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Comment: Re:Microscope (Score 2) 280

by Dereck1701 (#49076407) Attached to: 1950s Toy That Included Actual Uranium Ore Goes On Display At Museum

Count yourself lucky, as a kid I can vividly remember my mother taking me to practically every toy/hobby store within a 20 mile radius looking for a simple chemistry set for a fair project. The closest thing we found was some eye droppers, we finally broke down and asked some of the employees at a fairly high end hobby shop. They told us there was no chance of finding one in any retail store, they had been practically outlawed (by the "Consumer Protection Safety Commission" I believe) out of "safety"/drug concerns. I had to make due with one of those little "build your own radio" kits that I never did get to work right.

Comment: Re:Bureaucratic red tape (Score 1) 119

by Dereck1701 (#49070091) Attached to: FAA Proposes Rules To Limit Commercial Drone Use

Nothing is guaranteed. But just because a remotely operated vehicle is out of physical sight doesn't mean it is out of control. First off they shouldn't be operating anywhere near aircraft, drone flight should be restricted below 500' (planes, jets and helicopters are supposed to remain above this altitude), above 300' unless they have the permission of the land owner to fly lower and nowhere near airports. And no one in their right mind is saying that these things should be allowed to fly about unmonitored. But if you have someone monitoring the video and/or telemetry from each drone it should be as good as line of sight and shouldn't overly effect their usefulness. If the drone up/down link fails the drone should either return to base or immediately and land. Requiring line of sight makes them virtually useless, I saw a University presentation on their working with the FAA's program (about a year ago) beyond the obscene paperwork requirements to do a survey of a relatively small 10 acre field required a half dozen people. Imagine two scenarios both surveying the same 50 acres of woods. In scenario one we have the line of sight requirements, they either have to post people with some form of control of the craft every few hundred feet, requiring dozens of people thereby putting many more people under its flight area. Or move a few hundred feet at a time with one or two people, either way it would either take a full day or even days. Scenario two, a single van with a single person pulls up next the woods, they set the drone outside and press a button in the van, the drone goes about its work with the person monitoring it from inside the van. Even if the drone had to come back for battery swaps it would probably take a few hours and the one person that is in the operations area is safely in a van where they cannot be struck even if control is lost.

Comment: Bureaucratic red tape (Score 3, Informative) 119

by Dereck1701 (#49066033) Attached to: FAA Proposes Rules To Limit Commercial Drone Use

"keep their aircraft in sight"

So they're basically negating the one major aspect of a drone, the ability to fly significant areas autonomously by tethering it to someone on the ground. Sounds like bureaucratic red tape to me, if you can't kill a thing make it useless to do it by wrapping it in so many "common sense" measures as to make it useless. I can understand some things, requiring insurance, constant tracking, keeping records, but maintaning line of sight either shows a complete lack of understanding of what a drone is or a blatant attempt to kill a (possibly) nascent industry.

Comment: Re:Now they just need intensity from the actors. (Score 1) 165

by Dereck1701 (#49061487) Attached to: Star Trek Continues Meets Kickstarter Goal, Aims For Stretch Goals

Have you watched many 60's shows lately? TOS may not be great but it is far from bad when measured against other 60's shows. Batman, Bewitched, Colombo, I don't see them aging any better, but I recently watched "The Devil in the Dark" (lava monster protecting its children) and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are of course a lot of bad episodes but there are also a lot of good ones. TNG, VOY, DS9, and practically any other show is the same, there are a few gems, most of them are serviceable episodes and some of them make you want to switch to a documentary on moss.

Comment: Your "smart" home is too dumb (Score 1) 248

by Dereck1701 (#49052961) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

You're never going to get the control you need by putting in a few of those smart lightbulbs. You're going to have to replace some of the basic components of your houses wiring so that they can be controlled either from a device or manually. X-10/Insteon type devices are about the best idea I've heard of as far as smarthome technology on a budget. You replace your household switches and outlets with devices that have assigned address and use your home wiring for communication, then you can program switches and remotes to activate/deactivate those devices from anywhere via controller modules (independent or PC based). Now its the best "idea", I'm not saying it is the best system. They may have gotten better but I know for quite a while they had some serious interference, feature & quality issues. Smart bulbs an sockets may have their niche uses, but not for general home automation.

Comment: Re:ha (Score 1) 149

by Dereck1701 (#49044725) Attached to: Mooted: An Undersea Link From Finland To Estonia

You might not be that far off. I'll admit to a very limited understanding of European life, but I do watch a few British shows and the views I've seen on train travel are less than stellar. I remember half of a Top Gear episode devoted to how you could buy an old car, fill it with gas, then drive it between two of the cities serviced by a long distance train route for cheaper than you could buy a two way ticket and have a car to keep at the end of the trip. And those were simple over land routes, tunnels are orders of magnitude more expensive. It costs somewhere between $100M & $200M per mile of tunnel, and if the UK/France Tunnel is of any indication will come in closer to 16.2 to 23.4 Billion, not 9 to 13 Billion.

Comment: Those are some rough seas (Score 4, Interesting) 69

by Dereck1701 (#49035067) Attached to: SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches, Rocket Recovery Attempt Scrapped

I initially wondered "if the weathers so bad how did they ocean land it" then I stumbled across some of the ocean wave height maps. Apparently there is a LARGE area of ~20 ft seas off of most of the eastern sea board. You have to go a third of the way to Africa in order to get out of it. While I am sure that the rocket could get that far in no time at all I'd wager the barge is a bit slower.

Comment: Re: parcel data that definitively unreliable (Score 3, Informative) 117

by Dereck1701 (#49014135) Attached to: Google Earth Pro Now Available Free

" Then look in amazement as your 120 foot property line is actually 118.5 feet on the map"

Even surveyors can be off by that much, I've seen surveys in the 80s that when resurveyed with modern equipment the surveyor has to note on his map something to the effect of "Measured: 121.51' Recorded as: 119.2'". That said you are very right using electronic parcel maps for "definitive property boundaries" is completely idiotic. They can be a good reference depending on how they were built but it will be a LONG time (think a century or so) before there is any chance of them being used for property boundary determination.

Comment: Buwahahhhhhhaaahahaha (Score 3, Informative) 117

by Dereck1701 (#49014043) Attached to: Google Earth Pro Now Available Free

"Google Earth Pro includes parcel data that definitively defines property boundaries."

No, Just no.... I work in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and I can GUARANTEE that a vast majority of the property lines displayed in the program do not "definitively defines property boundaries". Some may not be far off, some may not be too bad, most will only be in the ball park and some will be horribly off, the only way to be sure one way or another would be a title search and a survey and even then once in a while things can go wrong. Property description is insanely complicated, in my area the property records go back into the 1840s and technically to be sure someone has to trace and map every sale from now back to then. Since that is extremely time consuming most title companies these days only trace it back 40-60 years and then rely on insurance to pick up the tab if the issue exists further back. Most GIS maps don't try to do ANY of that, they grab the tax records or maps if they exist and digitize (scan them, electronically rubber sheet them to a rough geographic base and then draw some digital lines on top of the scans hand drawn ones) them making your average digital property line map at best 5-50' accurate. Even with organizations that go the extra distance and rebuild the parcel layer off of certified orthophotos (3' accuracy for 90% of surveyed points) you're only improving to about 5-10' accuracy. In a very few rare circumstances you may get some parcels where employees actually went out to properties that happened to be surveyed and then you're probably getting sub-centimeter accuracy for about 0.00000000002% of the parcels.

Comment: Re:seems a bit shy... (Score 1) 91

by Dereck1701 (#49010167) Attached to: DARPA's ALASA Could Pave Way For Cheaper, Faster Satellite Launches

According to the Wiki at least the last 25 launches have been successful (last one in mid 2013), the first dozen or so launches though were pretty hit and miss. Pegasus though is a far different beast, it is launched on a modified commercial aircraft whereas this one appears to be intended for a military fighter jet. Pegasus launches payloads of around 1000 lbs whereas this one is only intended for 100 lb "satellites".

Comment: Reinventing the wheel? (Score 2) 91

by Dereck1701 (#49010149) Attached to: DARPA's ALASA Could Pave Way For Cheaper, Faster Satellite Launches

There are at least 3 current companies working on a similar concept (air launched small to medium rocket), why are they inventing another when they could buy one of theirs for much cheaper? I can only see two reasons, they want it as a quick response orbital weapons platform and the "small satellite launcher" concept is just an excuse. Number two they're hoping to extract some good old fashioned blank check defense contractor money from the DOD. If its the latter they could have at least put a little more effort into the animation, it looks like one of those bad Sy-Fi channel movie special effects and even the flight profile looks totally unrealistic.

Comment: Security? (Score 1) 168

A small permanently implanted device wirelessly broadcasting (Yes I know passively) its unchangeable code? Isn't that completely the opposite of "security"? I think a lot of people in the corporate culture mistake "security" with "convenience" and assume everyone else on planet earth is as inept as them when it comes to technology.

Comment: "Stupidity" (Score 1) 333

I chose fear, but I think "stupidity" would have been a more accurate descriptor for how humanity as a whole would respond. The military could very well initiate some kind of conflict via some misunderstanding despite the fact that they would likely not be able to defend the planet even if they were hostile (Earth/Minbari war for anyone who watches Babylon 5). Various cults would sprout up worshiping the aliens much like the WWII "cargo cults", who worshiped the giant metal birds that dropped wondrous items on them (Canned food, candy, clothing, etc) and tried for years after the end of WWII to call back these gods by dressing in military uniforms, building signaling fires on disused runways & constructing large aircraft mockups using foliage. Finally there would probably be a measure of a "give me" attitude, a feeling that the aliens should help out humanity with advanced technology, despite the fact that the introduction of a significant amount of any such technology would probably result in major disruptions to society and probably do far more harm than good ("Friendship One" for anyone who watches Star Trek: Voyager). I'd love it if we met (friendly) alien life, and eventually it could help us mature as a species, but it would probably need to be done slowly over decades or even generations or happen centuries in the future when (hopefully) we've matured a bit more on our own.

Comment: Define "overseas profits" (Score 2) 825

by Dereck1701 (#48952499) Attached to: Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas

I can understand trying to get companies to stop gaming the system by shuffling their US profits to overseas holding companies to avoid taxes, but is this what this proposal is actually doing? If it is I'm all for it, but somehow I wonder if this is trying to tax overseas profits from overseas sales simply because the company is US owned. There was a raft of articles a few years back about US citizens having to renounce their citizenship because they were being taxed at obscene rates despite the fact that they didn't live, work, vote or even visit the US. Maybe its my latent paranoia but I wonder if this is the corporate version of this.

Comment: Buyer beware (Score 1) 277

by Dereck1701 (#48945981) Attached to: Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

How is this Ubers fault? This is like suing a newspaper for not doing background checks on people sending/calling in classified adds when something bad happens in regards to them. Uber is just creating the meeting place for people to exchange a service, not providing the service themselves. People who use it have to recognize that fact and take proper precautions, as you would with any classified/craigslist/etc add.

A man is not complete until he is married -- then he is finished.