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Comment Re:this is not a *space* flight (Score 1) 220

Well, According to to only need to make it to 80K to get your astronaut wings.

That's only because somebody decided an arbitrary limit defined who was an astronaut.

It's like somebody deciding that going to the state next door makes you a world traveller. You get the label because they said so, not because you actually are a world traveller.

The concept of what space IS anyway has been cheapened by considering low Earth orbit is outer space anyway. It's not. The ISS is as close to me as the next major city. It's not even far away.

80KM isn't space. Low Earth orbit should not be space. Even going to the moon, which is as far as we have ever gone, should be considered near space since it is still gravitationally bound to the Earth. Outer space should be defined, in my opinion, as at least beyond the moon, and I really wonder if the term should not be reserved for things literally outside the Sol system entirely.

I know, I'm in the minority here. But the real point here is that whatever name we humans choose to put on something or what category we choose to make it, does not in fact change what it actually IS.

Comment They had to be first, lest they miss the gold (Score 2) 220

Typical story. Some developer (as in land, not software) comes to a pudunk rural town and talks up a big plan to make something new and big and famous, and have money for new schools ("Hey that old 1950's school... wouldn't you like a nice new one? With me you can have it and more!") but he wants something from the locals, and well, it's fine if they don't want to be a part of it, he'll understand and talk to another town that is interested. And you, the developer says, the first ones to jump on this will make a fortune! Think about it!

And the locals hem and haw and debate about finally getting a shot at being something and they stretch real hard and throw in their pennies and agree to it.

Great, the developer says! We'll break ground immediately. And then something happens or it takes too long but oh well, to the developer it's merely one of many deals and he moves on. The town cannot move on. It chased a load of promises and dreams and pays dearly for it.

Branson doesn't have a great track record with successful projects. People hear about the airlines and things but not so much about the abject flops. But he's so good at promoting his brand, which is himself, nobody notices. He and Donald Trump are very similar. They both talk big and quietly bury their failures.

Comment Not like we can stop an asteroid anyway (Score 4, Insightful) 174

So one program to find giant space rocks has ended. There are others.

But in any case, we don't have the ability at the moment to DO anything about it even if we found a rock heading for us. We'd probably need several decades to get our act together, and we have a terrible track record about responding to things like aging sewers where we can pay somebody minimum wage to fix it, versus tens of years of heavy spending (way beyond 450 mill) to come up with a way to stop the asteroid. I don't think humanity is capable of working together in the way it would need to happen.

Comment Re:Why no Chip Card Reader at home? (Score 1) 337

May never happen in the US. Before the EMV cards rolled out, the main use of smartcards in the US was for satellite TV access cards.

In an effort to stop satellite TV piracy, the Feds made a Big Deal out of making life hell for anyone who bought smartcard readers, which again, would be the same as an EMV card reader. The Feds affirmed that nobody could possibly have ANY legitimate use for smartcard readers so anyone who had them was automatically a satellite TV pirate. People were prosecuted for this, in some cases because they had in fact made things like smartcard-controlled access for their work building or some other actual legitimate purpose. The Feds would hear none of this and simply arrested people left and right.

As a result, I for one will have nothing to do with a smartcard reader. Not in my possession, no way.

Comment Re:Chase cards text and email (Score 1) 337

This has happened to me too but the problem is when the charge is declined at checkout and you then use a second card to pay.

Then the phone rings asking if the charge was legit. Well, what do you say? If you say yes, MAYBE they will process the charge that you already paid for another way, but if you say no, maybe they block your card from then on or flag the merchant who did nothing wrong.

What do you do? It's a terribly flawed way to determine if fraud has happened.

Comment Re:This is why you call your bank before tourism (Score 1) 337

If you travel in Canada a lot, no doubt you know Mastercard is by far the predominant card in Canada. Everyone and then some accept it. Fewer accept Visa, and far fewer things like Amex or Discover.

Next time going to Canada, just take a Mastercard.

Comment Re:my credit union calls me in seconds. Cashiers s (Score 1) 337

Same exact thing happens with my credit union, once at a car repair place and again when I was buying an expensive electronic device at a store. I don't mind, because the same CU verification service also called me when someone had in fact stolen my debit card (the only time this has ever happened to me in decades, knock on wood) and used it to buy gift cards at a department store I never shop at in a part of the area I never visit.

Their detection algorithms saw it, called me, and when I told the computer NOT MY CHARGES, the card was locked down instantly after only about $100 had been spent. And I got that money back after filing an affidavit. I made a point to write a letter to the CU thanking the anonymous programmers who coded the fraud detection program, because it damn well works brilliantly.

It works SO well in fact the replacement debit card they issued would not allow me to reuse my old pin, even on a whole new card number. Nobody at the CU was aware reuse wasn't allowed so I got to teach them, in a way, just how well their own fraud detection was working. Very happy customer.

Contrast that with American Express, who didn't like the looks of a charge I made at a printing company buying some print for work, to be reimbursed later. Amex called me, and when I did verify the charge was legitimate, they said fine but instantly crushed my credit limit and caused the card to be maxed out, where it had plenty of credit before. This Amex card had a fixed credit limit as opposed to the traditional cards that get paid off every month. I was traveling at the time and lost the use of that card which caused a huge mess of trying to pay for things like dinner, hotel, etc. Amex also crushed the credit limit on another card I had with them.

They were unyielding and refused to reverse the changes even after I told them there was no fraud taking place. Total assholes.

Comment Re:I get my soft drink cravings (Score 1) 565

Do what the soda fans do and make your own. All you need is a CO2 tank and some hoses and fittings. Then you can use any 2-liter bottle to make more soda water whenever you want, basically for free once you've bought the stuff to make it.

Plenty of how-to videos on Youtube. Here's one:

Comment Re: GOOD GRIEF! (Score 1) 565

There is bottled water then there is bottled water. I refer of course to the Perrier class of bottled water vs the Hinkley-Schmidt class. The Perrier class is a lot more expensive and certainly a waste.

The point of drinking Perrier water is not to drink water, because it's not simple tap water. The gas and flavor is why people drink it. It is all about how Perrier is different from tap water that makes it interesting. I started drinking Perrier at about age 10 because I liked it, and my family was dirt poor so it wasn't something we had laying around.

Now as an adult, I have long since made my own carbonated water because it turned out the plain fizzy water is what I liked most of all. I've got three-year supply of carbon dioxide gas in a tank not 10 feet from me. I take this habit very seriously.

Comment Re:I have a problem with Amazon Prime Video... (Score 1) 222

I have 70Mbps high speed cable it but has a 350Gb cap

90Mbps and 300Gb cap. Only had it for about 21 days last month, having just gotten it installed. Still almost hit 300 and that was with only two movies and one hour TV episode on Prime video. No Netflix. No torrenting.

The more bandwidth you have, the higher the quality of the stream. And wow it does look great but wow it gobbles up data like crazy.

Comment Stupid Amazon (Score 1) 222

They don't want to support Chromecast and Apple TV because they are competitors to the Fire TV (except, they aren't really) and then they have the balls to outright lie about why, even when everybody knows damn well what they are doing.

I'm henceforth going to throw the Amazon apps off my Android phone and when my Prime sub comes up for renewal, I'll bury that sucker and let it rot.

Amazon's job in this world should be to provide a place to buy almost anything without regard to bullshit pissing matches like this. But it does seem like pissing is what they spend a lot of time doing AT Amazon. Someday somebody new will come along and take that company down a few notches just as Amazon took down so many others. Nothing lasts forever, especially when you act like a bully.

Anyway, this is all moot anyway. For MY needs, the Fire TV, chromecast and Apple TV all FAIL to deliver the content I want. Roku does have it, so guess which box I own? Hint: it's not the Fire. I've never like iTunes so none of my content is in it, and so, I have no use at all for an Apple TV. It's irrelevant to me. Chromecast, meh ok but still doesn't do what the Roku does. None of them do. It's that simple and there isn't even a war or battle or choice. There's one choice and wow it works fine so not like a choice of one is a problem.

Amazon I think wastes too damn much of their energy on doing what everyone else is doing mainly because they want to be me-too players. But it's a lot of ego and flops like the stupid Fire phone and only an occasional hit like the Kindle and Echo. Amazon does e-tailing better than anyone and warehouse logistics and robots like very few. If they stuck only to those things, they'd be doing just fine.

Comment Re:Maybe they don't even use RF (Score 2, Interesting) 142

Or maybe they don't use radio the way we do. We've got a whole planet here full of millions of life forms and only one of them ever discovered and harnessed radio, and then only very recently. So it appears life doesn't need radio to thrive.

Humans use it because we have a need to tell our old campfire stories at a distance, and because we like to or need to talk to each other. There is no reason to suspect another species would have these same needs. None of our nearly identical genetic cousins have these needs and they're 99% the same as us. What would aliens, nothing like us, do? Well probably not what we do.

So basically, SETI makes some big assumptions that aliens would be using radio the same way we do and there is just no logical basis for that assumption.

Snowden's theory is pointless as well because there is no way to prove or disprove it. If the aliens are encrypting we may not be able to detect it. And if we can't detect it, we can't say it's there or not. So Snowden is automatically right so long as no signal in the clear is detected. Heck he's automatically right for any signal unless it happens to be in some goofball human code format like ROT13 or some such thing AND we can run the right decoder on it to get the latest Zeta Reticuli warez or b(.)_(.)bz

Comment Hard sell (Score 1) 263

Updating these expensive machines will be a hard sell to cities and towns used to spending money on machines like loaders and dump trucks and dozers that last for decades and only leave service when they are so broken down, they cannot possibly be used any more. Look at vehicle auctions for used municipal equipment and you'll see some horror shows that were considered "just fine" weeks before the auction.

Contrast with a voting machine used maybe twice a year for ten years. How is THAT used up and worn out? It spends nearly ALL of the time folded up and stored somewhere. It should be like new.

Comment Re:Just get a dog (Score 1) 212

Not. Burglar hit my home this summer and got around my alarm system. The dog sat there and did nothing. Not a damn thing. One fucking job and the dog didn't do it.

I can forgive the alarm system failure. We missed a sensor area. I'm angry. But that dog eats and sleeps and craps and hangs around and demands expensive canned food and yet she can be bothered to defend the house? For that I am betrayed.

if you're gonna rely on a security system that licks its own ass and can be bothered to do a thing to stop intruders, well I hope that works out for you.

One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor... is to discourage... from expecting too much from mathematics. -- N. Wiener