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Friday, December 19, 2014

Post SONY Security

The last couple of days I've been getting phone calls from insurance agents wanting to talk to my wife. There got to be so many of them I started to wonder what was going on. When I inquired, the agent of the moment tells me that my wife had requested an auto insurance quote. Well, that's weird. When I tell my wife about this she denies ever asking for anyone for such a thing.
     The number of calls and emails from headhunters have also jumped up, which makes me think somebody tickled my file. Could all this have been triggered by the North Korean hack attack on SONY?




Meanwhile, back at the ranch, blogger has changed their 'I am not a robot' test. Used to be you had to type in some numbers or letters that only a true human [tm] could decipher from a picture. Now all you have to do is check the box. Curiously, the box is not a picture but an html construct. What you see above were cropped from screen shots.

Chromebook bonus: you can crop the screenshot when you make it, you don't need to take separate step. Magic key combination: ctrl-shift + funny square light bulb lying on its side symbol, right above the six key. Now where do I find the icon for that key? And what is it supposed to be?

U-Boat 977


Bought this book on a recommendation. Showed up in a padded envelope yesterday. The package was so thin I didn't imagine it could be a book, but here it is. Look at the price on the cover: 35 cents! How old is this thing? Written in 1952, this copy printed in 1957. It is basically intact, but the pages are thoroughly yellowed. I don't expect it to survive much longer.

Chromebook

Dollar mouse shipped direct to my house from Singapore
I bought a refurbished Toshiba Chromebook to take with me to Argentina. I really need something to put underneath it to raise the back edge so the keyboard is tilted toward me, but that's my problem. It has a touchpad, which I loathe. Fortunately I had this mouse (above) that I had purchased on a whim because one dollar, are you freaking kidding me? Ok, it might have been two dollars, and it took a week or two to get here, but still. Seems like it would have been cheaper for the company to just throw it in the trash rather than to pay the postage, but I dunno, maybe getting your trash hauled away is really expensive in Singapore.
    It worked fine for a while, but then it started acting really flakey and I thought, well, what did you expect for a dollar? But then it went back to working okay, and then it went to being flakey again, and this time I realized it was because my left hand was reaching across the keyboard to the number 8 and 9 keys and I was letting my hand rest on the touch pad. So, nothing wrong with mouse, it's just the touch pad giving me trouble. Again.
    Big advantage of mouse over touchpad: right click. There's probably some key combination that will allow you to preform the same function with the touchpad, or there might be some magic finger gesture you can make, but you know what? I don't care. I have a mouse and I know how to use it so that's what I am going to do.

Reentry

Bill is... concerned, about this reentry trajectory.
I got to thinking about the Orion spacecraft the other day, in particular splashdown and recovery of the capsule. The US Navy had a ship standing by and they were able to successfully retrieve the capsule, which is good. But then I got to wondering about how accurate was the splashdown? Was it within a few yards of the predicted point of impact, or a few miles? Or should we be talking about hundreds of miles? I mean the thing is traveling 5 miles per second, it wouldn't take a very big mistake to have you end up on the wrong side of the world. Even if you miss your landing site by only 100 miles, it is still going to take the recovery ship hours to get to you, and that could lead to a sticky situation. One way to compensate would be to deploy several ships in the vicinity, but that would raise the cost. Sending even a small Navy ship out has got to be expensive. I wouldn't be surprised is a destroyer cost something like a million dollars a day to operate. Makes that million dollars a year to field a soldier in Afghanistan look like a real bargain.

MX re-entry vehicles over Kwajalein, following their launch aboard an MX missile some 30 minutes earlier from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, October 1985.
     So I started poking around, looking for answers, and not finding much of anything. And then, snap, I realized this is probably all classified because of nuclear warheads and ICBM-s (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles). You don't need to be real accurate with ICBM-s because, well, nuclear bombs. Still, you would like to be within a mile or so of your target. You can bet the military has spent billions on this very problem. When I started looking into this from the ICBM angle I found all kinds of information, everything that is except how accurate they are.
    The big factors affecting reentry are the time when fire your retro-rockets, and how much you slow down. You want to be accurate about this because a little too much or too little, too soon or too late, can easily kill you. But after you've fired the retro-rockets there isn't much you can do except pray.
    Except I seem to recall something about Orion being able to adjust it's attitude, which could easily affect it's trajectory, except how can you tell? GPS will be useless as the fireball you generate as you plunge into the atmosphere pretty much ruins any chance to sending or receiving any radio communications. Well, how about inertial guidance? That used to require big heavy chunks of equipment that was marginally accurate and marginally reliable, but I think we've gotten better at it. So it's not inconceivable that Orion was able to steer itself quite accurately.
    Once you deploy the parachutes, you kind of lose your steering capability, but you also become much more visible, so the pickup crew should be able to find you. As if they haven't been tracking you on radar since you appeared over the horizon ten minutes ago.

Minuteman III attacks Kwajalein

This video has some odd bits, but it also has some good shots.

Other posts about Orion. Most of them are about the spaceship, only a couple are about the airplane.
A couple of other posts about reentry.
Some posts about inertial navigation.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Girls with Guns, er, Motorcycles, er, Guns AND Motorcyles

Cuba Police Woman
Shocked I was when I first saw this. Cuban Police use Harleys!?! Then I poked around a bit and found that it's probably a Yamaha. Well, that makes a little more sense, but I would have expected something more along the lines of a 50 year old Honda Cub. Well, it is a Police State, and the cops do have important work to do, like arresting Jewish activists for smuggling illegal tech into the country so old people could talk to their grand kids, or something. Nothing worse than subversive activity. Just ask Joe McCarthy.

North Korea, Part N-teenth

Jieun Baek and a North Korean military woman officer in front of the USS Pueblo.
Previous posts about North Korea.

Cuba

The Godfather Part II - Havana, January 1, 1959 - end of Batista regime.

It's about god damn time we normalized relations with Cuba. Anyone who disagrees is either a moron or is in cahoots with the Mafia (that covers at least half the people in this country). The Google has all the links I could want about the Mafia in Cuba. Remember, the Mafia killed Kennedy.
    Some people say we shouldn't be dealing with a police state like Cuba. I say that's a little like the pot calling the kettle black. We have the biggest security organization in the world. OK, China's is probably bigger in terms of manpower, but ours is no slouch. Future wars are going to be cyber-wars fought by secret security organizations. Terrorists just serve to keep people distracted while the king monkeys steal all the monkey biscuits.

P.S. North Korean leadership has no sense of humor. Wait, that can't be true, everyone has a sense of humor. I wonder what makes them laugh? I'll bet seeing SONY fall on their face got a few chuckles out of them.