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Comment Re:Creative billing (Score 4, Insightful) 129

There is, of course, the possibility that the man was just a good coder who was handed jobs that were bid as "six months of a full-time programmer" which he then slapped together in an afternoon of wild hacking and then just billed for the rest of the time while sitting in a bar. Pulling this off at two different employers at the same ime is impressive, but since employers don't exactly talk to each other who's just hired on I can easily see how one could fly under the radar like this.

Comment Re:#1 (Score 1) 147

Just curious what made you pick this one item. Yes, landing on Mars is hard. Then again, just getting TO Mars is hard. Then again, launching off Earth is hard. There's a whole string of events that all have to work to make this a success, and I'm slightly confused why you'd point to the landing stage as the important (or "critical" or "worrysome") one. From what I can gather, Mars probes have failed at launch, on transit, on approach (that's where Lockheed's screw-up with imperial units comes in) but once you're at the right speed in the atmosphere I'm not aware of any failures with descent/landing. I'm not saying there never were any, I'm certainly no expert, but I can't remember hearing of a Mars probe that made entry into the atmosphere at the expected angle and speed and then failed to make proper landing. Was there ever such a thing?

Comment It isn't NASA's JPL. (Score 2) 35

JPL is NOT a NASA center. Why is that so hard to get into people? JPL is a division of Caltech. The people there have contracts that say they work for Caltech. They get paychecks from Caltech.

JPL had hardware in Earth's orbit before NASA even existed.

JPL does a lot of work for NASA (i.e work where NASA is a customer - think Mars rovers etc) but at all times, some fraction of JPLs work is non-NASA. Has always been. The fraction has historically varied. Especially in the sensors, detectors and instrumentation side of the house, the fraction of non-NASA projects can easily exceed 50%. Yes, that includes DOD customers, but a lot of people appear to forget NOAA (who do you think invents all those clever weather satellites?) and a host of smaller research organizations (like, in this case, Carnegie) who simply need the best of whatever device they're looking for.

JPL is not cheap - if you want cheap, go somewhere else. But if you need something that measures subtle signals (like distinguishing individual types/genus/species of underbrush from each other from aircraft altitude to identify and monitor invasive species) in adverse conditions for years at a time, then JPL is probably the go-to shop. And no, it is not "NASA's JPL" and yes, your money is just as welcome as anybody else's.

Comment Re:Godspeed, Endeavour. (Score 0) 55

Yes and no. The time for industry to pick up the ball was in the eighties - the US and USSR had shown you can put a man into space, how to do it, where the biggest problems are and how to mitigate them. By the 1970, people had walked on the moon. By the mid seventies, everything was in place. That's when the shuttles were designed.

As it turns out, there's literally nothing in space. There's no conceivable economic gain to be had this quarter from sending people into space - and that's all that matters to big business. Even VC funding, which has a longer 5-7 year time horizon and doesn't absolutely insist on profit, doesn't see any viable business in low-earth orbit.

Right now, my hope is with nut-cases like Elon Musk; rich kids with more money than sense who want to go into space because it's cool.

Comment Makes sense to me (Score 4, Insightful) 298

There may be a hiring boom in "IT folks", but what does have to do with computer science? A hiring boom in plumbing doesn't mean we should have universities teach more hydrodynamics.

Let's face it: 97% of "computer science" graduates end up as code monkeys or cable stringers in jobs that a six-week trade certificate would be entirely sufficient to qualify for.

Comment Re:guilty eh? (Score 1) 964

The horrible thing, to me, is that they're trying to use it to push securing your home internet. Breaking home wireless encryption isn't that hard, and it would have made it far more difficult for him to prove his own innocence. It's a bit of a double-edged sword.

Exactly! What most of the posters here seem to miss is the fact that the headline here is FALSE! What this case underscores is the need to leave your Wifi open and unsecured because that was what got this guy exonerated in the end!

This cannot be stressed often enough: if your Wifi is secured, YOU are responsible for everything that passes over it! Including the child-porn, bomb-making instructions, drug-recipes and whatnot that are passed through it by the 14-year old next door who has two brain cells (which is all it takes to realize you don't do this kind of thing on your parent's wifi and to google the simple instructions for breaking your neighbor's WEP key in under five minutes).

If anything, this underscores the importance of leaving Wifi open!

Comment Re:Spam (Score 2) 211

It's surprising because the peak of the sun's spectrum is in the green. So the plants ignore the strongest part of the spectrum. That is surprising.

There's nothing surprising here anywhere for people who have actually thought aout this. Please refrain from confusing your ignorance with some kind of general human lack of expectation of this very result.

- Some photosynthetic processes benefit from being executed as often as possible. They thus benefit from chemical processes that absorb in the red, because there are many more photons per wavelength interval in the red than in the green (as a matter of fact, in terms of photons per second per area per solid angle, the sun doe NOT peak in greeen. It peaks in the near-IR). Thus evolution drove towards an optimum of absorption in the red.

Some other photosynthetic processes need as much energy as possible. They thus benefit from absorption in the blue, since the energy per photon is higher in the blue than anywhere else that the atmosphere transmits.

There is thus no reason to expect any biological system to optimize for absorption in the green (other than for non-photosynthetic reasons like attracting insects or such). If the number of photon counts, absorb red; if the energy per photon is more important absorb blue. It would be a rather odd coincidence ever to find something as complex as a biosphere that just so happens to develop a chemistry where the two just so happen to be perfectly balanced in the middle AND is unable to develop more than one chemical pathway to make use of sunlight (photosynthesis has been re-re-re- discovered during evolution many times).

Comment Re:data recorder (Score 1) 347

it's 128MB. The first 64MBchip is addressed correctly, the second one is mapped into the rest of the 500GB (I.e. responds to the low-significant bits no matter what happens on the high end of the address bus). The FAT and the root directory end up in the first 64MB. Large data files end up "up there somehwhere".

It ain't exactly rocket science.

Comment Re:Enough is enough (Score 2) 159

Is it easier to carry a fat tube than a thin rectangle? Possibly.

No. Definitely not.

Anybody who has ever flown with a laptop (which will fit into any backpack) knows the practicality of that situation - but anybody who has ever tried to fly with any kind of tube, knows how next-to-impossible that is. The overhead bins are made for rectangular items, so is the space underneath the seat in front of you. And where do you put it after you unroll it?

What possible advantage is there to something bulky that cannot be stacked; when we've already figured out how to make it razor-thin and infinitely packagable?

Comment Re:Good for US economy (Score 1) 617

If anyone doesn't, they are opening themselves up to risk of lawsuit.

I think this is an understatement. What I read this to mean is "If anyone doesn't, they are opening themselves and everybody downstream up to risk of lawsuit."

So Dow uses your pipe to make some plastic that gets whole-sold to some manufacturer that makes high-quality cutting boards that you can buy at Bed Bath And Beyond. Apparently they're now on the hook too. And if I buy that cutting board to make sandwiches that I sell from a cart by the street, then I'm on the hook as well. And if my cart is located on MS's campus in Redmont and I sell my sandwiches to their employees...

Hilarity ensues.

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