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Comment Who Watches The Watchmen? They Prefer "No One." (Score 3, Insightful) 468

The Romans had a saying: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" -- "who watches the watchmen?"

Apparently, the sheriff's association would prefer "no one."

Meanwhile, they want unfettered access to track you, to search you at will, to apply force when they deem necessary - with no potential repercussions, and to have their word taken as literal truth in courts of law. In short, they want to answer to no one, and especially not to the public that pays their salaries and that they are sworn to serve.

To have their way, they threaten litigation or new statuatory laws. I suppose that they forget that the public has the right to free speech, and that the police are not the *secret* police in this country.

Comment Re:Let's do what every other third world country d (Score 2) 108

ULA / GenCorp (who acquired Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2013) has the right to produce the RD-180 domestically as part of its partnership with NPO Energomash.

Since they have the plans, access to the current production line and certainly the ability to make the engine, patent encumbrances would not be an issue.

The problem is cost -- the RD-180 is very labor intensive to make, and it would also require tooling, testing, certification and undoubtedly test flights to bring the US-made version to equivalence of the Russian one. It may be cheaper to use a new design and start from scratch.

Comment Re:What else is needed... Rocket engines (Score 2) 140

The only problem with that 2009 article is that Dragon Heavy still hasn't been built, tested or flown and is behind schedule. SpaceX had planned to launch it last year, then this year, and now their launch manifest shows 2015 but is expected to slip further. They had reported cross-flow problems with the two outer boosters in 2013, but have not said much about it since.

Comment Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is BS (Score 5, Insightful) 178

Multicopter pilot here. In short, it looks like the pilot was a hobbyist out of his depth and was performing dangerous maneuvers before any so-called hacking with equipment not meant for the job.

I don't know a lot about the specifics of the accident, but the multicopter that was involved in the accident was using a very outmoded form of technology to control the multicopter (wifi) rather than the far more reliable multichannel failsafe 2.4GHz DSMX systems that are in common use with bigger multicopters. While it may be possible to "hack" the signals controlling the 'copter, it's more likely that the control loss was due to RF interference, either by purpose or accident. I would imagine that a sporting event such as the one where the incident occurred would be awash in wifi signals from dozens if not hundreds of sources.

Secondly, the multicopter pilot was doing something that experienced pilots / cinematographers strongly avoid: flying directly over people. Even the best control systems and multicopters can malfunction, and hovering over a crowd is obviously a bad place for that to happen.

The type of multicopter also gives away the apparent lack of skills or experience of the pilot. Parrot AR 'copters are not professional-grade equipment and they are not devices that someone who earns a good bit of money from aerial filming would use.

(note: apologies for a double post, I forgot to log in to post this reply.)

Comment Scientific Potential vs. Engineering Realization (Score 5, Insightful) 71

I really like Phil Plait but he consistently misses one of the major points of ISS was building and operating a working spacecraft in space. That knowledge in and of itself will prove invaluable for longer term missions where resupply and spare parts will be impossible to provide.

That attitude seems to be all too common among scientists: the constantly overlook engineering and take it for granted.

Comment If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It (Yet.) (Score 5, Insightful) 442

Microsoft will have a tough sell when it comes to Win8 with many if not most of their large customers.

First all, while they are still the preferred desktop OS vendor, their reputation precedes them: new releases of Windows often come with a seemingly built-in period where problems and flaws need to be worked out -- most of the time by the first service pack, others, not until the second or later. That in turn means lowered productivity across the userbase and increased support costs. To make things worse, often times the answer from even the highest levels of Microsoft's support is "that will be fixed in the next service pack" and the problem is left open. Companies know this and have learned to wait.

Secondly, Microsoft has a bad habit of changing the way their OS works, and that leads to lower productivity thanks to users "having to look" for features and controls they previously knew how to find. Win7 did it, as did Vista and to a smaller extent XP. That even affects the support groups, as they too have to climb up a new learning curve. Companies have learned this too and often wait until they are familiar with the new OS -- sometimes using their own staff as guinea pigs for the desk-side support guys.

Finally, Microsoft's upgrades -- and anyone's really -- have a way of breaking legacy applications that are critical to the business's needs. Then there are vendors who have not certified the new Microsoft OS as being compatible with their products. No certification, no support. No support, it doesn't get fixed and that leaves the business without a piece of its business process software working correctly. Companies have learned this as well and have learned how to wait.

All in all, the conservatism of IT groups is a learned behavior, and if Microsoft has problems selling their OS upgrades because of this, a large part of it is their own doing.

Comment Kennedy Space Center Proves (Score 4, Informative) 409

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is adjacent to Kennedy Space Center and in fact, part of the refuge is also controlled by KSC. They have not experienced gloom nor doom there, and in fact, quite the contrary: Brevard County is one of the most biodiverse areas in the United States.

That's after launching 135 Space Shuttles, multiple Saturn rockets, as well as other programs that litter American history. And next to KSC is the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch area, a place that has seen too many rocket launches to mention.

One has to wonder what makes the Brownsville area so much more at risk.

Comment Re:is BYOD real or an Infoworld hallucination? (Score 1) 348

Infoworld is flogging this relentlessly, but I'm not seeing it at my company and friends are not seeing it at their companies. Anecdotal, I know.

Actually, we talked about it in our annual talking head and powerpoint festival from the CIO. Then again, we're a Gartner-is-the-Bible company, so you can bet it wasn't originally his idea.

And I've used my own iPhone for work for three years unreimbursed, mainly because I only want one device to carry 24x7.

Comment Single Hard Drives Are Unsafe At Any Cost (Score 5, Interesting) 445

The failure rate for hard drives has been quite well known for some time now: it is precisely 100% +/- 0.0%.

Truly, it is not a matter of IF a given hard drive will fail, it is a matter of WHEN.

That means that having a mirrored pair as a minimum -- even on a home machine -- is not an optional frill, it is a necessity. Even better, offsite cloud storage offer replication globally of vital data that are irreplaceable.

If warranties are dropping, so is reliability, and that means it is more vital than ever to CYA and have solid redundancies all the way from the data center to the family laptop.

Comment New Shuttle Derived HLV is Design By Congress (Score 4, Insightful) 106

While it may seem like a great idea to re-use and re-purpose old Shuttle designs for a new heavy-lift vehicle (HLV) on the surface, in fact, it's something that is not being done for its technical merit. Instead, this design is one that's mandated by Congress. The 535 meddlers instructed NASA not to design and implement the best design or the most practical and capable craft, instead, it told themk in it's latest funding bill that it must use 'elements of other programs "to the extent practicable."

The congress-people of course want the jobs and prestige that comes from having the companies that build new spacecraft and their parts in their districts.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama said in a prepared statement that:

“The NASA Authorization bill rejects the Administration’s reckless cancellation of NASA’s human space flight program and provides a framework to continue NASA’s exploration program.

“I am encouraged that the bill outlines a NASA-designed heavy lift rocket capability and continues Huntsville’s leadership role in NASA’s human exploration efforts. Given the ongoing struggles of up-and-coming space companies to keep their contracted schedules, the bill provides some level of accountability and a defined threshold for safety. With the passage of the NASA Authorization bill, it is clear Congress understands that bravado does not necessarily make a rocket company viable.

It may come as a surprise to Shelby that SpaceX is preparing its second launch of the Falcon9 rocket, this time with its Dragon capsule on top. It is currently schedule for no earlier than 10/23 of this month. The test launch is to once again test the Falcon9's operations and give information they can use to further refine them, and it is to test the Dragon in orbit. Dragon will eventually be used to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, as well as deliver cargo to it in an unmanned configuration. In other words, Senator Shelby, human space flight atop American rockets is far from dead. Not only that, private concerns have orbited a test flight and is on the verge of another while NASA awaits the whims of Congress.

With folks like Shelby around, protecting their interests rather than doing the right thing, it will be surprising if any NASA-designed craft orbits humans after the last shuttle lands next year.


OH Senate Passes Bill Banning Human-Animal Hybrids 197

An anonymous reader writes "The sci-fi movie Splice seems to have scared the Ohio's State Senator Steve Buehrer. The Ohio Senate has passed Sen. Buehrer's bill banning 'the creation, transportation, or receipt of a human-animal hybrid, the transfer of a nonhuman embryo into a human womb, and the transfer of a human embryo into a nonhuman womb.' So much for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Comment Not NTC: KSC, Houston And The Smithsonian Instead (Score 5, Insightful) 246

I really cannot think of why New York deserves one, the city made little to no real contribution to the Shuttle program. They are simply leveraging politics to get another tourist draw for nothing. That's not a good enough reason.

Instead of making one of the retiring orbiters a political kewpie doll, they should instead go to the following cities:

1) Kennedy Space Center.
It's where the launches and a large number of landings occurred, and that puts the spacecraft into context -- especially because there's a restored Saturn V hanging in the Apollo Center, the VAB and the launch pads are there, and a visitor will be able to see the launch site...not to mention ongoing space activities, whatever they are.

2) Houston
For many of the same reasons as KSC, Houston deserves an orbiter because it was the site of the bulk of training facilities, because it is the ongoing center for American manned space operations and because it too has a restored Saturn V to complement the orbiter.

3) The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
This is the final resting place for most all of America's flighted space hardware, and an orbiter simply must join Apollo 11's capsule, the Mercury capsules, along with the other important space and aerospace artifacts. Yes, the Smithsonian currently has a flight-test body, but it could give that up in exchange for an orbiter.

Which in turn leads me to say that the Enterprise could go to New York, although I would prefer to see it go to the west coast to a museum there so that Shuttle hardware is located across the geography of the country.

Comment Embrace, Extend ... Extinguish (Score 3, Informative) 370

If someone thinks that Microsoft has changed their stripes, they are being foolish.

In 1996, John Markoff said, "Rather than merely embrace and extend the Internet, the company's critics now fear, Microsoft intends to engulf it." Bing and putting Bing everywhere, including a major Linux distro is just a continuation of that strategy.

In other words, this is just more of the same for a company trying to leverage the Internet and in their most grandiose scheme, somehow come to dominate it.

Comment Enter AT&T's Bogus Smartphone Business "Strate (Score 2, Insightful) 86

AT&T Wireless seems to be a company intent on hari-kari. It has sold its customers the wildly popular iPhone, and now blames its customer base for using the device:

AT&T made more threatening remarks aimed at iPhone users ("Wireless data hogs") who use too much "audio and video streaming" today. AT&T Wireless CEO Ralph de la Vega told attendees at a UBS conference in New York...

Wireless data hogs who jam the airwaves by watching video on their iPhones will be put on tighter leashes, ...[AT&T] will also give high-bandwidth users incentives to "reduce or modify their usage."

Just 3 percent of "smart" phone users are consuming 40 percent of the network capacity, de la Vega said, adding that the most high-bandwidth activity is video and audio streaming. Several applications on the iPhone provide nonstop Internet radio.

De la Vega also defended the network's performance, saying testing showed that AT&T's third-generation, or 3G, network was faster than that of competitors, and that major problems are concentrated in New York and San Francisco, which are packed with smart phone users.

AT&T has already pushed iPhone Tethering back into 2010 with no hard date in sight.

Obviously, these threats by De la Vega are not going well with its customer base, one who has grown increasingly surly. While the first of Dan Lyons' "Operation Chokehold" customer protests may have been unsuccessful, it would be easy to see how iPhone/AT&T customers could find other ways to show their dissatisfaction. And surely, all of this has been noted and noted well in Cupertino at Apple HQ. The last thing it wants in the face of increased competition for smartphone sales is a customer revolt towards an antagonistic company. That in and of itself would suggest that Apple must surely be planning to not renew its exclusivity contract with AT&T, not without some contractually specified infrastructure improvements at the very least.

While other smartphone brand owners and carriers may smugly note that they do not have these problems, they would be wise to note this emerging issue. As Droid and other smartphones become more widely accepted and used on other carrier networks, it is seemingly inevitable that they too will join the ranks of the disconnected unless they happen to be nearby a traditional wireless router that they can connect their pocket device to.

The bottom line is that adoption may well bring about data caps with high charges for heavy users, simply because there are not that many providers and should they note that one sees a revenue increase by raising its rates, they can easily follow suit. This in turn will slow the adoption of broadband migration to smartphone devices at least until compression and connection technologies catch up and surpass this problem.

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