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Comment: Re:Shut it down (Score 1) 161

Exceptions that prove the rule. Out of thousands of cultures, the number of premodern societies that attempted any serious, sustained exploration can be counted on one hand. And really, its doubtful that premodern migrations to the Americas were any kind of deliberate exploration effort. It was probably just nomads following the herds.

Look at this way, modern humans have been around for about a quarter of a million years. The first migrations out of Africa were only about 30,000 years ago. If exploration were really some fundamental human constant, it seems odd that we spent 90% of our time in a relatively small portion of one continent.

Actually, proto-humans migrated repeatedly out of Africa. Homo erectus, Homo antecessor, Homo neanderthalensis, and finally two waves of Homo sapiens moved out of Africa and into Eurasia. North America was colonized repeatedly by Homo sapiens, by the Amerindian, Navajo-Dene, and Inuit peoples. Migration probably is in the genes. Lineages that become widespread are harder to wipe out as a result of drought, famine, climate change, etc. so lineages with some innate tendency to disperse probably tend to survive. But it's kind of a moot point. The places they went to already had atmospheres, normal gravity, ambient temperatures, radiation shielding, abundant game and edible plants. Mars has none of that. It was simple enough to move out of Africa that a cave-man could do it, literally. It doesn't follow that because humans could and did repeatedly move from continent to continent that it's a good idea to try to colonize a cold, barren, airless wasteland millions of miles away.

Comment: Re:Shut it down (Score 2) 161

Yes we can create robots that go out there and study very specific things. They are planned well in advance, do only very limited things, and frequently fail because they're not totally autonomous and adapt poorly to the unexpected.... case and point: Rosetta's Philae lander....or any number of probes that have malfunctioned or been lost. If you put a single human out there, they can fix the problem. A person can conduct hundreds of experiments where a machine is limited to a few. A person can analyze and interpret results onsite, even design new experiments. A person can build things, onsite.

It's a bullshit argument. The problem is that a robotic mission is going to cost on the order of 1% of a human mission to do the same thing. If there's a risk of the lander failing, the cheapest and easiest solution is to create two or three separate robotic probes which minimizes the chance of failure. Obviously a 100 billion dollar manned mission will be more capable than a 1 billion dollar robotic mission. But a 100 billion dollar robotic mission would be vastly more capable than a comparably expensive manned mission.

Comment: Re:Shut it down (Score 2) 161

The value of NASA has never been commercial. It is a pure research area. WE are learning how to live and work in space, which is an environment so alien to us that our bodies don't even function properly. That knowledge flows into the private commerce section of our economy and slowly brings benefits that we have yet to imagine.

I keep hearing this argument, in fact I've been hearing it for around 20 years. And during that time, we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars on NASA. So it's about time to ask... where is all this spin-off technology we've been promised for the past 20 years? Most of the major innovations we've seen are either military (GPS, internet) or commercial (cellular networks, smartphones). It's hard to point to a single transformative innovation to come out of NASA recently, and historically the military has done far more to spur technological innovation than NASA. I'm not arguing that building more F-35s is the best way to spur technological innovation, but it's worth taking a hard look at where our research dollars make the biggest difference, and I think it would be hard to show that NASA is the best way to do that.

Comment: Re: Shut it down (Score 1) 161

Meanwhile, the defense budget is only 1/6th of the federal budget and falling. The left got their way: America's military dominance is fading.

The defense budget is 20% of the federal budget, which is around 1/5th. America's defense budget exceeds that of the next 10 largest defense budgets *combined*. The U.S. still has unquestioned air superiority in every conflict it enters, a fleet of aircraft carriers to project that air power, ballistic missile submarines that can rain down nuclear death at a moment's notice, a rapidly growing drone army to silently hunt our enemies from the skies, electronic intelligence and cyberwarfare capabilities to spy on the whole world, and critically, the network of ships, bases, and air transport to rapidly move troops and supplies to conflict points anywhere on the globe and project that military force... America is the only remaining global military power. No one else- not China, not Russia- has that ability to project power beyond their regional sphere of influence. It's not limitless power, as shown by Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Viet Nam, but it still makes the U.S. the only remaining superpower. And if anyone's hurting the U.S. military preparedness, it's not the left, it's the generals who push for expensive toys like the F-35 instead of focusing on problems like counterinsurgency warfare.

Comment: Re:All the Cherry info you'd ever want... (Score 1) 139

by Dogtanian (#48684493) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

Even the IBM Model M keyboard switches had more resistance if memory serves correctly

I can quite believe that; from my (brief) memories of the Model M, the resistance was noticable (and disconcerting in its positioning) for me anyway.

I suspect that if- like you- one learned to type on a mechanical typewriter, the Model M will feel better and more natural. I didn't, and that's possibly why I didn't like it (and- I suspect- most people used to lighter computer keyboards probably won't like it either).

Comment: Re:All the Cherry info you'd ever want... (Score 1) 139

by msobkow (#48684083) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

I learned to type on a manual typewriter, so the black switches are far from hard to press for me. Even the IBM Model M keyboard switches had more resistance if memory serves correctly (how I regret giving mine to a buddy years ago -- he's *still* using it -- and I pulled it from the "junk room" at work in 1989!)

Comment: Re:Programming keyboard (Score 4, Informative) 139

by Dogtanian (#48684049) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

As a software developer, I have to admit I avoid mechanical keyboards like the plague, they require more force to type, they're louder (a really BAD thing when you're blazing out code), they take more time to press and debounce, and they cost ~600% more than a scissor switch keyboard (that has none of those problems if you have a typical 2mm travel vector on your keys, 200% less than most mechanical keyboards).

Speaking as someone who *does* own (and am typing this on) a mechanical keyboard, I'll still say that membrane keyboards get unfairly disparaged, and that some are very nice to type on.

Some (emphasis "some") of the cheapest models are ******* horrible, true, but the one I have at work is actually pretty good even though that itself is a cheap one.

The best membrane keyboards I've used are miles better than the worst mechanical ones. And the scissor/membrane job on my old Compaq Armada laptop had a very pleasant, low-travel feel to them.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of it's what you're used to.

Comment: All the Cherry info you'd ever want... (Score 2) 139

by Dogtanian (#48684025) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

I forget the brand name of my keyboard, but I sprang for a cheap one with Cherry MX Black switches.

The mechanical keyboard I bought almost ten years ago has Cherry MX Black switches apparently. It's certainly lasted, but although I'm still using it to type this message on, I've always felt that the spring resistance was just a *little* too stiff to be truly pleasurable to touch-type on. (Something I've since read elsewhere).

The Cherry MX Red has the same "linear" key action I bought the Black-based keyboard for, but with less resistance, and having used a Red-based keyboard, it's closer to what I had in mind when I bought the Black one (mail order). Mind you, the Red switches apparently weren't around back then anyway.

Cherry MX Reds are supposedly too sensitive for touch-typing, and intended for gaming keyboards, but I (as a non-gamer) am still considering buying one.

Of course, all the above is a matter of personal preference; if possible, you should always try out a mechanical keyboard- or at least one based on the same technology- if the feel of it is important. (And you probably wouldn't be bothering to buy a mechanical one if it wasn't!)

FWIW, while I was researching new keyboards a couple of months back, I came across these, both of which are useful in explaining the different types of Cherry switch:-

An introduction to Cherry MX mechanical switches

Cherry MX overview

Note that these colour codings only apply to official Cherry switches, not unofficial clones derived from their patent-expired design. For example, Razer commissioned a custom "green" switch from another manufacturer, which is apparently similar to the official Cherry MX Blue (rather than the Cherry MX Green).

Comment: Re:There is only one.... Model M (Score 3, Interesting) 139

by Dogtanian (#48683931) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared
Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but Model Ms- and the "clicky" style mechanism aren't the be all and end all of mechanical keyboards, and I'm sure that the endless raving about them is due to the fact that the people who *do* like them seem to be disproportionately vocal about it! As I commented a couple of months back:-

I briefly used what I realise (in retrospect) was a Model M keyboard at a job I had in the late-90s. At the time I found the fact the resistance was half way down and very obviously "click switchy" (i.e. requires relatively high amount of pressure to get through, then suddenly breaks) to be strange and unnatural. I'm no millennial membrane-weaned weenie; I'd been using computers since the 80s, most of which had mechanical keyboards back then, and while some had been mediocre, some I really liked. They all went "tap" at the bottom, unlike this weird and unsatisfactory action. I have to say that Model M did nothing for me, and I'd no desire to return to it.

When I bought a Cherry mechanical keyboard for myself, I intentionally avoided the ones with the Model M style force gradients in favour of the ones that go "tap" at the bottom.

I've said it before here, and I'll say it again- the people who like Model Ms seem to *really* like them, but I'm convinced that the majority of people who didn't grow up using that keyboard or anything like it would- at best- find it an acquired taste, and probably be happier with one of the better membrane jobs (sacrilege!) or a mechanical keyboard with a more regular action.

I also think that membrane keyboards nowadays aren't that bad. Maybe I'm just used to them, but while I've come across some truly horrible examples at the dirt-cheap end, I've also come across some that were quite pleasant to use (and oddly, were also dirt-cheap models). Still not quite as good as the best- in my judgement- mechanical keyboards, but much better than the mechanical keyboards on some 80s home computers.

Anyway, back to the Model M. Yes, it feels "expensive" and "well made" in that it's obviously mechanical, and heavy, but that doesn't make it that great to type on IMHO (any more than I'm going to deny that my membrane keyboard at work is okay, simply because it's cheap). Some people think they're really great, and that's fine, they're entitled to their opinion. However, given that the borderline fetishisation from a disproportionately vocal number of fanboys might give others the impression the Model M was the be all and end all, I'm quite happy in balancing things out by saying I don't think they were all that, to be honest.

Comment: Cherry MX Black for me (Score 1) 139

by msobkow (#48683865) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

I forget the brand name of my keyboard, but I sprang for a cheap one with Cherry MX Black switches. It's been going for over a year now, which means it's already outlasted any membrane keyboards I've bought over the past few years. By around June or July, it will have paid for itself.

Unlike the membrane switches, this thing never misses a keystroke. :D

Comment: Re:Prediction: (Score 4, Insightful) 196

by daveschroeder (#48680051) Attached to: N. Korea Blames US For Internet Outage, Compares Obama to "a Monkey"

First of all, you say, "North Korea didn't hack Sony," as if it is an indisputable, known fact. It is not -- by any stretch of the imagination.

The fact is, it cannot be proven either way in a public forum, or without having independent access to evidence which proves -- from a social, not technical, standpoint -- how the attack originated. Since neither of those are possible, the MOST that can be accurate stated is that no one, in a public context, can definitively demonstrate for certain who hacked Sony.

Blameless in your scenario is the only entity actually responsible, which is that entity that attacked Sony in the first place.

Whether that is the DPRK, someone directed by the DPRK, someone else entirely, or a combination of the above, your larger point appears to be that somehow the US is to blame for a US subsidiary of a Japanese corporation getting hacked -- or perhaps simply for existing.

As a bonus, you could blame Sony for saying its security controls weren't strong enough, while still reserving enough blame for the US as the only "jackass".

Bravo.

Comment: Prediction: (Score 5, Insightful) 196

by daveschroeder (#48679895) Attached to: N. Korea Blames US For Internet Outage, Compares Obama to "a Monkey"

Many of the same slashdotters who accept "experts" who claim NK didn't hack Sony will readily accept as truth that it was "obviously" the US that attacked NK, even though there is even less objective proof of that, and could just as easily be some Anonymous offshoot, or any number of other organizations, or even North Korea itself.

See the logical disconnect, here?

For those now jumping on the "North Korea didn't hack Sony" bandwagon that some security "experts" are leading for their own political or ideological reasons, including using rationales as puzzling and pedestrian as source IP addresses of the attacks being elsewhere, some comments:

Attribution in cyber is hard, and the general public is never going to know the classified intelligence that went into making an attribution determination, and experts -- actual and self-appointed -- will make claims about what they think occurred.

With cyber, you could have nation-states, terrorists organizations, or even activist hacking groups attacking other nation-states, companies, or organizations, for any number of motives, and making it appear, from a social and technical standpoint, that the attack originated from and/or was ordered by another entity entirely.

That's a HUGE problem, but there are ways to mitigate it. A Sony "insider" may indeed -- wittingly or unwittingly -- have been key in pulling off this hack. That doesn't mean that DPRK wasn't involved. I am not making a formal statement one way or the other; just saying that the public won't be privy to the specific attribution rationale.

Also, any offensive cyber action that isn't totally worthless is going to attempt to mask or completely divert attention from its true origins (unless part of the strategic intent is to make it clear who did it), or at a minimum maintain some semblance of deniability.

At some point you have to apply Occam's razor and ask who benefits.

And for those riding the kooky "This is all a big marketing scam by Sony" train:

So, you're saying that Sony leaked thousands of extremely embarrassing and in some cases damaging internal documents and emails that will probably result in the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment being ousted, including private and statutorily-protected personal health information of employees, and issued terroristic messages threatening 9/11-style attacks at US movie theaters, committing dozens to hundreds of federal felonies, while derailing any hopes for a mass release and instead having it end up on YouTube for rental, all to promote one of hundreds of second-rate movies?

Yeah...no.

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