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Comment Failing upwards (Score 2) 35

Jimmy Iovine was one of the most powerful record executives during the period when record labels were all sleeping on the digital revolution that was about to overtake them.

Why would anyone, especially Apple, give a job to someone who was so clueless about technology and popular culture?

Comment Yup, GNU/NT-Kernel (Score 2) 156

If I understand it right, it's a GNU/Linux distro without a Linux kernel on top of a compatibility layer on Windows, right?

Yup, mostly(*).

So "GNU/Windows NT Kernel" is better than "Linux" - That actually one of the rare few occastion a typical "GNU/Linux" distro gets used without the Linux kernel part.

But because "Linux" has brand recognition, it's still used.

---

(*): there's no separate compatibility layer (unlike things like Cygwin which are a user-mode compatibility layer that translates POSIX API-calls into Win32 calls - and thus enables soure compatibility).
The NT-Kernel has a bizare peculiarity : it can export several different ABI's to usermode software - it has different "personnalities".
- Win32 is just *one* of the set of ABI available.
- A long time ago, that made it possible to run OS/2 software on Windows NT.
- A little bit less longer time ago, Windows NT also had a "Unix" personality.
- Now WSL is actually the NT kernel exhibiting a small subset of the ABI featured by the linux kernel - about the bare minimum to get a few basic user-mode software (e,.g.: the "GNU" part of "GNU/Linux") run unmodified.

These are straight ABI available from the NT-Kernel, not a mere Linux-to-Win32 API conversion like Cygwin.

e.g.:
- Among other defaults Win32 has a poor multi-processing (forking is expensive). Cygwin application have to rely on that poorer cousin in order to provide multi-processing to POSIX.
- The recent kernels of Windows NT intoduced pico-thread which are very cheap, weren't available in the Win32 API back when introduced, but where exposed through the "Linux-lite" API that is WSL in order to make a usefull multiprocessing.

On the other hand WSL is far from complete. There is tons of stuff that you can do on your GNU/Linux that you can't do with WSL (e.g.: filesystem drivers)

Comment WINE ; ReactOS (Score 1) 156

Then you could use either ReactOS in your VM, or run Wine straight in your userspace.

And again there are also companies supporting *that*.
(e.g.: CrossOver pays developers)

So *there is* company-sponsored efforts to be able to run windows programs in a GNU/LInux or Android/Linux environment.

Comment Re:Why can't there be an open phone? (Score 1) 457

The problem is that nobody goes after manufacturers that violate the GPL. If Google were to put their money where their mouth is, they should pursue ALL the manufacturers that refuse to release the GPL code to their Android software.

Here are some of the big GPL violators: Amlogic MINIX Samsung HTC ...

What would that accomplish? The only thing that you could get is whatever kernel modifications they've made. Do you really think there's a lot of really innovative kernel work being done by those players? And, AFAIK, they do publish the kernel changes to comply with the GPL. Samsung and HTC do, anyway. I'm not sure about the smaller ones.

The rest of Android is under the Apache2 license, so OEMs have no obligation to publish their changes. Not even to Google.

Comment Re: He cheated OTHER players (Score 2) 363

The judge made a ruling based on the law. The law is on the side of the casinos. Yet another of many ways that the casino stacks the deck against you.

Of course casinos always win. Nobody with a casino loses money, unless they're really clueless or trying to cheat more powerful players.

I mean, can anyone think of someone so stupid and/or crooked that they lost money owning a casino?

Comment CH (Score 1) 154

Trolley buses are - unfortunately - only widespread in the former soviet union and its client states

CH, here. The country has mostly been neutral during cold war and is far from being a client state.
But bigger cities here love trolley and trams too.

Electricity is easily available (thanks to alpine dams)

And city centers are rather densely populated - and thus the network of bus stops is also dense (you don't need hundreds of km of wire just to link 2 bus stops)

(for some reason soviet government seriously loved trolley buses, they have even built a trolley bus line in Afghanistan, back then they were there)

I would say that electric motors are simpler, smaller, easier to install into a vehicle. And are easy to ship around.
Whereas ICE are more a custom job that is vehicle specific.

Thus it's much easier for a Sovietic planned economy to make a 5-years plan to build a huge mega factory in one client state (e.g.: Bulgaria) and ship motors and install them into bus through the whole communist world.

Comment Truck (Score 1) 154

I'm curious:
Unload truck onto train, ship, unload train onto truck, deliver?
or
Drive truck onto flatbed railcar, ship, drive truck off railcar, deliver?
For trucks that are separate tractor trailer, just the trailer on the flatbed.

The law doesn't specify anything.
But it seems to me that for logistic reasons, the 3rd option you mention is the most popular :
the trailer is a standardized contrainer that can be moved from the truck to the train without needing to lose time for unloading/reloading the merchandise.

Comment Cost reasons (Score 1) 303

For cost reasons, any consumer electronic device will usually be implemented on the cheapest possible SoC with the bare minimum of unused resources (eMMC, RAM, MIPS etc.)

Nowadays ROM chips with a custom firmware burned in cost too much (add maybe a 0.5$ per unit), firmware is flashed on built-in EEPROM inside the SoC.

In theory, most of modern-day widgets have field-upgradeable firmware.

In practice, no company bothers to do the necessary work, specially since by the time the firmware upgrade is necessary, the device has already been sold and the money has been earned. There is no big immediate advantage in providing upgrade. It's an eventual long term advantage for the end-user, but by then the end-user can only regret having spent the money on the gadget.
(e.g.: Not exactly wireless DAB radio, but out of all the wireless bluetooth speakers I've seen, only Logitech/Ultimate Ears bothers to make regular updates that actually add new features. None of the DAB radio I've owned has ever bothered releasing a firmware upgrade, even if some did advertise the possibility)

For lots of music usage (again, anything beyond the handheld DAB/FM receiver*) the "bare minimum SoC" is already quite powerful.
e.g.: bigger multi-media device need AAC decoding capabilities (to play music from USB sticks / MP3 players in USB-Storage mode, etc.) - That's about what is needed to move a DAB-enabled device to DAB+.
e.g.: In Vehicle Infotainment have a fuckton more processing power (Some high end device are the equivalent of a big over-powered tablet / a small netbook), that's way more than enough for playing DAB+ (or even support OPUS).

-----

*: the handhelds tend to be a single chip with a hardware DAB receiver piping its data straigh into a MP2/MP3 hardware core. There's no real CPU.
This kind chip is designed to be used as a DAB solution for media devices.
(e.g.: combine it with a CD player and a few such other parts, and you can make a cheap all-in-one audio device)

But the micro-controller on this SoC can run a firmware that gives it limited stand-alone properties: it can handle a few bare simple menus and can be wired straight to an LCD with a couple of buttons.

Thus, this kind of chip can be also useful to make dead-cheap handheld radios.
(example of such radio: Revo Pico+ - though it wasn't sold at a cheap price back then)

Comment Re:Making America great again (Score 2) 126

What do people mean when they say "make America great again"?

I think most of those people actually mean "I want the world to revert back to how it was X years ago". With X depending on personal experiences.

Of course, that's impossible.

Very true. And I think what Trump is thinking of when he says it is the greatness of the captains of industry, like Rockefeller, Sinclair, Carnegie, etc., with himself and his friends in the leading roles.

Comment Re:Why can't there be an open phone? (Score 2) 457

Remember the original PC was "open" because IBM were forced to under anti trust law.

That's not true. There was no anti-trust ruling against IBM related to the PC (though when they created the PC they were already operating under the terms of a consent decree related to anti-trust prosecution for actions in the mainframe space), and the PC's openness was really a result of Compaq's careful cleanroom reverse engineering of the BIOS, rather than any legal constraints on IBM. The previous anti-trust action against IBM probably did have the effect of making them more circumspect about trying to control the PC, but that was less of a factor than Compaq's work.

Comment Re:Why can't there be an open phone? (Score 1) 457

Boy, I was wrong :-( Android we all hoped would be a GNU OS with all rooted phones and terminals and hacks back in 2009 when we read about it. Nope. Is it too late and why won't Google be more open?

Android is open, rootable and hackable. Most OEMs make phones that are locked down, but Google's Nexus and Pixel line have unlockable bootloaders (note, however, that Verizon required the Pixels to be locked down; buy from Google for the open version), and full source code to the OS is available, including build toolchains. There are binary blobs for firmware (as is the case for lots of PC hardware, too), and Google's own apps are closed source, but the operating system is absolutely open and hackable. There's also no cost for writing your own apps, and nothing requiring you to use Google's "walled garden", the Play store. In fact there are other play stores out there, and you can download and install individual apps.

Comment Am I the only one... (Score 4, Interesting) 126

.... who can't help but cheer at my screen when they nail one of those landings? Now I finally understand how sports fans feel when they watch a game and do the same thing ;)

One thing nobody can deny about them is optimism. ;) Seriously, their IPS numbers are, pardon the pun, out of this world. $200k per booster launch. $500k per tanker launch. I mean, really? Good luck with that. No, seriously, good luck with that; I won't be expecting anything close to that, but please by all means prove me wrong ;) ITS would be a great system to have, I've been playing around with some Venus trajectories with it recently. Looks like it can do a low-energy transit with nearly 300 tonnes of payload from LEO and back again with the same, over 400 if starting at a high orbit - but from an economics perspective the high energy transfers actually make more sense.

I noticed a lot of people were confused about why Musk wanted the trips to be so short and was willing to sacrifice so much payload to do so - many assumed it had to do with radiation or something. But the issue is, when your craft costs so much but your launch costs are cheap, you can't have it spending all of its time drifting in deep space, you need to get it back for a new mission as soon as possible. There's a balancing point, in that if you try to go too fast, you reduce useful payload below the point of making up for it with going faster - but a minimum energy trajectory is just not optimal when the ratio between launch costs and transit vehicle cost is so extreme. I come up with the same thing from Venus as they were getting for Mars, although for the Venus case you end up aerobraking to a highly elliptical orbit rather than to the surface for ISRU refill (you need ISRU, but for the ascent stages, so it's not realistic to do so for the return stage in the nearer term). So for Venus they get no refill like on Mars, but they also don't have to do a powered landing nor do an ascent on return - it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Both are quite accessible with it.

Comment Re:Great strides (Score 1) 126

It depends what you mean by "refurbishing"; each element is different.

The solid rocket boosters, for example, suffered a hard impact into salt water. They then had to be fished out of the water. And of course you don't just "refill" a SRB, they have to be taken apart and recast, then put back together.

The ET is disposable, and had to be rebuilt from scratch.

The orbiter was legitimately reusable, but with design flaws.

I don't blame the shuttle program - they were sort of pigeonholed into this dead end by circumstances. The concept came about during the heyday of the Apollo Programme, when NASA budgets were serious. It was supposed to be a much more reusable, much more maintainable, and somewhat smaller system. It was supposed to then have a huge flight rate supporting all of these big projects that were on NASA's docket, including a permanent moon base and a huge manned orbital station dwarfing ISS, which was supposed to replace Skylab.

But of course, Vietnam and the realities of having soundly trounced the USSR in the space race led to their budgets being slashed, which pushed the program into ever more untenable positions until it was nothing more than a jobs programme. Forget full flyback reusability of all parts. Forget the titanium frame for the shuttle, which would have let it run hot and thus not required so sensitive of a TPS. Go begging for money and be forced to modify the design to meet Air Force requirements, pushing you into an inferior design position. On and on.

If I'd fault them for anything, it'd be for going straight for a full reusable workhorse rather than a small-scale pilot programme first. But those were the days of optimism. Optimism which only recently seems to start being regained.

Either way, the Falcon boosters are a very different beast. A vertical soft landing is hugely different from the SRBs, yet the thermal issues are far easier than with the Shuttle. And the Merlins were designed from the start under the principle of preventing the need for a full teardown. That doesn't mean that they will be cheap to reuse. But it does mean that they have the possibility of it.

I do think SpaceX had a rather clever strategy, in that while their goal was reusable, they made a rocket that in the process was cheap as a disposable. So they could get volume and flight history while working on getting the kinks out. They may have flown too close to the sun with the densified propellants and (externally) unlined COPVs, but obviously, with a company like this, their whole existence is to push the envelope.

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