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Comment: Re:I'd like to see a different competition (Score 1) 60

by istartedi (#47713695) Attached to: Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition

Yes that's a good point. The organizers should definitely be the only ones to actually visit the site.

I also just had the idea that to make it easier (cost-wise) on the contestants, they could provide electric power at the site. You could profile different power sources, and have weight and cost penalties based on what the contestants chose.

I think most would chose solar; but you could simulate the power output of an RTG. Most contestants won't have access to plutonium. :) You would also simulate Martian days when sending juice to outlets. Teams would still have to provide a battery.

Oh and yes, the rules would definitely have to state that if you chose to accept power from the organizers you'd have to pay for it, and not bring any other power sources on board.

Comment: Re:I'd like to see a different competition (Score 1) 60

by istartedi (#47713591) Attached to: Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition

A robot that can cut and fit stone would come in handy. I'd definitely want some diamond saws on mine. I'd also look into some sort of furnace. Maybe you could only manufacture something like low-quality glass; but if you could make enough of it then you could seal in an atmosphere.

The resources that you can "bring from Earth" are obviously limited by weight constraints. Maybe you could bring some glue, expanding foam, or other compounds.

You obviously can't bring the entire manufacturing industry of Earth, so some things have to come on board. That's a real challenge that needs to be solved for Mars. We need to figure out what can be made on site, and what must come from Earth. Then you've got the even more interesting challenge of figuring out what industries can be set up locally after that.

I'm reminded of the colonial era here in North America. There was a shortage of nails around the time of the Revolution. A lot of nails had been coming from England.

I suppose once you have enough people on Mars to form an economy, the market would sort it out. Of course then you could have a Martian revolution too. I believe that scenario has been covered in some good classic Sci-fi but I haven't read it. Isn't that a big part of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"?

Comment: I'd like to see a different competition (Score 4, Interesting) 60

by istartedi (#47709549) Attached to: Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition

I'd like to see a different competition. For the contest, I'll need some acres of cheap desert land. Nevada, I'm looking at you. The site should be selected based on similarity to Mars, as much as practical (e.g., sandy soil, rocks, etc.). It could even be in the dry valleys of Antarctica, although that might be a problem because people might see this as exploiting the pristine environment there.

Now here's the contest.

Based on a preliminary judgement process, participants each get temporary use of an acre. They are allowed to visit it exactly ONCE for an hour, and leave behind... a robot.

The robot's task is prepare the surface as much as possible for human habitation. There will be a mandatory delay in communicating with the robot, to simulate the actual delay communicating with Mars. To prevent cheating, all communications will be routed through the contest organizer's central server.

The winners will be judged based on how close they came to preparing something that could be quickly converted into a habitation by arriving people.

A few extra details need to be worked out, such as weight and size limits on the robot. Otherwise somebody might park an old 747 there and claim victory. It also needs to be something that could survive launch and entry. Contest organizers might subject each robot to predetermined G-force and temperature excursions at the start.

Maybe the contest should be allowed to run for a year or so. I think it'd be interesting.

Even without the contest, it would be interesting. It's a bit of an expensive hobby and perhaps more practical as a game; but there's nothing like the real thing. It could lead to actual techniques for surface prep.

Comment: Not surprising (Score 0) 178

by istartedi (#47697731) Attached to: Microsoft's Windows 8 App Store Is Full of Scamware

As a long time Windows user, I didn't want a crApp Store. At the outset of this whole Win8 fiasco I said, "If I wanted an iPad, I'd already have one". So. I got a lot of down mods for that, IIRC. I think events since then have confirmed my PoV. If the customers don't want/don't care, then morale at MS has to be pretty low. Maybe they're just happy that anybody, Anybody, ANYBODY will show up at their party. That's not a recipe for a good relationship. Ugly person at the party, reeking of desperation... get's taken advantage of. Utterly and completely unsurprising. They shouldn't try to be cool. They should just go home and play on their computers. If they do, the coolness will come to them. Remember when it wasn't cool to be a geek? Where were we? Not at the party. At home. With the computer. Get it, MS? Go back to the drawing board, not the tablet.

Comment: Just tag the entire Internet (Score 1) 131

by istartedi (#47692925) Attached to: Facebook Tests "Satire" Tag To Avoid Confusion On News Feed

Won't this just lead to the tagging of the entire Internet? After all, who really wants to stand behind what they say? The number of potential misinterpretations is virtually unbounded. As I've previously mentioned on Slashdot, just the few lines I've typed here have the potential to bring out some far-out inference. There's no way I can predict what it'll be.

So. Just tag the entire Internet as satire, not really true, nothing to get upset about, etc.

I'm thinking that we could just hand out Mr. Yuck stickers with every Internet-capable device that's sold.

Comment: Re:Arms merchants are the real problem (Score 1) 264

No, the lawmakers and law executives in the pockets of arms merchants and other big corporations that profit from war and war mongering are the problem

Yeah, lawyers. There out to be a umm... there ought to be some kind of text that says something about lawyers, and we could have ummm.... some kind of enforcement that makes it stick. "That Text That We Wrote Enforcement" we'd call it. Hey, I think that needs some more work too. Like I say, lemme get back to you.

Comment: Re:Just red tape? (Score 1) 140

by istartedi (#47687595) Attached to: Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

The problem with looking at people with asthma who die from coal emissions is that you're not looking at people who die due to energy being too expensive. When energy is too expensive, people might stay in the cold house with stiff joints not getting enough exercise. They might forego medication or food to keep the heater going. How many lives does coal save because of the cheaper energy?

I'm not entirely disagreeing with you... it's just that when you start down the path of indirect analysis, you have to do ALL the indirect analysis. The "direct" deaths are easily and indisputably measured. The "indirect" deaths require pulling all kinds of other statistics, and if you don't have a very good imagination, or if you have some kind of bias, then you might not pull in all the stats and do it properly.

Comment: Re:Too much surplus (Score -1, Troll) 264

unlike the military you don't have some Senator from a state with a lot of green bean farms and canning plants telling you that you must purchase pallets of green beans regardless of whether you want or need them.

No. We just have the government telling us we have to buy poorly-run insurance. If you're a guy you've got society telling you that you have to buy crystalline carbon at outrageously inflated prices for your fiance. The woman has to buy all kinds of "beauty" stuff to compete with the other women, despite the fact that guys have been telling them for years that they don't like all that goop on a face. They even did a study on that one that confirms it, but I doubt it'll change anything.

I think if you took "shit people don't really want to buy or have been brainwashed into buying" as a percentage of GDP, it'd be pretty big.

Comment: Klan rallies down Main St. (Score 1) 450

by istartedi (#47679543) Attached to: Web Trolls Winning As Incivility Increases

Klan rallies down Main St. are part of the price we pay for free speech. So are rude comments, trolls, etc. Just like in real life, you send the cops in to make sure it doesn't get out of control. This story probably has hundreds of useless comments. They've been modded down. That would be like the cops arresting a KKK guy or a counter-demonstrator who were about to assault somebody.

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.