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Private Space Shuttle Flights

Rorschach1 Re:Keep one in space (244 comments)

I'm no expert here, but it's my understanding that the shuttles really aren't intended for such long-duration use. Even the Soyuz capsules have a limited shelf-life. You've got cryogenic liquids powering the fuel cells, corrosive propellants in the thrusters, and who knows what else that won't keep. And I'd assume that you have to keep the temperature inside regulated to some degree, which might take a significant amount of power.

In short, that's a whole lot of complex hardware to maintain for a task that could be accomplished by something much simpler - like the existing Soyuz capsules.

more than 3 years ago
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Low Budget Air Space Photography

Rorschach1 Re:When will you be able to buy kits on Think Geek (162 comments)

I can't speak for Think Geek, but I'm quietly selling balloon payload computers now. The current board rev was intended for internal testing only, but there was enough demand that we built some extras and sold them. The next version will be more flexible and will let the user run their own code on an Arduino and maintain separation from the critical tracking tasks. For now, it's really almost too simple for educational uses. With the callsign pre-set, you only have to pop in a couple of lithium batteries, plug in the antenna, and switch it on. You get position, velocity, altitude, temperature, battery voltage, and barometric pressure, and a radio range of maybe 100 miles at altitude. It's about the size and weight of a deck of cards.

You'll still need a ham radio license, though. And you'll need to scrounge up a balloon and helium. I'd like to be able to put together a kit that would use disposable helium tanks from Wal-Mart, but even with two tanks you could only lift a very light payload.

I've got another prototype on my bench that has slow-scan TV capability to send back pictures over the air (in old-school analog modes) but I haven't had time to set up a proper ground station to test it.

more than 3 years ago
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FTC Is In Talks With Adobe About the 'Flash Problem'

Rorschach1 THIS is a summary? (179 comments)

Seriously, WTF? How about a sentence telling us what the 'flash problem' is, and maybe a bit about WHY the article is interesting?

more than 3 years ago
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China Now Halting Shipments of Rare Earth Minerals To US

Rorschach1 Re:Easy solution (738 comments)

"Most favored nation" makes it sound like we're awarding them BFF status or something. Go look it up:

"In international trade, MFN status (or treatment) is awarded by one nation to another. It means that the receiving nation will be granted all trade advantages -- such as low tariffs -- that any other nation also receives. In effect, a nation with MFN status will not be discriminated against and will not be treated worse than any other nation with MFN status."

about 4 years ago
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China Now Halting Shipments of Rare Earth Minerals To US

Rorschach1 Re:Easy solution (738 comments)

Do you have ANY idea what this would mean? It's not just the Walmarts of the world that deal with China.

I run a very small company - just a couple of geeks in a little office/warehouse. We do enough business for both of us to pay the rent and put food on the table, with the occasional mention in Make or hackaday as a side benefit. We take pride in doing as much of our work domestically as we can and sourcing locally whenever possible, but I can tell you we wouldn't last 3 months without trade with China.

Global supply chains are far too interconnected for something so drastic. When the economy tanked in 2008, despite the fact that we still had plenty of orders coming in we almost went under when we couldn't get the parts we needed. Even when *our* suppliers were OK, if one of *their* suppliers was in trouble we felt it.

People seem to have this weird idea that there's some sort of China, Inc. that just sits over there on the other side of the Pacific building plastic widgets to cram down our throats via Walmart. That's not how it works. China's far from blameless, but "close our markets to Chinese exports" is right up there with "nuke Baghdad" for brilliant foreign policy.

about 4 years ago
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News Corp. Shuts Off Hulu Access To Cablevision

Rorschach1 Re:Net Neutraility? (316 comments)

"Look, I'll make it simple for you: businesses != individuals."

I'm a sole proprietor, you insensitive clod!

about 4 years ago
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America Versus the UFO Hacker

Rorschach1 Re:Should they make a deal (452 comments)

"They need to use him for breaking into stuff, it's what he's good at apparently."

But he's NOT good at keeping his mouth shut and not getting caught, which is a bigger requirement for that sort of work. He might find work for a private firm, but no sensible government agency would hire him.

more than 4 years ago
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Australia Air Travelers' Laptops To Be Searched For Porn

Rorschach1 Re:So... (647 comments)

"Maybe the guy who pushed this rule is actually addicted to porn and wants to create a giant archive of it all, print it out and then roll around in the pages."

Dude... all you need for that is Usenet and a printer.

And on a completely unrelated note, make sure you wear gloves while refilling your printer's continuous ink supply system. Looks like I murdered a freakin' clown...

more than 4 years ago
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Ham Radio Still Growing In the iStuff Age

Rorschach1 Misleading statistics? (368 comments)

I don't have the figures for the US, but check out this graph of the number of licensed hams in Japan from 1953 to 2006:

http://www.k0nr.com/blog/uploaded_images/Japan-radio-license-chart-710990.jpg

So yes, maybe up a bit from the early 1980s, but down by more than half from 1995. I suspect you'd see the same trend elsewhere.

I don't mean to be discouraging about the hobby - in fact, I make a living in large part from designing and producing ham related equipment. And really, I think it's possible that the hobby as a whole is getting more technical and more experimentation-oriented again. Short-range VHF/UHF voice communications and long-range HF voice and Morse code were the main reasons many people got into the hobby in the past, and now ubiquitous cell phones, email, and cheap long distance calling have eliminated most of the draw for the sort of ham who might be pejoratively described as an 'appliance operator'. Those who bother to get licensed these days are more likely to be geeks and DIYers.

If you use the FCC spectrum auctions of recent years as a yardstick, then the spectrum hams have available to them for free is worth billions of dollars. If you have any interest at all in hardware hacking or emergency preparedness, it's well worth the trouble to get your ham license.

more than 4 years ago
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Ham Radio Still Growing In the iStuff Age

Rorschach1 Re:Ham Radio + GPS = Fun! (368 comments)

Just curious, what Garmin GPS are you using for APRS, and what equipment was used for that Rubicon message?

Scott
N1VG

more than 4 years ago
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It's Time To Split Up NSA Between Spooks and Geeks

Rorschach1 Re:They already did, and it made things worse (122 comments)

I'd always assumed the idea of "NSA agents" was a myth, too. But if you visit the National Cryptologic Museum, there's a memorial there - apparently a duplicate of the one at Fort Meade - honoring fallen cryptologists. I seem to remember that a bunch of the names were actually just stars, because their identities were still secret. From the museum's website:

"The Memorial Wall was designed by an NSA employee and is 12 feet wide and eight feet high, centered with a triangle. The words "They Served in Silence," etched into the polished stone at the cap of the triangle, recognize that cryptologic service has always been a silent service - secretive by its very nature. Below these words, the NSA seal and the names of 153 military and civilian cryptologists who have given their lives in service to their country are engraved in the granite. The names are at the base of the triangle because these cryptologists and their ideals - dedication to mission, dedication to workmate, and dedication to country - form the foundation for cryptologic service."

I have to say that 153 sounds like an awfully high death toll if we're talking about desk workers.

more than 4 years ago
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Auto-Scanning the Names People Choose For Their Wireless APs

Rorschach1 Re:hi neighbor! (422 comments)

I came across one in Hong Kong called "DON'T STEAL MY FUCKING WIFI". And of course, it was unsecured.

more than 4 years ago
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Fuel Cell Marvel "Bloom Box" Gaining Momentum

Rorschach1 Re:About $2K savings per month (562 comments)

'Not doing anything' would be keeping your cash under the mattress. In this case you're making money available to others who WILL do something useful with it. Or at least something more monetarily productive than investing in fuel cells.

more than 4 years ago
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Fingerprint Requirement For a Work-Study Job?

Rorschach1 Re:Modern Fingerprint Scanners dont keep prints (578 comments)

It's a stand-alone time clock. You can buy them at Office Depot. I've never seen one with a mechanism for getting any sort of hash or minutiae data from it. It's certainly conceivable, but why would anyone go to that trouble? Anyone that intent on violating your privacy could pick up a latent print from some other object much easier. It doesn't take much imagination to come up with some very innocent-seeming task that would let you get a full set of prints from a job candidate without them ever suspecting anything.

Personally, I'd trust an employer less with my social security number - at least with the time clock I could be reasonably certain no one was going to accidentally release that information.

more than 4 years ago
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Astronauts Having Trouble With Tranquility Module

Rorschach1 Re:Metric Everywhere (300 comments)

When I picked up a camper van in Auckland and started driving around New Zealand (and once I'd gotten over my initial terror at driving on the wrong side of the road) I found it was really easy to adapt. I made a game of it for an hour or so, trying to pick an object in the distance when I thought it was 1 km away and watching the odometer to see how close I was.

The only time it nearly caused a problem was one evening when I came to a turn that was marked <<<< 45 <<<< and I instinctively slowed down to about 50. 50 mph, that is.

So if you need a rule of thumb for metric speeds, remember that 45 kph is the speed at which you can negotiate a sharp bend on a wet road in a top-heavy camper van without crapping your pants.

more than 4 years ago
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IEEE Ethernet Specs Could Soothe Data Center Ills

Rorschach1 Re:howto secure virtual machines (51 comments)

That's great, but a VM Ethernet switch still doesn't offer the same gut satisfaction when it comes to shutting someone down.

Back when I worked for the Air Force and the base I worked at was making the transition from a bunch of random little networks strung together with a 10 mbit CATV coax backbone and a single T1 line to a real campus with a fiber and a firewall, we had a Major in charge of our group (one of the few with real technical knowledge to ever hold that post) who's favorite policy enforcement tool was a pair of wire cutters.

Yeah, it could have been done less dramatically, but sometimes a little showmanship is called for.

more than 4 years ago
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US Coast Guard Intends To Kill LORAN-C

Rorschach1 Re:hmm (316 comments)

"Without the Loran our sneaky ways will have to be changed"

Come up with a list of 100 words. Danish, Esperanto, Klingon, or whatever. Assign numbers from 00 to 99. Read off your GPS coordinates using one word for every two digits. Save time by pre-defining large grids with special names to avoid having to read off more digits than necessary.

I've got notes around here somewhere on a more sophisticated version of that I was playing with for search and rescue use - not to conceal anything, but to be more efficient and accurate than reading strings of numbers. The words were simple, of a consistent number of syllables, phonetically distinct (long Hamming distance) and with multiple lists you can make it tolerant of transposition of words. The idea was for the encoding to be done on a GPS receiver - you wouldn't need to do it manually.

more than 4 years ago
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A Brief History of Modems

Rorschach1 No mention of Telebit? (249 comments)

What history of modems completely skips the Telebit Trailblazer? Roughly 18 kbps in 1985 - many years before 14.4k modems became common. Expensive enough to be out of reach of most BBS'ers, though. But worth the money if you were doing UUCP over a long distance call every night.

more than 4 years ago
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I'd prefer to allocate my work hours ...

Rorschach1 It never ends... (287 comments)

I'm self-employed, you insensitive clod! They're ALL work hours!

Or more accurately, I have hours when things are getting done, and hours when work is piling up. I can theoretically allocate them any way I want. As long as I get in at least 170 hours a week of productive work, I won't fall any further behind.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Non-Apple smart phone options?

Rorschach1 Rorschach1 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Rorschach1 writes "Words cannot describe how I have come to loathe my current smart phone — a Samsung SCH-i760 running Windows Mobile 6. It locks up frequently, the user interface is unresponsive and unreliable, sound quality is poor, Bluetooth support sucks; I could fill volumes describing the things I hate about this phone, but it was an incident yesterday that solidified the decision to ditch it: My car was hit broadside by an SUV on my way home from work. There were no injuries, and I was able to make an initial call to 911 (which I could have done with the ancient backup phone in my glove compartment if necessary) but immediately after the 911 call the phone freaked out. Calling family and a tow truck required multiple resets, with the phone apparently stuck in emergency mode and once just shutting down completely.

An iPhone isn't an option because AT&T coverage is awful where I live, and Verizon is the only viable provider. The GSM phone I travel with doesn't even get a signal in my house. I will never, ever use another Windows-based phone. On the other hand, I don't think I really need a Blackberry. I rarely use email on my phone (granted, that's mostly because it's so impossible to use on my Samsung) but I'd miss the QWERTY keyboard and ability to occasionally access Google and Wikipedia if I went with a plain old phone.

I miss the reliability of my old E815, and I like the volume and sound quality on my GSM V400. If I could get something as solid as either of those with a half-decent browser and usable keyboard, I'd be very happy. I don't care about playing music, taking pictures, ringtones, downloadable apps, or any of that — I just want a communications device that works right the first time, every time. Does such a beast exist?

Whoever picks a satisfactory replacement for me gets to decide the fate of my SCH-i760. I'll leave the options open, but I should mention that I have about 20 liters of liquid nitrogen on hand and an 8-lb sledge hammer."

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