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Comment: Re:America Needs Dream Chaser (Score 1) 24 24

The issue with most all of the proposals for the re-compete contract for supplying the ISS is that all of them would have to land either a) in water (requiring a ship/barge for recovery) or b) hard landing on land (much like the Soyuz does). In both instances, you run a risk of damaging equipment you're wanting returned to Earth (water contamination, hard landing adding additional stress to hardware, etc.)

The Dream Chaser's advantage is that it can land on a runway. As long as the runway has sufficient length (Ellington's two runways are both over 8,000 ft in length) then Dream Chaser can land safely. The only real issues would be either a) a failure involving the landing gear, or b) FOD on the runway itself.

Comment: Re:Why land in the middle of a city? (Score 3, Interesting) 24 24

Ok, speaking as someone who a) works for a major aerospace company, b) is involved with the ISS program and c) lives here in Clear Lake, there are some major benefits to landing at Ellington Field. First off, you're right down the road from the Johnson Space Center, which means anything you're bringing back down from the ISS you'll be able to deliver right to NASA or the primary contractor (which is Boeing, which sits right next to Ellington Field). So you save time and transportation costs by delivering it right there.

Second, Ellington Field's approach line is over a lot of open land. If NASA, the Air Force and the Navy uses the base for jet flights (not to mention being a drone launching site), then landing an arriving lifting body from space won't be as much of a problem. The plans for Ellington Field's space facilities was to also have launches, but you take what you can get and this is really the first company willing to commit to them.

Third, you've got the ability to route to alternate landing fields (Hobby Field, Sugar Land Regional) if there is an issue on approach.

Frankly, this does look like it'll be an interesting event if they manage to win the resupply contract.

Comment: Only in the US... (Score 1) 613 613

... is Daylight Savings Time longer than any other country in the world. That's because our politicians just HAD to screw around with it.

Instead of starting like everyone else, going from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October, the US politicians (who were more afraid of their kids walking in the dark on Halloween) decided to implement an 8-month DST, starting with the first Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November. This throws a wrench into a lot of things (such as financial systems, shipments, schedules, etc.). It would be fine if we'd use the same dates as everyone else, but no, America's gotta be different, all because a few Congressmen think they can dictate time.

Me? I'm happy with straight normal time.

Comment: Re:HangArs (Score 1) 48 48

Those plans were for the X-37C, which would have been a version of the X-37B that would be nearly twice as large. And yes, the plans would include a pressurized compartment that would hold up to six occupants.

Mind you, the Air Force has always had plans of putting up some kind of orbiting platform ever since the 1960's. The Manned Orbiting Laboratory (using Gemini capsules and the Titan II) was actually going to be launched and occupied by a group of USAF-trained astronauts, but it was eventually killed. Meanwhile, the Russians went ahead with their plans, culminating in the Almaz/Salyut space station which led into Mir, then finally the International Space Station.

Comment: Quite Amusing (Score 1) 39 39

What makes it so much fun is that they did a great parody of the movie poster, got the actual costumes and props, and kudos to Samantha Cristoforetti for not only coming up with it, but the little mini-patches that have the image of the ISS, the number 42, a thumb, and the words "Don't Panic" on it.

And working at a contractor for NASA just outside the JSC, I'll see a few of these posters show up. And try to creatively snag a few of them.

Comment: Re:Commercial Crew Press Conference (Score -1) 188 188

Unimaginative? Both are capsules, that's about as unimaginative as you can get. As for SpaceX, I suspect reality will hit them when they realize that building a manned capsule isn't as easy as they think it is. A cargo capsule was easy, even with the issues they've had since their first cargo mission (the last one involving a lot of seawater getting into the capsule).

And if you think that Falcon 9 is going to get man-rated anytime soon, well... think again. SpaceX is going to have to launch on the same *Lockheed* Atlas V initially as Boeing is, and Boeing does have the Delta IV that could just as easily be used (without the RD-180 Russian engine, by the way...)

Comment: Re:Ok, enough with the battery jokes (Score 1) 162 162

[Disclaimer: I do not work for Apple] Pure FUD. Go to the Apple website, do a bit of searching around, until you find the document describing the iPhone security features. At this point in time, there is no police force that can read email from a confiscated iPhone unless the user unlocks it.

Care to try again? From Forbes:

But even when those login safeguards are set up in other cases, law enforcement have still often been able to use tools to bypass or brute-force a phone’s security measures. Google in some cases helps law enforcement to get past Android phones’ lockscreens, and if law enforcement can’t crack a seized iPhone, officers will in some cases mail the phone to Apple, who extract the data and return it stored on a DVD along with the locked phone.

Comment: Re:Ok, enough with the battery jokes (Score 1) 162 162

You can be sure that the first customers will be the very people/agencies that will be trying to circumvent the security. Whoever breaks the security first gains a huge advantage.

Good luck, since the target purchasers are going to be government agencies and companies with stringent security requirements. This isn't something you're going to find on eBay.

Comment: Ok, enough with the battery jokes (Score 1) 162 162

[Disclaimer: I work for The Boeing Company, buy my comments are my own and do not reflect the position of the company.]

Let me state that this is probably a very good idea, even through this is the first that I've heard about the device. Often the biggest problem when dealing with smartphones is protecting sensitive data, be it emails or documents being stored on the device. Commercial solutions are often lacking in security, which is why Blackberry still exists as a company. Their offerings are much more secure 'out-o-the-box' than any iPhone or Android device and doesn't have to resort to third party add-on software to improve the security.

So if you want to have a smartphone that is more state-of-the-art and be more compatible with today's services and offerings, then the only way may be to design your own device, make certain that it'll meet security requirements to protect data (your own and the government's), and add in a feature that allows for the device to be rendered inoperative if lost, stolen or tampered with. And there is going to be a market for these devices, believe it.

Comment: Re:Blackberry won't disappear completely (Score 1) 89 89

And it's statements like this that show why the end user is oblivious as to the purpose of the phone, and who owns it. If you're given a company phone, then yes, the company is wanting to reach you pretty much whenever. But it is a COMPANY phone,not a personal phone, and no, you don't have the right to use it for your personal reasons. The same is true for your company-issued computer, you do not have the right to install whatever software you want on it or to use it to surf Facebook and/or Twitter, even if you're doing nothing during working hours. The purpose of the hardware, smartphone and computer, is to do company business with. If you want to do Facebook or Twitter or play games, do that on your personal device.

As for wiping data off the phone, that's another plus for the Blackberry, as all I have to do is call one number in the company and state that the phone was lost or stolen, and within 30 minutes it'll be a brick.

Comment: Blackberry won't disappear completely (Score 5, Informative) 89 89

At the company I work for, we've tested iPhones, Androids and other smartphone variations, but stay on the Blackberry for now. The main reason? Security. No smartphone can touch the level of security that a Blackberry possesses, especially for companies in which the security of data is essential. The iPhone initially was allowed, but when folks found out that they were locked down and that they had to use only the software the company mandated for security reasons, the iPhones were returned and Blackberry devices issued instead.

Part of the complaints came because users can't understand that these are COMPANY devices, not personal devices. And the company has a stake in maintaining the security of the device and the data that resides on it. But people wanted to download whatever apps they wanted, a major security threat, or access whatever network they wanted (again, a security threat).

BYOD may be nice for small companies, but not major ones. Especially if the major companies want to stay major companies, device security and data security will remain essential... which is why Blackberry devices will still be around for a while.

Personally? I have a work-provided Blackberry. My personal device is a cellphone, and will remain so as long as it can.

Comment: BYOD was DOA (Score 1) 377 377

At the company I work for, the idea of BYOD for smartphones and laptops was tested and evaluated. The result was that the BYOD pilot programs were totally shut down and that BYOD was declared DOA. The reasons were many:

Problem #1: Our company requires a high level of security on our network, as we work with data from a wide variety of customers. US Government, Foreign governments and commercial customers all expect us to protect it. Any leak, any potential breach of data could be a disaster for both the company and the owner of the data. Yes, there are ways that the data can be protected, but that runs into problem #2.

Problem #2: People don't want to have the use of their personal equipment dictated to. A good example was the short-term availability of the iPhone within the company. The devices were locked down so that only approved applications could be installed, security measures needed to be used, passwords were required and that caused resentment by the users that they couldn't use the device in the manner they wanted to use it for: as a personal device, installing whatever software applications they wanted and no security requirements. The complaints were so many that the company decided instead of trying to get the users to treat the devices as company devices, that they would simply no longer offer the device and go back to Blackberry devices, since it was understood that they were more secure than the iPhone.

Many of these issues could probably be mitigated through training, but users have a habit of not wanting to follow the requirements put in place by Information Security. It's not IT driving these requirements, it's the need to secure the data and maintain network integrity with the devices that connect to it. Even with company equipment, we know the users won't do what's necessary which is why there's a lot of security scripts that run to ensure things like anti-virus is up to date, firewall is active and the latest rules are running, whitelisting software is running, etc. ad nauseum. And that means that IS and IT would have to control the personal device in order to make sure it's properly hardened... at which point it's not the user's device any more.

Comment: Where's my smartphone? (Score 1) 232 232

Unlike many folks, my workphone is sitting on a table some distance away from my personal computer. It sits there quietly, and I ignore any of the bloops that come from it when mail arrives. The only times I pay attention to it is either if there's a EAM (Emergency Action Message) or if it's a phone call from one of my three executives I support 24/7. But since they're engineering-type folks, I rarely get bothered by them on the weekends or holidays, so the phone sits there. As for my work-issued laptop, it sits at work, the only times I'll bring it home is if there is an absolute need for me to support folks (usually over an extended holiday, and even then it may be just one call at most.)

The same is true for my personal cellphone. Yes, if it's from one of the two people who have my number (good friends) then I'll reply, otherwise I ignore the phone. When I'm at home, I don't care to deal with work issues, this is the time where I relax from work and enjoy some quiet time. As for vacation, *nothing* from work is brought with me, and the rule of thumb is that the building had better be burning down and I don't smell smoke, so it has to be that level of importance before I'll answer the phone.

I work for a very large company, so when it comes to vacation time, the management wants you to use it. They at least recognize the value of an employee who is rested and relaxed, although I often see management taking their work equipment with them on vacations. If that's what they want to do, that's fine... just understand that when I have my time off, it's *MY* time off, and I am going to savor it.

Comment: Nevada's already taken a step (Score 1) 93 93

The Nevada Gaming Commission has already issued a license to run an online poker site to the American Casino & Entertainment Properties. The site is called AcePlay Poker, and is branded with the Stratosphere Casino. For now, it's only a free play site, but they are working on getting agreements with other states to allow actual pay games.

Comment: Netbook or Tablet? Netbook wins, no question. (Score 2) 336 336

I prefer a netbook over a tablet for a wide variety of reasons. One, I don't like Apple all that much and find their products fairly overpriced for what you get. I have a small Android tablet I tend to use more as a toy, as I don't see it being useful for productivity. And since tablets have no keyboard to speak of (yes, I know you can get a USB keyboard for them) I don't ever see me using a tablet for anything other than the occasional eBook or game.

Now, my Samsung netbook has been upgraded with extra memory, a solid state drive, has a SD slot for still more memory storage, runs Windows 7 Home, and I have absolutely no qualms about it. It does what I want, how I want it, and does so far more efficiently than a smartphone or a tablet would. Mine is about 5 years old now, and I love it for what it provides, a good working environment that's small and extremely portable. And the battery life is around 6-8 hours, even with the screen set to a moderately high brightness level.

Now I realize that folks have bought into the tablet craze (and that's really what it is, a craze in my view) just as they've bought into the smartphone craze. But it's what people want... it's not what I want, nor would I want it pushed on me. I'll take a netbook that's easily configured and upgradable over a tablet that's a fixed device any day.

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