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Comment: Re:Go nuclear (Score 1) 91

by rayd75 (#49233115) Attached to: Dry-Ice Heat Engines For Martian Colonists

Nuclear satellites and probes use tiny reactors only capable of watts of output.

THAT would be cool. The reality is a little more boring but a lot more safe and practical. Radioisotope thermoelectric generators are nothing more than a high-efficiency version of those pots that charge a cell phone from the heat of your camp fire. They use what most here would recognize as Peltier coolers, though optimized for operation in reverse. (generating electricity from a heat differential.) There is no nuclear reaction taking place, only the natural decay of radioisotopes. And that, only for a fairly low-level heat source.The devices could work off any heat source. It doesn't even take much, given the differential created against the cold of space. Certain radioisotopes just happen to do so reasonably consistently for the length of time the missions require. (Heat output declines as the material decays.)

Similar to the camp fire pots, they require a large temperature differential relative to the energy they produce. You're not going to power a colony off of them, at least not one that is reasonably self-sufficient, complete with manufacturing capability.

Comment: Re:"They" is us (Score 1) 339

by rayd75 (#48916801) Attached to: Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Including student loans I have a net worth of negative 75 thousand. ... I start a 80K job next quarter, so I won't stay there long, but I'm still there now.

That's just precious. Bless your heart.

  Remember this post when you become rich next quarter. Remember it ten years down the road when you realize that you've been working at one or more "good" jobs for a decade and still own outright little more than some clothes and consumer electronics.

  The jobs we're constantly being told are well-paying, desirable jobs are no longer capable of paying for a modest home in a decent neighborhood in under a full life's work. Sure, they look great compared to a job that pays half as much, but it's only the difference between brick and a half bath in the end.

Here's the real power of being born into wealth: Any productive thing you do immediately compounds your net worth. You aren't born with one or more handicaps, be it need of schooling, housing, or whatever that need to be fully serviced before your income can actually accumulate. Being born into even modest wealth means immediate traction.

Comment: Re:Not an issue before green pointers became commo (Score 1) 445

by rayd75 (#46223075) Attached to: FBI: $10,000 Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At an Aircraft

No, laser light is very directional, and having it pointed at you during nightime flying is a very definite experience. Search youtube for "helicopter lasers" to see what I mean.

I don't need to watch a video because we agree. Lasers are very directional. Having even a low power one pointed into your eyes can be temporarily disabling or even catastrophic if you're doing sensitive work like keeping an aircraft or vehicle under control. I also fully believe that people are doing this. What I don't believe is that, with cheap (sub-$5) red pointers having been readily available for about 15 years, there's only now a sudden jump in occurrences. An explanation that makes far more sense is that with cheap green lasers (which can produce a visible beam) now widely available, pilots are reporting many more instances of "beam sightings" in addition to "direct hits." If a red laser pointer, which generally does not have a visible beam, misses your aircraft, you never know it. If a green one does, perhaps even at a considerable distance, you might still see it and have something to get excited about and report.

So we should ban green laser pointers, right?

I know you asked sarcastically, but there are "soft-band" options that society may have to consider if the problem grows. For instance, using green lasers for stargazing could be outlawed (e.g., forcing laser makers to not use this as a selling point). Additionally, pen/pointer-shaped form factors could be prohibited. Gun-mounted green lasers could be forced to have a rail switch. Hopefully the laws don't have to go this far though.

You made me consider a point I hadn't before and that's that the visibility of green lasers' beams likely encourages people to point them into the night sky. With a red pointer, there's not much visual incentive to do so. I hate it when I make a big long point and then have to consider changing my mind. :)

Comment: Re:Not an issue before green pointers became commo (Score 1) 445

by rayd75 (#46222951) Attached to: FBI: $10,000 Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At an Aircraft

1. most of the people caught pointing green lasers at aircraft have admitted to such.

Seems likely to me. How many people have been caught caught though? A dozen? A few hundred? By God, there's an epidemic of thousands upon thousands of people pointing lasers at aircraft and it's been skyrocketing over the last 3-5 years. (Even though the first readily available and stupidly-cheap red pointers were being sold for a couple of bucks at gas stations and the like 15 years ago.)

2. Yes, you can see the laser even if it isn't pointed directly at the aircraft. but in many cases the pilots report not seeing the pointer but the effects of the lasers on the cockpit windows. Keep in mind for example that over Los Angeles and surrounding areas there are probably at least one first time at night soloing Private Helictoper Pilot every week. If he were to lose sight of the horizon for even a minute or two that helicopter is coming down...

The first part of this statement, for me, only re-afirms my belief that people in general tend to report problems with the most dire, sensationalist spin because they feel like it's more likely to illicit a response. The latter sentence sounds as if you think you're arguing with someone who thinks it's ok for a pilot to have lasers shined into his eyes. For the record, I do not. I only believe the rash of reported incidents is exaggerated by the beam visibility of some non-red (often green) laser pointers.

3. Responsible people wouldn't be point lasers at the sky when they live near busy airports.

Agreed. Though, responsible people also wouldn't put 55W purple HID headlight bulbs into all 6 (low, high, fog) reflector-style housings on the front of their SUVs, nor would they bike around with a 1500 lumen strobe light strapped to their handle bars. Unfortunately, we have a shortage of responsible people.

Comment: Not an issue before green pointers became common. (Score 1) 445

by rayd75 (#46220361) Attached to: FBI: $10,000 Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At an Aircraft

So we should ban green laser pointers, right? Clearly, they're the problem since this wasn't happening when red pointers were all but the only option. No. The problem is that pilots, in the pitch black of night can see beams of green laser pointers off somewhere in the distance. With no useful reference for actual distance and nothing else in the night sky to compare it to, the pilots assume they're very nearby and must be being pointed at them. I have no doubt that some aircraft have had a beam enter the cabin or that some small number of pilots have witnessed a brief flash as a beam quickly crossed one of his or her eyes. That said, this is only now epidemic because pointers with visible beams are commonplace.

Comment: Brilliant strategy: Pay more for less (Score 5, Interesting) 298

by rayd75 (#46127577) Attached to: Price of Amazon Prime May Jump To $119 a Year

I find it interesting that this comes just as Amazon has fallen in love with hybrid shipping services such as UPS Mail Innovations and FedEx SmartPost for Prime delivery. These services utilize UPS or FedEx only to the destination city where your package is then handed off to the USPS for delivery. As a result, Prime "guaranteed" 2-day delivery has become "often 2-day" or "occasional 2-day" ...and now, they feel like this is worth more? Wow.

Oh, they still haven't dropped the magic word "guaranteed". Their offering to satisfy the guarantee is an additional month of inconsistent, slower than stated service.

Comment: Re:Intel the Problem (Score 4, Informative) 320

by rayd75 (#42809569) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive

I haven't had to play with it, but our desktop support folks say that the XP virtualization in Windows 7 is fairly seamless. If they did something like that for an ARM version to have backwards compatibility I could see it working out. I don't know if that's even feasible though, since I assume hardware virtualization is a pretty big leap from OS virtualization.

Be careful to not confuse virtualization with emulation. To run x86 apps on ARM you'd need emulation which is an altogether different thing than virtualization. (at least in the common IT use of the terms) Unlike virtualization, emulation is very CPU-intensive so they'd be cutting the battery life of the RT down to at most that of the Pro while providing the user experience of a Pentium II. Their real mistake is taking their chance to start with a clean slate (ARM, RT) and slapping the Windows brand on. If they hadn't done that, every RT review wouldn't have an obligatory paragraph about how the thing runs "Windows" but it can't actually use any of the software you already have.

Comment: Re:Reassuring? (Score 1) 234

by rayd75 (#38230310) Attached to: Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

Why yes, we should trust CarrierIQ at their word for what their software does and does not do. Being closed source makes it quite difficult to verify their claims ...

True, the closed-source nature limits third party evaluation to sniffing LAN traffic. I'll be interested to hear more as the digging continues. As of now, all I've seen is that there are "references" to CarrierIQ in iOS. Lots of people seem to be making a leap that CarrierIQ's software is running on iOS. It's possible, but it doesn't seem likely for the company that completely shut-down the possibility of carrier-mandated apps on their phones.

Comment: Re:Reassuring? (Score 1) 234

by rayd75 (#38230146) Attached to: Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

the (free, open) Android version is more akin to a rootkit

Carrier IQ is not free or open. The post you responded to was arguing that closed source is more difficult to analyse, which is clearly true. If Carrier IQ were open source, we would have known about it years ago, and we wouldn't need to reverse engineer it to figure out what, when and how it's doing what it does, and under what conditions the logs get transferred to remote servers, etc.

I would also argue that, as much as we dislike Carrier IQ, it isn't really a rootkit - the software itself makes no effort to hide its presence, which is one of the defining characteristics of a rootkit. Also, you say that the Android version has a "backdoor" - could you provide a reference for this? As far as I can see, this is not actually true, as it doesn't enable any secret authentication-bypassing remote access (which would be the very definition of a backdoor).

You're right and though the discussion was leaning that way, I didn't actually mean to take a position on open versus closed. No, the software in question doesn't technically meet the definition of a rootkit but I maintain that it's "akin" to one. It is not part of Android as released by Google, and although it doesn't alter APIs to hide itself (such as removing itself from process lists or filesystem calls), it's not an application that shows-up in the launcher, nor do users have any meaningful control over it. A backdoor provides a means for bypassing access control... and this software, as it's been seen on many Android devices, is a secret means of accessing data stored on or passed by (even over SSL) potentially PIN-secured, filesystem-encryped devices. It doesn't seem to be remotely initiated so maybe it's not a backdoor so much as a back window. They can't come in but they can stand outside and see everything you do.

Comment: Re:Reassuring? (Score 1) 234

by rayd75 (#38226730) Attached to: Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

You might want to re-think what you said. How would we even KNOW about Carrier IQ if Android wasn't open enough to find out?

Um, by reading the "diagnostic and logging" screen that pops-up during the initial configuration of my phone? By looking at the logged data in the settings menu? The only thing that we've learned today is that the diagnostics and logging system in iOS is vaguely-tied to CarrierIQ. It's not been a secret that it's there and there's no evidence that it does anything more than what it discloses to every new user. Yesterday, it didn't have a name. Today, it does.

Comment: Re:Reassuring? (Score 1) 234

by rayd75 (#38226490) Attached to: Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

I can put CyanogenMod on my Android handset. I can load ROMs based on carrier firmware that has CIQ removed.

Thanks to Open Source Software, I have this choice.

Agreed... but you represent maybe a couple percent of total Android users in regard to your ability and will to do that. My son tells me that Android runs great on his first gen iPhone... so I guess Android provides the same benefit to similarly-minded Apple users. The remaining ones are stuck with a "Automatically Send / Don't Send" radio button. What do the other 98% of Android device owners have?

Comment: Re:Reassuring? (Score 5, Informative) 234

by rayd75 (#38225952) Attached to: Carrier IQ Software May Be in iOS, Too

I've found it useful as an example for people who don't understand why we need free/open software. ...

You might want to re-think that after reading the article, including its updates. Ironically, the (closed, walled garden) Apple version appears to send only diagnostic data that could be conceivably used for legitimate troubleshooting of dropped calls and the like whereas the (free, open) Android version is more akin to a rootkit, complete with backdoor and key logger.

Comment: Re:And in other -- er, actually, the same -- news. (Score 1) 183

by rayd75 (#37977342) Attached to: B&N Releases Nook Tablet To Rival Amazon Fire

Meh, tell that to my old iphone. It took 20-30 seconds to display text after I typed it. You can imagine what scrolling around webpages felt like. The thing was painful. :(

iPhone 3G on iOS 4.0? Been there and it was painful. I missed calls because of the crappy performance. Web pages would take 3 forevers to load... Still, once they did, they scrolled flawlessly in the "you're moving a page with your finger" sense. No choppy animation or pixel by pixel jumping of the page contents. Score one for using the device's GPU to do your UI rendering, huh?

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"