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Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?

Katatsumuri 640k (272 comments)

640k should be enough for anybody.

about two weeks ago

Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

Katatsumuri The Kremlin are busted (503 comments)

Too much evidence this time. Now it's only a matter of due diligence, and choosing to put them on trial as war criminals, or as terrorism sponsors, or both.

about two weeks ago

Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

Katatsumuri Refuted (752 comments)

Ukrainian Ministry of Defense states that there were no Buks in the bases taken over by the terrorists, and any other military equipment left there was rendered unusable by the leaving troops.

about two weeks ago

Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

Katatsumuri Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (57 comments)

Ok, we need some links with more concrete figures:

1. Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

Musk figures the colony program — which he wants to be a collaboration between government and private enterprise — would end up costing about $36 billion. He arrived at that number by estimating that a colony that costs 0.25 percent or 0.5 percent of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be considered acceptable. The United States' GDP in 2010 was $14.5 trillion; 0.25 percent of $14.5 trillion is $36 billion. If all 80,000 colonists paid $500,000 per seat for their Mars trip, $40 billion would be raised.

I'm not saying that's a reasonable way to draw a budget, just to provide an estimate on what Musk is targeting. Since this article came out (Nov 2012), I think his cost estimations went up, and his funding plans shifted more to preparing a realistic IPO (not covering the whole thing, but some of the early stages). Cannot readily find a quote for that.

There are many more (somewhat obfuscated) details in that article, like this one:

Musk also ruled out SpaceX's Dragon capsule, which the company is developing to ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit, as the spacecraft that would land colonists on the Red Planet. When asked by what vehicle would be used, he said, "I think you just land the entire thing."

Asked if the "entire thing" is the huge new reusable rocket — which is rumored to bear the acronymic name MCT, short for Mass Cargo Transport or Mars Colony Transport — Musk said, "Maybe."

2. Elon Musk Says Ticket to Mars Will Cost $500,000

“Land on Mars, a round-trip ticket — half a million dollars. It can be done,” he told the BBC.

Musk did hint that one of the keys to low-cost trips to the red planet would be the ability to not only refuel there, but also to reuse the entire spacecraft on the return trip. In the BBC interview Musk said by reusing the spacecraft, you end up with the same sorts of costs airlines face. Musk compared it to flying today where a 747 isn’t simply thrown away after a flight to London. Like the airplane, the cost of the spacecraft could be spread out over numerous flights rather than just a single trip making fuel one of the main expenses rather than the entire ship.

3. Tesla’s (TSLA) Musk On Colonizing the Red Planet

Asked about the possibility of a SpaceX IPO, Musk said the company’s plans are too long-term to attract many hedge fund managers, making an IPO unlikely any time soon.

“Maybe [when] we’re close to developing the Mars vehicle, or ideally we’ve flown it a few times, then I think going public would make more sense,” he said.

So, I can't comment on how realistic is each of his cost and time estimations, but he is trying hard to make them internally consistent, and most and first of all, to bring down the launch costs and to improve the reusability. We can already see several successful steps in that direction, and we will see the gradual progress, or lack thereof, very soon. It's not some Kickstarter scheme for Gates & Buffet.

about three weeks ago

Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

Katatsumuri Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (57 comments)

Well, that $500B estimation came from NASA in the 80's, and Musk is working hard to push it down. As far as I understand, he plans to fund it partially from other launches to bootstrap, partially from an IPO (when the transporter is clearly on track), and eventually from ticket sales ($500K a pop, once the full-size "bus" is flying).

about three weeks ago

Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

Katatsumuri Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (57 comments)

Maybe next time Slashdot can invite Elon Musk to elaborate on his Mars colonization program, including in-situ resource utilization and other popular objections.

about three weeks ago

Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

Katatsumuri Thanks! (57 comments)

Interesting framework with those interrelated frontiers.

Also, I didn't know about those decadal surveys. I wonder how transparent they are, both on suggestion and on the reporting side.

I wish my question about chaotic gravity assist was answered (it ranked among top 10), but I guess the idea was not deemed practical.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

Katatsumuri Smart alarm, navigation, payments, standalone (427 comments)

A few things come to mind.

1. A sleep tracker and a smart vibrating alarm, so I could get the most from my sleep hours and not wake up my wife and baby. Something similar exists and does not require an OS like Android, but would be a nice feature for a device like this.

2. Solve the city navigation. To the level of "now which exit should I take from this subway station?" and "now where is this bus stop I'm supposed to take next?"

3. Electronic wallet, if they can make it universally acceptable.

4. It would be nice if it could replace the phone for calls and maybe music, even if phone calls are not as convenient and are only meant to be a backup option. It has to work as a standalone device without also carrying a phone in your pocket, anyway. Optional software integration is welcome.

5. It must work at least a week without recharging, and maybe have an optional wireless charger you could use at your work desk without taking it off. Battery life is more important here than the display colors or the ability to play video.

6. There can be different screen sizes (jewelry to PipBoy 2000) and different price points. It's going to be hard to balance the screen, batteries, looks and price. If you want it to be popular, there has to be a $100 version with limited functionality, a $300 version that replaces all the main smartphone functions (maybe use a flexible/curved 4" screen), and multiple $1000+ fashion makes.

All these features don't have to be present in every device. For example, I would not use a 4" device for a wearable smart alarm.

about a month ago

Google Building a Domain Registration Service

Katatsumuri Small businesses (69 comments)

Many small businesses are happy with a Facebook page.

That gives them something to find in Google, to advertise online, to like and share, to post a nice picture and occasional updates, and to enter something in every context that requires an URL. And many additional services can also be set up at third party websites.

Of course there is a drawback of depending on Facebook. But there are benefits in simplicity, reliability and social integration, and they often win for small business.

Similarly, many hobby projects can and do host all their content on free blogging/social/media services. They often provide additional bonuses in addition to free hosting, like software and exposure. And things you give up are not immediately perceived as critical.

The desire to own a domain name or a traditional website is not as popular as it used to be.

about a month ago

Emotional Contagion Spread Through Facebook

Katatsumuri anyone on Slashdot still on Facebook? (127 comments) anyone on Slashdot still on Facebook?


I enjoy the occasional updates from people I can no longer meet daily, as well as some insight into the current day-to-day affairs of my home country. I don't post often, but when I do have something to say, normally several people show interest.

Facebook is no longer an unfiltered pile of Farmville requests. Especially if you take the time just once to mark your close friends and to unfollow the obsessive narcissists. Its ranking and personalization algorithms also help.

Also, it is often the easiest way to contact a person when you don't have their email or phone number ready.

about a month ago
top Domain Name Suspended

Katatsumuri Re:Do we have a better file sharing solution? (226 comments)

This would answer the question "why the government does not want us to have this". But my question was completely different.

We have plenty of capable programmers who don't mind "illegal" data sharing, and we have millions of people who disagree strongly with the current copyright laws, for example, and having no realistic means to change the law, choose to ignore it.

Let's set aside and not discuss the moral and legal side of this right now. We know many people exist who would support and enjoy such a system. So why has no-one managed to build it so far?

about 2 months ago
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Katatsumuri Re:Reputation system (226 comments)

P2P poisoning is done by malicious servers that announce millions of connected users and return results for all sorts of keyword queries with fake filenames and spammy or malicious content.

I was suggesting a reputation system based on signatures as a possible part of a solution to this problem in P2P networks. The rating system was not the main goal of my suggestion but a means to end, so saying, "But some torrent sites already have user-rating systems," is missing the point.

about 2 months ago
top Domain Name Suspended

Katatsumuri Re:Mod parent interesting (226 comments)

I agree with this. What I found ironic is Anonymous Coward saying "There aren't many situations where anonymity is particularly useful".

about 2 months ago
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Katatsumuri Re: Do we have a better file sharing solution? (226 comments)

Yes, this actually sounds interesting for some use cases. What it lacks is keyword-based search for files shared globally by others.

about 2 months ago
top Domain Name Suspended

Katatsumuri Reputation system (226 comments)

What about a pseudonymous reputation system?

Let the uploaders voluntarily sign their uploads. Then, as the user verifies a few packages by that uploader, they assign a higher trust score to them, so their personal spam filter ranks this uploader's other packages better.

I can also have friends and trusted vendors whom I can whitelist based on their signatures.

We can also have global distributed "trust rank" for uploaders and individual packages, based on feedback from multiple users. That's not very reliable, but possibly useful as one of spam filter heuristics.

Then, we can also have pseudonymous meta-moderation, where users who consistently flag good and bad packages are trusted more about their future feedback.

about 2 months ago
top Domain Name Suspended

Katatsumuri Re:Mod parent interesting (226 comments)

So maybe this community screening/flagging could be decentralized?

And maybe we could still find a meaningful set of heuristics for the spam filter? Signals from users, file type, file size, first uploader location and software stack, known file checksums in the package, etc. - maybe if there are 100 carefully calibrated input signals, the detection rate would keep it usable.

Also, AC in this thread made vague suggestions about using PGP authentication (for trusted uploaders?) and some bitcoin-like algorithm (which I unfortunately don't understand how it applies here, but maybe it makes sense to someone who creates this sort of systems).

I obviously understand very little about the technical details of the problem, so I'm just trying to ask questions and pass around the ideas.

about 2 months ago
top Domain Name Suspended

Katatsumuri Mod parent interesting (226 comments)

Another useful idea, probably from the same AC as above:

PGP has incredible potential as a decentralized authentication system, and once you have one of those, you can have consensuses that are highly resistant to interference (i.e. censorship).

There aren't many situations where anonymity is particularly useful

Now this is ironic in an AC post. Also, I don't understand your point about anonymity working against you in preventing the monitoring. Are you talking about "circle of friends" type networks?

about 2 months ago
top Domain Name Suspended

Katatsumuri Mod parent interesting (226 comments)

I also noticed the spam/"poisoning" problem with p2p networks. Using BitCoin-like algorithmic approach to solve that is a new idea to me, which I need to think more about to understand it, but it does sound interesting.

Another decentralized system where spam problem was somewhat mitigated is email. For me, SpamAssassin with its bayesian filters was a 90% fine solution, and GMail with its power of scale solved the problem for 99.9% of cases. There may be 1 in 1000 slipped spam or a false positive, but that doesn't bother me much, and it is uncomparable to the spam disaster we had in ca. 2000.

So spam and poisoning is a real problem, but not an unsolvable one.

about 2 months ago



Poll: When will new tech justify upgrading a modern quad-core home PC?

Katatsumuri Katatsumuri writes  |  about 6 months ago

Katatsumuri (1137173) writes "
  • Now!
  • In 1 year
  • In 2 years
  • In 3-4 years
  • In 5-9 years
  • In 10 years or more
  • 640K is enough for everybody!

Anti-Aging Drug Tested On Humans Successfully

Katatsumuri Katatsumuri writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Katatsumuri (1137173) writes "Telomerase activator TA-65 has been tested on humans in Spain. It promises life extension and longer youth for everyone.

Quoting the press release: "The publication reports that TA-65 can cause telomerase, an enzyme that lengthens telomeres, to become active in human cells. Telomerase activation by TA-65 was shown to lengthen the shortest telomeres in humans, potentially extending human lifespan and healthspan. Telomerase activation is thought to be a keystone of future regenerative medicine and a necessary condition for clinical immortality. Although TA-65 is probably too weak to completely arrest the aging process, it is the first telomerase activator recognized as safe for human use."

See the press release and the original article preprint."

Link to Original Source

Water on Asteroid Themis

Katatsumuri Katatsumuri writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Katatsumuri (1137173) writes "Scientists have detected water ice on the surface of an asteroid 24 Themis. The researchers say that ice is not stable in such circumstances and has to be being replenished by some means — perhaps from inside the object. With escape velocity of 87 m/s and water ice present, can this 200 km sized asteroid be a good target for a space mission?"
Link to Original Source

Mapping the Fruit Fly Brain

Katatsumuri Katatsumuri writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Katatsumuri (1137173) writes "A new computer-based technique is exploring uncharted territory in the fruit fly brain with cell-by-cell detail that can be built into networks for a detailed look at how neurons work together. The research may ultimately lead to a complete master plan of the entire fly brain. Mapping the estimated 100,000 neurons in a fly brain, and seeing how they interact to control behavior, will be a powerful tool for figuring out how the billions of neurons in the human brain work."
Link to Original Source

Lightweight $100 Notebook from Hong Kong

Katatsumuri Katatsumuri writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Katatsumuri (1137173) writes "Jointech has announced yet another $100 notebook. This one seems to literally cost $100. It weighs 680g and has a 7" display. Not much hardware to use with 64M RAM and 64M ROM, but you can add an SD memory card and USB devices. Designed for Windows CE — but how long until someone installs Linux on it? Will this be an Eee killer?"
Link to Original Source

New small extrasolar planet may have water

Katatsumuri Katatsumuri writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Katatsumuri (1137173) writes "From press release:

"An international team of astronomers led by David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame has discovered an extra-solar planet of about three Earth masses orbiting a star with a mass so low that its core may not be massive enough to maintain nuclear reactions."

"The planet orbits its host star or brown dwarf with an orbital radius similar to that of Venus. But the host is likely to be between three thousand and 1 million times fainter than the Sun, so the top of the planet's atmosphere is likely to be colder than Pluto. However, the planet is likely to maintain a massive atmosphere that would allow warmer temperatures at lower altitudes. It is even possible that interior heating by radioactive decays would be sufficient to make the surface as warm as the Earth, but theory suggests that the surface may be completely covered by a very deep ocean."

See original report with links to scientific article and press release, or writeup."

Link to Original Source

Ubuntu-like Brainstorm for others?

Katatsumuri Katatsumuri writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Katatsumuri (1137173) writes "Ubuntu Brainstorm has seen several improvements, and received a lot of positive feedback and contributions. It looks like a very successful representation of a public opinion poll.

What kind of company could possibly scale this up to let Internet users suggest ideas in a similar way to anyone they like, be it Google, Microsoft, or Cowboy Neal? My first thoughts were Google and Slashdot. Maybe some readers here can suggest other companies?

See also the Brainstorm entry for this idea."

Link to Original Source


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