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Comment: Now it's the grid engineers' problem to solve... (Score 5, Informative) 227

by mpoulton (#46684533) Attached to: Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds
A Tesla S has an 85kWh battery. To charge that in 30 seconds requires 10,200,000 watts of power - approximately the full electrical service to a decent size skyscraper. That's 42,500 amps at 240V, the full maximum power available to over 212 modern homes and a totally impractical amount of current to handle with any reasonable electrical equipment. So while fast-charging batteries are great and a necessary step forward in technology, the universal adoption of electric cars will require not just upgrading our infrastructure, but a complete rethinking and redevelopment of the electrical grid using not-yet-imagined technologies.

Comment: Re:Teenagers will do stupid things? (Score 1) 387

by mpoulton (#46383389) Attached to: Girl's Facebook Post Costs Her Dad $80,000
As a plaintiff's attorney (the one doing the suing of large companies), I often need confidentiality terms in settlement agreements for a variety of strategic reasons. It is not an abusive tactic used by large companies against individuals, it is a specifically bargained-for provision of a settlement contract which both attorneys negotiate. The last thing anyone needs is more legislation controlling what kinds of deals people are or are not allowed to make.

Comment: Easier now, but not new to ham radio guys (Score 4, Interesting) 69

The new single-chip radar solutions and FMCW radar modules are definitely much easier to use and more capable than what was available just a few years ago, but DIY radar is nothing new. Amateur radio operators have been playing with radar guns and door sensors for decades, and doing some pretty interesting things with them. I remember reading photocopies of articles from QST from the 1970's that explained how to hack door sensors to make speed detectors, as well as using them for long-distance voice and video transmission with parabolic reflectors. People have also been playing with marine radar, which is considerably more expensive but still affordable for a dedicated experimenter.

Comment: Judge Karas uses modern physics as an analogy (Score 3, Insightful) 54

From Judge Karas' opinion: "Thus, the output data generated by using Newton’s Second Law of Motion — force equals mass times acceleration, or “F=ma” — would be a series of uncopyrightable facts, even though the output is in some sense an estimation because Newton’s formula fails does not consider relativistic effects."

No wonder he made the right decision on this case.

Comment: Re:154dB is not fatal, or unusual (Score 2) 113

by mpoulton (#46136087) Attached to: Sound System Simulates the Roar of a Rocket Launch

Car audio competitors exceed 154dB all the time. That's not even close to the sound pressure levels achieved in world-class competitions:

That's 28.5dB louder than this testing facility, a factor of 707 times more power.

Decibels relative to what? Maybe not ambient...

Sound pressure level is measured relative to 1dB (duh), which is typically defined as 20uPa.

Comment: Re:154dB is not fatal, or unusual (Score 3, Interesting) 113

by mpoulton (#46136069) Attached to: Sound System Simulates the Roar of a Rocket Launch
That's all certainly true. The facility is very impressive. Not because of the 154dB number, but because of all the other engineering factors involved. There's no doubt that the total amount of power involved is way higher than any audio system, and that it would be very unhealthy to stand in the box. It's just a bit odd and misleading to tout the SPL number as somehow being really impressive, when the chav blasting his ridiculous stereo at 3AM may be in the same dB ballpark.

Comment: Re:Patent Owner (Score 2) 204

by mpoulton (#45946765) Attached to: Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case

Patents should be viewed the way most businesspeople view lawyers. A necessary evil. Too expensive, wasteful, a time sink.

Yeah, that's how we attorneys get most of our expensive business litigation cases. Business owners ignore legal counsel until they are in WAY too deep over their heads. Attorneys are like business consultants, but usually more important. Failing to seek and heed legal counsel is the number one cause of giant expensive messes for small and medium businesses. Large businesses and well-run medium ones don't have this problem, because they use their legal counsel to guide their decision-making appropriately.

Comment: Re:Rescued? (Score 5, Informative) 190

by mpoulton (#45872139) Attached to: Ecuadorian Navy Rescues Bezos After Kidney Stone Attack

Kidney stones supposedly hurt like hell (no personal experience here), but it's not something people generally die from.

They sure can be fatal. I would have died from a kidney stone if it weren't for modern medical technology. A stone which is too large to pass obstructs the ureter, which prevents the kidney from draining urine into the bladder. A kidney that can't drain will be permanently damaged and fail within a day or two. Worse, stones can become infected (as mine did), resulting in a kidney infection which will rapidly cause permanent damage and will progress to sepsis and death within days.

Comment: Re:The Antarctic successfully defends itself (Score 1) 168

by mpoulton (#45845943) Attached to: Helicopter Rescue For All Passengers Aboard Antarctic Research Ship

Glad everybody is safe. Cue the impending doom guys to work more ice into it's getting warmer paper WTB more grant and endowment funding for fun vacation trips.

Yeah, climate change is a load of crap! Why, I heard that just a couple months ago the whole state of Minnesota turned from lush greenery into an icy snow-covered wasteland! Entire lakes froze over, that didn't have any ice at all in the previous months. Surely the world climate can't be gradually warming over many decades if certain areas ever get any colder in the short term!

Comment: Re:They just pled guilty (Score 1) 230

by mpoulton (#45405829) Attached to: Judge: No Privacy Expectations For Data On P2P Networks

*Disclaimer* I did not read the article. (Anyone surprised) By claiming that their 4th amendment rights were violated, they basically just pled guilty. The proper defense is "ZOMG some sicko hacked my WiFi!"

Not at all. There are plenty of circumstances where a 4th Amendment challenge may exist in addition to other legal and factual defenses. For example, let's say you are driving a convertible and get pulled over by the police for no good reason, and they proceed to search your car without probable cause and find a baggie of drugs in the back seat. You have two 4th Amendment challenges here - both to the stop, and also to the search. You also have a defense that the baggie in the back seat of a convertible may not have been yours, since anyone could have dropped it in there. Challenging a search on constitutional grounds is not an admission of anything.

Comment: Re: Huh (Score 5, Informative) 126

by mpoulton (#45003769) Attached to: Bypassing US GPS Limits For Active Guided Rockets

Is someone with the technical abilities to build a guided missile really going to be deterred by the fact that off the shelf civilian GPS firmware is crippled in this way? The specifications for the GPS system are publicly available and many manufacturers have successfully used them to build GPS receivers, so it can't be rocket science (pun intended). And even if one were to use off the shelf GPS components, how hard would it be to modify the firmware? Firmware is just software stored in some type of read only or flash memory. Would it be that hard to download, inspect and modify it? It seems to me it would be about as hard as removing copy protection from a game.

Yes, it is a substantial deterrent. The limitations are imposed in the lowest-level parts of the GPS receiver, the first stage of data processing at which it is technically feasible to infer speed and altitude. The hardware that runs this code is highly specialized - it's a mixed analog/digital RF ASIC that is designed in hardware to run that specific code, including the limitation. There is little distinction between hardware and firmware at that point, and it is likely that the code responsible for the limitation is not programmable/reprogrammable at all. The sophistication needed to build a rudimentary short-range guided missile is surprisingly basic, and many hobbyists (or terroristically-inclined groups) could do it without too much difficulty, on a five-figure or low-six-figure budget. The GPS limitation significantly hinders the on-target accuracy that could be achieved, since the high speed terminal phase of the flight is where excellent guidance in an absolute reference frame is most important. The sophistication needed to build or microscopically alter a GPS receiver without the limitation is significantly greater (and in an entirely different technical field) than what is needed to build a missile that would benefit from that GPS guidance.

Comment: Re: Huh (Score 5, Informative) 126

by mpoulton (#45002683) Attached to: Bypassing US GPS Limits For Active Guided Rockets
The limitations at issue are not accuracy limits. Nowadays there are no real differences in accuracy between military and civilian GPS, since selective availability was turned off years ago. The problem is that civilian GPS firmware prohibits the device from giving a fix if it is above a certain altitude (around 60,000 feet) and moving faster that about mach 1. This makes it useless for midcourse guidance of a rocket, which is the point.

You can tell how far we have to go, when FORTRAN is the language of supercomputers. -- Steven Feiner