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Submission + - On-demand traffic light signalling device for bicycles. (

neBelcnU writes: There's a Kickstarter campaign for an active device that tells the in-pavement loop that you're waiting, an almost magical feat for bicyclists. With many person-years of engineering, this little transmitter will do what all the vodoo (magnets) have failed: it will destructively interfere with the loop's RF field and make it think a bus, locomotive, or aircraft carrier has pulled up to the red light. How long before every Trek, Caterham, roller blade, or long board are sporting one of these?

Comment Re:Winter Biking? (Score 4, Informative) 342

Minneapolis/St. Paul: It's becoming more common to see folks using incredibly fat-tired mountain bikes in all weathers, but regular bikes (even road bikes) are now seen every winter, even below 0F. Credit to determined riders and cities that make an effort. Bike trails are plowed by specialized equipment, although at a delay like you mentioned, riders still venture out on the streets. Thanks to all for using bike lights, even during the day.

Comment Shiny! (Score 5, Informative) 409

We have to differentiate between "made for the screen" and books: Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars were made to look pretty. Everyone can cite their fave SciFi books, but I'll just go with Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat, who eloquently asserted that interstellar war was a complete waste of effort, then goes on to write one book where (wait for it) a bunch of folks decide to wage interstellar war.

Comment Re: budgets (Score 5, Insightful) 115

Ok, Accepting that flyingsquid's remark and mine will be moderated into Negativeland, I will feed his/her troll-ness just this once.

Budgets running "over": I agree that you have, using perfect 20/20 hindsight, identified a worrisome trend: rising NASA project costs over time. I will argue against this as a legitimate complaint on 2 fronts:

A) All government projects rise, at rates at least equal to NASAs. By the time the projects "end" they all appear wildly delayed, and hugely inflated. B1, B2, F22, F35, LCS, Stryker, M2 Bradley, M1 Abrams, F18 (which was the loser in the competition for the F16), NexRad, IRS software upgrades, the list is endless. You've chosen to reframe NASA's behavior as out-of-place, when creeping budgets and timelines are the norm. These "creeps" are in fact reviews, where congress revisits the project's justification and reconsiders continuance or abandonment.

B) Hindsight is unavoidable, but somewhat useless. All government projects are engaged in for the best reasons at the time. (Including pork: politics and perception are both, unhappily, reasons.) All of them are initially put up with gigantic dark-areas of knowledge. The proponents of the project have to name the best number they can with the available knowledge, then run with it. Each successive increase is a far harder battle than the initial start, and the fact that a project eventually flies means that the best congressional minds decided it was worth it at each of those increases.

My conclusion: You are offended by a pattern of behavior that is visible looking back, but invisible looking forward. I welcome your proposal to eliminate this problem, but to tote out the tried-and-true phrases like "accountability for failures" and "leadership is failing them" is to cloth Luddism in conservative gowns. I've attempted to make the case that while the system isn't elegant, it is your perception of it that is your problem. This inelegant system produces investments that it believes are worthy, using the best information available at the time, at each step along the way. That it follows a Drunkard's Walk is meaningless if it gets to the desired goal.

Comment Re:Only suit fabric protecting crew from hard vacu (Score 2) 164

"oil-canning" (that sound) was normal, and the LEMs walls did it. It costs an automaker a fortune to prevent "oil-canning" on hoods and hatches, it wasn't a concern on the LEM.

The walls were so thin that workers damaged them (even holed them) with their safety shoes. After delays due to the repairs, it became a work-order to remove shoes when working inside the nearly finished LEMs. The cover of the ascent engine was really vulnerable. IIRC it was the first production use of chemically-etched sheet metal in the aerospace business. BTW, Grumman made the skin so thin because they were under the greatest pressure to cut weight.

Yes, this extremely thin metal was "stronger" when under tension due to internal pressurization, but it was still ridiculously thin for terrestrial purposes.

Kelly, Thomas J. Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module. Washington [D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2001]
Woods, W. David. How Apollo Flew to the Moon. New York: Springer Verlag, 2008. Ebook (Kindle).

Comment Networking trade shows. (Score 1) 220

Did this for 11 years: you walk decades of miles every day over broken terrain during show-setup. Then, during teardown, you're hustling (almost a jog) over somewhat shorter distances, to gather up gear. Remember, you'll be carrying tools through all this. 2 laptops, in rare occasions, but never less than about 10lbs of "insurance." (Stuff you don't want to have to walk back for.) Add a hotel or two, and a day with only 5 miles walked is a nap.

The above applies when you work "for the house" either on staff or as a permanent contractor to the facility. I think the folks who come "with the show" have a different experience: they probably stress more, and walk a teensy bit less. I could be wrong on that, I've never done the travelling-net-geek thing for trade shows.

Still, it's a new shiny thing every 2 weeks, a lot of exercise, and I got to work with the best telecom people in the world.

Comment Re:Leave my Hearing Aids Alone (Score 5, Insightful) 70

I've also paid a fortune for my hearing aids, 100% of my own funds because health insurance in the US doesn't cover any hearing-related expenses beyond the most basic testing.

With that in mind, I do NOT want the "professionals" touching my hearing aids. Having watched them repeatedly, I'm certain that I can do a better job--even with Siemens' cripple-ware. In fact, there are a number of hacks I think would be really impressive: The software packages the 4 settings by default in a manner that requires 3x the button-pushes should they be arrayed in simple "loudness order". Or this one: the feedback defaults to a series of beeps: 1 per setting position, 1 beep=1st setting, 2=2nd, etc. There's an option to set the tone to one of 4 different frequencies, so in my first visit, I figured out we should select ever higher tones for the counts. (1=lowest/least, 4=highest/most) The "professional" was so astonished by the usability improvement of this, he was going to apply it to other customers.

Oh, and see what I did there? I just socially-shared a trick that others may find helpful." I know it's a licensed job, they're not idiots, and they do have skills, but they do not wear hearing aids. I cannot stress that last enough, every "professional" I've seen all have perfect hearing. They may understand the physiology better, but they do not understand the electronics, psychoacoustics, or the limitations better than I do.

Run the tests, start up the app, and head out for lunch, I'll take it from here. And you bet your sweet bippy I'm going to publish MY settings, and compare notes with other users. If you don't want to, fine, don't. But I'll pay to get out of the highest walled-garden in the world.

Comment Re:Classic 2D is best (Score 1) 710

The shutter speed of the camera is variable, it is usually expressed as an angle: the angle that the blades are spread to admit light, maxing out around 180. The max-exposure (180) is 1/24th sec for 24fps and 1/48th sec for 48 fps, but those are maximums, and are only used rarely (like if the DP wants a really tight aperture for max depth of field, with some filters for effect; or shooting a night scene that simply cannot have more lighting added to it.) The projector flashes each frame twice at 24 fps, so you get two 1/48th sec views of each frame. The camera doesn't double-expose the frames.

The Red camera is digital, so it's shutter-speed can be almost anything, typically in the 10-thousandths of a second for action stuff IIRC. Yes, with digital, we're back to fractions of a second, though there's a handy conversion table.

Now, on to the OTHER thing: the pan-stutter is virtually unaffected by the bump to 48fps. Don't get me wrong, it's way better than 24fps, but it's a long, long way from "fixed." Oh, and pan-stutter is just the most obvious artifact of the low frame rate: any object moving across the frame will "strobe". When it's just a subject/foreground object moving, we usually don't find it as objectionable as when the camera pans.

-ex SMPTE member

Comment Re:Correction.... (Score 1) 258

Lumpy owes me a keyboard. But wait, what's this? Reports and even some command-and-control via semaphore from London to the coast of Spain? Yep, Admiral Lord Nelson's victory at Trafalgar ( was known back home almost immediately, IIRC. ("The Price of Admiralty" by John Keegan.) Ships stationed at line-of-site the entire way.

Comment Re:Great read. (Score 1) 73

I totally agree with you & NoahsMyBro: This is 5 pages of some of the best content I've ever read out of Slashdot. For a run of the mill tech-mag, it's paradigm-shiftingly good; like maybe they're not all brokers/investors selling their con as "tech journalism."

But I'm saddened by the lack of commentary (I'm concluding that implies a lack of RTFAing) and the quality. "Imperial vs. Metric"? Anecdotes that--while interesting--fall straight on the line graphed in the linked story? Oh well, it's worth it for what I got out of the article.

And it reinforces my opinion that NASA's in the complex-systems-management business. That they can organize large groups of people, and accomplish such difficult tasks, is an absolute wonder to contemplate. The power of a mission, percolating down through an organization, to achieve these ends, is a monument so large that people don't even know what they're looking at.

The rockets and the noise and the zoom, are all by-products of the really amazing bit.

Comment Terrestrial Microwave Links. (Score 2) 147

"It's potentially a boon for congested spectrum problems, although at the moment I suspect it would only work for directional links."

Wouldn't that mean a huge boon for telcos and state gov'ts that still use terrestrial microwave links? Could a state network take advantage of this, and sell off the unused portion? Speaking for IL and MN, both have microwave line-of-sight to all their toll booths, truck depots and weigh stations.

There are inevitably issues to this, but if this first appears in LoS, wouldn't these networks (telco+local gov't) be able to use it?

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