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Comment Re:yet more engineer bashing (Score 1) 469

Well, a couple of points here:
1) Slashdot does not represent software engineers as a whole in the US. Many SW engineers I've met don't seem to be Slashdot users or care about it.
2) Slashdot seems to have an older crowd, since it started back in the 90s. A lot of SW engineers these days are younger, in the Millenial generation. They're not on Slashdot, they're on Reddit or something else I don't know about.
3) Even on Slashdot, there's a bunch of liberals. Remember the Brendan Eich incident? There were people on both sides of that one here. I do think the extreme right + libertarians outnumber them though.
4) Slashdot is not confined to SW engineers; there's a lot of other engineers here too, and in my experience they're frequently even worse than SW engineers.

I do think you're onto something with the libertarian angle; from what I can tell, it seems that the SW engineers tend to be more libertarian and not as religious, whereas the other engineers tend to be more old-school and religious conservative. However even the religious conservatives these days are worshiping the "free market"; the churches here have all bought into that stuff plus Prosperity Doctrine ("God loves rich people more than poor people, and if you're rich, it's because God has blessed you.").

Comment Re:YEs, don't try to make it better (Score 1) 96

WTF? If you think Cox is worse than Comcast, you're a fucking moron. And if you think that bitching and complaining is going to improve the state of ISPs in this country, you're also a fucking moron. You sound like a naive idealist who complains if everything isn't up to some lofty, unrealistic standard. Maybe after you get past the age of 18 you'll see the real world isn't like that.

Comment Re: Private companies don't do exploration of fron (Score 1) 301

The thing is, you're not going to mine 500 lbs of platinum, it's quite possible you're going to mine millions of pounds of it, along with other valuable metals. Yes, you wouldn't be able to dump that on the market too fast, but you would put all the existing platinum mines out of business quickly. And with lower prices for platinum, more uses would be found for it, increasing the demand. More people would want it for jewelry and aesthetics probably, but also it's quite likely new industrial uses would be found for it which were previously unexplored due to its extremely high cost. You have to think more long-term about these things, which it doesn't look like you're doing with your analysis. An endeavor like this isn't going to be something small, it's going to be absolutely huge, and mining a single asteroid will span for decades most likely.

Finally, look at the environmental aspect: mining is terrible ecologically. Wouldn't it be better to do as much mining in space as we can, so we aren't digging giant holes in the ground, polluting groundwater and rivers, shearing the tops off mountains, etc.? We just had a bad incident with river pollution in one of the western states (CO I think), and mining always has problems with environmental opposition in advanced nations (and in backwards nations causes all kinds of problems, like fueling conflicts as with coltan). Environmentalists won't care if you break up asteroids for mineral resources.

Comment Re:Space-based Economy (Score 1) 301

Last I heard, they found a lot of water at one of the poles.

And all those other things, while not extremely rare here, are still valuable for building stuff on the Moon. Iron, aluminum, and titanium are very useful for making things. Plus there's tons of sunlight there to provide solar power, without any clouds or atmosphere in the way.

So with all this, you should be able to build a Moon base which you can use for refining captured asteroids (which have far more valuable ores) and doing low-g manufacturing.

As for the gravity well, it's half the gravity of Mars, and it's very close to Earth. These sound like big pluses to me. I guess if you really need extremely low gravity or zero gravity, you could just build a big space station at the L1 Lagrangian point. And again, all that material on the Moon you think is "boring" would come in handy there, because it'd be far cheaper to lift all that mass from the 1/6g Moon than from the 1g Earth.

Comment Re:Fail. (Score 1) 231

I don't see the problem here. If you're looking for a phone where you can easily replace the CPU, that doesn't exist and never has, and it's just plain idiotic to ask for that. What's important is if you can replace the screen (since they get cracked sometimes), the USB port, the battery, the camera lens, etc.: the things that actually do get broken or wear out and need to be replaced.

Comment Re:I would like to say for the record... (Score 1) 469

If you're all PhDs, then you're not real engineers, you're statistical anomalies. In 15+ years of work, I've never even met a PhD engineer except when I was at college, and college professors aren't actual engineers since they don't do any engineering work.

We're talking about real engineers here, the kind who work at companies and do regular, everyday engineering work. Most have BS degrees, or at most, MS.

Comment Re:Private companies don't do exploration of front (Score 1) 301

The return is high relative to the return they would be getting without government funding, which is close to zero.

No, it isn't. They could do some other commercial work and potentially get higher profits, but with higher risks. They do government contracting because it's low risk, not because there's a lot of profit in it.

You seem to be implying that without government funding, corporations would simply go belly-up. That's ludicrous in the extreme.

Comment Re:Serves them right (Score 5, Insightful) 96

Oh please, I've used Cox before, and they were pretty decent for an ISP. They upgraded their systems at one point, rendering my cable modem unusable, so they sent me a new Surfboard for free. Their prices were good (compared to other ISPs I've had since I had to move away from there), and the prices were stable.

The company that really, really sucks is Comcast.

I've never heard of Cox continuing to charge people after they canceled their account (Comcast is famous for this), or for making it almost impossible to do (again, Comcast is famous for this; I think I was on hold for 2 hours doing this when I had to move out of a Comcast service area).

Cox also lets you just buy a cable modem and install it yourself, without a visit from a technician. Comcast and other companies require you to have a tech visit and charge you $100 just to plug in a modem.

I also don't remember Cox having any kind of 3-strikes system like Comcast has.

I see exactly what's going on here: Cox is the best of all the cable ISPs, so they're being run out of business so Comcast can buy them up for pennies on the dollar.

Comment Re:Space-based Economy (Score 1) 301

The problem I see with your plan here is that Earth is a huge, huge gravity well (well, not compared to Jupiter maybe, but compared to everything in the inner solar system it is). Keeping stuff in Earth orbit requires very high orbital speeds, or very long distances (for GEO). Wouldn't it make more sense to build your asteroid refineries and manufacturing facilities at the Lagrangian points?

Also, I'm not an expert on mining, but if any of those processes require gravity, then the Moon would be a good place for that: it has some gravity, but it's pretty low so your landing and launch costs will be low too.

Comment Re:Private companies don't do exploration of front (Score 1) 301

However, government funding is low risk/high return for the companies that actually receive the funding.

I completely disagree. If this were true, Lockheed Martin, BAE, Northrop Grumman,
  etc. would be the most profitable companies around, instead of Apple. Government contracting generally means accepting a limited profit margin, dictated by the government, plus a shitload of overhead to make sure the contractor is meeting the terms of the contract and that everything is accounted for. The reason government contractors do it is because it's low risk and decent return, not high return. It's almost a sure thing basically. Once your company is big enough and established enough in the government contracting space, you just have to keep doing what you've been doing and reliably provide service and you'll get more contracts and have a continuous source of revenue, though it is subject to political dealings and changes. But if you have a multi-year contract in place, you can count on getting continuous revenue for that time, as long as you live up to the contract.

By contrast, a company like Apple can make huge profits by selling overpriced Chinese-made stuff to gullible consumers, but only as long as their marketing convinces them it's fashionable. As soon as consumers, who are known to be fickle, decide something else is more fashionable, or Apple pisses them off somehow, the house of cards can collapse and their profitability disappear. The risk is quite a bit higher for companies which sell directly to consumers, but the potential for profitability is higher.

there is going to be little return from that because there is nothing on Mars that we want or need right now.

There may be mineral resources there. However it's ridiculously far away and it's unknown if it does have any significantly valuable resources. What makes a LOT more sense is near-earth asteroid mining. There's already some billionaires who've set up some venture to work on that. It's quite likely there's very highly concentrated ores in asteroids which pass relatively close to Earth, of very valuable materials like platinum. We already know how to launch probes to stuff within the orbit of the Moon or so (or really, all the way to Pluto), and with anything as close as the Moon, you can even remote-control it in almost realtime (a few seconds' delay), unlike with Mars where you need to wait 30-60 minutes to hear back from your rover.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder