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Comment: Re:Homeland Security FTW! (Score 1) 94

by john.r.strohm (#47897745) Attached to: Drone-Based Businesses: Growing In Canada, Grounded In the US

Using a drone would be an easy way to deliver an explosive device to someone.

The phrase you are looking for is "cruise missile".

You can deliver much nastier things than explosive devices.

Weaponized anthrax comes immediately to mind. Or VX. Or quite a number of things.

For real nastiness, you'd use something like smallpox. Or a modified influenza.

Comment: A few thoughts. (Score 5, Informative) 115

by john.r.strohm (#47855145) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Robotics or Electronic Kits For Wounded Veterans?

Lego Mindstorm comes immediately to mind, as it gets you DOING things with robots rather than getting bogged down in implementation. (The informal motto of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group at one time was "It's harder than it looks!", and they weren't kidding.)

Heathkit keeps talking about making a comeback, but I'm in an "I'll believe it when I see it" mood these days.

Ramsey Electronics has a LOT of kits. Most of them require basic soldering skills. However, they do sell some electronic experimenters kits, that don't require soldering.

Comment: Re:stopping who? (Score 2, Informative) 322

by john.r.strohm (#47821251) Attached to: The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

And, yet again, that is PRECISELY what happened when Eisenhower signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union.

We knew IMMEDIATELY when the Soviets abrogated the treaty. They set off a whole slew of very dirty atmospheric test shots.

The treaty DIDN'T stop them from doing the tests.

Fear of detection of their cheating DIDN'T stop them from cheating.

Comment: Timex Ironman Triathlon 200m digital watch (Score 1) 702

by john.r.strohm (#46792165) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

I just retired a Timex Ironman Triathlon 200m digital watch. It was time for a battery (at least its third, possibly its fourth), when I noticed that the Mode button had failed. (I never use it as anything but a watch these days, having pretty much given up diving.) That watch was easily 15 years old, and had been at least 100' underwater (wreck diving off North Carolina).

That watch was the cheapest diver's watch you could buy, by a big margin. Timex was very careful NOT to call it a diver's watch, because of product liability concerns, but IN FACT that's what it was and a lot of people used it for diving. (On their 50m and 100m water-resistant models, Timex very carefully said that the water resistance was guaranteed only as long as no buttons were pushed, and they very carefully did NOT say that for the 200m models. That language has since changed.)

Comment: I Must Have Missed Something (Score 1) 50

I looked at the slideshow on the LISI house site, and I don't see anything that looks like a kitchen, anything that looks like a bedroom, or anything that looks like a bathroom.

Yes, they made a pretty space, but I do not see how it is a space for people to live, and I thought that was the purpose of a house, to be a space for people to live.

Comment: Re:Hope they pay close attention (Score 2) 132

by john.r.strohm (#44732171) Attached to: US Uncorks $16M For 17 Projects To Capture Wave Energy

Yup.

NOBODY wants to talk about this one.

Extract all the energy from the wave, and you have no more wave. There is a HUGE amount of shoreline and shallow-water marine ecology that is critically dependent on wave action. Remove the waves, and you wreck that ecology.

The Environmental Impact Statements for those wave energy plants are gonna be INTERESTING.

Comment: Re:Can't That Get You Marked as a Terrorist, Now? (Score -1, Offtopic) 128

There's no such thing as an "Airbus 757". Boeing builds the 7x7 airplanes. Airbus builds the A3xx birds.

I'm scheduled to take my first-ever Airbus ride in November (maybe sooner). I almost took one back in March, but Cathay Pacific put me on the earlier flight, which was on a 767.

I'm not really looking forward to it.

Comment: Re:Can't That Get You Marked as a Terrorist, Now? (Score 3, Informative) 128

It was a Boeing 777.

VERY good airplane. (Direct quote from an American Airlines 777 First Officer: "Sweetest-flying airplane I ever flew!" Direct quote from a very senior American Airlines 777 Captain: "10 years in 757/767. First time I got in the 777, I realized they'd fixed things I hadn't realized had been bugging me.")

Comment: Re:NIMBY (Score 1) 436

by john.r.strohm (#44090557) Attached to: The Aging of Our Nuclear Power Plants Is Not So Graceful

Wind power, no matter where it is located, suffers from Carnot efficiency limits: the amount of power per unit "size" you can extract from a machine is limited by the temperature differential across the machine. This is fundamental physics, and will always mean that wind machines have to be physically HUGE for the amount of power they generate.

Compare a wind machine with a nuclear submarine powerplant.

For offshore wind, you also have the transmission line problem: you have to get the power from where it is generated (harvested) to where it is needed.

Geothermal: there aren't that many geothermal sites available, last I heard.

Comment: Re:NIMBY (Score 2) 436

by john.r.strohm (#44090539) Attached to: The Aging of Our Nuclear Power Plants Is Not So Graceful

Let me see if I understand this.

You're saying that, as we shift from reliable power sources (coal, nuclear) to unreliable ones (wind, solar), we should shift that unreliability penalty to the end user, who just has to live with the fact that his power is unreliable?

Where I come from, the system designer's first job is to ensure reliability: when the user throws that switch, the machine is supposed to work. Every time.

Seriously: In the name of energy efficiency, would you consider incorporating a random "Walk to work today" module into your car, such that, every so often, it would refuse to start? With no recourse whatsoever for emergencies? That is what you are proposing for unreliable energy.

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you are working for someone else.

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