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Comment: The back slapping on this mission... (Score 4, Interesting) 197

by mpthompson (#48536795) Attached to: Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts

... just feels kinda weird. This is basically a scaled down repeat of an Apollo test mission done nearly 50 years ago. At least then the Saturn V launch rocket was being tested as well.

The more exciting mission comes later month with SpaceX attempting a powered soft landing of a first stage on a mission delivering cargo to orbit. Small chance of success on the first attempt. But if successful, that will be something never seen before and once thought to be impractical, if not impossible. It will also be a major step in greatly reducing the cost for access to space and something much more liable to impact the lives of everyday people.

Comment: Very intriguing... (Score 2) 113

by mpthompson (#47891927) Attached to: Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

This appears to be a power-efficient process that on the back end produces a bluish liquid which contains a high quantity of hydrogen. When this liquid is combined with a metallic catalyst it then releases the hydrogen at normal atmospheric pressure/temperature without requiring any further electricity.

I wonder if the bluish liquid could serve as a hydrogen storage mechanism that is both easily transportable and transferable between containers such as liquid fuels today? Does production scale to industrial quantities? Is it non-toxic and non-explosive (while kept away from a catalyst)? Lots of questions not touched on in the articles.

However, for hydrogen vehicles, the ability to transfer useful quantities of hydrogen fuel at room-temperature liquid and normal pressure could be a real boon. Let's hope this provides a possible path to practical hydrogen vehicles.

Comment: Re:What are you trying to do? (Score 1) 238

by mpthompson (#47890977) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice On Building a Firewall With VPN Capabilities?

I can second going the Tomato route. I've used this for nearly 10 years now and have been very happy with the results. Heard good things about DD and OpenWRT, but haven't tried them myself.

New hardware capable of running Tomato can be had on Amazon for less than $50 and are very low in power consumption. Tomato is a small enough sandbox that you're less likely to screw up security, but has enough options and add-ons to do whatever you are likely to want to do with it. There is also an active community that can lend help with questions when needed.

Prior to Tomato I tried running my own BSD system as a firewall/VPN, but I never could sleep well not knowing whether I actually had it properly configured with regards to security. I'm fairly knowledgeable in such things, but don't have the time to stay on top of everything. Particularly for a home network where I don't want to spend more than a few hours each year on system maintenance and updates.

Comment: What's with all the talk about censorship? (Score 1) 300

by mpthompson (#47748897) Attached to: Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

Can we stop with the screaming of censorship every time a website run by private individuals decides what is or is not appropriate for their website? YouTube and Twitter run their own networks and are free to implement whatever policies they want regarding what videos or other media is served from their site. Of course, they may suffer in the marketplace based on their policy decisions, but sometimes even the right decision has negative consequences.

Personally, if I ran YouTube or Twitter I would have made the exact same decision. However, even I disagreed with their decision in this instance, I would still defend their right to implement whatever policies they desire. Banning the video on their own service is not censorship, it's their right.

Comment: Re:Where's the guns to their heads? (Score 3, Insightful) 281

by mpthompson (#47243819) Attached to: Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

I believe the issue isn't so much whether one group can counteract another. Rather, it is something happening that the promoters of Bitcoin claim should not happen. It doesn't instill confidence in a crypto currency when what you say is impossible (or extremely improbable) is proven to be false and your only backup is relying on parties to "play fair".

Comment: It's just human nature... (Score 5, Interesting) 281

by mpthompson (#47243759) Attached to: Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

But having a single entity in GHash's position, of holding 51 percent of the mining power, of being in a monopoly position, of being able to launch any of these attacks at will, completely violates the spirit and intent of Bitcoin as a currency.

Given enough of an incentive, has there ever been in history a man-made system, technical, political or otherwise, that hasn't been undermined and exploited by those with the capability and power to do so?

Probably best this happens to Bitcoin sooner rather than later. As fine as Bitcoin is, believing that technology alone can defeat human nature is a fools errand. We are betting off investing in creating more moral men and woman and a society that sustains them than technology that is supposed to be infallible against basic human nature.

Comment: Re:Startups Are for Younger People (Score 1) 274

by mpthompson (#46915981) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

I couldn't disagree with you more. Start-ups are for people of all ages. I've done multiple start-ups in my 20's, 30's and 40's. Some had very successful exits, other's no so much, but that is the way of the industry. I spent my 20's just learning the ropes and not to be taken by a huckster with a big wallet, big ego and a slick sales pitch. By my 30's I had been around the block long enough to have experience under my belt to not just contribute technically, but the maturity to contribute in other ways as well in leadership roles. In my 40's I starting pursing opportunities because they be "fun" and mentally rewarding more than financially rewarding.

Now that I'm getting close to my 50's with a family my priorities in my life have shifted and I'm involved in consulting and contracting to stay in touch with the start-up experience, but be "paid" for my work and not be as mentally invested so as to suffer the consequences when things don't work out so well -- as the great majority of start-ups don't go bust for a variety of reasons.

In my career I've run across a lot more people who failed to contribute because they still had a youthful "I know everything attitude" than because they were washed-up in the 40's. A person in their 40's will likely have enough self-introspection to know whether they are or aren't cut-out for a start-up life, but an 20-something not so much.

Comment: Re:What about the Little Ice Age? (Score 4, Insightful) 552

by mpthompson (#45772781) Attached to: Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change

To further your analogy, what if it is determined the car is indeed traveling downward on a gentle slope. It was traveling 55 mph, but is now going 60 mph. All the passengers in the car produce "scientific" studies that predict the car will keep going faster because of the downward slope.

However, a funny thing happens. Careful observations of the car's speedometer indicate that the speed is not increasing as it was a short time earlier. But, in fact, has paused for some mysterious reason. Preposterous, the passengers, all scream. Our best computers models prove beyond a doubt that when traveling on a downward slope the car must speed up. It's a scientific fact that no one can dispute and we have the "peer reviewed" papers to prove it. Some even go so far as to proclaim the "science is settled". To claim otherwise is to be an anti-science "denialist". They explain, if the car is not increasing it speed it must because the car must have hit a brief level spot or something. That is why the velocity has failed to increase. Unfortunately for the passengers, though, further measurements indicate the slope is actually now steeper than it was previously, but the car is still traveling at the same speed. Even worse, the latest measurements hint that the car may actually be slowing down.

In all their haste to prove their own "scientific" perspective correct and those of the "denialist" wrong, all the passengers failed to observe the driver has lifted her foot off the gas pedal.

Comment: Well, the Chinese did spy on us... (Score 2, Insightful) 283

... so I guess this will teach them a lesson about spying on other countries.

Of course, the irony of "the pot calling the kettle black" doesn't go unnoticed.

I'll file this under, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. -- Mahatma Gandhi"

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