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Comment: Re:Delivery drones (Score 1) 94

by Kjella (#49365697) Attached to: How long until our skies are filled with drones?

You'll never get away from the fact that flying is extremely energy intensive and has some nasty failure modes. What happens the day the drone and cargo drops out of the sky and hits a kid on the head? Remember that a falling coconut or icicle is enough to kill, a drone clearly has lethal potential.

We're working so hard on autonomous cars, why not autonomous pedestrians? Something like this making its way to your doorstep, you swipe the card and collect your pizza. Or your package from Amazon or whatever. Or it's the robot mailman dropping mail in designated mailboxes. Of course you need a human manager nearby in case it malfunctions or gets tipped over by kids having fun or whatever, but there's a lot less that can go wrong with <5 mph rolling robot.

Comment: Live data would be more useful (Score 1) 355

by Kjella (#49364927) Attached to: Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen

Most large airliners today have some kind of in-flight cell phone/internet access. Apparently the flight recorder data is about 6 kbps, if you want to include the cockpit voice recorder you may double that. You'd immediately know when it goes dark and send out a search&rescue party, it can't get lost or destroyed in a crash, you would have data right away not days and weeks later and you could often deduce the problem long before you find the boxes.

Comment: Re:Need the ISS (Score 1) 146

by Kjella (#49364361) Attached to: Russia Wants To Work With NASA On a New Space Station

which means we'd better stop dismissing lunar and asteroid mining and such as sci-fi dreams and start figuring out how to make them work

Well then start there, not build the Enterprise and say "When we're ready to build the warp drive..." because even Mars One got more realistic plans for travelling to Mars than anyone got for lunar/asteroid mining.

your workforce for the next step can have a place to stay in orbit rather than commuting to and from the surface all the time.

The effects of radiation and zero-g, not to mention humane working conditions means you'd want to rotate the crew a couple times a year. Nobody will live in space any more than they'd live on a nuclear submarine, unless it's another massively shielded artificial gravity sci-fi dream.

And ultimately it'll end up being recycled into raw materials or basic parts for something else once it's no longer needed

Nobody has such plans for the ISS, if you don't want to spend $3 billion/year to keep it in orbit all the plans I've heard for it is to deorbit it into the Pacific.

No, it's not going to be easy or simple. Colonizing North America wasn't easy or simple either, but we did it.

Who we? The 15th+ century colonists who managed to settle in a land already inhabited by Native Americans in the south to Inuits in the north? You're talking about living in an area where humans have lived since long before we had any kind of civilization or technology. It doesn't even remotely compare to the hostility of space.

Though I'll admit that attitude does seem kind of insane to the couch potatoes. Not really my problem though, my entire career my motto's been "They don't pay me to not get the job done." and the older I get the less reason I see to change it.

But on a wild bet I'd say it's not NASA paying you... if I'm an armchair naysayer, you're an armchair quarterback. And if you worked for Ford, we'd all be travelling around in flying cars by now.

Comment: Re:Economy (Score 1) 187

by Kjella (#49363353) Attached to: Best Buy Kills Off Future Shop

Certain kinds of products are moving online. But I have a feeling the electronic retail stores are making their money on selling refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, TVs and everything else too big to fit an ordinary parcel. A lot of other goods are selling on look and feel where people want to see the actual product in person, I got burned on this before Christmas when I bought something that... I mean all the specs and images were correct, but it was just underwhelming in reality. I certainly don't think they're worse off than specialty stores. The thing is, when people look at specialty stores what they often want is the selection, not necessarily the service. Online stores can often have an even wider selection and really there's no better service than getting what you want. I guess if you really want useful help but I suffer from a general distrust of clerks/salesmen, are they really helping me or their profit margin. Most of the time I'd rather trust my own judgement.

Comment: Re:Its a shame WebM sucks (Score 1) 68

by Kjella (#49363295) Attached to: Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC

I've can't decide if you're a troll or just lack sane opinions, you seem to hate on most things except AMD for which you have a major boner. The average person doesn't use an encoder, ever. The only reason they care about decoding formats is because they download stuff off the Internet want their MKV to work on their gizmo, not just their computer. Both "DivX 3.11 ;-)" and MKV gained popularity that way.

Ordinary users upload videos to YouTube, but they don't have any say in what codec/settings/resolution/bitrate Google chooses to use. The people who edit video want it in their save/export dialog of whatever editing software they use, which Google can do fuck all about and those who transcode for "the scene" are 99% fine using a CLI. They just don't give a shit about legality so if WebM beat H.264 they'd use it and it'd be popular. Absolutely nobody cares about encoder GUIs.

Comment: Re:Broken window fallacy (Score 1) 68

by Kjella (#49363187) Attached to: Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC

[Patent FUD] encourages the use of older higher-bandwidth codecs which encourages provision of higher bandwidth internet connections.

Textbook broken window fallacy.

Isolated speaking, yes. However, you can consider it a cross-subsidy to enable other and presumably more worthy causes for high speed broadband than watching YouTube. Or you can assume that at some point we'll want higher bandwidth anyway for 4K TV so using a less efficient codec now means you're doing most of the roil-out for later when you'll use a more efficient codec. It's hardly unusual that creating less favorable conditions for some individuals may benefit the group as a whole or that different short-term incentives benefit the long term result.

Personally I consider broadband to be the electricity, telephone and running hot water of the 21st century, if you're not online you're more or less detached from contemporary society. Not that we all need to be on gigabit fiber, but dial-up just isn't cutting it anymore. Not like necessity of life because people lived without 100+ years ago and I guess in poorer parts of the world many do but it'd just not the way I'd like to live now.

Comment: Re:Need the ISS (Score 3, Informative) 146

by Kjella (#49363117) Attached to: Russia Wants To Work With NASA On a New Space Station

If the US wants to go to Mars for more than a single short mission, it's going to need the ISS or a replacement. We'll need to be able to build ships in orbit so they aren't limited by the constraints of the first hundred or so miles of the trip (lifting the ship up from the surface to Earth orbit), that's the only way we'll be able to build them large enough for the crew, supplies and equipment needed for a mission of more than a week or two. And if we want this to be a sustained thing, sending more than a couple-three missions, we're going to need to be able to build ships without shipping the majority of their components up from surface.

And the ISS will help how, exactly? The entire ISS came from the Earth's surface. Unless you have a really fancy plan to do asteroid/lunar mining, that's where all future materials will ultimately come from too. The ISS is way, way down in Earth's gravity well so if you could do mining you wouldn't build it there anyway. We can assemble a ship in orbit with or without the ISS, nothing really gets easier. What we're building must have a crew module, so any astronauts working on assembly can just live there. Not that I really see the need, the assemblies could dock like spaceships do and just interlock with bolts.

Star Trek has ruined a generation's sanity when it comes to space stations. The only reason you'd want a space station is so you can have a ship come in for maintenance, repair, upgrades or refueling in orbit so they don't have to go down the gravity well. If all you're doing is sending ships out never to return, it's a total waste of time. Unless you get to the point where you have a shuttle taking things from Earth orbit and Mars orbit and returning for a refuel it doesn't make sense. And it probably doesn't make sense unless you can refuel in Mars orbit. Which means it's not happening in this century.

Space stations are not like gas stations where you just drop by as you pass one by. Unless you're planning to be in Earth orbit, entering Earth orbit to dock with the ISS and deorbiting to get to your destination costs a helluva lot of fuel. And that is the crux of the issue, it almost never makes sense to build a waypoint into your route as opposed to just going to whereever you were planning to go in the first place. If possible you might not even want to assemble in oribt, just launch multiple rockets on the same trajectory and have the bits assemble in zero g before firing off to their final destination.

Comment: Re:After H.265 (Score 1) 68

by Kjella (#49362049) Attached to: Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC

What comes next? H.266? Is anyone working on it? Is it even possible?

Of course it is, the question is if anybody will care. We know there are many better image compression routines than JPEG like JPEG 2000, JPEG-XR and WebP, but it's "good enough" nobody cares and it is now absolutely guaranteed patent free. Same with PNG, there are arguably better compression algorithms but it works. Everywhere but the US the MP3 patent has expired and in 2017 the last patent will expire there too. In 2018 the MPEG2 patents including AAC end, which I think will make AAC the de facto codec for lossy audio.

Video is another ball of fur, there's Theora and VP8/9 and WebM but none have gained any real traction and from what I understand not even MPEG2 is patent free yet while H.264 is 10+ years from becoming patent free. In that kind of marketplace what's another patented codec? I assume the gains for each generation will be less though and with bandwidth and disc capacity increasing we might not care that much anyway. I know it's not the JPEGs slowing down my browsing experience...

Comment: Re:The butting edge (Score 1) 42

by Kjella (#49358457) Attached to: Toshiba Announces 3D Flash With 48 Layers

I got modded down a few times here (unsurprisingly) when I mentioned who needs more than 1 TB besides some niche use. Everyone and their brother went on how creating a NAS from scratch and their database project at work was average Joe stuff and I didn't know what what I was talking about.

I think the Steam hardware survey is a pretty good indication, of the people on steam only 23.5% have >1TB disk space. And they're probably way above average as the average officer worker (no, not you with the MSDN collection and 14 VMs) sure doesn't use that much, nor the kind of people who could use a Chromebook. The "problem" for HDD manufacturers though is that they've killed any interest in anything but $/GB. The most typical big media people have is video and it's accessed linearly and for that hard drives work just fine. Everything else you can put on an SSD. So the incentive to invest is really, really low.

I guess same reason we should be seeing 128 gig ram machines but are not. Simply there is no market but it could easily be done today

Yes, I looked building an 8x8GB rig back in end of 2012 when the RAM market tanked but couldn't really find any reason to. In fact the 4x4GB RAM from 2011 is pretty much the only component I kept when I upgraded last year. By the way, for $2-3k you can now get an X99 mobo, Xeon E5-2603 and 8x16GB DDR4 Reg/ECC RAM but unless it's all about the RAM performance will be very anemic. But I haven't even found the incentive to bump it up to 32GB yet, which I could do any time. It doesn't exactly help that prices have more than doubled the last 2-3 years.

Comment: Re:Compactness and Readability (Score 1) 291

by Kjella (#49357573) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Makes Some Code Particularly Good?

Well in this case I'd say there's Google and Wikipedia, use them. The source code is not the right place to teach someone about what CRC32 is or when, where or why you might want to use it. It's almost as bad as comments that try to teach you the programming language you're in. If you're implementing something that's not in an RFC or standard of some sort, I'd agree with you.

Comment: Re:Pilots must remain in control (Score 1) 370

by Kjella (#49356183) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Or they could start making horribly bad decisions because they have no clue what to do when the computer glitches, like with Air France 447. I don't know the number of ways an airplane could break and probably neither does the pilots, they just drive the thing. I'm pretty sure the engineers at Airbus and Boeing can simulate a whole host of instruments failing or malfunctioning to add redundancy and determine which instruments are actually unreliable, probably far better than a pilot. If we increase engine power and our airspeed doesn't go up, are the engine control failing or the airspeed measurements? There's probably other instruments that can tell you the difference, but I wouldn't have much faith in the pilots figuring it out on the spot. Degraded autopilot mode might still be better than manual mode.

Comment: Re:Don't make it impossible, just make it hard (Score 1) 370

by Kjella (#49355957) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

The whole point of the cabin lock-out is that a terrorist can't threaten/torture the code out of a crew member and gain access to the cockpit. All you need to do is add a second terrorist to press the other switch and they now got access to the cockpit. That would be silly.

The right solution is always having two persons in the cockpit. That way one would have to assault and incapacitate/kill the other which is a pretty big psychological barrier compared to turning a few knobs and waiting for impact. Anyone in mortal danger will also put up a good fight and hopefully alert other crew, who may then try to unlock the door and divide the attacker's attention. Or with luck maybe the attacked person can manage to hit the unlock switch.

It's not a perfect system but you should also realize the current crash was probably not the fastest way to crash the plane. There's almost certainly a "you're malfunctioning, give me manual control" override on the flight controls and after that a pilot could send the plane nose down in a spin which would make it almost impossible for any other crew to reach the cockpit within a matter of seconds, be almost impossible to recover from and with impact in less than a minute from flight altitude. The Germanwings pilot crashed it slow because he had all the time in the world as long as he kept the captain locked out.

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