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Comments

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Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

ppanon Re:Competition is good. (211 comments)

I went through a couple of iterations of that post and hemmed and hawed about which way to go on the efficiency front, because there are pros and cons. As 0123456 points out, if you're trying to put things into orbit cheaply, a simpler and less efficient design can bring about big cost savings. On the other hand, as you point out, efficiency is really important if you want more delta-v to reach higher orbits.

Nasa was probably very focused on engine efficiency for two reasons 1) if you want to reach escape velocity for planetary missions, heck even geo-synch, then you need more efficient engines or more stages [with more chances one will fail] and 2) the US Armed Forces had a big hand in the design envelope of NASA launch equipment - most notably in the winged design of the shuttle to allow for high speed re-entry maneuvers - and the military wants efficiency because high delta-v is necessary to outrun/outfight hostiles.

Use of the shuttle for U.S. launches was mandated because the military wanted the private sector to help subsidize the super-expensive shuttle launch infrastructure. As competition from Ariane and Russia made that less viable to the point that the policy had to be abandoned, then US competition opened up for providing vehicles that better matched commercial needs, rather than military ones. It had nothing to do with public vs. private sector efficiency and everything to do with military requirements being imposed on all launches (including the majority of launches that had no need for those "requirements") and established players playing politics for legislative capture under the guise of national security.

Which is yet another reason why you should always be really suspicious whenever someone uses national security as rationale for black budgets and secrecy. It's really easy to abuse national security as a pretext for covering nefarious activities.

about two weeks ago
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Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

ppanon Re:No miracles (211 comments)

When you're throwing engines away every time, and they make up a large fraction of the cost of a launch, a low-cost engine that burns 10% more fuel can be a massive win.

That depends on what orbit you're trying to reach and how much delta-V it requires. If you're trying to launch commercial satellites into low earth orbit or replenish the ISS (also in LEO), then you can throw fuel at the problem. When you try to reach geo-synch or past it, then efficiency is a must.

What SpaceX have done so far is pick the low to medium-height hanging fruit. Good for them. What's their capability for launching good sized comm-satellites into geo-synch? or Voyager/Galileo type interplanetary probes?

about three weeks ago
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Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

ppanon Re:Competition is good. (211 comments)

As someone pointed out, the physics of building rocket engines hasn't significantly changed in the last 60 years. That's why the F1 engine is still the most powerful rocket we've ever designed. What has changed are manufacturing techniques like sintering laser 3D printing techniques and computer modeling to allow us to build F1 engines that are slightly more powerful and a lot cheaper than what was built for Apollo. And yet somehow we don't build them. Why? Because there's no demand for it.

There has been a lot of demand for faster, more agile, and more fuel efficient aviation - from combat aircraft for wars to civil aviation in the face of rising fuel prices. That pressure isn't as significant for the launch market because: a) there are only so many safe, useful orbits for satellites where they aren't going to interfere with eachother (in terms of signal transmission - which is what many are used for) and a lot of them are already in use; b) fuel costs are a small portion of launch costs.

So the moral of the story is a) development happens according to demand and changing requirements/conditions and b) supply-side economics is BS - consumption is limited by demand.

about three weeks ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

ppanon Re:If anyone actually cared... (710 comments)

Yeah but with laser sintering 3D printing, it becomes much easier to build parts on demand. So I think it will take some time, but the parts distribution problem will be solved soon. Not only that but you could buy the planned-obsolescence object take it apart and scan the parts, and replace them with longer-lasting parts as they break down from wear-and-tear. The only question is, if you've bought a patent-protected part and it breaks down because it was made cheaply, can you manufacture your own replacement because you have purchased the original (poorly-made) part, implying a patent licence for that part (and potential replacements) in that machine. What you need is a legislative change to allow that, which is likely to be the tough part because everybody with entrenched interests will fight it.

about 2 months ago
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New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

ppanon 11 months to go on warranty (249 comments)

and as soon as it's over, on goes Cyanogenmod.

about 3 months ago
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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

ppanon Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (212 comments)

Exactly. Note that there is a scientific study that indicates this appears to be the case with trolls in Internet commenting systems. So it's not exactly a big leap of faith to expect that PvP adherents, displaying similar aggressive behaviour for the "fun" of being aggressive and controlling, have similar tendencies. The big question, as the AC above indicates, is whether trolling, PvP, and violent video games act as an outlet for those urges and help control them or whether they feed and exacerbate them.

A decade ago, I had fun playing Quake III Arena death matches with other members of the development team, and I'm anti-sadistic, not at all Machiavellian, and pretty average when it comes to psychopathic behaviour. It was pretty easy to discern between the game and real life and treat it as an entertaining sport. So I think that even with the more realistic graphics in contemporary games, it's quite possible for normal people to make that distinction. The real question is whether psychopaths would prefer not to make that distinction, pretend the game is real, and in doing so aggravate their condition?

Mass and serial killers often have a history of serious animal abuse, which later escalates into even more serious human-oriented behaviour. So while enjoying bullying through virtualized violence in video games likely isn't a sufficient condition for the escalation of psychopathic behaviour to physical violence, it may prove to be a useful warning sign or even a catalyst in conjunction with other factors. Another significant factor for instance maybe whether the community of enthusiasts tends to and reinforces a distancing, demeaning, psychopathic attitude towards other players and "newbs", or maintains a more sportive approach. The recent Isla Vista shooting by the former PUA and PUAhate adherent Elliot Rodger seems to indicate this is a good candidate for a co-factor.

about 4 months ago
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Canada Poised To Buy 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 JSFs

ppanon Re:Russia (417 comments)

That's already the case in summer and it's only going to get worse with Climate Change. Having to switch between water, ice, water, land for your supply lines for 1/3 of the year isn't really good for transporting large quantities of supplies (or you can run ships from port to port around what's left of the shrinking ice cap during those months). As you pointed out, the "permafrost" now thaws during the summer, and that is going to cause an issue for heavy transports in supply lines once they hit the mainland. I suppose the oil companies may build a service road if they wind up needing to build a pipeline North because they don't get permission to go in any of the other populated directions. If that existed then the Russians could use it.

For all the issues with Siberian permafrost, there is still a railway that goes across it (the Trans-Siberian), and you can move a lot of materiel on that. It was, after all, a major supply line for allied hardware being sent to Russia to help take on the Germans in WWII. There's no reason why that couldn't be used to send a lot of stuff in the other direction. The major issue is that it would be pretty easy to bomb with modern airplanes and cruise missiles, however I would think that would go double for any supply route and depots on the Arctic ice cap.

If Russia invaded Canada, then the NATO defence pact would come into effect, so they may as well go through Alaska and take control of the oil fields there while they're at it. But as someone else pointed out there isn't much road infrastructure across Alaska so it would be easier to just go around it and debark in Hyder.

about 4 months ago
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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

ppanon Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (212 comments)

Neuro plasticity indicates that what you repeatedly perform becomes a more entrenched behaviour as those neural paths become strengthened. That would seem to indicate that it would exacrebate natural tendencies. If you naturally are repelled by psychopathic behaviour, then performing it could strengthen that revulsion. If on the other hand you have psychopathic tendencies....

about 4 months ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

ppanon Re:u wot m8 (575 comments)

Brane or string theory.

about 5 months ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

ppanon Re:Bullet, meet foot (575 comments)

It's Microsoft trying to get a 30% cut of every software purchase for the Windows 8.1 platform. Now I'll grant you that Apple and Google do the same thing on their mobile platforms, but they didn't have established sales ecosystems to trample on. It's questionable what service they provide to users and developers for that 30% cut.

Anyways Microsoft tax now has a new meaning (although you're free to also talk about Apple tax and Google tax too). The interesting thing is that there are competing App Stores such as Amazon and Samsung for the Android platform but they all take the same cut - 30%. That vaguely smells like oligopolistic collusion to me.

about 5 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:Poor poor bigot (1116 comments)

Amicus curiae briefs during the original trial?

about 5 months ago
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U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn

ppanon Re:Empty summary (135 comments)

There's also the tricky matter that PhD students get paid minimal wages given their schooling, whereas career scientists need/expect to be paid a living wage that can support a family and build a retirement fund.

about 5 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:Poor poor bigot (1116 comments)

Now there can be problems with the standing requirements for legal challenge, and that's when you get into issues of national secrecy Catch-22s, such as with the Patriot Act, where the people who are being harmed aren't allowed to demand access to any evidence that would show that they are being harmed. But that's quite different from allowing everybody with an axe to grind free rein to butt into the business of other people who they otherwise would have no dealings with.

about 5 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:Poor poor bigot (1116 comments)

Now suppose everyone but a trucking company supports this law but it makes them late for their deliveries so they pay a governor a lot of campaign contributions and then take the law to court claiming it unconstitutionally impedes their right to travel and participate in commerce.

That's the thing you see, they would have to buy off the governor and the judge. They could try judge shopping by carefuly choosing the jurisdiction in which the case is tried. In the end whether a law is popular shouldn't matter, but whether it follows established constitutional precedent does.

But even if the scenario played out as you said, the difference is that anybody who had had a child injured due to an incident where a car didn't stop for school bus would have had standing to appeal the ruling striking down the school bus law. If nobody can prove standing by showing that they were actually harmed (as opposed to not being allowed to promote their bigotry) then yes the state by default gets the chance to look at the ruling on prop 8 and say: the judge is right and the prop is garbage so no point throwing good money after bad.

Prop 8 was bought and paid for by religious fundamentalists who were upset that other people that they don't like might have the chance to be happy. There was plenty of precedent that indicated that piece of toilet paper shouldn't get the time of day at any jurisdictional level.

about 5 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:Poor poor bigot (1116 comments)

Ok, one more time for the slow among us. The Sjpreme[sic] court's take on it is not impkrtant[sic].

Of course the Supreme Court's take is important. The Constitution of the USA is the supreme law of the land and the Supreme Court provides a verification check that all laws are consistent with and do not violate the Constitution.

While the people may be capable of using referendums to pass laws that violate the constitution, if the state believes that that law violates the constitution then why should the state be forced to waste court and legal resources defending a law that they know is going to be eventually stuck down? Since when are conservatives in favour of useless waste of government resources? Oh I guess it's OK when those wasted resources are spent defending their pet bigotries.

about 5 months ago
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Theo De Raadt's Small Rant On OpenSSL

ppanon Re:Who is Theo De Raadt? (301 comments)

Theo has been a strong proponent of hard hats/steel helmets, not tinfoil hats. Most people thought that approach was overkill for general walking around, at least up until Snowden showed there were lots of national actors firing lots of rocks into the air.

about 5 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:The solution to polygamy is gay marriage! Lots! (1116 comments)

In theory reverse traditional polygamy would be a solution. In practice, there are biological/evolutionary and social reasons why fewer people seek such an arrangement, making it an unsuccessful approach to correct gender imbalances arising from traditional polygamy.

about 5 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:Poor poor bigot (1116 comments)

That's because standing is paramount in pursuing cases. The state and the individuals being married are the main parties affected in a marriage contract. The Supreme Court properly identified that everyone else who wanted to intervene to prevent gay marriage were self-important busybodies who would not actually be personally affected in any significant way (compared to the requested imposition on equality rights of the prospective spouses) if Joe marries John Doe or June marries Julia, and who should therefore butt out.

about 5 months ago
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60 Minutes Dubbed Engines Noise Over Tesla Model S

ppanon Re:Top Gear was worse. (544 comments)

Apparently it was due to Fox News-style "we don't actually have to portray reality" type of ruling.

about 6 months ago
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60 Minutes Dubbed Engines Noise Over Tesla Model S

ppanon Re:But we WANT people to buy into that lane. No? (544 comments)

All laws are about behaviour modification, whether it be deterring/reducing murder, theft, or jaywalking. You just happen to think your preferred behaviour should be exempt from legal limitations. Not a big surprise considering your post seems to peg you into the "Libertarian - the free market solves everything" bucket.

about 6 months ago

Submissions

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Thiomersol-autism link should be revisited

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "Studies denying a link between Thiomersol (aka Thimerosol) and autism need a complete re-evaluation from the base data even more than the climate data did after "Climategate". A FOIA request by CoMeD has unearthed documents that indicate CDC researchers cherry picked data for a frequently quoted Pediatrics article to indicate that there was no drop in autism in Denmark when Thiomersol was replaced in vaccines, when the full data instead likely indicated the opposite. The same research group was reportedly involved in three frequently quoted studies claiming no link between Thiomersol and autism. There are now some candidate causal paths for links between Thiomersal and autism.

In addition the lead researcher on that Pediatrics paper, Poul Thorsen, was indicted earlier this year for wire fraud and money laundering, having allegedly falsified over $1M in expense reports to the CDC."
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Blackhat talk on WinCE & ATM vuln. cancelled

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "According to a Tech Review article: Barnaby Jack, a security researcher at ... Juniper, had planned to hack into an automatic teller machine (ATM) live onstage at the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas later this month. But his presentation, designed to demonstrate the insecurity of various ATMs, attracted the attention of the financial industry as well as security professionals, and under pressure from ATM manufacturers, Juniper canceled the presentation last week, citing concerns that the vulnerabilities involved had still not been fixed.

While the presentation was canceled to allow manufacturers more time to fix the vulnerabilities, Juniper had originally notified the company almost eight months ago, says the source, who asked not to be named."
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Columbine-10 years later

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "Ten years ago, two students shot and either killed or wounded dozens of other students and teachers at Columbine High School in Colorado. There was a great deal of soul searching and argumentation in the media over the effects of bullying and how the killings were reprisals for misfits. Many students who fit the goth or misfit "profile" at other schools were singled out and discriminated against or suspended as potential risks to the student body. Commentators like Slashdot's John Katz wrote lengthy diatribes on bullying at Columbine and in other environments.

However, in the last ten years, more research has indicated that most of the assumptions those actions and discussions were based on were incorrect. They didn't make it far into a poorly self-critical media though. Some people are hoping the 10th anniversary is an opportunity to set the record straight. Eric Harris was a psychopath and Dylan Klebold was suffering from depression. They weren't members of the Trenchcoat Mafia or social outcasts, and they didn't target any groups in particular."
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Carbon sink research satellites launching

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "McClatchy reports on the launch of the Japanese Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite and NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory, These two satellites will hopefully help clarify how twice as much CO2 greenhouse gas appears to get scrubbed from the atmosphere than would be expected based on current understanding of natural carbon sinks. That would help improve the long term reliability of climate models and could provide insight into how to minimize or decrease the impact of CO2 -related climate change."

Journals

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A mature software industry

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 4 years ago

A slashdot exchange about standard handling of updates to cell chip firmware got me thinking about the applicability of "the tragedy of the commons" to the economics of open source community projects.

From the Wikipedia article for the Tragedy of the Commons:

        Central to Hardin's article is an example (first sketched in an 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd), of a hypothetical and simplified situation based on medieval land tenure in Europe, of herders sharing a common parcel of land, on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin's example, it is in each herder's interest to put the next (and succeeding) cows he acquires onto the land, even if the carrying capacity of the common is exceeded and it is temporarily or permanently damaged for all as a result. The herder receives all of the benefits from an additional cow, while the damage to the common is shared by the entire group. If all herders make this individually rational economic decision, the common will be depleted or even destroyed to the detriment of all.

Clearly a shared base of code and/or fixes is a commons and in fact one "open source"-ish licence, the Creative Commons licence, uses that very term. The point of the tragedy of the commons is that you have people extracting from the commons beyond sustainability because it's in their economic self-interest to do so. In this variant, the cell phone manufacturers are unwilling to contribute to building/improving a commons because doing so is not in their economic self-interest. There's a pretty clear parallel to me.

This is interesting because it has implications for the situations where open source-type communal projects are economically viable and where they are not. When computing systems were relatively rare, operating systems were part of systems that provided their users a first mover advantage and could be sold as products. However, as computing capacity becomes commoditized and ubiquitous, the proposition of setting up a commons appears to become more economically advantageous. If the above is true, it would seem to indicate that open source communal projects are viable for commodity components for infrastructure, but not for core mission critical functions that provide a competitive advantage. If that's the case, then in a mature software development industry, there will only be manufacturers of software for vertical markets because software for horizontal markets will be better supplied by community-supported projects. Which would mean that in the long term, the economics are against the sustainability of Microsoft, Oracle, and other giants of the horizontal intellectual product markets. In a mature industry the companies that will survive are companies that facilitate maintenance and use of the commons, like RedHat, Canonical, etc., and companies that focus on vertical markets and custom software development, like IBM, EDS, etc. And don't get me wrong, horizontal "software" market products initially can be very lucrative because they involve a naturally large customer base, however that profitability is time limited to the point where the product is commoditized and the cost distribution effects of an open source project is more economically rewarding for the customer/user.

Now Microsoft and Oracle do have the advantage of network effects working in their favour (interoperability/training investment for users) and those forces work against the advantages of a shared commons despite the horizontal markets for their products. However, contrary to Wikipedia, I would call these weak network effects because the barrier to entry is distributed instead of internalized. A "strong" network effect would be a telecommunications infrastructure where the key resource behind the effect is owned by the beneficiary. A would-be competitor must invest enough to replicate the resource (i.e. lay cable or buy spectrum and set up cell towers across the region) to be able to compete, in addition to convincing users to switch. However with a "weak" network effect the primary barrier to entry is associated with a non-owned resource or a time-limited government monopoly (i.e. patents). In Microsoft's case they've decided to strengthen their network effects (user/admin training investments, proprietary document exchange formats, developer mindshare), by strongly supporting ISVs and by combating attempts to commoditize Windows' features through the web. However the most used core of Windows has limited room for improvement and, as users become more aware of the issues with vendor locking, demand for open document standards has increased.Thus Microsoft's network effects are continuing to weaken, with their strongest remaining asset being developer support. As the growth of Microsoft's user base flattens and investor expectations demand continued revenue growth which can only be achieved by price increases, the relative cost proposition of open source becomes more attractive in the long run.

Oracle seems to have a mixed model where they use vertical market products to help promote sales of their horizontal product. However at some point, their horizontal product market will be sufficient commoditized that tying their vertical market products to it will put their vertical market products at a disadvantage with any competitors in those vertical markets using a commons-based infrastructure.

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Mmm Bacon....

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 4 years ago

All right, you're a bachelor (or DINKs) and you love bacon. but you know it's bad for you and you don't want to have too much too often. The stuff comes in these packs of 20 or more slices soaked in water and if you don't freeze the bacon and just keep it in the fridge, then it starts to go bad long before you've worked through the pack. However if you freeze the pack when you buy it, then it might as well be welded together. You can't get the slices apart when you need them unless you thaw the whole pack, which defeats the point of freezing it in the first place. What to do?

Here's the solution I came up with years ago. You take a plate and cover it in plastic food wrap, then you lay down a layer of bacon strips side by side. Cover that with a sheet of plastic wrap and lay down another layer of bacon strips crosswise from the first. Repeat until you've used up the bacon. Now take that plate and stick it in the freezer for a couple of hours.

The result is a plate of frozen bacon strips that separate from each other easily. Take them apart and put them in a freezer bag. You now have bacon in your freezer that will last for months and you can take out a few strips at a time as you need them.

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