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Comment Re:Counter flow drug money (Score 1) 158

Right but settling balances could be a problem for Hawala if there is a large imbalanced flow in one direction. The multi-billion dollar drug business likely creates such an imbalance. Terrorists trying to get money into first world countries are moving money in the other direction, hence reducing that imbalance, so their transfers should be easy to execute and might even get a discount.

Comment Counter flow drug money (Score 2) 158

Our "war on drugs" creates a perfect method for terrorists to get money into the U.S. The retail drug trade generates lots of cash, but some of it has to go out of the country to pay suppliers in third world countries. All the the terrorists have to do is make deals with those third world suppliers (if they aren't one and the same). The terrorists give the suppliers cash from their backers and the drug dealers give cash to the terrorists designees in the U.S, settling accounts. It's simple. Why bother with bitcoin or cash smuggling?

Comment Re: CipherSaber (Score 1) 140

Writing your own encryption software isn't illegal yet (at not least in the U.S.) and getting kids to learn how is not a bad idea. Also it's time people on Slashdot gave Apple some respect for providing high grade security and encryption to its customers. After all, Apple is the company that the FBI and supporters of mass surveillance in Congress are most angry at.

Comment Re:The break down of 60 million is the key. (Score 4, Informative) 163

The Space Shuttle Main Engines, which push the envelope far more than SpaceX's Merlin, were reused up to 19 times. According to the Wikipedia article: "After each flight the engines would be removed from the orbiter and transferred to the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility (SSMEPF), where they would be inspected and refurbished in preparation for reuse on a subsequent flight. A total of 46 reusable RS-25 engines, each costing around US$40 million, were flown during the Space Shuttle program, with each new or overhauled engine entering the flight inventory requiring flight qualification on one of the test stands at Stennis Space Center prior to flight." There is also a chart of which engines were used on which flight. Musk and his team seem to have a clear engineering vision. This first landing of an orbital booster is just the beginning, but the potential for cutting cost to orbit through reusability is enormous.

Comment Re:Hardly (Score 2) 20

While the idea of machines that could flexibly manipulate objects in 3-D had been around for a while in science fiction, Joe Engelberger actually made robot arms that worked. And he did it not just in a lab, but in production in the demanding environment of automotive factories. And this was back in 1961, when computers typically filled up a large air-conditioned room. He built a successful company, Unimation, around his inventions, put several generations of robots into production and mentored other pioneers in the field. He unquestionably deserves the title of "Father of Robotics."

Comment Re:Um... (Score 2) 275

Cash is already phased out. Take $12,000 out of your bank. Oh, that's right. You can't. They don't have that much. You have to call ahead. ...

That may be true for law abiding citizens, but consider the drug trade. The people who grow opium in Afgahanistan or refine heroin in Columbia want to get paid from the cash sales to users in the U.S. and Europe. That mean a net outflow of funds from industrialized nations to third world countries to pay for the drugs. All international terrorists have to do is pay the suppliers in Afghanistan, Columbia etc. and have their agents collect cash from dealer networks inside the U.S. and Europe, maybe offering a discount relative to other ways of getting cash out. The cash itself does not have to move far at all, certainly not across borders. Given the huge scale of international drug trafficking, only a tiny diversion of its cash flow is required to keep local terrorist cells comfortably in business.

Comment Re:ABC computer company (Score 2) 78

They weren't the same size as telco racks (i.e. 19")?

No they were not. IBM had it's own standards for mechanical packaging. But my recollection is that IBM's requirement that all its products fit through a standard 29" door predated the 360 line and was mandated by their sales department, who never wanted to lose a sale because the product could not get into a building.

Comment Re:Fortran's use of GT (Score 1) 304

The 026 didn't have parentheses either; we had to multipunch them.

That's not the whole story. Prior to EBCDIC, the convention was to use % and lozenge in the commercial 026 character set to represent left and right parentheses and # to represent equals. IBM offered 026 keypunches with those characters replaced on the keyboard and print matrix and compilers understood them as "(", ")" and "=". It was called the scientific character set option. When EBCDIC was introduced, the commercial card codings were retained and new card codes introduced for "(", ")", "=" and many others. But compilers I worked with all recognized the older codings, at least until I stopped using keypunches in the mid 1970s. But if you had a need to enter a proper EBCDIC "(", ")" or "=" on an 026 you would have had to multi-punch, as you say. Was there some software you used that did not recognize the "scientific" 026 encodings?

Comment Re:That's special... (Score 1) 163

what you are deliberately leaving out is that OS X has a fraction of the marketshare of windows and that is the main reason.

If smaller marketshare is the main reason OS X has much less malware than Windows, isn't that still a compelling reason to buy a Mac? Let all the cheapskates who want to save a few hundred bucks on their computer deal with the mass insecurity.

Comment Re:Fortran's use of GT (Score 1) 304

Back when Fortran came out, keyboards weren't standardized yet. Also, some systems used variations of 7-bit or even non-ASCII encodings like EBCDIC. ...

Uhh, not quite. Back when Fortran was introduced in 1957 and when comparison operators were introduced in Fortran IV in 1962, pretty much everyone was entering programs on punched cards, mostly using the IBM 026 keypunch machine which did not have the greater than and less than symbols. In fact a special 026 "scientific character set" was required to show parentheses or equal sign on the keyboard or to print them on the cards. While each computer model tended to have its own internal character code, the punched card code itself was well standardized, even among IBM's competitors. The EBCDIC character set, which does have greater than and less than symbols, was introduced with the IBM System/360 in the mid-1960s, along with the IBM 129 keypunch, but the less expensive (and indestructible) 026 continued to be used by programmers for many years thereafter, especially at academic institutions. There is a good picture of the 026 keyboard on Wikipedia: File:IBM 026 keyboard.mw.jpg

Comment Re:Yes, and no. They were nice. Let's not exaggera (Score 1) 220

I agree with most of that, but I never had much problem keeping my slide rules lubricated, aligned, and tensioned. Slide rule maintenance was a lot less hassle than keeping a cell phone charged and the software updated. I used a slide rule through college and into my first job, but jumped at buying a TI SR-50 scientific calculator when they first came out in 1973, also paying about $300. But the tactile feel for calculations that the slide rule provided has never left me. I still own mine and have a slide rule app on my iPhone, just for fun. If you've never used one, get one on eBay and give it a try.

Comment Re:Higher performance assumes higher energy use (Score 1) 80

Point taken, I should have said zero ongoing energy cost. But the cost of the solar panels should be compared to the cost of the equipment generating power for conventional bitcoin mining and the cost of constructing the transmission lines bringing that power to the data center. And solar is getting to be competitive on a cost per watt-hour at the source.

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