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Comment: What BS (Score 4, Insightful) 177

Modern 2.4GHz RC gear requires a significant level of tech-expertise to "hijack" in the manner suggested.

Occam's Razor has the answer...

Simple mechanical, electrical or operator failure -- nothing more, nothing less.

Too many would-be "drone" operators have scant understanding of the need for a maintenance schedule and proper planning before deploying even the smallest and most lightweight of craft.

The problem is that far to many people buy these things and then treat them as if they'll just keep working forever -- simply charge the battery and fly!

Unfortunately, props fatigue, motor bearings wear, ESCs can overheat and flight controllers can fail.

There's a hell of a lot more to safely deploying one of these craft than flipping a few switches and wiggling some sticks.

I'm not a commercial operator -- I fly for fun but even *I* am very much aware of the importance of good housekeeping and planning when it comes to using these things safely.

Comment: Re:Um. WRONG. (Score 1) 323

Go buy yourself a Raspbery Pi, download the boot-image for Rasbmc, boot it up, go have a coffee and a sandwich.

When you get back -- you'll have all the TV and movies you could want -- for the cost of your monthly internet connection.

If Netflix was available here, I'd pay for it -- but since it's not (legally) available to NZers, I figure that the movie/TV producers don't want my money and use XBMC instead. I'm not going to force them to take my cash if they don't want it -- but they better not complain about the fact that I'm watching their stuff for free in the meantime.

Comment: Not just a US problem (Score 1) 473

by NewtonsLaw (#46215007) Attached to: Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

This isn't a problem that is limited to the USA.

I live in New Zealand and have a workshop on the local airfield.

Of the 9 hangars at the airfield, only two now have airworthy aircraft in them -- and most of those are home-built or microlite types rather than GA craft (like Cessnas).

Just about the only (semi) regular users of the runway are flight schools which train pilots for overseas airlines such as EasyJeet and JetStar.

The skyrocketing cost of maintaining a PPL combined with hikes in just about every other cost associated with flying has really seen the amount of activity plummet.

Even the local CAA (our equivalent of the FAA) field officer told me he's not going to renew his pilot's license because of the costs.

On the up-side.... the whole issue of drones being integrated into the national airspace may soon be made a lot easier -- since there'll be far fewer full-sized craft in that airspace anyway :-)

Comment: Boy-racers at NASA (Score 1) 180

by NewtonsLaw (#46018665) Attached to: More Details About Mars Mystery Rock

Oh come on... we all know that the mission controllers got bored and told the rover to do a few donuts when nobody was looking!

Hell, you're hundreds of millions of miles from home -- there are no police -- who's going to give you a ticket for a bit of "sustained loss of traction" in the company's rover? :-)

Then.... bugger! Forgot about the camera! Duh!

Comment: Negotiations? Hardly! (Score 3, Insightful) 129

by NewtonsLaw (#45623585) Attached to: Trans-Pacific Partnership Includes Unwanted Elements of SOPA

Given that the NSA is busy tapping the phones and email conversations of the leaders with which the USA is "negotiating" this TPPA, it's hard to believe that this isn't just a one-sided deal.

How can other nations "negotiate" when the USA knows exactly what their bottom lines are (given that they've likely exchanged such information with their fellow politicians within their own country by phone or email)?

What's more -- why does this all need to be done in secret -- hidden away from the eyes and ears of those who these politicians are elected to REPRESENT and SERVE?

This is a huge con-job on the peoples of the non-US nations involved.

I strongly suspect there will be a great deal of "post-political career" employment on offer for those foreign politicians who agree to the US-dictated terms of the TPPA.


+ - Google sparks online outrage with forced Google+ signups for YouTube users 3

Submitted by NewtonsLaw
NewtonsLaw (409638) writes "Although Google has copped flak before when they've messed around with the winning formula that is YouTube, the world's most successful and popular video sharing site, I suspect that they weren't ready for the tsunami of anger that has been unleashed against them as a result of their latest changes.

All non-passive YouTube users (ie: anyone who wants to leave or reply to comments on videos) must now create a Google+ identity and link it to their YouTube channel.

Cynics (such as myself) are seeing this as a nasty piece of *evil* blackmail on the part of Google as it attempts to boost the numbers of G+ users and the levels of activity within the G+ community.

Unfortunately, in doing this, Google seems to have completely forgotten the KISS strategy that made their search engine so distinctive and a darling of Net users everywhere. The YouTube comments system was also very simple, very clean and surprisingly effective.

Now however, users must fight their way through the acres of dross that are associated with a Google+ account and although the new system offers a few extra features, much of the essential core functionality of the previous YouTube comments system has been destroyed.

There are presently several online petitions demanding that Google reinstate the old comments system and numerous "rant videos" from upset YouTube users but perhaps the best demonstration of how poorly this forced change has gone down is the like/dislike ratio and the nature of the comments on Google's own YouTube promotional video for these changes.


Comment: There will *always* be a fire risk (Score 3, Insightful) 375

by NewtonsLaw (#45362991) Attached to: Third Tesla Fire Means Feds To Begin Review

Whenever you store a lot of energy in a small space and have the potential for rapid release then there will always be a fire risk.

Gasoline, electricity, kinetic energy -- it all poses a fire risk in the event of an uncontrolled release of that energy.

If you want 100% safety then walk.

Uh-oh, I forgot about the risk of spontaneous human combustion!

We're stuffed!

Damn, they even confiscated my asbestos underwear!

What are we to do now?

+ - Google now forcing Google+ on YouTube users

Submitted by NewtonsLaw
NewtonsLaw (409638) writes "Google have started rolling out their plan to force all non-passive YouTube users to join their GooglePlus service.

As of last night I noticed that I can no longer access the comments on my videos via their dedicated comments page and attempts to respond to comments posted by others simply by clicking on the "to reply, click here" link in the advisory email fail to show the comment concerned. This forces me to go to the actual video page each time and manually locate the comment within the hundreds that may be there.

For weeks, Google has been in nag-mode, constantly trying to coerce YouTube account holders link their channels to a G+ identity and now that this strategy has failed, they're basically saying that unless you do as they say, no more easy access to the comments on your videos. In fact they say this quite literally in a big red banner at the top of the screen when you log on which proclaims " Connect to Google+ to maintain access to new comments".

As an early adopter of YouTube and many other Google services I now find myself with a real mess on my hands. Most of my Google service accounts have different email addresses, therefore are different identities. To comply with Google's diktat, I will have to create several G+ accounts, meaning more logins, more passwords, more complexity!

I am not alone in this — users all over the Net (and on YouTube) are really annoyed that the "do no evil" company is forcing them to sign up to services they do not want and breaking stuff in the process.

The reason for YouTube's success is that it's relatively simple to use and focused. YouTube makes it easy to post videos and comment on them — full stop! If they start messing with that formula by adding the complexity and "features" of G+ then I fear they will pay a price.

In the past, one of the biggest benfits of Google was that it wasn't Facebook. It seems that is no longer the case (especially in light of their recent "we'll use your face and comments to promote products" initiative).

It would appear that Google is about to turn a silk purse into a sow's ear.


Comment: Re:I am a pilot... (Score 2) 195

by NewtonsLaw (#45182341) Attached to: How You Too Can Be Shut Down By the Feds For Flying Drones

400 feet is *not* high, you need to get some telemetry on your models.

Whenever I've flown a telemetry equipped model and shown other RC fliers just how low 400 feet AGL is, they are surprised.

Given the low cost of telemetry these days, every club should have a model they can use to demonstrate how low 400ft AGL really is and that can be done by investing in a stand-alone system like this Wireless Copilot or adding an altitude sensor to any RC gear (such as Hitec, FrSky, JR, etc) that has inbuilt support for such.

As for the FAA's assertion that earning a single red cent from flying a model turns that model into an "unmanned aerial system" equivalent to a predator drone... well here's all I have to say about that: Trappy vs FAA (Youtube vid with ads I'm afraid).

+ - Drone flier cops $10K fine from FAA

Submitted by NewtonsLaw
NewtonsLaw (409638) writes "Raphael Pirker, otherwise known as "Trappy" is the guy who flew his RC model plane over the Statue of Liberty and parts of NYC a little while back and got a lot of media attention in the process.

Trappy has travelled the world with his FPV RC models, getting some stunning footage that has been posted to his YouTube channel.

On occasion, he has been commissioned to make specific flights and take aerial video of particular locations — professionally but this is something that the FAA considers to be involation of their policies (note: policies — NOT the law). After a recent commissioned flight around the University of Virginia, the FAA hit Trappy with a $10K fine, alleging that he was operating a UAS without the necessary authority and had been reckless in his actions, creating danger to person and property.

More background and info on this can be found in this story and this sUAS News report which lists the exact charges.

While it could be argued that Trappy's flying may have been a little reckless, the defense from his lawyer is that no LAWS were broken — because there are no laws pertaining to these craft.

I posted a YT video-rant about how the FAA (and other airspace administrators around the world) are failing to do their jobs and have instigated "policies" rather than create proper laws in respect to this new technology. I also argue the point that it's ridiculous that, in the eyes of the FAA, a small RC plane suddenly becomes a UAS and is treated as being the same as a Predator drone in respect to its potential as a threat to public safety. I won't post a link to the video (don't want to be a whore) but I'm sure folk can find it if they're interested.

The bottom line is that in equating a small RC flying wing made of foam with an evil baby-killing Predator drone, the FAA is way, way out of touch with reality and way-behind the game in respect to making reasonable and effective laws in this area. Also, by relying on "policy", they are allowed to play judge and jury so can apply unfettered bias and prejudice in their actions with impunity."

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.