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Submission + - ESA wants to take out the trash. The space trash.

The Bad Astronomer writes: The European Space Agency is considering a test mission that will use new technology to help clean up the ever-increasing problem of space debris. The spacecraft, called e.Deorbit, will identify, approach, grapple with, and then dispose of errant space junk by deorbiting it, letting it burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Testing could begin as soon as 2023.

Comment Re:Famous last words... (Score 1) 231

Not sure why "life in danger" matters all that much.

Putting someone through watching a suicide is sure as hell not ethical in any sense and could very well cause serious harm.
Having quite a few friends who struggle with the aftermath of their own attempts at suicide or friend's successful suicides it is not something to take lightly.

I do not find it even remotely close to the 'tasteful side'.

Comment Re: want kids to learn the basics first (Score 1) 281

I do not know about you, but one of my main grumps while in school was the dry non-interactive way everything was taught.
Doing something where you use what you've learned in other classes to have something 'do' something was fun for me at least.

Middle-school in Norway has "Technology and Design" as a class. One thing they did was design a miniature house (think doll-house sized open-sided) where they built furniture and various 'innards'. As part of this design process they put in electric wiring and switches and designed lamps using LEDs. Soldering was part of this.
Another task was building a simple 'water spill sensor' which is a simple sensor using a transistor to switch a LED or buzzer on wire getting wet (wires woven into a piece of paper or cloth)

Students love that shit... It sounds fairly simple stuff but it is such a big break from just sitting at a desk staring at a wall trying to absorb a lesson and not succumb to boredom.

Lego NXTs are also part of this and simple programming gives quite a lot of understanding that can be used later in life.

Comment Re:Teach Problem Solving (Score 2) 281

Except, some of us will never get permission to use R or Matlab in a work environment... And the customer surely would not want to pay for it on their server or client computers.

I hate it, with a passion... but I have frequently seen programs built in C# as stand-alone executables with a config file converted into VBA in an Excel sheet so that it can run on client machines without that scary install called ".NET framework".

Writing a program for turning a rs232 sniffer-file into human readable text is annoying but doable in Excel... Not in ANY way the right tool, but the only tool that did not incur a licensing or maintenance cost (installing any .net or such on a computer counts as a 'cost' in support.. sigh)

*grumps*

Comment Re:One showstopper (Score 5) 566

It is one of the few connectors you can feel in the dark and get the damn plug in the right way on the first try, every time.

Could it be doable to make it a 'flat' connector like HDMI? Sure.. that would lower the 'vertical' footprint, but I am not sure if that would be worth the hassle.
It reminds me of the PCMCIA-connector to rj45 converters... *shudder*

If there is something I would like to never have to deal with again is having a bunch of these suckers hanging around waiting to break:
http://ep.yimg.com/ay/videowar...

Comment Re:Hotel Cheaped out. (Score 4, Insightful) 111

Sounds like they picked ModbusTCP since it is an incredibly easy standard to implement on very cheap devices (think 10 cent microcontrollers).
Tons of existing devices support it too so not a bad choice from a technical perspective.. unless you care about security.

Modbus has zero security, why would it? It was built to run on serial lines and the tcp-implementation is for all intents and purposes just using a tcp-socket instead of a serial line to chuck bytes over the line.

It entirely relies on the physical security of the network.
The same thing is also true for KNX/EIB-control which is used for building automation all over the world. The issue here is that what used to be secure by being obscure and inside sockets on the wall is now just being extended onto tablets with no thoughts about how people will poke around in the system.

Having 'killed' a building by mistake (typoed a path....tripped all breakers in the building :p) via KNX, I know the lack of security being very real in 'live' environments.

This is not at all new, it has just not been a focus for anyone until fairly recently.
Google around for KNX hacks and you'll see plenty of evidence of the shitty systems which are considered "industry standard" for building automation. Sigh.

Comment Re:why bother (Score 1) 364

A lot of power-hungry titles tend to get great boosts in performance after a few weeks to a few months after release as the GPU-drivers get optimized for the game.

Just look at the release notes of the latest nVidia or AMD drivers and you'll see a bunch of "Game X sees ##% increased performance in single GPU configurations" etc.

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