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Comment: Re:There's only one image organizing program (Score 1) 259

by Ford Prefect (#48597889) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Image Organization?

Adobe for reasons only known to itself absolutely refuses to support case-sensitive file systems for Mac OS X.

I've heard of various other software breaking when used with case-sensitive filesystems on OS X - not making an excuse for that software, but what is the benefit of running with such a filesystem anyway? I'm genuinely interested.

(I've been running with the default case-preserving, case-insensitive filesystems for a decade or more, and not hit any problems.)

Comment: Re:With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (Score 2) 523

by Ford Prefect (#48424513) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

The SNAP-9A used in the Transit 5B-2 navigation satellite launched in 1963 weighed 12.3 kg and produced 25 watts of power. That looks about like a perfect fit for Philae, and I'm sure more efficient thermocouplers are available today that could further reduce the weight.

They could also have made Rosetta much larger, and possibly have got to its destination much faster, by launching on a Saturn V rather than an Ariane 5.

(Unfortunately, the jumbo-sized booster was unavailable - as was the RTG.)

Comment: Re:I'm quite surprised it wasn't (Score 1) 523

by Ford Prefect (#48424499) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

Like the GP, I was also surprised to hear that a probe so far from Earth was solar powered, I wouldn't have thought there was enough light that far out even without the shadows. Sure it's an assumption but it's not baseless, previous deep space probes such as Cassini, pioneer, and voyager are all nuclear powered.

NASA's Juno probe, currently en route to Jupiter, is also solar powered.

RTGs are great, but availability is limited.

Comment: Re:The Truman Show (Score 1) 246

by Ford Prefect (#48361743) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

By the time "the launch window" comes around you could easily have them (and hell, us as well, the viewing public) convinced that they are onboard a genuine Mars mission rocket heading into space... much easier to achieve - and cheaper and safer - if it's all in a studio.

Been done already (albeit with a flight to a peculiarly non-weightless 'low Earth orbit' rather than a mission to Mars) with the 2005 television series Space Cadets.

Comment: Re:A great family of products (Score 4, Interesting) 141

by Ford Prefect (#48344343) Attached to: Raspberry Pi A+ Details Leaked

For my own use, I was thinking of turning mine into an airplay-compatible receiver (I found that there is software for for that) and built it together with (wifi dongle and a little amp) into a very old radio cabinet. Nice to put in the kitchen.

If your radio is still in semi-working condition, it might be possible to inject the audio signal from the Pi into the radio's existing amplifier. I almost certainly broke all kinds of audio design rules, but in my instance it sounds brilliant. I (briefly) got it working as an Airplay receiver, but for nearly two years it's been doing sterling stuff as a time-delayed BBC Radio 4 device.

(I would definitely recommend against blindly doing this with stuff that's directly mains-powered - I know that a lot of old radios, especially in the USA, did scary things with mains voltages. For a battery-powered transistor radio? Certainly worth a try.)

Comment: Re: Well (Score 1) 594

by Ford Prefect (#48293383) Attached to: Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

I should also point out that the Stratolaunch concept wouldn't have even been conceived had the original White Knight or the White Knight 2 never been developed.

Erm... Pegasus? (Apparently Stratolaunch Systems will be launching the Pegasus II...)

The whole SpaceShip[n] concept is pretty similar to the X-15 anyway.

Comment: Re:Fine, if (Score 5, Interesting) 286

by Ford Prefect (#48248303) Attached to: The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows

I've seen so many incredible things looking out of aircraft windows. One vaguely recent example - a crescent moon during a sunrise causing rapidly changing light on the clouds below. And then there's a wintry Iceland with geothermal power stations venting steam, and ice on Lake Michigan reflecting sunlight in abstract ways...

Not sitting next to a window is awful.

Comment: Re:Low power CPU meet bloated pOS (Score 1) 88

by Ford Prefect (#48248189) Attached to: Firefox OS Coming To Raspberry Pi

GREAT IDEA GUYS. Android has been 'coming' for over 2 years now and pretty much nothing changed when BroadCom open sourced ... A SMALL PART of the video driver code ... I hope no one holds their breath on this one ...

They open sourced a small part of the video drivers a few years ago - and more recently released full documentation and drivers for the VideoCore IV 3D whatsits. (I gather this version has all the OpenGL gubbins running on the ARM side rather than doing the message-passing stuff of the previous driver, but you can run Quake III at a decent framerate using these open drivers.)

Comment: Re:Manual control (Score 1) 470

by Ford Prefect (#48017083) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

The most unrealistic thing in space operas is the notion that the human crew could do anything in terms of gunnery or navigation better than a computer.

While definitely not using realistic physics in any way, I liked a space battle in one of Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. A horribly beweaponed Culture ship is describing to its human passenger precisely how it is outwitting and annihilating its alien foes, mentioning that there's a particularly good moment coming up - eventually admitting that it's merely running through a slow-motion replay, the real battle having been over in a matter of milliseconds.

Comment: Re:They're not astronauts, they're ballast. (Score 2) 77

For space tourism flights to the International Space Station, they're regarded as spaceflight participants rather than 'proper' astronauts (or cosmonauts).

Having seen quite how much training fully qualified astronauts and cosmonauts have to go through, I wouldn't be surprised if they become some vaguely protected terms in the not-so-far future...

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.