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Today In Year-based Computer Errors: Draft Notices Sent To Men Born In the 1800s 200

Posted by timothy
from the pa-dmv-never-did-me-any-favors-either dept.
sandbagger (654585) writes with word of a Y2K-style bug showing up in Y2K14: "The glitch originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles during an automated data transfer of nearly 400,000 records. The records of males born between 1993 and 1997 were mixed with those of men born a century earlier. The federal agency didn't know it because the state uses a two-digit code to indicate birth year." I wonder where else two-digit years are causing problems; I still see lots of paper forms that haven't made the leap yet to four digits.

Comment: Re:GPS on Mars (Score 1) 104

by JWSmythe (#47405685) Attached to: ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers

I'd love to see something like that functional. It could really change what we're doing there. quadcopter or quadcopter/fixed wing hybrids, could do really well exploring the surface of Mars. It's not like there's a rush to get anywhere. They could lay out with solar panels extended for weeks to charge, and then fly for miles. It wouldn't be practical for moving lots of equipment, but it could grab samples and bring them back to the rover/base.

They'd need to take into consideration those pesky sandstorms though. It's not a great place for an aircraft, unless they can automatically secure it. Like have a screw anchor it to the ground (like a tent screw or dog tiedown), and a cover to extend over it and secure itself. Then there's the matter of digging itself out after the storm without killing the batteries.

Comment: Re:GPS on Mars (Score 2) 104

by JWSmythe (#47405405) Attached to: ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers

That would be a cool trick. I think it will be a long long time before we see that.

GPS, and GLONASS have 24 satellites for global coverage. Galileo has 27. Beidou has 10 right now, but has limited coverage. It will have 35 when it's fully operational.

Most (all?) require ground stations to keep them updated, so it isn't just a matter of throwing some satellites up and having GPS on another planet. As I recall, GPS satellite service will degrade to unusable somewhere between 90 to 180 days. [insert obligatory apocalypse reference]

Theoretically with GPS, you can lock with 3, but that assumes a highly clock on the receiver. Our phones and GPS receivers aren't that accurate, so we require 4 satellites.

But I believe this was dumbed down for the casual reader, so they said "GPS". Using the known location of the orbital vehicle, gravitational center of mars, magnetic poles, and stars optically with a sextant, and using inertial sensors, they could put it down on a precise target.

They might use GPS for test flights here, since we have the luxury on this rock. They aren't accounting for other things with their tests right now. Like the Mars average ground level air pressure is 0.087psi. The summit of Mount Everest is 4.89psi. The highest surface air pressure they'll get on Marswould be Hellas Planitia at 0.168psi.

They're going to need some *huge* propellers on their quadcopter. Flying on Mars is like flying at just over 100,000 feet on Earth. The record for any propeller aircraft is the Boeing Condor UAV with no payload, at 67,028 feet.

The record altitude for a helicopter in Earth's atmosphere is 40,820 feet, and it also got the record for the longest autorotation when the helicopter stopped flying. :)

But other than navigation, and lack of atmospheric pressure, it could work fine. :)

Comment: Re:Is this new? (Score 1) 685

I travelled with a large external hard disk as well, once - which also got taken to one side and swabbed for stuff. Internal monologue: OH NO MY PRECIOUS DATA ... Oh, it's just the possibility of it being a bomb they're worried about.

On another occasion, I had fun with my home-made, Arduino-powered dSLR timelapse gadget - it got thoroughly inspected by the TSA. I'd already opted out of the backscatter X-ray whatsit, only for a swab-for-explosives test to give a (false-)positive. Eek. Cue being taken to one side, where they looked in my bag and found the timelapse-o-tron...

To give the screeners their due, they let me go after a few minutes - after I'd heard their complaints about the potential radiation doses they and the passengers were receiving from the backscatter X-ray thingers, and after I'd provided advice on what sort of camera to look into buying for a budding photographer.

Security fun elsewhere: carrying a plastic bag of loose change through the Eurostar security in Brussels (it basically looked like an amorphous, completely opaque lump on the X-ray) - and a random customs check at a UK airport giving a (false-)positive swab for some sort of illicit drugs. Eek.


Following EU Ruling, BBC Article Excluded From Google Searches 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the system-and-method-to-break-the-internet dept.
Albanach writes: In 2007, the BBC's economics editor, Robert Peston, penned an article on the massive losses at Merrill Lynch and the resulting resignation of their CEO Stan O'Neal. Today, the BBC has been notified that the 2007 article will no longer appear in some Google searches made within the European Union, apparently as a result of someone exercising their new-found "right to be forgotten." O'Neal was the only individual named in the 2007 article. While O'Neal has left Merrill Lynch, he has not left the world of business, and now holds a directorship at Alcoa, the world's third largest aluminum producer with $23 billion in revenues in 2013.

Comment: Re:Did you bother to read the story? (Score 1) 59

by JWSmythe (#47342639) Attached to: 2600 Distributor Withholds Money, Magazine's Future In Limbo

Unfortunately, it's a fairly standard business tactic.

Corp X has assets and debts. They sell the assets to Corp Y, which includes products, staff, equipment, etc. Corp X holds the debts. Wen they declare bankruptcy, there's no way to recover the debt, so it's gone.

Corp Y may be operating in the same office, with the same people at the same desks, doing the same jobs. The only real difference is that employee paychecks now say the new name, as does all new marketing materials and letterhead.

So what about the people owed money from Corp X? They get nothing. Or if they're lucky there's something left and they'll get pennies on the dollar.

Sometimes it's done for the right reasons, and they will work out deals with those owed. For examine (if I read the article right), 2600 is owed $100K. That may be broken up to $10K/mo over 10 months, or $1K/mo over 100 months. In the end, they get their money. Unfortunately when they already have high dollar events scheduled, it hurts.

Comment: Re:Uh, sure.. (Score 1) 359

I guess I'm weird. I use text editors.

On the server(s) or dev boxes, I use vim for anything.

When I'm on a Windows desktop, I use UltraEdit. I don't use most of the extra functionality, but the brace matching lines are nice. I could almost do just as well with notepad.

I have to pay more attention to what I'm doing, but I end up writing better code than I see churned out by a lot of people with overly helpful IDEs.

Comment: Recharging drones. (Score 1) 30

by JWSmythe (#47331275) Attached to: Automated Remote Charging for Your Flying Drones (Video)

A while back, I was thinking about how to to make an ultra-long range drone. Like something I could send off on a mission, and expect it to come back on it's own later on. One of the ideas, if it were battery powered, was to instruct it to land on or near power lines. That would have been a nightmare to figure out though.

To be stealthy, it would need to fly around 5K to 10K feet. It wouldn't be able to approach ground level, except in uninhabited areas. There's no way you'd get a map of all the high tension power lines in the world, and I don't know of any method of detecting them miles away. Well, other than Hollywood magic methods, which unfortunately don't translate well to the real world. :)

To land on power lines or on the connecting towers, it would have to hover, which is battery expensive. Automatically picking an arbitrary landing spot isn't exactly easy. Once you're parked close to the power lines (like on them, or on the towers) inductive loops could handle farming electricity without human intervention or needing to deploy charging mats.

In the end, I gave up on the idea. I don't really have a reason to make one. If I did, and it worked, I'd have all the lovely three-letter-agencies knocking on my door to have a chat over a nice cup of tea.

Maybe "nice" would be optional in their opinion, and cup of tea would be room temp water in an interrogation room. Either way.

Comment: Re: In other news (Score 1) 358

by JWSmythe (#47311349) Attached to: Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones

A bus is a lot bigger than a car, with a lot less margin for error. I have a city bus that's converted to be a RV. All that extra space beside a car becomes pretty much non-existent. According to the FHWA, lanes are 9 to 12 feet wide. My bus is 8.5 feet wide, so on a narrow road, that gives me 3 inches on either side on a local road, along the 40 foot length of it.

The last drive I took it for a drive, I cruised down a 6 lane "local" road, with 9' lanes. It was like threading a needle with giant steel elephant, and people get stupid around large vehicles. Sure, it can stop on a dime, as long as that dime is the size of a Buick.

Bus passengers tend to be more annoying too. They tend to argue, just because they can.

The "don't talk to the driver" rule is mostly there so the driver can say "Go away, I'm driving." I've had plenty of bus drivers that like some idle conversation. I'm not asking how to get to some obscure place, or demand that they take the bus off-route to drop them off, so they like talking to me. :)

Comment: Re:Thanks for the tip! (Score 1) 448

by JWSmythe (#47305457) Attached to: $500k "Energy-Harvesting" Kickstarter Scam Unfolding Right Now

It sounds like the formula for an urban legend.

Take a little bit of truth. Just enough to be believable. Build up that truth with whatever lies you can tie to it, get enough suckers to believe it, and you'll have the next Snopes entry.

I could build an inductive receiver. Given enough time, it could charge a small battery. Believers will see "enough time" as being minutes or hours. People analyzing it will see it's really centuries. The whole time, I never lied. I just let their misconceptions carry it along.

"The geeks shall inherit the earth." -- Karl Lehenbauer