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How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

Zobeid Stone Age Starships (392 comments)

Are we still talking about physically packing specimens of homo sapiens in some kind of gross physical vessel and somehow propelling it across interstellar space? Seriously?? This is the 21st Century, man! It's been obvious for a while now -- several decades at least -- that there are far, far more efficient ways to colonize the galaxy.

By the time interstellar travel becomes feasible, in terms of both technology and resources, surely our AI technology, our robotics technology, our molecular synthesis and manufacturing technology, and our understanding of biology and genetics should be easily advanced enough to ship a manufactory to the destination star system and then FAX across everything and everyone else that is needed there. The explorers and colonists are most likely to be AIs and robots -- although there's nothing to prevent transmitting and synthesizing human beings as well, if it makes any kind of sense to do so. (A human being off planet Earth is like a fish out of water, unless and until we win the cosmic lottery and stumble onto Earth 2.)

I just... I don't know what people are thinking when they trot out these star travel ideas that sound like something from the 1960s. Star travel is an idea about the future. Why do so many people look at this with their minds stuck in the past?

about two weeks ago
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How Can Nintendo Recover?

Zobeid Re:Build a Steam Box and release 1P games to it! (559 comments)

That's thinking outside the box. I like it. Nintendo should do it. But they won't. I might even say they "can't". It's a plan diametrically opposed to their entire corporate culture, their history, their way of thinking. It's hard enough for an individual to do a U-turn like that, but for a publicly held corporation with several thousand employees... They just can't.

Sometimes the old empire just has to fall, and new ones rise.

about 3 months ago
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How Can Nintendo Recover?

Zobeid Re:Minecraft on iPads (559 comments)

quote: "Apple crushed Nintendo by creating iOS devices and opening up it's platform to indie devs for a minimal fee."

The irony cuts deep. Nintendo first exploded into success by locking down the NES and keeping out all the crap games that had clogged the Atari VCS/2600 market. It's not easy for a company to turn against the strategy that made them. Why did it work so well then, but is backfiring now?

about 3 months ago
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PC Makers Plan Rebellion Against Microsoft At CES

Zobeid Re:Yeah right. (564 comments)

quote: "One big problem with netbooks was that people assumed that could MS Word, and when they found out they couldn't they returned the computer."

Did this actually happen or is it just an urban myth? (or Microsoft/Intel FUD?)

The way I remember things, there was a lot of buzz about a wave of ARM+Linux netbooks that were supposedly coming soon, and I wanted one, and none of them ever actually made it to market.

about 4 months ago
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8 US States Pushing For 3.3 Million Electric Cars

Zobeid Re:Zero emission electric car (327 comments)

You can hate that term all you want, but it's been widely used for decades, and the rest of us aren't going to change our terminology because you posted a comment on Slashdot. Better get used to it.

As for the whole "long tailpipe" argument against EVs, that's so ten years ago. Come back when you get caught up with the debate.

about 6 months ago
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8 US States Pushing For 3.3 Million Electric Cars

Zobeid Re:This can't work (327 comments)

I don't understand your maths. The article says they are aiming for 3.3 million vehicles. How did you arrive at 100 million?? That would be roughly a third of the cars in the USA! Nobody is expecting EVs to be adopted on that scale within that time frame.

As for the strain on the electrical grid... It may lead to some regional problems as the usage patterns change, but electric cars should not drastically increase the total national demand for electricity. Gasoline consumption will be reduced, and it takes a lot of electrical power to refine gasoline (especially as more low-grade crude continues to come onto the market).

about 6 months ago
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8 US States Pushing For 3.3 Million Electric Cars

Zobeid Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (327 comments)

The first six items in your list also apply to the huge amounts of electricity consumed by oil refineries in the production of gasoline!

about 6 months ago
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8 US States Pushing For 3.3 Million Electric Cars

Zobeid Re:If a consumer didn't pay a premium for electric (327 comments)

You're totally right, and I think the industry is keenly aware of this, and they are working on how to address it.

Gasoline cars have been mass-produced and cost-reduced for decades. It's really quite amazing to look at the cost of an internal combustion engine and see just how cheap they are, considering the materials, parts and tolerances that they require to produce them. The same can and should happen to electric cars, but it just doesn't happen overnight, and it won't ever happen without them being in active production.

The Tesla Model S is Tesla's second car, and it's a huge advance over the Roadster. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are first-generation products. We're just at the beginning of this change, so be patient!

about 6 months ago
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8 US States Pushing For 3.3 Million Electric Cars

Zobeid Re:There is no Magic Energy Fairy (327 comments)

Couple of points to make...

Coal is already on the decline in the USA, being squeezed out by cheaper (and much cleaner) natural gas. The Chinese, on the other hand, are building coal plants like crazy.

Many people don't realize that those magic oil refineries are most likely connected to coal burning plants too. Oil refineries use enormous amounts of electricity. I've seen an estimate that refining a gallon of gasoline requires as much electrical power as you need to move an electric car the same distance, given typical efficiencies.

about 6 months ago
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8 US States Pushing For 3.3 Million Electric Cars

Zobeid Re:still doesn't compute (327 comments)

IF you have your car in a garage and charge it overnight, then you may rarely ever need to charge it away from home -- only for road trips, really. Depending on your driving habits, you may go months without visiting a charging station.

Even then, if you have a Model S and stop at a Supercharger station, you'll have the option of paying for a battery swap, which can get you back on the road in about two minutes.

Finally... Remember that even 3 million cars is only about 1% of the cars in the USA. Today's electric car technology can't meet everyone's needs, but I don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine it meeting the needs of 1% of the population. Things can grow from there as the technology continues to improve.

about 6 months ago
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4K Ultra HD Likely To Repeat the Failure of 3D Television

Zobeid Put a fork in it, it's done! (559 comments)

We had a long journey to get where we are now, with HDTV and large, flat screens, and surround sound in the "home theater". It was a worthwhile journey, because now we can watch the entire back catalog of movies, going back many decades, pretty close to the way they were meant to be seen. That was the destination, and we've finally arrived, and there's really nowhere else to go from here. The technology is a solved problem. 3D and 4K are answers in search of a problem.

From now on, it should all be about the content. Movie making, as an art, was largely perfected by the 1970s -- and yet, somehow a lot of bad movies (to say nothing of TV shows) still get produced. Putting them out in 3D or 4K won't make them good.

about 6 months ago
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Physicist Unveils a 'Turing Test' For Free Will

Zobeid I don't get it... (401 comments)

I've never understood how there can be any kind of debate about free will. To me it's like debating whether gravity exists. Maybe it's all just an illusion -- some sort of mass hallucination, perhaps? -- that leads us to think we're clinging to the surface of this orb in space?

To me, free will is demonstrated by every mark we make on the world. I mean, consider my house. It's not a natural formation; it didn't get here by accident. Somebody chose the site, drew up the plans, and decided to build it. That's free will. If there's no free will, then what is my house? A mirage? A dream?

People arguing against free will remind me of the philosophers Douglas Adams described in the Hitchhiker's Guide -- coming up with elaborate proofs that black is white, and then getting run over at the next zebra crossing.

about 6 months ago
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Advances In Cinema Tech Overcoming a Strange Racial Divide

Zobeid Kodak Ektar 100 (164 comments)

My favorite film is Kodak Ektar 100, the modern wonder-film. It has super-fine grain, scans great, and produces vivid in-your-face colors. It makes everything look good -- except white people! Caucasians generally come out looking pink and sunburned. Well, I guess that's why Kodak sell Portra film too.

about 6 months ago
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Myst Creators Announce Obduction

Zobeid Re:Why not an actual Sequel (103 comments)

I feel just the opposite. I loved Myst but never really got into the sequels, and all their accumulated lore is just confusing to me. I'm sure it would be confusing and daunting to new players too, who haven't done any of the old games -- and many, many of today's gamers weren't even born back in the Myst days. It's sort of like going into the comic shop and seeing Fooble's Adventures #50 and thinking, "Neat cover... But do I even have a hope in Hell of understanding what's going on, if I haven't read the first 49 of them?"

A new world means no baggage, no preconceptions, a fresh start. Anybody can dive into it without misgivings.

about 6 months ago
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Pandora's Promise and the Problem of "Solutionism"

Zobeid Re:energy is like food (293 comments)

Yeah, let's keep the government out of it... except, of course, for the massive distortions of the market that you happen to favor and advocate. :P

about 10 months ago
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Cherry's New Keyboard Switches Emulate IBM Model M Feel

Zobeid Re:As opposed to actual Model Ms which are still m (298 comments)

If you RTFA, it does mention the Unicomps and give a reason for preferring the CM Storm Trigger. To wit: "Because, let's be honest: the Model M is not a pretty keyboard, and its Unicomp successors also won't be winning any beauty pageants. None of those keyboards have the same array of gamer-friendly features, like macro keys, as Cooler Master's offering, either."

I have a recent Model M here (in the black, Mac-optimized version) and I like it a lot. I'm no die-hard gamer, don't need macros, and I don't enter my keyboard in beauty pageants. It would be nice if they could build a USB hub into them, though.

about a year ago
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Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago

Zobeid This is Testable (637 comments)

This idea should be easy to test, statistically speaking. If he's right, then the populations with the worst mental degradation and more emotional instability should be found in those parts of the world where civilization first took root, while those populations who lived as hunter-gatherers until relatively recently (or even up to the present day!) should have a big intellectual advantage.

I am not aware of any such effect being measured and documented.

about a year and a half ago
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Will the Star Citizen Project Fund Linux and Mac Ports For CryENGINE 3?

Zobeid Why is it using CryENGINE??? (119 comments)

If there was ever any thought of wanting the game to run on Linux or Mac, why did he base it on CryENGINE to begin with? Isn't that sort of stupid? Really, isn't that all kinds of stupid? I should think that developers would have learned better by now.

about a year and a half ago
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Favorite U.S. Political Party

Zobeid Re:Libertarianism Is A Dream (503 comments)

For most of its history the USA did, in fact, operate as what we today would consider a libertarian country. All things are relative in politics, and our government (especially the federal government) used to be much smaller and less intrusive than it is now. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it did by-and-large work.

How would fire departments and libraries run in a libertarian country? The same way they do now, I guess, since those are examples of functions that haven't generally been taken over by big government -- yet. But we could do without the enormous social entitlement programs and global high-tech military presence that we've been taxing and borrowing like mad to support.

Franky, it really chaps my hide when I mention libertarianism or mention the Tea Party and then somebody comes back with, "OMG you want to get rid of public schools, public highways, libraries, fire departments, police, etc!" What the hell? Where do they get that from?

about a year and a half ago
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Favorite U.S. Political Party

Zobeid Re:Dems vs Reps (503 comments)

Transportation? Since when are Democrats for transportation? That's one of the many, many departments that have been cut, and slashed, and cut, and starved, and cut some more over the years to pay for the Sacred Cows of Congress: ever-expanding military budgets and social entitlement programs. This is why we have crumbling infrastructure, NASA unable to put people in space, borders like a sieve, national parks barely able to stay open, laughably under-staffed product safety testing, etc., etc.

That's the deal. It's a classic case of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours", with Republicans always willing to go along with more social programs as long as Democrats reciprocate by allocating more money for the military. Everything else has been cut to the bone and beyond, and then we've borrowed into a mountain of debt, and still growing with no end in sight. It's literally the only game that Congressmen know how to play anymore: buying support by funneling our own tax money (and now, more and more, borrowed money!) back to their districts by way of the Military-Industrial Complex and the Nanny State.

about a year and a half ago

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