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Comment: Re:Better get those lobbyists ready, Comcast (Score 1) 98 98

When Comcast is looking as a wonderful alternative to me right now compared to the absolutely miserable experience I have with Century Link, I can see at least for my community that this will indeed be some realistic competition for terrestrial ISPs. All they have to beat is $100 per month for more than 800 kilobits/s of service to be economically viable for my family.

Yes, where I live internet service is that crappy. The data gets through, but it is insanely slow and often is far less than 800 kilobits in terms of typical bandwidth... so much so that even dial-up modems seem to have more throughput. I don't exactly live in a major metro area, but it is still a minor city with a population of about 200k people that has fiber optic links into the area that can sustain much higher bandwidth to ordinary households than currently is the case.

I am pretty certain that these terrestrial carriers will be finally upgrading their equipment and be competitive once these alternative networks start to become common place as well.

Comment: Re:Fuck the FCC (Score 1) 98 98

And it is through the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that most countries coordinate the usage of global spectrum usage. This includes the USA, particularly with regards to almost anything having to do with spaceflight where you have spectrum usage that crosses international boundaries... like will most definitely happen in the case of this satellite constellation.

In the USA, you work through the FCC to make those ITU filings though.

Comment: Re:4000 (Score 3, Interesting) 98 98

I'd wager that financial market trading traffic alone could pay for a significant portion of this bill at super premium rates, especially overseas traders. Not to mention traffic from ships, planes, rural 1st world locations all paying a premium. They can implement zone pricing pretty easily because they will always be able to able to triangulate a transmission down to the inch. With a network that dense it would greatly surpass the accuracy of the existing GPS constellation.

I had not thought of that idea before in terms of a potential customer for this set-up. That is an excellent point. Iridium could have been used for something like this (which also has a digital data component), but given the technology capabilities available at the time Iridium was being built, they could only get about 4800 baud for individual customers... something that makes the bandwidth latency sort of irrelevant. High bandwidth and low latency combined with global coverage would indeed be a good customer.

The major competitor to this concept in that regard is an even older technology though, mainly the 19th Century concept (updated to using 21st Century materials) of the cable laying ship. An awful lot of fiber cable has been laid down across all of the oceans of the world between major cities. It is only when you can't access that fixed terrestrial network that something of this nature really becomes useful (as you've mentioned).

As a means to deliver that last mile architecture, it really opens up possibilities.

Comment: Re:To all you Obama supporters (Score 2) 165 165

The net result of appealing to the FISA Court in this situation more or less means that the issue will be forced into the U.S. Supreme Court. That is one place where even the FISA Court must follow precedent, or else be taken for what it has become as an extra branch of the government answerable to nobody.

To me, that even risks the potential of having the FISA Court itself ruled unconstitutional and a whole can of worms that the Obama administration really doesn't want opened. While I think it is unlikely that SCOTUS will go that far (no matter how I would love to see that happen) it could very well be that some strong oversight by SCOTUS might happen, which has the ability to run the judiciary.

It also opens civil litigation opportunities if somebody wants to be a real jerk about this, again depending on whatever the nine justices want to see done. While perhaps the weakest of the three branches of government, they do have some bite and can demonstrate to Obama and in particular set a precedent for future presidents that he shouldn't dismiss judicial actions so casually.

Comment: Re:New Mexico already has a newspaceport (Score 2) 57 57

Because SpaceX is using the New Mexico spaceport.... too!

That facility is mainly going to be used for R&D testing of their recoverable rocket systems, such as what they've been doing at their Waco facility with the Grasshopper series of flights. At the moment, they are hoping to use one of the rocket cores built for a regular flight and doing the reuse testing in New Mexico... with the much higher altitude flight clearance they can get in New Mexico which simply isn't permitted in central Texas.

Besides, the spaceport in New Mexico is mainly built for sub-orbital flights and doing stuff like launching the Virgin Galactic space planes. Who said it isn't in use?

Comment: Re:Compare an expected cost, to an actual cost? (Score 3, Insightful) 57 57

left the US with no manned launch capability and no heavy lift rockets Let's hope history will not repeat itself.

What is to compare here? This is a private launch facility that will likely never see any crews launch from this location, as it will be mainly commercial communications satellites and a few other commercial payloads that will be flying from Texas. It is also being built with mostly (but certainly not exclusively) private funds with the idea that the company building this facility will use it to earn a healthy profit from its activities.

There is no history to actually repeat in this situation, other than following the history of other commercial launch endeavors that simply went bankrupt. SpaceX, on the other hand, seems to be profitable and doesn't show signs at the moment of even struggling to make payroll. Far from struggling to make ends meet, they are doing some serious capital expenditures to expand their existing business. This launch facility in Texas is proof that SpaceX plans on increasing their launch rate considerably over the next decade or more.

+ - The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden - journalist Seymor Hersh tells a different story

zedaroca writes: Pulitzer-winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh wrote on London Review of Books a 10.000 words piece on the killing of Osama Bin Laden, quoting American and Pakistani officials. According to his piece, the US had intelligence and operational help from Pakistan (by getting out of the way).

It began with a walk-in. In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad.

(...)

Kayani eventually tells us yes, but he says you can’t have a big strike force. You have to come in lean and mean. And you have to kill him, or there is no deal,’ the retired official said. The agreement was struck by the end of January 2011, and Joint Special Operations Command prepared a list of questions to be answered by the Pakistanis: ‘How can we be assured of no outside intervention? (...)

So far, at least NBC has backed up part of Hersh's report.

+ - Rand Paul Will Filibuster PATRIOT ACT Reauthorization-> 1 1

SonicSpike writes: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said this week that he intends to mount a fight against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the post-Sept. 11 law that gives the National Security Agency much of its authority to conduct surveillance programs.

"I'm going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward. We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us," Paul told the New Hampshire Union Leader on Monday.

The Patriot Act expires June 1, but Congress must effectively renew the law by May 22nd because of a scheduled weeklong break. Paul, a civil libertarian who hopes to capture the 2016 Republican nomination for president, has consistently spoken against reauthorizing the law, going so far as to oppose a 2014 bill that would have ended controversial NSA phone record collection because it left the government's broad authority to conduct surveillance intact.

Link to Original Source

+ - World's Most Dangerous Driving Simulator->

agent elevator writes: Lawrence Ulrich at IEEE Spectrum has an interview with the maker of a simulator for professional racers, the $54,000 Motion Pro II from CXC Simulations. It conveys amazingly fine sensations including: the feel of the car's tires wearing out or the car lightening as its fuel dwindles. It also has the kick to make you really feel a crash: “If you hit the wall in an Indy Car and don’t take your hands off the wheel, you’ll break your wrists... Our wheel is a one-to-one replication of that, but we don’t turn it up that high. It’s the first time we’ve been able to replicate racing forces so high that it introduces liability questions.”
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:misquote (Score 2) 117 117

SpaceX happens to have another barge for the Vandenberg launches. It still is a big deal in terms of landing in a desert, as you have the option of either trying to fly laterally to Mexico (with some international arms control problems with ITAR) or overfly Los Angeles and/or San Diego with that rocket.

Vandenberg happens to be located at a point where California sort of turns off to the east, and is used for polar orbits explicitly because there is a whole lot of nothing except for ocean between Santa Barbara County and Antarctica. Try to look at a map sometime and answer this question: Which city is further west: Los Angeles or Reno?

There is a landing pad being constructed both at KSC (in Florida) as well as at Vandenberg. Right now both NASA and more significantly the USAF (for Vandenberg especially) are waiting to see the results of landing on the barge first before formal approval for landing at the pads is going to be authorized.

It should be pointed out too that SpaceX does have a landing pad with several dozen square miles of desert to work in at Spaceport America in New Mexico. There was some construction work going on there at least in the recent past, and so far as I know the tests to be conducted there haven't been canceled although most of the current effort seems to be work on the revenue flights like this CRS-6 flight rather than the proposed test flights in New Mexico that were to be suborbital flights mainly going up really high and then coming back to the Earth with possibly a flight over White Sands (which is adjacent to Spaceport America and is both restricted airspace and ground access due to it being a military base). Flight clearance at that location is such that they can go much higher there than they can at their Texas test facility.

As long the launches are at KSC or Vandenberg, however, the recovery at the moment will simply need to be at sea. Physics also plays a part as other than returning to the original launch site, down range from either launch site is simply ocean as far as you can go in the general flight path.

Comment: Re:BASIC (Score 2) 315 315

Visual BASIC used to be a pretty decent programming environment, and definitely didn't need a single GOTO command. There are other variants, although some of the later versions of Visual BASIC (to name one variant) have far too much influence from C++ developers in my opinion and has basically ruined a perfectly fine language.

Other than compiling the language to P-code or some other interpreted middle-language (something that is definitely not unique to the language either), I fail to see what real drawbacks those with complaints about BASIC have. It certainly can be used as the primary development language for any modern application on any current computer platform including desktop computers or tablets and is simply a choice in a programmer's toolbox as well as based on the whim of the project manager for whoever is developing the application.

Comment: Re:scratch (Score 2) 315 315

The largest advantage of Scratch is the immediate results and the mixture of multimedia content that can be done with literally just a single click of a button. It can be extended to further complexity just one or two mouse clicks at a time.

For this, I completely disagree that Python is a viable replacement or even worse something that should be done instead of Scratch. Don't get me wrong, Python is a fine computer programming language and perhaps as a 2nd language to teach a kid it might be very useful. It is just lousy as an introductory environment for somebody in grade school or junior high school to learn the basic concepts of computer programming.

The other fun thing about Scratch that beats Python hands down is that Scratch is also multi-threaded with parallel processes happening as a major feature of the language. Kids doing stuff in Scratch don't even realize they are doing that kind of stuff until it is pointed out that some program/project they are making has nearly a dozen threads and even more event handlers being used. I don't see Python being nearly so easy to introduce such concepts.

Comment: Re:Youtube? (Score 1) 198 198

It doesn't even need a watermark. Simply a tag in the data stream. Yes, I know a clueful user could strip this out, but most people don't know enough about data streams to properly remove such tags, especially if there is a checksum or some other feature that needs to be recalculated. Such tags are commonly passed on when used in most editors, so it isn't even a new feature.

This isn't time consuming at all. YouTube and other similar channels commonly scan for tags as well for other kinds of meta data, so adding a simple if clause that flags the video as lacking proper licensing is enough to kick it out. YouTube in particular does processing of all videos uploaded into its own proprietary data format for internal storage and does other kinds of processing like scanning for copyrighted content. This is literally trivial in comparison.

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