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Comment: Re:Looks nice. (Score 1) 190

by immel (#30732084) Attached to: Asus Promises 12-Hour Battery Life In New High-End Laptop
You forgot 6) Typical exaggerated tech promises.

Come on, when was the last time you saw a battery life claim that wasn't slightly exaggerated, wasn't done under absolutely ideal (or even unrealistic) lab conditions, or otherwise didn't hold up under your own measurements?

Unfortunately, few if any manufacturers explain battery life testing methods, so it's impossible to compare between vendors. Still, I might be in the market for a similarly spec'd machine with good battery life by the time this comes out. I'd like to see how close it comes to this claim.

Comment: Re:Dangers of blocking (Score 1) 464

by immel (#28765091) Attached to: US Agency Blocked Cellphone / Driving Safety Study
IANAP (I am not a pilot), but I know a few people going for their licenses right now, and I get the impression that pilot to tower communications are all business. Each side knows what the other is going to say when he says it, kind of like a script, and it's all both relevant and necessary to the task at hand (flying the plane). It's a bit different than the highly improvisational, distant-focused conversational style employed by multitasking commuters.

FAA regulations prohibit talking about non-flying related things between crew members during takeoff and landing approaches, and a violation of this reg was blamed for causing a crash near Buffalo earlier this year.

I agree that we'd be better off if people adopted the no-nonsense conversation style of pilots while talking on the road, but I doubt many would go through a certification as rigorous as pilot training to gain the privilege. That said, a study probably wouldn't hurt. Even if it fails, it might quiet those who insist "Well I can talk on the phone while driving quite safely enough, thank you very much! I need to call you back, there's a telephone pole in my engine compartment."

Comment: "innovative handsets?" (Score 3, Insightful) 234

by immel (#28356729) Attached to: Senators To Examine Exclusive Handset Deals
From TFA:

the introduction of the iPhone has spurred many iPhone substitutes such as the HTC Touch, Blackberry Storm, Google G1, and several Samsung and LG models.
-AT&T

In other words, exclusivity deals breed ripoffs. Yeah, that's one form of competition, but it doesn't really seem like "innovation" to me when the release of one product that everyone wants causes every manufacturer to try to make an exact copy with a different exclusivity deal. If everyone carried the iPhone, these companies would be trying to differentiate themselves by coming up with the next big thing, not making copies of the last big thing.

wireless carriers would have less incentive to develop and promote innovative handsets.

I'm not from this industry, but I don't believe wireless providers develop handsets. Handset manufacturers (e.g. LG, Samsung, Motorola, etc.) do.

Comment: Re:Get an RC plane (Score 1) 259

by immel (#28088751) Attached to: Best Way To Build A DIY UAV?
Although your average laptop has quite enough computing horsepower to run a basic flight control system, I recall a similar project I saw demoed at college found that the downlink of telemetry and transmission through the radio introduced a little too much lag time for performance to be acceptable. Then again, that project was demoed on a helicopter. A fixed wing aircraft might be a bit more lag tolerant.

Although there is a case to be made for doing the math on the ground, for right now it's probably better to carry the flight control system on board.

Comment: Re:Have tried it, and it is awesome. ND Aero Eng (Score 2, Interesting) 259

by immel (#28088189) Attached to: Best Way To Build A DIY UAV?
Mod parent up. The designers in my club swear by that book. Definitely seek the advice of the local hobby shops (after all, you need the right off the shelf components from them).

For more info on programming flight control systems and simulations, see Flight Stability and Automatic Control, by Robert Nelson. http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Stability-Automatic-Control-Robert/dp/0070462739

Comment: UAV tried to kill me (Score 4, Informative) 259

by immel (#28088019) Attached to: Best Way To Build A DIY UAV?
The last time some of my friends tried doing an automatic control system, the plane turned straight toward the flight line and tried to kill us all!

Unless you have extensive experience designing them, I would recommend going with a kit plane for hardware rather than trying to build one from scratch out of foam boards. The reason for this is that you will start out with a design you know is flyable and has the stability properties you want. One of the classic errors in model-scale UAV design I've seen people make is trying to design the craft from scratch only to discover that their control surfaces are poorly sized, the thing is dynamically unstable, and it requires hand-made spare parts after every flight.

I think an ideal platform for a UAV like you describe would be a foam flying wing with maybe a 3-4 foot wingspan. The flying wing design would at least in theory allow you to decouple some equations which would be difficult to do in traditional fused aircraft and impossible to do in helicopters. Also, unibody construction makes it easier to land without landing gear. Landing without some pretty complex rangefinding hardware is tough, even for a computer system. Doing a skid landing on that huge wing surface with a rear-facing prop will add some margin of error to your landing sequence. If possible, get an ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) model. They come with airframe, power system, and sometimes all the servos. All you need to add is the radio equipment (I assume you are going to have a manual override backup. No, really. You're going to want a manual override.). Expanded polypropylene foam is actually more durable than a lot of people give it credit for, and replacement parts for these aircraft are easy to find.

Comment: NOT Indestructible (Score 2, Funny) 519

by immel (#27349501) Attached to: Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts
Despite popular belief, IBM did not design the Model M as a melee weapon with keyboard functionality. Rather, it is a keyboard with melee weapon functionality, as required by their DoD contract .

Also, although legendary for their durability, they are not indestructible. A few well-placed armor piercing rounds from an anti-material rifle or a single high explosive antitank charge are often sufficient to disable one.

-Proud owner of a 1986 IBM Model M (pulled from a pile of keyboards scheduled to be scrapped).

Comment: Circular station=variable gravity (Score 1) 534

by immel (#26839463) Attached to: On my spaceship, I'd like artificial gravity ....
If the ship makes gravity by spinning, variable gravity is built into the design (g(effective)=V^2/R, V=wR). Effective gravity would increase with distance from the center if the whole thing rotated as one unit (w=constant). So the outer rings with living quarters and exercise stations would have the most gravity, the middle rings would have medium gravity for science labs and whatnot, and the fighter bays in the center shaft would have virtually no gravity.

Comment: Kids grow- so should the workbench (Score 1) 291

by immel (#23625505) Attached to: A Home Lab/Shop For Kids?
If you're going to make a workbench designed for kids, a neat design feature would be to make it possible to grow with the kids. Maybe some nesting tubes for legs would allow it to change in height over time.

Apart from that, look at the surface of the bench. Whether you want to use wood, laminated particle board, or lego base plates, making the surface extendable can help small arms reach the back, then expand horizontally as they need more bench space.
Mozilla

+ - IE-derived Chinese Browser challenges Firefox

Submitted by crush
crush (666) writes "Maxthon holds 30% of the Chinese browser market and is built on top of IE's layout engine. A Linux Journal article (by Glynn Moody) reports on the challenges this non-Free browser presents to Firefox by offering many of Firefox's features and offering compatibility with IE. Firefox apparently is a negligible presence in the important Chinese internet community."
Data Storage

+ - Good-bye Blu-ray? Leading Porn House Picks HD DVD

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Many attribute the demise of Betamax to the fact that VHS had more porn titles. Will the same occur with Blu-ray? One of the most highly regarded adult video producers, Digital Playground, just switched loyalties from Blu-ray to HD DVD. Now, practically the whole genre is subscribing to the format. Does this spell the end for Blu-ray?"

Some people claim that the UNIX learning curve is steep, but at least you only have to climb it once.

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