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Comment Re:The Finest Day.... (Score 1) 185

I have very clear memories of watching the funeral on TV

I was a little older, and I have vivid memories of that, too. In my area, "Superman" (the live-action TV show) came on at 3:30 weekday afternoons, and I remember how annoyed I was one Friday to discover that it was canceled, replaced by a lot of boring people in suits talking -- and it was the same on all three channels! However, I consoled myself that tomorrow would bring Saturday morning cartoons (a staple of life for children in the US for some decades, now swept into history). Boy, was I annoyed to discover on Saturday that all the cartoons had been pre-empted, too!

IIRC it was a week or more before programming returned to normal -- an eternity for a little kid.

Comment Ho-hum. (Score 1) 245

If this latest revelation scares you, you'll go apoplectic to discover that this is SOP in IC design. Just about every IC more complicated than a 555 timer, from processors to Wi-Fi chips to you-name-it, has internal processors controlling substantially every part of their operation. It's a common technique to control every block one designs with an embedded core and a bit of code (in RAM, so that one could adjust the operation of the block after the design came back from fab by reloading RAM), making an easy-to-design programmable state machine. One ends up with a dozen or more cores in each chip design. Often there is one core programmed to run the top level of the design, controlling the warmup and warmdown procedures, reboot sequence, etc.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Comment Re: WTF? (Score 5, Informative) 760

When you make an allegation of corruption you need to back it up. Link to some source.

I'm not the OP (an AC), but for starters:
The Tampa Bay Times.
Forbes.

For those just tuning in, Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, was previously the CEO of Columbia/HCA when it was found to have committed the largest Medicare fraud ever, up to that time ($1.7 Billion in 1997), leading to his resignation.

Comment Already done (Score 1) 54

My idea has been to create an intellectual property tax that grows exponentially.

This already exists, in the form of patent maintenance fees. In addition to the fees one pays to get the patent to issue, to keep a patent in force one must pay fees at the 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 year point. If any one of the fees is not paid, the patented material enters the public domain.

For large entities, the fees are $1600, $3600, and $7400, respectively.
For small entities, the fees are halved.
For "micro" entities, the fees are halved again.

As a side note, one of IBM's corporate strategies has been to patent early and often, but vigorously and mercilessly prune their portfolio at these points, when they have a better idea of the value of the invention to the company. Many, if not most, of their patents do not make even the first cut and so are allowed to enter the public domain at year 3.5.

Comment A related disability (Score 1) 908

The only problem is that now when I am in a country that speaks a romance language my mind ends up defaulting to French, even if the language is Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian.

I have a related disability: At various times in my life I have been conversationally fluent in Spanish, Japanese, and German, but haven't used any of them to an appreciable extent in 20 years. However, when I do happen to visit a country speaking one of these languages, and need to say something (usually, "excuse me"), there's no telling which of the three languages will come out of my mouth. It's as if the brain has classified languages into "English" and "everything else", and merged all knowledge of foreign languages into one file.

I have to stop to think what the correct response would be and, nearly always, the social situation needing my response has passed by the time I complete the context-switch into the needed language. Maddening.

Comment Re:Radio noise (Score 1) 297

You'd think so, but with switching power supplies the best efficiency is attained when the switch spends as little time as possible in the transition region between "on" and "off" -- meaning that the switching waveform is as square as the designers can make it, and therefore rich in odd harmonics. Worse, some voltage regulation schemes vary the duty cycle of the waveform, and as soon as it gets away from a perfect 50%, the even harmonics appear. The circuits are relatively low Q, so the noise in each harmonic spreads out, effectively covering the first 200 MHz or so of spectrum.

The basic problem is that the market is very cost-sensitive, and eliminating anti-RFI components (filter inductors and capacitors) saves money, and produces a wall wart that is just as "functional" as far as the user can tell.

It's only when he turns on a radio that he notices a problem, and with 5-10 of the things in the house, the lay person will never come to associate the wall wart with his radio problem -- especially since his neighbors all have them, too. It's just RF smog.

Comment Re:"It support" (Score 1) 198

a newspaper which makes no bones about it support for an independent Scotland

Maybe you should call "it support" to fix your apostrophe problem.

Sorry, no. The GP poster's statement is merely missing an "s" -- an apostrophe would be incorrect there. (It should read, "a newspaper which makes no bones about its support for an independent Scotland.")

Remember it this way: his, her, its. If you can replace "its" with "his" or "her", it does not need an apostrophe.

Comment At my office (Score 1) 320

The engineers at my office wanted to watch the launch, so we invaded the accounting office that had the windows facing the Space Center. It was a beautiful launch, up to the time the exhaust trail forked, forming a "Y". The accountants all said, "Oh, look how beautiful!" The engineers all said, "Uh-oh. That's not supposed to happen. . . ."

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