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Comment Re:CDs? (Score 1) 334

It's a new technology promising lower cost and higher sound quality than the current digital downloads. It employs state of the art lossless audio encoding, capturing sonic signals beyond human hearing. The promoters also boast every purchase comes with a free archival system, so if your digital version is lost, you can trivially recover it. Even more amazing, it has absolutely no DRM!

This technology is bleeding edge, and so far ahead of the current lossy, non-archived, unshareable digital dreck, it's no wonder a kid wouldn't have heard of it.

Comment Who said it's "classified"? (Score 1) 354

Where is said the information is "classified"? This may be ITAR controlled data, which is not classified.

There is a broad range of information which is not classified, which is not trade-secret, which can be discussed openly...but never with any foreign persons.

It has a good deal of security theater. Data can and will be granted export exceptions if that exception is needed to get the work done for, say, NASA. So it's export prohibited until it must be exported to get the job done, and then it's not export prohibited.

Comment Re:Why not a laptop? (Score 1) 263

Seriously, a wifi-equipped laptop can be had for less than $400, and with a 15" screen and decent internet access, why would someone want a limited, single-purpose crippled cellphone such as a you buy for $50 at Verizon?

Seriously, a hammer can be had for less than $10 and can effectively pound a fastener through any amount of wood? Why would someone want a limited, overpriced drill?

You buy the tool best suited for the job.

Comment This is how ITAR hurts us. (Score 4, Informative) 354

And this is how ITAR is damaging to our national security. As the DOE and DOD are major funding agencies at universities and national labs, we are now creating a research system that prevents foreign nationals from participating. And since they are a large percentage of our grad students, that's a major problem. It subsequently makes the US a less enticing place for the skilled students we'd like to immigrate here.

Comment Re:Why stop there.. (Score 4, Informative) 354

If this is ITAR and not classified data, then there may not be the signing of voluminous forms. ITAR just is. If your company is on top of it, then the staff will get powerpoint briefings about it. But there aren't signatures and forms and etc.

And everyone is liable regardless of whether they've heard of ITAR, had the powerpoint briefings or don't even work in defense industries. If you, say, bought a bulletproof vest from eBay and then traveled to Mexico you'd be guilty of an ITAR violation. (real example)

Comment The rules have changed. (Score 5, Informative) 354

The rules have changed. It is now illegal to "export" ITAR data, that is "sensitive" defense technology to foreign persons. However, this data is not classified. You can tell it to any and every US Person: your friends, family, neighbors, convenience store clerk. SO long as they are a US Person and also know not to tell it to Foreign National, they can know it.

However, telling it to a Canadian can get you sent to prison.

The rules have changed. And it's damaging to critical industries and research institutions.

Comment Incomprehensible Review (Score 1) 93

"keeping the signal locked, ..., doesn't always work. My Gnome desktop has blinked on and off a few times, inexplicably; a "Searching all signals" message appears on screen, but it only manages to automatically recapture the signal about half the time. ... ... the lamp will cycle through several colors and brightness levels. Sometimes this is fleeting -- just a momentary change -- but sometimes the image takes on a new hue and stays that way for minutes."

The projector doesn't work correctly, sporadically dropping the signal and randomly changing color temperature...and it's given an 80% grade? What sort of nonsense review is this?

Who is this review for? Who pays $500 for a dim, low resolution display to watch movies or surf the web? For the same price you can get a 22" - 36" 1080p display for home use, that shows a consistent, quality image. For the same price, you can buy a portable projector, that works properly, for professional presentations.


Boxee Launches New API 69

A recent post on the boxee blog announces the release of a new, fully documented API that will allow developers to create and share new apps and plugins. "The new boxee API enables developers to build sophisticated applications (such as the Pandora and RadioTime apps) using a set of API calls in Python and writing the GUI using XML. ... Users can install new applications via the boxee App Box, the beginnings of our app store. Unlike other app stores, boxee does not want to be a gate keeper (or bottleneck) in deciding which applications are published so anyone can become a publisher." A complete description is available at their developers page. I'm sure this will help in their ongoing battle with Hulu.

Comment Aerospace is incentivized to be over budget (Score 4, Insightful) 78

Those who denigrate aerospace projects for being over budget and over schedule are either naive or disingenous.

The unfortunate reality is aerospace companies are strongly motivated by the Federal Gov't proposal selection process to bid too low and too fast for high-risk projects like JWST. While not truely "lowest cost" bidder selection, it's understood that a winning bid will be in a certain range, regardless of whether its realistic. And the schedule proposals must also target certain bogies to have a chance of winning, regardless of winning.

And so companies bid low and fast to meet the proposal expectations and requirements, knowing that they'll make it up in cost-plus overruns as the Program proceeds.

And those running the programs know this too.

And ultimately, each project such as JWST is a one-of-a-kind endeavor. New technologies, new manufacturing methods, new test techniques are invented during the course of the project. It's difficult to predict the budget and schedule for doing something never done before; much less keeping to an optimistic budget driven by political needs more than the technical.

To those on JWST, they are doing incredible work, putting in long hours, and coming up with creative solutions to very challenging problems. And everyone of them wants to see JWST succeed.

Comment Lunar mirror fab means big manufacturing changes (Score 3, Interesting) 135

Astronomical telescope mirror manufacturing is a labor intensive, hands-on, non-automated process. And the culture of aerospace is highly risk averse: this comes from the very customers, like the good people at NASA Goddard.

Lunar telescope manufacturing would require some exciting scientific, engineer, and processing improvements that would also pay off for terrestrial manufacturing.

First, assuming they're not planning to house and employ a standard aerospace company, with 1000 engineers, technicians, and managers on the moon, this would be fully automated. Mirror making is anything but automated. The development of highly automated methods for processing and testing mirrors would be quite a move forward. It would also have direct benefits for conventional manufacturing.

Second, making a mirror on the moon would seem to require a tolerance of risk currently not accepted. Every time a mirror is moved, a crew of people must oversee the affair, sign the (physical) paperwork, and manually inspect the mirror afterwards. For lunar construction, this would have to become an assembly line that ran without that direct oversight, paperwork, or crews. Enabling more efficient methods would certainly benefit normal processes as well.

Moreover, the task of creating such a facility would keep many, many aerospace workers employed for years :)

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