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Comment One small detail kind of ruins it (Score 1) 82

This statement is not correct:

"Here in the US Project 25 (P25 or APCO-25) is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for federal users, but for state/county and local public safety organizations including police dispatch channels are using Mototrbo DMR digital standard."

It should say "Here in the US Project 25 (P25 or APCO-25) is a suite of standards for digital radio communications for federal users, but SOME state/county and local public safety organizations including police dispatch channels are using Mototrbo DMR digital standard."

Most state/local agencies are in fact using P25. Some are using DMR, others use other things. The same is true for commercial businesses. They can operate in P25, DMR, Nextedge, etc on a variety of bands, which means it's rather more complicated to hear everyone and everything at the same time.

Comment Hmmm I have a 380. Now maybe I have a USE for it (Score 1) 82

I've had an MDR380 for a while but it's been sitting in a drawer because DMR for amateur radio is a joke.

They've built all these local, regional, and national talk groups but everyone is afraid to use them in case somebody else wants to use them, so everyone who does try is either scared or they are idiots who hog it for tens of minutes.

And the DMR system is broken such that when you turn on your radio, you have no idea if the repeater you are calling is linked into anything. The act of transmitting will cause an idling repeater to wake up and reconnect at which point you stomp on an existing conversation if any are taking place.

So DRM for hams is a real mess that makes D-STAR look amazing by comparison.

Anyway, now maybe this 380 will have a use. But probably not.

Comment Translation (Score 1) 293

Translation: State Farm plans to spam the fuck out of you, chasing every step you take with coupons and offers and helpful hints and discount offers on vitamins and shoes.

You: walk to your mailbox to get the mail
State Farm: Hey Billy, looks like you're going out today. Did you know we can offer you a discount on home owner's insurance for multiple car households, and did you fully understand and appreciate the paragraph in your policy that cancels coverage for anything we don't feel like paying, and hey here is a coupon for a hamburger and fries!
State Farm: Dear Mr. Billy, careful analysis of your risk profile has revealed areas of concern which will cause us to raise your premium at the next renewal. Specifically, your consumption of a hamburger and fries puts you into a higher risk pool. And your desire to save money on insurance by pursuing multi-policy discounts indicate that you have or are seeking to have extra insurance policies which is a risk factor for loss and fraud. For these reasons your rates are doubling. You can appeal but we don't care. Suck it brother!
State Farm: Hey Billy, have you heard about our multi-policy discounts? Online Agent Ashley, who is totally not the Ashley Comcast uses, is ready to talk to you NOW!

Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 232

I don't buy it. The public happily flings piles of cash at really bad movies which in turn causes other filmmaker to make the say kind of movies since, well, the public WILL go see it.

Case in point, the James Bond film Skyfall. It made HUGE box office but when you actually look at what was in the film, it was just a generic action movie with the Bond name stuck on it, and there was nothing in the film that had anything to do with the Bond trademarks (gadgets, babes, really bad villain). Instead there were no gadgets worth mentioning, nor babes, the villain and in fact the entire cast were idiots, and the whole plot only happened the way it did because the writers made it so, not because it made any sense whatsoever.

Nobody cared. A lot of stuff blew up and a lot of tickets got sold. For the most recent Bond film, Spectre, I believe I read that it had within it the biggest practical effects explosion ever filmed for a movie. They bragged heavily about this and for my part I know nothing else about the movie except they blew up a lot of pyro and gasoline bombs. Which makes my point that it's now all about how big you can make the boom and far less about story or acting or direction. Nah. Just toss in some pyro and gasoline bombs, film it in slo mo and rake in the dollars. And because you do rake in the money, you and 50 other people will make the same film only bigger next time.

Comment Trust us, we're from the government (Score 4, Informative) 54

There is only one step:

Visit "witnesses" and tell them "You didn't see anything strange in the sky, did you?" in a menacing manner. Thus there are no "sightings" to worry about.

In truth, they brought in J.Allen Hynek as a Project Bluebook skeptic. And he was deeply involved in debunking sightings and reports. But by the time he left Bluebook, he had begun to see patterns of evidence he could not dismiss or ignore, and became convinced he had been wrong and something actually was happening. The man walked in a scientist with a closed mind and by the time he left, he'd changed his mind completely. That doesn't happen without a good reason. Hynek remained a UFO believer for the rest of his life.


Comment Human mind (Score 1) 225

The human mind does have limits, driven by the assumptions we learn or develop as we age, and also by our senses. We can only directly perceive a certain number of things that we can see or touch or feel or taste.

The universe may be full of dimensions and forces and things we can't see and therefore don't know about. Dark matter is one, something we know little about and can barely detect yet it is apparently the most common kind of matter. And we can't even see it, touch it, anything.

If there are other things like dark matter, well, we can't see them and don't know about them and have no theories about them. Our view of the universe will never be complete and we wouldn't even know it. Some people say they see ghosts or sense things. We dismiss them as delusions or worse and never take it seriously as an aspect of something we cannot normally detect. We write it off.

And then we have this very narrow assumption about where life can exist; the so-called Goldilocks zone. We refuse to believe there is any other possibility. Yet we admit we don't know everything about the universe. We are shocked when we find worlds with the same geologic features we have here. Why are we so shocked that things are the same?

But if we don't know even know sand dunes form the same in many places (holy shit, it should be news if they DIDN'T, not that they DO), how do we dare make this judgement about where life can be? Why do we assume it has to be life as we know it? This view is ridiculously close to the idea that the Earth is the center of all and the template for all. And it's wrong.

The only thing we know for sure is that we don't know an awful lot. And yes it may be beyond human comprehension to ever really know what's going on.

It does not help that we spend a huge chunk of our lives learning basic schooling, toil for a while and then die. We don't live long enough to actually spend a long time examining the universe. We lack perspective. We spend too many good energetic years stuck in classrooms learning the way people learned 200 years ago. Hell, we still embrace Greek concepts of higher education that go back thousands of years. Is this the best way? Nobody knows because nobody will try anything else.

Comment Re:The studios may not have a choice (Score 3, Insightful) 106

Not only is this not illegal, this is how it's been done as far back as there have been TV shows and movies. But it is also done with books, music, video games and board games, computer software, and so on. It the US, the markets are as small as major cities. So a TV station in LA pays for rights to Seinfeld and another station in San Francisco pays again, perhaps not even the same price. This goes on across the US in city after city. And TBS pays for a national cable license.

And in the end you get the program sales copy bragging about how the show has been cleared in 9 of the 10 top markets and 45 of the top 50, plus countries. Add to that streaming services around the world -Netflix isn't the only such streaming company.

The bottom line is that the companies who make this stuff have an interest in getting as many separate buyers to pay as much as possible for every single piece.

It's been this way forever. It isn't going to change now because untold sums of money are vested in keeping it the way it is. Just as an example, back in the day Carsey-Warner made well over $1 billion dollars selling reruns of Roseanne to TV stations around the US. Each station paid up to millions of dollars PER episode. Likewise, reruns of the Cosby show sitcom (once THE powerhouse show, hard as that may be to believe now) also went for in excess of a billion dollars.

Now, there is no way a Netflix or anyone else can possibly top that kind of money. Why should a Carsey-Warner settle for a percentage of that money from Netflix when they can get it all? Do you know how many salespeople made huge commission off that, and how many TV stations were able to sell massive amounts of commercial time on those shows? If you want to be on Cosby, you gotta buy a whole package of ads to run around the clock, you see,

Syndication isn't that valuable any more in the US but there is still a lot of money in it outside the US.

Comment The real problem with Trump is whimsy (Score 1) 154

The thing with Trump is that he proudly proclaims he does, and will do if elected, pretty much as he pleases.

So Trump on his own could decide to support a bigger space program OR he could decide we don't need one at all, purely at his whimsy. Now it can be said that the current system of idiots arguing about things and not getting a lot done is not very effective, but it does occasionally come up with things that are good ideas even if they cost money or are otherwise somehow unpalatable.

Trump's approach, and again one he is proud of, is to declare his support or not for things. No appeal. No second opinion. If Trump says we get a bridge to nowhere Alaska, we get one. If Trump says NO to fixing the 405, or food stamps or tax refunds or who knows what, then we don't get them.

He isn't interested in listening to opinions or research. He makes off the cuff decisions. And not all of them are good. And he seems to feel zero remorse for bad choices or mistakes. There is no ownership or accountability or humility, which are traits needed and useful to being President. Trump would make a good king or something, where the throne rules and that's all and that's law. But we deserve better than that. We deserve a president who will make decisions he or she doesn't like, things that make them sick in the stomach or keep them up at night, because somethings those decisions have to be made. We don't need somebody making their choices on whimsy.

Comment 4-year cycle will kill it (Score 4, Insightful) 120

It doesn't really matter what NASA has now. Space exploration requires projects that run 20 or 50 or even 100 years. Yes we have to reach that far if we really want to hit some big goals.

But the 4-year election cycle means NASA's funding is threatened every time we elect a new round of idiots. Sometimes they are Pro-NASA but mostly they aren't, and cutting funding is what happens.

You cannot explore space with a 20-year plan supported by fickle 4-year election cycles and 2-bit politicians.

Other countries like China have no such issues. China can set a 50-year plan and proceed to start on it. NASA is stuck.

Comment Re:very happy with Google Fi (Score 1) 83

Just did the same thing this month, leaving Verizon for Fi.

Math worked out same as yours. I'm saving about $70 a month and it breaks even after month 8 only taking so long because I had to pay off a fairly new Edge phone, sell it, and then buy a Nexus 6. The service has been fine on Fi. The $40 bill a month is just amazing. Very pleased.

Comment No thanks Verizon. I fired YOU! (Score 1) 83

I just paid Verizon a fair pile of money to buy out my Edge plan so I could port my number AWAY from them.

Bought a Nexus phone and signed up with Project Fi and cut my wireless bill by about $70 a month. Leaving Verizon hurt in terms of cash spent now but I'll start saving money in about 8 months and from them on, saving $70 a month is SO worth it.

Miss the Galaxy S6 I had on Verizon but the Nexus works OK and the Fi service is fine.

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