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Comment STB per TV may be your best option (Score 4, Informative) 539

I actually work for a TV company... might be able to give a little insight.

Most headends for hotels, hospitals and the like are comprised of a rack of STBs, each tuned to a specific channel. The output is modulated as an RF signal and combined with all the others, so the incoming digital signal is effectively converted to analog for redistribution on the local coax network.

So, if you're wanting to display more than 32 services, you'll need at least that many STBs at your analog headend. You'll also need to manage the infrastructure to distribute it to the six buildings, which would probably mean running underground cables underground, and if there is any sort of distance you'd need some RF amplifiers. You might be able to get around some of that using something like a slingbox over IP, but again, added cost.

Finally, there's the management aspect. What happens if a channel moves to another channel number? You'll have to retune the box. If a box goes down for any reason, you'll have to replace it as the channel will be knocked out. And one of the less fun aspects of managing a TV system is that people treat it as a utility... if it's down, expect to get a call, even at 3AM.

If I were you, I'd push your cable company to donate STBs in order to keep your relationship rosy. That way, no $3/month fee (which does seem wrong based on your agreement), and none of the buildout/management headaches.

Best of luck.

Businesses

Why Apple Is So Sticky 595

Hugh Pickens writes "'Sticky,' in the social sciences and particularly economics, describes a situation in which a variable is resistant to change. For websites or products it usually means that visitors or customers keep coming back for more. Now Fortune Magazine reports on an analysis by Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore on what makes the (iTunes-based) iPhone-iPod-iPad platform so sticky and why it's going to get harder, not easier, for Apple users to switch, no matter what Google and the rest of Apple's competitors have up their sleeves. Whitmore says the investment Apple's customers have made in content for those devices in terms of apps, videos, and music purchased at the iTunes Store creates Apple's 'stickiness.' Apple has an installed base today of about 150 million iTunes-dependent devices that could grow to more than 200 million by the end of 2011. Whitmore comes up with a cumulative investment in those devices of about $15 billion today, growing to $25 billion by the end of next year. 'This averages to ~$100 of content for each installed device,' Whitmore writes, 'suggesting switching costs are relatively high (not to mention the time required to port). When Apple's best-in-class user experience is combined with these growing switching costs, the resulting customer loyalty is unparalleled.'"
Java

The Struggle To Keep Java Relevant 667

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister questions Oracle's ability to revive interest in Java in the wake of Oracle VP Jeet Kaul's announcement at EclipseCon that he would 'like to see people with piercings doing Java programming.' 'If Kaul is hoping Java will once again attract youthful, cutting-edge developers, as it did when it debuted in 1995, [Kaul] may be in for a long wait,' McAllister writes. 'Java has evolved from a groundbreaking, revolutionary language platform to something closer to a modern-day version of Cobol.' And, as McAllister sees it, 'Nothing screams "get off my lawn" like a language controlled by Oracle, the world's largest enterprise software vendor. The chances that Java can attract the mohawks-and-tattoos set today seem slimmer than ever.'"
Science

DARPA Aims for Synthetic Life With a Kill Switch 295

jkinney3 writes to mention that DARPA's mad scientists have undertaken a new program designed to create synthetic organisms, complete with a "kill switch." The project, dubbed BioDesign, is dumping $6 million into "removing the randomness of evolutionary advancement" by creating genetically engineered masterpieces. "Of course, Darpa's got to prevent the super-species from being swayed to do enemy work — so they'll encode loyalty right into DNA, by developing genetically programmed locks to create 'tamper proof' cells. Plus, the synthetic organism will be traceable, using some kind of DNA manipulation, 'similar to a serial number on a handgun.' And if that doesn't work, don't worry. In case Darpa's plan somehow goes horribly awry, they're also tossing in a last-resort, genetically-coded kill switch."
The Almighty Buck

Should You Be Paid For Being On Call? 735

theodp writes "Fortune's Dear Annie takes on the case of poor Dazed and Confused, an independent webmaster who's expected to be on call for his client at all hours of the day and night, but doesn't get paid for being on call, only for the 40 hours a week that he's in the office. Surprisingly, Annie throws cold water on the contractor's dreams of paid OT, citing these pearls of wisdom from an attorney who's apparently never had the 'privilege' of being a techie on call: 'Many companies see the on-call issue as analogous to a fire fighter's job. Most of the time, a fire fighter is off-duty but on call, hanging around the firehouse, cooking, sleeping, or whatever. What that person really gets paid for is the relatively small, but crucial, amount of time he spends walking into a burning building with an ax. A webmaster, likewise, has slow times and busy times.'" What on call policies are you used to working with and how should it work in an ideal world?
Biotech

Spaceworms To Help Study Astronaut Muscle Loss 73

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that 4,000 microscopic worms were onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis when it launched today. Their mission: to help experts in human physiology understand more about what triggers the body to build and lose muscle. The worms are bound for the Japanese Experiment Module 'Kibo' on the International Space Station, where they will experience the same weightless conditions which can cause dramatic muscle loss, one of the major health concerns for astronauts. 'If we can identify what causes the body to react in certain ways in space we establish new pathways for research back on earth,' says Dr. Nathaniel Szewczyk."

Comment Dinners out, mortgage payments, credit card bills (Score 3, Interesting) 590

Unbelievable. Why would somebody making a sweet $34,000 after a mandated four-year education feel the need to supplement their income!

We're paying them a fair wage for their work. Salary, so the "extra time" they spend outside of school (like they need that!) lesson planning, well, that's figured in as well.

Those greedy bastards. Trying to afford things like food, housing and clothes.

BTW: Google ad as I type this is Want to Teach Special Ed? Noooooooooooo. Nooo! No. No sir! No, I do not. No. Thank you.

SKA Telescope To Provide a Billion PCs Worth of Processing 186

Sharky2009 writes "IBM is researching an exaflop machine with the processing power of about one billion PCs. The machine will be used to help process the Exabyte of data per day expected to flow off the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project. The company is also researching solid state storage technology called 'racetrack memory' which is much faster and denser than flash and may hold the secret to storing the data from the SKA. The story also says that the SKA is unlikely to use grid computing or a cloud-based approach to processing the telescope data due to challenge in transferring so much data (about one thousand million 1Gb memory sticks each day)."
Robotics

Sink Your Balls Quickly With Pool-Cue Robots 79

AndreV writes "In another attempt to dehumanize our bar games, a Canadian engineer has turned the classic game of billiards on its head with his BilliardBots pet project, which consists of a series of remote-controlled mobile robots meant to replace the standard cue sticks normally used to pocket pool balls. While in his version the basic rules remain, unlike regular billiards, players in this version simultaneously rush to pocket their designated balls (they don't take turns), 'thus it's very competitive and fast,' the creator says. In order to keep tight reins on the mechatronic ball handlers' movements, he adapted a pair of Playstation controllers and says that playing 'requires dexterity, like a video game,' to control their 3.5-m/sec-maximum speeds. The 'bots are designed simply but effectively, using a 3-by-3-by-3-inch metal frame with an electronic board, two motors and rechargeable battery packs. Using a Bluetooth wireless communication protocol, its commands come from the wireless controller with single or double joystick selectable control (the other buttons are not used). Its other parameters are software programmable, such as maximum acceleration rate, maximum speed and maximum rotation speed."

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