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Comment Re:i/o ports and support (Score 1) 76

The Pie has FreeBSD and other Linux distro support and lots of i/O to hook up other peripherals.

And I was running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on a Beagle Bone Black in April of '04 (although its userland was running on a somewhat back-versioned kernel for a couple months until the guy doing the kernel ports got the proper one fully ported).

The Black is not the first Beagle Bone version, either, and it was running Debian Linux from the first time I encountered it. It has lots of I/O hookup opportunities - including onboard USB, Ethernet, video, and lots of GPIOs that can be configured to provide several serial ports and a number of buses, in addition to lots of wiggle wires. And you can stack peripheral boards on it, as well.

Plug in a wall wart, USB hub, keyboard, mouse, monitor, (and, if 4 or 8 Gigabytes of file systems feels too cramped, a USB drive or mount a filesystem from a fileserver). Bingo: a full-blown desktop system with about the power of a cellphone and smaller than a pack of cigarettes (excluding all the stuff you plugged into it, of course).

Which is not to say it's the best choice. it's just one I happen to be familiar with. There are a number of single-board machines out there. Cellphone processor technology is too powerful, cheap, and available to NOT be plowshared.

Comment Re:He's missing the point. (Score 4, Insightful) 130

It would be nice if people could learn to think in terms of threats that fell somewhere between "safe to ignore" and "extinction level event". Or could distinguish between "extreme and expensive" responses and "effective" ones.

9/11 could have been prevented by simple, conservative and inexpensive countermeasures. After 9/11 politicians droned on about how "9/11 changed everything," but the cold sober fact was that it in fact changed nothing. It just showed that some of the things sensible people had already been telling us to do (like reinforcing cockpit doors or getting agencies to work together despite institutional rivalries) really did need to be done. Instead "9/11 changed everything" became the rallying cry for every pet scheme that had heretofore been correctly dismissed as too expensive, hare-brained, or just plain dumb.

Which doesn't change the fact that something needed to be done. Here's the lesson I think we should take into this infrastructure debate: we should take sensible and conservative steps to secure infrastructure against terrorism now, before events put foolish ones on the table.

Comment Re:Good but... (Score 1) 110

Or... what if anytime anyone called a residential number, a nickel was transferred from the caller's account to the callee's account.

That wouldn't stop anyone from making a call where an actual person is likely to be involved; the labor costs for a three minute conversation would swamp that. But it would discourage people from robocalling a hundred thousand people in order to turn up a handful of suckers.

And the public wouldn't have to pay a regulator to try to track down these boiler room operations.

Comment Re:Agrument in favor of modularity (Score 1) 86

I don't have to do anything. Even stored under ideal circumstances li-ion batteries lose capacity.

What matter is capacity relative to demand. In a phone like the Droid Maxx from a few years ago with plenty of surplus battery the phone will still be usable four years later. But something like a Samsung Galaxy S6 barely has enough battery to make it through the day when brand new and is pretty much unusable two years later even under ideal conditions.

Comment Re:There's a lot more iron much closer... (Score 4, Informative) 287

And there's some twenty million tons of gold dissolved in the Earth's oceans. Jules Verne made it the source of Captain Nemo's incredible wealth.

To put twenty million tons of gold in perspective, all the gold that has ever been mined by humans totals up to about 180 thousand tons. To put in another perspective: sure, it's gold, but at a concentration of thirteen billionths of a gram per liter of seawater it's worthless unless you have unlimited time and energy to extract it.

That's the problem with asteroid mining in general. Until the cost of changing an object's momentum goes down drastically it's not worth doing. If Pysche were a 1000 kg block of pure, refined platinum (market price: $34 million) you'd be hard-pressed to retrieve it and return it to Earth at a profit. Which is not to say asteroid mining is a bad idea; but first things first: you've got to reduce the price of interplanetary propulsion by a couple orders of magnitudes. One thing that never happens in a sci-fi asteroid mining scenario is the hero worrying about running out of gas. Propulsion in stories is always practically limitless and free of charge. Real propulsion will never be that good, but it could get good enough.

Comment Re:Not a single time traveler? (Score 4, Insightful) 1447

People who want to assassinate trump are absolutely out of their minds on many different levels. If he dies, we get Pence. Anyone who ever objected to Trump about anything at all should be very, very afraid of Pence.

Let the clown reign, he was lawfully elected, whether we like it or not. At least with him he might throw a temper tantrum in your favor.

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