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Comment Re:surface plz (Score 2) 129

Yeah, geosynchronous satellites are way out there at about 6 Earth radii with 700ms ping times.

We're talking about all of the new low earth orbit mesh networks, though, that SpaceX and Facebook and Google and Virgin Atlantic have all expressed interest in launching, either as part of the Iridium 2 constellation or in competition with it.

Here's a visualization I've made of SpaceX's proposed 4000+ node constellation based on mission parameters that Elon Musk has announced publicly:
Imagine trying to clear a comfortable launch window through that!

Not sure if he's really serious about it, or if it's just a bargaining chip to get better negotiations for the Iridium 2 launches. But the factory for these things is just down the road across town, so I suppose I could go check.

Comment Re:There are only four programs that matter (Score 2) 249

You're forgetting the other other big one: interest payments on national debt.

But even all of the "small beans" items are larger than they look... for example, the federal spending on education contributes only about 7% of the actual operating costs for a K-12 school, the majority of which is typically paid by State, County, City, and local taxes. But the feds make schools really work and jump through lots of hoops and administer tests to tick off the boxes that allows them to tap into that 7% of funding.

Anyway, http://www.usgovernmentspendin... does a better job including some of these other tax revenue streams into the total picture.

If anyone is interested in one-upping Steve Ballmer, have at it. Lots of source data from the White House Office of Management and Budget:
All the raw data is there in lots and lots of Excel spreadsheets. Not very well organized or visualized, but it's there.

I got interested in doing something like this after an engineering accounting class I took a decade ago:

Comment Re:The only assistant that's good (Score 1) 173

Yeah, that's actually an option for Alexa.... you can change her trigger to "computer" so you can say things like:

"Computer, turn on dungeon lights"

Assuming you have her connected to a Wink hub with a preset named "Dungeon Lights"

Of course, I (and everyone else who stalks me online, for that matter) am eagerly saving up to install a connected lock, so I can stand outside my house and yell "Computer, open the pod bay doors!" and have it happen.

Comment Re: Golden age of remakes maybe (Score 2) 1222

Eh, I watched Ex Machina and Chappie (and Wall-E and Big Hero 6) on the same transpacific flight, and I think they all belong... exploring different aspects of the same AI imagination. Maybe more on the level of Short Circuit, but it was still cute. Anyway, same director as District 9, and it's a neat and somewhat pragmatic vision of the not-too-distant future.

Comment Re:OK, I'll bite (Score 1) 297

Well, in Japan, many of the people have gone to the services industry...

Well, in Japan, they have just about the highest suicide rate in the developed world. Maybe we don't want to emulate them too closely.

Well, in Japan, they have just about the highest life expectancy in the developed world. Maybe we don't want to emulate them too closely.

Comment Re:The U.S. government is planning bigger wars. (Score 0) 297

The US has a stranglehold on "Intellectual Property" ... media distribution rights and patents. All imaginary stuff, but powerful. Especially when that imaginary stuff is backed and enforced by the world's largest military.

Military spending is also profitable because they can justify going sole source with their friends right in front of the taxpayers' faces.

Nice cozy guaranteed security clearance jobs for US citizens who can keep their records clean too.

Comment Blame the audience (Score 1) 542

There are a large number of books that they can use as a base for movies.

The reason is not that they are out of ideas, the reason is that they are lazy and just re-use what did work one more time.

Eh, being risk-averse is not lazy. The profits from these big blockbuster projects are fairly predictable.

Mass audiences prefer content that they are already familiar with. They like songs that sounds like songs they already like. They like stories and movies with plots they're already familiar with. People take comfort in being able to predict what's going to happen because they've seen something familiar. We don't like to be challenged with the new and unexpected, unless we feel really comfortable and safe and confident -- which most people don't.

I'd say it's a fair amount of work to meet people's existing expectations using established formulas and pacing, rather than going all creative and taking risks of pushing the envelope too far. Not the kind of safety net everyone appreciates, but whatever, it's just business.

Comment Re:Yeah (Score 5, Interesting) 398

Well stated, AC.

I would add that it's a folly to dismiss Trump as stupid. He's "used car salesman" smart. There are a lot of interesting and effective negotiation tactics that are available when you can throw ethics and long-term credibility out of consideration. Trump has not only read but written Sun-Tzu Art-of-War style treatises on business dealings... how to portray yourself as rich when you are poor, stupid when you are shrewd, slow when you're moving fast. If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit sort of stuff.

Some story I've heard quoted offhand (wish I could find the source) was about when he bought a yacht from someone. He had a minion go and thank the other guy's minions for selling it to him for a much larger price than he actually paid. The idea was to spread rumors that made it look like Trump was much richer than he actually was, and much more foolhardy with his money than he actually was, so other people would make mistakes negotiating with him later. This tactic plays well with a lot of the other numbers and statistics he makes up on the spot... he exaggerates everything he can, in order to make himself look better later. He made up that huge $4 billion figure for the Boeing Air Force One projects, so he can brag about saving a billion dollars later when it comes out closer to a more realistic figure. I think I've seen an article indicating he's already done this.

Everything else he's been doing indicates that he's clearing the tables to maximize leverage for new negotiations -- firing all US ambassadors on day 1, threatening sky-high import/export tariffs, putting gag orders and hiring freezes on all US government agencies. It's clear that to do anything, you'll have to suck up to Trump first, and bring money and favors to secure it. But this is a standard business negotiation tactic, pull every string you can towards you first and make everyone else fight and bargain to get back the slack.

So we can look forwards to some short term "wins". Hopefully we can keep him negotiating and dealing with our enemies, and our friends will be very understanding in the mean time.

Submission + - Will Montana become 3rd state to ditch daylight saving time? (missoulian.com)

turkeydance writes: ok...twice every year Slashdot disses DST...here's 2017's first:

A bill brought by Sen. Ryan Osmundson, R-Buffalo, would eliminate that biannual ritual. He introduced Senate Bill 206 in the Senate State Administration Committee last month, a bill exempting Montana from observance of daylight saving time and keeping the state on “Montana Standard Time” throughout the year.

Similar legislation in several past sessions to exempt Montana from daylight saving time, keep the state on daylight saving time all year, or put the question to the voters failed to advance even out of committee. But SB206 passed committee unanimously and once on the floor, more than twice as many senators voted for it as against it.

Comment Re:We deserve what we get. (Score 2) 81

A Meitu spokesman actually replied to the ArsTechnica article on this:

Since they're a Chinese company, they have to collect their own user data since they don't have access to user data from the Apple / Google stores. So they likely have less info about you than most Western app devs.

I installed Meitu on an Android 7.1 device yesterday. It only asks for device permissions as it needs them. I denied giving it access to my phone functions and the app works fine without that telemetry. But if you're really paranoid, go ahead and play with it in Andyroid or something.

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