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Comment Consequences and consequences (Score 1) 608

I think Snowden went into this with his eyes open, and rather than running from the consequences of his actions he has chosen one set of consequences over another set. Did his disclosures harm the Intel community? Perhaps, but the Intel community's illegal activities do not enjoy legal or moral cover - they needed to be exposed, and some of them have been declared unconstitutional by courts of law. Without Snowden's disclosures, the courts would never have had the opportunity to exercise oversight. That is what separation of powers is about.

When we weigh the net effect of Snowden's disclosures, the number of illegal and unconstitutional activities the Intel community was engaged seems far greater than the number and volume licit activities that may have been compromised, so I would aver that Snowden's disclosures are probably salutary. It will be some time before the Intel community gets over its temper tantrum about having its illegal toys taken away. And it will probably require cooler heads than those in the current administration (which has shown an unfortunate proclivity to politicize Executive Branch agencies and use them against ideological enemies in an illegal manner) to reconsider whether Snowden is a legitimate whistleblower or a villain. I think in the long term he will be vindicated by history.

In the meantime, living as a man without a country constitutes fairly serious consequences, in my humble opinion.

[apologies for my verbosity in a culture where many are reticent to acknowledge that it is possible and even desirable to use more than 160 characters to communicate.]

Comment Radiation abatement (Score 3, Interesting) 99

Primary galactic cosmic radiation bombards the surface of Mars because its magnetic field is too feeble to turn high-energy charged particles aside, but most colonization plans envision human-constructed habitations on the surface. How much work is being directed toward finding subsurface features (lava tubes, sinkholes) which can provide radiation-hardened locations for long-term habitations? (and perhaps a word about popularizing both the risk and subsurface habitation to address it).

Submission Interviews: Ask Shaun Moss About Mars and Colonizing Space

samzenpus writes: Shaun Moss is a computer scientist with a 15-year passion for Mars. While reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson in 1999 Shaun realized that people would go to Mars in his lifetime, and he decided he wanted to be part of that. Since then he has been an active member of a variety of space enthusiast groups, including the Mars Society and Mars Society Australia. Shaun is also the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization. His research has included how to make air and steel on Mars, Martian timekeeping systems, terraforming and more, and he has given numerous presentations at conferences in Australia and the United States. For the past 1.5 years he has been developing a robust and affordable humans-to-Mars mission architecture and a plan to establish an International Mars Research Station, which is now available as a book. Shaun has agreed to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

Comment Forty is at your prime (Score 3, Insightful) 286

Already well north of 50 I may be prejudiced a bit, but I would say that at 40 a person is entering their prime decade. At 40 you are mature enough and experienced enough to have some wisdom, but you are still young enough to have your energy intact without having to work too hard at it. You are entering the peak years of power and influence, on average. Some peak earlier, some later, but most people are just entering the time when they have the most potential to affect their own lives and those around them, whether professionally or personally. Most of us have older kids by this time, and we are actively mentoring our teen children (and getting a lot of eye rolls and groans). But I say enjoy your forties - you're at the top of your form. It can continue into your fifties if you work at it, but that's up to you.

Comment There are several areas where it can be possible (Score 1) 720

There are areas of IT where some companies would consider someone with your history. Not every position in IT will deal with corporate security or information that falls under privacy issues. Depot services where you would be refurbing systems returned for warranty replacement are one place where systems that you deal with would only have factory images. There are also IT-related areas like servicing peripherals (printers and copiers, for instance) where you might be able to get a foot in the door.

Another area you could find work in is small business IT, where relationships count more than blunt instrument corporate policies that legislate common sense out of existence. There are many small businesses that might consider allowing you to do IT support if you are up front about your history. Not all, mind you, but many.

If you are a programmer, and you have the chops for it, you can work a non-IT job to survive and choose an Open Source project to contribute to. Become a significant contributor to the project to demonstrate your programming ability, establish your personal brand and present yourself as a knowledge leader. Or if you're interested in security, for instance, become an expert in your field, present to Small Business Chambers and other business groups, write, and give away lots of free information. Give away some expertise to establish your reputation, and then you can market yourself as a consultant. The more you can specialize in a specific vertical market niche, the more profitable you can become. Once you have built up your business, then you may even be bold enough to publish your story: from convicted felon to sought-after consultant. It will take time, but it can be done, but it will take chops in marketing and brand management as well as programming, security, or whatever your technology skill may be.

Comment Re:Interesting - quantum effects (Score 1) 201

Neither did Shawyer suggest the EM drive created virtual pairs, but the last sentence from the technical report says that since no known electromagnetic phenomenon can account for the observed thrust, the EM drive may be demonstrating "an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma". The quantum vacuum virtual plasma is the reference to vacuum fluctuation, or virtual particle/anti-particle pairs. If I understand the report correctly I believe he is suggesting that virtual particles may be providing reaction mass, but at this point the key word is "may". The test observes thrust but the mechanism is not yet fully understood.

If the proposed mechanism is what is causing the thrust, then once the momentum has been transferred to the thruster by accelerating them (electromagnetically it seems) then it doesn't matter if they annihilate afterward. Once the reaction mass has left the thruster, it no longer has any connection to it, so what happens to it does not affect the original momentum transfer (or thrust). In the same way, with a water rocket, it doesn't matter what happens to the water once it leaves the nozzle of the rocket. It can fall to the ground or flash into steam by going onto hot metal or coals. It doesn't matter to the rocket what happens to it, as the water (the reaction mass) has already left and has no further connection to the rocket.

Comment Interesting - quantum effects (Score 4, Informative) 201

The Wired article speaks of Shawyer's EMDrive, which has been around for some time, and at first appears to confuse the EMDrive with a different technology Dr. Harold "Sonny" White of NASA has been working on for some time.

The tech report clears things up a bit. The test results are showing anomalous thrust, however NASA is reticent to attribute the thrust to Shawyer's theory of how it operates, which would violate conservation of momentum (hence the "impossible" in the title.

What the technical report says is something far more interesting. Dr. White has been working with several different test articles which use electromagnetic forces to increase the rate of virtual particle pair production in the quantum vacuum, then using the virtual particles during their very short time of existence as reaction mass. In other words, it is a reaction drive, but instead of carrying reaction mass in the tank, the investigators are trying to use mass borrowed from quantum vacuum plasma to generate a small, but measurable, amount of thrust.

The final sentence of the technical report contains the salient material:

"Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. Future test plans include independent verification and validation at other test facilities."


Comment Re:Bu the wasn't fired (Score 1) 1116

He may have resigned, but even if it wasn't a firing de jure it was a firing de facto. There was no going-away celebration and a glowing farewell speech celebrating his considerable accomplishments and contributions to the company. There was a blog post that said Mozilla should have done better and acted sooner.

Those who support progressive causes at Mozilla and other companies would do well to remember the principle of "I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it", lest they become the very thing they have been protesting against, even a very short time ago.

Comment Adware/Malware distinction? (Score 1) 177

My own definition of malware is "Any piece of software on your computer which is under the control of someone other than the computer owner." Under this definition adware would be considered malware.

Antivirus vendors of course refer to several classes of malware, including rootkits, trojans, viruses, worms (all of which classifications derive from the method the malware uses for propagation and activation). The actions of malware are various as well - botnets, rootkits, keyloggers, phishing redirectors, crypto-extortion, fake AV are a few. Adware including browser hijackers, unwanted toolbars and other unwanted BHOs seem to be the category at which the new Microsoft targeting is aimed. These sorts of programs are called PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) by the AV vendors, though under my definition they would be classed as malware.

Microsoft have made a further distinction in adware as "any program which brings up ads in ANOTHER PROGRAM." These are what would be blocked. and this is not unhelpful, however one should remember that Microsoft's malware protection has been decertified by most antivirus ratings consortia, so how good the MS product will be is anyone's guess.

Submission That time the US dropped a hydrogen bomb on a backyard in S. Carolina-> 1

Lasrick writes: In this incredible excerpt from Eric Schlosser's book "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety" Schlosser describes some pretty horrific accidents involving nuclear bombs. They often seem to involve an airman grabbing the manual bomb release lever by mistake. Honestly, it's amazing we aren't all dead.
Link to Original Source

Comment Another starter resource (Score 4, Informative) 106

Before you develop any bad habits it would be excellent to get a good handle on how to organize data. _Database Design for Mere Mortals_ by Michael Hernandez is an excellent source for this and you will be able to breeze through it with your programming knowledge. You already know data types, but this book, which does not contain a single line of code, is a good primer on data organization and techniques for making relational databases function efficiently.

Submission Widespread issues with Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook->

tbg58 writes: Users of Google Apps for Business who use Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook (GASMO) are reporting widespread issues since Google deployed an updated version (3.3.x) of the sync utility designed to accommodate Microsoft Office Outlook 2013. Previous versions of GASMO did not support Outlook 2013. The most frequently reported issues are being caught in an access authorization loop, Outlook repeatedly going into offline mode. Although nothing about the issue has been published in the news, issues are widespread, as a visit to the GASMO Google Group (link included) shows.
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