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Comment: Re:So there is a problem... (Score 1) 174

by Teancum (#47685159) Attached to: Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program

Most garages, even in Minnesota (I grew up in that state), likely have exposed studs on the inside and would be trivial to put in some simple insulation if you wanted to bother.

But I agree... most of the garages aren't insulated nor is there any real reason to have it insulated either. The garage is there mainly to protect against the wind, keep the snow off the car, and keep the vehicle interior from fading in the sun.

Comment: Re:So there is a problem... (Score 2) 174

by Teancum (#47685117) Attached to: Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program

That is relatively recent to have that happen though. Most cars in the 1970's and earlier would almost never make 100k miles, and the odometers never even counted up beyond 100k miles either. It was the Japanese manufacturers (Toyota in particular) that started to push the endurance limits of automobiles and the American manufacturers had to follow.

In the semi-tractor market, those engines used to get only about 100k miles as well, but now it is pretty typical in the industry, with proper maintenance, to get the engines over 1 million miles before they need to be replaced. A truck that has gone a million miles likely needs to be replaced anyway.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 393

by Teancum (#47669063) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

The problem with each state's air guard buying a separate kind of fighter as it sees fit is mainly a volume issue, not a logistical one that you are noting. It would be presumed that if a local national guard unit would "buy" a fighter plane, that it would including all of the infrastructure to service that plane too. Most state guard units would buy just a couple to perhaps a couple dozen instead of making a block buy purchase of several thousand (like is being done with the F-35). There are definitely some economies of scale that come from making a larger purchase at once.

As for the chaos that would happen if all of the various state guard units needed to come together with different equipment and organizational charts.... that is sort of what happened during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Yes, it was chaos.... a very intentional and American chaos that was there because citizens didn't trust the federal government to have a large standing army at the time. It took some time to put the whole army together to fight those wars... something that was thought to be perhaps dangerous during the Cold War when the whole war could potentially be over in a matter of hours or perhaps just days. I don't know if that assessment is correct or not about the Cold War, but that is one of the reasons why state governments aren't given more freedom in organizing their guard units.

This also is no different than dealing the the various air forces in Europe, many from countries smaller than most American states both in terms of population as well as comparing the size of their national armies or air forces to state national guard units in America. The Belgian Air Force certainly is a part of NATO, but they also have a fiercely independent air force from any other national military organization and feel free to buy whatever weapons or aircraft that they and their national legislative body wants to purchase.

Comment: Re:Your "facts" are wrong (Score 3, Interesting) 393

by Teancum (#47660485) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

I would note that all of the other countries buying the F-35 (a stupid proposition in my book BTW) all do so contingent upon the U.S. government buying them. I'll also point out that Lockheed-Martin is not funding the design and construction of this airplane. It is simply the U.S. taxpayers alone. If anything, it is the U.S. government who is in effect offering its design to other countries... as a means to offset the development cost.

Comment: Re:You keep using that word (Score 1) 393

by Teancum (#47659175) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

I tried to find an example Space Shuttle mission that I could use to compare, but I can't even find a comprehensive list of "anomalies". I can find rollbacks, where the problem required bringing the vehicle back to the assembly building, but I can't find a list even of countdown stops.

The problem is that nearly every Shuttle flight had significant "anomalies". These were all reported in-house with things like this report for what in this case was very late in the flight history of the Shuttle program. For that matter, I don't think you could find a single flight by anybody other than perhaps North Korea (because you know how excellent the aerospace engineers are that work for that country) which didn't have at least some sort of technical problem on each and every flight.

BTW, I agree with the rest of your statement here too. This letter by these congressmen is in fact fodder for an opponent to really crucify them, assuming that the general public cared much about space policy in the first place.

Comment: Re:Follow the money (Score 1) 393

by Teancum (#47659093) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

I find it sort of funny how the Texas delegation to Congress is now becoming very supportive of SpaceX and its activities. The Florida delegation also is no longer playing favorites and trying to at least be neutral with regards to the ULA-SpaceX disputes and PR battles. California has long been in the tank with SpaceX (especially Representative Dana Rohrabacher, who just happens to have the Hawthorn, CA plant in his district), so it isn't like SpaceX is without allies in Congress either.

SpaceX is spreading stuff to other districts, and it is helping out, including non-geeks who are angry that tax dollars are being spent to prop up ULA. give it time and ULA will really start to lose political capital in a hurry.

Comment: Re:Not So Fast... (Score 1) 393

by Teancum (#47659049) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

It was a secondary payload that was even capable of having its mission completed. The one glitch is that there was an outside chance (more like one in a hundred thousand possibility or something like that, but still a possibility) that by firing up the 2nd stage to deliver that secondary payload to its previously agreed to flight parameters that if subsequently there was a failure of the 2nd stage engine during that burn, the satellite and that 2nd stage could have potentially crashed into the International Space Station.

It was NASA that prevented SpaceX from completing that secondary payload burn. Admittedly if the first stage had worked perfectly without the loss of engine event that for most other rockets would have resulted in a complete mission failure (especially at that stage of the launch), SpaceX would have even avoided the problem with the ISS. I can also understand NASA's paranoia about the ISS, as a hundred billion dollar investment is definitely worth more than a mere satellite costing tens of millions, not to mention potential loss of life on the ISS. But to call this a failure on the part of SpaceX is just over the top and silly. If only all space related problems were this minor.

Comment: Re:seriously? (Score 1) 393

by Teancum (#47658967) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Because someone paid them off to interfere with SpaceX.

I think a flat out bribe is unlikely, but it is very likely that one of their campaign contributors (most notably ULA or its parent companies of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin) have gone to these congressmen with this list of complaints, pointing out the problems that SpaceX has had trying to get into space, and definitely blown those problems way out of proportion to those members of congress. They aren't tech geeks, but when a group of tech geeks from your district come into your office (that they can get at any time due to those previously mentioned campaign contributions) with a complaint that has a whole bunch of techno-geek language, they gloss over the other problems and simply think "jobs" and "re-election".

The campaign contributions really are a legalized form of bribing, but what can be done to change that?

Comment: Re:What? (Score 4, Informative) 393

by Teancum (#47658861) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

It would be amazing if Lockheed-Martin simply developed an advanced attack fighter and offered it up for sale to any government who wanted it. The problem with the F-35 program is that it has precisely a single customer, the U.S. government. This is really a monopsony situation where potentially many people could sell stuff to the government, but there is only one buyer.

If, on the other hand, every state's Air National Guard had the option of spending their portion of their military budget as they saw fit (to give an example), at least there would be multiple customers potentially for this airplane and be assured that they could sell at least a few of them. Or if the government of America wasn't so paranoid about potential future enemies of America getting advanced aircraft (like how Howard Hughes designed the Japanese Zeros that bombed Pearl Harbor), they might have other customers there as well.

Luckily for SpaceX, they have other customers for their launch services. So much so that over half of their manifest is for non-government contracts, not to mention about half of their launches to date have also been for non-government customers too. That is what makes the situation with SpaceX so different, and why ULA is having a hard time trying to compete with SpaceX to the point they are encouraging congressmen to write silly letters like the one mentioned in the original post. The European Space Agency, explicitly Arianespace (the manufacturer of the ESA's launch fleet), is definitely in a panic trying to figure out how to compete against SpaceX and win back the customers now lost to SpaceX. If they don't change, the ESA will be stuck launching only payloads for European governments alone... but that is precisely the situation that ULA sits in right now in terms of only flying payloads for the U.S. government.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 393

by Teancum (#47658797) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

For some specific individuals, yes. For "private citizens" in general, no. The citizens as a whole have the exact same amount of money either way.

The question that needs to be asked though is if the money confiscated from citizens at gunpoint and run through government contractors, with noted and acknowledged corruption that exists for all governments no matter how hard people try to stop that corruption, is better spent through the government or if private individuals acting on their own self-interest are going to be far more productive with the economic resources at their disposal and simply making a better life for themselves with those resources.

I'm not talking billionaires or even millionaires. I'm talking ordinary people living very ordinary lives. Is it better that somebody buys a Nintendo Wii instead of sending that money to Washington DC to be used to build a tank instead? What about paying for an NSA computer that monitors your phone calls?

There certainly are some very intelligent people who might know more than a typical average citizen about how money could be spent, but is even a committee of the smartest people in the world about economics necessarily going to be predicting the future about what even the immediate needs if not future needs of ordinary people might be than simply the collective intelligence of those ordinary citizens? I argue that ordinary citizens usually get it right far more often than that select super-committee of very bright people, no matter their IQ, education, or experience. Your argument is that the smart people know better and that we are better off as slaves to those smart people.

History has shown that planned economies simply fail to predict future consumption needs very well, even with very good intentions. That is pretty much all you are saying when you are insisting that government spending should happen.

I'll admit there are some things that simply must be done by a government for the collective good of society. Maintaining the rule of law (meaning those who are weaker than average get protection from the government so they can be productive in doing things that brawn can't necessarily accomplish), enforcing contracts, resolving territorial disputes in a peaceful manner, and preventing outsiders to that society from subverting and taking over the society are all proper functions of government. The question that needs to be asked though is if some of the things currently being done by a government, any government, is better done by that government or simply left alone and handled by private citizens? That is the real question, and one you are not answering in your reply.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 393

by Teancum (#47658671) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

NASA does not build a damned thing. ULA (Lockheed Martin, Boeing) builds the EELV rockets. SLS is being build by ATK while Orion is built by Lockheed Martin.

This is just ULA being afraid they will lose their iron rice bowl.

NASA engineers are intimately involved with the development, procurement, and more important.... the R&D that is going into the the development of the SLS.

The EELV is a total red herring to your argument because the EELV program is something the Air Force, not NASA, created. NASA doesn't have anything to do with EELV rockets except to use them on occasions for flying payloads into space.... payloads that were originally supposed to be launched by the Space Shuttle but couldn't because it was thought that launching these payloads wasn't worth risking a crew (and a roughly 2% chance per flight of total loss of crew).

It is also a huge oversimplification that SLS is being built by ATK. Yes, ATK is a major contractor for the SLS, but literally hundreds of other contractors are involved too. But that doesn't even scratch the surface of this lie you have said by saying "NASA doesn't build a damn thing".

The most important thing to note is that NASA, through Congressional appropriations, is paying for the development of SLS. That is not true for the Falcon 9. While some NASA funds have been used for getting the commercial transport services contract going as well as the commercial crew program, that is a fixed price seed money contract where SpaceX is required to provide the bulk of the funding. More importantly, if there are any cost overruns, delays, or other problems... especially of a financial nature... SpaceX is required to take care of the difference from its own investors and cash reserves. If the SLS gets delayed by another decade and costs another $10 billion, that will be entirely paid for by taxpayers, not ULA, ATK, Aerojet, or any other contractor.

I think that difference is important, and something that is totally missed by your comment.

Comment: Re:What about the FPGA? (Score 1) 136

by Teancum (#47627919) Attached to: Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

I currently have a network router that has similar capabilities. If you can download some firmware and flash it into a device for an update, some malware can certainly do the same thing without your permission.

If on the other hand you need a serial cable of some sort that as a completely separate port for updating the firmware that is code-wise unaddressable from the CPU, it is much harder to do that kind of update. It doesn't stop a co-worker from pulling a prank or somebody with physical access to the computer introducing malware, but it definitely is much harder. Still, if you have physical access to a computer you can do all sorts of other mischief that is harder to do through pure software processes.

Most hardware is moving in the direction of internal software updates though, where the NASA thing isn't really all that remarkable and more of the rule rather than the exception.

Comment: Re:Windows XP?!? (Score 2) 136

by Teancum (#47626861) Attached to: Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

You write this response as if Windows XP has no market share at all, and that somehow software written for XP won't run on any newer operating systems or computers.

We aren't talking about something written in floating-point BASIC running on ProDOS 1.0 Surprisingly, emulators to run even that software exist on modern computers, so even that can be used.

Comment: Re:Why is this important? (Score 1) 136

by Teancum (#47626845) Attached to: Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

There is the OpenBTS software & equipment if you want to seriously get into hacking cell phone networks. The authors of that software have even used it for setting up a cell phone network at the Burning Man festivals. They chose this venue in part because being in the middle of nowhere that the Burning Man stuff happens also was unlicensed to commercial cell phone providers, thus they could get experimental FCC licenses for their project and not interfere with existing networks.

In theory, somebody could set up their own "pirate cell station" and have a whole lot of semi-legal or flat out illegal fun with this equipment. It does cost a few thousand dollars to get the rig set up, which is why more teens likely don't go playing with the technology more.

On the positive side, these guys have been setting up cell networks in pretty remote places like sub-Saharan Africa and some Pacific islands to provide people with cell phone coverage that otherwise couldn't afford to have this kind of luxury. Commercial equivalents to this equipment are at least 10x or 100x the price.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.

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