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Comment And the age of the sun is? (Score 3, Insightful) 143

How does this affect or is affected by our estimates of the age of the Sun and Solar System?

As far as I understand, the best guide we have of the age of the Solar System is rocks on Earth used to estimate the age of Earth.

How much extra time would be required for this supposed possibility of the inner planets forming after the gas giants sweeping in and back out?

What tests could be done with rocks from Callisto or Ganymede to constrain the age of the Solar System?

Comment Re:Oh dear god..... (Score 3, Interesting) 339

The mass of a Dyson Sphere of carbon with a radius equal to the orbit of Ceres that is 1 millimeter thick turns out to be...


slightly less than the mass of Earth.

And that's using the density of solid carbon. You could probably get a sphere out past Saturn's radius switching to a fancy aerogel or something.

And with "all material of our solar system" at "one atom thick"...

With that we'd get a Dyson sphere with radius a third the way to Alpha Centauri.

Ummm... about that remark of estimatory prowess...

Comment Re:For one, synergy... (Score 2) 128

The one thing missing in this description is requirements for and/or support of networking.

I've wrestled with stuff like this. I agree with all folk suggesting VNC, RDP and the like. If these can meet the need, then I bet the end experience will be better. Cheap KVM switches suck.

But, there's one simple thing that can render this unsuitable: VPN requirements. Several VPN clients are designed to shut off all other networking while initiating the VPN session. This will kill all these solutions that depend on local networking. So if one or more of his machines are essentially used to access separate VPNs, he really may be stuck with KVM-like solutions.

If this is the case, there may be one other solution. I was very pleased when my company switched VPN clients and I could finally have concurrent networking. I ditched my KVM switch. Now they're switching VPN clients again and supposedly the laptop will be locked down again. The solution here is to switch to a VM on said laptop and run the VPN client from within the VM. Now that we're going VM though, why even turn on the laptop? Well, if you will need to travel, you do want the laptop ready to go. So, keep the VM on the laptop. But for the OP, with just one laptop, I have to wonder if one of these desktops couldn't be folded into a VM on the second.

Comment Re:LOTR (Score 2) 167

First of all, plenty of people actually did do just that. That is, several novels were written by various authors based on their own experiences in a role playing game.

Indeed, not only do we have a number of books and series of the vanilla fantasy type which credit their role-playing group and friends for the genesis of the story, we also have a slew of books which overtly involve people crossing from the "normal" world into their role-playing or fantasy world.

Everything depends on what someone means or wants when they talk about translating D&D to a movie. If you want a fantasy story, then the reference to tolkein and the recent six movies was incredibly appropriate. The entire fantasy genre owes a heavy debt to Tolkein, including all fantasy RPGs.

But to extend this thought, as others have stated, by now (decades later) there are TONS more sources to draw upon to create good Fantasy movies. Why try to blow the dust off a 30-year old script?

If instead you want a movie about teenagers playing D&D, you've got an entirely different challenge to create a compelling script, especially one that is believable, realistic and appeals to a broad audience.

How about a movie that spends the first hour with character generation? Or rage-quits? Or endless arguments about what WOULD be possible in the game-world? Or arguments about the difference between what the PLAYER knows vs. what the CHARACTER would know? (you know... where the GM argues the fireball is volume-based; so cast in cramped quarters would end up frying the party while the player argues the mage would have known that!)

Comment Constant mistrust (Score 1) 108

The photo thing here is an interesting twist here.

But this attack vector seems to require the end-user to authorize things a number of times along the way. As stated in the article the real problem/danger is folk willy-nilly installing apps from heaven knows who.

I wonder if/when these things will simply never unlock the device. Just keep asking for more money. Or unlock it lock it again for no reason randomly in the future.

We seem to have reached a strange point with communications technology. We're barraged by blatant fraud from all sides. Nuisance and scam calls on the phones. Nonsense via SMS. Tons of spam to the email. Junk-mail and endless scams via snail-mail. Now fraudulent "we're the FEDS/IRS" via these goofy apps or websites.

We're being trained to trust nothing.

Comment Re:What does that mean? (Score 3, Interesting) 111


This is yet another product entering an ever-crowding field. This does not at all seem "new".

And it may not even be "better" or "cheaper" than the alternatives already available for purchase today.

Having said that, I'm more than happy to see this field growing. I find it hilarious we're getting to the point where shipping itself is possibly greater than product price for a "computer".

I'm having all sorts of fun with my Single-Board-Computers. I grabbed a couple (BananaPro) initially to act as simple TFTP servers with a bit of capacity for backup. I am still in an experimental phase to some degree but have started a soaking phase where part of the home network is dependent upon them. I've far surpassed my initial plans. At the moment I have this pair of SBCs working together as a High Availability cluster serving LTSP to clients. I'm typing from one of stations "soaking".

Comment "Misuse" of Encryption (Score 4, Interesting) 108

Anyone else catch the nonsensical bomb-threat at the White House yesterday?

I was passing a TV set to CNN and that was the focus. I've not seen much about it otherwise.

But they evacuated the Press Room once or twice.

Eventually somebody stood at a podium to opine about how we all need to address this issue of Encryption because it hinders their ability to catch the bad guys when the bad guys "misuse" encryption.

I was incredibly offended at the very idea. It's so stupid - you either use it or you don't. Using encryption to keep the feds from looking over your shoulder and reading your communications is not "misuse". It's the entire purpose and absolutely correctly used as such. And in the context of the US, it would seem we have the 1st, 4th and 5th amendments to consider.

Not only was I disgusted at this moment of sheer propaganda, I found myself very inclined to believe the entire thing was completley staged.

Comment Re:Exodus (Score 1) 692

Well... to continue along this non-pedantry path...

How do YOU define "geometrically growing"? I would interpret that as implying a geometric progression a la:

And in the context of our discussion, this WOULD be exponential.

Even more importantly, however, is that there's a significant problem with your observation about the cube function being "higher" until a crossover point. To understand this better, you'd need to separate the geometric progression to each individual planet and then sum all things up. The limits aren't "overall" if we're bound by speed-of-light travel. Each planet reaches its capacity separately. And from the very beginning, the planet(s) in the core of this expanding bubble of humanity are increasing much faster than the fringe. It matters not that the bubble keeps expanding if you cannot move people to the fringe just as fast as population grows.

Comment Straw man arguments? (Score 2) 260

This is a very strange article.

I'm happy if folk are drawing attention to issues of statistics, flawed studies or ways one can inappropriately draw conclusions from relatively small data sets. Reminds me of the old adage "Figures don't lie... but liars do figure".

But this seems to trivialize (or outright ignore) the actual purported benefits of cocoa. Why in the WORLD would it be acceptable to suggest "whole food" folk are fascinated with dark/bitter chocolate because of the weird idea that "since it tastes bad, it must be good for you". Is it really that hard to dig into the research, propaganda, whatever, in order to find out WHY folk are suggesting cocoa is good for you? Here's a clue. The dark/bitter chocolate is suggested not because it tastes bad (which is, of course an opinion - I like it dark) but because you have half-a-prayer of having more genuine cacao in such.

Next, I must confess I was ignorant of any study or claim that eating chocolate would help one lose weight. Even if I heard of it, I almost certainly would have simply immediately discounted it because of a number of factors. It's just one study. Let peer review deal with it. It also smells too much like other factors predominate. You're on a low-carb, calorie controlled diet? If you ADHERE to those two requirements, you can probably eat whatever you want and lose weight. Caloric balance/control is within an order of magnitude all that matters.

So, I may have an unwarranted perspective here. But it seems strange to get all excited about folk trouncing a study or argument I never heard of, nor would have respected to begin with. In essence, it seems like they're setting up a straw man to knock down.

Comment Re:Yeah (Score 5, Interesting) 85

So did I.

But then I stopped and thought a bit about the concept of Testing for Success vs. Testing for Failure. The former is weak testing... lazy testing. It WORKS. That's nice... But does it fail as it should? Have you tested when and how it fails? Do you know the limits?

So... I decided to act as an identify thief. As previously reported then and now, getting the credentials to sign up are easy. OK. But I had already signed up. So that'd protect me, right?


It was trivially easy to sign up again. Oh sure, an email gets sent to the first email address set up. But this leads to one of two situations. First, the proper user doesn't check his email for a while. Then whatever the thief is going to do they can do. Second, the proper users finds out immediately and gets on and takes it back over. All good? Comically, no. Believe it or not (and I was really stunned at this part) the webapp doesn't force logout the identity thief when the proper user reregisters.

I was a tad sickened at this point.

As far as I could tell, this was utterly and completely insecure. The only way for an "average joe" to protect themself here was to sign up and then freeze credit completely at all the credit bureaus. Supposedly (haven't finished this part yet) once you do that, the 20-question stuff will IMMEDIATELY fail and anything like this IRS.GOV site that depends on it will also fail.

Oh... but it was rather interesting to see what the IRS had stored on me... and what they didn't have. It was somewhat perplexing.

Comment Re:It only increases accountability (Score 1) 294

Cameras would seem to be great for establishing or discounting liability.

It might not be terribly easy for the engineer to sue Amtrak in order to obtain the video showing that his refusal to obey an order which would have placed the passengers in danger. But it would certainly serve as decent evidence in the wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

But if the engineer DID obey such an order and the wreck occurred, the liability of Amtrak would be damning. I'm not an expert in tort. But I imagine the amount of damages would be signficantly greater in this case in comparison to if the video just showed the engineer was texting.

And that fact might also serve to increase safety.

Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 421

But this (and indeed MOST of all this angst) presupposes a survival instinct.

Back off a bit and try to defend that one. Why would an AI have a survival instinct?

Grey-goo similarly depends on a never-ending reproductive instinct. Why?

An AI would fight over resources? As in an AI would want to continue to grow. A growth or expansionist instinct. But again... why?

There's simply far too much anthropomorphizing and assumptions tossed into these fears. If anything, the incredibly even spread of the responses from the experts to me suggests these issues are incredily wide open.

Comment Re:Meaningless goal (Score 0) 442

There are important impacts from the increased carbon in the atmosphere and oceans that are irrespective of increased temperatures. So the "stupid metric" isn't capturing everthing. But it's not nearly as stupid as you seem to be suggesting.

It's rather foolish to try to declare we can know nothing when it's clear we cannot know everything.

To address the bulk of your query regarding "what happens when", I'd suggest you read "Six Degrees". It is not so much prognostication and predictions in so much as reflection. That is, to understand what may be in store at different points along the increase in global average temps, we can look back in time to try to understand what things were like when things were stable at these temperatures in the past. Even entirely ignoring the issues related to the current unprecedented rate of increase, we can see some significant changes are headed our way.

Comment Too Much Simplification (Score 1) 958

I would suggest that the argument here is weak because it collapses everything into a binary view: Science and the Rest_of_Us.

Indeed, we need to be able to count past two here. It's silly to view Science in a monolothic way that ignores time, competing views, vested interests, etc.

The issues raised here actually have more to do with the relative inability of folk to DIGEST information from Science, scientists and scientific studies than it really does with a lack of credibility on the part of Science and Scientists. Very often any benefit or harm discovered in a study is altogether minor. And yet, folk latch on to something being either good or bad (that inability to count past two again).

Furthermore, it is sheer folly to ignore the way the general population feeds information back into itself and turns things into trends and fads. Why blame the Scientists when the "crediblity problem" is often a factor of marketing forces, popular science (both facile journalism and self-help books), fads, etc.?

To restore a sense of reality, I think Walt Disney should have a Hardluckland. -- Jack Paar