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Comment: Re:...What? (Score 1) 86

You might want to look up Edwin de Castro, and Ken Olsen.

I personally, look up to both of them.

Space (specifically the Apollo program) was responsible for a purchasing program that drove logic ICs down to consumer level pricing - without which PCs would not have reached the volume that drove the prices far lower.

Analog ICs would not have got far without the logic ones, because production tolerances were so loose that the concept of "it works or it does not" was critical to volume production of ICs in the early days. (Yield was under 3% for the 7400 family (first TTL logic ICs)).

Comment: Re:More like to his own parents (Score 4, Interesting) 86

You were obviously not there at the time. Bill Gates got rich because IBM signed the daftest contract in computer history from their point of view.

Yes: IBM - the company known for hiring the very best in legal expertise signed away their arms and legs

Why? - I would like to know that!

What I do know is that Bill Gates was a completely unknown school kid until he was brought to IBM's attention by his mother, who was a high-up at IBM. Digital Research was well known. When Garry Kidall did not believe IBM had sent people to see him, somehow Mrs Gates must have been on hand to say to the right person "Check out my son - he is a genius and has written and OS" probably having no idea of the difference between and OS and an interpreter. (Would your mum know the difference? Would she have in 1980?) (mine would, and I have some idea how rare that was). QDOS was known to Bill Gates, who had, indeed, written some software (and a few others) and he spotted an opportunity when it hit him right between the eyes!

Whether Bill Gates or his Dad (who was a very well known lawyer) wrote the contact with IBM, I don't know. Why IBM signed the contract without their lawyers reading it properly, I don't know. In my view the whole thing stinks. (Though I recognise that IBM's decision making was coloured by buffoons who thought they would be lucky to sell 10,000 PCs.

Here in the UK, most people involved in software at the time (like me) did almost nothing for the year that elapsed between rumours that IBM might make a PC, and the first one being delivered, because their employers wanted them to be instantly available to port the company's existing products to the PC - the entire industry knew it would be a game changer. Read the magazines from the time: It was like "Apple is going to make a phone that will run 3rd party apps" x 1,000!

Incidentally, Intel had a perfectly good OS at the time called ISIS but refused to sell it to anyone!

I also don't know why you need a GE225 to write BASIC, surely the most machine independent interpreter ever.

Disclaimer: I wrote an ISIS/CPM clone, but my employers refused to sell it because they said "No one would buy software written in the UK!" - and they were a UK software company"

Comment: Re:Popular support (Score 1) 152

by Rei (#49604743) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

I don't think NASA needs to make the fictional heroes; I think every piece of sci-fi that comes out helps inspire the next generation. I guarantee you that there's tons kids and young teens who saw, say, Gravity and think that's what it is to work at NASA and have set that as their aspiration. "Astronaut" is usually in the top 10 of what kids want to be when they grow up.

More than anything else, I see the main point of having astronauts is just to inspire kids. Just knowing that there's people going up there is enough - they don't need ot be doing big stunts that cost hundreds of billions of dollars to put a footprint on a distant body; they simply need to be twirling around in zero G in LEO.

Comment: Re:Popular support (Score 2) 152

by Rei (#49604707) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

How many current astronauts can you name?
How many current astronauts can anyone here name off the top of their head?

The time of astronauts as heroes has passed. Far, far more people today do care about MESSENGER and New Horizons than they do about what astronauts are doing in space. They get more coverage in the popular press too. MESSENGER hasn't been a big public eye-catcher (except briefly when it crashed) but there was lots of attention about Rosetta, MERs, MSL, Cassini periodically (for example, the geysers of Enceladus, the Huygens landing, etc), and you better believe New Horizons is going to get a lot of coverage when it does its Pluto flyby (the public has a lot of interest in Pluto, more than in a long time due to the "demotion" controversy)

Yes, the percentage of Americans who read about these sort of things when they come up in the news (let alone follow them in depth) is probably in the 10-20% range. But so? How many specific sub-programs in the Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service can you name? NASA still captures the public imagination in a way that no other part of the federal government does. It doesn't take a moon landing to do that.

Comment: Re:Did a paid shill write this summary? (Score 1) 152

by Rei (#49604651) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

It's about time someone defunded this utterly ridiculous and transparent scam.

Indeed, it's about time they defund SLS/Orion!

Don't get me wrong, NASA should be in the launch systems business. In the revolutionary launch systems business. Government programs are supposed to exist to do the important thing that private industry is unwilling or unable to do - in the science field this means things like such as science without immediate commercial applications, very expensive basic research, etc. There is no shortage of private companies now competing over the launch market, and indeed even for the heavy launch market. It's no longer some sort of monopolistic scenario.

NASA needs to be working on rocketry techs that are seen as too much cost / too much of a long shot for private industry to try - that is, until someone else (such as NASA) can prove them. Metstable fuels, nuclear-steam rockets, liquid airbreathing rockets, scramjets, solar sails, magnetic sails, fission sails, advanced ion propulsion technologies, fission fragment rockets, ballistic launch, launch loops, antimatter-initiated microfission / microfusion rockets, nuclear saltwater rockets, nuclear pulse propulsion, and on and on, plus advanced non-propulsion techs for landing, transit, sustaining a base/colony, new communications technologies, advanced robotic systems, etc - with all exact schematics, production instructions, consultations with the developers to serious parties, etc made available at no charge. I'm also of the opinion that NASA should produce and make available at low cost to private space companies and researchers the sort of large-scale analysis and test facilities whose capital costs would break a startup.

Basically, they need to be filling in the gaps in advancing space technology, not trying to do everything, even those things that other parties are more than happy to do on their own with their own money.

Comment: Re:usually the complaints are for too much politic (Score 2) 152

by Rei (#49604579) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

That might be true if this was some sort of dispassionate commentary on the bill. But it's not, it's a ringing endorsement of a highly partisan bill. Surely you see the difference.

For those who are serious, here's the Planetary Society's commentary, with a link to an indepth but nonpartisan analysis at SpacePolicyOnline. The Planetary Society is very happy with the planetary science numbers, not happy with the earth science numbers, and couldn't seem to care less about the funding for SLS/Orion.

Comment: Close enough to free (Score 1) 103

by TapeCutter (#49603625) Attached to: Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines?
All of these engine releases of late seem to have very reasonable terms. From the Unreal Engine 4 FAQ

How much do I have to pay for Unreal Engine 4?
UE4 is free to use, with a 5% royalty on gross product revenue after the first $3,000 per game per calendar quarter from commercial products. Read the EULA FAQ for more details.
I’m a consultant. Do I owe royalties on consulting fees?

I think the reason for this is they all want to become the defacto-standard, they are all very keen to create a developer community around their toolset. Personally I like the UE4 / PhysX sales model since you don't pay until you make money from it. I'm interested in playing with these engines as a hobby but have no interest in writing a commercial game, If I was serious about developing and selling games, the license fees for any of the popular engines would be a very minor concern, it's a great example of a capitalist "win-win".

Selling model content to use in these engines is where the money is for individual devs/artists, kind of like the people who sold shovels during the gold rush. IIRC UE4 has some sort of public marketplace where you can release/sell models you have created.

Comment: Re:More religious whackjobs (Score 1) 233

by Rei (#49602743) Attached to: Native Hawaiian Panel Withdraws Support For World's Largest Telescope

It's the same reason why many of the oppose geothermal power, keeping Hawaii reliant on burning oil for most of its electricity. Also why there's opposition to even trying to redirect lava flows as most countries do when their people are threatened (with a number of successful redirects having been achieved).

Apparently Pele wants people to be ignorant of the cosmos, to destroy the climate, and to lose their dearest possessions without putting up a fight.

Comment: Re:Lesson Here (Score 1) 218

by Anne Thwacks (#49600955) Attached to: Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power
The correct answer is: During pre-flight ground checks, detect all counters at imminent risk of overflowing*, and flag requirement for corrective action at next maintenance. Probably should be checked at all routine services as well.

* "imminent risk of overflowing" probably means less than four routine maintenance intervals remaining, but consult the requirements document for more detail.

This is aerospace, not gaming.

Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 420

by Rei (#49599695) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

I've seen plenty of work on accelerator-drive heavy isotope reactors but nothing for light isotope reactors like lithium. Accelerator driven heavy isotope reactors still deal with many of the problems of conventional fission reactors - they're greatly improved in many regards, but still problematic (you still have some plutonium, you still have some fuel availability/cost limitations, you still have some long-lived waste, you still have some harder to shield radiation, you still have a wide range of daughter products making corrosion control more challenging, etc - just not to the degree of a regular fission reactor). A light isotope reactor using lithium would virtually eliminate all of these problems. And it has a higher burnup ratio, which is of course critical for space uses.

And while everything I've seen about past improvements in accelerator efficiencies and spallation process improvements, and what's being worked on now, suggests no limit any time soon on neutron production efficiencies - at least that's how it looks from the papers I've read. Plus, even if efficiencies couldn't be improved any further (there's not that much further one needs to go), one could hybridize a heavy isotope and light isotope reactor, using a heavy isotope target as a neutron multiplier to bombard the lithium. You'd require significantly reduced quantities of heavy isotopes relative to a pure heavy isotope reactor, and most of the energy from the lithium side could be as mentioned captured without Carnot losses, which is a big bonus. Any non-thermalized neutrons of sufficient energy would produce tritium as a byproduct, which of course would be a value-added product - in fact, given that the tritium-breeding reaction with 7Li and a high energy neutron yields a lower-energy neutron, the thermalization could potentially be done via tritium breeding in the first place. And tritium is a valuable product whether one has interest in D-T fusion or not.

I just think it's weird that I've not come across any work on a lithium-based accelerator-driven spallation reactor, and was just wondering if there's a reason for that. It certainly looks appealing to my non-expert eyes. I mean, it looks even cleaner and more fuel-available than D-T fusion, and looks closer to being viable on a full-system perspective. Versus accelerator-driven heavy isotope fission you get less power per neutron (about a quarter as much), of course, even accounting for Carnot losses in the former - but that's not what matters. Cost is what matters, and if you're eliminating the use of super-expensive fuel, not producing any costly-to-manage waste, have no incident radiation, no proliferation concerns, etc, you're completely changing the cost picture - without even considering the possible joint production of saleable tritium.

Comment: Re:What, do you want the Euro? (Score 1) 8

Thanks for that. Fortunately, our differences were settled years ago, and she's never tried to keep me from communicating with or seeing our daughter. They and my wife met for the first time on this trip we've just returned from, and everyone got along great, much to my relief.

This is now. Later is later.