Buzz Out Loud 664: JaMoTo lays an egg

In today's news, we adopt a turtle, you should send some money to Larry Lessig (or a turtle), and PC gaming lives on! In your brain! No, seriously!

Molly Wood Former Executive Editor
Molly Wood was an executive editor at CNET, author of the Molly Rants blog, and host of the tech show, Always On. When she's not enraging fanboys of all stripes, she can be found offering tech opinions on CBS and elsewhere, and offering opinions on everything else to anyone who will listen.
Molly Wood
9 min read
In today's news, we adopt a turtle, you should send some money to Larry Lessig (or a turtle), and PC gaming lives on! In your brain! No, seriously! A new PC Gaming Alliance combined with a mind-control gaming headset have PC gaming looking cool again. Also, Wii Fit is coming out in the U.S. on May 19, so start your diets then.


Listen now: Download today's podcast



Mike from Hoboken
Apple's reaction to DoubleTwist.

Leif from the East Bay
Steve Jobs shoe.

Josh from Tucson
Help for Rush.

Interesting take on saliva cancer.

Anti-satellite weapons are not new
Hey Buzz crew,
See this thread for a whole-buncha information on the wayward satellite, chances of hitting Earth, info on the anti-satellite missile, controversy surrounding the shoot-down, etc.: http://forums.cnet.com/5208-10152_102-0.html? forumID=97&threadID=281569&messageID=2690146
*Disclaimer: Shalin is not a missile expert, Shalin is not a satellite expert, Shalin is not an anti-satellite missile expert either. But Shalin does know some aerospace stuff that maybe helpful to understand regarding the shoot-down of the wayward satellite.
Anti-Satellite weapons are not new.
Although they haven't had as much use or testing as conventional weapons, anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons are not new--they've been around for decades. The last known tests the U.S. performed were in the 80s. ASAT weapons were basically conceived as strategic solutions to threats (use of space as a battleground) during the Cold War.
As far as why three are being fired--one as a first shot and two "second chances" seems the likely logic to me. Guidance systems are more sophisticated these days, so I would actually expect the first shot to be successful.
I don't think they'll be fired all at once. If they don't hit the target, they'll likely be directed back through the atmosphere to burn up, self destruct, or both.
More info:

It's disappointing to me that this shoot-down is going forward 'cause it'll just create more debris up there that isn't really helpful.


Molly's fears of falling satellites
Hey Tom and Molly,
I've been a long-time listener, but quiet responder, of the show and after listening to Ep. No. 663 regarding the falling satellite and Molly's fears. Well, you guys managed to bring out a "well actually" funny-bone reaction. So here goes:
This message could be kinda long, so I won't be miffed if it doesn't make it onto the podcast. ;-)
I work for an aerospace company in Exton, Pennsylvania called Analytical Graphics (www.agi.com) that makes software that's used by engineers for just this sort of situation. It's called, appropriately enough, Satellite Tool Kit and outputs amongst other things a great 3D immersive view of what's going on so you can get that really cool "Dr. Strangelove" effect of riding the satellite all the way down to impact. Think Google Earth with lots more math and science.
Predicting the impact for these types of events is tricky, and involves equal parts of science and mystic voodoo, and a healthy dose of luck. While many things can affect where the object will eventually come down, there is, however, a property of the orbit of the vehicle, called it's Inclination, that can pretty much tell us that it won' likely come down on either the North or South Poles, ensuring that Santa and a whole bunch of penguins won't have to evacuate. Christmas and Bumble Happyfeet are safe for another year.
To further complicate the issue, the military intends to shoot the thing down (similar to what the Chinese did about a year ago), voicing a variety of reasons:
There is a distinct chance that the propellant tanks filled with Hydrazine (nasty, nasty stuff) would survive reentry, spilling their contents onto the house of some unsuspecting HD DVD owner, further compounding his already mounting sense of misery. These tanks are built Ford-tough and have a better chance of reentering intact than Apple has of releasing Beatles songs on iTunes by the end of the Year. (Wanna take that bet, Molly?)
Despite the 70 percent chance that the thing would come down in an Ocean, the remaining 30 percent land mass happens to be fairly well populated, raising the eyebrows of plenty of people--tax-paying people, who've played more remote odds on the Super-bowl and won !!! 'Nuff said.
Just my personal opinion here: It's an election year, and people are getting bored of the same-old-same-old. There's no doubt that our exiting administration would like to do so with a little panache, and since the Chinese did something similar about a year ago, no doubt bruising some egos in the process, what better way to leave the stage than with a good ol' shoot-em-down demonstration of where your tax money has gone into the Missile Defense System. To Molly's fear of what happens if they miss: I'd be more concerned about not getting your money's worth on the guidance system of the missiles.
So, the decision of our fine military minds is to shoot the thing down with a barrage of SM-3 missiles from a Navy ship floating off somewhere in the 70 percent impact-area. All in the interest of public safety of course. But since this is a newer, Joint-Forces, military, they'll probably have to do it something along these lines:
The Navy will shoot the missiles from one of its ships. Recruitment will go up: "Join the U.S. Navy & shoot down stuff the US Air Force sent into orbit" A Marine will push the button. OOrah !! Semper-Fi !! Keep'n it simple with a big boom result !! The Air Force will point to the right target. "Second star to the left and straight on 'til morning". Thanks, Tink!! Or: No!! Not that one!! The one on your right!! NOOoooo!! Your other right!!
The Coast Guard will clean up the pieces--again. (Those guys never get to do the fun stuff)
You'll notice that the Army was left out of the deal, probably because those poor guys get enough target practice on a daily basis and have better things to do than take pot shots at falling space junk.
One final serious note:
The comparison between the Chinese missile launch on their own satellite about a year ago and what's gonna happen here is a natural one to make. The big difference is one of altitude. They hit their bird high enough that pieces from that explosion still continue to remain in orbit and will continue pose a hazard to other (expensive) hardware probably for decades to come. This shot will drop most of the debris within the first 90 minutes, with most of the remaining stuff to come down a few days later.
So if you want to put an Al Gore "green" spin on this, what the military is doing is "better" for the environment by "releasing" the Hydrazine safely at a high altitude in a cacophony of explosive delight. The pieces will produce a nice oooooh-ahhhhhh effect for hours to come, and we'll have proven that Missile Defense works!! Everybody happy!!
You can see some animations we produced on the Web site: http://www.agi.com/corporate/mediaCenter/topStories/display.cfm?id=202 There's a media link at the bottom in case you want a snap, or the video.
Love the show and sorry for the run-along e-mail !!!

Satellite destroyed by missile already happened
Hello Jamoto,
Purposely destroying a satellite using a missile already happened on September 13, 1985 when an ASM-135 ASAT air-launched missile carried by a F-15 Eagle fighter jet was aimed at the malfunctioning Solwind P78-1, a Satellite launched in 1979. ASAT stands for anti-satellite weapon.
On January 11 2007, China also destroyed a defunct orbiting weather satellite.
This time, the missile will be launched from the USS Lake Erie that will be located in somewhere in the Pacific ocean.
As per a CNN article, "The Pentagon said the U.S. Navy plans to try to shoot down a faulty spy satellite with a modified antimissile missile on Wednesday. It would be the first such maneuver in more than two decades-- and the first ever using sea-based missiles."
As you mentioned in Episode 663, the reason they're doing it is to prevent the the dispersion about 1,000 of hydrazine. The article says: "[...]the fuel tank probably would survive re-entry and could disperse harmful or even potentially deadly fumes over an area the size of two football fields. Hydrazine is similar to chlorine or ammonia in that it affects the lungs and breathing tissue."
They also say: "The satellite is about the size of a school bus and the missile will be aimed at its fuel tank, which is about 3 or 4 feet long."
At a cost of $40 million to $60 million for the whole destruction operation, I'm sure (read: hope) that they know what they're doing.
Wikipedia articles:
- ASM-135 ASAT Missile: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASM-135_ASAT
- Anti-Satellite Weapon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-satellite_weapon
- USA 193 Sattelite (the one being destroyed): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_193
CNN Article:
- U.S. to shoot down satellite Wednesday, official says:
Love the show,
Giorgio from Montreal

While I'm always glad to see anyone stand up to the evils of DRM, I am hesitant to recommend or support the method that doubleTwist is using. DRM protected AAC is already a lossy compression format. When you (or an application) plays that back and then re-encodes it to another lossy format (MP3), you are transcoding.
This results in a significant and noticeable loss in audio fidelity. In today's world of cheap storage and affordable audio gear, we should be moving towards maintaining higher quality.
That said, I applaud DVD Jon's efforts and hope this will only provide yet another chink in the armor of the evil Dr. M.
Matthew Kivett

Digital TV transition
I'm now listening to the Kojo Nnamdi show podcast from their "Tech Tuesday" brodcast where they talked about the digital TV transition:
The expert on the show indicated that when the transition takes effect those currently having "basic" cable would need a converter box. My understanding is that this is not correct; that analog broadcasts would continue to work on cable for a while longer than the over-the-air transition. When even the "experts" give wrong information, how is a consumer supposed to deal with it?

I just love BOL! Sorry if it's weird to think someone drew you guys. Oh yeah, sorry for not including Jason. Sorry for the apologies.
Chris from Pennsylvania

JaMoTo the turtle
Hi Buzz crew,
JaMoTo it is! I've updated the Web site with the new name. Just as a reminder, the turtle map is here:
And you can find a photo of JaMoTo here:
You can see the very small transmitter attached to her back (carapace) in the photo. Tom should enjoy this. The transmitter sends a signal every time it breaks the surface of the water, which is hopefully received by one of a number of satellite-based receivers orbiting overhead. The received messages are relayed to ground stations where her position is calculated using the doppler effect (slight shifts in the frequency of the transmission as the receiving satellite passes quickly overhead).
An update on her progress. JaMoTo has stayed close to the nesting beach since she last nested (and we tagged her) on February 13. This is a sign that she will return to the beach and lay eggs at least one more time this season. Leatherback sea turtles usually nest every 9 to 10 days, and will lay four to seven nests, during the nesting season. We expect that she will come ashore to nest again either tomorrow night or the night after (Thursday or Friday night in Gabon time).
That's all for now.