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Comment Travelling in the flesh... (Score 1) 629

I have seen a lot of bits about why interstellar travel may never be practical. All of them seem to assume not only travel in the flesh, but round-trip travel. Realistically, by the time we can build something that can travel to the stars, it seems quite likely that we also can download conciousness into a robot. Send a robotic (one-way) mission to build bodies and transmission equipment, then have the real travellers download themselves, or copies of themselves, via radio. No need for life support or suffer through the boredom of even relativistic travel.

Comment Re:upside down keypads? (Score 2) 120

The fail was that the analysis was done in a time when calculating machines were a speciality item few people were familiar with. 15 years later, they were not. It is worth nothing that some countries went with the AT&T scheme and others stayed with the 7-8-9 layout on their phones. Unfortunately the proliferation of letters on keypads (a lot of countries did not have them) in recent years have made 1-2-3 more prevalent.

Comment Not a new concept (Score 1) 311

The feature set of the Linux VT console has been intentionally limited from nearly the start, and the line has always been: if you need more than this, do it in userspace. There has been several projects which have, for example kon2 which provided CJK functionality -- not something that one can sanely do in the kernel because of font size; similarly, Arabic/Indic font shaping is just plain too painful. For most people, the solution has simply been to bootstrap out of the console as quickly as possible, most of the time never even showing the console. What you find pretty quickly is that if you want something that is fully featured you end up with something that is as complex as X or Wayland anyway, and then you might as well go straight there. The in-kernel console will remain, of course, as an ultimate fallback. If someone wants to give users more options, more power to them.

Comment Re:ought to change the kernel version number to 4 (Score 4, Informative) 464

Two major things: the WP bit doesn't work in supervisor mode on 386, which makes copy on write *very* painful to implement, and the CMPXCHG and XADD instructions which are extremely important to SMP primitives are missing. That has meant needing separate code that only works on 386, and it has not been well maintained and always gets in the way.

Comment Launching a reactor is safer than launching an RTG (Score 0) 122

One thing that is not really covered is that launching a reactor (unlike *operating* a reactor in *low-earth orbit* like the Soviets did) is that it is substantially safer than launching an RTG. An RTG is at its maximum activity at the point of launch, and in the case of a low altitude launch failure could spread measurable radiation over an area. In contrast, the reactor isn't (shouldn't be) activated until already on an earth escape trajectory. "Virgin" (never irradiated) U-235 is not very radioactive: the specific activity is some 8,000,000 times less than Pu-238. If the reactor ends up having a failure and a meltdown it is already on its way away from Earth never to return, and there really is no better dump for nuclear waste than deep space.

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