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Mars Base Design Competition Open To Non-Scientific Professionals

ShoulderOfOrion A moon base would make more sense -- or Venus (94 comments)

Much closer, more scientifically useful.

If you want sustainably habitable, Venus is a better choice. Similar in size to the Earth, and much closer than Mars. Use 'global warming' mitigation techniques developed on Earth to convert Venus CO2 to oxygen, and then add hydrogen to create water. The biggest problem is figuring out how to speed up the rotation of Venus. That's a tough one.

about 2 months ago

Sparse's Story Illustrates the Potholes Faced By Hardware Start-Ups

ShoulderOfOrion Re:i's crossed and t's dotted (103 comments)

Better still, some of them come with a full set of adapters that will fit pretty much any plug anywhere. I didn't understand why that was such a problem either.

about 2 months ago

US Officials Cut Estimate of Recoverable Monterey Shale Oil By 96%

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Wait.. (411 comments)

Large reptilian creatures from Japan can solve the nuclear waste disposal and urban renewal problems at the same time.

about 2 months ago

Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub?

ShoulderOfOrion Re:May I suggest an alternative... (190 comments)

Almost no access to broadband Internet other than big$$$$ leased lines purchased by a few local broadcast technology companies. Average age 60 (plus or minus 20 years). Housing prices on average twice that of Sacramento due to being primarily a retirement community. Both towns turn off the lights around 7:00PM. Limited tech employment opportunities. Not uncommon for talented employees to stay a few years then be vacuumed up by Bay Area / Sac / Roseville companies at 2-3 times the pay.

Lovely weather. Beautiful place. Great place to raise kids. Plenty of outdoor recreation nearby.

The next big tech startup hub? Not likely. A regional hub for the burgeoning Northern California "hydroponics" industry? Certainly.

about 2 months ago

Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

ShoulderOfOrion Summary Fail (818 comments)

As usual. It implies that the views of 'average Americans' are abrogated by the economic elite. As the PDF clearly states on page 14 "It turns out, in fact, that the preferences of average citizens are positively and fairly highly correlated, across issues, with the preferences of the economic elites." It also turns out that the paper defines 'average American' as someone at the 50% income level, and 'economic elite' as someone at the 90% income level or above, which works out to $146,000. The paper than argues that this 'elite' population fairly represents the truly elite (the top 2%) based on 13 policy preference questions--which aren't listed in the paper--with a correlation of r=0.91 vs a correlation of r=0.69 for the 'average' population.

Sorry. There ain't nothing in this paper about the Koch brothers, Soros, Oprah, Bill Gates, or any of your other favorite elites. This is all about Joe the Plumber vs your mid-level Google executive.

So how does the paper define the views of the 'average American'? Well, on page 15, there's this "Some particular U.S. membership organizations--especially the AARP and labor unions--do tend to favor the same policies as average citizens. But other membership groups take stands that are unrelated (pro-life and pro-choice groups) or negatively related (gun owners) to what the average American wants." A footnote 40 then directs you to another paper by one of the same authors, presumably for the corroborating data.

Finally, on page 18, we encounter this: "Because of the impediments to majority rule that were deliberately built into the U.S. political system--federalism, separation of powers, bicameralism--together with further impediments due to anti-majoritarian congressional rules and procedures, the system has a substantial status quo bias. Thus when popular majorities favor the status quo, opposing a given policy change, they are likely to get their way; but when a majority--even a very large majority--of the public favors change, it is not likely to get what it wants."

In other words, here's the real summary: "Elite academic researchers at elite universities have conducted a study in which they find that the constitutional system put in place by the founders of the republic to prevent mob rule is thwarting their elite progressive agenda by working as intended. Oh, and throwing a lot of money around and making noise tends to draw attention to your cause, particularly when it aligns with the majority view, which it does most of the time."

Nothing to see here. Move on.

about 3 months ago

Your StarCraft II Potential Peaked At Age 24

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Oh yeah? (103 comments)

Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. The best part of the Get Off My Lawn game are the cheatcodes you learn along the way.

about 3 months ago

Lack of US Cybersecurity Across the Electric Grid

ShoulderOfOrion Squirrels (95 comments)

And birds. Those are the true power-line terrorists around these parts. They create massive power grid outages regularly. They also like to start brush fires with their suicidal attacks.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

ShoulderOfOrion Re:The magical scenario is "gradual social decay." (737 comments)

Exactly. A very insightful post.

I would place 'teacher' very high on the list of required professions. Human society has had them for thousands upon thousands of years. Back then, they were called 'old people'. Through oral tradition and example they taught the children the skills and knowledge necessary to survive.

One of mankind's greatest skills is the ability to communicate with increasing precision (well, at least until the advent of texting in the last decade). Reading, writing, printing, are among man's greatest inventions, as they enable future generations to build upon the past. Remove those skills and mankind reverts to a stone-age lifestyle within a few generations. Teach literacy to those same generations, hope that at least a few dead tree libraries survive the great server cloud apocalypse, and an advanced civilization could be reborn as soon as there was sufficient population to support the required specialization.

about 4 months ago

Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Quantum fluctuations != nothing (612 comments)

"If nobody thinks about it, that does not mean math does not exist."

Ever stubbed your toe on a 4?

about 4 months ago

Future Airline Safety Instructions Will Be Given By Game Apps

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Oh great (64 comments)

Seriously, in order to save a few minutes and pennies, the airlines probably would scrap them if they could.

At least in the U.S., the safety briefings are mandated by the FAA: see FAR 91.519 and FAR 91.1035. As a private pilot, I'm required to give the same sort of briefing to any passengers I carry before takeoff. (Basically, "here's how to fasten the seat belt; here's how to open the door; please don't do that in flight.") Getting the FAA to modify those regs will probably require something between an Act of Congress and an Act of God.

about 4 months ago

Google Won't Enable Chrome Video Acceleration Because of Linux GPU Bugs

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Permenant Beta (295 comments)

Yes, you got most of the issue correct.

I would add, however, that you missed a big one: hardware video acceleration in general quickly gets one into the world of DRM, patents, and other BigCorp-induced headaches that have been causing Linux trouble since day one. This has always been the major impediment to hardware acceleration in the open source drivers at least. Even the Linux binary drivers have had acceleration features stripped from the for DRM reasons.

As a Linux user for close to twenty years, I'd argue that the quality of the GPU drivers has improved remarkably over the past few years. For general desktop compositing and engineering 3D work I find the open-source radeon drivers work fine now; far better than they ever have in the past. Not gaming-quality yet, but improving all the time. This Google Chrome decision sounds more like the typical BigCorp excuse to avoid Linux support than a valid diatribe against the current drivers to me.

about 5 months ago

Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Not Cost! (473 comments)

I agree with most of what you wrote, except your title. Cost is indeed a large part of the problem, along with everything else you cite.

I also think you unfairly pick on teen-age kids. I see ' the curious, entrepreneurial spirit and playfulness' of just about every age group diminishing in all the activities you cite, and more. I've been a pilot for two decades and an experimental aircraft builder, and I see fewer and fewer unique homebuilt planes every year. Most new homebuilt planes are now assembled from a handful of popular kits. Why? Building from plans or even designing your own plane takes an extraordinary amount of time and money, something only a few have anymore.

Amateur radio? Only a hardcore few still build their own gear, with the rest buying do-everything transceivers from a few big firms. What happened to the rest of the electronics hobbyists? Those with the passion and money apparently moved on to computers and now robotics. The rest left the hobby along with Radio Shack and the newsstand electronic and computer magazines. To build anything other than basic LED-flashing circuits today takes a lot of time and fancy (expensive) equipment.

Shooting? My grandfather was an avid shooter and reloader. It takes time, commitment and the right gear. Another niche, expensive activity now.

Mechanics? In 1982 my brother and I hot-rodded an old '67 Camaro for around $2K in our driveway. New V8, new tranny, and a bunch of parts scrounged from junkyards. 32 years later, I can't even change the oil on my Honda for less than $20, plus another $10 to take the used oil to the hazardous waste facility. None of the kids I know have the money to buy the tools and parts needed to 'hop up' a modern car, even if they had the skill to deal with EFI, CAN buses, and the like.

In my opinion, the '50s and '60s were an anomalous time in U.S. history. A post-war economic boom, a baby boom, a nascent technology boom and Cold War panic, along with 40% fewer people around to get in the way, made for a unique set of circumstances that invigorated all the activities noted above. Those times are gone forever. Even the Maker movement cannot rescue us from the reality of the lack of disposable time and income that exists today.

about 6 months ago

Non-Coders As the Face of the Learn-to-Code Movements

ShoulderOfOrion G-Code (158 comments)

Teach the teenagers G-Code. Give them 3-D printers. Reap lots of creativity, most of it indictable.

about 6 months ago

Debian Technical Committee Votes For Systemd Over Upstart

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Good, because it's inevitable (379 comments)

I don't care if it's in a final state (no software ever is). However, I echo the OP's lament that pushing out software that does half of what the old software did, half as well, seems to be a common and distressing mode of operation among too many developers. KDE 4.0, Unity, Gnome 3, etc., would have been a lot more acceptable if it was at least as functional as what it replaced. The common pattern seems to be throw out beta software, spend two years sorting out the issues until most users are satisfied, and then start over from scratch, just because. It would be nice if more developers followed the example of eg the LateX project and valued functionality and stability over 'oooh, shiny new thing!'

about 6 months ago

Should Everybody Learn To Code?

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Should Everybody Learn Calculus? (387 comments)

Agreed. However, the fundamental problem with most university math departments is that the course work required for engineering is taught by math professors. I remember being taught in my higher level math courses subjects such as formal proof, esoteric derivations, and other arcane minutia that was pertinent to those who wanted to be math majors but totally useless for us engineering majors. Most of what an engineer needs on the job could be easily handled by two semesters of 'Engineering Math' (Calculus I) and 'Advanced Engineering Math' (ODE, matrices).

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

ShoulderOfOrion I want what Ironman had (503 comments)

Give me that holographic 3-D translucent panel that I can throw data at by waving my hands around. As long as it runs a kernel with a UNIX philosophy and I can compile the entire thing from source like my current Gentoo distro I'll be happy.

All I ask is that you don't F' it up. If you make the decision that I don't *also* need a keyboard and a console window because 'who uses VI anymore to program when you can wave hands around' then you're full of it. I'm the one to decide if hand-waving is better, not you. If you toss out a half-done re-write like KDE 4.0 with regressions on every major integrated application, you deserve the hate. If you break the entire metaphor like Unity or Windows 8 did for the sake of some other platform you deserve the hate. If you abandon decades of proven philosophy on a whim just because, you deserve the hate.

On the other hand, if you have something truly unique, revolutionary, game-changing, bring it on. If it is truly a step forward the world will quickly abandon the old in favor of your new, my old self included. It's when you try replacing the old way forcibly in favor of your new that you fail. That's not your job. That's my (the user's) job.

about 6 months ago

In an Age of Cyber War, Where Are the Cyber Weapons?

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Classified (94 comments)

I fail to see the difference, then, between future cyber warfare and the ongoing carnage I see on the sidewalks and streets right now.

about 6 months ago

IBM Dumping $1 Billion Into New Watson Group

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (182 comments)

Possibly. But it's also quite possible that a number of those problems you're describing are classic NP-complete traveling salesman type problems. In which case, Watson will no more be able to solve them than we can, even if it can compute a gazillion times faster.

about 7 months ago

Yahoo Advertising Serves Up Malware For Thousands

ShoulderOfOrion Re:But does it run on Linux? (184 comments)

I think it's a given that if a virus, worm or whatever could actually infect a Mac or Linux box that would be in the headline, or at least the first paragraph.

about 7 months ago

Cairo 2D Graphics May Become Part of ISO C++

ShoulderOfOrion Re:Sure, why not (430 comments)

In my opinion, this is one of the things that Modula-2 got right: a Definition Module for the API, and an Implementation Module for the code. PIMPL just ain't the same.

about 7 months ago



X-Plane Inventor Discusses Patent Trolls

ShoulderOfOrion ShoulderOfOrion writes  |  about a year and a half ago

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) writes "Austin Meyer, creator of the X-Plane PC flight simulator, holds a podcast discussion with an editor of the online aviation website Avweb. The latter half of the podcast discusses Meyer's battles with a patent troll, his views on the patent system in general, and his intent to fight the troll and change the system. It also discusses the impact the patent battle is having on the X-Plane flight simulator, particularly on Android. The patent conversation starts at 11:50 on the podcast."
Link to Original Source

DisplayPort standard no longer open

ShoulderOfOrion ShoulderOfOrion writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) writes "Open-standards advocates have heralded and championed DisplayPort as an open standard available free of charge and free from royalties. Now that DisplayPort is beginning to appear on more PCs, graphics cards and monitors, this situation quietly changed last year with no one taking notice. Has another 'open' PC standard fallen victim to corporate interests?"
Link to Original Source


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