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Comment: Ads or Paywalls, take your pick (Score 1) 369

by Overzeetop (#47722153) Attached to: Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

How do you propose to reimburse people who generate or curate content, such as the editors at Slashdot, or the writers at Cracked or the Onion?

With every content media you pay for the medium (paper, traditionally for magazines and newspapers) but that barely covers materials and distribution. The advertising pays for creating the content.

Comment: Re:Use Roman Concrete -- no rebar necessary. (Score 1) 103

by Overzeetop (#47714429) Attached to: World's First 3D Printed Estate Coming To New York

The article is likely wrong. There are no high tensile forces in the pantheon, including the dome, at least not what we would consider "high" today. The structure is a (mostly) compression-only building. The oculus is a compression ring and the dome shape is close enough to a parabaloid that any tension forces are negated and the thrust at the base minimized.

Concrete has tensile strength all by itself. If I gave you a rod of concrete just an inch thick you wouldn't be able to pull it apart. Even tension from bending is allowed in the design of modern structures with every-day concrete. There are several modern admixtures that even allow cracks to self-heal in the presence of moisture.

To see real math applied to the use of all-compression spanning structures, consider hyperbolic paraboloid (saddle shaped) or inverted catenary (paraboloid domes) roofs.In some cases (usu. flat-ish roofs) it's architectural and rebar or prestressing steel is required, but for pure utility you can define a curve that keeps the surface in compression and then the only steel that is added is typically for shrinkage and thermal cycling crack control (which is cheaper than using shrink-compensated concrete mixtures). They're rare because they tend to be very labor intensive to form and cover.

Comment: Actually, it's worse (Score 2) 178

by Overzeetop (#47697899) Attached to: Microsoft's Windows 8 App Store Is Full of Scamware

Worse that pay-to-play software of dubious quality is the entire lack of support for major applications, and a complete lack of serious productivity and mainstream apps. Many of the apps are poor stepchildren of their Android and iOS counterparts if they even exist at all. A useful, app-style browser is woefully missing (for those who have convertible tablet/laptops, you can't have Chrome, IE or FF act as an app/finger centric if you use them in desktop mode.)

The iOS and Android app stores are full of shit, too, but at least there's some good stuff out there. For MS, all they have is the shit.

Comment: How big is your monkeyspace? (Score 1) 238

You can die from the impact of the impending head-on collision, or you can veer off and save your life, but in doing so you'll be accelerating out of the way of the oncoming vehicle and into a group of 40 kindergartners (including your twin son and daughter), their 3 pregnant teachers, and 3 elderly chaperons (one of whom is carrying a kitten, another a puppy) who were waiting for a bus after a field trip.

Don't worry, your decision to kill them to save your own life was made months ago, right after you bought the car and selected "preserve my life at all costs" as your autopilot setting.

Comment: Ethics implies knowledge of outcome (Score 1) 238

While it's possible that a computer could be allowed to evaluate ethical limits - to play a version of Lifeboat - the lack of information will doom such optimization. The number of wild or unpredictable maneuvers are more likely to be limited, with only simple avoidance options available (stop, avoid within legal lanes of travel). The use of a standard model is preferable, or you would have to know all possible outcomes as well as all possible settings on nearby vehicles.

Comment: Re:Wow. (Score 1) 160

by Overzeetop (#47679325) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

Seriously. A fast cradle-to-grave spacecraft is 2-3 years. We built Pegsat faster, but it was really just a quickie so that the maiden flight of Pegasus (which failed) has something to carry. Even with all the principal investigator work done, it was a solid 18 months to complete reviews, assembly, and testing to fly a secondary payload in the shuttle.

Even college projects which are more than a half-baked demo last most of a year, and real college research projects stretch through multiple years. She will probably be disappointed when she spends the next two years on a small group of components in one aspect of a spacecraft, though a seasoned engineer would revel in having the time to perfect something like that.

Comment: Houston is not where you build spacecraft (Score 4, Interesting) 160

by Overzeetop (#47679245) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

I co-oped at NASA Goddard, and we actually built stuff. At Johnson and in most of the Government offices at Kennedy and JPL it's all contractor management. Marshall had some real space work going on at the time. Ames does more aeronautical, iirc.

I lucked out and landed in a small division that built and flew small expendable payloads and secondary shuttle payloads. We were housed in half of a building that had been converted from a high-bay shop. The other half was still a shop - an actual machine shop - and optical facility. You designed stuff, and then could walk over and talk to a machinist about the project. Finalize a drawing and it might be fabbed on site or sent out, but it came back and got assembled in a clean room that was at the end of a hall of engineers offices. The controls group had benches full of electronics and components - they even did basic balancing and testing of momentum wheels in the same pod as where the offices were.

It was, possibly, one of the coolest jobs on the planet - and I was there for almost 9 years in all. But there was precious little of that in the agency as a whole. We had been moving more and more to contractors over the years - more than half of the people I worked with side by side were actually contractors. A contract would end and be re-bid, and whoever won would hire 98% of the people who worked for the old contractor and nothing would change except who the agency made out the check to each month. At JPL it's all contractors - when my life took me to LA I found out that they don't have engineers, just staff to manage the contracts with CalTech and the other contractors who do pretty much everything. At Kennedy you can be written up for holding a wrench if you're not a member of the union for one of the contractors there. We got out own cleanroom to isolate our team from the rest of those politics when we did integration at the cape.

Comment: Re:The utility/need/desire exists (Score 1) 107

by Overzeetop (#47674041) Attached to: Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part One of Two)

I own a pickup truck, though I don't use it more than once or twice a month. Pretty low usage (and shitty gas mileage) for a vehicle worth $30-40,000. It would be cheaper to just pay to have everything delivered, or rent a truck when I need one. But the convenience of having it outweighs the cost. The same could be said of a sports car, a boat, am RV, or even a light aircraft.

Why is it you think that the cost of use and maintenance really matters? If that were the case we'd all drive small 2 or 4 door sedans and nobody would both with an SUV, which is large, seats barely more than a 4 door sedan, and cost 3-4X as much to both buy and maintain.

Do I care if it costs me $1/mile to fly? Depends...if I can get my parents house in 20 minutes and spend $40, compared to 1.5 hours and spend $15-20 in a car, there's a pretty high chance I'm going to fly. A trip to DC is 300 miles. If there are 2 or more of us going, it's still cheaper than a commercial flight, faster than a commercial flight (door to door), and I go when it fits my schedule.

Not everyone is cash poor. Not everyone has a severely limited budget. It's why I mentioned somewhere in this story that it's likely that just being a a 2%er would be enough to comfortably own a flying car (400k+/year). And yet there are 6 Million 2%ers in the US. There is a market for it, just as there is a market for Teslas and Beach houses and $3000/night rooms on a atoll in the Pacific. Just because you just aren't part of it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 391

by Overzeetop (#47673957) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Actually, there are very few "builders" who do everything these days, too. Builders have become simple managers - hiring subcontractors to do essentially all of the work except that involving papers to the various building authorities. There are true artisan buillers out there, and some larger builders with everything in house, but they're very rare.

Having worked for NASA, NASA contractors, and since I now run a firm which does design for Architectural and building clients, I happen to have seen the inside of both operations pretty completely. Though apparently the truth came out trollish in the eyes of /.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 391

by Overzeetop (#47673933) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

That's not what I meant - contractors really do assemble everything at NASA. There are isolated areas where actual federal employees are manning the milling machines or putting assemblies together, but I've seen no moves in the past 15 years (since I was at NASA) that has put more federal workers (actual NASA employees) in place to build anything. There are, of course, exceptions- but the rule is that NASA employees either administrate or direct teams of primarily contractor employees to do everything. I spent 9 years on the NASA side and 2 on the contractor side.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie