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Ask Slashdot: How To Enter Private Space Industry As an Engineer?

DesertNomad Intern at JPL, hang out in Mojave (283 comments)

RPI is a fine school, you'll find plenty of company. Or, find a way into Caltech. JPL is a long way from your 5-hour radius, but you actually have the opportunity as an undergrad to get involved in some cool-ass stuff. JPL is a mechanical engineer's paradise, those of us who are EEs get treated OK %^).

more than 2 years ago

Ford Demonstrates Networked Cars

DesertNomad "Hi I'm Stanley the Speed Limit Sign..." (115 comments)

"... and you are exceeding the posted speed on this highway. Your vehicle ID has been logged, and your vehicle is now being rerouted to McDonalds indicated here, "where America is lovin' it", and you will be served with a notice of infraction as well as a discount on a cup of McCoffee (limit one per violator)."

The US DOT Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program has been going on for a very long time. It's taken at least half a decade just to get to the point where there are some practical standards.

It's not your average basement-dwelling Slashdotter's Wi-Fi - this is 802.11p in the 5.9GHz band, the work for which was only completed last year.

Will be licensed restricted access, between vehicles and roadside infrastructure like talking signs and signposts, warning devices, all that happy stuff. Perhaps using multihop, traffic jams and accident scenes could get propagated out to allow motorists to recompute route before becoming mired. No one has figured out how to pay for it or what it will really do. At least in the past, there was talk about commercial organizations subsidizing the infrastructure in return for being able to advertise their service/location on the vehicle's nav system.

more than 3 years ago

Brainstorming Clever Ways To Detect Alien Civilizations

DesertNomad Morse Code over 50 LY path! (343 comments)

Typical deep space comm channels run into the Ka-band spectrum (26-40GHz). The path loss at 32 GHz, between the two stations separated by 50 LY, is an unimaginably large 416dB. Taking the largest fully steerable dish on earth (DSN 70m dish), running at a communications frequency of 32GHz, 400kW transmitter output, and a communications bandwidth that's good enough for 20 word-per-minute Morse code, one could theoretically close the circuit between an identically equipped station 50 LY distant. You could possibly signal somewhere around 300 baud hayes modem speeds circa 1980 if you really worked at it.

more than 3 years ago

Algorithm Contest Aims To Predict Health Problems

DesertNomad Re:This is why "health insurance" is so expensive (138 comments)

Very few medical conditions are caused purely by lifestyle choices...

You'll need to show a little proof here.

On the other hand, "Personal decisions are the leading cause of death", Dr. Ralph L. Keeney of Duke University, 2008

A discussion of his paper, with a variety of points of view, at the Operations Research Forum

And for the rest of us, the Wired article on his paper is here

more than 3 years ago

Verizon To Throttle High-Bandwidth Users

DesertNomad Recursive self-limiting (305 comments)

Nice idea, and one that is auto-ratcheting, with the ultimate effect to drive data volumes down all across the subscriber base. This month, the top 5% get throttled. Next month, the next lower volume tier may now define the top 5%, and that gets throttled. Ultimately, data volumes approach zero, and someone still gets throttled because there's always a top 5% who are the worst. And all along, Verizon can claim it's only the worst bandwidth users getting punished. It's like the system we use here at work to get rid of the low performers... There's always a bottom 10%!

more than 3 years ago

Wi-Fi Direct Gets Real With Product Certification

DesertNomad Re:Bluetooth is gone eh? (78 comments)

Actually, Bluetooth 3.0 uses IEEE802.11, not Wi-Fi, as the underlying carrier technology. Wi-Fi is a superset of 802.11 features. Wi-Fi brings broad interoperability, higher level functionality and mandated conformance to established standards. BT 3.0 uses 802.11 as an Alternate MAC/PHY (AMP) layer, has a fixed signaling rate of 24Mbps, and does the "networking" using the BT radio and BT protocols, not Wi-Fi. It is not necessary for a 802.11 radio that is set up to run in BT3.0 mode to be compatible with a standard Wi-Fi access point, as BT3.0 is really supposed to be used to allow higher speed data transfer (about 8x) between two BT3.0-enabled devices, like a cameraphone and a notepad. Wi-Fi Direct is direct competition to BT 3.0, but does it more simply with the one radio, technology and protocol rather than two radios and a mix of protocols that are very different and more costly.

As some of you might remember from way back in 2005, originally the high-speed AMP was going to be Ultrawide Band (UWB), but the BTSIG took a bet on the WiMedia Alliance's MB-OFDM quasi-UWB technology and lost when WiMedia folded its tent in early 2009, after probably a dozen manufacturers had failed to get MB-OFDM silicon to work as promoted.

Bluetooth is not gone, in fact BT Classic (the 2.1 stuff) is in the majority of all cellular handsets sold in the world today, and I think each week something like 20 million BT chips are shipped in product, 90++% of that in cellular handsets and headsets. However, the actual usage of BT is pretty low since most people don't really seem to take to headsets, or if they do use a headset, it's often wired since that eliminates the need to charge two batteries. Like I saw somewhere else, BT seems like the IRDA of the 21st Century, ubiquitous yet little used

That having been said, Since 2004 or so I've been using BT headsets (5-6 models now), multiple BT-enabled phones, even a BT-enabled PDA (remember the old Sony Clie), and am generally satisfied by the convenience and performance. Pairing has gotten way better with 2.1, my phone (BB) only forgets about my headset (Jabra) every second week or three, requiring a repairing effort. But I'm an engineer, and have some tolerance for touchy gadgetry... And no, I'm not a member of either the BTSIG or the Wi-Fi Alliance.

more than 3 years ago

Google Patent Proposes $2 Fee To Skip Commercials

DesertNomad The end of the Bio Break? (434 comments)

In the good ol' days, that 10 minutes of commercials before would allow me time to hit the head, make a sandwich, grab a beer. But, I'm sure they'd make it so that the view time would be **interactive**, so I'm going to have to train my robot monkey to hit the mouse button the exact number of times required to get through that 10 minutes. Well, I guess that's an opportunity for new business!

more than 3 years ago

Ikaros Spacecraft Successfully Propelled In Space

DesertNomad Re:Top Speed ? (229 comments)

Barely distinguishable? Jupiter is only 5 times Earth's distance from the Sun. Outside Earth's atmosphere, solar insolation averages around 1370 watts per square meter. At Jupiter's orbital distance, it's about 50 watts per sq meter. That's a huge amount of power. At Jupiter's distance, the Sun is well over a million times brighter than Sirius, the brightest star in the Terran sky. Barely distinguishable? Bah.

more than 4 years ago

UK Students Build Electric Car With 248-Mile Range

DesertNomad Fortunately (192 comments)

It's downhill all the way.

more than 4 years ago

SOFIA Sees Jupiter's Ancient Heat

DesertNomad Re:Cheaper astronomy (59 comments)

Um, they do and do so regularly. Balloons hoisting 2000kg+ payloads, up for weeks at a time, at elevations over 30-35km. When working in the 90's at JPL in Southern California, I would occasionally have lunch with a guy responsible for launching huge skids of scientific equipment at Palastine, TX, at the National Balloon Facility. Palastine is convenient due to the large amount of helium produced as a waste product from the wells in the area. Palastine's accomplishments notwithstanding, Southern California is also home to cutting-edge balloon experimenters.

more than 4 years ago

Girl Claims Price Scanner Gave Her Tourette's Syndrome

DesertNomad Malicious use of a :CueCat (558 comments)

I'd be swearing about it as well. PTSD, however, is real and can be caused in all sorts of ways. But probably not from this.

more than 4 years ago

"Phone In One Hand, Ticket In the Other"

DesertNomad Use It, Lose It (419 comments)

a good slogan - the driver can reclaim their phone, sealed in the same bag the officer had the driver put it in, down at the station 2 hours later. worse than any ticket.

more than 4 years ago

Electrowetting Promises Power-Sipping, Daylight Readable Color Displays

DesertNomad Re:1st (63 comments)

On any standard XGA and higher-res LCD display, there's a fair chance that at least one pixel has a problem of some sort. Each OEM has their own QA guidelines which they really don't want to share unless you push. This site gives some idea of the thresholds.

more than 4 years ago

Intel To Ship 48-Core Test Systems To Researchers

DesertNomad Improper Adverb Usage (135 comments)

Alas, there's no such thing as "instantly", especially in multi-processor core systems. It takes all too long to move data around.

more than 4 years ago

How Many Admins Per User/Computer Have You Seen?

DesertNomad Two (414 comments)

Your boss, and offshore.

more than 4 years ago

Intelsat Launches Hardware For Internet Routing From Space

DesertNomad Not even Cisco (83 comments)

no such thing as radiation-proof for electronics. Resistant and resilient, perhaps. Radiation-hardened, maybe.

more than 4 years ago

Trojan Kill Switches In Military Technology

DesertNomad Kill Switches in the Silicon (392 comments)

My experience is with very complex and extremely common silicon wireless transceivers, including RF, PHY, MAC, NWK and even applications functions. 6 to 40 mm^2 of extremely dense circuitry (millions to tens of millions of gates). It would be very easy to put into that a block that would be nearly undetectable and that would cause the transceiver to change its behavior when specific sequences are received over the air. In a major metro area, a single broadcast message could shut down tens of thousands of cellphones or wi-fi devices. For weapons that use that part, it could quickly be "Phaser on OVERLOAD!" That having been said, when we do a design and send the design files overseas to third-party fabs in Asia, it is hard for them to be able to modify anything since the finished part will be different than our design file. But, I suppose if you had the money, resources, and desire for total world domination, anything's possible.

more than 4 years ago

A Planet That Orbits Its Star the Wrong Way

DesertNomad For once, why can't the professor... (257 comments)

... be named Quatermass and he say something memorable like "this planet, this orb, going the wrong way 'round, dooms us all as every planet in the universe will follow. It's only a matter of time before we plummet into the sun."

more than 5 years ago

How to Charge Your Cellphone Using Wasted Heat

DesertNomad Thermoelectric converters not so efficient (214 comments)

You don't get much from thermoelectric conversion - in my business of wireless sensor networks you see a lot of offerings. The best stuff in the past couple years generates about 50uW/sq cm for a 5C difference. That's good enough for a wireless sensor hugging a tree, perhaps. Available power goes up for more thermal difference, but it's unlikely that anytime soon either BWM, Adui, or even Fnord, for that matter, will be replacing the inexpensive, reliable and robust automotive alternator with a pricey power-producing muffler. Well, maybe Fnord.

more than 5 years ago



FCC Lets Radar Company See Through Walls

DesertNomad DesertNomad writes  |  more than 4 years ago

DesertNomad (885798) writes "Attorney Mitchell Lazarus over at CommLawBlog gives a good overview of a new radar technology and the challenges of getting regulatory approval, which seemingly can be just as difficult as developing the technology itself."
Link to Original Source

For Your Health, Froot Loops?

DesertNomad DesertNomad writes  |  about 5 years ago

DesertNomad (885798) writes "William Neuman of the New York Times reports today on a new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation's largest food manufacturers, which is "designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices." The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops. Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said the program's criteria were based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards."
Link to Original Source


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