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Comment Re:So basically we have no more sci-fi on TV? (Score 1) 762

I also liked SGU and will be sorry to see it go. I initially didn't like SG1. Hated the theatrical movie that started it all. I thought the concept of aliens running around with Egyptian head gear was irredeemably stupid. However, it got better, and I started to like it. SGA started out pretty stupidly, too, IMHO. However, it got better for a few seasons, and then things seemed to escalate to such a degree it all became preposterous. Every week the crew was able to accomplish some seriously unbelievable feats with systems and technology that was far more advanced than anyone could comprehend and wrap everything up with a little bow at the end. What I liked about SGU is that humans were back to where things were at the beginning of SG1 -- nothing is easy, they aren't the top dog, nothing makes sense, and progress came through a lot of effort rather than pushing the button on the twinkly machine and presto! problem (galactic race of vampires, race of super powerful god like creatures, unstoppable sentient machines, impending destruction by natural forces of unbelievable power) was solved. Yeah, SGU started slow. Just like SG1 and SGA did, but it was getting really good. I liked the messiness of it all -- the grasp on leadership, survival, the ship, the unknown, peace among the crew, etc. were all tenuous, and added tension to the story. What was it Hitchcock said? Something about suspense isn't having a bomb under the table, but KNOWING there is a bomb under the table? In SGU, everything was a bomb -- the ship, the social order, the ability to survive stranded far from home, any of it could come apart with a moment's notice. The writers could have done more with that, but it is still an important and interesting part of the show, unlike SG1 or SGA. With SGU gone, there is nothing to watch on SyFy anymore. I don't have cable or a dish, and now I'm glad. I think SyFy and Hulu shot themselves in the foot by releasing some episodes the day after they aired on TV, and others 30 days later. It was so inconsistent I gave up and watched several episodes on you tube. I guess with nothing else to watch, I won't need to worry about that anymore. SyFy used to have some really good shows. Farscape? FireFly? BSG? Even the Dune remake was pretty good. (Yeah, I know, some people hated it, but it was more faithful to the book than the version from the 80's.) What has SyFy got left? Wrestling? Ghost Hunter? Really??? Goodbye SyFy. You have nothing to contribute.

Maybe this needs to happen. With the move and more internet-based TV viewing, I think the profit is going to fall out of a lot of shows, and they will get canned. With the reduced number of shows, people will realize they are paying too much for TV, and drop some of the higher-priced cable/dish offerings. This could lead to networks failing, reducing the number of networks. Hopefully that will concentrate viewership on the networks that are left, allowing them to charge more for advertising, and regaining enough income to do high-budget interesting shows again. We can hope....

Comment Re:Proper packaging (Score 1) 480

A friend in college had to do the "egg drop" as a 101 physics class assignment. He lived in a dorm that was 80% engineering students (including me) so he came to ask us for help. We decided the best design was to core halfway to the center of a watermelon, place the egg inside, remove enough material from the core we had extracted to account for the egg, replace the cored section, and tape it shut. Of course we had to test it first. So, at 1 am one frosty January night in Moscow, ID, we dropped the watermelon from the third floor of a building. Upon impact, the watermelon exploding on the sidewalk dissipated most of the energy. The egg came through in one piece, but had a small crack in it. We decided it would have been better to let the watermelon dry out a bit more the next time, to allow the flesh of fruit to compact a little more on impact. We had also failed to account for the little bits of melon that quickly froze to the sidewalk and were immovable for three weeks until we got a day above freezing.

So, the next time you want to ship something UPS, put it inside a watermelon. No ShockWatch sticker needed. If they are too rough on your package, they will get sprayed by watermelon chunks, and it will be obvious something bad happened when your package arrives.

Comment Re:Clearly.. (Score 1) 633

The terrorists need to put their next bomb in a laptop so that the TSA will ban all laptops. This will cause business travelers to stop flying, which will force all of the airlines to go bankrupt. (A high percentage of airline revenue comes from First/Business class seats, which are filled primarily with laptop-toting business travelers.)

Terrorists: 1
Sanity: 0

IIRC the Pan Am Lockerbie bomb was inside a radio in the cargo hold. Why haven't the TSA banned radios yet? At least that bomb WORKED.
I'm still amazed we can wear shoes and underwear on flights...

Comment Re:Finders Keepers? (Score 4, Funny) 851

Better yet, park your car outside a government building and then call the police saying there is a suspicious device attached to your car. Hey, you did the right, thing, right? How can they fault you? You didn't put it there, don't know what it is or what it does, so you called the police. I mean really, the thing looks like a transmitter attached to a pipe bomb, what would you think? The resulting traffic jam and media coverage of shutting down part of town while the city's bomb squad recovers an FBI tracking device (or, possibly blows up your car just to be safe) would be pretty embarrassing for the FBI. Would kinda suck to loose the car though.

Comment Re:aiming method?? (Score 1) 144

Ah, yes, well... I guess you'll just have to wait until next year when the Human Homing Emergency Life-Preserver Munition Emitter (HHELP-ME) is available. Until then, I guess you can sink 'em or save 'em (or both) with the same weapon, er, um, life saving bazooka...

I wonder when someone will build a mod to put one of these in a first person shooter? BFG? Naw, give me the LPB!

Comment Re:Newly laid-off NASA worker looking for work (Score 4, Insightful) 236

We have private companies that produce better results

Not a single one has ever put anyone in orbit. I'm all for letting private enterprise launch our payloads for us, but until they star launching people, NASA will still be needed. Or would have been, had they retained the ability to launch people into space.

Um, what??

McDonnell (now part of Boeing) built the Mercury and Gemini capsules (sent many people to orbit)
Convair (parts of which are now General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin) built the Atlas rocket that launched Mercury
Martin (now part of Lockheed Martin) build the Titan rockets that launched the Gemini capsules
North American (now part of Boeing) build the Apollo command module
Grumman built the Apollo Lunar Module
Boeing, North American (now part of Boeing), and Douglas (now part of Boeing) contributed to building the Saturn V rocket that was used in the Apollo missions
Rockwell (now part of Boeing) build the Space Shuttle Orbiter
Martin (now part of Lockheed) built the Shuttle's External Tank
Thiokol built the Solid Rocket Boosters for the Shuttle

Private companies have built every vehicle ever used to send Americans (and citizens from many other countries) into space since NASA starting doing that. In fact NASA has NEVER sent anyone into space without a vehicle built by a private company.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are still very much involved in launching things into space, and do so much more often than NASA does. All they need is a financial reason to send humans up there, and they'll do it -- with or without NASA.

Comment Re:Prius (Score 1) 1141


The Fit owner from above gets:
37 in town
47 highway
$16,000 purchase price

As noted below, it will take the Prius owner with
52 in town
51 highway
$22,000 purchase price

320,000 miles to break even with the Fit owner (at $3/gal, 50/50 mix of town/highway driving)

I drive a '93 Mazda Miata:
31 in town
33 highway
$3,000 purchase price (used)

At $3/gal, and 50/50 mix of in town vs. highway, it will take the following number of miles to break even with me:
Prius: 535,000 miles
Fit: 893,000 miles

So, boys and girls, go out and buy an early 90's economy car (civic, corolla, sentra, protege, miata, escort, etc.) and drive it until the wheels fall off. You'll save lots of money.

That said, I plan on buying a Fit once they are old enough to be around $4k or $5k -- fun little car, and they have no trouble fitting four 6-footers (I know, I'm 6-feet and have both driven and been a back seat passenger with other 6-footers in a Fit. Great little car, and fun to drive, too.)

Comment Re:The first planned spam... (Score 4, Interesting) 397

Wow. I'm amazing they finally brought this idea to market. HP has been kicking around this idea since the mid 90's. There used to be this big push inside the company called "grow usage." The idea was to find ways to get customers to print more so they would use more ink and hence have to buy more ink cartridges. Automatically printing the newspaper every morning was one idea to get people to print more. The revenue projections were used to justify massive investments in R&D and production line tooling. (I was working in R&D with cartridge development at the time.) At one point they projected people would be printing so much (including those morning newspapers, complete with ink-heavy full-color photos) that HP was going to have to order over 100 cartridge manufacturing lines and use the entire world's supply of silicon wafers to keep up with demand. When someone finally called bullshit on the numbers, they reduced the order to only 4 lines. I think they only built 2. Actual orders were only 4% of the new, lowered forecast. (This was the 2000 series ink jet printers, by the way -- the first ones HP made with the replaceable ink-tanks. The technology was supposed to go into home printers, but didn't make it for almost a decade, because the business ink jets were so unprofitable.)

Anyway, the last time HP tried this, it was an unmitigated disaster -- the biggest setback in the inkjet business in HP history. If they are trying it again, it must mean VG and Nigro are getting desperate for ways to grow revenue. Hurd must be pushing them really hard. Growth in the inkjet business has been slowing into stagnation for several years now. At least it was like that when I left, which was a couple of years ago. I can't image things have improved. Has anyone here printed MORE in the last year than the year before? I haven't.

15 years ago, printing out a customized newspaper *might* have made sense to a few people. These days? Who wants that? Most people don't even print out their digital photos anymore. The home printer market is in decline. There might be opportunities in the commercial printing market, but the amount of printing taking place at home is falling, and will continue to fall. HP isn't going to increase it by getting people to print ads with their daily printed newspaper.

Comment Re:Roughly... causing me back pain (Score 1) 454

Latitude E6500 (bigger and heavier than the E6400) with extra capacity 9-cell back-breaking battery: 7+ hours! (That's with a 15" screen and a decent processor.)

Toshiba Portege 2000:
Standard Battery #1 20 minutes
Standard Battery #2 5 minutes
Standard Battery #3 30 seconds (as soon as you remove A/C power you get a critical battery alarm and it starts to shut down.)

Extended clip-on battery #1 3.5 hours
Extended clip-on battery #2 3.5 hours

So yeah, you want to walk away from an outlet? Bring the extended batteries.

Comment Re:12 years old (Score 1) 543

Wow, you just described the machine I built for myself in 1998. (Including the crappy 4MB S3 Virge.) It was great gaming box with the 3dfx card in there (for the day) until the card started to overheat and I'd get flickering polygons in my FPS shooters about 10 minutes before the game would finally crash. It was enough warning to take the case off so the card wouldn't overheat (only happened in the summer.)

That machine is long since dead, thank God, but I still regularly use a pair of Toshiba Portege 2000 laptops that are coming up on 9 years old now. They both have mobile pentium III 750Mhz's cpu's, and 512MB of ram (the max they'll take.) At under 3 pounds and able to run XP, I've effectively had a netbook for years before they became a fad. I just wish there was enough horsepower to watch TV/Movies on hulu and netflix...

Comment Re:Taking out capital ships? (Score 1) 618

So it seems the missile that is supposed to be loaded into these containers is this one:

This is a modular missile that, according to wikipedia, has 5 different warhead/guidance packages. The anit-ship version uses inertial guidance plus active radar homing. That means you need:
#1 -- know where the ship is
#2 -- get the missile to the target -- solved by inertial guidance
#3 -- get the missile to hit the target accurately -- solved by active radar homing, but with jamming and decoy countermeasures
#4 -- avoid getting shot down -- solved by sea-skimming (at least in this case, the Klub looks to be a sub-sonic sea-skimmer), but there are the counter measures of trying to confuse or decoy the missile #3, or trying to shoot it down with defensive missiles/guns, #4

Against a well defended target (e.g. a carrier battle group), the Klub would probably only be effective in very large numbers (to saturate the defenses, effectively a counter to #4.)

However, that's a traditional war scenario. In such a scenario, the likelyhood that a container ship is going to be allowed within range of a CBG is not likely. Therefore, this system would be better used to attack either smaller task groups or other merchant ships (where it would probably be very effective.) Imagine one of these choking off the persian gulf. Merchant ships/tankers are at risk of attack because other merchant ships now have the ability to shoot missiles. If you forbid any ship capable of parking a container on deck from entry into the persian gulf, you get pretty much the same result: closing the persian gulf. The same can happen at any other shipping choke point. It can also be used in more open waters where you don't have enough escorts to protect your merchant fleet. (Germany nearly strangled England in WWII with their U-Boats, and the US seriously degraded Japan's ability to continue the war in WWII by sinking lots of their merchant ships.)

There is another scenario that is also interesting. There is also a land-attack version of the Klub. Wikipedia says it uses strictly inertial guidance, but GPS type satellite guidance seems like a natural follow on. Most navel ships spend most of their time in port.

#1 -- you know where they are, as they are sitting right there in port. They aren't even moving.
#2 -- inertial guidance and/or GPS will work great here.
#3 -- since the ship isn't even moving and you know exactly where it is, GPS might be enough, no active-radar terminal homing needed. Jamming/decoys are now ineffective.
#4 -- the ships probably aren't even manned, and even if they are, they probably aren't expecting to spool up their defensive systems with only seconds of warning to try and defeat an incoming missile.

So, you stroll up in your innocuous looking container ship and blow up 1/2 of the enemy's fleet while sitting in port with no warning. Great first strike weapon (think Pearl Habor), but probably still effective after the outbreak of war, because most large navel bases are fairly near commercial ports, and unless you suspend merchant shipping during your war, or stop every container ship well out of range and search every container, these things are going to pose a serious problem.

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