* Posts by SkippyBing

2307 posts • joined 21 May 2008

'Nobody in their right mind would build a naval base here today': Navigating in and out of Devonport

SkippyBing

I mean thanks MOTO, but look at Mayport Naval Station in Google Maps and you'll see what I mean.

SkippyBing

Re: nm or NM?

I don't know I was exercising my rights as part of the International Entering Harbour Club. In the bar.

SkippyBing

Having navigated the twists and turns in and out of both Plymouth and Portsmouth, it was educational entering the US base at Mayport which basically involved stopping once you were alongside the jetty. I think the navs had had us lined up for about the last 50nm!

Japanese boffins say they've created plastic optical fibres to reach places that might break glass

SkippyBing

Re: Why?

I had an '07 plate BMW 3 series and that had a fibre optic loop connecting the elements of the entertainment system together. I'm not really sure what advantage that gave apart from making it not worth the hassle of fitting an after market system so the three previous owners hadn't ruined things with a ridiculous head unit.

UK Ministry of Defence tries again to procure £1.7bn tri-service recruitment system

SkippyBing

Re: Savings?

Oh I fully support keeping soldiers in barracks if they've got nothing to do. Best for everyone, I tried talking to one once, liking staring into the abyss as his poor uncomprehending eyes tried to figure out what uniform I was wearing.

But if you're going to produce regulations and processes that require full time work from people then you can't expect them to keep on top of things if they're spending 16+ hours getting from the UK to Oman. As an example. That I'm not still bitter about.

SkippyBing

Savings?

Presumably this is supposed to cost lest than whatever the MoD currently spend on recruiting. Admittedly this may be a bit of a grey area given the Armed Forces don't seem to bother accounting for how much their personnel's' time is worth*, but if they can't prove they're even saving money why are they being allowed to spend this much. In which case where's the business case?

*No, no, definitely makes more sense to fly you on a transport aircraft to the Gulf and have you not working for 2-3 days rather than paying £280 for a ticket on a commercial flight and losing half a day.

One-size-fits-all chargers? What a great idea! Of course Apple would hate it

SkippyBing

So you're saying people don't throw their chargers away when they get a new phone? After five years it may well have stopped working which would seem a good reason to throw it away and get a new one.

SkippyBing

So you're saying we should have stuck with micro-USB? Or is now the right time to freeze the standard because USB-C is definitely as good as it can get and won't be a hindrance in the future?

I'm also sceptical about the claims of tonnes of e-waste, the last time I looked at the paper the claim was based on they seemed to assume everyone threw away their old charger when they got a new phone*. But most people I know keep them so they have a spare, one at work, in the living room etc.

*It was a bit unclear what their methodology was but it was the only way the numbers could add up.

We're all at sea: Navigation Royal Navy style – with plenty of IT but no GPS

SkippyBing

Re: "two main reasons why the Royal Navy no longer uses [paper charts]"

Given how often the navy practices losing everything* I'm pretty sure they've explored all the options for killing the nav system. Certainly when we had an electrical failure on Liverpool in 2011 just off Libya the WECDIS kept running, and within 30 seconds we'd turned north and were accelerating from 12 through 20 knots towards full speed.

*it's not always intentional

SkippyBing

Re: "two main reasons why the Royal Navy no longer uses [paper charts]"

The stopping distance for most warships is their own length. Although the engineering department get a bit upset if you constantly do that. You're thinking of tankers or cargo ships, not something that's designed to manoeuvre to avoid an incoming air raid.

UK's Civil Aviation Authority hashing out rules for crash-proof cargo pods on drones

SkippyBing

Re: Mid flight failure

It does, that's why they have two engines. Single engine helicopters are much more limited in where they can go over built up areas. E.g. over London they have to follow the heli routes along the Thames, anything goes wrong that's where they're supposed to land. Google Performance Class 1 Helicopters.

SkippyBing

Re: Mid flight failure

Very much a requirement for any modern twin engine airliner to be certified that they can fly on one engine, so not sure why it shouldn't apply to UAV flying over populated areas.

Lithuania tells its citizens to throw Xiaomi mobile devices in the bin

SkippyBing

Re: CHaaS

I dispute that, Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd, collates the experiences of a range of foreigners in Germany through the 30s and 40s. Many of them recount asking what the difference was between Fascism and Communism and not getting a satisfactory answer. So conflation of the two didn't start in the '80s.

Tech widens the educational divide. And I should know – I'm a teacher in a pandemic

SkippyBing

Re: Education leads to Learning

That's definitely possible, and I get a lot of books from the second hand stall in the local market. I've also been known to spend ~£50 on a second hand book in a niche area of interest (I think it was the history of naval radar) because it's long out of print and it's the only way to get the information.

SkippyBing

Re: No difference between grammar & comprehensive

I'm sure the parents were delighted at having to continue to wash and iron school uniforms through the lock down...

SkippyBing

Re: Faulty parents

Can I put in a suggestion of rearranging the school year so there aren't massive holidays in the Summer allowing everyone to forget everything? Spread the holidays out across the year more, you could even stagger them between education authorities so everyone isn't trying to go on holiday at the same time.

It's not as we're a predominately agricultural economy that needs the manpower in August anymore.

SkippyBing

Re: Education leads to Learning

'do you know how many books you can buy for $200/month???'

Yes, yes I do. And the answer is not enough.

Navigating without GPS is one thing – so let's jam it and see what happens to our warship

SkippyBing

Re: Outside the cocked hat

There was a nice period where the difference between True and Magnetic North where I was regularly flying was less than a couple of degrees. Given no one ever flies that accurately it could be safely ignored.

Report details how Airbus pilots saved the day when all three flight computers failed on landing

SkippyBing

Re: Automation Issue

Automation has removed the issue of Pilots making mistakes for the majority of an airliners flight. They're not manually managing engines, hand flying the aircraft, transferring fuel, etc. etc. hence the decline in the accident rate over time as automation has increased. So yes on average humans make more mistakes than airliner automation.

The issue now is that when the automation reaches a situation it can't handle it hands it over to an under-aroused pilot who has to rapidly get up to speed with what's going on. Effectively a situation has been created where humans are monitoring computers in case they go wrong, which is not something humans are good at. It is however much safer than letting humans fly themselves as illustrated by the ever improving accident rate here: https://aviation-safety.net/statistics/

SkippyBing

Re: Automation Issue

'he conclusions of many accident investigations attributed the cause(s) to pilot error because management concluded the general public had to be made to believe the machine is infallible or they would be too fearful to ever get on one.'

That would make sense if management had anything to do with crash investigation.

As the graphs at this site https://aviation-safety.net/statistics/ demonstrate, as aircraft have become more automated over time, accident rates have decreased.

Oh the humanity: McDonald's out of milkshakes across Great Britain

SkippyBing

Re: A number of sound decisions?

'How the EU tortoise caught the UK hare in the Covid vaccination race and some easy stats'

Unless the EU decided it was only ever going to vaccinate 50% of its population it would always catch up with the UK eventually whether through slowing take-up of the vaccine or reaching 100%, so not exactly a winning argument. Their tardiness undoubtedly cost lives though.

Japan's aerospace agency hooks up with Boeing to make planes quieter when they land

SkippyBing

Interesting, I remember reading a piece in the RAeS journal years ago where they estimated the noise from some of the proposed super-jumbo aircraft would exceed the limits even with the engines turned off. Surprised it's taken so long to tackle it as it least some must be from inefficiencies, a lot though is presumably required if you're turning a few hundred tonnes of air through 90 degrees to generate lift.

China warns game devs not to mess with history

SkippyBing

Re: It never existed

I read somewhere a few years ago that this was causing problems as the censors hadn't heard of it so didn't know it needed to be censored.

Scientists reckon eliminating COVID-19 will be easier than polio, harder than smallpox – just buckle in for a wait

SkippyBing

Re: What do you mean no Apocalypse?

Honestly if you could remember to wash your HANDS on a regular basis and give me more SPACE that would be great at not spreading other diseases too. If you could hide your FACE I'd also appreciate it, although that has nothing to do with reducing infections.

UK artists seek 'luvvie levy' on new gadgets to make up for all the media that consumers access online

SkippyBing

Re: redress the balance caused by people accessing ... online without paying for it directly

I'm not sure an extra tax solves that though, it's just subsidising Spotify's business model. Which I object to.

No I don't have a Spotify account I still buy CDs and rip them. So come the zombie apocalypse and the fall of civilisation I'll still have all my music. Who'll be laughing then hey?

SkippyBing

If it's such a good investment then may I suggest the luvvies invest in themselves to make up any perceived shortfall in profits.

Blue passports, French service provider: Atos bags £21m UK Passport Office deal

SkippyBing

Re: "become completely digital"

If they live in the small town I do via one of the two travel agents on the high street. I can only assume this glut of options for face to face trip advice is due to the high preponderance of retirees in the area and their mistrust of anything post 1990.

On the plus side it did mean once they were all vaccinated the rest of us got done about a month before the equivalent age group in the rest of the country. All five of us.

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using 'Miss' were treated as children

SkippyBing

Re: I would have thought...

Bear in mind the aircraft is designed to be able to climb away from a take-off even if an engine fails at the worst possible moment so in an emergency they can produce a lot of thrust. You don't want to do that most of the time for all the reasons mentioned above, but if it's a choice between that and crashing...

Sure, Dave might seem like he's avidly listening to this morning's meeting, but he's actually doing a yoga routine

SkippyBing

I'm just confused why people are using the video option for teleconferencing. Thankfully my employer insists we don't use it* which means a) it doesn't matter if I don't look my best b) it's not immediately apparent if I've been distracted by an email, book, postie arriving with something more interesting and c) no one sees my facial expression when someone senior says something mind numbingly stupid.

Plus I don't really need to see my co-workers in blocky pixel vision to understand what they're saying.

*I'm sure it's nothing to do with the capacity of the VPN...

Planespotters’ weekends turn traumatic as engine pieces fall from the sky in the Netherlands and the US

SkippyBing

Re: Uncontained?

'except for the missing blade, but we don't know where that is yet.'

From some post landing photos it looks like it may have gone into the wing/fuselage junction on the underside of the aircraft. Where they keep the undercarriage when it's not being used.

You would expect a qualified electrician to wire a building to spec, right? Trust... but verify

SkippyBing

Re: You would expect a qualified electrician to wire a building to spec, right?

Can we go back to saying mains voltage is 240 VAC?

Boeing will cough up $2.5bn+ to settle US fraud charge over 737 Max safety

SkippyBing

Re: The software isn't the main problem

I think you're right about how the force changes, I was over simplifying. The problem was that although it was initially a minor fix, it ended up having to be significantly increased, I think the trim movement was about 8 times larger than originally planned. It also inexplicably had full trim authority, which is what led to bad things happening.

I would disagree that panic and inexperience were to blame, the pilots in the first crash didn't know MCAS existed so they wouldn't have known they had to remove its effects. The pilots in the second crash did know about it, did what Boeing had said would solve the issue, and then found themselves unable to control the aircraft and unable to manually trim it due to aerodynamic forces. Slow round of applause for Boeing introducing an emergency procedure that doesn't solve the problem.

SkippyBing

Re: The software isn't the main problem

If you look at the accident rate for airliners since 1945 you'll notice that as automation has increased the accident rate has reduced. Worth noting MCAS isn't needed for the autopilot in the 737 MAX, it's only active when being manually flown.

SkippyBing

Re: The software isn't the main problem

'The engine propositioning does not lead to catastrophic instability, it can be dealt with by training the pilots that the MAX has different handling characteristics from previous 737 variants.'

Not true, the MAX has handling characteristics that mean it cannot be certified for use as an airliner without the MCAS system to correct it. Above around 15 degrees angle of attack the control forces reduce as the angle of attack increases, meaning if the pilot is distracted while manually flying the MAX they can inadvertently enter a stall. MCAS corrects that using the trim. Where training comes in is that to avoid there being too much conversion training, requiring a separate type rating, they just didn't mention the existence of MCAS.

Nothing to do with making it handle like a 737 NG, all to do with making it handle in a way that would pass certification and then minimising the conversion training by not mentioning how they did it.

US aviation regulator issues safety bulletins over flaws in software updates for Boeing 747, 777, 787 airliners

SkippyBing

And yet people complain about updates to Microsoft Flight Simulator causing problems, it's called realism!!

Up yours, Europe! Our 100% prime British broadband is cheaper than yours... but also slower and a bit of a rip-off

SkippyBing

My parent's who live in a village in Cornwall have ~80Mbps so I don't think you can take your single data point as representative of the whole county, never mind country.

Chuck Yeager, sound barrier pioneer pilot, dies at 97

SkippyBing

Re: The right stuff, in some circumstances

Indeed, as mentioned at the link below about one of his more famous crashes.

http://www.kalimera.org/nf104/stories/stories_13.html

Sad that he's gone but always thought of him as a poor man's Winkle Brown.

Watchdog signals Boeing 737 Max jets can return to US skies following software upgrade, pilot training

SkippyBing

Re: Scares the pants off me

Strictly the pilots of the second accident aircraft did know what was going wrong and initially took the correct action of turning the electric trim off. However they then discovered the forces on the control surfaces from the trim being fully nose down and the elevator being fully nose up meant they were unable to manually trim the aircraft. To do that they'd have to relax the pressure on the control column and allow the nose to drop, which wasn't a particularly enticing option and was removed from the flight manual about forty years ago. It appears that as they were getting nowhere manually trimming it, and were probably getting tired holding the control column fully aft* they attempted to turn the electric trim back on and trim off as much pressure as they could.

Long story short, even if you knew what was going wrong there was no easy option to get out of the situation.

*This requires quite a force due to the artificial feel designed to prevent the aircraft being over stressed.

SkippyBing

Re: So it's inherently safe without MCAS?

MCAS deploys when the extra lift from the larger engines causes a reduction in the control force needed to deviate from the trimmed speed. This should increase with increasing deviation from the trimmed speed but in the 737 MAX at high angle of attack it decreases. This isn't allowed by the certification regulations for the good reason that if you kept the same pressure on the control column you'd enter a stall. Which is considered bad form in an airliner.

SkippyBing

The 737 is innately stable. The issue with the Max is that the control forces reduce at high angles of attack which could lead to the pilot stalling the aircraft without changing the pressure on the control column. This is the issue that MCAS fixed by applying a nudge of trim if the pilot was approaching that area of the flight envelope, where in 99.999% of operations they'd never get.

SkippyBing

Re: Dating back to the 1096s

The trim should be used for making small adjustments by the pilot, however it's also used by MCAS to stop the control forces coming too light at high angle of attack. It was found in the second crash that once MCAS had wound all the trim on* it was physically impossible to move the trim control and keep the aircraft level. To remain in level flight the pilots were applying full up elevator against full nose down trim, this created a form of geometric lock preventing any trim movement. The original 737 flight manuals suggested that if you found yourself in this situation you release stick pressure, wind the trim like mad, and then reapply stick pressure to try and regain height before repeating the procedure. That guidance appears to have been removed in the mid to late '70s.

So in the case of runaway MCAS the only way of getting out of it alive was by turning the trim motors off and manually re-trimming. Which proved impossible the one time it was tried. So a greater mechanical advantage on the manual trim wheel would be a significant improvement.

*Because why wouldn't you let the computer have full trim authority?

Gamers are replacing Bing Maps objects in Microsoft Flight Simulator with rips from Google Earth

SkippyBing

I haven't noticed the twitchy controls issue, but I tweaked my joystick years ago to make the null zone more generous. However, plenty of people have fixed it adjusting the in game settings.

I'm always a bit dubious comparing control feel in simulators as I'm flying all the aircraft through a joystick with no feedback, and frankly there are two many variables in terms of hardware for the developers to get close for one aircraft never mind a whole range.

SkippyBing

Re: BBC Click

Depends how obsessed you are with a particular location. London is reasonably good, and about 1000 times better than the default in any other sim, but it hasn't got the level of detail you get in say LA or Tokyo at the moment. But ASOBO and MS are planning on ten years of development, Japan got a complete upgrade about two weeks ago and there have already been two updates.

SkippyBing

Re: Not just lower quality but appalingly out of date

My understanding is that they have access to the Bing Maps data but aren't tied to their update cycle. They're also pretty proactive about updating stuff in the Sim if you tell them via the helpdesk so Bing Maps is more the foundation they build on than the final layer.

K8s on a plane! US Air Force slaps Googly container tech on yet another war machine to 'run advanced ML algorithms'

SkippyBing

Meanwhile Azerbaijan are doing what B-N only talk about https://defence-blog.com/news/azerbaijani-military-turns-soviet-biplane-aircraft-into-drones.html

SkippyBing

Failed drones already are raining down from the sky, that's why they banished Watchkeeper to Ascension Island for a while and it's only allowed to operate in restricted airspace.

The advantage of using a proven design however, is they tend to have solved most of the problems that cause aircraft to fall on your head in flames. You also get an increase in payload and range by removing the bits needed to accommodate a puny human operator. For instance the Bell 407 has an endurance of 4 hours, the MQ-8C Firescout which is a Bell 407 based UAV has an endurance of 15 hours. Which raises a lot of questions about where they're stuffing the fuel because they were using the passenger seats to start with.

SkippyBing

But that's the advantage of unmanned, if it crashes you don't kill anyone, so you it doesn't matter if you can't handle edge cases.

Jesting aside, and that was a throw away comment about the auto-pilot, B-N have exactly one product and mostly survive on servicing and doing things to the ones MoD own. Making it into a UAV is such an obvious way of extending their cash cows life I'm embarrassed for them that they didn't think of it earlier.

Disclaimer I turned down a job with B-N four years ago because they didn't seem to have any plans for, or interest, in the future.

UK govt advert encouraging re-skilling for cyber jobs implodes spectacularly

SkippyBing

Re: You mean "faux outrage"?

Didn't want the UK to be part of it though.

SkippyBing

Re: You mean "faux outrage"?

I did find it slightly hypocritical that the same people on twitter who'd been mocking the government for trying to get people back into the office to save workers at Pret and the like, and saying they could get new jobs suited to the post-covid economy, were then outraged when the government suggested people could get new jobs suited to the post-covid economy... It was almost as if they were the kind of people who'd criticise the government regardless.

Still nice to see that we're still allowed to make the stereotype that all girls want to be ballet dancers.

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