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Comment Re:over one second? (Score 1) 464

Any sort of energy that is released in the term of a second or so is useless against anything but stationary targets where you can assume you will hit the same point for that entire second

Northrop Grumman's Mobile/Tactical High Energy Laser system disagrees with your assessment... just ask the mortar shells it shot down. They've been able to shoot down large and small caliber artillery rockets, artillery shells and mortars.

Last I heard someone decided it was too expensive given the current technology and cut funding. NG was working on a less expensive version dubbed Skyguard, which may be able to protect traffic at commerical airfields from shoulder-launched anti-air missiles. (Haven't seen any videos of that system yet).

There's also the YAL-1A, same concept but mounted on a turrent in the nose of a 747.

All these systems use chemical lasers, and while we can fit them into "a few semi-trucks" (or a 747) right now, they're far from being hand-held. In any event, we're past the "Can we shoot down X with a laser" argument and are currently figuring out how to make it smaller and more cost effective. It takes intermediate research programs such as these if we ever want our ships, tanks, or soldiers making pewpewpew noises when they pull the trigger.

Comment A new revenue stream from flights (Score 4, Insightful) 560

I can see it already...

TSA bans the carrying of batteries over a certain size (size is their "see, we thought this through and want to be reasonable" argument). They'll release a special video on YouTube showing exactly how big an explosion they can get from a common laptop battery, and the masses will be in awe that they ever boarded a plane with such a disaster waiting to happen. Mystbusters will also film an episode where they Confirm the "Exploding Laptop Battery" myth... the episode will when a laptop battery they stuffed with 11 pounds of C4, rolled in a coating of thermite, and dipped in ball bearings is used to destroy 4 decomissioned planes somewhere in the middle of the desert.

This ban will affect laptops, portable game systems, video players, etc... the things you actually use during the flight. You'll have to remove your battery at the ticket counter, and your airline will give it to TSA to put in a special fireproof container for the duration of the flight.

The airlines come in and say "We're on your side, travellers" and begin to retrofit planes with power outlets at the seats. Ticket prices will increase slightly to help cover this retrofitting on behalf of all travellers.

Of course, 110v will be "too dangerous" and 12V cigarette lighters will be "too big to fit", even though both would allow you to use things you probably already have in your laptop bag.

Instead, they fit the planes with 8.23 V outlets which require a special 103, 72, or 45.8 degree angle doohicky (depending on the aircraft manufacturer) with three and a half prongs, which is now the special "Saf-T-FlitePower" plug. You can buy cheap throwaway adapters on each flight for something like $25 (these fall into 23 pieces or short out after 3 uses), and travel accessory companies will start selling slightly better made adapters for $75-$150. Dell will add one to your laptop for $250 if you check the correct box on the 8th tab while building it online, but it's ok, because 67% of the time the box will magically be checked by default (people who didn't mean to get one will wonder WTF this this with 3.5 plugs is when they open their UPS box and it will ride around in their laptop bag unused for 4 years).

Now, when you're on the plane, your outlet will be disabled, and it will take the flight attendant typing in a special code with your seat number to turn it on. You can buy one of these codes with your ticket, or may get one automatically if you purchase a certain fare class, and the reason for the whole thing is to cover the cost of the retrofitting (nevermind that they already increased the base cost of the ticket to help cover this, and the functionality which allows them to turn off individual outlets quadrupled the cost of the retrofit in the first place). Also, please be patient while the flight attendant enters your code... for safety reasons this has to be done after reaching cruising altitude, so on some flights you may be halfway through the flight before you even get power. (No kidding, if you've ever been on Frontier and gotten a DirecTV access code).

Once you get off the plane, you'll travel down to the baggage claim, where an avalanche of special fireproof containers will come tumbling down the little ramp. Have fun sorting them out with everyone else on the flight who had to check their battery.

Of course, those of us who don't check bags (I haven't checked a bag in over 10 years and fly 4 segments a week), will just be screwed, but luckily the SkyMall catalog will start selling a cool new device which allows you to pedal up some power for your laptop while in flight! (Eventually, there will be alternatives, such as The Wind Powered Laptop Energy Device" you attach to the overhead air duct, and The Solar Laptop Power Supply which you suction cup to your window and hope you have an AM flight with a starboard window seat on a flight headed due north.)

Comment Re:unilkely (Score 1) 560

Soda and pretzels in steerage... I'm guessing Continental.

Continental still offers the snack and drink for free... except on sub-45-minute flights where there's barely time to get the cart into the isle between cruising altitude and starting the descent.

Comment Re:FluMist (Score 1) 430

The live attenuated flu vaccine, FluMist...

Before I clicked the link, I thought you were talking about getting sneezed on by someone who has the flu...

Marketing department might want to rethink that name. ;)

Comment Re:Or just switch to linux! (Score 1) 178

But you drag up a situation that was resolved nearly a decade ago.

Linux Kernel 2.6 Local Root Exploit - February 10 2008
New Linux Flaw Enables Null Pointer Exploits - July 17, 2009


My point was that the ISC was created in response to a virus that had an impact on Linux. More to the point, that "Linux" ( much like "Mac" ) does not mean "invulnerable". Any competent system admin will tell you that.

fixes were quickly available and easy to apply

This has less to do with existence of exploits and more to do with competency doesn't it? Tell you what, if you can tell my mother-in-law how to apply this decade old fix to a Linux system correctly, without excusing yourself for a moment to go outside and bang your head against the wall, I'll concede.

Comment Re:This is great! (Score 1) 174

411 can give you directions without GPS now. It's something people don't realize. You're billed by the call too, so it's pretty darn nice. Goog 411 can help you find the place, and regular 411 can do the rest.

Meanwhile, trusting in your GPS when you don't have cellphone reception can, you know, lead you off a cliff.

Nothing beats simply planning your route *BEFORE* you leave.

Comment Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 402

Carriers are big, but they are stuffed full of what they need to fight - and fuel tanks are tucked into odd corners well below the water line. Not much spare room for the major industrial plant required to produce sufficient fuel in a reasonable amount of time.

I'm not sure what form factor the current fuel storage tanks on the carriers have, but it seems a winning idea might be to design the fuel plant with the same footprint as storage tanks, then your refit process is just removing the (which is now unneccessary, since you can make your own fuel and thus store less) tank and insert the refinery.

As an added bonus, the fuel tank space should already be plumbed with piping connected to filling ports and other tanks, or at least enough space for it.

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