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Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 181

I'm not really sure how much staking-out of high ground is even possible until one gets closer to economic realization. Even if some treaty said that "Any touching of the asteroids is forbidden forever, with utter seriousness", one could safely enough do the R&D necessary to make grabbing them and chopping them up more practical; basically all the capabilities you'd need for asteroid mining can also be used for satellite launch, automation/robotics, improved astronomy and telescopes, and similar warm and fuzzy applications. The astronomy stuff would mostly fall under 'pure science', unless you can convince somebody that it will help detect ICBMs; but launch capabilities and improved robotics and remotely automated process research have a variety of plausible commercial applications even if the asteroids are off the table.

On the other side of the coin, highflown expressions of legal principle are usually given a great deal of latitude until they actually conflict with the interests of the nations that you need to sign and obey them. So long as the prospect is sufficiently science-fiction, anyone willing to spend a lot of time hounding UN delegates is more or less free to write whatever they want. Were somebody to step up to the table with a vaguely plausible plan, however, it's hard to imagine that they'd have much trouble finding a country large enough to be able to ignore the consequences and more than willing to do so in exchange for a cut of the take.

It seems to me that team lawyer wins more or less by default so long as the implementation isn't worked out(both because it won't actually be happening; and because there will be relatively little resistance to opining against it); but team mining will win more or less by default if they can actually make it cost effective; since laws national and international are bent, broken, or rewritten all the time for markedly less profitable(and much more ghastly) ventures.

Until that time, the posturing is symbolic(either banning the practice or laying claim to rocks you aren't already on course to intercept). If the law says nobody can do it; that will change once somebody concludes that they can turn a profit by doing it; and if I get myself crowned God Emperor of the Kupier belt now; I'll still have to get my tech up and running before somebody else does, or the claim will do me little good.

Comment Re:Linux gadget. (Score 1) 114

The answer appears to be no on the rPi. The BCM2835's USB port is OTG-capable, so it isn't master only; but I can find no mention of gadget device configuration actually being available. The CHIP is maybe: apparently OTG support was added in kernel 4.3; don't know how well it works, or whether the CHIP's mini-b port even has its data lines connected.

Comment Re:Is C.H.I.P. really sub-10$? (Score 1) 114

Whether or not they can actually keep the CHIP at $9, if the project does actually get Allwinner SoC support mainline and GPL compliant it would be a fairly big win. All kinds of low cost hardware is built on Allwinner parts; but the software situation is kind of dodgy, since Allwinner doesn't seem to care and the people making hardware cheap enough to use Allwinner SoCs really don't care.

With Rockchip and Mediatek in play, it's not as though they have a whole lot of room for 'mwahaha, loss leader and then suck the captive audience dry!' mustache-twirling, because the audience just isn't that captive and their parts aren't terribly special, though competent enough. It's hard to see any attempt on their part to make them more accessible as a bad thing, whether or not the intro pricing can be sustained.

Comment Missing the point a bit? (Score 4, Insightful) 114

While it is extremely impressive that one could do so(given that such power for such price was unheard of until very recently), it seems rather pointless to compare these two boards on the basis that you are planning on plugging in enough peripherals to use them as your next desktop. Aside from the plummeting cost and wide availability of ludicrously overqualified x86s; the most stripped down ARM SBC is obviously going to require costlier and uglier peripheral tangles than the less stripped down ones(the CHIP has no 'sibling' designs; but is similar to Allwinner-based boards from others; the rPi zero has otherwise-identical models that add the USB hub and ethernet for you, or slightly punchier options).

The only reason to go with either of these is because you have some more constrained purpose for which the low cost and small size make the difference. So, do you want HDMI support; at the cost of bringing your own NIC; or do you want the NIC; but HDMI as an optional extra? Depends on whether you are building a headless project or not.

The other matter is the software support; which is as yet an unknown. The rPi has some Broadcom blobs that are very, very, unlikely to go away; but benefits from a known, solid, supporting ecosystem. The Allwinner A8 is a bit of an unknown quantity: the project claims to be aggressively mainlining everything(which would be extremely attractive); but Allwinner's GPL compliance has best in the past; and the MALI-400 is ARM's toy, not theirs, so they have limited control over that. If the CHIP's aspirations bear out, then it will have the distinct advantage of working with mainline kernel and u-boot. If they don't, or do only in part, then the question becomes one of 'which slightly oddball BSP is better?'

Comment Re:Less service? (Score 2) 471

I don't know how the expected lifetime service cost shakes down; but what the dealership cares about is the margins on the service and maintenance they perform; not the absolute cost.

I would suspect that battery swaps, while they involve a very expensive part, would be pretty unexciting for the dealer. Unless the manufacturer is extraordinarily tight-lipped, the price of the battery will become public knowledge; and the procedure for swapping it out(while it might require equipment that makes DIY impractical, depending on where the battery is located and what needs to be lifted) should be rigidly documented and leave little room for variation in how much labor you can bill for.

Somebody has to do the swap, and presumably they won't do it for free; but there is little room either for value-added expertise(as with problems that require diagnostic work) or just plain sleazy invoice padding(as with problems where the customer doesn't know the cost of the parts, or which parts are necessary, or what the expected labor time is); it's a rigidly scripted drop-in replacement of a single module.

Comment State the obvious, get flamed anyway... (Score 4, Insightful) 346

If anything, it seems like deGrasse came closer to giving team Space!!! what they wanted to hear than I would have expected, in that he left open the implication that nation states might develop serious interest in colonizing nearby rocks and would then very likely find themselves in need of contractors for various purposes; and enable some more fully private side activities.

The ROI of getting things into earth orbit is well established; and it has a correspondingly robust market, with more outfits clamoring to enter it. Satellites are all sorts of useful and need more or less continual replacement, repair, and so on. Nobody doubts that.

The technical feasibility of snagging asteroids and chopping them up is still in the more speculative stages; but that also has an obvious possible ROI if the technical challenges can be overcome.

The case for the moon or mars, though, isn't just a matter of corporate shortsightedness, it's a matter of "Please, tell me about the ROI, within, say, the next 250 years...". Planetary colonization would undoubtedly be cool; and might be something that a nation state would get interested in as part of a prestige contest(like, say, the last time we were at all serious about the moon); but nobody ever seems to have any plans, aside from vague references to Helium 3, for what would make lunar or martian living more cost effective than some sort of aggressive colonization of underutilized desert regions or something similarly unsexy. The bounteous iron mines of mars? The endless plains of razor-sharp, static-clinging, vitrified silicates of the moon?

Comment Re:Smart TV (Score 1) 148

The only real reason(aside from a pathological hatred of having your ATSC/DVT-B tuner not be inside your display) is that 'big monitor' becomes increasingly hard to find if you want something fairly low resolution but physically large enough to suit a biggish living room, signage application, or the like.

You can get 'normal' monitors up to ~32 inches, with 1920x1080 being fairly cheap, even at that size, '2k' and '4k' rather more; but offerings thin considerably, and what is available gets very pricey, if you want anything bigger(the nominally-34-inch ultrawide screens are also fairly cheap; but are a poor fit for even 16:9 video, much less 4:3).

When sold as 'TVs' by contrast, you can get 1920x1080 in pretty much any size from 24-ish inches on the low end, to 65 on the high end; with '4k' up to about 80 inches in the reasonably priced section; with prices rising steeply thereafter.

It really depends on your intended viewing distance. A 32 inch panel dominates a desktop; but can look pretty anemic in a larger room; and if you can even find monitors much larger than that, they are likely to be staggeringly expensive specialty items; which is serious overkill when you plan to be sitting far enough away that the pixels will be harder to see anyway.

Assuming a suitably close viewing environment, definitely, TVs suck; but if you really do need or want a big image(and not a projector); it's pretty much a matter of picking the 'smart' TV that will whine least when you never ever connect it to the internet.

Comment Re:Give me a dumb tv (Score 1) 148

I suppose that that's the one blessing of the relatively high cost of US market cellular data: it isn't yet economic for TVs to literally phone home if they are denied free internet access. The hardware to do so is chillingly close to be plausibly cost effective; but the cost of exfiltrating any nontrivial amount of data, or serving ads, is presumably still too high.

Comment Re:"Reset to factory settings" button (Score 2) 148

If you are using eMMC flash(not universal; but pretty common; since handling the ugly details of raw flash memory is annoying; and you pay a surprisingly tiny premium over raw flash for the controller); you can define multiple 'general purpose partitions', each with its own write protect status(including permanent write protect).

I'd be utterly unsurprised if more than a few eMMC devices have defects of various flavors that make device-specific attacks on what are supposed to be one-time-writeable settings possible; but, barring a sufficiently motivated attacker, with enough privileges to send whatever malformed mmc commands are required to confuse the specifc eMMC part used in your device, it is fairly trivial to carve out a chunk of your eMMC device, write the restore image there, and then write lock it without needing additional packages, one of the intrinsically write-once flavors of silicon storage, or any other fancy measures.

If you are really pinching pennies, and don't want to dedicate that much space on the onboard flash; you also have the option of making one or more user-accessible ports higher on the boot hierarchy than the internal flash(whether it be an SD slot, USB mass storage, or booting to fastboot or similar if connected to a USB host device). In that case you can shove all the storage requirements to some external location; while still making it virtually impossible to render the device unbootable.

Comment Re:"Reset to factory settings" button (Score 2) 148

Even if they were too stingy for the extra flash; something like this TV is going to have at least one USB port; possibly an SD slot or the like. Something as trivial as just looking for a suitably structured flash drive as the first boot device; and booting normally if one isn't present, would make DIY recovery trivial for anyone not afraid of 'download this and write it to a flash drive'; and allow even the technophobe to be mailed a flash drive/SD card; told to plug it in, unplug the TV,and plug the TV back in.

I don't know if they just care that little, if they don't want to make it easier to remove the 'smart' TV spyware that is usually included, or what; but anything small enough to not have easy-to-use external mass storage probably has so little firmware that a backup would be vanishingly cheap; and anything large enough to have some user-friendly option would just need a bootloader that checks for recovery media first in order to be effectively impossible to brick. Doesn't seem that tricky.

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie