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* Posts by mario

11 posts • joined 21 Jul 2007

McCain: Keep Shuttle flying, don't trust Russia

mario
Boffin

... the usefulness of space research

"Then there's the question of the usefulness of space research. It's not simply useful, it's essential if our species is to have any really long-term survivability. It infuriates me that so many people seem so totally unable to grasp the precarious nature of our existence. We have been here for an *eye-blink of time*. We are not the be-all and end-all; we are not the axis of the universe. The universe can, and sooner or later will, swat us out of existence."

Indeed.

A couple of years ago a collegue and good friend of mine (who IS in the position access the real numbers) calculated on a whim on the back of an evelope that the ISS costs per year the equivalent of 75% of the annual budget of the german Max Planck Gesellschaft (too lazy to translate this into an NIH budget number or such for the boys accross the Atlantic). This means that keeping three man on that rig up there going costs as much as keeping 11700 fulltime researchers + 4300 assistants + the associated labspace down here humming along.

Not even attempting to belittle the discovery of the telfon pan or the inevitable requirement of zero gravity for 0.0000001% (my estimate) of all kind of break-through experiments ranging from material sciences to biology, I somehow doubt that the scientific production of the ISS falls anything than three to four magnitudes shorter than what I would call a fair return of investment.

The ISS is and has always been a political circus covered up with a scientific fig-leaf in desperate search for a raison d'etre. Therefore McCain using it for his election propaganda is what I would call a cruel irony...

For the hot-blooded cold-warriors up there only three words: Hypocrisy is bliss.

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Germany to Nokia: Give us back our subsidies

mario

@Oliver Jones

Dear Oliver,

Although I'm meanwhile not completely up to date anymore with respect to german labor law, maybe first a fact and than a little story from the pricvate sector in France for you:

The fact is, that in case you want to lay someone off for poor performance in France, you give him a warning in the OBLIGATORY annual personal performance assessment and you'll repeat the exercise three months down the road. In case his performance

has not improved you can lay him off for professional reasons. He'll take one month of salary, his remaining holidays and in case of seniority (for every 12 months in the company) another month of salary (however, there is a cap,

which I fail to remember).

That's it.

Not really too hard is it?

And you can believe me, since I HAD to lay off people like this.

And now the little story:

My wife is in the mid management of a small subsidary of a bigger US-based company. Since the downturn of the US-economy, the writing was on the wall that the company will have to reduce it's workforce.

Consequently, the french management advised the US-bigwicks to do the annual performance evaluation and tag the dead wood in the company with a warning, so that in case of lay-offs at a later stage, the procedings have already been started according to french labor law.

The american headquarter, however - at the time very busy with merger talks - could not be bothered with such small folkloristic labor law details overseas and prefered not to listen. Even worse - two weeks before Xmas they perform a "cut and paste style" evaluation which assignes even to the underperformers an "acceptable" performance.

Then the happy new year 2008 arrives and the US-board decides, well, this year we lay off some folk.

And, since merger talk should not be clouded by bad economic rumors, we call a lay-off for economical reasons (which has in France completely different proceedings) not by it's proper name, but we say we simply get rid of some dead wood and tell the underperformersto take a hike, because - well - they underperform.

Subsequently, they send a firing squad for immediate execution to France, which - despite a renewed warning of the french management that this will violate french labor law and thus will provide any half-way decent lawyer a huge opening to rake in huge compansations - summons the delinquents and let's them know that they mustn't drop in tomorrow morning, because it came to the managements attention that their performance sucks.

Naturally, the inevitable happens: These people print out their "acceptable" december evaluation, get a good lawyer who rips the proceedings legally apart and get a full featured six months of salary as a golden handshake out of all this.

IMHO - rightly so.

Since then the US-based human resource department runs around in the headquarter telling anyone who will listen that it's:

1) Nearly impossible to lay-off staff in France. That's a bloody commy cell over there.

2) Last thing we'll ever do is hire someone againin France.

I guess, they sound in their rants a lot like you Oliver.

And the french management came to simply two conclusions:

1) That this was the most botched up firing exercise they have ever had to witness. The diletantic way

in which it was MANAGED basically tripled the costs.

2) Apparently the wrong people were fired. Shoving the HR bums and one or the other bummer from the board over the

cliff would have lead to substancially larger savings...

And - since in your rant you're also giving the indian continent a kick - yet another thing:

My sister in law was meanwhile forced to change her job because the contractor of her Madras based company

expects the Indian IT staff to work nine months per year in Omaha.

Highly motivated and for an Indian salary, naturally.

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mario

@By Greg

While there are certainly huge inconsistencies in French and German industry politics which are worthwhile discussing,

and which lead in conjunction with a similar inconsistent European development funding practices and tax brake shemes in

countries like Romania to the warmly welcomed opportunity for large cooperations to augment shareholder value at the

expense of the taxpayer (which might be - oh the irony - layed off at the end), there is, however, one remarkable thing

thing here to observe:

It's nothing short of amazing to observe the conviction of some "turbo-free-marketeers" residing in countries that lost

50% of their production sector since the 1970s to lecture the #1 export nation how to run it's busness.

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Wikileaks judge gets Pirate Bay treatment

mario

@Simon Greenwood

>> In Neuromancer and Count Zero, satellite ownership is fairly ubiquitous and time can be rented on many in a free market.

Naah - That's not what Jerry refers to:

In Neuromancer the panther moderns hijack as a kind of private joke the satlink of the "Sons of Christ the King" for the run on sense-net.

Reading Gibson these days is like reading a history book ...

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Microsoft! bids! $44.6bn! for! Yahoo!

mario

Upcoming trend of the 21st century:

"Together we can offer an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market."

Virtual machine consolidation ...

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Showdown over encryption password in child porn case

mario

and so it goes ...

So child porn and terrorism are the hammer and chisel used to streamline the constitution for smooth executive outcomes these days ...

Hm, where again did all this happen before?

Maybe I check out my grandfathers chest on the attic for his old brown "been there, done that" T-Shirt.

Word of warning from germany, this is ...

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Latest Vista SP1 tweak open to everyone with a week to spare

mario

@Rick Brasche

Finally a wise word from someone who went through the same train of thought than our IT dept here.

If you leave emotions and harsh feelings aside, and just rationally analayze what you could do with Vista

that you really couldn't get done with XP (in a professional environment) and then subsequently sum up the

resources required to roll this out on a large scale, it simply isn't worth the bother.

No yelling, no bashing, no Linux motivated anti M$ propaganda:

Just plain and simply not worth the bother.

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Why Microsoft vs Mankind still matters

mario

Title

I’m running a larger computer net and I don’t have a problem with the fact that many of my users prefer a Windows desktop. At the end of the day it’s all about productivity and so if I’m a happy bunny with OpenOffice and our secretary hums along with Word, that’s fine by me.

But I have a problem with the fact that each time a major security update is rolled out on the windows boxes I have to brace myself for network troubles with my samba servers.

Someone in Redmond likes to give me a frequent remainder that we’re supposed to run a windows server and pay in addition to the desktop licenses the server licenses and a per connection toll on top of that and pay basically for each litte maintenance apps that I get bundled with linux or solaris for free. And right, where was that M$ journaling file system again (?), my ext3 for a full 100% off is doing quite fine, thank you.

I’m not an evangelist for or against M$ at all, but I’m really getting dog tired of being cattle prodded around by someone fiddeling with active directory not to improve but to break existing work environments and to provoke a switchover ...

And that’s where the EU-ruling is spot on: Time to ensure that the interface protocols of the infrastructure cornerstones become clearly documented (and not that smokescreen crap of providing thousands of unusable pages of bloatwash that M$ did try to deliver).

The infrastructure of modern societies, and that goes far beyond informatics, have to be accessable to any competitor that desires to enter the market.

Otherwise the free market is dead and innovation goes down the same tube, too, because you can lock-out or bog down any competitor at your whim. Imagine just a split second what (actually: if) the internet would be if a company like M$ would have control over TCP/IP...

The next step will hopefully be, that more and more european govermental institutions adopt only software that adheres to these open standards. And since the writing is actually on the wall, Microsoft is VERY worried. Just observing the frantic efforts to fast track their open document format through the ISO adoption process in Europe is telling ...

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US wants trucks mounted with frikkin' laser beams

mario

@Vladimir

> Clearly, a laser is much more convenient weapon than a Phalanx or a Goalkeeper as it does not need expendable

> complex pre-manufactured ammunition, only an energy supply and, perhaps, the consumable reagents

> (if it's a chemical laser).

I guess most folk here underestimates the energy requirements of such a toy dramatically.

Lasers have at best a meagre energy conversion rate of 10%.

Therefore, they need a lot of energy and also overheat quickly.

Furthermore, current battle field lasers like THEL are chemical lasers and thus cannot fire sustained without reloading.

And expensive fuel they need plenty: The last number I remember is ~$3000 / shot what makes a phalanx round

look like a bargain in comparison...

Also not really nice is that the currently used consumables are flammable, toxic and corrosive and you need a

couple of gallons per shot.

There are efforts to switch to solid state lasers, which can be powered electrically, but again you're quickly

running into power problems:

Beam divergence requires the power output to scale with the square of the effective range.

All these Laser toys don't make sense below 10kW output power even at short range. To blast a rocket at 5 miles

distance you're looking at 100kW output power and more. To generate these you need electrical generators in

the 1-2MW range.

Bottom line:

So the plan is that a 30mill$ laser system with an associated 1MW generator running continously is protecting a

meagre 5 mile perimeter against a Katyusha which you can bang together for less than 100$/shot or a 30$ mortar shell ?!?!

I always wonder how Boing / Northop Grumman / etc get these brilliant ideas through congress...

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mario

@Vladimir

> Clearly, a laser is much more convenient weapon than a Phalanx or a Goalkeeper as it does not need expendable

> complex pre-manufactured ammunition, only an energy supply and, perhaps, the consumable reagents

> (if it's a chemical laser).

I guess most folk here underestimates the energy requirements of such a toy dramatically.

Lasers have at best a meagre energy conversion rate of 10%.

Therefore, they need a lot of energy and also overheat quickly.

Furthermore, current battle field lasers like THEL are chemical lasers and thus cannot fire sustained without reloading.

And expensive fuel they need plenty: The last number I remember is ~$3000 / shot what makes a phalanx round

look like a bargain in comparison...

Also not really nice is that the currently used consumables are flammable, toxic and corrosive and you need a

couple of gallons per shot.

There are efforts to switch to solid state lasers, which can be powered electrically, but again you're quickly

running into power problems:

Beam divergence requires the power output to scale with the square of the effective range.

All these Laser toys don't make sense below 10kW output power even at short range. To blast a rocket at 5 miles

distance you're looking at 100kW output power and more. To generate these you need electrical generators in

the 1-2MW range.

Bottom line:

So the plan is that a 30mill$ laser system with an associated 1MW generator running continously is protecting a

meagre 5 mile perimeter against a Katyusha which you can bang together for less than 100$/shot or a 30$ mortar shell ?!?!

I always wonder how Boing / Northop Grumman / etc get these brilliant ideas through congress...

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Taser markets electric cattleprod gun to the laydeez

mario

Title

Welcome to planet USA, where they sell you a cattleprod with the argument that your neighbour is actually a madman because he bought one yesterday...

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