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Comment I'd call them "Personal Terminals" (Score 1) 131

You can try to define "Personal Computer" this way, but historically the name "Personal Computer" just meant a computer that you use alone, instead of being one user of a computer at the university or the company you're working for. Which then was not your PERSONAL computer. That was the major reason for calling a computer you use as the only user (and that sits on or under YOUR desk) a Personal Computer.

ChromeBooks are mostly Terminals, even if you own them the applications run elsewhere. Surely not dumb terminals, but still terminals, just personal terminals that you can own and carry with you instead of going to where there are.

But people easily forget that once computers were something you had to go to to use them as one user among others. You didn't own them and you could not carry them home (or to your office) and use them just for yourself. Both the "Personal Computer" and the "Home Computer" changed that in this way ChromeBooks are a kind of Personal Computer.

Of course then the IBM Personal Computer (PC) became the standard Personal Computer and then what once was a description became nothing but a name ("PC") for a certain kind of computer (a computer with an Intel CPU running Windows or Linux that is and has to be fully cared for by the sole user). Since then people think a "PC" is exactly that. And they're somewhat right, because meanings of words change over time.

An iPad is a "Personal Computer" (you can carry it home and use it as the sole user), but it certainly is not a "PC". A ChromeBook also is a Personal Computer but maybe not what people came to think of a PC (some people not even call a laptop a "PC", they call only desktop PCs "PC").

It's murky, but quite easy to get to the bottom of. Fighting about "is a ChromeBook a PC?" is pointless though when everyone uses a different definition of what the name or description of a "PC" or a "Personal Computer" is supposed to mean. Most people who fight over words only do that because this is often the first time they even thought about what the word means at all and then they're already invested in having to win an argument they started without even knowing what the word they are fighting about actually means and where it came from.

(And actually a "computer" once was something you used to compute things with. The name "computer" was a descriptive name like "screwdriver". Even earlier "computer" was a job description before robots started to do the job... But just as "PC" it became a name instead over time and is not a description anymore because most people don't use them to compute anything. As a name it immediately loses any sense as soon as you start to wring any meaning from it because it has long stopped to be used in the form of a description for what you do with that thing. So don't fight about names, it's useless. It's like asking someone to mill your wheat just because his name happens to be "Frank Miller". At some point in the past one of his forebears certainly did that, but now it has just become a name attached to him through inheritance and is not a description of what he does anymore. Maybe he's a butcher and then people use the name "Miller" as an argument on /. to claim that meat actually is a cereal...)

Comment Re:Not a dumb terminal - Linux with locked down UI (Score 1) 131

It's not a bad definition. The Personal Computer was named as opposed to non-personal computers you used as one users among others. As ChromeBooks are hardly more than terminals to a server (with software running out there at Google) it's pretty much similar to working at a terminal connected to a server back then.

It's just that you own the terminal and can use it elsewhere. "Personal Terminal" would be a better name than "Personal Computer" here.

(But of course you CAN run local software on ChromeBooks if you really want to.)

Comment This isn't about tourism (Score 1) 32

This is about orbital satellite launches. I'm wondering if people have stopped reading at least the article they're commenting on?

BO is developing an orbital heavy lift launcher and they have sold their first payload. They're also developing the engines for ULA's new lancher with first full-scale tests later this year.

Blue Origin are slower than SpaceX, but they're not just toying around.

Comment STS has a problem (Score 3, Insightful) 355

It's not reusable and much too expensive to be flown more often than a few times. It never was anything than a gift to the companies that built the shuttle, so they could continue to supply tanks and solid boosters and hideously expensive engines. The point of it never was getting anything into space, but to keep the same old rivers of money flowing.

Comment Re:Not to be a wet blanket... (Score 1) 355

Going to Mars from the moon would NOT be simpler and cheaper. To go to the Moon you have to land things there, which is very expensive in terms of delta-V since there is no atmosphere to brake. Then you have to launch out of this gravity well again. And in the meantime you have to have everything you need on the Moon launched from Earth and land on the Moon.

Comment Re: What can SpaceX do with their hardware? (Score 1) 355

That requires the design of bits that are dockable, which greatly restricts your design freedom, as well as add extra mass for the docking ports.

Not only the docking ports. Every piece would need to be a fully independent spacecraft to rendezvous with the other bits, with propulsion, RCS, avionics, communication, antennas, power and thermal management, RADAR or LIDAR...

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 2) 43

Well, I think there is still some "action" going on in the rings. Even if everything in there would be totally synchronized with no relative motion (especially then) you would get mass clumps of particles slowly being drawn toward each other by their own mass/gravity. Basically the same thing that led to planets forming from rings of particles in the early solar system. But then this would be extremely interesting to research, because it would be the nearest thing to look at for such processes.

It would be wise to use a somewhat rugged probe with nuclear power (no fragile solar panels) with some shielding, retractable instruments and an ion drive... Anyway, there are lots of cool things to explore left in the solar system and the closer you look the more interesting things you find!

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