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Comment Re:GPS on Mars (Score 1) 104

GPS is just a stand-in for the system they would use on Mars, which would be a much simplified version using existing satellites and the transport vehicle for the lander itself.

The atmosphere in Mars is fine for a quadcopter if designed correctly. How do you think the parachutes on NASA landers work?

I'm not sure what you mean by "simpler" system, what would it be? AFAIK it takes signals from 4 GPS satellites to get a fix, I think that it could be done with 3 having knowledge of the approximate position. That's with 3 or 4 satellites with GPS electronics in view at once. This implies that there need to be several more than 3 satellites in the constellation to be certain of having 3 or 4 in the correct position at any time. I don't think that the orbits of multi purpose satellites would be the ones needed for GPS.

Parachutes are used to slow the descent rate of the landers and are then cut away as the descent rate is still pretty high. Other methods need to be used to bring the lander to touchdown. I guess some engineers experienced in origami might be able to design a multiple rotor copter that would be compact in transit yet unfold properly once the parachute slows the descent rate etc, etc, etc.

Comment Fixed a bug in flight (Score 1) 310

A couple of decades ago I was in a twin engine aircraft over the Amazon with some scientists who were collecting atmospheric data including distribution of smoke particle sizes, CO2, CO, humidity, temperature, Hg, etc. when it became apparent that some code I wrote wasn't working well with the interface on the aircraft (supposedly identical to the one in my lab). I was able to devise a fix on my (luggable) notebook, compile, link, and install it in flight and the rather bumpy mission continued. This was also been the only time in my life that a pilot has taxied an aircraft that I was on into the hanger at the end of the mission.

Comment Re:Not practical as contact lenses (Score 3, Interesting) 99

When I go out to the desert on a clear day I'm getting a lot of infrared, if it blocked out normal vision I wouldn't need sunglasses (except that the glasses block UV). Perhaps what was meant is that the lens that would be needed to focus the light would block the IR and the lens for IR would block visible light. That's generally true except for near IR (NIR) but to separate NIR from visible IR a filter to do that would be used just as it is used in digital cameras.

The article implies that it works across the IR spectrum but that's enormously wide - from about 700 nm to 1 mm wavelength with ever decreasing energy in the photons.

I think that there is less information in the press release than meets the eye.

Comment Re:Lat / Long? (Score 1) 461

That's already inexpensively available; it's called Automatic Flight Following (AFF). It's small, easily installed, and inexpensive to operate . Those that I am familiar with send a GPS position, including altitude, every 2 minutes via satellite to a ground station. I believe that track, not heading, and ground speed are calculated using the previous datum. The data are available for display on a digital aviation chart, map, Google Earth, etc. It's been available for many years. All of the US Federal fire fighting aircraft have them and that includes contractor's aircraft. I suspect that most US Federal aircraft have them no matter what their use.

The system that I've used will tag the last datum received if it has been more than 10 minutes since the last one and the icon on the display will be red. Probably the system could send alter text messages and emails, too. The display allows for viewing the last position of many aircraft or the track of a single one from an arbitrary time to the most recent datum.

This certainly helps discovery of a problem and provides a good starting point for SAR efforts.

Comment Sync is on my Focus (Score 3, Informative) 314

I was really apprehensive when I discovered that Sync was powered by Microsoft after I purchased my Focus two years ago, and rightfully so. What did MS know about maps and routing? On reading the article's subject my first thought, too, was I wonder if there will be an update: probably not.

Here are a few examples.

Found that the voice commands lacked synonyms so one had to conform to Sync.

It would lock up quite often for no apparent reason and the only way to re-boot it is to go to the side of the road, park, turn the ignition key to off, and then open the door for a few seconds. One could then restart and it would re-boot.

On the occasions when I needed routing my wife and son would be reduced to hysterics as I tried to get it to give directions to the intersection of, say, Laguna Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway. It appeared that it didn't like street names of more than one word in this context.

Use voice commands to make a call (this and some other errors of the type were repeatable) "Call Jenny Rechel home". Response was "No home number for John Litton, cell or work?"

I took it to the dealer twice and got updates that have stopped the lockups and can now use it to call Jenny but some other, more fundamental, problems persist.

Submission + - Kickstarter acked, user names and encrypted passwords accessed

RNLockwood writes: Yet again data are stolen from poorly protected sites and the latest (known to me, that is) is KickStarter. PC World, among others, has the sad story.

"The crowdfunding website Kickstarter said Saturday it had been hacked and that user names, encrypted passwords and other data had been accessed.

Kickstarter said it was informed of the hack Wednesday by law enforcement officials and that it had now closed the breach and strengthened its security.

“Actual passwords were not revealed, however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one,” CEO Yancey Strickler said in an email to users.

The data accessed also included email addresses, mailing addresses and phone numbers, Strickler wrote. No credit card data was accessed, he said.

Comment Not Ready to Quit (Score 5, Insightful) 465

I must admit to being time traveler. I started time traveling in 1939, inadvertently to be sure. I had no expectations that my travels would be as interesting as they have been nor as boring, from time to time, either. I've found it to be so addicting that I'm plan to keep on, and on for as long as I'm able.

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It isn't easy being the parent of a six-year-old. However, it's a pretty small price to pay for having somebody around the house who understands computers.