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Comment: Fixing the wrong problems (Score 2) 269

by petes_PoV (#48249785) Attached to: A Library For Survival Knowledge

All the technical solutions will either remain known or are easily re-discovered. There are two big problems with rebooting society:

First, you need LOTS of people. Most of the stuff we have today relies on a certain minimum population density. That is especially true of transportation systems and without them, it would not be possible to move the raw materials around. So medical knowledge and knowing how to keep young children from dying will be paramount.

The second problem will be producing an effective counter-argument to all the superstitions, ignorance and religions that are bound to appear if "civilisation" dies off. That is what held back our scientific and technological development: From Aristotle to the Industrial Revolution there was 2,000 years of very little progress and what there was, was usually achieved DESPITE religion, not with its encouragement.

The technology will come of its own accord, but speeding it up will need manual for social survival, not designs for steam engines

Comment: Closed system - energy is just energy (Score 1) 399

by petes_PoV (#48193189) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew
The calories consumed "argument" seems like a red herring.

The spacecraft will be a closed environment: recycling waste from food and water (with some slight inefficiencies and consequent loss - but you'd expect that to be very small). So once the craft is loaded with enough raw materials to produce food fast enough (a function of energy availability) then it won't matter how many calories per day the crew consume, so long as the onboard systems can recycle the waste and replenish them fast enough. Same applies to water use: very little will be "consumed" (lost irrevocably) and if there's enough energy to recycle it the crew could use as much as they please. It's not as if there will be a stream of empty MRE package dumped out of the vessel every morning.

As far as calories goes: this is just heat generation. So however many calories the crew "consumes" will ultimately contribute towards the heating of the cabin. Obv. if the cabin needs cooling more than heating there will be a greater energy cost - but again it comes down to the ability of the craft to generate power to run itself, not very much in the way of "lost" consumables.

Comment: Fixing the wrong problem (Score 4, Insightful) 341

by petes_PoV (#48187737) Attached to: An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man
The reason this situation exists is because the vendor has nothing to gain from changing.

If they have a fixed amount of ice, or can only make a fixed amount per hour then they have nothing to gain from selling that amount at a faster rate. Sure, the customers may not like it but since these guys are the only source of ice, what the customers want is of little consequence.

If you really want to speed up the line, introduce some competition. A 3 word answer instead of a 1,600 word one.

Comment: Mountains and molehills (Score 1) 213

by petes_PoV (#48150151) Attached to: Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too
Learning to "code" is about as difficult as learning to drive, but in a different way.

Hence it can be learned pretty much at the convenience of the individual in question in a few months, even starting from scratch.

There is no reason to teach "coding" to 7 year-olds. They are too young to fill any vacancies that may exist and by the time they have got to an employable age, obtained a degree (as few employers will touch an IT person without one) the "coding" skills they learned 15 years ago will be almost completely obsolete. One might argue that they will have learned to employ logic, but again: unless that skill is exercised regularly, it too will be lost.

Comment: The wonder of exploration (Score 1) 219

by petes_PoV (#48148521) Attached to: When will the first successful manned Mars mission happen?

The wonder of exploration is gone

The wonder of exploration is as strong as ever. And for the same reason: greed and the hope of exploitation.

However, humanity has found better ways of doing it, than sending loads of expensive, fragile, high-maintenance people to wander around knocking lumps off rocks. That's what the robots and satellites do. However, it does seem unlikely that there is anything on Mars that is worth the effort of sending people for - or worth the cost of shipping back to Earth - it does seem to be a rather desolate wasteland containing nothing of any consequence.

So the only reason that people would wish to go there would be to remove themselves from this planet - or for society to want them removed.

Comment: Re:Summary (Score 4, Informative) 254

by petes_PoV (#48119071) Attached to: What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?
It is a clumsy piece or writing. It may well make sense to the tiny minority of people who know (or care) what a "sub-two" marathon refers to.

However without the reference to Runner's World it's not even clear that the piece is about athletics. It could have meant any sort of marathon: watching a TV series, eating long sandwiches: anything.

Wouldn't it have been simpler, clearer to write something like:
In the past 16 years, marathon runners have cut the world record from 2hr 06:23 to 2hr 03:23. But as they get closer to the 2 hour mark, further improvements will become progressively harder to achieve.

Comment: Moving people == dumb idea (Score 3, Interesting) 549

by petes_PoV (#48035109) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

f you could take 100 people at a time, you would need 10,000 trips to get to a million people.

No. You'd store their DNA, ship that and "grow" people after it arrives. And after the robots have spent the time necessary building the infrastructure, making it habitable and amassing the minerals, water, gases and power generation needed to sustain the colony.

The only problem would be getting the robots to let go of control, once the humans arrive.

Comment: Re:Lasers? (Score 1) 470

by petes_PoV (#48014909) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

I think the easiest might be "learning to focus lasers a little better."

Let's take a step back.

What would provoke a battle in space? The simplest answer (at present) would be a dispute between two earthly powers vying for dominance. In that case I doubt that anyone in the general public would be aware of what was going on and the distances involved ( a few hundred km, up and down) means that ground based energy weapons and small projectiles that intercepted the opposition's orbits would be all that's needed.

But once you get into interplanetary conflict, it's a different matter, In that case (say for example: the Earth - Mars independence war - or Revolutionary War depending which side you're on), then for a Martian attack on an Earth-orbital facility, you'd need 2 things. First is an unmanned vehicle - simple because nothing else is sensible and the second thing would be a large mass. Orbital stations would be sitting ducks as they are in very predictable paths and while stations like the ISS *can* change altitude to avoid incoming threats, it's a slow process and again: fairly predictable.

So with an unmanned attacker, the vehicle IS the weapon - there's no point waiting for it to circle back round for a second shot. Just make it large enough and heavy enough that it could take any incoming "fire" from directed energy weapons and then have it disperse into many (thousands: millions) of small pieces as it nears the target. That would provide too many pieces to successfully destroy them all - you'd only need 1 to get through and whatever doesn't hit the orbital target would deny orbits to other "enemy" facilites due to the amount of debris the Earth's gravity would capture.

And if you want to get really nasty, there's always Footfall

Comment: The hardset part: finding the enemy (Score 3, Interesting) 470

by petes_PoV (#48014807) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles
Given what we can do with stealth technology today, imagine the problem of even discovering the presence (let alone position, velocity and acceleration) of something that doesn't want to be found.

The only two "giveaways" would be the heat signature from its power source (not just propulsion, but life-support) and whatever it accidentally occults as it moves across the background of stars. The heat can be drastically reduced by towing the power source a long way behind the main craft and having it very, very dispersed so the Watts per square metre of I.R. are very small. The occultation problem can be reduced by choosing a path that stays away from the galactic plane.

So most battles would be ones of sneak attacks and defensive fire. It might be possible to devise some sort of A.I. mines, or even simply fire a cloud of sand in the general direction (assuming the relative velocites of target + sand are high enough, that could be all that's needed).

However, I have a feeling that most "wars" in the future, whether in space on on Earth, will be economic in nature and "fought" over decades rather than wham-bam shooting battles.

Comment: Programmed obsolescence? (Score 3, Insightful) 175

by petes_PoV (#48013793) Attached to: When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

The authors say this will fundamentally change the concept of what it means to own and control your possessions.

So the authors are considering a future where we have to replace all our domestic appliances every 2 years, simply because someone somewhere has decided that the control software *must* have this new feature (that nobody asked for) and that it will only run on version X. You now have 3 months to toss the old fridge / cooker / vacuum cleaner / lightbulb before it gets automatically bricked. Even though it performs its primary function perfectly.

No thank you.

Comment: Re:Hmmm ... (Score 4, Insightful) 179

by petes_PoV (#47995839) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant?
There are more reasons.

Reports are consistent: they report the same data, in the same format thus making for easy comparisons
Reports are easily filed. Why would a manager want to waste their time learning how to retrieve past data and then learn how to compare it with stuff form other dates/times when they can simply print it and highlight what they want. Paper and disk space are cheap - their time is not.
Reports are portable. You can take them away with you, you can show them to other people.
Reports are secure. You can print them and be sure that whoever you show them to cannot access anything else. ANYTHING
Reports can be easily incorporated into a manager's "product" (presentations, summaries, proposals and archives) without them having to learn any new methods. Again: it's a trade-off between cheap IT resources and their expensive time.

And probably most important of all: reports are familiar. Never forget that IT is providing a service to the business. It's not the place of IT to dictate to the business how they do their work - it should always be the other way round.

Comment: Re:Yes, just like that. (Score 1) 221

by petes_PoV (#47971755) Attached to: Outlining Thin Linux
Exactly right. Whenever I post on Linux related topics I see responses like this that are both arrogant and foul-mouthed - where neither position is necessary, nor adds credibility to the poster (or to the subject they are writing about).

The other thing these individuals seem to do is drag MS into the subject - as if they are still fighting their own little wars over some 1990's idealogical differences. But they never put forward any actual rational arguments or facts to back up their bile: just hate posts.

So sad.

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