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Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 1) 234

by jcr (#49374655) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

I'm trying to come up with a good argument that taxing production is more easily made progressive than taxing consumption, but now I'm not sure that's right.

That's because it isn't right. If someone's spending a million bucks a year, they get taxed on a million bucks a year. If they're earning a million bucks a year and living like a monk, then the funds they've earned aren't out there competing with yours for goods and services. A miser is an ideal neighbor.

-jcr

Comment: Re:Wrong Focus (Score 4, Informative) 118

by jcr (#49365325) Attached to: SpaceX's New Combustion Technologies

As it happens, back in the '80s I worked at a company (Commonwealth Scientific) that built ion-beam guns based on the Kaufman duoplasmatron, which was the basis of the mercury-vapor thrusters that NASA had developed in the 1960s. The company was trying to make the aperture of the guns as wide as possible, and the difficulties included neutralizing the ion beam on the way out, keeping the plasma inside the gun stable, and keeping the beam density even. Basically, the bigger the gun, the harder it was to make it run steadily. When I was there, they had 8" apertures and were working on scaling them up to 12" apertures.

-jcr

Comment: Re:Encrypt client side (Score 1) 122

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49355707) Attached to: Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans
I'm sure that they've given considerable thought to subtly discouraging very heavy use, and looked at how different users actually tend to use online storage space, along with how much opportunity for additional profit there might be(eg. a 'photo storage' user might be a good candidate for being sold prints or something, while a 'generic files' user might not); and I imagine that lack of block level control helps. It would be interesting to know what the number-crunching looked like to arrive at those price points; though I'm sure that those data are not going to be public anytime soon.

However, I suspect that it's also there, at least in part, because this service is a relatively thin skin of consumer-friendly abstraction layer on top of S3, which is also object based. Amazon does have a block storage offering; but they only seem particularly interested in people using block storage 'devices' as disks on EC2 instances, rather than on farming them out over the web.

There is nothing stopping you from configuring the OS on an EC2 instance to function as a file server and getting remote access to block storage that way; but it doesn't seem to be the encouraged use case.

I don't know nearly enough about large-scale storage to say why they prefer object based storage over block based storage; but my understanding is that, even in the paid seats, object based storage is very much what they are offering, for anything externally accessed, with their block-based offering more or less there to allow you to configure the 'disks' in your EC2 'server' with a bit more granularity.

Comment: Trade offs, no? (Score 1) 378

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49355477) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up
While this air crash was undeniably tragic, the focus on the lockability of cockpit doors seems to be ignoring a fairly basic consideration: Who do you trust more: the people you hired to fly the plane or everybody who purchased a ticket to ride it?

That doesn't rule out the possibility of problematic pilots; but it seems very, very, likely indeed that you are better off with a system where you can robustly lock the door, rather than one where blocking access is difficult. There may be room for other improvements, in hiring, training, navigation system safety overrides, etc. but this one just doesn't seem very hard.

Comment: Re:In a departure from tradition... (Score 1) 97

Not that I know of, just my feeble attempt at a joke. It seems like absolutely every other outfit that doesn't own a fab and wants to build an ARM hires TMSC to do it; so when I read about an Asteroid Redirect Mission, I was immediately struck by the image of NASA licensing some IP blocks and having TSMC slap out some wafers.

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