* Posts by Anonymous Cowpilot

35 publicly visible posts • joined 31 May 2023

FAA now requires reentry vehicles to get licensed before launch

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Puzzled

It has always been required that you need a re-entry license for re-entry, but as mentioned in the article, you did not have to have that license at the point of launch. This left the situation where you could legally launch an object that is due to come back to earth without yet having the license to bring it back. In the Varda case they just left the re-entry vehicle in orbit until they had the necessary license and then brought it down. Quite what would happen if you were denied the re-entry license is not clear, as eventually the orbit would decay and the re-entry vehicle would come down no matter what the FAA says.

What the FAA has doen is close the loophole so that you can't launch now and then hope to get your re-entry license before you run out of fuel. You now need the re-entry license before launch.

Windows 95 support chap skipped a step and sent user into Micro-hell

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Bogus

Something similar to what is described could be a misremembered scenario. As you say, deltree deletes everything under the specific directory so deltree c:\windows would do a reasonable job of removing windows. However as a dos utility it wouldn't follow windows shortcuts and would instead delete them, and windows didnt support real links so I can't see a scenario where it would escape from the windows directory and delete the whole disk. Chckdisk would help clean up lost sectors and mismatches between the FAT and what is on the disk, but would not do anything clever with directory trees.

Most likely to cause the described behaviours would be if the person ran deltree c:\ instead of c:\windows

Red Hat tries on a McKinsey cap in quest to streamline techies' jobs

Anonymous Cowpilot

McKinsey don't understand development

The fact McKinsey think that AI makes developers 10x more productive and will lead to developers being jobless within 5 years tells you all you need to know about their understanding of software development.

UK minister tells telcos to share telegraph poles if they can't lay cable underground

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: They do.

That sounds eminently sensible so I think what is much more likely to happen is that His Majesties Government forces BT to spin out the part that owns the poles into a separate publicly traded company with a monopoly on poles. This company then has to maximize shareholder value by making 300% markup every time they install a pole, and must send 3 managers and a safety supervisor to observe every time someone wants to climb a pole. It would be a coincidence if the largest shareholders in British Poles Ltd turn out to be donors to the sitting government.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: They do.

That sounds much better than around here, where CityFibre have recently been along my street adding a new pole 5ft away from each BT pole. Most of the BT poles only appear to have a handful of cables on them.

So in our street we can choose between BT fibre and CityFibre each using a separate set of poles or virgin fibre from underground.

You could have heard a pin drop: Virgin Galactic reports itself to the FAA

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Very selective.

They don't know if it posed a danger to anyone on the ground, but this is why they have to report it. Any item falling from an aircraft or part of an aircraft becoming detached during flight has to be reported to the local aviation authority as an incident specifically because it could injure someone or damage something.

GPS interference now a major flight safety concern for airline industry

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: WTF did people do before GPS?

Helicopter pilots are told to do that. Plane pilots are told not to do that. We plot a course on a map and adjust for wind speed and compass error. Then we fly the course and check way points to see where we are.

This is still the main approach to navigation for light aircraft and the only method allowed in an exam.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Alt

We already get alerts when GPS conflicts with inertial nav systems. It happens a few times on a normal flight so is pretty common. Navigation without GPS is common and pretty easy. However, drones often rely exclusively on GPS and some of this is aimed at the growing use of drones in aviation. Also, recently more and more airports are using approach procedures such as RNAV that need a strong GPS fix. If you don't have a good fix you still know where you are but the airport may not let you join the approach (because it means they have to switch from RNAV to ILS or another approach type that requires much bigger separation between aircraft, which makes the airport less money).

Wait, security courses aren't a requirement to graduate with a computer science degree?

Anonymous Cowpilot

I studied a computer science degree 25 years ago and while it had no specific security module, security was prevalent throughout the course. We learned about separating data and opcode memory and the perils of pre-emptive execution in CPUs in hardware modules. We learned about buffer over and under flow attacks in programming courses and learned about SQL injection in database modules.

And I think this is how it should be. Security should not be a separate module that you can take or avoid, it's not a separate dicipline that you apply after the fact. Security pervades computing and should be incorporated into all aspects of its teaching, not separated out.

UK Civil Aviation Authority ponders vertiports for flying taxis

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: They're not taxis

Helicopters still have to taxi to a runway or helipad; they aren't generally allowed to just go up from where they are because they may be under an approach track. Most helicopters will hover-taxi, but some will ground-taxi. However having a helicopter take off vertically is incredibly inefficient. Having an e-VTOL take off vertically is the most fuel-efficient route, so this is one of the things they need to figure out for "vertiports".

Anonymous Cowpilot

An e-VTOL that loses a rotor is harder to control than a helicopter that loses its main rotor because a helicopter in autorotation is still subject to fairly balanced forces, whereas the rotors of the e-VTOL are no longer balanced (it will pull in the direction opposite to the missing rotor and will be very difficult to get it to go in any other direction, including straight down.

Anonymous Cowpilot

It's mostly a plea for budget from the CAA - but helicopters and VTOL drones have very different performance and flight profiles, including single rotor failure, as you indicate, but also including how they turn and the most energy-efficient paths for taxi, take-off, and landing. There is certainly some work to do here, if for no other reason than to make politicians and those responsible for legislating and budgeting for these things aware of the (much more significant than people realize) differences.

Nearly 200 Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplanes grounded after door plug flies off mid-flight

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Cockpit voice recorder

Given reports say that P2's headset was ripped out of the socket and sucked into the cabin it probably goes something like:

P1: "white with no sugar please"

P2: "hey, that pressurization warning is on again"

P1: "ok, I will get the checklist out, you have con..."


<crackle buzz> (as the headset gets ripped out of the scoket)

P1: I have control

P1: I can't hear you and I assume you can't hear me, I'm going to turn back and declare an emergency

<rest of communication done by pointing and gesturing>

More seriously they probably want to know if the pilots noticed a pressurization warning some period of time before the depressurization incident. They will know if the warning was made but knowing if the pilots noticed and understood it is important in preventing such incidents in future. The time between a warning being issued by the aircraft, the pilots noticing it and then the pilots working out what to do about it can often be a factor, and redesigning warnings, giving them earlier or having clearer checklists for what to do with a specific warning can often be outcomes of these types of investigations.

DevTernity conference collapses amid claims women speakers were faked

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Magnificent corporate doublespeak

My guess is that Coinbase, being all Web3 etc etc, probably has a large number of "contributors" (of content, code, legal advice, etc etc) that they treat as "self employed", have never met, and pay in crypto tokens - leading to a situation where they don't actually know who all the people "working for them" are. This isn't a very sensible situation, but its the kind of thing that the web3 crowd think is cool.

Sam Altman set to rejoin OpenAI as CEO – seemingly with Microsoft's blessing

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Tail eating

LLMs are not capable of independently providing sourcing - its just not how the model works. However, it is possible to parse a generated response against known training data to provide some sourcing for parts of it. The post-processing approach is much more effective than asking the LLM to generate sources in its text - which tends to result in it "generating" links to unrelated content.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Mmmmm

It sounds like it was mostly "small company board politics" from a company that forgot its centre of the world stage. It sounds like the board felt snubbed because Sam Altman was doing something they didn't approve of (theories vary from he was in talks with others about an AI chip startup to that he was moving too fast in trying to improve the GPT models to that the board wanted more focus on AGI and less on LLMs). Rather than deal with this sensibly, the board seemed to forget they are a very visible company with investors and tried to throw their weight around. In most companies with 750 employees, no-one would even notice if the board ousted the CEO, but OpenAI is not most companies and the board seemed not to understand that.

IBM pauses advertising on X after ads show up next to antisemitic content

Anonymous Cowpilot

The same as most governments; public health campaigns, reminders to register to vote. Information campaigns abour upcoming legislative changes etc.

From yellow cabs to sky cabs: Air taxis take a Big Apple test flight

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Johnny Cab for the Skies!

When was the last time you flew a helicopter? I flew one in the last 6 months.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Johnny Cab for the Skies!

They aren't quite helicopters. Their controls are very different. and they are completely dependent on a computer interpreting a humans inputs to make the necessary changes to engines and control surfaces. That is quite different from most helicopters which are still usually driven by mechanical linkages between the controls and egine/rotors/surfaces.

Apple might have to pay that €13B EU tax bill after all

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Simple

Ah, I like this. Now you have simplified tax minimization to just using a VPN to change your location to one where there is no tax.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Simple

Taxed in what jurisdiction though? For multinationals its not easy to say "where" a profit was made. If a web store based in luxembourg sells a phone made in china to a us specification running software written in poland by an engineer working for a german subcontractor - who generated the profit?

I agree the laws need fixing, but unless countries with preferential tax laws like ireland come into line its not that simple to solve. Companies just declare that the "profit making" parts of rhe supply chain are in the low tax counties and everything else is a loss making subsidiary.

Scarlett Johansson sics lawyers on AI biz that cloned her for an ad

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: An interesting twist

>>> Anyway, its kind of wrong to use a person's likeness without their permission unless it falls under 'fair use' or that person's long deceased (and even then there's a small matter of the ethics of bringing dead people back to life). <<<

Bearing in mind that fair use is not a universal right. For example, the UK does not have a fair use clause for copyright - it has a much more restrictive fair dealings clause.

New information physics theory is evidence 'we're living in a simulation,' says author

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Nothing new.

Religions have edicts.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Indeed, it is at best a theorem. However, theorems are intended to describe the world around us. If your theorem requires you make new assertions about our world its probably wrong. Charitably we could call this a conjecture.

Having read the room, Unity goes back to drawing board on runtime fee policy

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: Too little, too late

But devs are not interchangeable; the skills and knowledge needed for writing game engines is very different from the skills and knowledge needed to write games. Back in my consulting days, I would regularly work with clients that used open source because they felt they could just patch any bugs themselves if the community could not or would not, only to find that their developers couldn't understand the code, let alone patch it.

iPhone 12 deemed too hot to handle for France's radiation standards

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: There's more than one sort of radiation, you know.

"radioactivity" (gamma radiation) is also electromagnetic radiation (at the other end of the electromagnetic spectrum). I am fairly sure you weren't thinking that the phones emit large numbers of beta particles (they will emit small amounts of beta particles because the Carbon-14 isotope is present in many organic materials).

UK flights disrupted by 'technical issue' with air traffic computer system

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: QEII revenge

Indeed, and you can file a flight plan to many airports that aren't customs airports so don't have IATA codes but do have ICAO ones. You can also fly IFR to private strips that don't have either an IATA or ICAO code. I find it unlikely that an airport name change has anything to do with it.

ChatGPT study suggests its LLMs are getting dumber at some tasks

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: ChatGPT getting dumber at programming

It isn't retrained that fast because training is incredibly expensive, it was trained on Github in 2021. Any changes in response are either a) just part of the non-deterministic nature of the models (its not clear from the report that they asked multiple times and checked that the model gave a consistent response at a point in time) or b) the result of fine-tuning and updating the prompting of the model, which can be used to introduce specific new facts or point answers in certain directions but isn't a way to incorporate large amounts of random Github code.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: 97.6% + 2.4% = 100%

An LLM is not a logic machine, its just generating text. When they ask ChatGPT whether 17077 is prime and give it the steps to do so it just generates text of the type that it normally sees when people write down what they have done. Almost every number is not prime, so almost every time they do the exercise they write that it is not a prime. This paper makes the mistake of thinking that if you ask for ChatGPT to do something in steps that it executes a set of steps each time going back to some logic machine - its just generating text. Its the equivalent of asking a student to calculate whether 17077 is prime and show their working and they just find an example online and copy and paste it.

ChatGPT is a chat interface to a large language model - its just generating text, its not doing maths. Unless you ask the steps as multiple prompts then it doesn't decompose a problem to smaller steps and work on each, it just generates the type of text people write when they have done that.

Microsoft kicks Calibri to the curb for Aptos as default font

Anonymous Cowpilot


I am pretty sure most office users are not using 42" or above displays. I which case "it may be true if your using a 27" display" means it's mostly true.

The number’s up for 999. And 911. And 000. And 111

Anonymous Cowpilot

Aviation does not use satellites for emergencies

Aviation uses the much simpler approach of VHF (121.5) and UHF (243.0) radios for emergency (and most other) communication. We don't rely on satellite phones (although we will use them for supplemental communication like arguing with company about the overtime implications of a diversion).

Singaporean superapp Grab delivers massive job cuts with after hours email

Anonymous Cowpilot

Redundancy by calendar invite

When my previous employer (a small business) decided to close the (profitable) business down and use the money in its bank account to buy a villa in Marbella (after the brexit vote but before the laws changed) all 16 employees found out by receiving an outlook calendar invites for "Redundancy consultation #1", "Redundancy consultation #2", "Redundancy consultation #3". None of the invites had any text in the body, just the title.

Airline puts international passengers on the scales pre-flight

Anonymous Cowpilot

No, its an international standard defined by ICAO and incorporated by all signatory states in their relevant air law.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Re: More weight = pay more = BIGGER SEAT

Potentially, but it would require paying quite a bit more, as charging by weight is usually discussed in terms of fuel burn (heavier payload requires more fuel to lift it the same amount). Adding bigger seats reduces the aircraft capacity, so you would also need to pay for the fuel that the person would have paid for sat next to you if the seat was narrower. In larger aircraft we call that business class.

Anonymous Cowpilot

Fuel is loaded in whatever units the airport you are at charges in and then converted to mass using the specific gravity of the fuel. It's a calculation we either do manually or using the flight computer. The units vary through the world from lbs, US gallons, kgs to litres.