Tips – March 2018

About “Tips”:

While I’m mostly interested in things having to do with:

Computer stuff, especially small single board computers
Making money, usually via trading
Weather and climate (“Global Warming” & “Climate Change”)
Quakes, Volcanoes, and other Earth Sciences
Current economic and political events
(often as those last three have impact on money and climate things…)
And just about any ‘way cool’ interesting science or technology
Oh, and lately, cars ;-)

If something else is interesting to you, put a “tip” here as you like.

If there is a current Hot Topic for active discussion, try one of the Weekly Occasional Open Discussion pages here:

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/category/w-o-o-d/

You can also look at the list of “Categories” on the right hand side and get an idea of any other broad area of interest.

This ought not to be seen as a “limit” on what is “interesting”, more as a “focus list” with other things that are interesting being fair game as well.

The History:

Note that “pages” are the things reached from links on the top bar just under the pretty picture. “Postings” are reached from the listing along the right side of any given article (posting).

Since WordPress has decided that comments on Pages, like the Old Tips Pages, won’t show up in recent comments, it kind of breaks the value of it for me. In response, I shifted from a set of “pages” to a set of “postings”. As any given Tips Posting gets full, I’ll add a new one.

I have kept the same general format, with the T page (top bar) still pointing to both the archive of Tips Pages as well as the series of new Postings via a link to the TIPS category.

This is the next posting from prior Tips postings. Same idea, just a new set of space to put pointers to things of interest. The most immediately preceding Tips posting is: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/tips-february-2018/.

The generic “T” parent page remains up top, where older copies of the various “Tips” pages can be found archived. The Tips category (see list at right) marks Tips postings for easy location.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Tips and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Tips – March 2018

  1. philjourdan says:

    Dark Matter verified?

    The signal showed unexpectedly cold temperatures and an unusually pronounced wave. When astronomers tried to figure out why, the best explanation was that elusive dark matter may have been at work.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/astronomers-glimpse-cosmic-dawn-stars-switched-183632246.html

  2. A C Osborn says:

    Phil, it sounds very much like “we have no idea what we just witnessed, let’s call it Dark Matter”.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    “Because the high end of the frequency they were looking in is the same as FM radio, the astronomers had to go to the Australian desert to escape interference. That was where they installed their antennas.”

    Seeing as FM radio sits right in between traditional TV channels 6 and 7, they went to Australia because nobody there has TV or an FM radio? Really?

    I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for “confirmation”. IMHO, unless you are on the dark side of the moon, the potential for false signals from other satellites, FM ground transmissions bouncing off of things (planes, satellites, ionized layers) stray signals (who knows what frequencies all the armies of the world use..) microwave ovens, “whatever” is just way way high.

    I’d go with Ooops! or “let’s make something up ’cause we’re clueless” before I’m going to reach for the Dark Matter Did It…

    As a kid, I built a couple of ersatz transmitters. No, no license nor any of that. At 9 you think more about “Hey, let’s make a Marconi Spark Gap!” than about who to talk with over it and needing a license… On one occasion I built an outboard 1 tube amp for my walky talky and ran it up the TV antenna… Now think maybe somewhere in the OutBack some kid might be learning about radios?

    The potential for non-exotic answers here is “way high”.

  4. philjourdan says:

    @AC – Yep. Dark matter is just a holding term for that very thing! So what they are on the verge of proving is they are confirming the existence of what they do not know.

    Science works that way.

  5. Larry Ledwick says:

    Sort of like that signal from outer space that turned out to be someone warming up his lunch in the microwave at a radio telescope site?

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    Bingo! Give that man a microwave warmed old bagel with melted cream cheese!

  7. philjourdan says:

    Why would anyone use a microwave for a bagel? You want them toasty, not rubbery.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pjil:

    Um, that was sort of the point… a “trophy” of dubious quality reminiscent of what might have been made in that microwave that was mistaken for space aliens signaling… painting a picture of a lone nobody working the night shift with closed cafeteria… eating from The Vending Machines.

    FWIW, partly based on meals I’ve had from vending machines.. The only thing worse than an old microwaved rubbery warm bagel & cream cheese being an old slightly dry chewy cold one straight from the machine…

    There’s an art to zapping them just enough to be warm without too much polymerization of the bread. 2 short zaps better than one long. No more than 10 seconds per zap. Stop at just warm, not hot. Cream Cheese not melted, just chill removed. Sure toasted is better, but you are lucky if there is even a microwave in the break room, and fire / grills are never there.

  9. Power Grab says:

    We don’t have access to a real oven at my office building anymore, since they remodeled and took out the kitchen downstairs. However, some years ago I acquired an oversize toaster oven, similar to one that I received in 1976 as a Christmas present. (I was living in a house that had a non-working oven, and I didn’t know when the landlord would make good on a working oven, so I asked for a L – A – R – G – E toaster oven (one that wasn’t prone to hot spots) to use for making real baked goods.

    They got me a Toastmaster System III with a slow-cook setting that, it turns out, makes the best pot roast EVER! I like it better than a pot roast made in a crock pot because it browns on top all by itself, yet the inside of the roast is like Arby’s roast beef. It makes WONDERFUL leftovers. Even my kid liked the leftovers while growing up. I never really cared for my mom’s pot roast when I was growing up because she cooked it in a pressure cooker. It was done fast, I guess, but it was tough and lots of work to chew. I often gave up and had to spit it out on my plate. :-P My pot roast that I make in the Toastmaster just gets eaten, not thrown out. :-)

    Anyway, at work we have a Toastmaster oven that is newer than my original one (which I still have at home and recently had repaired after the plug blew off the cord due to old age). The one at work has no slow cook setting, but it has convection, so things cook a bit faster than you might expect. The convection also works to prevent hot spots in such a small oven. We also have a microwave at work, and a full-size refrigerator, but the Toastmaster oven lets us really toast bagles or bread, as well as do regular baking of casseroles and such (some of us make supper at work because our schedules don’t allow us to start cooking after we reach home for the evening, and get supper on the table by a reasonable hour for our families).

    As for a cooktop, some of us have brought in electric skillets. I have a 2-burner buffet range, but it’s kind of wimpy and sits on a shelf. I think it might be good to get one of those induction burner thingies, but haven’t gotten about shopping for one yet.

    We had a food day today: chicken fajitas for lunch. I made the rice by bringing in my rice cooker. (The last time we had a meal that required rice, the guy who cooked it never really got it fully cooked. I think he microwaved it. I decided then that I wouldn’t allow him to bring the rice again!) When I first bought the rice cooker, I felt like a silly goose, but it is dependable and so easy to use. It takes practically no attention. We keep the little rice-measuring cup in the rice bin at home, and the bowl of the cooker is marked inside so you can tell how much water to put in for however many measuring cups of rice you want to cook. I feel so lazy when I use it (as if I didn’t know now to boil water!), but it does a good job.

    My kid won’t let me give cooking lessons. So I even got an egg cooker for the kid to use. Laziness strikes again!

    Oh, but my kid did allow me to give a lesson how to use a manual can opener. /rimshot/

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @PowerGrab:

    I’ve lived “on the road” to some degree or another over more than 15 years. Maybe over 20. Slowly built up a “travel Kitchen” that goes in the car. Someday I ought to make a proper inventory…

    In it is a electric hot pot good for two cups of coffee or soup. Will even heat ravioli without burning. A small electric skillet about 9? inches on a side (old one, don’t know if made anymore). A 1 “burner” electric hot plate of 1.5 kW. Small sauce pan and 8? inch skillet. One very small slow cooker (holds a game hen and vegetables nicely) and a combination rice cooker / steamer. Along with cutting board, knives, a couple of microwavable plates & bowls, and misc. small stuff like salt & pepper, can opener, etc. All fits nested in a large plastic tub in the trunk and carries into a motel room inconspicuously.

    I’ve made many a wonderful meal from that kit. Nothing like your own home cooked dinner to make a month in a hotel room feel comfortable.

    Sure, I’d eat out too. Usually lunch. But you get real tired of restaurant food and rolling the dice after a while. Plus I’d save a hour on breakfast (meaning I got breakfast or could sleep another hour) and once off work, I was Off Stage and could dump the suit and shoes…

    Using the small fridge & microwave many hotels had rounded out the options.

    If money was tight, I’d make lunches to take in with me too.

    For a while I had a very small toaster oven in the kit, but it got pushed out by the rice cooker / steamer when I got on an asian kick. So easy. Scoop rice in the bottom. 2 scoops water. Place steamer basket in. Pile in seafood and vegetables desired. Put on lid and press cook. In 25 minutes to 1/2 hour, a complete meal. You can also cook other grains in it. Oatmeal is a favorite, but also Kashi mixed grains, so a middle eastern theme can be done.

    And yeah, sometimes I’d use it to cook at work ;-)

    Get the kid a P-38 manual can opener and watch the fun!

    https://www.amazon.com/P-38-Can-Opener-P-51/dp/B0078WMSZ8

    Don’t leave home without it…

  11. Steve C says:

    A friend told me some years ago about one of his fellow technicians, whom he had caught putting a “ready meal” in an aluminium tray into the microwave at work.

    His colleague’s answer? “Oh, didn’t you know, they’ve got these microwaveable aluminium trays now, you can put them straight into the microwave …”

    Aaargh!

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    Get the kid a P-38 manual can opener and watch the fun!
    Don’t leave home without it…

    Have one on my key chain

    The larger version of the P-38 called the P-51 is a bit easier to handle.
    It is however not strong enough to open a #10 can, the P-38 and P-51 openers work fine on smaller cans (although a bit slow) but are neither sharp enough or strong enough to make the initial punch through the top of the large #10 cans. For those you need the old fashioned hook style pocket knife style can opener (or a church key works in a pinch if you don’t mind dealing with a really dangerous ragged edge top.)

    As we move toward more and more “easy open” cans in time kids won’t even know what a can opener is (sort of like snow).

  13. Larry Ledwick says:

    I also have one of these on my key chain along with a small knife like scraper designed for use with ferrocerium rods.
    Small ferrocerium stick drilled for key chain

    The bad news is the ferrocerium rods need a bit of practice for you to figure out the best technique for use, it looks really simple but there are some subtle technique issues you need to work out to efficiently strike good sparks from one of these rods in sufficient quantity to get most tinder materials to light.

    (absolutely the best tinder material? – dryer lint with a bit of Vaseline rubbed into it.
    The super fine fibers light very easily and the Vaseline burns like candle wax)

  14. Another Ian says:

    E.M.

    In view of the latest Washington developments there is interesting reading in “”A Man Called Intrepid: the secret war 1939 – 1945”. Particularly the “Foreword by Intrepid” and Chapter 48 – IMO

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry:

    I’m fond of the traditional BBQ starter. Newspaper ( though since I don’t take a paper any more I use paper towels) and a spoon of cooking oil. Not as easy to store in a pack, but often available when not ‘prepping’ a fire starter kit – i.e. in a cabin and car environment.

    @Another Ian:

    I gave up, long ago, trying to figure out why people pay what they do in California. I just accept it as a fact.

    Part of it is that very rich folks will pay up for the weather and for hillside views. Part of it is oriental investors will pay up extra for Name Places. Far more than many folks. Part of it is folks from other lands who don’t know how inexpensive it is in Texas… Then there’s just that whole Gold Rush mentality that’s been here since 1849.

    @Steve C:

    In defense of the person:

    I had trouble accepting that the Pot Pies had a metal pattern imprinted on the carton and you were to leave it in the carton in the microwave. It’s some kind of aluminum look printed thing that causes increased heating and top browning.

    So someone could easily see such a thing and be mislead… Or in my case, worried w/o cause.

  16. Hi Chief. Greetings from the Big Mango (Bkk). Besides showing a cooling trend, several Februarys are 8 – 7 dgC colder than preceding. Hmmm?

    http://notrickszone.com/2018/03/03/latest-data-show-central-europe-winters-cooling-over-past-30-years-germanys-february-almost-3c-below-normal/#sthash.a5jP9Ugg.dpbs

    Also …

    Javier has made more interesting posts, Nature Unbound V, 6,7,8

    https://judithcurry.com/2017/09/15/nature-unbound-v-the-elusive-1500-year-holocene-cycle/#more-23393

    Enjoy, sandy.

  17. EM – looking for other stuff and some parts for building mobile phones turned up.
    https://www.ebay.fr/itm/A6-GPRS-Pro-Serial-GPRS-GSM-Module-Core-DIY-Developemnt-Board-Replace-SIM900/263069207607? from China with not a lot of details. Attach a headset and electret mic to make calls.
    https://www.ebay.fr/itm/SIM800L-GPRS-GSM-Module-PCB-Antenna-SIM-Board-Quad-band-for-MCU-Arduino/152055976174? from Spain with links to development software. Probably s/w applies to the other one too.

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    There’s lots of cell phone parts suppliers:
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=cell+phone+parts+suppliers&t=ffsb&ia=web

    Basically it’s just a micro computer with an attached software defined radio and a service plan / chip installed.

    Looks like Intel is getting into the business too:

    https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-products/mobile-communications/software-defined-radio.html

    A baseband processor concept architecture based on Intel’s innovative software-defined radio technology.

    To address the ‘multi-standard challenge’ where an increasing number of cellular, connectivity, broadcast, and multimedia standards co-exist in a mobile phone, Intel is working on an innovative software-define radio (SDR) architecture for its future baseband solutions. The key attraction of SDR will be its ability to support multiple standards on the same processor by changing the software only. This concept has enormous benefits for multi-standard wireless applications, such as reduced cost of ownership, faster time to market, unprecedented flexibility, smaller form factor, and more favorable economies of scale when compared with classical baseband solutions.

    Intel’s first SDR baseband prototype is available and is the result of intensive research and development work with the objective to provide the highest flexibility and simplest programmability at competitive area and power consumption. In combination with state-of-the-art Intel® SMARTi™ RF transceiver, an SDR-based prototype platform has been developed, and various demonstrations on satellite standard, i.e. GMR-3G, as well as terrestrial standards such as 2G and 3G have been performed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software-defined_radio

    Overview

    A basic SDR system may consist of a personal computer equipped with a sound card, or other analog-to-digital converter, preceded by some form of RF front end. Significant amounts of signal processing are handed over to the general-purpose processor, rather than being done in special-purpose hardware (electronic circuits). Such a design produces a radio which can receive and transmit widely different radio protocols (sometimes referred to as waveforms) based solely on the software used.

    Software radios have significant utility for the military and cell phone services
    , both of which must serve a wide variety of changing radio protocols in real time.

    In the long term, software-defined radios are expected by proponents like the SDRForum (now The Wireless Innovation Forum) to become the dominant technology in radio communications. SDRs, along with software defined antennas are the enablers of the cognitive radio.

    Lots of suppliers globally. Then there are the “hackers” and “open source” approaches:

    The SDR software performs all of the demodulation, filtering (both radio frequency and audio frequency), and signal enhancement (equalization and binaural presentation). Uses include every common amateur modulation: morse code, single sideband modulation, frequency modulation, amplitude modulation, and a variety of digital modes such as radioteletype, slow-scan television, and packet radio. Amateurs also experiment with new modulation methods: for instance, the DREAM open-source project decodes the COFDM technique used by Digital Radio Mondiale.

    There is a broad range of hardware solutions for radio amateurs and home use. There are professional-grade transceiver solutions, e.g. the Zeus ZS-1 or the Flex Radio, home-brew solutions,e.g. PicAStar transceiver, the SoftRock SDR kit, and starter or professional receiver solutions, e.g. the FiFi SDR for shortwave, or the Quadrus coherent multi-channel SDR receiver for short wave or VHF/UHF in direct digital mode of operation.

    [Image Left Out for below caption -E.M.Smith]

    Internals of a low-cost DVB-T USB dongle that uses Realtek RTL2832U (square IC on the right) as the controller and Rafael Micro R820T (square IC on the left) as the tuner.

    It has been discovered that some common low-cost DVB-T USB dongles with the Realtek RTL2832U controller and tuner, e.g. the Elonics E4000 or the Rafael Micro R820T, can be used as a wide-band SDR receiver.
    Recent experiments have proven the capability of this setup to analyze perseids shower using the graves radar signals.

    GNU Radio logo

    More recently, the GNU Radio using primarily the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) uses a USB 2.0 interface, an FPGA, and a high-speed set of analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, combined with reconfigurable free software. Its sampling and synthesis bandwidth is a thousand times that of PC sound cards, which enables wideband operation.

    The HPSDR (High Performance Software Defined Radio) project uses a 16-bit 135 MSPS analog-to-digital converter that provides performance over the range 0 to 55 MHz comparable to that of a conventional analogue HF radio. The receiver will also operate in the VHF and UHF range using either mixer image or alias responses. Interface to a PC is provided by a USB 2.0 interface, although Ethernet could be used as well. The project is modular and comprises a backplane onto which other boards plug in. This allows experimentation with new techniques and devices without the need to replace the entire set of boards. An exciter provides 1/2 W of RF over the same range or into the VHF and UHF range using image or alias outputs.

    WebSDR is a project initiated by Pieter-Tjerk de Boer providing access via browser to multiple SDR receivers worldwide covering the complete shortwave spectrum. Recently he has analyzed Chirp Transmitter signals using the coupled system of receivers.

    So if one wished, they could “cook up their own” from parts…

    Yes, the GNU radio would need a significant frequency upshift for phone use, but that isn’t so hard to do…

  19. EM – I needed a system that would sweep transmit up to 5.8GHz or thereabouts, and it turns out that is also available in SDR as the HackRF https://greatscottgadgets.com/hackrf/ . Links onwards there to software that runs on it. Though the USB dongles exist, they’re mostly only up to the 1GHz range. You have to pay a bit more for the HF capability, but the alternative “genuine” lab kit to do the job costs around 100 times more even as secondhand (x10 cost for 3GHz, x100 for 6GHz). For the moment, the available free software will do what I need, so it’s a very cheap shortcut to getting done what I require. Later I’ll maybe play and explore the other capabilities. The software also works on the Pi and on Android boxes. It seems most of the heavy lifting has already been done.

    Still, when I saw the parts available I remembered your long-term back-burner project so I thought a tip was worthwhile.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh yes! All tips welcome!

    As I’m nowhere near ‘parts selection’ yet, I’m just listing a few others as things to notice. I’ve done zero to narrow the field or even think about best choices.

    Besides, I’m interested in all things radio, not just phones, so just noticing how the field is changing is interesting. DIY WiFi is in my future (and I’ve done it once already when my DSL went out… but only as a temporary slap-dash thing) too. Then the idea of a SDR on my Pi for SWLing is interesting… though I’ve had so much computer noise interference on AM that I find the prospect a bit chilling…

    So yes, ALL radio gadget tips welcome! The more the merrier! After all, someday my phone is going to die or decay to 1/2 day battery life and that back burner will become front of stove…

  21. interzonkomizar says:

    Hi Chief. Here is a heads up on the Qbo. In the spring of 2016 it was expected to switch from west to east when it unprecedentedly started a new Western flow. That means now we can expect a new easterly flow which will cause more polar vortex escapes this next winter.

    I wonder if this could be due to the week solar output from 2006 to 2011 between cycle 23 and 24 delayed by 10 years.

    Here is link to historic data …

    http://www.geo.fu-berlin.de/en/met/ag/strat/produkte/qbo/

    Sandy
    X

  22. Hi Chief. Here is a heads up on the Qbo. In the spring of 2016 it was expected to switch from west to east when it unprecedentedly started a new Western flow. That means now we can expect a new easterly flow which will cause more polar vortex escapes this next winter.

    I wonder if this could be due to the week solar output from 2006 to 2011 between cycle 23 and 24 delayed by 10 years.

    Here is link to historic data …

    http://www.geo.fu-berlin.de/en/met/ag/strat/produkte/qbo/

    Sandy
    X

  23. jim2 says:

    Yep, we’re running out of crude alright … sure we are …

    “Bob Dudley, in his 38 years in the oil industry, has never seen anything like what happened with BP Plc’s old fields last year: They gushed more crude. The fact that Dudley isn’t alone in seeing mature fields dwindling less than expected — and in BP’s case surprisingly increasing — means the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has one more thing to worry about.”

    https://finance.yahoo.com/m/c3ab3c16-7866-3873-a5ce-d2de9f8279b7/aging-oil-fields-defy-gravity.html

  24. jim2 says:

    Note this article about a (alleged) new disease hypes up all the bad things that might happen. Source is WHO – trying to up their rent collections I’m thinking.

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/scientists-warn-mysterious-deadly-new-12160964

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim2;

    Reading the article caerfully, it is about a hypothetical “new” disease and is saying they basically “war game” preparation for the unknown. There isn’t a real “Disease X”, just an idea of one… Yeah, pumping for money.

    Per OpenWRT:

    Nice to know! I’ve thought of putting it on one of my old routers (there are versions for many standard routers / cores already). There was a stink about the Feds mandating non-configurability of WiFi to out of band for the USA causing lockdown of firmware preventing installing OpenWRT on newer stuff – some folks were using EU frequencies in the USA for example. Nice to see a Pi variant so the “blocking of cheap hardware” issue gets tossed.

    It is generally well worked software.

    @Sandy:

    It seems that a key artifact of the lower UV / squashed atmospheric height is a destabilization of the polar vortex and more loopy / meridional jet stream. Still don’t know how all the bits connect though. It seems to me lie a lava lamp with more hot blobs going north and colder blobs going south, pushing the loops into it. Dumping heat faster out the poles.

    IMHO, this snowy winter pattern continues as long as the sun is in nap time. Eventually the heat will be removed from the top ocean layers and the torrential rains will slack off, but that’s likely a decade or two. Then the snow ought to get a bit less too.

    It’ going to be a mess, IMHO, for quite a while.

  26. interzonkomizar says:

    Hi Chief. Some interesting stories I found over the weekend. I am not putting these up so I can debate them. Read them for your own entertainment.

    This article not too long explains why we are heading for a no growth disaster. The people in charge don’t have any other plan than continuous growth. Two things are physically going to prevent that. One the population that buys all the stuff that becomes garbage in one or two years is shrinking all over the globe. And the second thing is they are making less money than before each year so they cannot buy all this crap that turns into garbage. So the global and Regional economies are going to collapse. It cannot be avoided.

    https://econimica.blogspot.jp/2018/03/the-most-important-economic-chartsarent.html

    This next story is a little bit long but very important. What it shows is The Narrative of the Agricultural Revolution 10000 years ago leading to hierarchy and inequality and cities and civilization as we know it is false. Who knew?

    https://www.eurozine.com/change-course-human-history/

    Sandy.

  27. Steve C says:

    EM – A little bit of economic wheelin’n’dealin’ you may have missed. At the end of last month, Maplin Electronics went into administration (i.e. became bankrupt).

    I must have spent hundreds (at least) with Maplin since they started as a mail-order catalogue component business in the early ’70s to date, when they have/had 200 shops across the UK. I’ve bought components (had to go there after they’d driven all the local electronics shops out of business …), bits of computer, tools, measurement kit, radio bits, you name it. Having their shop about twenty minutes’ walk from home was extremely convenient, especially when you suddenly realised your urgent need for an 8-pin circular DIN plug (or whatever) on a Sunday afternoon. And now they’re gone, or at least very nearly gone.

    My last Maplin “treat” was a surprisingly decent sound level meter (which just dropped from £50 to £35, dammit). There’s an intelligible description of what’s been going on here, and even to my minimally economics-aware brain it is depressing reading. “Enjoy” (/sarc).

  28. jim2 says:

    “Self-driving cars are still working to master the snow. It turns out that excessive sun can also pose a problem for the coming wave of robot drivers.

    The threat comes from solar storms, those occasional eruptions of vast amounts of energy that can cause a massive spike in geomagnetic activity and radiation. While these storms aren’t immediately evident to human drivers, they can sever the data connection between a vehicle’s global-position system and the satellites that supply location information. ”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-16/driverless-cars-have-a-cosmic-weakness-solar-storms

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim2:

    Yeah, since they depend on “seeing” signs and road markings, how they handle a road with all markings covered in white and all signs plastered with it is, um, “interesting”.

    Similarly mud and how about those Texas washes (where it rains a foot in an hour and so they have a ‘dip’ about 100 yards wide and 2 feet or so that becomes a 2 foot deep wash during a downpour.) Seeing a robot car deal with Texas Weather will be amusing…

    Then there’s the Phoenix dust storms (Haboob)…

    Then there’s Tule Fog in the California Central Valley. Humans can do about 50 MPH in the nearly white out by watching just tail lights, head lights, and the sporadic road stripe. Robots?…

    I think we’ll be seeing all sorts of traffic jams in modestly bad weather as the automated vehicles just execute an emergency stop. I expect human tail ending robot to become much more common.

  30. Another Ian says:

    “Where the self-driving car meets the uncontrolled railway crossing. ”

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/

  31. Another Ian says:

    E.M.

    “The politically incorrect guide to climate change” by Marc Morano

    In his “how I got to where I am” is the revelation that it included finding that the devastation of the Amazonian rain forest is a beat-up like that going on with woody vegetation management in Queensland – could even be the model for same.

  32. pouncer says:

    Because we’re all interesting in antique technology, right? (e.g. this is not spam)

    https://www.youroldtimebookstore.com/

    Going out of business sale on inventory of tech books from a century or so back.

  33. Another Ian says:

    “Global warming on trial and the elementary error of physics that caused the global warming scare”

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/03/19/global-warming-on-trial-and-the-elementary-error-of-physics-that-caused-the-global-warming-scare/

  34. Steve C says:

    A rather lower frequency Techno Bit which may have passed you by: Try a search on: clocks in europe six minutes slow – and enjoy another surreal detail of our mad, mad world. No, really. That’s six minutes.

    Here in the UK, my first digital clock, circa 1973, has kept good time over the years. Just recently, though, it has displayed some of this Euro-problem, being currently about 2.5 minutes slow.

    I think it was when they “privatised” electricity supply that they removed the legal duty previously imposed on the supplier to maintain an accurate long-term frequency – precisely for public clocks. Plus, now, too many big inverters and not enough spinning metal (I suspect).

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    When demand exceeds supply not only does voltage drop, but frequency too, even for rotating metal, as the load drags. In the push to Unreliables like wind, the frequent large dips made frequency keeping difficult as supply often sags. The solution was to not bother… and remove the legal teeth.

    Clocks being wrong is just part of the cost of wind and solar.

  36. LG says:

    Lytro is No More.
    ‘Light Field’ Camera Maker Lytro Is Shutting Down

    https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/266491-light-field-camera-maker-lytro-shutting

  37. LG says:

    Is there anything hackers can’t hack? Now there is, thanks to a new way of coding.

    Recent developments by the HACMS (High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems) program at DARPA has allowed computer scientists to use mathematical proofs to verify that code—up to 100,000 lines of it at a time—is functionally correct and free of bugs.

    http://bigthink.com/videos/kathleen-fisher-how-coders-are-creating-software-thats-impossible-to-hack

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    @LG:

    I’ll believe it when the code has been in the wild a few years. Code can be correct, yet still interact with other code or the OS such as to allow things like buffer overflows or register / memory issues.

  39. Larry Ledwick says:

    You mean like the unsinkable Titanic, the de Havilland Comet, the fire resistant wiring in the Apollo 1 capsule or the SL-1 reactor?

  40. Larry Ledwick says:

    Not sure what triggered moderation but I have a comment out there in the moderation queue.

    [Reply: A change of email or IP number can cause it. -E.M.Smith]

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    Hmmm I have a comment in moderation – seems I typo’d my email address one too many letters.

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