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Comment Re:Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 2) 100

Our first space mining outpost will be on the moon, and the first major colonies will be built around the moon and Earth in Lagrange orbits. These colonies will primarily be homes for the builders of orbital power stations and spacecraft. Virtually all of the material will come from the moon, launched by electric-powered mass drivers. The material they're built of will simply be a kind of ceramic concrete made from superheated lunar rock dust. The structural mass doubles as radiation shielding. Some colonies will be very large, with the ground area of a whole county inside. At this scale, folks will feel centripetal force almost like real gravity.

It will take a very long time til we run out of moon to build with, but our next step will be to mine the moons of Mars and build orbital colonies there. These colonies will more likely be independent, and not reliant on relationships with Earth. I thought Mercury would make a good next step, being so close to the free energy from the Sun, and only a little bigger than the moon, but it seems that it's gravity is almost as much as Mars. There might be surface operations there which beam power back to Earth and all around the whole system. The asteroids and other stray rocks come after that.

Other than our own big moon, since it's so close to us and it's all we've got for now, the other moons will be used starting with the smallest. The planets will be visited eventually, but not permanently inhabited, until we have some very cheap and safe way to get on and off. Planet-based habitats (surface, airborne, floating) on/at Mars, Venus and the moon will be concerned with science and business, or even leisure, but they simply will never make good places for modern humans to live. If we mutate into winnowy cave-dwelling morlocks, then those might be happy there.

Asteroid mining will involve surrounding a rock with a sort of bag, to keep all of the material from flying away and causing navigational hazards. These bags might be abandoned when the operation is finished. Colonists might seek these out for a rich source of pre-digested material. Some of the bags may intentionally be the right size and shape to line with sintered rock and simultaneously build a colony. It's interesting to think of the colonies and the objects they're built out of as cells or virus membranes. Humanity might be the DNA of a new breed of space virus.

Comment Re:Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 1) 100

I wasn't aware that we'd explored all of space, and that the hunt for alien life was over. I was actually under the impression that we've only been eyeballing nearby rocks and making skywizard-influenced conclusions about how things work and why! And we've only been doing this for less time than the length of the kind of journey we're talking about here.

But, get back to me in a thousand years when we've adopted, and abandoned, hundreds of totally new ways to communicate with each other and observe the heavens. Chances are, aliens aren't using 4G or VHF. It's possible that we just don't know how to detect a Dyson Swarm of colonies over these distances yet.

In closing, I never said there was a source of energy in interstellar space. However, we might find that there is. Otherwise, travelers would bring one with them, or have the power transmitted via tight beam from home. These are all well-known scenarios.

Comment Re:Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 2) 100

A civilization sufficiently advanced enough to move their whole star system would probably not be so attached to genuine planetside living that they'd go to all that trouble. They could simulate normal life perfectly inside orbital colonies. I can't think of any sort of being which would wish to travel personally to the stars, and yet could not leave home soil. Even a mountain-sized plant. or something like it, could live in a custom colony. And the kind of stars that would make a good gigarocket are not all that long-lived. That level of technology would easily be able to move colonies almost anywhere.

As for terraforming; The other planets would be more useful if broken up for raw materials to build orbital colonies. Long after the asteroids and other moons had been used up. The result would be millions of times the surface area of a mere planet, and it would all be built to perfectly comfortable climate. Colonizing Mars, Venus or moons is just a daft idea. Scientific and mining stations, sure. But the walloping majority of mankind will be in orbital colonies. This is infinitely easier than dealing with wrong gravity, pressure, temperatures and chemistry of planets other than Earth. If we ever start a terraforming program, we will not benefit from it. Aliens that rise and explore the galaxy long after we've died off might stumble upon some and use them. But why would we launch such a program?

Comment Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 5, Interesting) 100

It seems likely that mankind, and aliens who got started before us, will eventually establish permanent residences off of their home planets. In the not-so-distant future, the majority of mankind, by percentage, will live off-Earth. However, you should think of the planets as being the bottom of very deep holes, with most of them being too hot, cold, poisonous, exposed to radiation, or too much or too little pressure. The task of getting and leaving these places is risky and expensive, too. Let's just give up on the idea of colonizing Mars for the forseeable future, please! It may not always be so, but the solar system's orbital rocks are easier resources to get, and spitting up material from low-gravity objects with mass drivers. There's no point to terraforming a planet when that will take thousands of years, and no human civillization can keep a project like that, and it's cash flow, going for so long.

In short, we're just not gonna live like pale, stick-figure trolls in underground caverns on the moon or mars. Mining will be done by pulling a big bag over an asteroid and breaking it up from the outside in. Attached refining equipment will separate useful elements and chemicals. This will be mostly-automated. We'll use the tailings as concrete to build our colonies. A gigantic mirror will heat the crushed rock and sinter it into shape, like an enormous 3d printer. There is enough material to build millions of them in OUR OWN solar system, and they'll be essentially self-sustaining once they've been established. Conditions inside will be perfect for human life. It's a far better prospect than making do with low-gravity moons and poisonous planetary atmospheres. Groups of colonies might form "countries" and others will operate independently. The colonies will be built robotically, so the cost will eventually drop to the point where one might be owned by a single family or other social group.

While most colonies will participate in a humanity-wide economic and social network, a life of physical isolation and self-sufficiency will be the norm for most. We'll be in communication, but not often physically visiting other colonies. Some of these may try hurtling themselves onward to the next closest star. They'll stay in touch the whole time, they'll just be permanently out of reach from then on.

The stars DO NOT need to be sun-like, nor do they need Earth-like worlds! They just need to have exploitable resources in easy reach. Red and brown dwarfs are more plentiful than any other type, and they'll last orders of magnitude longer, too. This is probably where the majority of intelligent life will live at some point. Not to miss out on any exploitable resource, those who live around dwarf stars will push onward to practically every type of star within reach. A million years or so, and we'll have colonies throughout the galaxy, and hundreds of alien neighbors to enrich our culture and science.

Comment I used to work at Illuminati Online ISP (Score 1) 111

Met Steve in person, of course. Nice guy, but quiet. And his brother Ken Jackson was the owner/boss/ mgt. of note.

IO had less than 5,000 customers, less than 20 staff, and brought in about a million in revenues per year. Here's a snapshot of the ISP's web v1.0 era website:


Anyone wanna slashdot me? Would be an honor! LOL

Comment Chinese Foscam Clone, $40 including s&h (Score 1) 263

Right on to the submitter, screw cameras that only work with a subscription, or a smartphone, or whatever.


This is a pan/tilt camera with no zoom. I've bought 5 of these, and I'm very happy with them. I'm trying to get the neighborhood interested in buying these, so we can have a central website to run a "virtual neighborhood watch" out of, and also have pooled offsite recordings.

They have an embedded web server, and come with basic multi-cam watching/recording s/w for windows. Smartphone app that seems to be cloud-dependent(haven't used that myself). You can retrieve still images and video streams from URLs. Embed the image in your own web page and control all of the functions by clicking buttons/links to shoot command URLs at it. Camera FTP's images upon motion detection. Connect to it with Ethernet or WIFI. With a custom profile, they work with Zoneminder Linux surveillance s/w. Has remote camera and speaker you can use as a baby monitor, or like an intercom. Pretty good night vision, including infra-LEDs. They're meant for indoors, but I've had 3 of them outside for over a year, under the roof eaves, and they're still going strong with the occasional lens cleaning.

Only two complaints: they're really picky about voltages (5v), so Power Over Ethernet isn't stable. Mainly because the motors slurp a lot more power than the camera/networking. Secondly: they all come configured with THE SAME WIRELESS MAC ADDRESS, so you need to use an included configuration utility to fix that, and the Chinglish utility is a biotch to figure out.

Comment Re:As with all space missions: (Score 1) 200

In learning school, the people of my tribe were taught that molecules ARE matter.

Anyway, I disagree with putting off the cheap, automated construction of simple, straightforward "space concrete" colonies in favor of throwing our entire planet's disposable income, for millions of years, into gussying up a hellhole like Venus or Mars. If we someday invent antigravity or anything else that makes it feasible to commute from Marinaras Deep-Sea City on Earth to Mars each day to work at Yeastburger King, we'll move into the planets then.

Comment Re:As with all space missions: (Score 1) 200

Seriously, I didn't mention rockets at all, did I?

I love the space elevator/beanstalk idea, but we're several human generations away from the first full-scale model. For getting on and off of planets and moons, I think we'll probably have transorbital skyhooks first. A grappling device at the end of a space-anchored cable will periodically swing down and "catch" high-altitude flying launch vehicles, moving at sub-escape speed, to pull them onward into space itself. Another grappler on the other end of the cable serves as the counterweight, which holds another vehicle headed home. The cable is far shorter than a space elevator, and the system is essentially in low orbit, rotating around a shifting point somewhere along the cable.

Typical interplanetary propulsion will be through solar wind sails, ion thrusters and maybe nuclear rockets. It's going to be slow, so there will be swarms of roomy interplanetary "ocean liners" on permanent tour between the Solar System's destinations, following meandering paths which again, cost very little in energy but take their time. These will be like mini-colonies, but with mostly temporary residents. Perhaps colonists will get some practice here for life in their future home.

Earth-moon-Lagrangian and inter-colony transportation may be through a network of space-slingshots much like the skyhook. AKA "rotovators" or space tethers. Freight and passenger modules are caught on one end of an anchored cable, whirled around, and released at just the right time to send them on to their destination, or yet another slingshot. This system relies on precision timing, but is extremely low-cost in terms of energy. Folks could board on Earth at a relatively conventional airport, and ride in the same seats all the way to the colonies or interplanetary 'liners.

If we're to make nuclear rockets routine, we'll first need to have already reached the asteroid belt - and gotten lucky with what resources we found there. If we're to make antimatter rockets routine, we'll need to have already built immense production facilities in Mercury orbit. And there's the problem of thousands of these torchships pointing their ultra-radioactive exhaust here and there.

So; a few hundred more years of chemical rockets, yeah. They'll still be heavy, complex, dangerous and expensive. And why go through all that just to get to and from solid ground when we have materials floating around everywhere, and can build our own habitats to fit our biological needs precisely. We just wait for the robots to finish a new colony, then we toss a can of settlers at it, lol. The issue with gravity isn't whether the plumbing works. It's that our bodies work properly only under 1G. It's far easier and cheaper to build space colonies with the proper characteristics, than it is to rebuild a lethal world or breed a new species tolerant of inhuman environments.

Oh, and if you want to cool Venus down with a solar shade, you'll first need a society stable enough to maintain a complicated, expensive project for many millions of years. Venus doesn't shed much heat, and it isn't absorbing much any more, either. The clouds are very reflective. Once Venus is stripped and chilled, you'll still just have a nice, cool sterile rock. Venus won't be of much use until we can disassemble and reassemble matter itself.

Comment Re:Can't wait to hear what happened (Score 1) 133

My symptoms WERE DNS. My home servers were still getting (reduced) web and mail connections, and I could reach web pages by IP address. I swiched my DNS servers around multiple times and found everyone's DNS servers just timed out. That's highly selective. I think what got screwed up was an attempt to transparently filter or redirect DNS traffic.

Comment I was affected (Score 1) 133

I can't believe how much chat there is about this outage, and so little talk about what diagnostics showed the problem was. It was a DNS issue, NOT a general routing issue.

It hit us here in Austin TX. It looked like a DNS outage... but I was using Google DNS. Routing was NOT down... I could still access a selection of web servers by direct IP address, and ping and traceroute. Rebooted my modem and router repeatedly. Modem acquired a link quickly, and status page showed it had a valid configuration. Modem's signal strength dropped from the usual minus-8-ish to minus-6-ish dBmV. Router acquired IP and WAN domain name effortlessly.

I tried OpenDNS, Earthlink, Dell, and some other public DNS servers I have in a list, but they didn't work either. All timed out. I didn't know what TWC's DNS servers were, so I zeroed them out in my router config, then rebooted. Well, DHCP picked up TWC's DNS servers like nothing was wrong. STILL had no working DNS resolution! And I could still access websites by direct IP address. I was also still receiving mail and web traffic to my own servers, though well below usual levels. The email server was rejecting all mail though, since it couldn't verify the sender's domain names.

Exhausted, I gave up and went to bed. Everything was simply working again when I got up.

The evidence suggests that TWC decided to *filter* DNS traffic, possibly even to aggregate and reroute all of it, and they screwed the pooch. I can't think of any legitimate reason they'd need to do this. I think I'm going to go back to running my own DNS server. Not much I can do about state-redirected DNS traffic other than tunnel it through a VPN perhaps.

System going down in 5 minutes.