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

by Teancum (#49673257) Attached to: Construction At SpaceX's New Spaceport About To Begin

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

by Teancum (#49673213) Attached to: Construction At SpaceX's New Spaceport About To Begin

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

Submitted by zedaroca
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

Submitted by SonicSpike
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->

Submitted by agent elevator
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

by Teancum (#49475823) Attached to: SpaceX Dragon Launches Successfully, But No Rocket Recovery

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

by Teancum (#49445989) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

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

by Teancum (#49445927) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

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

by Teancum (#49339597) Attached to: Pixar Releases Free Version of RenderMan

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.

Comment: Re:that's sad (Score 2) 56

by Teancum (#49324899) Attached to: NASA's Abandoned Launch Facilities

The problem is that they are sitting in the middle of a wildlife refuge, and doing any demolition would actually cause far more damage to the local environment than simply leaving them in place. This is both in terms of simply hauling the demolition equipment in and trying to "rehabilitate" the land in some fashion after you have cleared away the mess.

Besides, there is always the possibility that some of those sites could still be reused, and concrete poured in the past for a launch pad is often very useful for subsequent launch site. For instance, the landing pad site at KSC that SpaceX is using to recover the Falcon 9 1st stage components is a former launch site that SpaceX got permission from both NASA and the USAF to clear away the metal on the site and set up the other things (like a radio beacon for the core to find) that needed to be put into the site as well.

Otherwise, the land is not really all that useful and can't be used for anything other than a place to study wildlife or launch rockets. Certainly no commercial businesses or homes can be built in the area unless it is directly in support of launch vehicles themselves. There is nothing else for it to do other than rot away, which has other very useful value in terms of trying to see what actually stands up to the environment of Florida over time and what doesn't.

Comment: Re:How quaint, a new Windows SDk (Score 0) 133

by Teancum (#49324813) Attached to: Microsoft Releases Windows 10 SDK

Yup, the motto of Microsoft truly is:

We take yesterday's technology one step closer to today!

The problem is that betting against Microsoft has generally be a bad thing, especially in the operating system software realm. I've been trying hard to avoid using Windows, but it keeps coming back from the dead each time I try to kill it and switch to Linux due to various kinds of issues. This might be the final nail in the coffin for me though as I may just weld shut any attempt to use Windows in the future.

Comment: Re:There might be hope for a decent adaptation (Score 2) 331

by Teancum (#49186947) Attached to: 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

The Number of the Beast is a horrible introduction to Heinlein, and is sort of the last in a long line of books about Lazarus Long. It purposely went into a fictional tangent of multiverses where literally anything could happen, and it was written as though it could. It was basically written for the hardcore fans of his other books to tie together multiple characters and wrap up dangling storylines as a capstone book to his entire collection. It would be like watching a TV series final episode that has been running for many years, and you trying to make sense of what was going on when it was the very first episode you ever watched.

No wonder you couldn't figure it out.

Of books I'd recommend, "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" and "The Man Who Sold the Moon" are much more approachable and don't contain characters from other books (although Harriman does show up in some other books too). "Friday" is one of his more recent books that IMHO is pretty good too, but was written in the "Dirty Old Man" stage of his career none the less.

If you absolutely don't want to take on Heinlein or feel like not reading any other books of his, I'd then suggest reading some Isaac Asimov... especially the Foundation Series. Unfortunately those stories do need to be read in order though.

Comment: Re: There might be hope for a decent adaptation (Score 2) 331

by Teancum (#49186861) Attached to: 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

All of that meant that he completely missed the story in the book itself. It would be like telling the story of the Lord of the Rings from the viewpoint of Sauron and making it very sympathetic to his viewpoint too, portraying Gandalf as a stupid idiot sent to torment him. I could use other examples, but at least Peter Jackson was a fan of the Tolkein books. Verhoeven hated the political philosophies of Heinlein and didn't even really bother trying to finish the book itself before finishing the screenplay.

The point here is that "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is likely to become the same kind of crap that misses what it could become if it was made by a genuine fan of the author and book. The adaptation, while perhaps a bit funny, misses some of the key undertones of the book and what actually sets it apart from an ordinary story.

I only hope that a real Heinlein fan will eventually do his books justice. The only film that has done his stories justice is "Destination: Moon", and that is partly because Heinlein himself was on set for much of the film shoot as a technical adviser.

"The Amiga is the only personal computer where you can run a multitasking operating system and get realtime performance, out of the box." -- Peter da Silva