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Comment: Re:Perverse incentives (Score 1) 398

The obvious problem is that we pay them so much more for drug busts than for traffic citations./i?

The problem is that we pay them EXTRA for drug busts: They're allowed to seize property that is "associated" with it (like the car it was in, or the money in the driver's and passengers' pockets, ...), convert the non-cash to cash at an auction, and split the swag among the officers, department, and other branches of government.

That's the same incentive structure that powered the Spanish Inquisition, and look how THAT turned out.

This has been snowballing since the passage of the RICO laws.

Comment: Old as Arcnet. (Score 1) 96

I am almost certain I saw this kind of thing in a Radio Shack catalog in the 80's ...

It's as old as infrared LEDs and networking.

Datapoint did it with Arcnet in the late '70s: Both infrared office networking patches (though I don't know if those were productized or just experimental) and the "Arclight" building-to-building cross-town infrared link (which had a pair of lenses each about the diameter of a coffee can.).

Arcnet was still a going technology when the first portable ("luggable") computer - the Osborne-1 - came out in '81. (But I don't know if any of them were ever hooked to Arcnet, let alone the office-infrared flavor.) With the machines being desktop devices requiring power, running coax to the desk wasn't a big deal. So I don't think the office I.R. link got much deployment (even if it WAS productized.)

The Arcnet's token-passing logical ring was self-healing, which was a decent match for intermittent connections. When a rainstorm blocked the building-to-building link the net would automatically partition itself into two working nets and when it cleared they'd heal back into one. Similarly, walking between an infrared-linked machine and its hub would cut the machine off only until you walked away and leave the net running (with a quick hiccup) meanwhile.

Comment: Re:My B.S. Detector is Going Off (Score 2) 76

by Bruce Perens (#49515639) Attached to: Old Marconi Patent Inspires Tiny New Gigahertz Antenna

If the end of the coil that is hanging is grounded (earthed), it becomes an autotransformer. As it's shown, it's a variable inductor and the disconnected end is irrelevant and has no meaningful physical effect at the frequency a spark transmitter could have reached.

This comment seems to get closer to what they actually mean in their scientific paper. But the article about it is garble and the paper might suffer from second-language issues, and a lack of familiarity with the terms used in RF engineering.

Comment: Re:Hmm, I guess I invented this as well... (Score 1) 76

by Bruce Perens (#49513567) Attached to: Old Marconi Patent Inspires Tiny New Gigahertz Antenna

Damn, I wish I would have patented that and all its quantum magic...

I noticed that my vertical transmitting antenna often works better if I connect a horizontal wire about the same length as the antenna to ground at its base! The wire isn't connected to the transmitting side of the circuit at all! And how well it works varies depending on the length! Obviously there is some deus ex machina at work here...

Comment: Re:My B.S. Detector is Going Off (Score 1) 76

by Bruce Perens (#49513517) Attached to: Old Marconi Patent Inspires Tiny New Gigahertz Antenna

Clearly you missed the bit where they invoked quantum mechanics, surely that explains away all the inaccuracies, like the fact you can already buy chip scale dielectric antennas

The thing that I really hate about Innovation Stories is that the reporter invariably doesn't understand what's going on, and invariably is easily convinced that The Obviiously Very Technical People have some very valuable invention.

Comment: Re:vs. a Falcon 9 (Score 1) 75

by Bruce Perens (#49501071) Attached to: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine

They can carry about 110kg to LEO, compared to the Falcon 9's 13150kg. That's 0.84% of the payload capacity. A launch is estimated to cost $4 900 000, compared to the Falcon 9's $61 200 000. That's 8.01%. That means cost per mass to orbit is nearly an order of magnitude worse.

Yes, this is a really small rocket. If you are a government or some other entity that needs to put something small in orbit right away, the USD$5 Million price might not deter you, even though you could potentially launch a lot of small satellites on a Falcon 9 for less.

And it's a missile affordable by most small countries, if your payload can handle the re-entry on its own. Uh-oh. :-)

Comment: Re:You Can See (Score 1) 113

Microminiature accelerometers are really cheap and very very light, and you don't have to wait for them to spin up or deal with their mechanical issues. I doubt you will see a gyro used as a sensor any longer.

Similarly, computers make good active stabilization possible and steering your engine to stabilize is a lot lighter than having to add a big rotating mass.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer