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Comment: At the airport (Score 1) 409 409

I see this with many of the older light airplanes. Types like the Cessna 150 and Piper Cub were designed when people weighed less, and it's difficult to get two 2015-size people plus a usable fuel load in either. There have been commercial plane crashes due to portly passengers (e.g. Air Midwest 5481).

I can fly a Cessna 152 solo with full fuel tanks, but if I have anybody in the plane with me I have to calculate how much fuel I can carry without being overweight. I can't do anything meaningful with a 150, and I'm not that heavy.

...laura

Comment: Up close and personal (Score 3, Interesting) 151 151

I've seen two quasi-startups go down the tubes from the inside.

One company had some very clever ideas, but were chronically incapable of making reliable hardware, or of making software that worked. They had no internal procedures to track what they were making, what it was supposed to do, or how they knew it worked. Too many releases were "we have to ship something to keep from losing what little credibility we still have".

Another company tried to reinvent itself after its prime business peaked and then started to implode. The idea we tried to develop wasn't commercially uninteresting, but we had major focus issues. What, exactly, do we want to do? Who is going to buy it? For how much? Having owned our old industry we weren't very good at competing with others in our new industry.

Both companies had issues with ineffectual leadership, flavour-of-the-month development, and business decisions made to help friends rather than make money. Both were broadsided by external developments that eventually rendered their products commercially irrelevant.

...laura

Comment: International security theater (Score 1) 510 510

It's not just in the U.S.A.

In Canada we've just had a verdict in a supposedly homegrown terrorism case (do a search for the names Nuttal and Korody), but it's clear that the defendants only have a handful of brain cells between them (heroin will do that...), and the undercover cops had a major part in turning a couple of harmless losers who aren't quite sure what day it is in to a major threat to national security. Needless to say, their lawyer is going for entrapment.

Also needless to say, the media are going entirely with the government/party line...

...laura

Comment: My first Windows (Score 1) 387 387

Windows 3.0 was the first version I used to any significant degree. It looked so high-tech, though to 2015 eyes it looks like something from the old stone age. It did some cool stuff. It also gave us General Protection Faults, the predecessor to the Blue Screen Of Death.

For a long time I recommended Windows 98 to non-technical users. Some people claimed there was a USB implementation for Windows 95, but after careful study I have come to the conclusion they were mistaken. My first exposure to Windows 95 was an early alpha (I worked for the evil empire at the time) that crashed and required reformatting the hard disc after attempting to reconfigure the mouse.

I was intrigued by some of the other options out there. I sent my resume to Quarterdeck - I thought DESQview was neat - but only got a thanks-but-no-thanks postcard back.

...laura

Comment: Fiber is fast! (Score 5, Insightful) 221 221

Fiber is amply fast.

The bottleneck is the cavalier attitude of web designers to network resources. You do not need to load 25 different URLs (DNS lookups, plus autoplay video and all the usual clickbait junk) to show me a weather forecast. Or a Slashdot article, for that matter...

...laura

Comment: Sounds about right (Score 1) 361 361

I came of age in the late '70s and early '80s, and my musical tastes reflect that.

There have been some new discoveries along the way. I adore Sheryl Crow, and thought Lady Gaga was a breath of fresh air. With those exceptions (and a few others) I haven't heard much of interest since the early '90s.

I remain baffled by rap.

...laura

Comment: Dinosaur? Hipster? (Score 1) 461 461

If I saw somebody with an aol.com email I'd wonder if they were a tech dinosaur, a total hipster, or somebody who had simply stuck with something that worked.

I've had my Hotmail email address since 1996, prior to Microsoft taking it over. I've stuck with it because it works. It does exactly what Hotmail promised from the start, providing email that is independent of my ISP or employer.

...laura

Comment: Yes (Score 2) 435 435

Yes, they do.

An early example of getting it wrong was the City & South London Railway, the first deep-level underground rail line in London. The designers of the rolling stock didn't bother with windows because there was, supposedly, nothing to see. Passengers hated the "padded cells". Even if all you see is tunnel walls rushing by, people need to see outside.

I could see the utility of an airliner with no windows but cameras and viewing screens - it would solve some engineering problems - but for a car, the simplest is still the best. Windows.

...laura

Comment: Details, please (Score 1) 166 166

I see lots of announcements - not just this one - shouting about their new microarchitectures, how cool they are, the amazing benefits, and so on. But documentation of exactly what the new microarchitecture is, exactly what it does, seems thin-to-non-existent. Maybe I'm not looking in the right place.

All "big" processors nowadays have fancy pipelines, out-of-order execution, branch prediction, multiple cores, and so on. Fine. But how is Zen different from past microarchitectures? What makes it revolutionary?

Details, please.

...laura

Comment: How we do it in Canada (Score 5, Informative) 36 36

In Canada we have an intermediate step between untowered uncontrolled airports and controlled airports with towers, Mandatory Frequency airports. They have a ground station with whom you must communicate for arrival and departure. They dispense information and coordinate activities, but do not give clearances. As pilot you make those decisions.

An example MF airport I've flown to is Kamloops, BC (CYKA). On initial contact the ground station told me the wind, altimeter setting and active runway, but also advised me of skydiving activity north of the airport. Since this might conflict on the usual left-hand circuit pattern, they suggested I fly a right hand circuit on approach. I did, and landed. This wasn't binding on me - the decision and responsibility were mine - but it was a good idea.

...laura

Comment: Re:Correctly incorrect units (Score 2) 172 172

If they used reasonable numbers of significant figures I wouldn't mind so much. Since the altitude is specified to three significant figures (FL350), how about 10.7 km? The Air New Zealand system only did metric, BTW.

A later flight (Air Canada) had the bilingual in-flight thingy giving U.S.-bastardized units in English, and metric units (with, as usual, too many significant figures) in French.

...laura

Comment: Correctly incorrect units (Score 1) 172 172

I just got back from a vacation in Australia, and was annoyed that the in-flight display thingy insisted on displaying everything in "correct" units.

Showing the plane's altitude as 10,668 meters is all well and good, but is missing the point. Even a pilot from New Zealand (I was flying Air New Zealand) would have given the altitude as 35,000 feet. Flight level 350, strictly speaking, but few non-aviators would know what that meant.

Yes, I know they use metric altitudes and flight levels in Russia and China...

...laura

Overload -- core meltdown sequence initiated.

Working...