* Posts by Dave 32

266 posts • joined 22 Jun 2009

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Microsoft's Windows Phone folly costs it another billion dollars

Dave 32
Pint

Re: As a consumer - 2 key issues ...

>(cf.IBM - can you still run VM/360 code on a iSeries ?)

Not an iSeries, but a zSeries. And, it's VM/370 code, since the S/360 didn't support virtual storage (well, excepting for the S/360 model 67, which was a bit of a strange beast, and for that hardware hacked model 40 that the Cambridge Scientific Center had, which was a one-off beast). But, yeah, for application mode code, you can (The privileged instructions aren't necessarily the same, but the non-privileged instructions mostly are upwards compatible.).

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Google-backed solar electricity facility sets itself on fire

Dave 32
Flame

Re: Is it just me?

> I'd love to have a little sun-steam generator (if only there were enough sunshine here).

Do a Google search on "solar stirling engine". They're somewhat common, although the commercial versions are not necessarily cheap; however, I have seen some Do-It-Yourself plans for them.

Dave

P.S. Then, you, too, can set fire to things with a misaligned mirror!

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Dave 32
WTF?

Archimedes' Laser

> Or, going back to Archimedes, charging up the satellite-mounted laser.

Archimedes had a laser? And a satellite? Do please tell us more! ;-)

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Boffins flip the unflippable: Meet the latest storage extender contender

Dave 32

Hematite

So, is anyone playing with the magnetic properties of Hematite?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hematite#Magnetism

Dave

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UC Davis chancellor suspended after headlines like this one undo $175,000 online name-scrubbing efforts

Dave 32
Devil

> When will those in any form of authority ever learn?

Yeah, just ask Richard Nixon. Trying to cover up for his bungling buddies cost him the presidency.

Oh, wait, you can't ask him; he's dead (Well, I suppose you could still ask him, but if he answers, well, we will all have MUCH larger problems...).

Dave

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Google Loon balloon crash lands in Chile

Dave 32
Pint

Balloons

So, let's see, the American National Weather Service (NWS) operates a total of 102 radiosonde launch sites in North America, and each of these sites launches two weather balloons with radiosondes each day. That's a total of 204 balloon launches PER DAY. When's the last time anyone heard of any damage from one of these things coming down?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Weather_Service#Upper_air_observations

Of course, larger payloads have a larger chance of damage. I've heard of some balloon operators who suspend a audible beeper on their payloads so that any humans or animals on the ground can hear the thing coming down (via parachute) and get out of the way. The beeper also makes it easier to locate and recover the payload.

Manned balloonists typically would carry a bottle of champagne with them, to placate the farmer whose field their balloon landed in (I was once part of an impromptu landing crew for a manned balloon.).

Dave

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BOFH: Thermo-electric funeral

Dave 32

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Darned young whippersnappers. What's the use of having a memory device if you can't see the memory bits? So, I keep one of these things around:

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/core.jpg

For you youngsters that don't recognize it, it's the magnetic core storage plane out of an IBM System/360 model 65 processor, vintage about 1965 or so. Should still have data in it (Probably OS/360).

But, for when the electricity goes out, and you really need to do computing, I have this device to fall back to:

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/abacus.jpg

Who says an IBM machine needs electricity to work?

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/abacusfr.jpg

Dave

P.S. I don't live totally in the stone-age. I have a USB flash key. I think it holds 16 MB. Oh, and I also have a stack of IBM 5081 devices (Google them if you dare!).

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Linux command line mistake 'nukes web boss'S biz'

Dave 32
Mushroom

Format C:

Who amongst us hasn't typed "FORMAT C:" and then replied yes to the prompt without realizing that we had meant to type "FORMAT A:"? I certainly have. Whoopsie. Spent the next day rebuilding the system. And, yeah, I've also did variants of that on just about every other system I've ever used at one time or another (e.g., "FORMAT 191".). When you've been dealing with computers for close to 40 years, you have had a LOT of opportunities to make mistakes.

However, this also goes to show the silliness of only having one backup. A true IT professional knows that you never only have one backup. What happens if you have a file system error part way through the backup process, such that the original file system is wiped out, and the backup is corrupted? (And, this is coming from a guy who managed to wipe out 400 man-years of data, due to a disk crashing part way through a database compression!!! Felt like tossing my cookies when that disk error appeared. Fortunately, had another backup that saved my bacon. Whew!).

For the truly paranoid, one should ask themselves if their data will be safe if the technician down the hall accidentally denotes that nuclear warhead that he's fiddling with in the building.

Dave

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Astroboffin discovers exoplanet by accident ... in 1917

Dave 32
Coat

IBM 5081 Devices

I keep all of my critical data on IBM 5081 devices.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat; It's the one with the pockets full of chad.

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The Register to publish Mindful Sysadmin adult colouring book

Dave 32
Pint

Darn

I was ready to order a couple of copies.

Dave

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Reddit's warrant canary shuffles off this mortal coil

Dave 32
Coat

NSLs and the First Amendment

NSLs violation of the First Amendment are being battled out in court, but the case is still somewhat up in the air:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_security_letter

Plus, we won't know for sure until an appeal reaches the Supreme Court.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat; it's the one with the mail order law degree in the pocket.

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Dodgy software will bork America's F-35 fighters until at least 2019

Dave 32
Flame

Idea

Hey, why not convert the carriers over to handling Zeppelins? Those won't require a catapult, nor arresting wires. And, those Zeppelins were somewhat effective in the World War I.

Dave

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Wait! Where did you get that USB? Super-stealthy trojan only drives stick

Dave 32
Unhappy

Mass Storage

Don't forget that one of the benefits of the USB system is that a particular device can choose to appear as a Mass Storage Device, or a Keyboard, or a Mouse, or a temperature sensor, or .... For that matter, a sufficiently adept hacker can probably make a single device appear as any of these. So, that USB flash drive you plug in very well may act as a keyboard, and start "typing" commands into the system, even if Autorun is turned off.

Dave

P.S. Ohoh, now I've gone and given some d*mned hacker an idea. :-(

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Canuck named as next UK privacy watchdog

Dave 32
Thumb Up

Not a Stuffed Shirt

It looks like she's not just a stuffed shirt; she's not pulled any punches in Canada:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_of_Tears_murders#B.C._government_email_scandal

Dave

P.S. Even if she isn't a stuffed shirt, she is remarkably cute. :-)

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What to call a £200m 15,000-tonne polar vessel – how about Boaty McBoatface?

Dave 32
Pint

RRS Davy Jones?

RRS Davy Jones?

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Uncle Sam's boffins stumble upon battery storage holy grail

Dave 32

Prussian Blue

I wonder what will be evolved in the event of a fire in that Prussian Blue battery? Remember that Prussian Blue is the nice name for Ferric FerroCyanide. Someone should at least ask the question.

Dave

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Amazon kills fondleslab file encryption with latest Fire OS update

Dave 32
Unhappy

Drat!

Just got one for Christmas. Price was right. Functionality just went down the toilet, though. :-(

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Spanish cops discover illegally parked flying car

Dave 32
Happy

On this side (left) of the pond, MIT is famous for various pranks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacks_at_the_Massachusetts_Institute_of_Technology

Dave

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Google wants new class of taller 'cloud disk' with more platters and I/O

Dave 32

Disks

There are all sorts of variations possible.

Consider, for example, a disk with 12 platters instead of the more normal number (3?). Now, that many R/W heads (23 or 24) will be a lot more massive than the 5 or 6 heads for a three-plattered disk, which would either require a strong drive mechanism, or slower access. But, who says that all 24 heads have to be controlled from the same actuator? Group 6 heads together in a group, and put four actuators around the disk. Now the drive mechanism can be the same, along with the same speed, as for the smaller disk, but you have four times the capacity out of the disk.

There used to be disks with multiple heads per platter surface. These could produce faster access by reducing the wait time for the desired sector to pass under a R/W head.

There also used to be disks with fixed-mounted heads. These were mainly useful for paging applications, and areas where extremely fast access was required to a limited amount of data.

And, may other variations were done historically.

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How one of the poorest districts in the US pipes Wi-Fi to families – using school buses

Dave 32
Pint

Re: How does the driver get home?

I'm guessing that the driver drives their private car to where the bus is parked, makes the bus trip, deposits the bus back at the trailer park, and then takes their private car back home.

Or, maybe some of the bus drivers live in the trailer parks?

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This is why copy'n'paste should be banned from developers' IDEs

Dave 32

Temporary Fix

Not too many years ago, I was doing some maintenance on a compiler, and came across a comment which stated:

/* The following two lines are a temporary fix for the xxxxxx problem 11 September 1971*/

I wisely decided that a temporary fix that was old enough to drink legally wasn't one that I wanted to touch. As far as I know, that temporary fix still exists!

Dave

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Dave 32
Pint

IEFBR14

For a real howler, look up the story of IBM's IEFBR14 routine. Nuff said.

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Hackers mirror 250GB of NASA files on the web

Dave 32
Black Helicopters

Eyewashing

So, is this just another version of "Eyewashing" that the hackers fell victim to? Sounds awfully convenient for them to find machines with root/root access.

http://www.businessinsider.com/cia-distribtues-false-memos-to-deceive-its-own-workforce-2016-2?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=referral

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Did water rocket threaten Brum airport Airbus?

Dave 32
Devil

Re: Extreme water rocket

I had a buddy, who owned a welding shop, and was carrying an Oxygen cylinder down a flight of concrete stairs into the shop. It slipped as he neared the bottom, and the bottom step sheared off the valve. That cylinder shot across the shop (narrowly missing one of the workers), and then smashed through a six inch thick poured concrete wall, before embedding itself some distance into the adjacent hillside!

Dave

P.S. Ohoh. Now, we've done it. There will be a rash of out of control Oxygen cylinders in the news now.

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Criminal records checks 'unlawful' and 'arbitrary' rules High Court

Dave 32

Time Travel?

"Among the claimants was a woman identified only as P, who was charged with shoplifting a 99p book in August 1999. After failing to attend her appearance before a Magistrates' Court 18 days later, she was summarily convicted of a second offence under the Bail Act 1976.

In November 1990, she was given a conditional discharge in respect of both offences."

So, she was discharged 9 years before the offenses? Cool! ;-)

Dave

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Did North Korea really just detonate a hydrogen bomb? Probably not

Dave 32

Re: US Air Force

Constant Phoenix:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_WC-135_Constant_Phoenix

I just hope they have plenty of fighter escorts for it. I wouldn't put it past the Norks to try and shoot one down. :-(

Dave

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Happy birthday to you, the ruling was true, no charge for this headline, 'coz the copyright's screwed

Dave 32
Happy

Re: @ PassiveSmoking

" for example, "For as long as it's being actively developed, + 10 years"."

Hey, cool idea. That means that Windows XP would be dropping out of copyright in a few more years. And, at the rate things are going, there'll still be a few hundreds of million copies of it running. :-)

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the CD of Windows XP in the pock...hey, who stole my CD?

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BAN the ROBOT WHORES, says robot whore expert: 'These AREN'T BARBIES'

Dave 32
Coat

BSOD

This could give a new meaning and fear to the term Blue Screen of Death!

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one that's beeping anxiously.

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As McAfee runs for US President – we ask a crucial question: Will Reg readers back him?

Dave 32

I would rather drive a nail through my foot

I do love that campaign slogan, though:

"I would never run for office, neither would I want to be in office, of any kind. I would rather drive a nail through my foot."

Dave

3
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Dave 32
Coat

Edward Snowden for President

Hey, cool idea. If he won, he could pardon himself. I wonder if they could administer the oath of office in Russia?

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the stack of "I Voted" stickers in the pocket.

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BOFH: Power corrupts, uninterrupted power corrupts absolutely

Dave 32
Coat

Amish Electrician

Oh, well, they'll just have to call their Amish electrician to sort the electricity problems out. ;-)

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat, it's the one with the key for the horse and buggy in the pocket.

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Spaniard claims WWII WAR HERO pigeon code crack. Explain please

Dave 32

Poem Code?

Could the original message (and, thus, presumably 4YEO) be a "Poem Code"?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poem_code

Dave

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Spanking Spam King: Sanford Wallace faces jail for Facebook flood

Dave 32
Flame

Afterwards

One hopes that a condition of his release will be that he doesn't touch an electronic device for the next 20 years. And, any violation of that (even answering his desk telephone) will subject him to an additional prison sentence.

Dave

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Canadians taking to spying on their spies

Dave 32

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quis_custodiet_ipsos_custodes%3F

Dave

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WD unleashes bigger, badder, Black and revved, rapido Red Pro

Dave 32
Coat

Re: 6TB is lighter than the 5TB product baffles us

Extrapolating that out, by the time they get up to about 30TB, the drives will have a negative mass.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the warp drive in the pocket.

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China's Tianhe-1 supercomputer back online after Tianjin blast

Dave 32
Mushroom

Ammonium Nitrate

Yeah, we learned about Ammonium Nitrate on this side of the pond with the Texas City Disaster back in 1947:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_City_disaster

:-(

Dave

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BOFH: Why, I LOVE work courses. Please tell me more, o wise one!

Dave 32
Pint

Re: Am I the only one...

Well, it really depends upon the cuteness of the administrative assistant (which, of course, depends upon the quantity, and, perhaps, the quality, of the beer).

Dave

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Boffins have made optical transistors that can reach 4 TERAHERTZ

Dave 32
Pint

Re: Hey Dave - I think you could get a very high paying job with this knowledge!

The problem is that I have a mostly very high paying job, in the field of cryptography. Then, again, if someone were to come along and offer me a rather huge pile of money... ;-)

Dave

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Dave 32

They might be on to something here. I did my MS/EE project paper on optical computing, close to 30 years ago, and most of the limitations he speaks of were known back then. The problem has been that no one has found a way to get around those limitations, at least until now. That idea of controlling a photo-reactive material with UV light, while it switches IR light is interesting, and makes a lot of sense. All they would need to do now is to run the IR light coming through the device through a frequency doubling crystal (e.g., something like KDP) twice to get the IR up to UV frequencies, and then use that to control the switches. And, no, it won't be easy. Based on the progress I've seen over the past 30 years, I'd estimate that his two decade number is quite optimistic. Still, it could happen.

Probably the next thing that needs to happen, though, is for someone to come up with a better/faster/cheaper way of producing the Al doped ZnO. CVD is a bit of a royal pain. Something like the Czochralski process, to produce large, single crystals of ZnO would be interesting, and, based on a quick literature search, it appears that it may be possible, given some rather exotic constraints of crucible/oven conditions.

Of course, massively parallel, ultra high speed cross-bar switches, using the optical switches could also be quite interesting, and may be just the thing that's needed to allow massively parallel conventional processors to be networked. Imagine, if you will, a few thousand (or 10s of thousands, or 100s of thousands) of processors being cross-coupled to many TB of RAM, I/O devices, etc., all of which can be dynamically reconfigured at 4 THz speeds.

Dave

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Random numbers aren't, says infosec boffin

Dave 32
Coat

RNGs

There are some of us here to take RNGs VERY seriously. I happen to work on a hardware cryptographic card, which has an embedded hardware RNG.

The basic rule is that PRNGs are all but useless for anything other than toy applications. Even the best ones are subject to predictability, if one had enough data and knows the algorithm being used (and, one has to believe that there are organizations out there that can reverse engineer the hardware/software being used).

There are even some us who are somewhat skeptical of NIST's SP800-90A "Recommendation for Random Number Generation Using Deterministic Random Bit Generators" as being possibly predictable (although unlikely).

As for noise sources, note that not all sources are necessarily random. Some of the posters here have mentioned using Avalanche/Zener Diodes as a source of randomness. There is some empirical evidence that indicates Avalanche/Zener Diodes may exhibit a negative resistance characteristic, under a certain set of conditions, in which case, the typical circuit will produce a relaxation oscillator, which will produce a VERY non-random signal. As evidence of this, consult figure 5, on page 19, of On-Semi's "TVS/Zener Theory and Design Considerations

Handbook":

http://www.onsemi.com/pub_link/Collateral/HBD854-D.PDF

Especially, note those zigs in the expanded portion of the voltage-current chart, and realize that those zigs represent regions of negative resistance. The theory behind these zigs is something called "Microplasma Discharge Theory", which, as far as I've been able to tell, is not well understood in the physics community.

There are, of course, a LOT more considerations that need to be given to producing a good RNG, but I really don't want to write a book here.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pair of loaded dice in the pocket.

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First SPACE SALAD on Monday's menu for ISS astronauts

Dave 32
Devil

Lift Their Moods

"It's also hoped that adding fresh food to astronauts' diets will help them to cope with radiation and may even lift their moods."

So, how long before they start growing marijuana? Or, have they already? Maybe that's what's contributing to the grungy condition aboard the craft. Oh, well, at least the initials will stay the same: International Sewage System.

Dave

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Beaming boffins feel the rhythm as neutrinos oscillate over 500 miles

Dave 32
Coat

Various

Do Neutrinos really oscillate, or is there just one type of Neutrino which then interacts differently, and somewhat randomly, with matter?

As for lawyers, which one is going to be the first to file a class action suit for exposing the residents to Neutrinos?

As for watching ice in a bucket, the real question is whether there were beers in the ice? Oh, sorry, chilled beer is an American thing. ;-)

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pockets full of ice and beer.

0
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Playing with graphene? All the cool kids are using TIN – atom-thick sheets of stanene

Dave 32

Crystalline structure

What crystalline structure are they attempting? Tin normally has two common allotropes (beta/white, and alpha/gray), although two other allotropes exist at higher temperatures/pressures. Given that the crystalline structure can dramatically affect electron conduction properties, it may not be all that surprising that they're not seeing what they hoped to see. I really have to wonder if what they've deposited has been more of a single atom thickness of an amorphous layer of Tin, rather than a two dimensional crystalline structure of Tin. More analysis/details would be required, though.

Dave

2
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BOFH: My diary is MINE and mine alone, you petty HR gimps

Dave 32
Mushroom

Re: Ohhhhh Simon, yer warmin' the cockles of me heart...

Should have taken that Leaded glass faceplate off, you know, the one that blocks most of the x-rays that are being produced, in the interests of, umm, readability. Oh, and, while you're at it, crank the high voltage up from 27 KV up to about 50 KV or so, in the interests of brightness. Just hope that the nuclear power plant that's 10 miles down the road doesn't have too many of their radiation sensors start going off when that monitor is fired up.

Dave

P.S. My, oh, my, is that a new tan that you're sporting. It almost looks like it goes all the way through your body.

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Small number of computer-aided rifles could be hacked in contrived scenario

Dave 32
Thumb Up

Right on

Excellent analysis. You know your stuff.

Dave

3
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BOFH: Don't go changing on Friday evenings, I don't wanna work that hard

Dave 32
Pint

Re: Very nice

You, sir, have obviously been drinking the wrong coffee. Have you tried Kopi Luwak?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

Or, maybe your tastes run more towards Black Ivory Coffee?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Ivory_coffee

Umm, I'll have the beer.

Dave

0
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Were the FIRST AMERICANS really FIRST? MYSTERY of vanished 'Population Y'

Dave 32

Thor Heyerdahl

No one has yet mentioned Thor Heyerdahl, and his Kon-Tiki Expedition:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor_Heyerdahl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kon-Tiki_expedition

Dave

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Disaster-gawping cam drones to be blasted out of the sky in California

Dave 32
Go

Multiple comments

Firstly, you do NOT want to be firing a rifle round upwards. Remember that law that says "Anything that goes up must come down.". Well, a rifle slug will come down, and with a high enough terminal velocity to be lethal. So, that's not a good idea. For that matter, firing a rifle into the air is illegal in quite a few places, due to the propensity to cause fatalities (Ok, so the military gets to do it for ack-ack rounds, but that's a rather specialized case.).

A shotgun, with suitably small shot (e.g., #8 bird shot, or #12, or...) will be effective up to about 50 yards, and won't constitute a lethal situation when it comes back down, mainly due to it's small mass to surface area ratio, and rather non-aerodynamic shape. Yeah, I've been peppered with falling bird shot, and it doesn't even hurt.

As for RF jamming the signals, that would be a bit of a problem, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's against US federal law to interfere with any kind of radio communications. Secondly, you really don't know what frequency the thing is operating on (27 MHz, 72 MHz, 50 MHz, 2.4 GHz, etc.). And, you're not really sure if it's using some kind of encrypted/encoded communications. Sure, you may blanket the entire spectrum with noise, and take out most of the emergency service radios in the process, but you may not do anything to the drone, which may simply remain in position with no radio signal to guide it.

If the thing is outside of shotgun range, well, one would presume that it's probably far enough away to not be a hindrance to any ground based emergency responders. And, if an air tanker happens to drop a load of water/fire-retardant on it, well, that won't be their problem, if this law passes.

As for someone shooting one down, one would presume that they'll ensure the likely crash area to be devoid of people/equipment before the shoot-down.

Dave

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Did speeding American manhole cover beat Sputnik into space? Top boffin speaks to El Reg

Dave 32

Re: Slightly disappointing to read the detail

Probably not as bad as the Castle Bravo nuclear test shot, which was only supposed to be 5 megaTons, but, instead, was closer to 15 megaTons. It seems that the designers missed the fact that the Lithium in the Lithium-Deuteride boost fuel would contribute to the fusion. Whoopsie.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo#Detonation

And, yeah, that would require a change of underwear!

Note that some of the islands in the Bikini Atoll no longer exist. Bokonijien, Aerokojlol, and Nam were vapourized during nuclear testing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini_Atoll#Geography

Dave

P.S. Despite the island chain giving name to a popular type of swimwear, the natives are very modest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini_Atoll#Clothing_and_dress

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini_Atoll#Swimsuit_design

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Large Hadron SMASHER: Boffins BLOW OPEN the PENTAQUARK's secrets

Dave 32
Holmes

Re: Newton Quote

So, what's the charge of a Pentaquark? (Yeah, I could look up the charges of the individual quarks that compose it, and add them up, but surely someone has done that already.). What about the spin?

Dave

P.S. How long before someone tries to build a computer-like device with these things?

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