* Posts by John Aislabie

14 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Nov 2008

Apple opens iCloud to world+dog

John Aislabie

Lets hope there really are opt outs

I hope that I can opt out of having the sync work, since I have different requirements for different machines.

And I especially do not want the system to run a back up on my data. There is no cloud I would ever trust anywhere in which I would confidently leave my data lying about. Nor one that would leave my pictures in.

My computer is probably more hackable, but less attractive than the potential motherlode available in a cloud data centre. When my data and mail is downloaded and backed up at my end, and my pictures are backed up on a DVD stored in a separate location, there is some chance of hanging onto it. For now, I view undisturbed long term cloud storage as wishful thinking, and from privacy point of view, far too much temptation for various self-important and morally questionable authorities to keep their mucking hands off.

Dear Dell and Microsoft: You're not Apple

John Aislabie

Engage with computer hobbiests??

What - both of them?

This is company trying to sustain billions of dollars of sales. Neither of the "hobbiests" has that kind of dough.

HP's beloved 12c calculator turns 30

John Aislabie

Still going

My HP12c has been used most (work) days since it was issued to me in July 1986. It currently shares bag space with an iPad . It is scratched and dented but the only thing missing is three(out of four) rubber feet.

The handbook is a great reference resource and lives on my desk. I always wondered why the note on "Potential for Radio/television Interference" is "for USA only"

Apple seals $66bn in Jobsian wallet

John Aislabie


At December 1997 as Steve put in the first quarter of his effort to pull the company out from a power dive, Apple had $1.2billion of cash - BUT it also had $939 million of long term debt.

If Apple had been shuttered at that point the shareholders would have probably got nothing at all.

RAF Eurofighters make devastating attack – on Parliament

John Aislabie

Black Knight!!!

It is probably hopeless to try and build some modest level of knowledge into the comments here but occasionally it just becomes too much to endure.

Black Knight was a research rocket and exceptionally successful at a time when space launches were pretty unpredictable affairs.

Presumably you were also not thinking of the successful (and cancelled) Black Arrow or the successful Blue Streak as a first stage launcher (after cancellation as an MRBM), or even the successful (but still cancelled) Blue Water. You might see a Ministerial hand here.

This same "shit" industry also produced and exported Bloodhounds, Seacats and Skyflashes, and provided Sea Darts and Red Tops to successful use with UK forces.

And we are only talking missiles here. There were certainly flubs and the extended development of Blue Steel was one, but to those many people who worked on some fine technology I am happy to give a tip of the hat.

Obama gets personal V-22 Osprey tiltrotor

John Aislabie


Enquiring minds need to know - which Blackhawk model takes 24 seated troops or a medical staff and 16 stretchers that can come out of each Merlin?

The Blackhawk is not going anywhere with the Merlins underslung load of 5440 kg - at least no further than the end of the hoist line.

The Blackhawk is a very fine helicopter but this is silly.

Airship 'Sky Tugs' ordered from Lockheed for Canadian oilfields

John Aislabie


The Canadian aircraft with the air cushion landing gear was the DHC Buffalo. The concept was tried initially at a smaller scale on a Lake Buccaneer.

Although airship zealots dream of their craft somehow overcoming slow speed, weather activity, vast size comparative to payload, awkward ground handling and parking, altitude limitation, relatively fragile structure and sensitive flight handling, the problems cannot be overcome by this or any other craft.

The old saw about taking outsize structures to unprepared strips in remote places ignores a raft of issues from miserable payload to large crewing problems over a multiday journey.

Small unmanned payloads airborne for long periods works fine and is viable. Modest payloads on manned craft with relaxed deadlines also commands a modest requirement. The rest is never going to make it.

John Aislabie

Hope springs eternal

Firstly, the Canadian aircraft given an air cushion landing gear was the DHC Buffalo.

The persistent dream of airship nuts is that somehow, somewhere, something will overcome the well proven disadvantages. Nothing has done so far and this will not either.

The payload is piffling for something of this likely expense.

The operating limitations of weather, wind and precipitation will make this uncertain transport especially over longer distances.

Storing/parking the thing when it is not in use (most of the time) is a damn nuisance, especially in bad weather.

Too often their won't be an exact 20 ton load to maximise its potential so they will be faced whether it is worth using it inefficiently for a smaller load.

The old saw about it being useful in moving outsize objects around the world overlooks the sheer slowness of these things and the required crew manning for weeks long journeys. These outsize objects also require a vastly larger airship of vastly larger cost and even less utility.

No, the facts are that unmanned long duration flights with small payloads are entirely viable. Short duration manned flights with modest payloads to an undemanding timetable also have a modest demand.

Outside that it is not workable

'Blitzer' railgun already 'tactically relevant', boasts maker

John Aislabie


Mach 5 may seem fast enough to hit an aircraft but the maths says that it isn't.

Consider a threatening aircraft with an anti ship missile say 20 miles away.

If (having solved all the above problems) you fire a mach 5 projectile at that aircraft, it still has a a rather gentlemanly 20 seconds to decide to be somewhere else.

Assuming it it is ambling at no more than mach 0.9 it has about 7 miles of possible lateral positions and over 3 miles of height to consider as the projectile races towards it.

There are going to be a lot of misses. A lot

Bob the Builder slapped with CGI rendering

John Aislabie


So all the other secrets of the fifties have been revealed but :- how did Michael Bentine make the Bumblies move?

VTOL gyro-copter flying car mates with killer robot

John Aislabie

Fairey Rotodyne still the one to beat

Carter frequently gives a referential nod to the Fairey Rotodyne which had the rotors powered by tip jets so that it could take off vertically. In fact the last 50 years have not seen anyone improve on the Rotodyne as a practical VTOL transport. The US Osprey is the obvious contender but the hairy scary complexity of the technology gets you very little more practical performance, a miserable advance for 50 years.

Mantis Reaper-clone drone flies

John Aislabie

Hold on a minute

Lewis's withering attacks on the UK aerospace industry are often amusing and sometimes have some elements of truth - particularly regarding cost overruns, but this one may be a bit too quick.

Firstly BAe ought to be in UCAVs, and if they are late well it it is certainly necessary for the UK to catch up in that area, since Reaper can hardly be the all time last word on the subject. And getting from concept to first flight in 19 months shows somebody is still pretty competent in the company.(And that also keeps down costs!)

BUT despite references to being Reaper-like the Mantis is somewhat different to Reaper. It has 50% more power for one thing, we know little of how that is applied (more fuel? more payload? quicker time to altitude?) but I would imagine something will come of it. Interesting that they waited three weeks to announce the first flight.

NASA orbiter returns first shots of Apollo moon sites

John Aislabie


Despite the annotation the Apollo 14 picture almost certainly shows the handcart not the ALSEP instruments (as one poster here suggests).

Also there is potential for muddle in the camera damage story. Apollo 11 did not have a damaged camera and the download from that was supposedly a better quality than could be put out for (and secondarily recorded by) the TV networks. It was Apollo 12 ,which landed near Surveyor 3, where they accidentally burnt out the camera by pointing it at the sun

What if computers went back to the '70s too?

John Aislabie


In1966 working on a Monrobot XI (ah the joys of splicing paper tape) we certainly thought and spoke of it as a computer and relied on it to produce the stores orders, shipping lists, inventories and re-order prompts daily for our chain of supermarkets.