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Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games?

RightwingNutjob Re:nope (119 comments)

My sarcasm detector is registering a 50% confidence metric, but I'd still rather work with, listen to, and play games by people who aren't ignorant about the war of 1812 and the cotton gin.

2 days ago
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Grinch Vulnerability Could Put a Hole In Your Linux Stocking

RightwingNutjob Re:Wheel Group (116 comments)

Leaving a blank root password during install on Debian disables login access to the root account from any terminal or the root console. There is still a root account, but it can only be accessed with sudo -s; su - by a user in the wheel group.

3 days ago
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Want To Influence the World? Map Reveals the Best Languages To Speak

RightwingNutjob Re:Hay! (150 comments)

There it is! The constant correcting...

5 days ago
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NASA Gets 2% Boost To Science Budget

RightwingNutjob Re: 2% is nothing (121 comments)

The other part of the problem is that the air force acquisitions is run by accountants and scientists, not engineers or combat pilots. And one of the things that you don't learn as a scientist or an accountant, or even as a combat pilot, is the hidden cost and complexity of doing two things with one aircraft by "fixing it with software," as opposed to the upfront cost building two types of aircraft. It's a serious problem, and it leads to bad acquisitions decisions, not just for planes. That said, having new F-35s that can do more of some things isn't necessarily a bad thing.

about two weeks ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

RightwingNutjob Thoughtstuff is a nonlinear space (205 comments)

Software is thought-stuff as Brooks famously put it, and it lives in a multidimensional nonlinear space. Just because two programmers are implementing the same thing sitting next door to each other doesn't always mean they're mucking in the darkness, looking for a great software sage to show them how to write reusable code. Maybe one of them is coding for speed, the other for memory footprint, and the third for prettyness. You can't have one set of libraries do all three for you without effectively implementing it three times and giving them each the option. Just because software looks close, doesn't always mean there's a short path to get it to where you need it.

about two weeks ago
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Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts

RightwingNutjob Re:Enough! (197 comments)

Well, something like 8k of ROM and 2k of RAM was enough to go to the moon, land, take off, and come back, so...

That's what people have the disconnect on. Flight control software isn't stressing. It's maybe a dozen or two 6x6 matrix-vector operations which unroll into maybe a few hundred FLOPS (or they could be fixed point) that need to run maybe at 20 or 30 Hz (Apollo's major cycle was 10 Hz). This is stuff you could do with hand-wired 7400 IC's if you really wanted to (in fact they did the equivalent for the first submarine launched ballistic missiles in the 50's). Having a programmable computer that's fast enough to do it a few hundred times a second, and handle the control loops for some of the other stuff in the capsule is nice, but it isn't hard with a 10 MIPS processor, let alone the 200+MIPS they're flying in ORION.

In the 60's when they went to the moon, it was hard because there was no such thing as an off-the-shelf space-qualified programmable flight computer, so they had to invent it all from scratch, and there's this mistique that developed around it. But even by the 80's and 90's, the space hardware and avionics industries advanced to the point where the hard stuff was knowing what software to write, not finding a computer and inventing a compiler to run it on.

about two weeks ago
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Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

RightwingNutjob Re:Betteridge (545 comments)

I'll add another wrinkle to the above: if you're salaried and subject to overtime regs, you now have to account for your time, and you are just setting yourself up for a confrontation over whether having a great idea in the shower and working it out on a napkin at breakfast counts for time-and-a-half.

about two weeks ago
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You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South

RightwingNutjob Re:obviously they should track the sun (327 comments)

That thing was supposedly rated to hold 6 or 8 of those panels at once. Probably wouldn't have fit on a residential roof anymore, and might have required a structurally retrofitted roof carry the weight.

about three weeks ago
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You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South

RightwingNutjob Re:obviously they should track the sun (327 comments)

And now that I'm remembering back...that 1k was just for the top portion. The pedestal the thing is mounted on was about 2 or 3k of custom machining, which if you did in bulk etc etc would probably still run 100+ each.

about three weeks ago
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You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South

RightwingNutjob Re:obviously they should track the sun (327 comments)

Back in my student days, we had an experiment with a solar panel with a single axis tracker. The panel we got for about $800, the tracker for about 1k, if memory serves. Mind you, this was a single axis tracker with the panel mounted along the direction of the rotation, not offset to the declination of the sun like you'd have with a proper equatorial mount used in astronomy (which you'd still need to adjust every month or so to keep up with the seasons).

Conclusion: a sort-of OK tracker (that you still need to adjust seasonally) cost more than the panel. And it's moving parts that wear out and need lubrication, and it needs to be accessible for maintenance and adjustment. So about double the cost and not practical for sloped roofs.

about three weeks ago
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Does Being First Still Matter In America?

RightwingNutjob Re:First in what? (247 comments)

There's a story told by one of the former directors of LANL about when he met his Russian counterpart after the end of the Cold War. The US nuclear weapons community kept being amazed at how to the Soviets could stay on par with them on bomb design, given that the Soviet computer industry was always a decade or so behind the US. The answer from the Russian physicist was something along the lines of "you compute, we think." Having been in the bowels of the US military industrial complex for the better part of the last decade, this is all to true in what's considered one of the smarter corners of it. So having the biggest digital dick may not be the smartest or the quickest way to get a better home-grown weather forecast. Scratch deep enough, and there's always a bit more stupid in the process that can be optimized away for much less cost (but with much less fanfare).

about 1 month ago
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New Atomic Clock Reaches the Boundaries of Timekeeping

RightwingNutjob Re: Old saying (249 comments)

I thought that TAI was supposed to be a hypothetical clock on an idealized (spherical? oblate?) earth that's computed from the a bunch of real atomic clocks. So wouldn't it still be possible to synthesize a time like that to more decimal digits using better actual clocks?

about a month and a half ago
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Suspected Ebola carriers in the U.S. ...

RightwingNutjob Re:Instant Quarantine (349 comments)

Exactly. Even if it's a 1000 to 1 shot, now you don't even know you're at risk and next week when the unlucky one out of 1000 of you go to hospital for a stomach bug, and the doctor asks you if you've been to West Africa, you say no. Granted, it's damn hard to cause a third-world scale outbreak this way, maybe a million to one or rarer for a grand total of at most a dozen or so infections nationwide, but it doesn't matter because you can turn that probability into an exact zero of the doctor stays home until they're guaranteed to not cause that scenario.

about 2 months ago
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Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

RightwingNutjob Re:All very sad (443 comments)

NASA has had its careless streak too. See Challenger and the investigation that followed. But realistically, this is what happens whenever you do things in one-see, two-sies instead of in bulk. If the Air Force only had one fighter plane and only flew it once every few months, you can bet there would be a lot of failures for a long time before everyone settled into a voodoo flight ops mentality and nothing new was tolerated at all because the cost of failure was so high.

about 2 months ago
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Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

RightwingNutjob Re:Wasn't aborted by the RSO either (443 comments)

Maybe yes maybe no. I thought so too on the first look, but on the second look it could just be a trick of the light in the dust/steam/ice coming off the fuel tank.

about 2 months ago
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The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows

RightwingNutjob Re:Safety Issue (286 comments)

Windows also help when there's turbulence or just regular maneuvering at takeoff and landing. You can look outside and get your bearings to prevent nausea. Easier to get airsick (or seasick) if you can't see the horizon to stabilize your head.

about 2 months ago
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White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

RightwingNutjob Re:Get real (352 comments)

Interesting, but I tend to remain skeptical. If you're talking about sending up a Bridgeport that you're going to use to make a 5 axis 20ft^3 workspace CNC, I believe you. If you're talking about sending up a dwarf-sized little mill (I can't think of any at the moment, but there's a Taiwanese company that makes table-top mills for about 1k a pop) to build a Bridgeport to build a..., there I just don't believe you can make it work without contorting yourself through a lot of hoops and picking up a lot of extra overhead that makes it more sensible to send up the full-sized Bridgeport instead. But like I said, interesting. If you've got a link to a writeup, I'll read it.

about 2 months ago
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Commerce Secretary: US Wants Multi-Stakeholder Process To Preserve Internet

RightwingNutjob Re:We are fsk'd (57 comments)

Nowhere in the constitution does it say that treaties can override rights. It's a court challenge waiting to happen. Also, treaties generally aren't voted on in secret, even if they're negotiated that way. In fact, I don't believe congress can legally vote in secret on anything. They can have classified meetings, but they can't pass secret laws.

about 2 months ago

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