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Comment: Re: increases exponentially (Score 1) 272

by MacroRodent (#43470075) Attached to: Moore's Law and the Origin of Life
>First, we don't know how to protect humans from Cosmic radiation on even a short voyage, let alone a super long 300 year voyage.

Actually we do. A few meters of water or other hydrogen-rich substance. Very low-tech, but heavy. But a generational spaceship would inevitably be heavy, and would need a very large reservoir of water anyway. The water would not have to be hauled up from Earth, there is plenty of it in the outer solar system, in icy moons. Possibly even in our own Moon. By the time building generational starships becomes feasible, accessing extraterrestrial water resources is probably routine.

Comment: The light bulb issue (Score 3, Insightful) 205

by MacroRodent (#42579981) Attached to: Nuclear Rocket Petition On White House Website
>The _only_ time an energy inefficient light source is wasting energy is when you are not heating the house. For most of the UK population, that's about 1/4 of the time.

But it is quite a bit more than that in countries south of UK! Especially if you have air conditioning, the traditional light bulbs put you in the absurd situation of using energy both to heat and cool the room at the same time... Another thing is that the light bulbs in typical lighting fixtures are inefficient as heaters. Most of the heat goes and stays near the ceiling, which is not where most people spend their time. Even ignoring that, direct electric heating is usually more expensive than other heat sources. (This of course depends on where you live).

By the way, I'm from Finland, so from my point of view the UK is one of those balmy southern European countries. And I have gradually replaced most of the bulbs in my house with compact fluorescents and LEDs. The latter have come down in price in recent years, and solve the worst annoyance of compact fluorescents: they turn instantly on with full power.


Plans For Widespread Monitoring of Communication In Europe Revealed 166

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the 1984-slowly-becoming-life-manual dept.
TrueSatan writes "A leak from the Clean IT project reveals how it has been subverted from its original, much more innocuous, goals into a surveillance horror story with democratic freedoms and personal rights being the victims." The leaked document in question. Gems include member states repealing anti-filtering laws and a mandate that ISPs be held liable for not reporting terrorist use of their networks. The Clean IT Project counters that there's nothing to see here (amazingly, through a series of tweets with a journalist).

+ - Spoken commands crash bank phone lines-> 1

Submitted by mask.of.sanity
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "A series of attacks have been made that are capable of disabling touch tone and voice activated phone systems or forcing them to disclose sensitive information.

The commands can be keyed in using touchtones or even using the human voice.

In one test, a phone system run by an unnamed Indian bank had dumped customer PINs. In another, a buffer overflow was triggered against a back-end database. Other attacks can be used to crash phone systems outright."

Link to Original Source

+ - Australian study backs major assumption of cosmology->

Submitted by cylonlover
cylonlover (1921924) writes "In mankind's attempts to gain some understanding of this marvelous place in which we live, we have slowly come to accept some principles to help guide our search. One such principle is that the Universe, on a large enough scale, is homogeneous, meaning that one part looks pretty much like another. Recent studies by a group of Australian researchers have established that, on sizes greater than about 250 million light years (Mly), the Universe is indeed statistically homogeneous, thereby reinforcing this cosmological principle."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Correction (Score 5, Insightful) 209

by MacroRodent (#41162503) Attached to: Don't Build a Database of Ruin
>Too many companies have learned this lesson the hard way, launching invasive new services that have triggered class action lawsuits, Congressional inquiries, and media firestorms.

Shouldn't that read "Too few companies have learned ..."? Otherwise the problem would not exist.

Anyway, I think this can only be fixed by legislation. Companies have too much monetary incentive for privacy violation to do anything else than token improvements. "Industry self-regulation" is nothing but newspeak for "foxes guarding the henhouse".


Will IBM Watson Be Your Next Mayor? 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the mister-machine dept.
MrSeb writes "When we think of computer networks, we think of routers and servers and fiber optic cables and laptops and smartphones — we think of the internet. In actuality, though, the visible internet is just the tip of the iceberg. There are secret military networks, and ad hoc wireless networks, and utility companies have sprawling, cellular networks that track everything from the health of oil pipelines and uranium enrichment machines through to the remaining capacity of septic tanks — and much, much more. What if we connected all of these networks to the internet, to form an internet of things? What if we then put a massive computer at the middle of this internet of things and used this wealth of data to power smart cars, smart homes, smart supermarkets, and smart cities? Unsurprisingly, IBM and Cisco are already working on such smart cities. For nearly two years, Rio de Janeiro's utilities, traffic systems, and emergency services has been managed by a single 'Ops Center,' a huge hub of technologies provided by both IBM and Cisco. With 300 LCD screens spread across 100 rooms, connected via 30,000 meters of fiber optic cable, Ops Center staff monitor live video from 450 cameras and three helicopters, and track the location of 10,000 buses and ambulances via GPS. Other screens output the current weather, and simulations of tomorrow's weather up to 150 miles from the city — and yet more screens display heatmaps of disease outbreaks, and the probability of natural disasters like landslides. There's even a Crisis Room, which links the Ops Center to Rio's mayor and Civil Defense departments via a Cisco telepresence suite. This sounds awesome — but is it really a good idea to give a computer company (IBM is not an urban planner!) so much control over one of the world's biggest cities?"

Comment: Re:And mind uploading... (Score 1) 637

by MacroRodent (#39791999) Attached to: I believe humanity will first achieve ...
> But what if we read their thoughts and Stalin really thought he was doing a good thing

No need for mind-reading here. Stalin no doubt thought he was doing a good thing: he was convinced he knew what was best for everybody, there just were all those dunces that disagreed and tried to sabotage his benevolent plans... The same is true of other classic dictators. They are all extreme cases of narcissist personality disorder, who unfortunately managed to gain great power.

Comment: Alive in Finland (Score 1) 211

by MacroRodent (#39732181) Attached to: Millions of Brits Lose Ceefax News Service
Were I live (Italy) we switched to DGTV some time ago, and last time I checked, Teletext was working just fine

Same thing in Finland. It is actually still quite popular, many years after the digital switch-over. If you have your TV already on, it is the fastest way to peek at the latest headlines or weather report. Another popular application seems to be horse racing scores. Kiosks selling bets almost always have a TV constantly showing Teletext at the relevant page. Works without any net connection.

A nice result of the Teletext limitations is that the pages show just the data without fancy formatting, and whoever creates the content must make the best of the limited space, choosing words carefully. This means the system is really very efficient for the reader, you don't have to wade over fluff... (unfortunately because of the way the pages are rotated in the transmission, you may have to wait a bit until your page comes up, unless your receiver implements good caching. Old implementations did not, and that made reading slow.).

Comment: Re:For the rest, see the "Mars" trilogy by Robinso (Score 1) 299

by MacroRodent (#39316343) Attached to: NASA Boss Says Mars Colonization Will Be Corporate Only
The you mention are plausible extrapolations from the state of technology in the 1990's, not "unobtainium", although we now know the time table was way too optimisitic, as usual. As noted by another poster, the thousands of small windmills were aknowledged to be a bad idea even within the books (their inventor Sax Russell attends a conference on terraforming, where one paper accounts for the warming effects of various methods, and dismisses the windmills). As for solar warming, remember the terraforming also tapped geothermic (areothermic?) energy (the "moholes"), and collected more solar energy than the surface area of Mars allows by the use of space mirrors (the "soletta" of the books).

Comment: For the rest, see the "Mars" trilogy by Robinson (Score 2) 299

by MacroRodent (#39297995) Attached to: NASA Boss Says Mars Colonization Will Be Corporate Only
The "Red Mars", "Green Mars", "Blue Mars" trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is a great future history that lays out a credible way the Mars colonisation could play out, including the inevitable revolt against the megacorporations. Enjoyed it last summer. The books were written in the early 1990's, evidenly with the best knowledge about Mars available then. At times it feels like the author had visited the place in person... There is no technobable, no miracle technology, this is hard sci-fi at its hardest. But much of the story is really about social effects, the tensions between early Mars settlers, newcomers, people who want to terraform Mars and those that desire to preserve it, and the corporations that just want to extract maximum profits from Mars. Earth future history is also explored with the unexpected discovery of a life-prolonging treatment (who gets it?), and an environmental crisis caused by volcanism in the Antarctic (a huge flood, but not fashionably by global warming).

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein