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Comment Re:One can hope (Score 1) 113

I like Red Hat and I appreciate all they've done for open-source in the enterprise, but the desktopification of core Linux aspects is a bad thing.

Uh you realize Red Hat only has one little side project for workstations and it's essentially the server version with a GUI and a cheaper license? Fedora is just their testbed, they don't care about the desktop. For me it's pretty clear that the core feature of systemd is resource management for containers and other forms of light virtualization. If you run a dedicated server, you don't need it. If you use a hypervisor and full VMs you don't need it. If you want to "app-ify" your servers with Docker then systemd is the management tool around it. It's a huge selling point to cloud providers which is core business for Red Hat. They're not doing it to compete with Linux Mint...

Comment Re: He cheated OTHER players (Score 3, Insightful) 273

The players cheated.

They did not mark any cards, they noticed a flaw that could be used as a mark. No rule of the casino was broken, they're nullifying it because state law says the presence of marked cards means the game is not lawfully played and thus void regardless of whose fault that is. But this means that all games played with this deck should be declared void, every win and every loss. Otherwise you're saying the casino can write the values on the back of the card, they win it was a fair game but you win and they call foul. So I'm actually with Ivey on this one, he's played with the same deck under the same rules as other players but they're cancelling just his games because he won. That's not a legally sound reasoning.

Comment Re:Internet access in Cuba (Score 2) 58

The cost of access has dropped to $1.50/hour, but that's a lot of money in a country where the average monthly income is $25.

Then maybe it's a good idea to do something about the latter instead of the former... I've paid more than that back in the dial-up days and that wasn't on an island that doesn't have any cheap ways to connect to the rest of the world.

Comment Re:Busses, Street Sweepers and Garbage Trucks (Score 1) 57

They drive the same route day after day, they don't need to go fast, they are either owned by the city or by companies that have major relationships with the city so they can avoid major regulatory hurdles. These are the obvious first adopters of driverless technology.

No, but buses are big and most needed during rush hour. The moment something doesn't work you're likely to inconvenience a lot of people on the bus and on the same road. Garbage trucks are better, but usually noisy so people want collection in daytime with other traffic and you'd need a lot of technology to automate emptying the containers to really automate it. I think sweeper cars would be perfect, nobody would care if they drive at 10 mph with the yellow warning lights say 01-04 AM, if they get stuck or have a breakdown you have time to send a mop-up crew to collect them before the morning rush.

Comment Re:That's not how it works... (Score 1) 203

That's a broken financial model. The intersection of people with the capabilities, ideas, enthusiasm, and available time is extremely small. Actually, the highly skilled people are least likely to be available because they are most likely to be working already. My apparently crazy idea is that we need better financial models first. My favorite pipe dream is a kind of a crowd-funding model around clear project proposals.

No, ideas are a dime a dozen. That's the delusion most of these proposals have, that if only they got to share their great proposal with the world lots of people would come help pay for it and lots of developers would come do it for little or nothing. Your proposal sounds extremely similar to other crowdfunding / bounty / donation proposals that have been done, but most of them amount to "Now I've made a tip jar and put in the first $5, why is nothing happening?"

If you're real lucky you find a project where you put in a feature request and somebody says that's a great idea, I'll do it. If you're hiring at full commercial cost, there's tons of contractors willing to do it. Between there you might find people willing to work on it for everything from beer money to paying the bills, but then they mostly work on what they want, not what you want because they're contributing most of the value. The good thing is that they're usually in control of the scope and complexity of the tasks they agree to, so you usually get what you pay for. Still due to whiny brats it's best to put up a tip jar with no guarantees.

If you're looking for someone to create something that doesn't exist and thus probably is nobody's itch, you probably have to get close to commercial funding. Maybe some will do it for somewhat less since it's non-profit and for open source, but not beer money cheap. That means you have to get lots of people on board, which means mediating between all their pet ideas. And when push comes to shove you have to actually have to both get the funding and find someone willing to do it.

What you describe is the perfect waterfall spec, everything is described up front down to the smallest detail. Everyone who's worked with it in the real world knows it's a giant pain in the ass to create, which is why they go agile. Most likely it will have flaws and then the fun starts dealing with your co-sponsors and developer complaining about any inaccuracy in the spec, delay in delivery and what actually constitutes fulfillment. And you don't have any budget or power to approve change orders. Worst case you have a lawyer on your ass because the developer is fed up and wants to get paid.

...at which point 99.99% of the people with ideas will have said "shit I didn't want all this crap, I just had this great idea.... you fix it" and disappear in a puff of righteous indignation that the world didn't just take their great idea and ran with it. I mean that was the hard part right, like coming up with the script for a movie. Once you have that, actors, directors, producers and camera men will come running... or maybe not. I think you can build any platform you want for script writers and movie producers to meet each other, but it won't change the fundamentals. Same with idea people and open source developers.

Comment Am I the only one... (Score 4, Interesting) 121

.... 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) 121

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.

Comment Re: Awesome (Score 2) 121

Most of Europe agrees with you. And even the US agrees with you up through high school plus with various forms of assistance for college, including state-subsidies, particularly for state colleges, and federal subsidies (direct subsidies, tax credits, and tax breaks), roughly $80B/year each. Pell grants alone cost the government $35B.

Comment Re: Is more education, better education . . . ? (Score 2) 473

You are simply mis-reading what is stated in that document. The US citizen parent had to be resident in the US for ten years (prior to the birth). How can I be so certain? I am in a similar category, but was born outside the US to a US mother and a father who had not been ten years resident in the US. I had, since birth, US citizenship until I renounced a few years ago.

Comment Re:Coast Starlight (Score 1) 371

Because Amtrak is a corporate welfare basket case that will never come close to justifying itself economically. We have aircraft now. Passenger rail is for short-distance commuting, and it's barely cost effective at that.

Aircraft can't bring you city center to city center. If you add up travel to and from the airport the break-even is usually 3-3.5 hours. The question is whether there's many enough passengers to justify it, laying down rail costs almost the same no matter how many travel. Airplanes are much closer tied to number of flights = cost of delivering service.

Comment Re:Well Trump has one thing right (Score 2) 517

The language you use to describe the problem is hurting your ability to solve the problem. You could as much call it crony socialism and be describing exactly the same thing, but the solutions that would get proposed would look somewhat different (and would invariably fail to eliminate the crony component, which is the actual loathsome bit.)

Well crony just means "a close friend especially of long standing" so basically you could use that to describe all forms of "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine" relationships. If people with an Ivy League degree only hire people with other Ivy League degrees it's a form of cronyism. Crony socialism would be "some animals are more equal than others". However "crony capitalism" as a combined term has been refined past "cronyism in capitalism" like an old boys club of rich white men sitting on each other's boards to a rather specific term for capitalists who influence and manipulate the political system to create unfair business conditions towards their customers, competitors and employees.

Basically it's a 21st century word for the collusion between business and government, without the authoritarian government of fascism. You do as our lobby group wants, we make lots of money and give you a fat campaign contribution and you get to blast the public with PR campaigns and be/stay in office. Win-win for both of them. I don't think you can do away with the intersection between business and government, for example I don't expect the Greens and the shale oil industry to agree any day soon. The question is more what are legitimate and illegitimate ways for them to interact. A trade association is legal. A cartel is not. What makes one different from the other? The exact nature of the interaction.

Comment Re:No Gut no Glory (Score 1) 66

To be clear:

  * Getting the failure rate down in the lower tenths of a percent or better is what they need to be able to ~10x their launch rate and still be economically viable, since a pad explosion will leave them stuck for just as long and scare off just as high a percentage of their customers whether they're launching 12 a year or 120.
  * SpaceX wants to have reliability like airplanes, and has talked about this frequently.
  * What they want to achieve, and what they need to achieve, are not the same thing. They do not need to achieve airplane-like reliability for the Falcon 9 to be viable.
  * That said, if they ever want to achieve their ultimate IPT plans, they absolutely will need airplane-like reliability. Because they're calling for ~1000 launches per booster on that thing with a turnaround cost of ~200k. They really cannot have anything go wrong with it.

Comment Re:No Gut no Glory (Score 1) 66

It most certainly would be extreme reliability by the standards of the launch industry. The only ones that have better reliability than that that don't have nearly a statistically significant enough number of launches under their belt to assert that. Aka, "they haven't had a failure yet but nowhere near the several hundred launches required to assert a lower fraction of a percent or better failure rate".

We're not talking about airplane reliability here, we're talking about economics (the title of the article is "SpaceX Accident Cost it Hundreds of Millions"). Airplane-like reliability is for the future. We're living in the present.

All COPVs use an inner liner. The problem with SpaceX's COPVs is that they have no outer liner to separate the carbon fibre from the LOX. Outer liners are optional. SpaceX didn't use one. They lost a rocket because of it. They're going to keep trying doing without one. I really hope it doesn't cost them another. CF and LOX aren't fast friends.

Comment Re:No Gut no Glory (Score 1) 66

A previous launch failure was due to a third-party strut failing under load -- again SpaceX cut corners by not testing each and every component, accepting the risk of a failure rather than spending time and money on eliminating a one in a million possibility.

They had a contract with a third party to supply parts built to certain specifications, they were supposed to do the testing. I really doubt they had any acceptable failure rate in that contract, like you might have with consumer toys. SpaceX had to backtrack and say "if you want it done right, do it yourself" but it's really contrary to what they want because that's the way you end up with massive vertically integrated behemoths and NASA-certified screwdrivers that costs 100x what a normal screwdriver costs.

Comment Re:Permission? (Score 1) 60

From whom does one ask permission to go to the moon? And who authorises that authority to grant it? And what would be the punishment if one went to the moon without permission?

If you can drag the whole launch platform into international waters, nobody I think. It's not the going to the moon that's regulated, it's launching to get there. The outer space treaty says that nobody lays claim to own the moon, so there's no such thing as trespass. I'd think most other things would follow the "flag rules", if you're on a US ship in international waters US laws apply aboard the ship. What would happen if you went there, declared the treaty invalid and your independence as a free nation is anyone's guess. Most likely they'd just ignore you and if you tried to attack any "invaders" they'd kill you in self defense.

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