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Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909771) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

Solar sail can achieve 25% light speed, according to NASA, and Alpha Centauri is 4 light years away.

You want a manned mission (with robots doing all the actual work) to determine if the conventional wisdom that a manned mission to the outer planets is physically impossible is correct. Even if the pilot dies, you learn the furthest a manned mission can reach. There's seven billion people, you can afford to expend one or two. Ideally, they'd be volunteers and there'll be no shortage of them, but if you're concerned about valuable life, send members of the Tea Party.

Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909107) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

No big surprise. The military are willing to invest what it takes for what they need. Military entities are, by necessity, pitifully naive when it comes to anything useful, but once they specify what they think they want, they don't shirk at the cost, they get the job done. A pointless job, perhaps, but nonetheless a completed job.

The corporate sector wants money. Things don't ever have to get done, the interest on monies paid is good enough and there hasn't been meaningful competition in living memory. Because one size never fits all, it's not clear competition is even what you want. Economic theory says it isn't.

The only other sector, as I have said many times before, that is remotely in the space race is the hobbyist/open source community. In other words, the background behind virtually all the X-Prize contestants, the background behind the modern waverider era, the background that the next generation of space enthusiasts will come from (Kerbel Space Program and Elite: Dangerous will have a similar effect on the next generation of scientists and engineers as Star Trek the old series and Doctor Who did in the 1960s, except this time it's hands-on).

I never thought the private sector would do bugger all, it's not in their blood. They're incapable of innovation on this kind of scale. It's not clear they're capable of innovation at all, all the major progress is bought or stolen from researchers and inventors.

No, with civilian government essentially walking away, there's only two players in the field and whilst the hobbyists might be able to crowdsource a launch technology, it'll be a long time before they get to space themselves. The military won't get there at all, nobody to fight, so the hobbyists will still be first with manned space missions, but it's going to take 40-50 years at best.

We have the technology today to get a manned mission to Alpha Centauri and back. It would take 15-20 years for the journey and the probability of survival is poor, but we could do it. By my calculations, it would take 12 years to build the components and assemble them in space. Only a little longer than it took for America to get the means to go to the moon and back. We could actually have hand-held camera photos taken in another solar system and chunks of rocky debris from the asteroid belt there back on Earth before Mars One launches its first rocket AND before crowdfunded space missions break the atmosphere.

All it takes is putting personal egos and right wing politics on the shelf, locking the cupboard and then lowering it into an abandoned mineshaft, which should then be sealed with concrete.

Comment: Yet Another X-Bone (Score 4, Informative) 155

by jd (#48793009) Attached to: 'Silk Road Reloaded' Launches On a Network More Secret Than Tor

People have been designing virtual networks for decades. I2P is well advertised on Freenet, itself a well-known secure network.

Nothing new here. The security and reliability of none of this software is proven, it may not even be provable due to the distributed nature. That reduces the problem to one of how many people you're ok with knowing what you're doing.

Comment: Re: any repercussions? (Score 1) 165

by jd (#48768569) Attached to: Porn Companies Are Going After GitHub

I honestly doubt any severe repercussions will occur, the DMCA is too weasel worded. Defamation is another matter. Accusing a company like Atlassian of hosting pirated porn is a serious commercial matter. (Slandering open source developers is another matter, freedom of speech and all that, America hasn't really grasped the concept of reasonableness and balance.)

Accusations that are clearly defamatory against a commercial entity can harm political donations, jobs in battleground states, and inflict restraint of trade, on the long run-up to a major and likely to be bitter election... That is clearly not going to fly with elected judges and elected political representatives.

The question is whether legitimate businesses involved in legitimate trade will simply ignore the action or file for defamation. Winning or losing doesn't matter, most of the porn companies are probably small enough that bad publicity and legal fees will cripple them. Obviously winning (even if by default) would be better, it would create case law on the issue.

The problem with DMCA is that we've been here before many times. And there have been DMCA cases the industry has lost. Yet nothing has changed, no precedents have been set, no behaviour on the part of industry or takedown farms has been modified. You'll have to do something new.

Comment: Bah, humbug! (Score 0) 250

by jd (#48693343) Attached to: How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry

The Kindle does not support LaTeX3+Lua. I refuse to accept that books, real books, can be circulated as a cut-down HTML5 file. Doubly so after reading a large number. Formatting errors, image errors, broken linkage, broken tables, random start page, broken tables of contents, screwball fontage - these convince me that HTML-only writers should not be allowed near a computer until launched by canon from the top of the Matahorn.

Comment: If... (Score 1) 103

by jd (#48546713) Attached to: Neglecting the Lessons of Cypherpunk History

You are vulnerable to Social Engineering (and almost everyone is), no security of any kind will ever work. Become a Scottish crofter, it's your only hope of a life.

You are a private individual, see all XKCD coverage. Same remedy.

You are Sony, abandon hope now. You wouldn't even make it as a crofter.

You are anyone else, encryption is not enough. You want segmentation, active NIDS, proxies and firewalls at the gateways, HIDS on the machines, role-based access controls, host-to-host IPSec, security labels on packets, total removal of all vulnerable protocols, disk encryption, strong authentication and Neuromancer's Black Ice. A platoon of extreme freediving Ninja with enhanced magnetic sensors in their eyeballs would help, too.

Comment: Re: Diversity is good, especially in SciFi (Score 1) 368

by jd (#48545413) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

Science fiction isn't fiction that has elements that aren't science but might appeal to geeks who like science.

Science fiction isn't science fantasy.

Science fiction isn't pure fantasy with stuff science geeks like.

Science fiction isn't biologically improbable females fulfilling spotty teen fantasies.

Science fiction is science that is fictional. Very different animal and naturally restrictive.

That's life. Or will be.

Comment: Re: you're doing it wrong (Score 0) 368

by jd (#48545395) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

Absolutely wrong on all accounts.

People are the least important part of a story, they exist solely to represent something. What they represent is almost never another person. In fact, it is never another person.

Science fiction is about the universe, about meaning, about the nature of reality. There are perfectly good science fiction stories that don't include people, or indeed any living thing. And that is fine.

Stories that are people-centric are no more science fiction than vampire stories are history, or Microsoft manuals are about learning.

This isn't up for discussion, it is the way the ontology is. Don't like it? Fine, don't call your crap science fiction. It's very simple.

Comment: Re:TIE-Fighters flying in Atmosphere?!?!?!?! (Score 1) 390

by jd (#48483535) Attached to: First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

I think it was the second of the unofficial Han Solo novels during the time of the Original Trilogy that first had TIE Fighters in the atmosphere. So you're absolutely right that they're impossible, but it's "legitimate" extended canon. (Which is why I don't consider anything after the first movie "canon" at all.)

Comment: Re:CGI (Score 2) 390

by jd (#48483529) Attached to: First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

Plausible. Also, since it's an amateur rig, the force field may well extend well beyond the blade and not just envelop it. If that's the case, the cross guard's projectors cannot be sliced off as the force field would be protecting them as well.

Since they filmed some of the movie in Puzzle Wood and since I'm damn sure I recognize the trail, I'm going to say that's the likely location for this scene. If so, expect some seriously gnarled and twisted trees in the background. Those won't be CGI, that's really what the place looks like.

Comment: Re:Lightsaber crossguard wtf (Score 1) 390

by jd (#48483515) Attached to: First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

A projectile containing a Bose-Einstein Condensate.

The bullet vaporizes on the force field surrounding the plasma interior. However, this isn't instantaneous. During that time, there is a cavity in the force field. The BEC gets through this cavity and impacts the plasma. This causes the BEC to instantaneously heat up to temperatures that permit fusion. Since the nuclei are already overlapping, fusion into a mega atom takes place. The mega atom instantly disintegrates as it's violently unstable, drenching the Jedi in hard radiation.

"It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and I'm wearing Milkbone underware." -- Norm, from _Cheers_