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Comments

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Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

mpthompson Very intriguing... (113 comments)

This appears to be a power-efficient process that on the back end produces a bluish liquid which contains a high quantity of hydrogen. When this liquid is combined with a metallic catalyst it then releases the hydrogen at normal atmospheric pressure/temperature without requiring any further electricity.

I wonder if the bluish liquid could serve as a hydrogen storage mechanism that is both easily transportable and transferable between containers such as liquid fuels today? Does production scale to industrial quantities? Is it non-toxic and non-explosive (while kept away from a catalyst)? Lots of questions not touched on in the articles.

However, for hydrogen vehicles, the ability to transfer useful quantities of hydrogen fuel at room-temperature liquid and normal pressure could be a real boon. Let's hope this provides a possible path to practical hydrogen vehicles.

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Advice On Building a Firewall With VPN Capabilities?

mpthompson Re:What are you trying to do? (237 comments)

I can second going the Tomato route. I've used this for nearly 10 years now and have been very happy with the results. Heard good things about DD and OpenWRT, but haven't tried them myself.

New hardware capable of running Tomato can be had on Amazon for less than $50 and are very low in power consumption. Tomato is a small enough sandbox that you're less likely to screw up security, but has enough options and add-ons to do whatever you are likely to want to do with it. There is also an active community that can lend help with questions when needed.

Prior to Tomato I tried running my own BSD system as a firewall/VPN, but I never could sleep well not knowing whether I actually had it properly configured with regards to security. I'm fairly knowledgeable in such things, but don't have the time to stay on top of everything. Particularly for a home network where I don't want to spend more than a few hours each year on system maintenance and updates.

4 days ago
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Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

mpthompson What's with all the talk about censorship? (300 comments)

Can we stop with the screaming of censorship every time a website run by private individuals decides what is or is not appropriate for their website? YouTube and Twitter run their own networks and are free to implement whatever policies they want regarding what videos or other media is served from their site. Of course, they may suffer in the marketplace based on their policy decisions, but sometimes even the right decision has negative consequences.

Personally, if I ran YouTube or Twitter I would have made the exact same decision. However, even I disagreed with their decision in this instance, I would still defend their right to implement whatever policies they desire. Banning the video on their own service is not censorship, it's their right.

about three weeks ago
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China Bans iPad, MacBook Pro, Other Apple Products For Government Use

mpthompson In other news... (115 comments)

...productivity in Chinese government offices rise sharply.

about a month ago
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Household Robot Jibo Nets Over $1 Million On Indiegogo

mpthompson Re:Social robot (61 comments)

I think he meant to type:

"They kindly let would be burglars know they're at the wrong house."

about 2 months ago
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Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

mpthompson Re:Where's the guns to their heads? (281 comments)

I believe the issue isn't so much whether one group can counteract another. Rather, it is something happening that the promoters of Bitcoin claim should not happen. It doesn't instill confidence in a crypto currency when what you say is impossible (or extremely improbable) is proven to be false and your only backup is relying on parties to "play fair".

about 3 months ago
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Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

mpthompson It's just human nature... (281 comments)

But having a single entity in GHash's position, of holding 51 percent of the mining power, of being in a monopoly position, of being able to launch any of these attacks at will, completely violates the spirit and intent of Bitcoin as a currency.

Given enough of an incentive, has there ever been in history a man-made system, technical, political or otherwise, that hasn't been undermined and exploited by those with the capability and power to do so?

Probably best this happens to Bitcoin sooner rather than later. As fine as Bitcoin is, believing that technology alone can defeat human nature is a fools errand. We are betting off investing in creating more moral men and woman and a society that sustains them than technology that is supposed to be infallible against basic human nature.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

mpthompson Re:Startups Are for Younger People (274 comments)

I couldn't disagree with you more. Start-ups are for people of all ages. I've done multiple start-ups in my 20's, 30's and 40's. Some had very successful exits, other's no so much, but that is the way of the industry. I spent my 20's just learning the ropes and not to be taken by a huckster with a big wallet, big ego and a slick sales pitch. By my 30's I had been around the block long enough to have experience under my belt to not just contribute technically, but the maturity to contribute in other ways as well in leadership roles. In my 40's I starting pursing opportunities because they be "fun" and mentally rewarding more than financially rewarding.

Now that I'm getting close to my 50's with a family my priorities in my life have shifted and I'm involved in consulting and contracting to stay in touch with the start-up experience, but be "paid" for my work and not be as mentally invested so as to suffer the consequences when things don't work out so well -- as the great majority of start-ups don't go bust for a variety of reasons.

In my career I've run across a lot more people who failed to contribute because they still had a youthful "I know everything attitude" than because they were washed-up in the 40's. A person in their 40's will likely have enough self-introspection to know whether they are or aren't cut-out for a start-up life, but an 20-something not so much.

about 4 months ago
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Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change

mpthompson Re:What about the Little Ice Age? (552 comments)

To further your analogy, what if it is determined the car is indeed traveling downward on a gentle slope. It was traveling 55 mph, but is now going 60 mph. All the passengers in the car produce "scientific" studies that predict the car will keep going faster because of the downward slope.

However, a funny thing happens. Careful observations of the car's speedometer indicate that the speed is not increasing as it was a short time earlier. But, in fact, has paused for some mysterious reason. Preposterous, the passengers, all scream. Our best computers models prove beyond a doubt that when traveling on a downward slope the car must speed up. It's a scientific fact that no one can dispute and we have the "peer reviewed" papers to prove it. Some even go so far as to proclaim the "science is settled". To claim otherwise is to be an anti-science "denialist". They explain, if the car is not increasing it speed it must because the car must have hit a brief level spot or something. That is why the velocity has failed to increase. Unfortunately for the passengers, though, further measurements indicate the slope is actually now steeper than it was previously, but the car is still traveling at the same speed. Even worse, the latest measurements hint that the car may actually be slowing down.

In all their haste to prove their own "scientific" perspective correct and those of the "denialist" wrong, all the passengers failed to observe the driver has lifted her foot off the gas pedal.

about 9 months ago
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Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change

mpthompson Re:Grasping at Straws (552 comments)

I'm waiting for an alarmist to sell me their soon to be worthless beach front property for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, none have taken me up on my offer.

about 9 months ago
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Scientists Boycott NASA Conference Because of Ban On Chinese Participants

mpthompson Re:Due to Frank Wolf (283 comments)

In all honesty, the bill did have to pass with a majority in both houses and be signed into law by Obama. He may have written or sponsored the original bill, but it's not like Frank Wolf did this on his own.

about a year ago
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Scientists Boycott NASA Conference Because of Ban On Chinese Participants

mpthompson Well, the Chinese did spy on us... (283 comments)

... so I guess this will teach them a lesson about spying on other countries.

Of course, the irony of "the pot calling the kettle black" doesn't go unnoticed.

I'll file this under, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. -- Mahatma Gandhi"

about a year ago
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Study: Our 3D Universe Could Have Originated From a 4D Black Hole

mpthompson And just think... (337 comments)

In the 4D universe is a book called Cubeland and the readers struggle to understand how creatures might exist in a hypothetical space limited to just width,height and depth. Ie. How their digestive tract is just a tube through them.

1 year,2 days
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Working Handgun Printed On a Sub-$2,000 3D Printer

mpthompson Re:3D-Printed Revolver? (521 comments)

The right to bear arms is literally the only thing the conservatives get even remotely right.

Pssss, buddy. Your ignorance and prejudice is showing...

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Programmers Who Have Not Stayed Current?

mpthompson For starters, you can get off your high horse... (509 comments)

It's really up to the management at your company to determine whether someone is pulling their weight or if their skills are up to snuff. You may have an opinion, but it's best to keep it to yourself. Many people provide value to an organization in ways that aren't always easily visible to co-workers. It's entirely possible the coders who doesn't seem to be "as up to date" in his skills may be providing benefits to the organization in ways you don't yet have the experience or perspective to appreciate.

I once kept what others might consider to be a sub-par programmer on my team because he was a good friend of my best programmer -- the type of programmer who provided 10x the value of any of his peers who complained about the sub-par programmer. Besides, the sub-par programmer had a great personality, broad work experience and helped round out the team and make the overall workplace a much more enjoyable place to be. We had to work through some of the coding skill issues, but as a manager it was a tradeoff I was happy to make considering the other ancillary benefits the person brought.

As a manager, one of my toughest jobs was dealing with the handful of younger programmers who felt it was their duty to judge the value of everyone else on the team -- usually on very narrowly defined terms. Most often it was a case of "the pot calling the kettle black" and the energy invested in pointing out the flaws of others would be much better spent on reflecting upon their own shortcomings and improving their own skills -- which were usually overrated. I can say that because I once was one of those overly self-confident younger programmers myself, but I have since gained some experience and perspective.

about a year ago
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DOJ, MIT, JSTOR Seek Anonymity In Swartz Case

mpthompson Re:Did they pull the trigger? (236 comments)

It's ironic that today, just and fair trials are so common that they don't make the news, but the injustices and scandals reported in the media are what shape people's opinions of the government.

Given how powerful the government is against the individual, shouldn't it be the concern of everyone when the government commits injustices? Or, should it only be a big deal when the boot is on your own throat?

I'm not arguing for vigilante justice, rather I'm arguing for full disclosure of who is involved in acts of injustice. Such disclosure is the only effective way of discouraging such abuses in the future. Perhaps if the government was seen as being transparent in such cases and effectively policing itself there were be much less risk of vigilante justice occurring in the first place.

about a year and a half ago
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Iranian Lab's Quadcopters To Rescue Swimmers

mpthompson As the submitter of this posting... (81 comments)

I work in the robotics industry and what really caught my eye was that this interesting work is coming out of Iran. Something I thought was pretty cool considering the negative press we get from our media about the country. Obviously, the Iranian government is very anti-American, but I would bet if I were to sit down with the folks at JST Labs working on this project I would find we share a lot of common interests in technology and such. It is from such common interests that broader cultural bridges can be built from.

about a year and a half ago
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NASA Asteroid Capture Mission To Be Proposed In 2014 Budget

mpthompson Astronauts to a 7 meter space rock? (106 comments)

Seriously, wouldn't sending a handful of robotic spacecraft to characterize larger asteroids be much more worthwhile? While it could be argued that astronauts on the surface of Mars with good geologic training and tools could be more productive than a robot, I'm not sure what value sending astronauts to such a small asteroid in lunar orbit really adds.

The asteroids that really threaten Earth are an order or two of magnitude bigger -- a hundred meters to a few kilometers in size. A 7 meter asteroid may give us some insight into their composition, but it would be better to actually go an analyze the actual type of asteroids we are worried about. Knowing details of their structure and how they are held together could immediately eliminate some solutions for diverting their course if the need ever arises and provide insight that could spark creative solutions that haven't yet been thought of. This kind of work could actually be done much cheaper with robots than astronauts if what we really care about are actual results.

about a year and a half ago
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NASA's 'Inspirational' Mars Flyby

mpthompson Re:800 days without any possibly of escape (108 comments)

A Mars ship with the capacity of Skylab for a 3 or 4 person crew would seem the ideal way to travel compared anything else that has been proposed. The Saturn 3rd stage provided a volume of a small townhome with large area the crew could even 'run' in. Probably the closest thing that could be managed today would be a few Bigelow modules to provide a bit of elbow room to a crew.

Food storage is indeed a problem. 800 days is just beyond the outer limits of what can be done with current freeze-dry technology -- at least according to a Nova Science Now program that was on a few years ago. Seems that growing food would be the best solution to supplement a pretty bland diet and provide recreation activity for the crew, but that in itself involves a lot of untried technology that could be problematic on a multiyear long space trip.

about a year and a half ago
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SpaceX Cargo Capsule Reaches International Space Station

mpthompson Re:Nice work ... (89 comments)

The Dragon's are designed to be reused. However, if I recall correctly, NASA requested that SpaceX use a brand new capsule for each of the 12 scheduled delivery missions. This likely means that SpaceX is building up a stock of used Dragon capsules that can be repurposed to other missions at a reduced price.

If someone could confirm this, I would like to know if this is because NASA is stuck in the old ways of doing things with capsules, or if there is a legitimate safety/efficiency reason used Dragons could not be recycled for future supply missions.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Quadcopters to Rescue Potential Drowning Victims

mpthompson mpthompson writes  |  about a year and a half ago

mpthompson writes "Via RoboticsTrends' newsletter, RTS Lab in Tehran is developing Pars which is an aerial rescue robot quadcopter designed to save potential drowning victims. The ship-based quadcopter responds instantly when alerted to potential victims in the ocean, locating them with thermal imaging sensors, and dispensing life preservers directly over them. The current prototype carries one life preserver, but they are working on a new model to carry three life preserver rings. Future models may dispense up to 15 self-inflating rings. A launching platform for use on ships has been designed, but more intriguing is an idea for a remote stand-alone launching platform. It's good to see innovative robot tech coming from a country that is not normally well covered in Western media."
Link to Original Source
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Biden Pledges More Efforts Against Internet Piracy

mpthompson mpthompson writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mpthompson (457482) writes "Just days after four Pirate Bay defendants were found guilty in Sweden, Vice President Joe Biden warned of the harms of Internet piracy at a private event organized by the MPAA in Washington, D.C. At the gala dinner on Tuesday evening, Biden lauded Hollywood, assailed movie piracy, and promised film executives that the Obama administration would pick "the right person" as its copyright czar. Biden also singled out Canada for criticism for not signing the treaty that led to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or placing other anti-circumvention restrictions on its citizens."
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Inventor to help world's poorest see better

mpthompson mpthompson writes  |  more than 5 years ago

mpthompson writes "A retired professor of physics at Oxford University, Josh Silver, is on a quest to help the world's poor see better. Intended for the poorest regions of the world where the optician to population ratio is 1:1000000, Silver has developed a pair of very inexpensive adaptive glasses which are "tuned" by the wearer to correct his or her own vision. The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane between tough outer plastic lenses, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. Some 30,000 pairs of his spectacles have already been distributed in 15 countries and next year a trial is set to begin in India which will distribute 1 million more pairs of glasses to the poor. His hope is to reach up to 100 million pairs annually and reach a billion of the world's poorest people by 2020. The implications of bringing glasses within the reach of poor communities are enormous, allowing people access to education and work that would otherwise be out of reach due to poor eyesight."
Link to Original Source
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Big Step Forward for Ultracapacitor-based Energy

mpthompson mpthompson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

mpthompson (457482) writes "In this Technology Review article a Texas startup, EEStor, says that it has taken a big step toward high-volume production of an ultracapacitor-based energy-storage system that, if claims hold true, would far outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market. Despite skepticism in the research community, EEStor claims its system will have more than three times the energy density of the top lithium-ion batteries today, be safer, longer lasting, and have the ability to recharge in less than five minutes."
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Digital TV Burnout

mpthompson mpthompson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

mpthompson (457482) writes "According to Embedded.com beyond the robust growth, glitzy new high-end displays and marketing frenzy lurks the dirty little secret of HDTV: An unsettling number of sets are returned to the retail outlets where they are purchased. Consumers are often wowed by the performance of HDTVs displaying slow-moving, brightly colored video on the showroom floor, but are disappointed by the performance of the set when they get it home. There are many factors at play, but consumer confusion over jargon laden HDTV technology seems to be the major culprit. Manufacturers also blame the compression technologies used by cable and satellite providers to jam as many channels into their bandwidth as possible for consumer dissatisfaction. Is Joe Six-Pack really ready for digital TV?"
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Geostationary Banana over Texas

mpthompson mpthompson writes  |  more than 7 years ago

mpthompson (457482) writes "I'm not sure what to make of this project, but others may be interested in a proposal to place a giant 300 meter Geostationary Banana over the Texas skies as part of an art intervention project in 2008. The helium filled bamboo and balsa banana will float between the high atmosphere and Earth's low orbit. For one month the banana will be clearly recognizable and visible both day and night from the ground. The one question I have is why does Texas get all the fun?"
Link to Original Source
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mpthompson mpthompson writes  |  more than 7 years ago

mpthompson writes "Samsung has partnered with a Korean university to develop a robotic sentry equipped with a 5.5mm machine gun. Meant for deployment along the DMZ between North and South Korea the $200,000 robot employs sophisticated pattern recognition software for targeting humans. No three laws here, but the robot does include a speaker that can be used to politely issue a warning before taking the target out. The promotional video is both scary and funny at the same time."

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