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Comment Re:There is no Subpoena (Score 1) 323

The problem is that, after she retained counsel, and her attorney called the FBI agent who'd left the business card, the FBI agent declared that the Bureau would not deal with her attorney, but would bypass him.

This is a BIG Bozo no-no in the Justice System. You do NOT "go around" someone's attorney.

This would be true even if the Martha Stewart case had not happened. After the Martha Stewart case, everyone should know that talking to the FBI *AT* *ALL* is a very bad idea. The ONLY thing you say to them is "Give me your business card and I'll ask my attorney to call you."

Comment Re:Doom Dreams (Score 1) 351

It was Spring of 1996. I was recovering from hip replacement surgery, close to the time where I'd be going back to work. I was at home, playing a LOT of Doom, to pass the time.

I got called for jury duty. I didn't duck fast enough, and actually got tagged for a jury. (Misdemeanor possession, but that's another story.)

They led us from the courtroom, back to the jury room, so we could stash our stuff before getting lunch. We're walking down a corridor, doorways to offices and such... ... and I realized I was *AUTOMATICALLY*, without thinking about it, paying attention to cover, fields of fire, noticing what areas I could and could not see, thinking where I could move quickly to dodge...

I think this was before the story came out about the Marine who managed to convinced his CO that Doom was in fact a very viable training tool, for training Marines how to react in combat situations.

Comment Re:Single gallon of jet fuel (Score 1) 208

You've slipped a few decimal places.

1 J = 1 Watt-second. 10 kW x 100 seconds = 1 million Watt-seconds = 1 MJ. 100 kW x 10 seconds = 1 MJ.

1 MJ is about 23 Ampere-hours at 12 Volts. You can buy that battery off the shelf at Batteries and Bulbs. A Sears Diehard contains quite a bit more. The trick is to put all of it into a short, tightly-collimated laser pulse.

Comment Re:Efficiency is irrelevant in air-flight (Score 1) 286

Graf Zeppelin was 770 ft long, carried 40 crew and 20 passengers. (Note that an American football field is 300 ft from goal line to goal line.) Boeing 747-400 is 230 ft long, carries somewhere between 400 and 600 passengers.

That means that the ground facilities to handle the zeppelin are going to be a lot bigger and you're going to need a lot more of them, to handle the zeppelins.

You'd need 20 to 30 Graf Zeppelins to carry one 747 passenger load. Fly to Tokyo Narita, or Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, and look at the 747s and 777 lined up side-by-side, and think about how many zeppelins you'd need to replace them.

A Boeing 777, flying at speeds north of 500 mph, takes about 12 hours to cross the Pacific. A zeppelin at 80 mph, or 1/6 the speed, is going to take about three days to make that trip. This means that instead of carrying one full meal, a light meal, and a snack, for each passenger, it must carry about nine full meals for each passenger, and a lot more drinking water. This also has implications for crew staffing. You're going to need a lot more pilots and flight attendants, since you're going to be running three shifts for three days. The holding tanks for the lavatories are going to have to be appropriately sized, as well: the people under the flight path do not appreciate you dumping your holding tanks on their back yard barbecues.

Comment Re:I'm just gonna throw this out here (Score 1) 653

From TFA: "A Facebook DM from a city economic development worker named Ellyn Parker (unsanctioned by City Hall, she says) struck him as more sincere. They met on the roof of Soma Grand while Parker explained the web of nonprofits and city departments that spends $241 million a year on the city’s more than 6,000 homeless residents, a population count that has stayed nearly unchanged for 25 years. “He was in education and humbling mode,” Parker says. She suggested that maybe he could create a database to track each homeless person as they get services from various entities. Maybe he could help a nonprofit that was getting evicted."

(/ 241e6 6e3)

So it's only about $40K/year per homeless person. Assuming 2000 hours per year for full-time employment, that's $20/hour. And, since the homeless population has stayed unchanged for 25 years, whatever they're doing with that quarter of a billion dollars per year ISN'T WORKING.

Meanwhile, the Devil's Advocate is screaming "AUDIT! AUDIT! FIND OUT WHERE THE MONEY REALLY WENT!!!" and wrestling me for the keyboard.

Comment First post, substantive (Score 2, Interesting) 247

There is something fundamentally wrong when the "most open administration in history" has to let New Zealand publish the document, rather than posting it themselves.

There is something fundamentally suspicious when there is no all-up posting made. You have to download a rather large number of chunks to get the whole thing.

Why do I get the feeling that someone is STILL trying to hide something?

Comment Re:A-10 for the Win (Score 4, Insightful) 502

The point is that F-35 was sold as a "multirole" airplane, to replace F-16 and A-10.

It has already been evaluated against F-16, and it came up a DISMAL second place in air combat, an arena in which there are NO prizes for second place.

It is now going to be evaluated against A-10. I'm with the previous guy who put $20 on the Warthog, except I'll bet the traditional "$1 and bragging rights".

Comment Re:Really? (Score 2) 485

No, he understands correctly, at least for some systems.

I ran into this, in the form of what looked like a fairly serious battery self-discharge problem on a low-end Windows 8 (upgraded IMMEDIATELY to 8.1) laptop.

I queried the vendor about it. They checked into it, and came back with "That's by design. The computer never actually really shuts off, so it is ALWAYS sucking at least a small amount of current, either out of the wall or out of the battery."

HORRIBLE design on SOMEBODY'S part.

Comment Re:Not nuclear fear (Score 1) 419


We know NOTHING about happened during the 7 months between the landing and the solar panels starting to get enough light that they could get the batteries back up.

We have NO idea whether anything "interesting" was happening during that time.

Your definition of "success" is "Well, it works now, because we got half-lucky on the landing." Your definition considers total mission failure, from a less lucky missed landing, an acceptable risk. For whatever reason, you choose to disregard the fact that using an RTG would have eliminated that risk altogether, *and* it would have eliminated that seven month blackout period.

Comment Re:Not nuclear fear (Score 2, Informative) 419


The probe as built contained solar panels massing a little over 12 kg, and the plan depended on a perfect landing to get maximum solar exposure. Imperfect landing -> bad solar angle -> not enough power -> probe dead for seven months.

The RTG and support stuff would have massed about 12 kg and would not have required the perfect landing.

TL;DR - The RTG would have weighed the same as the solar panels, in a considerably smaller physical envelope, meaning it would have been EASIER AND CHEAPER to include an RTG.

Comment See how it is already done (Score 1) 257

You appear to be in the UK, so I'll suggest you check with the Ministry of Defence and get a list of UK defence manufacturers that build software-intensive systems with long life cycles. You're looking for things like airplanes and boats. Then write a NICE letter to those manufacturers and ask them how they do it.

The military routinely deals in systems with very long life cycles and many software upgrades.

As one example, the American F-16 first flew in the late 1970s. It is expected to continue to fly well into the 2020s. That's half a century.

The American B-52 first flew in 1952. They're STILL flying, and it is not unusual for a pilot to fly the same airplane his grandfather flew. (Flying his father's airplane is routine.)

You might also consider querying NASA in the US. They routinely launch deep-space missions that will take years, even decades, to reach their destination, and require software upgrades while in flight. For obvious reasons, it is not feasible to upgrade or replace the hardware on a probe out around Saturn's orbit, while it is on its way to Neptune.

Comment Re:so what you're saying is (Score 3, Insightful) 639

The word you are looking for is "calibration".

The phenomenon you are describing is called "system-wide consistent calibration error".

The problem with claiming that you have corrected a system-wide consistent calibration error is that you really need to explain how you managed to screw up the sensor calibration in the first place, on all of the ocean buoys, in such a way that they all had the SAME wrong readings.

Comment Re:not the real question (Score 4, Informative) 200

The corresponding FAA term is "Airworthiness Directive" (AD). An AD is a very big deal.

The in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems receive navigation data from the flight deck computers so they can display the moving maps and other stuff on the entertainment displays, for those passengers who want to know "where am I", "are we there yet", "is it time to reset my watch because we've crossed a time zone and I'm trying to adjust my body clock".

I would be shocked to learn that Boeing allowed the IFE to put ANY kind of data into the flight deck computers. I'd actually expect Boeing to use a one-way interface, one that transmits but does not receive: think RS-232 with one of the pins removed. I'd be almost as shocked to learn that Airbus did something like that. However, Airbus's comment about "firewalls" does not exactly inspire me to confidence in their airplanes.

There's something else. If Mr. Roberts did in fact do what the FBI claimed he said he did, I would have expected the air up in the cockpit to have turned very blue, as the pilots said (screamed, actually) something along the lines of what the Apollo 8 crew said (screamed, actually) when their CSM did an uncommanded thruster burn. I would further expected them to take manual control immediately, get on the radio immediately, declare an emergency because of the uncommanded engine power setting change, and land at the nearest airstrip that could handle the airplane. I would further expect maintenance crews to pull the flight data recorders to find out WTF just happened.

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