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Comment Re:Silly string? (Score 4, Interesting) 176

Its a similar problem to using explosives to knock down a building. Paintballs have a large enough amount of energy to take down a drone, but it's not applied in the right way. During WW2 when nations were using bombs to knock down buildings, they discovered that, somewhat contrary to common sense, using an explosive with a very fast detonation speed to produce a very string but very brief blast tended to only so supericial damage to buildings. The problem was that the mass of the building had to be overcome before you started to knock it down.

Explosives like ammonium nitrate on the other hand, have a very slow release of energy, while still containing a lot of total energy. So instead of trying to send the bricks flying airborne, which requires a lot of energy, they invest it slowly to PUSH the bricks sideways without lifting them, and shove the building over. "Work smarter, not harder".

Paintballs I think have a simiar problem of incorrect energy delivery. They're delivering all of their energy in a very small package. But when the ball hits, it breaks, and sends essentailly all of the energy-containing mass plattering in all directions, instead of transferring it effciently to the target. Anyone that's played paintball knows, "the balls that break don't hurt that much - it's the balls that DON'T break that leave bruises". 20% energy transfer vs 100% energy transfer. Stopping paint absorbs much more energy than deflecting it. Look at how the paint just parts around the sides of the drone and continues on to create a spray downrange. All that energy wasted!

If you want to use paintballs, the solution is easy. Freeze the paintballs. I absolutely guarantee frozen paintballs will be effective in bringing down a drone. Just keep a sandwich baggie of them in your freezer "in case of emergency". See a drone? Fill your hopper and encourage the drone to "chill out" and take a "break" on your lawn. Just make sure it lands ON your lawn, so it's clear to any authorities that it was in your airspace at the time. (and if it happens to land just outside... you might want to "covertly relocate" it slightly)

If the owner comes traipsing over and insists on your handing it over, refuse admission to your property. Insist that they will be charged with criminal tresspass if they enter or will not leave your property. If the neighbor kids throw a baseball and it lands inside your fenced yard, just because it's their ball doesn't give them legal right to come onto your property to recover it. Tell them to send the cops, you will gladly turn over the drone to the cops, and they can turn it over to the pilot. If they persist, don't resist, just protest and document (picture/film) the tresspass. Then regardless of how the drone thing ends, they WILL be liable for tresspass.

So leave it sitting on your lawn, guarded and covered. If they call the cops, take them to where it landed, point out the camera, turn it over, give your statement, and its all documented. The owner should get a nice dressing down from the cops before they give him back the drone.

Depending on the local laws and the particular judge though, you may be found liable for damage to the drone. Be preapred for that if you go hunting. Even if it doesn't seem fair, the law may not be on your side. If it really worries you, contact your local authorities for their official position on the matter before it comes up.

You might also go down the route "My daughter was upstairs in her bedroom changing to come outside when this drone flew by on our property at the same level, it could have been filming her through the second story window. She had an expectation of privacy that wast being violated. We demand the owner turn over any recorded footage."

Comment Re:Never understood (Score 1) 430

> ...You can be fired for discussing salary while on the clock....

To me, that sounds like an open invitation for a wrongful dismissal suit.

Not really. Except for specific restrictions provided by state and federal law, you are handing over your time to the company for the period you are there, in exchange for compensation, that's the deal you agreed to. They tell you what to do with that time, and that's what you do with it, and you get money and benefits. If you choose to do something else, you are violating the terms of your employment contract, and yes, they are legally justified if they choose to fire you for it. It's no different than insisting on playing solitaire on the computer when you should be crunching numbers in excel. You violte the terms of the contract, and they at the very least can tear it up. (they can also pursue legal action against you)

Though we live in a very litigous ("sue-happy") society nowadays. The reality is "You have the right to sue for any reason you want to, you're just not very likely to win a judgement in court for a lot of it". This falls into that category. Other factors can play in and tilt the balance too. Some companies have a known policy of going to great lengths to shut up former employees that sue to avoid bad publicity, and in those cases it can be (disgustingly) easy to get a settlement from them. So, despite "how it's supposed to work", YMMV.

Comment one-way loyalty (Score 5, Informative) 585

A couple jobs ago I was chatting with another employee, we were discussing some "ominous signs" such as HR shredding documents like she was preparing for a parade. The topic of "giving notice" came up. The other guy said that if he found a good job somewhere else he'd walk with zero notice.

The manager overheard this and stepped in on the conversation, trying to berate us with "that's not how it's done in business, I expect you to give me at least two weeks' notice if you're going to quit!" I turned to him and said "so, how much notice will you give ME if you're going to lay me off or fire me?" (huff) (huff) (snort) is about all I got back, he couldn't even form words let alone a coherant sentence to respond to that. So I added, "I'll give you as much notice as I believe you'll give me." So rather than answer me, he just stomped away.

I don't think they consider just how much more inconvenient being unemployed is, compared to having to hire someone to replace a single employee that departs unexpectedly. For the boss, it's inconvenient. For the employee, suddenly losing their income, possibly the only income for an entire family, can be devastating. And yet they expect to be provided with notice, while providing none themselves. Sselfish, arrogant, and inconsiderate!

So everyone with a clue began job hunting. I had found new work, it wasn't nearly what I had now, but the writing was on the wall in pretty bold print at this point, so I accepted it. I showed up on a Thursday evening to start my (3rd) shift, and the gal from HR was in the parking lot with her hatch open, handing out unemployment packets. The entire center had been closed, everyone there got laid off that day, no one even was offered a transfer. I found out later that our manager had known this was going to happen for months.

My new job started on Monday. (total time unemployed - two days) Unfortunately, that's how they play the game, so that's how I have to play it too. If they don't like that, they have no one to blame but themselves, I'm just playing by their rules.

Comment Re:Never understood (Score 4, Interesting) 430

My understanding is that US law prohibits employees signing away their right to share the compensation information.

it does. A worker must be legally allowed to share their benefits (salary and otherwise) to members of their Union. But the law doesn't specifically say union, it's good for anyone.

Discussing it while on "company time" can certainly be controlled. You can be fired for discussing salary while on the clock. But once you step off the premisis, they cannot restrict that. Updating a spreadsheet stored on company servers, at work, while company time, however, is enforceable for a variety of reasons. Google could have canned the lot for that, provided it didn't violate other employment laws.

I've been chastisted by my manager for discussing salary with other employees outside of work. We explained how the law was on our side, and he simply got pissy and grumbled something about "you're not supposed to do that".

The whole point of it being that discouraging disclosure of benefits directly helps the company in negotiations. THEY know how much each employee is being paid, and they really do NOT want you to have that information, because it's leverage in the negotiations. So it's not even slightly surprising that they will try to prevent it. But as long as you do it off company time, off company grounds, and off company resources, they can't do jack. They can blowhard all they want, but there's no legal basis for action. In an "at-will state", you could still get fired for some random reason or no reason at all, but if they were foolish enough to open their mouths as to the reason they fired you, you could easily net a large payout in court. (any boss that specifically tells you why you were fired in front of witnesses is an idiot and needs to be fired themselves - too much litigation risk)

Comment Re:Tax dollars at work. (Score 1) 674

Firstly, the USB spec covers current draw up to 2 amps, typically communicated/negotiated via voltage preset on the two data pins. (wikipedia's got a good writeup on it) But considering the power the train is requiring all by itself to operate, a single light bulb could easily be drawing double what any iPad does. The variance of bad bulbs on trains would be more noticeable than the occasional charging phone.

There's already a sign up on these outlets saying "not for public use". If I were them I would add a little additional verbage, "use of this unregulated power outlet may cause damage to peripheral, train operatior is not responsible for damage caused by unlawful use" Lawyers would still maybe try to pick on it but wouldn't get much traction. There's alwayws that 1-in-a-million that pulls it off, but it's a statistical blip.

Changing the outlet covers would be expensive. You'd also have to change the vacuums etc. I'm sure there are other things they use like work lights etc. Covering the outlets would probably be effective but would end up costing more in staff time than the $$ saved in electricity, by far.

Placing the outlets on a switch would be hideously expensive. They tap into the common power rails, so new lines would have to be plumbed and a new breaker AND switch would have to be installed. No, you can't use the breaker. Breakers aren't meant for frequent use, you'd be replacing them once a year if you used them every day.

The wear and tear on an outlet would be noticeable but not bad. The trains get taken down for scheduled maintenance regularly anyway, and that's already on their checklist. If they try to use the outlet and it's a bit off, it gets replaced. One $4 outlet every few years really doesn't affect them.

It sounds like everyone involved overreacted to some degree or other, the train people, the citizen, and the police. The difference is only one of them could have severe direct consequences - the police. This places a higher onus on them to remain calm and rational, which they failed to do, which is confirmed by saner heads at the precinct prevailing and "de-arresting" him.

I'd like to say more but I gotta get off to work. When I get there I will plug in my phone to charge. And I won't expect anyone to flip a biscuit over it.

Comment Re:Domain Registrars are all scammers (Score 1) 108

registrar turned off auto-renew, the alert emails were nowhere to be found, and my domain was suddenly owned by a cayman islands company.

Lesson: never rely on others to save you from yourself.

Don't ever take a chance with your domains, register them for 10 years at a time.

100% agree. I've owned a 4char domain for over two decades. Fortunately it's not a common combination and doesn't make any good acronyms, so no problems so far for me. But I still keep it registered 10 out AND make damn sure I know my domain unlock codes. (you will remember when godaddy locked all those people out awhile ago when their dns and registrar pages went down, no unlock codes means you do not have control, only your registrar does)

I have a very basic web page system and also have been running email on that domain the entire time though, so I hope that's a good enough case if need be.

Comment the analogy can work (Score 1) 154

though only if you identify the scope of the work. You need a bricklayer to build the house, but he needs to be educated if he's going to be the GC / project lead. Don't hire unskilled labor for a skilled position.

But it totally makes sense to hire basic codemonkeys for the grind work. You don't need a CS degree to maintain your site's javascript or write queries all day long.

Comment Re:Up to (Score 4, Insightful) 81

"up to", that means "as long as our system is theoretically capable of 20gps, we can give you 1gbps without breaking any of the rules. enjoy your bits through our straw!"

That's one thing I'd change if I had the authority... new consumer protection law... "when advertising, you're not allowed to state any maximum possible customer value without also stating the minimum possible value using equal authority"

Comment Re:Infinity (Score 2) 1067

NaN is actually pretty simple to deal with using computers. If you use 16 bits to store a signed integer, you have 65,536 units to use. One of them needs to be 0, so you have an imbalance. -32768 to +32767 is common. But you can just use -32768 to represent NaN instead, and keep things slightly more tidy when handing overflows and underflows.

Then anytime NaN comes up at any point in the calculation or comparison, even when divided by or subtracted from itself, the result automatically equals NaN.

Nice and simple. Now go watch Numberphile and lose your afternoon watching all his other videos.

Comment justification? (Score 3, Interesting) 134

You'd think they would have to provide some sort of reason why this specific venue was chosen for this "dragnet" law enforcement. This isn't like license plate scanners where they're throwing them up all over the place on highways... this is a very specific deployment. If they're going to use the reason of "catching cell phone thieves" (which by itself seems to be a very trumped-up reason) you'd thing they would be expected to provide some justification, why they have any reasonable belief that any significant number of said theives are going to be there.

That reason could actually probably be dismantled now that they've announced they intend to BE there, any said thief would be very likely to avoid the venue as a result. So just based on that alone, they should be packing up?

It'd be like the police planning a raid on a local bar that had a track record of lots of underage drinkers. If news of the date/time of the raid gets out, it'd be pointless to go ahead as scheduled with the raid? If they went ahead with it even after being exposed, you'd have to assume that the "looking for undeage drinking" was just an excuse for the raid and there was some other specific reason that they didn't want to become public knowledge.

Comment Re:it's not a desert (Score 1) 599

NASA scientists who think we can't move water to people

When you've got 10 units of water and 15 units of demand, you move the water, but that's 5 less for someone else. Califormia has a huge overdraw on their supply, and is already moving water in from other places, and isn't letting a drop leave to the south. (they're not too happy about california UNmoving their water, see how well "move the water" is working with the Rio)

This isn't a case of product sitting in a warehouse across the country collecting dust, it's a limited natural resource, and they're already drawing heavily from all the "easy" AND all the "not so easy" sources. Yes you can move the water, but you can be darn well sure they don't want to pay for that. That's a big part of the problem, there's too much red tape holding the cost of water down right now. If the price would rise with the scarcity of the resource as it really should, CA wouldn't be having this problem. But that wheel is broken, and the machine is dysfunctional as a result. And everyone's been livinng on borrowed time, like borrowing from the bank to prop up an unprofitable business, without actually fixing the business. That can't go on forever.

So much of CA's water is getting shipped out of state or evaporating due to their agriculture. That's where the whole "this is an arid state" thing comes into play. Sure you can move there and live there, but trying to grow thirsty fruit and nut trees there is just plain dumb, and SHOULD be uneconomical, but they aren't being charged for their water relative to the actual value of the resource, to keep it a viable business. All these farmers out there crying "this water shortage is going to put me out of business!", yeah, it is. And it SHOULD. You've been relying on a crutch for decades and now the crutch has rotted and collaped under your weight, and so you're going down. The politicians down there are more than willing to help keep you propped up, and have been doing so for decades, but now it comes down to basic physics - there's simply no water left for them to give you to keep you afloat. They'll bend over backwards to keep the industry going, but it just won't be enough, not anymore. You can keep your agriculture, but you're going to have to change what you're growing. A single walnut costs almost five galons of water to produce. Look at that walnut tree and tell me how many galons of water that takes. You just don't DO that in a location where water is scarce, unless you're an idiot or have a government that's being an idiot for you and giving it away. "Just move the water!" uhhh... how about "Just MOVE the TREE?!" It makes a lot more sense to plant a tree over there than to try to move all that water over HERE.

Comment Re:it's not a desert (Score 1) 599

"We live in an arid and semi-arid state and we need to start acting that way." - Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist with Nasa.

"arid" is one step away from "desert". "Arid" basically means "deserts are the only dryer places on the planet". And unfortunately, a majority of the developed parts of california are in the arid portions of the state.

Though at the rate they're emptying their groundwater, it's going to start looking like a desert. Drilling is just borrowing water from tomorrow. Eventually that debt is going to cause them to bottom out, and the water supply is going to suddenly slip into a steeper dive and cause a lot of "shock damage" due to their not being willing to slow down their consumption gradually. It's like the famous athelete that retires and spends money like the bank is bottomless, and suddenly finds out he's almost broke. Should have put on the brakes a lot sooner, and now has to really clamp down to avoid complete disaster, but is in for one heck of a shock on lifestyle changes to come.

Comment Re:I'm betting that... (Score 1) 143

FWIW, the law very rarely supports "finders keepers losers weepers". The short story on that is that "physical posession does not prove or establish transfer of ownership". The only time that has a chance of winning is when the loser fails to establish they ever had ownership. But in this case, she gave it to them, and that 100% transfers ownership. Legally, they owe her nothing, and would be unlikely to lose in a court case.

Someone above cited big business as above this law, such as a "bank error in your favor" getting yoinked back. No, in that case when you sign the paperwork to set up the account, there will be specific wording in there saying you agree that bank errors are NOT in your favor and you will be legally obligated to return any cash withdrawn under those circumstances. The only difference here as far as the bank is concerned is they didn't stop you before you got money from them (unlke say, a bounced check) and so now there's a bit of additional burden to having go to after you to get the money back. (it usually doesn't work that way, so that just tends to get them wound up)

"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman

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