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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

NReitzel Maybe repurpose it a little... (225 comments)

NASA keeps looking for long duration spacecraft. They have a -dandy- one already in orbit.

What it needs is a large ion thruster module. The ISS would make a really great long duration space probe. We already know that people can live on it for months at a time, and it's got many of the instruments one would want to explore deeper space than LEO. Flying supplies off Earth would take a whole lot less energy than launching an entire space probe.

Plus, it can be done incrementally. Attach an ion engine, fly ISS up to geosynchronous orbit, then fly it back down.

Seems like a much better idea than "Hey, let's burn this up in the atmosphere and count on the Government(s) to buy us a new shiny one."

It was thinking like that that led us to the Superconducting Supercollider -- oh, wait, we don't have one of those. But CERN has LHC, and they have studiously repurposed and refurbished their old accelerators since 1959.

C'mon, NASA. Think outside the box. For once.

2 days ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

NReitzel You nuculer power guys.. (494 comments)

Wow, and I thought solar people were being pushy here on Earth. You nuculer power guys just never give up. By using solar panels, Philae avoided polluting comet 67P and there is no problem with nuculer waste disposal.

3 days ago
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Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

NReitzel Re:Completely appropriate venue (1007 comments)

Are you kidding? Did you see Bill Nye tear Ken Ham to ribbons?

The problem is deeper than that. When God has told you how things are, you are free to ignore inconvenient things like facts.

about a month ago
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What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US?

NReitzel It won't happen that way (320 comments)

The oncoming of fully automated vehicles won't happen the way that being discussed in geekish circles. Governments tend to move with all the speed of a glacier, and insurance companies will go out of business if the number of traffic accidents plummet. (Yes, they will. Water conservation sounded great until a lot of people started actually conserving water, now the water companies are having to jack up rates to stay solvent.)

What will happen is that "safety features" will be added to top end vehicles and work their way down. This is already happening with rear-watch, lane obstacle detection, and others. Insurance companies will like safer cars, as long as they aren't so safe that they are no longer needed. Public safety groups will lobby for these safer cars.

The myriad of state legislatures in the US will be very reluctant to authorize fully automated vehicles. Instead, manufacturers will just keep introducing "features" that reduce traffic accidents, things like lane following and collision detection and braking. Then, as the number of features mounts, the distance between a fully featured safety car and one that will drive itself will become smaller and smaller until it doesn't seem like such a giant leap. In addition, we may find automated vehicles licensed only for certain pieces of highway. It takes a lot of CPU to automate a car, adding GPS is a detail.

Look around, the changes have already started.

about a month ago
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No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

NReitzel The end of the Smelly... (334 comments)

The short-magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) isn't called the "Smelly" for no reason. It's got an eight-ton trigger pull, stock forearm bands that will drill a hole in your shoulder while you carry it, a steel butt plate that will make an attempt to dislocate your shoulder when fired...

But it is reliable. In fact, think of it as the bolt action flavor of an AK-47.

I hope what they end up with serves as well.

about a month ago
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A Critical Look At Walter "Scorpion" O'Brien

NReitzel Stay in perspectve... (193 comments)

Yeah, the show is mediocre, but it starts off with an end tag so what do you expect. I saw the end of the show first and wound back to see if they had started with a matching open tag, but no. Nobody there has a clue what they are, just "web stuff."

Look, compared to network tv shows, it's in the top third. Would you rather have another reality show about an ugly woman and her abusive husband who both have an IQ of 98?

See if you can maintain a perspective on all this.

about a month and a half ago
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Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

NReitzel Pick a category (993 comments)

Len,

In any subgroup of humans, be they white, black, brown, yellow, blonde, green, Microsoft, Apple, OpenSource, martian...

There will always be some really nasty people. There are people who are absolutely certain that they are right and evidence be damned. There are people who think that you should defer to them because of their superior intellect, good looks, buff muscles, ancestry, even who they think think they know. These days, there are people who sincerely believe that they have God's 800 number.

I've since learned that regardless of how smart, fast, clever, treacherous, blah blah, there will always be someone who is better at it than I am.

I still participate, because I can contribute towards a whole that is greater than I am, and for that matter, greater than they are. I'm not a theist, but the great body of knowledge that genus Homo has accumulated is bigger and better than all of us individually, and in spite of that, or maybe because of that, each of us can contribute our part towards making it better still.

I've learned to tell those people, "If you don't like he way I am doing it, fork you." (sic) Time will tell if you are right or we are right. Like any species, there are innumerable forks, and some will prosper, and some will not. Time will judge.

about a month and a half ago
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Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

NReitzel Where do we put the line? (481 comments)

In front of the sushi bar, of course.

about a month and a half ago
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TrueCrypt Gets a New Life, New Name

NReitzel Re:I guess FalseCrypt was taken (270 comments)

Strange that you should mention this. In point of fact, they released the source code.

Let's read that again:

      They Released The Source Code

Dude, that genie is -out- of the bottle. The source builds easily on several platforms, and produces a nice functional FakeCrypt wherever you might want it. Now, let us examine the implications of litigation against people who have brought up their own version.

First, ostensibly honest people who just want some security will be the targets. And what will happen to fundamental terrorist groups? Why, nothing of course. They will have strong crypto and being sued for copyright infringement is the very least of their worries, since they intend on doing rather nastily illegal acts in any case. Law abiding people get harassed, the bad guys don't give a crap.

Are you listening, NSA? What you've done, so you can intercept Aunt Mabel's sex texts, is force the use of this strong package underground. Your only recourse is going to be making any use of crypto illegal, which may in fact have been where you were going in the first place.

You guys are -supposed- to defend the Constitution of the United States. I've actually listened to the oath. The idea is not, and never has been, that the people are entitled to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness as long as it is under strict government supervision.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

NReitzel Re:From a physics professor (234 comments)

I have a physics background and have tutored classes in physics for twenty years. The math is key - no math, no physics.

I would also suggest actually taking a course - with a lecturer, and someone to answer questions, in ordinary differential equations. You will find that a lot of really hard physics problems become easy, once you understand where the derivation lies.

Don't take a math department course in DiffEq. You will learn to prove that a solution exists, but not how to go about getting one. Instead, I recommend a course called "Engineering Analysis". And good luck!

about 2 months ago
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Can ISO 29119 Software Testing "Standard" Really Be a Standard?

NReitzel Consensus? You have to be kidding... (152 comments)

The free dictionary (by Farlex) defines consensus: 1. An opinion or position reached by a group as a whole.

That's very democratic. Unfortunately, reality is not democratic.

Software testing is designed to unveil real vulnerabilities and errors in a complex system. Having a bunch of people hold up their hands and say, "Is this a problem?" is flatly ludicrous. In point of fact, it's the error that isn't noticed by the majority that constitutes the deepest problem. Remember the Columbia shuttle? A group of people got together and came to the concensus that the ice impact at launch was not a problem.

Testing, by it's very nature, is not subject to regimentation. It's a lot like "Job Descriptions" -- in real terms, establishing a job description is publishing a whole list of things that don't need to be addressed. Why does anyone think software testing will be different?

"Your piece of software has problems." "No, it doesn't. We fulfilled the standard for testing."

Giveth me a break.

about 3 months ago
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IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch

NReitzel Hullmetal Plated Armor, Dudes (113 comments)

Why go non-X86?

Well, gee, let's see what kind of viruses there are for PowerPC architecture now that Mac has gone Intel.

Uh... None?

If you're building a server farm, who cares about the architecture?

Now, having said that, I do agree with the comment that says there ought to be high-horsepower workstations available. Not all of us are Windoze Gamers. I work at a University and do a lot of SCF chemical simulations. That, my friends, takes guts. If I can't cram in additional CPU/GPU, it kind of leaves me out.

about 3 months ago
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UK Police Warn Sharing James Foley Killing Video Is a Crime

NReitzel Re:Benjamin Franklin said once (391 comments)

It's certainly true that America doesn't have the talents of the UK.

In particular, Brits have an absolute monopoly on rampant pomposity.

It's a good thing you guys leaned to grovel properly, sonst sie Deutsch sprechen werden.

about 3 months ago
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Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

NReitzel Are You Kidding? (541 comments)

Oh, come on. Political Correctness has no place in discussions that are scientific in nature.

Northern Europeans clearly evolved to have fair skin and hair, and they evolved from ancestors who did not have fair skin and hair.

How the *BLEEP* is this racist?

about 3 months ago
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Hackers Demand Automakers Get Serious About Security

NReitzel While you're at it... (120 comments)

Since people are now talking about car computer security, now is the time to start thinking about including a secure keyed police shutdown mode.

When we get to autonomous vehicles, the nay-sayers are are already worrying about how this would permit alleged felons to drive off form robberies all the while taking pot-shots at the police (not having to drive, and all).

If we're building a Star-Trek ® flavor of car, start thinking about including Command Authorization Codes on a per-car basis.

about 3 months ago
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Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As an Accomplice

NReitzel Re:Whatever way we want it to be (255 comments)

My apologies. I searched myself for the quotation and did not find it. The person in question was Charles Schumer (US Senator), and his remarks were in response to a rather over-the-top NRA assertion that the government was trying to take guns away from "Law Abiding Citizens" subsequent to some multiple shooting event. The event made at least one video outlet -- which is how I saw it -- but apparently was not recorded. This I actually understand, and find nothing nefarious about it -- after all, there was a hugely more serious event to report on.

Since I was unable to provide an actual citation, I did not "name names" -- and the comment was more to illustrate an attitude by lawmakers (not necessarily Mr Schumer personally) that government should have the power to go after someone that "they think" is a Bad Guy, and screw the legal process.

In the US, there have been countless cases of cops trying to charge someone recording their actions on video, because having their actions stand up to careful scrutiny seems (to them) to be an undue burden. The current trend towards categorizing all "illegal immigrants" as drug mules is another example. "They are here illegally, right? So we know they've broken a law." Yes, but _drug mules_ ? That's a stretch.

As a person who witnessed the 1968 events in Chicago, I know that there are some police forces who have the attitude of "We know who the bad guys are and we need to be able to go after them" and the phrase "burden of proof" seems to be missing from their repertoire. Thankfully, in the US, the majority of police forces are not there, at least not yet.

about 5 months ago
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Austrian Tor Exit Node Operator Found Guilty As an Accomplice

NReitzel Whatever way we want it to be (255 comments)

In the post-911 world, police departments all over the world are moving into Orwellian territory. They spot someone that they "know" is doing a crime, and they go searching for a law to hammer them.

With laws that don't sunset, and legislative organizations (worldwide) passing more rules and regulations and laws as fast as they can write them down, the state is moving to consolidate it's power. Once, a congressman from the United States said of his constituents, "There are no law-abiding citizens, there are only citizens who haven't yet broken a law."

Wait for it. The police are choosing to persecute (sic) whomever they want to, and due process seems to be fading into the sunset.

about 5 months ago
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New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel

NReitzel Not to mention poisons... (380 comments)

Well, bureaucratic idiocy ignored, there is another small wart on this process.

Catalysts are very sensitive to "poisons" - chemicals that stop their catalytic activity. Sodium amide used as a catalyst has a vulnerability to a potent catalytic poison - that being water. A little moisture in the fuel tank, a little moisture in the fuel lines, and presto. No catalyst.

I'm not saying it's not possible, I just don't know how one would keep that pestilential dihydrogen monoxide carefully excluded from the process. It's cumulative, every tiny scrap of moisture kills off some of the catalyst.

about 5 months ago
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Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

NReitzel Don't mess with "c" (347 comments)

There's an alternative explanation. Space-Time could have non-zero viscosity, and slow down photons.

There are a lot of reasons to consider that space might have a viscosity. For one thing, it would neatly explain the expansion of the universe, without the necessity of invoking dark matter and dark energy.

We live in interesting times!

-- Norm Reitzel

about 4 months ago

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