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Comment: The same can be said for helicopters.... (Score 1) 252

by sugarmatic (#49141911) Attached to: Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

The widespread use of helicopters in law enforcement is largely a waste of money as well. Nearly all LE helicopters are flown, by policy, at altitudes and speeds appropriate for fixed wing assets that cost 1/8th as much to purchase and operate.

It's a boondoggle. When the budgets come down, it is always the "don't take away our chopper, man. They are so cool and intimidating to crooks" arguments. They seldom provide *any* additional utility in practice (planes orbit a scene at the same speeds and altitudes).

If you were to load the incidents that use a helicopter's specific abilities in those rare incidents that require them, the costs are astronomical. In LA, only 4 incidents from an entire fleet that costs several 10's of millions of dollars were recorded in 2013.

It makes drones look like a deal by comparison. Or not...

Comment: Default warrantless wiretaps create lawless zones. (Score 1) 431

Destroying the 4th Amendment of the Constitution without comment means ubiquitous encryption is perfectly fine with me.

I've got nothing to hide. Why do you want to look?

The trend towards surveillance is a diversion. The security apparatus is less effective, less capable, and less talented than it has been in the past in identifying real threats vs inventing paranoid scandals. It seeks greater immunity and secrecy from accountability simply because, for all the investment in its promise, it fails to deliver. Every time.

Comment: Neon is quite a mess and everyone knows it... (Score 1) 116

by sugarmatic (#48540317) Attached to: NSF Accused of Misuse of Funds In Giant Ecological Project

Neon has been a mess for a long time. Feuds between scientists, notable acts of outright sabotage, shaky data from substandard instrumentation, overhead and management fees that approach two thirds of the entire budget, the list goes on.

The entire enterprise risks entire swaths of ecological science and debate because it has been so incompetent. Chaos.

Anyone who believes we don't have good data because of a lack of money needs to pay attention...the problem is that incompetent institutions are quite literally sucking the air out of the room. Progress is stymied by incompetence from the likes of Neon.

Comment: This is very old news. (Score 1) 239

To date, there are literally dozens of groups of hobbyists who compete with FPV vehicles (both ground and air) to deliver large pyrotechnical devices to "goals", from over 4 km away. It's not even expensive or is off the shelf and an click away.

To date, there are at least a dozen people who have equipped a vehicle with FPV transceivers and the simple servos required to navigate through actual city streets while miles away themselves. Latency is not the issue that some people who haven't actually tried it might argue. To be fair, the videos I've witnessed were done at night with minimal traffic present.

These things are relatively cheap, not very difficult, and are completely available to anyone with some time and motivation.

This has been the case for a very, very long time. This is no game changer.

The game changer would be the sudden appearance of legions of people with a little money and a lot of motivation to use these things for nefarious purposes.

So, the question is this:

Why isn't this happening all the time?

1) Either people just don't know how easy, accessible, and cheap these things are, or

2) All the luggage searches, border security, and spying on private citizens is batting 100% for effectiveness in preventing the legions of terrierist attacks that must be attempted every day, or

3) These nefarious people simply don't exist in any number great enough to worry about.

Hypothesis (1) is naive and silly. These ideas are the first thing to occur to any casual 14 year old pyromaniac nerd. They aren't the last to occur to occur to a determined, capable theoretical "terrierist".

Hypothesis (2) is what comprises the confidence game we willingly pay trillions to every year.

We live in a world where hypothesis (2) is the only likely scenario, and should be considered "theory" by now given the ridiculousness of (1) and (2).

Comment: Re:The US government (Score 4, Interesting) 104

Prohibited areas are few and far between, and don't include power plants as you suggest,despite what some obedient naive security person might proclaim to an even more naive reporter.

The data center is wide open, and this was a peaceful protest. It is not possible from the picture to tell if the flight was conducted at a legal altitude or not. ==the law enforcement community proved itself to be a bunch of incompetent, fragile personality types.

People like to believe anything that gives a sense of urgency or authority to what they feel they have to say.

If the government truly wanted to protect the data center, they wouldn't have placed their chiller stations on the perimeter with no barriers,or their transformer service stations, etc. The place would be disabled for months at a minimum if they were affected. An airplane flying overhead? It would barely mess up the paint. There is no reason to shut down the airspace there.

Comment: Pennsylvania is a Stand Your Ground State... (Score 2) 798

The detective clearly would have preferred it if the kid had pulled out a Colt .45 and blown the offending child bully's brains out all over the wall.

The simple truth is simply too threatening to too many people. They demand laws that provide drama instead.

Comment: optical multiplexing... (Score 2) 40

by sugarmatic (#46238869) Attached to: Researchers Unveil High-Speed Laser Communications Device For Space

...also exploits polarization to a high degree. In fact, many developmental optical communication systems exploit polarization purity for higher base digital transmission, and even if polarization modulation slows things down for some schemes, the resulting bandwidth can overcome the obstacles by an order of magnitude or more over the reduced rate of the mux/demux. The issues with these schemes is more about cost. But most of these programs are directed at n-fold increases in existing optical fiber network bandwidth. Their time will come.

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn