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Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 101

I don't need to stand by the rotation theory. However, the 2.5 degrees that the Earth rotates are about equivalent to the downrange distance.

The first stage is going about 1/5 of the target LEO orbital velocity at separation. While you might well model the trajectory as a parabola over flat ground, given the lack of fuel I would expect that SpaceX puts a lot more care into their trajectory. So far I've failed to attract the attention of the person responsible for Flight Club, the most trusted modeling of SpaceX flights, but I'll message him directly.

Comment Re:Contracts? (Score 1) 405

I disagree. They should switch them all to contracts specifying the amount of data they are allowed to download without paying extra, and the costs/KB for each each KB over the limit. Say switch them to a plan with a limit of 110GB/month, and some reasonable cost for excess downloads. But be honest and specific.

Comment Re:Reaching the limits of the unlimited (Score 1) 405

IIRC the first usage of the term by ISPs referred to the amount of time you could be connected rather than the amount of data you could transmit. Or that's the way I understood it. Unfortunately, (again IIRC) the term wasn't really defined, and other people interpreted it in other ways. Then the ad people really swung into it, and unlimited was made to seem a lot more important.

In actuality your amount of transmission was never really unlimited, because you had a limited bit rate, and there's only 24 hr's/day. You could make the same argument about connection time, but there few people would think it the ISPs job to provision your day with more than 24 hours.

That said, I believe the the only appropriate response is to cancel ALL "unlimited" plans, and offer to convert them to "24 hrs/day connect time, nnn GB/month" plans, or some such, with the ability to purchase additional transaction amounts if you go over your nnn GB at an agreed upon price. Unfortunately, even though this is (in general) a monopoly situation, most ISPs find honesty impossible to contemplate...certainly their PR departments do.

Comment Re:the complaint (Score 1) 92

Unfortunately, while the Republicans like this kind of law, they don't like it as much as the Democrats do. BOTH major parties are on the take from various groups that support this kind of law.

But the Democrats are worse, about this, than the Republicans. The sponsors of the MPAA and the RIAA give more to the Democrats.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 101

Well, Alastair, you should probably not get snotty and ad-hominem, unless you want me to comment on how a one-time sci-fi author and the Unix guy at Dish doesn't really have more authority than the random person one might find in the SpaceX group on Reddit.

It happens there are a few people over there who are rocketry professionals, have the math, and have followed SpaceX long enough. So, sure, their opinion can indeed be trusted.

So far, we have a suggestion from one of the lesser folks there that raising the apogee takes advantage of the Earth's rotation. We'll see if we get the attention of the right people.

Comment Re:I'm torn (Score 1) 115

People frequently pirate GPL software. When discovered the demanded payment is usually opening of the source code.

I will grant that without copyright laws the GPL would be more like the BSD or MIT licenses. I wouldn't find that horrible...if there weren't any copyright laws. As it is, I prefer the GPL to ensure that the works written won't be copyrighted and claimed against the original authors.

Another part of the problem is patent laws. The GPL2 wouldn't have any teeth without copyright laws, but the GPL3 attempts to ensure that patents also cannot be used to unreasonably attack GPL3 derivative works. Given patent laws I'm not sanguine about how well this would work, but it's an attempt.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 101

It seems to be a common misconception that orbital mechanics somehow knows when you are in orbit and does not work otherwise. But that is as silly as saying that relativity only works near light speed. These things always work regardless of speed, it's just that their effects are macroscopic at greater speeds.

Comment Re: drone ship landings require a lot less fuel? (Score 1) 101

Here's an illustration of the boost-back to RTLS trajectory. You can see that it very definitely goes up. And to prove from observation, you can actually see where the two trajectories separate in photos from yesterday's launch. It's a rather dim curl up, and another continuing East, in Jason Ruck's photo and John Kraus's photo.

At the speed of stage separation, they rocket isn't going fast enough to stay in orbit, but it is definitely in the regime where orbital mechanics has a macroscopic effect. If you think about it, this is going to be the case at some reasonable fraction of orbital velocity.

Comment The perspective of a 3D animation professional (Score 5, Interesting) 300

This is just like the way people whined that color film had ruined the medium, and the ones before them who whined about talkies and yearned for the days of silent films.

I started at the NYIT Computer Graphics Laboratory in 1981 and left Pixar in 2000. These days I produce or am on screen once in a while.

While I was at NYIT they weren't story oriented, and thus all you see of them is demos. Pixar, on the other hand, always put story first. We knew that we could not make a film stand up on effects alone.

Today, a good 3D animation house can make absolutely any scene they like. And thus there isn't anything special about doing so. It's there if it needs to be there to tell the story, and not otherwise.

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"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked." -- John Gall, _Systemantics_