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Warp Drives;Data vs. Big Science; Piracy; The Big Rain on Venus

Chaos Manor Mail Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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I have many things to do, so this will be mail. I will try to deal with issues in a View. Got to run…

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From my physicist friend:

Jerry,

Regarding the article http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/04/28/nasa-may-have-invented-a-warp-drive and linked science blog posted today:

1.  One person on the blog makes the point: nobody knows for sure what is happening, so talking about warp drives is a bit premature.

2.  Other than that, most of the posts are technobabble that might do credit to a Star Trek episode but not to real scientific discourse.

Jim

But I suppose there’s hope:

: NASA Warp Drive

Eh. This has been going viral on Facebook. I’ve answered a lotta questions from non-tech types. So what I’m saying is this: A couple guys do not equal NASA. And since it’s my understanding that the difference amounts to something like 10^-18 m/s, and that the tests were done in atmosphere, not in vacuum, I’m figuring it’s in the grass, and probably IS the grass.
Anyway, I’m going to just sit back and wait for some REAL evidence…which I expect to be at least as long in coming as a sustained fusion reactor, which as we all know is always “just 20 years away.”
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
http://www.Stephanie-Osborn.com

So, now they’re claiming the EmDrive is actually an FTL warp drive?

<http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/04/nasa-may-have-accidentally-developed-a-warp-drive/>

Roland Dobbins

But probably not.  This time.

Red Line

– NASA EM Drive and FTL

 


Second-hand thanks for the tip – off to chasing links down to the original stuff again, sigh…
Quick observations just from a few clicks down the road.
1) The observations of “FTL” are apparently being inferred from anomalies in the interference patterns when sending a laser through the cavity of the EM device. Send a laser through *any* EM field and you will get a different interference pattern than your null field control – I’ll have to look much further to see how these are other than would normally be expected.

2) The big problem is that they have apparently *not*, so far as I am seeing, repeated their experiment in vacuo. We’ve been (knowingly) “exceeding the speed of light” in atmosphere at least since the days of Cherenkov – so I must color myself skeptical at this point. Actually, we can do it these days even in vacuo – just get two plates closer to each other than the wavelength of EM you are using. That effect has a well-described cause that does not violate Einstein in any way, however.

3) Side note, all too many of the commenters seem to think that FTL automatically implies time travel to the past, and is therefore impossible. An instantaneous trip to Alpha Centauri and back is *not* “time travel.” It is simply observing the past, just approximately four years *sooner* than you would by obeying the speed limit. We observe the past *constantly* – from the femtoseconds it takes light to reach your eyes from your monitor to the Hubble imaging the appearance of galaxies many billions of light years away. You – and the Universe – are still older than you were before. (You may specifically be somewhat less aged than the Universe, if your drive requires moving within the framework you are relative to – but you are still older than before.)

Richard

 

 

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No one in the media seems to understand that seizing a Marshall-flagged vessel is almost tantamount to seizing a US-flagged vessel.

I wonder if anyone in the Obama Administration understands this?

<http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/28/politics/iran-seizes-commercial-ship-u-s-official-says-no-americans-on-board/index.html>

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_of_Free_Association#Military_provisions>

Roland Dobbins

And now it becomes clearer:

‘Iran’s seizure of the cargo vessel follows a maritime standoff between an Iranian cargo convoy apparently bound for Yemen and a group of American warships in the Arabian Sea. The U.S. is supporting a Saudi-led military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and commanders did not want Iran to resupply the Houthis with weapons or other assistance.

After several tense days at sea that included the movement of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt from the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Sea, the Iranian convoy and sailed east, in international waters, off the coast of Oman, according to defense officials.’

<http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/iran-seizes-cargo-ship-maersk-tigris-117418.html>

Absolute madness. The neocons are doing their best to get us into war with Iran.

Roland Dobbins

I will comment on this at length at another time.

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Records

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11561629/Top-scientists-start-to-examine-fiddled-global-warming-figures.html

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By Christopher Booker

8:14PM BST 25 Apr 2015

Last month, we are told, the world enjoyed “its hottest March since records began in 1880”. This year, according to “US government scientists”, already bids to outrank 2014 as “the hottest ever”. The figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were based, like all the other three official surface temperature records on which the world’s scientists and politicians rely, on data compiled from a network of weather stations by NOAA’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN).

But here there is a puzzle. These temperature records are not the only ones with official status. The other two, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama (UAH), are based on a quite different method of measuring temperature data, by satellites. And these, as they have increasingly done in recent years, give a strikingly different picture. Neither shows last month as anything like the hottest March on record, any more than they showed 2014 as “the hottest year ever”.

An adjusted graph from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies

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Back in January and February, two items in this column attracted more than 42,000 comments to the Telegraph website from all over the world. The provocative headings given to them were “Climategate the sequel: how we are still being tricked by flawed data on global warming” and “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest scientific scandal”.

My cue for those pieces was the evidence multiplying from across the world that something very odd has been going on with those official surface temperature records, all of which ultimately rely on data compiled by NOAA’s GHCN. Careful analysts have come up with hundreds of examples of how the original data recorded by 3,000-odd weather stations has been “adjusted”, to exaggerate the degree to which the Earth has actually been warming. Figures from earlier decades have repeatedly been adjusted downwards and more recent data adjusted upwards, to show the Earth having warmed much more dramatically than the original data justified.

FINALLY. That’s a pretty decent board of investigators, and NOT all comprised of climatologists — which is to say, it isn’t the foxes guarding the henhouse. IIRC from reading, there’s actually only one professional climatologist on that investigative committee; the rest are stuff like data reduction and statistics experts.

This should get very interesting, and pretty fast.

Also the two graphs, composed of raw data and “adjusted” data, taken together are pretty damning. I went through ’em last night and ascertained that the earlier temps were shoved downward by some 1.25C, and the most recent temps have been pushed upward by the same amount. I’d need to sit down and dink (and preferably look at the actual numbers, not just charts) to figure out the “grading curve” they used to create the “adjusted” chart across the entire timeframe.
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
http://www.Stephanie-Osborn.com

Perhaps there will be some adult supervision?

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Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI)

http://www.globenewswire.com/newsarchive/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=10129649
“PASADENA, Calif. – April 20, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has signed a sponsored research agreement with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). Under the terms of the agreement, Northrop Grumman will provide up to $17.5 million to the initiative over three years.
Working together, the team will develop the scientific and technological innovations necessary to enable a space-based solar power system capable of generating electric power at cost parity with grid-connected fossil fuel power plants. SSPI responds to the engineering challenge of providing a cost-competitive source of sustainable energy. SSPI will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission.”
Well, other than the fact that you and others have been promoting this for decades, it is a step in the right direction. When you can get a major corporation on board to start spendng money to make this happen, someone has to be thinking this might actually work. Spending just $17.5 million might seem a bit small, but for a university this will help enable some very big experiments. I think most of the technology is already done so just putting it all together in a proof of concept that could be shipped to the space station for testing might be what we see come out of this. Hopefully, it will lead to a full-sized station being built.
Braxton Cook

You do understand that there tax subsidies at work here?

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There Will Be War vol 1 & 2

Dr Pournelle

Thank you for making There Will Be War vol 1 & 2 available for Kindle. Bought ’em. Posted notice to the Heinlein Forum on Facebook.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

Thanks for giving me another excuse to promote them. I’ll slow down on that now…

http://www.amazon.com/There-Will-Be-War-I-ebook/dp/B00WONO0C0/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1430265337&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=there+will+be+war+vol+i

http://www.amazon.com/There-Will-Be-War-II-ebook/dp/B00WOM86I0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1430265442&sr=1-1&keywords=there+will+be+war+vol+ii

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Re: “Hinky” in Action

Jerry,

A quick little article in which Schneier makes the point quite well.

“This is what works. Not profiling. Not bulk surveillance. Not defending against any particular tactics or targets. In the end, this is what keeps us safe.”

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/04/hinky_in_action.html

Regards,

George

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Dear Dr. Pournelle,

It appears NASA has some interesting ideas for colonizing Venus:

http://www.space.com/29140-venus-airship-cloud-cities-incredible-technology.html?adbid=10152770412826466&adbpl=fb&adbpr=17610706465&cmpid=514630_20150421_44311636&short_code=2u5i7

NASA researchers have come up with a plan to send piloted, helium-filled airships cruising through the Venusian atmosphere. The idea, called the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC), could eventually lead to the permanent settlement of Earth’s hellishly hot sister planet, its developers say.

Venus is another potential target for human exploration, say Jones and his colleague Dale Arney, also of NASA Langley. At first blush, this assertion may seem surprising; the planet’s surface temperature is about 860 degrees Fahrenheit (460 degrees Celsius) — hot enough to melt lead — and its atmospheric pressure at ground level is a staggering 90 times that of Earth.

But HAVOC would avoid the surface, instead hovering about 30 miles (50 kilometers) up in Venus’ thick, carbon-dioxide-dominated air. Up there, conditions are much more manageable; atmospheric pressure is roughly what we’re used to, and the average temperature is 167 F (75 C).

Venus, which is about the same size as Earth, is also the closest planet to our own, making it the easiest (or at least the quickest) to get to.

I find the idea charming. If nothing else, it would make good novel fodder.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

See Poul Anderson’s Big Rain novelette from fifty years ago…  Or my speculation about terraforming Venus with catalysts and genetically engineered forms.

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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Surface Pro; George Eliot; SETI; and other mixed mail

Chaos Manor Mail, Tuesday, April 07, 2015

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Education

You say

I recall when I was in school the Brothers were more concerned that we knew how to find out things than they were with memorization of facts. We were required to memorize and recite poetry including rather log epics, but that involved poise and public presentations as well as memory exercises. Rote memory of the addition and multiplication tables, and of a reference base of history, is important; but how much beyond that is a subject for debate.

——————-

Less so when I went to school, but that was decades after you.

I submit this is a result of government involvement such as EEo, etc.

An attempt to make tests and such objective, rather then subjective, in case evidence in court can be presented.

B-

`

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Hello, Jerry.

“How can you look into the future and be anything but scared?”

The contrast between that and Mr. Reagan’s, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” is very stark.  I’ll leave as an exercise just how that fear — which seems generational, frankly, between yours and his — has influenced both the Republican party, and the country as a whole.

Hoping this finds you well,

Hal

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HEADLINE: Young female feds on track for leadership | Feds not so innovative anymore

Read this headline without snickering, I dares ya!

This, btw, from the Federal Daily e-newsletter.

R

> FEATURED

> Younger women feds more likely to be on management track

 

> Women who enter federal employment today are more likely to be on a management track than those who began a decade ago, according to a new  report on women in federal service released by the Office of Personnel  Management.

> http://click.1105newsletters.com/?qs=8cfd5a0424081f3696cd75d895f812eb154e59d8388d5e6aba969a9968d3b34f9a50de9316ba78a8

> Report: Innovation in decline at federal agencies

No surprises.

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“Artificial ‘GPS'” System In Blind Rats

Jerry,

Here is one experiment I think you will find very interesting indeed.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27293-brain-compass-implant-gives-blind-rats-psychic-gps.html#.VR41sb3n8b0

Best,

Rodger

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Georgia Guide Stones

Did you have something to do with rule/guideline #7:
“”7. AVOID PETTY LAWS AND USELESS OFFICIALS “”
http://www.thegeorgiaguidestones.com/Message.htm
I am not sure about all the rest of that stuff…
“Stuff” such an interesting word…

Patrick Williams

I wish I could claim credit,,,

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Statistical support for evolution or ET?

News from today’s Times of London
“The odds against it are 283 billion to one, but former Euromillions winner David Long from Scunthorpe said he always knew his turn would come again.
His hunch was right. As Mr. Long sat down in front of the television last Saturday to check the numbers from Friday night’s draw, he realised he really had won £1 million for the second time in less than two years.”
Those spectacular odds show that if something is possible it will probably happen….

Andy Gibbs

Given enough time. But see The Black Swan http://www.amazon.com/The-Black-Swan-Improbable-Robustness/dp/081297381X

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http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1326224&

Hybrid Supercapacitor Trumps Thin-Film Lithium Battery (EE Times)

EE Times Europe

4/2/2015 00:00 AM EDT

Researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have combined two nanomaterials to create a hybrid supercapacitor that combines the best qualities of batteries and supercapacitors by storing large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can withstand more than 10,000 recharge cycles.

Supercapacitors are electrochemical components that can charge in seconds rather than hours and can be used for 1 million recharge cycles. Unlike batteries, however, they do not store enough power to run our computers and smartphones.

The UCLA hybrid supercapacitor stores large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles. The CNSI scientists also created a microsupercapacitor that is small enough to fit in wearable or implantable devices and is one-fifth the thickness of a sheet of paper.  The device is capable of holding more than twice as much charge as a typical thin-film lithium battery.

The study, led by Richard Kaner, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and materials science and engineering, and Maher El-Kady, a postdoctoral scholar, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The microsupercapacitor is a new evolving configuration, a very small rechargeable power source with a much higher capacity than previous lithium thin-film microbatteries,” said El-Kady.

The new components combine laser-scribed graphene, or LSG—a material that can hold an electrical charge, is highly conductive, and charges and recharges quickly—with manganese dioxide, which is currently used in alkaline batteries because it holds a lot of charge and is cheap and plentiful. The devices can be fabricated without the need for extreme temperatures or the expensive ‘dry rooms’ required to produce today’s supercapacitors.

“Let’s say you wanted to put a small amount of electrical current into an adhesive bandage for drug release or healing assistance technology,” said Kaner. “The microsupercapacitor is so thin you could put it inside the bandage to supply the current. You could also recharge it quickly and use it for a very long time.”

The researchers found that the supercapacitor could quickly store electrical charge generated by a solar cell during the day, hold the charge until evening and then power an LED overnight, showing promise for off-grid street lighting.

“The LSG–manganese-dioxide capacitors can store as much electrical charge as a lead acid battery, yet can be recharged in seconds, and they store about six times the capacity of state-of-the-art commercially available supercapacitors,” explained Kaner. “This scalable approach for fabricating compact, reliable, energy-dense supercapacitors shows a great deal of promise in real-world applications, and we’re very excited about the possibilities for greatly improving personal electronics technology in the near future.”

Article originally posted on EE Times Europe. Based on press release.

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CCD Image Sensors are Dead, says Yole (EE Times)

Peter Clarke

4/2/2015 07:18 PM EDT

LONDON — Pierre Cambou, imaging and sensors analyst at market research firm Yole Developpement, has commented on the end of the line for charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensors in an opinion article published by imveurope.

The article was prompted by a move by the market leader Sony to exit the manufacturing of CCD sensor and camera business that has been commented on by Sony customers. The expectation is that Sony will discontinue production of CCD sensors at its 200mm wafer line at the Kagoshima Technology Centre in March 2017 with a phase out lasting until 2020.
“The timing might not be yet definitive as discussions are ongoing. One thing is certain: this is the beginning of the end for Sony CCDs,” Cambou says.
Cambou says that CCDs still offer the highest performance and for some demanding applications will not be replaced by CMOS image sensors but the companies that have relied on Sony for their CCDs must choose between changing to the remaining CCD suppliers such as Teledyne Dalsa, On Semiconductor (Truesense), e2v, Fairchild Semiconductor, or moving CMOS.
Cambou concluded: “It is always sad for technologists to watch the creative destruction of technology shifts. I believe this major transition will renew the innovation drive of the industry. Let’s buckle up for a new technology cycle. I am convinced we are not to be disappointed. CCD image sensors are dead, long live CMOS image sensors!”

—Peter Clarke covers sensors, analog and MEMS for EE Times Europe.

Article originally posted on EE Times Europe.

I recall when CCD took over from human eye / drawings astronomy. I was on the Board of the Lowell Observatory at the time, and was able to arrange for some equipment as gifts/test equipment. Now they are obsolete.

But Phil Tharp tells me:

For astronomy CCD ‘s are very much still alive. The dark current is too high in CMOS for long exposure astrophotography.

Of course we have much larger and better sensors now. 36 mm square sensors are common in the high end amateur world unthinkable 15 years ago. 

Which certainly sounds reasonable.

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‘Fast Radio Bursts’?

<http://www.space.com/28590-fast-space-radio-burst-discovery.html

“These have been intriguing as an engineered signal, or evidence of extraterrestrial technology, since the first was discovered,”

<http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22630153.600-is-this-et-mystery-of-strange-radio-bursts-from-space.html#.VR0BbEYqk9o

Roland Dobbins

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Re http://www.technologyreview.com/view/425733/paul-allen-the-singularity-isnt-near/

Dear Jerry

Since you are exploring re-releasing your past publications, I have a story and a recommendation for you.

In 1983 I dropped out of regular society.  In searching for books at the local Salvation Army, I found a book that changed my life.  It was your book “The Survival of Freedom.”   It also got me into your “There will be war” series and others.  I understand that the Survival book won an award as one of the best anthologies of the 20th Century.  In my opinion, it was well deserved.  I still have the book, it it old and yellowed and from time to time I have loaned it to others, but I have ALWAYS demanded it back. 

If you are going to republish any of your stuff, this is the best.  As an example of what I found, when you described what economics is and isn’t, I realized why I had a hard time passing econ 101 in college.  My mind rejects “bul$hit” from almost any source, and this course made no sense to me.  When you explained how every chapter in the Samuelson Text negated the previous chapter, I knew I wasn’t stupid, my IQ puts me in the top 3% of the human population.  The problem was economics, not me.

By the way, I am the guy that said that because “chemical weapons” were weapons of mass destruction that we should invade Iraq, destroy the chemical weapons and then leave immediately (never Nation Build).  You printed it on your web site and I was excoriated for it.  But that’s ok.  If you notice the current media, they say that no “nuclear” or “biological” weapons were ever found, leaving out “chemical” which WAS found and not reported on.  But we agree, we NEVER should have stayed and we screwed up that invasion miserably.  Remember, I said “Get out immediately” after destroying the chems. 

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Singularity…

If the singularity should come to pass in 30 years – 2045 as hypothesized – I suggest that no more than 90,000 people, and very likely no more than 9,000, of the 9 billion earthlings will have their minds merged into machines and thus achieve practical immortality.

Moreover, I suggest that a high percentage of the planets inhabitants will be living in mud huts, animal skin tents, and other accommodations not consistent with “the good life” as popularly depicted. And there will still be stonings and beheadings and honor killings routinely practiced by some groups. The “Dark Continent” will still be dark, with aids and warlords and dictators and other epidemics raging. The United States will be in undeclared war(s) with somebody(ies).

Most likely a significant percentage of the “beneficiaries” of the human/machine mergers will be ready take “dirt naps” much sooner than might be anticipated.

If and when the singularity arrives it will have no noticeable impact on the majority of humanity. Many years down the road…maybe.

Charles Brumbeliw

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: Fixing income inequality

https://medium.com/the-ferenstein-wire/a-26-year-old-mit-graduate-is-turning-heads-over-his-theory-that-income-inequality-is-actually-2a3b423e0c

Rather than taxing businesses and wealthy investors, “policy-makers should deal with the planning regulations and NIMBYism that inhibit housebuilding and which allow homeowners to capture super-normal returns on their investments.” In other words, the government should focus more on housing policy and less on taxing the wealthy, if it wants to properly deal with the inequality problem.

R

The federal government should stick to its own business and leave the rest to the states.

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Surface Pro 3 and Hyper-V

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I have been following your Surface Pro 3 observations with interest, as my Precious arrived last September. It’s the Core i7 model with the 512GB SSD. At the moment I am running Windows 8.1. I love it to bits but I have some observations that may be relevant to the ongoing discussion about waking up from sleep:

I installed Visual Studio 2013 on my Surface Pro 3 and it promptly switched on Hyper-V for Windows Mobile app development. Hyper-V is fantastic on a decently fast desktop PC but it really messes things up on an SP3. Mine really really did not like waking up from sleep and there were many incidents of having to hold the power button and reboot. Eventually I switched off Hyper-V again as I really didn’t need it.

WiFi does my head in. My home network uses an Apple AirPort and a Linksys WRT54GL as access points. The SP3 is unable to reconnect to them from sleep without some encouragement or sitting back and waiting for a few minutes. Newer access points or routers seem fine though, including a NetGear AirCard 762S that I use for 4G internet access on the go. It works a treat for everything I can throw at it, including live video streaming using UStream.

Finally, for those of you who haven’t bought one yet, go for one of the base models. The one I have is super fast but it runs hot and battery life is compromised. On the plus side, it easily replaces a full desktop PC, unless you are a gamer. I use mine for development work, which includes running Android emulators and Ubuntu VMs, all without performance problems.

Best wishes,

Simon Woodworth BSc MSc PhD.

I had my stroke not long after I got the Surface Pro, so my experiences have been limited; and we installed the experimental Windows 10, which changes often. That said my experiences have been good, and the system improvers weekly. I think it will become a good replacement for both tablet and desktop. It is not a laptop; the physical equipment is designed for a table if you are going to type. As a tablet it will work and the handwriting recognition is probably pretty good. Actually before I had the stroke it was excellent; now my handwriting is awful.

But I recommend the Surface Pro to those adventurous. I add that my son Richard carries a MacBook Air and loves it.

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Too Harsh On Microsoft?

Jerry,
Perhaps I am too harsh on Microsoft. Yes, in some ways they are working hard to remedy the problems that they created. But in some ways, they are not.
Microsoft’s big missteps with Vista, 8, and perhaps 10 were caused by their head-long rush into the mobile market, blindly shipping one-size-fits-all UI’s for their OS. They are a big enough company with enough resources to build an OS that can support different UI’s for different platforms — gesture based for the mobile market, keyboard-and-mouse based for the desktop. Mobile platforms are simpler and more automatic so it is ok to burry the details of control, but desktop systems need to be customizable to the environment in which they are stationed, so the control needs to be exposed — mobile platforms and desktop platforms demand not only different I/O capabilities, but different functional organizations.
Microsoft does not seem to understand this at all. The backlash from Vista was huge. Chastened, Microsoft released 7, a pretty good OS for the desktop. But then they released 8, a worse Vista than Vista on the desktop. 10 is not promising to be any better. Microsoft seems dedicated to crippling the desktop environment that they own in the name of seizing the mobile market they likely will never have.
Then there is the push into cloud computing, a paradigm allowing a single private company to own access to all of your personal data and your ability to manipulate it. Just because tablets are not ready to run heavy applications yet, I suddenly can’t own a copy of Word for my desktop? I will never do the books for my companies on a tablet as they are too easily stolen, but my administrative machines have to run Excel in the cloud because tablets exist?
Ok, so cloud computing allows me to share data across multiple small, mobile platforms. This is good. But, there are ways to accomplish this without having to go through Microsoft or Google or Apple. Those desktop machines that I still own can run my own cloud, where my data is my property under my control.

K

I prefer to have all my critical stuff in two copies. Both local: a thumb drive, and on the drive in my local computer. I would never rely on the cloud; and I have no doubt that any cloud file is available to anyone else if they want it bad enough.

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Dickens

Dr. Pournelle:
You didn’t mention your granddaughter’s age [re: Tale of Two Cities], but I firmly believe that no one younger than 40 should attempt to read Dickens. The man wrote serials, so there is an annoying amount of repetition. I’ve been wading through David Copperfield and have seen the author say the same thing three times in one paragraph. You can tell he was being paid by the word. I’ve gotten through all but the last 20 pages and finally gave up.
I just thank God he didn’t have word processing available. We’d need hand trucks to move his novels if he had.
— Pete Nofel

She’s 9th grade, and I would not start ninth graders with Tale Of Two Cities. Have you noted the number of smokers as characters in Golden Age SF magazine stories? At pennies per word, you could make a dollar lighting a cigarette. And pipes were even better…

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Silas Marner

Dr Pournelle

RE: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/the-surface-saga-continues-and-other-discussions/

I, too, was forced to read Silas Marner. Hated it.

I was and am a voracious reader (50+ books a year; that used to include math texts; alas, no more). While my class labored through pages of Silas Marner, I read volumes of Verne, Wells, Heinlein, Asimov, Norton, Pohl, Kornbluth, Moore, Burroughs, Stephenson, and others. I even read Shakespeare and liked it. Loved the performances I saw, including the histories.

Why Silas Marner? The only redeeming fact about the book was that it was in the public domain and thus saved the publisher the expense of a royalty.

Even then I could see an argument for reading and memorizing poetry. Read Idylls of the King and John Brown’s Body, neither of which were assigned. (I own a second edition of John Brown’s Body.)

No one in my class enjoyed Silas Marner. First to last, it was a chore to read. I confess the purpose of this exercise escapes me. Was it merely to force children to bend to authority?

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

PS For those who want a good, quick read, I recommend Maia Sepp, An Etiquette Guide to the End Times. Canadian sf.

For those who want a good, long read, I recommend West of Honor, The Mote in God’s Eye, Lucifer’s Hammer, King David’s Spaceship (I preferred A Spaceship for the King), or Prince of Mercenaries.

Silas Marner prevented me from reading another novel by a female writer until I was out of the Army. In fairness, Henry James not only thought her a great writer, but said she was short, had bad teeth ,and within half an hour of meeting her he was in love with her and so was every man who ever met her.

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SETI and watching I Love Lucy

Anyone out there with our level of technology could be tuning into I Love Lucy and Father Knows Best right now”
Fortunately or unfortunately, not so. The antenna pattern of a typical radio or TV broadcast antenna looks like a donut with the antenna in the center. The broadcast energy is concentrated in the range from the horizontal to perhaps 15 degrees elevation. Any off-earth location will fall within that pattern only for (15/360)X24 hours at a time, or roughly one hour. It will not be able to receive that station again for another 24 hours, as the antenna pattern is swept around again by the earth’s rotation. Even assuming the signal is strong enough to be detected, there isn’t going to be much in the way of continuity, as seen from the remote location. From that one station, they’ll get some of Lucy, then nothing for another day, and it probably won’t be Lucy for another week. Since there are many stations, they’ll be getting fragments of the programming from each station. It would take a great deal of effort to piece together continuous programming from multiple stations, assuming they recognize the same program coming from multiple stations.

Yes, they’ll know we’re here, but isolated fragments of programming won’t tell them much.

Joseph P Martino

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Dear Dr. Pournelle, 

Your “Prince of Sparta” books suggest an ignorance in guerilla warfare and tactics so here’s a quick article by a Viet Cong guerrilla, showing the view from his side of the war. It’s something I think any trainer of insurgents can appreciate:  His own side’s soldiers were more of a menace to him than the enemy, as witness the one recruit who tried to chop down a tree branch with an AK-47.  A ricochet killed him, and everyone else had to find a new position since his shooting had given them away. 

http://www.cracked.com/article_22206_8-facts-about-vietnam-war-i-learned-as-viet-cong.html

Respectfully,

Brian P.

In correspondence with Brian I discover he meant to write “interest”

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