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Comment: Re:Big bags of water... that's what we are. (Score 1) 141

by Mr. Slippery (#48648969) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

Yes there are good reasons for going to Mars. Greatest among them is to safeguard the species from any catestrophic impacts on Earth they would extinguish us.

No potential impact to Earth would render it less hospitable to life than Mars is. For speicies survival a set of fortified underground bunkers/mini-cities would be far more practical -- and unlike Mars, we do have the tech to do that.

The suggestion that we currently have the technology to colonize Mars is, in brief, ridiculous. No human has been move than 500 miles from Earth's surface in over four decades, and the farthest we've ever sent a human is under 250,000 miles; at its closest, Mars is 38,000,000 miles away. We do not know how to safely get a human being that distance through interplanetary space, and the first few people we try to send are quite likely to die.

That investment of blood and treasure might be worthwhile if there was something useful for humans to do when they got there, but there isn't. We'll get better scientific results by building and sending better robots.

There is no practical reason to send humans to Mars in the near-term -- say, next five centuries. Especially not when all of our resources are needed over the next century or so to put human civilization on a sustainable footing. We can probably do some useful stuff with humans in Earth orbit and maybe on Luna, but deep space is for robots.

The only justification to put humans on Mars is some vague hand-waving about "inspiration" -- i.e., it's a huge performance art project. Maybe someday humanity can afford that. But not now.

Comment: Re:Yes MS has lost and is now nice (Score 1) 377

by mpapet (#48644907) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET Up To the Job?

The old gray beards today might say the same with IBM or Digital but once market forces correct a monopoly the company either whithers or adapts.

Did you sleep through the monopoly classes in Econ 101? There's no market force that corrects a monopoly. Microsoft still has a monopoly.

Under a free market people play nice or loose out.

Did you attend any Econ classes at all? That's not how markets works.

4. MS more liberal with pricing for non corporations. Google VS Community edition. It is pro and free!

Ugh. First hit is free. Site licensing has gone up radically. The kickbacks make it so.

5. MS is opening sourcing .NET and lots of frameworks

Uhhh, yeah... What's the plan here? Where's DotNet going? Abandonware...

6. Azure supports non win32 operating systems.

And? What's the strategy here? Follow Amazon? Uhh. Yeah...

7. MS is putting more effort in security and stabilizing and fixing bugs now that competition exists.

And? Fixing bugs is something for which we should be thankful? What's the transparency on that?

Browsers are competitive. Mobile operating systems competitive. Development environments are competitive. Clouds and virtual services for legacy win32 apps scare the crap out of them so soon if mega corps want to leave they can.

You mean all those free browsers are charging because there's a viable market? Microsoft is irrelevant in mobile.

Does Microsoft pay you much for this nonsense?

Comment: Re:they really are talking, we just can't hear (Score 1) 381

Even if aliens are using radio waves, even we generally aren't broadcasting unencrypted analog signals. Most of our communication now is directed, encrypted, and digitally encoded, to the point that you'd only pick it up if you were lucky enough to pass directly between sender and intended receiver, and even if you did get it you'd have great difficulty discerning it from noise, and even if you knew already that it wasn't noise, you'd have a hell of a time making any sense of it would knowing the encoding and encryption.

For all we know, a lot of "random" gamma ray bursts and things we pick up are the Earth just happening to pass across some kind of interstellar communication channel, but we can't discern the message from noise and so have no idea there's even a message there.

Comment: Re:Life form? (Score 1) 381

Life is self-productive machinery: physical systems that transform flows of energy through them in a way that reduces their own internal entropy.

Everything traditionally considered life meets this formal definition, and essentially nothing else doesexcept computers, because the storage and processing of information constitutes a reduction of their internal entropy.

Robots, computers with fancy peripherals, are therefore alive.

(Doesn't mean we have to worry about the ethical treatment of computers though, because the bacteria all over your kitchen countertop that you happily exterminate every time you clean house are also alive, and we don't have to worry about ethical treatment of them. TFA is talking about sapient and therefore sapient robots though, and we would have to care about them.)

Comment: Story Telling, Stories, Themes (Score 1) 120

by mpapet (#48638479) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games?

I'm not sure if I'm understanding your question, but it seems to me he'd be interested in stories and story telling.

  The key here is to help him explore what stories are powerful to the human mind. As a parent, Jung is your go-to guy for the reasons why stories have been retold for generations and should give you plenty of structure and direction for good material for your son to work with.

More simply, there are child friendly versions of Shakespeare, the stories told in Operas, and be careful getting a semi-authentic Brothers Grimm book. The original stories are a little graphic in places, but more powerful. There are also board games about story telling.

Hopefully, I haven't gone too far in the wrong direction. It just seems to me, good games always had good stories as structure.

Security

Researchers Discover SS7 Flaw, Allowing Total Access To Any Cell Phone, Anywhere 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-in-case-you-were-feeling-safe-and-secure-today dept.
krakman writes: Researchers discovered security flaws in SS7 that allow listening to private phone calls and intercepting text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available. The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are actually functions built into SS7 for other purposes – such as keeping calls connected as users speed down highways, switching from cell tower to cell tower – that hackers can repurpose for surveillance because of the lax security on the network. It is thought that these flaws were used for bugging German Chancellor Angela's Merkel's phone.

Those skilled at the housekeeping functions built into SS7 can locate callers anywhere in the world, listen to calls as they happen or record hundreds of encrypted calls and texts at a time for later decryption (Google translation of German original). There is also potential to defraud users and cellular carriers by using SS7 functions, the researchers say. This is another result of security being considered only after the fact, as opposed to being part of the initial design.

Comment: Re:The Future is Surreal (Score 2) 198

by Pfhorrest (#48629851) Attached to: At 40, a person is ...

People like her often develop a problem with the world after the world repeatedly demonstrates that it has a problem with them.

Someone who transitioned over two or three decades ago like she did, back when the world was even less accepting and understanding than it is now, probably even more so than someone just starting the process today.

Comment: No judgement-free options? (Score 1) 198

by Pfhorrest (#48629823) Attached to: At 40, a person is ...

At 40 a person is statistically close to the middle of their probable lifespan, and that's neither inherently good nor inherently bad. I'm disappointed that there is no option for that. You're neither a younger nor elderly, you're middle-aged, but that's neither "in a good way" or derogatory, it just is. Anything good or derogatory there might be to say about you would have nothing to do with your age.

Google

Eric Schmidt: To Avoid NSA Spying, Keep Your Data In Google's Services 281

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-snooping-zone dept.
jfruh writes Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told a conference on surveillance at the Cato Institute that Edward Snowden's revelations on NSA spying shocked the company's engineers — who then immediately started working on making the company's servers and services more secure. Now, after a year and a half of work, Schmidt says that Google's services are the safest place to store your sensitive data.

Comment: Re: Diversity is good, especially in SciFi (Score 1) 368

by Mr. Slippery (#48595317) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

Science fiction isn't fiction that has elements that aren't science but might appeal to geeks who like science....Science fiction is science that is fictional. Very different animal and naturally restrictive.

You are using a defintion of a term, which is at odds with the defintions of that term used by almost every other educated native speaker of English. This will probably make it hard for you to communicate. You might want to look to that.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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