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Comment: Understand the features. (Score 1) 116

by CityZen (#48480117) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For $100-$150?

It's good to know why some drones are more expensive than others. (I'm going to use "drone" instead of "quadcopter" or "multicopter" since it's easier to type.)

Your basic drone will have a 3D gyro & accelerometer that will keep it flying upright. That's about it. As far as the altitude, it's up to you to constantly vary the throttle setting to keep it somewhere near the height you want. It will also drift in the wind, and you'll have to vary the directional controls to counter this. It may also rotate when pushed by the wind.

A magnetic compass can help the drone keep a constant heading. This is important, since most drones are piloted relative to the direction they are heading. (Fancier ones have additional piloting options whereby you don't need to know which way they are pointed.)

Fancier drones (like Parrot AR) have additional sensors to maintain altitude. Either a pressure sensor (barometer) and/or ultrasonic sensors aimed at the ground will allow it to accomplish this. However, the drone will still drift in the wind.

The next level up adds either GPS or an optical flow sensor (low-resolution camera pointed straight down). With one or both of these, a drone can maintain its absolute position, give or take a couple feet.

Then, of course, there's the camera. The most basic thing is a camera that records to an onboard SD card. Then there are cameras that transmit NTSC/PAL video signals over the air to a receiver (which might be combined with a screen into the controller). Or there are cameras that transmit video via wifi to your mobile device. The latter tend to have more latency (delay), making it harder to pilot (when you're flying fast).

You'll want the camera to have a relatively wide FOV (field of view). Otherwise, it's hard to know what's around the craft that you might run into.

Then there are gimbals. These keep the video stabilised. Of course, now we're in the several hundred dollar range, so perhaps that's where to stop.

Comment: Re:Repairability/Upgradability/Modularity (Score 1) 471

by CityZen (#47875341) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

Tech can "last forever". Take my digital wristwatch, for instance. All it needs to keep going is a new battery every so many years. Fortunately, it's battery is replaceable. However, I agree with your point that many tech makers get this wrong. Non-replaceable batteries and closed, locked-up software environments help to make tech go obsolete much faster than necessary. Also, functional dependence on some other infrastructure (Apple Watch depends upon iPhone) doesn't help either.

Comment: Re:Nobody has the right not to be offended. (Score 1) 1134

by CityZen (#47835279) Attached to: Combating Recent, Ugly Incidents of Misogyny In Gamer Culture

Perhaps you missed the part about rape and death threats, and not just general ones, but the "I know where you live" kind?
I believe that courts have ruled that this is indeed not free speech, but criminal action.
But these criminals hide behind internet anonymity, so are difficult to prosecute.

Comment: Just a word of warning (Score 1) 154

by CityZen (#47681455) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Recliner For a Software Developer?

If you make it too comfortable to be sedentary for long periods of time, you'll need to find ways to balance yourself with appropriate exercise. Too much comfort (or too much of anything) can be bad. It's all about the balance.

Back exercise helps you in several ways: makes sleep more comfortable, makes it easier to have good posture, prevents you from hurting yourself when lifting/pushing things, and generally keeps you from deteriorating faster than you ought to.

(I can't say enough about good posture, either: it helps you breath better, and it looks so much more attractive than most alternatives.)

Comment: Biscotti TV (Score 1) 194

by CityZen (#47594219) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

I've been looking for something similar myself. I was using the Logitech Revue until they shut down their Vid service.

The Biscotti has many good traits:
1. Has HDMI passthrough so no need to switch inputs if TV normally stays on a particular HDMI input.
2. Can overlay calling notification.
3. Can switch on the TV via CEC if needed.
4. Can be set to auto-answer.
5. Compatible with SIP and various standards.

Unfortunately, it's not perfect. You don't want to put it on a hot TV, or it might overheat.
Sometimes it has issues and needs to be rebooted by unplugging/replugging.
Recently, it looked like Biscotti's servers were down for a bit, so calls couldn't go through.
But aside from these typical kinds of issues, it's the best solution I've found so far.

Comment: Most online stores are "broken" (Score 2) 258

by CityZen (#47569985) Attached to: Is the App Store Broken?

I'm consistently amazed how everyone continues to make bad online stores when there are good examples to follow.
Ebay and Newegg are fairly good examples. They have extensive hierarchies of categorization, a healthy supply of
sensible filters, and, most importantly, they work in a sensible manner.

Case in point: you navigate down various categories, set up some filters, click on a product, then hit the "back"
button, and, lo and behold, you're taken back to where you expected to be. With some stores, once you
click on a product, it loses all the history of how you got there, which is totally nuts. You have to start over from
the top again. (Or, even if there is a sensible back option, it may be painfully slow to get you there again.)

Of course, having a tabbed web browser makes things even easier, since I can drill down, set up filters, then
middle-click on several different products (opening up each in a new tab), and flick between them at will.
I can add products to a "watch" list, so I can look now and decide later if I want to get it.

The only way that I use the App stores on iOS or Android are to already know the app I want (from having
looked at the wider internet), click on "search", and find that specific app. Anything else is just a hopeless
potshot. I think that Apple/Google know that this is the only method that needs to work, and thus they
don't try to improve things.

Comment: Annoying engineering with limited local control (Score 1) 216

by CityZen (#47010211) Attached to: Who controls the HVAC at work?

So there are thermostats on the wall, but they have only limited control:
- the building central HVAC produces only 1 temperature of air: either hot, cold, or unmodified.
- the temperature of air produced centrally depends upon the outside temp and the time of day.
    (ie, the thermostats have no control over that!)
- on cool days, hot air is produced; on warm days, cold air is produced, except:
    outside of work hours, it seems the air is mostly unmodified (not heated or cooled much).
- the thermostats control the venting such that you either get the central air or recirculated local air.
- (I haven't figured out what controls whether the blower runs or not.)

The net result does seem to be that you are overheated in winter, overcooled in summer,
except after work hours, when it becomes a reasonable temperature.

Comment: Re:Please support the FCC to do the right thing (Score 1) 286

by CityZen (#46998803) Attached to: Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

While I won't argue that you are wrong, I'm sure the cable companies would be pleased if people just thought "eh, what's the point in trying to change anything?" and didn't do anything.

That's how we got to this situation in the first place.

An alternative way out of this BS is to develop technology to bypass ISPs. Start setting up mesh wifi, or something. Figure it out.

Comment: Please support the FCC to do the right thing (Score 1) 286

by CityZen (#46998181) Attached to: Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

We all know this is BS. But we also know the FCC doesn't have much backbone. U.S. folks, please show them your support:

http://www.fcc.gov/comments
http://www.fcc.gov/complaints
http://www.fcc.gov/discuss

You may also write your senator or member of congress:

http://www.senate.gov/general/...
http://www.house.gov/represent...

Comments or complaints sent to any of the above may do a lot more good than any posted here.

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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