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NASA's LCROSS Moon Impact Mission Provides Great Data

sweet_petunias_full_ Today's Zen homework question (91 comments)

If a NASA dud craft falls in a crater and nobody sees it in their telescope, did it really fall?

more than 5 years ago
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Russia Aims Towards Mars

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:Ludicrous? (161 comments)

"it's not designed to be rapidly accelerated for a fast trip, structurally wise"

No, but an orbit that would be helpful for lunar exploration wouldn't require jarringly fast acceleration. For Mars it would be more tricky because you would probably want to send the people in a fast spacecraft to minimize the radiation exposure. The ISS could still be used as a conveniently large cargo container sent ahead of time. Of course, it would have to take the slow track to Mars, IIRC, a slingshot that uses Venus to accelerate to a higher solar orbit.

In all seriousness, I don't think any of the countries have a sufficiently strong economy for a *manned* trip to Mars at the moment. It's just too much tonnage whether the ISS is used or not, and the unmanned trips have been risky enough without adding the human equation to it.

more than 5 years ago
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Russia Aims Towards Mars

sweet_petunias_full_ Ludicrous? (161 comments)

I suppose *some* people would be upset if a Russian booster rocket took the ISS out of orbit without telling anyone, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it ludicrous. If the U.S. doesn't pay Russia to boost the ISS during the shuttle's downtime, Russia may have no choice but to pull a repo job on it.

In space, no one can hear you... nevermind.

more than 5 years ago
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Pirate Bay Operators Stand Trial On Monday

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:End Copyright (664 comments)

These chaps are not being charged with copyright infringement. They are being charged with helpings others do it

Not saying you're wrong about that, but I want to make a philosophical point: everyone everywhere is an accessory to some evil act somewhere. They do so just by engaging in commerce with, or by paying taxes to a government that engages in torture or some other shameful action.

If they're guilty of indirectly helping evil then everyone is guilty of indirectly helping evil. Now, if the powers-that-be insist on one degree of separation from evil, if that's the standard, then there are a lot of people at telecomm companies who should be in jail right now, but these are given immunity because it's not really evil that's being attacked here, that's simply a distraction. This is not to prevent evil "pirates" from attacking (ridiculous) this is to protect the assets of those who are most highly favored by the leaders of our society.

In other words, this is in the same vein of protectionism that our copyright laws have been distorted to fulfill, except this form of protectionism of the elites' assets comes without the usual corresponding protectionist response (boycott) from those whose freedoms are being sacrificed but should also have been protected. This is not the first or the only freedom that these elites will take away if they get the chance.

Whether or not you think the TPB are guilty of something, consider whether you are in favor of the monitoring of all of your communications by ISPs that (it is implied) will surely follow, and the false-positive packets that will be dropped just in case some part of your data stream resembles copyrighted content, with all of the hassles that that implies, not to mention such infrastructure once it exists being a jumping board for some future censorship.

I would take the TPB's side just to avoid that mess, personally. If this is where copyright gets us then I agree with the OP, let us end copyright.

more than 5 years ago
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Making the "Free" Business Model Work In a Tough Economy

sweet_petunias_full_ They're missing one thing: access charges (188 comments)

All of the people accessing the internet are having to pay some sort of charge to connect, whether it be the monthly ISP subscription fee or some other fee (either directly or indirectly) and so it's like we've all been pooling our efforts in subsidizing the cost to produce this giant shared storehouse of information for years now. And giant it is. That's why there's so much of just about anything, and that's why any one piece of information isn't worth that much.

Thus, it should come as no surprise to anyone (except those ordered to have their heads in the sand) that the most reasonable going price for information is somewhere around $0.

more than 5 years ago
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India Sleepwalks Into a Surveillance Society

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:Countercurrents???? (292 comments)

"Slashdot's standards are slipping."

They were never very high to begin with. The major sources of news in the U.S. are not known their cultural sensitivity, so against this background don't be surprised to find that a large chunk of the population (including geekdom) is blissfully ignorant of major parts of world culture and of the local meaning of world happenings. A few do take the trouble to learn more, but many of those, after years of being spoonfed, also overrate their own ability to separate truth from fiction. This gap has always been there, but at least now you can help to fix it.

"If this were any other country or ethnic group other than India or Indians, this would have been caught out."

Cry me a river. This happens with almost every other country or culture that's mentioned here. If I had a dime for each time a slashdotter made a laughingly incorrect factual claim about another country that the moderators just swallowed whole I would be richer than the CEO of an oil company.

more than 5 years ago
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Security Checkpoints Predict What You Will Do

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:Stories from 2020... (369 comments)

A while back (I don't have the link) there was a story about a mind reading machine as well, but that one required quite a bit more energy, so maybe by 2020 things will be so bad that false positives will be the least of our problems. Here's my version:

TSA worker: Please enter our xray/intention/mind-reading/magnetron machine.

The passenger enters amidst a zapping sound but jumps back smarting from third-degree burns.

Passenger 1: Ouch!
TSA worker: What are you doing? You were supposed to pass through there.
Passenger 1: I'm burned, I'm badly burned. What happened to my brain?
TSA worker: (into his sleeve) Security, code polka dot, over. Intention meter is off the scale and the mind reader registers dark thoughts.
TSA worker: TSA worker: You must follow procedure and get into the mind-scanner machine or you will be strip searched!
Passenger 1: No way.

A bunch of soldiers with machine guns, mortar rounds and RPGs show up. One of them can barely hold back a three-headed police dog, who begins to snarl fiercely.

The first passenger keels over and dies, so she is dragged off to be strip searched. Eventually someone figures out that the machine isn't working and two technicians show up to fix it.

Tech 1: I think the volumetric irradiated power knob must be turned all the way up.
Tech 2: No, no, it's turned all the way *down*. The problem is that the ray focus knob is turned all the way down.
Tech 1: Like hell it is. If you think so then turn it up and get in there yourself.
Tech 2: Hell no, YOU get in there and test it.
Tech 1: Uh, whatever dude... I really don't feel like arguing about it. Just switch the settings however you want and let's see what happens this time.

The yellow tape is removed and the techs duck into a lounge.

TSA worker: NEXT!

more than 5 years ago
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Technocrat.net Shut Down

sweet_petunias_full_ No anonymity - no deal (326 comments)

IMO, the reason Bruce's site didn't pick up much steam is he insisted that his members give out their real-world name to log in. I would imagine that anyone who has witnessed with open eyes the wholesale raping of their privacy on and off the internet would have avoided giving away yet another attack vector against it. It just wouldn't be worth joining any site, no matter the quality, if the price one had to pay was to receive a permanent marketing barrage from automated telemarketing callers linking a meatspace name to a desirable demographic.

Bruce is usually spot-on on most topics, I wonder why he missed this one?

more than 5 years ago
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Is JavaScript Ready For Creating Quality Games?

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:Quality? Games? (165 comments)

It depends where you draw the Web 1.0 line. Once the browser wars were in full swing, then of course sites ended up written for IE. Before that, the web was designed to be a collaborative research tool and deep linking was not only allowed by the "content owners" but expected. You were supposed to surf from site to site following your interests. Now each website is supposed to be its own little fiefdom where jumping offsite is discouraged. Rather than linking to the vast resources offsite, the typical website is so dependent on javascript that, if not for advertisements, you would have trouble finding a link that took you elsewhere. Hyperlinks are no longer hyperlinks, as somebody else pointed out, now they're merely user interface elements and could lead to anything (a pdf, movie, an image blowup, etc.) unexpectedly.

Incidentally, I got past the dancing monkeys, the ads floating mid-page and all of that other junk you mention by disabling javascript on those sites, if not avoiding them entirely. Thus, as the web tries to become more javascript-based the eyecatching crappola is guaranteed to return and will be harder to avoid if javascript is required to do anything, or if sites enforce the need for a specific browser in order to do anything.

Yes, we have made some progress, but by and large the internet is a lot less vibrant, a lot less interesting, a lot more centralized and a lot more controlled and watched. It hasn't yet become less useful but this is simply because of its fantastic growth momentum. However, people seem to have forgotten why it experienced its fantastic growth in the first place, and it wasn't because we were lacking ways for corporations to track all of our decisions. It wasn't because people wanted to lose control over their page navigation or their ability to read certain information wherever it may be. It wasn't because people wanted to be turned into criminals by whatever industry had their business model threatened by the invention of the digital computer.

No, I could only be optimistic if the trend were becoming overall positive rather than overall negative, and it doesn't seem headed that way right now even if at present we still have a fairly useful web.

more than 5 years ago
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Is JavaScript Ready For Creating Quality Games?

sweet_petunias_full_ Quality? Games? (165 comments)

How about we start with some quality... webpages?

You know, the type that worked reliably with just about any browser, the way it used to in Web 1.0 before web standards became a marketshare battleground?

Lately, websites have become picky about which browser you use for just this reason. The AJAX monster they're trying to get everyone to use is just too unwieldy and expensive to maintain in terms of programmer time if they actually have to support all of the browser versions. The outstanding bug count is too much even for some of the big players in this space, I dare say.

I'm sorry, but I'm just not that optimistic that games will be very well supported across browser versions to think that it will result in "quality". Instead I have a sneaky suspicion that someone will try to use some slick game that works on a couple of browsers to pull marketshare over to its cloud, but all the while dictating to people which browser they must waste their time upgrading in order to participate in the hypefest. Then, a few browser versions later, the game won't work anymore.

more than 5 years ago
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Grenade-Style Wireless Camera For Combat

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:I think I need to lay off the video games (333 comments)

Of course, but that would be too straightforward.

Instead, you should have baffled the moderators by making an apparently offtopic question about what to do when the camera reaches the last of its waypoints, and then given some obscure tip about keeping your buffest soldiers in mana rotation order or somesuch.

about 6 years ago
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IE8 Beta 2 Fatter Than Firefox and XP

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:It's also _BETA_ (597 comments)

"I think the concept of beta testing is lost on you..."

Did somebody formally define a standard for the meaning and boundaries of beta software while I was away?

And, while I'm asking, did someone get such a standard ratified (and hopefully even reviewed) before an international standards organization?

Finally, in this hightly theoretical construct, was someone able to force every software developer and her cats to use that definition?

I didn't think so. You sound very authoritative, but in fact the foundation for your argument is completely ephemeral.

Now, if you have insider information that says that the IE8 bloat consists of a giant delay loop and 100M of easter eggs and backdoors, then that's different.. but until you actually reveal that, you are NOT informative, just truthy at best.

more than 6 years ago
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Google URL Index Hits 1 Trillion

sweet_petunias_full_ Re:Wow, that's a lot of porn. (249 comments)

"the web is something like 42% porn"

That probably stopped being the case after namespace speculators started buying up expired domains in large numbers just to put up a mildly useless index on *each* and *every* site to collect ad revenue or marketing statistics off of unwary visitors. I would also include typosquatters in that category, and maybe someone else can name a few other examples of utter namespace hogging uselessness.

Whatever it is, you can rest assured that it's mostly repetitive trash... no need to stand in awe of it.

more than 6 years ago

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