* Posts by Robert Masters

31 posts • joined 29 Feb 2008

Braking bad? Van with £112m worth of crystal meth in back hits cop car at police station

Robert Masters

What are you in for?


Literally braking news: Two people hurt as not one but two self-driving space-age buses go awry

Robert Masters

Re: Bus v Pedestrian or Pedestrian v Bus

My dearest, on hearing the Austrian incident:

" It is the rise of the machines, I tell you! The headphones and mobile teamed up so the bus could make the kill! Co-operative hunting!"

Four Boys' Own style World War Two heroes to fire your imagination

Robert Masters

Re: Two more for your reading pleasure

My old Scout troop's site is Camp Cornwell, named for him.

SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk

Robert Masters

Good engineering research.

Stress testing? May as well test to destruction...

LOHAN Kickstarter bid IS GO: Back our Vulture 2 spaceplane launch

Robert Masters


Proud to claim "first buy" on the patch line.

Good luck, gentlefolk! Oh, and Lester.


Robert Masters
Paris Hilton


I know it is a *little* premature, but I've been pondering post-LOHAN life, and wondering "What next?".

Then I remembered a little bit of model rocketry folklore. There was one fellow who claims to have put a model (high-power) rocket into orbit, with the aid of a balloon. This was never confirmed, although the physics checked out - just.

My biggest problem at the moment is coming up with a suitable backronym,

So, howabout it?

Fanfare of trumpets as LOHAN reveals mission patch

Robert Masters

Antipodean sales...

When these go on sale (they *are* going on sale, right?), you can bank on selling at least a couple of stitched patches down under (to me), and probably a couple of T-shirts, too!

Drone owners told: stay out of bushfire skies

Robert Masters

Re: Playing nice...

In practice this means that CASA cannot directly observe in that airspace (ground clutter and other matters), but are still responsible for aerial activities in it.

If things are reported in that airspace they have authority to investigate if they deem it appropriate.

Robert Masters

Playing nice...

Thing is, if they sought permission they may have got it in certain limited ways. CASA are actaully pretty easy to work with (I have had frequent dealings with them as RSO (Range Safety Officer) for the local rocketry club - albeit some years ago), and will often even give you permission to fly in all sorts of restricted airspaces provided you confirm each flight with the local ATCs and/or towers.

On the other hand, provided they kept below 300'AGL, they were below controlled airspace, and so mostly out of CASAs control - but not their authority. (Incidentally, did you know that you are not allowed to fly a kite above 300'AGL without clearance? For that reason kite lines are sold with a maximum length of 50M to ensure a reasonable margin. You can buy longer ones, but they will be custom supplied.)

On the gripping hand, in the presence of water bombers and similar aircraft (crop dusters, aircraft on approach, etc), CASA's controlled space can extend all the way to the ground, so always check the current NOTAMs (NOtice To AirMen) before flying anything.

In short, they screwed up, broke air safety regs, and were berks. Further, judging from the dust kickups, the copter they were flying was not a small beast, and I would have not wanted anything to run into it. Yes they got good footage, but only by doing something dangerous and illegal. As I said. Berks.

Google: Now your mom will try to sell you toilet paper

Robert Masters

Back to front

Nope, the opt-out is to be *in* the ads. Like the orginial article said. And under-18s are automatically excluded (even if they try to opt-in).

So potentially annoying, yes, but you get to control if you are going to be annoying to others.

Simple solution? Anytime you see someone in one of your circles come up in an ad, remove them, block them, and report them as spammers. Problem quickly goes away. (Of course you could always gently suggest to them that they opt-out too, but where's the fun in that?)

Aaron Swartz prosecutor accused of 'professional misconduct'

Robert Masters

Re: @DavCrav: Wow!

...Except that under the current circumstances, the group that acted as a defence team for AS are now prosecuting the individual who prosecuted (and, according to many, persecuted) AS. So now the defence are the prosecution, and the prosecution is the defence.

Incoming comet will probably miss Mars, says NASA

Robert Masters

Re: who is running the book

I think that would be taking the Mars Defense System to an extreme. If the Martians have that sort of capability, I'd be more worried about them targeting us.

(looks worriedly towards the Ukraine)

Robert Masters


Up there with the best from Archimedes and the other kooks of yore.

Wind now cheaper than coal in Oz: Bloomberg

Robert Masters

I get the gist of your argument ... but wind and coal can co-exist, just not very well. On the other hand, wind and gas co-exist very nicely indeed. Wind, PV, and tidal/wave systems also co-exist and make for a very sweet combination - but still do not complete the picture. To complete it you need to add one or more of fossil fuel, geothermal, nuclear, and/or hydroelectric. A broad mixed-mode supply provides the lowest carbon footprint, and the greatest flexibility.

As for the argument that wind-power cannot be stored, it depends. "What?" I hear you ask. Wind power, or more specifically, the potential energy of wind power can be stored, and quite economically - if you have the right geographical conditions.

Here in West Oz, we do not, as a rule, have those conditions, but in Tasmania and in the Snowy Mountains we do.

How? You take your excess wind generation capacity, and use it to pump water back up into catchment areas to power hydro systems. The Swiss and Japanese have been doing this for some years.

Robert Masters

Re: Utility Engineer Perspective

Alas, cross-TZ solar just is not going to cut it in OZ. The transmission losses would make it hideously expensive. Heck, we don't even have a fully integrated grid on the West Coast! No so sure about the barbarian East, but I think they have it integrated in the southern half, due to higher settlement density.

Robert Masters
Thumb Down

Re: Other impacts !?

Bird strikes are negligible compared to most city buildings. It was a relative statement, not absolute.

(mutters about out-of-context quotes, slaps head as remembers that this is the Internet, which lives on them)

Robert Masters
Thumb Up

Re: Utility Engineer Perspective

You cover off a good amount of this - but I will (again) point out that it is horses for courses. In some regions, wind makes sense (particularly where there is extensive consistent wind and high fuel transport costs). In others it does not (where you have short transmission runs and/or low basic wind levels and/or low fuel transport costs).

Also, the maintenance issue depends on the tower/nacelle design. The ones here in Oz are designed to be non-crane serviced, with ground-level access to the nacelle via a staircase inside the tower, and a hoist hatch within the nacelle for replacement equipment. The only thing that requires a crane or an extended outage is blade replacement.

Robert Masters

Re: Other impacts !?

OK, now I'm angry.

The ELF sound issue was proven false. The health impacts on farmers were proven to be psychosomantic. The birdstrike issue was likewise proven so limited as to be negligible compared to city buildings. The carbon payback finding applied to micro-generators on suburban roofs.

The only thing you've got at all right is base load issue, and you will see (above) that there are already ways to deal with it.

Robert Masters

Re: Here we go again

On average, 50% of a full-time gas-fired turbine plant of the same capacity.

You asked...

Robert Masters

Nuclear has other problems...

One the things often overlooked in the "what is the best power source for Australia?" debate is the matter of distance.

Whilst our major cities are the principal sinks for power generation, we also have a large number of high-drain regional sites, many of them beyond the reach of conventional transmission techniques. This has spawned a large number of regional power generation plants. The combined output of these smaller and less efficient plants at least equal the combined output of the major cities, due to the presence of high-drain industries in many of these regional centres.

It would not be economically feasible to build nuclear plants for each of these sites (conventional ones, anyway - get back to me when the replaceable single-core units start working), so what to do?

To give the example of Esperance, they have a four gas turbine plant, supplemented by unsubsidised wind-farms capable of providing up to 50% of the output of the gas-fired plant. This means that at any one time, there are two turbines running, one of hot standby (heated and spun by exhaust gasses from the other two), and a third in cold standby.

This has cut power costs in the town by over 50%, through a combination of reduced fuel costs and reduced maintenance costs. And reduced their fossil fuel use, not only for the power for for the shipping of the fuel to the town to make the power.

Similar stories exist throughout that region, and continue north of Perth up into the mining regions.


It is not for everyone. W.A. has abundant and relatively predictable winds. But when considering Australia as a whole, the correct solution is a diversified power generation plan. Should nuclear be a part of that? Maybe, if we can build the right sort of plant. But don't forget that nuclear plants have a lifetime, just like wind-farms and coal plants, and they can (if built wrong) fail catastrophically.

Fans of dead data 'liberator' Swartz press Obama to sack prosecutor

Robert Masters

Perverting the course of justice...

Here in Oz it routinely gets used against corrupt police ... usually following a finding by the courts of false imprisonment, decades after the original conviction.

LOHAN fizzles forlornly in REHAB

Robert Masters

A well known problem...

You might want to look at these:


Greens Senator champions Assange cause

Robert Masters

And yet...

Senator Ludlum undertook this trip *using his own money*, not dipping into the public purse.

Either of the major parties undertaking a similar trip for a different case (with, no doubt similar results and actions - were they minded to) would (and have) utilised public monies and taken an extensive entourage.

So go ahead and call them names, but at least they show more financial restraint than the alternatives.

As an aside, I miss Screaming Lord Such. The world needs people like that to show off how shallow politics is.

Now Russians can't even contact their busted Mars probe

Robert Masters

Working just fine

The Martian Defence System, that is.

Nice to see that the recent upgrades, following several notable failures, have not only improved the accuracy, but have also resulted in unprecedented range.

In time we look forward to being able to deploy the MDS directly against the hostile blue planetarians, rather than simply stopping their invasion craft.


Flurztgrab 23rd, Technology Development Sub-Emperor (inner systems).

Adobe offloads unwanted Linux AIR onto OEMs

Robert Masters

Not platform independant...

What Adobe are ignoring is that most Air apps out there are not platform independent at all, and do not run under Linux due to written-in MS dependencies.

Which kind of makes the platform less than useful.

Yes, EyeFi, I'm looking at you...

Amazon buys (some of) digital music site Amie Street

Robert Masters


Yep, 'cause cutting off a large chunk of your customer base is always a good idea. The Amazon MP3 service is only available in limited areas, whereas most of Amie Street was fully international.

Well, not any more.

I guess it is back to Magnatunes and Jamendo for me!

BOFH: The poncy director's cut

Robert Masters


"...but they DO save the lives of plenty of lusers."


What is wrong with you? *Save* lives of lusers? Get a grip there!

In fact, here, let me help you... watch closely, now, see? This is how you hold a hammer...

Russian rides Phantom to OS immortality

Robert Masters

Another example - Newton

And before Palm was the Newton. Persistant coding, all data is structured and serialised... we've seen it all...

Called 'em soups in my day, they did. Made 'em do everything. Even had one that would work underwater. And had wireless. Could read the screen in daylight, too. Not like these modern lumps of dingoes kidneys.

I don't know, kids of today, thinking they have new ideas. "Too late!" I says to them, "We've already invented everything." And then they laugh at me. Me! I'll show them! Right after me custard.

Mine's the tatty one next to the walking stick.

Sky One to resurrect Blake's 7?

Robert Masters

Having to be different.

I was always hooked on Cally (Jan Chappell), myself.

As for the re-make... I will wait and see.

Elonex £99 Eee PC rival to arrive in June

Robert Masters

Oddly familiar

In fact, if it were green and white, with a pair of ears ...

Electronics behind screen - check

4 hour battery - check

300Mhz CPU - check

1G drive - check

128M RAM - check.

Yep! It's an XO in disguise! Looks like Jepson is not far off the mark...


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