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Comment Re: 4 meter wing spans? (Score 5, Interesting) 183

Indeed, an ammo dump at Slinfah was hit by one of them as well - it was first assumed to be an Israeli airstrike, and only later determined to be a drone attack. The drones are perfectly designed for hitting soft targets - rather than single powerful charges, they use 8-20 PETN bomblets, packed full of ball bearings.

Concerning tracking them... these are not that large, and made of wood. I imagine they're pretty hard to track and home in on. Plus, having to waste an antiaircraft missile on someone people glued together with bargain basement parts is asymmetric to the benefit of the rebels. Russia's Hmeimim base is packed full of their most advanced antiaircraft systems, yet they still lost planes (ironically, as usual, they spent the next several days both simultaneously confirming and denying that they got hit ;) ). Locals described the sky as lit up by antiaircraft fire.

The US should take a lesson from this and seriously up their efforts toward anti-drone defenses. For now, I expect Russian/Iranian/Assad/Hezbollah/etc forces to put more effort toward hardening depots, airfields, etc against attacks from the air. The drones have a 100km range, which lets them reach from well behind the frontlines.

I would expect GPS to have been jammed at Hmeimim. If not, Russia is incompetent. If so, the drones would appear to be prepared to deal with the loss of GPS signal. Russia was apparently caught off guard with the sophistication of the drones and is now trying to claim that they couldn't have figured out how to make them on their own. I don't buy this at all; both anti-ISIS rebels and ISIS have long been working on drone technology, as well as other "advanced" technology (such as remote-controlled robotic guns).

Comment Re:what about nagging? (Score 4, Insightful) 95

I'd put up with that if they'd go back to the days before they assumed that all of their users are 12 years old. I can't begin to express how annoying it is when I'm in a chat display and the screen gets flooded with animated hearts, or I hold down too long when scrolling and the interface tries to make me randomly insert an emoji. My phone has accidentally sent way too many emojis, often in completely inappropriate contexts. FB has also entirely thrown out the notion of "screen real estate", deciding that the goal is to fit as *little* info onto the screen as possible.

Oh, and let's not forget the incredible "walled garden" annoyance wherein they try to make you use Facebook as your web browser on cell phones.

And as for the "public content" reduction, sounds like they're just trying to encourage providers of "public content" to pay them, otherwise their posts get hidden. I "like"d various public content pages because I *want* to see their posts; if I didn't, I wouldn't have liked them :P

Comment Re:What if he actually WAS an ambassador? (Score 5, Informative) 252

Where does this notion come from that a nation can "force" another nation to grant a particular individual diplomatic status? Diplomatic status is requested by the sending state, and then the nation in question either approves or denies their request.

The exact same thing applies to asylum. You can say whatever you want about a person "having asylum". Nobody else has to listen to your declaration. Some states have treaties mutually recognizing each other's asylum cases, but the vast majority do not.

And it's a damn good thing that international law works like this.

Comment Esperanto... no (Score 1) 225

Tell you what... I might look into Esperanto when I get finished learning (Mandarin) Chinese. Because Mandarin is much, much more important in general as in there are large numbers of people who speak it, even here in the USA, and Chinese food is mostly awesome and it helps when ordering to be able to speak the language (and Esperanto lacks food traditions entirely, so phbbbt.)

Don't even get me started on Cantonese. Or other variants. Ouch.

The catch is... near as I can tell, I'll never finish learning Mandarin. Somewhere there must have been an emperor who ensured that Mandarin was going to be the hardest language to learn ever.

Turns out I have no plans to learn Klingon, either. Not until there are real aliens speaking would I be interested in such a thing. At which point, I would consider it my #1 priority, though. Because, you know, aliens!

Comment Re:You could have AM radio. (Score 0) 215

Me thinks you severely underestimate the size of the required antennas.

No. I just understand that local AM radio is practical with a short wire like an earbud connection. It won't act like any kind of a DX machine, certainly, but you'll hear locals. I can pick up our local (10 KW) AM station very well by sticking a screwdriver into the PL-259 on my SDR. There are several ways to push a short wire into low frequency resonance, and not all of them require a large actual inductance. Gyrators, for instance are practical at AM BCB frequencies; I've done quite a bit of experimenting with them. The ability to have an ultra high-impedance load that still is quiet and provides significant gain allows antenna impedances that are not typically low to still perform well enough for many use cases. Doesn't hurt to have sensitivities down into fractions of a microvolt, either - you don't need a lot of signal, particularly at AM BCB.

Comment Re:Cigar? (Score 1) 215

The author of the link knows a fair bit about radio, including cellphone radios, being also the author of non-trivial SDR software and a long-term RF engineer.

The author of the linked article, OTOH, knew, and reported, that the device in question made available three bands that the radio in the cellphone is (a) not designed to operate on and (b) not permitted to operate upon.

In light of those facts, you might want to temper your remarks. Or not. Free-ish country and all that.

Comment You could have AM radio. (Score 4, Informative) 215

My Galaxy S7's FM radio has worked with NextRadio (FM broadcast band) for quite some time now. AM is possible, if they are so inclined to make that happen. Because...

Also interesting is that for an FM radio to be practical, you need an antenna, and so far, that's been the wire to the earbuds / headphones, which is decently longish. So very likely implicit in this "there will be FM radio" lies an "there will be an audio jack", and also, "if we want AM radio, we can do it." Ever since low power software defined radio has been possible, this stuff can be done. Particularly in a high-power availability device like a cellphone. It can be done the old way, too, but not nearly as well.

I suspect the whole "there will be FM" thing is known somewhat gleefully in the hallowed corporate halls at Samsung as "taking advantage of Apple's... courage."

Comment Can't see it (Score 1) 1012

And if there are 7 billion starving people outside the gates of their automated defenses? They will run out of ammunition eventually.

Impossible scenario. First you'd have a pile of dead too high to get over, then you'd have disease, and all of this assuming you could get 7 billion people to surround a compound, which is absurd. Further, the number of poor who would be willing to walk into heavy arms is not going to be large. There's little point trying to get food and shelter by killing yourself. You can say that some will defend the interests of others, and no doubt they would, but also this would be a very small number.

Then there's the "ammunition" thing. Bullets? Really? Will it be a question of bullets? Will a laser run out of photons? How about a tailored disease vector for which the rich have the countermeasure, and the poor don't? Area denial weapons? Chemical weapons? How about armored robots which can simply tear anyone in-the-zone limb from limb?

If the poor become a serious threat (by which I mean, violent), you simply can't argue that they can create and maintain a serious, widespread threat. The first time they go after the unarmed rich, that'll be the end of the unarmed rich, right there. You will almost instantly have armed rich, and now the context is completely different.

See, it's all very well to talk as if the poor were capable of exerting continuous unified force against modern arms, but the idea is utter nonsense: it doesn't stand up under even mild scrutiny.

The only solution to this that has any chance of working is social; government force, used top down, to disenfranchise the rich, and distribute the wealth much more generally than it is now. That's probably what will actually happen, too. If not, it's going to be a hell of a mess, and the poor will almost certainly lose in the process.

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