* Posts by W4YBO

308 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Jan 2016


Lockheed Martin demos 50kW anti-aircraft frickin' laser beam


"First Light"

As an amateur astronomer, I'm a little irritated that Lockheed Martin have taken it upon themselves to redefine "First Light." First Light for a telescope occurs after all the setup, alignment, collimation, etc. that makes the telescope useable for observing.

However, I'm retired now, so being irritated is included in my current job description. Excuse me. I've got to shoo some kids off the lawn.

US Air Force signs $344m deal for hypersonic Mayhem aircraft


"USA cheap talk"

DARPA's motto is "Creating and preventing strategic surprise," so you go right ahead believing that.

Burger King just sent spam receipts to customers


Re: It's not marketing

"I would not feel comfortable leaving a shop without a physical "get out of jail free" card."

Same for "Pay at the pump" gas (petrol) receipts. A state trooper will probably haul you in for questioning if the convenience store clerk (who's been on duty for 12 hours) misidentifies yours as the vehicle that drove off without paying.

FAA now says 5G airports may interfere with Boeing 737s


"Concerns about the effect 5G signals may have on aviation systems have been discussed for years..."

FAA and FCC have both been aware of the problem since the late 1990s. If you listen to top-of-the-hour radio newscasts and have noticed occasional gaps in the audio, sometimes accompanied by a squeak, then you have too. It's often caused by a C band radar altimeter flying directly over the C band satellite antenna. Operating a licensed (supposedly interference protected) ground station digital audio receiver, the broadcaster I worked for filed several interference complaints. I'm retired now, but I still notice the holes and squeaks in the news audio. It'll probably take great loss of life before they actually do something about it.

Phone jammers made my model plane smash into parked lorry, fumes hobbyist


Re: To everyone downvoting me for suggesting that he should have enabled failsafe

"...Wifi to walkie talkies to cordless phones to RC models."

The big noisemakers in the 2.4 GHz band are microwave ovens. But, at least it's easy to direction-find a 1000 watt interference source.

P.S. If you have a pacemaker, please buy a leakage meter. Microwave ovens *all* leak.

I've got a broken combine harvester – but the manufacturer won't give me the software key


Re: I do wonder how much it would cost

I recognized the nomenclature, but from a different context. My high school shop teacher spent an entire class period writing "10d nails", but saying "10 penny nails."

Rest in peace, Mr. Stevenson. I got it, and remembered it fifty years later.

University duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired


Burger King

Until a few months ago, Burger King was my favored drive-thru hamburger restaurant. Good for a quick meal on my way. Then I read an article in one of the national newspapers about a social experiment that BK performed in some of it's outlets to see if anyone would stand up to a "bully" abusing another "customer." Despite their laudable goal, I haven't been back since.

Splunk junks 'hanging' processes, suggests you don't 'hit' a key: More peaceful words now preferred in docs


Re: Primary...

"I don't know, I'm just spouting off."

That's really offensive. Reminds me of a terrible time in my life. Please be more careful in your use of the language.

Thank you,


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


Electricity and idiots

I brought the FNG to our mountaintop site and gave a standard tour of three FMs and two UHF-TV transmitters. I'd excused myself to head to the bathroom when there was a godawful explosion and flash of light. He had opened the door to the 100 kW UHF high voltage cabinet (room sized cabinet). 55,000 volts and current limited only by the capacitor's discharge time meant entering that room while it was energised risked leaving as a nasty smelling puff of smoke. We shut down the transmitter, discharged a cap that had not contributed to the lightning bolt, and set FNG at replacing contacts on the interlock. Back on-air in about 15 minutes.

He started off with a doozy, but I never knew him to make another mistake, and he had a long career with that company until he left to start his own contract engineering firm.

Pizza and beer night out the window, hours trying to sort issue, then a fresh pair of eyes says 'See, the problem is...'


Re: Doubtless with the assistance of a baseball bat peppered with rusty nails.

Bad puns bring back memories of watching "Hee Haw" with my grandparents.

Pi r square. No, pi r round. Cornbread r square.

I got 99 problems, and all of them are your fault


Re: Reminds me of my mum

How the hell did my 82 year old mom install and enable a Dvorak keyboard? She's never even heard of one.

"Hey Mom, see the clock in the lower right of your screen." "Yes." "What are the letters just to the left of it?" "ENG & DV."

Finally, a wafer-thin server... Only a tiny little thin one. Oh all right. Just the one...


Re: Bah!

1978 Spitfire 1500. I couldn't tell whether the top was down or up in the rain. Broke my right foot on the doorsill while pushing it out of the road when the differential blew up.

Currently trying to convince my wife that one would be a great project car.

Call us immediately if your child uses Kali Linux, squawks West Mids Police


"However, as with any software, it can also be misused by those with less legitimate intentions."

As can authority.

Oh dear... AI models used to flag hate speech online are, er, racist against black people


Re: Father Chrismas is fucked!

“ Ho! Ho! Ho!”.

Who you calling a Ho?

When the satellite network has literally gone glacial, it's vital you snow your enemy


Re: Intermittent interruptions

We were installing a new three meter dish on the roof and had several outages that week. Chatting over a few pints of ‘brain lube’ and including a cohort that was familiar with aviation electronics got me on the trail. Then asked the boss to make inquiries at the local general aviation airfield.


Intermittent interruptions

Reposted due to relevance...

I tried for several weeks to diagnose an intermittent interruption in a Scientific Atlanta digital satellite receiver. Usually only on Fridays before lunch, but occasionally randomly throughout the week. Worked out to be two causes. First was the guy with a spark transmitter cleverly disguised as a Weedeater brand string trimmer. It generated every frequency from DC to Light and would swamp the LNA on the dish antenna. Had the disk jockey on duty flag the guy down just before the top of the hour to give him a ten minute break, so we could get through the top-of-hour newscast. The second cause (random throughout the week) was a private plane at the local airport that just had a radar altimeter installed. When he would fly over, his radar's outgoing pulse would overload the LNA and knock a three second hole in the received audio.

Could an AI android live forever? What, like your other IT devices?


"The fires of Mount Doom."

I have a weird looking doorstop consisting several old hard drives, a rack handle, and a few pounds of copper thermite left over after a big antenna project. Shaped generally like a flower pot.

Could you just pop into the network room and check- hello? The Away Team. They're... gone


Re: Not an explosion, just my own daftness...

First year Electrical Engineering lab class. Somebody (not me) discovered that charging a Sprague Orangedrop 0.01 µF capacitor to 200-300v and tossing it to a classmate would elicit a satisfying howl.

Forty years later, and I still avoid catching stuff tossed to me by surprise.

Egg on North Face: Wikipedia furious after glamp-wear giant swaps article pics for sneaky ad shots – and even brags about it in a video


I've got several items of North Face gear...

...but I'll never buy another stitch. My life has literally depended on NF, but there are other good brands.

That's a hell of Huawei to run a business, Chinese giant scolds FedEx after internal files routed via America


FedEx SmartPost

I recently ordered some new QSL cards (a postcard used to verify a Ham radio conversation) from a company about 300 miles from my home. The company shipped via FedEx SmartPost, a service that ships via FedEx to the local post office for delivery. FedEx sent them on a 3000+ mile odyssey that included six states, and took almost two weeks.

Never let something so flimsy as a locked door to the computer room stand in the way of an auditor on the warpath


Re: whether if they'd had their sidearms they could have shot the lock off instead

"Why do people cite mythbusters as if it's science rather than tv entertainment?"

Particularly bad in their later seasons. I like explosions as much as the next guy, but the careful experiment to boom ratio went way down.

As far as gaining access to a "secure" area, I just got the skinny intern to drop through the drop ceiling panel after shimmying over the wall. Justified use of an intern, since he'd somehow changed the code on the lock in the first place.

Heard the one where the boss calls in an Oracle consultant who couldn't fix the database?


"ran like a three-legged dog"

Being from the southern US, I never really gave this phrase much thought until a few weeks ago. That's when I saw my neighbor's three-legged Malinois (missing left front leg) run down a 30-35 mph bicyclist in front of our house.

Yes, I'm that guy that counts seconds while speeders traverse two utility poles. If I lived in town, I'd be yelling "Get off my lawn!"

Haunted disk-drive? This story will give you the chills...


Re: Put a heater in the safe then ?

Most contemporary safes have a 3/8 inch hole drilled into the lower right rear to pass a power cord through. My Heritage safe (6' x 3' x 2' interior) uses a 3 watt heater, and I've never had any condensation problems, even with a damp basement. The hole equalizes air pressure so you can open the door after barometric changes, too.

Bad weather, baulky booster keep ISS 'naut snacks on the ground


No Tang?

Don't mean to alarm you – but NASA is about to pummel the planet with huge frikkin' space laser


Re: I'm not worried...

"laser breams"

Brilliant! Thanks for a good laugh.

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn


The Replacements...

New owners operations manager essentially told me I wouldn't have a job in a couple of weeks, and that he'd make my life hell until then. His best buddy was taking my position, and I needed to go push-mow the six acre tower field in the meantime. I'd already been looking, and had a couple of possibilities, so I said goodbye with the anticipation of a short vacation while interviewing.

FNG (the New Guy, you guess what the F stands for) decided he was so happy with his new job that he hadn't shown up for yet, and that he'd celebrate with a bottle. Then hurricane Hugo hit. Old oak tree came down on the outer guy point, and snapped the 400 foot tower like a twig. FNG gets bagged for drunk driving before he got out of his home state. Never did make it to his new job.

Tech team trapped in data centre as hypoxic gas flooded in. Again


"...all the dust that gets blown around..."

I didn't quite see it, but I felt and heard the explosion of a flour mill (actually the grain elevator, but the mill disappeared when the elevator did) around three miles away. I hope no one allows that much dust build-up in their data center, but I've seen one that had to be close.

Drug cops stopped techie's upgrade to question him for hours. About everything


Re: It's a sound salvation.

I had my five year old godson convinced that the round hay bales out in the fields were unripened marshmallows. They shrank to size as they dried.

Creep travels half the world to harass online teen gamer… and gets shot by her mom – cops


Re: Great outcome, but what about over here?

God made Man. Sam Colt made men (and women) equal.

Trainee techie ran away and hid after screwing up a job, literally


Re: This post is a screw up in more ways than one.

Honeytrap for the obsessive-compulsive.

In defence of online ads: The 'net ain't free and you ain't paying


It may just be in the USA...

but June is Accordion Appreciation month.

Don’t talk to the ATM, young man, it’s just a machine and there’s nobody inside



The three (that I know of) gradations of FUBAR...

SNAFU - Situation normal, all effed up.

TARFU - Things are really effed up

FUBAR - Effed up beyond all recognition (or repair.)

Off with e's head: E-cig explosion causes first vaping death


Re: Obviously the wrong drug...

I love the smell of Latakia in the morning! I cleaved to the pipe as well in my early twenties as a backpacker (trail name - Freight Train. Guess why.) Works wonders repelling black flies and mosquitoes. Add more Latakia, and it'll repel most people, too.

I wonder if vape liquid scents attract black bears?

My PC is on fire! Can you back it up really, really fast?



I was jangled awake dark and early one spring morning by my bedside telephone. The main transmitter was off the air, the backup was on, and oh yeah, the smoke alarm at the transmitter site is alarming. Hour drive to the site, but the backup stayed on-air for the whole trip, so the building's probably not burning down. No flash fire when I opened the building door, so that's good.

When I entered the transmitter building, my first thought was "bar-b-que!" That was the weirdest smelling melted transformer or vented capacitor I'd ever encountered. Smelled a hell of a lot better than a fried selenium rectifier stack.

Start diagnosis with the power amplifier (4CX15000A tube) power supply, so I drop to my knees (aah, those were the days) in front of the PA rack, and begin unscrewing the panel screws. I moved the panel off to the side, and there he was; a two foot long copperhead! I stood up like a ninja!

I didn't really need to worry. Cool night, warm 22 kilovolt transformer. He crawled on top of the transformer and bridged the output terminals. He wasn't going to move again without help. So I helped. Cleaned up the mess, ran fans to ventilate the building, and got the main back on-air. But I never did figure out where he got into the building.

My PC makes ‘negative energy waves’, said user, then demanded fix


Better Call Saul!

Is the users name Charles McGill?

UK regulator bans slasher-flick parody ad for OnePlus 5 mobe


"an unanticipated amount of gore"

With the title of "Lake Blood," you didn't anticipate gore?

Hold the phone: Mystery fake cell towers spotted slurping comms around Washington DC


Re: "...not aware how it would detect such technology..."

I'd love to play like that, even unpaid. Unfortunately, due to the 1986 Electronic Communication Privacy Act, hobbyists aren't allowed to receive cellular frequencies. In the mid eighties, cellular companies lobbied Congress so they wouldn't have to scramble or digitize their, at that time, narrow FM signals. We're still stuck with it, as well as the Satellite Home Viewers Act, which did the same thing for satellite companies.

Personally, I think if their RF energy is striking me, I should be able to do anything I want with it.

Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper


Re: Speaking of carbon paper...

I keep a half dozen sheets of carbon paper in my shop. Great stuff for finding where you need to file or sand to fit parts properly. Useful for transferring measurements from part to paper as well.

Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs


Re: "Fact is, it's still just cheaper to ditch them in the ocean"

"NASA only ditched one Shuttle in the ocean..."

Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour. Which one?

Hackers create 'ghost' traffic jam to confound smart traffic systems


Re: All I want...

In the late seventies, my southern US hometown installed a new traffic light system that featured a 1"x2"x3" box hanging with each set of lights. Way too small for an industrial camera at the time, but if you flashed a particular speed strobe at it, the traffic lights would cycle. I was in high school. Had a lot of fun with that.

I've noticed similar boxes and tubes on many traffic lights and assumed they performed a similar function.

Or you could drive a firetruck.

My PC is broken, said user typing in white on a white background


When my mother uses a word processor or browser...

I think moms must have a user group to promulgate odd problems so they can chat with their geeky children. Mine called last week because every character she typed was wrong. How the hell did she install and enable a Dvorak keyboard?

Paul Allen's six-engined monster plane prepares for space deliveries


If Microsoft made planes...

...you'd have to have the DVD in the drive to take off.

Opportunity knocked? Rover survives Martian winter, may not survive budget cuts


Re: Robot manufacturing

Along the same line, I seem to remember seeing a documentary about LunarMax prison.


Secret weekend office bonk came within inch of killing sysadmin


Re: Commas are important...

"Commas are important, they can mean the difference between "At the weekend I helped my uncle, Jack, off his horse."

Let's eat Grandma!

Let's eat, Grandma!

Zombie … in SPAAACE: Amateur gets chatty with 'dead' satellite


Mr. Tilly has a pretty cool hobby...

...and has made me appreciate the junked DishNetwork antenna out in the garage. I have to approach this carefully, though. I'm not sure what my wife will think about a radio telescope in the backyard.

Ever wondered why tech products fail so frequently? No, me neither


Emitting a loud "crack!...

"Emitting a loud "crack!" they actually exploded into several plastic artefacts while sitting on my face as I was reading. I dunno, maybe I was looking through them too hard."

I had a freshly ground prescription lens do something similar. New wire-rimmed spectacles, just a couple of hours after picking them up, and I noticed a curved line emanating from a corner of the right lens. Just as I was removing them, POP!, and the right lens was in several pieces on my desk. LensCrafters technician told me the grinding lab probably forgot to stress relieve the lens, and pressure from being mounted in the rim drove the stresses past the point of self-disassembly.

Jocks in shock as Irn-Bru set to slash sugar and girder content


Re: Lateral Thinking

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

- C.S. Lewis

'Twas the night before Y2K and a grinch stole the IT department's overtime payout


Simon, beware busses!

We'd like to keep you around, regardless of On-Call.

And if you hear somebody dismiss Y2K as nothing, remind them it turned out that way because of the how the tech community prepared for it. Hell, I even kissed my wife on the New Year standing next to a running 300kw genset.

Merry Christmas to all, and have a happy and prosperous New Year!




As usual, El Reg scores with the headline. Good one!

'Please store the internet on this floppy disk'


"...changed from one large hole to a small hole and a slot."

Now the drive hub doesn't have to move out of the way for the drawer to operate.