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Nobel Laureate and Laser Inventor Charles Townes Passes 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the rest-in-peace dept.
An anonymous reader writes Charles Hard Townes, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday in Oakland. He was 99. "Charlie was a cornerstone of the Space Sciences Laboratory for almost 50 years,” said Stuart Bale, director of the lab and a UC Berkeley professor of physics. “He trained a great number of excellent students in experimental astrophysics and pioneered a program to develop interferometry at short wavelengths. He was a truly inspiring man and a nice guy. We’ll miss him.”

Comment: Re:fixing modern gadget (Score 1) 840

But it's usually not those things that actually fail. Most of the random failures on electronics I've seen recently are:

* bad memory modules in computers (trivial to fix)
* bad capacitors (easy to fix)
* linear power regulators breaking their solder joints to the PCB due to heating/cooling (easy to fix)

Although we did have some LCD backlights that failed because as the capacitors started to fail, the power transistor in the DC-DC converter would also go (but it was extremely easy to spot due to the melted hole in the power transistor). We just replaced the LCD backlight DC-DC converter rather than doing any soldering.

It's very rare that some BGA chip is the thing that died in your gadget.

Comment: Re: Its a cost decision (Score 1) 840

SMD components are not hard to replace (with the exception of BGA and their ilk). But the usual 0.5mm pitch QFP type stuff, to get the dead one off I use a hot air gun, and to put the new one on, flux, solder, normal soldering iron, solder braid and kapton tape are the tools I use.

Also I design most of my hobby electronics stuff to use SMD. Smaller PCB = lower price for the PCB, and a lot of the interesting chips only come in some SMD package.

Comment: Re:Dupe (Score 1) 840

What requires incredibly fancy machinery to fix?

While it takes some knowledge to fix a lot of things, fixing for example a faulty washing machine most of the time needs nothing more than basic hand tools and the ability to diagnose what is actually broken, then buying the replacement part.

There are some things that will require fancier stuff to fix, for instance replacing a chip in a BGA package on a circuit board requires specialist tools but a huge number of repairs don't require this kind of thing to be done.

Comment: Re:We ARE using ssh and https for everything (Score 2) 203

by Alioth (#48732865) Attached to: Why Aren't We Using SSH For Everything?

Unfortunately ftp has far from died. There are so many other organizations I deal with that haven't been hit with the ssh/sftp clue stick and can't do anything other than ftp. Or worse still, ftps which is a firewall administrator's nightmare.

We even deal with one company who not only refuses to use sftp, but they refuse ftp in passive mode and want us to connect to an ftp server of theirs that only supports active mode. Their admin reckons ftp in passive mode is insecure and won't deal with sftp. Sigh. They are of course a Windows-only shop. Most of the companies who are stuck on ftp are Windows shops.

Comment: Re:we tried that. Ma Bell, or Boost, Cricket, Spri (Score 1) 221

by Alioth (#48718231) Attached to: Google Fiber's Latest FCC Filing: Comcast's Nightmare Come To Life

Actually that model works very well. In many countries the internet provision is better and cheaper with more ISPs to choose from than in the US.

I live on a small island with 80000 inhabitants. We have an incumbent telecom company which owns the last mile, but they must sell that last mile wholesale. As a result, we have not one but four ISPs we can choose from at a decent price, and you can get at least 50Mbit/sec service pretty much everywhere despite the rural spread-out nature of our population.

We don't get the terrible Comcast-only situation many in the US have to deal with.

Comment: Re:Here come the certificate flaw deniers....... (Score 1) 80

by Alioth (#48564169) Attached to: New Destover Malware Signed By Stolen Sony Certificate

Signing certificates are normally encrypted. Stealing the file will do no good unless you know the decryption passphrase. For example, to get a package into our local debian repository such that it can install/upgrade in our production environment, you'd not only need the gpg signing keys, but the 60+ character passphrase (which is NOT written down) to go with it.

Comment: Re:I've hired people with misdemeanors before (Score 1) 720

by Alioth (#48555701) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?

> Would you want to hire someone who was convicted of violent assault?

It depends why. Were they the initiator of agression, and beat up their spouse? Perhaps not.

Were they defending themselves from a bully? Yes, I would hire them.

A 40 year old who was convicted at age 17 when he flew off the handle for some reason, but has not been in trouble since? Yes, I would hire them.

Do you suffer painful hallucination? -- Don Juan, cited by Carlos Casteneda