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Comment: Are the world's non-religious ready? (Score 1) 363

by Kjella (#48032651) Attached to: Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

I mean, I don't exactly believe in the Star Trek universe which is even more fairy tale than most religions. Where are we in their world order - are we equals, enemies, slaves, pets, food, pests or just a honking big X-factor that threaten their very existence? Since their military power would be mostly unknown it'd be real easy to get paranoid. Just dealing with wacko humans is bad enough, what do you really know about an alien or how they think? Nothing. I think we'd jump right into a military arms race which might end very badly for at least one of us. Perhaps both, if MAD still applies on an interplanetary scale.

Comment: Re:Don't freak out. (Score 1) 386

by Kjella (#48032453) Attached to: Ebola Has Made It To the United States

Severe headache
Joint and muscle aches

That all sounds like things I've had in the past, perhaps not all at once but unless I'd been to Ebola-infected countries lately I might not think much of it. The infected person came from Liberia, but if a Texan that hadn't left the state for ages starts showing symptoms it's a lot less obvious. All it takes is one of those die-hard unbelievers in modern medicine who won't seek help until he's half way down the list of serious symptoms and you're in trouble.

Comment: Re:How important is that at this point? (Score 1) 181

by Kjella (#48028317) Attached to: Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks

I'm not sure how this applies. How many businesses are running Linux workstations and need Adobe on them? Again this seems to me like a likely very small set. I don't see the absence of Adobe software in Linux as being a critical impediment to Linux migration for businesses who want to do that, either.

<consultant mode>
Well, I'd put it in a 2x2 matrix with low/high impact, low/high corporate usage. High/highs is stuff like your office suite, a lot of people use it and quite a lot. Low/high are things like time sheet recording, people need to do it but it's a very minor part of their work day. Both of these you generally need to have good solutions for since you'd be wasting so many people's time otherwise, the heavily used of course more so. Low/lows you don't really need to care much about, unless they add up to some extraordinary amounts. The killer is often the high/lows, basically the specialized tools a few in your organization use.

The (strike:problem) challenge is that these tools are different. For example, your graphics department might rely heavily on Photoshop. Nobody else in the business might care about that, but they again have their own tools they care about. Retraining, lost productivity and lower output quality can be significant costs. Existing workflows and procedures must be migrated. Forced migration may lead to employee dissatisfaction and higher turnover as they want to continue their career towards becoming a Photoshop expert. Those costs have to be considered relative to the gains of making a migration. I can do an in-depth study, if you got funding...
</consultant mode>

Seriously though, I think more plans about migrating to Linux dies from a thousand cuts rather than one fatal blow. I haven't done an OS migration but I've seen some others, the major issues are under control. It's all those minor "uh oh, we didn't think of that" issues with emergency band-aids and workarounds that tends to turn it into a fire fighting exercise.

Comment: Re:Nice, but... (Score 1) 181

by Kjella (#48027935) Attached to: Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks

Now in the professional realm, PShop makes sense to have a Linux port. Strange thing though - a huge percentage of professional CG work is done in Linux nowadays, and has been for awhile, so I'm surprised that it's taken them this long to get around to it.

For computer generated graphics custom workflows and creating tools to animate things others can't have has been the driving force. There's plenty of complex interactions between models, textures, animations, physics simulations and various like creating a whole army from a few parameterized models and AI. No tool does everything well and often there's some secret sauce you want integrated into the workflow. Photoshop on the other hand mostly seems like a one-stop shop, you hand a skilled person the image and what you want done and he'll produce an end result. Efficiency seems to be the primary driver, not integration or customization.

Comment: Re:Porn needs Javascript (Score 1) 108

by Kjella (#48026101) Attached to: Tor Executive Director Hints At Firefox Integration

Well, allowing JavaScript gives people who'd like to de-anonymize you:

a) A much bigger attack surface, rendering engines are rather safe while scripting engines are quite risky by comparison.
b) Much more accurate ways to fingerprint users through querying the system.
c) Much simpler ways to use AJAX to create traffic patterns to trace you through the system.

That the TorBrowser developers (Tor is just the transport layer - it speaks TCP/IP, not HTTP) choose to leave JavaScript enabled is more a pragmatic choice so users don't experience a "broken web". But if you need the protection Tor has to offer, then you probably should disable JavaScript and find yourself web 1.0 services to serve your needs. Otherwise you're probably better off just getting a cheap VPN.

Comment: Re:It's not technology (Score 1) 26

by Kjella (#48025771) Attached to: How Tech Is Transforming Teaching In a South African Township

It's not the technology what's helping those kids, but teachers. Appreciating kids, and encouraging them, and making them feel special and motivated. They could have done it the same with just pen and pencil. Remarking the use of technology completely misses the point. Computers are great tools for communication, and thus only work when you have something to communicate.

No, they're very good at reproducing things and if you haven't got teachers or you haven't got skilled teachers or you haven't got interested teachers then the computer at least give kids a chance to learn. Unlike here in western society for these kids education is a precious resource that they know is essential to have a decent future, first you have to give them the opportunities before you start worrying about motivating them to make use of them.

Comment: Re:Let's save a lot of time. (Score 1) 123

Obviously... or we'd lose the whole story in the East and the threat of invasion that it brings. This would be less obvious if Daenerys had someone who could take her place, but I don't see that whole plot line just being cut with a quick death of the Mother of Dragons.

Actually there's at least two potential plot lines in the books already to make that... ambiguous. Heck, half the plot is taking seemingly irreplaceable characters and kill them, the world keeps on twisting and turning. But yes, I don't see it happening until after they've sailed for Westeros.

Comment: Re:Books 4 and 5. (Score 1) 123

His analysis doesn't seem to take into account Martin originally wrote books 4 and 5 as one book, Seems to me those numbers should be averaged. Then again, IANAS.

Actually it's a bit more complicated than that, it started as one book that outgrew itself and was divided geographically but the timelines eventually merge again in Dance of Dragons with characters from the south appearing after the events of the fourth book. So it will be highly biased towards characters based in the north/east since they're in the entire book, followed by characters travelling north while those staying in the south aren't in the fifth book at all, but who will certainly return to finish up their arcs.

Comment: Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (Score 1) 447

by Kjella (#48021035) Attached to: Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

Pretty much nobody argues with the kind of science you can conduct in a lab like physics, chemistry, optics, mechanics, electronics and such, if you can put it in a lab and reproduce it then it's generally not controversial at all. Even when CERN finds some exotic new particle. All the controversy usually revolves around systems that are either so complex we can't meaningfully reproduce it all in a lab so basically parallel world theories or where the results come from a thought process, not compelled by any law of nature.

In the first case we do some partial models that are only approximately right, like for example weather forecasts. And lots of people claiming that flapping your wings this way or that will set off a butterfly effect. In the second case you'll never settle the discussion on applicability because these people might react different than those people based on culture, age, sex, education, experience, history or simply understanding the purpose or confines of the experiment and how applicable it really is to any real world situation.

For example, I suspect you can take pretty much all literature and studies done on airplane hijackings done before 9/11 and throw them in the trash bin, or at the very least put them in a museum. Not because they were in any way scientifically invalid, but because nobody will react in the same way anymore. Granted, that's probably a rather extreme example but there's lots of example to prove those kinds of scientific truths are fluid and change over time. It's a process, not a set of answers and it'll always be noisy.

Comment: Re:Largest Ponzi Scheme Ever (Score 1) 113

by Kjella (#48015531) Attached to: Mystery Gamer Makes Millions Moving Markets In Japan

Well, the company itself is only one piece of the puzzle. They're also connected to vendors, customers, competitors, their particular market and the general economy. All of those give a lot of impulses into the system, if your competitor launches a great new product that's bad for you. If your vendor's got supply problems, that's bad for you. If your customers for some reason get mad at you that's bad for you. If they suddenly want something else like tablets instead of your laptops that's bad for you. Growth and recession drags the entire economy up and down. The effects ripple through like waves in a pond and it's never still. Just because there's waves on the surface doesn't mean the tide stops coming in, but if you measure from the bottom of one wave to the top of the next then it might go against the fundamentals. They exist if you're investing in a far longer horizon where today's waves are of no real significance, in the long term the companies that make money go up and the ones who lose money go down.

That said, belief is often more powerful than the fundamentals until the illusion cracks. For example take the dotcom boom, as long as everyone thinks it's a boom they hold on to their stocks. If it dips, they think now they're getting value and buy more. That happens until the bad news overwhelm the value buyers and the stock really start tanking, which again leads to a stampede out. At every step of the way there's people trying to be ahead of the market, but the day traders don't really influence the long term stock price. They're just there trying to make a margin on the market over-reacting/under-reacting or not grasping all the interrelations at play.

Comment: Re:Rushing to mars is crap science (Score 1) 261

by Kjella (#48013695) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

And the space station would do what exactly, pull materials out of a magician's hat? If all the raw materials are eventually going to come from earth anyway, you're just adding intermediary steps to increase costs. Here's a number of reasons why you might want to have a space station, but practically doesn't apply today:

1) We can gather and refine materials and produce parts/fuel with the required tolerances/quality from a lower/zero-g gravity well like the moon or asteroids at a lower cost than shipping it from earth. For example say you discover an asteroid full of bauxite ore. You still have to create a mining ship, send it to the asteroid belt, extract the bauxite through mining, ship it to the space station, capture it, smelt it, roll it to sheet metal and cut it with extreme precision. While launching it from earth is expensive both the setup costs and production costs of doing it in space dwarfs the savings.

2) You can likewise gather energy by for example setting up gigantic solar panels that can charge a space craft. However, none of our current rockets run on electricity and the energy costs of orbiting/deorbiting a space ship probably dwarf the energy gains.

3) You can refuel/repair/retrofit/repurpose incoming spaceships without going down into the gravity well, however we generally don't do return missions because of the costs involved in sending them back to earth. It may be useful if we have big reusable "ferry" ships between say Earth orbit and Mars orbit, though even then it's questionable if we shouldn't just launch resupply rockets directly rather than going through a space station.

4) We could build ships that aren't hampered by the launch forces and are designed for zero-g only, but practically we're pretty good at various forms of fold-out designs that'll survive launch and transform into a more fragile shape in space. Same with the rovers, they hit the ground curled up like a ball then deploy.

5) We could build bigger ships than could be launched through a single launch, however the total launch costs would be the same. Practically we'd probably build it like the ISS though through interlocking modules, with large interlocking sections it should be almost as structurally sound as building it in one single piece in space.

6) If we have a lot of cargo going between many different systems then a hub-and-spoke system is more efficient than direct peering. In the foreseeable future though, everything will either come from Earth or go to Earth so this isn't relevant until we've got major off-world colonies.

The TL;DR version: Nothing a space station could do would lower space exploration costs today, only increase them.

Comment: Re:Should we? (Score 1) 261

by Kjella (#48013231) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

Well, you can make a similar graph for "Death by nuclear weapon by year" but I doubt anyone think that despite the peak in 1945 we've lost our capability or technology to do it again. It seems that many people - for no apparent good reason - think that a moon or Mars colony will lead to the warp drive. All it would do is inch the bar higher to "The universe is probably littered with the one-solar system graves of cultures..." while not bringing us significantly closer to interstellar travel. And I think it's also undervaluing the progress we're actually making:

1) We're making great strides in discovering exo-planets that may be possible targets for colonization
2) SpaceX and others are making huge progress in getting the $/kg to orbit price down.
3) For reasons entirely unrelated to space, we're making huge strides in semi-autonomous and autonomous robots.
4) What used to be a two way race now includes space programs from Europe, Japan, China and India in addition to US and Russia.
5) From 3) and 4) there are several plans for "dry-run" base deployment missions to create the necessary human environment.

I think the last one really indicates where the future of manned missions is going though, the base doesn't need you to function because we're not going to send you there until it's already functioning without you. At least under normal circumstances, obviously if there's a malfunction you'll be the impromptu on-site repairman. Granted it won't be quite like checking into a hotel but you expect it to have air pressure, right oxygen/CO2 levels (scrubbing easily tested with oxygen-eating bacteria), habitable temperature, electricity (lights, power through solar cells) and communications (satellite dish). Perhaps even stores of food, water and other supplies if it's cheaper to send them some other way rather than with the astronauts.

Comment: Re:Not the same, but a subset (Score 1) 189

by Kjella (#48011663) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

That is not how Nvidia's or ANY video card firmware works because they need to be active at the moment of power on, before there is even an OS loaded. VBIOS is stored on the card, not copied to VRAM.

What you say is absolutely true yet grossly misleading and I suspect you know it. Yes, if you boot a machine with no HDD, no OS, no drivers the computer will display something to say "Hey, I have no boot disk" which is obviously built in. To get 2D/3D/video acceleration though you typically need to load a firmware module first, then you can start programming it through the API. As I understand it based on reading about AMD's open drivers which still depend on closed source hardware their opinion it the firmware makes the hardware comply with their "assembler language" GPU API. It won't function without it and explaining the actual bits would mean explaining the hardware implementation which is a tightly guarded company secret. It should also be noted that the firmware doesn't run on the CPU, it runs internally on the GPU so it's a bit like demanding how a RAID card's chip is programmed, not the driver that runs on the CPU but the programming of auxiliary chips. The funny part is that nobody cares if you use an EEPROM to write the firmware blob to that the card will read from. But if you binary dump it directly, then RMS won't be happy. I don't see the big practical difference though.

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