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Comment: TCAS, Mode S, and IFR (Score 1) 72

by macsimcon (#48155995) Attached to: Designing Tomorrow's Air Traffic Control Systems

Right now, if I want to fly from LAX to JFK, I need to wait for ATC to slot me so I’ll likely be able to land without delay upon reaching JFK. Why do I still have to talk to ATC to do this? Why are humans even involved when computers could do this instantaneously? I should just be able to file my flight plan from a laptop or smartphone, and the system tells ME when I need to depart (i.e. I get an email stating “depart RWY 19R 1900Z to 1905Z). This would make ground control’s job a hell of a lot easier. Any aircraft not contacting ground twenty minutes before their assigned departure time goes to the back of the line.

Furthermore, anything in the air, whether a helicopter, drone, or 1950s taildragger should be required to have Mode S. If my TCAS is interrogating everything in a 360 degree sphere around me, and feeding that to my MFD and autopilot, there’s very little chance any of us will ever run into each other, and I don’t need to worry about visibility when flying VFR, or ATC while flying in IMC.

Comment: Re:Not Even Close to a Fair Comparison (Score 1) 181

by macsimcon (#48125869) Attached to: The Cult of Elon Musk Shines With Steve Jobs' Aura

OK, here's how I define success: Apple. Toyota. Exxon. Products that average people want, can afford, and buy.

Unlike SpaceX and Tesla, those companies didn't need government handouts and contracts just to survive. They actually have people running them who know what they're doing, and they have millions of customers who are willing to give them money for their products and services.

Have you investigated SolarCity and PayPal? Massive complaints from customers and investigations from governments. Not exactly a model of ethical behavior or even good business.

The Gigafactory is a taxpayer-funded boondoggle for now; like most of Musk's "successes" its real promise is way off in the distance, and completely unprovable.

Tesla is not ranked among the Fortune 500. It has lost money for almost its entire existence. Not exactly a well-run company.

If I made a car that cost $1B each, I could make it the fastest and safest car ever, and Consumer Reports would love it. But there aren't enough people on Earth who will buy such a car to make it profitable. This is the problem Tesla finds itself in: create one of the most expensive cars in history that only the top 1% will buy.

Meanwhile, all the other big car companies are making plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles that average people can afford, and they will be around in twenty years when Tesla is just a failed memory.

Hey, I love the P85D, but I can buy three Chevy Volts for less than the $130,000 I'd pay for one P85D. And I can drive the Volt anywhere in the world without worrying about finding a charging station. And by the way...where ARE all those promised charging stations (there is ONE in my county)? Yet another of Musk's tall tales that has yet to come true.

Commercial space launches have been available well before SpaceX. What are they doing that's so innovative? Other than sucking at the government teat, I mean.

And SpaceX's contract has been suspended.

Musk is just a huckster, even more so when compared to Jobs.

Comment: Re:I'm OK with this (Score 0) 181

by macsimcon (#48125511) Attached to: The Cult of Elon Musk Shines With Steve Jobs' Aura

Yes, I'm sure. Musk isn't a visionary, he's just a dreamer. Electric cars have failed to catch on. Solar power has yet to achieve mass popularity. SpaceX has yet to do something that NASA couldn't. And unless Musk is actually a second Einstein, space travel won't be possible for the masses in his lifetime.

Jobs improved product after product, over and over again. Musk's products have failed to achieve mass appeal, over and over again.

Jobs will go down as the greatest industrialist in the last hundred years. Musk will be a footnote.

Comment: Re:I'm OK with this (Score 1, Troll) 181

by macsimcon (#48125269) Attached to: The Cult of Elon Musk Shines With Steve Jobs' Aura

I’m going to assume you’re not trolling here. I’m really starting to believe articles about Musk are just clickbait.

People who think Musk is the next Jobs haven’t taken the time to research and compare the accomplishments of both men.

Jobs changed the music industry with the iPod and the iTunes Store; the movie industry with Pixar; the software industry with GUI on the Mac, and later, the App Store; the smartphone industry with the iPhone; and the tablet industry with the iPad. Those are just the examples I can come up with off the top of my head. Nobody was clamoring for computer-driven animation, or Microsoft tablets, or the Treo, or the Diamond Rio or Archos. Jobs' version brought those products to the mainstream. Previous attempts by other companies were commercial failures.

But probably Jobs’ greatest creation was Apple itself. With the largest market capitalization in the world, and more cash on hand than anyone, Apple is bound by nothing.

And what has Musk done? Well, he makes one of the most expensive cars money can buy (hardly an amazing feat), adding “autopilot” features that already exist in cars from other manufacturers. Even with astronomical price tags, Tesla sells only a fraction of the number of cars as Toyota does, and Tesla has lost money nearly every year of its existence (not hard to do). Musk has formed SpaceX to take cargo and people to space (has he really done a better job than NASA could?). He wants to go to Mars, but hasn’t figured out a way to overcome the landing problems, or to address perchlorate poisoning, or the dozens of other problems, some of which likely won't be solved in our lifetimes, if ever. He envisioned Hyperloop, which is so expensive and dangerous (not to mention running in earthquake country) that it’s impractical and will never be built.

And where is Musk’s electric car for the masses? He keeps claiming it’s coming, yet none of the models he’s discussed are ever likely to cost $30,000.

Jobs was a dreamer. Musk is a dreamer. But Jobs was a dreamer who created real products, and changed real industries. Musk dreams like a child: “I want a jetpack!” or “I want to go to another planet!” without having first figured out how to accomplish the feat. Jobs was an industrialist; Musk is a dilettante.

Jobs knew something Musk doesn’t: coming up with the idea is the smallest part of the solution. Anyone can come up with a great idea, it’s the realization of that idea as a bestselling product or service which separates the average joe from the successful industrialist.

Oh, and that Musk video on global warming? He didn’t propose a solution, he just regurgitated Dick Cheney's “One Percent Doctrine” and applied it to global climate change.

If Musk REALLY wants to change the world, how about coming up with a jet fuel additive that will bind with CO2 or CH4 to create a heavy enough compound which will gradually fall back to the surface? I’d like to see an actual idea AND solution from him that would decrease the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Comment: Re:Citizens Vs Shareholders (Score 1) 346

OK, but why has this become acceptable? It obviously doesn't work.

We don't allow toll roads to pop-up on top of the national highway transportation system. They have to build their own toll roads with their own money.

We should do the same thing with the Internet: cut out the middleman and leave it to municipalities to connect citizens to the government-funded Internet.

Comment: Uninsured = high risk (Score 2) 167

by macsimcon (#45506835) Attached to: 195K Bitcoin Transaction

We are living the libertarian dream with Bitcoin: a bunch of exchanges, none of them insured.

Libertarians feels that government regulation is unnecessary, but what recourse do those depositors have when one of these exchanges just disappears with their money? None.

I won't be using Bitcoin, no matter how lucrative, until a government agency or large bank insures deposits. It's just not worth the risk.

Frankly, I can't see any sovereign ever backing Bitcoin while they have their own currency, so I don't know how Bitcoin ever becomes a reliable, universal currency.

Comment: Re:Terrible summary (Score 1) 124

by macsimcon (#45158971) Attached to: Researchers Show Apple Can Read iMessages

Sorry, that just isn't true.

If your company creates a system that doesn't allow you access to customer information (say, because it's encrypted, and only the customer has the key), neither your nor your company can be compelled to reprogram your system so you get the keys, and can therefore hand them over to the government.

The trick is in how you design the system. If it's onerous or impossible to provide the government the information, no amount of NSLs are going to matter.

Now, I'm not claiming that Messages is designed that way, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that a company could design such a system (e.g. Threema)

Comment: Re:if someone has your iPhone..... (Score 5, Informative) 356

by macsimcon (#44830391) Attached to: Can the iPhone Popularize Fingerprint Readers?

The iPhone 5s doesn't store the fingerprint itself, it just stores specific data points. Apple states that the fingerprint data is stored a secure portion of the A7, and it never uploaded to iCloud, or stored on Apple's servers, and never leaves the iPhone itself.

Also, I'd be very surprised if the stored data isn't hashed.

Comment: Not so fast... (Score 5, Informative) 356

by macsimcon (#44830341) Attached to: Can the iPhone Popularize Fingerprint Readers?

The fingerprint reader in the iPhone 5s uses a capacitive sensor, not an optical one, so Schneier's proposed hack wouldn't work.

Also, Apple requires you to create a PIN code when you enable the fingerprint sensor. If it's been 48 hours since you used the fingerprint sensor to authenticate, you have to use the PIN instead. Likewise, if you've just restarted the iPhone, you have to use the PIN for your first authentication, you can't use the fingerprint sensor.

Comment: Another stupid Musk idea (Score 0, Troll) 258

He's got a lot of stupid ideas: A new transportation system that would cost billions to build, would be completely uneconomical for patrons to use, and has a high risk of death with even the slightest malfunction at 4,000 MPH. An electric car which costs nearly $100,000 and is likely to lack the necessary infrastructure to use over long distances for years, if ever. A money transfer system which acts like a bank, but whose customers have no FDIC protections, but lots of horror stories. A private space agency which couldn't make it without government subsidies and assistance. YEAH, he's the NEW Steve Jobs all right!

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"