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Comment CCDev-2 is key (Score 1) 288

A little more quietly, there are four companies now with NASA funded manned space-flight programs: SNC, Boeing, Blue Origin and SpaceX.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/08/nasa-ccdev-2-partners-reveals-progress-milestones/

Once people start flying on any of these vehicles then it opens up more possibilities moving forward. This is the real space race.

Comment Re:"proposing a replacement"?? (Score 1) 249

Ah thank you, I looked for a new article on the blog itself about the proposal and couldn't find any update as the slashdot teaser said.

Interesting solution. Still has problems like SSL/TLS, but a trust network might be no worse than the existing system which relies on paying certificate authorities, the cost really is holding back encrypting things like email or other point to point communications between individuals using computers. Not sure the point of an anonymous proxy though, since that implies you control the communications infrastructure which means an adversary still knows its you or someone in your network, seems like the level of anonymity and untraceability should be a seperate concern. Probably best to role this out for individual communications though, because e-commerce banks and others are probably okay with paying for a certificate from an authority. Get Google on board.

Comment Re:Why the fuck should i need an authority ? (Score 1) 249

Encrypted communications are pointless without knowing if you are actually communicating with the server/computer you think you are. DNS or an IP address can't be trusted in the case where someone has some physical control over the communications infrastructure. To trust DNS or IP addresses is the same as trusting that no one can physically intercept/redirect your communication. Might as well send in clear text or just speak in pig Latin if it makes you feel cool.

That said if your own computer's security is compromised then you are hosed either way as the browser itself can be compromised.

Comment "proposing a replacement"?? (Score 2) 249

Must have missed the part that actually proposes a replacement. Article disses DNSSEC (probably rightly) as being just more complicated than SSL/TLS , but not really any better architecturally.

Seems SSL/TLS does the job pretty well for what it does, at least from an architecture standpoint, it is just a shame that browsers only recognize (by default) only certain trusted certificate authorities, which introduces a third "trusted" party into your two-party communications.

Cutting out the third party (or parties) trust hierarchy would leave you vulnerable to man in the middle attacks, so it is hard to see a way around certificate authorities or something basically identical. DNSSEC, might make sense from the perspective of the same companies providing dns also providing a inline method of verifying that the name of the host matches the certificate and distributing that over the existing DNS infrastructure. Assuming some hierarchy of trusted DNS. But really this would be more of a process improvement, for one stop shopping for DNS and certificates with perhaps some distributedness of the actual certificates to make it a bit more resilient, than anything else more fundamental.

Is SSL/TLS really broken in a way that can be fixed? Or is it the nature of the problem that is the problem?

Comment Re:Not enough energy potential in solar? (Score 1) 474

I was considering this a pretty decent list of things to look at when comparing total costs until I got to "spend millions to obtain ROW to install power transmission lines" in the nuclear category.

But apparently you were proposing that people go off the grid with solar, because shared solar and wind power generation require even greater land usage and a more dispersed power grid than nuclear. And nuclear can be expanded at most existing facilities that have adequate access to water, so there are no additional land acquisition costs to simply expand capacity with new reactors at existing locations. You could probably double nuclear output without taking up much more valuable land with either transmission lines or new plant locations and you can't say that about shared wind and solar resources.

Comment Re:Everybody's right and so am I. (Score 1) 474

Even though the Bonneville Power administration was running 100% with renewables already (without even using microhydro, solar thermal, or tidal), and is making money at it, it's important to notice that Slashdot's mod system says this can't be done.

Of course you can do "it" with hydro-electric, because hydro provides a pretty steady base load from day to day. Even a drought will reduce hydro output over longer time periods measured in months versus the minutes and seconds which the variability of solar and wind output are measured.

Solar and wind are the problem because day to day changes in the weather mean you have to store the energy someplace in order to provide the same base load which reduces efficiency and increases cost quite a bit.

The Southwest US would probably be a good place to try and power a sizable populated area on its own isolated smartgrid primarily powered via solar and wind. But as long as it is connected to a grid which has a stable baseload primarily provided by another source, then solar and wind are freeloaders on other energy sources, which is fine as a supplemental energy supply or if you can live with greater variability in the availability of electricity.

Comment Re:Say waht you will about MS (Score 1) 474

Strictly speaking it is not the energy "potential" that is the the problem with solar and wind power. Plenty of potential, but the land area requirements to practically collect the energy are very big so there are some very real environmental downsides.

But the real problem, as Bill Gates has properly identified is the "baseload" requirement, so if you can only rely on solar and wind 50% to 60% of the time then you need to be able to store the energy efficiently and you need a "smart grid" to distribute the unpredictable energy output. Put it all together and you really can't get to a mostly solar and wind powered grid without huge drops in efficiency through conversion and storage which further increase the deployment costs and land use requirements. Such a system would cost so much that it would have a seriously negative economic impact. Right now solar and wind can get a free ride (efficiency boost) as long as most of the grid is powered via other sources that can provide a consistent baseload

So, I'd say that the physics can be made to work at great cost, but agree that the economics can't work with current or currently foreseeable technologies.

That said, something around 20% solar, wind on the grid would be a good policy goal. But the 80% goal needs to come from nuclear and natural gas and whatever hydro-electric already exists in the US. With the other goals to reduce coal and oil as much as possible and to increase efficiency in energy usage wherever possible.

Comment Re:This all sounds very nice, but... (Score 2) 76

Seriously... "What followed was a race against time to solve the technical, engineering and legal challenges..."

You might want to carefully read the article yourself. This wasn't just a matter or resetting some routers and unplugging them from Tripoli and doing this while under fire from Gaddafi's mercenaries. At least some people, especially non-Libyans, had to know they were going to get paid for all this work and equipment. They basically had to set up a provisional national telecom company after setting up a national government in just a few weeks. Yes, most were probably doing so out of a sense of patriotism, but still you have to have set up some sort of corporate structure to organize this or else all you are doing is setting up unconnected "hot spots" for local calls. Yes, I think politics probably played a big role in the time it took to get this put together. That doesn't mean corruption, it just means that to put together a large communication system serving millions of people that requires a dispersed physical presence that you are going to have to work with the government, and in this case the government is just coming together itself. And I think the "contracts" part probably applies to external agreements outside of Libya, inside Libya it is whatever form of agreements with the transitional government that they could get.

Comment Re:This all sounds very nice, but... (Score 2, Insightful) 76

Actually, I think it was somewhat disturbing that it took a month to get this communication system back online. Even with fighting going on West of Benghazi it seems that getting the infrastructure back in place would have been a huge priority for a variety of reasons and that getting towers back online even just for local communication would have taken days not weeks. I think the delay was probably due more to organizational issues of who had the authority to award contracts in the new regime and how to coordinate restoration of services than any technical or even security reasons.

Comment Re:fucking brits (Score 1) 369

It does add an interesting twist to the story to hear TG claim that Tesla engineers told them 55 miles. But that is not what they said in the episode. According to the clip I saw they portray the driver running out of charge (which didn't actually happen) and then they say that "we worked out that on our track it would run out after just 55 miles".

I think the only thing that really matters is if around 55 miles is an accurate number for its range at track speeds or not. I think it is crap that TG didn't actually run the car for 55 miles on its track on a full charge and it is also crap that Tesla doesn't just run the car around a similarly configured track and similar speeds and tell us what the range really would have been.

Comment Re:fucking brits (Score 1) 369

Actually, sorry they said "worked out" not calculated just after they portrayed the driver losing power on the track. The meaning is clear and the meaning was misleading. But like I said just run the car at its top speed and see how far it goes. Would take less time than talking about it on Slashdot.

Comment Re:fucking brits (Score 1) 369

I would expect if they said "calculated" and then showed the car running out of juice that they had actually tested the car and run out of charge at 55 miles rather than pulled a "calculation" out of their butt and then made it look like it was based on actually driving the car. I think there is a simple solution. Actually run the car at track speeds until it runs out of juice. If I were on a jury I would want to see those results. If TG was right about 55 miles, plus or minus 10 miles then they win. If Tesla is right and it is significantly over that then Tesla wins.

Comment Re:Some people don't understand entertainment (Score 1) 547

If they're on the fence and see that episode, they're likely to go ahead an buy the Porsche, Lotus, etc..

I agree, except I would add if someone is on the fence and simply hears about that episode then they are less likely to buy. Word of mouth and second hand information is a multiplier that marketing is very familiar with. The viewers of Top Gear are just the tip of the ice berg.

Comment Re:Corporate Structure (Score 1) 205

Not a bad idea, but if it is too isolated but without the ability to independently sell or market its products then you get another Xerox PARC situation where you re-invent the world and then nobody at corporate understands what you do or wants to sell something that will compete with the existing bread and butter business. Can also breed resentment with other parts of the organization that are trying to compete internally and externally but with all the corporate overhead that their micro start-up peers do not have.

So, yes spur innovation and create nimble organizational units or subsidiaries, but don't make rookie political mistakes and demoralize all the other people that you hired to build great products and grow the business.

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