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Comment Re:Durability? (Score 1) 72

I've slung my Blackberry Z10 around a hell of a lot, including hammering it, hard, on a wooden desk and hurling it against my study wall hard enough to pop the back off, battery out etc -- about the only good thing I can say about it is that it's built like a brick shithouse. It's been accidentally dropped onto floors and ground of various hardnesses many times, too. Not a mark on it.

Comment "Like it or not..." (Score 1) 130

"like it or not, they're already inside your enterprise" ? Not if you (a) care (some places ask themselves the question and decide, no, for they're quite happy for users to goof off on non-work sites) and (b) either have no clue, or no money. Otherwise, you're using your own firewall rules or you're using one of the many commercial web filtering products, in-the-cloud proxies, appliances etc, in which case... they're NOT already inside your enterprise.

Comment Re:Lunatic? (Score 3, Informative) 1695

From today's paper (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/09/us-soldiers-afghan-civilians-fingers):

US soldiers 'killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies'

Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies. [...]

Comment Easy (Score 3, Insightful) 973

As humans can't survive anywhere else in the solar system, and as travel outside the solar system is impossible, it's obvious that humans will eventually go extinct. So what? The wish-fulfillment of Trekkies notwithstanding, basic physics and engineering make it a practical impossibility. I find the level of debate on this very frustrating. For instance, I guarantee someone somewhere will post something like "If everyone had your attitude, we'd never have left the trees!" (which of course is a self-evidently vacuous and stupid response to my observation about physics and engineering.)

Comment Re:Well, shit (Score 1) 340

Not really, because this is never going to happen. The headline is completely wrong. A "written declaration by the EU Parliament" does not, in any way shape or form, translate to "EU to..." . It's like the school board in Texas passing a resolution to ban science teaching: it means nothing. Move along, please.

Comment Re:Amazing (Score 1) 768

It's amazing that ANY corporation can drill for oil since NONE have stepped up to the plate with a viable solution.

Of course there are solutions: three, in fact.

  • Don't let the well blow out in the first place.
  • The stuff BP's been trying; trigger the BOP by robot. Just because it hasn't worked here doesn't mean it's unreasonable to try.
  • Drill a relief well.

This is a very unusual disaster - the first of it's kind. Plenty of other safe deep-water fields being safely operated around the world. My guess is that once all the wailing has died down, the great American public will basically accept the cost of one of these every 20 or 30 years in exchange for cheap petrol. (You know petrol's roughly $8 a gallon here in the UK? And look, no riots in the streets. Don't tell me -- that's because we let the Marxists take our guns away, right? )

Comment Re:Amazing (Score 1) 768

Did you know that petrol here in the UK is about 122p/l == £5.50/gal == $7.95/gall at current sterling:dollar exchange rate?

Once the US population are happy to vote for gas prices that include some of the externalities that result from oil extraction, refining and consumption, this Brit might start taking the wailing about BP's incompetence and the corrupt regulators and Big Oil and all.

Comment Re:I am skeptical about the results... (Score 1) 410

...of the tests because the conditions these tests will have to deal with vary from amount of dust, to concentration,composition (chemically) and type of equipment to be used. [...] To me, I see the results as those that will be of no consequence.

You're failing to take into account that hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of very large strategic companies (airlines and airport operators) are losing money at a completely unsustainable rate. If this goes on another week, people WILL be laid off. Then there's the political pressure from all those people stuck abroad, and their families friends and employers, are putting on all their national governments to, well, you know... do something.

Those economic interests are now starting to make themselves heard - increasingly noisily. The question is, though, how much ash is too much? And if it's safe to fly from Heathrow to Cardiff, as the British Airways CEO is doing tonight, or for the KLM chairman to fly to Germany from Holland, does that necessarily mean it's safe to fly across the whole of Europe?

Seriously, what do you do? Gradually open up more and more routes, and keep doing it until the first plane falls out of the sky and kills a few hundred people? If that happens, who resigns? Who gets sued? Who gets blamed - by the families, the press, the courts?

In summary then I think you're wrong: these tests are going to have enormous significance. Firstly the international aviation regulators are in danger of (a) looking very silly (b) getting sued to hell and back for damages (c) losing all credibility in the event that, say,Katla goes off in a month or two's time, and a bigger or denser ash cloud drifts over Europe in the same way. Secondly, we don't know what's going to happen if they start trying to fly 25000 flights through European skies on Tuesday, say, until they try it... you fancy being on one of those first-day flights?

Comment Skycrane (Score 4, Informative) 218

Absolutely terrifying animations of the Skycrane EDL architecture : http://www.youtube.com/results?aq=f&search_query=MSL+skycrane&search_type=&hl=en-GB&gl=GB&oq= Skycrane's intended as =the= standard EDL system for all future Mars landers. Frankly MSL scares the crap out of me, because there's only one shot at getting it right, and so much riding on it. Apart from anything else it's the last Mars lander planned for the next decade, apart from the vapourware joint JPL/ESA dual-rovers nonsense supposedly pencilled in for 2016. IMHO that'll never make it past the Powerpoint stage. If MSL lands perfectly it should last years, certainly longer than the astonishingly long-lived MER rovers Spirit and Opportunity. If it fails - that's it until the 2020s.

Comment Re:Economy of Scale (Score 1, Interesting) 283

With Constellation getting knifed, =anything= else is gravy as far as I'm concerned. Good riddance to an empty rhetorical gesture by Dubya in a pathetic attempt to be the 21st Century JFK. There was NEVER any funding for it, and the only positive result was the finally force the retirement of the ludicrous, dangerous, and ridiculously expensive STS. Sure, it makes awesome eye candy, but you got that in '81. Going back to the moon would be an empty gesture that would also burn through huge sums of money. I'm glad the charade is finally over. The only useful thing it would have provided would have been a heavy-lift booster capable of pushing 50 tons to Mars. For NASA to actually get a $6B /INCREASE/ -- on the previous year's budget of only /$13B/-- is absolutely fantastic, far better than I dared hope for. (Yes yes, the $6B is spread over 5 years. So it's only an annual increase of 9% over the 2009-10 budget, every year for the next five years.) My own interest is Mars; this budget raises the possibility that the next decade need not be a re-run of the data drought we suffered in the 80s and much of the 90s. (At the moment, there are only two Mars landers: Mars Science Laboratory, the gigantic nuclear-powered laser-armed beast, of which there is only one, and which is supposed to land with one of the most bizarre EDL systems I've heard of. Search for it on YouTube and prepare to shit yourself as you realised that there's just the one shot for it to work, or the $3B MSL gets lithobraked. Anyway, after that there's a vague plan to land TWO rovers in 2016: one by JPL and one by ESA, on the same vehicle. As the ESA rover, aka ExoMars, has been in development for well over a decade and has repeatedly slipped - in fact it's slipped further than it's been in development, I believe - I put the chances of that coming off at no better than 20%. AND THAT IS ALL. Ridiculous when you remember that the two MERs that are still running today, in the sixth year after landing for a planned 90 Sol prime mission, cost less than two Shuttle launches. I know what kind of footage and images *I* would like to see on the TV news in 5 years time, and it's doesn't include fleshy ones floating around clogging up the view. Anyone in the "space community" (meaning the non-professional interested people, e.g. those posting on this thread) who's moaning about the NASA budget at this point either hasn't been paying attention, is a whacked out 60s reject suffering an acid flashback, or has been watching too much Star Trek.

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