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Police Organization Wants Cop-Spotting Dropped From Waze App

ausoleil Who Watches The Watchmen? They Prefer "No One." (461 comments)

The Romans had a saying: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" -- "who watches the watchmen?"

Apparently, the sheriff's association would prefer "no one."

Meanwhile, they want unfettered access to track you, to search you at will, to apply force when they deem necessary - with no potential repercussions, and to have their word taken as literal truth in courts of law. In short, they want to answer to no one, and especially not to the public that pays their salaries and that they are sworn to serve.

To have their way, they threaten litigation or new statuatory laws. I suppose that they forget that the public has the right to free speech, and that the police are not the *secret* police in this country.

5 days ago

Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

ausoleil Re:Let's do what every other third world country d (108 comments)

ULA / GenCorp (who acquired Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2013) has the right to produce the RD-180 domestically as part of its partnership with NPO Energomash.

Since they have the plans, access to the current production line and certainly the ability to make the engine, patent encumbrances would not be an issue.

The problem is cost -- the RD-180 is very labor intensive to make, and it would also require tooling, testing, certification and undoubtedly test flights to bring the US-made version to equivalence of the Russian one. It may be cheaper to use a new design and start from scratch.

about 5 months ago

SpaceX Shows Off 7-Man Dragon V2 Capsule

ausoleil Re:What else is needed... Rocket engines (140 comments)

The only problem with that 2009 article is that Dragon Heavy still hasn't been built, tested or flown and is behind schedule. SpaceX had planned to launch it last year, then this year, and now their launch manifest shows 2015 but is expected to slip further. They had reported cross-flow problems with the two outer boosters in 2013, but have not said much about it since.

about 8 months ago

UAV Operator Blames Hacking For Malfunction That Injured Triathlete

ausoleil Pilot Made Multiple Errors, "Hacking" Claim Is BS (178 comments)

Multicopter pilot here. In short, it looks like the pilot was a hobbyist out of his depth and was performing dangerous maneuvers before any so-called hacking with equipment not meant for the job.

I don't know a lot about the specifics of the accident, but the multicopter that was involved in the accident was using a very outmoded form of technology to control the multicopter (wifi) rather than the far more reliable multichannel failsafe 2.4GHz DSMX systems that are in common use with bigger multicopters. While it may be possible to "hack" the signals controlling the 'copter, it's more likely that the control loss was due to RF interference, either by purpose or accident. I would imagine that a sporting event such as the one where the incident occurred would be awash in wifi signals from dozens if not hundreds of sources.

Secondly, the multicopter pilot was doing something that experienced pilots / cinematographers strongly avoid: flying directly over people. Even the best control systems and multicopters can malfunction, and hovering over a crowd is obviously a bad place for that to happen.

The type of multicopter also gives away the apparent lack of skills or experience of the pilot. Parrot AR 'copters are not professional-grade equipment and they are not devices that someone who earns a good bit of money from aerial filming would use.

(note: apologies for a double post, I forgot to log in to post this reply.)

about 10 months ago

UAV Operator Blames Hacking For Malfunction That Injured Triathlete

ausoleil Re:I saw this on HAK5. (178 comments)

Exactly. I guess people should be thankful he hadn't just scored a DJ Phantom II, given the mistakes he made not even related to the so-called hack.

about 10 months ago

Video Tour of the International Space Station

ausoleil Scientific Potential vs. Engineering Realization (71 comments)

I really like Phil Plait but he consistently misses one of the major points of ISS was building and operating a working spacecraft in space. That knowledge in and of itself will prove invaluable for longer term missions where resupply and spare parts will be impossible to provide.

That attitude seems to be all too common among scientists: the constantly overlook engineering and take it for granted.

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Trying To Woo Businesses To Windows 8

ausoleil If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It (Yet.) (442 comments)

Microsoft will have a tough sell when it comes to Win8 with many if not most of their large customers.

First all, while they are still the preferred desktop OS vendor, their reputation precedes them: new releases of Windows often come with a seemingly built-in period where problems and flaws need to be worked out -- most of the time by the first service pack, others, not until the second or later. That in turn means lowered productivity across the userbase and increased support costs. To make things worse, often times the answer from even the highest levels of Microsoft's support is "that will be fixed in the next service pack" and the problem is left open. Companies know this and have learned to wait.

Secondly, Microsoft has a bad habit of changing the way their OS works, and that leads to lower productivity thanks to users "having to look" for features and controls they previously knew how to find. Win7 did it, as did Vista and to a smaller extent XP. That even affects the support groups, as they too have to climb up a new learning curve. Companies have learned this too and often wait until they are familiar with the new OS -- sometimes using their own staff as guinea pigs for the desk-side support guys.

Finally, Microsoft's upgrades -- and anyone's really -- have a way of breaking legacy applications that are critical to the business's needs. Then there are vendors who have not certified the new Microsoft OS as being compatible with their products. No certification, no support. No support, it doesn't get fixed and that leaves the business without a piece of its business process software working correctly. Companies have learned this as well and have learned how to wait.

All in all, the conservatism of IT groups is a learned behavior, and if Microsoft has problems selling their OS upgrades because of this, a large part of it is their own doing.

more than 2 years ago

SpaceX Brownsville Space Port Opposed By Texas Environmentalists

ausoleil Kennedy Space Center Proves (409 comments)

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is adjacent to Kennedy Space Center and in fact, part of the refuge is also controlled by KSC. They have not experienced gloom nor doom there, and in fact, quite the contrary: Brevard County is one of the most biodiverse areas in the United States.

That's after launching 135 Space Shuttles, multiple Saturn rockets, as well as other programs that litter American history. And next to KSC is the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch area, a place that has seen too many rocket launches to mention.

One has to wonder what makes the Brownsville area so much more at risk.

more than 2 years ago

Sorry, IT: These 5 Technologies Belong To Users

ausoleil Re:is BYOD real or an Infoworld hallucination? (348 comments)

Infoworld is flogging this relentlessly, but I'm not seeing it at my company and friends are not seeing it at their companies. Anecdotal, I know.

Actually, we talked about it in our annual talking head and powerpoint festival from the CIO. Then again, we're a Gartner-is-the-Bible company, so you can bet it wasn't originally his idea.

And I've used my own iPhone for work for three years unreimbursed, mainly because I only want one device to carry 24x7.

more than 3 years ago

Hard Drive Makers Slash Warranties

ausoleil Single Hard Drives Are Unsafe At Any Cost (445 comments)

The failure rate for hard drives has been quite well known for some time now: it is precisely 100% +/- 0.0%.

Truly, it is not a matter of IF a given hard drive will fail, it is a matter of WHEN.

That means that having a mirrored pair as a minimum -- even on a home machine -- is not an optional frill, it is a necessity. Even better, offsite cloud storage offer replication globally of vital data that are irreplaceable.

If warranties are dropping, so is reliability, and that means it is more vital than ever to CYA and have solid redundancies all the way from the data center to the family laptop.

more than 3 years ago

Final Space Shuttle External Tank Ready For Its Closeup

ausoleil New Shuttle Derived HLV is Design By Congress (106 comments)

While it may seem like a great idea to re-use and re-purpose old Shuttle designs for a new heavy-lift vehicle (HLV) on the surface, in fact, it's something that is not being done for its technical merit. Instead, this design is one that's mandated by Congress. The 535 meddlers instructed NASA not to design and implement the best design or the most practical and capable craft, instead, it told themk in it's latest funding bill that it must use 'elements of other programs "to the extent practicable."

The congress-people of course want the jobs and prestige that comes from having the companies that build new spacecraft and their parts in their districts.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama said in a prepared statement that:

“The NASA Authorization bill rejects the Administration’s reckless cancellation of NASA’s human space flight program and provides a framework to continue NASA’s exploration program.

“I am encouraged that the bill outlines a NASA-designed heavy lift rocket capability and continues Huntsville’s leadership role in NASA’s human exploration efforts. Given the ongoing struggles of up-and-coming space companies to keep their contracted schedules, the bill provides some level of accountability and a defined threshold for safety. With the passage of the NASA Authorization bill, it is clear Congress understands that bravado does not necessarily make a rocket company viable.

It may come as a surprise to Shelby that SpaceX is preparing its second launch of the Falcon9 rocket, this time with its Dragon capsule on top. It is currently schedule for no earlier than 10/23 of this month. The test launch is to once again test the Falcon9's operations and give information they can use to further refine them, and it is to test the Dragon in orbit. Dragon will eventually be used to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, as well as deliver cargo to it in an unmanned configuration. In other words, Senator Shelby, human space flight atop American rockets is far from dead. Not only that, private concerns have orbited a test flight and is on the verge of another while NASA awaits the whims of Congress.

With folks like Shelby around, protecting their interests rather than doing the right thing, it will be surprising if any NASA-designed craft orbits humans after the last shuttle lands next year.

more than 4 years ago

Lawmakers Want a Space Shuttle In New York City

ausoleil Not NTC: KSC, Houston And The Smithsonian Instead (246 comments)

I really cannot think of why New York deserves one, the city made little to no real contribution to the Shuttle program. They are simply leveraging politics to get another tourist draw for nothing. That's not a good enough reason.

Instead of making one of the retiring orbiters a political kewpie doll, they should instead go to the following cities:

1) Kennedy Space Center.
It's where the launches and a large number of landings occurred, and that puts the spacecraft into context -- especially because there's a restored Saturn V hanging in the Apollo Center, the VAB and the launch pads are there, and a visitor will be able to see the launch site...not to mention ongoing space activities, whatever they are.

2) Houston
For many of the same reasons as KSC, Houston deserves an orbiter because it was the site of the bulk of training facilities, because it is the ongoing center for American manned space operations and because it too has a restored Saturn V to complement the orbiter.

3) The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
This is the final resting place for most all of America's flighted space hardware, and an orbiter simply must join Apollo 11's capsule, the Mercury capsules, along with the other important space and aerospace artifacts. Yes, the Smithsonian currently has a flight-test body, but it could give that up in exchange for an orbiter.

Which in turn leads me to say that the Enterprise could go to New York, although I would prefer to see it go to the west coast to a museum there so that Shuttle hardware is located across the geography of the country.

more than 4 years ago

Ubuntu Moves To Yahoo For Default Firefox Search

ausoleil Embrace, Extend ... Extinguish (370 comments)

If someone thinks that Microsoft has changed their stripes, they are being foolish.

In 1996, John Markoff said, "Rather than merely embrace and extend the Internet, the company's critics now fear, Microsoft intends to engulf it." Bing and putting Bing everywhere, including a major Linux distro is just a continuation of that strategy.

In other words, this is just more of the same for a company trying to leverage the Internet and in their most grandiose scheme, somehow come to dominate it.

about 5 years ago

Harry McCracken Rounds Up the Year In Tech

ausoleil Enter AT&T's Bogus Smartphone Business "Strate (86 comments)

AT&T Wireless seems to be a company intent on hari-kari. It has sold its customers the wildly popular iPhone, and now blames its customer base for using the device:

AT&T made more threatening remarks aimed at iPhone users ("Wireless data hogs") who use too much "audio and video streaming" today. AT&T Wireless CEO Ralph de la Vega told attendees at a UBS conference in New York...

Wireless data hogs who jam the airwaves by watching video on their iPhones will be put on tighter leashes, ...[AT&T] will also give high-bandwidth users incentives to "reduce or modify their usage."

Just 3 percent of "smart" phone users are consuming 40 percent of the network capacity, de la Vega said, adding that the most high-bandwidth activity is video and audio streaming. Several applications on the iPhone provide nonstop Internet radio.

De la Vega also defended the network's performance, saying testing showed that AT&T's third-generation, or 3G, network was faster than that of competitors, and that major problems are concentrated in New York and San Francisco, which are packed with smart phone users.

AT&T has already pushed iPhone Tethering back into 2010 with no hard date in sight.

Obviously, these threats by De la Vega are not going well with its customer base, one who has grown increasingly surly. While the first of Dan Lyons' "Operation Chokehold" customer protests may have been unsuccessful, it would be easy to see how iPhone/AT&T customers could find other ways to show their dissatisfaction. And surely, all of this has been noted and noted well in Cupertino at Apple HQ. The last thing it wants in the face of increased competition for smartphone sales is a customer revolt towards an antagonistic company. That in and of itself would suggest that Apple must surely be planning to not renew its exclusivity contract with AT&T, not without some contractually specified infrastructure improvements at the very least.

While other smartphone brand owners and carriers may smugly note that they do not have these problems, they would be wise to note this emerging issue. As Droid and other smartphones become more widely accepted and used on other carrier networks, it is seemingly inevitable that they too will join the ranks of the disconnected unless they happen to be nearby a traditional wireless router that they can connect their pocket device to.

The bottom line is that adoption may well bring about data caps with high charges for heavy users, simply because there are not that many providers and should they note that one sees a revenue increase by raising its rates, they can easily follow suit. This in turn will slow the adoption of broadband migration to smartphone devices at least until compression and connection technologies catch up and surpass this problem.

more than 5 years ago

"Frickin' Fantastic" Launch of NASA's Ares I-X Rocket

ausoleil Re:Did it really go ok? (383 comments)

The booster is supposed to tumble after separation, that is its design. Look at its closest twin, the Shuttle SRBs, and you will notice that they tumble immediately after they are separated.

That is by design. On the shuttle, ,illiseconds after SRB separation, 16 solid-fueled separation motors, four in the forward section of each SRB and four in the aft skirt of each SRB, are fired for just over one second to help carry the SRB's away from the rest of the Shuttle. Each of the separation motors can produce a thrust of about 22,000 pounds.

The SRB's continue to ascend in a slow, tumbling motion for about 75 seconds after SRB separation, to a maximum altitude of about 220,000 feet. The SRB's then begin to quickly fall toward the Atlantic Ocean.

The Ares SRB derivative uses a very similar system. That in mind, 1st stage tumbling is okay.

As for second stage tumbling, that was almost certainly due to being an unpowered can, for all intents and purposes. While the mockup used in today's flight has the same mass and aerodynamic shape as the real thing, it does not have thrust.

There may also have been some contact, and it is there that something could well be learned. Could be that a stronger retro motor is needed on the second stage coupled with a stronger sep motor on the 2nd. That will come out in the reports that will be filed later.

This was a test, after all, and a good one: it proved that Ares can fly. It flew quite well for some time, and it looked smoother than we may have expected. No obvious pogo-ing, for example.

more than 5 years ago

Astronaut Group Endorses Commercial Spaceflight

ausoleil It's Been a Bad Week For NASA (144 comments)

This will not go over well in Huntsville. In fact, it already hasn't.

"Republican Senator Richard Shelby launched a preemptive strike on President Barack Obama's blue ribbon space panel ther day before its due to release its final report, calling the committee's findings "worthless." Shelby, a staunch defender of NASA's Marshal Space Flight Center In Huntsville, Alabama, said in a Senate floor speech that the committee failed to consider safety when it ranked various rocket options for the White House to consider. "Without an honest and thorough examination of the safety and reliability aspects of the various designs and options for manned space flight, the findings of this report are worthless," said Shelby."

Senator Shelby, obviously a noted rocket expert, contradicts former Shuttle astronauts Sally Ride and Leroy Chiao. Undoubtedly he astronaut safety at every step of the process with little regard to politics while they as former astronauts were completely unconcerned with it.

Speaking of unconcerned, apparently President Obama is exactly that in regards to NASA. New NASA Administrator Charles Bolden hopes to meet with Obama before end of year on agency future.

On top of all of that, it seems that Altair, the lunar lander from the Constellation project has been defunded.

more than 5 years ago

Why the BSA Is Less Reviled Than the RIAA

ausoleil Huh? (371 comments)

"First, BSA's members have always offered their products for sale to the public, through any channel that wants to sell them"

Try to buy an obsoleted version of a program to run on an old platform. Got an old IBM-XT? Where are you going to purchase a legit copy of Lotus 1-2-3 not to mention DOS? But you *can* be sued for pirating them, at least technically.

"Second, BSA's members are consumer-oriented; they try to develop products that respond to consumers' needs, and not, the reverse: focusing on what they want to sell to consumers."

Did someone at Microsoft write this?

"Third, because consumers can easily purchase BSA's members products, those who copy without paying are simply scofflaws."

See the first reply, but "easily" is in the eye of the beholder. A typical recent college grad who wants to freelance graphics design work might say "easily"purchasing Adobe's Creative Suite is all but impossible for their finances. Yes, I know there are FOSS alternatives, but the truth is that the ad/graphics/printing world runs on Adobe. For example.

None of that makes stealing software or music content right, but the rationale for BSA being less unpopular is not the reasons cited above. It may be far more simple: BSA doesn't typically sue consumers, it seems that they typically go after businesses.

more than 5 years ago

13-Year-Old Trades iPod For a Walkman For a Week

ausoleil Or Four-Track Tapes... (354 comments)

Originally invented in 1956, four-track was ignored due to marketing concerns but was briefly resurrected in the late 1960s as "the next big thing." When I was a little younger than this kid, I received a "Hipster" Four-Track tape player -- same thing as an eight track, but with a cassette-sized tape in a smaller form factor. I got one tape with it -- The Gentrys. I've long since lost that tape deck and the single tape it had, but I suppose it would be worth a wee bit of money were it in working condition.

more than 5 years ago

Could a Meteor Have Brought Down Air France 447?

ausoleil Could Have? Sure. Did? Prove It. (884 comments)

This is mere speculation and is not all that different than when the Columbia accident happening folks in the press asking repeatedly if terrorists could have caused the orbiter to break up during re-entry.

Sure, the odds look good on paper, but at the same time, how many aircraft have been damaged by or downed by meteors over land, and conclusive proof shown that being struck by something of extraterrestrial origin was the culprit?

In short, there is a huge difference between "could have" and "that's what happened." In between you will find all sorts of people with axes to grind and/or crackpots. The truth is probably fare more mundane though no less tragic for those involved.

more than 5 years ago

AP Says "Share Your Revenue, Or Face Lawsuits"

ausoleil Re:AP Is Pricing Itself Out Of the Blog Market (293 comments)

You're missing the point.

We are not asking for anything free. We're not asking for anything nearly free.

We are asking for a reasonable market rate. Like UPI, which we got a much better deal from.

If the AP doesn't want to do business, fine, we can operate without them and do so effectively. We are not aggregators or regurgitators, nor plagiarists. In other words, AP material is a convenience and not a necessity for us.

Interestingly, reporters employed by AP newspapers have used us for sources, have quoted us, have interviewed us, have had us on their radio programs and have used (with our permission) our materials.

more than 5 years ago



NASA Shuttle Replacement's Problems Are Worsening

ausoleil ausoleil writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ausoleil writes "Floriday Today reports that NASA's replacement for the Space Shuttle, the Orion, is slipping behind schedule, and that the problems with it are growing worse:

"We're probably going to have to move our target date," NASA exploration chief Doug Cooke told The Associated Press on Wednesday after Nasawatch.com posted the 117-page internal status report (PDF) on the moon program.

"The cost problems include an $80 million overrun on a motor system. The Orion spacecraft's design remains too heavy for the proposed Ares 1 rocket.

"Software development, heat shield testing and other complex work remain behind schedule or over budget. There are dozens of such serious challenges, many of which are "worsening."

ausoleil ausoleil writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ausoleil (322752) writes "The 1969 classic computer-ubernihilist film "Colossus: The Forbin Project" is on the way to being remade and perhaps directed by Ron Howard ("Apollo 13," etc.) The film was one of the first to introduce the idea that were used later by "The Terminator" — a defense system that becomes self-aware and takes over the world. By today's standards, the original is laughable, with teletype interfaces and an eerie mechanical voice that the computer itself creates, but in its time, this was a thought provoking and frightening film — and one that was truly an original.

One has to wonder if it will be set in the US Northwest, perhaps in a Seattle suburb...."


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