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JavaScript Comes To Minecraft

Mercano Hardly revolutionary (149 comments)

Not sure how this is a groundbreaking achievement. ComputerCraft already provides a LUA interpreter and turtles, and has a lot more documentation. There's also RedPower's Control module, that gives you an emulated 6502-based 8 bit computer. A FORTH boot disk can be crafted in-game, or you can edit your save files to bring in either an BASIC boot disk or your own assembler code. (Previous /.coverage of the 6502 emulator blocks)

about a year and a half ago

Kazakhstan Wants Russia To Hand Over Their Baikonur Space City

Mercano Re:Too far north. (131 comments)

This is why Russia and the ESA recently built a Soyuz launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre; They get nearly double the performance to GEO there, from 1.7 tonnes out of Baikonur to 3 out of Kourou. Russia's still dependent on Kazakhstan for Proton launches, though, and that's what they're currently using for most of their communication satellite launches.

about 2 years ago

Jonathan Coulton Re-records 'Code Monkey' For Us

Mercano Blast from the past (62 comments)

I first found JoCo from the original Slashdot post; I was quite excited to find out he was playing at the first PAX I attended (2008). I think I bounced from him to quite a few other geek-friendly music acts now in my iPod, Paul and Storm, Molly Lewis, Marian Call, the Doubleclicks... So, thanks, Slashdot!

about 2 years ago

Air Force Lab Test Out "Aircraft Surfing" Technique To Save Fuel

Mercano Re:drafting... (205 comments)

They were doing this with pretty lightweight acrobatic planes. Perhaps the big cargo planes put off enough of a wake that the following planes don't have to be quite as close? Still going to be a bumpy ride though.

about 2 years ago

NASA's Giant Crawler-Transporter Is Getting an Upgrade

Mercano Re:Stupid question... (135 comments)

Mostly because they want to reuse as much of the existing infrastructure at KSC as they can, and it was built around the idea of static buildings & launch pads with mobile launch platforms. When they were building a west coast shuttle launching facility in the 80's, they were reusing SLC-6, a Titan III facility built around having a mobile service tower, so they wound up building a mobile assembly building.

Wait, west coast shuttle facilities, you ask? Yup, they were planing on launching Discovery from Vandenberg Air Force Base in October 1986. Unfortunately, Challenger exploded in January 1986, putting a moratorium on shuttle launches, and it was deemed prohibitively expensive to make all of the safety-related upgrades required once they started flying again, and, at that point, the Air Force had already decided they were better off with unmanned expendable launchers.

about 2 years ago

The Nice Guy At the World's Largest Weapons Expo

Mercano Re:Still a bad guy (180 comments)

And think how much economic stimulus Batman has pumped into the economy over the years acquiring all his wonderful toys. If you believe in trickle down effect, this should be good for everyone.

more than 2 years ago

Intelsat Signs Launch Contract With SpaceX

Mercano What about Energia? (167 comments)

The various press releases are forgetting something. The Falcon Heavy is third in lift capability behind the Saturn V and the Energia . Granted, the Energia only had two flights before the collapse of the Soviet Union made it too expensive to operate, and on one of the the payload malfunctioned after separation and deorbited itself almost immediately, but in both cases, the booster functioned just fine. It was capable of lifting 100 metric tons to LEO (which was more than enough to give the Buran, the Soviet space shuttle, a piggy back ride to orbit), which puts it just shy of Saturn V's 118 tons, and is almost double the Falcon Heavy's 53 tons.

more than 2 years ago

Minecraft Mod Adds Emulated 6502 Processor

Mercano Re:What's inside? (96 comments)

8KB in the base computer block with up to seven 8KB memory expansion blocks behind it. There are peripherals that do in fact connect via memory windows; Eloraam has implemented a custom MMU instruction to map in whatever you've connected with RedBus wire. Currently, there are only three of them, though: the disk drive, the terminal, and the IOX box, which lets you interface with redstone signals. I think you can also connect multiple CPUs up over Red Bus; you just have to give them different bus IDs. Bus IDs are 8 bits long, so if you wanted to, you COULD build a Beowulf cluster.

more than 2 years ago

Russian Superjet 100 Crashes During Demo Flight, Killing All Aboard

Mercano Re:Probably lost the sale, too! (339 comments)

Wow, I hadn't realized there has only been 112 manned Soyuz flights. You'd think, with a 15 year head start on the Shuttle, they would have had more flights than the Shuttle's 135. Not sure if this is a point in the Shuttle's favor, for having a higher flight rate, or Soyuz's, for having a longer on-orbit lifespan, allowing them to keep their space stations manned with fewer flights.

more than 2 years ago

Australian Billionaire Plans To Build Titanic II

Mercano Re:Ah... (289 comments)

Only from the weight of all the lead-based paint they're "not" going to use on it.

more than 2 years ago

SpaceX Launch To International Space Station Delayed For Code Tweaks

Mercano Re:Launch window (97 comments)

There was a Atlas V scheduled to go up on the 5th, but that's now bumped up to the 3rd. I read over at NASASpaceFlight that Falcon 9 has a launch window approximately every three days from the Cape to ISS. has a worldwide launch calender; you can see how many times this flight has been delayed. It was originally scheduled for June 6th of last year, so it'll be just a day shy of 11 months behind schedule, if there aren't any further reschedules.

more than 2 years ago

Inside the Mummification of Space Shuttle Discovery

Mercano Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (98 comments)

Not only that, but when NASA runs out of SMEs for the SLS rocket, they will have to come up with a new engine at huge expense, put it through a testing regime, and more or less redesign the rest of the rocket as a whole new vehicle anyway.

Not quite. Once the stock of RS-25D engines left over from the space shuttle program are used up, they'll be replaced by RS-25Es, a cheaper one-time-use version of the space shuttle main engine. They may need to produce two more sets of the 25Ds before the E's are ready, though. They're reusing the old shuttle engines on a disposable rocket for two reasons: they're already a man-rated design, and the engines themselves are already paid for.

Interesting note, Discovery's engines, at least, may make it to museum some day; looks like they're being earmarked for ground test structures, rather than flight.

more than 2 years ago

SpaceX Gets Astronauts To Try Out Its Dragon Crew Cabin

Mercano Re:Is this cabin designed to handle pressure suits (84 comments)

...astronauts wearing an ACES, Sokol or some private sector pressure suit...

I sort of hope they use Sokol suits, or something with compatible valves, making it easier for astronauts to go up in one type of space craft and, if necessary, return in a different one. Of course, the seat liners would also have to be compatible with the ones used in Soyuz, but it'd be nice to be able to switch crafts without having to send up a second pressure suite and seat liner, like we did when we had astronauts switching between the shuttle and a Soyuz mid flight.

more than 2 years ago

Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis Meet One Last Time

Mercano Re:I hate it when museums do this (52 comments)

The main engines and associated plumbing were removed at NASA's behest, not the museums. NASA plans on reusing the them (and, unfortunately, disposing of them) on the first three flights of the new SLS rocket.

I believe they removed most of the tanks and plumbing from the RCS and OMS systems because the fuel they use is particularly nasty (they have to wear heavy-duty hazmat suits when working on them), and they were worried that the equipment would still be contaminated, even after it was purged, and most museums don't toxic self-igniting chemicals in their exhibit halls anyway, so it was safer just to completely remove all the interior components. It's not like they'd be on display anyway, unless you went crawling around in the interior, or the museum did a cut away (which, in this case, just makes me shudder).

more than 2 years ago

A Memory of Light To Be Released January 8, 2013

Mercano But I thought... (228 comments)

But I thought there were no beginnings or endings to the Wheel of Time?

Sanderson's been doing a wonderful job; his stuff has probalby been the best we've seen since book five or six. (Yes, there were cool bits here in there in 7-12, but they're diamonds in a whole lot of rough.) I'm sort of sad we don't get a few more Sanderson books.

more than 2 years ago

SpaceX Tries Out Its New SuperDraco Rocket Engine

Mercano Re:Impressive (118 comments)

No, berthing is to be standard operating procedure for cargo flights; Common Berthing Mechanism connectors, such as the one found on the nose of the Dragon, don't have any of the shock absorbers required for docking. As it also requires the Canada arm to unberth, CBM isn't well suited for manned flights, as in an evacuation scenario, there'd be no one left on the station to operate the arm, so crewed version of the Dragon will probably feature either APAS or NDS/LIDS docking connectors. CBM is preferred for cargo transfer, however, because it has a larger hatch, big enough to move fully assembled equipment racks through them. Japan's HTV cargo vehicles are also berthed via Canada Arm.

more than 2 years ago

Russian Rocket Fleet Grounded Again

Mercano Title is misleading (66 comments)

The title of this story is misleading. It isn't the rockets that are grounded, its the spacecraft that sits on top of them.

Also, for what it's worth, the shuttle wouldn't have been help matters much if the Russian's can't fly a Soyuz. While the shuttle is fine for swapping crews (in fact, the shuttle's runway landings are gentler than the Soyuz's parachute landings, a good thing for people who have spent the last six months in 0g), the shuttle can only fly a two week mission, meaning without a Soyuz attached to the station, we'd have to leave people in orbit without an immediate way home, a risk that neither NASA nor Roscomos is willing to take. The Soyuz itself is only rated for six months in orbit, giving them a limited window to fix the problems before we have to talk about unmanning the station.

more than 2 years ago

Doctor Who To Become Hollywood Feature Film

Mercano Re:it started in 2005 (357 comments)

Oh, and apparently they're trying for some sort of record on how fast they can turn over doctors.

Actually, the median per regeneration seems to be somewhere around three years, ignoring the gaps between the old run and the movie, and the movie to the new run, so even if Matt Smith leaves after next year, he isn't leaving unusually early. Granted, the 8th and 9th both were exceptionally short lived, but Tennant actually had the second longest run at 4 years, 6 months, after Tom Baker's 6 years 9 months. Granted, the modern Doctors don't stack up as well in episode count. Even when you account for the fact that they are making longer episodes then they did back when, the older Doctors still were making more content per year.

If your interested in how long each Doctor lasted...

more than 2 years ago

Will Apple Let Siri and Apps Connect?

Mercano Re:Word of warning (185 comments)

Does it need to talk to the cloud for tasks that were already available for voice control on the 3GS or 4? iPod controls, placing calls, and "What time is it?" shouldn't need the cloud. Well, other than the call itself, at least.

more than 2 years ago


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