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Comment: Re:Motorola used to have rules against that, IIRC (Score 1) 190

A) The point under discussion was security on the way out, not on the way in. Since you were just passing through, perhaps airport security was given a heads up to look for something specific to your flight? You did say you were coming from Amsterdam, after all. Arriving into KL from Hong Kong, my flight had no additional screening, and immigration procedures into and out of Malaysia are the easiest I have ever dealt with in any country (you don't fill in any paperwork, they take it all off of your passport matched up with flight manifests). For reference, I am at about 1.8M air miles (not including all the free trips I took) and in the process of filling up my 4th extended passport (where they add an additional 24 pages). Regardless, concourse security at KLIA was the laxest I have ever experienced post-9/11 anywhere in the world I have traveled.

B) You must not have flown into KL International airport, there are zero mountains within 30 kilometers of the airport (and those are big hills, more than mountains) and zero mountains on any approach path that doesn't try to land at 90 degrees from the airport (typically an unhealthy approach to any runway). Or maybe you have a different concept of what is a mountain from me.

C) Those hard landings are not uncommon when pilots allow the ALS to land the plane with even mild wind shear present. Or poor pilots blame the ALS, at least.

D) Drug trafficking means possession with the intent to sell. Mere possession of small quantities of heroin or marijuana is rarely considered trafficking, even in Malaysia.

Since you can't do it anymore in reality, find a flight simulator that models the old Hong Kong airport runway approaches, or find YouTube videos that show airplanes passing at close to the same levels as high rise building while performing 40-60 degree turns to line up with the runway (there used to be a rooftop restaurant famous for plane watchers) on the top of mountains, then having to dive down rapidly to not overshoot the runway (a low fuel, passenger loaded 747 at 225 tonnes needs roughly 1675 meters of runway to land by the book IIRC, and the longest runway at Kai Tak was 1664 meters and those 747s were landing all day long), frequently while crabbing heavily to deal with heavy cross-winds. I can say I miss that experience... now. Ex-Navy pilots said it was the closest thing to trying to land a 747 on an aircraft carrier with a cross wind that they could imagine. Wikipedia has a good explanation of various approaches.

Comment: Re:Was there any ACARS data? (Score 4, Insightful) 190

The only problem with the thought of losing portions of the planes controls in stages, the first two or three would have had to have quickly knocked out the transponders, the pilots radio (separate from the transponders) and the backup radio (separate from the transponders and the primary radio) before affecting anything else on the plane that would have caused the pilots to message someone on the ground that bad things were happening. Transponders disappearing usually gets a call from someone on the ground, which the pilots would respond to if they could. Needing to switch to a backup radio will have the pilots letting someone on the ground know in short order. If you assume they lost electrical system power due to total engine failure (which would merit a fairly rapid SOS call as a result), that still wouldn't prevent the ram air turbine from generating the power needed to send a distress call.

It isn't unreasonable to start from an assumption of catastrophic failure of the airframe and start your search on that basis while investigating other possibilities in parallel. It could also be due to a pilot or co-pilot deciding they wanted to take the plane down, however, since the transponder can be disabled from the cockpit (Think Egypt Air MS990, though that was never declared officially to be a pilot suicide), but then the plane would have quickly shown up as a transponder-less blip on multiple radar systems, since that air space is quite well covered along the flight path and to both the south and west. To the north east, it should have been picked up at Con Son, unless it really was under control to head back south east towards Riau Islands. Chances are good, whatever direction it went, including straight down, either the Malaysian or Vietnamese govts. will eventually announce the radar tracks they watched it on, given that the last transponder point had the flight only ~250 km from the closest Malaysian airport (not to mention Malaysian Navy ships out on normal patrols) and about 1/2 of that from a Vietnamese naval base which it would have flown directly over if it had continued on path.

Hmm, just checked Google News for an update. Reported in the last 30 minutes, the Malaysian military is saying the plane appeared to turn back south according to radar.

Comment: Motorola used to have rules against that, IIRC (Score 5, Interesting) 190

Granted, it has been a while since I worked for the part of Motorola that became Freescale, but I am fairly certain there were rules against the maximum number of employees that could take any one flight. I think it was 2 for executives and 6 or 8 for regular employees. Situations like this, rare as they are, was the reason. I wonder if Freescale still has those rules and ignored them, or didn't copy them over. Any current employees have insight?

I hope the families receive meaningful information as to what and why this happened, and don't have to spend a year or longer wondering (at least for the what, why usually takes a lot longer with airline crashes).

The 777 is one of the safest commercial planes in the aviation history, with only one accident with fatalities prior to this. Having just flown on a 777 (Cathay Pacific) out of Kuala Lumpur less than 30 days ago, however, I will say that their airport security was very lax. When I set off the metal detector and was wanded, the security person stopped at the first thing that might have set it off (I had left a metal-bodied pen in my shirt pocket) and didn't go on to find I also forgot to take out my cell phone and earphones from a different pocket (cargo pants). That was just for entry to the main concourse, though. To actually get on the plane, Cathay Pacific required a secondary screening that was much more rigorous from what I observed of how they dealt with other people (I remembered to put away my pen and phone that time). Malaysia Air did not do a secondary screening for a domestic flight when I boarded in Sandakan a few days earlier, but the concourse screening was also more intensive.

Comment: Re:is there an xkcd comic for this? (Score 2) 138

by QQBoss (#46405003) Attached to: The Rise and Fall of Supersymmetry

For one thing, string theory will probably need to be scrapped.

I felt a minor disturbance (you know, like quark-sized) in the force, as if a few hundred physics grad students had their thesis hopes suddenly ended.

That said, I am not a physicist, but I would like to add a hearty 'Huzzah!' to what I am sure is a chorus of many other physicists not present, at least based on my trying to keep up modestly with the goings on.

Comment: Re:Most important part... MIPS didn't compete. (Score 1) 111

by QQBoss (#46332259) Attached to: The Ever So Unlikely Tale of How ARM Came To Rule the World

Ah, that is a huge distinction and becomes more logical. In 1997, RISC was still a very small subset of the entire embedded market place. IIRC, since the '80's when these things started being tracked, I don't think any one company has ever held more than ~30% of the entire embedded market for a year (across multiple products, probably calculated by $ volume, not by total shipments), and that wasn't MIPS, for sure.

Comment: Re:Most important part... MIPS didn't compete. (Score 1) 111

by QQBoss (#46331065) Attached to: The Ever So Unlikely Tale of How ARM Came To Rule the World

[...]They used-to have a dominant lead over ARM, selling something like 2/3rds of all embedded CPUs, but they simply fell apart and ceded the market to the competition. [...]

Through 2013, Cypress has shipped over 1.7 billion cumulative units of its PSoC 1 Programmable System-on-Chip, which I am fairly certain dwarfs anything MIPS has ever done. I don't have good numbers, but I am quite certain the Motorola 8-bitters shipped on the order of those numbers as well (or will, if you count the ARM variants in the Kinetis catalog as true 6800 descendents). If your intent is to talk about embedded CPUs, not MCUs, Motorola's 68K (and embedded derivatives) still have far surpassed MIPS numbers.

If that doesn't impress you, Microchip claims to have sold more than 7 Billion units of the PIC16 MCU series.

MIPS, while an interesting architecture that I have admired from afar, and which has had solid design wins in the past and will have more in the future, is at best an honorable mention in the embedded systems world for either volume or sales figures.

Did you perhaps mean that 2/3rds of the devices using MIPS architecture were embedded?

Comment: Re:I'm glad I RTFA (Score 1) 111

by QQBoss (#46330795) Attached to: The Ever So Unlikely Tale of How ARM Came To Rule the World

I RTFA, and now I know:
-"RISC stands for 'reduced instruction set computing.'


It is a pity that no one could have strong-arm'ed (does that count as a pun?) in a superior expansion of RISC.

(1) Reduced Instruction Set Complexity
(2) Reduced Instruction Set Cycle-time

would be more meaningful.

Very few people designing RISC CPUs in the '80s cared about how many instructions (cue argument for what defines an 'instruction') their CPUs had (certainly not the Motorola 88000 architects that I worked with); they cared about (1) whether the instructions were logically organized to get rid of the requirement to have multiple-length instructions (I was a Thumb hater, I admit it) or (2) that as many instructions as possible that were executed frequently would take a fixed time (ideally one clock) to execute (not including multiply/divide, if they existed). Though, using the former would have really screwed up the backryonym of CISC (which would then have been interpreted to mean "Complex Instruction Set Complexity").

Comment: Re: And we're going to trust self driving cars now (Score 1) 664

by QQBoss (#46309217) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

At least through the mid-late '90s, the American car manufacturers that I dealt with (from the late '80s until then) that were using Motorola MCUs for ECUs had very strict rules that went beyond DO-178B specifically because they were terrified of liability issues (though whether or not this was true in what actually went into production, I can't be certain, just that these were the rules I was told they had to deal with and all our products must supply a way to achieve). I dealt with airline ECUs, also, and never found them to be afraid of caches, for example.

1) no caches, unless the caches could be locked and used effectively as SRAM
2) no DRAM holding any code that was timing dependent (in general, ECUs used only SRAM)
3) the only branch backwards in the code was at the end of the code back to the start of main loop, forget about having function calls.
4) if at any test and set a flag wasn't ready, signal it to be dealt with on the next pass where it could be upgraded to an error
5) any code not written in assembly must be refactored in assembly so that predictable timing could be established
6) in general, everything was polled and interrupts are reserved for panic situations

I did not enjoy working with them and watching them ignore feature after feature that could have improved performance get tossed out the window out of fear or problems that had been pretty completely worked through and resolved before I ever got to college, given enough CPU power and fast enough data paths.

Somewhere around 1994, though, I had the opportunity to start working with the Honda and Ford racing teams, where the culture was understandably different. Able to use 32-bit CPUs to full effect, combined with the 68332's TPU for their timing specific things, allowed them to make the order(s) of magnitude jump in performance to give the soft real time (x can happen before time y, as long as it is guaranteed to happen before time y or a signal is thrown; not the same definition of soft real time everyone uses) approach a fighting chance over the hard real time (x happens at time y, even if delays need to be inserted to make sure that happens; again, not the same definition of hard read time everyone uses) camp. While I am very happy that car manufacturers all seem to have made that jump in every area, knowing that thorough testing of complex code is frequently the first thing management gives short shrift as deadlines approach does keep me open minded to the possibility that software could be the problem in situations like the acceleration issues. I can't recall of a situation where inadvertent acceleration was tracked back to anything ECU related, for what ever that's worth. Other aspects of car management, however...

Comment: This is good for competition (Score 0) 303

by QQBoss (#46237165) Attached to: Comcast To Buy Time Warner Cable In $44.2 Billion All-Stock Deal

In some places, people will be able to choose from Time Warner/Comcast and in others they will be able to choose from Comcast/Time Warner.

Oh, wait, this is the same situation that exists now where DSL or FTTC isn't meaningfully available.

They both suck almost as much as Beta, which I accidentally viewed today. Oh, the pain....

Comment: Re:Hardly (Score 1) 520

by QQBoss (#45917493) Attached to: 4K Is For Programmers

Dell, Acer, and others announced 28" 4K monitors over the last week at CES, all right around $799. A little bit pricier than the Seiki, but they come with DisplayPort and are able to do 4K@60Hz, IIRC. I am currently using 2-27" 2560x1440 with a 3rd 1080p that I watch TV and movies while I am working. I probably won't upgrade until HDMI 2.0 becomes commonplace.

Comment: Re:All the news that matters (Score 4, Informative) 894

by QQBoss (#45842495) Attached to: US Customs Destroys Virtuoso's Flutes Because They Were "Agricultural Items"

While I question this thread even being on /. in the first place, from personal experience, the concern was for the possibility of wood boring beetles or other insects hiding in the wood. I once brought back from China 4 sets of large, disassembled picture frames. If it hadn't been one of the first flights back from Asia after 9/11, the inspector would have summarily destroyed them, but he was apparently feeling sorry for all of us on the flight and took me and the frames to the side. He looked up and down each piece looking for any indications of what could indicate any kind of infestation (given that they were solid wood, any penetration should have been visible to the naked eye). Not finding any, he let me continue on with my frames. But if he hadn't had a week or so off, I am quite certain I would have left frame-less and not quite as pissed as this guy has every right to feel.

Given that the inspector knew he would have had to have had the hollow tubes X-rayed to do a proper inspection followed by fumigation almost certainly led him to take the short cut and summarily destroy them. However, the fact that they were (probably) not freshly made musical instruments to anyone with a modicum of intelligence should have led the inspector to do a more detailed inspection, at an absolute minimum questioning the guy about the provenance of the wood sticks.

Comment: Re:Jackpot (Score 2) 617

Some years back, I ordered 10 refurbished Logitech corded mice (518's, IIRC) and was sent 10 Logitech Presenters (cordless mice with laser pointers built in). On their web site, the refurbishment company sold the Presenters for about $40 more than the 518s.

I called the company and told them I wanted the 518s, they said that they would send the mice I ordered out after I sent the Presenters back. I pointed out that if I sent the Presenters back, I had no way to ensure they would actually send me the 518s, so the guy relented and sent me the 518s. When I got the 518s, I let him know and he asked when he could expect to get the Presenters back. I said he would get them back as soon as he gave me a prepaid shipper label, because I wasn't going to ship them back at my expense no matter how much I did want to return them. He never did. They made great gifts to coworkers and friends.

Behind every great computer sits a skinny little geek.