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Comment Re:Humans on Mars make no scientific sense (Score 1) 162

The Earth and the ISS are the only two places in the solar system that a human being can do anything without wearing some sort of space suit. The ISS can only provide this environment thanks to a lot of external logistics support from Earth. There are exactly zero self-contained and self-sufficient environments off Earth. The most inhospitable environments on Earth are orders of magnitude easier to survive in than even the most inviting environments in the rest of the solar system.

Even if we managed to get some sort of colony established on Mars or the Moon it would take vast sums of money and a lot of time to get them to a point where they could be considered even remotely self-sufficient. We have a difficult time building entirely self-contained and self-sufficient environments here on Earth let alone in deep space.

Keep in mind self-sufficient doesn't mean a bunch of Martian or Lunar agrarian colonists in some steady state. It means having enough advanced industry to build equipment necessary for survival of subsequent generations. If Martians can't build themselves new backhoe loaders, space suits, and semi-conductors they're not going to survive Earth getting wiped out.

Thinking that we're going to colonize the solar system as "insurance" against something happening to Earth is a fantasy. Colonizing space is absolutely nothing like colonizing anywhere on the Earth. Columbus and Cabot had breathable air, drinkable water, and edible flora and fauna at their destinations.

Comment Re:Check their pockets (Score 1) 508

All of your points apply equally with PCs. Just because those things might happen does not mean they will or that the OP needs to deal with them. They would not be expected to do tech support for the virus-riddled home PC any more than they would be expected to do with a phone. Writing up a cheat sheet with some pointers to free online services is hardly tech support.

Various versions of Android and iOS are immaterial since the requirement for the class would be a particular application or suite of applications. If they can run Google Docs or Office 365 on their device and can send the instructor documents they have fulfilled that class requirement. Who cares if the kid typed up their paper with the on-screen keyboard on a tiny screen? If the content of hte paper is good and it was turned in on time it doesn't really matter how they physically managed to write it.

Comment Check their pockets (Score 1) 508

Even students without traditional computers at home likely have very servicable smart phones in their pockets. Fairly capable smartphones are available at very low prices or free with contract. There's even the so-called "Obama Phones" (cheap phones and cell service offered to various government assistance recipients) that some students may have.

With that in mind think about how you can get them to use those devices they already have to not only access resources but do their homework. Do some research to find out some cheap or free apps that can do the sorts of tasks you need done for your class. For instance a good PDF reader for books and documents and an editing app/suite for writing assignments. Google Docs and Microsoft Office are both readily available for Android and iOS, you could provide some instructions for writing papers and sending them through those services. You can even do document sharing so you can collaborate with them on assignments. Don't limit that concept to the phone-only students. Online collaboration can be a useful skill for them to learn and it gives you as the teacher an ability to correct or advise their work in real time.

There's a lot of cheap Bluetooth keyboards that work very well with Android and iOS. You can recommend (or provide) some for students lacking traditional PCs at home so they can type up long form assignments. Additionally give your phone-only students some idea of places that might have free WiFi (libraries) so they can access higher bandwidth content.

Between students with traditional PCs and only smartphones you're probably going to get 99% of your students. For those handful without either a PC or smartphone there's computers at the public library, school library, or even your classroom. You can always accept handwritten papers and abuse the school's printers to get a few dead tree copies of online documents.

Comment Re:War is Boring is shit (Score 1) 843

So you'd like to see the F-35 trying to mow down Ruskie tank columns trying to break through the Fulda Gap after air superiority had been achieved? That was the environment that the A-10 was designed to handle. The A-10 was designed to be a flying tank because it was meant to fly low and take enemy AA fire. Its air defense capabilities are really only useful against attack helicopters.

The F-35 can't take the beating that an A-10 would shrug off but it's unlikely to receive such a beating. In an anti-armor role the F-35 isn't going to do low and slow strafing runs with its guns and doesn't need keep its boresight on target to hit with its air-to-ground missiles. In the CAS role the F-35 has a much longer range, higher speed, and longer loiter time than the A-10. It can deliver precision guided munitions much faster than the A-10 and then scamper off to the next target.

The F-35 is also capable of carrying more combat payload than the A-10. It can carry more munitions faster and farther than the A-10, all with low observability (depending on payload configuration obviously). When it returns from a CAS or strike mission it can also re-arm and fly CAP.

The A-10 is a nice plane and obviously very survivable. Its replacement however does not need to have all of the exact same characteristics to perform the same tasks.

Comment Re: I use Pacific C Compiler (Score 1) 257

I would modify this advice slightly by suggesting you print out the documentation and get it professionally bound. In fact print out multiple copies. Document (and print) all the details of the development and maintenance processes. Everything from electrical schematics and tolerances to specific compiler versions.

Take the time to paginate all of the documentation and then build indices. When referencing code modules give printed hash values so potential bit rot can be detected.

I have CD-Rs, hard drives, and floppy disks that are twenty years old and can no longer be read reliably. However I have forty year old technical documentation that I can read with no issues.

Comment Re:Open Source Windows (Score 1) 290

For the past twenty years Microsoft's two major sources of income were Windows and Office. One is an operating system to make the computer go and the other is software to let people do something with it.

Windows is mostly tied to the sales of x86 computers. PC sales peaked in about 2010 and aren't likely to get back to that high point. That doesn't mean Microsoft is doomed. They're doing the smart thing and porting their software to growing platforms.

This means the market for Office can explode. Not only do they keep their position on PCs but can expand it to iOS and Android devices of which there are billions.

Office on iOS and Android means there's a bridge between the Microsoft dominated world of the PC and the mobile world where they have an inferior position. This reinforces their desktop position because Office remains the de facto standard in business, even when their mobile devices don't run Windows.

Microsoft isn't alone here. Adobe, Autodesk, and plenty of other traditional software houses are looking to extend their reach to mobile platforms. Mobile isn't necessarily replacing the traditional desktop but is growing independently.

Comment Slashdice are you fucking joking? (Score 5, Insightful) 94

Oh man sweet an unbiased report about the importance of Linux certifications! From a job board and a organization selling Linux certifications no less. I bet this report is totally legit and has hard numbers to back up all of the claims. I'm probably not going to be disappointing from some obvious slashvertisement.

Comment Way to lie with numbers TechCrunch! (Score 1) 130

If you actually look at the Gartner report the TechCrunch is based upon you'll see TC sort of dropped the ball here. While it's true that worldwide PC sales are up 1% 4Q14 vs 4Q13, year over year sales figures show PC sales total for the year down 0.2%. What the numbers actually say is the PC market would be far worse off if it hadn't been for a slew of super cheap Windows tablets (counted by Gartner as PC sales) and laptops sold around the holidays. These sales have only come from Microsoft and Intel basically subsidizing the PC market to provide some sort of down market competition to Android and iOS tablets.

If you look at IDC's numbers covering the same time period you've got a YoY drop of 2.1% worldwide. IDC does not count things like the HP Stream 7 or the Surface Pro as a PC in their reporting. However IDC counts Chromebooks as PCs where Gartner does not.

No matter what numbers you look at the PC market is seeing declining sales worldwide. Even if you believe the Gartner growth numbers for 4Q14, they're still a full 4% lower than 4Q12. It looks even worse if you compare the numbers to 2011 or 2010.

It's not a story about traditional PCs vs tablets. The real interesting story is smart phones vs everything else. A smart phone (unlike a PC) is useful for pretty much every demographic in mature and emerging markets. They are where the future growth is going to be. That's not to say the PC is going to disappear but I doubt the market will ever see growth like 2000-2010 and likely will never see another peak like that of 2010.

Comment Oh look, percentages! (Score 4, Interesting) 328

In a drive to be clickbait some company has decided to lie or at least massage the truth with abstract numbers. Market share has never ever and never will be a truly useful metric for the health of some market.

Say i define a market as "portable computing devices without physical keyboards". The would cover smart phones and slate tablets. In year 1 there's a million smart phones sold and a million tablets sold. Each product segment has 50% market share. In year 2 thanks to just basic increases in demand and new features more devices are sold. This year four million phones are sold and two million tablets. Now the market share of tablets has dropped to 33% despite increasing unit sales by 100% from the previous year. Different products have different growth rates. Comparing two categories directly is rarely useful.

As it stands the iPad still dominates the tablet market in terms of units sold even though its share of just the tablet market has decreased. This is due to expansion of the tablet market in the low end.

Tablets were never going to replace all PCs. Anyone suggesting they would or complaining that they haven't is a fool. Tablets have replaced some PC sales but have also simply added to the computing landscape. The PCs they replaced were the ones doing the same job as the tablets: reading, basic web stuff, and light gaming. Tablets just do that job in a more portable fashion.

Tablets in a "free fall" is just a ludicrous clickbait statement. Tablets are a form factor that was impractical for many years and are meeting that pent up demand. They're not going to replace all PCs nor will they get as ubiquitous as smart phones.

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 2) 39

The plant's control systems may indeed be air gapped. However there are still access vectors. For instance some internet connected switch that sits on a dedicated SCADA network might be exploited and then use the private SCADA network (which isn't necessarily TCP/IP) to access the otherwise air gaped systems. Even exploiting non-critical or seemingly non-critical machines might affect the operation of secure isolated systems.

Then there's always the USB infection route. An unwitting user inserts a USB stick and you end up with a Stuxnet style infection. I'd much rather a nuclear power plant take a belt and suspenders approach to security rather than just assume an air gap is sufficient.

Comment Re:Uh, simple (Score 4, Informative) 246

Isn't that the point of sending people to mars? To build infrastructure to allow more people to arrive?

Granted, 6 people living in a tiny habitate on mars aren't going to recolonize Earth even if they had the means to come back, but a colony of 100,000 might. Such a large colony may be decades (centuries?) in the future, but until the first people arrive, there will continue to be zero people on mars -- someone has to be first.

Infrastructure is a lot more complicated some pressure capsules and solar panels. Infrastructure to make a colony viable would mean agriculture and industry (including ways to deal with their negative externalities). Everything about both of those would need to be bootstrapped from Earth.

Even at SpaceX's best rates for the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsules at maximum capacity it would take over 14,000 launches to put those 100,000 colonists into orbit. That alone would cost a trillion dollars (assuming awesome rates from SpaceX and no failures). Just the structures and resources to keep those people alive for the first year would cost several tens of trillions of dollars more. The infrastructure to make an actual colony...well hopefully you get the picture. To put the numbers in better perspective we've only launched a little over 300 manned orbital missions in history. Ever.

Comment Re:Uh, simple (Score 3, Interesting) 246

I don't know how long developing such a society would take, but it'll likely be started by people nearly everyone else considers lunatics. Something like Mars One should be a rehearsal for later attempts at colonizing space itself, without a planet under your feet.

Mars One is a sad scam. It is not real. It was never intended to be real, it has always been intended to separate gullible people from their money.

Bootstrapping a space based industry would be fantastically expensive. Delta-v is the least of your concerns with space based industry. It's the simple questions like "how do you lubricate mechanical compoentns" or "what do you do about swarf in microgravity?" that are the really expensive problematic things. The bootstrapping needs to find viable solutions to those problems, launch it into orbit, assemble it, and then maintain it until a point where it becomes self-sustaining (assuming that point exists).

It's more likely that the cheapest solution will be manufacture finished items on Earth and launch them into space (what we do now). It's not likely there exists a break even point for space based industry. There's just way too many small problems to overcome to make it really feasible. The ISS cost about $150 billion to construct, a minimally feasible space-based industrial base would likely need to be at least an order of magnitude larger. The comparable investment in mining, refining, and manufacturing on Earth would yield significantly higher output.

Comment Re:Uh, simple (Score 3, Interesting) 246

You have somer serious misconceptions in this post.

One example of recent times is that grown-ups can digest milk -- a result of us having settled down. Not a large change, but one that was a result of us being so smart ;).

The ability for adults to digest milk has nothing to do with "settling down". Adults producing the lactase enzyme is a result of natural selection favoring humans that could digest dairy in regions where it was a viable food source. Both goats and cows are grazing animals and so prehistoric humans that drank their milk didn't have to "settle down" to herd them. Humans remained fairly nomadic until large scale agriculture developed. Lactose tolerance came long before agriculture. It has nothing to do with intelligence.

Also clothing is the low-tech analogon of the martian suits, it makes vast parts of the earth habitable.

This is incorrect by several orders of magnitude. Clothes don't allow don't make parts of Earth more habitable. If you're stuck in the Alaskan wilderness you can still die of exposure even if you have warm clothes. Clothes tend to allow people to more comfortably live in some areas but they don't do a lot to make those places livable. Shelter makes inhospitable parts of the Earth livable, clothes let you get between different shelters.

Space suits needed on Mars don't need to just keep people warm or dry but provide them with a breathable atmosphere at a workable pressure. They'll also need to have facilities for hydration and feeding since they'll be self contained. A space suit capable of keeping someone alive on Mars is much more than mere clothing.

One day we can create nano-robots and engineer our DNA, so that we can live on less friendly planets, too. Evolution has tailored our bodies to earth. There is nothing keeping us from tailoring ourselfes to other planets, through a mixture of technology and biology.

This is just fantasy. Genetic engineering could in the future filter out congenital diseases or make everyone lactose tolerant but it's a little absurd to state as a matter of fact that we could engineer ourselves to live on Mars (or some other planet). Large complex organisms like humans can't be easily adapted for life on Mars or elsewhere. We're not tardigrades or bacteria. Even if we did manage to somehow engineer ourselves to live on Mars or elsewhere those creations would no longer be "ourselves". They would be a wholly new species and incompatible with our own. They would as as alien to us as native Martian bacteria.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.