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Comment: Re:Awesome! (Score 1) 40

by Rei (#49519659) Attached to: NASA's Rocket Maker To Begin 3D Printing Flight-Ready Components

The first patent (which had no attempt to commercialize) was in 1979. Most early research, with largely failed attempts to come up with a commercially viable product, were in the mid 1980s. The tech has slowly advanced since then, and nowadays is becoming rather mature.

I don't know why this is seen as a way to diss 3d printing. Some people's hatred of makerbots and their ilk is so great that they can't accept that 3d printing broadly has developed into actually useful production processes in some fields. Rocketry is a great example. It's just silly to have to make (and warehouse) moulds or stamps for parts that you only need a couple dozen of and which you may revise after just a couple launches. Now that 3d printing technologies have advanced enough to produce high quality metal parts, it's properly taking of. It even pairs nicely with CNC, there's now hybrid 3d printing / CNC machines out there. CNC gets you the coarse, primary shape and 3d printing adds in the intricate and/or jutting out components.

3d printing is a very useful technology for low volume or rapidly evolving part runs. No need to play it down just because Makerbots exist.

Comment: Re:Here's a better idea (Score 1) 667

by Rei (#49513227) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California

That's actually the point. Warm temperatures and near constant sunlight = high productivity - if you import water. Ag in California takes up 80% of the water, but ag + mining together is only 2% of the economy. It's fine when water is abundant, but when it's in short supply, ag has to give.

Comment: Re:Practical use? (Score 2) 156

by Rei (#49507405) Attached to: Mandelbrot Zooms Now Surpass the Scale of the Observable Universe

I don't think the Mandelbrot Set itself persay is all that useful, but its 3d relatives like Mandelbox, Mandelbulb, etc sure generates some amazing landscapes... I could totally picture that used in games or movies. It's amazing the diversity it can do with some parameter changes - steampunk machinery and evolving spacescapes, reactors / futuristic computers, art deco, extradimensional beings, alien cities, floating viny landscapes, transforming robotics, things hard to describe, etc.

I'd love to have a house / secret supervillain lair that looks like this one ;)

Comment: Re:Why it is hard to recruit... (Score 2, Interesting) 67

by Rei (#49503837) Attached to: US Military To Recruit Civilian Cybersecurity Experts

The majority of major, targeted hacks (rather than just sweeping the net for vulnerabilities) - aka, the kind of stuff that the US military cares about - involves sending emails or making phone calls and introducing yourself as Bob from IT, and sorry to bother you but there's a problem that we need to discuss with you, but first a couple questions...

They don't need script kiddies, they need social engineers. Question number one in the job interview should be "Is your native language Russian, Chinese, Farsi, Korean or Arabic?" And even as far as the more traditional "hacking" goes, rather than script kiddies they're going to need people who are going to custom analyze a given system and assess it's individual vulnerabilities, people with real in-depth understanding. One would presume that in most cases that the sort of targets that the US military wants to hack are going to keep themselves pretty well patched to common vulnerabilities.

AIs doing hacking? What are you talking about? This is the real world, not Ghost In The Shell.

Comment: Re:privacy? (Score 5, Insightful) 271

by Rei (#49501647) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Features Would You Like In a Search Engine?

I just want the search engine to stop changing what I'm searching for. I don't want to have to quote every word like I have to do with Google to make sure that the word is actually in the page, and by "the word", I mean "the word I type, not a word that Google things may be similar to the one I typed". It's worst when you're searching for foreign words, product names, acronyms, or whatnot and Google tries to treat them as if they're English words and declines them or chooses synonyms.

"Did you mean X?" is fine. Even "Searching for X (see original results here)", if you're very confident that the person made a common spelling error or whatnot. But just going in and swapping out words as if this is expected behavior? Terrible. At least let me disable it if you want to do that...

Beyond all this: I do like how one can do simple commonn operations on Google - math, conversions, etc. The more of these the better IMHO, so long as they have a standardized format - be they tracking numbers, flight lookups, whatever. It's okay in my book to be a bit Wolfram-y.

Keep the interface plain, simple, the sort of thing that'll work on any browser, from a modern Chrome to a simple text-only browser. Only use javascript where it's not essential for the site to work. Here's an example of something that would be a good use of javascript: if you need to track clicks, like Google does, do it through javascript rather than by having a link redirect like Google does. I hate how I can't just right click and copy link on Google without getting some massive Google redirect link.

Just my thoughts. :)

Comment: Meh. (Score 3, Interesting) 75

by Rei (#49500531) Attached to: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine

About 10 years ago I worked on simulating a rocket with electric turbopumps for fun. The concept was the exact same as theirs - minimize the number of parts that have to operate in harsh environments to reduce cost, maintenance and risk of failure. You don't even need any penetrations of the propellant lines, the rotor of the electric motor is the compressor itself.

I have no clue whether the design will actually be practical. But it's certainly not new. I'm sure I'm not the first person that this concept occurred to.

Comment: Re:This should be amusing (Score 3, Interesting) 48

by Rei (#49499623) Attached to: Google Ready To Unleash Thousands of Balloons In Project Loon

They talk about how they need to regularly pick up and relaunch balloons when they come down. I don't see why they would need to design the balloons without any sort of reinflation system. The leak rate is tiny, right? So:

1. A little more solar panel area than they already need.
2. Hydrogen filled instead of helium filled.
3. Tiny container of sulfuric acid (hygroscopic - self-dilutes down to a given concentration with atmospheric moisture)
4. Electrolysis cell (sulfuric acid is used as the electrolyte in some types of electrolysis cells).

Problem solved. Sulfuric acid draws moisture from the air, and during the day the solar power electrolyzes it it to produce a minute trickle of hydrogen into the balloon, which replaces the minute trickle that leaks out. Your balloon's lifespan is now as long as your electronics and envelope last.

Comment: Re:A dollar in design... (Score 1) 150

by Rei (#49499137) Attached to: Incorrectly Built SLS Welding Machine To Be Rebuilt

Indeed, the figures Musk cited a couple years ago was that over 80% of the part count of a Falcon 9 is sourced in-house; it's a critical part of their approach to keeping costs down. He wanted to do that with Tesla as well but it proved impossible, only about 20% of their parts (at the time) were produced in-house. Unsurprisingly the biggest problems in their early days came from external suppliers, like the gearbox issue on the Roadster.

Comment: Re:Give the money to Elon Musk (Score 2) 150

by Rei (#49499119) Attached to: Incorrectly Built SLS Welding Machine To Be Rebuilt

ESAB is a Swedish company. What use is it to NASA to dote largess on a Swedish welding firm?

I'm actually rather disappointed with ESAB here. I have one of their MIG welders from the 1960s and it still works; they're a respectable name.

I feel bad for NASA mind you, in that I don't think many of their problems are their own. They get all sorts of legacy systems forced upon them due to political reasons ("You can't do decision X that would be more efficient because 1000 people in my district would lose their jobs"), they never get the funding to engineer new things from scratch based on lessons learned, etc. I do wonder, mind you, whether their heavy reliance on external contractors is something they could reform.

Comment: Re:Sexes ARE different, thankfully (Score 1) 599

1. That's not "a" study, it's from a metastudy. The simple fact of the matter is, while the news makes a big deal of any study that shows a statistically significant difference between genders, most of these statistically significant differences are barely above the level of noise.

2. Where are you getting that quote from the paper? A search for those words doesn't reveal that.

There absolutely are some very demonstrable differences in certain psychological regards - mainly sexual. The most obvious of these, for example, is the fact that women are more likely to be attracted to men and men to women. But that's far from the majority of studied sexual differences that get so much play in the press. " With very few exceptions, variability within each sex and overlap between the sexes is so extensive that the authors conclude it would be inaccurate to use personality types, attitudes, and psychological indicators as a vehicle for sorting men and women. "

3. Girls are far less likely to get involved in chess to begin with in all countries (again, the fact that children mimic sex distribution of behaviors of the previous generation, no matter what they are in the particular society one is in), so one shouldn't be surprised that this is reflectected in the highest levels. Chess, as a competitive sport, has always been predominantly a "men's sport", internationally. But as XKCD notes, this is changing. The Polgár sisters are a great example. Their upbringing was an experiment by their father; to see what would happen if children were raised with extensive training in a specialist intellectual topic from an early age. One ended up an International Master while the other two ended up as Grand Masters, with Judit ending up one of the world's most powerful players of any gender. Their father's choice removed gender self -selection from the picture.

4. Oh please, you're not seriously going to pretend that there weren't tremendous pressures in Victorian society for women to not be involved in STEM-style careers, or that they weren't usually expressly banned from such. Even women who took them up as hobbies (usually well-to-do women) were often strongly advised against it, that it was harmful to a woman's delicate composition to be mentally straining one's self (a risk of the catch-all Victorian women's distorder "hysteria"; the cure for "hysteria" was to refrain from all serious physical and mental activity). This is the culture that ours came from, and it's been a slow incremental process of moving away from it ever since. The fact that you'd call "citation needed" on that is absurd, that's like "A normal human hand has five digits [citation needed]."

5."I'll see your 50% and raise it to 100%" - how does this even make sense? Women are 50% of the population (roughly). Nobody is talking about disinteresting men from pursuing STEM careers. There's already interest there. The goal is to try to also get more interest from women, to work against the carryover cultural connotations of STEM as "men's work".

6. " Are there laws or even customs, that prevent girls from entering a STEM field and excelling in it" - it's like you didn't even read my post.

7. "But what if it is bilogicial — as seems perfectly probable?" - not according to the actual research. And if one person wastes their time trying to become a physicist when they'd have made a better fry cook? Well whoop-di-freaking-doo. The world is still a better place.

Comment: Re:I like it... (Score 4, Interesting) 118

by Rei (#49497293) Attached to: Exploit For Crashing Minecraft Servers Made Public

I once coded for a game, Eternal Lands, where I discovered a major security bug. The game had a feature where if a person said a URL, it would turn into a clickable link. This was opened via a popen call. No input sanitization. Aka, vulnerable to injection. A person who simply speaks a malicious URL and makes it look like something interesting to click (hiding the insertion command in the path) could run it on anyone's computer who clicks to open the link.

Big problem. Simple fix. But try as I might, I couldn't get them to let me fix it. They were fine with me writing a whole new special effects graphics system for them, but one simple input sanitization, noooo, the popen works, let's not mess with it and possibly "introduce a bug"! Eventually it took me writing a sample command on the forum that would make a file in the user's home directory (which anyone who knows anything about unix commands could make far more malicious) by clicking on the URL. Suddenly they let me patch the system immediately (and deleted the forum thread... I don't blame them).

I didn't want to have to resort to that. But I didn't want a potentially dangerous exploit sitting in the system.

I never got approval to fix all of the other potential exploits in their system. Their networking protocol was terrible. I only ever saw the client code, but there was literally zero authentication that the server was who they said they were and that packets weren't malformed. Their entire security model was "let's initiate a TCP connection to a hard-coded IP and unconditionally trust everything that we receive". I can't imagine what their server code is like. But they wouldn't even let me add in trivial bounds checking to make sure that the packets weren't oversized - the most minimal of sanity checking.

The fear of changes breaking stuff often leads developers to neglect security. Changes to improve gameplay or graphics? Of course, our users will love it! Changes to the protocol? Nonono, the protocol is working, why risk breaking it?

The short of it? Don't have too much faith that that MMORPG you're playing isn't hackable in a way that could be nasty to your system.

Comment: Re:Sexes ARE different, thankfully (Score 1) 599

Or, maybe, women and men simply aren't the same?

The anatomy and physiology are demonstrably different.

Obviously what's at hand here is mental differences. Are there demonstrable mental differences? Yes! But there's only one issue with that...

In almost any sentence where people say "Women (verb)..." or "Men (verb)..." and it's about something psychological (as opposed to, say, something involving reproductive organs or a statistical difference in strength / height or the like), 99% of the time it's equally accurate to simply say "People (verb)..." The popular perception of the degree of differences between genders (including the effects of both brain structure and hormones) is often vastly different from the statistical reality. Screw Mars and Venus; men and women are from Earth. Psychologically, we're statistically virtually identical in most measures. And in many cases where there are differences that even manage to meet statistical significance, what differences there are may well be artifacts of culture.

Human children learn through imitating. They adopt role models (such as their parents at an early age) and mimic their behaviors, to the degree that it can even hinder them (one of the sort of psychological tests where chimps perform better than human children is to lay out a puzzle and have an adult solve it in front of the subjects, but insert a bunch of needless time-wasting steps; the human children almost invariably perform all of the time-wasting steps while the chimps catch on quickly that they're pointless and skip them). As a general rule, children most mimic members of their gender, something that socially they're rewarded for. By the very nature of this system, it inherently perpetuates the carryover of any totally non-gender-related but nonetheless gender-segregated activities from the previous generation. If you had a society where eating apples was something almost exclusively done by men, even if you didn't specifically teach the next generation that apples are a "men's fruit", the vast majority of girls wouldn't take up eating apples.

Given this, whether there would be any factual basis or not for women to be better or worse at STEM, the very fact that historically there were fewer women in STEM (a legacy from the old Victorian moral system), this will automatically lead to there being fewer women in STEM in the next generation. Now, one can do nothing and just hope that, after enough generations, the problem will remedy itself. Or, one can decide that having 50% of the human population having a solid interest in the sort of careers most valuable to the improvement of the human condition is a good thing, and maybe we should give a shot at remedying this, even if just on the "offchance" that it's not biological.

You can't take damsel here now.

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