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Comment: Re:Competition (Score 1) 54 54

You may be joking to make your point, but it is sometimes true that capitalism gets in the way. Take a look at look at Cuban health outcomes and the expenditure involved, and compare this to the situation in the United States. Capitalism and market economies work well for some circumstances, but not everything. Things that are universal and fundamental, along with a high barrier to market entry are a particular example. Maybe we should consider if communications infrastructure fits this description?

Comment: May as well be honest (Score 3, Interesting) 143 143

The Spanish government may as well be honest about the purpose of this law and add quote marks where they belong: "Citizen Safety" Law. I don't know whether to see this protest as a clever stunt (it got our attention after all) or as an admission of defeat. It's all very easy to say from the safety and comfort of my couch, but it does kind of give the appearance that the government has got their way here.

Comment: The basics (Score 2) 208 208

Without knowing much about your application, I can only reasonably make suggestions about the basics.

1) Bench space, with good lighting and plenty of power points.
2) Flooring that won't build up static.
3) Good ventilation, because soldering fumes are not good for you.
4) A sink. You will probably need to be able to clean PCBs, and you will need to use wet chemicals if you make your own boards.
5) Component storage. Unless you want to spend hours digging through piles of parts, a good way of organizing components is very useful. Raaco make some nice steel cabinets for drawers, but they're not cheap.
6) A stereoscopic assembly microscope. I would be lost without mine - it is amazing how much easier it is to position small parts (e.g. 0201 size passives) when you can see what you are doing.
7) Multiple decent lab power supplies.
8) A good bench multimeter: one with a computer interface for logging would be good.
9) Digital storage oscilloscope, again with a computer interface of some sort (many have USB now) so you can store captured waveforms for later analysis and comparison.

These are the first things that come to mind, but undoubtably I have forgotten some essentials.

There's a wide range of things that may also be important, but it depends what you're doing so I can only speculate. For digital work you'll want a logic analyser / protocol analyser. If there are modern CPUs involved you will probably want a JTAG interface. If you are doing RF work there is a whole set of specialised equipment. If you are doing loads of SMD you might want a pick and place machine and a reflow oven. If you are making your own PCBs you might want a UV exposing unit and chemical trays, or alternatively a PCB milling machine (it takes a high end machine to do the very fine pitch work).

Comment: Re:It sounds feasible (Score 5, Informative) 612 612

My recollection is that it was only the video feed returned from the drone that was unencrypted. The control signals sent to the aircraft were still encrypted. Even signal jamming is apparently a difficult way to disable the drone because it has a degree of autonomy.

If Iran's claims are true (that it gained control of the plane) then that is either quite an achievement on their part, or quite a failure on the part of the US engineers.

Comment: Re:Let's not leap to conclusions. (Score 2, Insightful) 1079 1079

would you accept at face value, ..., the account of a guy who is known for being particularly vocal about the evils of Homeland Security?

Probably more so than I would accept Homeland Security's account of events. After all, they're known for being particularly vocal about the evils of everyone, including the people they purport to be protecting.

Comment: Don't expect chips in a hurry (Score 2, Informative) 50 50

Atmel makes some great microcontrollers, but their recent record of delivery is very poor and it has hurt their reputation. In particular, Atmel announced the XMEGA range of AVR micros years ago, but they repeatedly failed to become available: see AvrFreaks for just one of many discussions on the topic. A limit subset of the range is just becoming readily purchaseable now.

There are various theories about why Atmel has had such delays in producing the XMEGAs: upper management turmoil, the distraction of a takeover attempt by Microchip, the change to being fab-less, and serious bugs in the early XMEGA production efforts.

I hope I'm wrong, but I wouldn't be too surprised if these new chips aren't physically available for a long time.

Comment: Can't trust them (Score 5, Insightful) 154 154

Aren't these the people who told us that the law suits were over? Call me paranoid, but I can't trust them.

I suspect the only reason the RIAA are presenting a softer image on things like the lawsuit threats and DRM is because they believe (or know) that they're going to get their way with the ACTA treaty and we'll all end up being subject to outrageous three-strikes laws.

Comment: Re:Waiting to see when the spam starts (Score 1) 604 604

Hmm... just thought of another way of putting that:

I'm waiting for the spam
Pack of face masks in my hand
Down to Mexico, via I5
Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive
I'm waiting for the spam

Hey, white boy, what you doin' uptown?
Hey, white boy, you chasin' our women around?
Oh pardon me sir, it's the furthest from my mind
I'm just lookin' for a deal, a cure for flu of swine
I'm waiting for the spam

Comment: Waiting to see when the spam starts (Score 2, Insightful) 604 604

Given how much mileage the media is getting out of this, I'm expecting others to jump on the bandwagon. In particular, spammers. Look forward to years of spam trying to take advantage of people's interest in the disease or trying to sell flu remedies and face masks.

All the simple programs have been written.

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