3117 posts • joined Sunday 22nd April 2007 18:21 GMT
"Back then, letters were printed on telephone dials to aid automatic calls."
Uhm, they were then and are now. Just that the dials are buttons and people use thm 2 mk awfl txt spk lk ths. Letters on phone dials/pads might have fell out of fashion in the UK at one point, but they've always been available and the mobile market has brought them back into the public consciousness big time.
Been a while since I last used the service though. It was on 8081 back then. It's 123 now, I think!
Any country can "create" money.
They just have to print more notes.
Problem is, the more money in circulation, the lower the value of each currency unit. Money creation is not the same as wealth creation, and if you confuse the two then you can well end up with hyperinflation and people taking their weekly wages home in wheelbarrows because you're paying ($£€)200 on a loaf of bread.
"I like that you don't need the latest hardware to run it."
No arguments with the rest of the post but this one was really silly.
Wasn't that long ago that Apple ditched PPC completely when there were plenty of working PPC Macs out there. They've ditched the first couple of generations of iPhone even though that's been out, what, a couple of years now? Now the latest move is to remove even a compatibility layer for legacy software which I'm sure is going to break more than just Adobe's software.
In comparison, Windows 7 will run on a crappy single-core AMD64. 7 is what Vista was meant to be, and as such has been slimmed enough to run on low-end Atom netbooks. As for Linux, well, I'm pretty sure it'll run on a toaster if you compile it with the right options. OS X on the other hand? Not so much. When you buy Apple gear you buy it in full knowledge that you will have to buy whole new Apple gear and possibly whole new software not so long down the line.
You pays your money (and with Apple you pays plenty), and you makes your choice, I guess.
Less of a headache?
How is "I own this software and have a license to run it on X number of PCs from now on until the world stops turning" more of a headache than "did I pay the rent on the software this month?" Or even better, "what's the rental pcm going to be THIS financial year?"
Somehow I suspect that there is still going to be a hefty tome of EULA to read through, whether you own the disks or are dependant on someone else's servers not fucking up that day.
"...there is no/none/nada/zero reason to EVER use DLLs on current software."
A full installation of DirectX, for every single application that uses it?
A full installation of .Net, for every single application that uses it?
Maybe I misunderstand you, but you seem to be calling for the death of shared code libraries. I would like to see how long a terabyte lasts you with a system like that!
Almost as stupid as Pontiac getting miffed at Mozilla Firebird.
I can see that being amusing. Watching Apple's lawyers try to prove that people would confuse a small fondlable toy with a very large, marginally more expensive, flying executive toy, that is.
On previous results though, said lawyers did manage to convince people that you would confuse an iPod with a device used to pick up dogshit. That might have been an easier task though.
From what I recall, the same act that made CBs a license-free broadcast medium and the little FM transmitters for your MP3 player legal, also legalised license-free use of electric bicycles up to 15mph top speed and a 250W motor. They are now classed as bicycles rather than small motorbikes. It was one of the few decent things the last lot did.
Now riding a bicycle of any sort on a pavement is illegal and always has been, but considering the amount of people riding on the pavement anyway (myself included), that law probably needs revising to something like "ride slowly on the pavement if you like but pedestrians always have right of way".
Maybe in a data centre.
Every computer I have works as it should under all circumstances. Unless you live in an equatorial region or are stuffing petabytes on racks, "you're using it too much" is not a good excuse for "the manufacturer was a cheapskate on heat sinks". Even given the equatorial example, it should have to be a blazing Summer before a consumer device starts complaining.
Saying the device should overheat because you spent a little too long on Crysis for Tablets is a little like saying computers should crash at least once daily because you've only ever experienced Windows 95.
If it overheats just from running software...
...then it is not fit for purpose. Take it back.
Running Nova HD quite happily on this Tab. Granted it makes for a nice little handwarmer but it's not overheating in the slightest. Neither is the ancient laptop that can just about manage UT2004, unless I lay it flat on a thick pile carpet. The Tab's batteries seem to last an impressive few hours under this sort of strain too, so it's not all bad.
Though yes, playing Nova HD is definitely awkward due to not having any way of interacting outside of a touch screen. Some games are great (Jet Car Stunts, after all, was made for touchscreens and tilt sensors), but others are truly awful. Also what the hell is with Droid manufacturers making backlit touch-sensitive spots instead of real buttons for navigation? Asides not being able to see the bloody things at night when the backlight goes out, it's far too easy to attempt to jab the "fire" "button" and end up swiping your thumb across "home" instead. ARGH!
Yep. Works with Firefox and Chrome, dragging both to the Gnome desktop and to random panels.
Wonder if this is one of those 235 patents?
Dunno about that.
What I do know is BMFA liability insurance (which is highly limited and only applies on approved land, etc, etc, consult their site for more info) does cover you for up to class M rocket engines, which is pretty fecking huge. We're not talking "firework on a stick". More like "amateur suborbital missile."
I'm gonna guess that Lester has probably done research in this department though, and might even have larger rocket classes planned.
At least, I'm sure we're all hoping he has. Teehee.
Take a look at the original PARIS project.
Hoisted on a weather balloon.
I think this may need several though. I'd go for nine or twelve arranged in bunches of three, for a little redundancy. Put enough helium in that you can lose two clusters and still have lift. The more expansion room you have, the higher those balloons go before the rocket has to kick in.
Are there any relevant records that could be challenged here?
Sensors in a smartphone.
These tend to be accelerometers, which would be as useless as trying to fly a plane at night in clouds by looking out of the window. Unfortunately the acceleration caused by getting kicked up the backside by a rocket engine will severely skew a smartphone's idea of where "down" is. This is where using a solid state gyro (three of them, they cost about £30-£50 each from an RC supplies shop) would come in handy, alongside horizon detection. The ready-for-RC gyro blocks are quite lightweight, or you can buy the raw components themselves from CPC or Maplin or whoever for even more weight savings. Hell, I have a Blade mCX micro-copter here with a 7 inch rotor span, that has a single-axis tail gyro welded onto the logic board. They are tiny, on the order of Microchip-sized.
See the reason you need additional horizon-detection measures (be they optical, IR or whatever), is that gyroes don't give you an absolute attitude reading and accelerometers are useless for this purpose when you're undergoing acceleration (or even just wobbling about a bit). Gyroes will tell you how much you've rotated by, but they don't know where "down" is. By using horizon detection, you get an absolute measure of where up and down is that can be taken, say every second or so, whereas the gyroes respond much faster and can be used to interpolate by saying "well up and down was THIS way 0.02 seconds ago and the gyroes say I've rotated THAT many degrees, so up and down must be THERE." Accelerometers can be used for their intended purpose of logging the fact that "holy crap, I'm pulling 10g on this rocket burn, woo fucking hoo!"
Now you could use solid state barometers to measure both airspeed AND altitude. Airspeed barometer would be attached to a pitot tube, the altimeter one inside the airframe out of any significant draughts. Of course they'd both need calibrating, but the mathematical formula for turning millibars into feet above sea level is pretty well documented. If nothing else it would be a backup or redundant telemetry system in case the GPS module does decide that Lester is trying to bomb the White House and craps out until it descends by a few thousand feet/slows down a touch. Yeah, apparently if the GPS does crap out there may be a bit of hysterisis - it won't just flick back on the minute you go below 60,000ft/1150mph, and there may be a considerable delay.
This is turning into another long post isn't it?
I think I should have clarified.
Still, if the module aboard Vulture 1 performed okay, maybe it can be re-used. The thing I'm scared about is that some forums are saying the height+speed limits are imposed on a lot of modules as an "OR" operation, so height exceeded OR speed exceeded. Some are imposed as an AND operation, so height AND speed exceeded. If the Vulture 1's GPS module is an AND, then it'll be fine for measuring a slowly floating balloon's height all the way up to space. However if this rocket plane goes above 999kts, then you could end up with GPS cutting out just when it's needed most: to measure peak height. 1150mph might sound like a big ask, but not out of the range of even a modestly powerful rocket engine in the upper atmosphere with nothing substantially heavy attached to it.
Though as this is El Reg, and not some bunch of random schmucks, maybe they could be trusted with mil-spec kit?
Guess who never created a profile?
I suggest just letting them delete everything, or pre-emptively deleting (or falsifying) everything yourself. If everyone does that, Google get fuck all. They'll change their tune faster than Steve Jobs facing a developer rebellion.
However a single balloon would have to be inflated quite a way to lift all the gear, and would therefore pop at a lower altitude. Multiple balloons would be inflated much less so, and could go higher before going boom.
That and the cluster could be arranged so no balloons are touching. Think balloon-----string----balloon----string---etc. Or triple cluster of balloons----string----another cluster----etc. The triple cluster would mean the string can go up the middle of the three and not rub against taught latex. Any failures mean only a single cluster goes ka-pop.
Of course, you could have sensors that measure internal vs external pressure and vent gas accordingly, but that's a whole new complex kettle of fish on top of the existing rather complex autonomous rocketcraft.
Re: Why Horizon Detection
Well it's not so much horizon detection as attitude detection, and horizon detection is possibly the only way of doing it that's within reach of Garden Shed Engineering.
As for why, well the idea according to the article is to fly the thing back to base under autonomous control. As well as you build any airframe, all it takes is a gust of wind to completely fuck your orientation up. Under any realistic conditions, simply relying on dihedral wings and rudder control is not going to work very well at all. While there are free-flight gliders that can circle around, they aren't really guided and may well end up anywhere. They also tend to be flown in conditions that are relatively calm compared to whatever might be blowing about up at 30, 40 or 50,000 feet. So long as you can detect attitude, you can keep the wings at a sensible level and therefore not have to worry about suddenly being flipped upside down - or at least, quickly correct things if you do get flipped. Plus at the speed a rocket engine is likely to take you, anything other than sharply swept or delta wings are likely to get ripped straight off. I really want to see that F19 airframe in fibreglass!
Using a hacked smartphone (or multiple if Lester goes for detachable engines) for everything is a plan though. Cheapy droidphones are under a hundred quid and have more than enough computational grunt for the task. Plus GPS, plus a 3G chipset, unless there are smaller, lighter System On Board platforms that have 3G to talk to home with.
Mind you, what would it take for a long-ish range nav beacon to send gpsd-compatible messages over rtty? Much better than trying to triangulate a simple ping, and no need to rely on mobile phone coverage.
Amusing, cheap, but I don't know if they provide enough thrust to lift things vertically. Everything I've seen them on seems to use them to propel the craft horizontally while the wings provide lift in a more normal fashion.
Laser ring gyroes
Problem is, whatever signal you're getting from the gyro has to be converted to digital at some point so the onboard computer can deal with it. Digitisation means quantisation, which means quantisation error, which means drift. Unfortunately we don't have infinite-bit ADCs just yet, nor computers that can deal with infinite accuracy. That and a piezo gyro from a model shop is probably vastly cheaper.
Still, there are no silly ideas when compared to the overall goal of flinging a model aircraft into space. Let's keep going and give Lester some inspiration!
So long as you stick within model aircraft limits (3m wingspan, 7.5Kg weight), no license is required for a UAV. For larger airframes, a specialised license can be obtained. I'm going to hazard a guess and say Lester probably knows all this, or knows a suitable "pilot" (quotes due to it being, err, a UAV).
Of course the rules in Spain may be different to the rules in the UK. Go have a look at the BMFA's website for the latest Handbook and other resources.
That concept pic looks awesome.
...and you could probably achieve it with fibreglass sheets and resin. Pretty cheap stuff, usually used for making/fixing model helicopter bodies. Could make for an awesome monocoque airframe, leaving plenty of room inside for rocket engines. Will you be just buying off-the-shelf Estes stuff, or making your own engines? Also are you considering solid, liquid or hybrid rocket engines? From what I recall, the Top Gear shuttle attempt used latex and nitrous oxide. Could be worth contacting Rocket Men Ltd to see if they'd like to join forces or find out how much it'd cost to hire their expertise.
As you're going above GPS heights, I'm going to guess you'll need to work without it, at least at the start of the launch. Solid state barometers can be fettled to work as altimeters, and you already know about solid state gyroes and accelerometers. Problem is, gyroes will tend to drift so you will need to find a way of detecting absolute orientation every now and then (as opposed to the gyroes just telling you how much you rotated since the last measurement). You could go for optical horizon detection (probably a good option as you'll be way above cloud level and presumably launching in the day, even if it would be computationally expensive to analyze a couple of webcam feeds). Another more iffy method is magnetic detection. Apparently the difference in the Earth's magnetic field is measurable over a pretty short altitude difference, so sensors in the wingtips could detect whether you're flying level or not (at the expense of not knowing if you're upside down or not).
Another (better) method of horizon detection is putting IR sensors in the wingtips and looking for a warmer earth versus a cooler sky. This is used in auto-land mechanisms that are already available, however they have their own drawbacks. You'd need extra sensors above/below to detect inversion, and the behaviour of an autoland system might get a little odd if it approaches a tree line or hilly terrain. I've seen some reports saying the aircraft will automatically bank away from the tree line, but a sharp bank at low altitude will likely end up with a nosedive into the floor.
Have you thought about possibly taking manual control of the aircraft once it gets low enough, presuming you can find the thing in the sky? Can we have a re-attempt at trying to track the craft via telescope? Also, please put a forward-facing camera on the aircraft this time. PARIS was awesome in very many ways, but it was a shame to not be able to see the ride down from the Playmonaut's perspective.
Also, perhaps it's possible to have the engines as external modules that get jettisoned after exhaustion? Extra brownie points for having them come down via parachute, shuttle-SRB-style. Extra extra brownie points for sticking cameras on them too.
For location, maybe you could use a lightweight, hacked smartphone with GPS in addition to the radio beacons? It's likely the batteries would freeze at very high altitude, but so long as it wakes back up properly once things warm up a little (and presuming it comes down in an area with some signal) you'd have a very precise way of recovering your spaceplane (and perhaps SRBs).
Maybe put a radio beacon on the floor somewhere and see if the plane can home in on it?
My word, this post is getting long. Hopefully not too long. Dammit Lester, there's just so much stuff to think about here. I'm envious you're getting to do it at all though!
Also about as likely to get you threatened by Microsoft. It's based on Linux, don'tcha know?
Design != Implementation
While it's easy to confuse the two, ext* is not GPL. There are plenty of GPL implementations yes, however there are also implementations of ext* under different licenses. Just as an example: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsx/ is an implementation for OS X, dual licensed under GPL and BSD.
Microsoft have no excuse other than continuing their vendor lock-in and making it hard for anyone else to use anything other than their godawful FAT32. This has nothing to do with the ext* devs. Though yes, Microsoft's patents are not only silly, they are downright dangerous. As are software patents in general, really.
1000x more even.
Yeah. Microsoft are like, 2 4 6 8 and 10 all the way up to 16,777,216.
Google only manage 1, 3 and 5 up to a paltry 65,535.
The rest get fencepost errors for not counting 0 as a number.
MAC is not unique.
Not only that but it doesn't have to be, either. The only place a MAC has to be unique is in relation to other MACs on the same network. If my MAC address is the same as some guy down the street or in another country, nothing stops working asides maybe someone's attempt at wifi-based geolocation.
Anyway, if you're that paranoid you can change the WAN MAC (and accordingly, the BSSID) of most home routers. Just set it to be 00:11:22:33:44:55 or some other unlikely-to-be-unique value. If you have some techie ability and fancy really fucking around, write a little script to log into your router and swap the WAN MAC around every five minutes. That may, however, cause you to stick out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the normally-behaving routers.
Oh and while I'm here.
"The EPC in a barcode that is scanned at check out is unique to the device being purchased and identifies that particular device."
No, it identifies that particular product. The barcode for say, a Netgear DG834 will be the same as the barcode for other Netgear DG834s, at least within the same batch of however-many hundreds of thousands.
Without defending Google TOO much...
..I'm pretty sure that airodump-ng defaults to slurping everything it can, and you have to do further processing on the .cap file to grab the SSID/BSSIDs. It wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility for the guys who wrote the data-slurping software to have just used an existing tool rather than re-invent the wheel.
Now whether Google would have just extracted the identifiers and deleted the rest of the data, I'll let everyone else form their theories on that.
A bit shit.
A cheeky way to get around this however, is to nip into Tesco (or Wal*Mart, or whatever megastore of your choice) and buy a shit PAYG mobile phone for £10/$10/whatever. You know, the ones that cost ten quid and you get ten quid of top-up with them anyway? That or a SIM card if you already have an unlocked phone to put it in. Use once, then toss or give to a frenemy.
Though I haven't seen phone verification for gmail yet. I know because I had to make a couple of throwaway accounts to activate someone's iSomething for them. Unless of course it's changed in the last couple of months.
Did need phone verification for a Google App Engine key though.
Individual user security setting
"The message was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don't want to receive these emails from Facebook in the future or have your email address used for friend suggestions, you can unsubscribe. Facebook, Inc. P.O. Box 10005, Palo Alto, CA 94303"
There's your "security" setting. Apparently a whole bunch of people I know are on Facebook and would really like me to be on there too. These are all people that know my email address and phone number, so if they want to contact me they already know how.
As for the "unsubscribe" link, sorry. That's how email spammers find out an address is valid, and I don't see Facebook as any different. Bayesian filters do a far better job than believing an unsubscribe link will do what it says.
So what Microsoft are saying is..
They used to collect personally identifying information about handsets, but then Google got a shitload of flak over their wardriving and it was too good a PR opportunity to miss.
Microsoft, you are as bad as Google and Apple for this. Worse, possibly. At least Google admitted they fucked up. To take it to an extreme, it's a little like one serial killer being caught and another saying "yeah but I don't kill people ANY MORE. At least, after that last one got caught anyway. That means I'm better."
Oh god I just made an analogy.
"Keep it on Facebook please where I have a degree of control over the information."
You just said that with a straight face?
Just an idea. Have the balloon vent gas when internal vs external pressure reaches a critical point. Anything to squeeze a few extra thousand feet before ignition. Launch when the device has definitely reached its ceiling, if you can detect that from the ground. Emergency launch and go for broke if you can detect the balloon popping with on-board systems.
Likelihood of Team PARIS forming an N-Prize entrant? None or merely slim?
A very low orbit..
..would probably only last a few days anyway. The ISS scrapes the top of the atmosphere and is being continually re-boosted. If it wasn't, you'd have flaming debris covering large portions of the Earth in a matter of weeks.
At lower altitudes, you'd probably be pushing it just to go around the requisite 9 times, and the only satellites at that altitude aren't lasting very long anyway. Also, a little reference of just how high the ISS and various other satellites have gone:
If you can get a 19.9g weight even as high as Sputnik for under a grand, I'd be amazed.
How high could a prop lifter go
Not as high as a balloon. The props tend to run out of enough air to push a long while before the hydrogen runs out of bouyancy. That and other factors such as the weight of the batteries, motors, and everything else.
Possibly doable. According to the rules, the little sparklet bulb or whatever you're inflating the thing with needn't be part of the 19.99g payload either. So long as everything separates, I imagine you could pack quite a lot of mylar into just under 20g.
Another problem, even assuming you can build a rocket that can go from 0 to orbital velocity, and do so in a light enough package that a helium/hydrogen balloon can lift it up to the edge of the atmosphere, is guidance. I've seen a lot of comments on the N-Prize site to the effect of "oh just get the angle right and you're sorted", but I just can't see that happening without a just-suborbital projectile bouncing off the atmosphere like a skimming stone and losing precious speed through unintended aerobraking. That or ending up in a very highly elliptical orbit with a perigee of somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. For a bit of fun, download yourselves a copy of Orbiter (it's freeware, go google for it) and see what happens when you just point the Delta Glider "somewhere in that direction" and give it some welly without any control.
Also, doing this WITHOUT some kind of System On Board-derived guidance system just isn't geeky enough. You can fit a capable-enough computer into a SIM card these days and servos are nicely lightweight too. Solid state gyroes are relatively inexpensive and light enough. Horizon detection would be tricky but the hardware component is essentially an array of IR sensors and maybe a second SoB. You might also want to be able to keep the delivery vehicle stable enough to be able to fire a second stabilising burn halfway around before flinging your mylar jet-can out. You'd be pushing the bounds of the £999.99 budget, but so long as you can McGuyver a lot of ingredients it does only seem ALMOST impossible.
On a parting note, did the X-Prize lawyers seriously send one of their legal love letters to the N-Prize organiser?
So that's your acronym then.
Low Orbit Helium Assisted N-Winner
Although, 19.99g max? Don't know if you'd even be able to carry a battery into orbit, let alone anything else. Can you fit a solar cell, capacitor and a pulsing radio transmitter into a coin-sized container? And could you pick it up through all that atmosphere? How does anyone intend to prove 9 orbits with a payload that small?
Severe odds indeed.
Oh I wouldn't be so angry about it.
Granted there's some really awful sites made entirely in Flash for no good reason. Those sites I navigate away from post-haste. But, Flash games are something of a special case. HTML5 still isn't quite there yet if you want reasonably complex game graphics, though I imagine it will get better. Only real problem is there's some devs out there that need to realise that an increasing number of viewers are only going to have a touch interface.
And it beats downloading an app that wants to know everything about your phone, your location, your contacts and emails just so you can waste five minutes of an Afternoon.
As opposed to the iSomethings that hit a plateau some three years ago and have been dropping steadily ever since? You did see that statcounter graph I linked to, right? EIther Android users are a very busy bunch viewing a hell of a lot of pages just to twist a graph in their favour, or the Android platform has far from peaked.
Maybe you'd like another set of graphs?
Really, which platform is outselling which is a matter of who you ask. Most people will tell you that Android phones are outselling iPhones. Tablets are only a matter of time. Of course, carry on believing that an OS able to run on many different devices has hit a peak if you like. If it'll make you feel better, it's unlikely that iOS is just going to fade away. Much like the Mac OS in the face of Windows.
And I still think Honeycomb has an awful UI.
- Xmas Round-up Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear
- Special Report How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up
- Analysis Microsoft's licence riddles give Linux and pals a free ride to virtual domination
- Massive! Yahoo! Mail! outage! going! on! FOURTH! straight! day!
- Bring it on, stream biz Aereo tells TV barons – see you in Supreme Court