Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.


Forgot your password?

Comment: Fixed capacity (Score 1) 81

by pavon (#48619357) Attached to: SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

One important point that others above have alluded to but haven't outright stated:

While the exponential scaling of rocket equation is an important limiting issue when building larger and larger rockets, for any given rocket (or rocket configuration) the payload capacity is fixed. If you have a payload that is too large for a Falcon 1Pegasus, but doesn't need the full capacity of a Falcon 9, all that extra capacity goes to waste. It costs essentially the same amount to launch a Falcon 9 at 60% capacity as it does to launch it at 90% capacity. You can share payload with multiple customers, but that limits which orbits they can use.

Space X can calculate how much weight the recovery system and fuel requires and how much money they can save by reusing the first stage, and give a discount to customers who give up that additional payload capacity. If there is a market for those lower cost launches, then great. If not, then keep treating the 1st stage as disposable.

Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 2) 81

by pavon (#48618231) Attached to: SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

Running a business like this takes a lot of work, and for it to succeed well enough to actually get working rockets off the ground you need to attract top-notch engineers who believe that working for you isn't just a waste of their time (more than a billionaire's plaything), and management that can create the right environment for them to succeed without blowing through your money for nothing. It is much less expensive, less risky and less time consuming to just pay Russia for a thrill ride than to create your own rocket company. So I can understand why most would choose to go that route, and leave the latter for those who genuinely want to shake up the market.

Comment: Re:it can be air filled (Score 2) 193

by pavon (#48617897) Attached to: NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

That said, the total payload mass that the ship could support is roughly the same whether it is inside the airship or outside in a gondola, and the more space you want to make available for use, the more mass you would have to dedicate to structure rather than payload. So it would be less cramped than a tiny capsule, but you would still need large expanses of mostly empty space to provide the needed buoyancy.

In practice, it might be better to have a balloon filled with a less dense gas to decrease the total volume needed to support the desired payload, and then have an attached air-filled "gondola" that is nearly as large as the balloon.

Comment: No kidding (Score 1) 593

by Sycraft-fu (#48603877) Attached to: Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

One of the reasons I live where I do is because I'm close to work, about 4 miles away. Lets me bike in. That way I don't have to deal with the expense and clusterfuck that is parking on a big campus. 4 miles is a very easy, short, ride so it is no problem. You don't need to change or anything, you don't work up a sweat.

Comment: Because Apple has no fucks to give about Windows (Score 2) 160

by Sycraft-fu (#48590571) Attached to: Former iTunes Engineer Tells Court He Worked To Block Competitors

You discover Apple software sucks way less on OS-X. The fanboys will tell you this is evidence of how much better OS-X is, of course, but the real reason is Apple doesn't do a good job on their ports. They really half-ass their Windows ports so they end up not being good software. It is possibly something to try and make OS-X look better but more likely simply laziness and a lack of good Windows developers.

Comment: Windows doesn't stop it (Score 5, Insightful) 160

by Sycraft-fu (#48590561) Attached to: Former iTunes Engineer Tells Court He Worked To Block Competitors

There's a big difference between not going out of your way to support something and going out of your way to prevent it. Windows doesn't have a native POSIX interface (it used to have a basic one) but you can add one if you like. It can be done higher level via something like Cygwin, or it can be done directly in the executive just like the Win32/64 APIs. There is nothing stopping you from adding it, they don't care.

Same deal with DirectX and OpenGL. A Windows GPU driver has to provide DirectX support. It is just part of the WDDM driver. Windows provides no OpenGL acceleration, and no software emulation. However you can provide your own OpenGL driver if you wish, and Intel, nVidia, and AMD all elect to do so. Windows does nothing to stop this and they work great (if the company writes a good driver). Indeed you could develop your own graphic API and implement that, if you wished.

There's a big difference between saying "We aren't going to do any work to support your stuff," and saying "We are going to work to make sure your stuff can't be supported."

Comment: That's not how it works (Score 4, Informative) 378

The court can't just jump up and say "We don't like that, it goes out." They have to follow procedure which means a challenge has to appear in front of them. That challenge can also only be brought by someone with standing, meaning that this law had a negative impact on you somehow.

That's one of the reasons the government loves the secret gathering so much, makes it harder for it to get challenged. If you can't show this harmed you, then you can't fight it in court.

So someone has to be impacted by this, challenge it, and it has to be appealed up to the SC. Then and only then do they rule on it.

Comment: Re:JPEG2000 replaced JPEG (Score 4, Informative) 377

by pavon (#48571807) Attached to: Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

You don't have to wait for someone to pop out of the woodworks. BPG is nothing but a still frame of HEVC video which is patented up the ass. Bellard and other open source video authors are accustomed to ignoring the patent situation because they don't really have a choice if you want to be interoperable, but that isn't an excuse for creating patent problems in a field where there are already widespread royalty free standards (JPEG, PNG).

Comment: Re:Phew (Score 1) 191

by pavon (#48527707) Attached to: Every Weapon, Armored Truck, and Plane the Pentagon Gave To Local Police

Yeah same here. The only bad thing I saw were the MRAPs which have already been in the local news. I can't imagine that there are enough situations where such a vehicle would be needed to justify the high maintenance costs. They are mostly used for show, as projections of power.

Other than that, it's a bunch of useful items. The larger police departments got explosive ordinance disposal robots, scopes, utility trucks, helicopter. The forest service got a bunch of night vision supplies. The department of corrections got a big ol power distributor. One of the more rural tribal departments got a road grader, some generators, welders, and even a field kitchen.

Good to see that tax payer funded equipment going to good use.

Comment: Even power users don't have much to worry about (Score 2) 125

by Sycraft-fu (#48525203) Attached to: Consumer-Grade SSDs Survive Two Petabytes of Writes

I write a lot more to my SSDs than most do because of lost of application installs, playing with audio, etc, etc. 6TB to date, drive was purchased about 20 months ago. Ok well assuming I maintain that rate of writing (3.6TB/year) it would be 13 years before I'd hit 50 TB of writes, on a 512GB drive which can probably take 1PB or more.

Even if you hit it harder than the norm, you still don't hit it that hard. It really has to be used for something like database access or a file server or the like before endurance becomes an issue.

Comment: Particularly if you define income as revenue (Score 1) 602

by Sycraft-fu (#48515391) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Meaning the money a company takes in. The difference between revenues and profits is vast, and varies by company and company type. Some companies take in a lot of revenues to make very little profits. Target would be an example. They took in 73 Billion dollars in revenues the last 12 months. However on that, they only made about 1.5 Billion in actual profit, or 2% when put another way. Retail doesn't make a lot of money, particularly discount retail. So once you add up all their costs (buying the merchandise, payroll, buildings, taxes, power, insurance, etc) there isn't a huge percentage left over.

Compare that to Apple. Not only do they make more money, but they have a much higher profit margin. They took in 182 Billion, and made 39 Billion on it, a 25% margin. Because of the nature of their business, they make more profits per dollar of sales than a place like Target.

This is, of course, only talking about profitable businesses. There are plenty that don't make money. My parents ran a small quilt shop for a number of years. Did about $750,000 in sales per year, yet never made a profit. After they'd paid rent, taxes, insurance, salaries, replenished merchandise, and so on there was not only nothing left over, there was a deficit they had to cover.

Comment: Re:Comparison to Wikinews (Score 1) 167

by pavon (#48511345) Attached to: Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

Well based on the current interface, it will differentiate itself by making articles a series of disconnected statements, with no editing for flow at all. This makes it easier to link back to the original source of each statement, but kills any sort of readability like the worst of the inverse pyramid writing style rising again after its near death.

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.