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Comment: Re:that's not the FAA's job (Score 1) 159

by Rich0 (#47438057) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

What is the risk of a drone hovering 100 feet up taking photos of a house?

Just have the FAA issue $50 ADS-B transponders which anybody can install on a drone or aircraft and that would probably do a lot more to promote collision avoidance than keeping people from taking pictures of their own houses.

As far as heavy drones go - regulate them like baseballs hit into windows and such. You don't need a license to operate a baseball and yet we don't have them showering down on our cars all day long.

Comment: Re:Wha? (Score 4, Insightful) 178

by Rich0 (#47437433) Attached to: New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture

Flatten the organization is simple enough - fire or demote managers so that there are more people reporting to any particular manager.

Really this sounds like the kind of buzz-speak I was hearing at work a few years ago when the same sorts of things were done. The same Accenture consultant probably wrote the slide deck.

Fewer people = fewer people involved in each decision, etc. They always talk about changing the culture, because talking about layoffs doesn't exactly make people excited to go to work.

Comment: Re:The Elephant in the Room (Score 1) 93

by Rich0 (#47437423) Attached to: Arecibo Radio Telescope Confirms Extra-galactic Fast Radio Pulses

You get a radio pulse every time lightning strikes. I think that this is a fairly unlikely explanation. If it were more regular and had some kind of repeating pattern to it then I'd start thinking galactic navigation beacon or something, but natural pulsars probably work well enough for that already.

Comment: Re:LoL... (Score 1) 271

by Rich0 (#47437317) Attached to: William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls

Yeah, I get a chuckle every time I hear some IT manager at my employer talk about "big data." Often it is followed by a reference to an archive of raw scientific data which spans maybe 8-10 TB from the last 6 years or so and is mostly junk in a huge variety of formats.

When your big data problem can fit in the PC sitting under my desk, it isn't a big data problem. Heck, I'd give them "you can solve it like you would a big data problem" angle except they're not really doing that either.

Comment: Re:Sure you can, here is how (Score 2) 271

by Rich0 (#47437295) Attached to: William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls

The problem with this is the tragedy of the commons. It would be like letting your kids decide how to spend the household budget. You'd go to 14 movies each weekend, and eat Happy Meals every night, and nobody would pay the mortgage.

If the average voter can't figure out how to vote for somebody other than the guy with the biggest campaign fund, how is giving them a line-item veto over the budget going to help?

Oh, and keep in mind who pays all the taxes. Funding for the pesky SEC, who needs that? ERISA and OSHA - how quaint! Let's go ahead and spend the national budget on more corporate bailouts!

Comment: Re:Preferred Screening Gender (Score 1) 160

by Rich0 (#47432107) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

Do you have a choice of the gender of the TSA screener, or just a right to one of the same gender?

Must make it fun dealing with people with Klinefelter's. Just how do you define "gender" in today's society? Today we're just getting started with the marriage debate, but in 20 years we'll progress to figuring out what to do with bathrooms and workplace etiquette.

Comment: Re:Wait a minute... (Score 1) 160

by Rich0 (#47432067) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

So, as others pointed out acetaminophen is actually fairly dangerous as drugs go. However, let's pick on something like ibuprofen instead which is definitely safer.

Today even ibuprofen would have trouble making it as a non-prescription drug.

Pain-killers in general have the deck stacked against them. For something like a heart medication to get on the market you basically have to show that it saves more lives than it takes. So, if it prevents 10k more heart attacks per year than any other drug on the market, and it kills 10 people per year due to liver toxicity, then it isn't hard to get it approved.

Painkillers don't benefit from this kind of calculus. If it kills 3 people a year, you can't point to a single life that they save to balance it out. So, our regulatory system tends to keep painkillers off the market. It is hard to balance lives cut short vs long lives lived in agony.

Diet medications have a lot of problems with suicide and tend to be kept off the market for the same reason. (Which makes me really wonder about the interaction between diet, obesity, and depression - eating is a basic instinct and we already know that people eat when they're upset - the need to eat is in many ways driven by emotion.)

Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 3, Interesting) 170

by Rich0 (#47429921) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted

And this is part of why all the drug development work ends up happening in private industry.

A scientist will come up with a molecule that inhibits some enzyme and get some publishable result. At that point they issue the typical "possible cure for cancer" press release and move on to the next thing. 5 years and $10M later a pharma company figures out that it causes heart valve degeneration or that inhibiting the enzyme isn't the magic bullet everybody hoped for. They don't bother publishing it, but none of their scientists get paid by the publication anyway. The companies interest is that if it eventually works out they make billions.

So, in that sense you actually have an example of a way in which industrial research is actually less risk-averse than academia, which should be shocking.

That said, when it comes to the basic research side of things pharma companies do tend to let the academics do the work for them.

Comment: Re:So (Score 1) 302

When you think about it, this is the only sensible approach. Do you want every municipality that owns a helicopter to be trying to police aircraft that are flying overhead? Maybe the plane's registration is bogus. Great, call it in to the FAA as a good citizen and let them deal with it.

There are a lot of safety issues when you try to deal with issues in the air. Indeed, I've heard ATC recordings where ATC is basically trying to ream somebody out for not following procedures correctly, and that is also something that shouldn't happen. Deal with problems on the ground - if somebody violates the rules they should record it and refer it for enforcement action and write up a report. Trying to deal with problems in the air just means you're putting others at risk by not doing your job.

I'm all for enforcement, but at the right time and place.

Comment: Re:Say what you will about the US (Score 1) 98

Agree. The US even has the FCPA - it is outright illegal to bribe foreign officials. That law isn't enforced as well as it probably could be, but it is enforced and you do hear about a scandal from time to time. I know that my employer trains on the act and makes compliance a clear policy (though I have no idea how much they follow-through in practice - I wouldn't be privy to enforcement actions).

I'm not sure to what degree this is the case in other countries.

Comment: Re:Multirole aircraft DON'T WORK. (Score 1) 354

by Rich0 (#47424913) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

Yeah, I was thinking something much smaller/lighter. Almost something fieldable by an amateur (the telescope itself would be in the amateur range, but the drone would be a bit large if you wanted it to go high-altitude.

I've read in astronomy forums (a while ago) that there is a lot of emphasis on really big telescope projects, but for much less money you can get a lot of science done if you take a much smaller instrument but manage it professionally (automation, calibration, etc). It isn't unlike in computing where there is a place for both the big fancy supercomputer with high memory bandwidth and super-fast CPU, and the massively parallel commodity cluster. Different problems are best solved with either approach. Maybe the Hubble can image galaxies at the edge of the visible universe, but for the same price you could have 20,000 cheap telescopes doing continuous surveys of large regions of the sky. Each has its place.

Comment: Re:"To replace obsolete and aging aircraft platfor (Score 1) 354

by Rich0 (#47424875) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

For the 3rd world, though, the A10 seems risky. Its main advantage is getting in low and slow and basically fighting "melee" against batallions of vehicles.

For what it does it is a GREAT platform, but you wouldn't send a lot of these against an enemy and not expect losses. They've vulnerable to fire from MANPADs and such which even terrorist groups could have.

What they can do is fly in at 300 feel where the nearby SA-10 site won't see them and drop bombs, while the F15s would be shot down 80 miles away by the SAM.

If the enemy doesn't have advanced SAMs, then the F15 can just loiter at 40k feet and drop a bomb when requested. Nothing a terrorist has is going to be able to touch it, and if there are older SAMs those can be effectively destroyed at the start of the mission.

I agree that drones are really where everybody should be going. Just look at them like multi-stage cruise missiles. A drone would have a lower radar cross section due to its size, it WOULD be cheaper/faster to mass-produce/replace, and it could fly the terminal portion of its mission at very low altitude. It only costs money, so fighting a war of attrition is politically acceptable - losing 1000 drones in a fight isn't the same as losing 1000 pilots with the POWs being fought over for decades later. It also enables distraction tactics that involve sacrificing aircraft.

Comment: Re:So SSL is nothing more than an honor system? (Score 2) 107

by Rich0 (#47424065) Attached to: India's National Informatics Centre Forged Google SSL Certificates

SSL goes beyond the naivety of government trust. It also suffers from what amounts to a global namespace/trust/etc issue.

Any CA can issue a certificate for any domain, a domain generally can only have one certificate, and the trusted CA list is managed by the browser, not the user.

So, if you trust your government (naievely), and distrust everybody else, it won't work. Your browser will constantly be wanting to add CAs you don't trust, and might not include ones you trust. Then, if you drop a bunch of CAs then a bunch of websites won't work. A website doesn't have the option of getting certificates from 14 different CAs so as to be trusted by everybody - they have to pick one and everybody has to trust them.

So, users are basically forced to accept CAs they've never heard of, and the whole system is a mess as a result.

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.