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Comment: Re:not the real question (Score 4, Informative) 200

The corresponding FAA term is "Airworthiness Directive" (AD). An AD is a very big deal.

The in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems receive navigation data from the flight deck computers so they can display the moving maps and other stuff on the entertainment displays, for those passengers who want to know "where am I", "are we there yet", "is it time to reset my watch because we've crossed a time zone and I'm trying to adjust my body clock".

I would be shocked to learn that Boeing allowed the IFE to put ANY kind of data into the flight deck computers. I'd actually expect Boeing to use a one-way interface, one that transmits but does not receive: think RS-232 with one of the pins removed. I'd be almost as shocked to learn that Airbus did something like that. However, Airbus's comment about "firewalls" does not exactly inspire me to confidence in their airplanes.

There's something else. If Mr. Roberts did in fact do what the FBI claimed he said he did, I would have expected the air up in the cockpit to have turned very blue, as the pilots said (screamed, actually) something along the lines of what the Apollo 8 crew said (screamed, actually) when their CSM did an uncommanded thruster burn. I would further expected them to take manual control immediately, get on the radio immediately, declare an emergency because of the uncommanded engine power setting change, and land at the nearest airstrip that could handle the airplane. I would further expect maintenance crews to pull the flight data recorders to find out WTF just happened.

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


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.")

Factorials were someone's attempt to make math LOOK exciting.