* Posts by Dave 32

212 posts • joined 22 Jun 2009

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FBI probe physical intrusions into Californian internet cables

Dave 32
Unhappy

Disgruntled

It could also be a person who was recently laid off as their job was exported to the far east, etc. Some of those would see the irony in clipping cables to cut the communications. :-(

Dave

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Why SpaceX will sort out Sunday's snafu faster than NASA ever could

Dave 32
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Re: Saturns I, IB, & V

I suppose it depends upon how you define "Catastrophic failure". The unmanned Apollo 6 flight had some VERY serious problems related to pogo oscillations in the first stage, which caused some minor structural failures in the CSM. The second stage had some very serious performance problems, so severe that the control system shut down two of five engines on that stage!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_6#Flight

The Apollo 13 launch also suffered severe pogo oscillations in the second stage, although these were overshadowed by later developments during the flight. And, the center engine was shut down before the pogo oscillations caused structural failure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_oscillation#Hazard

But, as such, not all of the Saturn launches were considered successes.

Dave

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Hackers exploit fresh PC hijack bug in Adobe Flash Player, the internet's screen door

Dave 32
Mushroom

Re: Kill it with fire

It needs to be nuked from orbit!

Dave

P.S. Why, oh, why, if they can't maintain it, don't they open source it, and let some competent programmers fix it correctly?

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KRAKKOOM! SpaceX Falcon supply mission to ISS EXPLODES minutes after launch

Dave 32
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Multiple Comments

I grew up with the space program, and watched most of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches as a child or young teenager. It was all quite exciting, even given the reliability of those programs (Trivia: All of the Saturn V launches were not considered successes, despite reaching orbit.).

For those that care to remember or do the research, Apollo 12 experienced a lightning strike 6.5 seconds into the launch, with the electromagnetic pulse caused by the lightning resulted in the fuel cells going off-line (due to false overload sensing), resulting in the batteries being overloaded, which shut down most of the Command and Service Module, and this triggered just about every warning light in the craft. Fortunately, the first stage Instrument Unit ring remained functional, and kept the rocket flying in the desired attitude (else the thing may have went sideways and broken apart).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_12#Launch_and_transfer

It seems that no one had anticipated that a rocket going up towards the clouds, with that long plume of hot, ionized gas behind it, would make for a very effective lightning discharge probe. Whoopsie. As a result of this, new rules were instituted which prevents any launch if there is lightning within a certain distance of the pad (20 miles?). Additionally, NASA installed an array of Field Mills around the launch site to monitor the atmospheric electric field potential, and, if the electric field is above a certain threshold, launches are prohibited.

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

Obviously, those won't prevent 100 percent of lightning strikes, but they have severely reduced the number of strikes. One can only hope that the metallic outer skin of the vehicle will adequately function as a Faraday Shield, and keep the lightning surge away from the interior components.

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

As for Jack Swigert, he was only acting on orders to stir the Oxygen tank. And, yes, there had been some stunts involving burping the pressure, but these were unrelated to the failure, for which the root cause was a redesign of the electrical system to a higher voltage system, without the corresponding change in the insulation on the wiring in the Oxygen tank, or a replacement of the thermostat. Coupled with this was the fact that the Oxygen tank was damaged in an accident, where it was dropped, which caused some of the plumbing to be damaged. In other words, there were a whole slew of problems, each of which was relatively minor, but, which when coupled, resulted in the disaster.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_13

As for viewing launches, I got to see Discovery launched in April of 1985 (e.g., pre-Challenger), from a vantage point about 9 miles away from the pad. After the craft had launched, and disappeared behind a cloud bank, the sound finally reached me a good 45 seconds after the launch. And, although I say "sound", it was more of a vibration which shook the ground.

Regarding the timing/speed of the craft, I have to wonder if it wasn't already past the "Max Q" point with it traveling at 1 Km/second. Still, that doesn't mean that the Max Q couldn't have cause something to shake loose or metal fatigue to fracture something. I'm sure there'll be a thorough engineering analysis to identify the failure, and then to ensure that nothing like it happens again.

As for the range safety pyrotechnics, it certainly wouldn't be easy to press that button, even for an unmanned launch (I'm told that only commissioned Air Force officers are allowed to man the range safety button. I assume that's still true, even for private launches.). I have to wonder what the effects were on the officer that pressed the range safety button for Challenger. :-(

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

Note that there have been Range Safety commanded actions on a number of unmanned rocket flights.

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

As for the "low cost" supplier, I'm told that Alan Sheppard (who I was pleased to once meet) said that his thoughts, as he was laying in the couch in the Freedom 7 capsule being launched as the first manned Project Mercury launch, were "The fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder.".

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

As for using LEDs to grow plants, there's been considerable research into that (And, no, not just for "grow-ops"!). It seems that plants only need about two wavelength bands of light, and that the rest of the other wavelength bands are wasted. And, if I remember correctly, there has been some consideration of genetically engineering plants to use alternate wavelengths, although I don't know that too much actual experimentation with such genetically engineered plants has been done yet (or, at least, not published) (Then, again, plant genetic engineering is outside of my field of expertise, so I haven't played close attention to that field.).

Dave

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

Dave 32
Mushroom

Whoopsie

Our code librarian/help-desk coordinator released a fix late on a Friday afternoon once, before hopping a plane on an out-of-the-country trip. Unfortunately, I was the PFY appointed to take over while he was away for the next two weeks. At about the time his plane began the takeoff roll down the runway, the installer installed the fix, and promptly shutdown a major code development site (1000+ developers!). And, of course, they all immediately started calling me to fix the problem. AIEEEEE! Talk about being in the hot-seat.

Dave

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Airbus to build 900 mini-satellites for OneWeb's orbital internet system

Dave 32
Pint

Putting them WHERE?

Getting them into orbit is only the first part of the problem, and probably the smallest part. Putting them in the correct orbits after they're up, and then keeping them there, is going to be a MAJOR problem. If they get clumped up, well, the system isn't going to work. If they are all in LEO equatorial orbits (or, any other single plane orbit), well, it isn't going to work. For them to work, they're going to have to be spaced out into dozens, if not hundreds of orbital planes, and the satellites in each of those orbital planes is going to have to stay in the correct position with regards to the other satellites in that plane. Trying to do all of that, especially when there's a major solar flare/storm, and the upper atmosphere jumps up much higher than normal, orbital decay is going to be a real concern. Handling precession, gravitational anomalies, and a whole host of other issues involving orbital mechanics, will result in people pulling their hair out. Oh, yeah, and keeping the hackers out of the system is not going to be trivial, either.

Dave

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Unlucky, Palmer: Facebook's going to BAN Oculus pr0n apps

Dave 32

Business Model

So, step 1: Kill the business model. Step 2: File for Chapter 7 bankruptcy? No, wait, it's owned by FB. Still maybe FB will file Chapter 7?

Dave

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It's curtains for you, copper: IBM boffins push the LIGHT FANTASTIC

Dave 32
Pint

Silicon versus GaAs

Interesting, but why are they concentrating on Silicon, rather than moving to Gallium Arsenide (GaAs)? GaAs is faster than Silicon. Plus, GaAs is a direct band-gap material, which means that it can produce photons directly from electron transitions, which Silicon mostly doesn't.

Dave

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Facebook decides space isn't its final frontier after all

Dave 32
Coat

LEOs versus GEOs

I believe that most of the companies that are considering internet from space are looking at using Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites, which orbit at an altitude of a few hundred miles above the surface. There are companies (such as Hughes) which provide satellite internet via Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) satellites. However, each type has their own particular problems.

GEOs, since they're 22,000+ miles up, have a latency of almost a half-second (Time for the signal to go from the user up to the satellite, down to the server, up from the server, and down to the user.). That gets relatively painful for interactive transactions, especially when you realize that other latencies (e.g., server response time, ground transmission time, etc.) add to that. It's certainly better than infinite latency, but vastly inferior to fiber connections. Plus, you need a fair sized dish (18 inches or so?) for the signal to get to the bird and back.

LEOs, since they're only a few hundred miles up, have a much smaller latency. However, because they're so close to the ground, their access circle (the area of ground that they can see) is quite small, perhaps as small as a few hundred miles. Thus, to get adequate coverage, you need a bunch of them orbiting in a pattern. Plus, they usually need the ability to link signals to/from each other so that they have access to a ground access point connection (well, besides the one to the user). Getting 100 or so satellites up, and keeping them in the appropriate orbits, is not cheap nor easy. Obviously, it can be done (e.g., Iridium), but doing so very well may bankrupt the company trying to do it, unless they have an iron-clad business model.

Dave

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

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TERROR in ORBIT: Dodgy rocket burp biffs International Space Station off track

Dave 32

Re: True "Big Red Button" story....

Sadly, our Big Red Button has been pressed by accident. The first time was by the contractor who was changing the light bulbs in the room. They leaned their ladder up against the wall beside the door, and it pushed the button. A room with a couple of mainframe computers gets awfully quiet when that Big Red Button is pressed. :-(

The solution was to put a shield around the Big Red Button, so that something leaning up against the wall wouldn't accidentally push it. So, they hired a contractor to install a shield. That contractor brought their ladder in, and leaned it up against the wall beside the door. Uhoh! :-(

Dave

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BOFH: Step into my office. Now take a deep breath

Dave 32

Re: Looking back isn't that bad...

Platters? PLATTERS!?! Real computers used magnetic drums, not disk platters. Consider, for example, the IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Calculator, or the IBM 701 computer with its 732 Magnetic Drum unit:

https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/storage/storage_PH5-19.html

http://www.cedmagic.com/history/ibm-650-drum.html

Then, there was the Univac FASTRAND drum:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNIVAC_FASTRAND

The gyroscopic effects those things produced was amazing.

Now, I have told you about core memory and vacuum tubes....

Dave

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Star Trek's Lt Uhura hospitalised in LA after stroke

Dave 32
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Live long and prosper

May she live long and prosper.

Dave

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Give me POWER: How to keep working when the lights go out

Dave 32
Coat

Complex

Oh, providing backup power is a VERY complex topic. It's a LOT more complex than simply buying/renting a generator.

Consider that, during a wide-spread power outage, generators disappear at Warp 10 speed. Thus, if you're going to be using one, it had better either be bolted in place at your building well before the event, or it needs to be provided for in a long-planned rental contract with a company who is reliable (probably with clauses which make it too painful for them to renege). And, for anything under about 10 tons, it needs to be locked in place, else it may wander off in the middle of the night.

Of course, simply having a generator won't do much good unless the building wiring is set up with an appropriate transfer switch, which will need to be installed by a licensed electrician in most jurisdictions.

One probably doesn't want the entire building to be powered from the generator, well, unless one wants a really huge generator. So, usually only essential services are powered by the generator. However, the definition of essential varies considerably. Does the room lighting need to be powered, or will the employees be in the dark (literally)? What about the HVAC system? Will the employees be sitting in a tropical jungle environment, or will they be shivering in arctic-like conditions? Will the vending machines be powered, or will the staff be forced to do without coffee? How about workstations? What about networking? What about the phone system, both inside and outside the building? Of course, all of these decisions will impact the electrical system in the building, and may require substantial rewiring.

I've seen some installations which have only powered the machine room. Of course, the first black-out that hits leaves the programmers and support people in the dark, with their workstations shutdown, and no way to support/administer the servers. Whoopsie. I've seen other installations where some bleary-eyed fool plugging in a coffee pot brings the entire generator to its knees and shuts the entire building down. Whoopsie.

There are also safety concerns with where the generator is placed. If it's on the top of the building, can the building withstand the vibratory load it will produce, or will the building come down like a pile of sticks? I'm aware of one roof mounted generator which had fuel supply problems, since the fuel tank was in the basement, and the lack of commercial power meant that the fuel pump couldn't be run to get the fuel to the generator. Whoopsie. Do you really want your employees carting 55 gallon drums of fuel up the stairs?

Also, consider where the generators are vented. Are they vented into the air conditioning intakes for the building? How long before the staff keels over from Carbon Monoxide poisoning? Note that some of those generators have six inch (or larger) stacks on them. That's a LOT of exhaust.

Back to the subject of fuel, will there be fuel available, and of the correct type, for the generator in the event of a wide-spread power outage? Note that most gas stations won't be able to pump fuel in the event that there's a wide-spread power outage (Their pumps run on electricity, too.). But, if storing fuel on-site, can it be done safely? 1000 gallons of gasoline (or even diesel) will make a VERY impressive column of flame if it gets ignited accidentally. Plus, there are legal restrictions on where fuel can be stored in some jurisdictions. Some make it illegal to store fuel in an occupied building. Others may have rules about tank leakage safety. There's the whole insurance thing, too.

Also, can the fuel be stored for long periods of time with out jellifying (polymerizing)? I've seen 5 gallon cans of gasoline that has been stored for a year look more like jelly than a liquid (Hint: Generators don't like trying to burn jelly!). There are products which supposedly keep gasoline/diesel from jellifying, but they have to be bought and added to the fuel.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me. Don't forget to periodically test the installation. It's no good having a backup generator if the thing won't start. Or, if the transfer switch is fused/stuck. Of course, such testing should be done in a manner which won't take the building down if something doesn't work. There's also regular maintenance issues with the generator, such as changing the engine oil. Or, for that matter, even checking that the think has oil in it. There aren't bird nests in the exhaust stack, are there?

I could go on and on (and probably write a book about the things I've seen done correctly and done wrongly), but I think it's clear that providing backup power isn't a simple, easy, nor cheap task. It can be done correctly, but only with the correct people planning and maintaining the installation, and enough resources to do the job correctly.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat; it's the one with the package of AA batteries in the pocket.

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Light the torches! NSA's BFF Senator Feinstein calls for e-book burning

Dave 32
Devil

Won't Someone Think of the Children...

and ban Diane Feinstein from the internet? Every time her name appears, substitute it with an appropriate phrase, such as "whacked out, senile, crazy senator from Kahli-fornia". ;-)

Anonymous (of course).

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BOFH: Never mind that old brick, look at this ink-stained BEAUTY

Dave 32
Happy

LP05?!? Why not an IBM 1403N1?

Why not an IBM 1403 model N1? One of those would run rings around a LP05.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1403

Plus, the N1 model had an auto-cover-raise feature, to let the operator know when it was out of paper. That did wonders for people who stacked printouts on top of it, along with the stray cup of coffee or soda. ;-)

Dave

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LOHAN unleashes 'waiting for the FAA' collector mug

Dave 32

Re: What is the actual hold up?

Actually, the Americans did it not quite 20 years ago:

http://www.asi.org/adb/06/09/03/02/106/halo-launch.html

This was a team led by Bill Brown. But, in order to get around those obnoxious regulations, they had to rent a barge, and go 100 miles off-short, so that they were launching in international waters.

Dave

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Dave 32
Unhappy

Re: What is the actual hold up?

It's those pesky FAR 101 rules (14CFR101):

<http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=8b5584c0cf53c0a4f4a5615491e1be66&rgn=div5&view=text&node=14:2.0.1.3.15&idno=14#14:2.0.1.3.15.1.9.1>

Specifically, it's probably 14CFR101.7(b):

"(b) No person operating any moored balloon, kite, amateur rocket, or unmanned free balloon may allow an object to be dropped therefrom, if such action creates a hazard to other persons or their property."

And, the rocket could always poke someone in their eye, which would make it a hazard. :-(

Oh, there may be other issues, too, such as altitude limits on model rockets, etc.

The usual way these things are handled is to get a waiver from the FAA, which can take forever and then some, assuming that it's granted at all.

Dave

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Dave 32
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Re: 2nd picture of dark haired woman

There were stars there? There was a mug there? Pardon me; I was mesmerized by the lovely young lady in that picture.

Dave

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Data centre dangers: Killing a tree and exploding a UPS

Dave 32

Re: UPS problems

I, too, got to synchronize an AC alternator with the mains while I was in engineering school. And, yes, there were stories of where idiots had gotten the connection/phasing/synchronization wrong and wrecked the alternator. But, that wasn't the worst incident!

I was in the last engineering lab that got to see the power distribution equipment for the engineering building. You see, the power was brought into the engineering building as a 14.4 KV three-phase feed. It entered in conduits, went through a three-phase, oil-filled breaker/switch, then to the three-phase transformer, where it was stepped down to 117/234 Volts for distribution throughout the building.

That three-phase breaker was a real piece of work. It was normally kept locked. And, to use it, after removing the lock, one operated the handle three times, which cocked a spring. At the end of the third stroke of the operating lever, it released the spring, which rapidly drove the contacts apart. With 14.4 KV (RMS) on them, and under a fair load, they would, of course, arc. But, the idea was that the contacts would fly apart so rapidly that the oil would quench the air, in conjunction with the magnetic blowout device (where a magnetic field pushes the arc sideways, to increase the length, to help extinguish it).

Well, some idiot had left the breaker handle unlocked. And, the latch inside the breaker had failed. And, some idiot had precocked it with one stroke. That created a disaster just waiting to happen.

So, as the international graduate student, who was teaching the lab session, started waiving his arms around as he explained the workings of all of the equipment, his elbow bumped the breaker handle. With the failure of the latch, and the partial cocking of the device, it caused the contacts to open by approximately one inch. Now, a one inch gap, at 14.4 KV under full load, will not interrupt the circuit. All it will do is create one h*ll of an intense arc, one that the oil will not quench, but which will merely boil (and carbonize) the oil, causing it to eventually pop the over-pressure relief valve, which causes most of the room to be sprayed with hot oil. Even worse, the magnetic blowout will not cause the arc to be extinguished, but will merely push it sideways, such that the arc between the circuit contacts turns into an arc between the incoming 14.4 KV line and the grounded frame. Ohoh!

This arc will consume megaWatts (or more!) of power, which will not only overload the distribution system, but will create a very substantial phase imbalance in the distribution network. The result of this is that the upstream breakers will trip at the substation feeding the entire university campus. That wouldn't necessarily have been so bad, except that this was on a Wednesday morning, in the dead of winter, when the entire electrical system was under a maximum load condition. The sudden removal of such a significant load, in such a sudden and unbalanced manner, caused the transmission line to go off-line. The sudden removal of the transmission line load on the generating station caused it to go out of synchronization with the rest of the region wide network, causing the entire generating station to go off-line. The cascade was impressive, resulting in a substantial portion of the state being blacked out.

Even more impressive was the stack of paperwork and engineering reports that swirled around for weeks afterwards. Fortunately, no one was killed in the incident, although that was probably more due to pure dumb luck than anything (I am told that quite a few pairs of underwear were ruined!).

And, yes, I can provide details. It happened in the late winter (February) of 1982.

Dave

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Dave 32
Mushroom

Re: Phase mixup

Ever experienced a floating neutral? We have. We lost the neutral to a three-phase fed building once. It probably had something to do with all of the computer equipment that was being used in the building, and the tendency for such equipment to produce a high harmonic content on the power lines, and this tends to cause the neutral currents not to balance out, which results in a much higher than normal neutral current, which has been know to melt/fuse/blast neutral connections. The result is that the neutral connection inside the building starts floating, and all of the phase voltages go VERY wonky due to that floating neutral. I measured 117 Volt outlets producing anywhere between about 70 Volts and 180 Volts. Of course, we shut down all of the computers as rapidly as we could, and, quite surprisingly, we didn't lose any! We did lose a BUNCH of fluorescent lights, though. Yeah, that was, umm, fun.

Dave

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Dave 32
WTF?

Magnetic Drums and Destroyers

There is a story of one of the early magnetic drum storage units being installed on a naval destroyer. The rapidly rotating drum produced an extreme gyroscopic effect, so much so that when the captain ordered a course change, the ship refused to respond. I'm not sure if it's real or not, but it might be fun to research.

Dave

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Dave 32
Pint

Tarp

It's always a good idea to keep a tarpaulin or two around sensitive electronic equipment.

My experience goes the other way, though. Back in the days when computers weighed 30 tons, and were water cooled, one of ours popped one of the elbows in the water cooling supply. The people from below called up, wanting to know why water was coming through their ceiling. It seems that the large and VERY expen$ive computer had lost its water cooling supply, and it was feared that the CPU may have melted down. Fortunately, due to the panicked call from below, the machine was saved. There was still one h*ll of a mess to clean up in the raised floor area, though.

Dave

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Reg exec in deluxe roo-skin pen case beernami trauma

Dave 32
Coat

Laptop Demise

Had that happen to a cow-orker once. She put a 591 milliLiter (20 fluid ounce) screw top bottle of Pepsi in her bag with her laptop, without adequately securing the top. Somewhat surprisingly, the machine lasted long enough to extract critical data from the hard disk before it went casters-up. Fortunately, I had a sufficiently large USB flash key to contain the data. Moral of the story? Don't carry drinks in the same bag as your laptop. And, carry a large USB flash key, too. Oh, and something about remembering to back up your data occasionally.

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the 64GB USB flash key in the pocket (with the contents encrypted, of course!).

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Snowden 'ready to return to US', claims lawyer

Dave 32
Coat

Jury Nullification

There is the concept of "Jury Nullification", where the jury knows that a defendant is guilty, but decides to acquit him anyway. It's not a well known concept, and quite a few judges/prosecutors/governments/etc., wish that it didn't exist (so much so that any discussion of it can result in a mistrial!). But, nevertheless, it does exist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

Of course, the problem is that there's no guarantee that any particular jury will even know of that concept, let alone apply it.

Dave

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Dave 32
Thumb Up

Fair

One the basic tenets of western justice is that the punishment should fit the crime. Thus, I have no problem with the idea of Edward Snowden returning to the USA, facing a fair trial, and serving the 15 minutes of jail time that he deserves.

Dave

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El Reg regains atomic keyring capability

Dave 32
Mushroom

Re: Try lithium deuteride instead

Ah, yes, the "Castle Bravo" effect:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo

One presumes that they've also tried Lithium Trinitide as well as Lithium Deuteride, although I couldn't find any references while doing a very quick search. ("Hi guys/gals!" I always include a friendly greeting to any spooks who may be reading my stuff, based on selected/sensitive keywords.). Then, again, most aspects of nuclear weapon design are somewhat classified, well, excepting for all of that design information on wikipedia/wikileaks/etc. :-/

Dave

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El Reg's plucky Playmonaut eyes suborbital rocket shot

Dave 32
Flame

Different Approach

Liquid fueled rockets are not necessarily easy to build, and even harder to control. An alternative approach, using a hybrid liquid/solid fuel design has some advantages. One such rocket, based on asphalt (Yeah, the same stuff they pave roads with.), and Nitrous Oxide (Hehehe!) has been flown successfully:

http://www.asi.org/adb/06/09/03/02/106/halo-launch.html

As for anyone attempting this in the USA, be aware that there are some VERY serious regulations that the FAA and State Department have for flying such rockets Special approvals (e.g., waivers) must be obtained well in advance of the flight, as well as notifying Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers of the impending launch, flight, and disposition of the vehicle, just so that no airliners happen to be in the flight path. And, failure to follow those procedures can subject one to some rather incredible fines, imprisonment, as well as some serious probing.

But, otherwise, keep reaching for the stars.

Dave

P.S. Oh, yeah, make sure you know where the closest burn treatment center is located, and have plotted the quickest route to it.

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SPLASHDOWN! Orion lands safely in the Pacific Ocean

Dave 32
FAIL

Re: I was watching the re-entry from inside the capsule!

I'd rather them blow tax money on Orion, where it'll mostly flow back into our economy and will advance science and technology, than give it away to various foreign countries and wasted military campaigns!

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Globe-spanning SEA-ME-WE 3 sea cable feared cut, broken or ...

Dave 32
Meh

Re: later cables

Well, the oceans are pretty big. Actually, they're really, really, really HUGE. So, the chance of two cables crossing anywhere near a break is pretty small. It's not really quite so bad as some of the area under the raised floor of some of the old mainframe computer rooms, where the cables were so intertwined that you never removed an old cable, for fear of damaging the other cables (Snakes! They look like snakes!).

Most of the breaks seem to happen near shore anyway, usually where some drunken ship's captain has dropped anchor on top of a cable, or snagged one. Out in the open ocean, away from the continental shelves, the cables are usually so deep that anchors and such can't reach then (You won't find a ship with an anchor chain much longer than a few hundred feet at most.).

There may be some breaks due to undersea boulders falling off of undersea cliffs and landing on the cable, but those tend to be somewhat rare. There may also be some where the cable is stressed as it crosses an undersea rift of cliff, but, again, those are pretty rare, too. In past times, there were some incidents of sea-life trying to eat the cables, but most modern cables are pretty resistant to that. More likely, though, is that a cable may have swayed in the current, and abraded itself against a hard, sharp object, which has damaged the cladding/insulation/etc. Once sea water has leaked inside, all sorts of bad things can happen, especially given the voltages involved (e.g., electrolytic corrosion), as well as damaging the fiber itself (Water does nasty things to glass fibers, via Hydrogen/Hydroxide contamination.).

Or, something like that.

Dave

P.S. I'm afraid we have more to fear from the bunglings of the incompetents, than from the machinations of the truly evil.

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You know those WEIRD glass sheds in New York? They'll be replaced with Gbps WiFi

Dave 32
Happy

Re: Minor quibble

What is this "maintain the phone booths" item you speak of? Are you sure that it exists in this Universe?

Dave

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Virgin's SpaceShipTwo crashes in Mojave Desert during test flight

Dave 32
Unhappy

1 Fatality

Latest news indicates one fatality and one injury. :-(

Dave

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Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST

Dave 32
Mushroom

Re: Depressing

Designing rocket engines is hard. VERY hard. You have to mix very a very volatile fuel and oxidizer in the combustion chamber thoroughly to ensure complete combustion. And, you have to do this at some rather incredible temperatures, temperatures which are very close to the melting point of even the most refractory materials. And, these refractory materials have to withstand some fairly high pressures, and are subjected to extreme temperature changes. Plus, the chamber material has to withstand both fuel and oxidizer materials without reacting to either one. Now, couple this design with the fact that the fluid dynamics of rocket chamber combustion isn't a well understood science (definitely not well enough to adequately computer model), and the fact that instabilities can build up such that the combustion process goes non-linear and starts to pulse or vibrate, which can stress those refractory materials well beyond their limits, and the end result is that it's VERY hard to design a new rocket engine. Furthermore, rocket engine designs don't necessarily scale very well, which means that the only way to design a new rocket engine is to build a full size model and empirically test it. But, even static testing can't try all of the conditions that a rocket engine will encounter during its flight. So, it's not too surprising that even a tried and proven 50 year old design may encounter some conditions which cause it to go BOOM in a most unpleasant way. :-/ Rocket science is HARD.

Dave

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Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN

Dave 32
Flame

Analysis

How much analysis does it take to determine that a person is posting yet another crazy cat video to a social networking site?

Dave

0
0

Blame WWI, not Bin Laden, for NSA's post-9/11 intel suck

Dave 32

Any discussion of the Espionage Act of 1917 should also include the Sedition Act of 1918 (which was really just a modification of the Espionage Act of 1917). That made certain types of speech illegal. Somewhat surprisingly, it was upheld by the Supreme Court, although some subsequent decisions make it unlikely that it would be used again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition_Act_of_1918

6
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Cunning Reg reader cracks LOHAN hot coupling condundrum

Dave 32
Thumb Up

Conductive Grease

The conductive grease sounds like a good idea. Note that Copper oxidizes, producing Copper Oxide (I or II), which is either non-conductive, or a semiconductor. The conductive grease should prevent the oxidation. One could also get fancy and Silver plate the interior of the Copper tubes (Silver Oxide is a conductor); consider some of the electroless Silver plating solutions, which will deposit a few Angstroms of Silver (Cool-Amp is one maker (I have no connection, etc.).).

You might also consider ensuring that the end of the Copper tube has a slight flare to it, or, at least, is deburred. Cutting Copper tubing tends to produce a burr, or slight squeezing of the tube at the cut point, and, if you're counting on a dependable release, you don't want anything binding at the end of the Copper tube.

You could also consider some type of spring contact that would be inserted in the Copper tube. I'm thinking of something along the lines of a piece of Beryllium Copper that is folded and soldered to the wire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryllium_copper

Good luck with it!

Dave

P.S. Remember that any landing you can walk away from it a success.

0
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Anonymous develops secure data over ham radio scheme

Dave 32

47CFR97.113(4)

47CFR97.113(4) still prohibits encrypted communications on the amateur radio bands in the US:

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=904f66ef7d155a4771aac0f1bb41e948&node=47:5.0.1.1.6&rgn=div5

"(4) Music using a phone emission except as specifically provided elsewhere in this section; communications intended to facilitate a criminal act; messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except as otherwise provided herein; obscene or indecent words or language; or false or deceptive messages, signals or identification."

Thus, anyone using encrypted communications would quickly find their connection dropped (if they were using someone else's node), or would be quickly triangulated and reported. Amateur radio operators are VERY protective of their bands and privileges.

Now, it might be possible to use some of these techniques on some of the ISM bands (47CFR18):

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=904f66ef7d155a4771aac0f1bb41e948&node=47:1.0.1.1.18&rgn=div5

or, maybe even using the limitations in Part 15 (47CRF15):

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=904f66ef7d155a4771aac0f1bb41e948&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title47/47cfr15_main_02.tpl

And, of course, they could definitely be used up in the "uncontrolled" RF spectrum space (which is most of the way up to infrared now).

However, some of the things they'll be fighting are, with conventional radio equipment, they'll either be seriously limited to their data rate (2400 bits per second for unmodified VHF/UHF radio equipment, closer to 300 bits per second for unmodified HF radio equipment). Or, they'll be seriously limited in their range (for VHF/UHF/microwave/infrared bands). There's a bit of trade-off involving data rate and distance/power; for example, some of the QRSS techniques allow for minimal power for extreme distances, but at the expense of data rate (1 bit per second or less?).

Still, I think they're thinking that radio equipment can't be easily located, which is obviously false. Foxhunts (e.g., searches for hidden radio transmitters) typically take less than 30 minutes for a well trained team (and, there are a LOT of well trained teams out there). Even mobile transmitters can be pretty quickly located. I've seen some amateur automated bearing location equipment which will provide the bearing to a signal in well under one second (which allows for a dynamic, real time bearing, even for a moving transmitter).

Plus, there's a technique of performing "RF fingerprinting" of a transmitter's output that allows it to be uniquely identified (e.g., signal rise time, quiesce time, noise characteristics, etc.). Heck, for that matter, there has even been quite a few successes locating receivers, via their local oscillator radiation (e.g., British TV locator vans, radar-detector-detectors, etc.).

Thus, before Anonymous puts too much credence in this approach, I think they need to do a bit more research of just how many holes there are in it. Yeah, tracking down such an RF link may require that some people get out of their easy chair to locate them, but it's certainly possible (and, when you make those bureaucrats get out of their easy chairs, well, they're not going to be happy!). ;-)

Oh, yeah, ditto the comments about the US$10,000 fines, per day, for unlicensed radio signals. I saw a news article just yesterday where the FCC imposed a US$46,000 fine for a violation. You REALLY don't want to get them mad at you!

Dave

2
2

BOFH: On the PFY's Scottish estate, no one can hear you scream...

Dave 32
WTF?

Recycling bottles

Ah, yes, recycling bottles. It they were serious about that, then they'd make bottles with a 12 inch opening instead of those little half-inch openings. After all, it's devilishly difficult to hit a half-inch opening to refill them after you've consumed the contents. ;-)

Dave

P. S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the "dry" pockets.

0
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CIA hacked Senate PCs to delete torture reports. And Senator Feinstein is outraged

Dave 32
Mushroom

Poetic Justice?

Oh, isn't this what's called Poetic Justice? ;-)

Where is Frank Church when you need him?

Oh, and haven't we all been here before already?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Church#NSA_monitoring_of_Senator_Church.27s_communications

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Santayana

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Dave

P.S. For those that don't read Latin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quis_custodiet_ipsos_custodes%3F

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

0
0

Dammit internet... you promised naked videos of my Facebook friends

Dave 32
Devil

Oww, MY EYES! MY EYES!

Could this be a version of Darwin's Law in action?

Dave

2
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Blighty teen boffin builds nuclear reactor INSIDE CLASSROOM

Dave 32
Thumb Up

Re: Yeah, right

More information on fusors can be found here:

http://www.fusor.net/

And, agreed on the availability of Deuterium. It used to be pretty common for physics students to make ice from heavy water (Deuterium Oxide) to put in drinks. The Deuterium, being slightly heavier than Hydrogen, causes the ice cubes made from it to sink rather than float (And, no, I don't think I'd drink one of those drinks, although several people have. And, there's some evidence that a slight concentration of Deuterium may actually help memory, although too much of it may be fatal.).

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the heavy ice cubes in the pocket.

1
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Facebook: We want a solar sky cruiser comms net that DARPA couldn't build

Dave 32
Mushroom

Why?

Why? The whole premiss of Facebook is based on advertising. But, who wants to advertise to a civilization that doesn't have any money to spend on the advertised products?

Or, maybe the advertising isn't about physical products, but ideology? Oh, sure, that'll go over well when the advertising prompts the next revolution. How long until some administration starts buying obsolete microwave ovens, removing the doors/interlocks, and starts beaming interference up to those planes? :-(

Plus, what happens when the batteries on one of those birds deteriorates just a bit, and allows it to drop down into a commercial air traffic corridor, taking down a commercial airliner in the process? Can you say "Liability"? I bet there are a LOT of lawyers that can! US$60M? That'll be a drop in the bucket when the suits are finally settled.

Dave

3
3

BOFH: Is WHAT 'running slow'!? GOD

Dave 32
Coat

Thermostat

Decades ago, our group moved into a set of temporary trailers, while a building was being renovated for us. A year and a half into the six month stint in the trailers, I was able to upgrade my office from an interior office to an office with a window, and <gasp> a thermostat. No more suffering from a horribly cold or a horribly hot office (usually at different points during the same day). Life was good...for about two hours. Then, the endless stream of people along the same duct started showing up, complaining that their office was too hot/cold, and could I please increase/decrease the thermostat. I finally decided that the best way to handle this was to let them fight it out outside my office door (and, make a small fortune selling tickets to the fights!). Eventually, we were moved out of the temporary trailers (We were only in them for about 6.5 years of the six month period.), and, as they were demolishing the trailers (or, should I say, finishing demolishing them, since they were pretty well demolished by the time we moved out of them anyway), they discovered that the heating duct attached to the heat-pump controlled by the thermostat on my office wall had never been attached to anything!

Dave

P.S. True story!

P.P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the thermal lining and ice in the pockets.

2
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Nothing to sniff at: Dell Ultrabooks REEK OF CAT PEE, scream users

Dave 32
Coat

Re: Some plastics do stink

Butyric Acid?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butyric_acid

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat; it's the one with the bottle of Mercaptans in the pocket.

1
0
Dave 32
Coat

MMB

MMB?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-Mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol

Dave

0
0

Facebook throws servers on their back in HOT TUBS of OIL

Dave 32
Coat

Overclocking

For a better approach, why not use Ethanol and Dry Ice? (And, if things get too bad, the techies can resort to drinking the coolant!). Note that this isn't unprecedented (Err, the Ethanol and Dry Ice, not necessarily the techies drinking it, although that has been known to happen, too!).

There are some mainframe manufacturers who have resorted to using Helium as a cooling agent (e.g., "TCM"). Plus, there has been some work done on using Liquid Nitrogen immersion as a cooling agent for overclocked systems.

Large electrical generators are frequently cooled by Hydrogen gas (It has a low viscosity, so as to not interfere too much with the rotating components, and conducts heat well. Of course, one has to have a very good seal on the bearings, else one runs the risk of the "Hindenberg Effect".).

Dave

P.S. I'll get my coat; it's the one with the Kentucky bourbon and Dry Ice in the pocket.

0
0

AREA 51 - THE TRUTH by the CIA: Official dossier blows lid off US secrets

Dave 32
Coat

Oh, you mean the Aurora:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_%28aircraft%29

Dave

0
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Dave 32
Coat

Re: @Anonymous 14:01

And, don't forget that, when the engines started, they blew green flames out the back.

Dave

1
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Dave 32
Thumb Up

SR-71

They have an SR-71A at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, USA:

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=395

Dave

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Dave 32
Thumb Up

SR-71 Pilot

I met one of the SR-71 pilots a number of decades ago, Major Brian Shul, and even got him to autograph a copy of his first book "Sled Driver". His story is quite an interesting one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Shul

Dave

0
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Facebook reassures adland: We've got s**tloads of users

Dave 32
Unhappy

And, how many of those (L)users actively suppress the ads, or passively ignore them? How many of those users have disposable income to blow on the advertised goods, versus being 12 year olds spoofing their age, and with no money? How many of those (L)users have the attitude that "I'd never buy anything from a company that advertises on a site like this!"

Dave

P. S. How long before FB succumbs to the dark side, and starts allowing pr*n images, to attract even more (L)users?

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