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SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

pavon Fixed capacity (81 comments)

One important point that others above have alluded to but haven't outright stated:

While the exponential scaling of rocket equation is an important limiting issue when building larger and larger rockets, for any given rocket (or rocket configuration) the payload capacity is fixed. If you have a payload that is too large for a Falcon 1Pegasus, but doesn't need the full capacity of a Falcon 9, all that extra capacity goes to waste. It costs essentially the same amount to launch a Falcon 9 at 60% capacity as it does to launch it at 90% capacity. You can share payload with multiple customers, but that limits which orbits they can use.

Space X can calculate how much weight the recovery system and fuel requires and how much money they can save by reusing the first stage, and give a discount to customers who give up that additional payload capacity. If there is a market for those lower cost launches, then great. If not, then keep treating the 1st stage as disposable.

3 days ago
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SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

pavon Re:Hmm (81 comments)

Running a business like this takes a lot of work, and for it to succeed well enough to actually get working rockets off the ground you need to attract top-notch engineers who believe that working for you isn't just a waste of their time (more than a billionaire's plaything), and management that can create the right environment for them to succeed without blowing through your money for nothing. It is much less expensive, less risky and less time consuming to just pay Russia for a thrill ride than to create your own rocket company. So I can understand why most would choose to go that route, and leave the latter for those who genuinely want to shake up the market.

3 days ago
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NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

pavon Re:it can be air filled (198 comments)

That said, the total payload mass that the ship could support is roughly the same whether it is inside the airship or outside in a gondola, and the more space you want to make available for use, the more mass you would have to dedicate to structure rather than payload. So it would be less cramped than a tiny capsule, but you would still need large expanses of mostly empty space to provide the needed buoyancy.

In practice, it might be better to have a balloon filled with a less dense gas to decrease the total volume needed to support the desired payload, and then have an attached air-filled "gondola" that is nearly as large as the balloon.

3 days ago
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Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

pavon Fawlty Towers (79 comments)

Like Disney World, will it also have accompanying lodging.

5 days ago
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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

pavon Re:JPEG2000 replaced JPEG (377 comments)

You don't have to wait for someone to pop out of the woodworks. BPG is nothing but a still frame of HEVC video which is patented up the ass. Bellard and other open source video authors are accustomed to ignoring the patent situation because they don't really have a choice if you want to be interoperable, but that isn't an excuse for creating patent problems in a field where there are already widespread royalty free standards (JPEG, PNG).

about two weeks ago
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Every Weapon, Armored Truck, and Plane the Pentagon Gave To Local Police

pavon Re:Phew (191 comments)

Yeah same here. The only bad thing I saw were the MRAPs which have already been in the local news. I can't imagine that there are enough situations where such a vehicle would be needed to justify the high maintenance costs. They are mostly used for show, as projections of power.

Other than that, it's a bunch of useful items. The larger police departments got explosive ordinance disposal robots, scopes, utility trucks, helicopter. The forest service got a bunch of night vision supplies. The department of corrections got a big ol power distributor. One of the more rural tribal departments got a road grader, some generators, welders, and even a field kitchen.

Good to see that tax payer funded equipment going to good use.

about two weeks ago
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Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

pavon Re:Comparison to Wikinews (167 comments)

Well based on the current interface, it will differentiate itself by making articles a series of disconnected statements, with no editing for flow at all. This makes it easier to link back to the original source of each statement, but kills any sort of readability like the worst of the inverse pyramid writing style rising again after its near death.

about three weeks ago
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Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

pavon Re:US Centric? (167 comments)

I still don't know what to make of this since it wasn't just one paper, but all the ones I looked at. I'm no conspiracy nut, but how does that happen?

If they were all wrong in the same way, it is possible you were just reading slightly edited versions of the same account provided by a news feed like the Associated Press.

about three weeks ago
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Stephen Hawking's New Speech System Is Free and Open-source

pavon The speech synthesizer was not changed (56 comments)

From the second link:

Wood showed WIRED a little grey box, which contained the only copy of Hawking's speech synthesiser. It's a CallText 5010, a model given to Hawking in 1988 when he visited the company that manufactured it, Speech Plus. The card inside the synthesiser contains a processor that turns text into speech, a device that was also used for automated telephone answering systems in the 80s.

"I'm trying to make a software version of Stephen's voice so that we don't have to rely on these old hardware cards," says Wood. ...

Hawking is very attached to his voice: in 1988, when Speech Plus gave him the new synthesiser, the voice was different so he asked them to replace it with the original. His voice had been created in the early 80s by MIT engineer Dennis Klatt, a pioneer of text-to-speech algorithms. He invented the DECtalk, one of the first devices to translate text into speech. He initially made three voices, from recordings of his wife, daughter and himself. The female's voice was called "Beautiful Betty", the child's "Kit the Kid", and the male voice, based on his own, "Perfect Paul". "Perfect Paul" is Hawking's voice.

about three weeks ago
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Firefox 34 Arrives With Video Chat, Yahoo Search As Default

pavon Re:video chat (237 comments)

This is based on WebRTC which is a W3C draft that both Safari and Internet Explorer have committed to implement. There has to be a first browser to implement any proposed standard.

about three weeks ago
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Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

pavon Re:BLUE ray (194 comments)

If you look at the absorption and efficiency plots in the linked nature abstract, the improvement is pretty broad spectrum as it is. Based on the Fourier analysis plots, it does seem like a slightly wider pit spacing would better concentrate the energy in their desired sweet spot, but CDs and DVDs would be too wide. HD-DVD actually looks like it might have the most ideal pit spacings.

about three weeks ago
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Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

pavon Re:BLUE ray (194 comments)

Now that they have a proof of concept, it is an obvious thing for researchers to try different pit sizes and patterns in order to optimize the efficiency

Actually, that already happened. As the abstract of the paper notes, previous research has already identified how to theoretically optimize patterns, but arbitrary patterns require expensive photo lithography equipment to create. This research shows that an existing inexpensive mass production technique generates results that are almost as good as the optimized patterns, but not quite as good because the spacing of the pits is a bit too periodic (especially across tracks rather than along them).

about three weeks ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

pavon Re:I'm sure it will suck (242 comments)

This is an HBO series, not a movie. They are big on dramas, not CGI explodaramas. I have my reservations about how well this will translate, but if it sucks it won't be because they turned it into a Michael Bay action shit-fest.

about a month ago
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Multi-Process Comes To Firefox Nightly, 64-bit Firefox For Windows 'Soon'

pavon Awesome (181 comments)

We prefer Firefox, but I was about to switch my wife over to using Chrome as it has become impossible to figure out which of the dozens of tabs she has open was slowing everything down, even with ad-blocking enabled. It will be interesting to see how the multi-process support impacts memory overhead, though, as Firefox has had the lead on Chrome in that area.

about a month ago
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Eben Upton Explains the Raspberry Pi Model A+'s Redesign

pavon Re:No composite output means no output at all (107 comments)

The A+ and B+ boards still have composite video, they just output it on the smaller 3.5mm jack to save space, like many other mobile devices do. You can get adapter cables to split out the typical red,white,yellow RCA connectors for a couple bucks.

about a month ago
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Undersized Grouper Case Lands In Supreme Court

pavon Other statues don't apply (251 comments)

Total overreach, and I don't understand why they couldn't have gone with some simpler "destruction of evidence" charge (which I'm sure is still fairly serious and would turn a fine into a prison sentence).

Because previous laws aren't applicable to this situation. To my knowledge, and according to the two surveys of federal obstruction of justice statutes, all previous laws (like 18 U.S.C. 1503 and 1505) only apply when there is judicial or grand jury proceeding at the time. The purpose of 18 U.S.C. 1512(c) and 1519 (enacted by Sarbanes-Oxley) were to expand the scope of obstruction laws to apply when an investigation was underway but charges had not yet been filed. That is what the prosecutor means when saying the intent of these sections was to close a loophole or fill gaps in the current law. I have to agree that it needed to be filled, and this was the correct statute to apple to this case.

In both the new and old statutes cases the offender must be aware of the proceedings or investigation and act with intent in order for the law to apply, so they can't be abused in that manner. Sarbanes-Oxley also doubled the maximum penalties for these laws, which increases the potential for abuse. Personally, I would feel better if the statutes explicitly stated that the maximum penalty should be proportional to the penalty of the crime being covered up. That is currently up to judicial discretion and precedence, AFAIK.

about a month and a half ago
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Some Virgin Galactic Customers Demand Money Back

pavon And they change (165 comments)

And those risk tolerances change over time. It's been 10 years since SpaceShipOne won the X-Prize, and Virgin Galactic started taking reservations not too long after that. Someone could have gotten married and had multiple kids since then. What was an acceptable risk to them as a bachelor, may not be an acceptable risk as a parent. I wouldn't be surprised if this has been a latent concern for some time, but one could be ignored for the meanwhile since it was still a ways off. Heck if the schedule kept slipping like it has been, the risk equation could have changed again, so why not kick the decision down the road. This crash forced the issue into clear view.

about a month and a half ago
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Google To Disable Fallback To SSL 3.0 In Chrome 39 and Remove In Chrome 40

pavon Re:If lack of security updates didn't kill IE 6... (70 comments)

Yeah, but not by default. I agree that this won't influence most businesses who are still running IE. But old grandma running IE 6 will find that her internet is broken, and will ask someone to fix it for her, which most likely will involve upgrading to an newer browser.

about 2 months ago
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Google To Disable Fallback To SSL 3.0 In Chrome 39 and Remove In Chrome 40

pavon Re:If lack of security updates didn't kill IE 6... (70 comments)

It may also bring back the days of banks requiring the use of IE, as none of the citi group websites support any version of TLS. Of course, those in the know should cancel their citi accounts. Even if you don't use their website, if their security is this lax in one area, it probably isn't great in others as well. Sucks for people with mortgages and such that are very expensive to move to another company, though.

about 2 months ago
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New Crash Test Dummies Reflect Rising American Bodyweight

pavon Re:For all the snarky and negative comments .... (144 comments)

Yeah, more test data across the spectrum of body types is always a good thing. The article mentions that they are working on building dummies to better model elderly people as well.

about 1 month ago

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