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Comment Can't this be tested on a Cube Sat? (Score 4, Interesting) 473 473

Just thinking about this, how expensive would it be to create a small, simple satellite, with solar cells, some large LiPoly batteries, a transponder and an EM drive that fires up every time there is enough juice in the batteries to run it for a few minutes?

Sticking with the 50nN thrust level for 50W of input and assuming that a 1kg LiPol battery has 260Whr available (, that is approximately 5hr of running time and assuming that the satellite is 5kg, there will be a 10nm/s^2 acceleration.

5 hours is 18,000s so there should be a delta-V imparted on the satellite of 1.8(10^-4)m/s which is tiny (I did say this is a pretty useless drive at the current time right now) but should be measurable or at least noticeable to its relative position to a control satellite that was launched along with it.

Comment Interesting, but still a lot of hype (Score 1) 473 473

This is really amazing and hopefully it is turning into a window into parts of our universe that we've never imagined.

But, reading the articles, I think we're a long way off from understanding what this phenomena is and how to exploit it practically. Going back over the previous articles, the measured force was for 50 uN from 50W of power - this doesn't seem like a very practical application as yet; the claims of round trips to Mars in less than a year are very exaggerated.

On that point, I thought we could go to Mars in 3 months or so now; it just takes a nuclear rocket rather than chemical, plasma or EM drives.

Finally, in the article, rather than expelling "propellant", aren't you expelling "reaction mass"?

Comment Should have left the crypt unopened (Score 1, Interesting) 109 109

I *loved* Bloom County and read it from when I first discovered it in 1982 while I was in university. It was funny, relevant and smart.

It continued to be right up until Mr. Breathed ended the strip. But it ended, I've (and I think most people have) moved on and, now that it's 25 years later, Mr. Breathed should be looking at new avenues for his considerable talents.

Now, having said that, the example panel is pretty vintage but I still think it's time for Mr. Breathed (and us) to move on.

Comment Rather than extra battery how about a power cord? (Score 2) 79 79

I use a laptop a lot for going out to customers and giving demonstrations and the ideal (for me) would be about 6 hours of so of battery life but I think I would be at the high end of the power curve (requiring active WiFi and Bluetooth as well as the processor/display fully up). For the average laptop, the life I get seems to be around 3.5hours. But, I can't see a larger/heavier laptop with more life would be an big advantage for me.

What would be an advantage to me would be reasonable life (and 3.5hours seems to fit that need for a single meeting/session) with the ability to plug into an outlet (there's always an outlet around where I am) and car would be of more use to me than a big honking battery that takes a long time to fully charge. This would make travel simpler (don't have to bring along the brick) as well as search into the depth of the bags in a meeting when the seven minute warning comes up on Windows.

Comment Is this a troll? (Score 1) 484 484

I'm asking because I can't think of a consistent set of features that I would want in "my" best OS. I don't think there's any hope in consensus among /.ers and I don't think that individuals could come up with a single system that encompasses the different uses they put a computer to.

I would want different things from the OS depending on the activity I'm doing on a computer at a given time:
- coding.
- business activities.
- playing games.
- playing media.

Maybe there are features that consistent between all of these activities, but I would think that for the most part different usages would dictate different features and functionality.

Comment At true "FrankenOS" would have... (Score 0) 484 484

I would expect that it would just have a big screen, continually scrolling messages like:
- Rush Limbaugh is the devil incarnate
- The Republicans are all owned by the Koch brothers
- The Bushes practice devil worship
- Donald Trump is ashamed of his Mexican heritage

Or, do you mean "FrankenOS" in terms of "Frankenstein" and not "Al Franken"?

Comment Re:Both the submitter and WSJ got it wrong (Score 3, Funny) 230 230

I would argue that the process we have gone through here is a demonstration true intelligence at work.

The original reporter looked at the article, didn't understand a piece of it and asked an intern specializing in technology what this was about.

The intern couldn't be bothered, saw that it was a computer responding to human input and said it was "Artificial Intelligence".

The submitter read the article and keyed on the comment about this being a machine learning, which they feel is impossible.

Most /.ers (me included) responded to the submision and railed on about the ignorance of the media and the great unwashed.

One poster actually read TFA and pointed out that it has nothing to do with the article, submission and most comments.

I don't know how the hell we expect to create software that follows a process like this.

Comment Re:"No idea how... the brain works" (Score 1) 230 230


I was under the impression that visual operations in the brain were not understood at all. While we have a fairly good mapping of the visual areas of the brain and where things happen, we do not understand how images are stored or how we recognize (compare) images.

Could you educate us (assuming bachelors degree level education)? I'm very curious how this works and how we would implement it in a computer system.

Comment Ironically, it's the media's fault (Score 1) 230 230

If the media can't accurately explain to people and have them accept where AI really is, they only have themselves to blame.

People have watched, kind, funny, evil, enigmatic machines interact with their favourite characters for years and have been told that true AI is just five years away for 30 years now.

They've read about things like putting a worm's brain in a Lego Mindstorms:

So, why wouldn't lay people believe ridiculous statements like "teaching computers to mimic some of the ways a human brain works"?

Yes we need some well recognized, respected computer scientist to stand up and say, "People, not only do we not know how brains work and we don't even know how the *fuck* to go about figuring out how brains work. Computers like HAL, WOPR, M-5, Ziggy, etc. simply are works of fiction".

Unfortunately, I can't think of anybody with the stature to make such a statement.

Comment Re:WindowsME 2.0 (Score 4, Informative) 277 277


Aren't your comments the same sage advice that should be used with each new version of Windows?

I am doing 95% of my development work on Win7 simply because, like you, I believe it's the best version of Windows available for use right now (I always liked the stability of Win2k), but I just did a Google search on "Initial Windows 7 bugs" and there are numerous problems (including incomplete installations, unable to access optical media, theme change problems, etc.) all with the recommendation to wait a year+ until it gets stable.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has the mindset to get it out and then fix the problems (with some bean-counter probably saying that they should only spend money/resources on the problems that users actually care about) instead of doing it right before shipping.

Comment I don't think it means what you think it means (Score 4, Interesting) 277 277

When I read through TFA, it sounds like the offer is being revised and updated every time somebody points out a loophole or potential gotcha to the lawyers.

Reading this, it seems to make more sense to me to:
1. Make Windows 10 Open Source and available to everybody
2. Charge for patch notification/installation. "For $10/year, we'll keep your copy of Windows current and in tip-top shape." For your average user, this would probably be a deal, and, I believe, is equivalent to the license fee Microsoft gets when the PC is first sold. For corporate users, this means they are outsourcing some IT responsibilities. For the technical user, they can maintain their workstations themselves and contribute fixes to the things that are important to them.

Sounds like utopia.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen