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Comment: Embedded Systems - new?!?! (Score 1) 66

by Smerta (#48408351) Attached to: The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

It's good to know embedded systems are new-ish technology!

Really makes me feel good about the implantable cardiac defibrillators, hard disk drives, engine control units, CNC machines, remote weather stations, mobile phones (baseband), insulin pumps, etc. that I've worked on for the last 20+ years.

A home might have 3-5 desktop/laptop processors in it, while that car on the driveway probably has at least 20, maybe 50, processors in it.

Embedded systems, and the engineers who design the hardware, software, firmware, etc. are kind of like air - all around you, and you don't really notice them, but you sure would if they disappeared.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a soapbox to step down from, and a lawn in need of protection from young whipper-snappers.

Comment: LTE speed limit (Score 2) 35

by Smerta (#48361095) Attached to: AT&T Won't Do In-Flight Wi-Fi After All

I don't know exactly how this would have worked anyway.

It's been a while since I worked on LTE (call processing, not RF or hardware or even baseband), but I thought that with UTRAN there was a 350 km/h "speed limit" (perhaps up to 500 km/h under certain circumstances) with motion relative to the base station.

(Now that I spent 5 seconds thinking about it, I suppose the sine of the angle (from base station to aircraft, relative to vertical) would reduce the velocity that the plane was moving away from the base station... I think?)

I'm sure there are many other effects such as transmit power, interference, fading & multipath, etc. Sheesh I'm getting rusty...

Comment: Re:This just proves... (Score 4, Insightful) 173

by Smerta (#48341925) Attached to: Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months

I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but basically in the same breath, you said that you're not a programmer, yet you judge programming to be a trade like plumbing.

I can't reconcile those two, and I respectfully disagree.

By the way, I totally agree about code riddled with bugs. I work on safety-critical software, and I can assure you, not all software (firmware in my case) is of such low quality. But I'll also concede that the cost and time to develop such software is much longer than your typical slap-happy PHP script running on's webserver...

Comment: Re:Nothing. (Score 3, Informative) 209

by Smerta (#48315009) Attached to: What People Want From Smart Homes

When I lived in Germany I saw quite a few of them. Lawns tend to be smaller and flatter than in the U.S. Also, landscaping services are more expensive, in general, over in Europe. Last thing, and unfortunately I'm being serious, the U.S. is pretty litigious, so companies are hesitant to jump into the market.

I think there are about 10 companies or so making robotic mowers. Could be wrong, but I thought you could get a Husqvarna in the U.S. now. They require a wire to be buried along the perimeter of your yard so the 'bot knows when it needs to stop & turn around.

I';ve always wondered what happens if you lose power at home, and the buried wire no longer emits its signal. Probably a battery backup, and you have to tell the 'bot to run no longer than the battery can last.

Comment: Re:C++ = Clear Language Choice. (Score 1) 165

by Smerta (#47985307) Attached to: Rosetta Code Study Weighs In On the Programming Language Debate
Sincere question - I've heard that Fortran blows away (or at least beats) C++ for scientific/calculation programming, and considering the 2 languages' history and "raison d'etre", I'm not surprised... but can you lend any insight into what accounts for that, specifically? I mean, if I create arrays or matrices or whatever in C++, and I pay attention to cache effects, etc. it seems like my C++ still can't be as fast when it's compiled down into machine code... I've never seen a good explanation of what's going on under the hood to account for that. Thanks.

Comment: Re:Effectiveness (Score 1) 134

by Smerta (#47826701) Attached to: After Celebrity Photo Leaks, 4chan Introduces DMCA Policy

Serious question: Do you know of any instance where the originator of a bogus DMCA takedown request was punished?

From what I understand, the originator can't just search for "Lindsay Lohan" on BitTorrent and Usenet, and fire out a bunch of takedown requests -- the signed/authenticated takedown notice stipulates that they are the owner of the material.

Said another way, if you uploaded a Linux distribution and called it "Rihanna Nudes" or something, and Rihanna's people sent a DMCA takedown notice for this, I think (at least theoretically) they'd be in hot water.

Of course, that's the theory, and that's my question: is there any incentive for content creators to not shotgun-blast out a ton of notices?

Comment: "We'll just re-flash it" (Score 4, Interesting) 162

by Smerta (#47712091) Attached to: Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity

As an embedded systems (electronics/firmware) engineer, I was going to half-jokingly, half-seriously say, "Well, we'll just send a new firmware update to Curiosity to help with the problem." And then of course as I read the article, that was one of the proposed mitigations:

Changing driving software to reduce the forces experienced by wheels hanging up on pointy rocks. <snip> The rover can sense wheel currents, so it can sense when a wheel is sticking. <snip> By implementing a "smart controller" on the wheel current and allowing wheel rotation rates to vary intelligently in response to sensed conditions, they might be able to mitigate the damage.

I've been developing embedded systems for more than half my life, and I never get bored...

Comment: Re:Big Data (Score 2) 181

by Smerta (#47708961) Attached to: Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem
I have heard rumors at least twice, from two different people that I trust (sorry for the "cloak and dagger" bullshit) that Hastings has investigated creating an ISP, but that the hurdles and bullshit threshold is just too high. That makes me sad. There is so much opportunity for innovation, so much potential to move away from the shitty 6Mbps "broadband" in most of America, but the Verizons & Comcasts buy their way out of the problem every time. And yes, the government (both parties, I'm looking at you) is complicit.

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham