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Comment: CA: mail-in ballot (Score 1) 821

by Matt (#41899771) Attached to: U.S. Election Day In Progress: What's Been Your Experience?

I sent in a mail-in / absentee ballot, which was much like filling out a Scan-Tron form for a test in school. Choosing which circles to fill in was a bit tricky though. (Fill in #92 to vote yes on Proposition 33; fill in #97 to vote no on Proposition 34; etc.) I triple-checked everything.

An interesting bit was I got a call from a 'bot at the Los Angeles County Registrar's office Sunday. It more or less said "If you've already mailed in your ballot, disregard this message. If you haven't mailed in your ballot, it's too late. Drop it off at a polling place."

Also on the radio this morning it said that 51% of voters in CA are mail-in for this election.

Comment: Re:not really a bad thing (Score 2) 272

by Matt (#41591971) Attached to: SpaceX Launch Not So Perfect After All

Neither SpaceX nor Orbcomm have commented about the snafu.

Orbcomm has in it's latest press release: Orbcomm Launches Prototype OG2 Satellite. OG2 satellite's insertion orbit lower than expected.

" ...the rocket did not comply with a pre-planned ISS safety gate to allow it to execute the second burn."

I haven't read anywhere exactly what that means.

Comment: Re:When was our last human rocket launch? (Score 1) 127

by Matt (#36897952) Attached to: New Soyuz Launch Facility Near the Equator

As much as I remember, the last "rocket" Flight with a human Payload onboard before the Shuttle was Apollo 17. There was a "Human Spaceflight Gap" for a few years then as well as much as we have right now, only not as bad..

No. Apollo 17 was the last flight on a Saturn V. Apollo-Soyuz, in July 1975 on a Saturn 1B, was the last NASA manned spaceflight before the first space shuttle flight, in April 1981. There were also three manned flights to Skylab in between those.

Comment: Re:You do. Things orbit above you all the time. (Score 1) 139

by Matt (#31903260) Attached to: Shuttle Reentry Over the Continental US

You can see satellites almost any clear night ANYWHERE on Earth.

GPS satellites are low and cover every point on Earth.

GPS satellites aren't low, they're roughly 20,000 km above ground. Too faint to see, AFAIK.

If you look towards the equator, then up, there are hundreds of geostationary satellites for TV, communications and other things about 22,000 miles up. As a reference, the diameter of the Earth is about 6500 miles (I didn't look it up).

True, but they're usually too faint to see without techniques similar to astronomical photography. Sometimes they can be seen with binoculars when sunlight reflects from solar panels or other surfaces just right. (a "flare")

The Space Shuttle orbits around 140-180 miles up so it is barely out of atmosphere - some would say it isn't out.

Something that big and close, on the other hand is very easy to see. I even once saw the shuttle through a (thin) overcast of clouds, it was so bright. The space station is even bigger and brighter.

Comment: Re:First Paragraph (Score 1) 328

by Matt (#30526160) Attached to: The 87 Lamest Moments In Tech, 2000-2009

Have you forgotten the "Y2K Crisis Center" (or whatever they called it) with Sam Donaldson, on watch over the transition? All of the newspaper articles in early 1999 about how the End Was Coming?

Funny you mention newspapers. The primary Y2K bug I saw was all the web pages which on new years day said "January 1, 19100." Somewhere I still have a screenshot of the New York Times' web page like that.

I think I heard of one embedded system that broke due to Y2K, but I've seen many more over the years that got confused over leap years. The year 2000 was especially good for that because that wasn't a leap year even though the common, oversimplified, every-4-year rule says it should have been.

Comment: Re:Confusion (Score 1) 334

by Matt (#26733995) Attached to: US Digital TV Switchover Delayed Until June

So I have cable with a QAM tuner TV. The guy at Circuit City said I could get digital cable without having to rent a box from the cable company with it.

Turns out, the only digital channels I get are the ones that come in over the air.

I've seen the same thing as you, on (Cox) basic cable. They're heavily pushing their digital cable service. I had it briefly, and with their box I had a great many additional channels which my new TV doesn't find with its own tuner / decoder.

I've also heard that a new TV can pick up all of digital cable, except for goodies like online TV guide, convenient pay-per-view, and other interactive features. I don't believe it - some other trickery is going on.

(I went back to basic cable, because after their promotion for digital cable ran out, it was very expensive.)

Comment: Re:Confusion (Score 4, Informative) 334

by Matt (#26732507) Attached to: US Digital TV Switchover Delayed Until June

Not really.

If you have your converter, you won't notice. No confusion.
If you don't then you may seem some stations go away.

It's not that easy. TV stations in the VHF-High band (channels 7-13) are currently transmitting the digital version of themselves in the higher UHF channels. After they stop their analog transmissions, they'll move their digital transmissions to their VHF-High channels.

Thus many major stations (4 out of the 7 big VHF stations here) will move around after the transition. Now that transition will be gradual and not so predictable. Stations will be moving around, and we'll have to keep rescanning or otherwise updating our tuners, either in converter boxes or new TVs.

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