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

by Graymalkin (#48357329) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

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

by Graymalkin (#48357225) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

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

by Graymalkin (#48357103) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

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.

Comment: Re:Uh, simple (Score 1) 246

by Graymalkin (#48357027) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

Will others be successful? Maybe. Personally, I don't think that colonizing Mars is a good first step, but I'm not closed-minded or narcissistic enough to think that my own trained-in prejudices are the laws of nature -- unlike some people. As such, I wish those folks all the best in their endeavors.

Now go away and allow those who actually have some vision and intestinal fortitude continue along their own path.

It seems a trend to turn to petty and childish insults rather than try to provide cogent arguments or participate in a conversation. It's pretty sad.

The Mars One "project" is such amazingly obvious bullshit I honestly feel bad for anyone that thinks they are serious. Chris Hadfield is 100% correct in his analysis of the project. It's not only going nowhere but was intended from the beginning to go nowhere, it's a scam to part overly hopeful of gullible people from their money. Supporting the Mars One group is just supporting exploitation rather than furthering space exploration.

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

by Graymalkin (#48356393) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

I want people to get off this planet.

Why? What do you think is within the reach of human beings in space that is not available on Earth? A reply containing the words "wonder", "exploration" or "adventure" are not acceptable.

Space is mind bogglingly large but despite that the Earth is fucking huge. Helpfully it's also absolutely drenched in the sort of things us humans need to survive. With a bit of preparation we can readily travel to just about anywhere on the surface of the Earth. To simply survive we don't need to bring significant amounts of our home environment along with us.

The Earth is also jam packed with resources. The idea of mining asteroids and comets is laughable. It's ridiculously expensive to actually do and nowhere even remotely close to being cost effective. It's not even a question of profitability, it's simply wasteful to expand the resources to mine a single asteroid when a single mountain on Earth is far more accessible and likely has a much better yield of industrially useful materials. It simply does not make sense to pay thousands or millions of dollars a pound for carbon, ice, or silicon (the primary component of most asteroids and comets). Even for space based industry, launched prices of a thousand dollars a pound means it's more economical to build stuff on Earth and launch it into space.

The idea of "spreading out the species" is another very silly idea. It would take a ridiculous amount of resources to build even a remotely sustainable colony somewhere else in the solar system. There's simply nowhere else in the solar system where humans can easily survive. Even with a self-sustained colony on Mars the odds of humanity being wiped out by a natural disaster (asteroid, etc) aren't significantly improved over all of humanity on a single planet. Without a full ecosystem a Martian colony would eventually die out, likely long before they were able to build their own means to spread to other planets.

Comment: Re:Cooled? (Score 1) 246

by Graymalkin (#48356153) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

While the Martian surface temperatures are fairly low (~63ÂC) the atmosphere is also incredibly thin. At the surface the atmosphere is about 1/100th the density of the Earth's atmosphere. This means the ability for the atmosphere to convect heat away from a spacesuit is 1/100th that you would expect on Earth.

The occupant as well as the electronics and other powered elements of the suit all need a way to bleed of waste heat. A small heat sink on the back might work on the Earth but would need to be much larger to work as effectively in the thin Martian atmosphere. A spacesuit can't "breathe" like insulating clothes would on the Earth.

Such a cooling system likewise needs a method to be shut down or reversed in order to keep the suit's occupant from freezing to death if the outside temperature dropped significantly like in a shadowed valley or at night.

Comment: Re: No (Score 1) 232

by Graymalkin (#48293817) Attached to: Will HP's $200 Stream 11 Make People Forget About Chromebooks?

Loading movies and music on a computer is something older geeks do but hardly anyone else. Everyone else is using online services like Netflix, Spotify, and Vudu and just renting/streaming. This is especially true for the college age crowd the Stream and Chromebooks are marketed towards. They're sitting on gigabit Internet connections in their dorms so cloud storage is a no brainer for them.

For anyone wanting to use a Chromebooks or Stream PC as a backup laptop it's cheap to pick up a high speed SD card with a lot of storage. for most tasks they have plenty of power. Loading up a browser with too many extensions is problematic on any machine, not just low end ones.

Comment: Re:Keyboard (Score 2) 216

by Graymalkin (#47932675) Attached to: iOS 8 Review

My anecdotal data is the opposite of yours. The Surface/Windows 8 onscreen keyboard is absolutely awful compared to the iOS keyboard, even on the iPad.

I hate that the keyboard layout changes when I hit the number/symbol key. Being left handed the number pad being on the right side of the screen is ridiculous and I have to readjust my grip to type numbers. The Shift key also does not reset when returning from the symbol/number mode. So if you need to type XX-xx you need a lot of extra keystrokes and grip readjustment (or at least I do). I've never minded the key labels being capitalized on iOS since they're also capitalized on physical keyboards. It's plain to see when and where capital characters will be typed.

The Windows keyboard is also really uncomfortable to use in portrait orientation (Windows 8 is generally uncomfortable in portrait orientation). On the iPad the keyboard is much more usable in landscape orientation than the Windows keyboard is in portrait.

Issues of meta keys being available is simply a difference between Windows 8 and iOS. There's no need for meta keys to access functionality in iOS because everything is designed for touch. Windows 8 is keeping around DOS keyboard shortcuts on a touchscreen.

Comment: Re: I just want the new Nexus. (Score 1) 222

by Graymalkin (#47891463) Attached to: iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters

Don't include "if you knew anything about X" in your reply if you're going to spout nonsense. The whole idea behind "Retina" displays is they're an increase in pixel density rather than a simple increase in screen geometry.

The iPhone 4 had a screen with roughly twice the pixel density of the iPhone 3GS and earlier. This is where the "@2x" naming scheme for images originated. The geometry of the iPhone 4's screen was the same as earlier phones but with a higher pixel density. The iPads had the same sort of density increase.

The geometric difference between the iPhone 5 and 6 over the 3GS is immaterial. They maintain the high pixel density. The only place where a developer will care is if they have static images that fill the display. They'd need larger ones for the iPhone 6 and 6+.

For a majority however the increased screen geometry will simple mean more content space. Apps tend to have fixed elements in portions of the screen with flexible space in between. The new iPhones will just see a bit more flexible space.

An icon for a button won't need to change unless you want to make it bigger in proportion to the screen. In fact iOS 8 (the OS on the new phones) has several new view classes that allow them to adapt easily to different screen sizes. This is a feature OSX has had for a long time, the UI can be laid out in relative values so it will be correct no matter the window size or aspect.

Comment: Re:Pull the plug on RT (Score 1) 337

by Graymalkin (#47651205) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Drowning?

Windows 8 does support right clicks via long clicks on the Desktop. There's a number of problems with the UI however. On most devices I have used (including and especially Surfaces) the right click menus and menu items are too small to hit accurately with a fingertip. You need to use a stylus to effectively use the traditional Desktop with a touch screen. Besides the targets being too small your finger occults the very target you're trying to hit. Your fingertip is larger than the Windows mouse cursor and it's attached to your hand which is vastly larger than the Windows mouse cursor. Without at the very least a stylus the Windows desktop is almost impossible to use effectively on a touch device.

just because it is capable enough to run a parallel full desktop interface doesn't mean the whole thing is stupid, it means it is trying to be 2 things at once. And that can be a brilliant thing, if you manage to pull it off.

Unfortunately for everyone involved Windows 8 does not implement its different UI paradigms well. The Metro interface is absurd when using a keyboard and mouse and the traditional Desktop interface is absurd when using a touch screen.

Comment: Re:Bring back man pages as the primary documentati (Score 3, Insightful) 430

Now you might say that much of today's software is too complex to describe in a man page --- but IMHO - that's the bigger problem. If people write complex monolithic bloat, writing pretty documentation for it is the least of our problems.

I wouldn't say that today's software is too complex for man pages but instead man pages have never really been ideal for the tasks for which they're used. Software has always been complex. Man pages might have been appropriate for some short window of time but technology quickly left them behind.

Man pages do not have an effective system of hyperlinking, indexing, or even searching. They were meant to be read on a teletype or printed on paper. For documentation any more complex than instructions on how to use console commands they are completely inadequate. Even for looking up instructions on console commands they're less than adequate because there's no sort of authoritative hierarchy, if you don't look up the exact right term man won't point you to the correct documentation (or best guesses).

Besides man being inadequate it is difficult to write proper man pages. This is just adding insult to injury as it makes it less likely that developers will write even bad documentation.

Of existing documentation systems I'd most like to see GNU Info become the primary documentation mechanism for FOSS. It solves most of man's problems without introducing its own new ones. Even GNU Info isn't perfect and could use some improvements.

I don't disagree with the idea that FOSS desperately needs some reliable offline documentation. This idea might require that FOSS distributions themselves maintain their own documentation. The Arch wiki for instance is fantastic, it's some of the best Linux/Unix documentation around. While the Wiki is great it would be really nice to see this information turned into texinfo/manpage/whatever files so everyone could have good references and not need access to the internet.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 225

by Graymalkin (#47527397) Attached to: Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

If only tablets had on-screen keyboards or supported Bluetooth keyboards or keyboard docks! Those poor students with tablets! They're unable to do anything but watch Netflix!

This sort of commentary just sounds stupid. Even if you want to make a point that tablets don't have good native input solutions don't go full hyperbole. All you're doing is reducing the impact of the point you're trying to make.

In the real non-hyperbolic world tablets are perfectly capable of being typed upon. I would even suggest tablets (especially higher end ones like iPads, Nexuses, and Galaxy Notes) can be more capable than laptops in some situations when given to students.

It's entirely possible for a kid and with iPad to produce their own podcast or video presentation for a class. They've got an audio recorder, video camera, and still camera in their hands. There's also plenty of apps that let them splice all of that together into something coherent and interesting. They can also use that same device to type up a more traditional report.

The idea of kids putting together multimedia presentations has been around for a long time but the technology to do so has really sucked. It's either been overly complicated or vastly underpowered. There's room for both traditional written reports as well as multimedia projects. Having devices that can handle all of them is a good investment.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer