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Comment Re:How about adding an exception to HIPAA? (Score 1) 371

Seems like it would be a lot more effective to just add an emergency comms exception to HIPAA.

That is essentially what they are proposing; not a crypto free-for-all, but allowing encryption in specific situations where it is essentially mandatory (HIPAA information, satellite control, etc). I actually think they should go further, perhaps allowing crypto as a matter of course in certain bands with plaintext station ID wrappers.

The great thing about ham radio is that we have stacks of old, analog, simple, reliable equipment and we can get a signal through no matter what.

Encryption on the other hand requries fancy radios and fancy computers and while we could probably swing it most of the time, situations could certainly arise where the smoke comes out of the fancy radio or the computer shits it's bits and we're left with an FM 2m rig or SSB HF rig and people are going to die if you don't transmit their medical info.

A $30 raspberry pi is pefectly capable of performing crypto. Any soundcard provides your ADC/DAC capable of any narrowband mode. In this day and age, digital hardware is cheap and plentiful... the flakiest and most unreliable part of any radio system is going to be the RF hardware, specifically the PA... Which you need for any transmission, analog or digital. Oh, and this idea that analog can get through RF conditions that kills digital modes is outdated; Given a particular bandpass channel, thanks to modern FEC like turbo codes and LDPC, a well designed digital system is more robust and resistant to noise and interference than analog. And there may be reasons to fall back to analog, but you never gave that up to add digital modes in the first place.


Comment Re:Definitions. (Score 4, Insightful) 457

Well, you could manuever a sniper into a position to shoot him. Or fastrope some riflemen from a helicopter to shoot and/or beat him senseless.

The problem with solutions like that, though, is they don't do any good helping to justify why you need billion-dollar weapon systems to fight a bunch of dirt farmers with Kalashnikovs and RPGs but no planes, helicopters, armor, or anti-aircraft capability to speak of.

Comment Re:Isn't banning unlocking anti-competitive ? (Score 2) 321

Except the phone is "paid off" the moment it is purchased. We all know two-year contracts are effectively installlment plans for $600 phones, but at the point of sale, I own the phone outright. There is nothing in the contract about an installment plan. There is no "carrier lien" on the phone. If they want to have that leverage, then they can explicitly finance phones with secured debt the way every other industry does it.

And even in that case, there's not much leverage. I finance my truck, and the bank requires me to carry insurance and keep it legally roadworthy, but I am free to re-paint it, modify it, repair it, or smash it up with a sledge hammer "for that weathered look" if I feel like it.

Comment Re:No change, in other words (Score 2) 445

. . . [Y]ou might end up driving a car with a fancy in-dash computer system that's completely useless for much of the time you own it.

My first car had an AM radio, but I wanted FM, so I bought an FM converter for it. Car #3 had an AM/FM radio, but I wanted a cassette player, so I ended up buying and installing a radio with a cassette player in it. Car #4 didn't have a CD player, and I remedied that with a portable CD player and an adapter that slipped into the factory-installed cassette player. The current car has a radio with CD player and auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth, but I'm pretty sure it will be obsolete by the time I get rid of it.

Why would onboard computers be any different?

Because they are far, far less standardized and more integrated into the systems of the car itself than tradition stereo DIN head units.

Comment Re:Why Amazon? (Score 1) 174

Being able to avoid sales tax in many cases is certainly beneficial to online retailers, but anybody who believes that sales tax is the primary force moving retail transactions online simply has not been paying attention. If all 50 states suddenly started collecting sales tax on Amazon sales today, Amazon would take a hit, but they would not suddenly collapse.

Comment Re:Shut up and take my money (Score 1) 151

You might get slightly better deals with Google, but the additional privacy/tracking data that Google (and the US government) will have on people...internet and phone/voice history, voice call recordings and internet browsing history, all that data from one convenient source...scares me.

You say that like the existing mobile carriers aren't already doing that kind of bullshit. Remember Carrier IQ? Verizon/AT&T complicit in warrantless wiretapping?

Comment Re:Of course (Score 1) 487

Hopefully, for you and many other folks, we won't discover some day that Adderall has an unforseen side effect (say like that miracle diet drug Fen-Phen)... As I understand it, Adderall basically a stimulant that works similarly to meth and coke in the body and (like Fen-Phen) has a potential for causing cardiac problems.

Amphetamine salts were first synthesized in the 19th century, and have been used therapeutically since the 1930's. They are among some of the most well understood and thoroughly studied drugs in use. Many instant-release ADHD meds have been around so long that they have been generic for DECADES. Yes, they have a tremendous potential for cardiac complications and other significant side-effects, but we've known about that for half a century. The chances of unforeseen side effects of amphetamines suddenly coming to light are about as likely as suddenly finding out that aspirin causes brain tumors.

Comment Re:That's not an antenna. (Score 1) 91

I am also an RF engineer, and that was my first thought too: This is far too small to be any kind of steerable/smart antenna array. I don't know if there is some crazy, cutting edge hocus pocus out there, but I've always understood that antenna arrays need at least 1/2 wavelength spacing between elements. Same thing for diversity/MIMO antennas. At 2100 MHz, that's roughly 6cm. For 700LTE, we're talking 20+ cm. You're getting 2 elements in a mobile handset at best... good for maybe 3dB of gain over a single element?

Fancy smart antenna arrays probably have a strong future in base station towers, but mobile handsets are just too damn small.

As far as antenna efficiency goes, I was under the impression most handsets used (notoriously inefficient) electrically short microstrip antennas? You certainly can make an antenna arbitrarily smaller than a half-wavelength, it's just going to have very low radiation resistance and not be very efficient.

Comment Re:Can't agree more (Score 1) 1651

Actually, BMX stunt cyclists and serious downhill mountain bikers tend to wear full-face motocross helmets precisely because bicycle helmets provide crap protection. As far as cost and practicality, they're really not that heavy or awkward (watch what freestyle BMX guys can do wearing them) and a quality, name brand DOT certified motocross/dirt helmet can be had for under 100 USD.

Hardcore speed/fitness guys will never wear them because they're poorly ventilated and hot compared to bicycle helmets, but due to my experiences as a motorcyclist, if I were riding a bicycle in a busy urban environment with a lot of automobile traffic, I'd choose to wear a motocross/dirt style helmet.

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