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Comment: Science Fiction (Score 1) 276

Those of us who love science fiction are used to this. It's fun to go back and read what some of the authors in the 1950's thought the future would look like. My personal favorite is that no thought it given to miniaturization; everything still uses tubes. Exotic tubes with magical abilities (like the power tubes in the Venus Equilateral series), but still vacuum tubes with filaments.

When it comes to computers, it's just as hit and miss. The way some authors handle artificial intelligence is by insisting that it won't happen. (David Weber, to name one -- in his books, the idea is that any true AI would quickly go insane.)

(But then, poor David has other concerns: in the Honor Harrington series, one key to Manticore's military superiority is the fact that they've harnessed "gravity waves" for faster-than-light communications ... and the physicists have long since determined that gravity propagates no faster than the speed of light.) :)

Likewise when I see anyone in a story "pressing a button" (even if it's a virtual button). We're already on the brink of direct neural interfaces. You think it, things happen. That's the future. But to be fair to these authors, it's hard to see what's coming in 10 years.

Comment: Loser Pay Legislation (Score 3, Informative) 223

by smpoole7 (#46682087) Attached to: Why There Are So Few ISP Start-Ups In the U.S.

Loser-Pay Legislation would take care of the second one. Been saying it for years.

Eventually, those folks who oppose it simply because it seems too "conservative" for their politics are going to get their minds right.

The United States is the only major Western Democracy that doesn't follow the "british rule," where the winning party in a lawsuit is generally allowed to recover the costs of bringing or defending a suit.

+ - Is your laptop secure enough for Sochi?->

Submitted by WindSerf
WindSerf (2828897) writes "Over on Engadget the story goes "Visitors to Sochi Olympics should expect to be hacked (video)". In the video, a new Macbook is removed from it's sealed box, connected to wifi in a hotel in Sochi, and is hacked very quickly. My question is, how would you secure your laptop if you had to use it in sochi?"
Link to Original Source

+ - New Type of Star Can Emerge From Inside Black Holes, Say Cosmologists->

Submitted by KentuckyFC
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Black holes form when a large star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own weight. Since there is no known force that can stop this collapse, astrophysicists have always assumed that it forms a singularity, a region of space that is infinitely dense. Now cosmologists think quantum gravity might prevent this complete collapse after all. They say that the same force that stops an electron spiralling into a nucleus might also cause the collapsing star to "bounce" at scales of around 10^-14cm. They're calling this new state a "Planck star" and say it's lifetime would match that of the black hole itself as it evaporates. That raises the possibility that the shrinking event horizon would eventually meet the expanding Planck star, which emerges with a sudden blast of gamma rays. That radiation would allow any information trapped in the black hole to escape, solving the infamous information paradox. If they're right, these gamma rays may already have been detected by space-based telescopes meaning that the evidence is already there for any enterprising astronomer to tease apart."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:You were not hired to finish the project (Score 2) 308

by smpoole7 (#46141601) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Do If You're Given a Broken Project?

> Other times you can work like an actual adult and solve the problems

I don't know the details in this case, and neither do you. But trust me, it ain't always that simple.

Years ago, back when I was still doing the contract programming gig on the side, I took a job for a major multinational. This was a relatively simple concept: write some software that read the AutoCAD files for the wire numbers, and then print heat-shrink labels to go on the wires. Sounds good, right?

First strike: it was done in Visual C++ 1.5, 16 bit. That compiler had some marvelous bugs (such as getting the segment and offset REVERSED when it loaded the ES and SI registers, HA HA that one was fun to track down).

Second strike: my predecessor had used that silly "frame-document-view" model for this relatively simple program (I can't even remember what they call it now). He decided to put everything in the View, so he had globals everywhere. Of course, they were getting clobbered, and of COURSE, I had to find each of these bugs.

Third: the people with this company had no idea what they wanted it to actually do. They said, "the stuff for the heater wiring starts with 'H," the motor wiring with 'M', and so on ... except for when it doesn't." (That's not a joke.) In other words, the files that I was reading (with a horrible third-party bolt-on DLL, by the way) weren't even guaranteed to be standardized!

I left this project and moved on to more pleasant things. That cured me. I went back into radio engineering, even though (with no false modesty) I was actually a very good programmer.

OH, and did I mention that this was using Visual C++ 1.5? Make sure you don't miss that. :)

Comment: Re:Short answer: Run. (Score 2) 308

by smpoole7 (#46141443) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Do If You're Given a Broken Project?

> that could directly impact the contractor's future work prospects, if they cite how bad a job the contractor has done

They're going to do that anyway, whether he stays to completion/collapse, or quits now.

I say quit now, find something else right away and let it blow over. It may not seem like it right now, but it WILL eventually blow over. Get another successful project or two under your belt and the one bad project won't glare too badly on the resume.

Comment: Re:squashed eyeballs (Score 1) 267

by smpoole7 (#46099333) Attached to: The Human Body May Not Be Cut Out For Space

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...

The brain is intimately involved with how we perceive things. A bunch of experiments have been done, for example (recounted in the link above), one guy wore glasses that inverted everything -- he saw everything "upside down." After a few days, his brain flipped everything the right way!

I can imagine that years with low or no gravity would do far more than just affect the physiology. This isn't just a mechanical phenomenon. It's not just a matter of distorted eyeballs or inner ears. The whole time, your brain is trying to reinterpret what you're sensing to fit what it understands.

Comment: Re:My God... (Score 1) 458

by smpoole7 (#45932207) Attached to: Why We Think There's a Multiverse, Not Just Our Universe

> Posts like this are why scientists like Lawrence Krauss have no time for philosophers.

Heh. Thanks for the laugh with my morning coffee. You are dead on the money.

> Karl Popper's rules do not claim to be science itself

And Popper himself was responsible for the Philosophy of Science. His rules are generally used because they work.

A good example for the layman (not scientific by any means, but illustrative) would be, you're sitting in your den, watching TV. "Where's the cat?" you wonder. One of his play toys mysteriously rolls from under the sofa, and you say, "ah." Is that proof that there's a cat under there? Of course not. But based on previous observations, experience, and the knowledge that your feline is a loveable knothead who can get into anything and at any time, it's a darn safe guess. :)

> Creationists, by the by, have an agenda; that is, 'prove' what they already take to be a priori assumptions. They aren't interested in knowledge, they're interested in influence.

Many are. But don't make blanket assumptions.

Me? I'm more of a libertarian, plotting endlessly to take over the world so that I can leave you completely alone. :)

Comment: Re:My God... (Score 4, Insightful) 458

by smpoole7 (#45929909) Attached to: Why We Think There's a Multiverse, Not Just Our Universe

> Is this testable?

I spent a good bit of time trying to explain this to laycreatures at my own Website. Karl Popper pretty well summed up the rules for scientific theories:

1. It must adequately explain that which is known about the thing being observed.
2. It must be falsifiable. In other words, it must make concrete predictions that can be tested empirically. If not, it is NOT a scientific theory.
3. This is the key: the SIMPLEST (i.e., the most "economical") theory that adequately explains the observations is preferred.

This is extremely important: just because you come up with a theory that seems to work does NOT mean that you're right. It simply means that you've found a mathematical model that works as far as you are able to understand and test it.

These guys seem to believe that inflation compels a belief in multiverses. They are certainly not alone in that. But in the interest of equal time, there are PLENTY of other cosmological-types who insist that there are alternate explanations. The "math" does NOT lead only and exclusively to that conclusion. In fact, while researching this for my Website, I found a flooding TON of physicists who went all the way back to Andre Linde (who was one of the first to popularize this) and beyond, and poked all sorts of holes in these arguments.

Disclaimer, I'm not a physicist and don't claim to be. But I'm about as up to speed on it as a layman can get and still remain sane. :)

You know, the difference between this company and the Titanic is that the Titanic had paying customers.

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