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Submission + - Test flights planned for cargo drone prototype

linuxwrangler writes: Backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, drone startup Natilus is attempting to reduce global airfreight costs by 50% through the use of autonomous cargo drones. To reduce regulatory and infrastructure burden, they plan to have their cargo drones take off and land on water 12 miles offshore and fly over uninhabited areas below controlled airspace. Shipments that take 11 hours in a 747 would take 30 in the drone but at half the cost. Container shipping is less than half the cost of the drone but takes three weeks. Test flights of a 30 foot prototype over San Pablo Bay north of San Francisco are planned for this summer.

Submission + - DJI proposes remote drone ID requirement

linuxwrangler writes: Chinese drone maker DJI proposed today that drones be required to transmit a unique identifier to assist law enforcement to identify operators where necessary. Anyone with an appropriate receiver could receive the ID number but the database linking the ID with the registered owner would only be available to government agencies. DJI likens this to a license plate on a car and offers it as a solution to a congressional mandate that the FAA develop methods to remotely identify drone operators.

Comment Tipped over does not imply speed (Score 5, Informative) 227

"Given that the Uber vehicle has flipped onto its side it looks to be a high speed crash, which suggests a pretty serious incident..."

In one past life I learned accident investigation and in another extricated victims, both dead and alive, from vehicle collisions. I have to call malarkey on the "high-speed" claim.

Cars can tip over at very low speed. I've seen at least two such crashes within two blocks of my house. In one, a driver ran a stop sign and clipped a small SUV which tipped over onto the opposite sidewalk. The entire accident scene covered, perhaps, 30 feet edge to edge.

In the other, a driver drifted into the parking lane sideswiping a parked car such that the door-panels hooked which caused the car to rotate then roll.

The "high-speed" car in both cases was traveling 20-30mph.

Though the provided photo does not show a large surrounding area, neither car looks crushed - just some body-panel denting and debris is right next to the car vs. scattered down the roadway and "nobody was seriously injured."

Nothing about this suggests high-speed.

Comment Buying an Oscar (Score 1) 38

"...Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has made no secret about his desire to win an Academy Award..."

And he's throwing cash around to do it. According to FiveThirtyEight, "Loving" and "Manchester by the Sea" are roughly tied in ad-space purchases in the Hollywood Reporter which is over double that of their nearest competitors:

Comment Really?? (Score 1) 290

Why limit it to a country. Why not states? Or counties? Cities? In California alone we have many cities well over $100,000/year and others well under $10,000. Which arbitrary geopolitical line do you chose?

More germane to those of us in the US is why not limit the price that can be charged for drugs to the maximum charged anywhere else in the world. If it's profitable there, it can be profitable here.

Bottom line is that it is the legal responsibility of corporations to put their shareholders' interests first. Or, in the analysis of the movie "The Corporation", the corporation is a psychopath.

Comment Regulation? (Score 1) 257

I'm not a big fan of over-regulation but that might be the only fix. When deemed a sufficient social good, manufacturers are required to warrant and support certain products for a minimum time. Auto emission controls are one example.

Perhaps some congresscritter would find that the promotion of cyber security and reduction of e-waste would make requiring a 5-year support period on mobile devices a worthy regulation.

Of course they would end up calling it something like the Security of Cyberdevices and Reduction of Electronic Waste Universally, or SCREWU act of 2016.

Comment Re:Feinstein is one of those (Score 3, Informative) 241

Yes, she runs as a Democrat but must be a

While she does support some liberal stances on gay marriage and on occasion has voted for small scaling back of some surveillance programs her overall record is far from liberal.

She is fiercely pro-corporate supporting H1B programs and nearly every pro-Hollywood copyright plan she sees.

Her anti-free-speech sentiments are seen both as the main Democratic sponsor of the failed Flag Desecration constitutional amendment and in bills supporting unilateral US censorship of the Internet.

She was the original Democratic supporter of the PATRIOT act, supports numerous hard-stance "tough on crime" acts and called for the immediate arrest and extradition of Edward Snowden.

She is pro death-penalty.

She is against any substantial limits on spying having joined Republicans in voting to give the executive branch authority for international surveillance of Americans without the need for FISA court oversight and for continuing civil immunity for providers who assist the government is such activities.

Meanwhile, her husband Richard Blum's firm CBRE is poised to earn $1 Billion on the sale of closed post offices.

Her sponsorship of this idiotic legislation should not surprise anyone.

Comment Great Planning Disaster (Score 5, Insightful) 474

Due to the volumes of documentation available, BART is the longest section in the book "Great Planning Disasters". But the failures are human and the disaster started with the initial lies. After authorization of the new district and system failed a couple times at the polls, it was finally approved at the ballot as a system that was promised to be fully funded by fare-box revenue. It was designed with the idea of maintaining San Francisco as the economic core of the Bay Area. And almost everything was non-standard. They assumed people would drive to nearby stations then transfer to BART. That didn't happen at the rates expected and they *still* have a severe lack of parking. They claim they are getting over 20-times the customers they originally predicted and they *still* can't cover costs.

When it couldn't be built on budget, a temporary 0.5% sales-tax was imposed throughout the district. When it couldn't even come close to covering costs from the fare-box, the tax became permanent. I now pay for BART through sales-tax, property-tax and various federal and state subsidies. Despite this, a couple years ago the BART directors claimed they had a "surplus" and reduced fares. This when the tracks howl due to insufficient maintenance and, obviously, things are falling apart.

BART has had 40 years to save and plan for maintenance and upgrades and has utterly and completely failed to do so. Now that they have suddenly figured out that stuff wears out, they want 3.5 billion more.

Answering critics of the California high-speed-rail projects a state politician responded, "they said that about BART in the beginning, too." I fear he is all too correct.

Comment Re:Great idea (Score 1) 206

Wrong. Jpeg *loses* important detail. There's a lot of information that is available in a 14-bit uncompressed file that is discarded in the conversion to an 8-bit file with lossy compression. You got that amazing once-in-a-lifetime shot but it was underexposed a stop or two. No problem in raw when jpeg might well be totally unusable. Too bad for Reuters.

Every camera that a serious photojournalist would use has a myriad number of built-in features from HDR to monochrome to white-balance and many other color adjustment parameters. You can often even do cropping and other alterations in-camera. Those alterations *only* impact the jpeg files, not the RAW file. In fact, many photographic competitions *require* the raw file to be submitted along with the final image.

I'm not associated with Reuters in any way though I have had numerous photographs published in web and print both local and international.

I only shoot raw.

Comment Off the roads, now! (Score 0, Troll) 471

Although the government has been saying they are still legal to drive and sell I can't see how that is true. They do not meet the requirements to be on the road and any use should be immediately prohibited with VW ordered to repurchase all affected vehicles at original price and to pay all costs for replacement transportation until impacted drivers can obtain a US-legal alternative. Only then can we discuss the punitive damages.

This was not an accident or slight disagreement. It was blatant and intentional cheating to get a non-conforming vehicle to circumvent the tests. The whole lot of these jokers has already been discovered to "pass" EU mileage standards by running the tests at high altitude, with the belts removed to reduce drag from the alternator and other equipment. They even removed seats, overinflated the tires, taped all the seams and ran the test on a hyper-smooth track. When called on it their response was, "well yes, the test definitions should be improved but it would be unfair to alter the standards without a few year advance notice."

1. Build dirty car.
2. Insert malware to pass the tests.
3. Profit!

Until #3 turns from profit into devastating loss they will keep doing it.

Comment Alarm is last... (Score 1) 212

There's an old joke about a couple guys in a tent who hear a bear. One starts lacing his shoes. The other says, "you idiot, you can't outrun a bear." The first guy responds, "don't need do, I just have to outrun you."

Security is the same. You can't build a fortress but you can make your place substantially less attractive than others.

Burglaries are up everywhere. Where I live is no considered a "bad" area but our door was kicked in last year and my wife's car was burglarized last week (along with half a dozen others) when she was running errands. It was neighbors looking out that resulted in two of the burglars being arrested and my sleuthing on Craigslist that led to a sting that recovered a nice camera.

In a past life I have worked both in law enforcement and also worked installing alarm systems including multi-hundred-zone museum systems. Before looking at an alarm system be sure you have addressed physical security and understand burglary patterns. They aren't mostly at night - they are in the day when people are away. A typical burglary involves someone knocking on the door. If someone answers, they are "taking a poll", "sorry, I thought this was Mr. Smith's house", etc. No answer, they kick the door (or back door or jimmy a window).

Doors are pathetically easy to kick. Sure, you got that 1" deadbolt but it's still going into a piece of 3/4" finger-jointed pine trim. Several manufacturers sell long reinforcing pieces - basically a several foot long plate that replaces the strike and deadbolt plate and screws all the way into the stud with a dozen long screws. Still, a panel door with thin decorative sections can allow someone to kick through and unlock from the inside. Small sidelight windows, doggy-doors, mail-slots and the like can be broken or reached through to unlock a door as well. If you end up looking at any door upgrades you can find steel-framed doors with heavy-duty bolt systems.

You will need to evaluate your windows - too long a subject to get into but your friendly search-engine will help. Also look at your general property condition and things that might telegraph an empty house like uncollected mail, papers, etc. Most police departments offer a security check service that will help with all of the above.

Get to know your neighbors. Join/form a neighborhood watch.

Now that you have dealt with the physical issues so your doors and windows are solid and won't just rattle and cause false alarms you can start working on electronic.

I understand the desire to DIY for fun and to avoid what I consider to be insane monitoring fees. In the 20-years I've lived here I would have spent over $7,000 in monitoring which is less than we lost (not counting the door repair) even if we had no insurance coverage. But now with kids there is the peace-of-mind factor to consider. The trouble with DIY is that there are now excellent and affordable wireless panels that are quick and easy to install and have all the necessary backup batteries, dialers and the like. Plus you put up the "protected" yard sign to deter (although around here the burglars look at the signs from the cut-rate firms as an invitation rather than a deterrent - "hey, there's good stuff and they won't call the cops anytime soon"). I will be installing a system soon but I'm not going to redesign it myself.

Cameras are a deterrent, too, and there I'm looking at a number of DIY options for recording video. There's the "motion" software and a number of neat Raspberry Pi options. Several burglars have been apprehended around here because people had cameras. That's where I'm putting my DIY effort.

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The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.