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Comment: Re:Helios flight disaster. (Score 1) 436

by david_bonn (#46493133) Attached to: Malaysian Flight Disappearance 'Deliberate'

I've been suspecting nearly the same thing.

Hypoxia can set in within minutes, and people can become extremely confused under its influence. If the pilots were so confused they thought the plane was malfunctioning for some other reason they might have started resetting things by shutting off circuit breakers and inadvertently shut off the transponder. Hypoxia could also explain the very extreme altitude changes that were reported.

I'm also thinking a fire in the cockpit could have caused nearly the same thing, and if the fire did enough damage that they could no longer control the plane but the autopilot still worked that also would explain most of what we know about the flight. But that seems a little bit or a lot unlikely.

If it is some terrorist or special operations chicanery then it is really an oddball scheme -- more like a Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy novel than something that would happen in the real world, I think.

Comment: visual what? (Score 1) 876

by david_bonn (#46193053) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

My first observation is that even relatively simple programs can't be represented graphically and comprehensibly in two or even three dimensions. Since programs really aren't required to have a physical representation at all, there isn't any reason to expect that would be the case. Anyone who has played around with old-school flowcharts quickly discovers that flowcharts become unwieldy and incomprehensible for all but pretty basic algorithms.

My other observation is more of a question: what do you wish to visually represent? Execution flow? Data flow? Something else? Everything?

Comment: Re:do ave beacons eve n help? (Score 1) 100

by david_bonn (#45242347) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Developer Responsibility When Apps Might Risk Lives?

Avalanche beacons definitely help. And the technology has dramatically improved in the last twenty or thirty years. They are definitely easier to use and much more reliable nowadays.

Having said that, there are some fairly serious limitations on how well they can work. From what I remember of avalanche school, about fifty percent of avalanche victims die of traumatic injuries during the event, so obviously beacons can't help in those situations (my own personal experience in an avalanche included the tail of my ski hitting me in the forehead while still attached to my boot). But for the remaining fifty percent of victims who are likely to suffocate within minutes unless found avalanche beacons are an invaluable tool.

There is, of course, much that can be done to improve them. But that is another story.

Comment: lots of reasons, standards probably first (Score 1) 497

by david_bonn (#45092421) Attached to: Cost of $634 Million — So Far

Having done a few contracts for the feds over the years, I have a pretty good idea why something like this happened.

Probably the biggest one was standards chosen before the project was even conceived and shoehorned into some product it wasn't intended for.

With the NSF, it was using Ada and ISO/OSI instead of C or C++ and TCP/IP. We solved that problem with creative prevarication. Since there was no imaginable way that the functionality was even implementable in ISO/OSI, we got away with it.

With DOI, it was using IIS and Windows rather than Linux and Apache. We told them that would increase development costs by a factor of ten and delivery would take twice as long. A waiver was quickly produced that let us do things our way.

It tells you how awful the federal contracting system is if you have to lie or bully them to let you deliver a working product.

Comment: Re:Errant twaddle (Score 1) 325

by david_bonn (#43200699) Attached to: How Beer Gave Us Civilization

In general, whether your grain of choice is wheat, rice, barley, maize, or quinoa, you'll need to cook it. And you won't necessarily need pottery to cook it either. Lots of native american cultures cooked in baskets, by transferring hot stones to the baskets which were full of liquid. This amazingly didn't burn the basket.

Chances are this was how our distant ancestors cooked their grains. While pottery surfaced in Japan about 9000 years ago, it took quite a while to disperse.

So a similar thing could obviously be done with beer, and the beer could easily be stored in watertight baskets, and wouldn't exactly leave a whole lot of evidence for the archaeologists.

And before you ask about watertight baskets, I have an Eyak basket made of seal gut which is quite watertight. Anyway, you could always seal the basket with animal fat.

Comment: given finite resources... (Score 1) 583

by david_bonn (#38885543) Attached to: When it comes to U.S. colonies on the moon ...

I have to ask, aren't there things (in space) that have a higher return on investment? A ballpark figure for a moon colony would be well north of $200 billion.

It seems that the science return from unmanned space probes has been enormously high, and it doesn't seem clear that the science return from manned space travel has been all that high. I'd also worry that the resources spent on a lunar colony would be taken from other space programs, like the unmanned exploration programs. So we'd be trading a high-return program for a somewhat lower one.

I'd also argue that if we want to build a long-term presence in space, focusing on technologies that will let us have sustainable, affordable space travel would be a wiser way to go -- I'd rather see a moon colony in 2050 or so that was permanent and affordable rather than one in 2020 that was abandoned in 2022.

Comment: Peopleware (Score 1) 1019

by david_bonn (#30414564) Attached to: Music While Programming?

The classic book Peopleware had some excellent disussions about this issue. Like most productivity-related things, there is good news and bad news.

There is an excellent discussion in that book about how productivity of coders is impacted by the number and frequency of distractions. That helps your case.

On the other side, there was another great discussion about listening to music while programming. They referred to a study (at MIT, I think) where two groups were given a series of puzzles to solve. One group while listening to music, the other while not listening to music. Here's the rub: all of the puzzles had a "brute force" solution and a much simpler "aha!" solution. None of the people listening to music found the "aha!" solutions, and about half of the people not listening to music did. Now depending on your situation and the kind of code you are writing, you might want or need those "aha!" solutions and probably ought to skip the music.


+ - Moon Camp plans unveiled

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Unveiling the agency's bold plan for a return to the moon, NASA said it will establish an international base camp on one of the moon's poles, permanently staffing it by 2024, four years after astronauts land there.To get to the moon, NASA will use two vehicles — the Orion exploration vehicle and an attached all-purpose lunar lander that could touch down anywhere and be the beginnings a base camp, said exploration chief Scott Horowitz. He likens the lander to a pickup truck. "You can put whatever you want in the back. You can take it to wherever you want. So you can deliver cargo, crew, do it robotically, do it with humans on board. These are the types of things we're looking for in this system," Horowitz said at a news conference in Houston."
It's funny.  Laugh.

+ - Buzzword: Dual core ... in telecom?

Submitted by
durianwool writes "Looks like 'dual core' is being elevated to becoming a catch all buzz word like 'SOA', 'Web 2.0', 'convergence'. The telecom world seems to have found a new use for the world dual core in this press release from Ericsson ( 0061204-1091276.shtml):

"T-Mobile UK has selected Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) as its sole partner for a dual 2G/3G core network modernization programme. As T-Mobile UK's prime integrator, Ericsson will take full turn-key responsibility for the supply of equipment, deployment, integration and live migration"

I wonder what would 'dual core' be used next for?"

Mathematics deals exclusively with the relations of concepts to each other without consideration of their relation to experience. -- Albert Einstein