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top

US Says Plane Finder App Threatens Security

the pickle Threat? You're joking, right? (524 comments)

No US passenger airline has equipped with ADS-B yet. In fact, most of them are fighting tooth and nail *not* to, because they don't want to spend the money.

The only thing the bogeyman of "terrorists" would be able to track with this app is UPS aircraft (UPS is helping the FAA test NextGen and has fleetwide ADS-B now, IIRC) and private planes that have chosen to equip with ADS-B.

This is a non-story. Next.

p

more than 3 years ago
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UK Teen Banned From US Over Obscene Obama Email

the pickle Re:Bad Slashdot summary (555 comments)

Fox "News", no matter what they might try to claim, is not really a "press outlet" any more than the Weekly World News is. It's entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.

p

more than 3 years ago
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US Changes How Air Travelers Are Screened

the pickle Re:So, basically, Stop Brown People For Being Brow (260 comments)

"You have heard of decompression, right?"

This question presumes facts not in evidence, namely that a bullet hole (the supposedly inevitable result of "untrained armed citizens" defending themselves aboard an aircraft) will cause the aircraft to lose pressurization. In reality, there have been pop-sci "studies" (Mythbusters is not exactly rigorous academic science, but it'll do for our purposes here: http://mythbustersresults.com/episode10 ) that show an aircraft has no difficulty at all maintaining adequate pressurization with bullet holes -- yes, holes, plural -- penetrating the pressure vessel.

I'm not advocating that we should let *anyone* on an airplane with a weapon who hasn't been adequately trained in its use, but to hide behind "we'd all pop like frogs in a vacuum bell!" is just silly. I'd be a lot more worried about what would happen in the inevitable case of an armed civilian who has had one drink too many and experiences a bit of "air rage" at the kid kicking his seat, the stinky passenger next to him, the (perceived) rude flight attendant, etc. That *will* happen, and sooner rather than later. The risk to the airplane is minor compared to the risk that some wackjob, who is not in any way a terrorist, will snap and seriously hurt or kill someone. It's very nearly happened on several occasions *without* loaded firearms being involved.

p

more than 4 years ago
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7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators

the pickle Re:Christ (289 comments)

Half the people on this site probably weren't even alive when Windows 3.1 came out

In which case, now would seem a very appropriate time to quote Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Perhaps it would be instructive to have a link in TFS to something explaining exactly *why* the Windows 3.1 calculator was so deficient in its abilities. You know, for the kiddies who weren't alive back then.

p

more than 4 years ago
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Thorium, the Next Nuclear Fuel?

the pickle Re:zero-risk? (710 comments)

To be totally fair to the grandparent poster, the designs of both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were vulnerable to multiple points of mechanical failure (Chernobyl didn't even have a containment building!), and even these dated designs would have held up but for the human error involved. Remember, if the staff at Chernobyl had actually followed their procedures and hadn't been conducting a test with improper staffing, the accident never would have happened. And in the case of TMI, if the indicator lamp in the control room had indicated valve position, rather than the presence of power across the actuator solenoid, the operators would have known the valve was stuck open and been aware that they were facing a loss of coolant.

Furthermore, in terms of overall manufacturing experience, humanity does not have the level of expertise with nuclear reactors that we have with, say, cars or airplanes or computers. To have only two major failures out of the first 1000 units built is pretty impressive for any device.

Then again, how do you measure "reliability" here? Does one failure doom a device to the "failure" column forever, even if it operated flawlessly for years prior to the failure? What constitutes a "failure", anyway? Escape of radiation to the atmosphere? Or escape of radiation greater than a certain level? Or something less serious than a radiation escape? In terms of "dangerous" radiation releases per operating hour, the GP is probably right in accidents being a seven-sigma phenomenon.

Of course, this is complicated stuff. If it was easy, we wouldn't be having this discussion, and you do have a pretty good point in that real-world results are what matters here. The consequences of failure are severe, and "only" three-sigma reliability isn't good enough. But we've learned very important lessons from both major accidents, and current designs take those lessons into account. Future designs will, too.

p

more than 4 years ago
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Charities Upset Over Chase Facebook Contest

the pickle Re:Charities? (464 comments)

You've created a lovely strawman and torn him down quite nicely. People do not "just decide" to get second- and third-trimester abortions; aborting a pregnancy after the first trimester is very dangerous to the mother, and third-trimester abortions are normally only done in situations where carrying the baby to term is almost certain to kill the mother.

Abortion as a means of birth control is not a choice I would ever personally advocate to a friend or partner, but it's also none of my business (or yours) what a woman chooses to do with her body. You don't like it, fine, but don't make disingenuous and fallacious arguments in support of your point while condemning the same in other people. That's hypocrisy of the worst kind.

p

more than 4 years ago
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Apple Patents "Enforceable" Ad Viewing On Devices

the pickle Re:Apple patented this? (439 comments)

Finally, someone who gets it. It only took 80 or so up-modded responses to the story before someone said exactly what I was thinking from the get-go: that Apple is patenting this to *prevent* anyone from pulling this crap on iPhone users. See also this story from last year in a similar vein:

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/05/06/018240

p

more than 4 years ago
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Judge Rules Web Commenter Will Be Unmasked To Mom

the pickle Re:TFA sucks (404 comments)

Perhaps, but it also lacks any substance beyond "this happened", most likely because it's a rehash (possibly even a direct syndication) of a wire story that was put out on the wire by a newspaper, not a legal expert. Actually, the Trib had a better story on its *own* site than the article that got published here.

p

more than 4 years ago
top

The Night Sky In 800 Million Pixels

the pickle Re:Grammar fail (120 comments)

If you really want to be pedantic about it, "it has got" is not proper grammar either, and no one would ever say "it's one little problem" in place of "it has one little problem", so you still fail. Nice try, though.

p

more than 4 years ago
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Palm Ignores USB-IF Warning, Restores iTunes Sync

the pickle Re:Apple's activity is criminal here, Palm's is le (656 comments)

Please. "Online music sales" and "music library manager software" are not, by any means, the same thing. Apple may have a de facto monopoly on the online music business, but iTunes is definitely not the only music library manager out there, and it isn't even the only one capable of playing files purchased via iTunes. Songbird and WinAmp (yes, that's still around) are two alternatives that come to mind, either of which could easily be made to support -- via proper and official means -- the syncing of iTunes's XML library file with a third-party device. Writing software to do it themselves is also an option for Palm, and one they're clearly capable of, as they've written sync software for ages.

The bottom line here is that Palm is being lazy, and now they're actively shooting themselves in the foot by intentionally violating the USB spec. If Apple wants to prevent devices that violate the USB spec from connecting to its computers, by all means, go ahead. Who knows what other parts of the USB spec Palm might be planning to selectively ignore in the future?

p

more than 4 years ago
top

The Night Sky In 800 Million Pixels

the pickle Grammar fail (120 comments)

I know I'm a couple hours late to the party, but this is just sad...

My RSS reader shows changes in feeds. The original RSS summary for this article had "its" without the apostrophe -- correctly, as anyone with half a brain knows. The latest RSS feed, and the actual story page, show "it's". Hint: if you can't replace "it's" with "it is" in the sentence, it's (yes, really) wrong.

Oh, yeah, and this is a really cool photo and etc.

p

more than 4 years ago
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Netscape Founder Backs New Browser

the pickle Re:Chrome 2 (243 comments)

So RockMelt is a commercial Flock.

Yeah, ask Flock how that's working out for them. Better yet, ask a neutral third party how that's working out for Flock. I don't think there's any future in RockMelt if "social networking" is their browser business model.

p

more than 4 years ago
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David Pogue Wants to Take Back the Beep

the pickle Re:Take back the seconds (383 comments)

Don't they already have my number in the missed calls log?

Not if the call came in when the phone was turned off or out of service range (for example, when the recipient is on an airplane). At least, I've yet to see a phone on T-Mobile or AT&T that can tell you what calls you missed while it was turned off. (AT&T's Visual Voicemail on the iPhone, at least, allows you to see who left a voicemail and what time it was, but I'm not sure how it handles callers who aren't already in your contact list. That obviously requires that the caller leave a voicemail, however.)

p

more than 4 years ago
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Amazon Pulls Purchased E-Book Copies of 1984 and Animal Farm

the pickle Re:The author has been dead for 60 years! (645 comments)

Uh, no, that would be United, not American.

I miss those ads, though. Those ads were great. When's the last time you saw an airline ad that wasn't for Southwest?

p

about 5 years ago
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Australia, UK To Test Vehicle Speed-Limiting Devices

the pickle Re:That's strange.. (859 comments)

The police should list "lack of skill" as a cause, not speed.

The National Transportation Safety Board's aircraft accident investigations are an excellent model for this. The vast majority of aircraft accidents are caused, ultimately, by "pilot error", analogous to "lack of skill". I'm guessing the police don't have a year to spend investigating each and every accident, though. (That's the typical time period of an NTSB investigation, and obviously the NTSB has several orders of magnitude fewer accidents to investigate each year.)

p

more than 5 years ago
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IBM Patents Changing Color of E-Mail Text

the pickle No more HTML e-mail? (132 comments)

Does this mean we can expect IBM to start suing anyone who uses HTML-formatted e-mail? Because I think that would probably be a good thing.

p

more than 5 years ago
top

American Airlines To Offer Wi-Fi In Planes

the pickle Re:Avoid American Airlines (303 comments)

Er, that's exactly the *point*. Why do you think everyone "unbundled" those services? Because when the first airline did it, all of a sudden, everyone else offering flights from JFK to LAX got shoved down the list at Travelocity or Orbitz. Travelers are generally idiots and only think about what the face value of a ticket is, without considering what other costs may be attached to it that they're not seeing on the search results screen. The airlines know this and price accordingly. It's not rocket science.

p

more than 5 years ago
top

Qantas Blames Wireless For Aircraft Incidents

the pickle Re:Mythbusters anyone? (773 comments)

I'm as skeptical as anyone of Qantas's "explanation", which smacks of legal CYA bullshit, but Mythbusters didn't "prove" anything. The test they did is far from universal. They tested one model of aircraft, with one specific set of instruments in it, with a small fraction of available RF spectrum. (NB: I haven't seen the episode, but I'm certain their test was not remotely universal.)

Furthermore, while Qantas is claiming "instrument" interference and Mythbusters demonstrated in one highly specific (and totally unrelated) case that cell phones did not cause interference with an airplane's instruments, I can state with absolute certainty that in *many* aircraft, GSM-based cell phones can and do cause minor to severe audible interference on the communication radios. In fact, of the aircraft types I've flown, I can only think of one in which I've never heard any cell phone-based interference on the radios, and that's more likely due to my lack of time in that plane (only about 3.5 hours, compared to a hundred or more in other types) than any particular immunity to interference it possesses.

Bottom line: Qantas is searching madly for excuses, but that doesn't mean interference can't be a problem. Airbus planes in particular are known to experience lots of random electrical glitches (all screens in the cockpit going dark, total transient electrical failures, etc.) for no apparent reason, and it's exceedingly likely this was another instance of that.

...or the unqualified son of the chief pilot was in the cockpit and deployed the slats at altitude, like in Michael Crichton's Airframe :-p

p

more than 5 years ago

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