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Comment: No, that's how FAA certification is done (Score 1) 242

by cstarjewel (#42237483) Attached to: FCC Chief Urges FAA To Ease Airplane Electronics Ban
The problem is no airplane manufacturer or air carrier purchasing passenger planes to date has paid for the exhaustive testing required to prove that a whole planeload of today's portable gadgets operating in flight-safe mode on a particular model airplane is safe during take-off or landing. If you have not been involved in the FAA certification of an aircraft, you really can't appreciate how much testing is required. The FAA has approved *two* iPads operating in the cockpit - nothing more, nothing less. Bottom-line is the two iPads in the cockpit are there to facilitate improved automation of crew tasks (flight check lists, approach plates, flight plans, etc), whereas passenger gadgets are entertainment. You want that to change, go lobby Boeing & Airbus or their customers that purchase these planes to spend more mega bucks to do the required testing so you and your seat mates can keep your gadgets turned on during take-off and landing. Then there is the problem of whether it is really in flight-safe mode. Every been on a plane where somebody's phone rings while taxiing to the runway? Much easier for the flight attendants to ascertain a device is turned off (or at least sleeping) vs. being flight-safe. Somebody will do the required testing eventually, but not without a solid business case to pay for it.

Comment: No relevant experiance?! (Score 1) 441

by cstarjewel (#42031401) Attached to: It's Hard For Techies Over 40 To Stay Relevant, Says SAP Lab Director

The past few years have seen dramatic changes in technology. Computing is being increasingly done on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. These devices have lower processing power and storage capacity than PCs. And they run on batteries that require recharging . Hence, applications built for them must have smaller footprints and be highly energy efficient.

Excuse me?! I started programming on a 1 MHz CPU and 48K RAM computer (Apple ][+, later upgraded to 64K, and later still with marginally faster CPUs), which has a *smaller* footprint than many embedded boards now have today. The IBM PCs I used during the early years of coursework for my B.S. Computer Science initially had 128K RAM. During the mid-'90s, the safety-critical, hard real-time backup computers developed for the state-of-the-art C-130J transport aircraft used 68040s. These experiences teach you to write clean, efficient code as a matter of habit. The only difference now is more capable hardware can be held in the palm of your hand.

at 35 if you are not learning yourself, you will become redundant very quickly

Now, this statement is absolutely true. Any good engineer understands their career must be one of life-long learning. If you are a software developer and you have not continued to educate yourself, then I agree some of your skills will be getting stale, but these will be the trendy skills you learned in college and your first job(s): today's language of choice, today's IDE of choice, today's OS of choice, today's architecture of choice. But, the Computer Science education I received in the '80s included a lot of fundamental knowledge. This body of knowledge hasn't changed, though it has been added to since then. Are computer science and software engineering degree programs no longer teaching the fundamentals that transcend the trendy development tools?

The seasoned pro learns to use the right tool for the job, instead of trying to pound the square peg (i.e. trendy) into the round hole. College can't really teach you that - it requires experience, and it is experience your young programmers may not have learned yet.

Comment: High school education needs to be well rounded (Score 1) 866

by cstarjewel (#41699493) Attached to: Parent Questions Mandatory High School Chemistry
Back in the '80s, the statistic was 10% of college students stay with their original declared major. I doubt this has changed much. K-12 needs to provide a well rounded education. But, humanity keeps adding to our collective body of knowledge. At some point, subjects previously considered optional need to be pushed down to the masses and made mandatory to be considered well rounded and prepared for life in the modern world. Remember that child in one ST:NG episode wailing to a parent that it didn't *want* to learn calculus? Basic chemistry is easy compared to calculus (until you start using calculus to describe concepts in chemistry - just remember to tell the students to study calculus as a pre-req). The specialization required to pursue an advanced, well paying career is found in college. In addition, we should probably bring back the concept of apprenticeship, but after high school, for those who wish to simply learn trade skills and earn a modest living. There are some DIY projects I'm happy to tackle myself, either for the challenge or expressly to save money, but there are times when you need a licensed electrician, plumber, barber/stylist, etc. to do the job right. Civilization requires a variety of skills and talents, but good citizens need a well rounded education of the basics to understand the world around them, which in today's world includes a fair amount of chemistry in everyday life. You do read product labels, right?

Comment: Re:Modern fighter jet lands in WWI (Score 1) 232

Yes, in my youth I read that story too. It came to an abrupt end when wreckage from one of those high speed passes got sucked into the engine intake and the resulting FOD downed the supersonic fighter for good. The pilot safely ejected, but was stranded in the past.

Comment: Re:16 bits isn't enough dyanamic range, sort of. (Score 1) 841

by cstarjewel (#39280819) Attached to: Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless

If you can hear quantization artefacts, then you're either suffering from confirmation bias or the piece hasn't been mastered to use the full range correctly.

It is because of the latter that some of us would be willing to purchase 24-bit encoded music to encourage the publishers to up their game and require better mastering. This isn't just wishful thinking, since has been shown to occur with published SACD discs. As long as the majority of consumers are willing to buy crappy mastering and listen with insensitive earbuds, the publishers have little incentive to improve.

Comment: Re:Not wanting to go deaf (Score 1) 841

by cstarjewel (#39280615) Attached to: Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless

I heartily agree and have done the same. It was a revelation when I first got my Carver power amp and discovered with its power meters that most of the time it was pulling less than one watt per channel. Of course, I had reasonably sensitive speakers too, but nothing extravagant.

Comment: Re:Wait... (Score 1) 113

by cstarjewel (#32050308) Attached to: FAA Setting Up Commercial Spaceflight Center
You appear to be unaware that many other industrialized nations have their own version of the FAA and regulatory oversight also exists at the international level. From Wikipedia (

Most countries have authorities that oversee all civil aviation, including general aviation, adhering to the standardized codes of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Examples include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Great Britain, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA) in Germany, and Transport Canada in Canada.

Comment: There *needs* to be commercial spaceflight (Score 1) 113

by cstarjewel (#32049906) Attached to: FAA Setting Up Commercial Spaceflight Center
If an asteroid chock full of strategic and/or precious materials isn't enough for you, how about the next frontier for settlement? As the population of this planet has grown, we as a species have repeatedly opened new frontiers to expand into. Our planet is currently over-populated and needs a new frontier to expand into. Your choices are:

1) Build vertically and increase the density of our living space, but it doesn't address increased food & water consumption or increased heat generation (if you haven't read Ringworld, you need to) as the population continues to grow,

2) Build on the ocean floor or floating cities; same problems as #1,

3) Wars fought over increasingly scarce resources, which will ultimately reduce the population, but is a rather drastic and ugly way to achieve it,

4) Allow part of the population to migrate off this planet, freeing up resources and reducing consumption of resources on the planet.

Now, #4 is hard and we're nowhere near ready for it. But if we don't work towards it, if it is not a serious goal, we will never get there. We also don't know what cool technologies will spin off and benefit everyone. You benefit handsomely from all the tech that has grown out of the first 50 years or so of "Space Nuttery".

Comment: Re:Revisionist history (Score 2, Insightful) 643

by cstarjewel (#31780872) Attached to: The Apple Two
I just want to point out that in the Apple ][+ the vast majority of the ICs were socketed, and a full set of schematics for the motherboard were included in the box. Lots of great, 3rd-party add-ons and enhancements kept it a viable computing platform for many years after its release, far out living its competitors, although the C-64 would rank second. I still miss my Videx Keyboard Enhancer with on-the-fly macro recording and playback *in the encoder hardware*; it was completely application and OS agnostic, which was important with all those copy-protected boot disks of the era.

Comment: Re:Science or Religion? (Score 1) 1136

by cstarjewel (#31175436) Attached to: A Warming Planet Can Mean More Snow
Before there were engineering or medical degrees there were apprenticeships, which still translates to learning specialized knowledge from current, learned expert(s) and proving your aptitude before being allowed to practice in your chosen field unsupervised. There are plenty of examples in history where a structure failed catastrophically. Today we try to avoid future failures by requiring the people who design structures to learn from past mistakes *and* the current, best available relevant science. I studied some, but not all (e.g. statics, dynamics, thermo), of the basic engineering courses a structural engineer would be required to complete as part of my own coursework. Consequently, I know I am not the least bit qualified to do the job of a structural engineer. Furthermore, that licensed structural engineer must shoulder the responsibility for the safety of the structures he/she designs. Can you imagine how one of these learned individuals must feel if one of their designs fails and worse injures or kills innocent people? Can you be a self taught expert on a subject without having a PhD? Yes, but you are going to have a *much* harder time convincing me that you have a comparable level of knowledge and the burden of proof is on you.

Comment: Re:Well, now we'll restart the F-22 (Score 1) 418

by cstarjewel (#30955842) Attached to: Russian Stealth Fighter Makes Its First Flight
Writing an AI that can best a human pilot, especially if not constrained to the limitations of the human body, is not the problem. That technology has existed for more then a decade. It's *trusting* that AI to "do the right thing" in all situations and never mistaking friend from foe that are the problems. Armed, remote piloted drones are only as good as the "secure" communication link. If that link is broken, or even worse - taken over by the enemy, the tide of the battle has just changed. I'm certain you can name one or more Sci-Fi novels that have explored this thoroughly. This is why the military still prefers to keep the pilot *in* the fighter jet.

New systems generate new problems.