -- better HD than cable and quite a few channels. Surprisingly, this little antennae worked really well for me:

Paper Thin Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna
Paper Thin Leaf Indoor HDTV Antenna (link with referral code if so inclined)

Comment Re:A La Carte (Score 1) 457

This may seem funny, but there is more truth to this than you think... just not the way you expect:

1) There was an actual company that wanted to charge gamers for special network routes that would get you lower ping times. You know what happened to them? No one wanted the product and they shut down. The free market at work.

2) A very similar scenario to what you describe can happen if net neutrality is taken to the extreme... without the ability to tamp down some of the most extreme consumers of bandwidth, you will likely see bandwidth caps and tiering come into play. Sure, it won't be site-specific, but I hope you like paying by the bit.

Comment Great, yet we can't talk to Afghans (Score 3, Interesting) 419

I read the article and was amazed at the great use of technology, that we could beam video and aircraft commands across the world to do surveillance and attacks. But then I saw a special on PBS last night where our ground troops can't even talk with the Afghans. The interpreter didn't speak good english, and his face was blurred out -- no doubt due to fear for his life and his family's safety. So, I wondered, why can't we use the same UAV technology to facilitate better translation?

Simply, give ground troops a video camera, mic, and speaker. Video and audio would be relayed to a translator sitting anywhere in the world. The translator could translate from Afghan to english, speaking into the troops' earpiece. English to Afghan would be broadcast over the speaker the troop carries. It's not nearly as personal, but I'd bet we'd get better and more translators. They can work anywhere and don't have to fear being shot or their family being threatened.

Comment Re:Is this flu really "special"? (Score 1) 695

It's pretty special that there's tons of people out there just waiting around to make money off of this kind of thing.

I don't know if you were being sarcastic, but it actually is pretty special that these drug companies had the profit motivation to develop a drug like this. You have to ask yourself if these drugs would've been developed under a socialized drug development system. Would government researchers have been funded to develop these drugs? I can imagine that politicians would have found "better" things to spend taxpayer money on than the "remote" chance of a pandemic flu.

Social Networks

Submission + - MySpace Hoax Ends in Suicide

zookie writes: This heartbreaking article tells of an overweight teenage girl — duped by a fake MySpace profile of a cute boy — who committed suicide when the 'relationship' soured. Who was behind the fake profile? According to a police report and newspaper interviews, it was the mother of a neighborhood girl, who created the profile "to 'find out what Megan was saying on-line' about her daughter."

Submission + - Keeping Cool on Venus

Hugh Pickens writes: "In the 1970s and 80s, several probes landed on Venus and returned data from the surface but they all expired less than 2 hours after landing because of Venus' tremendous heat. It's hard to keep a rover functioning when temperatures of 450 C are hot enough to melt lead but NASA researchers have designed a refrigeration system that might be able to keep a robotic rover going for as long as 50 Earth days using a reverse Stirling engine. The rover's electronics would be packed in a ceramic-based insulator and placed it inside a metal sphere about the size of a grapefruit. Heat would then be pumped out of the sphere by compressing and then expanding a gas with a piston. When the gas expands, it absorbs heat from the electronics chamber then, as the gas is compressed and its temperature rises, the heat is allowed to dissipate in the atmosphere via a radiator. NASA has not committed to a Venus rover mission, but a 2003 National Academies of Science study recommended that high priority be given to a robot mission to investigate the Venusian surface helping to answer such questions as why Venus ended up so different from Earth and if the changes have taken place relatively recently."

Submission + - A Pilot on Airline Security (

Paperweight writes: Dave Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, recently wrote how unsafe and hole-ridden airline security still is, in spite of all the money being blown on it. There is simply no deployable technology that has a prayer of keeping a motivated, prepared terrorist out of the system. The US Transport Security Administration misses more than 90% of detectable weapons at passenger checkpoints even in their own tests. Until the mindset behind airline security is changed, using an airliner as a weapon of mass destruction is as easy today as ever.

Submission + - Apple Introduces New Mobile Phone at MacWorld

octavian755 writes: "Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs confirmed months of speculation Tuesday by unveiling a new mobile phone and a set-top box that allows people to stream video from their computers to their televisions. Jobs said Apple's iPhone would "reinvent" the telecommunications sector and "leapfrog" past the current generation of hard-to-use smart phones."

Submission + - Apple's Phone Uses Touchscreen, OS X

necro81 writes: "As reported by Engadget's blow-by-blow of Steve Job's keynote at Macworld Expo, Apple's new phone (still called the iPhone, despite that name already being taken) is a smartphone-PDA that runs OS X (embedded), has a 160 ppi 3.5" screen, has a full-szied touchpad (no stylus), syncs via iTunes to OS X or Windows and, of course, is an iPod. The phone communicates to the outside world via GSM, EDGE, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, and Dock connector."

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