Human Interplanetary Missions? Its time to purge the delusion.

There is a thread on (NASA Safety Panel Finds Concerns With the Journey To Mars) today about a NASA panel’s considerations of a manned [what better word is there for this? humanned?] mission to Mars. Then there is a lot of discussion the the threads about this.

One person raised a good point by saying that humans are simply not made for space, therefore what is the point of wasting resources and risking human life when we can use advanced instrumentation instead?

In fact, I think that if not already in the present, then in the very close future the level of technology of instrumentation is going to be so clearly superior that the idea of sending humans into space would just seem ridiculous. The eyes, the ears, the instruments capable of performing tasks and obtaining data are simply going to exceed by far that of humans.

And, as this commentor noted, this seems to be a kind of delusion that is leftover from years or generations of science fiction. But, in thinking seriously and objectively about space exploration, I think its important to purge this delusion right now because every time it is even considered to put humans into space costs a lot of money.

Re:Paper rockets (Score:1)
by IceAgeComing (636874) Alter Relationship on 2016.01.14 11:14 (#51302117)

The problem is not a particular president or a particular Congress. It’s the fact that space missions have, somehow, become politicized.

A central question within the political debate is: “why send people on long-term missions at all?” Astronauts and companies building capsules for people don’t want us thinking too hard about that question.

If we want to explore outer worlds to learn more about them, the logical and financially viable answer is to send out autonomous robots engineered for outer space. People are simply not designed to be outside of the Earth’s atmosphere or in zero G, or away from an incredibly complex biosphere that gives us food, water, and microorganisms that help us live.

It’s time we realize that every space drama we have seen on TV is fiction, created in 1G gravity.

Its time to wake up and understand that human beings belong on Earth and there is absolutely no point in them going into space, ever. This goes for things like interplanetary missions, missions to the moon, or asteroid mining. Perhaps some argument can be made for keeping humans in low Earth orbit on research stations but even that must be called into question considering – once again – the enormous expenditure of resources to do so.

I can see how AI is coming. And I feel a little sad.

Yesterday I needed to make a couple tech support calls. Over the past year or so I’ve been amazed at how excellent in general the level of support has been when conducting customer service/tech support calls and chat sessions.

I am guessing that we are right now in the golden age of call/chat center tech support which is staffed by human beings. The technology and methods used in call centers has really advanced to a point that it can be very easy and fast to get support.

But, in making the last couple calls yesterday, I became aware of how many of the issues I needed help with and questions I asked could have been things that an AI system would have been able to handle. Mostly what the staff at the call center is doing is comprehending keywords in your queries to them and responding based on information in front of them.

When speaking with people in call and chat centers there is an optimal way of conducting the conversation so as to minimize any difficulty and make things as easy as possible for the support system. If you do this, you will be amazed at how fast, accurate, and detailed their responses can be.

But it is now clear that this is something that in the not too distant future will more than likely be handled by AI systems. In thinking about this, I think that I will actually miss the way it is now. I actually think its kind of cool that you can call a support number or start a chat session and instantly be having a conversation with a person in the Philippines, or India, or somewhere in Eastern Europe.

I’m going to miss their voices, their friendliness, their interesting demeanors, and linguistic nuances when calling for support. I’m sure that AI systems will not be nearly as interesting to speak to as real people. So I guess I can say: Enjoy it now, the golden age of live human call and chat center support, because it probably won’t last that much longer!

I also can envision the arising of something that is new in terms of profession: that of trainors. Yes I deliberately spelled that with an o instead of an e. What is a trainor? It is a very special category of person who provides the template, the model for AI systems to be trained. A trainor is a person who the AI system will learn from. The difference between a trainor and a regular tech support staff is that they will have an ability to influence how the AI system develops its model.

I think this is cool because it can transcend into something like an art. Just as there are different meta-levels that can exist in ways people think and in processes in which they can communicate, a really good trainor will be someone who can enable AI systems to evolve to high levels of meta-processing.

It would actually be a cool concept for a sci-fi novel – some guy who is a high-level trainor for a big company. Maybe his level of skill enables him to connect with some secret AI system which has evolved to a very high level, but there is something that has gone wrong and only he knows how to fix it. Or maybe at some point he realizes at some point that the all reality is based on him, that the universe was programmed based on his template. Maybe it can be called “The Primogenitor”

Fixing the currency system of the United States

There was a thread related to this on yesterday (Should the US Change Metal Coins?)

It should not get to this point. This point where the value of low-denomination currency is so ridiculously small such that the cost of manufacturing it is higher than its value. But this not the only problem. The problem is that the entire spectrum of currency has lost so much value that the entire function of currency is shifted.

For example, if you want to purchase something of high value with cash, you need to have wads of $100 bills because their value is so low.

Imagine being able to go out for a walk with only a few quarters or maybe a couple dollar bills in your pocket, knowing that was enough to buy lunch if you become so inclined. That is the way currency is supposed to work. It is supposed to be convenient to use. It should be a pleasure to use, not a burden as it is now.

So, the way to fix the currency of the United States (and any country for that matter) is to devalue it. I would suggest a factor of 10 to make it simple. So ¢1 becomes worth what ¢10 is now. ¢25 becomes worth what $2.50 is worth now. $100 becomes worth what $1,000 is worth now.

Perhaps there is a deliberate plan by the oligarchy to kill off physical currency and one way to do that is to allow its valuation to descend into uselessness and absurdity as it is now. But there should be a law that, whenever currency becomes devalued to a certain threshold, it automatically gets revalued by a factor of 10.

If this were law then it would be interesting to see how many years pass between triggered revaluations. It might be a useful indicator.

Another cool thing about this revaluation system is that it could easily be programmed into cash registers or other systems so that prices could automatically be adjusted according to the new valuation. Imagine just being able to change some setting on a cash register which shifts the prices of all items by a factor of 10. Any store or business would be able to just change one setting for their entire store’s inventory system and all product prices would immediately be shifted. Simple!

Bleak picture for the future of personal computing

There’s a thread on today about an issue with Windows operating systems in which people have deliberately disabled Windows 10 upgrade nags in which Microsoft is now re-enabling the nags without users’ permission.  It is basically trying to force the Windows 10 upgrade on people in an aggressive manner.  It also downloads an enormous 6 GB of data needed for the upgrade even though the user never chose to nor wanted to do such an upgrade.

Needless to say, the posts in the discussion thread on this topic do not paint a pleasant picture of Microsoft.  To be fair, I have published my own page about how to disable the Windows 10 update along with a bunch of telemetry updates and, following my instructions and simply uninstalling all the updates in question responsible for this stuff, I have not been nagged to upgrade to Windows 10 again.  However, I have noticed that even after choosing to hide the updates, that many of them have kept reappearing in the listing for available updates.

After a couple months of this it seems to have diminished and finally I am no longer even seeing the updates appearing as available.  They are hidden.

Regardless of this, what I’m reading in the thread paints a pretty horrible picture of the state of consumer rights and the future of what personal computing may look like.  Here are some notable posts from the thread:

Re:Why would anyone tolerate this bullshit!? (Score:2)
by ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) Alter Relationship on 2016.01.11 9:49 (#51279091)

Forcing upgrade to Windows 10 is preparation for micropayments.

Microsoft’s next step after they get everyone onto Windows 10 is to start charging a little it for everything.

Want to use a third party browser? $5.

Want to save files that are open? 10 cents per file.

Want to change your theme color? 99 cents.

Want Windows updates? Those will be $2 each, and if you don’t install them your operating system will cease to function.

Pretty soon after that Microsoft will start force installing updates and debiting your bank account without permission, and you’ll allow it because Microsoft spends more on lawyers in a year than your government spends on health care.

Re:Why would anyone tolerate this bullshit!? (Score:2)
by Hognoxious (631665) Alter Relationship on 2016.01.11 10:32 (#51279665) Homepage Journal

Embrace, extend, extort.

source: ‘Get Windows 10’ Turns Itself On and Nags Win 7 and 8.1 Users Twice a Day

Here is a post in favor of Microsoft’s actions:

Re:ARGH (Score:1, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward on 2016.01.11 9:42 (#51278985)

Microsoft is tired of supporting old ass insecure software. They can’t rely on people who won’t run patches, so they are going the Apple route. They know what you need, just submit and deal with it.

I like Windows 10, using it on my surface 4 right now. Edge isn’t awful, but I still use FF and Chrome.

I would say that let the upgrade happen, and while it’s happening, adjust the onion on your belt and go outside and yell at some clouds.

This commenter has a valid point. Botnets for one are a real serious issue. There are literally millions of non-updated Windows computers around the world which have major security issues through not having been regularly updated, and which are infected with worms and other malware. These machines are then remote-controlled by malicious entities which can use them to send out vast amounts of spam e-mails, scams, hacking attempts, and large-scale attacks against websites. So it is a problem and one can understand Microsoft taking an aggressive approach with getting all computers running their operating systems to update to the latest version, which will go a very long way and preventing such security problems in the future.

But the issue is that Microsoft might not be doing this with the best of intentions. And, based on their past conduct, their intentions are probably sleazy. “Embrace. Extend. Extort.” as the commenter above said!

Forgetting the dark side a minute and just considering the upgrade itself, here are some of my thoughts:

If Microsoft had been less aggressive, it it were easier for users to simply turn off or disable the Windows 10 upgrade notifications, then the upshot is that the same problems would continue with people not updating their systems and having massive security problems.

For me one problems is that Windows 10 is just so unappealing. I did upgrade very soon after the upgrade became available on my computer. I was one of the people who initially anticipated the upgrade. But then, long before the upgrade actually become available on my computers, the upgrade notification nagging became way too much and I had to disable it. That I think was mistake number one on Microsoft’s part. The nags put people off, even people who were looking forward to upgrading. As a company dedicated to making user interfaces and understanding things like ergonomics and user psychology, they should have known this and done a much better job.

But second, when I did actually upgrade, Windows 10 just looked like such a step backwards in terms of the user interface. I think people naturally expect that with a newer version of software that it actually gets better, that it looks better, that it has more features and ability to customize the way you want, not less.

But less is what it was. The upgrade felt distinctly like a major downgrade. The interface was ugly and had less ability to be customized than I think even Windows 95. It appeared to me that perhaps Microsoft just got really cheap and simply didn’t care about even providing a decent looking interface to customers. Perhaps the simpler it is, without features, the less cost it is to them in terms of support.

After the Windows 8 debacle, everyone expected Microsoft to finally come around with Windows 10 and for the interface to get better again, after having gotten so crappy after Windows 7. But no, it didn’t get better. It actually got worse. The bottom line is that Windows 7 or even Vista seem to represent the height of a feature rich, customizable, and decent-looking user interface which has since been significantly degraded. Again, from a company charged with designing user interfaces and studying ergonomics and user psychology, you would think that they would have known better than this.

But then beyond this there is the dark side, the embrace, extend, extort side of it all. This is definitely something to be worried about and things are definitely moving in the wrong direction in terms of information technology as of the year 2016.

Here is one final post from the thread which offers solutions:

Try GWX Control Panel & Spybot Anti-Beacon (Score:5, Informative)
by kosmosik (654958) Alter Relationship <`ten.kisomsok' `ta' `sok'> on 2016.01.11 9:38 (#51278935) Homepage

Try GWX Control Panel to disable GWX and OS updates entirely:… []

Also Spybot Anti-Beacon which disables telemetry:
https://www.safer-networking.o… []

It works perfectly for me on Windows 7. And yes I know that all of what it does can be done manualy but these tools do their job and work well so why bother…

Who is to blame for the drug trade?

Just watched the interview with El Chapo where he openly admits that drugs are damaging, but he also says that the use of drugs by people is the same with or without him. And he explains that where he is from, a place of poverty and no opportunity, that was the only way available to move forward.

I cannot make any moral judgement about this man. I do not know about the situations that led to violence that occurred. But I know that people are born into rough worlds and live in them. You see it all the time in the news. I see it in front of me in the streets. Its part of the reality of the world.

But I do think that the government is very much responsible for the violence and other problems related to drugs. It is the policiy of making them illegal which is directly responsible for this.

Drugs are a problem like any other medical problem. People that have addictions need to be treated. But pushing the drug market underground has had and will continue to have devastating consequences.

A much better policy would be to make drugs available via pharmacies, similar to other drugs which a person has to sign for and which they are only allowed to receive a certain amount per interval of time.

Of course people will abuse such a system. But they are going to use the drugs anyhow. And creating a vast underground which is fueled by unimaginable violence which feeds off the dire poverty of certain people is no answer.

I have always been a curious person. Since a young age I was naturally curious and wanted to try different drugs just to experience the effects. But luckily I have a strong foundation of health and I always knew that drugs were not the path (nor is alcohol which is exactly like drugs). If you are a healthy person, once you figure out what “high” is, then you understand completely that drugs only deplete energy and diminish being high.

I have witnessed a lot of drug use and I can say that quite often it is a symptom of other things going wrong. So just stopping people – or trying to stop them – from taking drugs often is not a solution to whatever underlying problems there are in people’s lives.

By keeping drugs illegal and focusing on that aspect of them, it does not help to increase awareness of the fundamentals which are often ignored. Many apparently humanistic political leaders are all too happy to allow fundamentals to rot while selectively focusing on symptomatic things with seemingly good intentions.

I write this based on experience. For decades political leaders have been telling people how great things are, how there is all this progress, how their policies are so great. And we are this country with so much resources, one must think: How could things go wrong?

But wrong they have gone. Very wrong. Homelessness is a huge problem. The disappearance of the middle class is a huge problem. Lack of educational, housing, medical, and other opportunities for people is a huge problem. Crime is a huge problem. There are enormous problems now and things have gotten worse and worse and still worse.

So we know that everything that has been said is utter bullshit, that they are either liars or incompetent. I’m guessing a mixture of both.

And is there any prospect for change? One person is about to circulate a ballot initiative in California to require state legislators to wear the emblems of their largest financial donors when they are working. Sort of like the way race car drivers have all those patches on their outfits.

The situation of open bribery, of government by bribery, is absolutely preposterous and completely insane. This is one very major reason I support Donald Trump as president in 2016. He has spoken at length about the issue of the influence of money on politics and how it is a severe problem.

And of course the oligarchy-controlled Big Media has completely ignored his message and continues to focus on him rather than on his messages which are resonating strongly with millions of people.

Donald Trump’s Plan to Deal with China

The oligarchy has been all-too-eager to sell out the interests of the American people for the sake of profit. But it has also sold out the interests of the Chinese people and everyone in the world. Every time an American consumer purchases an item made in China, they are undermining the quality of living that America is supposed to stand for. They are supporting a repressive regime in which there is no freedom of expression and in which many of the most fundamental freedoms we believe in do not exist.

Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders) are the only candidates who are standing up against the big lies told by the oligarchy and pushed onto the American people through Big Media. Obama and all the other oligarchs in the American regime have been all-too-happy to sell out America and its fundamental values because its oligarchy is increasingly connected to if not controlled by China’s oligarchy.

Just as the supposed “humanitarian” immigration policies which is resulting in the huge floods of illegals swarming into the United States, so too are the economic policies a complete betrayal of the American people and what America fundamentally stands for.

The German economist Gabor Steingart pointed this out in detail in a book entitled “World War for Wealth: The Global Grab for Power and Prosperity” of which several sections were translated and published at in a series of articles:

Asia Ascendant: Protectionism! The West Must Defend Itself

Chinese Capitalism: Putting Profits Before Human Lives

A Superpower in Decline: America’s Middle Class Has Become Globalization’s Loser

Playing With Fire: America and the Dollar Illusion

White Trash, Fast Food: How Globalization Is Creating a New European Underclass

Twisting the Knife: Consumers Are Killing the Welfare State

Tax Troubles: The Welfare State Is Dead. Long Live the Welfare State!

Europe’s Betrayal

By now everyone has heard the appalling news about the mass sexual abuse that occurred in multiple cities in Germany on New Year’s Eve. People may not have also read that over the past couple years it was revealed that widespread networks of Arab males in England methodically raped hundreds of girls.

Germany has just let over a million Arabs in what is an absolute outrage.

I am all for conducting business or forming alliances with other countries. But the idea that we have some obligation to accept people from totally different cultures which do not have the same values as ours is misguided.

I have to ask – why – why is it that it is always countries of European peoples which claim to have some burden to accept people? Non-European countries don’t do this. Indonesia does not accept people like that. China does not. Mongolia does not. Saudi Arabia, which is close to Syria, does not. No other countries do except European countries. Why is that?

For example, what about Libya. Its a huge country. There’s a lot of land. Its not too far away from where the refugees are coming from. Why the fuck does not Libya accept people? What about Burma? It also has a lot of land. Ample space. It could accept people. But it does not. Why? Or maybe Burkina Faso. It also is a very large country. Guinea is also quite massive in size, so is Kyrgyzstan. How come they are not in the headlines for their acceptance of millions of refugees into their ample territory? It would be rather trivial I think to construct some decent cities in the middle of the vast empty regions in any of these countries to accommodate refugees and emigrants.

But no, they are taken into European cultures which are totally different, and the supposedly humanitarian leaders are never the ones who bleed from the misguided policies.

What is occurring now in Europe is an outrage. It is nothing less than the complete betrayal of the people of Europe.

European people deserve to live in their own land. They deserve to have their own ethnic groups and countries. Yet they are being destroyed by the most appalling, sickening acts of betrayal. It is the same oligarchy which engaged in the slave trade between Africa and the Americas and which enslaved people in Southeast Asian Pacific islands and other areas which is now behind all this mass immigration occurring, and for similar reasons of greed. It is all about the gears of production and making money, regardless of whether entire nations, entire peoples are betrayed.

What is occurring now in the world is another act of mass enslavement as huge populations are deliberately allowed to shift, destroying middle-class societies and entire cultures and value systems. The oligarchy in Europe and the United States has a lot of blood on its hands.

More airport security whiners

Wow, I really cannot believe this. There’s a story in the news about how a young girl tripped off security at an airport because of some kind of liquid pouch she had beneath her clothing. So beyond the scanner thing you step through, they then gave her a pat down.

I am guessing that tens of thousands if not more people every year get patdowns going through airport security. I do every time I fly because I prefer them to the scanners. One reason is that I’m not entirely comfortable with the scanners. Second, I am transgender and I’d rather have a patdown then have someone looking at the scanner think something is wrong. I recommend getting a patdown if you are transgender. It will make it easier for you and probably for airport security as well. Getting a patdown is normal. The people who give them are trained professionals and, in every circumstance in which I’ve had one, are always overwhelmingly courteous.

So what’s the big deal with these entitled losers crapping their pants because the young girl got a patdown? If they don’t want to go through airport security and be subject to the same rules as everyone who goes through security at airports they should take a bus. Its disgusting how spoiled and entitled some people are.

In defense of Donald Trump

A few days ago Donald Trump stated that the United States should not allow Muslims into the United States until Congress figures out “what the hell is going on”.

What he was referring to was the fact America’s borders are completely porous with all kinds of people entering the country with no checks whatsoever. Some people have been kicked out and came back in illegally multiple times even after committing crimes, then later committed more crimes.

And, in the case of one of the gunmen in the San Bernadino shooting last week, it was found out that they had for a time trained overseas with a terrorist organization, then came back here.

Donald Trump was referring to the fact that the current government has completely failed to secure our borders and we don’t know who we are even letting in and that, until we can figure out “what the hell is going on” and deal with our borders, we should stop all immigration.

Personally I agree completely with that. Who knows who has entered and is living in the United States. Former members of Central American death squads who have murdered tens or hundreds of civilians? Rich relatives of fascist dictators, who have embezzled billions of dollars from their countries and who are responsible for severe repression, torture, and murder of people?

It sickens me to think that, for example, some uncle or cousin of some person who has tortured or killed people in a country like say Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or many other countries, can come in here because of the money their family has which was embezzled from the citizens of these countries, and they can have a good life, while the people back in their countries live under oppression and in poverty.

Or perhaps they are relatives of a brutal drug cartel which has slaughtered hundreds or thousands of people. But they’re the ones with the money who can come across the porous borders to live the good life, while the honest, good people of their countries cannot.

That is not what America stands for but that is exactly the kind of country it has become under the supposedly humanitarian immigration – or lack thereof – policies of the government.

Yes, we need to figure out what the hell is going on, not just to protect Americans, but to protect people everywhere around the world.

We don’t know who we’re letting in – wait – actually we do. We know that some of the people who’ve come in were criminals and then later went on to kill American citizens.

Yes, it should be shut down until we figure out what the hell is going on, as Donald says.

However, Donald said that Muslims should not be allowed in. I would not agree with that wording. However he did provide statistics about the extent to which there is support for violence against Americans among Muslims.

Still, I would not have said that, or targeted them specifically.

Of course now this is just one other attempt for the oligarchy which controls Big Media, and which doesn’t want him to get the Republican nomination, to trounce on him.

I think that the knee-jerk responses to Donald Trump’s statements are deliberately taken out of context and wrong. Again, the media is completely avoiding the issues he’s campaigning about and just keeps reverting to Ad Hominem attacks against him.

And yes, America is a free country and people are allowed to express different viewpoints which should encourage honest discourse about serious issues, not the opposite.

Really cool ROM for T-Mobile (MetroPCS) Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Recently got a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to use with my MetroPCS carrier. The camera on my Galaxy S4 died and I tried replacing it but it still did not work. So I needed to get something and decided to just splurge a little bit and jump to the Note 4. Had considered the Note 3 but the specs on the Note 4 are a lot better and the cost of a used one was only slightly more.

First of all I have to say that the T-Mobile build for the Note 4 is good and would be fine if anyone wanted to stay with it. However when I rooted it using the CF-Auto-Root utility it caused a boot loop.

Not having root is a big deal for me because Titanium Backup which I use to backup and restore all my apps and data requires it, among other things. So I decided it was time to try a ROM rather than mess around and figure out what was causing the boot loop. And I’m really glad I did!

As usual, first it was necessary to install TWRP on it, which I did using ODIN 3. I downloaded the most recent TWRP build for the device, twrp-, which is found here. You also need ODIN 3 and the Samsung USB driver installed.

For the ROM I decided on N5 Express 2.1. It is based on the stock Samsung ROM with features from the Galaxy Note 5 added. It also has a lot of junk removed.

In addition to installing the ROM, we will also install a fix that enables read/write support for the external SD card. The fix is available here and should be downloaded and copied to the phone.

The process of installing it is very easy:

1. Download the N5 Express ROM .zip file and copy it to the phone.

2. Power off the phone, then hold home and volume down buttons while pressing the power button to enter download mode. Press volume up to confirm. It is now in download mode.

3. Start ODIN. Connect the phone to the computer via cable. Phone should show up under the ID:COM field in ODIN.

4. Tick the checkbox next to the AP button and click on the AP button and select the TWRP .tar file downloaded earlier. Under the Options tab uncheck Auto Reboot.

5. Press Start and let it finish. Should only take a few seconds to complete.

6. Remove battery from phone. Place it back in and be careful not to accidentally press the power button.

7. While holding the home and volume up buttons, press the power button. The unit will power up into the new TWRP recovery. If you let the phone accidentally boot back into Android it will wipe TWRP and you will have to repeat steps 2 – 5.

8. Select Wipe and then swipe to do a factory reset.

9. When finished, go back and select Backup at the main menu. Check only the boxes for Boot, System, and Data then swipe to do the backup. This will create a full backup of your stock system under the directory TWRP on the internal memory card. SAVE THIS. IT IS IMPORTANT. If you sell your phone later or for any reason have an issue or just want to go back to the factory, this is the route.

10. When finished go back to the main menu and select Install. Navigate to the N5 Express ROM .zip file that was copied to the phone earlier. Select it and install it.

11. Now navigate to the external SD card read/write fix file and select and install it.

12. When the phone reboots for the first time it will take a long time to come up. You will see the boot logo for a really long time and maybe start to think that something is wrong. Be patient. It can take around 10-15 minutes for it to boot up the first time.

I like this N5 Express ROM because it is still based on Samsung’s builds and I think Samsung creates really good builds in general and a lot of their apps are very good. It also removes a lot of unnecessary things and adds features from the more recent Note 5. Finally, it is a very recent build (just released today!) which means its fresh. The previous ROM for the Note 4 I tried yesterday had a lot of cool features but because it was so old it had not been patched for two very serious Stagefright vulnerabilities. N5 Express ROM is fully patched and not vulnerable to Stagefright.

You can donate to the creator of N5 Express ROM here.

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