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Comment: Re:vs. a Falcon 9 (Score 1) 34

by Bruce Perens (#49501071) Attached to: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine

They can carry about 110kg to LEO, compared to the Falcon 9's 13150kg. That's 0.84% of the payload capacity. A launch is estimated to cost $4 900 000, compared to the Falcon 9's $61 200 000. That's 8.01%. That means cost per mass to orbit is nearly an order of magnitude worse.

Yes, this is a really small rocket. If you are a government or some other entity that needs to put something small in orbit right away, the USD$5 Million price might not deter you, even though you could potentially launch a lot of small satellites on a Falcon 9 for less.

And it's a missile affordable by most small countries, if your payload can handle the re-entry on its own. Uh-oh. :-)

Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 251

by hey! (#49498541) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, keeping you out of the public eye is an appropriate punishment when you're convicted of a political crime. But we shouldn't recognize political crimes.

If people want to pay attention to what this guy has to say because he gyrocoptered in restricted airspace, that's their business. Even though it's a pretty stupid reason, it shouldn't be a judge's role to sit in judgment of that.

THere's an important flip side to freedom of speech that is often overlooked: freedom of listening. As a citizen you should be able to hear what the government doesn't want you to hear, unless the government has a compelling reason, and even then the restrictions should be narrowly tailored. "That guy just pulled a stupid stunt," is not a compelling reason to intervene in what people choose to listen to.

Comment: There is the small issue of academic freedom. (Score 1) 253

by hey! (#49498337) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

You can't fire a faculty member because outside the scope of his duties he expresses an opinion you don't like -- even if it's a clearly crackpot opinion. If you could, Stanford would have kicked Linus Pauling out when he became a Vitamin C crackpot.

The difference, though, is that Pauling was a sincere crackpot -- brilliant people are often susceptible to crackpottery because they're so used to being more right than their neighbors. Dr. Oz is a snake-oil salesman; when he's faced with people who are educated -- not necessarily scientists but critical thinkers -- in a forum he doesn't control, he speaks in a much more equivocal fashion. That shows he knows the language he uses on his show and in his magazine is irresponsible.

So selling snake-oil isn't crackpottery, it's misconduct. But somebody's got to find, chapter and verse, the specific institutional rules of conduct Dr. Oz's misconduct violates. There will have to be due process, particularly if he's a tenured professor, which will probably require lesser disciplinary measures than dismissal be tried first.

Comment: Re:Real fight (Score 3, Informative) 175

by slaker (#49490885) Attached to: Cyanogen Partners With Microsoft To Replace Google Apps

How would you share data between two apps if both developers didn't support that?

On Android, data sharing is fully handled by the OS, not unlike the copy/paste buffer in most desktop OSes. This means the list of applications with which one can share data is consistent both in terms of content and capability.

Something I've observed to be true is that iOS applications seem to be specifically coded to share data with other iOS applications. A lot of things can share data to Dropbox, but fewer seem to be able to share the same data to Google Drive or Onedrive. Data sharing seems to be a one-way street where the application developer has to support whatever hooks were provided for the target app. At the very least, the list of supported applications for sharing does not appear consistent from app to app, even within the context of a particular data type. I suspect this is in large part due to the iOS security model, but I take issue with that for other reasons anyway.

Everything you mention is fine but I'm not sure there's some killer user story or use case that justifies it in light of the security issues. I don't think any 3rd party app developer should be able to see any of your file system ever, not on your phone. It's just too dangerous, the thing is always on the network, it knows where you live and you can't unplug it.

"I can't think of a reason someone would want to to it, so it must be a bad idea."
There's a 128GB iPad sitting in my office. I have no particular use for a 128GB iPad, but it's still 128GB of flash storage that I could potentially use for something-or-other (yes, I am aware that I can get 128GB flash drives for under $50 but that's what a 128GB iPad is worth to me). Putting that aside, it's storage. On the iOS device, I have to associate everything with a particular application. I can't even use the stupid thing to transfer inert data (that I already had to add through iTunes since the device can't meaningfully interact with SMB, FTP or NFS) that for one reason or other doesn't match up with file size limits on my cloud storage provider's service.
Likewise, I don't have any control over arrangement of data under iOS. I have to accept whatever the device does and like it. That sometimes means making multiple copies of the same file (on a device that's specifically sold on the basis of its storage limitations) for different apps in cases where those two apps can't share data. It also means potentially jumbling a lot of data together that I don't really want to have view that way. Should I really be forced to reorganize my data to conform to the limitations of the device?
Whether or not applications are granted the ability to access a filesystem, the system owner should be able to do that even if it's just an infrequently used option.

Honestly I just spent about 30 minutes trying to find a website where I could even try to download an MP3

Ahem. This is a thing that people do. This is a thing people do all the goddamned time. Yes, you can get an app on iOS that can sandbox those particular downloaded MP3s on internal storage, but look at how ridiculous the workflow is to move those files out of that sandbox and in to the default music app so you can add them to your normal playlists.
Even speaking of podcasts, haven't you ever been browsing on your iThing and wanted to snag a one-off episode of something? "Oh, I want to download the rest of that episode of Fresh Aire that I heard 10 minutes of in the car. Should I open a podcasting app and then the Fresh Aire feed so I can find that one episode that was a rerun originally recorded in 2007 and therefore buried in the feed or should I just search for it from the web?"

One app to play all your music is 1990s thinking; modern apps are meant to brand content and service experiences, instead of them all launching the "native music player" they all call the same native sound API. The mechanics of how the media moves across the internet or across the filesystem is invisible to the user.

My personal tastes are sufficiently niche (contemporary classical music) that I am not well served by music-as-a-service. Nor can one assume that mobile devices have ready access to a high-speed data connection. Many people have bandwidth caps or spend the majority of their time in places where data services are too slow, unreliable or unavailable. That being said, on other mobile platforms I am familiar with, adding music or playlists to a device makes that music or playlists accessible to all audio players on the device. Amazon or Play Music that is copied locally is exposed to each app in turn as well as other player apps that might be installed such as Doubletwist or WinAmp.
As far as I can tell, the only ways to add music to whatever the hell the Apple players are called is through either the iTunes desktop application or from the iTunes store. It's possible to get a third party music application, but that application will be sandboxed so that music used with it is simply not available to the rest of the device. Nothing outside can share music to the native apps, not even convenient tools like Safari and Dropbox. You HAVE to plug the device in to a PC, export and import.

These are more than legitimate issues. I understand that you see them as defensible and that you've adapted whatever personal mobile device workflow you have to Apple's anointed path, but there really are common usage scenarios where iOS is somewhere between moderately unfriendly and actively hostile to user needs.

Comment: Re:You Can See (Score 1) 110

Microminiature accelerometers are really cheap and very very light, and you don't have to wait for them to spin up or deal with their mechanical issues. I doubt you will see a gyro used as a sensor any longer.

Similarly, computers make good active stabilization possible and steering your engine to stabilize is a lot lighter than having to add a big rotating mass.

Comment: Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score 1) 319

by hey! (#49490245) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

That's speculation. Feasibility is no guarantee of performance.

I read the attached article, and there were two specific complaints cited. The first was security, which is a non-functional requirement; that could well be a failure of the customer to do his homework on requirements but presumably a competent and honest vendor could have done a better job on security. It's often the vendor's job to anticipate customer needs, particularly in projects of the type customers don't necessarily have experience with.

The other complaint is that the curriculum wasn't completely implemented. If the vendor failed to deliver something it agreed to, that's purely the vendor's fault.

Sometimes bad vendors happen to good customers. Bad vendors happen more often to bad customers, but every project involves taking a calculated risk.

Comment: Re:Sign off. (Score 3, Insightful) 319

by hey! (#49490193) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Well, until the details of how the contract was awarded and how the vendor failed have been thoroughly investigated, it's premature to fire anyone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for accountability and decisiveness, but picking someone plausible and throwing them under the bus isn't accountability. In fact that may actually shield whoever was responsible.

Comment: Re:Not agreeing with it but... (Score 1) 175

by fluffernutter (#49489805) Attached to: Cyanogen Partners With Microsoft To Replace Google Apps
I use Owncloud and it works very well. The one thing I don't like about it is that it takes a good 1/2 hour for a file to get from one end to the other. Sometimes I wish you could just go to the target machine and immediately pull down a certified newest copy of a file. Seafile doesn't happen to do that does it?

Comment: Re:Real fight (Score 4, Insightful) 175

by slaker (#49489691) Attached to: Cyanogen Partners With Microsoft To Replace Google Apps

I think you may be working with old information.

Can I store an arbitrary file on an iOS device yet? What if I want to download an MP3 using Safari or Chrome and play it with the native iOS music player? Can arbitrary apps share data without specific developer support yet? Can I do those things without rooting the device?

As far as I can tell the workflow for every single non-intended use of an iOS starts with "Step 1. Get a Dropbox account" and that by itself represents both a clear inadequacy of the platform and a worthwhile acquisition for a company that already has more money than it knows how to spend.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam