* Posts by Dani Eder

101 posts • joined 14 May 2009

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Gorilla Glass maker gobbles Samsung's fibre optic biz

Dani Eder

Re: Best Known?

Corningware is still manufactured by Eurokera, which is partly owned by Corning, Inc. The marketing is done by a third party, however. Eurokera also makes glass cooktop surfaces, another product which is designed for thermal shock.

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No need to worry: US blows $174m on new Cray to simulate nukes

Dani Eder

Useless for Bitcoin Mining

This new supercomputer will have 1/800,000 the speed of the bitcoin mining community, and is therefore useless for verifying the financial transactions on that network. The reasons it is so outclassed are (1) bitcoin mining has a financial reward, and people will do anything for money, and (2) they use custom chips optimized for the task. The Cray supercomputer is more general purpose, able to do any kind of scientific calculation.

The point of my comment is not bragging rights, but to point out how much you can gain from custom chips. It might be worth designing custom chips just for nuclear simulations, and dramatically lower the cost of the computer. The first custom bitcoin chips were designed by one person and manufactured for far less than $174 million.

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That AMAZING Windows comeback: Wow – 0.5% growth in 2015

Dani Eder

Re: There's not much wrong with windows

> The reason people aren't buying laptops any more is simply because there is no compelling reason to change them, not because they're using them less.

I have two desktops and a laptop that are 5,8, and 10 years old. I'm seriously thinking about replacing the 10 year old one. The pace of core hardware improvement (i.e. the CPU) is much slower than it used to be, and the market is saturated. I'm not about to buy a 4th computer, and every office worker who needs a computer for work probably already has one. So it is now a replacement market when either gradual improvements or hardware failure demand it.

Annual sales data ignores the installed base. If you are selling 300 million new PCs a year, but only disposing of 150 million broken or obsolete units, the installed base is still growing, even if annual sales are down from what they were a few years ago.

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Dani Eder

Design times

> In the 1960s, Boeing designed the 747 in 16 months. a tiny fraction of what it took to design any other 7x7 since then. But then they didn't get slowed down by productivity tools.

I used to work for Boeing. Productivity tools have nothing to do with how long it takes to design an airplane, since they are designed on CAD/CAM software like CATIA. Instead, what has happened is the complexity of the airplane and the factory has drastically increased. Aluminum is a uniform material, while the graphite composites have directional weaves that have to be specified. A 1960's airplane effectively had no digital electronics. Today's planes are stuffed full of computers everywhere.

Another factor in recent decades is the demand of other countries for a piece of the production, in return for their national airlines placing orders. Spreading the work across different countries with different languages and time zones complicates and slows down the design and production coordination.

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Elon Musk: Just watch me – I'll put HUMAN BOOTS on Mars by 2026

Dani Eder

Re: That about wraps it up for SpaceX

> Nobody actually knows if there really is any significant money in private space ventures

On the contrary, space industry is $300 billion a year worldwide, and about 2/3 of that is commercial. Satellites deliver TV, music, internet, navigation, and other services. Satellites are expensive and are discarded when they break or run out of fuel, so the next growth area will likely be refueling and maintenance. Robotics and remote control have gotten to where that is feasible, and ion thrusters can get you there efficiently.

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Dani Eder

Other Difficult Stuff

> once they have the big, difficult-to-do stuff (like getting off this planet at a low cost while taking as much mass as possible with you)

Launch costs are important, but not the only important thing needed to colonize the Solar System. Even with cheap rockets you can't afford to haul an entire city's worth of habitats and equipment with you. Thus you need to mine and produce most of what you need locally. Ideally what you want to send is a core set of starter machines, and use them to build out the rest of what you need.

The technology for that is much less developed than rocketry, which is why I have started working on it now: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Seed_Factories By the time it's needed in a decade or two we hope to be ready.

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PARTY TIME! MIT slips $100 to each student ... in Bitcoin

Dani Eder

> Someone will 'invent' a kiosk teller machine that dispenses U.S. Dollars and "Bitcoin,"

There are already two such bitcoin ATMs in Boston, one at the underground rail South Station, and the other at Harvard Univeristy. Both are about 2 km (1.5 miles) from the MIT campus.

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US Senator lobbies feds to BAN BITCOIN

Dani Eder

Re: Isn't that factually incorrect as well?

Transactions are relayed across the network in a matter of seconds. Each node in the network checks the transaction for validity, including if the sender had enough funds to spend. They do this by looking at their own copy of the Block Chain to see what the balance was in the sender's account(s).

For buying a beer, this level of verification is sufficient - the bartender doesn't have to wait. Bitcoin "miners" take incoming transactions, like any other node, but also attempt to find special hashes (checksums) for a set of transactions. That's called a block. The block also includes the previous block's hash as data. If anyone tries to alter the contents of a block, it no longer will match it's hash. If more blocks have been produced since, you would not only have to find a matching hash for your altered block, but every one after it, because each hash is part of the data for the next block.

By design, the special hashes are so hard to find, that the entire network of miners takes 10 minutes on average to find one. Since they are all busy making new blocks to claim the block reward (worth $15,000 per block at the moment), there isn't enough computation power to generate falsified block data.

So, you can see transactions validated to a reasonable level arrive in seconds. But over time the accumulation of blocks makes the record of that transaction effectively immutable. The bigger and more important the transaction, the longer you might want to wait for more blocks (confirmations) to arrive. Six blocks (one hour) is considered good enough to buy a house with. Conversely, if you are selling a house, you might want to wait for 6 confirmations on the buyer's funds, to make sure his money is good before the purchase.

> I also thought the block chain of a given coin can be analysed to discover the history of every wallet it's ever been in.

The Block Chain is a public record of every bitcoin transaction, ever, from the creation of a given coin in a particular block, and where it's gone afterwards. But the transaction records only the amounts, and the addresses it come from and goes to. A wallet can hold multiple addresses, and most of them generate new addresses for new transactions. Wallets are just files that hold the private keys tied to an address, which allows you to sign transactions for the balance held in that address. One file can hold a lot of keys, they are only 32 bytes long each.

Which wallet controls a given address, and who owns the wallet and where the file is located is not part of the transaction, thus it cannot be deduced from the Block Chain itself. It has to be found from other data elsewhere. If I spend bitcoins with an online merchant, and give them a delivery address and name, then they know who I am. But since bitcoin addresses are not typically reused, them having my sending address is not useful, it's been emptied. I'll automatically generate a new one for the next transaction. That's much more secure than with bank credit cards, where the number stays fixed for the life of the card.

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Dani Eder

Re: "the currency helps facilitate criminal activity"

The Code of Hammurabi has laws against financial crimes. It's probably safe to say criminals have used money as long as there has been money. New kinds of money means new kinds of financial crimes, but it's not as though bitcoin is the first place for this to happen.

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Accused fraudster Charles Shrem quits Bitcoin Foundation board

Dani Eder

Equal Justice? Nope

Big banks launder billions of dollars a year. Do any of them get indicted? Nope, their CEO's get raises.

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Altcoins will DESTROY the IT industry and spawn an infosec NIGHTMARE

Dani Eder

Re: Come and get them

I hope you realize that floriculture (growing of flowers for money), including tulips, is a $100 billion business worldwide. Just because there was a bubble in tulips once, and US housing more recently, does not mean the underlying asset is worthless. People just get overexcited sometimes and drive the price above it's fundamentals.

What are the fundamentals of a distributed payment network? In the case of bitcoin, it can move money internationally faster and cheaper than the alternatives (Western Union, PayPal, bank wires). Those features create demand to use the network. Since the bitcoin currency unit is necessary to move balances between users, that demand also gives the units a value. But you cannot separate the units from the network that moves them. Without the network they are immobile and useless.

People are led astray by the "coin" part of bitcoin's name. We are familiar with coins as something in your pocket with an independent existence. Bitcoins are not like that. They are inseparable from the network, because without it, you cannot make and verify payments.

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Bank of America: Bitcoin could become THE currency of e-commerce

Dani Eder

Re: Flawed assumptions, Dani Eder's proposed solutions

1) And that 50% will agree to raise the cap, because then they can earn more in transaction fees. It's in their economic self-interest to handle more transactions. However bigger blocks can cause other problems, which is why the simple solution has not been immediately adopted by the developers.

2) It doesn't have to be evil bastard banks, I just used them as an example. You can set up a local non-profit association for the purpose of saving transaction fees, or release "transaction pooling software" as open source.

3) We already deal with this even with just Bitcoin across different currency markets, not to mention other altcoins:

http://bitcoincharts.com/markets/

https://www.cryptsy.com/

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Dani Eder

Re: Flawed assumptions

People have been aware of the transaction rate limit, and are working on solutions. The simplest is just to raise the cap on block size, which is 1 MB/block currently. Another approach is to move the bulk of transactions "off-chain". For example, Bank of America could handle transactions among their customers internally, and only send a bulk transaction on the main block chain to Citibank (with a separate note detailing how the funds should be split up).

Finally, people could spin up an exact duplicate of bitcoin on a second block chain that runs in parallel, with some means of transferring funds between them. Repeat as necessary. This sort of exists already with the three dozen or so alternate cryptocurrencies, except those are all different, rather than exact copies.

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Stewardess first to book $250k Virgin Galactic 'space trip' with BITCOINS

Dani Eder

Bitcoin loans

Loans today have a built in estimate of inflation, plus a "real return" that the lender wants above inflation. If you make a loan in a deflating currency like bitcoin, the inflation adjustment is simply a negative rather than a positive number applied to the "real return". Mathematically there is no problem doing this, even if it seems odd to most people who are not used to finance math.

In reality, nobody in their right mind would make a loan denominated in bitcoins today, it is too new and unstable in value. Barrels of oil or gold bars are rock steady in value in comparison. Assuming the acceptance of bitcoins grows, and it is distributed in more hands, it should settle down, but bitcoin was not designed as a stable store of value. It was designed as an efficient way to transmit value across a network, which it does admirably.

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Bitcoin blitzkreig as Germans prepare to tax virtual currency

Dani Eder

Re: Since they are going to be trying to tax mostly drug income...

> I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of bitcoin activity is on sites such as Silk Road.

Actually, Forbes magazine's estimate of the Silk Road's revenue places it at under 1% of bitcoin transactions. There are over 7500 merchants using just one bitcoin processor, BitPay, to handle payments in bitcoin and converting it automatically to deposits in local currency. The Silk Road is notorious, because the media could not resist it as a story, but it is actually a small part of the bitcoin economy these days.

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Spam and the Byzantine Empire: How Bitcoin tech REALLY works

Dani Eder

Re: What the author of the article did not explain

You can pay for bread using this: http://app.gyft.com/me/cards/purchase/ (CVS and K-Mart at least carry bread).

The reason for *merchants* to take bitcoin is they can save about 5% of the amount of a sale vs bank cards. That comes from reduced fraud and bank fees. In turn, merchants can pass some of that savings on to you, the same way some merchants offer a cash discount.

Other reasons to use Bitcoin as an individual are the ability to work anywhere in the world for anyone in the world, increasing job opportunities. If you want to send money overseas, the fees are vastly lower. If you want to shop online and live in countries that credit cards and paypal do not service (there are lots of them), there is no other way to buy the items. Therefore you would be willing to take bitcoins so that you can spend them on things.

Perhaps these reasons will not apply to you, which is fine. Not everyone is the same, and there is room for bitcoin to service the people for whom it does work, alongside more traditional payment networks.

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Dani Eder

Re: Good explanation of the technical side

People exchange about US $30 million a day of real goods and services for bitcoin. As the article explains, bitcoin is just the ledger for tracking exchanges between people. The network of real items that people exchange back and forth is what gives a balance on the ledger value.

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Dani Eder

Re: Transaction fees

Transaction fees, which are what will power bitcoin mining after the initial distribution of coins are done, amount to 0.025% of the transaction value they are based on. That is not an excessive overhead for running a financial network. Miners, therefore, will not use more computing power and electricity than that 0.025%, because they would be losing money on the task.

As far as total power use, if everyone used ASIC type mining rigs, the entire bitcoin network would consume 820 kW. You can compare that to the 19 MW Apple uses for their North Carolina data center.

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Space elevators, vacuum chutes: What next for big rocket tech?

Dani Eder

Re: Feasible Space Elevators

I haven't ignored it. For a Rotovator design, you hook on and ride half a rotation and then let go. The forces are purely radial in that case. If you are climbing from the tip of rotation to the center, you do see a Coriolis effect, but let's look at the numbers.

Assume you have a maglev-type track that lifts a payload from the tip to center in 3 hours (200 km/s for a ~600 km radius), and the tip velocity is 2400 m/s. Therefore you much transfer 0.22 m/s angular velocity to the structure. The radial tension in the structure is 9.8 m/s at the tip, so you produce 2.2% deflection from purely radial while climbing. This is a manageable deflection of the cable structure.

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Dani Eder

Re: Feasible Space Elevators

You clearly don't understand orbital mechanics. Of course grabbing a sub-orbital cargo and accelerating it to higher orbit will lower the Rotovator orbit. That I why I mentioned on-board propulsion to make up the kinetic energy lost.

That allows you to substitute low efficiency rocket (on an unassisted rocket) for high efficiency electric thrusters (on the Rotovator), saving you 90% of the propellant consumption, which turns into more payload.

I spent a career in Boeing's space systems division, and am writing a book on the subject ( http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Space_Transport_and_Engineering_Methods ) so please credit me with having a clue what I am talking about.

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Dani Eder

Re: Zero velocity?

Actually, Cayambe in Ecuador ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayambe_%28volcano%29 ) is a better choice. Its the highest point on the Equator and has decent slopes for ground accelerators.

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Dani Eder

Feasible Space Elevators

Trying to span the depth of the Earth's gravity well with a single structure is terribly non-optimal from an engineering standpoint for a number of reasons. Smaller elevators, however, are quite feasible with off the shelf carbon fiber.

Imagine a rotating cable with a tip velocity of 2400 m/s, and a comfortable 1 gravity at the tip. The radius then works out to 587 km. You don't want the tip to enter the atmosphere, so you set the orbit of the center to 750 km, and the lowest point is then 163 km. The center then orbits at 7.48 km/s, and the tip is moving 2.4 km/s less or 5.08 km/s. Subract the Earth's rotation and you have a velocity of 4.61 km/s relative to the ground.

Your launch vehicle now has a much less challenging job than getting all the way to orbit by itself. It merely needs to reach a landing platform at the tip of the cable. To return to Earth, it has much less velocity to dissipate, so the re-entry heating is much less. Cargo heading to higher orbit merely rides for half a rotation, then lets go. It now is moving at 2.4 km/s above orbit velocity, which puts you in a high transfer orbit.

The load on the cable varies linearly from center to tips, therefore is equal to a cable under 1 g half the length, or 293 km. Good carbon fiber has a breaking length at 1 gravity of 360 km. We want a decent margin of safety, so only load the cable to 40% of ultimate strength. This requires tapering the cable from center to tip, as each point has to support the payload + cable outside that radius, but the taper ratio is not severe, about 7:1 in area.

Because this design is 40 times shorter, it is much less exposed to meteor and debris damage, but they still are a risk. Therefore you build the cable out of something like 21 strands, of which 7 are spares, and cross-connect them every 5 km. So when the inevitable impact happens, you only have to replace the one 5 km segment, which is 0.02% of the total structure. The "single cable" illustrations like the one in this article are just terribly unrealistic from a safety standpoint.

This type of rotating space elevator is called a Rotovator, and can start being useful while under construction, so you don't have to build it all at once. As the length increases, and tip velocity goes up, the launch vehicle needs less velocity, and can therefore carry more payload. If some of the payload is more cable for the Rotovator, the increased cargo on later flights "pays back" the payload spent on launching the cable. This payback time in cargo mass can be relatively short.

You can build a second Rotovator in high orbit, which captures payload sent up by the first one in low orbit, and forwards them to interplanetary trajectories. Since kinetic energy is not free, you need onboard electric thrusters to maintain the Rotovator orbits, but those have ten times higher efficiency than conventional rockets, so you still come out very much ahead on net cargo.

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Bitcoin prices spike on Euro woes

Dani Eder

Re: In troubled times...

> I'm not sure I would rank bitcoins as safer than euro stored in a bank backed by a deposit guarantee, the ecb

Cyprus *had* a deposit guarantee, they just threatened to bypass it by taxing deposits. And it was the ECB who was encouraging this theft of depositor funds. The sudden interest in bitcoin is from other people in Europe wondering which other banks might decide to renege on their guarantees.

I agree that shifting your life savings into bitcoin is a bad idea, it is too new and unstable for that. But being inherently transnational, it is a good way to move your money to a safe haven outside the control of the ECB and euro bankers. The risk in using it for funds transfer is much lower, since you would hold them for only a short period of time.

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'Gaia' Lovelock: Wind turbines 'may become like Easter Island statues'

Dani Eder
Flame

Re: Green Concrete

Concrete can be green if you use a solar furnace to make the cement for it. I plan to prototype such a furnace in the near future.

Background: The reason for concrete being considered not green is the large amount of energy needed to calcine (burn) limestone and shale to make the cement. This energy usually comes from fossil fuels in a cement kiln. The rocks you are heating don't care how they get hot, so a solar furnace works just as well, so long as you can get it hot enough.

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HP maintains seat atop wheezing, spavined PC market

Dani Eder

360M is still a lot of PC's

90 million PCs per quarter works out to 360 million per year. I already have two of them, so I don't need to buy another until my second one gets so old it's useless, and the new models are enough better than my quad core i7 to be worth an upgrade.

The point is, they are still selling a lot of PCs, and the market is getting saturated. Unless the hardware makes a great leap forward, existing models are good enough for many people.

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Three little words stall UN's 'bid for INTERNET DOMINATION'

Dani Eder
Thumb Up

Re: Google > ITU

What are you talking about? I tried "Naked Boobies" in Google image search, and got a page full of topless women. Works just fine as far as I can tell.

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Dani Eder

Google > ITU

This is why I would rather have Google as my Internet overlord than the ITU. They at least understand how the darned thing works.

Governments are a local monopoly on force. Since humans are self-interested, they will always try to leverage that monopoly into total control. Therefore you have to provide strong limits on government power, such as constitutional guarantees of certain rights and limits on their ability to meddle in things they should not.

If you want to make certain actions illegal (possession of child porn is the poster child (pun intended) for such actions), make the possession illegal. Don't go breaking use of networks, video cameras, studio rentals, and cash because they *might* be used for that purpose. They have other uses that are perfectly legitimate, so you end up punishing the bystanders and not just the criminals.

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Dani Eder
Thumb Down

Stick to technical standards

The ITU should stick to technical standards for the same reason we set standard voltages on electrical outlets or standard symbols on highway signs. We didn't vote these guys the powers to decide anything political, so they should keep their mitts out of issues like security, public vs private, and what constitutes content and speech.

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Behold ATLAS, the fastest computer of 50 years ago

Dani Eder

Re: Surely I am not the only...

Now I understand the origin of the HCF assembler command (Halt and Catch Fire). Thank you.

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Elon Musk jumps overboard from Paul Allen's GIANT MOTHERSHIP

Dani Eder

Re: Cost Benefit

When you air-launch, you never need to go vertical, and that accounts for a large part of the performance gain. When a conventional rocket takes off vertically, gravity opposes thrust and subtracts 1 gee from the net acceleration. When you are horizontal or near horizontal, gravity is perpendicular to thrust and does not slow you down.

Air-launch has an optimal flight angle early-on that is between horizontal and vertical, and the later parts of the flight are pretty much identical to other types of rocket. So it has less losses from fighting gravity in the early flight, and so better performance overall. The other gains you get are less drag loss and higher engine thrust, both from being at lower pressure, plus the actual altitude and velocity of the airplane.

The other part of the cost benefit besides performance is that an airplane has effectively an infinite operating life compared to one-use rocket stages. Thus the cost per flight of the airplane is much reduced. The cost of actual flying time (fuel and maintenance) will be ~$15,000/hr. This will be a tiny part of the total launch cost.

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Asteroid miners hunt for platinum, leave all common sense in glovebox

Dani Eder
Flame

Re: But there is no concept of private property.

Don't forget the Kzinti Lesson (Larry Niven's Known Space series): Every reaction engine is a weapon. Someone wants to mine your asteroid without permission? Point a rocket thruster at them at close range.

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Intel Xeon Phi battles GPUs, defends x86 in supercomputers

Dani Eder

Re: Ummm

This is a math co-processor to assist the CPU to crunch numbers faster. It is not a graphics card, so it does not have monitor outputs. If you want a workstation that can do both heavy duty number crunching and real time graphics, you would need two cards - this one plus a graphics card.

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Gartner: UK PC market stayed on its knees in Q2

Dani Eder

Still pretty good

There are 26.3 million households in the UK. The current sales rate is 10 million per year, which come to a new machine per household every 2.63 years. There are 29.3 million people employed in the UK, so it is one new PC every 5.56 years for every house and job in the nation. I see that as a healthy number, considering not every job requires a PC.

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Copyright bot boots NASA rover vid off YouTube

Dani Eder

Re: Isn't there [DMCA penalty]

It does not have to be a fine paid to the government. It can be a "processing fee" paid to the content host (YouTube in this case) if it turns out to be a false takedown. That compensates the host for their trouble. You might set up to allow a few mistaken takedowns, but by the third or later, you get charged for wasting everyone's time.

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Publishing barons: Free speech a 'cloak for tawdry theft'

Dani Eder

Split Duration

Copyright has a unitary term, all rights expire at the same time. I propose a split term as follows:

* Non-commercial use copyright lasts 20 years.

* Commercial use lasts 40 years.

Thus, after 30 years, anyone can play a song privately, but if your band wants to use someone elses song in a concert, you still have to pay for that.

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Microsoft forbids class actions in new Windows licence

Dani Eder

Consumer Purchase Agreement

Time for us to create a "Consumer Purchase Agreement", whose terms override any manufacturer's EULA. The way to make it enforceable is to tie it to credit card payments. In other words "By accepting payment from this card, you agree to these terms". This can apply to *every* payment, not just to Microsoft. If lots of people use this method it will even the tables with sellers. "Accept these even-handed terms, or we won't buy your stuff."

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SpaceX Dragon chokes at the last second

Dani Eder
Coat

Re: To quote Top Gear... How Hard Can It Be™

Unlike automobiles, you don't get to crank a rocket engine very many times and take it for a test drive. Boeing does around 2000 test flights on an airplane before it goes to the first customer. The Space Shuttle only flew 135 times ever. By airplane standards, the Shuttle was still in early test when they retired it, and this particular Falcon 9 is attempting it's one and only flight, ever.

So the difficulty isn't that rocketry is harder from an engineering standpoint, it's that you get fewer chances to find design and production defects, and any defects are often catastrophic.

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Bitcoin bank Bitcoinica still titsup after cyberheist

Dani Eder

Re: Why?

It has the same purpose as any other form of money - to buy things with it. And it's usefulness depends on how easy that is and the range of things you can buy with it. It's still in beta though, the latest version of the bitcoin software is at version 0.62 I think. Unless you like playing with new software, you might want to wait a bit till they get the bugs worked out.

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SpaceX and Bigelow sign deal for inflatable space stations in orbit

Dani Eder

Patch Kit

Something to keep handy in an inflatable module is a sticky patch kit. In case of puncture, Hold the patch near the hole, and suction will slap it into place. Then smooth out the edges and probably add a few more layers of patch.

Nextel (TM) is a 3M company ceramic fiber. ( http://www.3m.com/market/industrial/ceramics/misc/tech_notebook.html ). For meteor/debris shields the advantage over Kevlar is the high temperature properties. At orbital speeds, *everything* is moving fast enough to melt or vaporize on impact. So your first layer of Nextel produces a splatter of hot droplets and vapor, including some of the Nextel. Further layers are there to contain the hot splatter.

Another reason to use Nextel over Kevlar, is Kevlar is an organic compound, and low Earth orbits have a significant amount of atomic oxygen ions around, which will eat organics. That's why most everything in orbit is covered with fiberglass or other materials not subject to oxidation.

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US economy not eager to create jobs in April

Dani Eder

Construction Hole

There is still a major hole in the US economy - Construction. That includes not only the direct labor construction jobs, but all the suppliers of materials for building, and the peripheral jobs in real estate, finance, insurance, etc, and the downstream purchases by construction workers.

Until that hole gets filled, the US will take a long time to reach full employment again.

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CISPA passes House of Representatives vote

Dani Eder
FAIL

Unconstitutional

The bill allows the government to search without a warrant, violating the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution. The US Supreme Court has already that a warrant is required for electronic eavesdropping, pretty much what this is.

Security in the form of password hacks discovered by corporations and disclosed to the government is fine, but the broad searches without warrants allowed by this bill are clearly against already decided law in the US and the congress members who voted for it should be smacked with a wet mackerel for violating their oath to support the Constitution.

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Google founders, James Cameron, go asteroid mining

Dani Eder

Re: It's unlikely but maybe the Private Sector could get there first...

Actually the first steps are more telescopes for finding asteroids, since we only know about 8% of the ones larger than 100 meters. Then prospector missions to visit and get samples back from the candidate ones you find. Looking at these asteroids from millions of km away, like we do from the ground, just does not tell you enough to determine which ones to mine and what you can get out of them. That pretty much follows Earth mining practice, first survey and take mineral samples back to the lab, then decide if you want to mine there.

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Dani Eder

Re: No gravity well - but asteroids are moving targets

No, you can exploit asteroid resources *in space*. Low orbit satellites need fuel so they don't fall down due to atmospheric drag, and high orbit satellites need fuel to get to high orbit in the first place. So the first mining product will likely be fuel for satellites. Anything else will come later and be gravy. If nothing else, the slag after extracting fuel can become radiation shielding, which you need for anywhere above low orbit.

Even in low orbit, you need some shielding to use modern electronics, because they are sensitive to particles from the radiation belts.

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Dani Eder
Flame

Instruction Manual

An open source Space Engineering reference book is under construction here:

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Space_Transport_and_Engineering_Methods

If you want to find out how all this might be done, it's a starting point.

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POWERFUL solar flare belched at Mars rover Curiosity

Dani Eder

Radiation Experiment

There is a radiation experiment on that mission to measure what humans would be exposed to on a Mars mission. This will give it some good data.

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NASA brainstorms with John Q Public for 2018 Mars mission

Dani Eder

Self Expanding Factory

What you want eventually is the ability to make things out of local materials on Mars or elsewhere in space, because hauling it all from Earth is just too expensive. So for near term missions, I would send experiments in making simple things, like oxygen or collecting water, to demonstrate those tasks for later missions.

At the same time I would work on Earth and the Space station to prove out the next level of difficulty. An example would be extracting iron from the red rust on the Martian surface, which would later be used as building materials.

The end point would be a self-expanding factory that can make most anything you need on Mars from raw materials, but there are many small steps to take towards that goal. Start with the easiest ones, and work from there

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MPAA boss: 'SOPA isn’t dead yet'

Dani Eder
Happy

Encrypted File Storage

All this does is encourage online file storage places like Mediafire to add "encrypt on upload" features, so the data is never in un-encrypted form on their machines. Police can raid all they want, they have no way to tell what files are stored there, neither can the storage operator.

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Pirate Bay plans sky-high flying proxy servers

Dani Eder
Pirate

Diplomatic Immunity

It would be easier to pay the embassy of some benighted third world country to host the server. Attacking that *would* be an international incident.

Meanwhile, local pirate boxes (wifi transmitter + data storage) can be located in automobiles parked in busy locations, and solar-powered. By the time the Powers that Be figure out a site is transmitting, they can have moved on. The whole TPB index of magnet links + comments + descriptions can probably fit on a single flash drive these days.

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Newly discovered asteroid will not ANNIHILATE THE EARTH

Dani Eder
Mushroom

A wll placed SAM?

@sisk - well, no, for two reasons:

* Surface to air missiles fall short by thousands of times in reaching that altitude. A stripped down ballistic missile, or a satellite launcher could get there.

* A 50 meter sphere has a volume of 65,000 cubic meters. Depending on what it is made of, then that asteroid has a mass of 65 to 260 kilotons (1 to 4 large aircraft carriers). A SAM will not do much to it.

The only practical thing to do if you have a few weeks notice is lob a nuclear bomb or three (for redundancy) at it, and try to deflect it sideways. It will almost certainly fragment if you do that, but that does not matter if the fragments miss the Earth. If you have longer lead times (years) you can look at less violent methods of pushing it out of the way.

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Metro breakdown! Windows 8 UI is little gain for lots of pain

Dani Eder
FAIL

Make it a feature, not a requirement

I agree with the general trend of the comments - make the Metro UI an option you can turn off, and us desktop users with multiple monitors will not have to mouse all over the place to get simple tasks done.

By the way, I have yet to see a demo of Windows 8 with two or more monitors, how does it handle that situation?

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