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Comment Re:Sad to hear (Score 2) 314

Probably useless for most people reading this, but my favourite-ever electronics store must be the utterly one-off R. F. Potts in Derby, UK. The shop is absolutely tiny, but chock-full of stuff both new and old - with incredibly helpful and knowledgeable staff. Weird, obscure component is buggered, and you need a new one? Hand it over, and they'll find a replacement from the wall of drawers behind the counter - then charge you something like 20p for it. They also have a wide range of old computer parts and random reclaimed mechanisms from things - one of their front windows is always filled with inspiration for stuff to build.

It's probably Derby's engineering heritage that allows it to keep going - with Rolls Royce aero engines and Bombardier trains based nearby, there must be plenty of engineers mucking around with stuff in their spare time...

I only wish they'd open a branch in Seattle, where I live now! A trip to a Radio Shack a few years ago for components was most disappointing.

Comment Re:Do not want (Score 2) 141

Wouldn't that make an awesome app, building *real* 3d scenes, and making the models available for export in a variety of formats and with direct-links for popular functions (editing apps, export to popular 3d printing services, etc)?

Look into photogrammetry software like the cloud-based 123D Catch and the defiantly offline Agisoft PhotoScan - they'll turn loads of conventional photos into arbitrary 3D models. The former is probably closest to your request!

I've been playing around with the latter software recently - the required photography is pretty difficult to master, but it's a rather useful tool. Here's a geometry-only render of a statue I scanned as an example - there's a full texture map for the model as well, but this is showing off the frankly implausible levels of geometrical detail you can get from a physical object. (Excuse the noisy crevices - I was shooting hand-held at ~9am in the middle of winter on a cloudy day...) It's terrible at shiny objects (reflections confuse the hell out of it) and system requirements are pretty steep - it'll eat however many CPU and GPU cores you throw at it, and the more memory the better - but the results are well worth it.

Comment Re:There's only one image organizing program (Score 1) 259

Adobe for reasons only known to itself absolutely refuses to support case-sensitive file systems for Mac OS X.

I've heard of various other software breaking when used with case-sensitive filesystems on OS X - not making an excuse for that software, but what is the benefit of running with such a filesystem anyway? I'm genuinely interested.

(I've been running with the default case-preserving, case-insensitive filesystems for a decade or more, and not hit any problems.)

Comment Re:With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (Score 2) 523

The SNAP-9A used in the Transit 5B-2 navigation satellite launched in 1963 weighed 12.3 kg and produced 25 watts of power. That looks about like a perfect fit for Philae, and I'm sure more efficient thermocouplers are available today that could further reduce the weight.

They could also have made Rosetta much larger, and possibly have got to its destination much faster, by launching on a Saturn V rather than an Ariane 5.

(Unfortunately, the jumbo-sized booster was unavailable - as was the RTG.)

Comment Re:I'm quite surprised it wasn't (Score 1) 523

Like the GP, I was also surprised to hear that a probe so far from Earth was solar powered, I wouldn't have thought there was enough light that far out even without the shadows. Sure it's an assumption but it's not baseless, previous deep space probes such as Cassini, pioneer, and voyager are all nuclear powered.

NASA's Juno probe, currently en route to Jupiter, is also solar powered.

RTGs are great, but availability is limited.

Comment Re:The Truman Show (Score 1) 246

By the time "the launch window" comes around you could easily have them (and hell, us as well, the viewing public) convinced that they are onboard a genuine Mars mission rocket heading into space... much easier to achieve - and cheaper and safer - if it's all in a studio.

Been done already (albeit with a flight to a peculiarly non-weightless 'low Earth orbit' rather than a mission to Mars) with the 2005 television series Space Cadets.

Comment Re:A great family of products (Score 4, Interesting) 141

For my own use, I was thinking of turning mine into an airplay-compatible receiver (I found that there is software for for that) and built it together with (wifi dongle and a little amp) into a very old radio cabinet. Nice to put in the kitchen.

If your radio is still in semi-working condition, it might be possible to inject the audio signal from the Pi into the radio's existing amplifier. I almost certainly broke all kinds of audio design rules, but in my instance it sounds brilliant. I (briefly) got it working as an Airplay receiver, but for nearly two years it's been doing sterling stuff as a time-delayed BBC Radio 4 device.

(I would definitely recommend against blindly doing this with stuff that's directly mains-powered - I know that a lot of old radios, especially in the USA, did scary things with mains voltages. For a battery-powered transistor radio? Certainly worth a try.)

Comment Re: Well (Score 1) 594

I should also point out that the Stratolaunch concept wouldn't have even been conceived had the original White Knight or the White Knight 2 never been developed.

Erm... Pegasus? (Apparently Stratolaunch Systems will be launching the Pegasus II...)

The whole SpaceShip[n] concept is pretty similar to the X-15 anyway.

Computer Science is merely the post-Turing decline in formal systems theory.