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Comment: ScottEvest (Score 1) 278

by linuxwrangler (#49701879) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's On Your Keychain?

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

by linuxwrangler (#49565953) Attached to: The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues

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?

+ - Feds admit Stingray can disrupt bystanders' communications

Submitted by linuxwrangler
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.

+ - MBRI develops modular open-source underwater camera

Submitted by linuxwrangler
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.

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

Submitted by linuxwrangler
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.

+ - LAX to London flight delayed over WiFi name

Submitted by linuxwrangler
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

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

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 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 (

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.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan