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Submission + - Famed aircraft designer James Bede dies

linuxwrangler writes: Prolific aircraft designer James "Jim" Bede has died at age 82. Although Bede designed numerous aircraft he is most commonly associated with the BD-5J, the "world's smallest jet", that was famously used to help James Bond escape in the movie "Octopussy." Bede's company currently has that aircraft for sale.

Comment ScottEvest (Score 1) 278 278

On my keychain I have, um, keys. As few as possible. In pants pockets I generally have a wallet, a lockblade knife, a small leatherman tool (no blade - TSA OK), handkerchief and always a flashlight (Surefire Backup). My phone is always with me somewhere.

But I am almost always wearing my ScottEvest in which I generally have an Ironkey plus a few non-secure USB drives, pocket notebook, rarely used magnifier glasses and magnifier card, photography grey-card, parking access key, pens (rollerball, retractable mid and small size sharpies and lens-cleaning pen), glasses cleaning cloth, spare camera battery, spare flashlight batteries, dental floss, trash-bag (emergency raincoat, camera cover or even to collect trash on hikes), spare cash, earplugs, business cards, infrared-camera camera attachment and so on.

Sometimes there is also a pocket first-aid kit. Mothers are always surprised when it's the guy who is actually prepared when their kid gets a "boo boo."

Often there is a desktop tripod, tele-extender or other photo accessories in one pocket or another and more often than not a DSLR slung across the shoulder.

Comment Damned if you do... (Score 4, Insightful) 247 247

I remember a bit of design in a small aircraft. In order to address the problem of gear-up landings, Piper came up with a system that, when it detected the appropriate combination of airspeed and engine conditions, would automatically lower the gear. It had an override so the pilot could indicate that this was not accidental and to not deploy the gear.

The system was very popular and copied onto a variety of aircraft. Nobody knows how many gear-up accidents were prevented since nobody calls up after a fine landing to report that they had actually screwed up and were saved by the auto-extend system. But the one person who failed to override the system after an engine failure and had the gear deploy filed and won a lawsuit claiming that the auto-deploy system was what caused them to be unable to glide to the airport. As a result, the manufacturers ceased making them and directed their removal from existing aircraft.

How long will it be before someone sues claiming that the auto-braking system in their car caused whiplash?

Submission + - Feds admit Stingray can disrupt bystanders' communications

linuxwrangler writes: The government has fought hard to keep details about use and effects of the controversial Stingray device secret. But this Wired article points to recently released documents in which the government admits that the device can cause collatoral damage to other network users. The controversy has heated to the point that Florida senator Bill Nelson has made combative statments that such devices will inevitably force lawmakers to come up with new ways to protect privacy — a comment that is even more remarkable considering that the Stingray is produced by Harris Corporation which is headquartered in Nelson's home state.

Submission + - MBRI develops modular open-source underwater camera

linuxwrangler writes: In an effort to "monitor the depths without sinking the budget", the Monterey Bay Research Institute has developed the See Star modular underwater camera system. Using a GoPro camera along with support batteries and lights encased in housings made from PVC pipe, the design was conceived as open-source from the start with all hardware and software available on bitbucket. They are already working on new versions and plan to demonstrate it at various Maker Faires.

Submission + - United and Orbitz sure 22-year-old programmer for telling the truth 1 1

linuxwrangler writes: Aktarer Zaman, a young computer scientist, started a "side project" called Skiplagged to compile a relatively well-known method of finding inexpensive airfares. But organizing fully public information into a user-friendly form has gotten him sued by United and Orbitz who are less than enthralled by his activities and are accusing his not-for-profit site of "unfair competition" and promotion of "strictly prohibited" travel. Sounds like some large corporations need to brush up on the first amendment to the United States Constitution.

Submission + - LAX to London flight delayed over WiFi name

linuxwrangler writes: A flight from LAX to London was delayed after a passenger reported seeing "Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork" as an available hotspot name and reported it to a flight attendant. The flight was taken to a remote part of the airport and delayed for several hours but "after further investigation, it was determined that no crime was committed and no further action will be taken."

Comment Just moves a choke point (Score 2, Insightful) 395 395

One need only calculate the size of substation needed to deliver the equivalent energy of, say, a 16-pump Costco gas station to see that the fact that a battery can be charged that fast doesn't mean there is any infrastructure anywhere that could support it. The Tesla has an 85kWh battery. In other words, a 70% charge in 2-minutes requires pumping over 1.7 million watts to the car. Think a 2,000-volt supply shoving nearly 900-amps. Per "pump." But that kind of capacity would allow for better capture of regenerative braking energy.

It could be great for things like cordless drills. At ~40-60 Wh the supply would not require more than a standard 120V/15A outlet.

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

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) 368 368

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.

Submission + - Passport database outage leaves thousands stranded. 1 1

linuxwrangler 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."

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.

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