32 posts • joined 30 Nov 2012
Okay, the Ringworld has a foundation made of scrith. The only question now is how do we manufacture scrith? Ideas?
The Answer is Out There
Aliens must be involved here somewhere. Quite possibly in conjunction with Google. Or is Google merely a front for THEM???
Excuse me, got to go and get my tinfoil hat.
Re: windscreen wipers?
I agree. No need for windows at all. Or if you do have windows on your self-driving car, see if you can get some Peril Sensitive Sunglasses like Zaphod Beeblebrox had. Designed to help you have "a more relaxed attitude toward danger," they turn darker as peril increases. About the time your car goes off that hovercraft ramp, they should turn completely black.
True story of another bomb scare
Years ago when I was in college, someone found a "suspicious parcel" in one of the buildings. Campus police bravely moved the package over to the Health Center and X-rayed it. The X-ray revealed what looked like cylindrical objects with a lot of wires. Now this is getting serious! So they moved the parcel out to the quad, cleared everyone away, attached a rope to the parcel and gave it a hard yank, breaking it open and scattering the contents.
The parcel contained a couple of large egg rolls and container of chow mien. They had just ruined the janitor's lunch.
The media strikes again!
The problem, as the author suggests, is the media. The news LOVES to select only the worst news, then exaggerates any dangers, plays on people's fears and just generally peddles doom and gloom which, for some reason, many people seem to enjoy. I quit watching mainstream news years ago and have been much better for it.
Maybe this isn't so with the news on the other side of the pond, but it sure is true in America and has been for a long time. Many years ago, William Randolph Hearst bought up a chain of bankrupt newspapers, started peddling this sort of crap and made millions.
Maybe the Chinese will carry the torch
Since NASA isn't moving on nuclear propulsion, perhaps the Chinese will be the first ones to reach Mars. They've certainly got the ability to go in that direction if they want to. If the US is too timid to use nuclear power for in-space propulsion, someone else likely will.
Cooling a reactor in space would be an issue since only radiation cooling works there, but large radiator fins (shielded from the sun) could radiate the waste heat. They would probably have to be fairly large.
But nuclear is really the only way to go for in-space propulsion. Trying to explore space with chemical rockets is like trying to run a modern airline with gliders -- not going to work.
Re: About recording calls.
In addition, laws vary from state to state. In some states, if you don't give warning that you are recording the call, not only is the recording inadmissible in court, but you are guilty of a crime for which you can be jailed.
Tyson is absolutely right. Back in the 1950's and 60's, US schools spent a lot of time on STEM, creating the next generation of engineers, the guys who brought about innovations such as clean cars (air pollution was horrible in the 60s), computers, communications satellites, cell phones, microwave ovens and many other things people take for granted nowadays. Today the schools mainly seem to be geared towards getting kids to memorize the answers to standardized tests with less time spent on actually teaching them to think, or so it seems to me. Not sure exactly how it happened, but certainly the U.S. is not the hotbed of innovation it was in the 20th century. Look how our space program -- once the world leader -- is now pretty much gone. Supposedly they're working on a new rocket and even perhaps a mission to Mars someday, and we put people on the moon 40+ years ago, but now the U.S. can't even get people to LEO -- we're dependent on others to get people to/from the ISS. How the hell did THAT happen?
In Victorian times, Britain was the world leader in innovation. Then the U.S. took over that role and continued it through the 20th century. Now perhaps China? Certainly not the U.S. unless things change greatly here.
Blame the lawyers
Unfortunately, in this country, if you allow someone to use your trademark name, you can lose it. So if Google allowed anyone to use the name "Android" or, for that matter, "Google" and did not take action to stop it, then a court might well rule that they've lost the trademark. This has happened in the past.
Of course, that's not saying Google couldn't have contacted the author and asked him to change the name instead of just removing the app without warning.
Okay, I'm tired of reading all these anti-gun rants with no basis in reality. I work in law enforcement and know a lot of cops. The cops are NOT afraid of criminals with guns because of laws allowing concealed carry. Know why? Because the people who have concealed carry permits are generally the most law-abiding people around. They wanted to carry a gun for personal defense and went TO THE POLICE and asked for a permit and (in just about all states allowing concealed carry) took a class about when you can (your life is threatened and/or a major crime is in progress) and can not (you're angry at somebody) use a firearm. (And you also have to demonstrate proficiency with the firearm -- that you're able to hit the target you're shooting at.) When these people have police contact (even a traffic stop), the first thing they do is inform the police that they are armed. The officer will then generally secure the firearm and verify the person's carry permit and conclude whatever business is going on (such as writing a traffic ticket) and then return the firearm if the permit is in order and the person is being released. These people don't make cops nervous at all. The ones the cops are nervous about are the career criminals for whom it is and has been for over 50 years, a federal felony to possess a firearm -- but, you see, they're criminals and simply don't give a crap what the law says, so they have guns anyhow. THOSE are the ones the cops (and law-abiding citizens with a carry permit) worry about. There are a few crimes of passion involving firearms, and they get a lot of play in the press, so that problem looks much worse than it is. (Of course, there are at least 50 ways to kill your lover that don't involve firearms -- and those are used all over the world -- guns aren't the cause of that type of evil, even if they are occasionally used to facilitate it.)
The VAST majority of shootings that happen in this country involve criminals killing each other over robberies (revenge, such as a drug dealer that got robbed) or other criminal gang-related activity ("drug deal gone wrong"). It's also illegal for gang members to possess firearms, but, remember, criminals don't CARE what gun (or other) laws exist. That's kind of what makes them criminals. Those are the guys the cops are concerned about. Laws permitting concealed carry are NOT a problem since those laws specifically deny criminals the right to carry or even possess a firearm. The problem is the fact that criminals are criminals.
By the way, I personally do not have a carry permit (and I don't carry a gun around), although I have friends who do. They're all involved with law enforcement, too.
"No – we LET IT GO for a SONG. We told the cleaner that we'd drop it out the window onto his supervisor's car if he'd sing Judas Priest's Turbo Lover," the PFY says.
"And it was great," I add. "Some tempo problems, but he got there in the end."
Absolutely priceless! Thank you, Simon, for that wonderful picture. Please treat yourself to a pint or ten - you deserve it!
BEFORE he died?
Thanks for the clarification about the CEO modeling himself on Steve Jobs BEFORE he died. Without that, I would have thought he just laid around very, very still, saying nothing at all.
If MOXIE works...
For a trip to get rocks back to earth, maybe they could launch a mission in two parts. The first part would use standard rockets and a lander with a super-MOXIE unit. It might even leave the MOXIE unit at one place and go around collecting samples. Meanwhile, the second part of the mission, a sort of "truck", a slow robot with an ion drive, heads for Mars orbit. Once enough fuel has been generated by the MOXIE unit, part of the lander could fuel up and takes off into a stable Mars orbit with the rocks. The "truck" could rendezvous with the lander's ascent stage, get the rocks, and then head back to Earth orbit where a manned mission could bring the cargo down. Ion drives are low-power, but can run for years, and rocks wouldn't mind a slow trip. It might even be possible to have the ascent stage of the lander carry extra MOXIE-derived fuel fuel for use by the truck on its return trip.
Re: The point is . . .
Well, the biggest problem is WHAT CAN WE DO? One poster mentions social media. I think as far as the big governments are concerned, social media has the significance of, as Robert Heinlein put it "squeals of kittens in box." Here in the US, you can vote for the Republicans, who favor mass surveillance, or you can vote for the Democrats, who favor mass surveillance. Gotta run out and vote! So, my question is what, exactly, should the good men do to try to put an end to the horror? Much of the apathy isn't really apathy, it's just that those opposed to Big Brother don't have any effective plan of action.
I use Keepass which has a 'droid version as well as PC. I think they have a Linux version, too.
I have it on my home and work PCs and my phone. And another copy on a USB stick that I can use with any PC that will let me run a program from a USB stick. Always have my web sites/passwords with me (80+), and they all have distinct, hard-to-crack passwords. The only one I need to remember is the master one. I've had lots of attempts made to break into my accounts, but none have succeeded.
Well, there is another possible reason...
Ever read Damon Knight's story "To Serve Man"? "It's a COOKBOOK!"
Amazon needs a good bollocking
In addition to this scam, Amazon has also been running another one. When you were buying something, a pop-up would appear and ask you if you wanted to try their "prime" service for 30 days for free, after which they'd bill you $100 a year. Unfortunately, on this pop-up, the "YES" box was checked by default, and was very small and located far to the left and low down on the screen so it was not very visible. On the other hand, the button to just close the box (and accept the "yes" default) was large and easy to see. Most people just want any pop-up gone so they can complete their transaction and move on, so many clicked the close button without realizing that they had just signed up to be billed $100. I am paranoid enough about this sort of thing that I read it carefully and wan't fooled. However, I know people who were tricked -- and then had $100 removed from their bank accounts without proper warning. One friend of mine got a bunch of NSF fees due to this malicious and dodgy behavior on Amazon's part. Are they so broke they have to resort to this sort of crap to survive?
I used to really like Amazon, but this sort of shite is just too much. I'm off them now, and buy everything from other vendors. I hope the feds really walk it to them and most of their loyal customers bail, so they really DO suffer.
What is it about human nature that makes companies that started on a foundation of great customer service just about always evolve into giants that treat their customers like a shark treats its lunch?
So on the Internet you have to please ALL the people ALL the time -- or else?
As someone once pointed out, "The law is an ass." It's clearly impossible to write ANYTHING of any significance that doesn't offend SOMEONE or transgress SOME law SOMEWHERE on this planet. These days it's hard enough to do anything in one's own country without breaking some law there at home, much less some law somewhere on the globe. So when this line of reasoning gets followed to its bitter end, apparently one should never post ANYTHING on the Internet lest one transgress some law somewhere. This seems a bit ridiculous to me.
I don't normally take the point of view that America does everything right (we don't), but in this case, i do think we've got closer to right than most other countries. Here you have no libel or slander case against someone unless what they wrote/said was both untrue AND caused actual damage to your reputation. To me, that seems like a reasonable threshold for a lawsuit.
Actually, the courts here go even farther if you're a "public figure," in which case you also have to prove "malice" -- which is next to impossible -- to collect damages. Such was the case where a major news magazine claimed that General Westmoreland (commander in Vietnam during that horror show) used nerve gas. He sued them but lost becuase, although he showed the claim was untrue, he could not prove malice. That's quite a distance from France where it's apparently illegal to say anything bad about a public official. What if the fellow really WAS a "poopy head" or, say, a corrupt, thief who commited malfeasance in office daily? If it were true and one had evidence to prove it, would it still be illegal to publish it because the subject is a public official?
Also, consider that a regular "bikini pic" one might download (such as has been seen on el Reg), which is perfectly legal most places, can run afoul of the law in parts of the Middle East. And it goes on and on...
Here's hoping that "globalization" doesn't reduce culture and communication to some "lowest common denominator," because if that happens, there won't BE any culture or communication.
I quit it all years ago
I quit flying when they started all this TSA insanity. Fortunately, there's no place I need to get to in all the much of a hurry, and I never did like dealing with reincarnated SS prison camp guards.
Facebook has hit back at its critics, after the content-free ad network's data scientist...
There, fixed it for you.
How can anybody consider tweets to be PRIVATE?
I remember a legal case a former employer was involved in years ago. Some of the opposition people were using a forum on Compuserve (remember that?). They posted blatantly untrue, defamatory and libelous remarks about my employer and were shocked to see our attorneys bring those into court to impeach some of their witnesses. Their counsel tried to exclude the forum remarks, claiming privacy concerns. The judge disagreed, saying that remarks posted to a public forum are hardly private communications.
How can anybody “tweet” something to the world and still consider it private? That’s doublethink on a par with anything in 1984.
For their next contest, perhaps they’ll select the winners the same way the BOFH selects telecommunications vendors. Put a half brick under each chair. Leave the room. Come back a few minutes later, and the last 10 standing get a free phone.
Re: Oh for goodness sake
Same thing here. Too many passwords. My supervisor keeps hers written on a post-it. I use keepass for all my passwords, so I get different passwords for everything, but only need one to unlock them. The one *is* a bit complex.
I’m pretty old now, and I must say the world has changed a lot, and not totally for the better. I’m an American, and when I was a kid, guys were always fleeing from the Communist regime in Russia or China and coming to America where they were safe and able to speak freely and reveal the horrible things the Russian or Chinese government was up to.
Today, people are fleeing America for the crime of revealing the horrible things the American government is up to and seeking safety in China, Russia or South America.
What’s gone wrong with my country?
Re: Why Bother with Planets?
Sorry, I don’t see how making a habitat more difficult than making a starship.
Radiation? You have that in space, either way. A habitat as I describe would have walls many meters thick. Plenty of shielding. Can you put that much shielding on a starship? (And unless you have working “deflector shields”, let’s leave those out of the discussion.)
Ecosystem? How fast could the fastest starship we could build now go? An Orion with a top speed of maybe .03 c? Well, let’s be generous and say .1 c. So it’s 40 years one way to Alpha Centauri. How were the astronauts (taikonauts, etc.) going to breathe, eat, etc.? You’d need SOME SORT of ecosystem on that ship. And a habitat as I describe would be a lot bigger than your typical starship, so you’d have more room to spread out which would likely help with the issues we have with artificial habitats. Yes, the closed ecosystem issue is a large one and needs A LOT of work, I agree. But it’s an issue that needs to be solved with habitats or ships, barring some magic “warp drive.”
Unless we discover some new physics that makes FTL travel practical, I think the human race will build habitats throughout the solar system, and eventually, some of them will go to other stars.
Why Bother with Planets?
They’re dangerous places liable to get hit by flying objects or be damaged by the local star having a fit, subject to wild climate swings, etc.
Instead, build our own worlds inside large, spinning asteroids. Start with Larry Niven’s idea of “blowing” an asteroid by filling a tunnel full of bags of water, spinning it and directing sunlight from mirrors onto it enough to make it molten. Once it expands, let it cool off and then make it into an inhabitable worldlet similar to the “Stone” from Greg Bear’s book Eon (without the hyperspace tunnel, of course!). You can have any length of day or “gravity” (from centrifugal force) that you like. If the sun gets testy or a swarm of flying objects are coming your way, you can move it. Wouldn’t take any more technology than we’d need to build ships capable of relativistic speeds, and we can do it right here. And, if you can make it self-sustaining for long enough and come up with a drive, you could convert some of these into starships –even use a multi-generational model that takes hundreds of years to reach a destination.
The only case I know of anyone surviving this sort of thing was a couple of kids that escaped from Cuba to Florida in the 70’s. A much shorter trip, and the plane probably didn’t fly as high, either. They also tied themselves into the wheel wells with rope so they wouldn’t fall out.
So, not really a survivable way to fly. As Zaphod said, “OK, so ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?”
It’s sad that they ban ham radio transmissions from the air over there. On this side of the pond, we do amateur radio in the sky a lot, including using balloons to lift antennas and repeaters and normal airborne operations (particularly for emergency services, such as search and rescue). Once I talked on the 2 meter band to a couple of hang gliders over 60 miles away – I’m near sea level, they were up at 7,000 feet (2,134 m)
This is nothing new. The BOFH did this years ago.
I live in California and work at a court. You’re just not allowed to grab the phone while driving. So set it up with your destination and put the phone on the seat next to you and listen for the directions. Works fine for me. If I need to fondle the phone, I just pull over and stop. That way, I get where I’m going, no worries and no tickets. If that’s too hard, driving is probably too hard for you. Take a bus.
Don't forget printing
I well remember the coming of Lotus 1-2-3 and had a similar experience to the author. We had 1-2-3 in our company. I went to a MS show and saw a demo of Excel, and my jaw dropped. I went back to work and told the boss "we need to get this NOW." We ordered it that day. When it came in, I took it home and stayed up to 5:00 AM Friday night playing with it, something I've not done before or since. I was THAT impressed with Excel.
Remember printing on 1-2-3? It was difficult to do. And if you could get it to print what you wanted, it generally looked like crap, like a report typed in EDLIN. As soon as we had Excel, we could do client-presentation-level spreadsheets quite easily and never looked back at 1-2-3.
Actually, we'll all die when that mutant stargoat eats the planet in December. Except for those of us with tickets for the space arks. Looks like I'm on the "B" ark.
- Product round-up Ten excellent FREE PC apps to brighten your Windows
- Review Tough Banana Pi: a Raspberry Pi for colour-blind diehards
- Product round-up Ten Mac freeware apps for your new Apple baby
- Analysis Pity the poor Windows developer: The tools for desktop development are in disarray
- Chromecast video on UK, Euro TVs hertz so badly it makes us judder – but Google 'won't fix'