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Comment Re:Are and storms that fierce on Mars? (Score 1) 30

If you are in low gravity, you can pick up much heavier objects and throw them at your friends. Getting hit with a 1 lbs rock will do less damage than getting hit with a 100 lbs rock -- gotta love how mass works.

Is there enough wind to MOVE huge rocks and people in space suits? Not really. But explosive decomp in lower gravity could possibily toss a 180 lbs human out the door and a decent rate of speed. And if there was a sudden stop (slamming in to a cliff or another habitat module), that could be pretty damaging. Maybe instead of a sand-storm there should have been an explosive decomp.

United States

US Bombs Hit Doctors Without Borders Hospital 288

Prune writes: According to multiple news sources, U.S. airstrikes partially destroyed a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan, killing at least nine staff members and at least 50 overall, including patients, and this after giving its coordinates to U.S. forces multiple times. I'm especially saddened to report this given I had become one of the supporters of this charity after recommendations from Slashdot members in a discussion about choosing charities to donate to a while back.

Comment Re:The useless and redundant (Score 1) 55

Back in the real world, the reason there are so few phone companies is because the government gives them a monopoly on use of radio frequencies.

Umm, no. The reason that there are so few mobile phone carriers is that it is really f***ing expensive to put up 40,000 or so nationwide towers and all the network infrastructure and BSS/OSS needed to support them. Never mind care, devices, sales channels, marketing and all the rest. Cellular services simply don't work well with unlicensed spectrum (capacity planning is a NIGHTMARE if you don't know who you're sharing spectrum with and what their loads are), so you also need to have the money to buy spectrum licenses. (That's right, none of the carriers were "given" a monopoly on their spectrum, they had to buy it. For a lot of money.)

This is what business school professors call "high barriers to market entry." If you don't have giant piles of money in quantities starting with the letter "B," you naturally can't play. Sure, there are lots of MVNOs which can be stood up comparatively cheaply (as in the tens of millions of dollars startup cost), but those aren't new carriers, they are just resellers of one of the "big four." If you want to be a local wireless company where you don't need many towers etc. then you can do that - there are dozens of those in the US, primarily serving rural areas where the "big guys" don't see a good enough return on investment - but they have no pretensions of being competitors on a national scope.

It's like asking "why aren't there more car companies?" It's not because of regulation (though I am not personally a big fan of government regulation of wireless), it's because it costs a metric f***ton of money to become a company that builds its own cars.

Comment Re:Sprint quality is so good (Score 1) 55

That's adaptive multi-rate wideband, which goes by the commercial name of "HD Voice."

Yes and no. You're correct about the above, which is the codec being used, but the larger point is that when you're calling between iPhone 6 or higher (or Samsung Galaxy 5+, etc.) users on the same network, you're using VoLTE. It's not about Sprint per se; if you are on a VoLTE-capable phone with any US major carrier, and you call someone else on that carrier with a VoLTE-capable phone, you will get that same enhanced audio quality.

From analog phones through GSM 3G, everything was built around circuit switched voice, with the same audio quality that was the standard since digital switches were introduced onto the landline phone network. LTE is packet-based from the ground up, and everything else is just an application on top, including voice. And VoLTE is the LTE voice application standard, which uses different LTE EPS Bearers and provides a higher voice quality. (True fact: if you have a LTE phone but it's not designed for VoLTE, when you place a call your phone will drop back to the 3G network in order to make a regular circuit switched voice call.) VoLTE inter-carrier support is limited so calls between carriers, even on VoLTE phones, will go through a PSTN bridge at some point where you lose the enhanced quality. But generally speaking any intra-carrier call between VoLTE-capable phones (if both users are on the carrier's LTE footprint) will provide that same high-quality audio.

Dinosaurs aren't extinct. They've just learned to hide in the trees.