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Comment: Bureaucratic red tape (Score 2) 119

by cozytom (#49066609) Attached to: FAA Proposes Rules To Limit Commercial Drone Use

Can you promise the drone, out of your site, will not run into another aircraft, person or building?

For experimental situations over known terrain maybe autonomous drones will work fine. For commercial operations in situations where other aircraft may be operating (IE EMS helicopters, AG aircraft, other drones, etc), the drone needs to operate under the same rules as the manned aircraft they are in the vicinity of. Manned aircraft have to see and avoid other aircraft. It doesn't always work, but certainly with two pilots looking gives a fighting chance of one pilot noticing. Today pilots have a hard time seeing birds, and putting drones in their way will cause more accidents.

Please consider aircraft of all sizes and types. Sure a 5lb drone may not hurt a 747, but a 5lb drone will probably go through the windshield of a small twin engine aircraft. If the drone were to be ingested by a turbine engine, it is likely to cause damage to the engine (and destroy the drone), but who gets the bill. If I were running an airline, I would certainly want the $millions to repair that turbine reimbursed.

Comment: Re:4 of 5 contained zero of the claimed ingredient (Score 1) 412

by cozytom (#48974611) Attached to: Major Retailers Accused of Selling Fraudulent Herbal Supplements

That is a fantasy. Class action suits only enrichen the lawyers running them. The lawyers get 30-50% of the settlement, where the other 100,000 have to split the rest of the settlement. Do the math quick, and a $20mill suit gets the lawyers say $5mil (40%). There is $15mil split between 100,000 folks or $150 per person. They probably don't even get that much when you figure what the administrative fees are.

I guess to Joe Sixpack, a free $150 will buy some beer, and make a weekend worth living again. Or maybe they will buy some protein shakes and bulk up to beat up the lawyer that promised 'em $millions.

Comment: Geeks do get it (Score 1) 496

by cozytom (#48804937) Attached to: Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs

The NASA budget sounds like a lot of money, but it is very small (about 2%) compared to say military.

Some of the big ones (http://useconomy.about.com/od/usfederalbudget/p/nasa_budget_cost.htm):

DOD $756.4 billion
Health and Human services $73.7 billion
Education $68.6 billion
NASA $17.5 billion

Okey, so it is more than department of interior ($11.5 billion) but not by much.

you just gotta look, and geeks like numbers.

Comment: Re:For safe integration with existing air traffic (Score 1) 129

by cozytom (#48574553) Attached to: Report: Big Issues Remain Before Drones Can Safely Access National Airspace

Imagine a 15 car pile up on the freeway going to downtown. The newspapers and TV stations are real close, but they dispatch their drones out to get live action shots of the carnage. Now there are 8 drones maneuvering in the sky above the carnage. Sure they want to be in the 50-300 ft altitude region, "out of other aircrafts way".

Who should keep the drones from bumping into each other?
Who insures the drones are maintained well enough so they don't rain down on the more healthy victims?

Now the medical personnel have asked for a couple medical helicopters to evacuate some seriously injured people. So the medical helicopters show up only to see 5 or 6 drones they must thread their way through (even though there are 8 up there, they didn't see all of them).

Who gives the helicopter pilots some priority?
Who tells the drone pilots to get out of the way? How do you talk to the drone pilots?
When the 3 lb drone gets sucked into the helicopters turbine engine, and that helicopter crashes, who pays for what?

No, the FAA has huge challenges and issues you and I haven't even thought of.

Comment: It is going to be a when, not an if. (Score 4, Insightful) 206

by cozytom (#43903867) Attached to: Footage Reveals Drone Aircraft Nearly Downed Passenger Plane in 2004

Current technology won't separate the aircraft well enough. The drones are not about to see and avoid like people. Think of control delays (speed of light seems pretty fast until you realize the pilot is thousands of miles away, you have to get the video image to them, and then the pilot has to react, then the reaction command has to get back to the aircraft, it isn't seconds, but certainly many milliseconds).

Then you can also see how fast the two aircraft are converging. It was easy to miss the little dot, and it was really darn big by the time the drone could make it out. Of course by then, there wasn't much either could do. And what is with that big antenna or whatever blocking the view?

One day a drone will hit a passenger carrying aircraft. Who is gonna scream then? Lets let the technology catch up, and not put these things in civilian airspace.

Comment: Re:Competes? Oracle reminds me of IBM Assembler (Score 1) 112

by cozytom (#43796539) Attached to: MariaDB vs. MySQL: A Performance Comparison

Oracle databases are maybe fast, and maybe allow more redundancy but that comes with extra work.

MySQL and most of the other commercial databases have richer data types allowing for more a more modern feel.

Sort of like IBM assembler vs. Java. IBM assembler allows screaming fast apps, but at a cost, when that cost approaches the complexity of a modern language, the playing field levels, and suddenly you are better off writing in Java, since you can maintain the code.

Comment: There are plenty of pork programs (Score 2) 484

by cozytom (#42992991) Attached to: There Is Plenty To Cut At the Pentagon

I was offered a chance to work on the "Crusader" program back in about 2001. A mobile howitzer. The idea is sound, but the program was pork all the way. One company doing the software in Minneapolis, another building the chassis in Oklahoma City, some assembly in Denver, basically parts of it were being worked on in all 50 states. So the lobbyest gets to tell the local congress critter that they will be loosing jobs in their state if they cut the program. Well the "Crusader" got cut, but go look at the "Non-Line-of-Site-Cannon", same technology, same do part in every state.

Find your favorite program that is happening in the defense industry. It probably falls in the same pattern, one or more contractor partners have work being done in several states they don't really need that much stuff being done but, it helps keep the lobbyests have a good argument to not cut the program.

The cost of a "program" like this is the lifetime. That is crew training, maintenance, fuel, and every dollar spent on the airplane over its lifetime. Buy several thousand, and guess what, it adds up to a trillion. How many cars are planned to last 30 years, but hey the F-35 variants will be around in 2043, just like the Harrier that was build in the 1970's is still around. It is a different mind set. Sure each new program will cost more than the last one, partially due to pork, but mostly due to simple inflation. The Harrier is really that old, and the F-35 makes a solid replacement for it. The F-16 is almost that old, and there needs to be something else in line for it's replacement (although one could argue, that the F-16 probably has 20 years left in it). The navy really doesn't need it, but it is probably cheaper to operate than an F-18. (It won't replace the A-10, no way, it is too fast, and
I wouldn't fly that so close to the ground. The A-10 has more armor, and two engines, and a bigger gun, it just make sense to have a medium straight winged airplane that is built that tough helping the ground forces).

We have so many people in the pentagon pushing paper these days, it is quite inefficient. Get rid of some of the extra reporting that congress has mandated and we could afford the F-35 and the next aircraft system. (I know people will argue that there will be no more manned aircraft, but I'd believe it when I see it.) I know there is a risk someone is going to take advantage of the guvnment, heck congress has been doing it for years, I guess they hate competition (or not being able to share in the wealth).

There is always a role for a manned aircraft, not just transport (do you really want 300 people riding in a UAV? I know about autopilots, don't give me that). Fighter escorts and close air support are still going to be done with people in the aircraft.

Comment: No, Hell No, They Can't, They Won't. (Score 5, Insightful) 267

by cozytom (#42931003) Attached to: Do Patent Laws Really Protect Small Inventors?

Lets say someone invents the best thing ever, better than anything you could imagine. This thing will make people want to be with you, or leave you alone, as your preference. It will make food taste better, and you will be happy for the rest of your life if you use this thing. This person gets a patent on it, and sets up a factory to build these things. This person has a perfect business plan, the product price includes the R&D costs, some blue sky, and he pays employees a fair wage.

Evil company X decides this product is easy to make (they read the patent, it was easy to figure out) so they set up a factory across the street, and sell the same thing at a lower price. They don't have any R&D (other than a read of the patent), they pay lower wages, and use cheaper packaging.

No big deal you say, he has a patent on it. Ok, he calls his lawyer, and says, I need an injunction, and I want an infringement suit and I want treble damages. Law being a civil profession, his lawyer calls the evil companies lawyer, and they go to lunch (which our hero is paying for). His lawyer comes back, and says evil company X wants to go to trial. Our hero believes he will win, so of course he says yes, lets do it, we will get the injunction, and treble damages, I'll borrow money from whoever to pay for this adventure.

The lawyers all have a few more lunches (not at McDonalds I can assure you), and they chat and scheme, and make a court date. Aha, in 7 months, there will be an initial trial to determine if the injunction can happen.

During the 7 months, our hero has to sell his house borrow against the factory, lay off employees and pay the rest a little less. Evil company X announces a HUGE profit, and is setting up a second factory in Europe. The evil CEO now wants to live in France to educate his daughter, so he buys a chateau.

Well the trial happens, and sure enough, our hero wins the injunction. Cool, now it is on to the civil phase, and the trial for the damages is scheduled for 9 months from now. The customers have all but forgotten our hero's products, and he doesn't have any money to advertise, or build new products, it is all tied up in lawyer fees (and lunches).

Well, dang, evil company X has also run out of money, since they could sell anything, and they have this factory, and a second one in Europe, lawyers and employees to pay. But the CEO didn't sell his chateau, or stop educating his daughter, he just let the corporation file chapter 7 sells the factories to pay the lawyers, while he kept his money separate. He has partnered with some middle eastern investors and is helping them start a lesser evil company Y that makes the same product. This lesser evil company will use a factory in France and build a new factory in India, selling all over Europe and Asia importing the product into the US.

The civil trial begins against evil company X, and no one from evil company X shows up. The judge rules in favor of our hero, awarding them 80 bazillion dollars, which becomes 240 bazillion dollars because it was willful infringement. Our hero is happy, and asks his lawyer to begin collection. The lawyer finds that evil company X has filed chapter 7 liquidation, and has no assets, so there will only be a judgment against them, but no real money will change hands. Because the liquidation happened before the civil judgement, it will be difficult to get anything.

Meanwhile lesser evil company Y is importing this wonderful product into the US advertising and selling in the same stores as our hero's product. Our hero asks his lawyer to get another injunction, but this lawyer is no fool, wants his money up front still. Our hero doesn't have the assets to get any more money.

Yes our hero was right, the patent protected him from honest people. The patent system doesn't protect anyone from a dishonest company. The legal system is slow, and painful. It can take years to be proven right, but still never see any money for being right.

Comment: Check out the EAA (Score 2) 100

by cozytom (#41186375) Attached to: Makerplane Aims To Create the First Open Source Aircraft

Having built my own plane (https://sites.google.com/site/tomscozypage/) it is something ANYONE can do. Well, not anyone, especially anyone who would rather tell us all that they can't do stuff, but anyone who is willing to spend a couple years out in their garage, basement, or whatever workshop you have getting stuff done. It is not a risky venture, if you either follow the plans, or do reasonable engineering (if you know that discipline) when designing your own.

Any avocation can be expensive. Sure you can pick up fishing for like $15 for a rod and reel at Walmart, but in a couple years, after the boat and SUV purchase, you are talking about real money. Very capable airplanes can be bought (yes factory built even) for the cost of a good used car ($15K probably for a 2 seater). Learn to fly in your own airplane, with a good instructor, and you can learn for very little.

The medical requirements are minimal, and if you are willing to stay with a 2 seater aircraft and not really high performace (Light Sport Aircraft category) you only need a drivers license as your medical certificate. Even a 3rd class medical (if you want an airplane with higher performance or carrying more than 2 passengers, you need that) can be passed by anyone who is willing to get off their butt a couple times a week and move around. (if you want to fly for money, you need a 2nd class medical, and if you want to be a captain of an airliner you'll need a 1st class medical with the whole EKG and all).

The inexpensive airplanes aren't made anymore, Steve Witman designed some wonderful inexpensive fast! airplanes (tailwind as an example). Long-eze was maybe a peak of recent plans designs, by the man, Burt Rutan. Kitplanes magazine does annual issues of various kit offerings, as well a plans designs. Wicks and Aircraft Spruce are reliable suppliers.

The EAA is a little shifty supporting the home builders, but have been the most reliable for over 50 years. The EAA chapter organization is probably the best support group in the world. Use the resourcfes available, don't do it alone. There are plenty of resources available, from tech counselors to flight advisors. Yes you can fly an airplane you built yourself, or you can have someone else fly it for you.

Science is to computer science as hydrodynamics is to plumbing.

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