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Comment: Yes! (Score 1) 177

by DriveDog (#47939523) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?
Probably. I went back around age 45 to get a physics B.A. at a local state university with a small department so I could teach high school science (had 2 prior undergrad degrees in Econ and CS). I wasn't planning to do any astronomy or astrophysics, but I needed a few more hours, and the school had a 32" observatory, a Harvard-trained astrophysicist, and several interesting classes. The teaching gig afterwards didn't work out, but I'm so glad I studied astrophysics. Independent amateur researchers absolutely do contribute, but not very often in theoretical astrophysics. There's a LOT of original astronomy that can and is done by amateurs on smallish budgets. Learn a little nuclear physics and understand what's going on inside stars. Every week there's some new cool discovery in the news (a Thorne-Zytkow star found recently) and being able to comprehend what it's about is great. Many stars don't fit into neat categories, and those are the most interesting. You can use your programming skills in quite a few ways, if you're so inclined. Around here there's a community college with a small observatory run by students and a couple of committed teachers that hosts astronomy conferences and speakers. For some, it's a great opportunity to learn and contribute to the community. I have no idea how common such programs are. If you really want to spend time observing on your own, the DIY community is stronger than ever. Just as with other types of hacking, you could contribute by designing affordable, innovative DIY equipment made of common items. Like to travel? It's a good excuse to go looking for dark clear skies, and many places with dark skies are stunning in other ways. Heck, I'm thinking of taking a scope on a 21' boat to a dark isolated island. I won't discover anything but bugbites, but what a nice outing. Don't let the naysayers bother you, except for this: there probably aren't too many careers available. Keep your day job (literally). Oh, one more thing—don't restrict yourself to light. Radiotelescopy offers a lot of opportunities for amateurs as well, alone or in cooperation with others.

Comment: What's not said... (Score 1) 190

by DriveDog (#47921215) Attached to: Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked
What did Cook not say? Did he bluntly say "we cannot read your mail"? Or did he just say "we don't have a key"? A general statement like "There is no way for us to read your mail or provide your mail to anyone else" would have more meaning. Reporters could ignore such statements, or at least every time they print one, point out how it could be misleading.

Comment: Re:Smart Watch Apps I would (and do) use (Score 1) 471

by DriveDog (#47881667) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

At some point in the future we'll either talk about how dorky people looked fumbling with their slab phones all the time (I always have) or just think of them like pocket watches—a machine put in use before it was miniaturized. I suspect that in the old days glancing at your wristwatch during meetings was tolerated a lot better than pulling out your pocket watch.

The Pebble is definitely more attractive than most others, certainly more than what the Apple looks like so far. Surely the fans will buy Apples, but I'm guessing Apple won't dominate the market or even lead the way this time. Until we have some kind of I/O that displays stuff in our eyes or brain without Glass and reads thoughts, seems like the wristwatch is the least intrusive, most convenient device.

Comment: Just the moon (Score 1) 471

by DriveDog (#47881387) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

I want features that have already appeared in watches: time display, stopwatch, alarm, tides for anywhere not dependent on downloading, barometer/altitude, compass, glow-in-the-dark, survivability from shock/EM fields/water/heat/cold, good styling (very few smart watches are much less than ugly), programmable remote control, good battery life, and durability, all in one. Add to that rudimentary navigation (only signals from GPS satellites necessary, and maybe not even that), Bluetooth, an accelerometer, and a great programming environment for those not wanting the hassle of a ridiculous tool chain.

A fatter version should have something like FindMeSpot functionality—SMS to satellites.

Oh yeah, and a friendly price.

Comment: Not pure electric, arghhh (Score 1) 486

by DriveDog (#47871207) Attached to: To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

City and school buses are the perfect target for hybrid ICE/Electric propulsion (along with FedEx and UPS delivery trucks). They accelerate and decelerate a huge mass every block or so. Recapture as much of the energy as you can while slowing to speed up again. The power of the ICE needn't be anywhere close to what it is currently. Maybe not even electric—some mechanical means of storing energy for short periods would be helpful, and probably a lot cheaper. Just DO SOMETHING to avoid throwing away all that energy put into accelerating every block.

Since there's already a lot of experience using CNG for buses, use that and avoid much of the complicated emissions-control equipment. Buses are so big that putting a reformer on board and fueling them with methane but powering them with fuel cells might be feasible.

Comment: Re:And low-emission transport trucks, too (Score 1) 486

by DriveDog (#47871047) Attached to: To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars
There are low-tech means of capturing windpower at sea that certainly aren't as efficient as fabric sails but are cheap, reliable, low-maintenance, and work independently of direction of wind vs heading. To supplement other means of propulsion they can make a lot of sense. I agree that hoisting sails on cargo ships probably won't catch on.

Comment: Re:hubris (Score 1) 82

by DriveDog (#47836403) Attached to: Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

Yes. And if the frackers were required to incorporate the external costs, it would be more expensive still.

I take it you mean LPG liquefaction and liquid storage is cheaper/easier than LNG. CNG is certainly common and useful, just not very compact, even at 3,000 psi. LNG is arguably safer, however, as it's lighter than air, whereas a major LPG leak can leave a lot of gas at ground level. And LNG is cold enough to quench hot bullets if they penetrate the tank. LPG isn't particularly cold until you evaporate some of it.

Comment: Called the Rep... (Score 1) 134

by DriveDog (#47622025) Attached to: Aaron's Law Is Doomed and the CFAA Is Still Broken
Call your Rep if they're on the Judiciary Committee. Google the committee to find out who's on it. My Rep's staffer was unfamiliar with the bill. At least bring it to their attention. I've usually sent email. It hasn't gotten the attention that a voice phone call has. Be polite and firm and be ready to explain what the bill is.

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley