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Comment Re:Oh good (Score 1) 232

Does it do MKVs with ASS/SRT subs too? If it does then I might replace my Xbox with one of them.

Mine does. I jailbroke it and installed XBMC for accessing my media library. It will happily play .mkv with subtitles and all the other stuff, then when I want the oficial stuff, I just exit out and go back to the AppleTV interface. It works a treat.

Comment Re:Venezuela, then? (Score 2) 256

That might work on a woman. Most guys would have no idea. We don't care avout the colour of the outside of our suitcases, much less the inside of them.

The trick here is that they don't actually care what your answer is, it's about *how* you answer. If you're a guy and go "hell if I know" that's fine. If you do that and start getting all panicky, then that tweaks them to probe further. My sister used to work the Canadian side of the Canada-US border. They would employ the same technique. Ask a series of random questions, and if they got a funny feeling about the way someone was answering, they'd wave you over for secondary inspection.

Comment Re:Bandwidth make it improbable? (Score 1) 152

It's called "Free Space Loss" Even with a directional antenna, your signal is still subject to the inverse square law. As such, even though there isn't actually atennuation of any kind in a free space, your signal still drops markedly over a long distance. Between the surface of the earth and a satellite in geo-synchronous orbit (such as the DirecTV satellites, which is a hell of a lot of bandwidth) there is about 220dB of free-space loss. This isn't caused by atmospherics, it's just the drop-off due to distance.

Think about it this way: each transponder (transmitter) on the satellite is about 100 watts at most. Yes, there is a lot of gain that comes from the antenna onboard the satellite, but in the end, that 100 watts is spread out over the entire united states (in the case of DirecTV) so the actual power that can be received on one of those little pizza sized dishes is pretty tiny. The way that we model/handle this is with the concept of free-space loss.

Comment Re:Upwards? (Score 1) 152

IANARS (I am not a rocket scientist) but from what little I do not getting into a solar polar orbit is extremely difficult. To date only one probe I know of has done this - Ulysses. And to do it required a Jupiter gravity assist to get it there. Besides, getting into a polar orbit will not reduce the glare of the sun. Finally, it will probably take less propellant to exit the solar system than take a grav slingshot into solar polar orbit.

It's actually not hard (Ulysses slingshot on Jupiter wasn't all that special) it's just that it's rather uncommon since unless you're looking at the sun (or outwards), there's not much to look at outside the ecliptic.

Comment Re:Good clothing (Score 2) 352

The answer to cold climates is layers. As a field Engineer, I've also worked in the arctic. The key for cold weather is to have multiple layers so that you can adjust the amount of clothing as required. Goretex shell outer layer, fleece, maybe a fleece vest, shirt, polypro underwear. Basically you want to be just warm enough that you're comfortable, not so warm that you sweat. Sweat makes you wet, wet means cold.

Also, when it's cold, if you keep your head and your feet warm, the rest of you has a better chance of staying warm as well. Finally, if you're going to be sleeping where it's cold, make sure to take a leak before you go to bed. Nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night with a full bladder, and dreading going out.

Comment Re:Jealousy (Score 3, Informative) 352

On the other hand, in a warzone, maybe there is more camaraderie?

In my case, at least, that was my experience. Back in 2006, I spent 3 months bouncing around Iraq and Afghanistan fixing and upgrading satcoms gear for PAO shops all over the place. It really was an excellent experience for me, as the soldiers and marines I worked with really did seem to appreciate my presence. On more than a few occasions, I got invited out to unit barbecues etc... (and yes, I always made sure to bring something to the party, even if it was just a case of coke from the PX). The real key is that I was more or less immersed with the troops, living with them, and eating with them. I wasn't working for one of the big contracting firms, so I was living in the transient tents just like they were.

Comment Good clothing (Score 5, Informative) 352

As someone who's been over there a number of times, my advice is to invest in some good clothing for there. As crazy as it seems, the best way to beat the heat in the desert is to cover up. Long, loose pants made from lightweight fabric and similar for shirts (along with silk-weight polypro undershirts) will keep you significantly more comfortable than your typical cotton t-shirt. Also, a good wide-brimmed boonie hat is worth it.

Basically, the idea is to keep the sun off your skin, the air flowing, and wick the sweat away from your skin.

Comment US Naval Observatory (Score 1) 363

The US Naval Observatory in Washington DC is worth a visit. It is one of the oldest official scientific establishments in the United States, and is home to he DoD's time keeping and positioning systems, including the master clocks for the GPS constellation. Note that you'll have to register for visiting fairly far in advance, as the site is also the home of the Vice President.

Comment Re:Why solid? (Score 2) 277

But the really big difference is that the design of a LFTR is much less expensive and less dangerous.

Eh? The heavy water design used by India (Derived from the CANDU technology we sold them) is a comparatively simple and safe design. It doesn't require any heavy machining (as the majority of the reactor operates at low pressure) and is an inherently stable design. Managing hot, corrosive liquids that have to be kept molten once the reactor is started up, is just asking for trouble, and horridly complicated. In effect, once you turn it on you can never turn it off again until you shutter it.

Comment Re:Safe again .. (Score 1) 83

By then Bigelow will probably have his space hotel operating with SpaceX flying tourists there on a regular basis. Maybe NASA will buy one.

Given the choice, I'd ride a Soyuz before a Falcon9. Soyuz has 724 (725 with the one out o Korou) successful launches out of a total of 745 attempts. It's a solid, proven design. At this point, falcon 9 has 2 launches.

Comment Re:uh, no. (Score 4, Informative) 83

The failure to have one safe launch *does* mean that a launch vehicle is unsafe, so there's that.

Pretty much any launch vehicle is unsafe, by definition. You're sitting on top of (literally) tons of highly flammable fuel, along with similarly large amounts of liquid oxygen. There is nothing about this that is "safe" by conventional standards. Even after you've safely survived the combustion of all that fuel, you are then in one of the most hostile environments known to man. Elevated radiation levels, lack of gravity causing your bones and muscles to waste away, and a hard vacuum on the other side of a rather thin piece of aluminum and/or glass. In short, human spaceflight is inherently dangerous, yet we still do it, and quite rightly so.

Of the existing launch vehicles, the Soyuz design is the single most successful and reliable launcher ever designed and operated. Since 1973, there have been 745 launches of the Soyuz-U design with 724 successful launches (with most of the failures in the early days). The soviets, and subsequently the russians, have made continuous improvements and refinements to the design of this rocket, leading to the closest thing we have to a routine launch system. As one astronaut I've worked with said, "You can take a Soyuz, pick it up in the middle with a crane, shake it, then stick it on the pad and launch it in the middle of a blizzard, and it will still make it to orbit."

Given the choice of Shuttle, Soyuz, Falcon 9, or some other launch system, I would always take the Soyuz.

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