* Posts by Suricou Raven

1519 posts • joined 20 Jun 2007

Alphabet gives bipedal robots the Schaft 'cos no one wants to buy its creepy machine maker

Suricou Raven

Re: After the Google acquisition, it completely clammed up

Pedantically, canonically, some Daleks can fly. It depends upon the model of chassis, which in turn depends upon when they are encountered. Early model Daleks could not fly, but they revised their design to fix that flaw once their technology advanced sufficiently.

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A new Raspberry Pi takes a bow with all of the speed but less of the RAM

Suricou Raven

Re: This is good.

The original pis, the first generation ones, did use linear regulators. The current revisions uses switching regulators. This was made possible because the production volume grew large enough to have some custom silicon manufactured - a chip which combines all three of the needed regulators into one package, and brings the component count down to an affordable level. It's actually remarkably efficient, but it does make running off of 3.3V rather difficult.

The processor has hardware support for a lot of power management features, including powering down the video - or even powering down entire cores when not in use. Hardware support, but not software support. This capability has been requested many times, but the Pi foundation has concluded they lack the resources to support such advanced and hardware-specific capabilities which would need a lot of kernel modification work.

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Suricou Raven

Re: This is good.

The Pi 3 has no less then three switching regulators on board - but they are all operated by a single controller. That's how they got the cost down.

The first pis did use a linear regulator, but recent revisions are all switching.

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Suricou Raven

Depends on the work. The Pi has interfaces for I2C and SPI - which may mean nothing to people coming from the PC side, but electronics tinkers recognise those as 'I can plug fifty ADCs, DACs, TFT displays and IO expanders into there' ports. What the Pi lacks is really high-throughput IO, but I don't know if the processor would be up to handling the sheer processing demands of anything faster than USB2 anyway.

SATA would be nice, though. But it'd mean a custom processor. Pricy.

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Suricou Raven

Re: This is good.

Us low-power/embedded people are annoyed at the 5V too - but in the other direction. We'd really like to be able to operate a Pi of of 3.3V, which it nearly can already - the processor is a 3.3V component, all the GPIO pins are 3.3V, including the UART. Unfortunately we can't, because the 1.8V for the memory is derived from the 5V rail via a buck converter just like the 3.3V.

If you could power a pi on 3.3V alone it would simplify running it off battery considerably and allow for the use of more efficient power supply circuitry. (li-ion -> 3.3V, rather than li-ion -> 5V -> 3.3V, which adds an extra conversion step where power is unavoidably wasted).

Incidentally, you don't have to power the Pi via micro-USB: The GPIO header includes pins for 5V supply input.

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Suricou Raven

This is good.

The hub-and-ethernet chip is a real power-sucker. Getting rid of it should substantially reduce power demands. Looks like it sits somewhere between the 3B and the Zero.

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Bright spark dev irons out light interference

Suricou Raven

It's called a choke.

Ferrite choke, used to block common-mode current. It doesn't stop all interference, only high-frequency common-mode interference. Fortunately in this case, that must have been the type of interference causing the problem.

It works the other way too - if a device is generating interference, a choke in the right place will greatly reduce the strength of that interference. Be nice to your local ham radio operators and just stick chokes everywhere, please.

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Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention

Suricou Raven

Re: How would they know?

11000111110000000111111111110000000000000111111111111111110000000000000000000<repeat>

Any alien looking at that would go "That's a weird star, I should watch it." After a few hours recording the signal they should realise it's unmistakably intelligent in origin.

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Suricou Raven

Re: This won't end well...

They've observed our world, they just classified it under "no intelligent life."

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Pain in the brain! Kaspersky warns of hackable brain implants

Suricou Raven

Poking wires through skin is poor design - they are prone to damage and infection. Implant engineers use it when there's no other option, but the preference is for short-range wireless connection using something like coupled coils.

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Pirate radio = drug dealing and municipal broadband is anti-competitive censorship

Suricou Raven

No, it's only ironic if intentionally so - deliberately saying the opposite of what one means to make a point. Perfectly valid rhetorical technique. You can't be unintentionally ironic. This is just plain old deceptive naming.

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From today, it's OK in the US to thwart DRM to repair your stuff – if you keep the tools a secret

Suricou Raven

There is one exception to the certificate of occupancy I should mention: The Amish. They successfully argued that requiring their homes to meet basic livability and safety requirements would infringe upon their first amendment right to free exercise of religion, as their religious beliefs prohibit any dependence upon materials or services from outside the community. Like fire-retardant chemical treatment for timber, or connection to utility grids.

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Suricou Raven

This is correct, but it's not a state law thing - it's a local law thing. To live in a house, or to sell or rent it as a living space, you need a certificate of occupancy (at least in the US, not sure how it works in the UK). Both state and county law determine the minimum requirements for livability - fire codes, electrical codes, etc. In many counties this includes that the building must be connected to the public utility networks (These are typically built-up counties, and may have an exception for buildings which are outside of the area served by these networks) for power, water, sewage and gas.

It's not that the government is trying to fight off-grid homes. It's just that off-grid homes are such an unusual thing that the law makes no accommodation for them. It's a real bother for people who want independent solar capability - both because they end up paying for a grid power connection they don't need,and because the local wiring codes often mandate that they use a grid-tie inverter with automatic shutdown for safety reasons - which means if the grid is disrupted for any reason, their solar power system shuts off as well, rather defeating the object of off-grid capability.

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Suricou Raven

Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

I think most here can agree that almost every movie to come out of hollywood is crap. But there's a strange thing to consider: They still make money. A lot of money. Opening-weekend records are broken on a regular basis, and for some movies that alone is enough to cover the entire production cost. Cinema attendance is actually recovering from the crater caused by the rise of home viewing. Disc sales are going strong, streaming is booming. Even the movies which critics agree to be utterly abysmal in every possible way are raking in the cash - like the Transformers franchise.

I really was hoping that piracy would kill hollywood, but it's just not happening.

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Should a robo-car run over a kid or a grandad? Healthy or ill person? Let's get millions of folks to decide for AI...

Suricou Raven

The most hated people in society.

I notice that dogs came out more valued than criminals. This does not surprise me at all. Society needs someone to hate, someone who people can feel good about wanting to hurt, and criminals fit that bill. To the point where many react with disgust to the possibility of rehabilitation efforts - they'd rather see someone slowly tortured for decades at taxpayer expense than given the chance to reform.

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Can 'blockchain' mobe Exodus stem movement of HTC's Jah people?

Suricou Raven

Buzzwordy.

Decentralisation includes, but is not limited to, cryptocurrency. There are a lot of decentralisation technologies that are potentially quite a lot more useful to deploy, if they really want to. If they put in a torrent or IPFS client, for example, combined with LTE D2D or wireless peer-to-peer mode communication, and made a few tweaks to the app update mechanism, then nearby phones could share updates - saving the user the billable network traffic.

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UK.gov to press ahead with online smut checks (but expects £10m in legals in year 1)

Suricou Raven

Re: Leisure Suit Larry

"If you wanna be my lover, you have to learn to ____?"

"Name a children's costumed entertainer with yellow spots and googly eyes."

"What do the letters 'LGPS' on a payslip stand for?"

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Chinese biz baron wants to shove his artificial moon where the sun doesn't shine – literally

Suricou Raven

Re: Eight times brighter than the Moon?

I wonder how hard it would be to alter that albedo a little. Perhaps a few lunar-orbit mirrors focusing concentrated light to melt and reflow the surface?

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UK Foreign Office offers Assange a doctor if he leaves Ecuador embassy

Suricou Raven

His paranoia is understandable. And justified.

He was involved in the release of highly sensitive information which reflected poorly on a superpower. A superpower which, in recent years, had shown itsself willing to resort to secret kidnappings and off-the-records prisons, and to detain people indefinitely without charge of trial. If I were in his place, I'd suspect the US was plotting to get hold of me too. He may well even be right.

Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

(Doesn't make him less of a general arse, though.)

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UN's freedom of expression top dog slams European copyright plans

Suricou Raven

Sort-of-works.

Going by hash doesn't. It's trivial to fool. Just change one character in some field of the metadata and you are through. You can solve this by using a perceptual hash, which looks for similarity, but that introduces a new problem of an impractically high false positive rate.

Let's say you have a ridiculously good filter with a false match rate of one in ten million. Unfortunately the copyright holders of the world have submitted more then ten million works for you to check, so just about everything now flags as infringing. This is the situation with youtube's content ID. Anyone who has uploaded more than a handful of videos can tell you the story of how something perfectly innocuous still set the filter off, and the pain of youtube's fully-automated appeals process.

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Smart bulbs turn dumb: Lights out for Philips as Hue API goes dark

Suricou Raven

You used to be able to do brightness control with a phase-chopper circuit, commonly known as a 'dimmer switch.'

Then CFLs and LEDs came along. LEDs are dimmable too, but they require a completely different type of brightness control circuit that isn't compatible.

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Suricou Raven

The bulb has only one channel of communication in the event of network failure by which it could show an error code. Blink codes. It'll be the old BIOS-beep thing all over again.

One short, two long, one short, pause... Ok, that means... incorrect supply voltage? Oh, no, that's the reference book for the Amazon brand, this is a Phillips brand. Which means the code means... it's not on the chart! Or is this chart for the first revision? No, they changed the codes on bulbs after 2021, so... got it. One short, two long, one short, pause means "Unspecified error." Screw that, I'm getting an old-fashioned manual bulb.

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Suricou Raven

Installation issues. Few potential customers are willing to work on their own house electrical system, and paying an electrician to come and install it is expensive and inconvenient - that would greatly reduce the appeal of the product. Changing a light bulb is something that anyone can do, and feel comfortable in their ability to do.

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Russia to Apple: Kill Telegram crypto-chat – or the App Store gets it

Suricou Raven

I do not imagine Apple will take long.

Apple's purpose is commercial, not activist. They aren't going to throw away a market as large as Russia over this. They may drag their feet a while for the sake of PR - they don't want to be seen as rolling over for dictators too easily - but if it's a choice between blocking telegram or being unable to do business in Russia, it's no choice for them at all.

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International Maritime Organisation turns salty gaze on regulating robotic shipping

Suricou Raven

Re: Tortuga bound

A pirate doesn't need to control the ship, just stop it long enough for their looting team to take the cargo and run before authorities get their own ship in the area. I can see many ways to do that:

- Stop your boat just in front of the ship so the collision avoidance kicks in.

- Locate the emergency stop button.

- Apply sledgehammer to anything important-looking in the engine room.

- Apply regular hammer to just the right place in the engine room.

The latter two methods may require use of an angle grinder or cutting torch to gain access to something sufficiently critical. Engine ideally, but failing that any anxiliary system relating to engine electrical power, navigation, cooling, lubrication, etc.

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America's comms watchdog takes on the internet era's real criminals: Pirate pastors

Suricou Raven

Playing with fire.

Christian leaders in the US have a serious persecution complex, and a willingness to sue. To them, any government action against them is serious oppression and must be fought. I would not be at all surprised if one of the churches takes the FCC to court, arguing that their first amendment rights of speech and religion are being violated. They'd lose, but it could be one of those cases that drags on for years. Especially as they could just point to any non-Christian pirate station and argue 'the FCC went after me, not them, so they must be targeting me for my religious content.'

Do not underestmate the fearsome power of the Christian legal groups.

There was a case finished in California just last week - a few Christian bible study groups had been taking over the communal area at a retirement community four times a week to hold hundred-person-plus bible study and praise sessions. When their regular crowds made it impossible for anyone else to use the area, the homeowners association ordered them to desist. Christians sued, claiming that this order violated state non-discrimination law. Not only did the churches get the legal right to take over the communal area for their groups, they also won damages from the homeowner's association for infliction of emotional distress.

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Blood spilled from another US high school shooting has yet to dry – and video games are already being blamed

Suricou Raven

Re: Early information

Look at it from the gun owner's perspective. Gun safes are great if you have a gun for sport or hunting, but a lot of people who buy guns value them a weapons for personal defence. A gun safe ruins that - if you anticipate having to fend off a home invasion, you won't have time for getting to the safe, fumbling with the lock in the dark, unpacking and carefully loading the ammunition. You want that gun ready and loaded in a place you can grab it, like a bedside drawer. Grab gun, flick safety, defend family.

Or, you know, you could just sneak out the back and call the police rather than declaring yourself judge, jury and executioner. But that doesn't satisfy people's craving for independence or their hero fantasy.

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UK age-checking smut overlord won't be able to handle the pressure – critics

Suricou Raven

Re: OK, who's going to start the League of Digital Woodland Porn Fairies?

The new 'porn log' will be the secret facebook group that the popular kids share at school. Until the staff eventually overhear, anguish occurs, the group is closed down and a new one created.

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Suricou Raven

Especially for those who work in sensitive professions - child care, education, certain fields of medicine, politics. If it gets out that such people have looked at porn, it's a probable firing. A certain firing if it's even remotely kinky.

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Suricou Raven

Re: Progressive liberal politicians.

There are politicians both liberal and conservative who desire to ban pornography. Their policies are the same, though the reasoning behind them is very different.

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Suricou Raven

Re: OK, who's going to start the League of Digital Woodland Porn Fairies?

The technology has already been built - it's called a Piratebox.

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Texas residents start naming adopted drains

Suricou Raven

Re: Scary...

I notice the site no longer displays the names of drains. Probably because the bad dragon issue.

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Suricou Raven

Re: Scary...

Quite a lot of them are named for bad-dragon.com. That is some impressive trolling work. Someone is messing with Texas. I'd have liked a little more creativity though - why not name some after fchan, or e621?

Realistically, though, I'd expect half these drains to end up named after either websites or local businesses looking for cheap promotion. And about one in ten of those will actually clear their drain up.

Because the scheme is stupid. It's a very transparent by the effort to 1. Reduce essential maintenance budgets, because taxation is for communists. 2. Foist the responsibility off onto volunteers who can then be blamed for any roads that become impassible due to blocked trains.

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Suricou Raven

Source Gate.

Hobo's Subway.

Temporary Flume.

Or, this being Texas,

The South will Rise A Drain!

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Rudd-y hell, dark web! Amber alert! UK Home Sec is on the war path for stealthy cyber-crims

Suricou Raven

They find £50m down the back of the sofa for 'cyber crime.' At £40,000 per officer per year, that could put another 145 full-time police officers on the job for the next decade. I think 145 officers doing some good old-fashioned policing investigating offline crimes may be more useful. Perhaps they could even start solving a few muggings and burglaries rather than just filling in their notebook and disappearing.

Too much police effort is being focused on the 'sexy' crimes that make headlines, rather than the far more common but dull ones.

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Brit Lords start peer-to-peer wrangling over regulating the internet

Suricou Raven

I actually like that aspect of the American system. They use a bicameral system too, but Senators serve six year terms rather than the two-year term of a house member. It means that while the House membership reacts quickly to the changing views of the electorate*, the senate is able to make decisions without having to constantly worry about the public reaction and the prospects of their next election - they can more easily oppose a popular but poorly-written bill without fear that they will be savaged in the media.

I also think the US political culture is horribly broken right now, but that's not because of the electoral processes of their legislature. That's one of the things they got somewhat right. It's inspired by the English parliament, but with a few improvements.

Bicameral legislatures seem a good idea, but the Lords is really anti-democratic - they do not represent the people, at all. They don't even pretend to. I can think of a few ways to do it better, mostly involving systems where candidates are appointed by the Commons but require a public vote to determine which candidate actually gets the position.

*In theory, anyway. In practice almost everyone votes for the -R or -D after the name, and doesn't care about the candidate, so reelection rates are very high.

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Suricou Raven

Who voted for them again? Oh, right....

I guess we are stuck with them because any reform of the House of Lords must itsself be approved by the Lords within. Not that the Commons are that much better with their susceptibility to the Mail-driven moral panics and demands that Something Must Be Done.

Still, not to worry too much. No matter what oppression they come up with, I am confident in the power of ten million technologically-inclined internet users to come up with a workaround.

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A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it

Suricou Raven

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

3k MaH. Three thousand million amp-hours? I want one of those!

Ok, allow me to clarify how it works:

'bigger' unit multipliers get a capital. 'smaller' dividers get a lower case.

M = Mega = 1,000,000

K = Kilo = 1000

m = milli = 0.001.

The unit itsself is to be in lower case, except (for gramatical reasons) if the unit is named after a person. Yes, it's somewhat arbitary. The amp, or Ampere, is one of those. So it gets a capital. The hour is not, so it gets lower case. Ah. Or A h.

That makes the first number you used 3K mAh. Got it?

Now, you've also written K amd m together: Those cancel out. You've written 'three thousand one thousandths of an Ampere hour.' It's cumbersome. Don't do it.

That gets you down to 3Ah. There. Isn't that much clearer?

Also note that this doesn't actually measure the battery energy capacity. It measures the battery charge capacity, a measurement that is very convenient when calculating how long it takes to charge or discharge a battery.

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April Fool: FCC finally bothers with Puerto Rico as chairman visits

Suricou Raven

Re: Unbelievable

What democracy? Puerto Rico is a territory, not a state. That means they get no vote in the presidential election, and no representative in congress. They are a political non-entity - that's why no-one in Washington gives a pig's ear about them. No votes to be won there.

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Senate mulls offensive AI, new training tools and now Chinese faceswaps Trump

Suricou Raven

Students, mostly. Robots are stock practice material in any 3D modeling course - much easier and more interesting than realistic humans. I modeled a few myself, years ago, back when I was in to that sort of thing.

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Tor pedo's torpedo torpedoed: FBI spyware crossed the line but was in good faith, say judges

Suricou Raven

Re: Then what is the point of Tor?

Plenty other ways. Barely even exploits - just software doing what it does. Windows media files, for example, support a form of DRM which causes WMP to connect to a remote server at an address which is specified by the file in order to check if it is licensed to play. Easy enough to make a WMV file with a tempting name that uses this function to call back to a law enforcement server.

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Suricou Raven

Re: Then what is the point of Tor?

Tor is very hard to trace, near-impossible. But at the client end of Tor a webbrowser is usually running - these are not designed for highly anonymous activity, and can be manipulated into leaking traceable information like a sieve.

If I were up to something super-illegal like trading child abuse images, I'd do it from a separate VM which served no other purpose, and which was on its own subnet, behind a filewall that allowed it to communicate solely with my Tor node and nothing else. I'd use a clock setting and keyboard layout from another country, and never, ever type anything in to that VM which could be related to me. Setting up a system like this takes a bit of knowledge though - it's easy for most Reg readers, but not for your typical computer user, who will just download the Tor browser bundle.

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Perusing pr0nz at work? Here's a protip: Save it in a file marked 'private'

Suricou Raven

Re: Perusing pr0nz ?

Some of us have given up on the sex and relationships thing. It's time-consuming, expensive and drama-prone. Takes away precious time that could otherwise be used for more interesting hobbies. Give me my smut to satisfy the instincts, and let me get back to assembling things from kits and playing computer games, for I do not feel my status as an adult is tied to how often I get laid.

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South China waters are red, Brit warships are blue, HMS Sutherland's sailing there

Suricou Raven

Attacking a warship in international waters run by a NATO member is a de facto declaration of war, with a very real risk of escalating into the 'nukes fall everyone dies' variety of war. The very best China could hope for would be crippling economic sanctions from half the world. China's government may be oppressive, but they aren't stupid.

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Boffins upload worm's brain into a computer, teach it tricks

Suricou Raven

Good start.

Now map a leech - 10,000 neurons.

The mapping is a lot harder than the simulation. The c.elegans scan isn't taken from an individual - the species is unusual in having the position and connection of every neuron statically defined genetically, so they are all the same. It took a great many delicate dissections, each one uncovering a little more, to create a composite map.

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Are you taking the peacock? United Airlines deny flight to 'emotional support' bird

Suricou Raven

narcissistic self-promoters have been around since long before the internet. It just gives them a bigger audience.

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Suricou Raven

Peacocks explained.

https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmcFVJjeLyxQfFBuos3ZZeBs5d6jfquDB7rRyZ52uWxRUD/7/06/peacock.jpg

Yep, that's pretty much all there is to them. They don't do emotional bonding. You might get loyalty from one if you get it to recognise you as a food source.

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Pope wants journalism like the Catholic church wants child sex abuse probes: Slow, aimless...

Suricou Raven

Re: FTFY

You don't need to drag up ancient history to criticise the Roman Catholic Church. Their continued opposition to contraception is killing people today.

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Butcher breaks out of own freezer using black pudding

Suricou Raven

This is a serious problem.

The emergency release button, inside of a freezer, is disabled by prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures?

That's the type of life-threatening design flaw which should have the manufacturer fitting replacement buttons to every freezer in the field, at their own expense, before the freezer owners start a class action suit.

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Watt? You thought the wireless charging war was over? It ain't even begun

Suricou Raven

Re: Surely unidirectional wireless is an incredibly inefficient approach to transmitting energy?

The magic of resonance. The thing that lets Qi work.

In theory you can scale it up in range and power. Hams do it all the time with some of their more exotic antennas, where the transmitting element is not directly connected to the feed line. In practice any ham going above QRP levels recognises the importance of not standing near such a thing when in operation. At best your body de-tunes it. At worst every metal object in the area starts trying to kill you. Impedence matching has this way of turning a a nice save 20V input into a few hundred volts at the business end.

Engineers have been trying to get wireless power transmission to work in a practical way since Tesla, but the laws of physics are unforgiving.

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