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* Posts by Gary B.

56 posts • joined 21 Jun 2011

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Feds crack down harder on 'lasing'. Yep, aircraft laser zapping... Really

Gary B.

"Also be aware that you would have to be in front of the plane and on the flight path to actually get it to shine into the pilot's eyes. From below and/or to the side, the best you would get was to illuminate the roof of the pilots cabin, and from behind you could not shine it in the cabin at all."

Yes, the light does have to get to the cabin for it to be an issue, true. But particularly in small planes, the windows are a type of plexiglass which have a tendency to distort the view, particularly from collimated (or nearly-collimated) light (picture how looking top-down through water has a tendency to distort things). Simply having part of the light hit the window will have both a scattering and bending effect on the light, so you would only need to get "close enough" for the light to affect the pilot's night vision. This is exactly what happened to me.

Let's also get one thing straight, that when these incidents happen, it's clearly a deliberate act. I slightly deviated my flight path to try and locate the source on the ground (didn't have time to circle the area), and I could clearly see the shaft of light coming from the ground specifically searching the sky to illuminate my plane. The aiming motions of the light were not random. Any deliberate action to impair the capabilities of a pilot deserves criminal punishment. Sure, 14 years for *only* shining a laser at a plane is a bit excessive (unless it actually caused a crash or caused multiple injuries), but from someone with a history of not following the law, it sounds appropriate.

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Gary B.

This is no joke

Having personally been flying a plane and being hit with a laser strike, I can vouch that this is no joke, and people rightfully should be jailed for doing so. Remember, it's not just commercial jets, but ALL planes in the sky. Helicopters, small jets, large jets, small piston engines, etc. The small planes are also typically flying lower, so the apparent brightness of the laser will be greater than a plane flying at a higher altitude.

In my particular case, I was flying back home at night, about 30 miles out from the airport. I was fairly low (about 3000 feet, if I recall), but precisely where air traffic control wanted me. Being night and at the end of a two hour flight, I had the interior lights dimmed very low since my eyes were well adjusted to the low light conditions, and keeping them low ensures I can see other air traffic at night. I noticed a flash out of the corner of my eye, which drew my attention toward it. I assumed it was another aircraft's night lighting, so I was looking around to locate the light. It was during this point that I saw another bright green light which appeared to be coming from below me, and when I turned my gaze toward it, the light became quite a bit brighter. I then realized it was someone on the ground shining a laser at my plane. Fortunately, I was able to shift my gaze away from the third lasing of my plane before it could degrade my night vision much more. If I hadn't realized what it was in time to shift my gaze away, it easily could have dramatically reduced my night vision. It can take up to 30 minutes from the time the eye encounters a bright light to gain back the full night vision acuity, and in a plane traveling 2 miles a minute or more, that's a lot of ground to cover with degraded night vision.

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Feds arrest rogue trucker after GPS jamming borks New Jersey airport test

Gary B.

Re: Stupid Airport

"Now all the bad guys know that if the mess with GPS at this airport they could make one plane crash into another. After all aren't pilots just glorified taxi drivers and isn't the GPS always correct?"

I can only assume you're being facetious here...

"I've worked at other airports where this is used but they know that using GPS is a stopgap solution and should not be the system of last resort. We were also forbidden to tell anyone if airport XXX used it and airport YYY didn't. It would have been considered a major security breach."

But I have no idea what is being referred to here. It doesn't do the pilots much good if they don't know what instrument approach procedures are available at a given airport. GPS isn't a "stopgap solution" but rather it's becoming "the solution" for IFR navigation (at least for the U.S.). Of course, it doesn't help that LORAN was shut down, and the existing ground-based radio navigation aids are in the process of being decommissioned without a backup system to GPS (INS doesn't count, since you can't use it for precision approaches and it needs to be regularly realigned due to position drift).

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Stray SMS leads to aborted landing

Gary B.
Stop

Misconceptions

1) At altitude, modern phones connect to every antenna in range, overloading the system - no, not really. At least, not in my experience. Any time I'm move than 3000' above ground level in a plane, my cell phone shows NO signal, not full-strength signal (at least, that's with my GSM phone - I've heard CDMA phones may be different).

2) Go-arounds are uncommon and unsettling for passengers - Uncommon, but certainly not unheard of or an unusual event. And except on a clear day where passengers can see outside and see the ground, without visual reference I challenge anyone to tell if they are climbing or descending and getting it correct. For all the passengers know, they've just got a bit of turbulence or are turning. The part that unsettles passengers is probably more due to windy conditions/bad weather, than the go-around itself.

3) Ahh, cell phone interference. In my own experience, I've had circumstantial evidence that cell phones MIGHT cause interference with certain avionics/navigation systems. However, that's only when the phone is emitting any radio emissions. If the phone is in airplane mode, it's like any other passive electronic device and can't do any harm. The "turn it off-off" is most likely just a fail-safe way of the flight attendants ensuring people put their phones into a non-emitting mode rather than having to explain how to disable the radio features of every possible device.

Also, they had to go around because the captain received an SMS? There has to be more to it than just that, as I find it hard to believe they could hear the ringtone over the ambient noise in the cockpit.

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iPhone 5 gets a 5in screen

Gary B.

Re: i really hope not

"downvoted" because you manage to say 3.5" is just right, while at the same time saying how people adapt to larger sizes without too much trouble ("the first iPhone looked huge at the time").

The nice thing about the Android (and possibly some of the newer WinMo) phones is choice. If you want a phone-tablet, you can get one. If you prefer a more reasonably-sized phone, you can get that too. No need to be forced into one form-factor because it is decreed to be so.

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Nanocapacitor slab to boost car batteries

Gary B.

Re: Stop-Start

I know there is at least some leeway in how long the fuel mist will linger. After all, that's how most piston aircraft engines work: you prime the engine by manually injecting fuel into the cylinders, and then crank the starter. But if you wait too long after priming, it's just raw fuel sitting there no longer vaporized, and it's vaporized fuel that burns, not liquid fuel.

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Gary B.
Flame

Re: Stop-Start

In short, yes, the fuel vapour essentially condenses after a certain amount of time. We take it for granted because they've been around for so long--and particularly with modern ones, work so reliably--but an internal combustion engine relies on some pretty tight timing for the whole thing to work.

"Flame" because, well, that's what's going on inside the engine (not "explosion" - that's bad).

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LightSquared scrabbles to save itself after FCC stops LTE plan

Gary B.
Boffin

Re: Re: Re: LightSquared has been given a raw deal

1) The US already has GPS-based VNAV approaches that go as low as 200-feet AGL decision heights (the same as basic ILS). It's called WAAS, and doesn't use any ground-based transmitters (there are ground-based stations that relay correction data up to the WAAS geo-sync satellites, though).

2) RNAV is short for "area navigation" and a generic term. I think you mean LNAV (lateral navigation).

3) I'm not disputing your claim, but I'm curious what research you're specifically referring to. I'm sure multiple studies/research efforts have been done on this topic.

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Gary B.
Stop

Re: LightSquared has been given a raw deal

Even so, LightSquared knew they were exploiting a loop-hole in the rules. If it never crossed their minds that technical and political issues could come up rendering their plan a failure, then they deserve to be out of all the cash they spent. They bet big and the house won, and they only have themselves to blame.

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Apple tells authors: All your books iBook files are belong to us

Gary B.

Except if Apple refuses to sell it, that renders the .ibook format of the work pretty useless and you might as well delete it. So there's then no reason you couldn't export it as a .pdf format and sell it (or give away for free) elsewhere.

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Gary B.
FAIL

Comparison to Photoshop, et al

"Internet commenters have compared it to Adobe demanding a 30 per cent cut of any graphics or artwork made using Photoshop, or Microsoft getting a kickback every time you use Word or Powerpoint in a commercial situation. "

Um, no, that's a poor comparison because Adobe and Microsoft don't ALSO provide a distribution means for the resulting output like Apple does. There's a license agreement on how to use iBooks, except it also has a clause saying if you distribute a .ibooks file FOR PAY, THEN you can only distribute it through the iTunes store. BUT, if you distribute a .ibooks file FREELY, OR distribute a .pdf version (for free or for pay), you can distribute it as you wish.

I dislike Apple's practices as much as the next, but I see nothing inherently wrong with this particular EULA. You want to use a FREE content creation package by Apple, for creating an *Apple-proprietary* output file, useable ONLY on an Apple device, then you play by their rules, and for once they actually seem like fair rules.

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Second 'Blue Marble' NASA sat pic apes Apollo 17's stunner

Gary B.
Unhappy

Good idea, except...

How exactly would we strap on boosters to Hubble, now that the US doesn't have any manned space vehicle? As far as I'm aware, the Shuttle would be the only space vehicle capable of getting humans to Hubble to strap on any boosters (pretending for a moment that such a mission would even be technically possible).

Brilliant idea, retiring the Shuttle before a new space vehicle is available...or even in the process of being built.

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New Earth-observing satellite snaps 'blue marble' shot

Gary B.
Facepalm

When was the picture taken?

Yes, shocking that most of the mid-west and Rockies is barren in the middle of January, isn't it?

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NASA shuts off Voyager 1's central heating

Gary B.

By "conserve power", they mean turning off stuff that serves little-to-no useful purpose, so that the little remaining power will go to systems of more use.

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Gary B.

" Why take on that expense for the benefit of the future generations, when in probably a hundred or so years time that journey time could be cut by a half. "

In fact, there was a Twilight Zone episode about that very concept. A rather interesting mind experiment.

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A preview of SOPA: Web shut down before my eyes

Gary B.
Facepalm

Did you bother to read their protest?

Clearly not, as they explicitly mention that their goal isn't to entirely block the English wikipedia content. They *purposely* did it with a cheesy script for the very purpose of allowing people to still access the content if they really need too, and they only wanted to raise awareness of SOPA and PIPA.

While on the subject, many people are completely misunderstanding SOPA and PIPA. Yes, the way they are currently written is highly dangerous for freedom of speech/etc. However, a lot of this is also speculation about how they *could possibly* be applied. From some of the reports about them, you would think these laws specifically grant some of the nasties people are talking about, which isn't true. I am against these two bills, but I did do some of my own research instead of just blindly following what others say. But, don't take my word for this, go read the bills yourself.

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Hubble shows images from record-breaking 13.1 billion light-years

Gary B.
Unhappy

Just imagine if...

...we didn't have the Space Shuttle after the initial deployment of the HST. The Space Shuttle was the only space vehicle available that could perform the repairs, servicing, and upgrades to the HST, and now we have no such vehicle available to us. If not for the Shuttle, HST would have been put into an orbit to have the same fate as Phobos-Grunt. I can't imagine how the world would be without the amazing discoveries and pictures Hubble has captured.

Decommissioning of the Space Shuttle before its time: That's one small step toward budget reduction, one giant leap BACKWARDS for mankind.

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Microsoft revives flight sim by giving it away free

Gary B.

X-Plane? meh

I've had MS Flight Sim since version 3.0, up to and including FSX. While X-Plane's flight model may be technically superior to FSX's on paper, I find it just doesn't hold up in reality.

Both flight models have their advantages and disadvantages, and it takes a competent designer to take full advantage of the sim. The default aircraft in both sims are quite poor at replicating their respective full flight envelopes, and you really need to go to third-party add-ons for more-realistic simulation. And the advantage MS Flight Sim has over X-Plane is that there are far more high-quality add-ons.

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Iran spy drone GPS hijack boasts: Rubbish, say experts

Gary B.

Title not required

The GPS receiver needs to have some idea of (a) which satellites it is receiving timing information from, and (b) where those satellites actually are in the sky, so it knows how to triangulate its position. I would think that is why multiple antennas are required, to one for each of the GPS satellites that are being faked.

Also, I would find it hard to believe that a SPY drone wouldn't be designed in such a way to be able to continue being useful even in the event of a localized disruption of GPS. If I were designing such a drone, I would certainly take into account that just maybe the people I'm spying on might not be too keen on the idea and want to try and disrupt my spying in some way.

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New account of Flight 447 disaster published

Gary B.

Actually, there are three modes: "normal", "alternate", and "direct". I forget the specifics of how the displays work, but there is an indication when the aircraft is no longer is "normal law", which yes, does prevent the pilots from exceeding the normal flight envelope. Alternate and direct law provide increasingly less envelope protection, with "direct" providing nearly zero protection.

The averaging of the two controls is dumb, though. Pilot A: Left! Pilot B: No, right! Computer: Ok, straight!

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Google rejigs search bar (again)

Gary B.
FAIL

And "we also made everything one menu deeper to slow down those pesky users"

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Billion dollar telescope snaps galactic head-on

Gary B.

Clouds

1) Lack of recorded rainFALL doesn't preclude the possibility of there being clouds

2) Those appear to be mostly high-altitude clouds which consist mostly of ice particles. Don't know how that affects things, though.

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Survey: Most TV viewers surf while they watch

Gary B.

Yeah, so?

Most of the time when I'm watching my "second screen" and only occasionally watching what's on TV, it's because I really just want to sit on my couch to browse the web, instead of sitting in my chair and feeling like I'm back at the office. It just seems wrong to be sitting on the couch in front of the TV without it actually being on (not that I haven't done that either).

When I am actually watching TV, the laptop only comes out during the adverts.

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Netflix: How to completely screw up

Gary B.

The problem...

...isn't JUST that they raised the price on 1 DVD+streaming by 60%, but that they are now completely separate subscriptions in every possible way. I had the DVD+streaming, but $15/mo for 1 DVD-at-a-time and occasional streaming viewing was way overpriced, especially since the streaming selection was poor, and is even worse now. So I went to 2-DVD for a slight price increase and dropped the streaming. But the worst part is, even if I kept my old plan with the price increase, I couldn't even search the two at the same time. I'd have to go to two SEPARATE websites to search two SEPARATE catalogs. Haven't two SEPARATE bills also means more work for me. Sure, these are major things, but when you compare to the fact that I was getting the same thing previously, in a much more convenient setup, it doesn't exactly leave me with a good taste in my mouth.

So, good going Netflix. I like how I woke up Monday morning thinking I just changed to a different Netflix plan, but in reality ended up canceling my Netflix subscription and starting a new "Qwikster" subscription. I'll just wait and see who buys Qwikster, since it's obvious that's what's going to happen...

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NASA: Beam me up some power, Scotty

Gary B.

Lightning

Lightning (or arcing in general) is a form of power transmission through the air, and it sort of makes a lot of noise. If this is to be used to beam power to/from earth, wouldn't that massive amounts of energy required mean lots of thunder-like noise? Of course, it makes much more sense if the energy transfer is limited to use only in space.

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NASA unveils its chosen Shuttle successor

Gary B.
Pint

"Drink", because that's too true, and I'll need several...

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Gary B.

1) One reason NASA isn't just pulling out dusty blueprints for the Saturn V rocket stack is that they simply don't have them. In their infinite wisdom, they trashed the blueprints and all the people who worked on it are gone.

2) NASA is getting tossed the same games they have since after the first moon landing. Congress can't make up their mind what they want to do with NASA, and keep them guessing with their on-again, off-again funding.

3) Even the plans NASA came up with to get to the moon wasn't an ideal solution (single launch stack and lunar orbit rendezvous), but it was the only one they had at the time where they could have some certainty of it working within the time-frame they had, before funding got cut. Even during those days, NASA was always at risk of getting their funding cut. Really, it's amazing they're able to accomplish *anything* with the disrespect Congress gives them.

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Gary B.
FAIL

Here we go again...

Congress just barely funds NASA to give their corporate friends some money, but then they don't want to fund NASA enough to actually be useful. I wish these clowns would just make up their mind what they want to do. I do believe the future of space travel lies with private industry, but having a mix of commercial and private is not making the most use of us tax payer's dollars. Just another example of the flawed reasoning behind the "trickle down" theory of economics that they subscribe to.

Anyone else see a parallel with the US space program and the music industry?

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LightSquared offers low-power olive branch to GPS

Gary B.
Stop

Like starting with LightSquared following the existing "standards" to use the spectrum they bought for satellite-based communications?

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Gary B.

I mean the airplanes using GPS as a /replacement/ for ILS/VOR. Besides that, recent reports from testing LightSquared did elsewhere found that interference was generated several MILES from the base station. Even 35,000 feet is only 6 miles.

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Gary B.
Facepalm

"For precision applications, which today use the LightSquared (satellite) signal to augment GPS where high accuracy is needed within the USA (such as guiding tractors and such),"

Forget the tractors, how about also lumping in commercial aircraft guidance in there? LightSquared interfering with GPS navigation isn't going to work very well with the proposed "NextGen" air traffic control system relying almost exclusively on satellite navigation. What's more important, people getting their 4G data connections, or aircraft NOT crashing?

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Onkyo TX-NR609 AV network receiver

Gary B.

Optional title!!!

Probably 160W /peak/ to any of the speakers, but obviously not all of them at once.

1
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Patent wars: Apple attacks Samsung in Japan

Gary B.

@A.C. 10:12 GMT

What has Google done to innovate Android? You mean other than adding support for more hardware (gps, cameras, motion sensors, magnetometers, etc), application and memory management tools ("running services", "battery use", etc), and access to a PHYSICAL keyboard (if the phone manufacturer so chooses)? Oh, how about proper multi-tasking, which Android had before iOS.

Just because you may prefer an iPhone, doesn't mean everything else is simply a copy of an iPhone. It's GOOD for both sides that there is choice (as much as Apple may hate having competitors).

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Sprint joins US feds in anti-AT&T lawsuit

Gary B.
Pirate

Sprint

Except do you really think all (or even most) of the T-mo customers will jump over to Sprint? No, AT & "that's no moon" T will eat up most of the T-mo customers, because most consumers are lazy. And I suspect that many of the T-mo customers that do jump, will go to Verizon rather than Sprint. Sure, there will be some that do go to Sprint, but overall it will mean less potential customers for Sprint, while at&t is guaranteed to get a lot more customers.

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Sid Meier's Civilization

Gary B.

Civ5

Why are so many people ragging on Civ5? Yes, it does change a lot of the rules, but that really just means you can't use the same strategies you used in Civ4 and below, which is partly the point of the redesign of the rules. Civ4 was really just Civ3 with newer graphics and a few added rules on top, but you could still pretty much use the same strategy. I find Civ5 forces the player to consider other options than just going for straight military dominance.

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Outbound space probe looks back at tiny Earth and Moon

Gary B.
Mushroom

re: why solar?

It could also be that all the "OMG NUKES! IT MIGHT CRASH ON TAKEOFF AND SPREAD RADIATION EVERYWHERE!!!!11" people caused NASA to think it'd just be easier to go solar and not deal with the protesters. I imagine it's also cheaper than having to build a small nuclear reactor and fuel it.

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Dish eyes 4G LTE wireless network

Gary B.
Stop

Silliness

The FCC really should recant their authorization of the frequencies to LightSquared for use as ground-based communications. The whole idea was flawed from the start, and if they grant authorization to Dish Network as well, I fear a flood of operators will start doing the same. Which wouldn't be such a problem if the uses of satellite frequencies was so much different than terrestrial communications. There's no way around the fact that satellites are FAR away from the ground (regardless of orbital altitude), and light-of-sight means terrestrial towers tend to be much closer. (Ignoring forms of long-distance ground-based communications not restricted to LOS, but subject to atmospheric disturbances)

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Room-temperature brown dwarf spied just 9 light-years off

Gary B.
Joke

Distances

One man's "*is*" is another man's "*is only*" ;-p

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Nuke plant shut down after US earthquake

Gary B.

Well...

To be fair, there wasn't ALSO then a massive tsunami wave headed toward the reactors.

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Samsung says Apple lifted iPad from Kubrick's 2001

Gary B.
Flame

This is a title

Flame, to roast the popcorn. This is going to be an entertaining battle...

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Here lies /^v.+b$/i

Gary B.
Facepalm

Whatever you do...

...don't use Lisp, or one of the Lisp-like languages. That would just be cruel, especially if the stone carver misses a ( or ). (How embarrassing it would be for the epitaph to be syntactically incorrect by accident)

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iPhone users richer, brainier, more tasteful than Android-ers

Gary B.
Go

Mirror

I had thought of this, and since the iFone 4 (sic) has a front-facing camera, it wouldn't be difficult to write an app that takes the input and reverses it properly to display on the screen like a mirror would.

0
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Gary B.
FAIL

Because...

Maybe because the consumer has a huge number of choices when it comes to Android phone design, cost, and mobile carrier? That's like saying buying a Ford means you're following the crowd. Never mind that you may have bought an FR500 that is produced in small non-crowd-sized numbers, while someone else may have a base-model Focus... But yeah, other than the huge differences in models, you could call that "following the crowd"...

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Gary B.

What crowd?

That sounds like "competition" to me...

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Injunction suspended: EU can buy Galaxy Tabs again

Gary B.
Flame

How about...

...patent laws that actually make sense, and not just based on something "looking like" something else. Last I checked, nearly all computer keyboards look similar, yet no one there is going around waving patent infringement lawsuits on everyone else.

If Apple is so concerned that people will snatch up the Tab 10.1 because it LOOKS like an iPad (I'm assuming the prices are rather similar), where they might otherwise have gotten an iPad, maybe they should look at figuring out what people find more appealing about their competition, than trying to stop there from BEING any competition.

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LightSquared blasts GPS naysayers in FCC letter

Gary B.
FAIL

This is a title

That's...not how GPS works. In basic terms, the satellite sends out a timing signal, and the ground receiver analyzes the signal to determine how long the signal took to reach it, and uses triangulation from other GPS satellites to determine a 2- or 3-dimensional location. Of course, this process fails to work when the receiver assumes the satellite is in space, but is actually a ground base station somewhere significantly closer. This is an over-simplification, but you can see how it's not just a matter of a "firmware patch" to fix.

There are some ground-assisted differential GPS systems out there, but that requires specialized equipment and a very precise geographical position reading of the base station(s). The other type of assisted GPS system out there--WAAS--uses additional geostationary satellites that broadcast a correction signal to WAAS-capable receivers (correcting for atmospheric effects, among other things). But even that uses ground stations with very precisely-known locations to pick up the GPS signals, in order to calculate the local correction factor. Such precise geographical measurements don't come cheap.

As for cell-phone assisted geolocation, have you ever noticed how imprecise it is?

I don't know the extend of the interference LightSquared presents to GPS, but if it affects aviation GPS units, those cost several thousand dollars, with some units costing more than many new cars. So yeah, I think some people would be pretty annoyed at having to replace THOSE.

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Gary B.
Mushroom

GPS

If the GPSes involved just included car satnav units, that'd be one thing. But what if the GPSes involved also include aviation units? Now it's not just a car taking a wrong turn, but an aircraft flying who-knows-how-far off course. Sure, there are other means of navigation available to planes, but those means are basically in the process of being decommissioned in favor of a purely satnav-based system. Oops. It'd also be nice to know how exactly LightSquared determined what GPS units are in that 200,000 bunch.

"Eat this", because that's what we could have if LightSquared's 4G network is really as detrimental to GPS as it sounds.

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Apple eyes phallic iPhone, iPod charger

Gary B.
WTF?

Right, so...

...it works much like plugging the device into a regular outlet, except much less convenient in that you have to wrap the audio cable around the iPole.

7
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Google waggles free* Android phones at Americans

Gary B.
Holmes

Free? Why, yes, yes it is.

What, you expected a free mobile phone AND free mobile contract? Just what fantasy world were you living in: of course the mobile contract will be anything but free. The PHONE is free, and you get to PICK your mobile contract from THREE different providers (in the US), so I don't see what all the monetary complaining is about. Unless you just wanted to get the phone and not actually use it as a, erm, phone... Now, if you wanted to argue about selling your soul to Google, then we'd have a valid argument.

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Obama drops Twitter bombs on debt-ceiling foes

Gary B.

What title?

Who says that everyone responding here is British? Besides, when you're in the forest you sometimes can't see it for what it is, and having an outside opinion is helpful.

And yes, the average IQ of the average American is astonishingly low, and seems to be getting lower too (teaching "Intelligent Design" because evolution is "just a theory", "trickle-down economics", etc). Unfortunately, not enough of the sane people contact their representatives, and the news media spews their completely-biased opinions as fact, and the sheeple who don't know enough take it as fact.

The tea-party backed republicans are going to be the death of this nation if it keeps up. The rest of the republicans don't seem to know which way to go, and their "no compromise" stance is the total opposite of what this nation was founded on. But the democrats don't get away for free either with many of their Big Spending plans (though at least they've been willing to compromise).

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