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Comment: Re:Funny how this works ... (Score 1) 184

by Cassini2 (#47975377) Attached to: Netflix Rejects Canadian Regulator Jurisdiction Over Online Video

No. The CRTC does not have the power to block credit card transactions.

The CRTC has the authority to pull the TV station licenses, pull cable TV licenses, and in general, block or prevent any over-the-air broadcast activity. They also have the authority over any telecommunications providers in canada (over-the-wire or over-the-air.)

Netflix does not fall within any of the CRTC's typical mandates, other than the one that encourages Canadian content. However, the CRTC can only influence Canadian content via its other powers over broadcasters and cable companies.

A full list of the relevant statutes and regulations is at:

Comment: Re:Bullshit (Score 2) 358

by Cassini2 (#47944939) Attached to: U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'

This DRM technology is fascinating. The player automatically senses if any listening devices are present, and adjust's the output volume such that the listening devices are unable to record the music. In effect, it will play music so quietly that no one will be able to hear it or record it!

This is the latest in DRM technology, and people are going to pay million's of dollars to have it. Only Apple and U2 could pull this technology off. It is so new, it won't work with Linux, BSD, Zune, Windows, Android, and old versions of OS/X and iOS. Anyone using those older technologies will have to make do with cheap MP3 recordings of music.

DRM will work this time.

Comment: Re:Ask the US Postal Service (Score 4, Interesting) 124

Management 101: If you don't trust your employees - you are screwed. You need committed and motivated employees, and you must take actions to keep the employees committed and motivated.

CEO 101: Employee problems are management problems.

Financial Investor 101: A bad CEO can wreck the company.

The USPTO has experienced all three problems, and financial investors in lots of different tech companies have paid dearly.

Comment: Thermodynamically Impossible (Score 4, Interesting) 311

by Cassini2 (#47135321) Attached to: Solar Roadways Project Beats $1M Goal, Should Enter Production

Isn't it impossible for solar cells to melt significant snow?

The black road surface will effectively capture almost all of the sun's energy. In the northern U.S. and Canada, roads routinely get covered in snow.

The solar cell can capture a portion of the sun's incoming energy, and potentially use it to power heaters to melt the snow. This approach has several problems. Firstly, the solar cells / heater mechanism is less energy efficient than a black road surface. Secondly, if the snow falls when it is dark, the solar cell will stop working (unless it has some big batteries are present, and even they won't last long in a heavy snow fall.) Lastly, the best sun occurs in the summer, and the snow hits in the winter, when less solar energy is available.

About the only way a solar cell can keep up with incoming snow is if the solar array is much larger than the area of snow being melted. However, even then, you still have the problem of the solar array getting covered in snow ...

Comment: Re:No need for UPS to help (Score 1) 207

by Cassini2 (#47132737) Attached to: UPS Denies Helping the NSA 'Interdict' Packages

They also have custom's warehouses for out-going goods. On the U.S.-Canada border, there are warehouses for goods going in both directions. US bound goods get Canadian warehouses, and Canadian bound goods get Canadian warehouses. Both are easily accessed by persons with the right American security credentials. Treaties, special agreements, and informal arrangements are all up-and-working.

Times have changed. Canada is closely aligned with U.S. security policy. During the Vietnam war, draft-dodgers claimed refugee status in Canada. Starting with the new conflicts, fleeing soldiers are sent back as deserters.

Comment: Re:No need for UPS to help (Score 3, Interesting) 207

by Cassini2 (#47128351) Attached to: UPS Denies Helping the NSA 'Interdict' Packages

Many (all?) custom's warehouses are operated by third-party companies. This will be a little bit more complicated than inspecting luggage. However, the companies (subsidiaries) that operate those warehouses get their entire revenue from allowing people to transport goods across borders. I suspect the NSA can get away with almost anything in that environment.

Comment: Risk Statistics (Score 3) 333

by Cassini2 (#46938393) Attached to: NASA, France Skeptical of SpaceX Reusable Rocket Project

In the case of NASA, people were on-board for every shuttle launch, and each launch cost billions. The satellite payload could cost over $400 million each. If a $15,000 dollar component has a 1 in 10,000 chance of scuttling a launch, it was easy to justify fixing it. The space shuttle had many subsystems, and each and every subsystem was built from from many small individual components. Thus, NASA rebuilt, checked or replaced everything on the entire shuttle on every launch.

I don't think SpaceX is going after the same market. For human rated launches, ISS resupply missions, or expensive satellites, they can sell brand new rockets. For inexpensive payloads, it could pay to roll the dice. SpaceX rockets are designed to be much less expensive than the competitions.

Comment: Re:Efficiency? (Score 1) 234

The issue is weight. In a car, weight is an issue. A mechanical gear box is a very light method of adapting engine output for use at the wheels. Electricity cannot match the power/weight capabilities of a mechanical gear box.

On the other hand, a locomotive is a very different application. A train has a huge mass, and the electric generator/motor approach does not add significantly to the total weight of the train. Also, huge advantages exist in the electric generator/motor approach on a locomotive. The diesel engine can be operated at optimal fuel economy. It is possible to apply the maximum torque to the locomotive drive wheels while avoiding wheel slip. When accelerating very large masses, following the optimal acceleration curve is a big advantage. Also, a safety issue exists in trains where wheel failure (and hence derailment) can occur if excessive wheel-slip occurs. Hence a constant traction drive on a locomotive has benefits.

Comment: Re:Does the math work out? (Score 4, Insightful) 193

by Cassini2 (#46799459) Attached to: Why Tesla Really Needs a Gigafactory

GM and the other car makers do not make money on cars. These stats predate the collapse, but GM wasn't make any money manufacturing cars. GM was making money on financing. As such, GM didn't go broke until the banking crisis hit. Similarly, the auto dealers don't make money selling cars. They make money in add-ons and services (including repairs.) For instance, many dealers charge $200 dollars to transfer your ownership, over and above the charges at the DMV. These extra charges add up. I'm pretty sure the repair parts operation at a modern OEM makes far more than the original cars.

Comment: Re:Mathematics is a language, not a science (Score 1) 612

As I recall, many aspects of modern physics fit into the "mathematically inconsistent" category. The equations - as written - are not consistent with one another. Additionally, the equations don't agree with our understanding of reality, and know one knows why. As a result, many mathematician's look at the stuff that happens in physics and engineering as somewhat dubious. Physicists also recognize this problem, and for them, an important theoretical challenge is to generate mathamatical frameworks that both describe reality and are internally consistent (which is hard).

One of my mentors, a statistician, pointed out that if the mathematics yield useful predictions about the problem you are working on - then run with it. Almost all modern sceince and engineering is based on the "it yields effective predictions, therefore we use it" principle. I still find it odd that a statistician was the realist in the group ...

Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television. - David Letterman