* Posts by fpx

89 posts • joined 15 May 2013

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From Red Planet to deep into the red: Suicidal extrovert magnet Mars One finally implodes

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Pint

Wish I'd Thought Of That

Seven years of publicity, speaking engagements, media coverage, minor celebrity status, all while living off donations. Just by producing slideware, photoshop and hot air that's plausible enough for the gullible. The world just wasn't ready for his vision.

So much better than slaving away in an office all day.

This guy is a genius!

Should the super-rich pay 70% tax rate above $10m? Here's Michael Dell's hot take for Davos

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Facepalm

Expert Opinion

For an expert opinion on this debate, see this piece by an actual economist: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/05/opinion/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-tax-policy-dance.html, quoting other economists that (Nobel laureate) "Diamond [...] estimated the optimal top tax rate to be 73 percent."

To everyone who argues that taxing high income does not address the wealth that the rich already have, or that it's futile because the rich will find tax avoidance loopholes anyway -- you are right, of course, but that is a separate debate, and you have to start somewhere. That each single measure to skim and redistribute some wealth has little effect should not be reason to not do anything.

I find it paradoxical that so many "poor" people fight tooth and nail to lower taxes for the rich. My theory is that people are convinced to be rich eventually, and therefore proactively fight taxes that they think might eventually apply to them.

Court doc typo 'reveals' Julian Assange may have been charged in US

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Angel

The Cat Angle

Ecuador is doing the kitty a favor by keeping Assange around. It fully deserves round the clock attention by its resident can opener. They're absolutely right to demand that Assanges takes proper care of his cat! Cat abuse to be punishable by extradition.

On the other hand, if Assange proves himself worthy of the cat, a nice Ecuadorian pasture to both of them!

Big Tech turns saboteur to cripple new California privacy law in private

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Boffin

Long article about this bill in the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/magazine/facebook-google-privacy-data.html

Android ain't done until Samsung won't run? 9.0 Pie borks Gear watch app

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Stop

The statement that you should enable WiFi to "improve location accuracy" deserves an award for most misleading myth to sucker you into allowing data gathering.

No matter the Android version, my solar-powered Citizen dumbwatch will still excel at telling the time.

Gov.UK to make its lovely HTML exportable as parlous PDFs

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Facepalm

Offline Reading

I frequently print web pages to PDF for storage and offline reading. In my experience it's not the PDF that goes out of date but the online content disappears or gets modified. The "1984" experience where information is centrally controlled and modified as necessary is easier to pull off every day.

The article says that "most [PDFs] come into existence because designers want total control." Unfortunately that's very much the same for Web content, where every element is arranged down to the pixel, images are deferred-loaded so that they can track when and how far down you scroll, and random ads appear all over the place as you move around.

Beardy Branson: Wacky hyperloop tube maglev cheaper than railways

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Thumb Up

Re: Usual Beardie/Virgin BS

As much as I agree with your article, Virgin Galactic is ... business. Branson is taking a gamble that there will be enough rich idiots to take the ride, and he is willing to invest a lot to make that vision a reality, in the faint hope that the enterprise comes out in the black eventually. It's not a bet that I would be willing to make with my money, given the long odds, but I admire him for doing so.

We all know it's not quite the same as being in space, but it fills a gap between the vomit comet and going into orbit. It will be an experience that you can't have anywhere else, for any kind of money. Going into orbit is not available yet and will be more expensive by two orders of magnitude. So it's not completely idiotic to go.

Either way, he gets good press off it, and that alone may make the losses tolerable for him.

Avengers: Infinity War: More Marvel-ous moolah for comic film-erverse, probably

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Flame

I'm tired of Superheroes

Despite all their powers and abilities, in the end, it all comes down to a fistfight. Because, inexplicably, you can't scratch a superhero with explosives, death rays, or by smashing them into buildings at supersonic speed, but only with a bare-knuckle fist, sometimes by the token human among them.

This week in storage: Film folk, HDDs, tape and stacks and stacks of dusty data

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Trollface

Way Ahead of You

Pretty much all of my legacy stuff is digital by now. Paper to PDF, Music CDs to MP3, Data CDs to ISO, VHS and DVD to MP4, even my old casette tapes. Took me many months of manual labor, though. Now it's all on a local NAS, with a thorough backup regimen to external HDDs, one of them externally stored just in case the house burns down. This data is my life, so I prefer to have it under my control.

Still undecided on books, though. I'd love to have some of them as PDFs, but there's no good solution to scanning them myself. There's online services, but they are costly.

In a sorry state again: Zuckerberg dusts off apology playbook in mea culpa to Congress

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Trollface

Shout at me all you want, and I'll pretend to be sorry, but please please don't regulate me. There's no danger of that happening, though. First, Zuck can point to the terms of service which grant them everything they did and more. Second, Politicians lust after the same data, and third, they don't understand the concept of privacy either. Four, Google, Microsoft and Apple lobbyists have Facebook's back. So let's have a Kodak moment and then we'll all go back to our merry ways.

More ad-versarial tech: Mozilla to pop limited ad blocker into Firefox

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Flame

Already Complicit

They could have added much-desired configuration options to block invasive forms of advertising (flashing images, background reloads, autoplay videos, sound, pop-ups) years ago but didn't. That they did not want to give users the option of disabling annoying ads to me always signalled that they did not want to tread on advertising business.

Guns, audio and eye-tracking: VR nearly ready for prime time

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FAIL

Simplicity is Key

One major advantage of the mobile phone-in-headset gadgets is its simplicity. You download an app to your phone, drop it into the headset, and off you go. You do not need a PC, and you have few compatibility issues. Sure, the quality is often marginal, but that's an experience that you otherwise only get with closed systems like the PSVR.

Once you have a PC in the loop, you have CPU and GPU speeds, driver issues, cable form factors, connectivity etc. to worry about. Heck, why does the head tracking driver not install properly? Ah, it's incompatible with the Bios. Have you tried installing the latest updates? Flickering on the right-eye display? Oh, on Intel you must revert to version 158.1. Then how about a reboot!

That long-awaited Mark Zuckerberg response: Everything's fine! Mostly fixed! Facebook's great! All good in the hoodie!

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Trollface

Facebook is Angry

... but only because someone made money off their data that they would rather keep for themselves.

Governments are not going to act, because they lust after the same data for, er, you know, terrorists! They just need to scare Facebook into a little more data sharing, pretty please.

Cambridge Analytica CEO suspended – and that's not even the worst news for them today

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Devil

In this case the data was gathered by an application that gathered data for research.

But the data is out there, and it's a feature of the Facebook platform that it can be vacuumed by applications. Nobody hesitates to grant Farmville or Angry Birds all the permissions that the damn app asks for, even if it is to sell out their own and all their friends' data. I imagine a lot of app makers are now realizing that they can make a fortune by selling their app's data to Cambridge Analytica and the like.

Maybe we should hurry and buy some Zynga or Rovio stock. I'm sure they have detailed data on pretty much anyone on the planet by now.

And Facebook can happily claim that they are just a platform, not responsible for what it is used for.

NSA boss: Trump won't pull trigger for Russia election hack retaliation

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Devil

Nice Euphemism

"Proactively address Russian cyber threats."

Now that is a great euphemism for "first strike"!

Data-slurping keyboard app makes Mongo mistake with user data

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Facepalm

No Non-Free Option

Re: "It raises the question once again if it is really worth it for consumers to submit their data in exchange for free or discounted products or services"

I wish. I would love to pay for some apps to have ads or tracking removed. However, most of the time I do not have the option. Usually Apps only unlock additional features when you pay for them instead of using the free version, but do not disable tracking. Tracking users that are willing to pay is the most valuable data for them!

Cortana, please finish my sentences in Skype texts for me

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Angel

Insert Dirk Gently Reference Here

One step closer to bots talking to bots.

Can I get an auto-reply feature for Outlook while we're at it? "Yes, thank you Dave, I did receive your mail a fortnight ago and will respond as soon as my bot has received the next update to parse it."

Let's go live now to Magic Leap and... Ah, still making millions from made-up tech

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Flame

Someone Else's Money

Keep in mind that many VCs don't invest their own money, but someone else's money from the funds that they are managing.

Therefore, the VCs also have a vested interest in keeping the hype machine going, because then they can keep pretending that it all looked very promising and seemed to offer great returns on their investments -- when they are eventually sued for neglect by the fund's shareholders. Hey, the demos looked great, and how was I supposed to know that the engineering was impossible?

And in the meantime they make a pretty dime for their fund management. Or sitting on the board. Or both. Hey, they've all been pals at the same fraternity!

The bigger the drone, the bigger the impact

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Black Helicopters

Nice Myth

This dream has already fallen flat with Cargolifter. They had the same vision of transporting cargo to hard to reach places (like Alaskan oil rigs) and found out the hard way that demand was not sufficient to pay for the staggering cost of building large craft for that purpose.

When you're talking about tons of cargo, the additional design cost to design in a pilot's seat is small, and the additional operating cost for the human pilot becomes negligible. (That's one of the reasons why some pilots can command insane salaries -- it doesn't factor in next to the capital costs and fuel costs!)

Sure, airborne vehicles' advantage is that you don't need infrastructure between points A and B. But there's still some overhead needed at points A and B, like fuel delivery and storage, equipment for repairs, etc. And even without a pilot, you don't want your million dollar drones to crash, so marginalizing safety is not an option.

Eventually, except in a few rare cases, it will be cheaper to build a land-based network. And there's more innovative solutions beyond asphalt to choose from, such as aearial trams or riverboats.

Flying electric taxi upstart scores $90m from investors

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Devil

"During flight mode, less than a tenth of the power is needed, dropping its energy consumption down to be comparable to that of an electric car."

There's this thing called glide ratio. It's the ratio between altitude and distance you can travel horizontally without power. Sailplanes get up to 1:60 these days, i.e., one kilometer of altitude gets you 60 kilometers of distance. That's with sailplanes that have a wingspan of 18 meters, and are designed for the purpose: low weight and optimum wing surface. Large aircraft have a glide ratio of 1:20 to 1:30, still with a pretty big wing area. Fighter aircraft are around 1:10.

The glide ratio defines your power needs. If this gizmo with its stubby wings and no laminar flow because there's fans all over the wing should even get 1:20, you still need to gain 15km of altitude to go 300km. Sure, you don't go 15km up all at once, and you gain some distance while in powered flight, but you catch my drift.

So you'll need enough juice to lift 500 kilos by about 10 kilometers. Oh wait, that is just the payload? The airframe plus engines is another 500 kilos, easily. Plus the batteries themselves. Good luck with that.

They should just glue on some solar panels. Problem solved!

Airbus issues patch to prevent A350 airliner fuel tanks exploding

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Flame

Not Unusual

Aircraft are complex, yet few accidents happen. There are surprisingly efficient procedures for discovering, tracking and correcting issues, especially for large aircraft. Check out the airworthiness directives ("AD") database at the FAA, https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/airworthiness_directives/

For example, there was one published on Monday affecting all Boeing 777 aircraft, reading in part, "We are issuing this AD to detect and correct cracks in the underwing longerons, which could result in fuel leakage into the forward cargo area and consequent increased risk of a fire or, in a more severe case, could adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane."

This type of language is not all that unusual in an AD. And it's only the most recent of currently 80 ADs affecting the 777. And you could make a scary headline like this article's pretty much from any of these ADs! Even "emergency" ADs, where aircraft are grounded until inspections or repairs are made before the next flight (like the 777's burning batteries issue) are not that unusual.

This does not mean that the A350 or B777 is unsafe to fly. Flying remains the safest mode of transport, because of rules and regulations, and authorities that rigorously enforce discovery and distribution of issues.

ASUS smoking hashes with 19-GPU, 24,000-core motherboard

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Facepalm

What a Topsy-Turvy World

People spending $10k on a PC to mine fictional cryptocash, for profit! Something's seriously wrong with reality. Or I'm in the wrong line of business. Or both.

Flash fryers have burger problems: You can't keep adding layers

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Re: we're running out of options

"Sure you can use TSV, but its expensive and that only delays the inevitable"

Chip design and manufacturing has been pretty good at delaying the inevitable for like 30 years.

I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness

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Facepalm

Re: Wait a second!

On second thought, digging a tunnel without any hyperpods to shoot in them is merely like building a spaceport without rockets to fly. So this is not entirely without precedent.

Trump wanted to spend $1tn on infrastructure. Who would've thought he'd spend it all on a hyperloop link from Trump Tower to the White House to ease his daily commute!

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WTF?

Wait a second!

So he claims that The Boring Company is getting a contract to bore a tunnel ... but from who?

Digging the tunnel would probably be subcontracted from the company building the hyperloop itself. Even the US government would not be stupid enough to build a NY-DC tunnel without somebody to operate the entire system. And none of the contenders are remotely ready for that.

Never mind boring through the most densely populated parts of the US. There would not be a contract before it's clear where to build it, including the terminals in the city center. NYC Grand Central to DC Union station? Good luck with that!

Also, who would be stupid enough to give such a major many billions-US$-contract to a company that hasn't built a single meter of tunnel yet!

Dead serious: How to haunt people after you've gone... using your smartphone

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Megaphone

Intentional Spelling

Of course the misspelling is intentional, for the sole purpose of having something both (somewhat) readable and, much more importantly, trademarkable.

FCC: LEO ISPs A-OK

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Devil

Tough Business

One major issue is that the areas without good 4G coverage are not very populated, poor, or both. Otherwise they'd have 4G already. So the customer base is either small, or can't afford pricey satellite internet. Plus IoT installations.

'Nobody's got to use the internet,' argues idiot congressman in row over ISP privacy rules

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Boffin

Gilmore vs. Gonzales

There's a precedent in the decade-old decision in Gilmore vs. Gonzales, where the requirement for mandatory identification in air travel was challenged. Among other things, the government asserted that showing identification was no undue burden because you always had the option to use other means of transportation if you preferred to travel anonymously.

"The Supreme Court has long recognized that the nature of our Federal Union and our constitutional concepts require that all citizens be free to travel uninhibited by regulations which unreasonably burden this movement. However, burdens on a single mode of transportation do not implicate the right to interstate travel."

See https://papersplease.org/gilmore/

America halts fast processing of H-1B skilled worker visas

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Boffin

That Sucks

My previous employer imported a lot of talent on H-1B visas, including myself. We were not low-cost replacements, but the employer had genuine difficulty finding enough residents. And no, that was not because they were skimping on pay. We were all treated fairly.

The company always paid the extra cost for expedited processing. Without it, you essentially become hostage as you are merely tolerated in the country while your application is being processed. You have to file for "advance parole" every time you leave the country, with a certain risk that you could be turned away at the border when you return. The bureaucracy and uncertainty gets on your nerves eventually.

Sure, expedited processing is unfair to begin with, as it allows you to skip to the head of the queue if you can pay the price, increasing wait times for everybody else who can't afford to pay this tax.

These days, the H-1B system is useless for importing talent because the queue is swamped with cost cutters that file 100 applications just so that 20 random ones are approved and they still benefit on the average. Few responsible persons would subject themselves to six to twelve months of uncertainty whether they will be allowed to work or not.

But please don't make the generalization that every H-1B holder is a blood sucker taking jobs away from poor yankees.

Facebook hires Hillary Clinton to lead assault on fake news*

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Boffin

Sharing is not Believing

The fake news hype keeps assuming that when a story is shared a million times, then a million users will be influenced. But that is nonsense. I might identify a story as fake and share it with my friends because I find it funny, and I will assume that my friends will also identify the story as obviously fake.

Arguing that only I am smart enough to tell real news from fake, but that other people are too dumb to do the same is disingenuous as well.

Sure, some people might, but I'd be willing to bet that the majority is not. So when a fake news story is shared a million times, how many people will swallow the crap and accept it for real? One percent? 10 Percent? I don't know but would be interested in research on the subject.

Also, what will happen to humor and sarcasm, will that be outlawed as well?

Hyperloop One settles hangman lawsuit

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Devil

That's Nice

Now that the lawsuit's out of the way, can you get back to building your product now?

If your engineering team is as good as your artwork, I'm looking forward to it.

Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

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Pint

Re: Not Going To Work

To clarify, I did not say that this plane was impossible to build, just that it would be not economical to run. History is also littered with civil SST projects -- there's a good dozen of them on Wikipedia. When some guys on Kickstarter claim that they can re-build and run Concorde at a fraction of the cost. The company has better credentials than most, but count me a sceptic.

My guess is that Sir Richard gets some good press out of it, with little risk and no money down. His purchase will evaporate when costs skyrocket.

Check out Terrafugia. Another group of highly capable people, but they are still trying to get off the ground 10 years on, with a much simpler product.

Let's meet again in a few years and see how this worked out, shall we? Beer's on me.

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FAIL

Not Going To Work

As much as I would like to see them succeed, it's not going to happen. There's simply not big enough of a market for supersonic travel to offset the 10-figure development costs and bring down ticket costs.

Tickets for the Concorde were $10k+, and that was after development costs were essentially written off. Regular business or first class airline tickets are already $3k+, and that is with economies of scale bringing down base costs like logistics and maintenance.

There may be motivation to use supersonic travel in point to point travel, e.g., from London to NYC. But when you need to travel between secondary cities, say Brussels to Denver, the advantage from a supersonic leg quickly become negligible.

With Galactic, Branson has a unique value proposition -- it's a ride that you can't get anywhere else, so people are lining up whatever the price. With Boom, he has to compete against airlines.

Supersonic may make sense for individual travel on business jets for the super-rich, but only after they solve the noise issues for overland travel.

Nissan reveals self-driving chair

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FAIL

Barking up the wrong tree

I much prefer the type of line where I don't have to morosely stand around for hours moving one step at a time in lockstep with the other people around me.

Shuffling chairs down a queue is just stupid. It's solving a problem that you should not have in the first place. If I have to wait for my turn, why not let me spend the wait any way I want to, like in the coffee shop. Like with the gizmo they give you in a restaurant to signal you when the table or your order is ready.

As you might tell, I'm not the type of person that camps in line for three days to pick up Harry Potter and his new Wizard Phone.

Heathrow airport and stock exchange throw mystery BSODs

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Facepalm

Unhelpful?

How about a new category for unhelpful public displays?

My favorite (not) is the local underground. Each track has displays showing the number of minutes until the arrival of a certain line, e.g., "next U3 in 5 minutes." So far, so good. Until there is a disturbance.

Then, the displays are replaced by full-screen messages like "delays due to <insert BOFH excuse>, we apologize for the inconvenience" or even "the blockade has been resolved, but we experience continued departures from schedule." When all you want to know is whether you still have enough time to grab a coffee before your train comes.

Robo-buses join the traffic in Helsinki

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Thumb Up

Sign Me Up

I live 2+km from the next subway station. The bus runs at odd intervals and is usually empty except during rush hour. Service could be improved tremendously if a few of these gizmos would pick me up when I want to. Especially on the return trip, with a robo-bus or two waiting at the subway station.

Yes, 10km seems slow. My walking pace is easily above 6kph, and I could easily beat the bus running. But then I arrive all sweaty, and that only works without luggage. With the bike I'm even faster, but then I have to worry about my bike still being at the station when I return. And as said above, when these buses work fine at walking pace it will be easy to speed them up.

So, sign me up! (As long as they are included in a regular fare, unlike the shared-taxi-feeder-rides that they offer around here, which are an extra €3 per trip.)

An anniversary to remember: The world's only air-to-air nuke was fired on 19 July, 1957

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Alert

Re: just goes to show how little ...

Re: "I would also like to point out the rise in cancer rate amongst the population of the WHOLE WORLD since the US and USSR started exploding nukes left, right and centre in the 1950's."

Note that correlation is not causation. Life expectancy has ballooned in the 20th century almost everywhere. We (as a civilization) have removed lots of causes of early death by disease, making cancer stand out more strikingly. If you were correct, cancer rates should decline for the last few decades.

Correction: There was no hangman's noose, claims Hyperloop countersuit ... it was a cowboy's lasso

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Thumb Down

What a scam

Whoever wins, it's increasingly clear that the company is out to fleece investors that have jumped on the Hyperloop hype, and any advances in engineering will be purely coincidental. I pity the engineers that joined the company trying to build something relevant only to see management focusing on their personal enrichment rather than the product.

Your comms metadata is super-revealing but the law doesn't protect it

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Alert

Not that Different

Aodhhan has a point. Today's metadata is not significantly more revealing than yesterday's metadata. The list of phone numbers that you talked to in the 70s, or the list of addresses that you sent mail to (and received from) at the beginning of the 20th century, was just as useful for guilt by association as it is today. Arguably, less so: where you had to call direct then, these days the metadata just shows you connecting to Google or Facebook.

What is very different today is the analytical capabilities for metadata. Where decades ago some poor bastard would have to go through phone books by hand and draw maps with a pencil, now the spooks instantly see an interactive graph, probably with every node colored according to some thread score.

SpaceX adds Mars haulage to its price list

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Facepalm

The Missing Link

The $62M gets you off the launch pad and into a transfer orbit.

If you play your cards well that might get your four ton payload to Mars, but presumably the transfer vehicle comes out of your own budget (dollar-wise and weight-wise).

It's World IP Day! Celebrate by making money from a dead teenager

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Devil

Certainly Anne Frank is an good poster figure for copyright extension because her life was cut short. Depriving her descendants of income for the remainder of her life expectancy is a late victory for murderous nazis. Basically society can profit from the killing of copyright holders, since we'll be able to enjoy those works in the public domain earlier.

On the other hand, extending copyright to the author's descendants for 70 years beyond their life time is already a concession in cases where an author dies shortly after publication. Copyright terms based on publication date would be fairer, as is already the case for corporate works. But then you get authors like Sonny Bono whining about losing the right to profit from works that they published 50 years ago.

What a mess.

US intercepts Bermuda Triangle bubble podule

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Pint

Give him some credit

There is a tremendous amount of speculation here.

People have crossed the oceans in all kinds of human-powered watercraft more and less ridiculous as this one. This bubble does not look much less seaworthy than some kayaks. And its crazy looks make it immediately likeable.

Given that he made it 7 miles offshore (and 40 miles in an earlier attempt) it's clear that he had water and food somewhere. Instead of having items bouncing about in the bubble or them in the rim would be silly though, I would have gone with a towboat. (There's no boat to be seen in the story's picture.)

Navigation's trivial with a hand-held GPS. And apparently he also took a radio or satphone.

He shows up in the results database of the 2010 and 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon (200km across Death Valley in the middle of summer), so he does have some serious endurance credentials. (The site lists him as a US resident.)

So he's not completely crazy. Although I agree with the coast guard that, considering the risk of flooding to weather or a puncture, he needs a seaworthy craft at his side.

Tweak Privacy Shield rules to make people happy? Nah – US govt

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FAIL

A Kafka Moment

If you can prove that you have been wrongfully denied entry into the US, please file a report with the Ombudsman in Washington. Submissions must be filed in person.

Champagne weekend for Blue Origin with third launch

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Pint

Small step for mankind, none for me

Well done, Jeff.

I still won't be able to afford a trip.

For a trip to "space" on my income, my hopes are on balloon rides, which I think have a better likelihood to become affordable enough in my lifetime. I wouldn't get the acceleration of a rocket launch (I can get them in a rollercoaster) or the weightlessness (could get that in a vomit comet if I cared), but on the plus side I'd get to see space for an hour or two instead of just five minutes.

Riding a dragon capsule to a Bigelow space motel? I need a few lottery wins first.

Which keys should I press to enable the CockUp feature?

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No Euro Sign

For many months I was unable to type the € sign which my German keyboard has assigned to AltGr+E, while @ (AltGr+Q) and Greek µ (AltGr+M) worked fine. I was frustrated and resigned to using "Insert Symbol" from Word's Insert ribbon (starting Word and Copy-Pasting the Euro sign into the desired app if it wasn't Office). Fortunately as an engineer I don't do many invoices.

By accident I eventually stumbled across the preferences for Avaya's IP telephony app, and noticed that it used AltGr+E as the hotkey to end a call, and of course it intercepted that key combination even if no call was active or if it was just running in the background.

Speaking of µ, Office thinks it's fun to capitalize the Greek µ to a Latin M if it happens to be at the beginning of a sentence or just after a decimal point. Micrograms to Megatons, just a spell check away!

Reddit's warrant canary shuffles off this mortal coil

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Easily Defeated

If I were the NSA, I would send trivial NSLs to every company that has a warrant canary, preemptively.

Here's what an Intel Broadwell Xeon with a built-in FPGA looks like

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Boffin

Nothing Revolutionary

FPGAs with embedded CPUs (hard-core or soft-core) have been available for many years. Having a CPU with an embedded FPGA is little different in principle. Certainly a Xeon is a much mightier beast than what you commonly get embedded in an FPGA.

Norks uses ballistic missile to launch silent 'satellite'

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Facepalm

Pointless

ICBMs are pretty pointless these days as it's pretty obvious to see where they're coming from. There's no subtlety and no plausible deniability. The moment NK shoots a rocket anywhere, they'll be burnt to cinders. And if there's only one or two of them, there's a good chance of intercepting them. So the threat is minimal to non-existent. (But it gives the superpowers a good excuse to invest in missile-defense systems.)

Did North Korea really just detonate a hydrogen bomb? Probably not

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Boffin

Little Difference

As the article hints at, there are two types of fission bombs. The gun-barrel type, where you simply fire one chunk of sub-critical uranium or plutonium at another to form a super-critical mass, is trivial to build but pretty ineffective, and incapable of triggering a fusion stage. The implosion type, where a sphere of high explosives compresses a hollow sphere of uranium or plutonium to become super-critical, is much more difficult to engineer -- the detonation must be very precise or the whole thing will fizzle. Better design will result in higher maximum compression and more chain reaction. Eventually it will be hot enough for long enough to ignite any hydrogen that might be at its core.

So best guess is that NK might have moved from gun-barrel type to implosion type weapons, and even if it wasn't good enough to ignite the second stage, they can now start optimizing their design until it does.

It's just slightly odd to advertise this test as such. Other nuclear powers made certain that their designs would be effective (using cheap dry runs with depleted uranium) before testing it for real.

From a strategic standpoint though, there's little difference. Any A-bombs are good at deterrence only. It's the threat that they could level a western city that grants them a seat at the table -- and it doesn't matter at all if they have kilotons or megatons to threaten with. But the entire country would be burned to cinders the second after they used any of them.

Americans massively back call for more police body camera tech

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Thumb Up

Watch the Watchers

I've never had any encounter with police officers in the US (at traffic stops) which hasn't been curteous and professional.

That said, they certainly have a reputation of responding disproportionately: when you get in their way, if they get any bad vibes from you, or even if they don't like your jokes, they can and will quickly escalate the situation. Then, everything that you might do that offends them gives them a reason to use the full force of their authority.

No wonder then that there is mistrust, and that many advise against saying anything to an officer at all (unless in the presence of a lawyer, a lawyer would add) because there is a perception that anything incriminating that you say will be used against you, while anything exonerating is conveniently ignored or lost.

Anyway, think of all the great TV shows and youtube clips from police dashboard cameras, and think of the hilarious clips that we will get from bodycams!

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