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Comment: Re:As a private citizen (Score 1) 213

by jmichaelg (#47895789) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

We don't have to break the treaty. We can withdraw from the treaty instead. From the treaty

Article XVI
  Any State Party to the Treaty may give notice of its withdrawal from the
Treaty one year after its entry into force by written notification to the Depositary
Governments. Such withdrawal shall take effect one year from the date of receipt of
this notification.

Comment: Re:Not worth it (Score 1) 161

by jmichaelg (#47842063) Attached to: Getting Into College the Old Fashioned Way: With Money

Having a degree from a state school hasn't hurt me as I am close to making upper management wages at a prestigious McCompany.

Had you gone to MIT or Stanford, you would have been surrounded by students who wanted nothing to do with being a wage slave but were looking to start the next fortune 500 company when they graduated. The lessons learned at college depend on the aspirations and talents of the student body.

Comment: laser levelling (Score 4, Informative) 133

by jmichaelg (#47705351) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

The fields I drive by on my way to work put the lie to the author's premise. A week ago, I saw a road-scrapper type device running around a field that had a spinning laser positioned more or less in the center of the field. The laser provided a level reference that the scrapper responded to moment by moment by lifting or lowering the blade. The machines are designed to build a field with a precise gradient so the farmer can minimize the amount of water needed to irrigate the field as well as to uniformly irrigate the crop. The water may be free but lifting it from the aquifer isn't.

Further down the road, there was a device that was building perfect raised beds covered in plastic. Strawberries need to be grown in well drained soil and the raised beds provide that. The plastic is used to keep a fumigant on the bed until it decays instead of leaking into the atmosphere prior to seeding. Once the soil is fumigated, it's planted by an automated planter that leaves the plastic in place to reduce evaporation - again to save water.

The next field over was being harvested by a machine that requires two people to operate it. Ten years ago, there'd be a crew of 30 doing the same task.

The industrial revolution upended farming from what it was centuries ago and that process hasn't stopped since. The net result is fewer people are needed to grow more food at a lower cost. Downside is calories have become so cheap that most of us are overfed.

Comment: Early Education (Score 1) 58

In the early days of the space and aerospace programs it seems a lot of team leaders were engineers who had no college or stopped at a bachelors. Kelly Johnson at the Skunk Works is an example of the later.

When you started out, did you work for any men who didn't have a lot of formal education but were very competent?

Comment: Be skeptical (Score 1) 240

by jmichaelg (#46616535) Attached to: Daylight Saving Time Linked To Heart Attacks

Went looking for the original paper to see how many cases were looked at. Dr. Sandhu doesn't show up in a search for UC at Denver so no luck there. A few news article referenced a Conference which points to http://www.medpagetoday.com/Me... .

That page says that the # of extra attacks is 8. Moreover, Dr. Sandhu is quoted as saying that the total number of heart attacks in the week leading up to and following the clock change is unchanged so if there is an effect at all, it's front-loading the week's expected heart attack frequency.

Comment: Both sides are spending lots of money... (Score 1) 846

by jmichaelg (#46014601) Attached to: Global-Warming Skepticism Hits 6-Year High

Indian Chief paid $55,000 to attend anti-oil rally.

Synopsis: The Tides Foundation paid $55,000 to a Ltd Corporation that has is owned by another corporation that has changed its name twice in the past four years. The Indian chief is a director of the holding corporation. Tides made 25 different payments to anti-oil sands activists in a single year.

There's nothing wrong with paying money to support a cause you believe in but it's damn fishy when the money is flowing through corporations that are held by other corporations which keep changing their names. It indicates an attempt to hide who is actually receiving the money and how much money is flowing to said individuals.

The Saudis and Russians have a vested interest in stopping oil development in North America so it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them funding anti-oil activists.

Comment: Why software patents exist at all (Score 5, Informative) 204

by jmichaelg (#45947537) Attached to: Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case

Back in the day, software was not patentable as it was treated akin to a mathematical formula. The one patent I was aware of was a patent Atari snuck through by designing a circuit that XOR'ed a bit pattern to change the color a TV was displaying to avoid burn in. They patented the circuit and tucked a sentence into the patent that said they also claimed any implementation in software as well but the primary patent was for the circuit. We relied on copyright protection and pretty much ignored patents. Then the Supreme Court made a few rulings that opened the door to the possibility of patenting software.

Following up on the rulings, the Patent Office embarked on a series of "hearings" held around the country ostensibly to see whether it was a good idea to patent software or not. This was sometime in the early 90's. Towards the end of their tour, they finally brought their dog and pony show to San Jose.

Literally, almost *EVERY* developer testified that it was a really bad idea. The one exception that I recall was some idiot with a beauty salon app that would show you what you would look like with various hair styles. The rest of the developers said "No. We don't want this - it's a really, really, bad idea." Several developers made the point that we weren't constrained by a paucity of ideas as much as choosing which ideas to implement well.

The other group that was there in some numbers were attorneys - I recall Borland sent their corporate attorney. To a man, the attorneys all testified in favor of the idea.

Towards the end of the testimony, one of the developers pointed out the fact that the only people who seemed to like the idea were the attorneys. At which point, the Patent Office person (can't remember his name but iirc he headed the department at the time.) grinned and said something to the effect that the attorneys tended to get their way.

And they did. The people whom patents ostensibly protected were ignored in favor of the attorneys.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

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