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Comment: Re:And when the video feed dies... (Score 1) 464

If you have a power failure so complete you lost every instrument

"Instruments" are on independent systems to the "controls". There have been examples of ac losing the instruments but having functional controls. (Or losing some of the controls, but retaining sufficient backups to control the aircraft.) Indeed, one of the procedures in the event of fire is to pop the breakers for all but a handful of instruments (it doesn't kill your controls), to try to isolate the fire-causing electrical fault.

If you have a single display set-up that combines your camera view and your instrument display, you could lose the entire display system while retaining flight controls. So you're sitting in a darkened sealed room in an otherwise perfectly flyable ac, because one system failed.

[That said, having external cameras for the pilots would be useful. And internal ones. Being able to see the engines, the rudder or ailerons, the landing gear, inside the cargo-bay or cabin. Thermals too. And long range, low-light/IR, forward cameras. This would also give you 20 years of data on the failure rate of imaging systems before some idiot designer blacks out the cockpit.]

Comment: Why, web devs? For the love of god, why? (Score 3, Informative) 65

"Hi, welcome to MIT Tech Review. You've never read our site before, you probably know nothing about our site since you followed a link from an aggregator, and we're blocking you from reading the site now via this pop-over. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SUBSCRIBE?!?!?!?!?!"


To the best of my knowledge, no.

Comment: Re:Why not limit them to one per customer? (Score 1) 131

by FatLittleMonkey (#47404667) Attached to: Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

but that is not even remotely Occulus' intention here. They have a limited supply but want to keep the price low to stimulate development.

Except they are not targeting devs. They are just selling a limited number of devices too cheaply. That neither targets devs nor provides development funds for themselves. There's nothing about selling-low that prevents "rich folks" buying a toy. Essentially whether a dev, a rich toy buyer or a tech collector gets a unit is a matter of first-come-first-served.

Other than shutting off an entire region (which cuts off Chinese devs as much as it does "scalpers") they are just selling alpha versions to anyone who will pay.

[Sounds like your Eve team suffered the tragedy of the commons. Your manufacturers wanted to be part of a team for their benefit, preferentially profited from that membership compared to other members, but didn't want to pay proportionally more to defend the team. This is why real world "teams" end up with governments and taxes.]

Comment: Re:What's the big deal, Occulus? (Score 1) 131

by FatLittleMonkey (#47398097) Attached to: Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

The value of the Oculus brand is greater the more developers they can snag to work on/with their product, and so the more developers that get their hands on the devkit the better for Oculus.

That isn't consistent with them selling the units. The moment you charge money you are just selling them. If you are selling them, you can't argue you're trying to target devs. (And if the units are worth more second hand than new, you are clearly charging too little.)

They are limited in how many devkits they can build however and so it is important to Oculus that every single one that they make goes to an actual developer

Then they shouldn't be selling them to anyone who orders one. They should be lending units to their preferred developers on an invitation-only basis. They can then put any conditions they want in the loan agreement (such as a large penalty for any unit not returned, to prevent (or at least discourage) them being sold.)

Since being purchased by Facebook, they have much less need for new cash to fund their ongoing development, so that isn't an excuse. When they were independent, cash was an issue, in which case selling "dev" units for less than market demand price is just robbing themselves of money they could use to pay for the second batch or second version.

Comment: Re:Why not limit them to one per customer? (Score 1) 131

by FatLittleMonkey (#47397743) Attached to: Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

Re: ticket scalpers.

That "problem" was solved years/decades ago. Event ticket sales were limited to a certain number per customer

That's not a solution. That's just a pig-headed attempt to preserve the flaws of the existing system.

A solution would be to sell the tickets at the highest price people are willing to pay, at the number the vendor wants to offer. The easiest way to do that is to use auction systems. If people are paying what they are willing to pay, there's no profit margin for scalpers to resell. And if people are willing to pay more than the vendor expected, that extra profit goes to the vendor, not resellers/scalpers. If people are only willing to pay less, at least it guarantees the venue is full, which may still allow them to cover costs avoiding cancelling shows. (If demand is high enough, ie number of bids above an arbitrary price, the vendor might be able to book a larger venue. If it's low, they might be able to drop to a smaller (cheaper) venue, keeping the sense of "full house" for the atmosphere, plus increasing the intimacy of the show. Much better than a half empty venue. Such decisions could be built into the auction system to trigger automagically.) This system would also allow last-minute sales of the block of tickets held for the celebrity guest list (who often don't show.)

As I said elsewhere, there's no such thing as scalping. Only stupid vendors.

[If you are concerned about pricing certain people out of the market, you could offer a portion of the tickets on a lottery basis. Say limited to members of the local fan-club. Just as you offer "prize" tickets to radio-stations as part of your promotion.]

Comment: Re:Why not limit them to one per customer? (Score 1) 131

by FatLittleMonkey (#47397631) Attached to: Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

the oculus rift2 devkit

Mark said nothing to suggest he's confused about it being a devkit. Just that you can limit "scalping" by not allowing multiple sales. Any individual resales beyond that is irrelevant.

I'd go further, there's no such as scalping. If someone can resell an item at higher than your retail price, you failed to price or supply your product properly. The error is yours, not the "scalper's".

[In my state, there are specific laws that protect resellers. Preventing "one per customer" restrictions precisely for that reason. Many major retailers hate that law because it prevents them from using "loss leaders" to drive smaller rivals out of business.]

but it is not released to the public yet!

If you are selling a dev version, then you are retailing a product to the public. Again, if there is more demand at a higher price than you are supplying either quantity/price, the error is the vendor's, not the "scalper's".

Comment: Re:you need to be on the jury (Score 1) 415

by FatLittleMonkey (#47397451) Attached to: Police Using Dogs To Sniff Out Computer Memory

you need to be on the jury.

Even if this story was about using the dog's response to establish probable cause for a search, any assessment of the validity of that probable cause is done during the preliminary stages of the trial, before the jury is called in. The jury is then merely instructed that the search was valid. It's incredibly rare that a jury is allowed to assess the validity of evidence gathering, or even told that the defence raised any issue at all.

Comment: Re:Pluto is still a player (Score 1) 102

by FatLittleMonkey (#47392119) Attached to: Two Earth-Like Exoplanets Don't Actually Exist

You STILL don't get nine. You either settle for the current eight, or you will, eventually, have hundreds, at least.

Not necessarily. If you make the definition of "planet" as wide as possible, you can then create (non-exclusive, overlapping) sub-categories for different classes. Terrestrial, gas-giant, dwarfs, KBOs, super-Jupiter, hot-Jupters, hot-Earths, super-Earths, rogue (or free flying) planets, etc.

And, of course, then you can have "Traditional Planets", which is the nine.

Everyone gets a toy, everyone goes home happy.

[Except I'd make the definition wide enough to include large moons (eg, "non-stellar bodies over 500km diameter and/or hydrodynamically spherised"), then "major moons" would be one of the sub-categories of "planet", which would piss off the sort of people twisting their knickers over Pluto.]

Comment: Re:I wish them well (Score 4, Interesting) 146

by FatLittleMonkey (#47388309) Attached to: NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

I don't understand the criticism regarding ...

Basically, they are repeated all the old mistakes of Shuttle and ISS. Single unaffordable top-down designs, expensive sole-source cost-plus contracts, convoluted designs more intended to feed the contractor networks in Congressional districts than to deliver improved hardware, flubbery half-hearted missions that mutate to fit the rapidly contracting hardware abilities rather than hardware designed for missions. And because everything is so expensive and poorly planned, development has to be smeared out over decades, giving time for endless Congressional budget games with the attendant schedule and cost blow-outs, and design compromises piled on top of design compromises just to get something launched.

Paraphrasing Gen. Augustine, in the analysis over Constellation (SLS's precursor), "If someone handed it to NASA, already build and paid for, NASA still couldn't afford to operate it."

Comment: Re: i dont see a problem here (Score 5, Informative) 146

by FatLittleMonkey (#47388227) Attached to: NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

Falcon 9 has a payload capicity of 13,150 Kg to LEO.

He said "Falcon 9 Heavy" (the original name of the Falcon Heavy). So 50,000kg to LEO, should fly in the next year or two, and cost less than $100m per launch (say $150m with a "NASA paperwork tax".)

SLS is to have a payload capacity of 130,000 Kg to LEO.

SLS Block "zero" will lift around 60,000kg, and may fly in 2017 or 2018. Development will have cost $10-12 billion from now 'til then. It won't be able to lift Orion (which won't be ready anyway).

Block I is meant to loft 70,000 kg to LEO, flying in 2021 at the earliest. Development will have cost $21 billion from now 'til then. It will be able to lift Orion, but only for 14 day missions around the moon and back.

Block IA is meant to lift 105,000kg, some time in the mid-2020's. And Block II, the one you are talking about, with 130,000kg to LEO, by 2032. Development will have cost over $50 billion from now 'til then.

That doesn't include any other hardware, nor any launch or mission costs. Just development.

Comment: Re:I dont see a problem here (Score 2) 146

by FatLittleMonkey (#47388171) Attached to: NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

Space Launch System's design called for the integration of existing hardware

I would much rather them use existing tried tech and incrementally advance them rather than try a radical new design.

The reason for incremental development is that your engineers and technicians learn their "craft", gradually learn where they can shave off millimetres and where they have to add more. Work out what works better than expected and what is clumsy and stupid and needs to be redesigned. A kind of guided evolution of technology.

However, the first couple of flights of SLS will be using actual Shuttle orbiter engines (SSMEs) salvaged from the three retired orbiters. Experimental, first generation, beyond-the-state-of-the-art-at-the-time, hideously complex and overengineered engines which haven't been in production since the late 1980s and whose designers are all in nursing homes.

Most decidedly not using "proven technology, incrementally advanced."

but if we can tweak existing tech, and make it useful for deep space why not??

SLS and the Orion capsule are costing around $3 billion per year during development. The first manned launch will be no earlier than 2021, and insiders suggest that deadline will slip several years. But from now until 2021, ignoring the tens of billions spent so far, SLS/Orion will cost $21 billion in development before the first crew is launched. However, that configuration is only capable of reaching the moon and back, carrying no cargo besides the Orion capsule, and the capsule will only have 14 days life support. By the time the SLS Block II and Orion's long-duration service module are developed for deep space missions, around 2032 (plus delays), the cost will be over $50 billion (plus overruns). That, of course, doesn't include actual launch costs; nor does it allow for developing any mission hardware, such as landers/rovers/surface-habs/etc.

That $21 billion would buy 140 Falcon Heavy launches, or about 7000 tons of payload. The $50 billion could buy over 300 FH launches, or over 16000 tons of payload. The equivalent of more than two full International Space Stations every year.

Or more realistically, four FH and one F9/Dragon, 200 tonnes and 7 crew, for just $750 million per mission, up to four missions per year for the same budget. Or, starting in, say, 2019 to mark the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11, you'd have $15 billion free to develop additional boosters/landers/rovers/habitats/etc, then two missions per year, leaving $1.5 billion every year for other projects, hardware, and operations.

In other words, the opportunity cost of SLS/Orion, ie, what they prevent, is enormous.

Comment: Re:Should be denser! (Score 2) 120

by FatLittleMonkey (#47387281) Attached to: In Düsseldorf, A Robot Valet Will Park Your Car

From the picture it looks like it takes just as much space as a regular parking garage, but I think the real potential in a system like this is in maximizing the density of parked cars.

If you skip the retarded sites like "Mashable" in TFS, you'll find that it actually does increase the density of parking.

(Even Jalopnik has better information.)

I'm picturing something like an Amazon warehouse, but with cars on each shelf.

Those kinds of shelf parking systems already exist, however, they require building an entirely new parking structure. The robot "valets" work with existing structures, which means a parking operator can upgrade just for the price of a few robots plus the check-in station, rather than having to tear down and rebuild from scratch. The operator can also introduce the robots gradually, say dedicating one floor to robot parking and charging a premium for "valet" service, increasing the number of robots as revenue allows.

"Engineering without management is art." -- Jeff Johnson