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Comment: Re:A Fearless Golden Years Army! (Score 1) 166

Oh, but they don't move so fast anymore, but that's easy to fix. Since the computers think they are all teenagers, just issue them drivers permits and give them their 1970 Lincoln Continentals back. Airdrop them into Iraq and let them at it! CHARGE!!!!

Comment: Re:Those rotor blades have no air to move! (Score 1) 104

by Irate Engineer (#47403973) Attached to: ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers
Not dumbassed, but yes, the blade size, shape, and design speed would need to be redesigned for the reduced air density. Challenging, but perhaps not impossible. And there are many examples of turbomachinery that spin happily at hundreds of thousands of RPM.

If it could be done without a major size or mass penalty, this could permit not just a soft landing, but the potential of a hopping or a flying rover.

Comment: Why a separate rover? (Score 1) 104

by Irate Engineer (#47403487) Attached to: ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers
Why not just leave the quadcopter attached to the rover as a single unit? You then would have a rover capable of short hops to move from point to point, over obstacles, etc.. It might also allow a stuck rover to move out of a sandtrap. It could also blow dust off solar arrays. It would provide a lot more flexibility in motion.

The sky-crane maneuver was designed before the quadcopter design paradigm existed and they were simply trying to safely land a large and heavy science rover. The lower density of the atmosphere and the weight of the rover would need to be considered while developing a new design using a quadcopter approach, but I don't see why a sky-crane would be necessary or even desired.

Comment: July 4th = Murica Blows (More) Shit Up Day? (Score 1) 331

by Irate Engineer (#47403195) Attached to: On 4th of July:

Really, the 4th is just an excuse for BMC-drinking rednecks to blow things up and make noise on a day off. That's it. The meaning of the holiday flies high over most American's heads these days.

I spent the July 4th in Canada, where they call the 4th of July 2014 "Friday", just like most of the rest of the world.

July 1st was Canada Day, which I think has more meaning to Canadians than the 4th does in the U.S. There were fireworks but for the most part it was a pretty subdued and sober holiday.

Comment: Re:Profit (Score 2) 538

by Irate Engineer (#47290205) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job
This. Anybody who thinks the primary goal of college is education is mistaken. It is a profit-driven enterprise, pure and simple.

In the U.S. most employers demand at least a 4 year baccalaureate degree in something as a bare minimum job qualification. So if you want a job, you need to get a degree. Colleges charge as much as the market will bear and outsource the teaching to part-time and full-time adjuncts who are paid a fraction of what a full-time tenure-track faculty member would require to teach the same course load. And, by the way, they have no tenure protection so the administration has the adjunct faculty by the short hairs. Ouila! A cheap and nervous workforce - a corporate executive's wet dream!

Comment: Oil - Plastic - Back to Oil? (Score 2, Interesting) 139

I don't know how they define "cost effective", but since the plastic mostly came from oil in the first place, any energy expenditure to recover it is a net minus overall.

For an individual organization that can get a hold of a lot of landfill plastic cheap, this may be a win, but overall it is a fuel source with an energy return on investment (EROI) less than 1.

We're in trouble if we have to start resorting to this as an energy source. Deep trouble.

Comment: Re:WTF *IS* a Bitcoin? (Score 1) 87

by Irate Engineer (#47251833) Attached to: Expedia To Accept Bitcoin
Didn't Douglas Adams cover this?

In fact there are three freely convertible currencies in the Galaxy, but none of them count. The Altairian Dollar has recently collapsed, the Flanian Pobble bead is only exchangeable for other Flanian Pobble Beads, and the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems. Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Ningis are not negotiable currency, because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change. From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination.

Comment: Re:Regardless of any 'sensitivities'... (Score 2) 53

by Irate Engineer (#47251749) Attached to: Humans Not Solely To Blame For Passenger Pigeon Extinction

Well, if someone does the "shotgun trick" with the starling, maybe in 30 years someone will be waxing poetically about the starling and how it used to cover the skies and the peculiar sound it made.

Live flocks of birds make noise and shit. Dead flocks of birds make ornithologists nostalgic.

Comment: WTF *IS* a Bitcoin? (Score -1) 87

by Irate Engineer (#47238895) Attached to: Expedia To Accept Bitcoin

Seriously, all I see in a Bitcoin is a number on a computer. That's it. Where is the value?

Before you get all into the fiat currency argument; yeah, I understand *that*. But (for example) the U.S. dollar has an accepted value that (I'd argue) that isn't completely independent of goods and services produced in the U.S. Yes, you have to *believe* that fiat currency has value, but there is something indirectly tangible behind it for the U.S. dollar and other currencies.

Bitcoins, not so much. It is a number on a computer. It may be a fiat currency in the purest sense, which means you need to make sure everyone *truly* believes it to have value, in the same way some people believe the earth is flat or in unicorns. It really is like getting an answer from an ouiji board - as long as everyone agrees you get an answer that has some value.

When the bitcoin fanbois get distracted by the next New Shiny paradigm-buster, bitcoin will not be worth the electrons it is printed on.

Comment: Beating the Chicken-or-Egg Problem (Score 3, Insightful) 230

Electric cars are not ubiquitous because range and ability to charge is a concern. Charging stations are not ubiquitous because electric cars are not ubiquitous.

Gasoline automobiles were able to take off when they were invented because the liquid fuel infrastructure was in largely in place prior to their invention. Kerosene for lamps was distributed by metered pumps that were easily converted to dispense gasoline.

Establishing a standard charging station would allow companies to make the investment in charging infrastructure, confident that it would be widely applicable to different vehicles and would not disappear overnight. When you can pull into the CircleK and purchase a few kWh of juice while grabbing a burrito, that's when electric cars will really take off.

Comment: Postcards and Talking on Street Corners (Score 1) 248

by Irate Engineer (#47184643) Attached to: In the year since Snowden's revelations ...

If you treat email as if it were a postcard that anyone can read, and you don't provide information on the interwebz that you wouldn't be willing to shout out on a street corner (SSN, credit card number, etc..) you're good. If you think any online security is actually secure against a dedicated attack, you're going to get pwned.

If you're less concerned about "security" and more about "freedom of speech", the same rules apply. In this day and age, if you say something (via postcard, on a streetcorner, on the phone, or via the interwebs) that pisses off someone with power, all I can say is send my regards to Gitmo and assume the position, because you will be fucked if it tickles their fancy to do so. If they decide to dig up stuff on you, they'll find it, encryption be damned.

There is nothing especially new about this - people who say things against the authorities out loud historically often met bad ends. The only difference these days is that many people are happily entering that data into the internet database and greatly simplifying the work the government has to do to identify and track them. If you think security through obscurity works, well, you're assuming that the government would be unwilling to scoop you up and 5 or 10 innocent bystanders.

"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths