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Comment: Re:Past time for AV recording of police actions (Score 1) 991

by fyngyrz (#48464705) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Did you know that police work isn't even in the top ten jobs with the most risk of death? Check it out, starting with most dangerous and ending with the least:

  1. Construction workers
  2. Farmers and ranchers
  3. Drivers, truck drivers
  4. Electrical power line workers
  5. Sanitation workers - trash collectors
  6. Steel workers
  7. Roofers
  8. Pilots and flight engineers
  9. Fishermen
  10. Loggers

Furthermore, most police officer deaths occur in traffic accidents. Not in conflict with an aggressor.

(Source: National census of fatal occupational injuries, 2012)

Personally, I see no reason for a beat/patrolcar cop to carry a weapon at all. Particularly as the evidence shows they're far too willing to use them in non-life threatening situations -- just like this one.

Furthermore, with tasers readily available, many situations that might call for submission of a more powerful (or skilled) individual are still controllable without resorting to the extremes of discharging a firearm.

There's also something to be said for the idea of criminals knowing the cop isn't going to kill them, so it isn't nearly as attractive to kill the cop to prevent that. The fact is, if you think the cop is going to kill you, there's absolutely no downside to killing them first. It is a situation set up in the way most likely to fail.

It's going to get worse, too, as the trend is to more heavily arm the cops -- don't think for a moment that the response won't be more heavily armed criminals. It's as inevitable as the next sunrise.

But you're right. The odds of anything changing are very low. The American Couch Potato League likes armed cops, and they like it when cops do whatever they like -- they absolutely lap up movies and television shows where cops step outside the boundaries of the law, as well as vigilante scenarios. Until, of course, they are the victims. But by that time, they're embroiled with the system, and it's far too late. No one pays known criminals any mind. They're subhuman, after all. And they must have done something to deserve it, even if they "get off" or "plead out."

Comment: Re:Shyeah, right. (Score 3, Insightful) 103

by dgatwood (#48464509) Attached to: Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out?

I used to use tape for backup. The reason I stopped was that it stopped being cost effective. There was a time when you could buy one-generation-before-current tape drives, back your entire hard drive up more than once on a tape, and if you bought more than a dozen tapes, you spent less money overall than buying hard drives for those backups.

For about the last decade, tape has lagged so far behind hard drives that this hasn't been the case. You couldn't back up a high-capacity hard drive on last-generation tape. In fact, the current-generation LTO-6 only holds 2.5 TB uncompressed, so in the worst case, you can back up any hard drive built before 2010 (when the first 3 TB hard drives came out). And that tape technology didn't come out until 2012.

And you'll spend almost $3k on the drive, plus $45 per tape, or $18 per terabyte. Hard drives are currently running at $30 per TB. So ignoring differences in risk between a hard drive on a shelf and a tape, the break-even point is at a whopping 250 TB—almost an order of magnitude more than is reasonable for most businesses, much less consumers. Unless you're doing data warehousing, this break-even point is simply too high to be practical. Yet this is the smallest tape drive that is practical for any serious use, because one-generation-old drives (LTO-5) take 2–3 tapes just to back up an average desktop hard drive once, and the break-even point at $33 for 1.5 TB is still over 200 TB. That's just nuts. If you're willing to use ten tapes per drive, you could use LTO-3, but at $30 per terabyte plus the cost of the drive, you never break even at all.

To make a long story short, tape died the moment they stopped building tape drives targeted at normal consumers. As with all specialized products that are too expensive for normal people to afford, over time, cheaper, more consumer-friendly technologies begin to take advantage of their dramatically higher sales volume to drive R&D that allows them to eventually become "good enough" to be used in place of those niche "professional" products for their least demanding customers, thus causing the market to get smaller and smaller. As demand drops, prices then increase, causing even more potential customers to start looking for alternatives, until eventually the death spiral reaches its ultimate and inevitable end: a market that has dried up completely. This same scenario has played out in industry after industry over the years, and anybody who didn't see the writing on the wall more than a decade back must not have been paying attention.

Want me to stop saying tape is dead? Prove me wrong. Ship a consumer-grade LTO-6 drive for $300. Make tape a feasible backup medium for consumers and small businesses. Short of such a drastic step, tape is pretty much doomed to fade into obsolescence. At this point, I'm firmly convinced that the only real question anyone should be asking is how best to handle backups and archiving in a post-tape world; without a giant cash infusion and a radical change in the leadership of companies that build these products, it's not a matter of whether, but rather a matter of when.

Comment: Re:Except... (Score 2) 63

by Solandri (#48464361) Attached to: How the World's First Computer Was Rescued From the Scrap Heap
Before you younguns turn this into a "those silly Americans" thread, Colossus was absolutely essential to breaking the Nazi Enigma code and was classified during and after WWII. ENIAC was therefore regarded worldwide as the world's first general purpose computer. Everyone who went to school before 1996 was taught that ENIAC was the world's first GP computer.

Information about Colossus was first declassified in 1975, but it wasn't until 1996 (not coincidentally 50 years after WWII ended) that enough about it was declassified for the general public to realize it was in fact the first GP computer.

Comment: Re:Deliberate (Score 1) 497

by dgatwood (#48464349) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

The problem with that is that nuclear power contaminates the turbines. Badly. You're heating the water that spins those turbines by passing it over a nuclear pile. You're not realistically going to be able to use them with any other heat source after that. But I agree about prebuilt, small-scale reactors being a better solution. In addition to having fewer quality control problems (for example, less risk of "oops, the pipes are wearing out dramatically faster than expected" situations like we saw with San Onofre), a smaller plant would also presumably be easier to deal with in the event of a serious failure.

Comment: Re:Investment in our Future (Score 1) 152

by DanielRavenNest (#48461853) Attached to: NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

What you think of is wild speculation is just another day at work for a space systems engineer like myself. Going to the Moon was wild speculation in 1950, and a computer you could carry in your pocket was wild speculation in 1970. Fortunately progress doesn't depend on nay-sayers like yourself.

Comment: Re:Investment in our Future (Score 1) 152

by DanielRavenNest (#48461799) Attached to: NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

In orbit outside the Earth's shadow, you average 7 times the output for a solar panel, compared to the average location on Earth. That's due to lack of night, atmospheric absorption, and weather. If you can put that panel in place for less than 7 times the cost of a terrestrial one, you come out ahead economically to put it in orbit. Since launching stuff is expensive, you are more likely to reach that cost target if the panel itself can be made in orbit. Fortunately the average space rock is 40% silicon, which is what we make solar panels out of.

You are right that in 2014 it is cheaper to put the panels on Earth, but that may not be true at some point in the future.

Comment: Re:Space Resources (Score 1) 152

by DanielRavenNest (#48461723) Attached to: NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

No, the burn times are 110-465 days to return 200-1000 tons of material, plus coast times between burns. You can find the calculations at

200-1000 tons is a reasonable goal for early mining missions. If your chosen asteroid is larger than that, you scrape loose surface material or grab a boulder off it. Entire larger asteroids would require bigger power supplies and thrusters, so are best left for later generations. 1000 tons is a lot, that's twice the mass of the ISS. And you can fetch that much back every few years with a single mining tug.

Comment: Re:Self-expanding factories (Score 1) 152

by DanielRavenNest (#48461597) Attached to: NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

> There are things called lathes and other machine tools that can reproduce themselves.

Not unaided. Machine tools can indeed make parts for more machine tools, but they need a source of power, and a supply of stock metal shapes to do that (and eventually fresh cutting tools)

> The real question is how many of these kind of tools together with a good smelter do you need before you can be self-sufficient and keep making your own sets of tools out of raw materials?

We phrase the R&D question a little differently: What is the best starter kit, and best growth path from the kit to a fully expanded factory? We have a draft starter kit list at , and it includes a lathe, mill, and press, which are basic machines, but there are several others in addition. The starter kit emphasizes flexibility by using attachments to do different tasks. The expanded factory can add more specialized machines as needed, since your starter machines can only do one thing at a time.

> it would be nice to get a set of these kind of tools into the hands of people in 3rd world countries

Providing starter kits for under-developed areas is one of the project goals.

> It is also something important to know about if you are planning on building a colony on Mars or the Moon,

If you can build 85-98% of your stuff from local materials, it dramatically reduces how much you have to bring from Earth. That has huge leverage on what projects are feasible. However, helping people on Earth is a more immediate and larger need. So space versions will be 3rd or 4th generation Seed Factories. The first generation design is for ordinary people right here on Earth.

Comment: Gee (Score 1) 497

by argStyopa (#48461579) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

It's almost like this is a very HARD PROBLEM that hundreds if not thousands of very, very bright people have been working on for years without much success.

Huh. Who'd'a thought?

(I think this entire project, while worthy, shows a staggering level of conceit, if not profound disrespect for brilliant scientists and engineers of previous generations. "Well, if we just get some smart people - I mean GOOGLE smart - and let them think about it, I'm sure they'll find the answer!")

Sometimes the historical ignorance displayed by people today is breathtaking.

Comment: Re:Self-expanding factories (Score 1) 152

by DanielRavenNest (#48461455) Attached to: NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

> Good for you! You are proposing to build an actual von Neumann machine.

The idea of a Von Neumann machine assumes 100% automated and that it copies 100% of it's parts exactly. We don't make those assumptions. Human labor is allowed in the Seed Factory concept, whether hands-on, or by remote control for space versions. Some parts will be too hard to make internally, like computer chips. Other parts will require rare elements that are not available locally. So those items are simply bought instead of trying to make them in-house. We think a reasonable goal is 85-98% internal production by mass, depending on location. Lastly, we don't replicate (copy our parts exactly), we expand by making parts for new machines not in the starter kit, or by building larger versions of existing machines. If you want to, you can eventually produce a copy of the original starter kit, but that is after a period of growth from the seed to the fully mature factory.

> Any estimate on when we will see this is more than just an electronic document?

Our Seed Factory Project [ ] has purchased a 2.67 acre (1 hectare) R&D location in the Atlanta metro area. We are starting to install a conventional workshop, with the intent to build prototypes of the starter kit machines. We plan to collaborate with local area Maker groups and hopefully institutions like Georgia Tech. Our designs will be open-source, which is why we are using Wikibooks and similar sites to document things.

> the WikiBook about this flys at such a high level that it is impossible to tell whether there really is anything here.

You are quite correct. We need to get to detailed designs and calculations, and prove the ideas work in practice. That's why we are setting up a physical R&D location.

The major difference between bonds and bond traders is that the bonds will eventually mature.