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Comment Re:But but but! (Score 1) 230

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:But but but! (Score 3, Interesting) 230

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:Isn't the cloud great? (Score 2) 55

It's reasonably safe, I think, compared to putting them in my pocket in an easily-lost USB stick or on a frequently-stolen laptop.

Now you have me curious -- just how often is this laptop stolen? How many owners has it had? Why would you want to store anything on such a thing?

Or is it your laptop, and it's stolen again and again, but you keep recovering it? If so, do you work in some sort of sensitive information industry where somebody keeps deliberately taking your laptop and then making it easy for you to find it again (after they've presumably taken any new data on it, I guess?)?

I'm really intrigued by this "frequently-stolen laptop" -- sounds like a fascinating story.

Comment Was anything different ever expected? (Score 1) 77

Were we ever expecting Samsung to actually just toss all these things into the grinder? They had a fairly high end SoC, bunch of RAM and Flash, nice screens, etc. no reason to suspect that the PMIC itself was executing batteries. Why would you scrap something like that?

For 'brand' reasons, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them shunted off to some less-loved market; or even 'de-branded' and sold in more generic livery; but scrapped?

Comment Re: Mint (Score 1) 483

I agree that grovelling for solutions to oddball problems is annoying; but my experience has been that any OS puts you in that place from time to time.

If, say, Windows Update is throwing cryptic errors, it doesn't take too long to be instructed to 'Reset the BITS service to the default security descriptor'. Just open an elevated CMD shell and run "sc.exe sdset bits D:(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;SY)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;BA)(A;;CCLCSWLOCRRC;;;AU)(A;;CCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRRC;;;PU)", n00b.

OSX has the virtue of changing at least a few of the command line options that aren't pulled straight from BSD every version bump(changes related to user/directory structure seem to be particularly popular); and not all advice is clear on which versions it pertains to; which can be really annoying.

I don't disagree with the fact that, if a Linux system does something...unexpected...you may well deeply fail to enjoy finding the answer; but any time the automagic fails, regardless of OS, you are usually in for some pain(since, if the answer were trivial and unambigious, the automagic would probably still be working); and a trip to the command line, registry, PLists, or some combination is likely in your future.

If anything, it's the scary, hostile-looking OSes that are least risky in this regard because they never pretended to have automagic to help you in the first place; and so are simpler; and designed so that an unaided human can grind through everything themselves. That's a huge nuisance, which is why most OSes aren't like that; but fallible automatic failing is never pretty.

Comment Re:so we're basing these on inventiveness? (Score 5, Insightful) 277

we still dutifully strip off our shoes and throw out our bottled water in homage to the all mighty security theatre.

Not me! Paid the $85USD fee, and for the next 5 years leave my shoes on, laptop in bag, and pass through xray only security in 5min. (ps, no fully body scanning)

Do you work for the TSA or something? Because the fact that Americans have to pay $85 to be afforded basic 4th-amendment rights (and common decency in their privacy) should be something you LAMENT, not lord over the plebs who haven't paid up to get basic freedom back.

Comment Re:Then why just 8 countries? (Score 1) 277

Risk assessment. Grinding a global economy to a halt also implicitly puts lives a risk. The low-hanging fruit in reducing the risk is banning from 8 countries; a number that could very well increase.

Meh. It could be "risk assessment," but in this case it's more likely to be a combination of security theatre (always a factor with "terrorism") and CYA. If an actual terrorist event happened using a method like this -- no matter how unlikely -- and it came out that the governments KNEW something like this had recently been discovered, all sorts of inquiries would ensue.

Politicians don't want that. So, they slap some limited ban together that showed that they "did something" even if it's worthless (and thus are at least partially covered even if an attack happened), and they get a kick of "security theatre" that keeps the masses scared, cowed, and convinced of evil dudes for a while longer.

Comment Re:What's The Easiest Linux Distro For A Newbie? (Score 2) 483

Of all the things that are mostt valuable thing to any Newbie the most important one is extensive community support.

Not true. The MOST valuable thing to a "newbie" is a distro that "just works." What you want the most is something that will work without customization or tweaking first and foremost -- after that, the SECOND most important thing is good community support.

Many of the distros you mention (SUSE, Red Hat, etc.) tried pursuing the ease of use and "just works" philosophy starting a couple decades ago, but Ubuntu really pushed that forward significantly, and Linux Mint went further still. Personally, after about a decade of periodic distro-hopping, Mint was truly the first distro I ever found that "just worked" to the point that I could recommend it to friends who hadn't used Linux before. I think Ubuntu has tried to catch up in recent years, too. I'm sure others will have different opinions -- but my point isn't to endorse Mint per se as much as to say that "just works" is probably the most important criterion for a newbie.

And here's the thing about community support -- it really depends on precisely what you need support on. If you need support for a particular software package, it often doesn't matter much which distro you use or which community you search for support under. A lot of basic mechanical stuff for someone used to GUI OSes is going to be under their desktop environment choice more than their particular distro -- if you prefer MATE or KDE or Xfce or whatever, you can often find answers from various communities which support those environments under different distros. For example, I frequently use Mint on desktops these days just for ease of configuration, but I use Xfce because I personally don't see the point in wasting system resources on a heavier desktop environment. But on the occasions I need support for the GUI aspects of what I'm doing, I don't tend to find much help on Linux Mint forums, because few users seem to use Xfce -- but there are plenty of Xfce users out there in other places. And when a "newbie" needs command-line help or whatever, a lot of commands are going to be common among everybody who uses a standard shell like Bash and standard Linux libraries/applications.

Obviously, it's nice to have a very specific support community for your specific distro, but there are lots of elements for users that are common across distros. Part of the learning curve for a newbie is probably figuring out the very few things they'd actually need to ask about in their specific distro forum vs. things they could get answers from in lots of places (and thus likely more quickly once they know what to search for).

Comment Re:Don't remake, release the source. (Score 1) 159

I'd be surprised to see Blizzard do either; but he did specify 'the source' rather than 'the IP'; and the two are (relatively) easily separable.

Given that, even at the time, most of the enthusiasm for Starcraft was for a combination of its play balance(having 3 actually-different sides without being horribly lopsided was pretty big news when the standard was two, often basically reskins of each other with a couple of flavor units) and overall style/art direction; I'm not sure who would be interested in just the engine; but Blizzard certainly could release it without giving up any control over the parts of the Starcraft 'IP' that are of actual value. Given the number of people who actually want to look at the code vs. the number of people who just want to play Starcraft, it would be a lot of trouble for not a lot of interest, but it needn't threaten the stuff that is actually worth something.

Comment Re: Uh, why? (Score 1) 207

If you think Vista was bad you're not old enough to remember NT 4.0.

I remember the sound system crashing on my Vista laptop, sending a horrible, unstoppable screeching through the speakers. Basically it was an audio snow crash. Yet everything else worked normally; I was able to save my work and shut the system down. And I remember thinking, "that was horrible, but so much less horrible than it could have been."

Comment Re:Tracking (Score 1) 270

Well, if you can't keep track of your spending, I suppose that'd be a reason to want to have others do it for you. I don't have that problem, personally, so it's difficult for me to emphasize with your use case.

While I share your concerns about tracking, let's not pretend that there isn't a convenience factor to financial tracking software for those who are willing to give up some potential privacy.

It's not just for people who can't keep a budget. Electronic transactions that can easily be imported and auto-classified into categories can be really helpful for seeing where your money goes in detail. Sure, there are "old school" methods of budgeting (like the "envelope" model where you create envelopes of cash for each budgetary category each month or pay period or whatever and spend cash out of them), but financial software makes this all a heck of a lot easier.

I was skeptical of all of this too, until a close friend (who actually is quite financially savvy and has no problem keeping within his budgets) told me what happened when he started using Mint and discovered how much money he was actually paying Starbucks every year. He was really shocked, but if you're just using cash, it's not an easy question to answer unless you're really keeping detailed records in a relatively laborious fashion.

As for needing to show where you were... who do you need to show this to? The very fact that you think you need to show it to someone is worrisome, and speaks more to the problem than any solution.

Again, although I share your privacy concerns, I also completely understand why someone would find this convenient for all sorts of things -- extra documentation of reimburseable business expenses, proving things if you got audited by the IRS, etc.

Because the government thinks it's perfectly okay to directly violate the constitution that authorizes its existence, that's why.

While I am horrified by the government surveillance, in this particular instance, I think your paranoia may be misdirected. Personally, I'm a lot more concerned presently about what companies may be aggregating my purchasing data and in what ways than I am about the government monitoring my financial records.

Comment Re:Good grief (Score 1) 269

>The thesis of this "scientific paper" is basically like a couple of tokers sitting around in their parents' basement saying "DUUUUDE... what if the money in our savings account DOUBLED EVERY YEAR?!???

Again this is not a critique of the paper, it is a critique of tokers sitting around in their parent's basement. There is no substance in your criticism to address, it really is just an expression of your feelings toward the paper's author. Aside from the fact that you're just name-calling, the numerical basis you've used for comparison is just wrong.

Now it so happens I have you at a disadvantage: I've actually read the paper. It's closer the tokers sitting around saying, "How can we achieve a 7% annual compound interest rate sustained over ten years with our portfolio," which is roughly what doubling your money in ten years takes. The authors are talking about what it would take to half carbon emissions which would be a 6.6% reduction each year, and they discuss methods for reducing them, which they break down into near term no-brainer, near-term difficult, and long term speculative. As is usual the further out you go the less concrete and certain you can be. This is normal in economic projections that go twenty or more years out.

Now you may disagree with the specific means proposed, some of which are quite drastic (e.g. attempting to recover external costs through inheritance taxes). But there is nothing inherently irrational about starting with a goal -- zero carbon emissions by 2050 -- then asking what it would take to achieve that. Nor is there anything inherently ridiculous with coming up with the answer that it'll take a mix of things, some of which looking twenty or more years into the future we can't predict yet.

Comment Re:Percentage doesn't matter (Score 1) 155

Oh, I think the percentage bit is significant. It shouldn't be news that they've acknowledged reality; but it's remarkable that their responses is so meaningless.

It makes me wonder whether this is just marketing BS or whether they're really that incoherent about strategy.

Many proprietary software companies have prospered in an era of open source acceptance -- even when very good free software alternatives for their products exists (Microsoft, Oracle). But although we don't tend to think of them that way, they tend to be value-priced. You get a lot of (not necessarily great) software engineering for your $199 Windows license fee.

But the play this game you need scale to amortize development costs over many users. If you have more of a niche product competing against a solid open source competitor is going to be really, really hard. As in SAS charges almost $9000 for a single seat license, and that's good for only a year; thereafter you'll have to fork over thousands of dollars every year. That kind of cash pays for a lot of R training.

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