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Comment: Re:Seriously? (Score 2) 341

by Megane (#49800535) Attached to: Crowdfunded, Solar-powered Spacecraft Goes Silent
They're waiting for reboot because it froze the system completely. TFA says that the manufacturer of their "avionics board" had fixed this bug but it wasn't in the one that went up. So most likely it was a driver bug. A crash or lock-up in kernel space is a lot more problematic than just filling up a filesystem. And apparently they had scheduled an upload of the fix, but the satellite crashed right before the comms window. So now instead of a solar sail, they have a solar brick.

Comment: Re:Simple.... (Score 1) 341

by Megane (#49800319) Attached to: Crowdfunded, Solar-powered Spacecraft Goes Silent
Oh, but that's the best part. There apparently is a watchdog, but it only trips after four or five weeks by (presumably unchanged) default, and it's completely independent (rather than being reset regularly by a signal from a properly-operating system). This for a mission that wasn't even supposed to last two weeks. The good news is that the orbit could last for as long as six months with the sail un-deployed.

Comment: Re:CSV (Score 4, Interesting) 341

by Megane (#49798923) Attached to: Crowdfunded, Solar-powered Spacecraft Goes Silent

To be fair, that was copypasta from TFA. And they carefully omitted the next sentence: "The manufacturer of the avionics board corrected this glitch in later software revisions. But alas, LightSail’s software version doesn’t include the update."

That still doesn't excuse a problem that would have been found by bench-testing the thing for a few days before sending it up. Nor does it excuse constantly appending one file to store data in an unattended system. Also, anything that JPL sends up has a backup channel that can push that little red button on the main computer. All they can do now is hope for cosmic rays to reboot it randomly. At least it's in LEO and not zipping off into interplanetary space.

In the meantime, the team is looking at several fixes to work around the software vulnerability once contact is reestablished. One is a Linux file redirect that would send the contents of the troublesome beacon.csv file to a null location, a sort-of software black hole. Lab testing on this fix has been promising—over a gigabyte of beacon packets have already been sent into nothingness without a system freeze.

Well, isn't that special. Now they test it. So if they can just link it to /dev/null, did they really even need that data? It's always fun to cause a mission to fail by recording data that wasn't even needed.

Comment: Re:A lot of inertia (Score 1) 553

by Megane (#49791797) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
Why are you fixated on 12VDC? The only thing special about 12V is 6-cell lead-acid automotive batteries. Data centers use 48VDC, which gives 4 times the wattage over 12VDC (though still less than half of 120VAC), while not needing heavy-duty switches because of arcing. (120VDC is scary with a big knife switch where you can see the arc)

Comment: Re:High Voltage DC more likely (Score 2) 553

by Megane (#49791731) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
I recommend you go to Youtube and look for videos showing 110 volts AC vs DC with a knife switch to see the important difference. Hint: "zero crossing". You can't just splice your whole house into the same voltage of DC expect anything to work the same. Sure, your incandescent lights would work, but the wall switch wouldn't be able to turn it off, and might even start a fire from the arc. There's a reason that data centers use 48VDC and no higher.

Comment: Re:AC is the standard (Score 1) 553

by Megane (#49791631) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage

Except that those weren't built into every wall of a house, and so were easy to replace. Good luck trying to rewire your house for anything that requires a larger gauge of wire or extra wires, if the wires are all behind sheetrock and run through studs on a slab house with no basement. And you'll also have to change all your plug outlets, because no electrical code is going to allow a completely different standard to use the same plug.

Sure, things change, but some things also don't change. The compact disc (both audio and data) is still with us, over 30 years later. Despite Blu-Ray, DVD is in no danger of dying off. Whatever new electrical standard you think could possibly happen would need to have good enough reasons to justify the time and expense of rewiring. Knob-and-tube wiring went away because of safety (no ground, fire hazard, you may not even be able to get insurance), and it was cheaper to install cables than to nail up a bunch of knobs.

+ - How Does the iPhone Do That: Behind the Downfall at BlackBerry

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Ian Austen has an interesting interview in the NYT with the Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, authors of "Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry," that offers details about the emotional and business turmoil surrounding the collapse of the once-dominant smartphone maker’s fall into near market obscurity. Most interesting is Balckberry's initial reaction to the iPhone. "It was an interesting contrast to the team at Google, which was working on smartphones at the time. Google seemed to realize immediately that the world had changed and scrapped its keyboard plans. At BlackBerry, they sort of dismissed the need to do anything about it in the short term," says McNish. "One thing that they misunderstood is how the game had changed when AT&T announced its deal with Apple," added Silcoff. "BlackBerry had built its whole business model on offering carriers products that worked efficiently on their networks. The first thing Mike Lazaridis said when he saw an iPhone at home is that this will never work, the network can’t sustain it. What they misunderstood is that the consumer demand would make carriers invest in their networks."

"One of the big reveals for us in the book was the enormous power wielded by carriers in the smartphone race," says McNish. "In the wake of Apple’s ascendency, carriers have seen their clout and economic value significantly diminished as customers spend more of their smartphone money on Apple phones, apps and other content than they do on carrier bills. It is one of the greatest wealth transfers in our generation."

Comment: Re:Memorable (Score 1) 387

by Megane (#49757751) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

Windows 3.0 was part of my first venture into the PC platform. I got my first computer, an Atari 800, in 1984. I stayed with the Atari 8-bit platform until 1991, when I was able to purchase my fist PC: an 80386SX-16, running DOS 3.3 and Windows 3.0. Windows 3.0, despite it's repeated UAE errors and other frustrations, was absolutely AWESOME. I was a junior in high school, and using a mouse and icons felt so cutting-edge and... just fun.

Now you know how Mac users felt six or so years earlier. I went from TRS-80 to Mac in 1985. By 1991 I was already moving to the Mac IIci.

Seriously, the 8088/80286 and their addressing space limitations set back the DOS-based world by years, until Intel finally accepted that people wanted to use individual chunks of memory larger than 64K, and that they wanted to run their old real-mode DOS programs, too.

Comment: Re:Windows still needed to run Word Perfect 5.1 (Score 1) 387

by Megane (#49757721) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
I remember people complaing about WPW 6.0. More specifically, I remember seeing newsletters printed with it that had text flow fucked up where lines would be missing at column breaks, or it would just suddenly start printing text from a different part of that article. So much for moving forward from WP 5.1. Also, a lot of people liked using WP5 with the bottom half of the screen showing "raw mode", where it showed the hidden formatting in the text, which wasn't so easy to translate to a WYSIWYG GUI environment.

Comment: Re:It was all about the Mac back then (Score 2) 387

by Megane (#49757701) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

I've seen A/UX in operation, and it indeed was nice, and felt a lot like what would become OS X. Probably one reason they didn't make it a mainstream product was licensing. There just wasn't enough of a free software tradition (including inside Apple, I'm sure) for it to happen like it did with OS X, and I'm sure AT&T Unix[tm] didn't come cheap. Also, back then 4 megabytes of memory was a lot, and people didn't tolerate memory hog operating systems on single-user computers.

But Apple was trying to move away from the classic MacOS environment. They just happened to fail at it multiple times with a bunch of pie-in-the-sky ideas. Pink and Copeland were just two of the attempts. It took NeXT buying them for negative 400 million dollars and bringing in an already working Unix-based system for Apple to get their act together. Steve Jobs liked to say "real artists ship", and when it came to a next-generation operating system, the Steve-less Apple consistently failed to ship.

Comment: Re:Rain rain go away (Score 4, Interesting) 221

I remember the bad old days in the '80s when cable TV reception would go to shit on rainy days because they used microwave links to connect their various head ends in a big city. Then they upgraded the whole system to fiber, which turned out to be a good thing years later when cable modems became a thing.

Comment: Re:You realize that Democrats gerrymander too, rig (Score 1) 609

by Megane (#49726169) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

I clicked on that link and it gave a pop-up:

Take Action
Abortion at 20 Weeks

The Senate may vote on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks and later, except to save the life of the mother, in the case of rape, and in the case of incest against a minor.

Use if.then.fund to make a campaign contribution to representatives that vote the way you want them to! Your contribution — for or against — will help shape the future of Congress.

We won’t tell Congress why you are making the contribution (legal background), but every contribution from a regular American shifts power away from the rich and powerful.

if.then.fund is a new website that can help you shape the future of Congress from the creators of GovTrack and Democracy Engine.

Wow, trying to scare up funding using the abortion bogeyman. I find that disgusting from either of the aisle. (Oh noes, they're going to vote on a bill that has no chance of passing! It's the end of the world!)

Anyhow, I particularly love how they managed to put so many vertices out in the hahbah.

"I'm growing older, but not up." -- Jimmy Buffett