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Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 45 45

Might want to look up every single failed "Edutainment" attempt in history.

This. Microsoft may manage to demonstrate how to flush $2.5 billion faster than any company in history. There's no better way to convince kids not to use software than to use it as some sort of hamfisted teaching tool that is now mandatory.

Comment: Re:Internet of Stupid Things (Score 1) 75 75

I'll be interested in the Internet of Things as soon as I can get an IPv6 address for my balls.

Then rejoice! Hurricane Electric will give you your own /48 for free. Just set up a box to accept and route it and you can assign an IP to every single sperm in your beloved balls.

Comment: Re:Sidebar: Charging batteries (Score 1) 281 281

A thought just occurred to me: Assuming in the near to medium-term future we had many many large installations of battery banks (ala-Tesla batteries, for instance) charging and discharging constantly, how much waste heat would be generated by this, and how much would that waste heat contribute to global warming (positively or negatively)?

That depends entirely on where the power to do the charging comes from. If the power comes from the solar panels on your roof and is charging up your Tesla PowerWall, it's actually a net reduction in useless heat in your garage. Instead of the sun heating up your garage, it heats up your garage less and charges your batteries. The inefficiency in charging is a fraction of a fraction of what was going to be heat to begin with.

For other power sources, the waste heat generated is precisely the inefficiency of charging. For batteries that charge with 85% efficiency, 15% of the power is wasted as heat. One of many reasons why one of the criteria for a good battery is good charge and discharge efficiency. Still, the heat even from inefficient batteries contributes negligible amounts to global warming. The planet radiates heat into space from the top of the atmosphere, all day and all night. The biggest heat source is sunlight, and by biggest I mean it's literally trillions of times bigger than any one battery bank. (174 petawatts vs 10000 watts). The Earth radiates almost exactly 174 petawatts back into space. So exact that we have a hard time measuring it when it's different. Global warming is a thing mainly because of the potential for the composition of the atmosphere to change enough to change the amount of heat retention, not because of the waste heat of industrial processes. Industrial processes do nothing to change the temperature of Earth as long as Earth is able to continue radiating that heat into space.

Comment: Re:Super-car? (Score 1) 134 134

Are you trolling, or are you really ignorant of the amount of engineering that goes into NASCAR? Or dragsters, for that matter?

I said the vehicle in the article is a drag strip car, or at best a track car. It is not a street car. You quoted... drag strip cars and track cars as counter-arguments?

I'm confused.

As for the engineering, there's this. Which says, in summary, that you can build any frame you like, except it must have a roll cage, and the roll cage must have a Newman Bar, it must be built of mild steel, it must have the specified tube radii, and it even must be coated in a specified color. Among other restrictions, to the point where there's not exactly a lot of innovative engineering happening in frame construction in NASCAR. There aren't very many degrees of freedom left.

But that's all beside the point anyway. The point is that a space frame isn't necessarily the best design because of its weakness with respect to torsional stress. A weakness that is irrelevant to track cars and dragsters because there is no vehicle surface more tightly controlled than that of a race track or drag strip. They don't have bumps, they don't have potholes, they don't have out of spec bankings. They don't even have seams. They're not anything like a street, in other words. So the chassis design constraints are nothing like the design constraints of a street car.

And that toy in the article isn't designed for streets. That's all I'm saying.

Comment: Re:Right(s)... (Score 1) 1074 1074

Reconcile your argument with the 19th amendment...

Easy. The 9th and 10th Amendments. Plus a whole slew of argumentation in the Federalist Papers.

Yes, later generations felt obliged to write amendments as if they conferred rights, rather than secured rights, because people go completely authoritarian at the drop of a hat. It's certainly not the way the Constitution was written, and it's the polar opposite of relativism. It was absolutely stated that the document was intended to restrict the government, not citizens. Rights don't "float in the ether independent of government." Rights adhere to individual citizens independently of, and in spite of, government.

So now the language of the Constitution is self-contradictory in tone, because a bunch of lawyers felt obliged to phrase some amendments as positive rights, rather than negative restrictions. Somehow it's human instinct to seek to organize in tribes headed by a king, and establish a hierarchy to oppress everybody "beneath" them. It wasn't supposed to be that way, and the Constitution still stands today as a piece of seriously radical thinking.

"Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees." --Sir Terry Pratchett

Comment: Final Tally (Score 5, Informative) 308 308

Ariane 1 - second and fifth launches failed
Ariane 2 - only 6 launches, first failed
Ariane 3 - fifth launch failed
Ariane 4 - eighth launch failed
Ariane 5 - first launch failed, two partial failures in first 11
Atlas A - only 8 launches, 5 failed
Atlas B - only 10 launches, 3 failed
Atlas C - only 6 launches, 2 failed
Delta - first launch failed
Delta II - first nineteen successful, partial failure on the 42nd launch which substantially reduced the satellite's operational lifespan (55th was first total failure)
Falcon 1 - only five launches, first three failed
Falcon 9 - nineteenth launch failed (Secondary payload on the 4th launch aborted as a precaution)
Long March 1 - only 2 launches, both successful
Long March 2 - first launch failed
Long March 3 - no complete failures in first 11, but 1 and 8 were partial failures
N-1 - only four launches, all failed horribly
Proton - third launch failed
Proton-K - second, third, fourth and sixth launches failed
Proton-M - eleventh launch failed
Saturn I - only ten launches, all successful
Saturn IB - only nine launches, all successful (unless you count Apollo 1 - it didn't launch but still killed three astronauts)
Saturn V - second launch (Apollo 6) failed, Apollo 13 doesn't count because it was a payload, not launcher, failure
Soyuz - third launch failed, with fatalities
Soyuz-U - seventh launch failed
Soyuz-FG - first nineteen launches successful (all 49 to date completely successful, including lots and lots of astronauts delivered to ISS)
Space Shuttle - nineteenth launch a partial failure (ATO) (25th was first total failure)
Titan I - fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth launches failed
Titan II - ninth and eleventh launches failed
Titan III - first and sixth launches failed
Titan IV - seventh launch failed
Zenit-2 - first and second launches failed

It was a good run, but the game is over. Falcon 9 slots in to the rankings as fourth in the history of rocket development, with a success record exceeded only by Shuttle, Soyuz-FG, and Delta II.

Maybe Falcon 9 Heavy will have better luck.

Comment: Final Tally (Score 2) 49 49

Ariane 1 - second and fifth launches failed
Ariane 2 - only 6 launches, first failed
Ariane 3 - fifth launch failed
Ariane 4 - eighth launch failed
Ariane 5 - first launch failed, two partial failures in first 11
Atlas A - only 8 launches, 5 failed
Atlas B - only 10 launches, 3 failed
Atlas C - only 6 launches, 2 failed
Delta - first launch failed
Delta II - first eighteen successful, partial failure on the 42nd launch which substantially reduced the satellite's operational lifespan (55th was first total failure)
Falcon 1 - only five launches, first three failed
Falcon 9 - first eighteen launches successful (Secondary payload on the 4th launch aborted as a precaution, 19th was first total failure)
Long March 1 - only 2 launches, both successful
Long March 2 - first launch failed
Long March 3 - no complete failures in first 11, but 1 and 8 were partial failures
N-1 - only four launches, all failed horribly
Proton - third launch failed
Proton-K - second, third, fourth and sixth launches failed
Proton-M - eleventh launch failed
Saturn I - only ten launches, all successful
Saturn IB - only nine launches, all successful (unless you count Apollo 1 - it didn't launch but still killed three astronauts)
Saturn V - second launch (Apollo 6) failed, Apollo 13 doesn't count because it was a payload, not launcher, failure
Soyuz - third launch failed, with fatalities
Soyuz-U - seventh launch failed
Soyuz-FG - first eighteen launches successful (all 46 to date completely successful, including lots and lots of astronauts delivered to ISS)
Space Shuttle - first eighteen successful (19th was first partial failure (ATO), 25th was first full failure)
Titan I - fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth launches failed
Titan II - ninth and eleventh launches failed
Titan III - first and sixth launches failed
Titan IV - seventh launch failed
Zenit-2 - first and second launches failed

It was a good run, but the game is over. Falcon 9 slots in to the rankings as fourth in the history of rocket development, with a success record exceeded only by Shuttle, Soyuz-FG, and Delta II.

Maybe Falcon 9 Heavy will have better luck.

Comment: Re:Competition (Score 1) 45 45

Basically I have an "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude. I don't think this proposed satellite service has an obvious natural customer base. Wouldn't mind being wrong but I just don't see it.

It very much depends on what they manage to do for the customer end. If they perform some voodoo when doing antenna design (MIMO included), the customer device could be the size and formfactor of a smartphone. From what I've been hearing out of the RF people, this is not out of the question. Between MIMO antennas on the ground and a phased array on the satellite, some dark magic becomes possible. Whether or not either SpaceX or OneWeb manages to implement such a thing remains to be seen. If they do.... It opens up many many possibilities, not least of which is competing with cellular carriers (another market where there's little love lost from customers).

You have to remember, in LEO, where an individual satellite completes an entire orbit in ~90 minutes, the ground station does not have a dish. Dishes are for talking to geosynchronous orbit, not low earth orbit. GSO satellites stay put, from the perspective of the ground, so you can aim your dish and be done with it. LEO satellites zip past you so quickly that your uplink is being handed off between satellites at least every half hour, and it could be as often as every few minutes, especially with a constellation as gigantic as the one SpaceX intends to loft. You could use a dish to talk to them, but it would be a hazard to anyone nearby as it tracks across the sky, then abruptly reaims itself to switch satellites.

In addition, LEO means the satellite can detect your transmission vastly more easily. Radio suffers from the inverse square law, so a satellite 1100 kilometers up (SpaceX's intended altitude) can hear you much more easily than a satellite 35786 kilometers up. The power density price of 1/(34686)^2 is brutal.

So no dishes. Smartphones, not dishes. Lots more potential customers.

I agree, Comcast (and every other cable provider) can trivially boost the bandwidth available to their customers. We know for a fact that all of their whining and crying about people daring to use the service they paid for is pure theater. They're fantastically profitable. Providing 10 times the throughput is just flipping a software setting. They know it, and I think they're counting on it for just this eventuality. It's their ace up their sleeve for smashing a competitor, just as you say.

For some people, that's enough to get them to stay. But consider this. All any competitor has to do is be something less offensive than a freewheeling asshole and if their product is even remotely broadband, it WILL attract customers who already have a broadband ISP. Because most of the existing broadband ISPs are freewheeling assholes. Add on VOIP calls on a portable device the same size and shape as the smartphone they already have? That works worldwide, with no "can you hear me now" games outside of parking structures? There's a reason there's now more than one company trying out this business plan. The numbers work out, and there's a larger market than the purely unserved population.

Comment: Re:Those took constitutional amendments (Score 1) 1074 1074

The same is not true for a constitutional amendment -- which is how many other major rights were endowed.

The constitution does not endow rights. The constitution delineates most rights mainly by restricting the government's ability to interfere. It explicitly states that its purpose is to restrict government, and anything not mentioned in it is retained by the states and the citizens.

This decision rests on the Equal Protection Clause, which is a part of the 14th Amendment, which most definitely went through a legislative process, so I have a hard time seeing where you're coming from. Any future Supreme Court would have to go through some serious contortions to undue this ruling so long as the 14th Amendment stands.

Comment: Re:Tell me who the typical customer is (Score 2) 45 45

Anybody who would use this service is going to be WAY out in the boonies and there simply aren't huge numbers of people who live that remotely, who need and can afford fast internet service and who can be reached economically to sell them the necessary equipment.

I think you are underestimating just how desperate people are to get out from under Comcast's thumb. If OneWeb and/or SpaceX can operate in the US at all (and presumably they will be getting the necessary spectrum), both of them will be able to pick up a LOT of Comcast refugees, many of whom will be from urban areas. If they have anything like comparable bandwidth, they could make a huge dent in Comcast subscriber numbers. From what we've been hearing, these satellite systems stand a very good chance of being latency competitive with any land-based ISP that likes to meddle with customer traffic, and Comcast tops the list of meddlers. So reasonable latency and competitive bandwidth (which isn't hard, despite inflated claims by Comcast) would finally give entrenched monopolies and duopolies some competition.

It could be very interesting.

Comment: Re:The future is coming. (Score 1) 214 214

If you don't see lower costs, it's probably because either the market has decided to utilize the tech to make products better rather than cheaper, or because there is no real competition in the market.

Yeah, about that...

The process has received eight patents and has 75 additional patents under review...

Guaranteed no competition for 20 years. More, if they successfully game the system with submarine patents. (And you can bet some of those 75 will turn out to be submarines.)

But rejoice! The patent system has spurred innovation! A manufacturing technique created with research paid for largely by taxes will now proceed to charge the public all the traffic will bear! For a generation! Maybe two! It's fantastic! And efficient! And more superlatives!

Yeah, it's nice that there's a new battery technology. You and I will never own one.

They are initially aiming at the power company market, thus huge batteries with huge price tags.

Theirs. Not yours. Not already rich? Shut up and pay your bills.

Comment: Re:Super-car? (Score 1) 134 134

Also, this will never be able to be put on the road in most US states without drastically changing the look of the front end. Most states have a minimum headlight height of 22 inches and some have a 24 inch minimum.

Thank you for that. I thought there was some such limit, but I wasn't sure, so I didn't cite it along with the other list of street-legal fails.

I had heard that the majority of kit cars were tube frame construction, but I figured that was because tube frame parts pack into a much smaller space for shipping than unibody and unibody assembly requires really long welds that most people shouldn't be doing by hand.

Also as someone else pointed out, tube frame doesn't necessarily mean space frame. I see all mention of space frames have been eradicated, so that was probably overstated. Now we know it's just a tube frame, and there are any number of dune buggy owners who can vouch that some designs are terribly inferior to others. It remains to be seen which this is.

As of next Thursday, UNIX will be flushed in favor of TOPS-10. Please update your programs.

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