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Comment Re:I'll document it tomorrow (Score 1) 537

I find that whenever I try to set a hard, fast programming rule, I find side cases where I honestly probably should break it. It doesn't matter what the rule is about - spacing, line wrapping, what belongs in a class vs. a standalone function, what files to put various pieces of code... whatever rule I make, I find cases where it probably would be better for me not to follow it.

The same happens with comments. I'm very much in the school of long, descriptive function names and variables that are self-commenting. I hate coming across old, outdated comments that no longer apply to the code; with long, descriptive variable and function names, you can read what's happening and it's always up to date. And often that's enough. The code says what it's doing, it's straightforward... job done.

But that's not always enough. Because it's one thing to say what's happening. But it's another thing to say "why". When was the last time you put the word "because" in a variable or function name? That's what comments should be for. Not what you're doing, but why you're doing it. Sometimes code just needs descriptive variable and function names. But sometimes you really need the "why" explained.

Comment Re:I'll document it tomorrow (Score 1) 537

Or the more annoying:


void fn193(dt_1011 a)
{
/* BEGIN FUNCTION */

/* IF a is greater than 5 THEN*/
    if (a > 5)
    {
/* Loop 10 times */
        for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
        {
/* Call fn828 with arguments a and i */
            fn828(a, i);
        }
/* end IF statement */
    }
/* end FOR loop */

...

/* END FUNCTION */
}

.... without ever having mentioned why they're doing any of it. Yes, someone who used to work here actually programmed like that. A comment on almost every line, and none of them at all useful. :P

They did sometimes have function headers. Unfortunately they were mostly cargo-cult style copies, full of meaningless cruft and long-outdated information, and... it almost hurts me to say this... doublespaced. ;)

Comment Re:Why no 4k footage of the moon? (Score 2) 48

You said both the Moon and Mars. Can you not even read your own posts?

FYI, there are not "millions of people" who would like to sit around staring at a picture that only very slowly changes. And there's no point to live video anyway because there's no action; you can just broadcast stills and interpolate between them if that's what you want. All stills that NASA captures are released publicly for people like you to oggle at.

Lastly, in case you're actually curious, there are four missions active at the moon right now: ARTEMIS P1, ARTEMIS P2, LRO, and Chang'e 5-T1. The former two don't have cameras; they're simple satellites for studying radiation and magnetic fields. Chang'e 5-T1 is just a test mission for China to advance its technology for future moon missions. LRO is the only one that takes pictures. You can see them here. Unlike Mars, a well designed spacecraft like LRO (although not a cheap spacecraft) could have enough bandwidth for streaming live HD video. But LRMO is quite reasonably designed for science, not screensavers. It has three cameras. Two are black and white cameras which are more like a telescope (as with most spacecraft cameras) - black and white for maximum resolution (every pixel measuring brightness rather than every several combined pixels). I don't know if you've ever tried to capture video through a telescope while moving relative to the object you're trying to capture, but as a general rule it doesn't work very well, and there is nothing about the hardware that's setup for video processing. The third is a wide angle colour camera... "wide angle" in that the camera images are many times wider than they are tall, designed for capturing (nonaligned) strips of the surface in seven spectral bands (which do not correspond directly to what the human eye sees, but are most useful for determining the composition of the surface)

Not that they would ever waste such an expensive instrument's time on capturing a glorified screensaver for Slashdot ACs.

If you want a screensaver satellite, find someone who's willing to pay many tens to several hundred million of dollars to make a fancy screensaver.

Comment Re:Any photos of the entire Earth? (Score 1) 48

LM doesn't mean Lunar Lander, it means Lunar Module. I don't know why you expect NASA's search engine to find things when you call them by the wrong name. Do you expect it to turn up pictures of the space shuttle if you type in "Space Bus"?

As for your other stuff, you're clearly trolling, and I don't feed trolls.

Comment Re:I think (Score 2) 48

Thankfully the URL is easy to remember... just like images.google.com.

It's kind of amusing searching for keywords that you wouldn't expect to show up on a NASA image search. For example, I found a Native-American juggling hoops, old ladies line dancing at a farmers' market, kids dressed as Men in Black dancing underneath the Shuttle Endeavour, people using the primary mirror of James Webb to take selfies, actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) singing, NASA's hip-hop dance team Forces In Motion (travels around middle schools teaching Newton's laws), James Ingram singing "I believe I can fly" in front of Bill Nye, NASA administrator Dan Goldin laughing with (hopefully not at) a "bubble boy" in a protective suit, enough frames of someone testing out a spacesuit to make a stop-motion dance video, and a bunch of other unexpected weirdness.

Comment Re:Why no 4k footage of the moon? (Score 1) 48

What are you talking about? We''ve been sending some damned impressive cameras out into space of late. Heck, even not just "of late". Have you seen the HiRISE images of Mars? Forget 4k, you can download those in 8k.

Now, if you're talking constant live 4K video footage, the problem isn't the cameras, it's the bandwidth over such huge distances.

Comment Perfect timing (Score 2) 48

The timing on this is perfect. A group I'm in is working on a book and right now going through trying to get copyright permission on all of the images we want to use (and sometimes you can't get it without paying fees, or can't get in touch with the author). Having such a huge wealth of public domain images all together on one seemingly well-designed search engine will be great for finding substitutions.

Too bad there's no ready substitution for figures from papers, however :P For a nonprofit book a lot of the big servers charge around $50 per image. Which for a full length book (dozens of figures) is thousands of dollars. Most authors are very nice about granting permission, but the journals are all about cash.

Comment Re:I know just the man for the job (Score 5, Informative) 78

Not just been photos, there's been some reported video as well (also Queensland). I did check the gait of the animal in the video, and it matches a diagram of the thylacine's gait. But that's hardly unique to them, it just narrows down the range of possible species. There's old zoo footage here.

I doubt it's actually a thylacine, but who knows, weirder things have been discovered.

Comment Re:Goes Back To Kennedy (Score 2) 166

I once worked at Rockwell-Collins, which had been a supplier for the Space Shuttle programme. When I arrived, they were very stringent about how we handled our time reporting and billing. Why? Because apparently before I got there they had just gotten heavy slapped down for exploiting cost-plus Shuttle contracts. Whenever any project went over budget, they just had employees credit their time to the Shuttle programme.

Comment Re:It is in the nature of the business! (Score 1) 166

And before you go and say Blue Origin and SpaceX are doing it so much cheaper, yes, but that is because they are standing on a mountain of research & technology courtesy NASA.

Something both of them readily admit. SpaceX in particular has continually expressed their gratitude for all of the support they've gotten from NASA over the years. And they have an interesting cooperative model in place now for Red Dragon - no money exchanged, but they get access to NASA facilities and time working with NASA researchers, and in turn NASA gets all of the data they acquire from their missions.

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 4, Insightful) 166

I'm anyone but someone to defend SLS, but this report seems rather flimsy. It seems that they're calling anything that NASA does in-house "overhead". That's not really a fair measure. A rocket is not just its physical construction; there's a huge amount of cost in research, design, testing, and support infrastructure - in the case of SLS, particularly the Exploration Ground Systems (EGS). Part of the problem however is that every time NASA builds something new, they're rarely allowed to shut it down. Including major projects with contractors. Congress keeps mandating this inefficiency, when what NASA really needs is the freedom to put large amounts of infrastructure to the axe when it can't contribute toward competitive costs, and reallocate the funds as is needed. So long as they face mandates to keep everything open (both internal, and with specific production lines run by particular suppliers), they shouldn't be criticized for their high costs - congress should.

I really think NASA would fare better if it went back more to the NACA model - a research and support organization for other players, maintaining the common infrastructure and R&D used by others - with the addition of a scientific exploration program. NASA shouldn't be making anything that a private business case can be built for (for example, rockets reaching LEO / GEO), but they should be running the DSN, range support, creating a market for private industry to continually expand/improve its capabilities, nurturing startups to increase competition, and extensively working to bring more advanced technologies (that the market couldn't afford to sink money into due to the risk) from theory into real world - not trying to make "workhorses", but proof-of-concept systems that others will run with if merit and maturity can be demonstrated.

In short:
If there's a business model for it: private industry
If it's too risky or long-term for business: NASA proof-of-concept
If its a common need for multiple businesses in the field: NASA permanent infrastructure

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