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Comment: Re:Not going to disappear quickly.... (Score 2) 139

by Hadlock (#48935163) Attached to: US Air Force Selects Boeing 747-8 To Replace Air Force One

Old 747s have terrible fuel economy which is their highest operating cost, plus they have to be completely torn down (seats out, overhead bins out) for a complete airframe inspection, engines rebuilt etc every 6 years or so and it costs millions of dollars to do this "frame off restoration" with qualified FAA certified mechanics. After the fourth or so complete restoration the cost-benefit ratio slips in favor of buying a whole new airplane. This isn't like buying a pickup truck for personal use which you can just drive until the wheels fall off, swap in a new rear axle and drive it another 500,000 miles without ever doing a proper inspection of the frame, wheel bearings, etc.
 
In addition to the major overhauls, they do slightly less major overhauls every 4 years, and they still do a full 2 day inspection every 18 months or so.
 
Eventually these old 747s get sold for a song because the maintenance to keep them flying isn't worth it. There's a 747 in the background at the Top Gear test track (which is a converted airfield) that is parked most of the time or used as a prop for movies but is still airworthy when someone needs an extra cargo jet, or needs to fly a football team to Australia or something for top dollar. But they're not economical for daily use by major commercial airliners anymore.

Comment: Re:If it's accessing your X server, it's elevated (Score 1) 352

by Jeremi (#48928545) Attached to: Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

Crippleware on Windows always used to amuse me. Oh you've disabled the button because I haven't paid? [poke]...[poke]... There now it's enabled again. Oh, you forgot to check if it should be enabled when processing the click event? Tough.

If you're going to pirate the software, you might as well go ahead and pirate the full version; then you won't have to poke at it.

OTOH, if you're going to legitimately use the software, you ought to pay for it.

Comment: Re:Status sells (Score 1) 505

by Jeremi (#48923751) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Your product can be clearly inferior hardware and be much more expensive than the competition, but if your product is considered a status symbol that lets you win rich partners, so it sells no matter the price.

Which kind of begs the question, how did "clearly inferior hardware" become such a status symbol? Microsoft and Samsung would give their respective left testicles to do the same, but haven't quite been able to replicate the recipe.

Certainly part of it is effective marketing, but I think the other part is good execution -- regardless of what you think of the hardware (which is hidden inside the case and visible to the customer only through the device's observed behavior), the devices, as consumer products, work really, really well.

I think you have to give a lot of the credit credit to high-quality software.

Comment: Huh? (Score 1) 233

by Black Parrot (#48920405) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

GRBs clearly haven't prevented life in *our* galaxy, so the Fermi Paradox still stands.

The caluculations probably rule out life in the core of our galaxy, but systems further out would be exposed even less often than ours is. And even though GRBs can periodically sterilize a planet, their directionality means that one burst would not likely sterilize all the planets in an intercellar civilization simultaneously.

So, to modify what someone said above, we can add another term to the Drake equation, but this doesn't do much to answer Fermi.

Comment: Re:We Really Don't (Score 1) 152

by Black Parrot (#48910827) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

Sorry... I was going for the joke and didn't pitch it very well. My actual views are more like yours.

As for the reality of the subject matter, I would borrow the concept of "probably approximately correct" from machine learning, and give it a 90-95% chance of being ~80% correct. (The 80% is lower to allow room for some more big discoveries like inflation.)

Unfortunately, people will be (hopefully) studying this for thousands of years on top of the <100 we have so far, and none of us will live to see how it turns out in the long term.

Comment: Re:I have an idea.. (Score 1) 462

It's like the old Texan saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, can't get fooled again."

I always heard it as: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

And of course, the word of choice usually wasn't "fool".

(Is this really a regional saying?)

Comment: Re:Going to be a lot of dead kids and pets (Score 1) 90

by Jeremi (#48910615) Attached to: Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

How many billions in lawsuits for their lifetime (a kid lives 100 years, and becomes a CEO that means $40 billion each kid) will these Steel Death Automatons rack up before they are outlawed except in retirement communities without kids or pets?

Zero billions, because the auto companies' lawyers are quite aware of liability issues, and so they aren't going to allow the sale of any self-driving car to the public until they're damn sure it's smart enough to avoid running over pets and children.

So either the automobiles will reliably detect and avoid pets/children, or they will never be released to customers.

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