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Comment Re:Where I live there are no mail trucks (Score 1) 208

>> drones fly under 400 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds

Well that's good. I'm sure 55 pound weights dropped from 400 feet are harmless.

A four ton delivery vehicle at 25 miles per hour is not exactly harmless, either. In assessing the overall impact, you take into account both the potential damage from an accident and the probability of such accidents. For example, the fact that said delivery vehicle is operated by a driver that has been on the road for many hours and makes frequent stops and that the drone is equipped with 8 redundant rotor/motors and no doubt many other redundant systems and failure management strategies from the planning of the flight path, monitoring of vehicle health and constant assessment of possible damage-minimizing crash locations at all times.

I believe the expected impact of such drones should be an overall reduction in the death, injury, property damage and environmental impact associated with delivering replacements for important items chewed by dogs.

Comment Re:Avoidance (Score 1) 82

Actually, this points out another possible explanation -- that distance is the effect of ethical behavior rather than the cause. This is not necessarily because the boss explicitly or intentionally demands unethical behavior from his subordinates. Often it's because bad bosses like to surround themselves with yes-men and toadies.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 191

200 parts per million might be insanely rich, but it also means you have to process over 300 pounds of ore to extract 1 oz of platinum. That's nothing to a terrestrial mining operation which might crush several tons of rock to recover a single ounce of gold, but remember they do that with mass-is-no-object machinery and consuming, from a spacecraft point of view, unthinkable amounts of power. In space operations mass and power matters a great deal.

I'm not saying it won't happen eventually, but it won't be profitable until we're measuring cost per pound to orbit in pennies rather than thousands of dollars.

Comment Re:What about other life goals? (Score 1) 118

I used the unpaid example to draw a sharper contrast. A large block of time off is generally unavailable under any terms, except at companies like FB (or apparently everywhere in Europe) that explicitly call out child-rearing.

Since you seem to know of the system: If European democracies have a state system for paying for the leave, did the debate include proposals to allow payments for other avocations?

Europe is a big place and it probably varies to jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but I'd say generally no. I know that here in Norway there are a few other exceptions where the government may step in and pay like if you're giving care to someone seriously ill because you're a de facto replacement for public healthcare but for personal projects you are on your own. It has been suggested though that those who want to be slackers can be employed for a relatively short while, then go on unemployment benefits while making crap applications for jobs they won't get, flunk interviews and in general be unemployable while formally meeting the requirements. For the more serious people though I know some that have gotten 6-12 months unpaid leave to pursue some personal dream in the private sector, in the public sector it's even easier.

I think this very much relates to the use of overtime and wage politics, in Europe you generally have to pay for every hour and to be honest you're usually paying overpaying unskilled/untrained people and underpaying your best people. Which means that if good employees don't get their leave and instead quit thinking their CV is good enough to get re-employed a year later you as an employer lose. They have to deal with similar leaves quite often for the 50% that's female and we also have a shorter paternity leave, so really there's no reason to be a dick about it. I guess it depends on why though, if you're starting a competing business then no.... the one I know who got a 12 month leave sailed around the world. Pretty bold move, but it was also fairly certain he'd be coming back. I think it takes a large company though, the smaller the harder it'll be.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 2) 191

I considered the near Earth object case. Clearly that's the easiest place to return material from; the problem is that it's coals-to-Newcastle. So far as we know the bulk of that material is stuff that's easy to get here on Earth: silicates, sulfides, iron, nickel etc. Judging from meteors found here on Earth there are exotic materials like iridium, but in trace quantities.

While there's no doubt lots of valuable stuff like platinum up there, I think people are picturing it as floating around as nuggets of largely native metal. The platinum deposits in Canada's Sudbury Basin were delivered by a meteor, but that meteor was fifteen km across. It contained a lot of Pt in absolute terms, but in relative terms the Pt was rare compared to silicates or nickel. The liquefaction of the meteor in impact separated the heavy metals into convenient deposits. If we tried to mine that object while it was in space we'd have had to crush and melt a lot of ore to get much Pt.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 4, Interesting) 191

It does not prohibit colonization, it just prohibits exclusive territorial claims.

Right, which does not necessarily prevent claiming materials found as private property.

That said, this is all a tempest in a teapot. At this stage of technology asteroid mining is about the worst imaginable investment anyone could make. It's a purely emotional investment, driven by enthusiasm, and it doesn't stand up to critical scrutiny. We don't even go after the valuable on the sea floor because the cost of finding and raising them makes that unprofitable. If there were hundred pound chunks of refinery-pure platinum floating around in the asteroid belt it would cost more to fetch and return them than they'd fetch on the market.

The economics of space travel is dominated by the cost of moving mass in and out of gravity wells and imparting the necessary acceleration to match position and velocity with targets. It follows that we're looking for stuff with the highest value/mass, and until costs drop by a couple of orders of magnitude there's only one commodity worth returning from space: knowledge. The first physical substances worth mining will be things useful in the pursuit of knowledge -- e.g. water that can be converted to rocket fuel without tankering to the outer solar system.

Comment Re:Source Code (Score 1) 48

The ransomware gets its name from the fact that the "DecryptorMax" string is found in multiple places inside its source code.

They distributed the source code with the ransomware?

Or the strings in the source code ended up generating strings in the object code and something like the "strings" tool found them.

Comment Re: Because backups are important (Score 1) 48

We can only assume they are too cheap, lazy or distracted with other things to keep frequent backups.

Or they think they ARE keeping backups, because they ARE - on a different part of the same disk, using automated processes provided and touted by the vendor - but the ransomware disables the tools and deletes the backups. Oops!

There's a difference between "backups" and "adequate, off-machine, backups".

Comment Looks to me like an oversight. (Score 1) 48

Why would you need a random .png from the Internet? Can't they just keep whatever part they need (header?) as part of the binary?

I'd guess:
  - The authors wrote the tool to use enough of the start of an encrypted/clear file pair to generate / sieve the key and deployed that.
  - Some used discovered, after the tool was deployed, that the invariant header of a .png file was long enough that any .png file could function as the "clear" for any encrypted .png (or at least that many unrelated pairs could do that.)

I'd bet that, if the authors had thought there was a nearly-universally-present file type the ransomware would chose to encrypt, with a large enough header to pull off this trick, they'd have included a canned header and the option to use it in the tool.

Comment The HELL they can't! (Score 3, Interesting) 62

That's something conventional flow batteries can't do.hat's something conventional flow batteries can't do.

The hell they can't. Industrial-scale Vanadium Redox flow batteries are doing that right now, in utility companies, and have been for a couple years. (In New Zeeland, if I recall correctly.)

I think the reason they're not more widely used already is that they're under patent protection, the company is small, and its owners don't want to license the technology or dilute their equity, so the supply is limited to their ramp-up and funding sources.

Comment Re:battery vs capacitor (Score 4, Insightful) 62

When does the battery become capacitor?

When the voltage across it is directly proportional to percentage of charge.

And they already did, many years ago. That's what "supercapacitors" are: Electrochemical cells where the charge is stored by migrating, but not ionization-state-changing, ions in a solution (rather than by migrating electrons within two conductors (one metal, the other metal or conductive liquid) separated by an insulator, as in a conventional or electrolytic capacitor, or ionization-state-changing ions in the cells of a conventional battery,where the voltage only changes slightly with state of charge until nearly full discharge.

Comment Re:Yeah, but that just means... (Score 2) 190

Just basic literacy will help a lot. Most conflicts in the world involve illiterate soldiers on one or both sides. Modern war is very expensive, and very destructive. War almost never makes economic sense. Most countries have market economies, so if your neighbor has resources that you want, you don't need to take it by force, you can just buy it.

Bad for you, worse for the other guy. Don't underestimate how much the stronger player can abuse their position until they go one step too far.

You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer.