* Posts by Markus Imhof

21 posts • joined 5 Jun 2008

The Register to publish Mindful Sysadmin adult colouring book

Markus Imhof

Make it so!

Boffin: Will I soon be able to CLONE a WOOLLY MAMMOTH? YES. Should I? Hell NO

Markus Imhof

Re: Revival is essential if the truly key questions are to be answered.

Of course. Cows aren't threatened by extinction, and neither are chicken. As long as the species is useful or at least tasty, it'll thrive.

Boxing clever? Amazon Fire TV is SO CLOSE to being excellent

Markus Imhof


Got one about a month ago, and ordered it when they sold it as introductory offer for 49 € here in Germany (which, incidentally, is the current one-year subscription price for Prime).

Yes, a games console can do anything that beast can do (and some things better), and we got two.

Yes, a smart TV can do all/most of what that beast can do, and ours could.

But: a (ok, our) one year old smart TV is hard pressed with video streaming, which more or less regularly leads to stopping the currently watched movie/episode. The fire TV just works.

I can't simply stick[1] a games console behind the flat screen (and the wife _will_ complain about any visible cables).

A full blown games console will use a lot more power and make a lot more noise.

So, for video streaming of Amazon Prime content (and at the introductory price), that box is ok. The improvements over the TV app are worth it for us. And for gaming, there's still the xbox 360. But I agree with the review: there could be more (much more) possible on the app side. There's neither an app for Watchever nor for Netflix available, so we still have to use the TVs apps if we want to watch any competing streaming service.

[1]3M dual lock is great for that ;-)

Are you broke? Good with electronics? Build a better AC/DC box, get back in black with $1m

Markus Imhof

Re: Hmmmm I'm guessing the 450vDC in is from PV panels

As usual - this is the reason why good engineers get paid quite handsomely.

The problem is in the details - size and efficiency. In order to get size down, you'll need to get switching frequency up (smaller capacitors, smaller inductors). But that goes exactly against getting efficiency up (every state change induces losses).

While you can apparently without too much trouble switch 5 V at 1 Amp at around 1...2 MHz (and, at this level, the difference between 85% and 95% efficiency is negligible), doing the same with 450 Volts and 5 Amps (or 240 V and 10 Amps) tends to be a bit more difficult.

I got a couple of 5 kW boxes at home - picnic cooler is a bit exaggerated, though. Squeezing half that power into the size of a laptop - well, it'll depend on the laptop, but it looks feasible.

LOHAN in FIGHT to DEATH with brace of cantankerous canards

Markus Imhof

Re: Alternate control method.

_That_ was what was bothering me with this setup. Locking nuts, high performance glue, massive linkages - all well and good, but in the end, you still got a round hole on a round bolt trying to transfer torque. In most R/C applications I've seen so far where torque is actually an issue, you either use a flattened bolt with a respectively shaped hole or, if torque really is an issue, the round hole with the round bolt for the bearing and a steering horn somewhere else on the outside of the control surface to transfer the torque.

As for the twisting, warping and subsequently blocking under load: yes, same fears here. If you can do a test flight (or even better a wind tunnel test - might ask your university chaps) under close-to-real conditions to see whether the canards will still work under high speed wind load, then for the better. But it's still not too late to change your setup:

- push a full length tube through the hull instead of those two small bearings

- cut out maybe 10 mm in the middle after securing the tube basically everywhere else

- push through the canard axles and secure with a retaining ring (will need some rework on the canards, maybe even a new set of canards at the most)

- screw a rudder horn on the canard (I'd suggest upside near the trailing edge)

- cut a slot for the linkage into the fuselage

Of course, this will make the pilot's compartment somewhat drafty.

Oh, and in hindsight, a nylon or ptfe washer around the axle would probably have worked as well as the full size coating.

Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?

Markus Imhof

Re: Sorry - not where I live

Which would mean

- eggs from battery chickens

- milk for which the producers barely break even

- tea is completely out of the question (as is coffee, for that matter)

- factory bread

Maybe Lester might ask local farmers what they get for the tomatoes, salad and strawberries that are currently sold in the Supermarkets here - and how much they can afford to buy from that.

I'm not saying that this challenge doesn't tempt me - but not at a time of the year where I still have to pay ~80 cents for a head of lettuce (at the discounter). Ask me again when local vegetables are in season, or even better, when I can get them from our garden (at what price do I have to position our own pumpkins? If I can get them for free, or at the price of the seeds, the 5 quid would let me make enough pumpkin soup to last me through the week. No sausages, though.).

This 1-pound-a-day challenge might be a good idea to get some publicity for the people who can't afford to pay more for food - but even on German social security, which really isn't much, the daily allowance for food is 4,23 €. Then again, you'll need to live for quite a long time on that level, whereas for one week (ok, 5 days), you really could get by on chips and chocolate. Or spaghetti and tomato purree.

As for the price difference between farm shops and supermarkets: 'our' farm shop probably doesn't pay its employees, which is the farmer's wife on two afternoons each week. But even in a supermarket (if you get the possibility to choose), you'll pay differently for eggs from battery chickens and eggs from freerange chickens. Same with milk - milk from caged cows that are optimized for feedthrough is cheaper than milk from free-range cows. At that farm, I can watch the cows on the pasture (or ask to see them in the stables), I can see (actually, I cycle past each day) the potatoes growing and I can ask from which part of the plot that salad came from.

And they do sell their apple juice at least 30% cheaper than the same quality stuff (i.e. made from local apples, unfiltered) in the supermarket.

Are driverless cars the death knell of the motor biz?

Markus Imhof

Sounds a lot like Car2Go to me...

..apart from the self driving.

Read through the article, skimmed the comments. Has any of you participated in a scheme like Car2Go? Works a treat in urban areas, less so in the outlying districts (density of cars is too low).

Basic concept:

- throw a lot of vehicles into a carsharing system so that basically you'll always find a car within a few minutes walking range

- set up a competitive time-based all-inclusive pricing scheme that (strongly) encourages short-distances rides while making long-distance use quite expensive

- fleet monitoring through GPS, driver identification through an RFID tag

- Apps to find and guide you to the nearest car on your smartphon

- dedicated parking at central locations (where it's more or less impossible to find a parking spot otherwise)

The only people annoyed by this are the taxi drivers and, to a minor point, bus operators. Car2Go prices are competitive with individual tickets for local busses.

Link: https://www.car2go.com/en/berlin/what-is-car2go/

Spanish boffins increase GPS accuracy by 90%

Markus Imhof

So you're still driving on the wrong side of the road?

'two meters to the left' wouldn't endanger pedestrians in most countries - only the passengers of the vehicle drifting to the left and those in the oncoming trafic. Two meters to the right, though, would be a different problem.

LOHAN to straddle meaty titanium rod

Markus Imhof

Why titanium rod?

Ok, it's sexy and allows for a few cheap puns.

But wouldn't a tube serve the same purpose, at perhaps a quarter of the weight? And if it becomes a tube, are there any reasons against using a carbon fiber tube? Since you already have your low temperature test facility, dropping a piece of CF tube in there (in similar proximity to the exhaust as in the final launch setup) probably wouldn't be too much of a problem.

Got a few minutes to help LOHAN suck?

Markus Imhof

How dedicated are you?

If the schools or the other offers above don't pan out - 15 mbar isn't that much. Pros apparently use a simple membrane pump for that. So a modified bicycle floor pump in the hands of a strong lad should do it, if your metal botherers are up to the job of a) finding and b) reversing the air valves (or at least reverse the one on the piston, remove the one in the foot and have a second person open and close an/the external valve in time with the pumper).

No, I refuse to make up any jokes or acronyms about pumping and LOHAN.

BMW tests laser-guided car junction buddy

Markus Imhof

Hmmm.... anyone for ECM?

Electronic CounterMeasures for cyclists. Just find out the frequency and modulation of the laser (and if more than one car uses that system at any given time, it will need some form of ID tag in that modulation), then send some confusing signals from your own OBU.

Simplest would probably just be to swamp it (and hopefully make it fall back into some safe mode - like 'lock the brakes' ;-) ), but put a little more effort into it and you probably could convince the receiver that either the road was clear (while that truck that just passed you is speeding on towards the intersection) or that a truckload of bricks is coming along (while in truth just you and your bike want him to clear the way).

Sounds like an opportunity for some fun.

Superphone system-CRACKING cable of DOOM ... is quite handy

Markus Imhof

May backfire, though

Telling the suits about the dangers of smartphones might backfire, though. I know a few companies (have to visit them occasionally) where nobody (no visitor, no worker, no CEO) is allowed to carry a phone with a camera. It would be much easier (and cheaper) to extend this prohibition to smartphones with WiFi and/or USB connectors than implementing a decent security setup.

Oh, and BTW - the USB ports on the computers in these companies usually work and accept my stick :-)

BOFH: Pepper-packing bot plot

Markus Imhof


doable, but easily? How do you impart sufficient spin on the shuriken when launching it from a railgun?

Just for the interest, though - I don't want to start an international terrorist cell....

App steers cyclists away from traffic, upward inclines

Markus Imhof

Cynical pedestrians...

As a cynical cyclist (who stops at red lights, doesn't use bike paths in the wrong direction and won't ride on pedestrian paths), I'd say that cyclists will start obeying red lights when pedestrians stop walking on bike paths/lanes...

Take care, whatever mode of transport you're using.

Dutch send submarine to fight Somali pirates

Markus Imhof

They do exist

There are impoved diesel-leccy subs. German Class 212A and 214, running on diesel/electric (classical) plus a high-powered Hydrogen/Oxygen fuel cell. Current record for fully submerged operation (all data according to Wikipedia) without snorkeling two weeks, surface speed 12 knots, submerged speed 20 knots, displacement 1830 tons. Currently in service in Germany (4), Italy(2), Greece(4), South Korea(3), Portugal(2).

Problem for pirate-catching is the same (apparently) as with the Walrus: they're _only_ equipped with torpedoes, i.e. apparently no deck gun any more. Which makes attacking a small boat/trawler a bit problematic.



Lords: Analogue radio must die

Markus Imhof

Which of them?

Ok, I'm not in britain, otherwise I'd have to ask: which of my half dozen or so FM radios will be subsidized in case of a replacement: the one in the stereo system in the living room, the one in the kitchen, the one in the compact system in the bedroom, the one in the mobile phone, the one lying in the bedside table, the one in the home office or the one in the garden shed? Just be glad I don't have a car.

Fun aside: DAB is dead. This DAB is deceased. This is an ex-DAB.

- For fixed (read home) entertainment, DAB has been overtaken by internet radio and/or youtube in combination with local WLAN (which is why I for one won't get a DAB replacement for any of the above FM receivers but rather a few comparatively cheap BT A2DP receivers that'll couple to my mobile phone, which in turn will connect via my local WLAN to my server or the internet).

- For mobile pedestrian/bicycling entertainment, the ubiquitous MP3/... players offer better reception/audio quality than the simple receivers/antennas of portable radios can ever hope to achieve (yep, even for DAB).

- For in-car entertainment, you have the choice of MP3, CD, DVD, reasonable FM radio (with a good diversity receiver, the only difference to DAB will be the (un)availability of local stations) or internet radio via UMTS (ok, the last one is still in the development stage, but if Google Earth is working reasonably well, the rest is just a matter of time).



Hands on with Asus' redesigned Eee Keyboard

Markus Imhof

Useable as keyboard?

Ok, it's a keyboard. May I use it as such (+ trackpad?) for another computer? Any information about that from Asus?

I'm going to need a replacement for my old apple keyboard (a white keyboard may look nice when new...), and if I could replace my old Win box at the same time[1], I could in theory free up some shelf space.



[1] I know, virtual win machines exist for the mac - but I need windows only for low cost/hobby PIC development, and the current win box cost me below 100.- € including legal OS and has a real serial port.

New antimatter atomsmashers 'may destroy themselves'

Markus Imhof

Do your homework first

"The new design does have a cool new feature" - really? Electron - Positron colliders have been more or less commonplace for quite some years now. The most recent large one was LEP (yep: Large Electron Positron Collider), the first one was apperently built in the 60s ( http://cas.web.cern.ch/CAS/Baden/PDF/Bernardini.pdf ).

Regarding the "Matter-antimatter reactions are the most powerful energy release possible" - well, yes, but the e+ - e- annihilation will yield 1.022 MeV per particle pair, while even LHC is aiming at the TeV range, some 6 orders of magnitude above that. Compared to the energy from the speed of the particles, the energy released just from the annihilation of the mass is almost[1] negligible. It's like crashing two trucks at 70 mph and then worrying about the energy released from a blown-up tyre.

[1] almost as in negligible in the everyday sense, but not so if you want to study effects that happen 9 to 12 orders of magnitude less often than the commonplace results

'Air fuelled' battery tech invented in Scotland

Markus Imhof

batteries in submarines - @AC

Why bother with this instead of a fission reactor?

Well, fission reactors are large and heavy. This is not an insurmountable problem if you want to use the sub as a missile carrier, since those also tend to be on the somewhat larger side. But for a small recon/attack sub, a non-nuclear option might be beneficial. See also the German type 212 (e.g. <http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/type_212/>), which is using a 'conventional' fuel cell system to achieve this goal.

Hybrid fusion-fission reactors to run on nuclear 'sludge'

Markus Imhof

Old hat?

From the register article, this one looks to me like a modification of Rubbia's 'Energy Amplifier' (see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_amplifier - I could find the wikipedia article faster than the original publications on the CERN server), 'simply' replacing the accelerator with a fusion reactor. Using an accelerator, it would have been 'available technology' and even commercially viable 10 years ago (ok, some of the metallurgy/materials science would have been challenging, but not unsurmountable).

But apparently nobody, at least not in any government or nuclear power industry, seems to be interested in building such a beast.



Hummer glummer on high oil price bummer

Markus Imhof

@ Stu Reeves

Ok, I take up your challenge:

- I live ~15 km from where I work (should work out around 10+ miles)

- hilly might be the correct description (our bedroom is almost exactly at 600 m sea level, my office at around 450, with a couple more valleys inbetween)

- I could be called to any other company or customer's location at short notice, that's why we have a handful of company cars in the yard and two 24-7 rental companies with delivery in the phonebook

- there is some useable public transport (1/hr, 10..30 minutes travel), but who needs it?

We don't have a car. I sold mine ~12 years ago. Where we live now, I'm a member of a (commercial) car-sharing group, so if I need a car for private use, I can get one at a fair price, usually on short notice. For company use, see above. But for commuting or shopping? All done by bike.


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