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efaardvark

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Status Updates posted by efaardvark

  1. Just went and got a nice wireless headset for use during those late-night gaming sessions.  Apparently rockets make too much noise when they explode for people trying to sleep nearby.  Who knew?  :D 

    This replaces my old wired one that was really more call-center quality on the sound, and physically falling apart besides.  (My policy is to buy a new headset every decade whether I need to or not.)

    Going to make the rounds on my discord list to test it this weekend.  (Which starts in 2 hours, 10 minutes.. not that I'm keeping track or anything. ;) )

    1. Show previous comments  4 more
    2. Wodahs

      Wodahs

      that's why ive never got in to it !

      ima slow at typing

      I use a projector but have trouble reading the chat whilst playing !

      and being I use a projector , I play in the dark so utilising the keyboard is even more fun ! even just for this :P 

      but with this set up movies and mmos visuals are great

    3. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      To each their own, I just like talking with people too. Heck I'm in VC right now lol I've always wanted a projector setup but I never had the right amount of space available. 

    4. Wodahs

      Wodahs

      I just never knew how to set up VC or what I needed so that's more why I didn't get in to it

      but I can see it be so much easier to have in parties playing mmos whilst concentrating on what your doing , unfortunately this oldtaku just never got round to figuring that side all out . bit prob should

      oh and whilst reading and replying to this I did look up the Logitech G933 and I can go get it for $199aud

      not that id know if that's good or not

      but im also refinancing my house atm and thinking ill get a little more this time and smart wire it (and my shed) with voice as well and may be get the VR ive also wanted 

  2. Just a couple hours until SpaceX launches 60-satellites on one rocket, weather permitting.  This is the first of many such launches for the Starlink constellation of satellites.  The company's FCC license requires at least  4,400 satellites to be put in orbit in the next 6 years, and the final Starlink constellation is planned to have around 12,000 satellites total.  😮   

    For the math challenged:

    4,400 satellites in the next 6 years is 61 satellites per month every month for the next 72 months. 

    12,000 satellites would be 200 launches of 60 satellites each.

     

    1. Show previous comments  4 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Long terms this is really another reason to get some industry going in space.  The biggest problem right now is the cost of getting stuff from the Earth's surface to orbit.  The.  Absolute.  Biggest.  The problem has been known about since even before Apollo, and NASA has talked about doing something about it for decades, but what they've come up with have been pork projects like the space shuttle that are really not useful for anything but getting money spent in certain Congressional districts.  Fortunately we now have people like Musk and Bezos with personal fortunes able to address the issue.

      If we could get something like a lunar mining/manufacturing/industrial process going then getting heavier vehicles into orbit would be so much easier in the long run.  Thicker skins, less fragile components, extra redundancy, and more maneuverability due to bigger fuel margins would in turn all go a long way towards both strengthening satellites against damage and enabling the Toy Box option to clean up old debris before it causes problems.

      It is kind of like in the game Kerbal Space Program.  (Bear with me here.)  At the beginning of the game you're just so happy that you can get something into orbit that you don't even care where the spent boosters wind up.  Over time though the old bits start to clutter up the displays in the tracking station, and even once you get better at putting stuff in orbit it still takes a lot of skill and massive rockets to do anything useful, especially when you want to send stuff to other planets. 

      Now, KSP has a "cheat" where you can just delete stuff from orbit from within the tracking station.  Unfortunately that's not an option in real life.  I've tried doing it the hard way, by launching new rockets with missions to physically go collect and de-orbit the clutter, but that takes a lot of fuel and rockets.  It is very expensive, which matters a lot in the career game.

      Pro game tip... build a mining base on Minmus.  Minmus is a small moon of Kerbin, the planet you start on.  The moon has such low gravity that even the weakest, cheapest rocket engines can lift massive amounts of, well, mass.  Most of a rocket's launch weight is fuel.  It is actually far cheaper to manufacture fuel on Minmus, launch it into Minmus orbit, and transfer it to Kerbin orbit than to launch the same amount of fuel from Kerbin itself.  If you can plan on refueling in Kerbin low orbit then the rockets you launch from Kerbin don't have to carry nearly so much fuel along with them and can be much smaller/lighter in the first place.  If you have a way to refuel in space then you can also build more flexible, capable, and durable space ships and reuse them on multiple missions, instead of doing expensive one-shot missions that leave a lot of old, useless hardware laying around cluttering up the place when you're done.

      True, it takes a bit of work to get that first mining base going.  You need to get the mining hardware to Minmus after all, and you need to do it without having the benefit of being able to refuel initially.  It isn't easy either.  I've crashed plenty of times just trying to get the equipment into orbit, or doing the transfer to Minmus orbit.  Or landing!

      Ok, about landing.  Minmus is like the Moon.  It has no atmosphere.  Atmospheres are like extra fuel.  If you have an atmosphere then you can target your orbit to enter the upper levels of the atmosphere and slow down without using fuel.  If you do it just right then you can slow down enough that you can get rid of all that orbital velocity without using a drop of fuel and wind up coming straight down instead of continuing back off into space. 

      That would be kind of a Bad Thing too, except for parachutes.  Having an atmosphere means not only not having to use fuel to come down from orbit, but you also don't have to use fuel to slow down enough to land safely.  Just pop the parachute and drift down.

      Minmus.. isn't like that.  You can put the low point of your orbit 1 foot off the surface and you won't slow down a bit.  You'll just fly by the ground at hundreds of meters per second and continue back up into orbit.  (Pretty thrilling, actually, considering things like mountains.)  If you use a little more fuel to cause your orbit to "intersect" the surface then that's called an "impact" because you'll still be going at orbital velocities of hundreds of meter per second.

      Worse, even if you expend the large amounts of fuel necessary to kill all your orbital velocity and drop like a rock straight down.  You'll still need to expend even more fuel to slow down and land gently.  Parachutes don't help at all if there's no air to inflate them.

      I can't tell you how many times I've crashed trying to land heavy mining equipment on Minmus.  (Or the Mün, which another moon of Kerbin that is easier to get to in terms of orbit, but has a higher gravity, is even harder to land on, and is ultimately less efficient in terms of getting fuel to orbit.)  But if you can do the landing, get the mining equipment set up, and start manufacturing fuel on Minmus then everything for the rest of the game becomes SO much easier.  Even building a reusable/refuelable spacecraft with a grapple to go and grab all those old booster stages and put them on new trajectories that reenter Kerbin's atmosphere and burn up are cheap enough to be feasible within the financial constraints of a career game.

       

    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      Man, you really know how to make something sound tempting. I mean I've seen some of your screenshots in the gaming section but never knew the game was so advanced/realistic in a way. I wish I had the time to actually game, but when I get to your age the latest I hope I'll have a steady job and enough stuff figured out that I can indulge myself in gaming again.

      On the cleaning up space debris issue, I think it's kinda weird that you might have to rely on people with their personal fortune, when (at least in my book) it should be part of governments' jobs (either national or through international treaties). But I'm not complaining about SpaceX, more about the lack of ambition from the official side.

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      It should be part of government's jobs, but nobody is doing anything anymore for the country's sake.  They're all doing it for themselves.  If you're a Congresscritter then the money you bring in to your district is almost directly tied to whether you get reelected.  Either it puts "federal money" (someone else's taxes) into your local economy and makes you popular with your voters, or else it channels money to certain special interests whose lobbyists in turn channel a certain fraction of it into your campaign funds.

      It is all short-term too.  Elections typically happen ever two or 4 years.  Anything beyond that is hard to justify, especially since even if it works out then by that time you may have been replaced by your opponent.  Who then of course will claim credit for the resulting benefits.

      The only way to do this sort of long-term stuff is to have your own resources and spend them as you see fit.  That or have a command economy at your fingers, which amounts to the same thing. 

      Of course, the guy at the top has to know how to spend the money and get things done.  Musk clearly has what it takes, and has hired some of the best people in the world.  Bezos hasn't even got to orbit yet, but he has far, far, more money to spend, and has the right ideas and has also hired top talent.  And he did create Amazon after all, so he personally knows at least a thing or two about technology.

      On the "command economy" side,  Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping, the Chinese leadership are all quite well educated, with the first two even having engineering degrees (electrical and hydraulic, respectively), and all are proponents of the Chinese "Scientific Outlook on Development".  China is already ahead of the US in many ways.  They're already the most influential economic power in the world, with most of the world's manufacturing under their control, including key industrial resources like rare-earth minerals.  They've got the biggest solar power station in the world, the biggest hydro power station, and they're going ahead full speed with "modern" clean nuclear ideas like molten salt breeder reactors.  (Which they got from us btw.)  They're even putting SpaceX under pressure by duplicating their reusable booster concepts.  The rover they landed on the lunar far side last year shows that they have the technical chops for space and they have credible plans to put a manned base on the moon by the 2030s.  Couple their manufacturing and industrial power with extremely cheap, virtually unlimited electrical power and they'll be unstoppable, not only in space but wherever else they decide to exert their influence.

      Our government .. has Trump.  And Pelosi, and Schumer, and Hillary, and McConnell, and etc.  Career lawyers and politicians all.  Not a single science or engineering degree in the bunch.  :( 

  3. It is snowing at Goldstone (California desert)!

    image001.thumb.jpg.cc4a65c3d7d0b85931ece705d243ede7.jpg

     

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      The thing about deserts is that there is no water.  There is no water in the air to make clouds or fog so the sun hits the ground full-force and heats everything up.  If there were water on the ground, either in the ground or in standing bodies or even in plants, then it could evaporate and cool things off a little, but there isn't.

      One other thing that water vapor in the air does is trap heat at the ground.  Since deserts have no water, at night all that heat collected during the day gets lost back to space.  It is not at all unusual for the temperature in a desert to go from below freezing before dawn to over 100F by noon.

      Snow in the desert is pretty unusual though.  In my area the deserts are deserts because mountains along the coast block all the moisture from the ocean from getting inland to the deserts.  Lately however  we've had strong winds pushing very cold, wet air over the mountains into the deserts.  We've been getting lots of rain on our side of the mountains as well, but conditions on the desert side this time turned it into snow instead.  Definitely unusual.

    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      Crazy stuff. So is it possible for new kinds of plants to start expanding there (e.g. through plants or seeds spread through the winds)? Would be interesting if in a few decades the desert turns into something else.

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Probably not likely.  Anything that blows in would have to deal with the desert conditions & coming from wetter areas they'd likely die.  Unless this is more of a permanent weather change of course.

      There are plants that are already there and adapted to the desert however.  Usually they lay low most of the time, waiting for the infrequent rains.  When the water does come, there's an explosion of activity as they do their thing while they have access to the water.  Some desert plants have seeds that can last for hundreds of years, then sprout, grow, flower, go to seed, and die in the course of a couple days or a week, and desert blooms are often quite impressive, though hard to catch.

  4. A building literally full of NASA engineers, yet apparently nobody can figure out how to clear and re-thread a jammed roll of paper in the restroom's paper towel dispenser.  smh

     

    IMG_4515.thumb.JPG.971ca098e0787e35d0ce978f712f04d9.JPG

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Even to me it wasn't at all difficult.  (And I am by no means the smartest person in the building.)  The whole process of clearing the jam and re-placing the paper literally takes only a few seconds, including waiting for the gizmo to automatically re-thread the paper when you close it up.  Definitely not rocket science.  People are just being lazy.

      If you want to cheat there's even instructions embossed into the plastic on the inside of the case... not that anyone reads instructions anymore.  :D 

       

    3. Seshi

      Seshi

      Nope.. you lost me at automatic threading.

      Id probably put it in completely upside down and threading would be impossible 

      And if it were my brother, he’d use brute force to break it into submission 🤣

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      I'm not sure it is actually possible to do it wrong.  I may (or not) do some after-hours experimentation to check it out, but the way it is set up it looks like the roll of paper can go either "under" or "over".  Either way the end of the paper goes down to the bottom and under that white plastic guide thing that you can see in front there in the pic.  Under the white plastic bit and behind the paper are a couple rubber rollers that actually feed the paper and hold it securely so you can tear off a piece.  To clear a jam all you have to do is jiggle those rollers about a quarter turn or so (using the thumb-wheels provided for that purpose) and the jam will likely drop out on its own.  Then to get the paper going you just tear off enough of the paper from the end of the roll - if necessary - to make it roughly squared-off, lift the white plastic bit, lay the paper against the roller under it, and lower the plastic bit back down so it holds the paper between it and the roller(s).  Then close the case up.  The gizmo inside takes care of finishing the job, threading the paper the rest of the way between the rollers and dispensing the first length of paper to be torn off. 

      They should make one of those GEICO "so easy a caveman could do it" commercials out of the process.  :D

  5. Woke up early Saturday so dizzy I could hardly stand.  Turns out there's a loose stone in my head (who knew?) that's rattling around in my inner ear and affecting my balance.  Got some medicine from the doctor, but it knocks me out.  So my choices for this weekend have been either sleep or feeling like I just got off a slightly too-long ride on a playground merry-go-round. 

    On the plus side, it is quite a bit better today than yesterday.  This morning the room was not spinning when I woke up like yesterday, and in fact I've found that if I keep my head still then I'm pretty much ok.  It is only when I tilt or rotate my head that I get in trouble.  I managed to - carefully - do a bit of laundry today and I'm watching TV, but unfortunately the xmas shopping and decorating I'd had planned for this weekend was not to be.  Things like driving a car and climbing on ladders don't sound like things I should be attempting at the moment.

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Meclizine is the stuff they gave me.  While it seems to work, it is an antihistamine.  Histamines are what causes inflammation and irritation like the itchy eyes and nose during pollen season.  Histamines also stimulate the nervous system in general, so antihistamines tend to relax me and make me dopey.  If I take a couple Benadryl I'd better have a pillow handy because I'll probably be asleep in 20 minutes, tops!  I can be groggy and sluggish for as much as a day after taking them too.

      This Meclizine seems to hit me the same way.  The pills they gave me are chewables and seem to hit me even faster than Benadryl.  After I took the first one I laid down to wait for it to take effect.  The next thing I knew it was 6 hours later and didn't even remember falling asleep!  They leave me groggy and lethargic too, just like the Benadryls.  Yesterday I took 3, one every 8hrs, while the worst of the dizziness lasted and basically slept the entire day.   

      Today it seemed much less so I decided to try doing without the pills & see if I could salvage some of the weekend.  So far so good.  The dizzy is basically gone as long as I keep my head level, though sitting up or laying down can trigger half a minute or so of spinning.  No sit-ups for a while.   Sitting upright watching the TV and occasionally getting up to deal with the washer and dryer seemed fine, as long as I was careful not to tip my head suddenly.  It seems like rotating my head as I walk around isn't a problem anymore.  Only nodding foreward or back suddenly, or side to side, are still a bad idea.

    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      man what a bummer, especially since it's so unexpected. Hope it goes away quickly!

      I'm interested though, you said something about a stone in your inner ear. Do you know what it's made of or how it formed?

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      @Illusion of Terra the stones in question are calcium carbonate crystals.  They apparently are part of structures (otolith organs) in the ear that let your ear detect head orientation.  For a variety of reasons they can occasionally become dislodged and interfere with the process.  They listed a few - head trauma, disease - but none seemed applicable in my case.  I'm old enough that it may just be they're wearing out and breaking down after all these years.

  6. Drinking coffee & waking up to the sights and sound so f 1911 New York City...
     

     

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      kinda weird to think that that's you with all those old cars in the background. you seem like a time traveler of sorts 😂 it's a great photo! You should start a blast from the past blog 😂 

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Everyone is a time traveler.  The trick is to turn around and go back in the direction you came from.

    4. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      I once tried to sneak in time travel into a paper. It was something like 'given current scientific methods, it is not possible to test what would have happened if x did not take place' (it was something on 'counterfactuals'). The reviewer caught it though, and said that this was obscure (as counterfactuals are defined as not factual). Had to take it out, but I still don't think it is an impossibility.

  7. This.  So much this...

     

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      Yes, fair point there. :P Maybe I thought Bezos was implying it was still the case, but rewatching that clip that might be a stretch since he didn't actually make much further comment. Anyway, I'm no less amazed. This really does seem to be a realistic and positive direction assuming we can pull our heads out of our collective asses and start making it happen. 😂

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Bezos and Musk both have huge egos and $Billions of discretionary income.  If there's one thing I've learned to count on it is that the rich people get what they want.  Bezos alone has $150Billion-with-a-b in personal wealth.  That's 10x NASAs yearly budget!  If they want it to happen it'll happen, as long as the physics allows it.  Bezos said he'll be launching his "New Glenn" in 2021.  The next launch window to Mars opens in 2020, and Musk says he'll be sending an unmanned "Starship"/BFR (or two) as a demo/test.  If Bezos comes in on schedule then he and Musk will both be sending missions to Mars at the next window after that in 2022.  That's only 3 years away!

      (Side note:  NASA's Mars 2020 rover - based on the "Curiosity" chassis - will also be heading to Mars through the same window, as will a Chinese rover, and ESA's ExoMars rover.  There will be plenty of interesting stuff happening regardless of what Bezos or Musk does.)

      The thing to realize about space though is that the hardest thing, physics-wise, is getting from the surface of the earth into low earth orbit.  A SpaceX "Starship" or Blue Origin "New Glenn" upper stage can fly to, land, and lift off the moon all by itself if refueled in earth orbit.  Or it/they could land on Mars and be refueled there for the trip back to Earth. The booster/lower stage is ONLY needed to get to orbit from the Earth's surface.  But both Musk and Bezos are talking about infrastructure, reusability, and using robots for deploying/developing manned outposts.  I think that's the right idea(s).

      If /either/ Bezos' or Musk's rockets work, there's plenty of tech waiting in the wings for the right conditions to deploy it too.  There's people who have been quietly working on pieces of the puzzle ever since Apollo days.  Bigelow has huge inflatable orbital habitats, but no rockets to launch them on.  Princeton has a van-sized fusion rocket that can't lift stuff from the surface, but can provide power and thrust to get stuff to Jupiter in a year, Saturn in two, or Pluto in less than 5. (Ad Astra's VASIMR is similar, but needs an external power supply.)  Six such drives attached to one of Bigelow's modules could take people to Mars and back in less than a year.  The European Space Agency has developed and tested a robotic laser gizmo that can 3d-print structures using lunar or martian regolith (aka dirt).  They just need to get it to the moon or Mars.  Even NASA is talking about a lunar "gateway" in orbit around the moon as a staging platform for lunar missions, though I think given NASA's track record Bezos and/or Musk will have them beat.  Once it starts happening, things like permanently-manned outposts can happen extremely quickly.  (As long as politicians stay out of the way.)  True, stuff like Halo structures are far future, but certainly a manned Lunar or even a Martian base could happen within 5-10 years.

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      And today I find this in my inbox from our illustrious leader.  2024?  Pretty ambitious if you ask me, given NASA's last few decades of inertia.  We'll see...
       

       

  8. Got to sleep in late today, but also working until midnight on a Friday. :( 

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      This was a one-day thing supporting a special event.  Looks like it isn't happening though so I'll likely be going home early after all.  They did feed us at work too.  I guess I should be thanking ISRO?  They might not be in a mood to appreciate it much at the moment however.   :(

    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      One day working late is one day too much for me 😂

      Yeah, too bad for India, quite a lot of money down the drain, but let's see what the reason was.

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Yeah, too bad about the lander but they still have the orbiter, which has most of the science instruments on it.  It would have been great to have the lander (and rover) to ground-truth things, but it isn't the end of the mission by any stretch.  ESAs MEX lost Beagle, but years later were still tracking them every day.

  9. You know you're a game nerd when stuff like this rotates through your Spotify feed during your commute...

    IMG_4723.thumb.JPG.b322aa1d9192252e27a9c456256c2604.JPG

     

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Seshi

      Seshi

      Ooh, nice to know. Pandora is like empty

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Yeah, I subscribed to Pandora for a while too.  Spotify is better.  I even found stuff like the sound tracks for games like Kerbal Space Program and Minecraft on Spotify, and the anime tracks are extensive as well.  A lot of it is covers of varying, sometimes dubious quality, but there's plenty of high-quality gems too, including quite a few OSTs, in both English and Japanese.
       

    4. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      I find they serve different purposes. Pandora seems to always play more music I'm familiar with, while Spotify actively tries to show me new music. 

  10. Looks like Spitzer project has set the date to end operations.

    IMG_4818.thumb.JPG.f062bb431f702c386cc3f8fc2374f9fe.JPG

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      Omg yes I have seen those pictures but wasn't aware they came from the Spitzer. That is so cool!! Thanks Spitzer

      So when it retires will the James Web be doing about the same work, or does it have some extra shiny new tricks to show off? 

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      JW is the dancing bear of telescopes.  It is more ambitious, much bigger, and much, much more expensive.  So expensive that they had to make it an international project to bring in money to pay for it.  But with other users (and their money) came more requirements, a couple redesigns, and more delays, all of which made it even more expensive.  The people running the project originally said they could do the whole project, including life-of-mission operating expenses, for less than $1B (US) dollars.  Last I heard they've already spent $8B, and they haven't even launched yet!

      Anyway, assuming they do launch and it works as advertised it will be taking over duties of both Hubble and Spitzer, as well as an ESA telescope called Herschel.  (Again, they always throw around the "Hubble" name, but it will also see in infrared better than Spitzer, and both Hubble and Spitzer projects are being shut down in part to pay for JW.)  JW will have over 6x the collecting area (mirror size) and more than 15x the field of view of either Hubble or Spitzer so it should give us a lot of cool pictures.  There's a good comparison online here.  Of course, given the number of people who helped pay for it there will be a pretty long line of astronomers waiting to use it as well.  :D

    4. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      Yeah no kidding, I bet the hype is on another level. I can't wait to see what it finds. 

  11. Did not smell smoke this morning.  That's always good.  AND we still had power!  Even better.

    The clothes dryer was not feeling well however.  Started the laundry and discovered it was taking forever to dry the clothes.  Gave it a once-over but this is a (very) old dryer that has been repaired many times already so it could be pretty much anything.  The dial to set the heat and one of the mode selector buttons don't stay attached.  The lint trap bracket is cracked.  The bearing for the drum that tumbles the clothes rattles and probably needs replacing.  So does the blower.  Etc.  Etc..

    So a not-so-quick trip to the nearby Lowes (hardware/housewares/appliance chain store) and I've got a new dryer set to be delivered and installed in a couple weeks.  New washer too, since it has a number of issues as well.  Got it at the same time as the dryer and it too has been repaired at least as many times.  Expensive (isn't everything these days) but a new washer/dryer every couple decades isn't so bad.  At least this way I hopefully won't have to deal with any laundry-related issues for another decade or so. 🤞

    Meanwhile I also upgraded Ubuntu to 19.10 "Eoan Ermine" last night in a fit of madness.  I was a little worried since 19.10 had depreciated 32-bit software support and updated the kernel from 4.18 under cosmic to 5.3.0 under eoan.  Bash went from 4.4 to 5.0.  Gcc went from 8.2 to 9.2.  Bumps on the 3d and AMDGPU gfx driver(s) too.  Lots of moving parts, several critical for the things I do.  Net result:  Looks like my local server running the RLCraft modpack is down for good.. probably a java thing.  (1.8 -> 11.0.. yeah.)  KSP is still fine however (checked that much before upgrading), as is my minecraft client/launcher (once I updated to the most recent version that is).  Spotify, Discord, and everything else I've checked also seems ok.  So far, so good.

    Can't tell if I'm winning or losing this week.

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      Definitely agree to this. As far as I know, I don't own any 'smart' appliance so far. I really don't see the point anyway. Also, one of the firs things they taught me in engineering was that generally speaking it's a great idea to use as few parts as possible, because it reduces the possibilities of dysfunctioning elements.
      I am glad that there (still) are at least some things we can fix ourselves. I am given to understand that for example in apple computers it is usually not the case that you can even exchange simple parts. If I look at laptops nowadays with RAM modules soldered into it in a way that you can't really desolder it without damaging anything (at least with my primitive soldering irons), I really envy the days when I mainly used tower PCs.

    3. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      We're in the same boat... Had our dryer smoking on us last year but luckily we just had to replace a part. Though it is on its last legs. Our washer is falling to bits now and the part to replace it is so expensive we've decided to just get a new unit entirely. Wish I lived in a warmer climate I could just dry everything outside but alas doing so here would just freeze them solid. 

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Heh.. be careful what you wish for.  I happen to live in one of those places with a warmer climate.  Lately I don't know from day to day if I'm going to catch fire or just lose power.

  12. Took a trip to the middle of nowhere yesterday...

    7DC6E151-4F72-47D5-AC8B-2E9C88CF3DB1.thumb.jpeg.9d3d2a6492f7a2cf7135ab63f53f96be.jpeg

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. RuthisianCodex

      RuthisianCodex

      Long drives can be the best for clearing your mind & relaxing. 

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Long drives can be fun if the scenery is interesting.  This was just boring.  3 hours out into the desert literally halfway to Las Vegas, then just after Baker hang a left and drive for another hour until you start seeing "tank xing" signs.  The first hour is Los Angeles freeways, after that it is just mind-numbing.  Like a game world where they made 3 plant models and 4 rock variants then had the terrain generator scatter them randomly 10,000 times between you and the horizon.  On the long stretches it seems like you're not even moving.  Also, by the time I got there I had Flatbutt Syndrome from sitting too long.  :D

    4. IIVIsouljam

      IIVIsouljam

      "Flatbutt Syndrome" 🤣 Yikes! That indeed doesn't sound like fun. 

  13. $55M for a Dragon ride to an annex of the space station set up for tourists...


    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/science/axiom-space-station.html

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      There’s also the minor issue that the annex itself has yet to be built, never mind launched and attached to the ISS.

    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      $300k does sound affordable for quite a few people though. not that I have that kind of money, but I can see how if you have a decent job and save wisely, you could afford it. a much better spending than an overpriced car with a certain logo on it in my opinion

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      $300k (inflation adjusted) is about what the people moving west (from eastern United States) to settle in places like California and Oregon paid to get there.

      Hmmm.. not sure I like that analogy.  My settlers in Oregon Trail always used to starve, or get killed by indians or dysentery.  :D 

  14. Thinking about building a new budget game box for my brother's steam/etc. activities (his old one has been taken over by his GF. :D )  

    https://pcpartpicker.com/user/jmgrant/saved/3gQ6sY

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. brycec

      brycec

      @Roxeg He is talking about a gaming PC.

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      A game box in this case is a computer to (mostly) play games.  On "his" old computer he mostly played minecraft, WoW, and Civilization.  Occasionally he'd get on his steam account and download something else to play for a while, but those are/were his main go-to games.  Something that could run those reasonably well, plus do stuff like email, web, etc.   His old system was an i3 with 4G ram and a Radeon RX460 w/2GB.

    4. Myouya

      Myouya

      That makes a lot of sense. Don't know how I didn't think of it first.

  15. So now we have a new chiweenie "dog" - aka Mexican hotdog, aka German taco - in our household.  (Chihuahua/Dachshund mix.)  Cute as heck, and good lap dog for my 80yo mom, but I'd have liked a real dog.  Preferably a pit (like our last), or at least a beagle or boxer.  Something I could take hiking anyway.  This would just be bait for the coyotes and mountain lions, even the hawks.  4 billion years to create wolves, and then humans came along and did this.   smh  :D 

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Our last dog never really got the hang of swimming either.  She liked getting wet, and she would do a sort of log-ride splash thing where she'd run full-tilt into the water and splash everything/everyone nearby, but she didn't like paddling around at all.  If her feet couldn't touch the bottom she'd freak and try to get out of the water.

       

      This is what a chiweenie looks like:

      IMG_3770.thumb.JPG.a6d81725db41cffaad7f6d3a23abc6db.JPGIMG_3774.thumb.JPG.456bdb46f017b7d3a8282882b47d0d03.JPG

      8 weeks old so still a bit of growing to do, but not going to get too much bigger.

    3. Beocat

      Beocat

      Oh my....that is cute! 

    4. Wodahs

      Wodahs

      yep im in to bigger dogs too , generally shepherd X's and the latest one (getting real old) thinks she's a lap dog the size of yours too , spends more time in side than me when im home

       

  16. Wasted a weekend, but I got my car! 

    20181020_PriusPrime.thumb.jpg.36e7355201cf6a9d0b269d651c6d887e.jpg

    I must say, this was something of an experience.  I don't buy cars often.  I treat them well and tend to keep them until they die naturally or are murdered.  My last car was an '07 model that a tree fell on.  The one before that I think I bought sometime in the mid 80s.  I haven't been in the market for over a decade.  These days cars seem a bit different.  Much more exposed electronics and gadgetry.   In fact, these days they're more like "smart" phones.  For example, ipad-like touch consoles seem all the rage (whether you like them or not).  You also tend to have to charge them overnight before you can really use them.  :D  The dealerships I visited were all pushing either hybrids or EVs, or at least things claiming to be hybrids or EVs.  (Is a double-sized battery and a larger starter motor /really/ a hybrid, even if it shuts off the engine at stop lights?  I have my doubts.)  And the apps!  Why apps on your car when texting and cellphones are already such a problem?  Really.  Bad.  Idea.

    One thing that hasn't changed however.. that new-car smell.  :)

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Yeah, BT is a Good Thing.  For cellphones, well, I'm one of the 0.01% of the population that will actually turn off their cell connection when driving.  What calling I do is usually just 30-second "I'll be late" type notices when stuck in traffic.  Though I don't use it much, for those times hands-free calling is wonderful.  I also had a bluetooth gadget for wirelessly connecting my phone to my old car's "aux" audio input for spotify because I literally wore out my last phone's audio jack plugging/unplugging for the commute.  (I don't buy new phones very often either.)  I made sure this car had both hands-free phone and BT audio input built-in.

    3. brycec

      brycec

      Most of the time, the apps stink, so it is a bad idea in that respect, but I still think they could be neat, especially if it could make the car invisible.

      Nice looking car though.

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      I wasn't impressed with the apps I saw either.  The apps I want/need are already on my phone for the most part, and I don't need the distraction of dealing with any of the ones in my car while I'm driving.  The only apps I use with any regularity while actually driving are waze and spotify anyway.  I'll probably use the built-in GPS instead of waze because the car's display is bigger.  It would have been nice to have spotify built-in too, but with the BT connection that's not a big deal.  The car does have Sirius XM and Pandora.  XM I'll probably use for the 3 month trial and not miss it afterwards.  I have yet to try Pandora, even though I have a subscription.  That might be good enough to replace spotify when I'm in the car.  Other than that the rest is uninteresting at best, and distracting at worst.

      Invisibility would be cool.  Dangerous, but cool.  :)

  17. Looks like that's it for the Opportunity Mars rover.  Not a bad way to go though... taken out by a global dust storm - the biggest ever recorded - 15 years into a 90-day mission.

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. CypherCode

      CypherCode

      Would had been super interesting if somehow it managed to take records of the storm from the inside, I bet the pics would be all blurry though!

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      "Opportunity" did manage to collect some data and transmit some pictures (like this and this) before it had to shut down to conserve battery power..

      The "Curiosity" rover also collected a bunch of pictures and other data.  It is nuke-powered so it didn't have any trouble surviving the storm.  There are also several spacecraft orbiting Mars that were collecting data during the storm.  This was the first (known) global dust storm since the 70s so the scientists were really interested in bringing all their instruments to bear and getting as much data as possible on this storm.

    4. CypherCode

      CypherCode

      Makes you think how crazy thick the storm must be to be able to cloud the sun like that

  18. They took out all the computers on the console that the Spirit/Opportunity project people used to use today.  Not sure what's going in there to replace them yet, but InSight is possible.  Also Mars 2020 is coming up.

    IMG_4536.thumb.JPG.913bedc2a3246105fa65f0a3a142d305.JPG

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      In a word, No.  :)  There is other lighting available however.  The lights for that console are just powered down while they work on/in it.

      My console tonight for instance ...

      image.thumb.jpg.c9ca4f45a3c748deb6f28db3fb7b90d8.jpg

    3. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      They don't even give you a light-up keyboard! 

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Heck no.  That keyboard is probably 20 years old.  It isn't even USB!  LED backlighting is one of them newfangled inventions that hasn't yet been supplied to us yet.  :) 

  19. I've been charging my car at work where they have a bunch of chargers installed in the parking garage.  They're charging (no pun intended) $0.12/kWh for the electrons so - since my car is a PHEV - I was wondering how that equates to gas prices.  IOW, at what point does it make more sense to fill up my car with gas than with electrons?

    Some base numbers for my particular situation, given California gas and electricity prices and Prius Prime as my car:

    Price for regular gas = $3.80/gal
    My car's miles/gallon = 60
    My car's miles/kilowatt-hour = 3.64

    According to my math, that means:
    A mile on gas costs about $0.63.
    A mile on electrons costs $0.33.
    At $3.80/gallon, electricity could cost up to $0.20/kWh before gas becomes the cheaper option.
    At $0.12/kWh, gas would have to drop to below $2.30/gal to make gas a better deal.

    FWIW...

    IMG_4546.thumb.JPG.bcdda81fba2ac8bbd342d1cea9a001e3.JPG

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Beocat

      Beocat

      Gas prices vary by state due to taxes. California and New York have notoriously high tax rates so they can be expensive. In my area (different state) we vary from $2.11 to $2.79 per gallon. The savings would still exist here but be less than driving in California. It's all about the taxes.

       

      Efaardvark, it's pretty cool that you can fuel up there. My favorite physics professor and I had a conversation once way back in the day about electric cars and the lack of "fueling" stations. Glad that isn't an issue for you. :)

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Yeah, our gas (petrol) prices are subsidized in various ways.  A lot of the costs of oil - geopolitical instability for example - are "externalized" by the industry and picked up by the taxpayer, or in the case of environmental damage simply not fully accounted for.  (BP oil spill, pipeline failures, etc.)  We're also the world's #3 oil -producer-, which helps on the domestic supply side to keep prices down.

      Electricity prices are all over the place.  In the Eastern US coal and nuclear produce extremely cheap electrons, coal because the environmental costs of pollution from what goes up the chimney and whats in the fly ash are not accounted for, and nuclear because it is cheap and abundant.  It also hasn't been updated for decades so it is generally fully-amortized.  Some of the rates in the eastern US are as low as 3 to 5 cents per kWh.

      Here in the south-western US where I live we’ve been phasing out nukes because of safety politics surrounding earthquakes and due to lack of water for coolant.  We could use molten salt reactors to avoid both issues, but that would require more thoughtful, intelligent politics than we can apparently manage.  We never did have much coal, and for air quality reasons we've banished the remaining coal plants to nearby states, which means transmission losses and interstate politics drives up the prices.  As a result the residential rates around here are between $0.19/kWh for the "base" rate tier to $0.42/kWh for the highest usage tier.  Solar being much less expensive than even the lowest tier there’s been a big interest in that around here, since we have the sun for it.  I’ve got 10kWh/day (@ $0.17/kWh) coming off my own roof in fact.  Commercial rates are again subsidized in various ways, so that’s how I get to $0.12/kWh from the chargers at work.

      My particular car has a relatively small 8.8kWh battery.  (Which gives me about a 30 mile range.  Work is only about 7 miles one-way so that’s plenty for the commute and local errands.)  There’s basically 2 types of chargers around here, “level 1”, and “level 2”.  Level 1 uses our standard 120V AC.  My car came with a L1 charger that just plugs into a regular household AC outlet.  It takes about 4 hours to fully charge a completely discharged 8.8kWh battery.  A L2 charger uses a 240VAC outlet and will take about half the time to charge a battery (vs a level 1 charger).  Level 1/2 are something that most people can install at home.  They’re relatively cheap and don’t require any special infrastructure beyond that required by the typical residential electrical/building codes.

      There’s also a “level 3” charger, but it isn’t really a standard.  Level 3s cost thousands of dollars, generally require access to commercial-level power infrastructure, and not all cars can accept a level-3 charge.  Tesla’s “Supercharger” is a L3 charger that works with Tesla cars, but I don’t know of anyone else’s car that can handle it in level-3 mode.  I know my Prius, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt don’t.  Even the original Tesla Roadster can’t use the Tesla Superchargers.

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      @Beocat Charging used to be a BYO thing at work, and even then there were fundamental issues, like who was going to pay how much and where you could plug in your charger.  Then a few years back the parking situation became intolerable and they (finally!) built a parking garage, including about a dozen charging stations initially and an infrastructure that could support a bunch more.  It was a huge hit, what with all the engineers and their toys on staff :D, and we now have over 50 chargers in the parking structure and a couple dozen more up the hill in the old lot.  It is first-come, first serve parking so it is still a bit of a challenge to find an open charger spot for "normal" people.  Never a problem finding an open charger on the off hours when I often work however, and as long as I can plug in maybe every other day then I pretty much never have to buy gas.

      All I need is a "PowerFlex" app on my cellphone to manage the billing and control the charger and I'm good.  I just park, plug in, scan a barcode on the charger, and tell it to start.  While it is charging I can look at the app in realtime for how the charge is progressing.  I can stop it at any time from the app, and of course my car can stop when it is "full".  If I can't find a spot to plug in then I can add myself to a queue and get notified when someone else finishes charging.  If I'm charging, someone else is waiting, and my car finishes then the app also notifies me and asks me to move my car to free the slot for the next guy.  The service is pay-as-you-go and the app can be loaded with funds in various ways, including a CC, paypal, apple pay, etc.  So far it is all working out pretty well.  If they'd just cover the top level of the parking structure with solar panels it'd be perfect.  :)

  20. Trying out a new avatar pic.  I'm thinking I like the old Taurus better, but I'll keep Hachirota for a week or so.

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Yeah, same here.

    3. Vitis

      Vitis

      There are a few shoppes that will edit images for you if you can't pin down a specific image you want to use and simply have a character in mind. #Shameless Plug XD

    4. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Once upon a time there was a guy in the local mall who did walk-in portraits/caricatures.  He was good, but kind of expensive.  Enough so I that I never did it, but I always thought that would be the best avatar.  If he was still there it'd be fun to see what he could come up with if asked for something anime-ish.

  21. When you put it like that I must admit there's a certain attraction to the situation.  :D

     

    https://babylonbee.com/news/nations-nerds-wake-up-in-utopia-where-everyone-stays-inside-sports-canceled-social-interaction-forbidden

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Ohiotaku

      Ohiotaku

      Yes, but the effect of Corona Virus production delays on the upcoming anime season still looms on the horizon :P So far Re:Zero S2 is the main casualty. Plus the E3 Game Show was also cancelled.

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Not a problem.  My crunchy backlog alone would take several months to work through.  Then there’s all the books in my ”to read” stack.  I still haven’t finished my last/latest “career” game of KSP either, and there’s a couple games in the queue after that.

      As long as the toilet paper doesn’t run out and my glasses don’t break I’ll be good.  
       

      <queue Twilight Zone reference>

      spacer.png

       

    4. Ohiotaku

      Ohiotaku

      With you on the backlog front. If there is an extended break would probably begin with Fate Stay Night (previously started but never finished) & UBW.

  22. Anyone going to the JPL open house this weekend?  If so, it looks like it is going to be a sunny day!  Good weather is nice, but it also means it'll likely be hot as well.  There will be water and shade, but also queues outside the popular venues, so bring your patience as well as your ticket.  Hope you have fun!

    2018_jpl_open_house.jpg

    2018_JPL_open_house2.jpg

    1. Myouya

      Myouya

      If I knew where that was in the first place... enjoy!

    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      This is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's open house in Pasadena, California that we do every year.  It is a local thing for the most part, though we do get a few people coming in from out of state as well.  It is extremely popular, especially with the kids, so crowd control is an issue.  A few years ago attendance got up to over 40,000 for the weekend.  It was hot that year too, with temperatures over 100F.  We had to start issuing tickets to the event to limit the number of visitors as a safety measure.  (Tickets are free, but limited in number.)

    3. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      Sounds like a lot of fun. Wish I could attend. It's just very far away. :(

  23. Pretty windy here today.  Beware low-flying trees, and parts thereof...

    IMG_3828.thumb.JPG.f6e39ea0d80a5cbe48fff1f7f02ca63c.JPGIMG_3822.thumb.JPG.a0bd412ed6c14fd79bf2983aaa01234d.JPG

    1. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      Damn, hope your insurance covers that. 😰

    2. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      11yo car + frame damage = totaled.  Guess I'm going car shopping this weekend.    😿

    3. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      Bummer. U,u Hopefully the payout is still good enough to make it less painful.

  24. How many planets are there in the solar system?  8, right?  Used to be 9, but Pluto got demoted to "dwarf".

    Ok, so if you add Pluto and all the other "dwarf" planets back -  Ceres, Eris, Makemake, Orcus, Salacia, Haumea, etc - how many known planets are there in our solar system?  A couple dozen?  A hundred?  A couple hundred?  There's an astronomer at CalTech who's been looking into the matter & he's been keeping a "little" list...

    http://web.gps.caltech.edu/~mbrown/dps.html#table

    For what it's worth, a (dwarf) planet only 470km in diameter has a surface area the size of the (US) state of Texas.  Something the size of the entire country of Japan would be about 350km in diameter.

    That's a lot of real estate.

    And that's just what we know about.

    1. brycec

      brycec

      Interesting, though I wish he provided a legend to read this stuff. He only provides 5 categories, but there are more than 5 colors it seems.

    2. Wedgy

      Wedgy

      While it's interesting as all heck, this tidbit really irked me:

      10 objects which are nearly certainly dwarf planets,
      26 objects which are highly likely to be dwarf planets,
      64 objects which are likely to be dwarf planets,
      127 objects which are probably dwarf planets, and
      661 objects which are possibly dwarf planets. 

      I'm sure there's some scientifically backed reason there are five categories, but using words that are so blatantly synonymous to classify them is extremely confusing. "Possibly," "probably," and "likely," all mean the same thing. In my mind that lumps them all into the same category.

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      The text just above the table defines how the terms are applied.  The problem is that it is REALLY hard to even see these things, never mind determine their size.  There is so little light that even Hubble has trouble seeing them.  Basically you have to be looking at a star and notice that it disappears for a while.  That tells you that /something/ was there, and gives you a lower limit on the size.  (If you know approximately how far away it is then that gives you a read on the speed that it is travelling in orbit around the sun.  Based on that speed and the duration of the occultation you can determine that it has to be a certain size or larger.)  To be a "dwarf" planet, it has to be round.  Unfortunately, the composition determines how big a body can be before it becomes round.  How do you determine the composition of a particular body when you can't go there and can't even SEE it properly?  How do you know the size when the occultation time might be through the thickest part of an irregular object or might barely nick the edge of a larger round body?  Some of these things, like Haumea (spins so fast it is oblong, has two moons and a ring orbiting it), are really strange and hard to get a handle on.

      You can figure things based on what you know, and you can put limits on what might be, what can't be, etc., but the error bars are pretty large.


       

      Quote

       

      How many dwarf planets are there? Ceres is the only asteroid that is known to be round. After that it gets complicated. All of the rest of the new dwarf planets are in the distant region of the Kuiper belt, where we can't actually see them well enough to know for sure if they are round or not.

      While we can't see most of the objects in the Kuiper belt well enough to determine whether they are round or not, we can estimate how big an object has to be before it becomes round and therefore how many objects in the Kuiper belt are likely round. In the asteroid belt Ceres, with a diameter of 900 km, is the only object large enough to be round, so somewhere around 900 km is a good cutoff for rocky bodies like asteroids. Most Kuiper belt objects have a lot of ice in their interiors, though. Ice is not as hard as rock, so it less easily withstands the force of gravity, and it takes less force to make an ice ball round. The best estimate for how big an icy body needs to be to become round comes from looking at icy satellites of the giant planets. The smallest body that is generally round is Saturn's satellite Mimas, which has a diameter of about 400 km. Several satellites which have diameters around 200 km are not round. So somewhere between 200 and 400 km an icy body becomes round. Objects with more ice will become round at smaller sizes while those with less rock might be bigger. We will take 400 km as a reasonable lower limit and assume that anything larger than 400 km in the Kuiper belt is round, and thus a dwarf planet.

      How many objects do we know in the Kuiper belt that are 400 km or larger? That question is harder to answer, because we don't actually know how big most of the objects in the Kuiper belt are. While we can see how bright there are, we don't know if they are bright because they are larger or are highly reflective. In the past, we had to just throw our hands up in the air and say we don't know enough to even make reasonable guesses. But in the past few years, systematic measurements of the sizes of objects from the Spitzer Space Telescope and now the Herschel Space Telescope have taught us enought that we can make some reasonable estimates of how reflective objects are. (It's complicated: read the details here ) These reasonable estimates, combined with all available actually measurements, give us the list of the largest Kuiper belt objects, sorted by diameter, below. Carefully note the lack of any error bars. Every single measurement or estimate below is uncertain to some extent or another. I don't include the individual uncertainties in the table, but instead use the ensemble uncertainties to inform classification below. In other words: take the sizes of specific objects with bigger or smaller grains of salt.

       

       

  25. The glamorous world of "realtime" space flight operations: manually copying a bunch of (year) 2004 data from a bunch of DVDs back onto the system for the SPITZER project (aka SIRTF).

    375023799_FullSizeRender11.thumb.jpg.ab56c6a673cb079027e61f5e282a5a65.jpg

     

    (For those wondering.. yes, that's linux.. Gnome, CentOS 7, kernel 3.10, on generic Dell/x86_64.  Not exactly cutting edge, but it gets the job done.)

    1. LonelyPoet

      LonelyPoet

      Is that your desktop? 

    2. Seshi

      Seshi

      Damn, that’s some government tech for ya

    3. efaardvark

      efaardvark

      Quote

      Is that your desktop? 

      @LonelyPoet  My boss would say yes.  However, the cable monster that lives behind the monitors would probably disagree.  :D

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