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Comment Nice start (Score 2) 60

Now show this with the truck moving vertically 6-10 feet every few seconds, with 15-30 knot winds that change 10-30 degrees every minute, and hundreds/thousands of pounds of sea spray hitting the side of the helo. Was in a bird that landed in these conditions. Another time, we aborted in worse conditions and had to find a bigger deck.

Comment Re:Less non-corporate info (Score 1) 385

My family ran small rural stations for many years. You have no idea what you are talking about. It is a damn hard market, but we survived and were able to feel very good about the value we provided to the community and the close, very, very close relationships we had. If an NPR station can't make it in the free market, it deserves to die. If they can adapt, all the more power to them. The fact that they can't make it expressly defines the "quality" of the programming. This guy is only whining for a public sector jobs program.

Comment Re:Math is hard for senators. (Score 1) 196

You are way low. Figure more like $70-90 per hour for labor (fully loaded) by time you add in the normal government overhead for contracting. If, assuming the native agency that manages the connectivity to the office agrees, you need to budget for a firewall. And a good 40 hours of security configuration and documentation (something in govt called "C&A") at $100+ an hour. Then there are quarterly scans, and re-certification of the security documents (at least every two years). Most the local agencies won't be interested in allowing anonymous users on their network, even if it is in a firewall zone, or risk their bandwidth being consumed by some free loader, so most of these installs will require dedicated connectivity. And then figure O&M. Who is going to fix this when the hardware breaks, is unplugged, or turned off? Either the locals or your contractors who will need to travel? Who patching the firewalls, the routers? Where is the funding for hardware replacement in 3-5 years?

Comment What a waste (Score 1) 196

Not only is this a waste and doesn't make sense, but $15m won't be enough. There isn't a govt network admin who will want this traffic on their network and there isn't a govt security group that will allow it. That means each of these will be a new ISP connection. So does GSA get to do this, or the IT group who in the building at the time?

Comment weather forecasts by robot (Score 1) 120

The "point" forecasts on the National Weather Service website are created by a robot off digital - gridded - data. Here A little clunky at times, but there are forecasts for either 5x5km or 2.5x-2.5km grids across the US, more than a million forecast areas updated anywhere from hourly to a few times a day. The human forecasters create the gridded data, so they focus on the data, not the words.

Comment Compete with UPS and Fedex? Huh? (Score 1) 299

This week I needed to get a package to a friend from one coast to the other in two days with the delivery end being a pretty remote location in the western US. Experience in the past had suggested USPS would say two days, but it would really take three to four. Last year, their "tracking" system showed the package had been dropped off and offered no updates until it was delivered... and that wasn't updated for several hours after delivery.

This year, Fedex was really two days and tracking was updated at least every 8 hours right down to it was out on the truck for local delivery.

I fully expect any "reform" of USPS will be nothing more than restrictions on the private sector who completes against it.


Mom Arrested After Son Makes Dry Ice "Bombs" 571

formfeed writes "Police were called to a house in Omaha where a 14-year-old made some 'dry ice bombs' (dry ice in soda bottles). Since his mom knew about it, she is now facing felony charges for child endangment and possession of a destructive device. From the article: 'Assistant Douglas County Attorney Eric Wells said the boy admitted to making the bomb and that his mother knew he was doing so. The boy was set to appear Tuesday afternoon in juvenile court, accused of possessing a destructive device.'" She's lucky they didn't find the baking soda volcano in the basement.

Submission + - NOAA GOES weather satellite communications at risk (

pease1 writes: " reports: The FCC (like many Federal agencies) has gone looking for available frequencies and money as part of this:
Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan, Recommendation 5.8, p.86 (FCC, 2010). The National Broadband Plan is available at The rub? They want to auction off a portion of the L-band spectrum used for satellite downlink communications from NOAA GOES satellites. This comes just as new satellites have been launched with new transponders using these frequencies. It's madness. To add insult to idiocy, the frequencies provide a much needed EMWIN service to Civil Defense and Emergency Managers in the USA, and most pacific islands use it as their only source of hurricane information. It's chock full of public domain info that includes warnings, data, forecasts, and imagery. It was about to get a face lift to a new high speed data transponder (HRIT) using the same frequencies, already in orbit on GOES-R. Ground based receivers are in test mode, waiting for full deployment. Link to the FCC notice."

Comment Re:War is not pretty (Score 1) 698

Rarely considered is the relationship between the armed Iraqi civilians and the photogs. Did the photogs embed themselves into an insurgent unit moving into position, or did these armed men decide to follow the photogs towards the sound of gun fire just for fun? IMHO, I think the photogs had good sources in the insurgency that allowed them to get close the action in order to get good photos and were caught in the middle, IMHO, a risk of the job.

Comment Native bees (Score 1) 542

Nothing at all scientific about it, just observations from my backyard in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, while I haven't seen a honey bee since mid-last summer, the native bumble and carpenter bees are all over the place, with my strawberries, raspberries and apple trees having no pollination problems this spring. While I had noticed this, it hadn't registered until I was talking to a naturalist this weekend at a local park who had also noticed and is guessing the collapse of the European honey bees had allowed the natives to expand.
United States

One Year Later, USPS Looks Into Gamefly Complaint 183

Last April, we discussed news that video game rental service GameFly had complained to the USPS that a large quantity of their game discs were broken in transit, accusing the postal service of giving preferential treatment to more traditional DVD rental companies like Netflix. Now, just over a year later, an anonymous reader sends word that the USPS has responded with a detailed inquiry into GameFly's situation (PDF). The inquiry's 46 questions (many of which are multi-part) cover just about everything you could imagine concerning GameFly's distribution methods. Most of them are simple, yet painstaking, in a way only government agencies can manage. Here are a few of them: "What threshold does GameFly consider to be an acceptable loss/theft rate? Please provide the research that determined this rate. ... What is the transportation cost incurred by GameFly to transport its mail from each GameFly distribution center to the postal facility used by that distribution center? ... Please describe the total cost that GameFly would incur if it expanded its distribution network to sixty or one hundred twenty locations. In your answer, please itemize costs separately. ... Does the age of a gaming DVD or the number of times played have more effect on the average life cycle of a gaming DVD?"

Warner Bros. Acquires Turbine 57

NNUfergs writes with news that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group has acquired Turbine Inc., creators of Lord of the Rings Online, Asheron's Call, and Dungeons & Dragons Online. Terms were not disclosed, but the Boston Globe claims the price was somewhere around $160 million. "Warner Bros. Interactive has bought a number of game development houses in recent years, in a bid to become a major power in video gaming. In 2007, the company purchased TT Games, a British firm that develops family-friendly products like Lego Star Wars and Lego Batman. In 2009, Warner Bros. bought the assets of bankrupt Chicago game company Midway, maker of the popular Mortal Kombat games. And earlier this year, it acquired a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, another British developer, which created the hit game Batman: Arkham Asylum. ... Acquiring Turbine will give Warner Bros. total control over all future video games based on author J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved Lord of the Rings novels. Turbine holds an exclusive license to make an Internet-based game based on the books, while last year, Warner Bros. won a license to make non-Internet-based Tolkien video games."

Scientists Say Toads Can Predict Earthquakes 66

reillymj writes "Researchers claim toads sensed a severe earthquake last year five days before it hit. Last spring's L'Aquila earthquake devastated the medieval city of the same name in Italy. Five days earlier, a group of biologists noticed some toads behaving strangely in a pond nearby that would later be the quake's epicenter."

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