Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!



Thousands of SCADA Devices Discovered On the Open Internet

AB3A Blame me (141 comments)

My name is Jake Brodsky. I worked with Bob Radvanovsky and others to create this experiment.

The formal announcement of this project is here.

about 2 years ago

NASA Releases HiRISE Images of Curiosity's Descent

AB3A Re:Cheap Mission (220 comments)

Have you never read an implied argument?

These are disparate expenditures. They are not related in any way. The implications were that
1) MSL was "cheap", so we should be doing more of this at the expense of the war effort.
2) War is expensive (Have you ever heard of a cheap war?)

These expenditures come from a politically negotiated budget. The implication was that somehow we should conflate expenditures on one thing with expenditures of the other. In other words, the OP was off topic and foolishly so besides.

And since this discussion is off topic, my contribution to it will end here. Babble amongst yourselves if you like.

more than 2 years ago

NASA Releases HiRISE Images of Curiosity's Descent

AB3A Re:Cheap Mission (220 comments)

Slashdot moderators Pay attention:

How is it trolling when Scentcone responds to a highly rated moronic comment regarding the Budget of the US?

You rated it trolling because you disagree with it? You moderated a moronic comment up because you agree with it? What do you think that does to the Slashdot readership?

I used to frequent this forum because it was funny, incisive, informative, interesting, and all of those good things. Now it's just an amalgamation of links I have already seen elsewhere with moderators who can't seem to understand what their role is for this forum. I find myself watching this web site less and less.

This is no longer news for nerds. This is news for politically perverted idiots who can not tolerate honest dissent.

more than 2 years ago

Speed of Sound Is Too Slow For the Olympics

AB3A Timing for swim events (255 comments)

When acting as a timing judge for swim team events, we have always been told to watch for the strobe flash from the start signal. It is supposed to be much more consistent.

more than 2 years ago

NRC Accused of Ignoring Proliferation Risks With SILEX Enrichment

AB3A Put the Genie back in the bottle (128 comments)

So what are they supposed to do, make a law against using this technology? Yeah, that will work --NOT!

more than 2 years ago

Washington, D.C. Police Affirm Citizens' Right To Record Police Officers

AB3A Re:If (210 comments)


The Baltimore Sun is known to be a left leaning newspaper even in the significantly left-leaning state of Maryland.

The case was later dropped after the plaintiffs failed to meet a 120 day deadline for filing. And by the way AC, all you had to plug in to Google was O'keefe acorn maryland and you'd have seen results.

more than 2 years ago

Washington, D.C. Police Affirm Citizens' Right To Record Police Officers

AB3A Re:If (210 comments)

This varies state by state in the US. Some states are one party consent states, others are two party consent states. For example, Maryland is a Two Party consent state. Often this law is used against those who film others who break the law. Recent examples include James O'Keefe when he did some undercover video of some very unflattering behavior by ACORN. The state of Maryland went after O'Keefe for obtaining video without permission, while they left ACORN alone.

In general, one party recording consent works better.

As for the instructions from Chief Lanier, it's a good start. She is one of the more level headed police chiefs in this country. I hope others follow her example.

more than 2 years ago

City's IT Infrastructure Brought To Its Knees By Data Center Outage

AB3A Single Points of Failure (102 comments)

People often walk around with some very bad assumptions about how resilient the Internet or a Cloud must be.

You may have a very good internet presence with lots of bandwidth, but it may be all housed in the same building where the same sprinkler system can bring it all down. You may think that ISPs can reroute lots of traffic to other places because it is possible. Yet, there are common failure modes there too.

Cloud computing is often hailed as a very resilient method for infrastructure. Yet, there is a disturbing tendency to focus all the servers in one big glass room of everything. You may get the dynamic pay per clock-cycle performance, but it may all come back to one substation. A single fire in that substation could bring everything down.

This is the problem with SLA deals: You don't know what kind of planning they may use for such infrastructure. Remember, the Internet itself may be resilient, but your cloud and your ISP may not be.

more than 2 years ago

Why Ultra-Efficient 4,000 mph Vacuum-Tube Trains Aren't Being Built

AB3A Two Comments (625 comments)

First, Low Earth Orbit speeds are about 17000 MPH. Launching a sub-orbital spacecraft toward a destination is actually just as fat and also orders of magnitude less expensive to build. The technology to do that is much more within reach than a vacuum tube train and it requires far less infrastructure.

Second, who says the tube that has the train car has to be a vacuum? If the train car were shaped like a dart, one could accelerate it with a rocket motor to get it to speed, and then as it breaks through a membrane to get in to the tunnel, it would compress a mixture of natural gas and air where the tunnel meets the edge of the dart. The burn of this fuel would then accelerate the car/dart further in to the tunnel. This is roughly the method that the SHARP gun used to accelerate projectiles to 3 km/sec. I'm not exactly sure how one could keep the acceleration to something that wouldn't turn everyone in to goo, but I am certain that a bit of propellant selection might make this practical.

more than 2 years ago

Executive Order Grants US Gov't New Powers Over Communication Systems

AB3A Re:Is this new? (513 comments)

It does. There is precedent for this memo, as much as I detest it. That precedent goes all the way back to WW II at least. Back then, ham radio operator ceased operations, and often surrendered their equipment for use in the war effort. Aircraft were grounded, some by cutting propellers. Commerce was on a war footing. The president had vast powers to direct the war effort and few questioned his authority.

This is not a new concept. It has been there for generations.

Note: I am not a fan of this president. I am right of center conservative. As much as this stuff turns my stomach, there appears to be a strong precedent for it, though I wonder why he would stir this hornet's nest of an issue...

more than 2 years ago

After Recent US Storms, Why Are Millions Still Without Power?

AB3A confluence of effects (813 comments)

I live in central Maryland. There is more to this than just a Derecho. We get every two to three years. They're not unheard of.

We had a mild winter and a cool spring. The winter did not have any significant snow or ice. So weak tree limbs didn't come down. There weren't many significant thunderstorms in the spring either, so no significant dead wood fell because of that. Here we are in early summer, and we get the first major storm of the season and all that weak and dying wood that hasn't been cleared out of the trees comes down at once. In many cases it takes the whole damned tree down. This wouldn't have been a big deal if it had been spread over a few storms here and there, but instead it happened all at once.

In so many ways, this was a perfect storm...

more than 2 years ago

A New Record For Scientific Retractions?

AB3A Does anyone actually read this stuff? (84 comments)

So this guy was writing, what, approximately nine or ten papers a year on average? Was anyone paying attention? Didn't anyone notice something strange about his "discoveries?"

What does that say about the field of academic medical research?

more than 2 years ago

Primary School Girl Told To Stop Photographing and Blogging School Meals

AB3A British cooks? (472 comments)

Why should they fear for their jobs? Who ever heard of good British Cafeteria food?

more than 2 years ago

A Day In the Life of a "Booth Babe"

AB3A Re:Hard to feel bad for them (687 comments)

Anyone in sales learns early on that they should dress well. They need to look attractive. The concept of a Booth Babe is to look attractive and successful. But the question we should all ask is "To Whom?"

A typical Slashdot nerd wants answers, not pretty looks. Most are indifferent to Booth Babes. In other words, when selling to a technical crowd, Booth Babes don't help much. If anything, they can intimidate an asexual nerd from visiting (I have worked with people like this). Most nerds would be more impressed with large kinetic displays.

I disagree with the notion that Engineers and IT have a culture that encourages Booth Babes. The Booth Babes are selling to Managers, not Engineers. The question we all should ask is why Management of technical fields like this are falling for this kind of stuff.

more than 2 years ago

NC Planners May Be Barred From Using Speculative Sea Level Rise Predictions

AB3A Re:Engineering Standards (419 comments)

In fairness to those who practice the law: I've seen first hand what happens to those who stop practicing the technical arts. Those skills atrophy pretty quickly. My own brother has a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and really was a true "Rocket Scientist" in the 1980s and early 1990s. He's now a patent attorney. Much of what he knew as an engineer is long forgotten.

Likewise, I have little doubt that those who stop practicing the law quickly lose track of all the handy exceptions, loopholes, and interpretive subtleties of the law.

There is no shame in admitting that one does not understand the subtleties of surveying, and determining flood plains. What is shameful is when someone with only a meager background goes off and tries to write legislation with little input from those who would be bound by such legislation.

Let the Engineers explain the proposal, and let the lawyers enshrine it in to law. We all have to read and understand this stuff, or the law will be of no use to society. Without comprehensible and reasonable legislation, we would then have a very jaundiced view of the very fabric that is supposed to keep our society fair and productive.

more than 2 years ago

NC Planners May Be Barred From Using Speculative Sea Level Rise Predictions

AB3A Re:Engineering Standards (419 comments)

An Engineer is obligated to build a reliable, workable design. If the state tells the profession that the Earth is flat, they'll still design around a spherical Earth. They'll find some other sophistry to justify it.

At the end of the day, who is going to sue an engineer for suggesting a slightly more resilient design? I see estimates of 100 year floodplains that I know from visiting the site are utter nonsense. Careful review of flood-plane location is always a good idea during the initial site survey. It is almost never a good idea to simply take someone's word for it.

more than 2 years ago

NC Planners May Be Barred From Using Speculative Sea Level Rise Predictions

AB3A Engineering Standards (419 comments)

This bill seeks to do for the state what should be done through Engineering guidelines.

A sea-level rise estimate would have to take in to consideration all sorts of issues, not the least of which is potential for Tsunamis, Storm surges, and the like.

This is what happens when lawyers write technical documents...

more than 2 years ago

FCC Boss Backs Metering the Internet

AB3A Re:It's not like electricity (515 comments)

Sadly the FCC has not been doing much oversight or even decent regulation for a good many decades. I've been following it off and on since the late 1970s. They were a mess back then, and they're still a mess. This is what happens when technical people leave judges, lawyers, and politicians to fend for themselves.

more than 2 years ago


AB3A hasn't submitted any stories.



Technology in Legislature

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Where are the Technocrats in Legislature?

Here we are, with legislatures asking for a "smart grid" and nobody knows how to build it in such a way that it will be secure. We want "green" energy. But nobody's willing to put up with hydro-electric dams, wind-farms, or even the transmission lines to places where such things can be built.

The explanation is above. Don't blame those people with liberal arts educations, you're just as much at fault as they are!



AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Those who are interested in intellectually stimulating discussions might take a look at Bruce Peren's Forum web site, Technocrat.net. The crowd is less juvinile and the editors are a bit more interesting.

We're not without our biases and beliefs, but we are very interested in what others have to say and how they think.

Try it out for a while, but leave the slashdot culture behind. We for one, do not care to see insipid nonsense posted over and over and over...


Quotes of Robert E. Lee

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 8 years ago

He was one of the most reviled and adored characters of the American Civil War. Yet his quotes show a very different man. Check them out.

Some of the ones I like best: "So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained."

I didn't know he felt that way about slavery.

Here's another: "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it."

And another: "[W]e made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We appointed all our worst generals to command our armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers".

It seems little has changed in this regard...


ADIZ training comments

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 8 years ago

The FAA tried to make the Air Defense Interrogation Zone (ADIZ) around DC and Baltimore permenant. They posted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and over 20,000 comments came flooding back --and I doubt even one of them had anything good to say about the present state of affairs. So they must have tabled the effort. It's still a NOTAM.

Now, upset that anyone can penetrate the airspace with little warning, they want pilots within a 100 mile radius to take special training so that they can fly in and around the ADIZ. The traning is required if they transit anywhere through this 100 nautical mile radius from Washington DC.

I don't get it. More than 20,000 people commented on the ADIZ saying basically that it's ineffective, it is a lot of extra work, and that nobody thinks it's a good thing. Now they want to make sure that we know this by insisting that we all take training courses on it.

Can't the FAA admit this was a dumb idea and try something that works. Keep in mind that the only person convicted of genuine 9/11 style behavior was discovered by some flight instructors talking amongst each other. Why not encourage pilots to socialize so that airports become home towns where people know each other and look out for each other, instead of anonymous places where someone can get away with almost anything?

Oh, that would look too easy. We need bureaucracy and program managers to work on big ineffective projects so that it looks like we're doing something. Sheesh. Your tax dollars at work...


Musical Chairs

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 8 years ago

So our IT folks have been fired. Basically, the top managers hired a recruiting firm and told them to bring in lots of applicants from the outside. Then these folks competed for the same jobs as those that had been there for years.

Don't get me wrong, our IT division had some very incompetent people who should have left years earlier. But playing a game of musical chairs is no way to get rid of them when perfectly reasonable tools exist in the personnel handbook for firing those who can't produce.

Meanwhile the incompetence of upper management is showing up like a sore thumb. We have a microwave network which not only carries our telemetry, radio traffic, county police and fire radio traffic, internal security, and OH YES, our IT traffic (it was actually a tertiary reason why we went to private microwave in the first place). Our new boss says MPLS is the answer. But the question is who will maintain the existing network? He doesn't have an answer. He has no transition plan. He is about to "let go" some of the most hard working and productive staff the company has.

If this is the culture of modern management then it is time to be scared. These folks are a like a bull in a china shop. It may not have been a well managed china shop, but now we know for sure that nothing good will ever come of it again.

Our new IT division manager had better watch his step. There are loads of employees who wish nothing but ill will upon him --and some of them have nothing left to lose...


The much maligned practice of IT

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I have a long history of very caustic commentary on the ineptness of our IT division. We seem to have a problem hiring and retaining good employees. So you can imagine my relief a few years ago when the entire IT maangement was put to pasture with an early buy-out offer to retire.

I thought that now they have a chance to get better. Sadly, things got worse.
The new managers they found were impressively dilbertian.

There are good people in our IT division. They have learned to keep a low profile. Anyone who advertises their talents gets flooded with all sorts of ridiculous work.

In our company, as in many companies, the IT division is a sort of fun-house reflection of how the rest of the company is doing. And in this case, it isn't just the IT managers who are hopeless, it's the customers. Yes, we have people who want to go data mining through the company archives so that they can do their jobs.

Instead of data mining, why not collect that data as it is created in the first place? This is routine stuff: customer records, pipeline sizes and locations, valve locations, and so forth. These are folks who simply can not wrap their minds around what is really going on in the field. Instead, they go minining through data they do not understand, for purposes that they read about in some trade rag. And then they sit and wonder why IT can't pull a rabbit out of a hat and make things happen the way the magazine article said.

Gosh, these folks wouldn't know a rabbit from a weasel, skunk, or armadillo. IT could pull just about anything from the hat, and they'd be no wiser.

It's just plain sad. Too many do not know the data flows in thier groups. All this out of the box thinking has left them with no idea of what the box was, what it has in it, or where to find it. Douglas Rushkoff had our company pegged.

And in the midst of all this, we still can't hire people with any common sense. Our IT leaders have secured our desktops so much that we can't even change the wallpaper, or (as I like to do) use no wallpaper. We're all stuck on the same wallpaper. Wasn't this supposed to be the era of personal computing?

So what does our executive management do? Instead of getting down and dirty with the details to find out what's happening, they fire the entire IT staff and told them that they could re-apply for their jobs. Of course, these managers do not know what this technology is, let along how it works. So they're using a recruiting firm to help them write new job descriptions, and do the interviews.

I couldn't make this up. And in the middle of all this, they think they've done something good. Hmm. Anyone who is still around after all this is likely to be so demoralized that they'll be useless even if they do know their jobs well. And our division manager goes around asking dumb questions such as whether the "wireless" licensed T3 Microwave radio has enough volts to support Power over Ethernet over a link.

I don't envy those folks in IT. They're getting it from all sides. If I were in their shoes I might be just shy of homicidal right now...


Requiem for Wally the Fat Cat

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 8 years ago

For the last nine years, my wife and I have cared for a wonderful orange tabby cat we formally named Walter, but whom we affectionatly called "Wally the Fat Cat". He was. This cat was always on a diet.

Unlike so many housecats, this one actually sought you out to greet you. He was even nice to total strangers. He discovered us at the Fredrick Maryland animal shelter. I mean that most sincerely. He hopped up on my shoulders as if we were old friends and he was so pleased to meet me. The shelter estimated his age between three and five years old.

We soon discovered that he had once been someone else's pet. He clearly knew what a can opener sounded like.

We brought him home with us to our farm. As time went on, each of our three children introduced themselves to him. He was patient. He was understanding. He never got angry with our kids suddenly --despite understandably ignorant treatment from them which should have upset him quite a bit. Wally would escalate slowly. When she was two, my daughter Abby pulled his fur. We warned Abby. Wally was patient. She wouldn't leave him alone. He growled at her. We moved her. She returned and pulled his fur again. Wally hissed at her. Again, I moved her and scolded her this time. Abby still didn't understand. She returned a third time and blocked Wally in a corner. Wally, with little else to do, swatted her on each cheek of her face. Abby was surprised and cried. I scolded Abby, not Wally. Wally had been more than tolerant. It wasn't just this incident, this is simply how he was to all of our children as they began exploring the world around them.

Wally wasn't much of a mouser, he preferred to catch rabbits outside. But he did his duty where it counted. Once a bat strayed in to the house and Wally caught it with a well timed mid air leap. Thanks Wally. It would have been hard to shepherd that bat back outside...

Wally was cuddly. His fur was nice to pet, and he made sure we knew that. He'd spend loads of time in our laps while we relaxed in the sun room, watched TV, or nursed our kids.

I miss him. My six year old son is heartbroken. Wally, despite his diet, got feline diabetes and became anemic. He was losing weight. He wasn't moving around much. Toward the end, he wouldn't even eat all of his food (very unusual for him).

It was hard. My Wife and I had to have him put down. We buried him near a tree where he often lurked. RIP Wally...


Restore these Redacted comments

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Apparently, if the Feds don't like what you have to say in your regulatory comments, they can redact your comments from public files. In the land of the First Amendment, this comes as a big shock to me.

The story is on Aero-news and on News.com. Mr. Bush's comments merely pointed out what many pilots have known for years: The So called Air Defense Zone around DC and Baltimore is a waste of resources and can be easily circumvented by anyone with determination. Unfortunately, NORAD didn't like the fact that Bush also happens to fly F-18s for Uncle Sam. Despite the fact that his comments didn't say anything that wasn't already well known, despite the fact that his was only one of some 20,000 comments, and despite the fact that ADIZ is a farce and I (among many others) have also pointed out why this is so. His comments are being redacted.

Does anyone know how I might go about finding a cached copy of these comments somewhere? They were here and here.

I'd like to repost them as far and as wide as possible to annoy as many NORAD poohbahs as possible. Anyone who thinks that the general public is that stupid deserves to be taught a lesson good and hard.


My flight South and Back

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I decided to attend Distributech in Tampa this year. Rather than go commercial, I figured it was a good stretch for my newly renewed instrument flight skills. So I piloted my way down there.

First, I got a late start. Airplane needed refueling, and preheating. BRRRRRRR. I get off the ground and, wow, it's a blustery Pooh Day in the air. For a while things got so bad that I had to request a block altitude clearance because I couldn't hold my altitude within the required +/- 300 feet without running the airspeed in to the Yellow arc of the air speed indicator. The updrafts and downdrafts were pretty impressive.

Finally, I staggered up to 8000' and things smoothed out considerably once I got south of Richmond VA. Life was good. I landed at Smithfield County (JAX) right under the Seymore Johnson Military Operations Area. The folks there were very nice, accomodating, and helpful. I checked the weather, and filed for Brunswick GA. There was light rain on the radar from Florence NC to just south of Charleston SC. I flew in the middle of it and it felt just like being in the proverbial ping-pong ball. Later that evening I popped out in between layers of clouds and continued on course toward SSI.

I got to SSI just a few minutes before closing. I had just enough time to refuel, file a new flight plan and go. I'd been flying in stiff headwinds the whole day. The trip which should have taken me only 7 hours of flight time from Maryland was in it's sixth hour and I was still nowhere near Tampa.

The weather was clear, but the hour was getting later and later. I finally landed at Peter O Knight airport in Tampa after nearly 9.5 hours of flight time. I had only meant to make one stop on my initial plans, but instead I found that I needed to make two. Some stuff is just too sad for words.

The Conference was informative. They liked the paper I gave. I tried to get away on Thursday just before lunch. But my luck fell on the floor and shattered once again. The Valet had misplaced our car, keys, and our ticket. An hour and a half later, we finally had our car. Some service. After a late lunch, we packed the airplane and made our way toward Florence SC.

But we ran in to still more headwinds. Four hours in to my flight I looked at the time and the fuel gauges and decided that while Flornce was still only 60 nm away, I just didn't feel like landing on fumes in the dark of night. So I turned toward Charleston SC.

Word to the wise: If you're ever offered a stay at the Raddison in Charleston, just say no. Pay the extra and go somewhere else. The place smelled like cleaning solvents, the car perfume stink trees, and something gross that I just couldn't identify. The restaurant was so disorganized that we were in hysterics with all the excuses and silliness.

Finally, the next morning, I get in to the airplane, take off and promptly the audio system craps out. I can't hear anything through my headphones other than the intercom. It's the same damned problem we thought we'd fixed last month. I transmitted in the blind, knowing that the transmitters probably still worked, and advised the tower that we were operating without a working receiver.

Just then the radios came back to life and we heard the tower suggest that we could return to Charleston to fix the radios there. I did just that. Two hours and $151 dollars later, we had almost nothing to show for our effort. The radios wouldn't break.

So I took off, in the afternoon and hoped that finally we'd see some tail winds. We did. Everyone in the Air Traffic Control Center was extremely helpful except for the folks in Patuxent Naval Air Station's airspace. Patuxent sent me way out to the eastern shore of Maryland toward GRACO intersection before handing me back to Potomac Approach so I could cross the Chesapeake again back towards Fort Meade. A wasn't amused. As far as I could see, my filed flight plan from COLIN to GEEMO should have been perfectly acceptable to them.

In all, my trip took many more hours than I thought it would. If I do this again, I think I'll fly a faster airplane.


A precautionary landing

AB3A AB3A writes  |  about 9 years ago

A neighbor and I have an informal arrangement where we go flying every week for those proverbial $100 burger runs. We alternate airplanes. Last week it was his turn to be the pilot in command.

We flew out, had dinner, and then made our way back to his airplane for the flight home. Our flight plan was filed, we picked up the clearance and after a brief hold on the ground we went barreling down the runway. We climbed through 800' and then, just as we were about to change to the local approach, someone called us on Unicom and asked us to come back to the airport. "Keep it close to the runway" they said...

So we did just that. We landed, and then taxied back to the hanger where we'd been parked. The folks there told us they'd heard the engine missing. This wasn't entirely a surprise to us, we thought the engine was just a bit rough.

So I hopped out to listen while the airplane was running up. Everything sounded clean. Both ignition systems worked, Oil temperature and pressure looked good, the fuel pressure was good. And we had the full static RPM reading we were expecting. It must have been lead fouling on the spark plugs, I reasoned.

There was nothing to do but try again. Now, we were a bit nervous, so we watched the engine gauges carefully. Everything was on profile. We climbed to 1000, called approach, made radar contact and began climibing to 4000.

At 4000, we leveled off. I was beginning to relax a bit. Just then I noticed the airspeed climb and engine RPMs surge about 150 RPM. "Did you forget to throttle back when you leveled off?" I asked. Nope. It just surged by itself.

It was then we noticed the oil temperature was very close to red-line. Oil pressure was still green but on the low side. Just then Approach cleared us for 6000, but we declined. "Umm, Approach, I'd like to make a precautionary landing".

"What kind of precautionary landing?" she asked.

"High oil temp and low oil pressure"

The formerly busy frequency got VERY quiet.

We had a portable moving map GPS, so we turned toward the nearest airport we were familiar with. We didn't get the airport beacon in sight right away, but pretty soon, we identified it and the runway we needed to aim for.

Approach called us and said "I called ahead and let the FBO know you're coming, you're clear to descend at your descretion"

"I think she just declared an emergency for us" I said.

We closed down the throttle and began a powered descent. Soon the runway lights were in sight and we landed without incident. The engine was still working smoothly, so we taxied to a parking space and shut down. I helped push the airplane in to the space. We breathed a sigh of relief and then headed straight for the office.

We made calls to close our flight plan, and to let Approach know that we were safe. Search and Rescue was not required.

Now comes the weird part. We went back to the airplane to investigate the engine. I figured that we must have been losing oil somehow. But surprisingly, the belly of the airplane was clean. So was the interior of the cowl. My neighbor and his partners keep their airplane spotless. We saw a bit of speckling of oil, but nothing dramatic.

So we pulled the dipstick and lo, it had oil two inches above the full mark. I know that I'd seen my neighbor check the dipstick before the flight outbound and the flight back. If there had been more oil than was warranted, he'd have seen it before now. It's part of every preflight.

Where the hell did that oil come from. "It seems a bit thin to me, and it smells burned. You'd better get an oil analysis done," I pointed out. I wonder if it's contaminated with gasoline?

We don't know. The mechanic at the field thinks that the owners did a poor oil change and ended up putting too much oil in the engine. That would be a good explanation except that it doesn't explain how we got all the way there after a flight time of about an hour.

Anyhow, that's my bizzare tale. When the verdict comes in regarding the engine, I'll let you all know what it was...

Postscript (January 19, 11:20 PM): I flew my airplane and brought my neighbor with me this evening to visit his airplane. The mechanic discovered an exhaust leak and the work had to be sent out for repair. The oil, plugs, and compression looked good. We still don't know exactly how the extra oil got in to the engine. We think perhaps someone may have made a mistake putting an extra quart or two in to this airplane instead of the one they were supposed to service.

The theory that it may have been thinned with Gasoline from the fuel tanks has been pretty much dismissed due to lack of any way for this to have happened.

As for flying again, it was a relief. No airplane is perfect, but my airplane was purring along, flying very smoothly and on profile at 5000 on the way up and at 6000 on the way back. My new LED head lamp worked very well too. The white light was nearly too intense, but the red was perfect cockpit lighting for things like my approach plates. And with the 50 hour life on a pair of AAA batteries, I'll be on the ground long before this thing's batteries die.

I can't wait to fly myself to Florida in February...


WMF and Microsoft apologists

AB3A AB3A writes  |  about 9 years ago

I'm amazed that so many think Microsoft did a timely and decent job responding to this threat. I don't think they did.

Their first reaction was understandable. Disable WMF file display capability with a registry tweak. That's a decent initial reaction to a zero-day exploit. It was timely, and reasonable. I can't fault them for this initial reaction.

However, what happened next made little sense. It appears they sat on this problem for several days thinking that it wasn't critical. Meanwhile, legions of black hat hackers and script kiddies were salivating over all sorts of potentials for attack. Someone made an IRC worm out of this mess. Someone else made a WMF exploit kit. Microsoft just sat tight.

Meanwhile, F-Secure discovered the fix by lfak Guilfanov and negotiated to have it placed on Hexablog. However, since most do not know who Guilfanov is or even who these nice guys at F-Secure are, not many used this fix.

No sooner did Microsoft announce an update on the next cycle, when with little technical consideration, many folks decided that All Was Well. One of them, Ed Bott began shooting the messengers of the WMF problem without any apparent consideration of what it was that they might know that he didn't. I pointed out that I didn't think much of Microsoft's responsiveness and while he tried to smear the Open Source community's better efforts with a very lame case.

Only 9 days later, after the WMF virus building kit was already in the wild, did Microsoft release fixes for 2000, XP and 2003 Server. However, this mess existed in every version of Windows since 3.0. True, the associations for WMF files didn't exist by default in OSs prior to XP. However, many application programs used them. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Microsoft is still underestimating this "feature."

Ed is, of course, entitled to his opinons, no matter how ill informed they may be. However, he is not alone in this behavior. I wish there was a way that people in the Open Source Community could quietly make a case that perhaps there is room for improvement in Microsoft's behavior here. After all, they're the ones getting paid for this effort. Shouldn't people get something for their money?

Postscript: It appears I'm not the only one asking this question.


Happy Jewish Carpenter Circumcision Day!

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

...And Christians think Jews celebrate some odd things! Christians built their calendar based upon a particular circumcision. Jews only celebrate it once. Christians keep celebrating it again and again --and what's with the dropping balls?

So, what promises will you make in honor of the 2006'th anniversary of this solemn event?

While we're at it, tell me what you plan to do with the extra second we're expecting at the end of this year. :-)


"Temporary" Flight Restrictions

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

As reported in AOPA's website, Vice President Dick Cheney has purchased a house on the Maryland Eastern Shore. The FAA wants to establish a permenant restricted airspace over the VP's home with a 1 nm radius and a 1500' AGL no fly zone.

This is foolish on so many levels that I hardly know what to say. First, such airspaces do not prohibit aircraft from flying over his house. I normally fly at altitudes of at least 2000' AGL in that area so this is just a small nusiance to me. Second, from that altitude I could easily drop a note on the VP's house any time I feel like it. Third, what does this airspace accomplish besides annoying pilots, controllers, and most of the aviating public?

Once again, if Joe Terrorist didn't know where exactly to fly to find the Cheney household, he does now. Wouldn't the Cheneys be better served if they simply avoided this airspace thing altogether?


How do you inform users of network problems?

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Well, if you're the IT department where I work, you send an e-mail to everyone telling them that there are network problems.

I couldn't make this stuff up. Honest. It happened this morning when one of my colleagues tried to boot his PC. It apparently couldn't find the domain controller with both hands. Sure enough, after about two hours of frustration, he finally got logged in and there it was: an e-mail from the IT staff telling us what we had already figured out.

Didn't Dilbert do a cartoon about this a few years ago?


Xeni, Revisited

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

So, there is news that much of the disaster reporting in NOLA immediately after Katrina was a drastic exaggeration. I sent the following e-mail to Xeni. She's been reporting much of this stuff on Boing Boing --among other places. Admittely, Boing Boing isn't exactly a great news source. But I feel they ought to at least pretend to be accurate, even if they may have their own biases and agendas.




Choose your source. It doesn't matter. The end result is the same:
You reported disaster hype.

I don't care what you think you're doing. Until you post these links or
similar stories on Boing Boing, you're no Journalist.

I'm not amused. I don't like being lied to. I don't like hidden agendas. Until this woman does the bare minimum of posting this story, I see no reason to give her work any attention whatsoever.


Coming Soon, An ADIZ near you!

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Imagine that you can't even go once around the pattern at your local airport without a flight plan, calling your local TRACON, getting a squawk code, and then a release time. That could be you.

Now imagine that it's a holiday, the skies are blue, the weather is fabulous, and you're sitting on the ground in a sun baked airplane hitting redial for the umpteenth time and not getting through to pick up your clearance. Half an Hour of engine runtime later, you finally pick up a squawk code and departure frequency.

That was me on Labor Day. My kids were with me and we intended to meet friends for a picnic lunch at First Flight Airport (Kitty Hawk, NC). People sigh and say, well, Homeland Security comes first.

And I'd agree --except that the ADIZ and FRZ in DC do not impede a terrorist one bit. What most do not understand is that you can't wall off a piece of sky. The airspaces we have assigned around the country are there for SAFETY reasons, not defense.

In other words, if someone is launching a rocket, shining a laser, or firing live ammunition in to the air for testing purposes, then they can reserve the airspace above them and advise pilots that they are there. This prevents accidents.

However, when some Federal Muckety Muck wants a Temporary Flight Restriction around them and their activities, they must not fool themselves in to thinking that it prevents aircraft from flying over. It doesn't do that any more than a traffic light prevents people from entering the intersection when it is red. Just ask that idiot from Smoketown PA who flew his trainer aircraft over DC a few months ago.

All it could do is help identify a strange aircraft which doesn't belong --or does it? What's to keep some twit from lying on his flight plan form? Tell the Feds that you're flying a small Cessna and instead fly slow in a jet.

So, how close can you get? Well, when coming back from Kitty Hawk, I entered the ADIZ at the South East side WHINO fix and proceeded north toward my home base at FME. During that time I heard Potomac Approach giving Vectors to Air Force 1. Meanwhile the flight path I was given was right on the edge of the FRZ: I was shaving by with less than a half a mile to spare. I was so disconcerted that I pushed my flight path eastward to stay > 1 nm away from the edge. It would not have been hard to get in AF-1's way.

Now the FAA wants to make the ADIZ and FRZ permenant. They used all sorts of smoke and mirror analysis. This must be the kind of analysis that they teach in MBA school. Very careful reasoning, but the assumptions were all nonsense.

These folks must think that naked emperors are ordinary, everyday occurences. I don't understand why so many think this nonsense is a good idea. If Joe Terrorist wants to bust in to the airspace, nobody, Not Even the Air Force, can stop him. Oh, and if, by some chance he does get intercepted and shot down, what happens to the ammunition and flaming wreckage? Why, pretty much what Joe Terrorist wanted in the first place!

Let's get real: Terrorists have lots of ways to terrorize. Using airliners worked once. It has been tried since. It doesn't work. Passengers won't put up with it. Just ask Richard Reed (who is very lucky to be alive right now).

Furthermore, General Aviation aircraft are too small to make a terrific amount of damage. Al Qaida did research the use of small aircraft and they discarded the whole idea --though that hasn't stopped the FAA and DHS pukes from trying to act as though it might be dangerous.

General Aviation has never been a threat. I'm tired of swiping a security card to get my car in to an airfield. I'm tired of filing flight plans for every silly little thing. I'm just plain disgusted with all these idiotic temporary flight restrictions that follow the President and Vice President wherever they go.

Couldn't we just try some sanity for a change? I promise not to wear my boogieman outfit...



Letter to Xeni of Boing-Boing

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I finally couldn't stand it. The Katrina coverage on Boing-Boing has been ridiculously biased and for the most part, unhelpful. I wrote the following to one of the very worst perpetrators.

You know, Boing Boing was supposed to be "A Directory of Wonderful Things" --yet your articles are nearly uniform about Katrina, the awfulness and how it must be a right wing racist conspiracy. Believe me, the right wing isn't that smart.

FEMA is damaged goods because of many factors. However, even in their heyday, they weren't anything wonderful to write about, and this disaster is on a level unknown to the US economy for several generations.

I'm not saying everything is wonderful and light. But please, let's stick to the "Directory of Wonderful Things" mantra. Katrina's aftermath is not a racial conspiracy. Nobody who thinks like that could be so clever. It's nothing less than incompetence at many levels. Get off your high horse and try spreading some helpful observations instead of pointing out the hideous and obvious failings.

I would appreciate comments from those who may have read the Katrina coverage on BoingBoing.


Discussing Religion

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I promise that I'll be good about this. I find religion interesting. I also think that a respectful discussion of religion, or the lack thereof, ought to be possible. I could be wrong about that.

The key is insightful, understanding comments, and strength to read those ideas which may appear quite toxic to you. Sadly, not many can discuss such issues dispassionately. But this is Slashdot and We're supposed to be nerds.

I am hoping we can do this without being reduced to a flame war.

So, without stepping on any other toes, do you feel religion is a necessary component to a modern society, or is it as useless as an old buggy whip in a modern sports car?


The Funny Side of life

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

This is one very funny example of how we are doomed to repeat the deeds of our parents.

I discovered similar things recently when I visited my brother. It's amazing what traits his wife has which are similar to our parents. Unfortunately, many of these traits are not from their better side.

Anyhow, after a week of living with them, I'm glad I'm not my brother. I'll bet he's glad he's not me. And I hope they like that suburban house with the Plastic Xanadu (tm)...

--My room is in the office on the side of our barn. I can step out and pee on a tree any time I want to... :-)


News is only news when it's fresh...

AB3A AB3A writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I used to watch slashdot for interesting and timely news stories. And sometimes it's still there. Sure, they dupe (and dupe and dupe and dupe some stories to death), but I'm a former usenet newsgroup veteran, so it's not hard to mentally filter that stuff out.

But lately I've noticed that they are merely copying from other such forum sites. And it isn't even timely. I posted this to Technocrat and it showed up almost immediately. I thought it would be out of date, since Mark Russinovich's Blog was already a couple days old. Then, several days later here it shows up on Slashdot.

You know, news is only news if it's timely and not well known. I think Slashdot is sliding a bit here...

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?