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Comment Re:And finally VNC support? (Score 1) 57

Here here! Gnome over VNC is so clumsy and fragile. You'd think they hadn't bothered to try it out after writhing that POS called Vino. To get into some of my newer Linux boxen from windoze, I have to VNC to an older Linux and VNC on again due to Vino not supporting the encryption available in windoze VNC clients. And the work-arounds simply don't work for me. Would consider an alternate client if it weren't $$.

Comment Our objective shouldn't be to live on planets (Score 1) 150

Everything I read about the search for alien life, and the search for new places for Humanity to live seems to follow an unquestioned narrative about how do we find a Sunlike star? How do we find an Earthlike planet? When are we going to colonize Mars and Venus? Wheeee!

The only natural place Mankind can live properly is on Earth. Other places can be made survivable, if you're willing to live under domes or in tunnels like frail, albino morlocks. But gravity is one thing we can never make right. And it's a vital issue. Let's set aside the Earthlike gravity in the acid clouds of Venus or the cloud-tops of Saturn. I mean, really.

It's with an ironic eye that I notice all of the technology being talked about, to build habitats on the Moon and Mars are even more suited for building in orbit. And without the great risk and expense of dropping it, along with it's population, onto a planet's surface intact. After you've dropped all these things down on Mars, you have to exploit Mars for the tremendous resources to launch anything back up again. And for what? Are we selling Martian cookware to Earthlings at $10,000,000.00/ea? Anything we toss down a gravity well is basically staying there. It's lost. And it cost a lot.

So, let's simply stay in orbit and use 3D printing technology to build rotating colonies out of crushed, sintered rock. You can't just spin a natural body; it's going to be too fragile, too flawed. But we're going to be mining these things, pulverizing them for minerals and chemicals. We can just build home out of the tailings. And the insides of these colonies will be tailored perfectly for us - no compromises, no need for genetic experimentation. Probably all built by robots, or at least by telepresence, after the first couple of generations.

We don't need a certain kind of planet, and we don't even need a certain kind of star. All we need is a power source that we can adapt our machines to, and raw material floating free to assemble into these rocky tubes.

We'll start by establishing a robotic factory on the Moon to toss up refined aluminum, iron and packages of powdered rock. We'll use that to build ...thousands of colonies in Earth-Moon vicinity. Later, we'll take on Mars' moons. After that, we have the asteroids. That should keep us busy for a million years.

I'm not saying we won't, or shouldn't visit the planets, but they simply won't be worth more than scientific outposts, or tourist resorts, even after we someday have cheap, safe means to land on and launch off of planets (probably orbital skyhooks).

Comment Re:Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 1) 107

Well, planets which are practically identical to Earth would have advantages... provided you intended to abandon space for ground living again. Remember, my point is that once you're in orbit, everything you need is in easy reach. Why go back to ground again? If a planet isn't Earth, then it won't be much like Earth anyway.

I'm at a loss to understand why you're so fixated with living on planets. That you would consider almost any planet or moon over a colony. Colonies will be easier to build with existing material in orbit, and promise ideal living conditions, while planets and moons will be expensive and dangerous to get on and off of, and provide unnatural living conditions.

Swiss Cheese Planets:

Tunneling Luna, other moons or planets is still pointless. You don't take into account that due to structural needs, you'll have to leave a lot of solid rock untouched, and you'll still only be able to go down a few miles, wasting most of the interior. And the excavated material needs to be taken into account, as it must be dumped atop the ground outside, creating more pressure. A manufactured colony shell will be much thinner, stronger and bear very little weight other than it's own. If you were a giant, and could hold it, it would feel like a kite. It'll still be plenty thick to stop any ionizing radiation, perhaps even a nearby supernova extinction event that sterilizes Earth.

Tunnels and chambers in a world other than Earth (or Venus) would have the wrong gravity for modern humans. They'd be no place to live. Because we know that microgravity causes the human body to malfunction, it is not valid to assume (or hope, really) that merely "low" gravity will be just dandy. It may also turn out that centripetal pseudogravity doesn't fool the body into behaving either, but then that means we'll never live in space at all. I think that 1-G pseudogravity is more likely to work than various low gravity environments. Those "tidal forces" are believed to be imperceptible on a colony of a few hundred meters diameter. We can build that. Tensile strength is a non-issue. Ordinary asteroid rock is thought strong enough, but these colonies will be built out of an almost ceramic concrete sintered in place with solar light like a gigantic 3D printer. The walls will be cellular or corrugated for even more strength and utility. Your "honeycombed" moon idea will be full of natural flaws and material variations. It'll collapse under it's own weight unless you're a very conservative architect.


The shell of the colonies will be built in layers with embedded tunnels and chambers. Places to run pipes and subways, install machinery and hydroponics, rooms to store raw materials. High-energy impacts might pierce the outermost layer, but then an interesting thing happens. The debris showers across the next level with far less impact, likely being contained. This does not happen with a thick single layer. I don't know just how common impacts are in near-Earth space right now; they'll likely be worse after we've been tossing bags of crushed rock into low-lunar orbit to use in the solar forges, but it appears that the satellites we've launched are only encountering micrometeorites chipping and scratching at them. Oh, and that damn Chinese debris. Our mining debris will likely be fairly low-energy because our orbital stations and activities will all be done at relatively similar speeds. Destructive impacts could be a once-in-a-lifetime event. So we can design to survive that.


Because of these micrometeorites, as well as the bigger rocks, I don't like the idea of our colonies featuring gigantic windows to let in sunlight. I love the idea of living inside an O'Neil Cylinder, but those mammoth windows and mirrors make me cringe. Someone who understands optics would probably like to tweak my solution: I would go for a significantly smaller single solar window at the tip-end of the colony (assuming a cylindrical shape) and which is inset within a wall or length of tube that protects from direct impacts. The solar mirror array only needs to focus a fairly parallel beam straight through this window. Running down the whole length of the colony, at the zero g axis, is a hollow, frosted glass tube lit from within by the diffused light it conducts from the solar window. The tube may or may not be holding vacuum inside. A state of vacuum would lower maintenance due to eliminating environmental exposure. The light simply fills this frosted tube and reflects back and forth, creating a sort of gigantic fluorescent tube effect (but with better color!). There may be movable mirrors inside which help distribute the light evenly along the length of the tube. If the mirrors are in vacuum, they would be protected from tarnish and dust. They'll likely be made of common nickel which would tarnish inside the atmosphere. If the system requires active cooling, then a nitrogen atmosphere inside the tube would do the trick. Lighting inside the shell's corridors and hydroponics farms could be provided by polished nickel light pipes branching from entry points around the colony's solar window. Nighttime would be when maintenance takes place, while the light is focused on industrial activity in an external factory.

It makes more sense to me to use a simple passive arrangement to let light do what it does naturally, than a complex active system to force it to do what we want. For example, I would do this: not this:

Or, all of the colony's lighting could be done with electric bulbs, with the power either coming from a photo-voltaic solar panel array alongside the colony, or even tight-beamed all the way from a hypothetical Mercury power station.

Comment Re:Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 1) 107

First of all, I'm not considering your idea of moving stars and planets. It's a far higher level of technology, which does not need to be attached to the concept of building colonies.

You seem to completely miss the point of building orbital colonies. The object is to provide quality living space for modern humans living off-world. They're not built for portability or convenient access to Earth. Virtually every orbital colony will be non-mobile. They'll be custom built for the orbit they're constructed in, essentially exchanging places with the asteroid they were built from. The colony's outer shells will be a dozen meters thick. The colonists will live on the INSIDE where the radiation ISN'T at. Their interiors will be climate controlled for modern humans and posthumans. Heat will generally not be a problem. Actually, getting rid of excess heat could be. But that's a separate issue.

It would actually be orders of magnitude more difficult to engineer the tunneling of a planet than it would be to just crack it apart and build orbital colonies out of the rubble. Demolition also makes far more building material available. But that would come gigayears later, when the manageable rocks and moons had been used up. Demolishing planets is also a level of technology unnecessary to filling the solar system with a million orbital colonies. There's only one planet we could "honeycomb" (well, two if you disregard the super-high temperature and high-pressure acid of Venus - nope), and that is Earth. Living under Earth is not living in space. All of the other planets have gravity that is too low or too high for healthy human life. Living forever inside tunnels within the planets and moons is for mutant albino morlocks. Folks have GOT to give up their fetish for colonizing planets! Essentially, we neither can, nor need to honeycomb any planets.

Addressing your misunderstanding about dwarf stars: Most of the stars in the universe are, or will be, super-long-lived dwarf stars. Obviously, no-one's going to colonize an unstable system, but dwarf stars, brown and red, are actually the most stable. Excluding white dwarfs in close proximity to another star or black hole. And those are very rare.

Comment Re:Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 2) 107

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) 107

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) 107

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) 107

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.

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.