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Comment Re: Headline 100% Wrong (Score 1) 119

It's really simple. Past experience has shown that pilots do stupid things for money. We take risks we shouldn't when our paycheck is on the line. It used to be that I didn't need a commercial license to fly for money, but after seeing too many people get injured and die because of risky behavior (weather, fuel, maintenance, etc...) the FAA saw that regulations about commercial flight were necessary.

Imagine there's a blizzard outside. Think about your motivations to drive yourself to a friend's house, vs. your motivations to drive an uber passenger to his friend's house when the client is paying a 10.0x surcharge. And you really need the money because you're short on rent. Think you're more likely to take the risk when there's money on the line? Of course you are. We all are. But in aviation, you're always one hiccup away from an accident so the consequences of chasing money are much worse.

And that's why $50 makes all the difference.

Comment Re:Headline 100% Wrong (Score 1) 119

The journalist is not doing exactly the same thing. The journalist is flying for money, the hobbyist not.

The FAA's rules for aviation are written in blood. The reason I'm not allowed to fly for money is because experience shows that people take risks when money is involved, risks they wouldn't otherwise take. In general, the pressure to fly my plane in order to get home in time for is much less than the pressure to fly in order to get a paying client home on time for his dinner, especially if I need the money and won't get it if I don't fly.

Note, this is not a discussion about the relative risk of a 2kg UAV being flown for money. I'm focussing only on the mistaken notion that motivations are not important for predicting an activity's danger. Motivations are *crucially* important here.

Comment Not python (Score 1) 648

Not python. It has an obnoxious syntax that is incompatible with modern IDEs. Python's flexibility is really cool, but the poor syntax (len vs length, [-1] instead of [end], etc..) and use of whitespace as a syntax unnecessarily complicates programming and makes it hard for a modern IDE to enforce style.

What we need is a language with python's back end but with a front end that wasn't created by someone with an axe to grind when it came to syntax and program layout.

Comment Good idea, but terrible implementation (Score 2, Insightful) 110

First, what gives with the goofy webpages that try to scroll like pages of a book? One of the wonderful things about a web page is for it to be long and easy to scroll through, instead of requiring me to scroll in order to get to the next text section. That makes it really awkward to go back and forth.

Second, where can I search for other people's results? I want to switch to RCN in Boston, how does this webpage help me know how they're doing?

Comment Re:Cost (Score 1) 473

I personally turned down the purchase of a Velocity XL at my local airport when the owner was required to do a security inspection, including taking off his shoes, in order to get to his own hanger. There was no way I was going to be hassled by a security search to access my own private property.

This is purely anecdotal, and it doesn't change the fact that you're right that most of this decrease in numbers has been in the cards for years, but it's false to claim that pilots aren't harmed by the insanity around the TSA and its ilk.

Comment No policing neologisms (Score 5, Insightful) 775

It is not a search engine's responsibility to police our neologisms. Santorum is a word now used by the common public, and it requires no editorializing by third parties. As the original article points out:

The news is better for searches for Rick Santorum's full name, rather than just the word "santorum." In that case, his official site ranks tops.

So in other words, if I'm looking for a person, I write the person's name in and find the person. If I'm looking for a thing, I type said thing in and find it.

For example, would anybody be annoyed if a google search of the word "houston" showed Houston, TX as the first hit, instead of Whitney Houston?

Now as to why Santorum and santorum came to be connected is another matter. But that's something for a different conversation, which the columnist fails to grasp.

Comment Re:Hadn't expected this on /. so quickly (Score 1) 50

The bat researchers (I'm a controls researcher, so I have to ask their advice about things like this) say that the bat should carry a load weighing no more than 5% of its weight. On a 10g bat, and these bats are among the bigger species, you can see that this leads to a very small package, indeed.

As for your second question, there were IR cameras recording from many different angles, all of them ground-based. The purpose of the experiment was not to record bat flight with a GoPro; that was just a nice feature that we added since we were already there. The experiment was about perturbing the bats by entering into their clutter and seeing how they respond. Do they flee? Do they ignore? Do they act the same way they do when a hawk attacks? What rules are they following when they fly in a swarm?

Comment Re:Parts from the hardware store? (Score 5, Informative) 50

The carbon fiber parts where from hobby-lobby. Although we'll be getting them from HobbyKing in the future because it's something like $5/rod.

The only specialty part was the OpenPilot CopterControl module. That was indeed all of $100. Appropriately sized BLDCs can be bought for $7/ea., a radio is $50, the props are $1.50/ea., the battery was $20, the charger was not high output, and there are a few other components that you didn't list which I won't either in the interests of conciseness. Suffice to say that you can build a complete, functioning quadcopter with a CopterControl for all of $250, incl. the transmitter/receiver combo.

Comment Hadn't expected this on /. so quickly (Score 3, Informative) 50

I realize that most of the comments here will probably be poking fun at the batcopter, and I can't wait to read what the /. audience is going to come up with. I guess I underestimated the coolness factor of flying towel racks. However, if you want to discuss the science behind it, I'll be more than happy.

It was a neat project, and we're only just starting, although that's probably the first and the last time that I'll go into the field. Apparently, we have some 30TB of data to wade through, so there's enough there for any dozen PhDs. The next task is to figure out what we actually recorded and to see what we can do with it.

Dr. Kenneth Sebesta

Comment Re:Was Microsoft Riight? (Score 1) 716

Re point #1:

I'm a longtime and continuing user of Windows, Linux, and Mac, in that chronological order. 6 months ago, a friend gave me his old iPhone 3G. Now I've got a Nook Color running CM7 and an Atrix on order. After the experience with the Nook Color, I'm petrified of getting the Atrix. It's simply amazing how you can go forward in hardware, but backwards in usability. What does that have to do with point #1?

Simple. Apple has a focused, single-minded user experience. Everything they sell can use almost everything that is made. No Motoblur/HTC Sense/Android/Gingerbread/Honeycomb/FroYo/etc... How do you expect a salesperson to be able to tell you what a tablet is good for, when s/he doesn't even know what the tablet can do, because Android is... what?

To be honest, I don't regret my Nook Color, not for the price, but I could not articulate why someone else should buy one, not even at $250. Yet I could easily do that for an iPad at $600+. I don't own an iPad, and probably never will, but after having seen the software ecosystem, and the relative quality of the user experience (Android is too many, too many options. For simple stuff. Like deleting a program.), I can easily talk to someone and figure out what an iPad could do for them.

XBox (Games)

Submission + - New Kinect Acheivement: Ring of Death (

otter42 writes: It seems that the XBox 360's Kinect will manage to scratch 100% of games. Okay, hyperbole aside, it really does seem that playing a kinect game becomes a question of when the disc will be fatally scratched, rather than if. The problem is that, in order to save $0.25/ea., Microsoft decided to forgo rubber bumpers that protect the spinning disc from vibration. As the Kinect virtually ensures there will be lots of humans jumping, bumping, hopping, and grinding, it's difficult to imagine when vibrations won't be present.

Comment Yeah, I can kind of understand that (Score 1) 484

Being one of these "younger" workers I think the article is referring to, I can definitely relate. I don't enjoy working in a solitary office, find that having a colleague in close proximity helps me out when I'm stuck, etc... I recently had a 10m^2 office, shared with one other researcher, and I definitely miss it. My wife has the ability to have a decent sized office with a window view, but she prefers to share a 50% bigger office with a second colleague. They get more done that way.

Of course, others would prefer anything but, and I respect that, too, but this isn't necessarily as Orwellian a quote as that.

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