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Comment: Worlds Smallest "Iron Dome" System (Score 1) 66

by Ken McE (#49230503) Attached to: Secret Service Testing Drones, and How to Disrupt Them
You would start off with the current "Iron Dome" air defense system, just the software. You would have dozens, hundreds of small fixed installations circling whatever areas you want defended. Drones have a very small radar profile, but you are looking at them from a block or two away, not miles away. They would look for drones using low power radar. You can add in heat, acoustic, and radio sensors if you want. When they see one they fire water cannons at it. Water cannons rarely kill people and the FCC won't give you any trouble about them. They also send an alert to the guy in the camera room who can fire up the HERF guns and Tesla coils if the 'bots get a drone they can't handle.

If they see little Timmy waving a metallic pinwheel and blast it out of his hand (and maybe him too) the men in black come out, confiscate the remains of pinwheel in the name of national security, give him a towel, and go back to wherever it is they lurk. Startling, but no real harm done. This system might also be hard on pigeons, but that could be considered a benefit.

It's not perfect, the system would have trouble picking very low flying objects out from background clutter, but it's a start.

Comment: Re:Once a week forever (Score 1) 246

by Ken McE (#48641545) Attached to: 65,000 Complaints Later, Microsoft Files Suit Against Tech Support Scammers
The one answer to all of this is to require all solicitation calls to use a specific prefix both on PCs and on phone lines. That way any sales call in itself would be a felony if that special prefix is not displayed clearly.

Phone scams are already illegal. Don't know where they stand on the misdemeanor to felony spectrum. It's just that no one who can reach out and touch them cares.

Comment: Re: 65536 (Score 1) 246

by Ken McE (#48641527) Attached to: 65,000 Complaints Later, Microsoft Files Suit Against Tech Support Scammers
Doesn't explain why the US Attorney General, the FTC, or others who presumably are citizen advocates weren't all over this wire fraud, and possible RICO problem. - It shouldn't take litigation by Microsoft to end the problem, as it's a criminal act.

These people are calling essentially every number in the US and Canada. So are several others. The "credit card interest reduction" people even leave messages. Sadly, phone scams only get prosecuted if they annoy someone important.

Comment: "best performance in recent memory" my ass. (Score 1) 124

"If 'thousands' of USPTO employees were not doing their work, it would be impossible for this agency to be producing the best performance in recent memory and, perhaps, in its entire 224 year history."

I tried to track down the reasoning behind a patent that has been recently issued covering growing plants by shining lights on them. The light bulb has been around since about 1880, and I expect we have been using them to grow plants since about 1881. You can't get anything out of them about how something has been approved by the system.

Comment: Re:In the retina? (Score 1) 60

volpe (58112): Really?... It's actually done in the retina itself?

There are a variety of processes that are applied to visual data before it comes to your awareness, the retina is first level of screening. The tissue of the retina is not that different than neural tissue, it is perfectly capable of comparing things and making decisions. A video camera will look at every pixel in its range equally and send of all its data uniformly. A living visual system is actively working to prune out anything you don't need to notice and is also working to highlight things that may have survival value. It starts right there in the retina.

Comment: Re:cameras - why use the obvious ones? (Score 2) 231

by Ken McE (#47708193) Attached to: $125,000 Settlement Given To Man Arrested for Photographing NYPD

if my watch is aimed in your direction and I'm not acting strange, (hell maybe I'm reading a book at the same time while the watch records) how would they know?

If you are only recording pictures in a public place then you're good (legally). If you surreptitiously record sound then you may run afoul of wiretapping laws. That there are no wires and you're not tapping anything makes no difference. Depends on your jurisdiction.

Comment: Cute but impractical (Score 4, Interesting) 61

by Ken McE (#47707991) Attached to: Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition

All of these lovely fantasies have problems. The hex one adds complexity to the construction for no particular reason. The water tower on the roof becomes a single point of failure and will tend to want to freeze up. Caves would be nice, but what are the odds there'll be convenient caves located right where they want to set up camp? All of them would be complicated to build on Earth, never mind by a guy in a spacesuit

What they actually build will be an extension of our oldest and most mature design school - the square. They'll bring Titanium or Aluminum I-beams and bolt them together. For the sake of discussion lets assume a cube ten meters on each side, maybe an overhang all around the top. They'll bolt cross pieces and panels across the top and pile up regolith on the roof for the first layer of radiation protection.

Once they have this they'll go underneath and set up pressurized tents (if we can find suitable material for local conditions.) If tents work, they keep them. If tents are problematical they'll start building room sized cubes. The cubes will be essentially the same as the outer shell, but smaller and with caulked joints. As time goes by they'll start linking them. For safety reasons, internal air locks will be common. Water will be stored in flat compartments in the ceiling of each cube or tent as secondary radiation protection. Each room will have its own ceiling tanks so the loss of any one unit won't cripple them.

I assume they'll have a number of tanks of liquids and gasses - Nitrogen, Oxygen, Water, whatever else they need. Up on top of the regolith layer would be the place to store them. They'll be close to hand but out of the way, and if a tank fails there'll probably be no shrapnel issues. They will also lend a little bit more radiation shielding. If they have excess sewage it will be frozen in blocks and left on the roof for the same reasons.

The above feature will combine to something that has all the style and grace of a junkyard shack, but hey, it'll be easy to build, can be grown in stages as time allows, and it'll work. My apologies to those fancy design guys...

Comment: Re:Interesting Discovery (Score 2) 57

by Ken McE (#46974361) Attached to: Scientists Discover Nickel-Eating Plant Species
Now if we could only find plants to leech radioactive particles for both Japan and Ukraine

two problems: 1.) As the plant accumulates isotopes it will tend to irradiate itself. The better it works, the worse the problem.

2.) I'm not familiar with any biological processes that distinguish between isotopes. You'd need a suite of plants, each one a specialist at one or more elements, and you would bring in the appropriate plants for whatever you wanted to collect at a particular site. In fact you'd need multiple plants for each element, a wetland plant, a dryland plant, a warm weather plant, etc. You'd match them up with the geography of your various sites.

Comment: A Low Tech Approach - Hide in the Crowd (Score 1) 259

by Ken McE (#43333747) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Stay Ahead of Phone Tracking ?
Buy a disposable phone. Use it for a few months, wipe its internal memory & associated voice mail box, then abandon it where you think it might get adopted. You will always have a phone, but searching for your records becomes difficult, your past becomes plausibly deniable. If you are currently under active surveillance this will probably open up delays in the tracking each time you change over before they catch up. It is not impossible to backtrack you, but the difficulty and expense of tracking go up with each change, and the reliability of the results goes down. Rather than being a crisp and clear ten year history in their records you become a blur. Is this Samzenpus?, what about that? This sort of looks like him, but what about these ones?

This setup lets you always be able to dial out, but will eventually weary your friends who don't know what number you are now. You might want to do something else for a receiving number.

You probably have a core "fingerprint" of usage that is identifiably you, but it may resemble the fingerprint of people who run in your social circle. Mix things up a little. With each new phone add a new group of numbers unrelated to the other phones. Let's say phone #1 calls a cluster of sports related numbers, # 2 local civic groups, #3 bars, taxis, and liquor stores, etc. Call them a few times with honest questions. Let the watchers burn through their budget finding out who all these new d@#mn numbers are.

The end of labor is to gain leisure.