* Posts by Miami Mike

104 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Jan 2008


'Welcome to Perth' mirth being milked for all it's worth

Miami Mike

I'm sure the airline people are not amused, having to constantly reassure their paying passengers that yes, their pilots CAN find the correct airport.

"This is your captain speaking. We will be landing at Sydney in four minutes. If you look out of the left side of the aircraft, you will see a sign painted on a rooftop saying "Welcome to Perth". That sign is not correct. If you are distressed by this, we suggest you call the owner of the building and tell him so. His business phone is, his home phone is, his cell phone is, and his wife's cell phone is . . . "

Bet he goes and buys a bucket of paint right quick . . .

AT&T subscribers back in court to crack open telco giant's $60m FTC settlement over limited 'unlimited data' plans

Miami Mike


I was recycling cell phones for a local non-profit which provides them free to battered women so they can call 911 and perhaps save their lives.

We got a nice, clean AT&T phone which was donated when the owner died.

AT&T refused to even consider unlocking it because 1) the owner had the unmitigated gall to DIE before his contract was up h ence he still owed them money, and 2) we couldn't provide the dead guy's social security number. They insisted we call the family to get it before they'd even talk to us. "Hi, what was your dad's social security number? We promise we won't steal his identity."

But what the heck, they're the phone company and they don't have to care.

Air-slurping solar battery will slice energy costs – boffins

Miami Mike

Positive negativity

What a bunch of positive negativity! Here's something that appears to work, solves a number of problems, and most of the comments are why it is no good and we're all going to die anyway.

This is a brand new device, it is fresh out of the laboratory, and of course it isn't going to work as well as established technology. Give it a couple of years, and the story may be entirely different. Recall the first semiconductors - anyone else here remember the 2N107 or the 1N34? Low power, low frequency, costly, electrically fragile, and look at semiconductors now. Our society would utterly collapse without them and even if we tried to go back to vacuum tubes, it wouldn't help.

You guys are looking at a new-born baby and wondering if it is worthwhile because it hasn't already won the Nobel prize. Positively negative, we never should have come down from the trees.


Miami Mike
Black Helicopters

Plan ahead . . . really

I really do think you ought to ship the hardware on ahead, split up into several small, innocuous boxes labeled "electronics parts" or similar, perhaps to a gun shop with the appropriate FFL licensing. It isn't a firearm, but your Spanish Inquisitor's moron brother who came here in 1938 and now works at TSA ("Too Stupid for Arby's" - a low rent sandwich shop chain here) might decide it is a "destructive device" of some sort. Alternatively, make some kind of a "co-research" deal with some local junior college and let them deal with the paperwork.

You may also have to pay import duty on some of this stuff even if you declare it as "personal use only". Anything made in the USA is duty exempt as you are simply "bringing it home".

Do NOT "just show up" at the airport with big grins and a suitcase with all the wires and cylinders and dangling electric gizzies and expect to clear customs . . . nowadays that just ain't gonna happen. Having dealt with US customs on more than a few strange shipments, be aware that you just might need some help here. There's nothing cheap or cheerful about them.

Feds crack down harder on 'lasing'. Yep, aircraft laser zapping... Really

Miami Mike

Re: Targeting...

You only get a shot or two with a pistol before someone calls the cops. The laser is silent, and continuous, so you can "walk it in", right into the pilot's eyes.

Personally, I don't want to try to land my airplane with my eyes shut, and I really do feel that anyone who would deliberately blind a pilot should be charged with attempted murder and prosecuted accordingly, to the fullest extent of the law.

All fun and games until someone dies.

Fix capitalism with floating cities on Venus says Charles Stross

Miami Mike

Re: Unaffordium, sorry.

Even if it is a bad example, at the moment it is the ONLY example. And, yes, it does soak up money with a vengeance. There is some actual work going on in the ISS, though. Experiments on long-term living in zero G (world's most expensive and exclusive motel room), metallurgy (perfect spherical ball bearings), plant growth in zero G (needed because there's no McDonalds - that we know of - on the way to Alpha Centauri). Check with NASA and deduct 50% for puffery.

Everything like this is a prototype and thus astonishingly expensive for the first ones. Personally, I'll wait, let someone else take the depreciation and buy an older model, even if it does take 14 parsecs to do the Kessel run instead of twelve.

Miami Mike

Unaffordium, sorry.

I was a speaker at the 100YSS seminar sponsored by NASA in Orlando a few years ago. The idea was to build a starship for a 100 year mission (evidently one way).

Technology aside (a "minor" issue, to be sure), my topic was "What would this thing cost?"

The answer was quite discouraging. Taking the weight and cost of a 747-800 as a reference point (200 tons/$300,000,000, or about $1.5MM per ton, and comparing it to the weight and cost of the ISS (450 tons/$100 billion, or $222,000,000 per ton) I found that the ISS costs about 150 times as much as the 747 per ton.

The 100YSS was projected to weigh 5,000 tons (guesstimate), and at the same ratio (150 times per ton of the ISS), it would cost some $165 trillion (plus tag, tax, title). That doesn't include any ground support, salaries, add-ons, cost-overruns, reworking, etc.

The Gross Planetary Product of our entire world in 2009 was $72 trillion. If we started NOW, the project would consume the entire output of the whole world for the next three years, and probably more.

By 2100 AD, the GPP is projected to be about $1,000 trillion (a quadrillion dollars), and the project would then consume something like 7 percent of the entire economic output of the planet for a year, assuming the costs did not escalate spectacularly from today's numbers.

Basically, welcome to Magrathea, you can't afford our products.

What is the difference between a drone, a model and a light plane?

Miami Mike

Do it for real . . .

Cost to obtain a pilot's license in the USA is about $5,000 to 6,000, it is good as long as you can pass the not-very-rigorous third class medical (which may be eliminated anyway).

Cost to buy a serviceable Cessna 150 in the USA is $15,000 to $20,000.

For $25,000, you're all set, fly yourself and a companion anywhere you want to go. That's about GBP 16,000 or so. Of course, it is easy to spend a LOT more.

BTDT for the last 35 years. The models are neat to look at and show a huge amount of work and dedication - I'd rather fly a real airplane with me inside of it . . . but that's just me.

Screw you, Brits, says Google: We are ABOVE UK privacy law

Miami Mike
Black Helicopters

Shoe doesn't fit well on other foot either

A little story about venue . . .

Friend of mine in the UK has a small business, four employees, been in business 25+ years under the same name.

Gets a legal nastygram from BigNewYorkLawer that he's infringing THEIR client's name, which client has 1,000 employees and does $1.5 Billion a year, so cease and desist at once or we'll sue you to death, burn your home, and also sink your whole goddamn island.

Friend calls me, help help help!!!

Dear Bride (mine) is a US lawyer, advises them sure, you can sue this guy, but you need to do it in the UK, under UK law, and since you schmucks aren't licensed in the UK, you'll need to hire UK counsel and they'll charge you out the wazoo AND you won't win.

BigNewYorkLawyer then advises that their client is a buddy of Bill Clinton.

Dear Bride's response was "Really? Is your blue dress stained also?"

Piss moan rant rave weep wail - and do nothing.

A year later, they're out of business - and my guy is still there ;-)

Venue matters. Google, do no evil or not, is correct - unless they have a UK physical presence, they can't be sued in the UK (the issue here seems to be if they in fact DO have a UK presence). Personally, I wouldn't mind at all if they were sued, but it has to be done correctly. Part of having a lawyer, or a team of lawyers, is delaying tactics to try to make your opponent simply give up in disgust - and you then win.

Anonymous leaks 'Bank of America secrets' in spy revenge hack

Miami Mike

BofA - Too Big To Fail

Ahh, yes, Bank of America . . . too big to fail.

The dinosaurs were TBTF.

The Titanic was TBTF

The Hindenburg was TBTF

I can't wait for BofA's turn!

Are your landlines buried in the stone age?

Miami Mike

Re: Nice to see the usual uniformed stuff when it comes to VoIP

Unfortunately we don't have access to a LOT of the stuff that makes non-POTS service acceptable. We're WAY out in the boondocks, choice of two broadband services, one stinks, the other is worse. Decent high speed stuff simply isn't out here. If we were in downtown city, that would be another story. Please remember that even Florida is a pretty big place (500 miles N-S, about the same E-W) and there are plenty of rural areas that are very sparsely populated - hence the telcos install only minimal services and the technology companies are not exactly fighting for our business. While metro areas are very well wired, many rural areas are not, so you have a choice, live in a crowded, expensive city and get wonderful tech service, or live out in the sticks where it is inexpensive and nobody bothers you, but you put up with some unimpressive phone service. What did the man say, the future is here but it just isn't evenly distributed? For me, quality of life is more important than eking the last possible dime out of my business. OTOH, YMMV, and that's fine too.

Miami Mike

Re: Optimistic vendors to say the least

This is an internet based mail order business, and we actually don't need or use the phones very much. Most of our business has historically been over the net, even when we had the original system perhaps half of one percent of our orders came over the phone, that percentage is unchanged even though the phone bills are much lower now. The vast majority of the phone calls we do get (and to be fair, the VOIP system is up and has acceptable quality most of the time) are a total waste of time - wrong numbers, idiotic surveys, credit card offers, update your listing on Google, vote for some scumbag or other, donate money, we've won a free one day cruise to the Bahamas, just pay the $35,000 in port fees, and on and on and on - and yes we are absolutely on the do not call list but the junk callers completely ignore it because they know it has no teeth.

Cell phone service here is spotty and the quality is poor. The two most common phrases you hear when someone is talking on a cell phone are "What did you say?" and "I'm losing you." (Except when the airplane lands - all the morons dial out at once "We're on the ground".)

We've found that most of the calls we get don't have anything to do with the business in the first place, and are often at strange hours ("Oh, look the call log shows someone calling at 4:30 AM Sunday") and we are NOT open 24 by 7, nor do we need or want to be. Not encouraging phone calls has IMPROVED our bottom line rather than hurt it. Further, if Paul Revere had called my cell number, we'd still be a British colony - yet my life somehow manages to go on.

Miami Mike

Optimistic vendors to say the least

Have two VOIP lines which come in on an AT&T copper line (POTS). These fail in random ways, sometimes I don't even know the VOIP is down unless I realize it has been very quiet this afternoon - oh the phones aren't working (again). Frequent quality issues, garbled voice, static, won't dial out, can't access 800 numbers, all kinds of weirdness. Bandwidth is a problem sometimes, if the net is slow or down, so are the phones.

Fortunately tech support is VERY good and VERY easy to reach from this vendor, and I am saving something like $3,000 a year in phone bills. $3,000 makes it worthwhile to put up with hit or miss quality.

Interestingly, the abysmal quality of everyone's ubiquitous cell phones has LOWERED people's expectations of telephone service in general, so the VOIP problems are considered nothing special or exceptional. We keep the copper line because it always, always, always works, you can practically bet your life on it and that's how our internet connection gets here.

US drops ‘net regulation bombshell, threatens WCIT exit

Miami Mike

countries without militaries

This is true, but not if you look a little further. The Bahamas essentially has no military, and one day I found myself sharing a table in Nassau with a sailor in the Bahamas Navy. I expressed my surprise because I thought Bahamas HAD no military. The answer was enlightening - "Well we really don't, most of the equipment is used for drug interdiction. But we do know that if anyone decided to invade the Bahamas, the USA would never stand for it, so we have the strongest, most capable military in the entire world right in our back yard and we know they will back us up completely and immediately. The best part is we don't have to pay for it, you do!"

No military, well, no, but they have a direct line to a real good one should they ever need it.

It is nice to be appreciated, even if not exactly loved.

Most of the tiny nations in the word have mutual defense treaties with the big guys, so even if they have no official military, they can yell for help if they need it.

Global warming still stalled since 1998, WMO Doha figures show

Miami Mike

Global warming might be a good thing

If you refer to my screen name (which according to Heisenberg may or may not be accurate once you have referred to it), you will see where I live year-round.

I have had the pleasure of experiencing London in November . . .

You guys in the UK ought to be pushing for global warming for all you're worth - lovely country, wonderful people, but your weather sucks and not only do you admit it, you sometimes seem to take a perverse pride in it. Gotta have SOMETHING to whinge about, right?

I don't miss snow AT ALL, I don't mind a longer growing season for my garden (or for farms) and the Dutch seem to have rising sea levels pretty much figured out. Just think, you could have palm trees in London!

What I DO object to is the idea that raising taxes on the environmental villain du jour will somehow make everything OK - all it really does is line the pockets of the government. Did they take all the money and stuff it into the ozone hole over the south pole? No, they stuffed it into their own pockets - the ozone hole (allegedly) got smaller because we switched from using CFC's to more environmentally benign propellants for hair spray and auto air conditioners. (Yes, the earlier poster was right about bouffant hairdos heralding the end of civilization.) This was done by making CFCs illegal, not taxing the crap out of them.

To reduce or even eliminate CO2 from hydrocarbon fuels will take a mass switch to nuclear power, and running as much as possible on electricity. Nuclear power plants don't contribute do global warming, and ONLY nuclear power plants can provide the scale of electricity we need. You and I complain about the power our water heaters use - can you imagine the cost of the electricity needed to refine aluminum? Of course, the Greens will NEVER agree to that, so they have to decide between three alternatives, nuclear, coal/oil pollution, or shivering in the dark. Let them decide for themselves, not for me.

We can't TAX our way out of this problem, but we can THINK our way out of it, so lets get with it and do so!

What a clockup! Apple's Swiss clock knock-off clocks up $21m fine

Miami Mike

Re: The odd thing about the swiss railway clocks...

"but now... all over to quartz crap that doesn't keep time, never shows the same times, and needs batteries. YAY progress!"

But it IS progress. Quartz timepieces can easily keep time to within seconds a month, many of them to within seconds a year. Even the really, really cheap quartz movements are that good, and when they stop, it is a $3 part (yes, actually $3) instead of a $XXX overhaul as for a mechanical watch.

Mechanical watches are like steam trains. Everyone loves them, likes to watch them work, they are expensive to buy and expensive to maintain, they have "heritage" (sometimes) and "panache", however, when you actually need to GO someplace, you get onto a Boeing/Airbus/whatever jet airplane and fly there.

If you are into steam trains, get a mechanical, windup or automatic watch. If you want to know what time it is, get a quartz watch. Once you know how each type works, you'll be amazed that a mechanical watch works AT ALL, let alone consistently (400 years of development helps), and for any kind of affordable price. (Cheap mechanical watches are junk - Vostok, anyone?) Quartz, especially the better quality quartz movements ($40 and up) just blow away the mechanical stuff. A tenth the price, ten times the accuracy, not position, magnetism or temperature sensitive, rugged, but quartz movements don't get no respect even though there are some stylish quartz watches (Rado ceramic, for instance).

Now, if you REALLY want to know what time it is, you can buy a watch radio-synched to WWV (national time standard) for about $40. Sets and resets itself, battery lasts 2 years, it is dead-on accurate. The case is plastic because the radio signal needs to get through, so fine jewelry it isn't. That could be remedied, though, and you could have a multi-thousand dollar watch with a $50 movement, the majority of the price being the bling - just like Rolex.

If you want to know the time, get a quartz watch. If you want to impress random people you don't even know (and possibly get mugged by them), buy an expensive mechanical watch. Guys notice each-other's watches by brand (even Douglas Adams mentions that), women only notice if the watch is elegant or ugly.

Santander downplays risk of 'personal data-stuffed' cookies

Miami Mike

Santander not well regarded here either

Santander is aggressively expanding their operations in the US by purchasing large portfolios of auto loans and other consumer debt, including some home mortgages.

Unfortunately, their customer service here has been abysmal - even for a bank - which is saying something - and their collections tactics on overdue accounts are abusive, egregious, and illegal to the point where they have gotten the attention of the Federal Trade Commission here, which is actively moving forward on enforcement action against them.

In the old days, the FTC wasn't much to worry about, offending entities might get a slap on the wrist and only have to say they will play nice in the future. Nowadays, the FTC's enforcement division is a vast fleet of nuclear powered, turbocharged fifty-foot-tall Terminators - and that's just the welcoming committee. They just got done fining one bank $368,000,000 (not exactly chump change) for deliberately concealing the destination of overseas wire transfers - it was pay up now or top management was looking at ten years in federal prison and THEN deportation . . . amazing how quickly their check writing and proofreading skills improved.

Santander may be used to the less stringent regulatory environment in Spain, and think they can pull this crap on everyone else. Guess what? That doesn't work here, especially in an election year when the politicos are trying to remind the voters what they do FOR us (instead of TO us), and Santander is about to suffer the consequences of pissing off King Kong's BIG brother.

And the latest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is ... the EU?

Miami Mike

OK, understand.

How's this: "Cross my heart, and if you line the MF'ers up against a wall, I'll cheerfully pay for all the ammunition you need with my American Express card."


Miami Mike

Over here in the Colonies, the prevailing opinion is that Obama got the Nobel Peace prize mostly for not being George Bush.

Well, I'm not George Bush either, so where's MY Nobel Peace prize? Further, I can PROVE that I have never invaded or bombed anyone, I don't operate questionably legal offshore detention centers, and I've never, ever, ever been a friend of the banks - any banks - ever. Cross my heart and hope they die.

Let me know when you're ready, I'll be preparing my acceptance speech and a deposit slip forthwith.

Whopping supersonic-car rocket rattles idyllic Cornwall

Miami Mike

Re: pandering

Oh4FS, we 'murricans didn't invent this crap, we inherited it from all around the world. Remember we've only been here a bit over 200 years. I hate it as much as you do, but old habits die really hard.

Try watchmaking - diameter of a watch movement is expressed in "lignes" (pronounced "lines", no not that kind, they didn't have that stuff then), and is some "logical" fraction like 1/37th of a pre-revolution French inch, which was different than any other inch on the planet anyway. The symbol for lignes is ''' (three apostrophes), so you'll see things like "10.5 ''' movement".

(Besides, anyone who hails from someplace that invented Whitworth has *very* little to complain about.)

And there's NO WAY I'd ride in that thing, in fact, I prefer to watch from a very safe distance, probably on TV via a satellite link. Youse guys over in Blighty have something and someone(s) to be proud of in this deal - I wish them luck and continued good health (and I'll donate a couple of sets of earplugs, please provide a mailing address.)

Graun Aid: Don't They Know It's Christmas 2.0?

Miami Mike

Survival of the fittest

I read the Guardian's site from time to time when I see an interesting headline on Google News. The recurring impression I get is that these troglodytes really need to be dragged kicking and screaming up into the 19th century. The tidbit that they have only 180K readers of the print edition is pretty telling - they're fighting a rearguard action, and losing as the list of available Edwardian codgers decreases due to old age and fossilization.

They're anti-everything, and seem convinced that converting street lights from gas to electricity was a bad idea. So now they want a legally enforced subsidy from the internet? No problem, as soon as the International and Benevolent Association of Buggy-Whip Manufacturers gets their legally enforced subsidy from Boeing and Airbus, they're next in line.

Haynes Build Your Own Computer book review

Miami Mike

Roll your own, keep your sanity and your checkbook safe (maybe)

Considering the crucial role computers play in most of our lives (sample limited to Register readers), do you REALLY want to trust your on-line presence and digital life to wankers like the Geek Squad et. al.? These "service facilities" in the big box stores are parts changers, nothing more. Good friend of mine just got back from the Apple joint, his hard drive failed and they replaced it. What about all the data on it? His entire business? All his e-mail contacts? "Oh, your old drive has been recycled already." (No, he didn't know enough to back things up. Betcha he does now.)

I *insist* on being able to do my own maintenance on my computers (and cars, and airplane, and boat, and motorcycles, and most of the items in my home as well as the home itself) because I *refuse* to be at the mercy of incompetent, avaricious, ignorant parts changers who will gleefully charge me out the wazoo for making things worse and then I have to go back and fix it myself anyway. About the only thing I won't do is medicine, and we see how well THAT works - in the US, we *waste* $750 billion on fraud, duplicated tests, unneeded treatments and procedures, etc. EVERY YEAR. That is ten times what we spend (or waste) in Afghanistan in the same time.

If you own ANYTHING, you must a) learn how to fix it yourself, or b) bend over and pay handsomely for others to screw it up for you, then you'll just have to learn "a" anyway, so you might as well cut out the middleman and learn to do it yourself in the first place.

NASA captures mind-bogglingly gorgeous solar video

Miami Mike

Actually, we are in agreement . . .

Of course physical world domination is an impossible fantasy - but that doesn't stop various religious groups and aggressive nations from trying it anyway. I am glad (and a rather thankful) that the US has never overtly decided to "rule the world" either by military means or other (economic, cultural) means. The US certainly does have a huge influence (like the understatement?) in world affairs, but that is the result of various accidents of history, not of a pre-planned deliberate policy. We developed our military primarily for self defense, and after the collapse of the major threat (the old Soviet Union), we were left as the only remaining military superpower. Being a wealthy country doesn't hurt, either.

Being "benevolent", concerned with freedom, and resource control/political manipulation of foreign governments are not incompatible activities. We'd like North Koreans to be free - and they have no resources whatsoever. All governments seek control of resources and manipulate (or attempt to manipulate) other governments, that's what governments do. Look at China, they are buying their way into Africa looking for resources, and they couldn't care less about human rights as they do it. Is their way, openly cynical, preferable to our way, in which we actually decline to do business with nasty regimes? We're getting ready to stop buying Tantalum (for capacitors, that's the IT angle) from several repressive third world countries because they abuse and exploit their people.

Miami Mike

Re: America bashing

SCM - The connection was that some posters complained previously that the US should be spending a lot more on NASA and a lot less on making enemies around the world. I happen to agree with that, but unfortunately reality (and often international politics) intrudes on that . . .

Thank you and best regards.

Miami Mike

America bashing

Even though we are a young nation, we have read history. "If you want peace, prepare for war." and "Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who do not." If you will notice, those nations which consider themselves our "enemies" are the nations that treat their people the worst - North Korea and Iran come to mind. Neither one of those places has people risking their lives to get in, most of the time they risk their lives to get OUT. Your own James Fallows said it well, "If America were set on world domination and conquest, it would be over in a week, and they would win, utterly." (Thank you, James.) We aren't, we are SLOW to go to war, we are RELUCTANT to go to war (political noises notwithstanding), but when we DO decide to go to war, we go in to WIN. (Yes, we did learn from our southeast Asia fiasco of the 60s and 70s).

Some people may not like us (and sometimes we could stand to work on being a little more likeable), but we are NOT malicious, and we are by FAR the least worst candidate to have the biggest military in the world. Can you imagine if someone like Mugabe or Assad were "King of the roost"? Do you like China's record on human rights or the environment? What about Uncle Vlad's? One of the worst "America Haters", Noam Chomsky, is alive and well in New York, where he even has police protection! In many, many, many other countries he would have been executed long ago.

Attack of the Gigantic Tellies hits Berlin IFA

Miami Mike

Same old same old, except bigger

In rock and roll circles, there is a saying "If you have no talent, play it LOUD!"

With TV's, it would be "If you have no content, make it BIG!"

(Unless you enjoy drooling on Snooki's boobs sized 500ZZZZZ in your living room. Bleagh!)

Akihabara unplugged: Tokyo's electric town falls flat

Miami Mike

This time the Japanese are following . . .

Back in the OLD days (we are talking the 60s), there was an area in lower Manhattan known as "Radio Row". You could get *anything* there, any electronic component in the known universe. Need an APN-4 Wobbulator? (yes, that is a real item! - it is a motor driven variable capacitor used in antique radar sets), sure, what color would you like? I remember seeing perspex observation blisters from B-29s, $5.00 each (and wished I had a place to put them), you name it, it was there. Electronic heaven on earth, irreplaceable.

The street was Cortland Street - it is all gone now, Radio Row and the surroundings were demolished to make way for the WTC. Most of the stores went out of business, a few moved away. Next best thing is a place called Skycraft on the outskirts of Orlando. Surplus cruise missile fins, row 5 on your left, semiconductors, three acres over there, great stuff but a pale echo of Radio Row. (no affiliation, just a happy customer).

Password hints easily snaffled from Windows PCs

Miami Mike

Basic error in the system!

In the beginning there was no password, just turn on the computer. Then someone decided that a standalone desktop in a one-person office and unconnected to anything other than the AC mains needed a password mostly because the "big guys" use passwords. So I have to tell myself I am me before I can work. Every day for almost 20 years. And I am cautioned not to write it down.

Fast forward to now (i.e. Spaceballs recursion scene) - passwords for all kinds of things many of which don't need protection from anything - and the passwords expire every three months and have to be reset, use nonsense strings, non-ASCII characters, at least eight letters four numbers mix upper and lower case - and tell me, I dare you - that you can REMEMBER all of them . . . so we put them into our browser, and when it crashes (what? browsers CRASH??) all the passwords are now gone and you get to start again, reset everything, all the hints, all the passwords, all the access codes, the works. And remember, don't write it down because someone might read it. Oh yeah, and NEVER use the same password for everything. So we have to memorize multiple and constantly changing streams of random letters (UC & LC) and numbers, each one of which is different for each and every password protected site we go to . . . and we are cautioned not to make the password socially engineerable by using anything we CAN remember, like our wife's name or whatever.

The result is that we HAVE to write it down - we wind up with a yellow pad with ALL the passwords and the sites they access so that when the magic electrons won't cooperate today, we can still use our computers.

We need a reset on authentification procedures - we need a better way to determine that we are who we say we are, something that doesn't need long lists of random characters which change, are easily mistyped, and cannot be remembered unless you . . . write them down . . . and keep the list somewhere convenient (i.e. near the computer), which sort of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?

Ok, if we're so smart, how about we figure out a way to fix this mess? The paradigm (had to use that word, this is after all a computer related discussion) of user name plus password is BROKEN and does not work if the poor user (who paid for all this junk and just wants to use the computer) doesn't have a photographic memory or a USB socket in the back of the skull to plug in the dongle with the passwords on it.

Work for the military? Don't be evil, says ethicist

Miami Mike

Sorry, but we DO need some steenkin weapons

OK, so we finally got all the governments in the world to sit down and say that they renounce war. Great. Except one lies and keeps all their hardware. Guess who now rules the world? The state of human development is simple at this point in our history: "Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't."

If all the governments actually do accept and honor this, what do you do about the Somali pirates? Sit them down for tea and talk to them about the error of their ways? How about the Taliban as they destroy the temples and shrines of everyone else? What about Pot Pol, who decided to kill all his own people?

Humanity is too immature to be trusted with weapons, but since we already have them, I want to be on the side with the biggest, baddest ones of all. "Peace through superior firepower" is a workable solution, just hope the side with the superior firepower has some acquaintance with morals and ethics, even a slight one will do. Imagine what your choice of psychotic third-world-dictator-for-life (say, Mugabe? or Assad?) might do if HE were in control, perhaps the nasty, evil, greedy capitalists in the UK and the US might not be so awful after all. Good solution, ugh, but probably the least worst solution. Remember,Churchill said that the Americans will eventually do the right thing (after we've tried everything else). Better late than never, because there are some governments which will NEVER do the right thing.

SHOCK: Poll shows Americans think TSA is highly effective

Miami Mike
Big Brother

Differing goals

Think about this a moment - for the most part, the police show up AFTER an incident (traffic accident, robbery, etc.) and frequently aren't around to prevent it (whatever it is). The TSA is charged with preventing any incidents, so consequently their job is harder and has to be much more intrusive. TSA has to be pro-active, not reactive.

We will also never know how many wanna-be terrorists and random nut-jobs decided to try their luck elsewhere or even forget about it entirely since they realized that the TSA would likely prevent them from getting onto an airplane in the first place. There are two parts to the TSA, the part we see, and the part we don't. TSA isn't going to talk about all their techniques because then the (imputed) baddies will know what they have to overcome.

Sure, being delayed, doing a public strip-tease and being groped is a PITA, but being blown up at 35,000 feet is somewhat moreso. I don't like the idea that we need a TSA, but unfortunately, this world is a far from perfect place. Complaining about the TSA in today's world is like complaining about having to carry the keys around that you use to lock your car and home, it is part of the deal nowadays.

Could the TSA be done better? Probably. Are they "corrupt"? Probably not, for the most part. Any bureaucratic organization is going to have core incompetencies, it is just the we SEE (and obviously, feel) the TSA first hand. Do you get upset with "customer service" for your computer/cableTV/banking being outsourced to Mars? This is the same thing, except homegrown.

Success! Curiosity Mars lander arrives precisely on schedule

Miami Mike

Obama didn't do it, NASA did it.

Title says it all.

Curiosity success 'paves way for Man on Mars by 2030s'

Miami Mike

Obama didn't do this - NASA did

Title says it ALL.

UK.gov to clear way for Britain's first SPACEPORT

Miami Mike

Re: Minor aerodynamic problem

Actually, that makes it worse . . .

A failure in one engine is quite likely to propagate to the other one. The Germans discovered this in the HE-177 bomber which used a pair of DB V-12s in each of two nacelles to drive a single prop on each wing. The setup was highly incendiary, and the airplane quickly became extremely unpopular with the surviving crews. The Russians re-discovered the same problem some years later in the TU-144, with the same results. Even the legendary Vulcan fell victim to this. Someone got a (posthumous) medal for not letting the stricken bomber crash into a town. The USAF lost a B-58 Hustler in the UK to adverse yaw when one of the outboard engines flamed out: Instant flat spin and airframe destruction. Also, look up "unstart yaw" in regards to the SR-71. Stuffing multiple high performance engines into a single nacelle is poor design, and hanging them out at the far ends of the wings is even worse. A review of the long, unhappy annals of aviation disasters over the years shows this arrangement to be a design error, just like the O rings on the Challenger.

Engine failures DO occur, and sometimes they are uncontained. The trick is to design your aircraft so that loss of an engine doesn't affect the structural integrity of the airframe or seriously compromise control authority. This is especially important on really high performance aircraft because these are operating at the very limits of the technology and perhaps sometimes a bit beyond.

I don't have a problem with the engines - my problem is with the airframe packaging. It looks great, but it is not a fault-tolerant design. Aircraft in general, and especially aircraft like this, need to have some safety margins in case of component failure.

There is also the good possibility that the final aircraft will not look at all like the concept. Remember that these guys are raising money and political backing from people who don't know much about airplanes beyond they do/don't want a window seat, and talking about adverse yaw and failure propagation will scare off the money. The renderings LOOK great - flat black, stubby fins, it screams SPEED . . . but as shown, it has some serious problems if there is any problem at all with any of the state-of-the-art bleeding edge technology engines, and history shows us there will be, sooner or later. Good design avoids these known problems, and that's my complaint here. The airplane looks great, but if anything goes wrong, it will be completely unforgiving.

Make the engines work properly and reliably, then design the airframe around it. I really do hope it is a success, and I'd love to fly it.

Miami Mike

Won't matter!

Even if we did, it won't matter. Flights to the east coast (NY, DC, Orlando, Miami) will have dropped to subsonic speeds long before they are in US airspace, flights to the west coast (LA, SF) can go over the north pole and the same applies. Subsonic airliners start their approach half an hour or so out, descending at 1,000 fpm and slowing down progressively as they descend. If this thing were at 50,000 feet, even at 2,500 fpm down it would take almost half an hour from cruise to touchdown hence no supersonic US overflights. I suppose if you wanted to go to Chicago, you'd have to approach via Canada, but that isn't a problem because a) northern Canada is very sparsely populated, b) they're too polite to complain about it anyway, and c) nobody wants to go to Chicago in the first place.

The only real downside is travel inside the states will still be subsonic, although if this thing is in near-space or sub-orbital, there won't be a sonic boom anyway. Takeoff noise will still be impressive, though, and you can bet people will complain about that near EVERY airport, US or not.

Miami Mike

Minor aerodynamic problem

I certainly hope the engine works, but you can bet your bottom dollar/euro/pound/yen/whatever that the snazzy looking space plane in the artist's rendering is never going to fly.

Why not? If one engine goes out (and they do that from time to time) the resultant asymmetrical thrust will be far to much to fix with rudder, and at Mach whatever, that aircraft is going to explode like a Guy Fawkes Day pinwheel.

There's a reason why bizjets and small airliners tend to have the engines close to the center line and not out on the wingtips - engine out asymmetrical thrust is it. You will also note that BIG airliners and transports with multiple engines along each wing tend to have BIG rudders as well. Skylon has a very high power engine at each wingtip and a very small rudder . . . I'll sit this one out, if you don't mind.

US VoIP subscribers 21 million strong

Miami Mike

I love VOIP

Have a BellSouth copper line - $27.90 a month. No frills at all. Just rings.

Also have a VOIP line - $13.00 a month - caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, call blocking, call forward, all kinds of stuff, every whistle and bell (no pun intended) known to the IT gods, all at no extra cost.

Need another line soon - three guesses who gets my business . . .

Avro Vulcan - The Owners' Workshop Manual

Miami Mike

For real POH

I have a genuine for real copy of the POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook) for an F-5E. Fortunately, it isn't classified so I don't have to kill myself for remembering I have it.

8.5 by 11 inches (about A-4 size), a bit more than an inch thick (30mm for you guys in Metric-land), almost 3/4 of the book is emergency procedures. Most of them are three steps long. 1) try this. 2) try that. 3) bail out.

Seems there's only one generator on board, driven off the right engine. If the right engine stops, so does all the electricity, and things get awkward very quickly thereafter. Time to trot, bwana.

There are one or two civilian registered F-5s here, and a handful of T-38s - not too shabby for a little two-seat runabout ;-)

Tech resource woes won't be solved with Afghan minerals

Miami Mike
Thumb Up

Great work

Geez, you better be careful here - actual CONTENT on the internet . . . what's the world coming to?

More more more - this is great work.

Hold on, Scotty, there might be intelligent life down here after all!

DVLA off-road system seriously off-message

Miami Mike

No smarter here

There must be an inherent genetic defect which pre-disposes these jobsworths to go and enlist in MVBs worldwide.

I've owned a certain classic motorcycle for 40 years, and I had the effrontery and temerity to move and take it with me. According to the law, I have to update my address in the state database for the title and the registration.

State of Florida informs me that 1) they have no record of this vehicle (I have a Florida title in my hand - unless it is from a different State of Florida), 2) only the serial number is in the all-knowing computer, and 3) the license plate is invalid and illegal - despite being a permanent license plate for antique vehicles issued by (the same) State of Florida back in 1987.

I was finally able to get the MVB to admit to the existence of the motorcycle. I was finally able to update my address in their computer BUT they will not send me an updated registration, so if I get stopped, the address will be wrong and I will be charged with not updating my address.

I was also able to cite a Florida Statute which shows my permanent license plate is valid and correct - lets see what the state MVB has to say about that! Stay tuned.

My paperss are perfectly in order - it is THEIR paperss vich are NOT in order . . .

These clowns are an utterly useless collection of terminal w*nkers. Reagan was correct - *Government* is the problem . . .

Ralph Lauren says sorry for incredible shrinking pelvis

Miami Mike

skinny women

Bulletin from Planet Earth . . .

Skinny women are for men who like boys.

Real women have curves, real men have hair.

End of message, hear and obey.

Stephen Hawking both British and not dead

Miami Mike


As an American, and not ashamed of being one, I usually make some attempt to defend my nation even when it does something not overly bright (which does happen, sometimes discouragingly often.)

This time, I can offer no defense and no excuse. IBD is just plain WRONG and just plain STUPID. Remember that Forrest Gump said "You just can't fix stupid." These guys just can't be fixed. Someone tell them about fact checking PLEASE, before they embarrass us again.

They probably also highly recommended investing in Bernie Madoff's funds . . .

Lets have a big hurrah for fact-free journalism!

Apple accused of lowering cone of silence over iPod flame out

Miami Mike

non-disclosure agreements

This kind of crap used to be pretty much standard pre-internet. Any lawsuit settled out of court invariably had a "STFU" agreement in it. I sued an HMO once for almost killing my spouse through sheer neglect and incompetence, we "won", they paid us (not very much, either) and as part of the settlement we had to agree never to tell anyone what a bunch of murderous, incompetent morons they were (and still are).

Emergency Locator Beacons in aircraft used to use Lithium cells - more than a few of them spontaneously combusted and burned some very nice aircraft right to the ground. Nowadays there are no Li cells in ELT beacons - but one or two incidents of transport aircraft CARRYING parcels of these batteries have occurred - and now there are regulations for airfreight regarding numbers and packing - we are talking big airplanes here, 7X7 stuff having onboard in flight fires from these things.

Visa dings teen for $23-quadrillion restaurant charge

Miami Mike

Autodebit . . .

Yeah, and tell me again why I want to have autodebit on my bank accounts? And remind me about the clause in the bank's terms of service which says if I am overdrawn on one account they can take it out of ANY of my other accounts to cover it? (or all of them, if needed.)

I've had this crap happen to me twice. Once on an electric bill that was "only" six times as high as normal, and once on a mortgage - the payment was a whopping $300 a month (old slum property) and Washington Mutual (yes, name and shame!!!!!) sent me a payment notice for $4,300,000 for this month's payment.

I called them and asked them if they would have taken the money had it been in my account, and their answer was "Yes, but we'd have given it back sooner or later."

No autodebits for me thank you very ****ing much - I prefer to write low tech paper checks and mail them. It is my money and I will control it. I'm not in the least computerphobic, but I'm going to do my best to keep them out of my money. (Note to self - buy a thicker mattress so I don't feel the lumps.)

US State Dept. workers beg Clinton for Firefox

Miami Mike

Our government at "work"

Why use something quick and clean (oh, yeah, and free!) when you can have an obsolete, buggy, insecure, crash prone resource hog and pay lots of money for multiple licenses? No problem, it is only tax money, so who cares - the peasants will pay, they have no choice.

This is the Microsoft tax on the US Government - turnabout is fair play!

Get Microsoft out of government - WE are paying for this crap!

Amazon affiliates nixed in two more states

Miami Mike

Not here, fer shuuuure!

By Tam Lin Posted Thursday 2nd July 2009 08:53 GMT

" Retailers are paid a handsome percentage to collect taxes."

Not in Florida, not hardly . . . we are *required* to collect it, account for it, and send it in periodically. We don't make so much as a thin dime on it unless we are HUGE businesses, then there's a tiny, tiny discount for prompt payment (and the payment window is just 21 days long, including any weekends or holidays - alien invasion? We don't care, send your sales tax.)

I *wish* they'd pay me to collect and remit sales tax. The whole sales tax cluster**ck is an item of overhead and a straight expense. They require us to work for them for free as a condition of doing business.

Rogue Atlantis knob removed by hand

Miami Mike

Not the same geniuses at all

(Doug Glass)

The famous NASA "space pen" was developed entirely by Paul Fisher on his own dime back in 1965. You can still buy them today, they're sold over the internet (whatever that is) from their website.

Pencils are a hazard in space - they make graphite chips which are conductive, and you don't want those chips floating around in zero gravity looking for a nice live electrical connection to land on.

NASA adopted the Fisher pen and still uses it, and in fact, so did the Russians, and they do too!

Pencils in space - just say no. Bzzzt. Zap. Pooof. (Fail)

Torture case against Boeing subsidiary resuscitated

Miami Mike

sigh . . .

You guys are just tooooo easy.

Hook, line, sinker, half the boat as well (and unfortunately it isn't the crack-filled speedboat A/C refers to above - darn it.)

Next you'll probably want us to apologize to the Emperor over Pearl Harbor.

Oh, wait, we did. Twice.


Miami Mike

Sue 'em all!

So we are suing the company who provided the maps. Whoopee.

We need to sue the people who built the airplanes, the pilots and flight crews, the parents of the pilots and flight crews, the company which made the aluminum (or aluminium, as you prefer) the airplane was made out of, the companies that paved the runways, the people who trained the pilots and flight crews, Orville and Wilbur Wright who invented airplanes in the first place, Edison for his work on electricity and sound recording and anyone else even remotely connected with this situation, and anyone who enabled it to happen in the first place.

After all, the rights of these terrorist scumbag murderers are more important than ours, just ask the courts. I think we should fry them all, slowly, so it hurts a lot, and get serious and nuke the rest. I just don't understand why a group of religious maniacs whose stated purpose - and repeated actions - is to try to kill us all deserves anything better from us than instant nuclear obliteration.

Or is it better to let them kill us than for us to offend them in any way?

I say keep bombing the crap out of them until the situation improves, and the survivors (if there are any) not only promise to behave but actually DO behave - THEN we let them live.

If you don't hit back HARD when you are hit, you'll just get hit again. I'm tired of this namby-pamby PC bullshit - I want to darken the skies with the radioactive ashes of dead jihadi.

Website terms unenforceable due to unlimited right to amend

Miami Mike

This also applies to credit cards?

OK guys, someone rustle up a sharp lawyer - this is EXACTLY the kind of crap the credit card companies do all the time - you can't sue us, you have to arbitrate, we can change the terms and conditions any time we want, and whatever happens it is all your fault and you will have to pay.

Identical argument - we have a precedent! Lets go get 'em!

General Atomics unwraps new, Stealth(y) robot war-jet

Miami Mike

Available surplus soon?

Hey when this becomes obsolete, can I buy one and junk all the mil-stuff and put seats into it instead? What a great personal aircraft this would make! (Or maybe I'd want to keep the mil-stuff and just shuffle it around to make room for a couple of seats - yes, officer, I use this for pest control, why do you ask?)