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Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Teancum Re:Republicans get off on deleting information (239 comments)

At least they are objective about destroying information. The mergists simply want to unify all of Wikipedia into a single article that everybody can simultaneously edit and admins can edit protect to admin-only.

about a week ago
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Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program

Teancum Re:So there is a problem... (174 comments)

Most garages, even in Minnesota (I grew up in that state), likely have exposed studs on the inside and would be trivial to put in some simple insulation if you wanted to bother.

But I agree... most of the garages aren't insulated nor is there any real reason to have it insulated either. The garage is there mainly to protect against the wind, keep the snow off the car, and keep the vehicle interior from fading in the sun.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program

Teancum Re:So there is a problem... (174 comments)

That is relatively recent to have that happen though. Most cars in the 1970's and earlier would almost never make 100k miles, and the odometers never even counted up beyond 100k miles either. It was the Japanese manufacturers (Toyota in particular) that started to push the endurance limits of automobiles and the American manufacturers had to follow.

In the semi-tractor market, those engines used to get only about 100k miles as well, but now it is pretty typical in the industry, with proper maintenance, to get the engines over 1 million miles before they need to be replaced. A truck that has gone a million miles likely needs to be replaced anyway.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:What? (393 comments)

The problem with each state's air guard buying a separate kind of fighter as it sees fit is mainly a volume issue, not a logistical one that you are noting. It would be presumed that if a local national guard unit would "buy" a fighter plane, that it would including all of the infrastructure to service that plane too. Most state guard units would buy just a couple to perhaps a couple dozen instead of making a block buy purchase of several thousand (like is being done with the F-35). There are definitely some economies of scale that come from making a larger purchase at once.

As for the chaos that would happen if all of the various state guard units needed to come together with different equipment and organizational charts.... that is sort of what happened during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Yes, it was chaos.... a very intentional and American chaos that was there because citizens didn't trust the federal government to have a large standing army at the time. It took some time to put the whole army together to fight those wars... something that was thought to be perhaps dangerous during the Cold War when the whole war could potentially be over in a matter of hours or perhaps just days. I don't know if that assessment is correct or not about the Cold War, but that is one of the reasons why state governments aren't given more freedom in organizing their guard units.

This also is no different than dealing the the various air forces in Europe, many from countries smaller than most American states both in terms of population as well as comparing the size of their national armies or air forces to state national guard units in America. The Belgian Air Force certainly is a part of NATO, but they also have a fiercely independent air force from any other national military organization and feel free to buy whatever weapons or aircraft that they and their national legislative body wants to purchase.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:Your "facts" are wrong (393 comments)

I would note that all of the other countries buying the F-35 (a stupid proposition in my book BTW) all do so contingent upon the U.S. government buying them. I'll also point out that Lockheed-Martin is not funding the design and construction of this airplane. It is simply the U.S. taxpayers alone. If anything, it is the U.S. government who is in effect offering its design to other countries... as a means to offset the development cost.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:You keep using that word (393 comments)

I tried to find an example Space Shuttle mission that I could use to compare, but I can't even find a comprehensive list of "anomalies". I can find rollbacks, where the problem required bringing the vehicle back to the assembly building, but I can't find a list even of countdown stops.

The problem is that nearly every Shuttle flight had significant "anomalies". These were all reported in-house with things like this report for what in this case was very late in the flight history of the Shuttle program. For that matter, I don't think you could find a single flight by anybody other than perhaps North Korea (because you know how excellent the aerospace engineers are that work for that country) which didn't have at least some sort of technical problem on each and every flight.

BTW, I agree with the rest of your statement here too. This letter by these congressmen is in fact fodder for an opponent to really crucify them, assuming that the general public cared much about space policy in the first place.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:Follow the money (393 comments)

I find it sort of funny how the Texas delegation to Congress is now becoming very supportive of SpaceX and its activities. The Florida delegation also is no longer playing favorites and trying to at least be neutral with regards to the ULA-SpaceX disputes and PR battles. California has long been in the tank with SpaceX (especially Representative Dana Rohrabacher, who just happens to have the Hawthorn, CA plant in his district), so it isn't like SpaceX is without allies in Congress either.

SpaceX is spreading stuff to other districts, and it is helping out, including non-geeks who are angry that tax dollars are being spent to prop up ULA. give it time and ULA will really start to lose political capital in a hurry.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:Not So Fast... (393 comments)

It was a secondary payload that was even capable of having its mission completed. The one glitch is that there was an outside chance (more like one in a hundred thousand possibility or something like that, but still a possibility) that by firing up the 2nd stage to deliver that secondary payload to its previously agreed to flight parameters that if subsequently there was a failure of the 2nd stage engine during that burn, the satellite and that 2nd stage could have potentially crashed into the International Space Station.

It was NASA that prevented SpaceX from completing that secondary payload burn. Admittedly if the first stage had worked perfectly without the loss of engine event that for most other rockets would have resulted in a complete mission failure (especially at that stage of the launch), SpaceX would have even avoided the problem with the ISS. I can also understand NASA's paranoia about the ISS, as a hundred billion dollar investment is definitely worth more than a mere satellite costing tens of millions, not to mention potential loss of life on the ISS. But to call this a failure on the part of SpaceX is just over the top and silly. If only all space related problems were this minor.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:seriously? (393 comments)

Because someone paid them off to interfere with SpaceX.

I think a flat out bribe is unlikely, but it is very likely that one of their campaign contributors (most notably ULA or its parent companies of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin) have gone to these congressmen with this list of complaints, pointing out the problems that SpaceX has had trying to get into space, and definitely blown those problems way out of proportion to those members of congress. They aren't tech geeks, but when a group of tech geeks from your district come into your office (that they can get at any time due to those previously mentioned campaign contributions) with a complaint that has a whole bunch of techno-geek language, they gloss over the other problems and simply think "jobs" and "re-election".

The campaign contributions really are a legalized form of bribing, but what can be done to change that?

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:What? (393 comments)

It would be amazing if Lockheed-Martin simply developed an advanced attack fighter and offered it up for sale to any government who wanted it. The problem with the F-35 program is that it has precisely a single customer, the U.S. government. This is really a monopsony situation where potentially many people could sell stuff to the government, but there is only one buyer.

If, on the other hand, every state's Air National Guard had the option of spending their portion of their military budget as they saw fit (to give an example), at least there would be multiple customers potentially for this airplane and be assured that they could sell at least a few of them. Or if the government of America wasn't so paranoid about potential future enemies of America getting advanced aircraft (like how Howard Hughes designed the Japanese Zeros that bombed Pearl Harbor), they might have other customers there as well.

Luckily for SpaceX, they have other customers for their launch services. So much so that over half of their manifest is for non-government contracts, not to mention about half of their launches to date have also been for non-government customers too. That is what makes the situation with SpaceX so different, and why ULA is having a hard time trying to compete with SpaceX to the point they are encouraging congressmen to write silly letters like the one mentioned in the original post. The European Space Agency, explicitly Arianespace (the manufacturer of the ESA's launch fleet), is definitely in a panic trying to figure out how to compete against SpaceX and win back the customers now lost to SpaceX. If they don't change, the ESA will be stuck launching only payloads for European governments alone... but that is precisely the situation that ULA sits in right now in terms of only flying payloads for the U.S. government.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:What? (393 comments)

For some specific individuals, yes. For "private citizens" in general, no. The citizens as a whole have the exact same amount of money either way.

The question that needs to be asked though is if the money confiscated from citizens at gunpoint and run through government contractors, with noted and acknowledged corruption that exists for all governments no matter how hard people try to stop that corruption, is better spent through the government or if private individuals acting on their own self-interest are going to be far more productive with the economic resources at their disposal and simply making a better life for themselves with those resources.

I'm not talking billionaires or even millionaires. I'm talking ordinary people living very ordinary lives. Is it better that somebody buys a Nintendo Wii instead of sending that money to Washington DC to be used to build a tank instead? What about paying for an NSA computer that monitors your phone calls?

There certainly are some very intelligent people who might know more than a typical average citizen about how money could be spent, but is even a committee of the smartest people in the world about economics necessarily going to be predicting the future about what even the immediate needs if not future needs of ordinary people might be than simply the collective intelligence of those ordinary citizens? I argue that ordinary citizens usually get it right far more often than that select super-committee of very bright people, no matter their IQ, education, or experience. Your argument is that the smart people know better and that we are better off as slaves to those smart people.

History has shown that planned economies simply fail to predict future consumption needs very well, even with very good intentions. That is pretty much all you are saying when you are insisting that government spending should happen.

I'll admit there are some things that simply must be done by a government for the collective good of society. Maintaining the rule of law (meaning those who are weaker than average get protection from the government so they can be productive in doing things that brawn can't necessarily accomplish), enforcing contracts, resolving territorial disputes in a peaceful manner, and preventing outsiders to that society from subverting and taking over the society are all proper functions of government. The question that needs to be asked though is if some of the things currently being done by a government, any government, is better done by that government or simply left alone and handled by private citizens? That is the real question, and one you are not answering in your reply.

about two weeks ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Teancum Re:What? (393 comments)

NASA does not build a damned thing. ULA (Lockheed Martin, Boeing) builds the EELV rockets. SLS is being build by ATK while Orion is built by Lockheed Martin.

This is just ULA being afraid they will lose their iron rice bowl.

NASA engineers are intimately involved with the development, procurement, and more important.... the R&D that is going into the the development of the SLS.

The EELV is a total red herring to your argument because the EELV program is something the Air Force, not NASA, created. NASA doesn't have anything to do with EELV rockets except to use them on occasions for flying payloads into space.... payloads that were originally supposed to be launched by the Space Shuttle but couldn't because it was thought that launching these payloads wasn't worth risking a crew (and a roughly 2% chance per flight of total loss of crew).

It is also a huge oversimplification that SLS is being built by ATK. Yes, ATK is a major contractor for the SLS, but literally hundreds of other contractors are involved too. But that doesn't even scratch the surface of this lie you have said by saying "NASA doesn't build a damn thing".

The most important thing to note is that NASA, through Congressional appropriations, is paying for the development of SLS. That is not true for the Falcon 9. While some NASA funds have been used for getting the commercial transport services contract going as well as the commercial crew program, that is a fixed price seed money contract where SpaceX is required to provide the bulk of the funding. More importantly, if there are any cost overruns, delays, or other problems... especially of a financial nature... SpaceX is required to take care of the difference from its own investors and cash reserves. If the SLS gets delayed by another decade and costs another $10 billion, that will be entirely paid for by taxpayers, not ULA, ATK, Aerojet, or any other contractor.

I think that difference is important, and something that is totally missed by your comment.

about two weeks ago
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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Teancum Re:What about the FPGA? (136 comments)

I currently have a network router that has similar capabilities. If you can download some firmware and flash it into a device for an update, some malware can certainly do the same thing without your permission.

If on the other hand you need a serial cable of some sort that as a completely separate port for updating the firmware that is code-wise unaddressable from the CPU, it is much harder to do that kind of update. It doesn't stop a co-worker from pulling a prank or somebody with physical access to the computer introducing malware, but it definitely is much harder. Still, if you have physical access to a computer you can do all sorts of other mischief that is harder to do through pure software processes.

Most hardware is moving in the direction of internal software updates though, where the NASA thing isn't really all that remarkable and more of the rule rather than the exception.

about three weeks ago
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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Teancum Re:Windows XP?!? (136 comments)

You write this response as if Windows XP has no market share at all, and that somehow software written for XP won't run on any newer operating systems or computers.

We aren't talking about something written in floating-point BASIC running on ProDOS 1.0 Surprisingly, emulators to run even that software exist on modern computers, so even that can be used.

about three weeks ago
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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Teancum Re:Why is this important? (136 comments)

There is the OpenBTS software & equipment if you want to seriously get into hacking cell phone networks. The authors of that software have even used it for setting up a cell phone network at the Burning Man festivals. They chose this venue in part because being in the middle of nowhere that the Burning Man stuff happens also was unlicensed to commercial cell phone providers, thus they could get experimental FCC licenses for their project and not interfere with existing networks.

In theory, somebody could set up their own "pirate cell station" and have a whole lot of semi-legal or flat out illegal fun with this equipment. It does cost a few thousand dollars to get the rig set up, which is why more teens likely don't go playing with the technology more.

On the positive side, these guys have been setting up cell networks in pretty remote places like sub-Saharan Africa and some Pacific islands to provide people with cell phone coverage that otherwise couldn't afford to have this kind of luxury. Commercial equivalents to this equipment are at least 10x or 100x the price.

about three weeks ago
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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Teancum Re:Open FPGA? (136 comments)

One example of some hardware that is really trying to be "open hardware all the way down" is RepRap. While not completely successful, the goal of the project is to eventually have the hardware build itself. As an open source project, if they are successful, will be quite an accomplishment. Fab@Home is another very similar project with similar goals and an open source hardware implementation. I'm personally partial to Fab@Home, but they are both worthy projects in their own right.

The Open Cores Project also tries to encourage such total vertical integration of hardware, but it is very slow in getting stuff going right now. I agree that "one example" of completely open source hardware (where all technical drawings, specs, parts, and everything from the raw plastic & metal parts) is simply not done at the moment.

about three weeks ago
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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Teancum Re:What about the FPGA? (136 comments)

True, but it would take some sort of hardware port to access the programming in the device and be capable of performing that sort of extremely low-level programming to rewrite the chip. I agree with you that it isn't impossible, but to be able to not just detect to also explicitly exploit that vector from much higher level protocols would be very tricky.

This sort of remote reworking of a FPGA was done with the Spirit & Opportunity rovers that are currently on Mars, where NASA (specifically the Jet Propulsion Lab) uploaded some new firmware through the Deep Space Network to another planet. If you can do that on Mars, having a home desktop computer reload new firmware as some sort of malware is trivial by comparison.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Get (or Share) News About Open Source Projects?

Teancum Re:Linux sites I visit (85 comments)

While this is good, not all open software is restricted to just Linux or Linux-based software.

about 1 month ago
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Interviews: Ask Dr. Andy Chun About Artificial Intelligence

Teancum Re:Okay... (71 comments)

I'm pretty certain that any attempt to do precisely what you are asking for here is going to be a pretty potent driver for significant AI research, if nothing else. There are some chat-bots which do a pretty good job of simulating a lewd conversation. All you are asking is for that to be coupled with robotics like Disney's anamatronics for a Las Vegas theme park.

Maybe Westworld isn't so far away after all. One of the scenes in that film which I found sort of funny at the time was when the protagonist took a couple of whores in the Saloon up to a room and tried to bed them... only to discover they weren't completely anatomically correct.

about a month ago
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Interviews: Ask Dr. Andy Chun About Artificial Intelligence

Teancum Re:Why is the term "Intelligence" used ... (71 comments)

We know so little about what self-awareness, intelligence, or sentience actually is that every attempt to simulate the concept is usually met with dead ends in terms of research. There is some usefulness that comes from legitimate AI research, but at this point it is parlor tricks and a few novel programming concepts that have some usefulness in a practical sense.

The only thing that is fairly certain is that somehow a raw physical process is involved with establishing consciousness. Some real effort has been done with trying to understand the physical process from which neural cells interact with each other, and it is fairly certain that the brain is a key component (not the only one though) of what establishes thoughts and reason. Still, there is a long way to go from being able to mathematically describe a neuron to being able to completely simulate, much less actually implement consciousness in the sense that we see with human children emerging after they are born.

You can say that ocean tides act with what apparently is some intelligent behavior, yet if you really study the phenomena it turns out that it isn't. Sometimes complex behavior comes from some very simple rules, sometimes it doesn't. Don't confuse those simple rules with actual intelligence, which is precisely what you are doing here. Even assuming that somehow we could almost completely duplicate the nervous system of a human in electronics, I seriously doubt it would be something you could simply flip on a switch and have working within minutes of starting up the computer.

about a month ago

Submissions

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'World of Warcraft' candidate for Maine State Senate wins election

Teancum Teancum writes  |  about 2 years ago

Teancum writes "Colleen Lachowicz, candidate for the State Senate District 25 of Maine, won the election yesterday against her opponent Thomas Martin. This race was notable in part because her World of Warcraft character that was mentioned earlier on Slashdot, where the Maine Republican Party turned her game playing into a significant issue. It is also notable that she was able to raise a total of $6,300 in campaign contributions from gamers who came to her defense in her successful campaign. The Maine GOP even tried to block these contributions where Lachowicz was cleared of any wrong doing and the investigation was dropped."
Link to Original Source
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Italian Wikipedia Shuts Down for the Day

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Teancum writes "After a lengthy discussion within the Italian language edition of Wikipedia, the volunteers decided to shut down the Italian language edition of Wikipedia for a day with a protest message addressing a new law passed in Italy which the editors of Wikipedia perceive as being harmful to their participation in the collaborative on-line project. The Wikimedia Foundation (the organization who runs the server farms supporting Wikipedia) issued a statement in support of this action."
Link to Original Source
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RKK Energia confirms private trip to the Moon

Teancum Teancum writes  |  about 3 years ago

Teancum writes "RKK Energia, the prime contractor for the Russian space program and the company who builds the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, recently confirmed negotiations are underway with space tourism company Space Adventures for a privately financed crewed flight around the Moon. While the offer and purchase of at least one seat has been discussed earlier, this is the first time Energia has confirmed the negotiations and has gone into at least some details in terms of what they are expecting to have happen with this flight and the approximate timeframe for when this flight would take place... sometime in 2016 or 2017."
Link to Original Source
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Congress dumps James Webb Space Telescope

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Teancum writes "On the list of items on the upcoming federal budget for 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives has announced they are going to cancel the continued development of the James Webb Space Telescope. While this debate is certainly still very much a preliminary draft, the road ahead for this project is now very much uncertain. In this time of budget cuts, it seems unlikely that this project is going to survive at this time. It certainly will be an uphill battle for fans of this telescope if they want to keep it alive."
Link to Original Source
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ARCA's Helen 2 rocket launch successful

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Teancum writes "ARCA (Asociaia Român pentru Cosmonautic i Aeronautic or the Romanian Cosmonautics and Aeronautics Association) announced today the successful launch of their Helen 2 rocket on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010. In the official press release they detail how the rocket was launched on a balloon that went to 14 km and then after being fired from that altitude achieved an altitude of 40 km. The parachute system failed to deploy on the payload capsule and instead dropped into the Black Sea where search efforts to find the capsule were abandoned. Payload recovery was not a primary objective of this test. It is also notable that this is the first flight test for a vehicle being made by a Google Lunar X-Prize team and this vehicle series is eventually intended to deliver a payload to the surface of the Moon for that prize competition."
Link to Original Source
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Haliburton Patents Patent Trolling

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Teancum writes "In an interesting twist on the patent process, Halliburton (yes, the company famous for the contracts in Iraq) has attempted to patent the process of patent trolling. With a flow chart that seems to read like some of the long standing gags here on slashdot about how to a profit from various technology schemes, this apparently is an attempt to try and get the patent system to turn on itself."
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NOAA Requires License for Photos of the Earth

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Teancum writes "In an interesting show of the level of regulations private spacecraft designers have to go through, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has demanded that American participants of the Google Lunar X Prize obtain a license if their spacecraft are "capable of actively or passively sensing the Earth's surface, including bodies of water, from space by making use of the properties of the electromagnetic waves emitted, reflected, or diffracted by the sensed objects". What prompted NOAA to ask for this license came from a visit by the XPrize staff to the NOAA offices in Maryland. What is going to happen when "space tourists" bring their private cameras along for the ride?"
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RFP for NASA-based MMORPG

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Teancum writes "I'm sure that a large number of Slashdot regulars are familiar with the U.S. Army's MMORPG America's Army. It turns out that NASA has submitted a Request for Proposals for what would be a NASA-themed MMORPG of its own. So would you ever want to write your own video game and get paid for it? The deadline for the RfP is February 15th, so get your word processors busy with a proposal of your own. The specific objective of this request is as follows:

"A NASA-based MMO built on a game engine that includes powerful physics capabilities could support accurate in-game experimentation and research. It should simulate real NASA engineering and science missions in a medium that is comfortable and familiar to the majority of students in the United States today. A NASA-based MMO could provide opportunities for students to investigate STEM career paths while participating in engaging game-play. Through a NASA-based MMO, students will gain insight into a wide range of exciting career opportunities and be encouraged to make educational choices that lead them into STEM fields of study and eventually the STEM careers needed to fulfill NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. Learning Technologies is seeking input on how to accomplish those goals."
If there is anybody suited for developing a game like this, I can't imagine a better group than the slashdot crowd to try and come up with some outstanding proposals, and have the technical expertise to pull this off. This certainly doesn't deserve to get thrown onto the traditional dust heap of educational proposals for a half-baked game that nobody will actually play."

Link to Original Source
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Expanded Role of Iridium Satellite Constellation

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Teancum writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting about an expanded role for the next generation of satellites in the telecommunication satellite constellation: Earth observation and weather data. The Group on Earth Observation is offering to partner in this endeavor, some of whose members will be paying for this new "service" of the Iridium network. There will be as many as "70 separate sensors on Iridium satellites, designed to measure everything from temperature changes in the atmosphere to changes in radiation and ozone levels to wave heights and ocean levels." This is a far cry from when there was some concerns about whether there would even be an Iridium constellation and the bankruptcy of the former company that operated this group of satellites. This appears to be a way to add an additional revenue stream to an already profitable company operating with most of its assets in space."
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Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Teancum writes "SpaceX Corporation and Elon Musk have succesfully launched the Falcon I rocket from Kwajalein Atoll today at about 6:00 PM PDT. While there were a few glitches including a launch abort at T+ 0:10 and a few other issues typical to all launches, the rocket was successful in launching and succesfully fired the second stage as well. This is in follow up to yesterday's abort that was due to a glitch moving from ground telemetry link switching over to radio links."

Journals

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Whatever Happened to the Linux DVD-Video Effort?

Teancum Teancum writes  |  about 10 years ago This is a rejected article submisson, and I'll throw it here simply because I think this is a valid question. There were some very substantial efforts in the past to try and put DVD-Video onto Linux and other Open Source operating systems. While there were clearly some legal issues that the groups needed to deal with, it seems as though these groups have disappeared not with a bang, but with a whimper, and quitely disappeared. While this is true of several post dot-com websites, it seems as though this source of several major stories is not even mirrored, except on The Internet Wayback Machine. Another related website, The Open DVD Group also appears to be off-line. Even more bizzare is that the Open DVD discussion list has turned into all but a spam list. Some of the effort has been redirected with groups like Ogg Theora, that can't explain the total absense from any of the at times very heated discussions on numerous mailing lists and websites that sprang up, particularly during the whole deCSS fiasco. Is this a result of lawyers being successful at driving efforts like this underground or is this simply a case of a topic that ran its course and a general abandonment of this concept by the open source community in general?

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