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NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

petes_PoV Closed system - energy is just energy (302 comments)

The calories consumed "argument" seems like a red herring.

The spacecraft will be a closed environment: recycling waste from food and water (with some slight inefficiencies and consequent loss - but you'd expect that to be very small). So once the craft is loaded with enough raw materials to produce food fast enough (a function of energy availability) then it won't matter how many calories per day the crew consume, so long as the onboard systems can recycle the waste and replenish them fast enough. Same applies to water use: very little will be "consumed" (lost irrevocably) and if there's enough energy to recycle it the crew could use as much as they please. It's not as if there will be a stream of empty MRE package dumped out of the vessel every morning.

As far as calories goes: this is just heat generation. So however many calories the crew "consumes" will ultimately contribute towards the heating of the cabin. Obv. if the cabin needs cooling more than heating there will be a greater energy cost - but again it comes down to the ability of the craft to generate power to run itself, not very much in the way of "lost" consumables.

4 hours ago

An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

petes_PoV Fixing the wrong problem (281 comments)

The reason this situation exists is because the vendor has nothing to gain from changing.

If they have a fixed amount of ice, or can only make a fixed amount per hour then they have nothing to gain from selling that amount at a faster rate. Sure, the customers may not like it but since these guys are the only source of ice, what the customers want is of little consequence.

If you really want to speed up the line, introduce some competition. A 3 word answer instead of a 1,600 word one.


Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too

petes_PoV Mountains and molehills (212 comments)

Learning to "code" is about as difficult as learning to drive, but in a different way.

Hence it can be learned pretty much at the convenience of the individual in question in a few months, even starting from scratch.

There is no reason to teach "coding" to 7 year-olds. They are too young to fill any vacancies that may exist and by the time they have got to an employable age, obtained a degree (as few employers will touch an IT person without one) the "coding" skills they learned 15 years ago will be almost completely obsolete. One might argue that they will have learned to employ logic, but again: unless that skill is exercised regularly, it too will be lost.

5 days ago

When will the first successful manned Mars mission happen?

petes_PoV The wonder of exploration (217 comments)

The wonder of exploration is gone

The wonder of exploration is as strong as ever. And for the same reason: greed and the hope of exploitation.

However, humanity has found better ways of doing it, than sending loads of expensive, fragile, high-maintenance people to wander around knocking lumps off rocks. That's what the robots and satellites do. However, it does seem unlikely that there is anything on Mars that is worth the effort of sending people for - or worth the cost of shipping back to Earth - it does seem to be a rather desolate wasteland containing nothing of any consequence.

So the only reason that people would wish to go there would be to remove themselves from this planet - or for society to want them removed.

5 days ago

What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

petes_PoV Re:Could do it in a year (254 comments)

You probably don't even need that. Just make the course downhill all the way.

about two weeks ago

What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

petes_PoV Re:Summary (254 comments)

It is a clumsy piece or writing. It may well make sense to the tiny minority of people who know (or care) what a "sub-two" marathon refers to.

However without the reference to Runner's World it's not even clear that the piece is about athletics. It could have meant any sort of marathon: watching a TV series, eating long sandwiches: anything.

Wouldn't it have been simpler, clearer to write something like:
In the past 16 years, marathon runners have cut the world record from 2hr 06:23 to 2hr 03:23. But as they get closer to the 2 hour mark, further improvements will become progressively harder to achieve.

about two weeks ago

Diners Tend To Eat More If Their Companions Are Overweight

petes_PoV Serving staff (126 comments)

So can we expect all the junk food emporiums to now start recruiting fatties to serve their customers?

about two weeks ago

Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

petes_PoV Moving people == dumb idea (549 comments)

f you could take 100 people at a time, you would need 10,000 trips to get to a million people.

No. You'd store their DNA, ship that and "grow" people after it arrives. And after the robots have spent the time necessary building the infrastructure, making it habitable and amassing the minerals, water, gases and power generation needed to sustain the colony.

The only problem would be getting the robots to let go of control, once the humans arrive.

about three weeks ago

The Physics of Space Battles

petes_PoV Re:Lasers? (470 comments)

I think the easiest might be "learning to focus lasers a little better."

Let's take a step back.

What would provoke a battle in space? The simplest answer (at present) would be a dispute between two earthly powers vying for dominance. In that case I doubt that anyone in the general public would be aware of what was going on and the distances involved ( a few hundred km, up and down) means that ground based energy weapons and small projectiles that intercepted the opposition's orbits would be all that's needed.

But once you get into interplanetary conflict, it's a different matter, In that case (say for example: the Earth - Mars independence war - or Revolutionary War depending which side you're on), then for a Martian attack on an Earth-orbital facility, you'd need 2 things. First is an unmanned vehicle - simple because nothing else is sensible and the second thing would be a large mass. Orbital stations would be sitting ducks as they are in very predictable paths and while stations like the ISS *can* change altitude to avoid incoming threats, it's a slow process and again: fairly predictable.

So with an unmanned attacker, the vehicle IS the weapon - there's no point waiting for it to circle back round for a second shot. Just make it large enough and heavy enough that it could take any incoming "fire" from directed energy weapons and then have it disperse into many (thousands: millions) of small pieces as it nears the target. That would provide too many pieces to successfully destroy them all - you'd only need 1 to get through and whatever doesn't hit the orbital target would deny orbits to other "enemy" facilites due to the amount of debris the Earth's gravity would capture.

And if you want to get really nasty, there's always Footfall

about three weeks ago

The Physics of Space Battles

petes_PoV The hardset part: finding the enemy (470 comments)

Given what we can do with stealth technology today, imagine the problem of even discovering the presence (let alone position, velocity and acceleration) of something that doesn't want to be found.

The only two "giveaways" would be the heat signature from its power source (not just propulsion, but life-support) and whatever it accidentally occults as it moves across the background of stars. The heat can be drastically reduced by towing the power source a long way behind the main craft and having it very, very dispersed so the Watts per square metre of I.R. are very small. The occultation problem can be reduced by choosing a path that stays away from the galactic plane.

So most battles would be ones of sneak attacks and defensive fire. It might be possible to devise some sort of A.I. mines, or even simply fire a cloud of sand in the general direction (assuming the relative velocites of target + sand are high enough, that could be all that's needed).

However, I have a feeling that most "wars" in the future, whether in space on on Earth, will be economic in nature and "fought" over decades rather than wham-bam shooting battles.

about three weeks ago

When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

petes_PoV Programmed obsolescence? (175 comments)

The authors say this will fundamentally change the concept of what it means to own and control your possessions.

So the authors are considering a future where we have to replace all our domestic appliances every 2 years, simply because someone somewhere has decided that the control software *must* have this new feature (that nobody asked for) and that it will only run on version X. You now have 3 months to toss the old fridge / cooker / vacuum cleaner / lightbulb before it gets automatically bricked. Even though it performs its primary function perfectly.

No thank you.

about three weeks ago

Mobile Phone Use Soon To Be Allowed On European Flights

petes_PoV Re:I'd pay for a non-phone flight (96 comments)

I am not sure if you have noticed, but this is an American website

An american website?I think you'll find the other 95% of the world disagrees with you.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant?

petes_PoV Re:Hmmm ... (179 comments)

There are more reasons.

Reports are consistent: they report the same data, in the same format thus making for easy comparisons
Reports are easily filed. Why would a manager want to waste their time learning how to retrieve past data and then learn how to compare it with stuff form other dates/times when they can simply print it and highlight what they want. Paper and disk space are cheap - their time is not.
Reports are portable. You can take them away with you, you can show them to other people.
Reports are secure. You can print them and be sure that whoever you show them to cannot access anything else. ANYTHING
Reports can be easily incorporated into a manager's "product" (presentations, summaries, proposals and archives) without them having to learn any new methods. Again: it's a trade-off between cheap IT resources and their expensive time.

And probably most important of all: reports are familiar. Never forget that IT is providing a service to the business. It's not the place of IT to dictate to the business how they do their work - it should always be the other way round.

about three weeks ago

Outlining Thin Linux

petes_PoV Re:Yes, just like that. (221 comments)

Exactly right. Whenever I post on Linux related topics I see responses like this that are both arrogant and foul-mouthed - where neither position is necessary, nor adds credibility to the poster (or to the subject they are writing about).

The other thing these individuals seem to do is drag MS into the subject - as if they are still fighting their own little wars over some 1990's idealogical differences. But they never put forward any actual rational arguments or facts to back up their bile: just hate posts.

So sad.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

petes_PoV No (234 comments)

I can only spend maybe 10 hours a week on this

Since you already have a full life, something would have to give. The amount of time you estimate to be available would get to hobby level: the same as the other thousands of amateur astronomers in the country. But it's not enough to do any serious studying, get qualified or do research to a publishable quality.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

petes_PoV Re:Working in Tech - or DOING Tech? (392 comments)

A difference between badly documented code and well documented code? Sure. The badly documented (or not documented at all) is far more likely to be buggy, fragile and inefficient. People who create software professionally take pride in their work and a big part of that is letting other people know just how good they are. They do that by explaining what the code does and by implication telling the world how experienced and smart they are.

Poorly documented stuff is written by people who think it's all "fun" and have no real clue about professionalism. They probably haven't even spent any time thinking about the structure of the problem before diving in and bashing out a couple of thousand lines of code. These people tend to be trying to prove to themselves how good they are and mistakenly associate "good" with code size or how many overly complex and inexplicable constructs they can use - in the false assumption that others will be impressed by this.

We aren't. But I've never seen an Arts or Humanities coder produce this kind of shambolic mess (mostly because I've hardly ever seen any code from non-technical programmers) and I don't believe it's something any self-respective tech. graduate would be prepared to put their name to, either.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

petes_PoV Working in Tech - or DOING Tech? (392 comments)

While the two CEOs who are promoting this view both have non-technical qualifications (so: no surprise there) the article is written more as a "preaching to the choir" piece than as serious career advice.

For example: the liberal arts train students to thrive in subjectivity and ambiguity, a necessary skill in the tech world where few things are black and white I don't see that as being particularly helpful when trying to compile code - it either does or it doesn't. There is no alternative to having an executable pop out of the slot when you "win". It also avoids any notion that technical problems require technical solutions - and the only way to arrive at the best (if not "the") solution is to have a deep understanding of the technical issues and the technical advantages and flaws with each alternative. No matter how good you are at history or philosophy, you won't be helping in this arena.

So while it is quite possible for technically unqualified individuals to work at technology companies, that does not mean they will be working with (or creating) the technology the firm is based on. But it could mean that one day, they'll be your boss.

about a month ago

KDevelop 4.7.0 Released

petes_PoV Re:And KDevelope is what exactly? (48 comments)

It's something that's general knowledge for the majority of Slashdot readers

Nope. I've never even heard of it - and having read that announcement I'm still no clearer what it is, what it does or whether I should be interested in it.

However, it's not alone. There is a huge amount of FOSS that has an entire "front" web page that tells people in exquisite detail what changes have been made, who contributed, how others can get involved and what bugs are outstanding without ever mentioning what the hell the project does, or what benefits it brings the world. This just adds one more to the tally.

It may be the best thing since sliced bread, but until these projects extract their collective heads and start addressing the billions of people outside their closed, little development communities, no-one will ever know,

about a month ago

Intel Releases SD-Card-Sized PC, Unveils Next 14nm Chip

petes_PoV Re:Pricing? (47 comments)

Would this be better than a RaspberryPI for small-scale arcade cabinets?

There are already dozens of boards available that are better than the RPi for this sort of use. Many at less than the $49 this thing is up for grabs at.

about a month and a half ago

Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

petes_PoV Diving deeper (546 comments)

No. Learning to code is like learning the alphabet and some basic words.

Learning to be a programmer is being able to use a word-processor, having the rules of grammar, the 4 modes of discourse, a huge vocabulary and a storytelling ability fluently available to you.

"Coding" tells you the structure of a for loop. Being a programmer tells you when to use it and how to deal with the exceptions it could throw up. Sadly there are no job interviews I have ever encountered that are deep enough to split the one from the other.

about a month and a half ago


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