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Comment: Re:take from the aircraft/drone world (Score 1) 189 189

Even if you're just changing focus rather than the direction your eyes are pointing, you're looking away. There's very little information while driving which is so essential you can't flick your gaze away for a fraction of a second (you'd better be doing that anyway to check your mirrors). If traffic is that tight, you don't need to be looking at your speed, just stay with the flow. Your fuel gauge isn't going to suddenly leap from half-full to empty (if it does, you have other problems).

That said, a blinky light on the side mirror as a blind spot warning can't hurt, and maybe an unobtrusive but visible "master caution and warning" light could light up at the bottom of the windshield if some other instrument needs attention.

That said, for a fighter (or other high-performance aircraft) pilot who has to track multiple things simultaneously (where's the enemy? which weapons are armed, do they have a lock? what's my attitude after all this dogfighting?), a HUD is invaluable -- and said pilots are carefully selected and undergo a hell of lot of flight training and then a hell of a lot of training in using the HUD (and there's also an auditory component to that).

Comment: Re:Reminds me of hands-free cell phones (Score 1) 189 189

I used to think that a hands-free phone should be fine when driving, since I was used to a fair bit of radio chatter while flying a plane.

But there are significant differences: radio chatter while flying is about the flying -- you're giving or getting info about your flight from ATC, if you're in formation you're discussing with the other aircraft where everyone is relative to each other and what your about to do, etc. You're not having a discussion about Junior's day in school or what John and Mary are up to or the latest server crash at work. One keeps your attention focussed on flying, the other distracts you from proper driving: where's your head at?

The other thing is that driving in typical traffic you should be paying as close attention to what the other vehicles are doing as if you're flying in close formation with a bunch of other planes. The latter is unlikely except for a very few pilots under special circumstances, most of the time in a plane you're at least many seconds (or minutes) away from other aircraft or obstacles (except landing or takeoff -- and you're generally not talking to anyone outside the cockpit at that point unless they're feeding you info about it.)

The latter is why we've had autopilots on aircraft for decades but nothing much better than cruise control (about equivalent to a wing leveller in terms of percentage control) on cars -- most of the time planes are in a much simpler environment.

Comment: Re:Look outside, not inside (Score 1) 189 189

If you're driving a car under IFR rules there's something seriously wrong with you.

Sure, every pilot with some instrument training knows to trust the instruments when he can't see anything out the windows -- he also knows he's got ATC tracking him, helping him navigate and warning of other traffic or potential trouble (like t-storms).

If you're driving a car when you can't see out the windows you're a fucking loony, and a danger to everyone else out there. If you're relying on looking at the instruments (and hey, a GPS will work just fine in thick fog) instead of out the window, well, I just hope you run off the road quickly (oops, map was out of date) before you hit somebody else.

Comment: Re:Look outside, not inside (Score 1) 189 189

Original poster wasn't talking about IFR -- obviously there's no point looking out the window in that case (if you're in cloud, you couldn't even see the wingtip).

But you're not going to get a new pilot flying IFR, because it takes a while to get the training and experience needed for that rating. Thing is, because a new pilot doesn't have the experience to know what attitudes look like (where's the horizon on the window? which way is it tilted? what sound is the engine making? etc), he's tempted to keep checking the instruments ... except that he hasn't figured out (at an intuitive level) all the interrelationships yet. He's looking at the attitude indicator to figure out if he's going up or down -- when he should be paying attention to the airspeed. He's focusing on "stepping on the ball" to coordinate his turns instead of looking out the window for that traffic he might be turning into and what the horizon is doing relative to the bug smear on the windshield.

Sure, you should be checking the panel periodically -- just like you should be checking the instrument panel periodically while driving -- but if you're VFR (and all driving is VFR, although with different minimums) you should be focussed on what the vehicle (and the others around it) is doing now (and about to do), not what the instruments are telling you it did a little while ago.

Comment: Re:Polls are essential due to plurality voting. (Score 1) 292 292

How is a third party vote "wasted"?

If you voted for the person who won, you wasted your vote -- they would have won without it, and you didn't send them any messages.

If you voted for the major party candidate who lost, you wasted your vote because he lost, and again you didn't send any message.

Voting third party is the only way not to waste your vote.

Comment: Re:The footage is with the lost Doctor Who episode (Score 2) 307 307

Ha, I've seen the Marco Polo serial.

Mind, I was about ten at the time; it was being broadcast on CBC I think the year after it first aired on BBC.

About all I remember from it is a scene where they're crossing the desert, the TARDIS being carried in a wagon, and The Doctor supplies water to the party "collected from condensation on the inside walls", and the incredulity of the others who aren't aware that the TARDIS is smaller on the outside.

Also saw the first Dalek episodes when originally aired on CBC. Probably others too, but not as well remembered.

Comment: Re:Kansas isn't even remotely flat (Score 1) 235 235

I kept wondering what geologic processes could produce such an even change in elevation.

It (along with eastern Colorado and much of the other great plains states/provinces) is an old sea bed, the floor of the central inland waterway in the mid/late Cretaceous. Flat from millions of years of sediments, tilted slightly from being pushed up as the continent drifts westward. (Dramatically so at the Rockies). The foothills of the Colorado Rockies do not "end just short of the border" at least not anywhere near I-70; it's pretty much flat east of Limon.

Florida probably is flatter, but the trees hide it. Kansas is mostly grassland (well, where it's not farms), so you have longer sight lines.

Comment: Re:I don't understand the big deal (Score 1) 83 83

Telenet was a dial-up access packet-switched network (think X.25) back before internet access was a common thing, similar to rival company Tymnet. I spent many, many hours on Telenet back in the day, logged into BIX.

You probably meant telnet, the *nix app which has been around even longer. When internet access became publicly available, I'd telnet into BIX (while it lasted, sigh).

Comment: Re:Riiiight. (Score 1) 246 246

I guess it's time we forbid anyone under 25 to drive a car,

Car rental companies do exactly that.

Just because you were lucky enough to have hyperdeveloped frontal lobes at age 10 doesn't mean that most, or even on average, people do. Apparently you haven't quite reached the stage of not overgeneralizing from personal anecdote.

Comment: Re:Flying (Score 1) 160 160

Heck, if IFR (I Follow Roads) is good enough for me, it should be good enough for anyone, right?

(One thing that struck me about several of the old Soviet Aeroflot planes I saw -- and flew on -- in Russia was the bomber-like downward looking windows in the cockpit. I don't know if that reflected the aircraft's original bomber roots or the fact that sometimes they did follow roads. My flight to Krasnoyarsk was diverted because of fog, for example. What, no autoland?)

Comment: Re:Only doubles?! (Score 1) 160 160

Over and above all that, there are plenty of other components which relate to Air Traffic Control system, such as various navaids (VORs and such, although they're slowly losing favor to GPS), ATIS and D-ATIS info updates, ACARS messaging, METAR info, etc. Again, these may not be under the control of the current new system, but they should certainly be considered in any design for the future.

A fail-safe circuit will destroy others. -- Klipstein