Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, September 09, 2005

  Cold equations

Jeffery Bell exposes the cold equations of spaceflight - bashing most attempts at creating reusable rockets. I largely agree with him - what we need to return to the moon closely resembles a lighter Saturn V... unless we get the fuel for the return trip - and the boost to the moon/mars from elsewhere.

Not that that's stopping spaceX from announcing the falcon-9 - a vehicle capable of lofting 55000 lbs to LEO. Theoretically. For only 35 million dollars a shot - a pittance, compared to any other launcher currently in existence. They have a contract to deliver from Bigelow aerospace in 2008.

Their falcon-1 is yet to fly - but it's supposed to fly soon. At one level I'm filled with hope for the space program - at another - doubt. Only time will tell.
 
Thursday, September 08, 2005

  Bush's fishing trip

Allegory brought to you by the wonders of photoshop...
 

  Cerfing

Vint Cerf has joined google! Vint is a k3wl dude, man. He truly peed on everything.

I used to think that technologists could outrace the courts, but this quote chilled me:

"The bnetd.org emulator had limited commercial purpose because its sole purpose was to avoid the limitations of Battle.net."

Let's play a word substition game with this, ok?

"The aftermarket exaust system had limited commercial purpose because its sole purpose was to avoid the limitations of the standard MR2 exaust system."

Does the court's argument still make sense to you?
 
Wednesday, September 07, 2005

  running name services a good thing

Just wanted to remember that running your own DNS nameserver in house is a good idea, especially when you'd otherwise be using comcast's abysmally slow set of nameservers. I had downgraded my inhouse nameserver from another box the other month and bind (named) didn't just work, so I fixed it by telling my dhcp server to just use comcast's name servers directly.

Result: really slow initial web access to everything.

I got used to that [click] [PAUSE] [download] thing - as no doubt many without nameservers in their house have - but spending a few minutes fixing the problem (was a chroot issue) by running my own nameserver made a very noticible difference, especially as I visit many of the same sites every day....

I had also been running without privoxy for a while, as it's threaded version was running away on me. As I obsessively searched for news on Katrina I was astounded at the number of popup ads and the banner ads that I had been previously blocking. Yuck.

The unthreaded version of privoxy is noticibly slow (tis nothing compared to the dns issue fixed above) but runs forever.

Going back to the threaded version now... from cvs - maybe after I get out from the crunch of my current project I'll take a look at fixing that, too.

Lastly, I've been running with the realtime-preempt patch for linux on my dual opteron for much of the past few weeks. It's nice. For the first time I've been able to do some real musical work... I'll put a sample up of something this weekend.

Slashdot just had a nice thread on why some marsnauts aren't going anywhere soon. Two posters talked about asteroid exploration as a viable alternative, which warmed my heart.

ok, back to crunch mode. A ton of things to do this week, I'm signing off the blog for a while.
 

  The heroes of New Orleans

From The Ems Network - an eyewitness tale:

 
Tuesday, September 06, 2005

  Dirty Rotten Snowballs

"It's not your father's solar system" - says SpaceDaily - Until now, comets have been dubbed "dirty snowballs", but it might be appropriate to call them "snowy dirtballs" given the extraordinary dominance of ultrafine dust.

Not only that, but the deep impact probe - a few hundred kilograms of impactor - liberated over 5000 tons of water from Comet Tempel1 - in case you weren't paying attention, that's more water in solar orbit than a shuttle could lift in a thousand missions, more water than is known to exist on Mars or the moon - frozen there - and on every comet and probably most asteroids, waiting for us, in a fine dust that would be easy to convert to clean, usable water....

Now if we can only summon the international nerve to get our materials for space development from space - more than just the 100 milligrams that Hayabusa is returning!

Labels: ,

 
Monday, September 05, 2005

  The War on Error

Doc is doing amazing things for The War on Error.

As I was pumping gas today a bicyclist zoomed by a group of kids collecting money for Katrina victims. He passed them a 10 dollar bill without stopping. It was an amazing sight. And humbling. And wonderful all at the same time.

We have, with the Net, the most formidable vehicle getting people organized that has ever existed, and people like Jeff Jarvis are working at making it even more effective:We're in an age where the encyclopedias update in realtime!

And through my head all week has run through my head the refrain "Who will take responsibility?" from The Postman. When I was growing up we had half-assed drills on nuclear safety in our schools, so watered down as to be obviously useless and futile... but they didn't need to be. On the internet today are simple howto instructions for how to build a latrine, a water distillery, or a fallout shelter - and in many cultures with universal military service, these sorts of survival skills are embedded in the entire population.

How helpless would those remaining in New Orleans have been if they'd had these basic survival skills?

How helpless would those trying to help have been had they too had these skills? How more effective would the relief effort have been if our relief forces, fearing for the unprofessionalism of the populace pouring in to help, hadn't barred entry - and instead confidentally embraced and deputized every man and woman willing to help? If they had a plan for such volunteerism?

A friend commented:

Well, OK, some skills can be misapplied... but...

The power of an enabled, enraged, educated, alert, and compassionate populace is ours to make ever more real over the coming century in our War on Error.


Heard the Word of Blog?
 
Sunday, September 04, 2005

  Hurricane preparedness

Jason Ackley (a veteran of Hugo and multiple other Hurricanes in the Virgin Islands) writes in:
 

  Mars Polar Lander found?

Meanwhile, back on Mars, the remains of the Mars Polar Lander have probably been found by the Mars Global Surveyor, which is gearing up to do a closeup of the probable crash site of the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) before Sept 10th. The MGS was launched in November 1996 on a mission to study the Red Planet's surface features, atmosphere and magnetic properties. It completed its primary mission in January 2001, so the spacecraft has far exceeded its planned lifetime.
I'd incorporated the story of the MPL into my speech, Uncle Bill's Helicopter, in what seems like ages ago.
 

  Some essential optimism - redirecting hurricanes from my mind

A big thanks to David Brin for this:I've always wondered what the castle newspaper of 1102 would have reported on had the peasantry been literate.

Normal people seem to be able to immerse themselves in the news, and remain unaffected. Me I gotta go off now and do something positive and worthwhile, I've eaten way too much of the world today.

The engineer in me tries to come up with ideas that can help, especially as I drop off to sleep, like now... Here's one crazy idea I just had for manipulating hurricanes:



call it - A Hurricane Herder!

What would an insurance company - or government - pay for a means to redirect or prevent hurricanes? Without the weather satellite system the damage would have been much worse. Some are cynical

Just have to run the math on the costs in the morning... lessee, preventing 100b/yr in damage, times the future of civilization...

For all I know I've got it backwards, that you need more heat to break up a hurricane, not less, sort of like the flawed poem recited in the movie Sleeper, where a catapillar came out of a butterfly.

Wow, I just got an image of a government agent releasing a butterfly in june to stop a hurricane in september. And an Al Queda agent doing the same to start one. It's not a truly crazy idea, just straight out of chaos theory actually, but I know I gotta get to bed now...
 
David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


Resume,Songs,
My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
Orgs I like
The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
Musical stuff I like
Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle spotting NEOs from around venus's orbit Asteroids as lunar orbit resources SOPA is bad news Departing France for England, then 'home'.
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
UrbanAgora
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Brizzled
Zimnoiac Emanations
Eric Raymond
Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
SpaceCraft
Selenian Boondocks
My Pencil
Transterrestial Musings
Bear Waller Hollar
Callahans
Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member

If you really want to, you can poke through the below links as well.

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