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Comment: Re:The contemporary Apple II (Score 4, Interesting) 612

by rbanffy (#41518035) Attached to: Ask Steve Wozniak Anything

Or, better, if Apple convinced you to design the Apple IV as an intellectual successor to the Apple II, completely ignoring Mac and iOS ecosystems (and the Apple III, which we all understand as not being your fault) and building it for hardware and software hackers, without losing the kitchen-table-friendliness of the II, what would it look like? Would it be a self-contained box with internal slots? Would it be beige?

Comment: Mach 10 (Score 1) 231

by rbanffy (#33580374) Attached to: NASA Looks At Railgun-Like Rocket Launcher

So, the rail takes the x-43-like launcher to 600 (10x60) mph? That's not nearly enough to ignite the engine. Assuming it gets 5 times as fast (3000 mph should be enough to ignite it) it will be very close to the ground. 3000 mph close to the ground must generate non-trivial amounts of heat (and broken windows). Ignore that (because the launcher appears to have SR-71-like engines) for a moment and imagine the launcher now has to propel itself to the upper atmosphere, where it reaches Mach 10 (something we never did on an air-breathing engine) points itself upward (perhaps getting rid of more atmosphere) and launches the expendable stage. The launcher then glides back to the ground and lands safely.

Am I the only skeptical one here?

I am glad NASA is thinking on stuff, but, seriously, they could as well think about viable stuff. They don't need milestones like these - they need, as one expert once said, "inchstones".

Comment: Re:but then... (Score 1) 255

by rbanffy (#32640642) Attached to: NASA Says Moon Has More Water Than Great Lakes

Such RC environments do exist today - most of deep-sea operation is conducted through remote-controlled devices, as is a lot of combat-zone flying. The Moon is close enough for remote-control (2.5 second feedback delay) and vacuum with robot with arms on wheels is a much more friendly environment than deep water with floating rig or a light airplane.

The Moon is even close enough for you to send another robot to kick stuff when the first one gets stuck.

Complex manufacturing will not happen on the Moon until there is some need for it, but having simple automated factories for cooking soil to grab volatiles (oxygen, water), to make rocket fuel (splitting water into LOx/LH2) and RC robots for digging construction sites and for assembling stuff sent from Earth would be very useful. If the volatile extraction facilities also make elements (tubular metal structures and sheets) for construction, all the better.

Having a stockpile of materials would be great when the time comes to establish permanent human occupation. It's not about removing humans from space exploration - remote control is severely limited by the speed of light and is not an option for anything beyond Moon orbit (although one could assemble space station components with robots before the structure is occupied by humans - that could remote control the robots from inside the habitat), but to make it easier to put humans on-scene later.

All of it seems quite doable and most of it has been done in the past. The Russians had a moon rover that was remote controlled from Earth.

Comment: ZX-80 (Score 1) 132

by rbanffy (#32640348) Attached to: Toshiba Demos Dual-Touchscreen Netbook

Great.

Now we can recreate a complete ZX80/ZX81/Atari 400 experience with an emulator. And now I can have a Symbolics keyboard for programming.

Seriously: A virtual keyboard for extended usage is something that remains to be tested. It will require some clever mechanisms to compensate for fat fingers and some feedback for touch typists. I would not discard it as impossible.

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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