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Comment Re:Here we go again ... (Score 4, Informative) 59

You can't go from 6 decades of isolation to thinking US style Capitalism isn't going to fuck up the place if you try to do it overnight.

Uhmm, Cuba was only isolated by the United States for the last 6 decades. Other countries have been doing business with them for a very long time.

Back in 2006 I was sent to Guantanamo Bay for a week-long contract. As I was walking into the Navy Exchange to grab some beer, my blackberry rang, I picked it up and answered, and everyone around me looked at me like I was from Mars. It dawned on me at that point that I probably had the only working cell phone on base, since as a Canadian (with a Canadian service contract), my phone had no trouble roaming onto the Cuban cell network.

Yeah, it was only GPRS, but for text email on a Blackberry it was still better than two rocks to bang together.

Comment Re:Faulty sat? No problem... (Score 3, Informative) 187

In regards to WAAS, I think you're talking about something else. WAAS was developed for the FAA to allow the use of GPS in all stages of flight, including precision landing.

It's based on a network of high precision ground receivers which are used to calculate two sets of correction information. The first is intended for all receivers in the WAAS footprint (basically North America), and consists of estimates of the error in the satellite position, and clock errors. The other breaks the continent up into a grid, and provides local estimates for errors in the ephemeris, clock errors, and ionospheric delay.

Comment Re:Faulty sat? No problem... (Score 4, Informative) 187

Actually GPS receivers on earth are in a constant state of being updated. Part of the transmission from the satellite includes a continuous update of the orbital data for the GPS constellation, and other related data. Also, in North America, the WAAS system downlinks atmospheric correction data in real-time so that the GPS receiver can compensate for changes in the ionosphere.

Comment Re:GMO itself isn't the problem. Its how its used (Score 1) 357

I guess I wasn't all that clear in my comment. First, in my opinion, the whole "Organic" craze is a load of hokum. The fact of the matter is that we've been genetically modifying our crops for thousands of years. I have no problems with genetically modified organisms, and will happily eat them.

What I have an issue with is IP side of that world. If Monsanto et al patented the techniques for producing the genetically modified seed, that's one thing. To patent the gene itself is another entirely. As much of an ass as Percey Schmeiser is, I don't see what the problem with him selecting for the roundup ready gene in his own field is. That was a genetic trait that appeared in his field, and he should be able to breed for that. He did not use the same technique to produce those seeds as Monsanto uses.

Comment Re:GMO itself isn't the problem. Its how its used (Score 5, Informative) 357

The bigger issue is the Intellectual Property issues associated with the GMO crops. As part of the license agreements that come with the GMO seeds, Farmers are no longer permitted to keep behind a portion of their crop to plant the following year, should they wish, and are thus forced to buy new seed every year. Yeah, it may be profitable in the good times, but it dramatically reduces their self-sufficiency.

Comment Re:Meh. (Score 1) 412

You're probably right when it comes to North Korea, but it's worth mentioning that players in the nuclear weapons game have had variable yield devices for some time now. The US B-61 bomb could be set for 0.3kt to a maximum of 80kt with a dial [wikipedia.org] by the ground operator who loads it into the bomber.

The most likely mechanism for "dial-a-yield" is by varying the amount of tritium injected into the pit prior to detonation, thus dramatically changing the efficiency of the primary and/or changing the geometry of the secondary so that there is either fusion or not.

Comment Re:Meh. (Score 2) 412

It is basically just a fission core with a lithium deuteride booster.

Well, no, not really. A boosted weapon is vastly different than a true thermonuclear weapon. In a boosted weapon, you inject a small amount of Tritium into the Plutonium core. The fusion of the tritium causes a burst of fast neutrons, which in turn causes additional fission in the remaining Plutonium and/or Uranium tamper, significantly improving the efficiency of the weapon. This is significantly different than a thermonuclear weapon, which has distinct fission and fusion sections (which uses Lithium Deuteride, as you mentioned).

However, there is a minimum size for a thermonuclear weapon; The fission part has to be powerful enough to create the conditions necessary for fusion, and to fission the Lithium into Tritium, then the Neutrons generated by the fusion will then generate additional fission in the remaining Plutonium (and Uranium). It's really doubtful that you could have a true thermonuclear explosion that only produced 5 to 6 kilotons; the fission-fusion-fission cycle just can't work at that low energy.

Comment Re:Recovery != Reuseability (Score 1) 108

If you want to bet that a recovered falcon 9 first stage can't be used, the only way that argument will work is if you argue that the airframe somehow suffers irreversible damage during the recovery maneuver. Other than this, it would be extremely strange.

The real question is how much work and labour will it take to re-certify the systems for flight. If it costs $70 million to re-certify a $60 million rocket, it becomes a case of "it's possible but not worthwhile." What people forget in a lot of these situations is that the biggest ticket item in most of these projects is the labour involved, not the cost of the hardware itself.

Comment Re:Making whole (Score 3, Interesting) 313

Make whole? I've got an '06 TDI (so well before this whole thing), but have friends who have the affected models. None of them are upset with VW over this, and all are enjoying their good mileage, decent performance, and decent build quality. Neither of my two friends are interested in the recall should it seriously affect performance and/or mileage. The NOx issues are because the engine burns too efficiently (ie hot flame front); in order to reduce the NOx, you have to deliberately de-tune the engine.

I predict that after this, the #1 modification will be to re-tune the engine.

Comment Re:Not just surplus (Score 1) 138

Thankfully there is still quite a bit of SM devices that you can hand-solder, or at least deal with without having to have $10000 worth of equipment to work with

It's not even out of the realm for home-users to run projects with BGAs and similar components. With the advent of reasonable prices for multi-layer PCB prototyping, and tricks like toaster oven reflow and/or frying-pan reflow, home-based tinkerers can build a lot of really interesting devices.

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