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Comment Re:But but but! (Score 1) 231

Is this going to be driven by space rednecks with astro-mullets carrying their space shotguns?

I think the image you are supposed to get is of space contractors throwing their space toolboxes and some space lumber into a pickup truck and driving over to a construction site.

Notice that if you hire contractors to do some work on your house, they are more likely to show up in pickup trucks than giant vans.

Realistically it's going to be more like a space van or lorry.

I didn't invent the term "space pickup truck". I saw others using it years ago in Internet discussions of space.

The idea is that it is specifically not a giant van or lorry. On rare occasions you might need a giant van, but a pickup truck can be something you use every day. That's the metaphor.

The Space Shuttle was metaphorically a lorry. It had a large cargo volume and could carry heavy loads... to low Earth orbit, on rare occasions. It would be much much more useful to have a fleet of vehicles that can each only carry a tonne or so but can do it frequently, economically, with little drama.

Space X et al. are really just trying to use current technology

They are advancing the state of the art, but yes they are only using the known proven technology. I just read the Wikipedia page for the Skylon, and if Reaction Engine can get that to work, then they deserve all the money. I hope both companies succeed but I'm not pinning my hopes on the radical new technology.

The Skylon promises to be a reusable SSTO craft with a 15 tonne cargo capacity. Obviously 15 tonnes is better than 1 tonne. If it can fly routinely, without excessive maintenance, it should be a huge step forward. But it's a lot more complicated than what SpaceX is trying to do, and therefore a lot higher risk.

If the Skylon works, but it turns out that the engines have to be torn down and rebuilt after every flight, and SpaceX can make 20 flights for every one Skylon flight, then SpaceX will win.

Comment Re:that's the entire point of facebook (Score 1) 79

I do not want to give FB any personal information....

What's the difference between giving it to FB or giving it to anyone else? If you want to "dip your toe into the social media thing" (and you don't consider /. social enough), FB's probably the way to go. A lot of people find it worth the time/sacrifice. A lot of /. users love announcing that they avoid it (just like cable-cutters won't shut up about life without TV), but my guess is that most /. users are also FB users. Feel free to falsify information - They have exactly what you give them. I'm not an Instagram user, but my impression is that it's mostly media sharing - I'm not sure that's the aim you want to start out with for business use.

Comment 13 times less? (Score 1) 160

What are we supposed to infer from this?

engineers in India's tech hub cost 13 times less than their Silicon Valley counterparts

So, the engineers in Silicon Valley cost less than somewhere else, but the ones in India are thirteen times MORE less expensive than the ones in SV? Or are we supposed to gather that the SV engineers cost something that we should all consider a good baseline, but that the Indian engineers cost roughly 8% of that amount?

Lazy writers, being lazy.

Comment Re:But but but! (Score 4, Interesting) 231

I definitely am a fan of the idea of doing space exploration in a systematic way. We should build a space station that includes a fuel depot, and use it as the hub of space operations.

I am loathe to just destroy the ISS. It was expensive to get it up there and it should be affordable to keep it going. How hard is it really to just boost it into a higher orbit? If we want to save money we might want to stop having people on board for a while... just turn off the life support and other things, but do keep boosting its orbit to keep it where it is.

We will have a real game-changer once we have a "space pickup truck", a launch vehicle that can take a relatively small amount of cargo to orbit, but can do it affordably and frequently. The biggest problem with the Space Shuttle (aside from the fact that it was only 99% safe) was that it took man-decades of labor after each flight to service an orbiter for the next flight.

SpaceX is really working on the "space pickup truck" idea. Recovering the first-stage booster to be refueled and re-used is part of making launch more affordable.

Additionally I would love to see a mass driver or other sort of "cannon" to fire inert payloads (oxygen, water, fuel, dried food, sturdy electronics) to orbit. I've read about this. The biggest problem is that anything you fire from Earth will return to Earth unless its trajectory can be altered; the two obvious ways to do that are to put jets on the cargo capsules so they can adjust their own trajectory, or to have some sort of cargo capture system (a net? a drone with grabber arms?). I favor the latter because I want the cargo capsules to be as simple and cheap as possible.

Once we have an affordable way to get fuel into orbit, all sorts of things become possible. Make a rugged and simple craft that can shuttle back-and-forth between Earth and the Moon, and Moon visits become dramatically simpler and cheaper. Re-boosting the ISS, re-boosting satellites, launching space probes, all of it becomes much simpler and cheaper. Once you are in orbit you are halfway to anywhere in the solar system.

Comment Re:Yeah, real "terrifying" (Score 1) 195

Kitchen knife use case #1: Kill insufficiently Muslim heathens working for the oppressive British Government! (this use case was seen just the other day)

Kitchen knife use case #2: Make a sandwich. (this use case also seen just the other day)

Maybe you don't have the problem. But, for example, a city here in our state has been known to have a problem with "protesters" deciding that they're going to fix the problems with the culture in their local neighborhood by smashing the few remaining businesses in that neighborhood and burning the houses of the few little old ladies who haven't already decided they'd be safer living elsewhere as a homeless street person than in the middle of place like that.

The cops are too scared to even attempt to mitigate all of that violence and destruction unless they have function physical protection while trying to push a mob of looting arsonists away from the stores they're trying to destory. A tool that helps them to do that is a good thing. If somebody has a problem with the fact that a politician with the wrong idea about things might use such a tool to chase away people who aren't being violent and destructive, then they need to vote for different politicians. In the meantime, recognize the fact that there actually ARE violent, destructive herds of "protesters" who actually do get together to destroy and smash and steal things, and that it's absurd to tell a police officer to risk being, say, burned alive or having her head caved in to try to repel looters. A tool is a tool. There are always going to be outlandish or absurd use cases. If there is NO good use case (say... police batons with spikes on them?) then of course the tool is worth ridiculing. Giving cops a tool to protect themselves while preserving others' lives and property is a good thing. Misusing it is a bad thing, but that's true of cop cars and every other tool they've always had.

Comment Re:Take whoever came up with this (Score 0) 152

Well, you're just wrong. I've personally watched inventory shrinkage drop into the measurement noise with the introduction of technology-based tools that catch the people who steal - because other employees understand there are consequences.

Yes, it's a shame that throughout all of human history and in every level of society and income, some people like to steal stuff. Someone who is trying to make a living running a business and who has to make payroll every week and keep customers happy won't usually have a lot of luck changing human nature. Now, I know that you've personally solved these human nature problems in your own area, and no longer feel any need to lock your doors or in any way look after your personal safety, because you've fixed everybody that you might encounter or who might want your stuff.

Yes, people stealing things IS a problem. And taking measures to stop it from happening to you isn't irrational. Yes, more parents should raise kids that have some sort of moral compass and which are educated and motivated enough to go out and create things so that they can trade the fruit of their labors for the stuff they want, instead of stealing it. Your notion that it's wrong-headed to use convenient tools to help deal with the fact that there are lots of people out there who DO find it easier (or even, in some cases, more entertaining) to steal stuff than buy it - never mind, I realize that you're trolling. Silly me.

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