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Comment: Re:Inside of cameras (Score 5, Informative) 131

by Animats (#47445151) Attached to: Scientists Have Developed a Material So Dark That You Can't See It

I didn't research so forgive my ignorance

It gets this property from its fine surface structure, which is a forest of tubes. Incoming light has to be reflected many times before it gets back out, so a black material is effectively made even less reflective. It's the optical-scale version of the pointed absorbers used in anechoic chambers.

It probably is not going to retain its blackness when exposed to water, dirt, or wear. Superhydrophobic coatings such as Never Wet have the same problem - they work because they're composed of tiny points, so droplets of liquid don't have a surface they can grab. But after some wear, the effect stops working. (See any of the many "NeverWet fails" videos on YouTube.)

This is likely to be great for protected environments, such as inside optical systems. It should be useful for optical sensors in space, too. But it's probably an inherently fragile surface. That limits its uses. (The "stronger than steel" probably refers to the individual carbon nanotubes, not the bulk material.)

This s a problem with a lot of surface chemistry stuff touted as "nanomaterials". They have interesting surface properties, but the surfaces are fragile, because they're some very thin surface layer with an unusual structure. If you protect that structure with some coating, you lose the effect.

Comment: That's Fine (Score 5, Insightful) 90

If they want to go after a SEO company for not optimizing their search results, I don't see anything wrong with that. But has Seattle City Light considered just NOT SUCKING as a strategy to improve their reputation? Seems to me that analyzing the root cause of the problem ("Man, we REALLY suck!") and fixing it ("Hey, has anyone thought about maybe trying NOT sucking?") would be a good bit less expensive. Seems like only an idiot would say "Hey here's an idea! Let's pay 20 grand to some company and then we can keep sucking!" Of course, as a power company you kind of have a captive audience, so it seems like you could really suck all you want to as long as you don't capture the attention of various regulatory bodies in the process.

*shrug* I don't live in Seattle, so I don't know anything about it, but the internets say they suck pretty hard. I'm guessing their SEO company kind of sucks, too. Birds of a feather, eh?

Comment: usually will not do the sdcard partition (Score 2) 69

Last time I checked the standard Android encryption will not do the sdcard partition (I mean not the physical card, but the partition on the internal flash, usually the biggest chunk of it, like let's say 11 out of 16GB). YES, some manufacturers like Samsung and Motorola (possibly many more) have their own solution (I bet a really crappy one but never mind that) and it would do mostly everything, including the big sdcard partition and (if needed) even the physical sdcard.

Anyway bottom line is that:

a. depending on the phone you might not be able to encrypt at all /sdcard
b. ANY activity, including storing random (non-private) crap on the phone and then removing it helps. However, this is no maggic bullet.

Comment: Re:Airspace (Score 1) 188

by danheskett (#47440893) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The problem is that you presume that you should have more access to the air space than anyone else. You shouldn't. For a long time the cost made access to air space prohibitive except for a small class of wealthy individuals or large companies. That's over.

It's time to make it fair. You have no greater claim to airspace than anyone else. Your desire to tool around in an aircraft for hobby in no way supersede my desire to do the same with an UAV.

Comment: Re:The FAA needs to follow the law. (Score 1) 188

by danheskett (#47440879) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The administration takes laws (like their own favorite, the ACA), and completely ignores hard-wired dates and other requirements as it suits them for political leverage with the portion of the voters to whom they pander. Happily, that particular instance is about to be challenged in a civil suit coming out of congress - that's very good news.

This is not exactly true, but the spirit is right.

Any administration has two prerogatives that they exercise:

1. Upholding and enforcing the laws, "faithfully". This is the ultimate judgement question. Imagine that Congress passes law intended to allow any person to breathe free, and that the penalty for violating that law is death. But Congress makes a mistake and passes language that says "one person may breathe free". Is the President required to go around, arresting and trying people for all breathing free, when only person is supposed to breathe free? No, he is not. That is the essence of "faithfully".

2. The FAA, like DHS and many other agencies, have prevailed upon Congress to grant their administrators massive deference to the implementation of rules and application of law. This is a worrying trend that has gone back many decades, but has really picked up in the last 20 years. In the past, Congress would work on bills in committee and in markup and in conference, to implement many of the smaller and fine details in the law.

Laws like the ACA are said to be very long, but really, they aren't that long. Most of it is technical wording to amendment the text of other laws or titles. In terms of detail, there isn't as much as you might think. And it's full of certifications, "as the director sees fit", and other various elastic clauses.

This administration especially has focus on passing laws that have very little meat to them excluding a set of broad goals and somewhat corresponding powers. Almost all of the commonly cited abridgements of the ACA fall into one of three categories:

a. A portion of the law that was left to the descretion of the Director.

b. Unenforceable - i.e. whatever the law says, it must be real and practiacable, or it is not enforceable by a Court. If the law says you must grow wings and fly away by August 1st, 2014 and you fail to do so, you can't be held to penalty by a Court. The same is true of the ACA. If they say all employers must provide accetable health insurance by a certain date, and a list of acceptable health insurance is not developed, then the penalty is not enforceable in Court. It's a matter of due process.

c. A portion of the law that creates no grieved party that has standing. This one is most interesting to me personally. Imagine a law passed that says that if certain conditions are met by two other parties, I am a poopy pants. Who can I see for my poopy pant status? The answer is: probably no one. There is no harm, so there is no basis for a successful suit.

In the end, your spirit is right though. The question is: what is the recourse when the Administration does not follow the law. The Courts can intervene, but in a practical sense, the Court has limited enforcement options.

The answer is: Congress can cut off the money. Unfortunately, the only House that can appropriate money is also hopelessly broken and run without really any interest in governing. For example, with this FAA thing, in the past, say when the House was run by Speaker Tip O'Neil and the White House was controlled by Republicans, Congress knew how to keep the White House on a tight rope. That House often attached funding directly to enforcement and deadlines. They would insert language into must pass bills, like funding appropriations, for things that they wanted done by the Administration. These were small-ish things. It would be perfectly in tradition to design funding for the FAA to ensure that the FAA met the legally required deadlines, by inserting language into funding appropriations that, say, reduced FAA funding for executive salaries and benefits by 1% for each day past the deadline that the rulemaking dragged on.

Unfortunately the current GOP really has no taste for governing. This type of thing requires a staff that is very competent, who have some weight in the Administrative branches, and who know the in's and out of policy. Whatever their strong points, the current GOP House really has no skills for actually making policy. Picking huge political battles that nearly break the government, only to cave at the last minute, is probably the most this GOP can accomplish. It is a complete and total myth that they can't do anything with just one House of one branch of government. The reality is that, properly managed, the GOP controlled House could force the Administration to do almost anything. Their problem is that they gave away the power of the purse for the length of their entire term. A huge,huge, huge mistake since that is their only power.

In fact, the best thing they could have done is only appropriate money month by month, and make the directors of each agency come and justify their funding requests every month for the entire two year terms. (But of course, that means less time for all the other important stuff they do.. like... err, well, I'm sure it's out there).

Comment: Re:Tea-Bagger Click Bait (Score 1) 188

by danheskett (#47440791) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

You may have a point about low-wage labor, but it's lost on the fact before 1940, the Federal government didn't even know about foreigners inside the borders of the United States. Up until then, aliens who could physically get to the US didn't even have to register, and did not have to do or not do anything special.

Comment: Re:Not a rule (Score 1) 188

by danheskett (#47440779) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

Rather, the FAA is drawing a different line here.

It's quite a bit worse because they aren't drawing a line. Is there any rule making that has completed that supports their commercial vs. non-commercial claims. And it's not clear that the FAA is enforcing any existing promulgated rule or regulation.

Their actions against commercial drone operators just appear to be arbitrary.

Comment: Hard to tell if it's working. (Score 4, Informative) 302

by Animats (#47438917) Attached to: A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

Here's the promotional video from Rafael, the system's maker. If the Iron Dome launchers are in a position to hit incoming rockets when they're still in boost phase, they're clearly effective. When they hit, the ascending rocket's flare disappears. Israel has Iron Dome launchers both forward postioned near Gaza, for boost phase defense, and near cities, for terminal defense. For terminal defense, it's harder to tell if they worked. The incoming rockets are just falling at that point, and success requires blowing up their warhead, not their rocket engine.

Videos show the missile's warhead exploding. That's triggered by a proximity fuse. There's a spray of shrapnel from the warhead; it doesn't have to be a direct hit. Whether that sets off the incoming rocket's warhead isn't visible from the videos of terminal defense.The Patriot missiles used in the Gulf war were able to hit incoming Scud missiles, but often didn't detonate the warhead.

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.

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