samzenpus (5) writes "Bennett Haselton writes My LG Optimus F3Q was the lowest-end phone in the T-Mobile store, but a
cheap phone is supposed to suck in specific ways that make you want to
upgrade to a better model. This one is plagued with software bugs that
have nothing to do with the cheap hardware, and thus lower one's confidence
in the whole product line. Similar to the suckiness of the Stratosphere and Stratosphere 2 that I
was subjected to before this one, the phone's shortcomings actually raise
more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies
for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software
bugs that should be easy to catch. Read below to see what Bennett has to say." top
samzenpus (5) writes "Dr. Andy Chun is the CIO for City University of Hong Kong, and is instrumental in transforming the University to be one of the most technology-progressive in this region. He serves as an advisor on many government boards including the Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee, an advisory group on information technology matters in Hong Kong. His research work on the use of Artificial Intelligence has been honored with numerous awards, and his AI system keeps the subway in Hong Kong running and repaired with an amazing 99.9% uptime. Dr. Chun has agreed to give us some of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post." top
FCC Public Comment Period For Net Neutrality Ends Tomorrow, July 15
samzenpus (5) writes "We recently had a chance to sit down with Former Director of JPL, Edward Stone, and ask him about his time as a project scientist for the Voyager program and the future of space exploration. In addition to our questions, we asked him a number of yours. Read below to see what professor Stone had to say.
Samzenpus:I'm sure you had great hopes for Voyager but did you or others working on the program dream that it would be so successful or travel so far?
Stone: Well, Voyager One is in interstellar space today. The date that we're using as the time when it left the solar bubble was August 25, 2012. Voyager 2 is coming along behind; and we don't know exactly when [it will enter interstellar space] because it's going through a somewhat different location from what Voyager 1 did. So it may be several more years, it really could be sooner, or it could be later. We had hopes, of course that we would reach interstellar space, but none of us knew how big the bubble is or was and none of us knew that the spacecraft could survive for so many decades that it took to get there. But we had hoped and we had planned for this day.
Samzepus:How would you structure the space program now to support long-term goals of interstellar flights like this? Do you think this is as important as studying things closer to home?
Stone: Well, I think there are clearly a number of important frontiers still to be explored in the solar system. The ones, which are easiest to talk about, are those which involve liquid water because here on Earth wherever there is liquid water, there is microbial life. We know that there's liquid water underneath the icy crust of Europa. We know there is liquid water under the icy crust of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. We know that the atmosphere of Titan doesn't have liquid water but it has a chemical constituency similar to what was here on Earth before life evolved. So there are really key places in the solar system. Mars, we know, had water at one time. The only question is there still water somewhere on the planet or how deep is it? And is there any evidence of past life? if we could find the liquid water then we would want to know is there any evidence of extant life.
Samzenpus:Speaking of Europa, there's been all sorts of numbers thrown about with the proposed Europa mission. Do you think that mission will actually happen in my lifetime?
Stone: I certainly hope that there will be another mission to Europa which can fly by perhaps a number of times rather than going into orbit, which is flying by and then zipping out to get out of the radiation environment and then dive back in so that one can look at Europa. As you know, the Hubble space telescope has shown evidence that there are actually plumes in the South Polar Region of Europa, which is not really a surprise. It's just that they had never been seen before.
If Dawn finds Ceres as water rich as we expect, do you think that will kick off an asteroid mining gold rush?
Stone: Yeah, I don't know that, but I think the mining aspects are probably longer off. What I think it will do is further increase interest and understanding of these bodies, which are out there. And obviously, in the long run, protecting the Earth from them. So I think that there is still a lot that still can be done about asteroids. We're just beginning to explore them.
Samzenpus:Do you think we'll see a Uranus or Neptune orbiter?
Stone: Well, I hope so, but that's certainly not in the next couple of decades because we know there's Mars and then there's Europa. Titan is a very, as I say, a very important opportunity, and Enceladus is something people are talking about. I think they will tend to take priority if one can develop a mission that looks feasible.
During each era of space exploration, going back to the mid-1970's, a manned mission to Mars has been "just 20 years away". At many points over the past 40 years, a variety of factors have converged ensure that a manned Mars mission remained just over the horizon. Even this past month, in NASA Chief Bolden's recent statements, Mars continues to be "just 20 years away", citing a need to stop at an Asteroid on the path to Mars", and budget constraints as reasons that a manned Mars mission remains an unrealized dream. Given Dr. Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct reference mission, and his more recent "transorbital railroad" concept combined with private industry, a manned Mars mission appears to be technically & economically viable — at least more so than at any point in the past 40 years. What's your assessment of Dr. Zubrin's Mars "ecosystem", as it pertains to a manned Mars mission during this 20-year time horizon?
Stone: Well, Mars, I think, is actually is being explored. It's a whole planet. You know, there's as much solid surface area on Mars as there is on Earth. And you can't imagine landing one place on the Earth and claiming to understand Earth as a planet. Once you leave Earth's orbit, it's whole different engineering problem and life is a different problem [out there] than it is in Earth orbit. The moon is in Earth orbit. When you're in Earth orbit, you can get help and you can get home. When you're in the solar orbit, you can't get any help and you can't get home. So, it's a much more challenging activity. And that's the reason it's going to take some time before that's realized. But it's taking the steps to learn how to do it that is important.
Role of human spaceflight
As a national leader in robotic exploration of the solar system, what do you think is the role of human spaceflight in the future? Should NASA be developing a human mission to the Moon, Mars, Europa, and beyond? How should the NASA balance the needs of good science and cost/safety issues versus the romance of human exploration?
Stone: Well, I think the two programs really drive themselves and of course, they drive each other. I think the robotic program clearly has momentum and partly, that's because in the case of Mars, it's there as a precursor to future human space flight. But, it's obviously not an immediate issue. Human space flight is still some decades off before there is a Mars mission. And exactly what the nature of leaving Earth orbit is, is something which will evolve as we learn more about the challenges of building systems to operate for long durations in space and support life, and also the effects of space on humans. I mean, there are really five frontiers of space. There is the physical frontier that's going somewhere, sending something somewhere where nothing has been before. There's the knowledge frontier that's understanding what's out there. There is the technology frontier that is developing the systems you need to do things in space. There's the applications frontier that is using space to better life here on Earth. And then there's the human frontier, which is effective and efficient functioning of humans in the space environment. And that's another huge frontier, which we are just really still beginning to explore. I think there is more we need to learn. We are learning things and there is more that we need to learn in terms of the engineering aspects, that is the technology frontier. It's challenging to leave Earth orbit.
Samzenpus:In your time at JPL, what would you say was the program you're most proud of?
Stone: I think the thing during the 90's was launching Cassini, another large flagship mission, which is doing a great job of exploring Saturn, Saturn's rings, and Titan. But at the same time, we developed the program, which allowed us to get back to Mars every two years rather than every 20 years. And that really has opened up not only Mars, but it's opened up asteroid missions and other missions, which can be done on a smaller scale and done more often.
Samzenpus:What project turned out to be the most difficult for you?
Stone: From a project point of view?
Stone: Well, it's clear that Voyager has been the most important project and also in many ways, the most challenging because it was the first automated spacecraft that could fly itself and integrate the whole set of instruments we had. It was a challenge to do that in five years. Fortunately, I was just part of a big team that did it and we've been lucky to have both spacecrafts still operational almost 37 years since launch now.
Samzenpus:What do you see as the most promising tech on the horizon and how do you prioritize which breakthroughs are the most promising?
Stone: These frontiers I mentioned are immense. There's not just one thing in each of those frontiers. There are many things. The challenge we have is deciding which ones to do because we can't do everything. We can't even do a little bit of everything. We can just do some things. And the challenge is designing a set of things to do, which step by step we learn how we expand those frontiers and we learn how to do things in space. There are decadal surveys done by the scientific community, which are informed by the state of technology development or the possibility of technology development. They develop a set of recommendations for what to do in planetary science, what to do in astronomy, what to do in Earth sciences, and what to do in heliospheric sciences. Those are four decadal surveys that the community does every 10 years to try to update for the new technology, update for the new knowledge and lay out a plan for the coming decade. And that's the way it's done in the science area.
If you could choose one robotic exploration mission that is not currently in the works, what would it be and why?
Stone: Well, there are many missions, which NASA's trying to do but in the Planetary program, I think the next major mission will be a rover on Mars which will start caching, that is collecting samples and securing them for eventual return. Because ultimately, one does want to return samples from Mars to be able to apply the full technology of Earth-based laboratories to analyzing them.
Samzenpus:Lastly, there's been a lot of political issues with the international space station recently. Do you think we should plan to have our own space station eventually or do you think the politics will work themselves out?
Stone: Well, I'm not really that close to it, but I think we already have a space station; it's a major investment that the world has made. The human frontier really is an important frontier as I have mentioned, and the space station can do a lot with helping understand the effects of space on the human system, if there are any sorts of protocols, which can compensate or counteract those effects. Obviously, there are certain fundamental physics things that can be done in space that you can't easily do when you're on the surface of the Earth. There may well be some observations, which can benefit from being on the station having to do with Astronomy for instance, or high-energy particles." top
Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC
samzenpus (5) writes "Co-founder of Creative Commons, Lawrence Lessig's list of achievements and areas of influence is not small. It is his Mayday PAC however that has garnered the most attention recently. The crowdfunded "Super PAC to end all Super PACs" was launched in May with the goal of raising money in order to elect candidates to Congress who would pass campaign finance reform. It raised over $1 million in the first 13 days and has the support of some influential people. With the help of matching contributions, Mayday hopes to raise $12 million by the end of June. Lessig has agreed to answer any questions about the PAC that you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post." top
Interviews: Ask "The King of Kong" Billy Mitchell About Classic Video Games
samzenpus (5) writes "Billy Mitchell owns the Rickey's World Famous Restaurant chain, sells his own line of hot sauces, and was called, "probably the greatest arcade-video-game player of all time". His was the first to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and held many record scores in other arcade games. He is probably most famous for the 2007 documentary,"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". The film follows a challenger on his quest to surpass Billy's high score in Donkey Kong, which Mitchell had set in 1982. Since the film was made, the Kong crown has been held by a number people including twice by Mitchell. Billy has agreed to put down the quarters and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post." top
Interviews: Ask Andrew "bunnie" Huang About Hardware and Hacking
samzenpus (5) writes "Andrew "bunnie" Huang holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering from MIT and is one of the most famous hardware and software hackers in the world. He is a contributing writer for MAKE magazine, and has worked on a number of projects ranging from autonomous robotic submarines to peel-and-stick electronics. We recently covered one of his latest projects, an open source hardware laptop called Novena which features entirely NDA-free components. Bunnie has has agreed to take a break from his work and hack away at any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post." top
Interviews: Jennifer Granick Answers Your Questions
samzenpus (5) writes "Recently you had a chance to ask Jennifer Granick, the Director of Civil Liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, about surveillance, data protection, copyright, and number of other internet privacy issues. Below you'll find her answers to those questions." top
samzenpus (5) writes "Jennifer Granick was one of the primary crafters of a 2006 exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and served as the EFF's Civil Liberties Director. She has represented many high profile hackers during her career and was sought out by Aaron Swartz after his arrest. She currently serves as the Director of Civil Liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Jennifer has agreed to answer your questions about security, electronic surveillance, data protection, copyright, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please limit yourself to one question per post." top
Interviews: Ask Travis Kalanick About Startups and Uber
samzenpus (5) writes "Travis Kalanick founded Scour, where he had the distinction of being sued for $250 billion by more than 30 media companies, and peer-to-peer file-sharing company Red Swoosh, but he is probably best known for cofounding transportation network company Uber. Seeking to be “Everyone’s Private Driver”, Uber operates in a number of cities world-wide but has met with some regulation issues, and controversy. Travis has agreed to take a break from arranging rides and answer your questions. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply." top
samzenpus (5) writes "You may not be Satoshi Nakamoto, but thanks to Virginia-based eco-products company Eruditium, you can now smell like him, her, or them. They claim Bitcologne is "made for peer-to-peer interaction” adding, "It's an aromatic blend of spicy, floral, oak and citrus notes your 'partner' may find it hard to resist initiating a more private transaction.’” A bottle costs about $26 or 0.0608 Bitcoin." top
China Using Troop of Trained Monkeys to Guard Air Base
samzenpus (5) writes "No, they don't have guns and they're not trained to call down airstrikes. Instead the small troop of macaques have been trained to guard air bases from birds who often get caught in aircraft engines. Government sources say the monkeys have proven more effective than netting, scarecrows, firecrackers and soldiers with live ammunition in dealing with birds. From the article: 'The macaques are trained to respond to precise whistle commands from their handlers, according to the Chinese military, leaping into action, clambering up trees to destroy nests and scare away birds, according to an account on China’s Air Force News Web site on Sunday. The particular air force base employing the monkeys was left unidentified, described simply as being in the Beijing military zone. Base commanders in the account said the monkeys have destroyed more than 180 nests, at a pace of six to eight nests per monkey per day.'" top
samzenpus (5) writes "A while ago you had the chance to ask GNU and Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman about GNU, copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. Below you'll find his answers to those questions." top
Ask Stewart Brand About Protecting Resources and Reviving Extinct Species
samzenpus (5) writes "Ben Starr is a chef, travel writer, reality TV star, wine and beer brewer, cheesemaker,and ultimate food geek. Ben traveled all 7 continents in his early 20s, staying with local families and learning to cook the cuisines of the world in home kitchens and local markets. FRANK, his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000 and reservations are selected by random lottery. He is a passionate local and sustainable food advocate. Ben is a flag waver for the new generation of chefs who embrace modern technology, and his Camp Potluck feeds hundreds of hungry Burning Man attendees every year. Ben has agreed to put down his chef's knife and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post." top
Ask Team Trying To return 36-year-old spacecraft from space about their project
samzenpus (5) writes "Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free
Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important
and outspoken advocates for software freedom. RMS now spends much
of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws,
digital rights management, and software patents. He's agreed to
answer your questions about GNU/Linux, how GNU relates to Linux
the kernel, free software, why he disagrees with the idea of open source, and other issues of public concern. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post." top
samzenpus (5) writes "Writer and comedian Harold Ramis has passed away at 69. Ramis had a hand in many classic comedies but is especially loved for playing the ghost-hunting Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters. 'His creativity, compassion, intelligence, humour and spirit will be missed by all who knew and loved him,' said his family in a statement."