From the Risks forum, a submission on sun outages in satellite TV systems. When the receiving antenna, the satellite, and the sun all line up, the satellite signal is swamped by the sun. It’s obvious that this would be a problem once you think about it, but this is the first time I’ve seen consumer level consequences from it. You’d think that cable systems would make a big deal out of this (up to 8 minute outages twice a year), since obviously cable doesn’t have the same issues. As Rand has pointed out many times here and elsewhere, the key to reduced launch costs is markets. Right now satellite TV is doing quite well in competition with cable, but this is a definite competitive disadvantage, which is bad news. The good news is that it’s also a money making opportunity for whoever can figure out how to fix it.
Other items (also here) in the same digest talk about electronic voting machines. We’re entering what is certain to be a nasty campaign, and if things proceed on their current course the results of the election will be tainted by serious problems with electronic voting systems. The last thing America needs in the current global climate is still further internal polarization. Fortunately some smart and dedicated people are working to mitigate the problems, and you can help.