2223 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Serious suggestions have been made about how to clean up orbital junk. You'd need orbiting robot craft that would match orbit with each piece of junk and deal with it. You won't want to take the junk on board because that means you'd need more fuel for the next orbital rondezvous, and soon you'd be out of fuel.
The manouvering would use a low-thrust high-efficiency electrically-powered thuster such as VASIMR. When it matched orbit with a piece of junk it would attach a very lightweight "parachute". Something to maximise drag with respect to the very thin atmosphere or solar wind up there. This would cause the piece of junk to de-orbit over a number of years, ending with it re-entering and burning up.
Sort of like a fleet of orbiting Roombas!
Re: What ever happened to the "Right Stuff"?
Absolutely the wrong thing to do. Google "Kessler syndrome", or read some SF.
A single large piece of space junk can be tracked and avoided. 10000 small pieces of space junk can't. And at orbital velocities, even small pieces can cause huge damage.
Re: Sort of...
DDR3 was initially more expensive than DDR2, because DDR2 was the mainstream volume product and DDR3 the exotic new one. Today, DDR3 is the mainstream product and if you want to upgrade a system using DDR2, that upgrade will cost you more than the same amount of DDR3.
It'll be the same for DDR4 if it catches on. And if Intel backs it for the core-i4 or whatever they call it, then it most certainly will catch on!
As for upgrading a DDR4 system, I doubt that you are right. Chances are it'll be completely flexible and a system will work with 1-N sticks of DDR3, quite possibly even if they are all different sizes. There's already more flexibility than most people realize with DDR3 - matched pairs are best for performance but not mandatory (and give me 8Gb mismatched over 2Gb matched any day! )
One size does not fit all.
Microsoft's big mistake is thinking that what fits a smartphone can also fit a desktop.
I'm no Apple fanboi, but Apple knows this. An iPhone is not the same as an iPad and is absolutely different to an iMac, in UI terms.. True Apple fans go out and buy one of each, because all of them get a lot of UI things right, for the size and usage of each class of device.
Re: The Score
You missed out Win 2000 and Win ME.
I guess you weren't there in 95, because Win 95 was a bad one, 98 was better, 98SE the best of that technology, and ME an utter dog's breakfast. Having installed ME you either wiped it and reinstalled 98SE, or you were well softened-up for a new PC running Windows 2000 (which was also pretty bad).
A few months back I loaded 98SE into a VMware VM on a modern fast PC, just for fun. Boy did it boot fast!
Re: something new here ?
is this not so with every Windows OS release ?
You mean like Vista? It never got fixed, it got rapidly replaced and then buried. Neophiles got shafted. Buy into the hype and then buy again to get something that was usable!
Windows 9 will be coming sooner than many think.
Who stands to gain?
Who stands to gain by mentioning that this act of vandalism involved use of a tool called Linux? (A detail that's about as relevant as someone's window being smashed using an Apple charger brick, rather than the more usual house-brick).
Is Microsoft a large campaign donor by any chance?
Re: Great language name! Not confusing at all?
You'll very often find it referred to as Golang, possibly to make it searchable. Or use quotes: search "Go language" seems to hit on the right things.
It strikes me that one of the most interesting materials to print 3D things in, is wax. Can these printers do wax?
If you are wondering why: look up lost was casting. You surround the was with clay, heat it to boil and burn out the wax and to fire the clay, and finally cast metal into it. To start with it could revolutionize the jewellery trade. You could go from a 3D cad design to a finished item cast in silver or gold in a day. And computers can calculate (and 3D-print? ) fractal designs so easily. Just try carving a fractal from a block of wax by hand!
Re: 'just like playing bingo' ...
I think you meant "a true gamble" not a true gaming platform ....
@Cmdr3X Re: thx for asking about variadic templaces
If you still want to learn programming, start with the right language. These days I'd suggest Python. Anyway, definitely a scripting language (interpreted), so you can type bits of code at the computer and immediately see what they do. As a side-bonus, you won't need to pay a penny for a compiler or a developer environment (even if you are determined to stick with Windows).
If you get to the point where you are a competent programmer and are being frustrated by the slowness of code written in your script language of choice, you might then consider learning a compiled language. (But do first make sure someone hasn't already written what you need!)
Count yourself lucky
Count yourself lucky if the nutters find harmless things to believe in, like UFOs or NASA faking the moon landings or WTC conspiracies.
Without them they might find other things to believe in, like fascism or Maoism or any number of other -isms that have led to a state perpetrating mass murder.. They wouldn't have pre-labelled themselves as nutters, either.
see how high you can go until you find a setting that renders the board unstable.
Overclockers have always puzzled me. The manufacturer knows exactly which are the critical pathways in the CPU. They can test and appropriately speed-grade their chips by exercising these pathways. Intel turbo-mode is supported, meaning that Intel has tested your CPU at the highest turbo speed they support. You'll get correct results, as long as you stay within the thermal envelope.
But if your CPU has not been manufacturer-tested at the speed you are clocking it., all bets are off. Which matters most - getting the right results, or getting wrong results faster?
It's not an entirely rhetorical question. If you are rendering frames for a movie or game, wrong results are either immediately obvious or of no significance. However, that's a special case. One bit wrong in the allocation bitmap of a filesystem, or in the compression or encryption of a datastream, and the eventual loss may be huge. Even in a render farm, overclocking has risks: it's the same overclocked CPU crunching the pixels, and adjusting the allocation bitmap of the disk on which the results are stored.
So the question: why overclock a Pi, when you can so easily buy a faster system?
Re: During the meanwhile ...
"not eat pork as it is the greatest sin" - like what did the poor pigs do to deserve that!?!?
in the Middle East, in centuries past, pigs carried a parasite that can infect humans with dire consequences.
Declaring pork to be unclean was a very sensible public-health measure at the time. The reason why it was so was at that time unknown. The unfortunate thing about religion is that now the reason IS known, the true believers nevertheless adhere to a commandment that makes absolutely no sense if you are living in 21st-Century England.
In other words, "Don't think. Just do what you are told".
Almost all mainstream religion has this fundamental flaw. As do many well-known secular cults: communism, fascism, managerialism, and many lesser ones.
IBM got it's first commandment right: "Think!"
The prior art for that one is milennia old!
The ancients used to write with no spaces between their words. Then they started to insert dots. Finally they hit on the idea of using spaces.
As for computer prior art, awk and its split() function is a relatively recent example!
Have any of these people claiming to be hypersensitive to radio emissions been put through a double-blind test? Did any of them pass (i.e. prove that it's even possible for a human being to tell whether an alleged mobile phone in their proximity is or is not turned on, if it's sealed in an opaque plastic box that they can't touch or open, that's provided to them by a person who also doesn't know if the "phone" is on, off, or a root vegetable.
It's the same as with drugs. Some get better because they believe that inert tablets are useful medication (placebo effect), and some report unpleasant side effects even when the pills are inert dummies (which one might call drug hypersensitivity if it weren't a double-blind test).
Re: Why blue LEDs?
Why never white LEDs?
I can guess: Apple has a patent on them.
There must be something odd about those Canadian windows.
In all the years I've been looking at birds on a feeder table through a picture window, I can remember only a few bird bonks and only one fatality (a pigeon). They seem to be able to see the glass. A few do have to take emergency evasive action at the last moment - that this happens rarely suggests that they learn from experience.
Re: this device will fall flat in the UK...
It's pretty unlikely to end up standing on its edge after a fall. Wonder how many falls before it fails.
Re: Great.. .but better ways to do the power...
A PC power supply will be VERY unhappy supplying many amps at 5V and none at 12V. It may refuse to work with that load, overheat and emit smoke, or simply waste a large fraction of the power going in. They're designed for use with modern PC hardware, with the lion's share of the power being consumed at 12V.
Just source a single-voltage power supply that delivers enough amps at 5V. There will be plenty of PSUs to choose from at RS or CPC. It may be cheaper to use multiple 5V 4A or 5A "bricks" than a single (say) 40A unit, and may also be easier to wire up.
Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit
I thought Durians were banned as cargo by every airline on the planet? Or has someone purchased a jet for the sole purpose of moving loads of Durian around the planet?
I'd have thought it made them radical feminists of the "castrate them at birth" persuasion.
Forget Joe Sixpack ... think businesses.
I'd say that the main reason people who know as little as possible about computers don't use Linux is far simpler than any of the above.
Linux can't run Microsoft Office (or some other MS-only package to which they are attached by advertising, brainwashing or addiction ). Yes, they could switch to LibreOffice with less trouble than switching from Word 2003 to Word 2007 ... but they won't unless someone tells them that they have to, because of inter-operability issues. (If I said peer pressure to conform, I'd not be too far off the mark).
The question we should be asking, is why are big businesses and governments almost all still wedded to Microsoft, when one might have thought they could save huge amounts of money by switching to Linux?
One answer is "support costs too high". A more likely one is "migration costs too high". Once again, Microsoft Office is the moat Linux would have to fight its way across.
I don't know the answer, but I'm certain that arguing the minutae of font design on a particular Linux desktop option isn't the least bit relevant.
Re: Waste of my time
So, you think it would be a really smart move for the UK to decide overnight that everyone should be told to drive on the same side of the road as Europe?
Of course not. It would cause chaos and kill lots of people.
Well, Windows 8 has made the same mistake, except it won't kill so many people. (It will certainly kill some. Annoyed or stressed users having heart attacks. Emergency service operators or medics failing to react correctly or fast enough because they are struggling with the unfamiliar new interface. And so on)
Yes, I'm sure I could get used to it. I just don't see why I should waste my time on a completely pointless change.
Hybrid drive query
Something I've been wondering about hybrid drives: do they remain readable if/when the flash cache fails?
In my experience, most (not all) conventional disk drives fail gradually and the SMART statistics (especially reallocations) give you advance warning. In contrast flash devices go from working storage to utterly bricked "just like that". It would be nice to be told that if the flash part of a hybrid drive does turn into a brick, what's on the magnetic disk can still be retrieved.
Failing which it will be smarter for one's operating system to control a flash cache and a magnetic disk drive as separate devices. In fact maybe the drive manufacturers could package this option as one SATA device with two LUNs, or even make it a jumper-configurable mode?
Mathematical crypto also has its problems
Crypto systems have a critical weakness: private keys have to be kept secret. If they fall into the wrong hands, the cryptography is broken.
There are also mathematical weaknesses. It is now known that not all keys are equal. Statistical techniques have been developed that make a subset of keys very much more crackable than others the same length. Of course, once such an attack is known, vulnerable keys can be rejected, but suppose there are other mathematical weaknesses that have not been made public?
Also, most modern crypto depends on the Riemann hypothesis being true. Few mathematicians think otherwise, but it has yet to be actually proved. By the way, if you ever discover a disproof, spam it far and wide and then go into hiding for a few months. It's the only way you'll remain alive and at liberty!
Re: No life?
Venus is too close to the sun for terraforming (unless orbiting sunshades are possible). Venus suffers/ suffered a runaway greenhouse effect caused in the first instance by water vapour, which we couldn't do without.
Mars's problem is low gravity, meaning atmosphere (especially water vapour) tends to drift off into space. However, that's a slow problem taking geological time. It *might* be possible to terraform Mars by directing a lot of cometary ice at the planet to replace or supply the necessary water. Then pump loads of CFCs into the Martian atmosphere to create a super-greenhouse effect, to compensate for the weaker sunlight.
Of course that way there would never be an ozone layer to keep UV out, but Mars is further from the Sun so theUV will at least be weaker by proportion. We'd have to colonise the Oort clouds first, though, to get hold of the vast amounts of water-ice it would take.
Re: Fossil Finds...
Either way, it would cast a whole new perspective on our place in the Uniwerse.
Unfortunately, not so (unless Martian biochemistry proves to be utterly un-earthlike). Extinction-level meteor impacts can eject bits of Mars into orbits that are later captured by Earth, and to a lesser extent (because it's more "uphill") vice versa. Microbes can survive incredible accelerations, and a long time in vacuum. Therefore, it's a near certainty that whichever planet first evolved microbial life would have spread its microbes to the other. So if we find familar RNA-based microbes on Mars, they probably originated here. That, or Earthlife originated on Mars.
Citation hardly needed: do the statistics
Someone who was ten in 1945 would be 77 today. The majority of such people will still be living. The activities of the Gestapo in the occupied Nederlands are well-documented. And the legal structures of a country usually arise out of its history.
It is of course a hypothesis: as with most statements about society it's almost impossible to prove scientifically.
This is probably because even today there are people in the Netherlands living with the memory of jackbooted thugs arriving at their front doors and dragging off their loved ones (parents, mostly, these days) to be "interrogated" and shot.
The Netherlands may have gone too far to the opposite extreme, but it's certainly the lesser error.
Re: Odd system
Some branches of my extended family tree are extinct.
When the state of Germany was founded under Bismarck, my distant ancestors happily trotted off to register themselves as citizens. One of the things they volunteered was their religion: "Jewish".
The rest, as they say, is history. Never assume that government will remain even slightly benevolent for the duration of your lifetime, and for that of several generations of your descendants. In case you don't realize it, your DNA could be used to identify your children or even great-grandchildren, many years after your death.
System on Cockroach! I was drinking coffee when I read that!
Re: A bit off topic but...
The problem is of course, that most users will just click yes without actually reading the question, so what we need is another question to check you really meant to click yes. The problem is of course, that most users.....
The answer is to generate an informative message and at the end, something like "To confirm that you have read and understand the above, please type the first letter of the fourth word on the sixth line, followed by the fifth letter of the second word on the seventh line" (ideally, with random nths).
That will at least jog the user out of auto-click mode. The rest is down to whether he's got a brain to engage. If he's just a slightly higher-level automaton than the computer, there's nothing can be done about it. (Ignorance is curable. Stupidity is terminal).
You are just a simulation of a human brain in the aliens' computer. It monitors where you think you are looking and sends appropriate simulations of reality back to simulated optic nerves.
Same idea on a grander scale, and a bugger to disprove. Isn't Occam's Razon wonderful! Relax and watch ze blinkenlights.
Re: 35 years old
Your radio is in a moist oxidising atmosphere. Why do you think that things we want to last for a long time are vacuum-packed?
It will evaporate(*) well before eternity. It will probably have evaporated before it next encounters a solar system (unless they managed to aim it precisely at one of our nearest neighbours a mere handful of light-years away).
(*) most things have a vapour pressure greater than that of interstellar space. Also it's being bombarded by high-energy particles.
Re: It's somewhat sad...
There's a great difference between a species dying out due to a virulent disease and a species dying out because we killed it.
But we did kill this species, just less directly. We killed almost all of them. They bred back, but because the species had at one point been reduced to a small number of individuals, they all share a very restricted gene pool. Hence this cancer, which can infect all of them, and which may cause their extinction.
There may also be a wider lesson. Another species which came through a genetic choke point is our own. It's reckoned that at some point about 80,000 years ago, the entire population of homo sapiens was less than a thousand. We too are far more vulnerable to extinction by some new plague, than most other species.
Re: Reverse the polarity of the Neutron flow.
Unlocking our telomeres would be much more likely to increase the rate of cancers than giving us immortality.
More realistically, it might give most of us a healthy life extending to 100, maybe 120 years. How successfully depends on how many of the diseases and failings of old age are caused by the biological senescence mechanism, and now many by other causes such as accumulating cellular mutations.
Alzheimers is not a certainty. I remember interviews with Jeanne Calment (she lived to 122, despite smoking heavily all her life!) and Harry Patch (the last veteran of WW1). Both were of sound mind when their bodies quit on them. So are the majority of people who (mostly) die in their 70s, 80s and 90s from causes related directly or indirectly to cellular senescence.
Wrt cancer: as other causes of death become curable or treatable, its incidence increases. It's also more likely the older we are, because of accumulating cellular mutations. Personally I'd take an increased risk of eventually falling to cancer, than the near-inevitability of falling apart in my 80s or 90s when my body's self-repair mechanisms start to turn off.
Immortality is not even conceptually attractive. However, a few more decades of reasonably enjoyable life most certainly is.
I've always wondered why medical implants can't be recharged by simple mains-frequency inductive coupling. An iron-cored coil connected to a rectifier inside the patient (sealed in appropriate non-metallic bio-compatible material). To recharge, strap a bigger mains-activated coil on the outside of the body.
Ancient technology, but it's how my electric toothbrush is recharged. Why haven't medical devices used it for decades?
However.... I must agree that the forced indentation is a REALLY poor design decision. I know why Guido did it - to force a common format on everyones code. But what it has resulted in is people accidentally deleting some whitespace (easy if some idiot has only used 1 or 2 spaces) moving an end of block line outside of the block it was in but leaving a program that still apparently runs but now has a potentially serious bug.
But it's just as easy to make mistakes with curly brackets or the dangling "else" in C or similar languages! And worse, you don't know where you should be looking for the bug. The curly brackets may not be where you expect them in your coding style. If it's an editor flub, they may not be where anyone expects them in any widely used coding style.
I didn't like Python indentation-as-syntax when I first met it. The dislike lasted for a few hours, acceptance lasted the next couple of days, and then it blossomed into love.
A winner of a name?
I've just realized, if my proposed global low-voltage cabling ever comes about, the cables should of course be called LOVE cables. LOw Voltage Electrical. Beats IEC C13 (aka "kettle flex" -- inaccurately, kettles use C15)
Longer USB cables = FAIL
The maximum length of a USB2 cable is 2 meters. Period. (You might find a longer one on sale, but it's out of spec and may cause data corruption or unreliability). You can reach 4 meters by employing two cables and a hub. Above that you need an expensive USB to Ethernet (well, RJ45-Cat5e-cabled something) to USB bridge.
WHY there is such a stupid maximum length, I have no idea. Anyone at Intel reading this? (I think it was Intel whio invented USB). Anyway, we're stuck with it.
As for power bricks, there's a desperate need for a single global standard low-voltage power source with a standard connector that everything can be expected to run off. Then, hotels, business premises and even homes could be constructed with it built into the walls, and in the meantime any adapter would power any standard-compliant thingy. How about 12V nominal (up to 15V allowed, for automotive use), current-limited to 3A (36W, enough to fire up a 3.5" disk drive). DC-DC power conversion is no big deal these days.
Good job Hague, Ecuador has now called your bluff. What are you gonna do now?
Nothing in the short term would be a good idea. Personally I'd quietly offer to do nothing for as long as they do nothing in support of the Argies w.r.t. the Falklands ... OK, assume they say no to that by word or deed.
Long-term, he could find another building that's superior to the current Ecuadorian embassy, and tell Ecuador that he requires them to move to the new embassy within (say) a year. During the transition both buildings would have the status of embassies, and all usual privileges will be maintained for diplomats and diplomatic bags. Removal costs would all be footed by the UK government.
Assange is not an Ecuadorian citizen, let alone a diplomat, so a year later we'd have him without setting a disastrous precedent for diplomats elsewhere. (There surely must be a precedent for an embassy being relocated at the request of the host nation, with reasonable notice? For example, if the building is blocking a major infrastructure development? )
Re: Getting him out
The only thing which bothers me is that neither the UK nor the Swedish government has completely nixed his assertion that the rape charge is a subtext for passing him on to the USA.
I'd urge Sweden to state that after he is acquitted, or after he serves his sentence in Sweden if he's found guilty, then he'll be allowed unconditional free passage to anywhere in the world that will have him. If he won't voluntarily return to Sweden after that assurance, the conclusion is obvious, and Ecuador would be best advised to throw him out of their embassy into the hands of the UK police.
I've heard that such an assurance is already implicit under EU extradition law, but why not make it explicit? I'm no lawyer so I'm somewhat unconvinced by the former, but would be completely happy with an explicit assurance by the Swedish government. Anyway, why not make explicit what they know to be implied?
I forsee a problem
We may think it's from the Dr. Who mythos, but what does it think?
I expect these things will be claiming assylum at wherever the embassy of Biroid life-forms may be. Which means as far as us humans are concerned, it'll be here today and inexplicably gone tomorrow.
Re: Methane and Global warming
Better then to figure out how to keep the temperature up when the gradual cooling sets in.
Methinks that's a long-term problem, after dealing with the runaway thawing of the arctic and consequent temperature and sea-level rises. (The cooling after that is inevitable, once there's no longer any supply of short-lived methane into the atmosphere from thawing permafrost. The methane converts to CO2, and plants once again start trapping the CO2, and the ice once again starts to creep down from the pole, once again locking up the methane from decomposing vegetation as methane hydrates ... repeat many times, until continental drift does away with the Arctic ocean.)
Methane and Global warming
Methane is anout 15 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, true, but it has a short half-life in the atmosphere (about 10 years from memory). It gets broken down by UV and recombines with oxygen as CO2 and water. Incidentally water vapour is an even more potent greenhouse gas than methane, but the atmosphere is naturally pretty much saturated with the stuff. If it weren't for global warming caused by water vapour, the planet would mostly be too cold for life.
Anyway: methane does not accumulate long-term in the atmosphere, whereas CO2 (probably) does. Which is why the focus is on the CO2.
There IS a clear and present danger of a runaway warming event caused by the thawing of methane hydrates of natural orogin currently trapped in permafrost across the world's Northern tundras. If the permafrost thaws, lots of methane is released, causing increased global temperatures, causing more thawing and more methane. A positive feedback loop until all the arctic has thawed. The fossil record shows that this has happened several times in recent geological time, without human causation. A very sudden thaw, followed by a gradual cooling. To my mind, this is the key reason why we should be VERY bothered about human CO2 emissions.
Re: Why Hydrogen instead of methane?
Actually Methane is already out there. Cars can be converted to run on CNG (compressed natural gas) as well as LPG (Liquid petroleum gas, better remembered as low pressure gas).
The problem is that to get enough range out of a reasonably sized tank, a very high pressure is needed. The potential for explosions if the tank is badly maintained is high (far higher than for a tank of gasoline). Also refilling is not nearly as simple as pumping a liquid, or plugging in an electric cable (and not as fast as the former, though faster than recharging a battery).
For these reasons the general public are not in general offered CNG vehicles. You'll find it used for running taxis and public transport in some cities. If oil runs out and gas (shale gas) does not, that might yet change.
Re: So to recapitulate...
Who's the asshat that thought of this then ?
Got a better idea? If not, the choice is to punt the problem into the future without destroying any data, or to give up and hire some skips.
Re: 11 Pb?
I did wonder what it all was. Geophysical survey data explains it. You could compress it heavily, but you'd probably end up throwing away the information that future interpretation exercises might need!
Nevertheless, I wonder if anyone investigated the possibility of lossless compression of geophysical datasets, on the fly between the old and new archives? (I don't mean of a single data stream, I mean by removing redundancy from outputs of multiple sensors and shots in a single seismic run).
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