* Posts by Mike Powers

202 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Apr 2006


Official: Cloud computing invented by two technophobic old geezers

Mike Powers

Different Music

You can tell cloud computing is new 'coz the music in the TV commercial goes "wub-wub" instead of "deedly-deedly".

Hm, nice idea that. But somebody's already doing it less well

Mike Powers

Obviously Andrew hates small businessmen and jobs

Cab companies are small businesses who hire dispatchers and company operators. By making this dispatchers and operators unnecessary, Andrew would DESTROY SMALL BUSINESSES and KILL JOBS. ANDREW HATES JOBS AND SMALL BUSINESSES.

Adobe demands 7,000 years a day from humankind

Mike Powers

Each line of the EULA represents tens of thousands of dollars in a court

Remember that we're in a society that can have a debate over what the meaning of "is" is.

Each of the lines in an EULA is a scar, the result of a court case where some lawyer argued that they didn't have to pay for the software on account of thus-and-so wasn't specified specifically in the specific specification specs of the User Agreement as being something you couldn't do. Like, the EULA says "don't copy our software", but what is the actual *meaning* of the words "copy", "our", "software", and "don't"?

Mike Powers

Re: My personal favourite is the Apple App Store

Actually, the first bit of the "you need to agree" page describes what actually changed. You'd see that if you read that page instead of whining about "OMG I HAVE 2 READ I H8 READIN JUST LEMME PLAY ANGERY BIRDSSSS".

Wozniak to star in crazed iOS action game, rescuing missus 'J-Woz'

Mike Powers

Mission Accomplished

I bet this was a damnsight cheaper than buying actual ads. And it worked, too--we're all talking about "Vengeance", right?

Target Silicon Valley: Why A View to a Kill actually made sense

Mike Powers

Although there IS an airship flying around the SF Bay Area now

Maybe we should keep an eye on it. If we see anyone pop out the bottom and fall into the bay without a 'chute, it might be a good idea to go somewhere else on vacation for a couple weeks...

Falling share price exposes NetApp

Mike Powers

Best company to work for!

(And they promptly fired half their staff.)

Steve Jobs was top of the flops, says Apple's Tim Cook

Mike Powers

It's not "flipping", it's the "rapid shifting paradigm" of management

I can just see the books and articles and podcasts about it now. "All the best work happens in the initial ten percent of time spent on something! After that you've just hit the point of diminishing returns! So you should totally change your mind about everything, every day, because starting fresh every twelve hours or so means you'll get *crazy* amounts of innovating done!"

Researchers find backdoor in milspec silicon

Mike Powers

Re: PEA, an interesting description

So it sounds like this is a "backdoor" in the way that a cast-iron safe is "unsecure", in that it's possible to drill out the lock--if you can remove the safe to your own lab and have an unlimited amount of time and access to all the tools and resources you might want.

Hardly the Ghost In The Shell hack-your-cyberbrain stuff the stories make it seem.

Steve Jobs' 'private Apple spaceship' seeks public love

Mike Powers

Cupertino residents should keep their mouths shut...

...if they know what's good for them. After all, I'm sure they don't want a "low-income housing" project to go on the space instead, like happened up in Marin...

Speaking in Tech: The worst government IT deal of ALL TIME

Mike Powers

This was probably the cheaper option

Knowing how the government does things, it probably cost *less* to do it this way.

If you tried to buy smaller, cheaper equipment that was sized for the intended user, there probably wouldn't be anything on the Approved Equipment List. Which means you need to go through the process to get the item you want added to the list so you're allowed to buy one. Hopefully there's someone on the Approved Vendor List that sells one, otherwise you need to find a company that does sell it and get *them* added to the list. If you're very lucky there are at least three companies that sell the item you want, allowing you to prepare a competitive bid package, but probably there isn't so you need another special justification to sole-source the procurement.

So now you've had three separate review-and-approval processes, and you're ready to buy the product you want. But, since your supplier is now, they haven't gone through the supplier qualification process that's required of anyone who wants to sell--HEY YOU, WAKE UP BACK THERE! NO SLEEPING!--anyway, if you want to sell things to the government there is a specific procedure you have to be certified as able to follow, even if you've been selling things for thirty years.

And all of these steps are important and necessary to make sure that we aren't spending Taxpayer Dollars on junk. When you say "I don't want the government to waste my money!" you need to be aware that "we will therefore spend a great deal of money conducting extensive review and oversight to ensure that money spent on hardware is not being wasted" is a valid response.

Flash DOOMED to drive itself off a cliff - boffins

Mike Powers


Technology is always "just about to hit the upper limit of capability". The world responds by inventing a new technology.

Shakira attacked by sea lion who mistook BlackBerry for a 'fish'

Mike Powers

I saw a sign down in Monterey:





CERN boffins to lift LHC beam power

Mike Powers

"running the LHC at 4 TeV per beam will help it meet a data target of 15 inverse femtobarns for the ATLAS and CMS experiments, with LHC bunch spacing to remain at 50 nanoseconds."

But what about the plasma phase inducers? Or the inertial damping field? Or the dilithium polarity reversers?

Angry Birds boss: Piracy helps us 'get more business'

Mike Powers

Did you make a cake, or did you make the SAME cake?

There's a difference between making a cake, and making an exact copy of the cake you saw; and between making a cake for yourself and making cakes for anyone who wants them.

"Lost sales are a fallacy"

You're right, but not in the way you intend. Pointing to "lost sales" is a fallacious argument BECAUSE YOU STILL GOT THE THING. In a legal transaction you would have compensated the owner in some way to obtain the product. You did not compensate the owner, and yet you got the product anyway. "Oh but I wouldn't even have got it if I had to pay!" Well, A: see previous, and B: you're saying you got the full-ride version of Photoshop just to faff around with it?

Mike Powers
Thumb Down

He isn't talking about software piracy

If you read the speech, he barely mentions software. It's all about the merch. What he calls "piracy that helps us" is people making Angry Birds T-shirts and hats and plush toys, turning themselves into walking Angry Birds billboards. And these are things where there's a genuine difference--in quality, in durability--between an Official Licensed Product and a cheap knockoff; meaning there's some reason to pay premium prices for Official etc.

Mike Powers

Scorched Earth

And even earlier games (VGABomb)

Two million-degree matter from SLAC laser

Mike Powers

Sounds like a Tom Swift title

"Tom Swift and his Atomic X-Ray Laser"

It's the term 'atomic' that does it, really; rather than the newfangled 'nuclear'. But then, 'nuclear' is so often linked to 'bomb' or 'disaster' so I can see how they'd want to avoid it.

Foreign sabotage suspected in Phobos-Grunt meltdown

Mike Powers

Stuxnet strikes again!

No doubt it was those dastardly Israelis.

Boffins glue self-righting ROBO-VELOCIRAPTOR tail to car

Mike Powers

Gundam's AMBAC?

Using robot limbs to adjust attitude in a free-fall environment? I'm surprised this research isn't being done by Bandai...

PayPal dispute ends in 'violin destruction'

Mike Powers

So how was it advertised?

If the eBay listing said "old violin, had it for a long time, probably made in the 1930s but I can't verify that, Stradivarius sticker on the side of dubious authenticity", that's one thing. If the eBay listing was "GENUINE ANTIQUE STRAD VIOLIN NR L@@K!!!!", well, that's another thing.

If the listing genuinely does not support a counterfeit claim then I'd say it's lawsuit time.

Paul Allen latest plan: Space rockets on MEGA PLANE

Mike Powers

Orbital flexibility

The flexibility that this provides for the final orbit will be important.

A typical launch site doesn't launch rockets over populated areas, due to the risk of showering the populace with exploding carcinogenic acid (aka 'rocket fuel'). This limits the inclination of the orbit--the angle of the orbit plane relative to the equator--because rockets generally get launched in the direction of the orbit inclination. (The rocket or the satellite can change direction afterwards, but this takes a LOT of fuel.)

Why is this relevant? Because an airplane can go out over the ocean and fly in any direction it wants, and therefore launch a payload into whatever inclination the customer needs. Previously this was done by Orbital Science Corporation's "Pegasus", but that was a pretty small rocket. This is going to be a big boy.

Airbus brews Scandium smackdown for carbon Dreamliner

Mike Powers

The SR-71 doesn't fly

and hasn't flown for the past thirty years. (The USAF never quite got over the fact that the CIA got a Mach 3 airplane before they did, and that the only Mach 3 airplane the USAF flew was a mod of the one the CIA had.)

Mike Powers

Airframes are generally pretty low margin

Composites do indeed fail catastrophically when they go, but that's not to suggest that they can't be designed with sufficient margin. While there are some intricacies to composite design, the basic concepts of stress-versus-load still apply.

While you're correct that metal has more capability for plastic (yielding) deformation before failure, it's also the case that aircraft are manufactured right down to the razor's edge of margin. Every extra pound means you have to burn that much more fuel on every trip. I think that the 747's cross-section area between the frames is only something like twelve square inches. So while the metal could conceivably have some strength left after yielding, it probably wouldn't have all that much; and aluminum doesn't yield all that much before failure anyway (only a factor of 1.12 between yield stress and failure stress, versus about 1.67 for cold-drawn stainless steel.)

If you're worried about composites being used as major structures, that ship has sailed (er, that plane has flown?) Airbus has been making composite tails for years--in fact, in November 2001 there was an airliner crash in New York where the tail snapped off due to overstressing (pilots had been improperly trained to seesaw the rudder violently to handle turbulence.)

Ultimately, it seems like it's as you describe--the benefit of composites (or weldments) is that you can reduce the amount of joinery you need, saving that part of the weight. You also get a small benefit from reducing the work at your primary assembly facility (bigger subsections = less time bolting them together) although you're really just spreading the labor out to the subsection manufacturers.

Note that they're still using fasteners to assemble the 787 (in fact there was a big problem with their fastener supply chain--they just assumed that there would always be plenty of aircraft-grade bolts available. Unfortunately, when all the defense-industry work went away, the fastener suppliers went out of business!) They just have to be more careful about it. i.e. instead of just punching a hole with a simple die punch, they have to drill and ream and clean. Instead of just slapping on a rivet and letting everything mush itself into place by yielding, they have to use a special-made washer with a curved face to avoid gouging the composite surface (or spend time countersinking every place there's going to be a fastener.) People have tried to make bonded joints for composite structures and nobody's ever found a way to do it that's as good as a bolted joint without being just as much work. (you have to design specifically to make the bonded joint work--any peel stress will kill it dead, just like ripping a piece of Velcro open versus trying to slide it off.)

Mike Powers

NASA Langley's drop-test facility has been crashing carbon-fiber aircraft for a while now. They pretty much act just like aluminum ones.

Conflict mineral laws haven't helped Congolese

Mike Powers
Big Brother

Fighting to solve the problems created by the solutions we fought for

"They should be campaigning to resolve this problem"...really? The problem that THEY created?

Although that's a pretty good gig. Fight strongly for a policy that will cause increased suffering and misery. Then fight strongly for policies to alleviate that suffering and misery. Play your cards right and you'll be able to fight strongly forever. In other words, WAR IS PEACE.

China responds to satellite hack charge: 'Nuh-uh!'

Mike Powers
Big Brother

Of course it wasn't China

Just like it wasn't China that was shooting lasers up the mirrors of spy satellites.

Because if China were to intentionally interfere with the operation of another nation's satellites, it would be an act of war. We'd have to go to war with China over that, or else come up with a really good explanation why we didn't.

So it can't possibly be true that China was interfering with the operation of satellites. Whatever it takes, whatever we have to believe, whatever obvious realities we have to ignore, whatever doublethink we must employ, it CANNOT BE TRUE that China interfered with our satellites. Because if it were true, it would be bad.

NASA unveils its chosen Shuttle successor

Mike Powers

Reusable rockets are like reusable beer cans

And no, I don't mean "recycling", I mean "wash out the can and fill it back up with beer and crimp on a new top".

IBM builds biggest-ever disk for secret customer

Mike Powers
Big Brother

Good point

Nuke simulations need RAM; I can't see how caching to a hundred-Petabyte disk is going to be do-able with any kind of responsiveness.

Apple blasted for toxic waste spewed by iDevice suppliers

Mike Powers

Why we can't make a Kindle in America

...because we don't like the idea of dumping waste solvent in the ditch behind the factory, flushing our etching tanks directly into the river, and exhausting fume hoods out the roof without filters or treatment.

Insulin pump maker ignores diabetic's hack warnings

Mike Powers

Medtronic or Minimed?

The pump in question was manufactured by an entirely different company (Minimed) that was bought out by Medtronic. Calling Minnesota gets you nothing but the head offices and the accounting department of the manufacturer's parent company. Minimed itself is in Northridge CA. If Radcliffe were indeed calling Medtronic then it's understandable why the people he was talking to would have no clue.

It's official: IE users are dumb as a bag of hammers

Mike Powers

Christ, talk about "correlation/causation" fallacy

You could also interpret this as "nerds are more likely to care about what browser they use, most others just use what came in the box".

Head fed cyberspook resigns abruptly

Mike Powers

Misread the title

...as "HAND fed cyberspook". I'm all "wow, they really go all-out in their indoctrination these days..."

Anti-PowerPoint Party vows end to death by slides

Mike Powers

Twitter instead of Powerpoint?

So let me get this straight. You think that putting things onto slides is too limiting so you're going to use Twitter? You think that Powerpoint encourages "factoid assimilation" over understanding, so you're going to boil everything down to 140-character talking points?

"A decently designed tool subtly or overtly guides use in such a way that the results are usually good, and you have to work hard to get really bad results."

Spoken like a person who's never used a hammer to drive a nail.

Mike Powers

Dogma 2011

Anyone remember the old "Dogma 95" film movement? There must just be something about Europeans and technology that doesn't mix.

Google's Facebook: It rocks, but who cares?

Mike Powers

Why aren't you using email?

"I'm an individual, a parent, a spouse, a boss, a client, a friend..."

So, what, you can't email any of these people? You've already *got* a narrowcasting channelized targeted communications application. It's what you get when you double-click that little envelope icon.

I don't eat soup with a fork, so why would I use Social Media to handle business communications?

Apple, Amazon trademark spat turns surreal

Mike Powers




I'm not saying I agree with the reasoning. I'm explaining it. Get the picture?



Mike Powers

Easy answer

It's a store where apps are sold, and "App Store" is a unique name that could just as well have been "Program Shop" or "Software Seller" or "Petunia" or "Honeycomb" or "Bloward's".

It's just like "Kleenex" and "Velcro". Those are not generic terms; they refer to specific trademarked brand names.

New top-secret stealth choppers used on bin Laden raid

Mike Powers

It wasn't necessarily a failure

Do we have confirmation that it was a failure? It's possible that they didn't so much "crash" as "intentionally land so hard that it broke the chopper, just to get on the ground that much more quickly".

Sort of like a Space Marine Drop Pod.

HBGary's nemesis is a '16-year-old schoolgirl'

Mike Powers

Oh jeez

"Each night she wipes every one of her web accounts and deletes every email in her inbox," Forbes reports. "She has no physical hard drive and boots her computer from a microSD card," it adds."

Seriously? This sounds like the breathless "CYBER-HACKING" stories that we heard back in the early Nineties, when people thought that sending someone an email could make your computer explode, when people thought that European teenagers buzzed on sugar water and were stealing people's bank accounts and taking control of nuclear-missile silos.

She "wipes her web accounts"? What does that even *mean*?

Apple handcuffs 'open' web apps on iPhone home screen

Mike Powers

Heck, if they didn't like it they'd just ban it

It's not like Apple has shown any compunctions about banning apps it doesn't like.

Apple tosses Sony iBooks rival from iTunes

Mike Powers
Gates Horns

Microsoft lawsuit?

So Microsoft got their butts sued over providing Internet Explorer bundled with Windows, which was apparently "anticompetitive".

Now here's Apple OVERTLY DECLARING that they won't let you bring in programs that "duplicate" Apple functionality and allow users to make purchases via channels that aren't controlled by Apple.

It would be pretty ironic if Apple got sued over this and the plaintiffs cited the Microsoft lawsuit as precedent!

Elon Musk looking to get into 'black' spy sat market

Mike Powers

Wait 'til SpaceX sees their first CDR

They will immediately understand why everything you do for the government costs three times as much and takes five times as long as it ought to do.

Exposed: leaked body scans published online

Mike Powers

Global Warming?

You sound like someone spouting links to "scientific proof" that AGW is real, and accusing "deniers" of being plants or shills.

How not to do Project Management

Mike Powers


I kind of like that analogy--"a ship's captain constantly on the bridge on the lookout for icebergs and floating containers". The PM is one of those people in the position where a properly-done job is unnoticed; after all, nobody bothered to count how many icebergs the Titanic *didn't* hit.

US census takers fight angry Americans for their data

Mike Powers

Then why all the "FOX NOOZ HURF DURF"

"It's just an accounting of what happened, no more and no less."

Really? Then why all the angry gibbering about how anyone with a gripe about the census was a fat-cat Glenn Beck addict? (And how homeless and jobless people were invariably pleasant and understanding and had totally legitimate excuses for everything.)

X2 triplex super-copter to be offered as Army 'Raider' craft

Mike Powers

XH-59? No

The XH-59 was Sikorsky's effort at the 19602-1970s gunship program. The winner was Lockheed's XH-56 Cheyenne, which had only one engine and not four. The Cheyenne did have a vibration problem, which was fixed (albeit after one helicopter disintegrated in midair and killed a test pilot.)

The problem with the Cheyenne was that the Army changed its mind. They originally wanted a high-speed escort for troop carriers; they decided that the carriers shouldn't be going to hot LZs, and that what was really needed was a low-speed high-maneuverability tank-killer. That's how we got the AH-64 Apache.

Of course, now we're in a situation where what we need is a high-speed escort for troop carriers...

Behind the Kindle, under the iPad: an unholy alliance

Mike Powers

Seems like a valid concern

Seeing as how there were (and are) many court cases regarding First Sale Doctrine--and even that doctrine mostly exists because of nonenforceability--I'd say that "read it then lend it to a friend" is going to prove to be more of a *custom* than a *right*.

Mike Powers

Feel and smell

I always see people going on about how they love the "feel and smell" of a book.

This sounds like someone in the early 20th century saying that those silly car things will never catch on because they can't reproduce the feel and smell of a horse.

Indeed, cars are an instructive example. At first they were clunky, cranky, expensive things that needed specialist training and knowledge. And in about twenty years they became so common that the only people who rode horses for personal transport were either tremendously rich or shockingly poor; and twenty years after *that* even poor people had cars.

@Matt Stephens: " I find it quite difficult to shell out that amount of money for something I don't really "own". "

Well, you don't "really own" a print book, either. And if you're worried about losing the file, well, I've got all my Kindle "books" saved in at least two different places. And if my Kindle breaks, then (when I get a replacement) I can have my entire library back in about five minutes. Try *that* next time you drop your copy of Beauty's Punishment in the loo.

Moms stand firm against antenna madness

Mike Powers

Ooh, good idea!

That's a wonderful grinchy idea, right there--secretly bankroll the "anti-tower" wackos, and then once they manage to make cell phones illegal you blitz the area with picocell marketing...