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Comment Why does it have to be liquid? (Score 1) 125

Even as far back as the original Cosmos series, scientists were saying that the lack of a liquid iron core to generate the magnetic field was the cause of the atmosphere leaking off into space. Okay, sounds plausible but it has me wondering why it has to be liquid when lodestone has a magnetic field and it's solid.
And why isn't gravity enough to hold the atmosphere in? Or is the gravitational field too weak?


How To Make Messages Easy For an Alien Race To Understand (hackaday.com) 168

szczys writes: The screen on that new cellphone has amazing pixel density, color vibrance, and refresh rate. The high-end headphones you just picked up do an amazing job reproducing sound. These devices interface extremely well with humans but might not be very good modes of communication for an Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Sure, we haven't made contact with alien life yet. Even if they did pick up our broadcasts or space probes the relatively narrow-range of audio (narrow and low frequency), visual (slow refresh rate), and data transmission methods are likely to make no sense to non-human entities. The Voyager Golden Record took a fascinating approach to making some data available to new civilizations; it's interesting to think of other ways we might communicate with beings of fundamentally different biology.

Comment Re:Setting a dangerous precedent (Score 1) 226

Actually, I am a pilot and I remember when the airspace was shaped like an upside-down wedding cake. Made a lot more sense. Now it's devolved into a case of "Screw it, we don't want to have to think about it so we're taking all the space." I believe a better compromise exists. For example: at smaller regional airfields, the traffic is very light and usually small therefore they don't need as much space. Ultimately, you can't ever legislate against somebody deciding to do something stupid. However, there are a lot of people in government who believe that a piece of paper will act as this magic shield to prevent stupid.

Comment Setting a dangerous precedent (Score 2, Interesting) 226

Here's the problem: If you allow the FAA to get away with this crap, then you have lost the war and have given up power to yet another byzantine bureaucracy. This five-mile rule is ridiculous for several reasons: 1) Airports generally don't have 360-degree approach patterns (heliports notwithstanding and even they have approach and departure rules), 2) No airport pattern is lower than 800 feet except on final and departure legs which are clearly defined and those don't need 5 miles, 3) Where did they come up with that figure for the fine and who gets the money?

Comment They haven't figured out how to bork them (Score 1) 184

IMHO, it's pretty simple. The FAA hasn't figured out how to completely bork the use of the technology to the point of always having to ask them for permission to fly in the form of regulatory fees. Thus far, most of the existing regulations are stupid. The 5-mile rule is dumb because the ILS approaches and patterns don't need that much space. The commercial rules are dumb because what makes anyone think that because you're getting paid to fly means that you're automatically going to do something stupid? Spying on your neighbors? Seriously? People are far more likely to have their identity stolen. Noise? Pfft. Wake me when you require motorcycles to have mufflers and spank those law-breakers hard. What's worse is that there is a gaping hole in the identified uses for these things, that being search & rescue operations. By definition, you don't have the luxury of time to ask for permission to fly nor do you have the luxury of only flying in approved areas. I would really enjoy introducing some dumbass FAA inspector to the grieving family of the 2-year-old who died of exposure because said dumbass wouldn't let searchers fly.


30 Years a Sysadmin 162

itwbennett writes: Sandra Henry-Stocker's love affair with Unix started in the early 1980s when she 'was quickly enamored of the command line and how much [she] could get done using pipes and commands like grep.' Back then, she was working on a Zilog minicomputer, a system, she recalls, that was 'about this size of a dorm refrigerator'. Over the intervening years, a lot has changed, not just about the technology, but about the job itself. 'We might be 'just' doing systems administration, but that role has moved heavily into managing security, controlling access to a wide range of resources, analyzing network traffic, scrutinizing log files, and fixing the chinks on our cyber armor,' writes Henry-Stocker. What hasn't changed? Systems administration remains a largely thankless role with little room for career advancement, albeit one that she is quick to note is 'seldom boring' and 'reasonably' well-paid. And while 30 years might not be a world's record, it's pretty far along the bell curve; have you been at it longer?

Comment So stupid (Score 1) 257

Problem: kids won't eat veggies.
Solution: make the other food so gross that they have no choice but to eat the veggies or go hungry.
Yeah, that's effing brilliant. And people got research funding to come up with the obvious. Where do I go to get that kind of funding?
IMHO, we need to start an award like the Razzies. Something like the No sh*t, Sherlock Prize.

United States

Raytheon Wins US Civilian Cyber Contract Worth $1 Billion 62

Tokolosh writes: Raytheon is a company well-known in military-industrial and political circles, but not so much for software, networking and cybersecurity. That has not stopped the DHS awarding it a $1 billion, five year contract to help more than 100 civilian agencies manage their computer security. Raytheon said DHS selected it to be the prime contractor and systems integrator for the agency's Network Security Deployment (NSD) division, and its National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS). The contract runs for five years, but some orders could be extended for up to an additional 24 months, it said. Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, said the company had invested over $3.5 billion in recent years to expand its cybersecurity capabilities. He said cybersecurity incidents had increased an average of 66 percent a year worldwide between 2009 and 2014. As you might expect, Raytheon spends heavily on political contributions and lobbying.

Comment Which entity is really cheating? (Score 4, Insightful) 166

I'm just going to throw this out there knowing that a certain type of reader will scoff.
First, the EPA sets two competing requirements: lower emissions and higher mileage. Do they have any engineering expertise that proves this is even possible? My guess is not just no but hell no. It's also possible that the EPA can get away with this by playing the evil, greedy corporation card saying, "The car companies don't want to do this because they are greedy," and a certain type of person will believe it. So, if you're a manufacturer trying to sell a product, which of these two requirements is going to sell better? I can pretty much guarantee that the consumer doesn't give a rat's ass about emissions when they could be saving money on gas which may also be artificially expensive.
Second, it's entirely possible that the EPA has created unrealistic if not unattainable requirements for auto manufacturers not because they have any real scientific or engineering expertise that it's possible but in a thinly-veiled long-con attempt to drive these companies out of business. Kafka would say, "Damn, wish I had thought of this." The consumer is never going to pay more money for less product unless they are forced to. Brow-beating them into "saving the planet" doesn't work when it's costing the individual a lot more money.

Comment Now if we could do this for enclosures (Score 1) 196

IMHO, one big missing piece to ultra-short-run production of electronic products is the ability for a DIYer to make production-quality enclosures in small quantities that aren't stupid expensive. I had (and still have) high hopes for 3D printing to solve this but current technology is slow and prone to mid-print failures. Plus, the results are lacking in appearance of a finished product.

There can be no twisted thought without a twisted molecule. -- R. W. Gerard