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Comment Re:I don't get it (Score 1) 114

Bleeding off the excess H2 and O2 seems as wasteful as throwing away the tank itself. I would suspect that having an extra ton or two of oxygen and hydrogen wouldn't be all that hard to turn into an extra ton of H2O, which the crew might appreciate. Or if they send up multiple partially empty tanks, they could designate one tank as the recovery tank.

The tank purging process would probably be time consuming, but there should no reason to be in a hurry to convert the tank into a different usable space. Conversion is something the crew can do while under way to their final destination (with the reward of having an extra building to live in after they're all done; that should provide incentive to prioritize the task.) I would question the value of sending dedicated construction robots into orbit since the crew is already going to be there (unless the task has dangerous elements due to the residual fuel, risks of fire or explosive decompression while cutting openings into the tanks, etc.)

It definitely limits the main engines to burning hydrogen and LOX, though. There would be no way to purge a tank holding any of the other fuels they might want to use. Imagine if living in an empty diesel fuel drum was the best of the other available options.

Comment Re:Manned versus unmanned. (Score 1) 187

Right now, people are willing to wait weeks for a cargo ship to cross the ocean; those ships hold thousands of containers. But the expensive assets are unavailable during the journey. If you need them faster, your only choice is to load them on a plane, and you can have them in a day. But what about the middle ground? Is there no market for cargo that needs to arrive in three days instead of three weeks, at one tenth the price of air freight? I'm thinking that half of Amazon purchases could be shipped directly from China and arrive in four or five days, which would probably still be acceptable for most purchases. When you consider the volume Amazon ships, that's a lot of freight.

So I wouldn't discount this as a useless exercise, at least not yet. People are surprisingly clever at coming up with creative uses for all kinds of technical novelties.

Comment What about fixing it at your end? (Score 1) 7

You're not going to get the world of Java, C, and C++ coders to change to a monocase font. First, and most importantly, they won't because they simply won't. It doesn't matter how many logical arguments you throw at it, how many facts or figures you present to back up your case, how much sympathy you garner from any social group, or even if you got some candidate to introduce new laws mandating the use of all uppercase alphabets in programming languages. You'd actually have much better luck introducing a new case-insensitive language to the world and getting a thousand people to adopt it. It's so ludicrous it's not even an interesting thought experiment. Trying to convince anyone that this is a viable idea is nothing but wasted time. So please stop, right now.

Instead, let's look at alternative ways to make the problem more tolerable at your end.

How about a screen reader that switches voice for upper case; reading lower case text in a higher register and upper case text in a lower register? How about adding case-words to the vocabulary, such as prefixing any upper case letter with CAP- . What about other sounds? How about or one beep to introduce uppercase, and two beeps to introduce lowercase? Or how about a subtle background sound that plays only while it's speaking upper case characters; something like a static hiss that would serve as an audible indicator?

Or better yet, how about a meet in the middle approach: an IDE that fully understands your needs with regard to case, and refactors the code as it imports it. It would make the kinds of substitutions that would remove the reliance on case. It could automatically refactor WindowManager to CAP_W_INDOW_CAP_M_ANAGER, or following the rules you were trying to impose above, or whatever. Perhaps it could simply monocase everything for you, and be smart enough to know the differences from context. You could type your code without regard to case, and build and test it at your leisure. When your normal screen reader speaks the code, it already ignores case, so no changes there. When the IDE builds the code, or when you check it in or merge it, the IDE would refactor your changes back into the original case so the rest of the world is none the wiser.

Comment Re:The PNOs are clueless (Score 1) 385

True, the DIGIPASS readers would make online purchasing completely secure.

Except for the part where *zero* banks in America are even talking about distributing them. They'd rather push Chip and Signature because the convenience factors make them much more money, and they want companies like Square, Apple, and PayPal to duke it out in the marketplace to push crappy credit solutions out so they can collect more vigorish from the increase in transaction volume.

Comment Re:The PNOs are clueless (Score 1) 385

The PIN doesn't make any difference between easy-to-skim/hard-to-skim. The chip makes it virtually impossible to clone a card issued by a bank that properly authenticates its cards, meaning skimming is worthless for creating cloned chip cards. The US will continue to have problems with skimming until online/card-not-present security can be solved, and that doesn't matter if the card technology uses PINs or signatures.

Other countries no longer have cloning problems, but they all have had massive increases in online fraud problems.

The only security difference between signature and PIN is that PIN protects your card from being used by muggers, and the banks don't give a shit if you get mugged or not.

Comment Re: A brief history of Slashdot tr0lling (Score 1) 369

Oh, thanks, I totally forgot about the Slashdot bitchslap.

And I'm not claiming the tr0lls weren't clever and occasionally hysterical. I'm just saying that the continual repost of "BSD is dying, Netcraft confirms it" on every single story had long degenerated from trolling to nothing more than protoplasmic copypasta spam, right down there in the sewage with the casino links. (And yes, there were many funny on-topic variants of the BSD meme that brightened up lots of different comment threads.)

Comment A brief history of Slashdot tr0lling (Score 4, Informative) 369

[Apologies for the l33t sp33k, but the lameness filter is actually pretty effective at blocking even the discussion of the older common tr0lls.]

Tr0lling originally started out as posting something on-topic but factually wrong in order to get reactions from people. Tr0lling was elevated by some to become its own art form; the best tr0lls could get pedants to crawl out of the woodwork like termites fleeing a flood. And the resulting posts and reactions were genuinely funny -- anyone who understood what was going on got a good laugh. But that kind of tr0lling peaked over a decade ago.

Other garbage has since cycled through Slashdot like ugly fashions on a New York runway. First came the memes: sites confirming the passing of various operating systems, etc., which at least often tried to stay on topic. They were inoffensive, but showed little real effort; they quickly stopped being amusing. Then came the nonsensical randomness, such as a certain movie starlet known for Star Wars and a lap full of hot breakfast food (I never quite understood that one). They were perhaps attempting to be absurd but mostly came off as stupid; again, they were reasonably inoffensive. But the current rash of copy-paste has become the new nadir, where cud-chewing morons too stupid to create their own original racism have figured out enough of the clipboard to re-vomit someone else's puke in the comments.

( In a huge burst of irony, some of the tr0lls themselves got pedantic, claiming the garbage posts did not qualify as "tr0lling" under their definition. Thus ended the reign of the major tr0lls, whose posts were quickly modded down into the -1 muck along with the rest of the bile. )

Throughout all of this, anonymous cowards and other low-lifes have always posted hate speech, political screeds, and offensive, racist crap. Browsing at -1, however briefly, will expose you to the words of horrible, useless human beings. Don't do it -- just click "no".

Slashdot has fought back, of course. The lameness filter has long kept out garbage like ASCII art, and certain phrases that I couldn't quote in this post. The remarkable bottom line is that Slashdot's moderation system, flawed as it may be, has kept the comments mostly readable for a very long time. Sites that failed to emulate it have come and gone, mostly forgotten by all but the Wayback Machine. Sites that still allow comments have almost nothing usable in them (youtube is a prime example of a site with unusable comments.) Meanwhile, Slashdot's community has managed to keep some semblance of order together. That's quite an achievement, especially over the nearly two decades of its existence.

Comment Re:Science is still vague and unsettled (Score 1) 609

What I love about this is that a sociologist, of all people, a practitioner of a "science" almost as soft (read: inaccurate and trend-driven) as psychology, feels compelled to weigh in on the unreasonable nature of trying for actual correctness.

I think he's very well-positioned to refute this idea. He knows better than most that human nature is not rational, and won't fit neatly into a rational-based society. He likely has the data to back up those assertions.

Comment Re:Walmart (Score 1) 118

Anyway, this story is about a better way to mobile-pay, IMO. QR scanning rates higher than the "touch your phone to the pad" customer experience. At least it seems more reliable, in my experience. And scanners are always present at checkouts today... the specialized pads for proximity readers are not.

Smartphone based barcodes are often difficult for scanners to read. Scanners are primarily designed to pick up reflected light - the scanner transmits light, it bounces off the barcode, and the scanner receives the image. But a phone's screen is backlit with a pulse-width modulated array of flickering LEDs; flickering that is not in sync with the scanner's imaging sensor. They are not all engineered to read light transmissive screens. Some scanners have the option to turn off the light when reading a phone screen, which can help

The "touching a phone to a pad" experience depends largely on the technology of the phone. Samsung's MST is a pure hack, and whether or not it works depends entirely on the geometry of the heads concealed in the reader -- a reader that wasn't designed to read anything but a mag stripe on a card.

An NFC phone is very reliable because NFC readers are specifically engineered to read contactless devices. They are much more reliable than either Samsung's MFT or smartphone QR codes. Right now NFC is more secure than mag stripes, but less secure than EMV. They're much faster and more convenient than EMV or QR codes. The QR codes are probably more secure than NFC cards (for right now) and are probably on par with Apple Pay, but there's no way of knowing how secure any of the back end systems are.

Comment Re:Likely won't eventuate (Score 1) 298

Atmospheric life support systems would easily be externalized, provided by whatever carrier is currently responsible for them. They already hook planes up to external A/C units while they're parked at the gate so the passengers don't freeze or roast while the APU engines are off, conserving jet fuel. Similarly, when they plug the pods in, they'd establish the ventilation connections.

But it doesn't solve the related problems of food or restrooms. You'd have to externalize the facilities, because plumbing sewer and water would not only add lots of weight to each pod, but would take up too much room that could be occupied by paying passengers.

I doubt jettisoning pods in-flight would be a design consideration. A life threatening problem could possibly be solved by deploying the pod's fire suppression system. It risks the humans inside that pod, but that might be a needed outcome depending on the situation.

Comment Re:Likely won't eventuate (Score 1) 298

The cost of hauling an extra couple of kilograms today works out to about a million dollars in extra fuel over the service life of the airframe. Unless those pods and parachutes weigh less than the current seat and overhead bins, they're going to be rejected by the airlines. Either that or the price for riding in a pod will be based on total pod weight, resulting in fares substantially higher than today's ticket prices.

Some things would be different, of course. Pods could be routed to an off-airport TSA checkpoint for pre-flight bomb sniffing, and post-flight they would be diverted to customs, immigration, and agricultural inspection centers, letting the airlines off the hook for paying for on-airport facilities. On-airport parking would be dramatically reduced. Private party pods would be all the rage for wealthy people. Brokers would spring up with matchmaking services where they cram multiple strangers into a single pod, trying to lower the ticket prices. But affordable tickets would probably come to an end.

Comment Re:Sometimes... (Score 1, Troll) 159

Yeah, I miss the old days when cars used to break down completely before they reached 80,000 miles, and when they poured out lead-contaminated exhaust and enough sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide to create acid rain, and when they got 8 miles per gallon, and when they would fly off the corners in improperly banked turns, and fly into a spin when braking on a wet road, and would impale drivers on steering wheel shafts in head-on collisions. Not only could you fix them with a screwdriver, but you could steal them with a screwdriver, too, just by hammering it into the key slot and twisting it with a wrench.

Or were you implying that "over"-engineering was a bad thing?

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