* Posts by rg287

175 posts • joined 13 Apr 2018


How do you solve a problem like Galileo? With a strap-on L-band payload, of course!


Re: Alternative arrangements

Yes. Yes, I would.They don't know whether they want to be in orbit, go to the moon, Mars or asteroids and, as a result, will almost certainly manage to do none of those things.

A fair assessment of US Government-funded Spaceflight.

Not perhaps of the private sector which has got sick of waiting on the politicians and is busy doing it themselves (c.f. SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab. Actually even ULA's Vulcan will do good stuff, albeit half a generation behind SX/BO).


Re: Hirzon angles??

As such I am really curious as to what the availability of this system is in the field given that are proposing only 3 satellites to cover the whole globe.

Galileo had two core jobs. One was sovereignty/independence from US GPS, the other was better positioning at higher latitudes, where the GPS orbits were not quite so well optimised.

One would have to conclude that a geostationary bird (which by its nature is equatorial) is not going to be able to augment the Public/unencrypted Galileo signal at higher latitudes as effectively as it would in say, Abuja (all of 9deg north). To get better coverage of (say) the Outer Hebrides, you'd have to look at some sort of exotic orbits in the style of India's Regional Nav System, which uses 7birds in very elliptical High Earth Orbits to cover India/Indian Ocean.

But that wouldn't enhance your signal globally (which would likely upset the RN, as well as Army/RAF forces in the Falklands, Diego, etc), just regionally - though I suppose the proposed three Geostat birds in addition to your super-duper Northern-Europe HEO birds would give you pretty good augmentation everywhere that matters.

The better solution of course is to just apply for PRS access the same as Norway. Seems like at least one person in the EU understands that European Defence and EU Defence are not the same, but are inter-dependent.

Surrey Uni mans the space harpoons, and NASA buys more seats on Russian rockets


Re: Buying seats from (gasp) Russians

I dunno, it may mean that NASA think the Tango Prince is going to throw some more histrionics and cause more shutdowns, slowing down the NASA end of SpaceX operations at KSC. Astronauts at Baikonaur waiting on a Russian launch will be less affected by such political uncertainty than astronauts sat in Florida waiting for NASA officials to sign relevant paperwork.


Re: brake

Quite a bit of LEO experiences some level of aerobraking but most satellites are small enough that it doesn't impact them too badly. Exceptions include the ISS whose solar panels are big enough to catch a bit of "wind" and requires regular station-keeping boosts back up to their target orbit.

A lightweight sail that costs little to launch but which can significantly increase the cross-section of the sat is a fairly easy and passive way to deorbit sats quicker (it'll happen anyway, but this speeds the process).

Airbus will shutter its A380 production line from 2021


With ever more long-range, medium-sized aircraft such as Airbus's own A350 and Boeing's 787 on the market, the traditional hub-and-spoke model that most airlines still operate on began to disintegrate. Why make a long journey to a large hub airport such as Heathrow or Amsterdam when there are aircraft capable of flying you direct to your destination from your closest airport?

Indeed. BA note: I have no desire or reason to travel to Heathrow if I want to fly internationally.

There are no magic routes that I can do from LHR that I can't also do from MAN.

"To Fly, To Serve... London"

Go big (with our bandwidth) or go home, Verizon: Texas mulls outlawing 911 throttling after Cali wildfire fiasco


Re: Has anybody asked ...

That's a very one sided appraisal.

I mean, you're both right. It is not unreasonable to expect the Fire Department to purchase a plan commenusrate to their requirements. We would have less sympathy if they ordered a bowser of diesel for their trucks and then started whinging when their supplier didn't keep filling it up free-of-charge "because it's an emergency". The supplier isn't a charity and is at liberty to require a payment for their service.

Anyone who has ever worked in web dev/design will know that non-profits, charities are the worst for "well we don't really have budget for x, but can you do it anyway, because we're very noble and important".

However, given the parlous state of US Telecoms, it's also reasonable to ask how much choice the customer had in both supplier/competition and service plans. The FD is liable to have very spiky requirements (based on sporadic wildfires or major incidents) and if Verizon aren't offering a sensible "public services" plan that sits somewhere between the base usage and paying for their peak usage all the time (i.e. base+spikes) then that perhaps is a more useful thing to be legislating towards, or arrears-billing on usage rather than a capped plan, so you get a big bill for busy months and sod all in January.

But in the absence of such a plan, it is criminally negligent of the FD to be under-subscribing on a critical service. It's bad enough that it happened once, but again two months later? Who is in charge of that and have they been fired yet? because that's basically the equivalent of not ordering fuel for the engines.

LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice – wait for it, wait for it – doesn't


Re: Tried Libre about 3 weeks ago....

... and as far as this person is concerned, who needs MS office and why?

Mostly right. I did become acutely of just how refined Excel is under the hood not so long ago when someone sent me a huge file with >100k rows.

Excel for Mac didn't miss a beat. LibreOffice Calc died on it's arse.

I will concede that there's a case to be made for not handling that sort of data in Excel in the first place, but obviously shifting technologies can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavour for a long-standing workflow (more than the cost of an Excel licence!). If nothing else though, it gave me an appreciation of the work and pride that the Excel dev team have obviously put in over the years developing a very slick, efficient application that - to a casual observer - is easily replaced with LibreOffice, but in truth will outpace the alternatives when you load it up heavily.

For the 99th percentile however, spot on. LibreOffice provides more than adequate support for Word Processing, Spreadsheets and presentations, though at a meetup I frequent it seems a lot of people are using Google Slides or the Live version of Powerpoint to run presentations these days rather than a local client - makes sharing slides/notes trivial afterwards.

Clever girl: SpaceX's Mars-bound Raptor engine looks like it works just fine


Re: Green

The flight engines are supposed to be using spark ignition rather than the TEA-TEB mix used on the Merlins. Tests of the prototype Raptors have used TEA-TEB though, so the spark igniton may still be coming Soon (TM).

I believe Musk indicated that this test was using spark ignition - which is why he narrowed the green to either camera saturation or burning copper, not TEA-TEB.

This is more or less a flight-spec engine (albeit this specific one may never fly if they continue to tweak the design, or may only be used for "hopper" tests), as opposed to the previous Raptor tests which were using scaled-down test articles and did indeed use hypergolics for ignition.

What's in that rig is a full-scale Raptor in (more or less) its final form. Which is awesome.

Whats(goes)App must come down... World in shock as Zuck decides to intertwine Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp


I hope he rolls messenger back into the main facebook app. I refuse to install a separate app for chatting, and am seriously tired of the stupid main app telling me I have unread messages that I don't have.

You have the main app installed? Wrong way round.

I have the Messenger app installed but use the mobile site in a browser.

When comparing my FB Archive (the "all-your-data-we-have" download thingy) with others who had the app installed, the amount and diversity of slurped data they had (SMS messages, call histories, etc) was startling. The Messenger app doesn't seem to slurp half as much as the main app (at least not with the permissions I've given it). I am however trying to wean people onto Signal and away from WhatsApp and FB Messenger.

Starship bloopers: In touching tribute to Tesla shares, Musk proto-craft tumbles – as Bezos' Blue Origin rocket lifts off


Re: Not late.

There is a slice of up called the "ignorasphere" that is between what a balloon can do and the lowest orbit. There are plenty of researchers that are looking to put experiments into that realm.

That's what sounding rockets are for. New Shephard may be able to do it cheaper, which would be good. But it's not inaccessible territory and there are plenty of other people in a position to do it cheaply as well with the burgeoning small-sat launcher market (Rocket Labs, Pegasus, etc, etc).

There is also a metric called Technical Readiness Level (TRL) that gauges the progress of something intended to be sent into space. A lower altitude rocket can be useful for testing some items to raise their TRL before the are fielded or tested further.

Like SpaceX did with Grasshopper. Years ago. They learnt what they needed and moved on. Evidently BO think they can make some cash repurposing it into a fairground ride.

BO may fly people sooner than SpaceX.

To orbit? No. SpaceX will be flying people this year. Even with Elon time, Crew Dragon is happening this year or next. New Glenn's first flight isn't slated until 2021. If it doesn't slip. Which is actually quite likely, because to this point, BO have zero expertise in ground-handling or launch operations at Florida. They've sent NS up and down from Texas, but playing with the big boys putting up orbital-class vehicles with all the attendant paperwork and processes? That's a different ballgame.

SpaceX ran into issues just getting their Transport-Erector reconfigured from F9 to FH - what makes you think BO will have it all smooth sailing getting Complex 36 up and running?

Elon doesn't have any credentials in material science or mechanical engineering and he's lecturing ex-NASA engineers about materials for spacecraft.

He literally has some idea. He taught himself an unofficial Masters in Rocket Science getting F1 off the ground. If he didn't know an answer he went and found someone who did - ask Tim Worstall.

At the end of day, it's two ways of doing things.

SpaceX have developed a minimum viable product and built a profit-making business whilst they refine the vehicle to human-rated standards. It's a software-based move-fast-and-break-things way of doing it, and it's impossible to say it hasn't worked for them.

Blue Origin have chosen to rely almost entirely on Bezos selling a billion dollars a year in Amazon stocks to bankroll the development of his "final" rocket. It's a very old-space way of doing things, but seems to be working for them (though they have some side-income now that Vulcan is planning on using their BE-4 engines).

NASA isn't happy with their "put the astronauts on-board and they pump the fuel" approach since their last explosion happened while fueling.

1. That has been well-fettled. They're happy with the current process. It's also been well established that this is a moronic way of thinking for capsule-based vehicles. Maybe it made sense for the Shuttle where you couldn't eject/abort quickly - you had to unstrap, climb out and get into a zip-wire basket - it made sense to get it fuelled, stabilised and then load the crew. For a vehicle carrying a simple crew capsule with a launch-abort mechanism, why would you want humans walking around the vicinity of a loaded, fuelled rocket? Either way carries risks to the flight-crew, but Load-and-Go eliminates all risk to the ground-crew.

2. It wasn't an explosion, it was a fast fire. That makes a difference, because a Crew Dragon would have had time to escape (in the style of the recent Soyuz abort).

3. For AMOS-6 they were trying out a new loading procedure. Whilst we can call into question the wisdom/stupidity of doing that with a customer payload on top, the fact is that they're not going to go off-piste on crewed launches and will be sticking to the manual.

4. Falcon 9 is now 66/68 fully successful launches. That's a 97.1% success rate - which means they've overtaken Ariane 5 (widely considered to be extremely reliable) on 97/102 (95.1%). If we narrow that to the current version - F9 Block 5 vs. Ariane 5 ECA then it's 11/11 (100%) vs 67/69 (97%).

A smaller sample, but given that the first B5 flight was less than a year ago, a huge achievement nonetheless.


Re: Not late.

Strictly speaking that wasn't really a suicide burn - they entered a full hover and squirreled around before landing.

A suicide burn (or a hover-slam as SpaceX calls it) is where your vertical speed must hit zero at the precise moment you touch the ground. So named because if you're late on a suicide burn you'll hit the ground too hard, and if you're early you'll come to a hover and then take off again (or finish your fuel and fall the rest of the way). Either way, there's probably going to be an explosion.

Falcon 9 has to do a hoverslam because they can't throttle the engines deep enough to actually hover. When it's near-empty, just one engine throttled down as deep as it will go is generating more than 22tonnes of thrust (22tonnes being about the dry mass of a F9 booster).

Because New Shephard is a sub-orbital plaything they're using a much smaller engine in relation to the vehicle mass, which can throttle deep enough that they can balance the Thrust-to-Weight at zero and hold a hover (for as long as they have fuel! And they can carry excess fuel since they're not trying to do anything useful like go to orbit), which appears to be what they did there - got down to a hover, held for a moment, then made the final touchdown.


Re: floating back to terra firma using three parachutes

But on Earth based launch and landing the "rocket equation" shows that more fuel is needed to lift the stage with the fuel to land than a parachute. So environmental damage and waste of resources twice, launch and landing.

Just use passive technologies such as parachutes for the launcher. It works for the capsule.

Gosh. Better write to Musk. His team of engineers must never have thought of that!

The F9 on launch weighs ~500tonnes. The Stage 1 dry mass is ~22tonnes. You don't need all that much fuel to bring it down (if you did, it wouldn't be commercial feasible - which is obviously is). As for environmental damage - you're burning one engine for a few seconds in its lowest throttle position. Somewhat different to all 9 engines at max throttle for (almost) the entire ascent phase.


Re: floating back to terra firma using three parachutes

Musk's landing by rocket is not about the position as much about wanting to reuse as much of the rocket and engines as possible. It makes great TV, not so sure about the science and economics given the extra weight and complexity.

It has everything to do with position. As his attempts to catch fairings demonstrate, the accuracy available with parachutes is relatively poor.

If you want to reuse your rocket then it needs to not go for a dip in the ocean, which requires that you be able to land it on a feasibly-sized barge (or in case of Return-to-Landing-Site, with a level of confidence that NASA/FAA will accept - they don't want a booster plopping down in Orlando or even the KSC Visitor Centre because that's where the wind carried the chutes).

Reuse hinges entirely upon the ability to accurately land on a pad - much the same as a 747 wouldn't get reused if you just cut the engines in the general vicinity of it's destination and parachuted it down.

As for economics? They speak for themselves. Musk has the cheapest orbital launch system on the market, and he's turning a profit on his launch business (SpaceX as a whole makes a loss, but that's down to R&D expense. The commercial launch business unit is structurally profitable - bankrolling R&D).

This doesn't apply to the capsule because it's a much simpler component and you can afford to replace a few salt-water damaged exterior components - but the expensive bit of the booster is the engines - there's no point in trying to reuse a F9 if you're going to have to replace salt-damaged Merlins. You'd be better off saving them and bolting them to a new booster body - which is what ULA have spitballed for Vulcan - jettison the engines, parachute them down, catch them in midair with a helicopter and use them on another rocket. You lose the rest of the booster which is really just a big (relatively cheap) empty fuel tank at that stage.

UK.gov plans £2,500 fines for kids flying toy drones within 3 MILES of airports


I bet they will represent an unacceptable terror threat now it looks like the Troubles are kicking off again.

Eh, the IRA did import a pair from the US (South Armagh Sniper) in the 90s but never brought them to the mainland. If it wasn't considered necessary to ban them from private ownership in the 70s, 80s or 90s, they've a way to go to make a sensible case today. Let's not forget that big-50s are not like AK-47s which any fool can fire into the air. Hand a fifty-cal to a novice and they'll hurt themselves more than the thing they're supposed to be shooting at (and just missed). Identification of the shooter is trivial - go to A&E or the local IRA watering holes and look for the person with the smashed up eye socket.


Standard knee-jerk legislation, much like the bulk of the Offensive Weapons Bill.

Sounds good on paper - tough on crime, tough on the causes symptoms of crime. But is increasing the diameter of the haystack by 2.5times really going to make it easier to spot and track drones or identify operators? If they couldn't deal with a drone inside the airport perimeter, banning any drone operations out to 2.5miles is unlikely to achieve anything useful.

But it's cheaper than reversing the last 8 years of cuts to Policing - the recent increases in crime being more readily attributable to falling Police efficacy than the availability of knives or acid (which were also readily available 10 years ago) or indeed fifty-calibre rifles, which have never been used in a single act of crime or terrorism in Great Britain. Ever. But apparently now represent an unacceptable terror threat for... reasons...

Surface: Tested to withstand the NFL. Microsoft firmware updates? Not so much


Are you saying the NFL don't use... Playbooks?

I'll let myself out.

Clone your own Prince Phil, says eBay seller hawking debris left over from royal car crash


Re: Apologies

Over here across the pond, the Secret Service ensures the roads are clear of cars. I would have though that HRH would get the same treatment.

He does, most of the time. But on this occasion he was just on a toddle around his own estate and most likely just cutting from one part of the estate onto another, via the public road which happens to run through the middle of it. Probably made the journey a thousand times and only spends a couple of minutes off private property.

It's unlikely that he was popping down to Co-Op unaccompanied to get their tea for the evening or taking himself back to Buck Pal.

Yes, you can remotely hack factory, building site cranes. Wait, what?


Re: "issue simultaneous commands to multiple pieces of equipment"

Christ, I watched five full minutes of the ConExpo 2017 show before I realised doing my job is less boring

Yeah, to be fair that wasn't their best.

The 2012 Intermat show was quite entertaining - they had a troupe of parkour types and proceeded to break more or less every rule of the HSE handbook for working with machinery, working at height, with the runners climbing across the machines whilst operating. Not that the video does justice to watching it from the front - it's a bit chopped up.

They can only drive around in circles so many times before you've seen every angle of the machines.


Re: Trams

A lot of equipment gets damaged/causes risk if stopped suddenly so having a system slam on the emergency brakes because a controller loses line-of-site for a second while the operator scratches their nose - might not be the safest option.

True, but it doesn't need to "slam on the emergency brakes".

It's entirely possible to design for a graceful halt and fall back to a pause/standby position. It's probably a good idea for this sort of thing not to be trundling around without operator eyes-on.


Certain manufacturers use IR on their controllers for the simple reason that if the operator doesn't have line of sight to the machine it should stop dead and do nothing.

Not impossible to muck about with, but a damn sight harder than broadcast RF in much the same way as the Navy still use signal lamps (as Mr Corfield found on his recent exploits up north) - Point-to-Point/tight-beam, difficult to intercept and easy to encrypt. More people should be using it. Or embedding decent security in their products!

SpaceX sends Iridium-8 into space while Musk flaunts his retro rocket


Some people would wait until they were on a truly solid commercial footing with their main business before starting on glory projects with no obvious way to pay for them.

SpaceX are on a solid commercial footing. They have the cheapest launch solution on the market (F9) and the most powerful rocket in service anywhere in the world (Falcon Heavy, available for 1/3 the price of a Delta IV Heavy). They also have the only cargo capsule capable of returning significant downmass from the ISS (Dragon) and will shortly have a man-rated launch vehicle (Crew Dragon) that will allow the US to send it's own astronauts up instead of buying seats from the Russians. The "traditional" space industry have failed to manage any of those things.

SpaceX's actual launch business is structurally sound and profitable. If it wasn't he wouldn't have got this far and Falcon Heavy would still be a paper rocket.

Their R&D for Starship is funded through share sales to new private investors, as well as the profits form their lucrative launch business. On paper they turn a loss because they're spending more than they earn, but they could scale back "the glory projects" if investor income dried up and keep the lights on with their world-leading launch business.

It's the weekend. We're out of puns for now. Just have a gander at China's Moon lander and robo-sidekick snaps, videos


Re: At least SpaceX didn't bin them a week before Christmas

A 10% cut suddenly announced doesn't fill me with confidence that the management knows what it's doing.

Whilst it would indeed be better for staffing levels to be managed by natural means (not replacing organic departures/retirees), please show me a significantly sized business that has never made redundancies.

Whether it's IBM (since 1911), JCB (since 1945), Boeing (since 1916), John Deere (since 1837) or RBS (since 1727).

Okay, RBS isn't the greatest example, but it hardly means the company is about to go bust or the management "doesn't know what it's doing" (Fred the Shred knew exactly what he was doing, in the knowledge the government would bail him out). Given the parlous state of US Employment law and the laughable notion of "Employee Rights", it's no shock to see companies hiring and firing as it suits them.

This is not the first time SpaceX have had a round of staff cuts (though 10% is more than usual), nor is it especially unexpected - R&D on Falcon Heavy is done, they don't need as many F9s or Merlin 1D engines because they're reusing so many - so certain manufacturing jobs at Hawthorne are going. They don't need as many people for refurb/inspection as they did for manufacturing new vehicles but StarShip production hasn't started yet beyond the prototypes, so the production staff are being scaled back. And indeed reading round the forums there's appears to be one of those fabled management culls bundled for good measure, which is why it's 10% rather than 5-7%.

They've also worked their way through a significant backlog of customers, so launch cadence is liable to level off a bit this year until some of the "New Space" projects like SpaceX's own StarLink (and competitor projects) start launching.

Drone goal! Quadcopter menace alert freezes flights from London Heathrow Airport


Re: "environmental terrorists"

Lets face it the tree huggers have "form" in respect of various stupid, risky and obstructive actions - climbing industrial machinery at coal power stations, gluing themselves to various commercial and government buildings, illegal attempts to disrupt fracking, attempting to stop the construction of the second runway at Manchester airport, blocking roads in London.

As true as this is, and whilst it was a valid possibility during the Gatwick scare, we can probably discount it now since no group has claimed responsibility. It's unlikely to be activists given the absence of some sort of manifesto.

It's not the cry of a craven shill to suggest it as a credible possibility - environmental activists have done stupider things. But in this particular case, nobody is trying to get coverage of their aims or manifesto, which means it's probably either:

* Kids being tools

* Russian agents gaslighting us

* Figments of people's fervoured and paranoid imaginations now that they've been led into a siege mentality by the press

I'll leave it to the commentards to rank the respective likelihoods based on Occam's Razor.

Build your own NASA space rover: Here are the DIY JPL blueprints


Re: Boo

That' should be an RTG, which undoubtedly increases the range considerably. As they probably aren't off-the-shelf, where are the plans for one of those, NASA?

Plans won't help you unless you have ready access to a supply of Plutonium.

You're probably better off tooling around to one of Russia's unmanned "Atomic Lighthouses" in the Arctic Circle. Although you might have to check a few to find one that hasn't already had the RTG looted by parties unknown...

Excuse me, sir. You can't store your things there. Those 7 gigabytes are reserved for Windows 10


Yeah, I've a Linx7 which has done me surprisingly well for bits and bobs over the past couple of years.

But Windows has managed to get itself into a tizzy on a couple of occasions semi-downloading updates, then getting lost, trying to download them again and complaining there isn't space with me having to go in and clear it all out manually so it's got enough breathing room to work.

Requisitioning a 7GB allocation for assorted cruft on a device like that is unworkable.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon shows up at pad 39A, nearly 8 years after the last Shuttle left


I doubt that they'll commission a giant firework though - much simpler to 'abort' from a static, unfuelled, test rocket.

They did a pad-abort test a few years back.

This abort test will involve blowing up a booster in-flight at or around Max-Q which is the most difficult point to abort at - although you have altitude, the capsule is also bearing the brunt of the aerodynamic forces, pressing it back onto the exploding booster that you're trying to separate from!

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish


Re: Hospitality sector had it coming

Travel agents are a historical hangover who probably only still exist because of people who are not IT literate, even being able to describe the country and hotel are irrelevant now as you can find no end of videos on YouTube.

Oh I don't know, we have a small indy agency near us who are cracking. Staff are accredited to the tourist boards of various countries and very useful for "off the beaten track" type stuff - actual off-the-beaten track, not stuff which was off-the-beaten-track until three years ago when "influencers" and youtubers invaded the place. They're also quite good at getting flights changed without incurring a change fee.

But I will concede they are the minority, specialising in high-end travel. I've used them on occasion (honeymoon) but anything "mainstream" like European city breaks I do online. There will always be a niche at the higher end of things.

The majority of high street travel agencies are entirely superfluous to requirements and just selling you packages out their catalogue, which you could just as easily do on their website.

London Gatwick Airport reopens but drone chaos perps still not found


Re: "there's really one use for guns"

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough about the 'in the UK' bit. There are some places in the UK where you could safely use a rifle to hunt. But not many.

No really, the entire UK, including every golf course in London.


(especially in the UK which is really too densely populated for hunting with guns, except shotguns, to be a thing),

You've never been outside the M25 have you?

Hundreds of thousands of people use rifles for hunting deer, foxes and small mammals (rabbits, etc), across the nation. Including London actually - go and look at one of the dozens of golf courses inside the M25. They'll have someone with a rifle come and shoot rabbits once a week to keep the fairways from being dug up.


Re: Rise in handgun crime

Ditto with this guy. It's false. Gun crime is low and hasn't exploded. There was a change in statistic recording which made it appear as though crime has risen.

That was circa 2004. Gun Crime rose in real terms from the mid-90s through to 2003/4. The handgun prohibition had literally zero impact (handguns still the most popular criminal firearm - 44% of all firearm crime according to ONS figures in March 2018).

Gun crime dropped post 2004 when Operation Trident started getting results. It kept falling for a decade, then has picked up in the last couple of years as Policing efficacy has dropped due to austerity.

The change in reporting actually just made Trident look less effective than it was because the fall in gang-on-gang activity was made up for by the stupid practice of classing incidents as "firearm" if a firearm was thought to be involved, regardless of whether there any firearm was recovered or confirmed to be involved or not!


Re: Drone varmints!!!

I know this is old, but in case anyone reads this in future, the quoted statement is false.

No it isn't. It's not entirely accurate, but you're blanket dismissal wrong too.

Pistols were prohibited in 1997. Firearms crime rose through the mid-1990s and continued to rise unabated until 2004. The Acts of 1997 had zero effect - either way - on firearms crime.

After Operation Trident arrested the rise in organised criminal activity, firearms crime dipped, and fell for a decade until ~2013/14 when we started to see the effects of austerity in Policing efficacy. Since 2014, non-airgun firearms crime has been rising as much as 30% year-on-year in some areas.

The most popular firearms used in crime is a pistol (44%), proving that having a sesinsble regulatory and licensing regime makes a country safer (see: Europe vs. USA), but prohibiting actual firearm types achieves literally nothing (how can pistols be the most popular criminal firearm if there are none in circulation for theft or misuse?).

A comparison of Britain vs. Europe demonstrates that despite having the most stringent firearms legislation on the continent, we are absolutely no safer for it, having a homicide rate twice that of the the Czech Republic and comparable rates to Germany or France - who permit (for instance) the private ownership of pistols and semi-auto rifles for Olympic target shooting in approved clubs.


Re: @Trixr

One tidbit I always like to bring up is that the mob - as in, the Italian Mafia - are some of the BIGGEST contributions to gun-control politician's campaigns. They WANT effective gun control.

The reason the Italians want strong gun control is simple local protectionism. Foreign firearms models must be added to a whitelist to be legal for import and sale. Getting new models added to that whitelist takes almost exactly as long as you would expect Italian bureaucracy (and usually a bit longer).

Beretta, Perazzi and Benelli pay handsomely for this service.

Oh Deer! Poacher sentenced to 12 months of regular Bambi screenings in the cooler


Re: 'Murica never ceases...

But about five time the homicide rate by firearm,..... and the homicide rate is _now_ lower than that of the UK, but hasn't always been.

True, but who cares whether you get stabbed or shot to death? The fact of the matter is, half as many people are dead despite some 12.5% of the population owning firearms (compared to 1% in the UK).

Even if their overall homicide rate were the same as the UK's, the numbers quite clearly demonstrate that violence equates to a complex mix of societal and regulatory factors, not to rates of gun ownership - as is often claimed by a naive comparison of UK/Europe to USA. Correlation =/= Causation.

It's time people stopped being dogmatic about this and started drawing evidence-based conclusions (unfortunately the Home Office are refusing to buck this trend, having fabricated a variety of problems to fit their "solution" in their Offensive Weapons Bill).


Re: 'Murica never ceases...

Utter BS, disproved by all statistics on the subject made anywhere in the World.

But nonetheless confused by the fact that the Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of private firearms ownership in Europe and even allows Concealed Carry (subject to stringent licensing and a test), but has a homicide rate half that of the UK.

When you come down to it, rates of violence have nothing to do with rates of firearms ownership and significantly more to do with having a sensible regulatory regime in place.

For instance, the UK is unique in Europe in prohibiting pistols. But as mentioned, our homicide rate is far higher than that of countries like the Czech Republic, Sweden or Switzerland where firearms and shooting are a part of life.

A variety of societal problems causes violence and crime in the first instance (and the US, with it's limited social welfare and socialised healthcare suffers many problems that we don't have in Europe. The entire premise of Breaking Bad is implausible in Europe). Firearms are only a secondary consideration to that, and the US has a problem because of lax licensing (rather than widespread ownership) and a reprehensibly irresponsible mass media who glorify mass shooters and encourage copy-cats (unfortunately European media is going the same way - e.g. putting a shock jock like Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain).

Falcon 9 gets its feet wet as SpaceX notch up two more launch successes


It's interesting that Musk thinks they might be able to use the whole thing again (even at a lower level of confidence where they wouldn't risk a customer payload).

There were certain bits that would - without a doubt - have been recycled. The titanium grid fins are pretty much the most expensive individual components on the entire vehicle. A rinse down and recoat and they would have flown again. They are not thrown away lightly.

Everything else is a toss up. Electronics may well be shot (though it was still sending telemetry after splashdown, so some of it was dry). At least one (but probably three) of the engines will have not only been immersed but also suffered significant thermal shock on splashdown. It would be interesting to know what the prognosis is on the other 6. No doubt they're good - individually - for spares if nothing else.

Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical


Re: Data slurping

This would be true except that every single iPhone user I am aware of has the Facebook app installed

I don't, and neither does the good lady. We attend a monthly tech meetup in our town and this actually came up in the open discussion about 18 months ago. Something like half the room had uninstalled the app (regardless of OS). A few more did afterwards too, having not previously really thought about it.

It is a fair point though that picking an OS from a manufacturer who touts privacy and then installing a bunch of native apps from ad-slingers is worthy of an eyeroll.

Microsoft polishes up Chromium as EdgeHTML peers into the abyss


I disagree. Browsers should adhere to standards and not enhance without changing the standard first. Enhancing standards has always been caustic to the web and is how we end up with nonsense like sites that only work with specific browsers.

That's not how the web has ever worked. HTTP/2 is a standardised version of SPDY. Google put it out, people with a compatible browser (Chrome) got SPDY, people with a non-compatible browser got HTTP/1.1. HTTP/3 is being built significantly on QUIC.

Nothing wrong with that, provided that the developer is ensuring cross-compatibility before they bolt on experimental features.

The risk comes in a browser/engine monoculture where the incumbent (Google) is in a position to say "Chrome now uses n by default. Too bad if your server doesn't support it". This is what we had when IE6 ruled the web, Netscape was dead and MS could bolt on proprietary features.

In my examples, Google is the origin of both SPDY and QUIC, but they didn't have the power to simply say "this is what you're using now" (like MS did) because other significant browsers and browser engines existed (Gecko, Trident, EdgeHTML). They had to sell the protocols to the community and convince them to adopt and support them, eventually being written up as standards.

Enhancing standards is fine. So long as it's done in a graceful, open and backwards-compatible fashion. If it's a bad idea, it won't matter and eventually will die. If it's a good idea, someone will eventually write a standard for it.

Hell - HTTP wasn't a standard. TBL knocked together this new protocol, people preferred it to Gopher, and eventually it became a standard because everyone was using it.


It is hard to see much of a downside to Microsoft ditching EdgeHTML in favour of Chromium. Aside from a little wounded pride within the bowels of Redmond and some fanboys desperate to see Microsoft "beat" the likes of Google, many developers would be relieved to see a reduction in target platforms.

Diversity. I don't want to see Microsoft "beat" Google, but I do want to see at least a few different implementations of browser engines. Let's not forget that MS disbanded much of the IE dev team after IE6, feeling that they had "won" the browser wars. Consequently the development of web technologies stalled for at least a couple of years until Mozilla started pushing niceties like tabbed browsing in their "niche" Firefox product, and then Google stomped on everybody with the blistering V8 JS engine.

MS wanted to own the web. They imposed their own ActiveX controls and various other proprietary standards. A legacy that many organisations are still dealing with.

Google also wants to own the web, and perhaps in the past they have been less closed-shop than MS were - a benevolent dictator. But fundamentally, allowing one corporation to effectively dictate the planet's technology choices is not a good thing. The web has always worked on the principle of an organisation pushing out a new feature or protocol, and if people like it (e.g. SPDY), then it gets adopted more widely until someone eventually writes a standard (like HTTP/2). On the other hand, if it's not so popular, it gets to die a death.

But in order for that process to work, you need a community. Multiple browsers, hopefully running multiple engines (I'm looking at the slew of Chrome-a-likes here, Vivaldi, Opera), and multiple servers at the other end.

The server side is reasonably buoyant at the moment - IIS, Apache, nginx, Litespeed, GWS, et al. The browser side not so much. There's no shortage of browsers touting new user-side features or interfaces, but they're all just a glossy skin on top of Chromium...

Customers baffled as Citrix forces password changes for document-slinging Sharefile outfit


"In response to this, we are requiring a password reset and will be incorporating a regularly-scheduled, forced password reset into our normal operating procedures."

FFS. I thought we'd got past stupid bollocks like this.

Doing a reporting process vs. the HIBP Pwned Passwords API and then forcing resets on specific users with matching passwords (and then querying HIBP on password resets going forward) could be construed to be a useful and sensible thing to do to scotch people speculatively trying compromised passwords. Along with encouraging/pushing adoption of (token or H/TOTP - not SMS!) 2FA to outright mitigate password theft.

Arbitrarily going back to 2001 and requiring regular password resets is just stupid.

I was once one of you, F1 star Lewis Hamilton tells delighted IT bods


Re: What a knob

You do realise that everything you see at the race is basically irrelevant if we're talking team composition?

The race crew is merely the pointy-end representing hundreds of designers, engineers, strategists back in the factory. Many of those are women - but obviously you'll never see that in the race coverage. And that's without counting the standard business-support staff - HR/Accounts/Marketing/PR/Legal/Medical/etc.

There are female drivers, but few of them have been good enough to progress from Test Driver to get a seat as a number 1/2 driver (or failed to qualify if they were entered). Susie Wolff was reserve/test driver for Williams for 5 years, Tatiana Calderon is a test driver for Sauber at the moment.

There are also plenty of girls coming through the lower formulas with mixed success. 17 year old Sophia Florsch had a fairly spectacular/horrific crash a couple of weeks ago in Macau.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box


Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

I rather think the biggest error on AF447 was the two pilots not knowing what each was doing; one of those sticks should have overridden the other (I don't claim to know how to implement this!)

The main thing is not to override (though there is a feature for one stick to take priority in the event a stick goes faulty) but to warn when dual, conflicting inputs are received.

Boeing does this with linked yokes - if the other side of the cockpit is pushing forward, you'll receive physical tactile feedback of that if you're trying to pull back. The Airbus sticks do not provide linked force feedback.


Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

In the case cited above, the Airbus aircraft recognised it had no idea what was happening, so it gave full control to the pilots, it did not overrule the pilots.

Yeah, AF447 saw a significant chain reaction of errors, some down to human factors, some down to cockpit design. It really epitomises that complex systems can fail in complex ways, even when sparked off by a seemingly simple root fault (like a pitot tube icing over).

- The autopilot correctly realised it was getting unreliable data and correctly switched to alternate law.

- The co-pilot had lost situational awareness and thought they were in a dive, pitching up and placing the aircraft into a stall.

- The pilot attempted to correct the stall condition, but this was where a combination of human factor and cockpit design created a fatal error condition.

1. Cockpit cooperation and communication broke down - the pilot was unaware that the copilot was trying to correct what they perceived as a dive condition

2. Because the airbus sidesticks are not mechanically linked and there was apparently inadequate indication of conflicting inputs, the pilot was unable to perceive this from his controls and did not understand that this was the reason why the aircraft was failing to react to a nose-down input on his stick.

On a Boeing, the linked yokes would have led to at least one half of the cockpit asking "WTF are you doing?" to the other because they would have been physically fighting against each other.

Ironically, an MCAS system (separate to the autopilot, which had already quit) may also have prevented the co-pilot pitching up into a hard stall condition.

Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe


Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

The Tower still has working* dungeons.

*Pedant alert*

The Tower doesn't have any dungeons and never has (as the Beefeaters will remind you. Repeatedly). It's a Royal Palace, not a Prison.

Only nobles were ever "accommodated" there at the Crown's pleasure. Standards of accommodation of course may not meet modern expectations.


Re: Off to the tower with Zuck

The last time I checked, Sugarheap wasn't a British subject.

Indeed, just as Assange is not a US citizen. Not that that's stopped a couple of US Congress-critters accusing him of "Treason". Which tells you a lot about the standard of political discourse over there. American's can't commit treason against the UK, Australians can't commit treason against the US!


Re: Sovereign Power applied.

This is what happens if you P*** off parliament for long enough. let's see how many FB execs take foreign trips in the coming months.

Foreign trips is less of an issue. Taking documents with you is the issue at hand.

There's most likely been a slew of mail going round Facebook regarding new policies on burner laptops and not crossing borders with confidential documents.

The Serjeant at Arms could not have compelled Ted Kramer to hand over documents he didn't have.

Big data at sea: How the Royal Navy charts the world's oceans


Re: Not being a noisy neighbour

How the hell do they do that? "Hellooo, yes you that funny-looking crab, is it OK if we do some surveying"

We used to generate the acoustic pings by throwing sticks of dynamite in the water and listening for the echo (there was a lot of surplus going cheap after the war).

This was found to be a bit antisocial and we now use various other methods of creating compression waves (which is all a sonar ping is) that have less potential to upset creatures using echo-location, or indeed concussively stun/kill anything in the immediate vicinity (not necessarily so much of an issue in blue water but considered poor form in coastal surveys!).

They also listen out on the hydrophone and hold off on mapping operations if there are active pods in the area.

Aside from environmentalism, the tech has also moved up that we can use multiple coordinated sources (as mentioned by other commentards) to get a more accurate profile compared with single-source methods. Arbitrarily throwing explosives off the back of the boat isn't accurate enough for those purposes!


I would imagine that one situation where subs would be better than ships would be mapping the seabed under ice.

It might make sense to use a cheaper non-stealth unarmed mapping sub for that. Possibly even a drone sub?

You've actually hit on one of Autosub's very specific party pieces - they have used Autosub precisely mapping not only the seabed, but also pinging "up" and mapping the underside of the ice, which is useful in understanding how sea ice forms..

Autosub 2 is currently thought to be in long-term cryogenic storage - it never made it back to the recovery waypoint from an under-ice mission in 2005.


Are subs not better at this than surface vessels, especially given the "afternoon effect"?

Not if you want positioning to an accuracy of 20cm. I suppose a sub could stick a long antennae up top to break the surface and get GPS, though that only works if your surface region is fairly shallow - not hundreds of metres. But actually the afternoon effect remains of interest anyway - because even if your survey vessels were subs, you still have a significant surface fleet who want to account for it.

For instance, temperature is not the predominant driving factor in sea water density - salinity is. If you're up north somewhere then in the summer, relatively fresh ice melt will (despite being very cold) sit on top of the sightly warmer, but denser saline.

In various parts of the world you get various Pycnoclines of various thicknesses at various depths for a number of reasons (e.g. anywhere you have a significant estuary/river outlet - the outflow will sit on the surface as it is basically fresh whilst the deep water is salty with limited vertical mixing). You do also get vertical mixing/downwelling at the poles ("Deep Water Formation") where the thermal influence eventually dominates the salinity.

It is useful for the Navy and UKHO to profile those gradients so that (for instance) a minesweeper can account for them. Submarines can also carry the full profile and just disregard whatever is above them (unless they're looking for ships or other subs, in which case it may be useful to know what is between them and the surface!).

The one particular place subs would be useful is that - as the author notes, deeper water gives you a wider spread on your survey - but this comes at the cost of reduced resolution. Generally if you want better resolution you deploy a towed fish down to a sensible depth above the surface. You'll get a much narrower survey swath but higher-res data. This is also where subs do make an appearance - you can fire off an Autosub to go do an autonomous survey and meet you again at a designated waypoint. It can gather hi-res data from deep down, but to the cost of lateral positioning accuracy (though inertial positioning isn't bad, but not up to DGPS standards).

Vision Direct 'fesses up to hack that exposed customer names, payment cards


That's rather a large assumption to make based on Scott Helms' IO headers site, which is mostly bollocks.

Bit harsh. Whilst using the site as a tick-boxing exercise would not necessarily leave you with a secure system, it's nonetheless a useful tool for double-checking configurations. Moreover, this attack could have been mitigated with an appropriate CSP, the lack of which is highlighted by Helme's site, along with a failure to set XSS-Protection.

Having a good score on securityheaders.io does not mean your system is secure (e.g. unpatched CVEs, insecure server config, etc) but having a bad score does tend to indicate that the devs are probably not paying attention to best practices and if they haven't bothered to set CSPs or the HSTS header (on an e-commerce site which should be all-HTTPS all-the-time) then it's a good indicator to ne'er do wells that there are probably other vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited.

Court doc typo 'reveals' Julian Assange may have been charged in US


Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

And the problem with that is...?

The *RUBBISH* was that he would be forcibly extradited against the UK's will, or attacked or shot or killed or something.

But charges were always possible and pretty much inevitable.

To apply them to him, they have to apply for extradition. To the UK. Who approve or not based on law. Like everyone else.

The problem of course is that these charges are sealed. The US has no business calling itself a free or democratic society if a person can be charged without actually being informed of those charges.

Moreover, it raises the question as to the purpose of sealing the charges. In order to extradite him, the US would have to reveal those charges - even the lopsided UK-US extradition treaty doesn't stretch to "We want him. Because. We'll tell him about the charges after he's been extradited. Promise."

Unless they were going to extradite him on one reasonable charge and then unseal a raft of trumped up charges the moment he lands, with the intention of dragging him through a show trial and setting an example. Because if there's one thing you never do, it's embarrass the US government by telling the world that their security is crap, they've been repeatedly breaking their own laws and don't have proper control or oversight over their own agencies. History tells us they'll be far more interested in persecuting the whistleblower than actually remedying their faults.

None of which makes him any less of an arse, but he wouldn't get a fair trial in the US - a country where at least one Senator called for him to be brought to justice for treason, thus raising the question of whether he was so self-centred he assumed Assange to be American (because nobody has ever done anything worthwhile outside those borders), or whether said US Senator literally does not know the definition of "Treason" and why an Australian can't commit Treason against the USA (or indeed any nation other than Australia).


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