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Comment Plan for the worst (Score 1) 550 550

If slashdot does fail to get bought, and disappears, as seems all too likely, everybody go on over to pipedot. Heck, even if that doesn't happen, please split your time and spend some over there too. The site engineering is superb. All it needs is 10 or 100 times the user base.

Comment Re:You just described SoylentNews. (Score 1) 550 550

It strikes me that the userbase of SN has a very strong international makeup, with a substantial portion having a pronounced anti-US viewpoint. SD seems largely US or at least pro-US, and also a fair representation of right-of-center viewpoints. On SN you're some kind of weirdo if you don't join the mob raking the US over the coals for everything. Moderation reflects this bias.

But SN has a better ratio of signal to noise, and a higher user IQ, or at least far fewer assholes with an IQ of 50 or under.

Both sites are highly useful. I'd hate for either one to be lost. I'm shaking in fear that (1) nobody will pick up slashdot and it will be abandoned and disappear, or (2) a real piece of shit will pick up slashdot and the result will be unrecognizable and unusable, an orer of magnitude worse than beta ever was.

Far and away the best-engineered site technically? Pipedot, beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is awe-inspiringly well engineered. It just doesn't have a critical mass.

Comment Re:Arch (Score 1) 319 319

I use Arch BECAUSE it is a rolling release. It is utterly preposterous to use it IN SPITE of it being a rolling release, and to wish it wasn't.

Mine NEVER breaks, by the way. And it always has the latest version of everything. None of the bad old days of CentOS, with million year old versions of gcc, vlc, mplayer, ffmpeg, etc. Every release of every non-rolling distro is hopelessly obsolete from the goddam day it comes out.

Comment Re:Good Idea, and a Possible Modification (Score 4, Informative) 120 120

What has surprised me is that there has been no real attempt to move the launch platform up to 80,000 feet or so using gas balloon technology. I would have thought this would be feasible, and could result in a substantial fuel saving.

Picking a launch vehicle more ar less at random, an Atlas V grosses 334,500 kg (737,400 lb). Now, at 80,000 ft (24,400 m) the lift of helium is 0.0375 kg/m^3. Even if the balloon and suspension massed nothing whatsoever, it would have to have a volume of 8.92 million cubic meters - 44.6 Hindenburgs in size. Counter-intuitively but still most impressively, a sphere 257 m (840 ft) in diameter would do it. But then again, such a balloon and suspension sufficient to lift 334,500 kg would be anything but zero mass. Most high altitude balloons lift only a few hundred kg of payload at most, which is why they do not suffer from scale problems like this.

Hydrogen has a tad more lift, but only a few percent, so the ludicrousness of the scale would not be appreciably affected, plus you'd have to be damn sure you wouldn't have to worry about static buildup in the extremely thin plastic film of the balloon.

Using either helium or hydrogen, you'd have to figure out how to inflate such a colossal structure in the open without it being wrecked by the tiniest zephyr.

Now, since the whole idea is to reduce that 334,500 kg gross weight by saving on fuel mass, it wouldn't be quite that bad, but clearly bad enough to be a spectacular non-starter.

I am thinking an air-breathing ramjet winged first stage would have more potential. It strikes me as spectacularly stupid to use rockets, with a gigantic oxidizer flow rate when the atmosphere is full of oxygen, all the way from zero meters; especially during the first few seconds when the fuel and oxidizer is getting sucked out faster than a cheap hooker could dream of, while the vehicle is barely moving at a snail's pace.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.