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Comment Re:Too bad they pushed Love out (Score 4, Interesting) 200

SYS V needs to go open next, not that overloaded slowlaris, but lean mean SYS V

I was under the impression that the entire POINT of SYS V was for the major UNIX vendors to re-implement the guts of Unix as a clearly, enforceably, proprietary product (after the CONTU recommendations and the resulting copyright law changes explicitly extended copyright to software), then move to it and orphan the original development thread. (This might make opening it a hard sell to the members of the consortium.)

There were at least a couple issues with the proprietary status of the AT&T code:

One issue was that AT&T was still a government-regulated utility monopoly and there were some requirements about disclosing and releasing non-telephone-related inventions they came up with.

The big issue was that, before copyright applied and before software patents were hacked up (by recasting software as one embodiment of, or a component of, a patentable machine or process), the only protection was trade secret and the related contract law. Trade secrets generally stop being enforceable when the secret out of the bag (with some details about whether the claimant contributed to the leak). Bell Labs had shipped code to a LOT of educational institutions. When the U of New South Wales used the System 6 kernel code and an explanation of it as the two-volume text for an Operating System class, the textbooks became an underground classic. This, along with AT&T's benign-neglect licensing policies, led to the burst of little, cheap, generic UNIX boxes, as this was also when microcomputer chips were just becoming powerful enough to do the job.

Up to then a big barrier to entry was that every new machine needed a custom O.S. to deploy, and these were enormous, machine specific, and mostly in assembler. That made it an expensive, undertaking, suitable only for financial giants. But all but under 2,000 lines of Unix was in C, and the entire kernel, which included essentially all the platform-specific code as a subset, was well under 10,000 lines of code. If you had a C compiler and assembler for your new machine, it was a matter of a few man-months to port it and get it up and running. Essentially ALL the utilities and applications came right over. You didn't have to train users, either, because they all worked pretty much just like what they'd used in college.

The game was:
1. Grab a bootleg copy of the code.
2. Port it to your machine and get it working.
3. Go to AT&T and ask for a license "to port Unix to our new machine and sell it."
4. AT&T, as a matter of policy, completely ignores any "violations" you may have committed during the porting phase and cuts you a license at a very reasonable price.
5. You "port Unix in an AMAZINGLY short time" (like the ten minutes it takes to tell Sales to go to market) and you're in business.
6. You (with your new business) and AT&T (with their small cut) slap each other on the back and laugh all the way to the bank. PROFIT! for you. (profit) for AT&T.
7. Because of the policy in 4., everybody ELSE manearly everbody's king a new machine knows they can do the same thing. So many do. AT&T gets a rakeoff from ALL of them. PROFIT! for AT&T. Far more than if they went dog-in-the-manger, held up the first few for all the traffic would bear, and got no more customers for Unix.

And because of this, it was in nearly everbody's interest to NOT challenge the AT&T-proprietary status of Unix. And it stayed this way until SCO's management screwed up and altered step 4. (Even then the case turned on other issues, so it never did come to the point of attacking AT&T's claim that Unix code was proprietary.)

Comment Re:Why only trees? (Score 1) 73

piezo generators have less than a percent of efficiency is why.

I thought it was closer to 80%, at least theoretically. Can you give me a reference for that "Less than 1%" number?

Whether this maps into anything like that number in a practical device for converting "found" mechanical power - such as tree sway or vibrations - is another matter entirely.

Comment Can this be co-installed with the stock version? (Score 2) 177

Can this be co-installed with the current version (for instance, on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the latest Long Term Support Ubuntu release)?

Or do you have collisions which require you to purge the old one in order to try the new one, or which cause foulups if you don't?

(Honest question. I've seen a lot of that kind of thing with other projects. So now I'm a bit shy of trying the latest-and-greatest release of any tool on the production machines I depend on for time-critical work.)

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 1) 70

3D printed objects aren't the strongest due to the way the layers are laminated together. I imagine the last place you'd want a weak join is on a 150+ foot long blade swishing through the air.

You betcha.

Especially since a spinning blade gets more efficient as it gets faster. Higher speed = lower torque for a given horsepower density, so a higher tip speed ratio (TSR) wastes less energy "twisting" the air downwind.

Efficient wind turbines run at a TSR of 6 or higher - which means that in windy conditions the tips are running at an appreciable fraction of the speed of sound.

If one of those puppies breaks off it's NOT the kind of baseball bat or boomerang you want coming toward you, whether flying or summersaulting along the ground. (Imagine a caber toss with giants and redwood logs.) Not to mention what the resulting unbalanced spinning does to the other blades and the pylon.

Comment Boneheaded and with straightforward solutions (Score 1) 699

This is so boneheaded it beggars belief. The straightforward solution is to require the UEFI variable filesystem (or whatever it is called these days) to be mounted read-only, and require (UNIX anyway, but something analogous ought to work for Windows too) an application to do a "mount -o remount,rw" to do whatever it needs to do, then do a "mount -o remount,ro" when it's finished. Not as nice as having UEFI not be seriously broken, but workable, and there's not much of an excuse for things like systemd, openrc, etc. implementing this where appropriate (and for any UEFI crap that can brick a system, this is appropriate).

Applications don't like it? Tough, patch the damn things. Requireing firmware to be exposed to harm like this on any operating system is unacceptable.

Comment You're right, it's bogus. Dang! (Score 1) 118 mentions none of this.

You're right, it's bogus.

I was told that decades ago. But a little research (in the online patent databases) shows that there were ionization smoke detectors for decades before that (back in the tube era, even, when beta emitters were easily available to the common man). NASA says their only involvement with smoke detector design was (in collaboration with Honeywell) coming up with a variable-sensitivity design to stop annoying false alarms in Skylab.

Sorry to have repeated a myth. B-b

Comment Re:Remember the NASA Wind Turbines? (Score 1) 184

Current blades are trucked in one piece (per blade) which is impressive to see. Three of them were parked on I-5 outside of Patterson, California a few months ago. There are a lot of net videos and photos which convey the scale.

Even at the current size they can't get through many highway interchanges and local intersections. The larger ones won't be able to ship in one piece at all.

Comment Remember the NASA Wind Turbines? (Score 4, Interesting) 184

NASA Wind Turbines approached this scale in the '80's. Unfortunately, this was a previously-unexplored area of aerodynamics for NASA, and they had mechanical stress and noise problems (including subsonics) and were all demolished. I think there was one near Vallejo, CA being taken down when I got to Pixar in '87, and one in Boone, NC, which famously rattled windows and doors.

The art has since improved. I took a ride to the top of the turbine at Grouse Mountain, that was fun! That's the only one I have heard of where you can actually get to see it from the top.

Comment Starting out with the wrong assumptions (Score 2) 165

This is starting out with the wrong assumptions.

Design a brick system that can be produced with 3-D printers, and will hold together when fabricated within the tolerances of an SLA printer. Forget FDM, it's too low precision and SLA is already achieving an equal or lower cost of manufacture compared with FDM.

LEGO is manufactured to astonishingly high precision, but I am not convinced that this is the only way to make a brick system.

Comment Heroes in more ways than one. (Score 4, Interesting) 118

The Appollo I martyrs are heroes in more ways than one.

One of NASA's responses to the fire was to design a detector for miniscule amounts of smoke particles, to provide an early warning of electrical problems that might lead to a fire - in time to evacuate the capsule if on the ground or hunt down and fix the problem if in space.

The detector used a miniscule amount of radioactive material to ionize the smoke particles and then detected the current conducted by the ions. (Radioactive materials were for NASA, a government agency, to design with, difficult for random inventors or corporations to even consider.)

The first, space-rated, low-volume prototypes were pricey. But the circuitry and the detection chamber were dog-simple and could be dirt-cheap when manufactured in volume.

So this was plowshared, and became the ionization-type smoke detector, the first practical, affordable, smoke detector suitable for broad deployment in residences. Even when this was the only type in use, it was quickly saving, first hundreds, then thousands of lives per year.

Modern detectors, combining ionization and photoelectric mechanisms, are credited with cutting the death toll from fires by somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2. They detect different types of fires, and the one detected by ionization accounts for somewhat less than half of them - which is still an enormous number.

So the loss of those three lives has been repaid with enormous interest in the decades that followed. The benefits are still flowing.

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