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Comment Re:The frog is boiling (Score 3, Informative) 217

Could be worse. I bought a software upgrade to an oscilloscope. This is what I got:

A UPS package. Inside covered by foam peanuts, was an envelope. Inside was a bubble wrapped box. Inside fancy box was a card. On the back was ... ... a URL.

Ok, and a code. Still, there were only 2 lines. By logging into my account, entering the code, the SN and other information about the scope, I was given a license code for the software upgrade.

Type the code into the scope, and voila! Feature is unlocked.

Comment Simple solution(s) (Score 1) 107

Being at near ground level gives some options an aircraft doesn't have.

Plenty of air is centimeters away. The only trick is to get to it. Assuming the capsule is intact, and can come to a rest in the 10 minutes emergency air lasts, you just need a way to open a hole to the outside. Just pump all the air you need until rescue arrives.

If cabin pressure is normal, the easiest would be to have a hollow lance pierce the tube. It would take some work to jab though ~1cm of steel. Might as well use a pair of carbide tip lances (with side holes) jabbing at opposite sides of the tube fr counterpressure. An overcenter system (like a car scissor jack when fully extended) can apply massive force. Pop, pop, you have air in and air out.

If the cabin breached, the entire tube needs to be filled. Time to get out something with high energy. A cutting device (friction wheel, cutting torch, etc) can get the job done, but slowly. Faster and more compact would be some thermite charges. Toss 'em fore and aft. Crude, but effective. Shape charge if you are crazy enough.

Or if you want really fast, and independent of the capsule, put vents on the tube. They can be as simple as butterfly valves or as dramatic as explosive bolt hatches. Butterfly valves have the advantage of using inrushing air to slow or move a capsule. Hatches give a way for people to get in and out of tubes for emergencies or maintenance.

Comment Magnavox pong (Score 3, Interesting) 210

I bought an old Magnavox tv with built in Pong, but it was missing the controllers. To play games, my brother and I would shove speaker wires into the ports and hold the bare wires with our hands.

By staying very still and very carefully pinching one wire in each hand, tips of fingers touching, we could control the resistance in the range needed to start and control the game. So much as a twitch or turning your head would cause the pong paddle to go off the screen.

Holding that still and staring at the tv, it looked like we were controlling it with our minds.

After a couple days, the TV died. But $18 well spent.

Comment Hard Drive Bracket (Score 2) 258

I was missing the hardware to mount a 5 Mb hard drive (yes, 5 Mb) in my XT. Didn't want it sitting directly on the case (cable length, vibration, possible short, etc), but really wanted that upgrade. My French-English dictionary was sitting nearby, so it became the support "bracket".

My mom used that computer many years for checking email (she did upgrade to 2400 baud), but one day it needed a repair. She said the guy was a bit surprised to find a library in a PC.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan