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Comment: Re:Price of using scientists as political pawns (Score -1, Troll) 109

I wouldn't even bother. No matter how valid a point you make the Kool-Aid Drinkers will never agree with you, and just continue quoting their gospel and insisting it's "fact", not politics. I know: I've been there many times.

Comment: Re:Customer service? (Score 1, Flamebait) 261

That's all good reason for boarding them last - so they don't slow down those who can board quickly.

I promise the plane won't take off without you. What, are you in a hurry to cram yourself into an airline seat instead of enjoying the comfort of the airport lounge for another 10 minutes or so? Entitled much?


Comment: Re:Time delay (Score 1) 92

by RockDoctor (#47525871) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

Then again, if the atmosphere clears up in a year or two, then they either are even more advanced than we are or they destroyed themselves and their planet healed itself.

We've two data points for the cleaning up of atmospheres after a sudden bout of pollution : the ozone hole we created in a few decades is steadily reducing and dispersing since the 1990 ban on producing CFCs ; that looks as if it'll be cleared up in a century or two (large, sulphate-rich volcanic eruptions not occurring, which may put it back by a few years or decades). Whether that was an externally detectable pollution event is more dubious - it was hard enough to detect from here.

The other datum is the decay of the PETM carbon dioide spike of 55 Myr ago. That took between 100,000 and 150,000 years to return to something resembling an equilibrium CO2 content in the atmosphere and reduce temperatures to something approaching their pre-PETM levels.

Combining the two, expect it to take 10s of thousands of years for a major pollution spike to "heal". If you look at it from the other end of the telescope, that's around 10 overturnings of the oceans (our largest and most massive environmental component).

Comment: Re:idiotic (Score 1) 92

by RockDoctor (#47525751) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

We can almost create artificial gravity by finding a way to generate Higgs Bosons and attach them to matter.

Do you have a vaguely credible citation for that - an Arxiv paper, or a professor of physics describing a roadmap. I've never heard even a hint of anyone planning to do that. (Besides, for a long, long time, it'll be much easier to mimic gravity with centripetal acceleration of the floor.)

and we're almost done with fusion.

Well, give or take a decade or three. It does appear to be closer now than when I was an optimistic schoolkid hitch-hiking to university.

We already developed algae that can strip CO2 out of the air.

I'll grant you that. It means that when I stop drilling oil wells, I can start drilling wells to dump CO2 into. That's fine by me. (You do realise that we've got gigatonnes of CO2 that need to come out of the atmosphere and back into the ground before we can even start to consider the job done?)

I think you're being highly optimistic on a 20 year timescale. Maybe 20 years once we get the political will together and start to actually address the problem. 50 years being highly optimistic ; well over a century being realistic.

Comment: Re:The problem is... (Score 1) 189

Smallpox is not a MAD weapon like nuclear weapons, that analogy does not work.

Someone launches smallpox at you, what are you going to do, launch some kind of herpes at them?

No, that's not the point. Having a live virus for developing vaccines and antivirals are where the usefulness is.

It is very much like the anti-missile component of MAD, which neither side wanted the other to have.

Comment: Re:Death bell tolling for thee.... (Score 1) 308

by PCM2 (#47524277) Attached to: Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

Sure. Here's a transcript of the earnings call. (You may need to register to read it.)

Nadella does say, early on in his prepared comments, that, "We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes."

Later during the Q&A session, however, he was asked about how this "one version for all devices" would change the number of Windows SKUs that are available, and he said this:

Yes. My statement Heather was more to do with just even the engineering approach. The reality is that we actually did not have one Windows; we had multiple Windows operating systems inside of Microsoft. We had one for phone, one for tablets and PCs, one for Xbox, one for even embedded. So we had many, many of these efforts. So now we have one team with the layered architecture that enables us to in fact one for developers bring that collective opportunity with one store, one commerce system, one discoverability mechanism. It also allows us to scale the UI across all screen sizes; it allows us to create this notion of universal Windows apps and being coherent there.

So that’s what more I was referencing and our SKU strategy will remain by segment, we will have multiple SKUs for enterprises, we will have for OEM, we will have for end-users. And so we will – be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along, but this my statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past.

Lots of hedging in there. You don't need a single, converged OS to give developers "one store, one commerce system, one discoverability system." Those are all ancillary functions. A "team with the layered architecture" doesn't sound like every version of Windows is going to share the same layers. And clearly nothing about Windows is going to be simplified from the customer's perspective; there will still be six or eight SKUs, with each offering different benefits.

Rather, I take Nadella's comments to mean he's streamlining the OS engineering group so that the people working on each Windows platform work in tandem with the others and they all have similar goals, milestones, etc (good).

I also take it to mean that Microsoft will offer developers who are building so-called Modern apps a common set of APIs that will be available on the various form factors, so they eventually should only have to write their apps once and they will run on every kind of device. That sounds OK, but it's only going to be true for Windows Store apps -- and to achieve that, you don't need every device to be running an identical OS.

In other words, no Holy Grail here, but Microsoft is streamlining and rationalizing its OS engineering efforts, which makes good sense at this juncture.

Comment: Re:idiotic (Score 1) 92

by RockDoctor (#47524171) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

What kind of moron came up with that? Let's see, life was here for like 500 million years, for about 150 we've been ruining the atmosphere, and 100 years from now we'll have solved it.

OK. And now let's look at the real figures :

There has been life on the planet for approximately 3500 million years (definite fossils to 3.2 billion, more disputed going back to 3800 million).

The first major pollution event - the production of oxygen - started around 2600 million years ago, with oxygen becoming ubiquitous (if at 1/100th of current levels) by about 2300 million.

Multicellular life first left fossils (the Ediacara fauna) about 600 million years ago (what you think was the origin of life?).

Multicellular life came onto land about 420 million years ago.

For about 150 years we've been polluting the atmosphere significantly (NB : there is detectable pollution in the Greenland ice cores dating back to Roman times. If you consider lead dust from Britain under the Romans "significant".), and we're continuing to do it at an accelerating rate. Going on the previous occasion when this happened, it'll take around 100,000 to 150,000 years for the atmospheric perturbation to self-correct. At that scale, it doesn't really matter if we die this year, next year or 1000 years from now.

and 100 years from now we'll have solved it.

Can you cite a source for that? I've never heard that sort of claim, even from pot-smoking AGW-denying oilfield trash. (Actually, working in the oil field, I haven't met AGW-denying trash. We know fine and well what we're doing.)

Comment: Re:Correction (Score 1) 94

by RockDoctor (#47520987) Attached to: UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life
Why are you expecting them to stop? That's a huge waste of fuel.

Like I said, put them into a ship with big enough storage to drop off a colony-forming ship every 10 generations - let them do the deceleration, mine your consumables, and re-supply the mothership. If that's happening every 10-20 generations, then you've got a release valve for your society (something that we don't have at the moment, but designing a society with release valves is one of the influences you can have across the millennia). And if (again, racing certainty) some of your would-be colonists get freaked by leaving the mothership behind, then the colonists have a release valve as they're establishing their society since there will be a re-supply mission accelerating back to the mothership next generation.

you've confirmed there's a hospitable panet (gravitational lens telescopes are your friend)

Short of manipulating a large (planetary mass?) lump of neutronium (which I'm not sure can exist), we don't have even a vague direction for such an object. And if we had to do that, we might well find it easier to go there (or send robots and relay stations) than to build such a telescope.

would you be happy if our lives today were bound to the vision of some ancient Roman emperor?

Some people seem to want to bind themselves to the pronouncements of some Roman carpenter, of whose existence we're by no means confident and whose diktats are based another half-millennium further back when (putative) his ancestors were slaves. At least we're pretty confident in the existence of the Roman emperors, even if some of them were as mad as a box of badgers. (I'm actually planning a walk along Hadrian's Wall - after that, I can securely attest to the existence of a Wall, with at least legion-marks referring to Hadrian ; after which, disbelieving in his existence would be perverse. In a generation ship, the existence of the ship, and it's constructors, would be hard to ignore.)

Like I said, that's why you build your society with (ir-)regular break points. Whether you have the ship travelling on a loop, or just driving straight(-ish) on for the horizon ... well that might be something that you re-assess every millennium or so. It would be another break point. Maybe you build into the design so that every 10 dropped-off colony ships, you can fission your mother ship into two and then continue to grow each on their chosen routes. Each generation would still need to be making choices, but equally each generation would be subject to constraints (as we are) which were imposed on us by ancestors only a (relatively) small number of generations ago. If you're an American, then almost certainly one of your ancestors chose to travel half-way around the world less than ten generations ago ; if you're not an American, then almost certainly several of your ancestors chose to NOT travel half-way around the world less than ten generations ago. How do you feel about those choices, whichever way they went?

Assuming 20-30 years per generation

Big assumption. The pressure to use medical developments and technologies to extend life is strong. On the assumption that the mammal body plan can't be pushed beyond 200 years, why would you go around doing momentous things like breeding before your 80s? Remember that for most of human history it was reasonably common to co-exist with your grandchildren, but seeing great-grandchildren was pretty rare. I'm trying to think of a mammal (or bird ; I don't know about reptiles or elasmobranchs at all, to cover the disparity of the vertebrates) that does routinely see it's great-grand offspring. If you wanted to change the generation ship people into a new species, that might be one of the most effective ways to do it - change life spans.

Comment: Re:Death bell tolling for thee.... (Score 2) 308

by PCM2 (#47520513) Attached to: Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

They're not talking about the interface. They're talking about the underlying nuts-and-bolts stuff.

No, they're really more talking about the interface. The underlying nuts and bolts are already pretty much the same, in that Windows, Windows RT, and Windows Phone all share the same NT kernel. But above that there is plenty that's different from platform to platform. What Nadella wants to do is unify the development model and allow developers to create apps with UIs that react and readjust depending on the screen size of the device they're running on, much like how modern websites can support multiple screen sizes. All this talk about "one version of Windows" stems from a single, oversimplified comment Nadella made on the earnings call. When asked about it later, he completely backtracked and said there would not be any such thing.

Comment: Re:OK MS bashers. (Score 1) 308

by PCM2 (#47520497) Attached to: Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

I would hope this unification means that there will be suffice emulation built into windows that it will pick the kernel/libs/drivers required by the CPU arch, and userland apps can run in emulation (even if slowly) if they are compiled for the wrong proc. This would be a unified windows, that allows x86 and 64 bit apps run on ARM and vice versa (although the other direction is likely not as useful).

Unfortunately for you, the actual article says the exact opposite of the summary (so what else is new on /.?): Other than the kernel and the app development model, there will be no unified version of Windows. There will always be different flavors of Windows for different kinds of devices and even multiple SKUs of the same version of Windows for different markets (consumer, SMB, enterprise, etc.)

As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error. -- Weisert