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Comment: Re:Mad Men (Score 4, Interesting) 160

by linuxwrangler (#47679579) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

I grew up at Naval Air Weapons Station (nee Naval Weapons Center nee Naval Ordnance Test Station - bureaucracy at work) China Lake where my father was a top engineer. The base in those days operated much like the private space companies of today. Much of that culture is captured in the book "Sidewinder: Creative Missile Development at China Lake" which describes the freedom to tinker, rebuild and test things from what would have been scrap (radar antenna motors would be resued as the proof-of-concept drive motors for prototype missile seekers, for instance) and to, er, "repurpose" new equipment as necessary. Engineers might not expect to have a desk, carpet or file-cabinet but every one had their own fully equipped workbench chock full of signal generators, scopes, meters and whatever else they needed and they attracted a group of incredible engineers from Cal, Stanford, MIT, CalTech and the like who developed weapons like the Sidewinder, Walleye, HARM, Shrike and more - many of which the top brass hadn't even conceived of but the engineers knew were needed. Sidewinder was originally described as a "local fuse project" and developed skunkworks-style in-house with a variety of volunteer efforts and budget shuffling. It didn't become an official program until 5-years after it was started and was mature enough to demonstrate to Admiral Parsons at the Bureau of Ordnance. Nowdays that would result in congressional investigations and charges instead of praise.

Sadly China Lake, too, has devolved into knee-deep carpeted program-management offices overseeing outsourced contractors and no longer has the same attraction for the freewheeling inventor that it once did. Fortunately there are still places where the workbench-first ethos still thrives.

Comment: Re:What about Oregon and Washington? (Score 2) 368

by linuxwrangler (#47655507) Attached to: Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

I interpret this the same way. It doesn't say "recorded by us" or "recorded by us exclusively" but merely "may be recorded."

In fact the phrase "may be recorded" is open to interpretation and can mean both "we might record it" and "we give permission to record it."

  Still, I wouldn't put it past some company to try the "you recorded us illegaly" tactic.

+ - Passport database outage leaves thousands stranded. 1

Submitted by linuxwrangler
linuxwrangler (582055) writes "Job interviews missed, work and wedding plans disrupted, children unable to fly home with their adoptive parents. All this disruption is due to a outage involving the passport and visa processing database at the U.S. State Department. The problems have been ongoing since July 19 and the best estimate for repair is "soon.""

Comment: Re:Even higher for other degree fields. (Score 1) 174

Exactly what I was thinking even without tongue in cheek. Perhaps communications majors do communicate (as don't we all) but, unlike in technical fields, I haven't seen too many job postings requiring a degree in communications. But those people are by-and-large working in law, advertising, insurance, etc. yet nobody seems to feel the necessity to do a study on how many communication majors aren't working in communications.

Comment: Obligatory bear joke... (Score 1) 408

Having worked in the past in law enforcement and in security systems I would sometimes tell people this joke:

Two guys are camping when they hear a bear outside the tent. As one guy starts putting on and lacing up his shoes, the other says, "don't be silly, you can't outrun a bear."

The other guy responds, "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

Each little bit of security makes you just a tad "faster" then your tentmate. Lock your doors. Lock your windows. Get a dog. Get an alarm.

But realize the time delay with an alarm. Someone kicks for a while at your door and finally breaks it in at which point the alarm activates. They dash in and ransack the place and split - usually in a minute or two - sometimes less. Meanwhile the alarm system calls the alarm company who calls the police dispatch and gives them the info. You have probably passed 60 seconds already. Then the call goes out to the officers - assuming they are available and there aren't higher priority calls on the board. Car accidents, robberies, and many other events take precedence over alarm calls which are typically 95+% false. Unless the officer just happens to be right around the corner, it is another couple minutes till they arrive. And these are best-case numbers. The burglar is usually long-gone when the officers arrive.

Don't forget that the bad-guys don't respect life or property. They rip earrings out of ears. They smash windows and wreck dashboards to get a $150 stereo they can fence for $10 (if that). Or, in the case of a good friend who had upgraded his alarm, added security locks on the windows, installed lights and more, they simply backed their pickup across his front lawn and through the french-doors and proceeded to throw whatever they could get in 30-seconds (hundreds of CDs, stereo, TV and other easy to move stuff) into the truck and sped away.

In that vein, a safe may protect your goods but put you at risk for a home invasion (http://xkcd.com/538/).

As others have said, insure, encrypt and archive (off-site).

BTW, good neighbors are great. I ended up following two of the four burglars that hit my neighbor's house. Cops surrounded the block they ran into and eventually let the dog bring one out when he refused to come out on his own. Recovered all the property as well. When our friend's car down the block was damaged in a hit-and-run it was a neighbor who provided the plate and description. We are organizing a neighborhood watch and working to catalog the available security cameras on the block at which point we will probably get the city to put up a "video monitoring in force" sign at the ends of the block.

Comment: Compliers?!? You got compliers? (Score 1) 230

by linuxwrangler (#46880643) Attached to: One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983

I remember my first assembly class when we toggled in our initial few programs directly at the front panel of a PDP-11. (Not even really assembly at that point but direct machine instructions.) The paddle switches were in colored groups of three leading to the only really use for octal I have ever encountered: you could get very fast at reading octal and setting the switches with your index/middle/ring fingers.

Comment: Re:Phones yeah (Score 1) 227

by linuxwrangler (#46685123) Attached to: Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

For cars any fast-charge battery doesn't remove the *ahem* "current" stumbling block but rather *moves* it.

Tesla's fast-charger claims a 4-hour recharge on a charger pulling 16.8kW and a charge will get you rougly halfway from San Francisco to LA - a trip easily made on a tank of gas.

To match a gas-station fillup you would need to transfer that amount of energy in about 5 minutes requiring a supply of a touch over 800kW. At 600VDC - the voltage used by BART - your cables would *only* need to carry about 1,300A to the car. By my reading, this means approximately six "strands" of 0000 wire per conductor or a dozen for a two-conductor cable. That cable will weigh approximately 6-pounds/foot plus an undoubtedly hefty plug and it will still get pretty warm during charging as well as being enormously attractive to copper thieves.

But since the fuel-powered vehicle gets 2-3 times the range on that refueling a more realistic comparison requires you to at least double the above numbers to reach refuel-time/driving-range parity. If they don't double the range on the electric vehicles then you need double the refuling stops with the attendent increase in number of "pumps" or stations. The required energy needs to get to the vehicle somehow.

When I pulled into Costco to fill up there were 20 pumps all with cars at them. Even if only half were actually fueling, the station would need an 8,000kW feed before even factoring in burst and safety-factor requirements.

To make matters worse, most people refuel in the daytime when electric loads are highest. Of course this is offset somewhat by the fact that daytime is when solar is available.

Overall, high-speed recharge for cars may bring as many or more problems than it solves, especially when the battery-swap alternative allows for load-leveling, for leveraging the ability to purchase at the cheapest or most environmentally friendly times, for eliminating the need for an owner to worry about large battery-replacement costs and potentially even for returning power to the utilities at peak-demand times.

+ - Judge Throws Out FAA Regulations On Small Drones->

Submitted by jfruh
jfruh (300774) writes "In 2011, Raphael Pirker used a small powered glider with a camera on board to take aerial photos of the University of Virginia's campus for a client, and was fined $10,000 by the FAA. Now an administrative law judge has thrown the fine out, because the rule he violated was outlined in an FAA "policy statement," which is "not binding on the general public." In other words, the agency in its rush to regulate drones ignored its own rule-making process. The FAA has vowed to come up with formal rules on drones that will pass legal muster by the end of the year."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Serious sample bias (Score 4, Informative) 390

by linuxwrangler (#46113105) Attached to: IE Drops To Single-Digit Market Share

The statistics are "collected from W3Schools' log-files..." So an English-language site for people interested in web development is now considered an accurate proxy for browser usage? I think not. Predictably, the results are way out of line with, well, pretty much everyone:

http://www.netmarketshare.com/...
http://gs.statcounter.com/
http://www.w3counter.com/globa...
http://browsermarketshare.com/
http://clicky.com/marketshare/...

Comment: The law is vague (Score 1) 1010

At least the current law in California. Most of section 498 deals with diverting from "utilities" though it may be considered "personal property" and fall under another theft section.

I remember a couple decades back the University Police in Berkeley were beset by complaints about loud late-night music constantly blairing from a boom-box operated by a homeless guy in one of the parking structures. "Disturbing the peace" is a tough sell and he didn't ever get the clue till they started arresting him for stealing electricty from the university since he was plugged into an outlet there.

I've always thought back to that case and wondered if I'm at risk when I charge my laptop from a wall outlet at an airport or coffee shop.

+ - Failed software upgrade halts transit service

Submitted by linuxwrangler
linuxwrangler (582055) writes "San Francisco Bay Area commuters awoke this morning to the news that BART, the major regional transit system which carries hundreds of thousands of daily riders, was entirely shut down due to a computer failure. Commuters stood stranded at stations and traffic backed up as residents took to the roads. The system has returned to service and BART says the outage resulted from a botched software upgrade."

Comment: Re:Let's see. . . Data Center in Dry Climate. .. (Score 4, Insightful) 241

by linuxwrangler (#45071287) Attached to: NSA's New Utah Data Center Suffering Meltdowns

Works for Switch in Las Vegas. Cold in winter and cools off at night so 70% of annual hours they can pull in ambient air through filters. Evaporative cooling, whether direct or to cool the hot-side of a refrigerated system, works best in dry climates but it's only used to improve efficiency as they can run fine with air-cooling albeit at much higher power costs.

I'm still surprised at the number of places that think cooling is optional. We had equipment in a Sacramento data-center that had plenty of backup electricity for servers but couldn't run the AC in a power outage. The SLA only had provisions for exceeding 80-degrees for more than something like 90 or 120 minutes. *Ahem*, cold-comfort when a dense data-center can blow through 100 in minutes without AC.

UC Berkeley had a widespread power outage about a week ago. The main campus data center had power but, you guessed it, couldn't run cooling and had to "gracefully" shut down most of the core systems while watching the center breach 100F.

But I agree with your base assumption - really bad planning and/or execution on the power systems.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

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