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Comment Re:missing quote (Score 3, Insightful) 45

OK, Internet super-engineer. You clearly do not know anything about aircraft or spacecraft structures.

Materials used for small drones have a very difficult time scaling up to very large lightweight structures. Care to expound on the loads and stresses experienced by a 144 foot wingspan wing, that weighs only 900 lbs? This drone was built to be light and barely strong enough. That was its design point. Have you shown the world that you can do better and can credibly criticize their design?

Extremely high aspect ratio wings, like this one, just don't want to quit flying. It is a real challenge to bring it down onto the ground. The pilots possibly exceeded design Vne trying to get it down. This exponentially increases drag forces on the airframe. Ground-effect makes landing even more difficult, and with a 144 foot wingspan, ground-effect starts at ~72 feet above ground.

Add to this the non-homogeneous nature of gusting winds in proximity to the ground, and it is not inconceivable that design limits were exceeded by a fluke of nature. There is not enough public information of what weather conditions existed during landing, but sudden adverse conditions during landing are not unprecedented. Did Lockheed's engineers under-design the structure on the L-1011?

Disclaimer - I work for an aerospace prototyping firm (not related to Facebook), and have worked on things that cover the conceivable gamut of Reynolds numbers that can be "flown". Although I have not worked on Facebook's drone, I have an intimate knowledge of the modern materials used in this air vehicle. My opinions expressed here are my own.

Submission + - Twitter censors #DNCLeaks trending topic and hashtag (

bongey writes: Twitter censored the 2nd trending topic DNCLeaks hashtag. The trending hashtag #DNCLeaks was climbing over 90k tweets when it disappeared from the trending topics. It was replaced with PraisinTheAsian(17k) and TheWalkingDead(38k).

Submission + - The science behind the world's simplest, controllable, flying machine (

Kassandra Perlongo writes: Researchers at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich have created a flying machine that only has a single moving part, the rotating propeller, but can still fully control its position in space. Pretty neat!

Unfortunately there's no practical applications for the technology just yet other than it looks cool. Next up: refining the control strategy to allow the Monospinnner to recover from a larger range of initial conditions.

Submission + - Apple asks the FBI: How hard did you really try to hack into the iPhone? (

An anonymous reader writes: one of the more interesting aspects of Apple’s recently filed motion to vacate argues that the FBI may not have tried all possible avenues to hack into the shooter’s iPhone 5c.

In a section titled, “The Government Has Not Demonstrated Apple’s Assistance Was Necessary To Effectuating The Warrant”, Apple argues that there’s no evidence to suggest that the FBI sought assistance from other agencies (read: the NSA, the CIA) when it came to unlocking the iPhone in question.

"Moreover, the government has not made any showing that it sought or received technical assistance from other federal agencies with expertise in digital forensics," Apple argues, "which assistance might obviate the need to conscript Apple to create the back door it now seeks."

It’s an interesting argument that was even brought up, albeit quickly, during yesterday’s congressional hearing on mobile device encryption and the balance between American security and privacy.

Submission + - Clinton Defenders: Relax, 'Beyond Top Secret' Intel Was 'Innocuous' (

RoccamOccam writes: The classified material included in the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails flagged by an internal watchdog involved discussions of CIA drone strikes, which are among the worst kept secrets in Washington, senior U.S. officials briefed on the matter tell NBC News.

As pointed out here, Mrs. Clinton at first stated that no classified material of any sort passed through her server, then wrongly claimed that she's never personally sent or received such information, then falsely asserted that none of the material was classified at the time. Now that the Inspector General has determined that Clinton's vulnerable bootleg server also contained beyond top secret intelligence, some of her defenders appear to be shifting tactics. Rather than denying the classification level or the existence of the emails, they're stating that the subject matter of the SAP-level emails in question was "innocuous".

Submission + - Top Democratic senator will seek legislation to 'pierce' through encryption (

Patrick O'Neill writes: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will seek legislation requiring the ability to "pierce" through encryption to allow American law enforcement to read protected communications with a court order. She told the Senate Judiciary committee on Wednesday that she would seek a bill that would give police armed with a warrant based on probable cause the ability to read encrypted data. "I have concern about a PlayStation that my grandchildren might use," she said, "and a predator getting on the other end, and talking to them, and it's all encrypted. I think there really is reason to have the ability, with a court order, to be able to get into that."

Submission + - Chris Anderson: Drone "Jackassery" Must Stop (

stowie writes: As co-founder and CEO of 3D Robotics, Chris Anderson knows a thing or two about drones. And he knows a few bad apples will ruin the hobby. Anderson says the “mass jackassery” is hurting the industry.

“[It’s] bad and it’s going to get worse. And if we don’t do something about it, no one’s been killed yet, but someone’s going to do something really stupid.”
Anderson says the answer is geo-fencing software that keeps drones away from restricted areas.

“One of the ironies of this drone age is that because we’ve made drones so easy to fly, the process of learning to fly and all the safety and responsibility lessons that come with it are now no longer required.”

Comment Where to start... (Score 1) 1

The headline mentions SMS, but that isn't involved or even mentioned anywhere in the article. Their POC program sent an SMS through a third-party server.

The "researchers" are trying to sell a competitor to the built in Keychain.
Their proof of concept showed them using an unlocked keychain to add the new key. This lowers the threshold to access the keychain, because it is already unlocked. Keychain Access is buried in the Utility folder that most non-savvy users have no idea that it even exists, so they would be very unlikely to unlock the keychain in this way.

Their malicious app had to be installed around the gatekeeper system. By default the gatekeeper blocks anything that isn't secured with a trusted certificate. It would have to be turned off to install.

In short, this requires a series of dumb actions by the user, most of which are not shown in the POC video.

When you unlock a bunch of doors and invite the thief in for tea, you may find your silver missing.

Submission + - How to Build Beautiful Enclosures from FR4 -- aka PCBs (

szczys writes: For decades Voja Antonic has been perfecting his technique of building enclosures form FR4, which is the substance used to make most printed circuit boards.

He shared his method in this amazing post which includes a bunch of illustrations he made to showcase the tips and tricks that make this method work. Building enclosures out of FR4 has been done for a long time, but I've never seen a guide that walks you through everything needed to achieve this level of quality.

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 1) 409

Where I was going with my original comment was that the CEO I was talking to was an "all of the above" alternative supporter. Algae, switchgrass, wind, nuclear, biomass conversion, butanol, solar, etc. Most environmentalist I know, pick and choose. Pro-wind, but not nuclear. Pro-nuclear, but not wind, because the windmills kill birds. Here where I live, we have about 40 eagles (brown and bald) killed a year in the wind farm, and there is a big worry about the California Condor, as this is part of their range.

To my knowledge, these energy companies don't try to discredit anybody, as it is not personal. They may fund attempts to verify or discredit faulty experiments, because bad policy built on faulty science is prone to damage their business. The scientific process includes aspects of independent verification. If an experiment cannot be reliably repeated, then there was an error in the process. Honest scientists welcome verification by adverse critics, as it proves their experiment as valid. If your published work cannot be repeated, or if it does not stand up to independent verification, then it isn't valid.

The energy companies want honest results from all of the research they do. If a promising technology doesn't add up now, they keep working on it until it does. Many of the environmentalists I know, keep pushing very sub-optimal technology as a solution, ignoring the total burden. It's great that you can make it work off grid, but if that requires 20 lead-acid cell batteries, a wind turbine, six solar panels, a diesel generator and a propane tank to power your minimal electrical consumption, then there is a problem. Especially if the twenty year cost of maintenance is over twenty times the cost of conventional grid and gas service.

I advocate for intellectual honesty. I'm not a member of any cult, and I think that cults have no place in scientific debate. Most people I know of who do not subscribe to man-made global warming theories and who have actively examined the plausibility of theories with real-world data, have zero connection to energy companies. They don't want to be treated like mushrooms, and when they attempt to verify analyses and inquire about raw data, rather than "filtered" data, they are met with stone walls. This how the pursuit of intellectual honesty is met by charlatans.

Conversely, I have sat in a few lectures by academics, who were funded explicitly because their research was in search of more "evidence" of man-made global warming. In one case a very sincere academic lectured about his hair-brained scheme to re-sequester CO2 by building giant artificial waterfalls with a particular mineral (don't pay attention to the energy required to quarry the rock or pump the water). I believe many were very good people, who were faced with the problem of finding continued funding for their research. Just like mediaeval artists, the funds keep flowing, if you paint what your patron wants. This is the current problem where dogma has largely been substituted for intellectual and scientific honesty in this field, because funds are tied to the outcome. The few climate scientist who have changed their position from pro-man-made to semi-skeptical, have been ostracized and treated as apostate from the cult.

Greenhouse gasses are to the anti-oil crowd, what bullets are to the anti-gun crowd. It is a means to a political end. The political/religious attacks on energy companies do not make poor alternatives work any better. There is no big oil conspiracy to thwart alternatives. In their labs, they are well-ahead of any of these rink-dink companies that waste our taxpayer dollars.

-- Len

Comment Re:Hopelessly off-target (Score 1) 409

You cite industries that are built off of intangibles. Energy is a commodity, and the companies in that field are very concerned with cost and profit. They have defined costs, and a huge market that is inelastic. Most of their products are amazingly cheap, given the processing and logistics of delivery.

Music and newspaper are not necessities. Demand of their product is fickle, and the purveyors of this entertainment product are not bright enough to hedge for their demise, as their product is not based on a finite and diminishing resource. I assure that there is always another version of Lady GaGa, ready to be "discovered". That these companies were caught flat-footed by the internet says nothing about the forward vision of the energy sector.

The DoE program is not the right path. It is an attempt to pick winners, regardless of technical merit. Others have gone into Solydra and others, so I won't go there, except to say that these wasteful failures were inevitable. The winners were picked more by political contribution than likelihood of success.

I don't have a clue where you are going about NASA and SpaceX.

-- Len

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