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Comment: Re:This coin has two sides (Score 1) 201

by Mysticalfruit (#47803851) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets
Let me be the first to let you in on a secret... Rocket science is hard. Last time I checked, the Falcon9 is racking up an impressive reliability record. Yeah, he wants to launch lots of them... which would you rather have, a ramshackle build an launch as fast as you can damn the torpedoes, oh well if a couple blow up or a systematic engineering driven approach to build a simple, ultra reliable, reuseable launch system.

I don't know of a single launch system that's <i>ever</i> been on time. When managers sit down with powerpoint and make up launch schedules and total tons lofted, they're just blowing smoke.

The only evidence they've provided is the fact that they've been modifying the stannis testing facility to test their mega rocket engine. Oh and that they've been building parts and testing them... you know doing engineering things.

This is a natural progression. They started with the Falcon1, then the Falcon9, now this. Yeah, it's going to be a long road, but Musk has proven himself capable of getting shit done. Not at your unrealistic speed.

Do I think SpaceX will launch a HLV? Yes. Will it be on schedule. Yes, because SpaceX won't commit to a schedule until they've got something tested. Will it require some serious engineering? Yes.

Now, how will this effect the thing Nasa is working on? Who knows. I wish NASA would get out of the business of launching things and focus more on the things being launched.

Comment: Pumped storage and transport (Score 3, Informative) 213

by fyngyrz (#47803603) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

I like pumped storage:

o Lovely water recreation areas - swimmable, boatable, fishable
o So while it costs land, it returns most of that land for public use
o Fish and other aquacritter habitat
o excellent control of recovery rate
o doesn't significantly wear out (and if you were to make it underground, won't even evaporate... expensive, but...)
o easy maintenance
o highly scenic
o No red-hot nothing, no batteries, works fine unless it freezes (so in higher latitudes... not good.) ...there's lots of pumped storage already (~104 GW). More. More! MOAR!

I *also* like this idea for pumped transport:

Imagine a C shape that is almost closed -- just a few feet short of meeting at the ends. It's an almost circular canal. From one end of the C, you pump water into the other end of the C (and add any replacement volume required by evaporation.) This creates a current that operates the entire length of the C. Now, put two of these next to each other. Pump the second one in the opposite direction. Put cranes (or locks) at the ends, so that transport platforms can be moved from one direction to the other. Cost? Initially, Pumps, cranes, canal, transport platforms. In operation: pump energy (solar, please) and evaporation refill. Unless you roof it. :) Length? very, very amazingly long, and if roofed, even longer.

Air pressure. Gravity. Water. Make it work for us. :)

Comment: Behavior (Score 4, Interesting) 301

by fyngyrz (#47801883) Attached to: Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

> If you cannot even trust the platform, then how does your logic work?

The logic works fine. Platforms can work fine too. Society, however, doesn't. So that part is up to you.

> Can't trust cell phone cameras. By definition it's a camera attached to a communications device. It's designed to share that photo.

Exactly right. Buy a DSLR if you require discretion in photography. Ensure it does not have network connectivity (some do... Canon 6D, for instance.) If you take an image with a cellphone camera, be aware before you ever shoot it that you can have no reasonable expectation of privacy whatsoever. It goes further than that, too. When using a smartphone, again be aware you have no reasonable expectation of privacy whatsoever with regard to texts, voice conversations, video conversations, email, your location, billing, logging and so one for every service the phone provides you (or others) with.

> Can't trust storing it on a PC as PCs are connected to the Internet in the overwhelming majority of instances.

No. If you want to store something that requires discretion, then you require a non-network connected PC. There's no inherent need to connect a PC to a network. Just because you can, doesn't mean you have to. Nor is there a need to construct a PC with bluetooth, wifi and so on. Nor is there a need to leave a PC in a generally accessible location and/or condition. These are all user choices. Make them wrongly, and your security is compromised. But they are not inevitabilities. There's a lesson here: just because others do something in some particular manner does not mean that you have to do so.

> Then there's the whole point of a picture, looking it at it. Typically that means more than just the picture-taker looking at it

Again, no. This is also user choice. You are responsible for the consequences of your choices, and for knowing the things you need to know to make those choices well. The key here is to be informed enough to make the most correct choices. "It's typical" is not a metric that binds anyone in any way. If you embrace such a thing, you either choose to do so or you are so ignorant that you know no better, in which case anyone who trusts you with data that requires discretion is making a serious mistake.

The images I have taken or otherwise created that I have *decided* you may see are here. The ones I have *decided* you may not have access to, you will never, ever see, barring use of military levels of force. These conditions were quite literally trivial to instantiate and maintain. Think, choose, easy implementation, all done.

> For all we know, none of these women's accounts were compromised. Their boyfriends, husbands, ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends accounts could have been, or those people could have shared the photos with others, and their accounts were compromised.

The issue isn't account centric. It is behavior centric. You must identify data that needs protection; you must identify the trustworthy in regard to both persons and systems; you must control distribution; you must employ discretion and ensure that your knowledge is up to the task of seeing all these things through. If you cannot do these things, you are (at the very least) a potential victim of your own limitations. And you should probably fix that. :)

Comment: Use case is the issue (Score 2) 301

by fyngyrz (#47801649) Attached to: Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

To be fair, there's the good Cloud and the bad Cloud.

No. There isn't. There's good use of cloud and bad use of cloud. If it's not a problem for random people, business entities, criminals and governments to have access to your data, then cloud storage can be convenient and harmless. Using cloud for storage of anything personal, proprietary, secret or dangerous is outright stupid. Marketing bullshit aside, you are putting your data in multiple-someone-else's hands and you have *zero* control over where it goes from there. There is no assurance of security whatsoever. There never has been. It is extremely unlikely there ever will be.

These truths extend to your own use of storage. Storing information on your boot drive can expose it to others if the machine ever needs repair and you cannot do the work yourself and you let the machine out the door with the boot drive and/or backup drives still installed. Connecting a machine with information on any attached storage device to the Internet creates a risk constructed of a very long list of possible errors whose genesis can be traced to the author(s) of your operating system and/or your own security procedures. Allowing others physical access to your machine can expose your data. Even the possibility of physical access to your machine, regardless of your authorization, can do so.

Most people don't understand security, and have not learned to be discrete, and are very poor evaluators of who, and what, are actually trustworthy. Unfortunately, this creates a situation where the gullible fall into the trap set by marketers claiming things like cloud storage are "safe." We can't fix this without specific education on the matter, and with a school system that can't even graduate people who can read and write well, the required understanding of secure data handling will almost certainly remain in the realm of the sophisticated technical person. And the clouds will continue to precipitate data the owners wanted to remain undistributed to many places it wasn't expected to go.

Comment: Wrong idea. (Score 4, Interesting) 301

by fyngyrz (#47801497) Attached to: Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

What it comes down to is, if you don't want naked pictures of yourself to end up for all the world to see, don't take naked pictures of yourself. Famous or not, just don't do it.

No. What it comes down to is who, and what, are trustworthy. Cloud services are not trustworthy. Some people are not trustworthy. This doesn't just apply to images; it applies to financial information (banks are not trustworthy), to your behavior in public (those other people at parties are not trustworthy) and so on.

There's no need to give up intimate entertainment. You just need to learn to be discrete, and this means very carefully evaluating who, and what, are trustworthy. I will grant that in the face of all the cloud propaganda, the social networking tsunami, the government's drive to list everyone and everything, and people's innate tendency to gossip, this may no longer be obvious, but discretion is, in fact, one of the key characteristics of a mature and healthy personality.

If you don't want something repeated, don't say it. If you don't want it shared, don't share it. But you can still do it. From there, the advisability of "doing it" becomes a question of one's morals and ethics -- and perhaps the law. While the law is often completely wrongheaded, we must always remember the amount of power in the system's hands.

Discretion: That's what is at the core of all of this. Not self-censorship.

Biotech

The Passenger Pigeon: A Century of Extinction 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the coming-soon dept.
An anonymous reader writes On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last passenger pigeon was found dead in her aviary at the Cincinnati Zoo. When the first European settlers arrived in North America at least one of every four birds on the continent was a passenger pigeon, making them the most numerous birds in North America, and perhaps in the world. From the article: "But extinction apparently doesn't ring with the finality it used to. Researchers are working to 'de-extinct' the bird. They got their hands on some of the 1,500 or so known passenger pigeon specimens and are hoping to resurrect the species through some Jurassic Park-like genetic engineering. Instead of using frog DNA to fill out the missing parts of a dinosaur's genetic code as in Michael Crichton's story, the real-life 'bring-back-the-passenger pigeon' researchers are using the bird's closest relative, the band-tailed pigeon.

Comment: Old Shite (Score 2) 615

by fyngyrz (#47791649) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

I really, *really* liked my late 1970's-era 6809 system. 64k of RAM, custom graphics and sound cards of my design, timers, serial port, multiple floppies. I thought it was getting old in the tooth (it wasn't, it still works, should have had more faith I suppose), so I wrote an emulator for it -- the entire system, hardware, software, a front panel (which the original didn't even have) everything. Still works great, but due to the increase in CPU power over the years, the emulator is one heck of a lot faster than the original hardware. You can use it too, if you're so inclined and you're running some version of Windows, XP or later (might still work under Windows 95 and/or 98 for that matter.) Includes various compilers (Dugger's c compiler, for instance), forth, assembler, cross-assemblers, linkers, basics, some arcade video games that used the graphics hardware, and probably the vast majority of the commands that were available for the DOS, which was FLEX09. Percom PSYMON monitor. If you ever wanted to play in a nice, safe assembler sandbox, it doesn't get any better than the 6809. It just gets faster and wider.

For linux, the answer is Midnight Commander. Between the very nice editor and the dual-pane do-lots-of-things text mode interface, it's still my go-to under linux, I even use it on the Mac. Thankfully, they've kept it reasonably up to date, although making a native mac version without inflicting a much broader *nix ports package on the system is a real pain in the butt.

For the Mac, I use both of the above, MC natively and my emulator under a VM running a network-isolated XP, and I still run a PPC version of my HP-48G, which, I'm afraid, has made any other calculator use not only pointless, but nearly impossible. I also have two of these calculators in hardware, both of which still work fine. Because Apple dropped PPC support at OSX 10.7, my daily driver machine still runs OSX 10.6 and is likely to continue to do so unless I can find a native version of the HP emulator for Mavericks. When I decided to move past OSX 10.6 (Mavericks is actually quite nice, finally), I bought a new machine and plopped it down in my ham shack.

Ham radio: Easy. My Palomar loop antenna. This tiny (about a cubic foot) antenna system has pluggable loops for 150-500 khz, 500-1700 khz, 1700-4000 khz, and 4000-15000 khz. I like to drag it out into the unimproved areas a few tens of miles from here where there are zero power lines, telephone cables carrying data, neon and other signage, plasma TVs, buildings and so on, and enjoy amazingly good, noise-free SW and amateur radio reception on the radio in my truck without having to set up a physically large and cumbersome antenna. I also have a Panasonic RF-2200 portable analog radio that I take on trips. Both of these are pretty old, tech-wise, but both remain in regular use and have stood the test of time very well indeed.

Music: A Marantz 2325 stereo receiver and a pair of Marantz HD-880 speakers. Not only does this setup sound nothing less than awesome, it eliminates the tedious menu surfing that more modern gear forces upon us. Everything's on a front panel knob. Everything. I have (very) modern gear in the home theater, but in my office, the old Marantz blue face remains king.

Lastly, I still have, and continue to play, a 1950's Fender Stratocaster guitar. I have a fair collection of more modern guitars, but the strat's neck is still the best of all of them. Luckily, for most of my life I've been a casual enough musician, and have spent enough time on other guitars, that I've not had to have the thing re-fretted. I don't look forward to that. I can't imagine it'll be the same. Of all the old stuff I have, this is the thing that has not only kept its value, but appreciated far beyond any dollar figure I could ever have anticipated. Not selling it, though. Ever. :)

Comment: Image processing (Score 4, Interesting) 179

by fyngyrz (#47787737) Attached to: Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

I use -- and write -- image processing software. Correct use of multiple cores results in *significant* increases in performance, far more than single digits. I have a dual 4-core, 3 GHz mac pro, and I can control the threading of my algorithms on a per-core basis, and every core adds more speed when the algorithms are designed such that a region stays with one core and so remains in-cache for the duration of the hard work.

The key there is to keep main memory from becoming the bottleneck, which it immediately will do if you just sweep along through your data top to bottom (presuming your data is bigger than the cache, which is typoically the case with DSLRs today.) Now, if they ever get main memory to us that runs as fast as the actual CPU, that'll be a different matter, but we're not even close at this point in time.

So it really depends on what you're doing, and how *well* you're doing it. Understanding the limitations of memory and cache is critical to effective use of multicore resources. You're not going to find a lot of code that does that sort of thing outside of very large data processing, and many individuals don't do that kind of data processing at all, or only do it so rarely that speed is not the key issue, only results matter. But there are certainly common use cases where keeping a machine for ten years would use up valuable time in an unacceptable manner. As a user, I am constantly editing my own images with global effects, and so multiple fast cores make a real difference for me. A single core machine is crippled by comparison.

Comment: Sources of water (Score 1) 538

by fyngyrz (#47787677) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

The moisture source for lakes and rivers is -- inevitably -- precipitation over lands upstream. Either as direct runoff, or as recurring eruptions from underground aquifers. If the prevailing winds don't bring the more humid air over the cooler, higher landscape, sure, you'll see drought. But you'd see it anyway, more heat or not. When the prevailing winds are bringing more moisture over those same types of terrain, you're going to see more precipitation, not less.

The historical record bears this out. When the earth is warmer, we get (a lot) more plant growth. That's simply not going to happen if the precipitation is reduced for any reason. And, at least as far as I am aware at this time, there is no mechanism that would cause reduction in precipitation. Warmer air holds more moisture, yes, and that effect is in full view in the tropics -- with deluge level rainfall when that moist air hits colder atmosphere and the moisture inevitably precipitates as rain. 400 inches / year as opposed to about 100 inches / year in otherwise similar temperate regions.

I would certainly agree that if the wind patterns change, then the rainfall will too. In both directions. But it seems a little farfetched to say that such changes will result in a consistent decrease in winds traveling onshore. What would such a claim be based upon?

Comment: Re: Impacts (Score 1) 538

by fyngyrz (#47787631) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Is this year actually a warmer year? Didn't I just read that we're in a 20-year hiatus in the warming trend?

Yes, warmer air holds more moisture -- anyone who has worked the steam tables to convert between relative and absolute humidity knows that (and I have done so for my auroral photo opportunity prediction freeware), but it's also susceptible to precipitating more moisture when convection brings that moist air up into the colder altitudes. That's why tropical rainfall tends to be in deluges as compared to, for instance, the typical rain shower in Pennsylvania. We know for a fact that the tropics are warmer and wetter in terms of rainfall amounts per year -- and that since they are warmer, their air can hold more moisture. But that's not stopped them from having much more rainfall than anywhere else. While there certainly may be outlier statistics, the general case seems clearly to be: warmer = wetter = more rainfall.

Temperate rainforests get as much 100 inches / year. Tropical rainforests get up to 400 inches / year. If it's not the heat that's doing it, what do you propose is the mechanism?

If it *is* the heat that's doing it, then what is the mechanism where more heat, heat that corresponds with previous tropical climates in the earth's past, won't repeat the same effect here? Looking at the past CO2 level graphs as correlated with plant growth and temperature, there's a very strong correlation with CO2 and plant growth, and with temperature. Plants love CO2, but they still need moisture to survive, and where there's more plant growth, it's pretty much a certainty that there's a significant water supply.

So far, anyway, the idea of warming in the tropics -- or anywhere there's basically unlimited water and related prevailing winds -- leading to drought seems to be a non-starter.

It's not that I can't accept it, it's just that to accept it, I need a sound scientific reason to do so. Just saying that one expects drought in the tropics seems like hand-waving at this point. There are plenty of legitimate concerns - a slight, very, very slow rise in sea level, movement of crop-appropriate bands in cultivated areas, that sort of thing, but tropical drought doesn't appear to be one of them.

Also, recent news shows increased plant growth worldwide... something to think about in a situation where CO2 is known to be increasing at an accelerated rate.

Comment: Re:"Accidentally" (Score 1) 415

by Mysticalfruit (#47786215) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?
While I could see this as a viable (mis)use of the technology, I still think having every officer wearing a camera that they can not turn off or disable and records every interaction they have with the public as a good thing.

Provided that the laws are written so that the footage is automatically admissible in court. This puts everybody on a level playing field.

It would be interesting to see who'd oppose this. My friends who are cops are the first to say that asshole cops make their jobs harder.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman

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