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Comment Re:Does The End of Flash = Death of the Web? (Score 1) 354

For that matter, the proprietary mobile "app" world sometimes makes me feel like I'm sadly regressing to the Internet as seen the way some application wants me to see it (not in it's native format of HTML), an uncomfortable feeling that reminds me of what it was like to browse the web with the AOL client years back- just a lot bit more modular. The "free native" Internet allowed for a lot of openness (view source, open protocols, for example) and experimentation - something that before was hindered by a single "UI" design and single infrastructure before.

That said, it's not like the new "app" world is all bad - there are some standards there like those set by the Apple App Store and supporting iOS framework that have allowed a ton of cool apps that are simple and effective to flourish. I just dislike the claustrophobic feeling of getting stuck in any one person's way or view I am getting so much these days.

Comment Re:2CaOH + 2CO2 = H2O + 2CaCO3 (Score 1) 292

Presumably a balloon would not even need to be detonated - it could be made to explode from the pressure changes in the atmosphere as it ascends - although it may not release its particles at a desirable altitude in that model. Then there is the release of whatever gas was used (helium) in the balloon, although I don't know what effect that would have on the atmosphere.

Comment Re:In the words of my man Sagan... (Score 1) 155

I like this direction of thinking, personally.

Some of our best and brightest minds in space exploration today have already pointed out that the International Space Station represents a test-bed for sustainability in many ways, and an ecosystem controlled and defined by human activity. Sustainability is one of the greatest goals for humanity, if not the greatest!

Also, to think that all the major advancements in space exploration have happened in, what, the last 40-50 years? What could we do if we really put our minds to it? It's hard to know what benefits could be had, and I think that's always been a challenge - showing the present value of something whose benefit is reasonably unpredictable. We need entrepreneurs and risk-takers to take stabs at these challenges because it is these groups of people who help us quantify, discover and explore what the actual benefits are. Lastly, it's not about failing - it's about what we will not learn by not trying!

Comment Re:"Creative" (Score 2) 460

This is why things like "Google Labs" exist, in my opinion. Just imagine if every company had a formal "Labs" entity within IS/IT. The only problem is that being able to have a free-flowing anything goes R&D-type department (which is separate from your ordinary every-day "structured" or process-based type department) usually requires corporate support, a company of a certain size, enough people, or enough discipline to separate R&D time from planned/organized/structured time.

I believe the core purpose behind Agile methods was originally to support what comes naturally to most developers, which is light-process and getting things done incrementally (which as I recall, is even a practice used in total quality management/TQM). So, really, many of us do "agile" intrinsically in some form, unless you work in a monolithic situation, a large company, one that makes complex or very expensive products that require lots of up-front planning/documentation, or one that requires traditional SDLC/waterfall/project-planning type processes.

If you built an aircraft carrier using agile methods, vs traditional project planning, I wonder, what would the difference be?


Comment Re:Let me say (Score 1) 362

Congratulations to the engineers working on the original project all those years ago.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ed Stone at a recent NASA event, one of those chief engineers, if only briefly. It really is stunning to think of these most-distant man-made objects and what it must be like where they are.

When I asked him how he felt knowing that something he worked on was so far away, his answer was quite short and honest in a humble engineering sort of way: "pretty fantastic"! So absolutely fantastic, indeed!

Whence has the spirit of exploration gone, and how can we keep it strong?

Oh, and when was the last time it needed a reboot?


Comment Re:No easy answers (Score 1) 388

A friend of mine just got a job as a research physicist studying fusion, after a few other career moves in real estate, big oil companies etc. In his own words, it is "real science, a real job, and a real pursuit". I'm somewhat inclined to agree with him.

I'm with you - I build business software applications for a living, and it pays the bills and affords a certain degree of freedom. However, at the end of the day I find myself struggling to answer the question, "what will the lasting contribution of my work to our lives or society be?". I don't need to be famous, but will I have contributed anything other than just my existence? Perhaps it doesn't matter if I make a major contribution or not, or maybe we make them without even knowing it.

That said, I'd much rather be figuring out how to mitigate human suffering, contributing in a meaningful way to human knowledge or simply be researching how to make living/surviving in extreme conditions (i.e. the "new" weather patterns on our planet, space, underwater) better.


Comment Social bookmarking? (Score 1) 311

What's with all the hosted bookmarks/social bookmarking sites looking like they are going to close down all of the sudden? XMarks nearly did, but they sold out to somebody else. Maybe that company (lastpass?) can buy delicious too and maintain both products.

Comment Re:That's pretty cool. (Score 1) 158

Sure, you're right. Perhaps it's a bit of wishful thinking showing through. Nitpicking aside, is it not a positive trend that we are getting annoyed by stories of people trying to send up these balloons? There has to be some reason multiple people have been motivated to do more of these "experiments" or whatever you want to call them. I'm HOPING it's because they are interested in space, science, and fun.

Comment Re:That's pretty cool. (Score 5, Insightful) 158

I would hope that we would rather consider the meaning of the fact that the general public has an interest in reaching space again, and by doing it themselves. Sure, maybe a balloon to the upper reaches of the atmosphere is not anywhere close to launching an Atlas rocket, but I for one am glad that people are still dreaming, and experimenting!

Comment Re:Simplicity (Score 1) 394

Hello, devil's advocate here... I totally agree with the sentiment that keeping things simpler is preferable, and that there are problems created by programmers who either don't care, are trying to preserve their job security (or pad their resumes with buzzwords), don't know better, or don't take the time to think out the design/maintainability of what they are doing.

On a recent project to provide real-time, asynchronously updating, data-driven, interactive graphs and gauges on a modern web application, I had no choice other than to make use of: HTML, CSS, jQuery, Javascript, XML, Flash, PHP, CodeIgniter framework, SQL (MySQL), SimpleUnit, etc. It is always frustrating to realize that we basically have to program in 6 or so different languages/tools (or more) to accomplish something. As you pointed out, even I probably omittted a plethora of other little utilities, supporting infrastructure or OS functionality that was used to support this app.

So, I know your circumstances might have been specific, but, how else do you propose one to meet such a requirement, given today's bag of technology options? The complexity today is just the nature of the beast........ which is why it's ever more important to try darn hard to K.I.S.S.


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