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Comment which is how it was, billing data & subpoena (Score 2) 70

Which is going back to how it used it used to be. The phone company had records of who called who for billing purposes. The government could subpoena that information, with a court order.

Recently, when the government had all the information, that actually skipped the subpoena part - they already HAD the data, so they didn't need a court order to get it.

Now the thing is to watch that they don't get 10,000 subpoenas per day, each covering a million people, from a secret court.

Comment wish? How about a pony? (Score 1) 130

If we're wishing, I'll wish it were powered by a spell cast by talking ponies.

If we want to talk about steady, reliable, sources of electricity that actually work and I can afford, that's entirely different. That's done with a mix of:
Geothermal in northern California (2%)
Hydro-electric at a few places where there are huge lakes with giant waterfalls (1%)
Solar-electric in some places, for several hours per day, on sunny days (4%)
Wind in certain places, during an hour when it's windy, but not too windy (2%)
Either fossil fuels (natural gas) or nuclear (91%)

If you're willing to pay a lot more, several hundred dollars per month for each household, you can get the steady energy from nuclear or natural gas down to about 85%.

Comment actually works well, in a few places (Score 1) 130

Geothermal actually works very well, where it works. Roughly the same ring of places that have volcanos and earthquakes, minus the areas where near-surface conditions make it infeasible. In the US, geothermal is at a depth where it can be reached in California, but not really any other state. Minus the mountains and the cities. So you end up with a few places in California where it works well, and that's about it for the US.

In -theory- if you went deep enough, you could maybe tap geothermal in a lot of places, but that's VERY much theory, not at all practical. One problem is that you don't know what's under th ground beyond a very short distance. You can very easily hit water, an underground river of sorts. When your hole is constantly filled with water that causes problems. You can easily hit a section of very hard rock, including basically solid iron, and that layer may be interspersed with soft mud. The hole can easily collapse completely after you've already spent a million dollars. Anyway, the point is drilling deep is difficult and unpredictable. Drilling REALLY deep just doesn't work.

Works great in the California fields where the energy source is predictably close to the surface, though. Just like the volcanos which naturally vent this energy, it releases a not insignificant amount of CO2, but nothing's perfect.

Comment Re:Or just make the diesels hybrids (Score 2) 166

And even the best public transport system generally isnt going to start and stop *exactly* where you need it, so there still is going to be *some* walking. Which some people with disabilities or health problems simply can't manage. And to achieve a good public transport system - with frequent stops, densely placed stops, relatively direct routes and affordable prices - is entirely dependent on population density far more than it is on "will". In places with high density, it's a relatively straightforward process to have a good public transport system. In places with moderate to low density, it can be difficult to nearly impossible. And weaknesses in public transport system are a viscious cycle: the less frequent the stops, the further spaced out they are, the longer the transit times, and the more expensive the rides - the fewer people will ride them. The fewer that ride the less frequent you have to have the stops, the further apart they need to be, the less direct the routes, and the less affordable the prices.

Submission + - Data Breach!

Pax681 writes: Hungryhouse take away delivery service has suffered a data breach. I was informed after receiving text message to say my password had been changed.

Your password has been updated.If you did not make this change,please contact us on 02088199778

So I checked on the website and sure enough.. I could not log in. so I phoned them and I was told that About 10,000 passswords had been reset and that it was a "minor data breach" and if i wanted my account checked i could. I then asked if anyone had ordered anything since last night as that was my last known order. All was well. They are very much playing it down ... but we shall see, there nothing on the interwebs about it yet

Comment Gorbachev yes. Kennedy & Reagan vs US govt (Score 1) 198

One thing that makes Kennedy and Reagan stand out to me is that they did precisely the right thing at the right time -despite- everyone around them pushing to do the opposite. During the Cuban missile crisis, a lot of top people wanted to basically start WW3. The Soviet government, headed by Kruchev, pushed the US that direction.

Later, as the USSR was weakened to the point that the US could actually win the Cold War and end it, all of Reagan's advisors wanted him to play nice, to get along with the USSR rather than defeat them. EVERYBODY said the "tear down this wall" line was too confrontational. Reagan went ahead and got confrontational and won the cold war, very much making that decision -personally-.

I think Gorbachev was in a somewhat similar position- he had the wisdom to recognize that statist communism wasn't working, and markets had to be opened. That recognition of the failure of the soviet ideology wasn't popular.

I don't know that Kruschev was in the same boat. A lot of people in his position probably would have done more or less the same thing he did.

Comment Plentiful? Unemployment worse than 80% (Score 1) 455

> Yeah, I would hate to live somewhere where jobs are plentiful

California ranks 41st for unemployment. 80% of the country is doing better.

I suppose that if you're accustomed to the mess that California has been for 30 years, having more jobs than West Virginia seems "plentiful" in comparison. The simple fact is, few states have unemployment as bad as California does, even as California has "recovered" from third-world rates.

Comment Re:Cost of access is key. (Score 1) 329

That was not my point. Ofc we can improve ISP. No idea how much that improves either 'performance' or drops price.

It improves performance a *lot*. As for price, it depends on how expensive that rocket system is. For first stages, an improvement in ISP's effect on the size of the rocket isn't that much greater than linear. But the further up the delta-V chain the engine is used, the more of an impact it has on everything that was used to get it there. An extra hundred sec ISP on a first stage might reduce the system mass by a third; on a second stage up to LEO, maybe cut it in half; on a kick stage for a Mars transfer orbit, maybe cut it by two thirds. On an ascent stage from the surface of Mars... well you get the idea. Shrinking down a rocket to a small fraction of its size - fuel, tankage, and engines - well, that's really significant. ISP is very, very important for upper stages. So you can afford to pay quite a bit for those top stages if it improves their performance. Just not an "unlimited" amount.

There is no way a high tech electrical engine will improve its performance by 10% regardless how much money or time you put into it: the efficiency is already between 98.5% - 99.5%, up to 99.9% in some cases.

This is getting a bit offtopic, but at least the electric engines in EVs don't usually run at nearly that high. Depending on the type they might average 85 to 94% on average. It varies over their load cycle.

Regarding rockets: there is simply not much margin anymore in changing the form of the exhaust tube, burn chamber etc

Actually you can. The general principles of how rocket engines work are fixed, of course - your exhaust will never exceed its local speed of sound in the throat, and then you want to expand it as close to ambient pressure as you want. But the details vary greatly. There's bell nozzles, linear nozzles, annular nozzles, aerospikes, throatless nozzles, atmospheric wake compression, and on and on. There's tons of different ways - developed, in development, and in theory - to pump and inject your propellants - where they need to be pumped at all. Even many propellants that are traditionally thought of as being in one state can be implemented in other states. There's various ways - developed, in development, and in theory - to prevent nozzle erosion. To improve regeneration. To reduce mass. And on and on and on. Rocket combustion is a rather complex thing and we're still trying to get a handle on it. Do you know that we still really don't know how aluminum burns in solid rocket propellant? There's something like five different competing theories. I mean, things like this are a Big Freaking Deal(TM), especially when such small improvements in upper stage ISP have such significance for lower stage mass. And even on your lower stages there's a lot of things that have a big effect on your system cost. For example, how to stop resonant shocks from ripping them up - a lot of people don't realize that one of the main benefits of adding aluminum first stage to propellant mixes is that the droplets of burning aluminum damp shocks. (yeah, it increases ISP too by raising the exhaust temperature, but it also has disadvantages, such as not contributing to expansion, slowing down gases (particularly near the nozzle), and impacting/eroding the throat (or even forming an accumulating slag)

Re, nuclear+chemical. There are proposals for this. The main issue isn't efficiency - the extra chemical energy doesn't make that much of a difference - but thrust. The downside to nuclear thermal is that the reactor is so heavy (fission is like that, unfortunately) that the mass ratio is only something like 3-4:1. That's really bad (you generally get 15-20:1 or even better for a chemical first stage). So the approach is to inject oxygen early in the ascent phase for added thrust, but only run on hydrogen higher up when gravity losses are lower. I'm really not that sanguine about nuclear thermal rockets getting a serious development program any time soon, though. The public overestimates the risk, of course - not only am I sure they'd well seal the fuel elements against whatever damage would be incurred by explosion or reentry, but there's the simple fact that the fuel is "fresh", not contaminated with the more hazardous actinides. But it's going to be a hard sell. And a really hard development project, if they ever did try again. Gigawatt-scale flying nuclear reactors that pose radiation hazards during assembly and test aren't exactly childs' play.

Comment Re:The guy aint no Sagan... (Score 1) 329

You forgot to exclude operational expenses.

Yes, people to run robots and comm time on the DSN. We're not talking about massive expenses here. The real expenses are the capital costs.

And also didn't mention that you can't just lob chunks of metal straight to Earth's surface,

Actually, you really just can. Even random rocks from space - not shaped for optimal entry shape, not cemented together by anything yet what nature chose to gie them - do this all the time. They have to be between a certain size range (too little and the whole thing ablates; too large and it explodes, either in the atmosphere or on impact), but the random creations of nature do it; delberately shaped and sintered projectiles should have no trouble with it, with (proportional to their mass) relatively little burnoff.

You would, of course, need a rather large area designated as the impact area; even with very precise aiming, by the time they get to Earth and undergo reentry the random variables will spread them out over a sizeable chunk of land. A large salar might be ideal, since they get resurfaced periodically so the impacts wouldn't be damaging the landscape.

By your same logic, the mining of minerals on Earth would be zero dollars per gram if the equipment was solar powered and automated

It's almost as if I didn't discuss capital and ongoing costs in my above post.

Launch costs really are key to the rate of development at the very least, in that they limit the rate in which funding can be raised for the necessary exploratory and test craft to be launched. Even if the economics for operating a mine on a NEO works out really well at present launch costs, you have to prove that you can do it before you can raise the billions to build it. And to prove that you can do it you have to launch a number of missions while you're still relatively poorly funded. They face the same problem that Bigelow has faced - a probably reasonable business plan but the early phases hinging around factors that they don't control.

It does nobody any good to pretend that the lack of a space economy is because investors are cowards and morons

I think you need to go back and read my last post again, particularly all of the "it's too early to say"/""we don't know"/"but time will tell"/etc lines. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that there very well could be a compelling case for asteroid mining even without any radical changes in space technologies. But there's a great deal of work to prove that before we can get to that point.

Comment Re:seriously? (Score 1) 82

Are the other variants more dialectal? In addition to huoji ( / ) (fire chicken) what I read states that there's also qimianniao ( / ) (seven-faced bird), tujinji ( / ) (cough up a brocade chicken) and tushouji ( / ) (cough up a ribbon chicken)

(hope Slashdot doesn't mess up the characters)

Comment Re:seriously? (Score 1) 82

On the other hand I would want to talk to Archimedes

You speak ancient Greek and can communicate with the dead? Okay, I'm impressed. ;)

Thanksgiving trivia for the day: the word for "turkey" comes from extensive and long-running confusion about where the bird came from. For example, in English it's called Turkey. In Turkey it's called "hindi", referring to India. In India it's called Peru. In Peru it's called "pavo", referring to peacocks, which are native to south and southeast asia, such as India (cyclic there), Cambodia, Malaysia, etc. In Cambodia (Khmer) it's called "moan barang", meaning "French chicken", while in Malaysia it's referred to as "ayam belanda", meaning "Dutch chicken". Both of those in turn think it comes from India: in French it's called "dinde" (from "poulet d’Inde", aka "chicken of India"), while in Dutch it's "kalkoen", referring to a place in India. Greek has a number of local dialectal names, such as misírka, meaning "egyptian bird", while in Egypt it's called dk rm, meaning the Greek bird (even though the latter part of the name derives from Rome - the Italians, by the way, thinking it comes from India). One variant of Arabic even credits it to Ethiopia.

A couple languages deserve special credit for their words:

Best accuracy: Miami indian - nalaaohki pileewa, meaning "native fowl"
Worst accuracy: A tie between Albanian (gjel deti, "sea rooster"); Tamil (vaan kozhi, "sky chicken"); and Swahili (bata mzinga, "the great duck")
Most creative: Mandarin - many names with meanings such as "cough up a ribbon chicken" and "seven-faced bird"
Least creative: Blackfoot: ómahksipi'kssíí, meaning "big bird". Hmm...

Submission + - Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 is out, adds support for 16 bit MS-DOS and 64 bit iOS ( 1

Halo1 writes: Twenty-three years ago, development started on the first version of the Turbo Pascal and later also Delphi-compatible Free Pascal Compiler, for OS/2 no less. Two decades and change later, the new Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 release still supports OS/2, along with a host of older and newer platforms ranging from MS-DOS on an 8086 to the latest Linux and iOS running on AArch64. On the language front, the new features include support for type helpers, codepage-aware strings and a utility to automatically generate JNI bridges for Pascal code. In the mean time, development on the next versions continues, with support for generic functions, an optional LLVM code generator backend and full support for ISO and Extended Pascal progressing well.

Without life, Biology itself would be impossible.