Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.
This evening I agreed to go back to work full-time for a while. I was enjoying my semi-retirement, but my former colleagues working on the GOES-R program have persuaded me to rejoin them. I’ll begin on Monday at Goddard Space Flight Center.
GOES-R is the first of the next generation of weather satellites.
Xenophon the Troll is channeling the Amazingly Inaccurate Criswell again over at Breitbart Unmasked (No, I won’t link to it.) This time the nonsense has to do to with First Mate Neal Rauhauser’s attempt to gen up some sort of connection between the Kimberlin Unmasked identity and a real person.That’s an ambitious undertaking—foolhardy, because there’s nothing to find—but it’s ambitious. You see, Team Kimberlin has already run afoul of the GIGO principle: garbage in, garbage out.
OK, what do I mean by garbage in? Consider these bits of data:The account_id is the correct one for @Kimberlinunmask. However, the login time is on 24 December, 2013. The @Kimberlinumask account was suspended on that day, and it’s not possible to login to a gulaged account.
While it’s not quite as obviously stupid a submitting two versions of the same document to the same court in the same case or as mind-bogglingly crude as failing to remove a PACER legend and using the wrong typeface to create a do-it-yourself court summons, it is … well … it’s kinda amateurish.
Reuters is reporting that the government has failed to implement critical security fixes on the healthcare dot gov website.
David Kennedy, head of computer security consulting firm TrustedSec LLC, told Reuters that the government has yet to plug more than 20 vulnerabilities that he and other security experts reported to the government shortly after HealthCare.gov went live on October 1.
Hackers could steal personal information, modify data or attack the personal computers of the website’s users, he said. They could also damage the infrastructure of the site, according to Kennedy, who is scheduled to describe his security concerns in testimony on Thursday before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
Having seen in the comments and on the Twiterz that the Cabin Boy had signed off on his Internet radio feeds, I took a look at his Twitter timeline and found this:Bullshit! Just because confident individuals such as Stacy McCain or Aaron Walker don’t have to spend their time bragging about the multiple things good things they’ve done does not mean that they haven’t done them. Perhaps they are following Jesus’s admonition not to advertise their good works.
The Cabin Boy brags about being part of an experimental surgery group. Well, good for him! One of these days, I might tell you about the experimental heart surgery that I volunteered for. But not today. Not in this context.
As of 9 pm ET on 30 November, the day that the Obamacare website was supposed to be “fixed,” the healthcare dot gov site says that it does not support the current version of Mac OSX.
Of course, OS 10.9 has only been in public release for five weeks, but incremental developer releases have been available for testing since June.
It’s interesting that the site claims to support Windows XP which was withdrawn from sale in 2009 and for which Microsoft will end support early next year, but says nothing about support for iOS (iPhone/Pad) or Android systems. I wonder what percentage of users under 30 years old will try to access the site with a mobile device?
The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.
The version of Obamacare that was rolled out on 1 October was clearly not ready for prime time. It wasn’t even ready for beta release. It was simply a failure.
Good engineers design for failure. That’s not to say that we (I’m an engineer) design products to fail, but we know that they will. That’s why the load panel in your house has circuit breakers. In the real world, failure is always an option, and it becomes exponentially more likely when a project is managed by someone who doesn’t understand the endeavor’s practical constraints. Clay Shirky offers an analysis of the probable managerially-driven problems with Obamacare here.
Recently, much has been made about the Administration’s ignoring the law when dealing with Obamacare and any possible workarounds for its present problems, and it’s true that those responsible for the current mess have acted lawlessly. However, the law that will do the project in was not passed by Congress. It stems from a higher authority. Those who ignore it are fools.
If anything can go wrong, it will.
Let it burn.
UPDATE—This insightful observation is also on point:
The Luddites destroyed machinery because of they were threatened by progress.
So how advanced does the technology of a weapon have to be to enable a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute?
I have a muzzle-loading rifle, and, if I really hustle, I can get off two rounds per minute. However, there are muzzle-loading firearms that are capable of firing 10 rounds per minute. Consider the Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver.
It was probably the most common revolver used during the Civil War. It takes a long time to load the six-round cylinder, but the cylinder is easily removed and replaced. It was not uncommon for soldiers to carry spare loaded cylinders. It’s possible to fire three cylinders (18 rounds) in under a minute.
However, there are even older weapons capable of firing 10 rounds per minute. Consider the weapon shown at the left. Henry V was able to use massed fire from such weapons to devastate an attack by a force that greatly outnumbered his happy few, his band of brothers, at Agincourt.
There are other, even simpler, weapons that can deliver a high rate of fire. David only took five stones when he fought Goliath. He was a good shot and only needed one to kill the giant, but an expert with a sling can get off 10 shots in a minute.
Here’s another set of factual errors from The Dread Pirate Kimberlin’s Kimberlin v. Walker, et al. lawsuit.The “family” court matter that Aaron Walker and I attended on 9 July was not held in Family Court. It was held in the District Court in Rockville, Maryland. There were three hearings. Two were about protective orders. Brett Kimberlin was seeking one against his estranged wife, and she was seeking one against him. The other was for a peace order being sought by a friend of Mrs. Kimberlin who was being harassed by Brett Kimberlin.
Aaron Walker and I were sitting in the back row of the courtroom observing. We were there because we had seen the cases in the Maryland Judiciary Case Search database and wished to know what was happening. When Kimberlin arrived at the courtroom, he seemed surprised to see us. TDPK asked the judge to eject us because we were “stalking” him. She informed him that we had every right to observe an open court hearing. He then asked the the hearings be closed and held in her chambers. The judge refused.
At the conclusion of the hearing, deputies handcuffed Mrs. Kimberlin and restrained her. Aaron Walker and I left the courtroom. TDPK had submitted a petition to have his wife involuntarily committed for a psychiatric evaluation. The judge released her within a few minutes, but Aaron Walker and I were gone by then. We could not have followed her out while she was being held in custody.
I did not meet Mrs. Kimberlin until a few days later—when she approached me.
Daniel Henninger has a good discussion about the coming disaster known as Obamacare over at WSJ. Here are a couple of the more insightful lines.
But ObamaCare’s Achilles’ heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane.
The discrediting of the entitlement state begins next Tuesday. Let it happen.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE—Things will be quite nasty as Obamacare burns out, perhaps catastrophic. However, I’m beginning to be convinced that is the only way the situation will be remedied. The Progressive politicians who created the mess are behaving very much like an alcoholic who still thinks he can handle it, and their go-along/get-along enablers are much like a drunk’s “understanding” friends. We’re past the time when an intervention might have worked. The system is going to have to wake up in the drunk tank before it hits bottom.
Rem Oil is not really a penetrating oil like good old WD-40, but it is probably a better all-purpose spray can lubricant. It was designed as a gun cleaner/lubricant, and it cleans dirt and grime from exposed metal surfaces while displacing moisture from the pores in the surface of the metal. It also contains Teflon which provides a thin, long-lasting film that keeps things working smoothly by reducing metal-to-metal wear.
Ray Dolby, has died. All of the obituaries will mention his staggeringly important contributions to audio engineering. I will point out one more. While still a student, Ray worked at Ampex where he was one of the co-inventors of the first practical color video tape recorder. He not only affected what you hear (and don’t hear), but how you see it as well.
This afternoon, I’m focusing on my life in the real world by attending an engineering seminar at Goddard Spaceflight Center about the planning for the OSIRIS-REx mission. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will fly to asteroid Bennu, rendezvous with it, fly the spacecraft in close proximity to characterize Bennu’s surface and identify the most promising sample site, navigate to the surface to collect a sample, secure it, and safely return it to the Earth’s surface.
One of the things I’ve done throughout my career is teach graduate-level courses to pass on the experience I’ve gained practicing engineering. The first such course I taught was in 1976 at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. It was an intensive short course on loudspeaker engineering. My piece dealt with driver synthesis, that is taking a set of specs and producing a driver that meets them.
One of the students in the course was a local Colorado Springs resident who owned the land at the top of Cheyenne Mountain. He had retired off of the rental of transmitter sites for broadcasters, two-way radio users, etc. He invited the course instructors up to the top of the mountain during one of the breaks. It isn’t as tall as Pike’s Peak, but it still offers a wonderful view.
Left to right: Laurie Fincham (then with KEF), Me (then with CTS), Richard Small (then with the University of Sydney), and Neville Thiele (retired from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Not pictured: J. Robert Ashley (UCCS), Don Keele (then with Electro-Voice), and Paul Klipsch.
I began working the power system for the Burst Alert Telescope of the Swift satellite in 2000. I designed several bits and pieces that wound up in various assemblies in the BAT, but I was primarily responsible for the low-noise voltage regulators that powered the amplifiers in the sensor array. That regulator assembly was called the XA1VR. There were 16 of them in the BAT.
Because house calls are impossible on most of NASA’s hardware once it gets on orbit, reliability is a major design concern. That means that so-called space-class parts are used almost exclusively. This was a significant problem in the design of the XA1VR because there were several key components which were not yet available as space- or even military-grade parts. The pass transistors were a particular problem. Not only were they not available in the sort of hermetic packages normally used, the manufacturer had no plan to make space-class parts available until well after the scheduled launch date for the mission. Because commercial plastic parts had to be used, there were additional handling precautions that had be taken with the assemblies.
All 16 flight units of the XA1VR and all the spare units were delivered on time. They were the only assemblies delivered for integration into the BAT on schedule. They were the only assemblies that required no rework. The service life requirement for the mission was two years. All 16 XA1VRs are still working on orbit after almost a decade.
Image Credits: NASA
The picture shows an XA1VR (mounted in the frame that holds it and 8 sensor blocks) being inspected after handling during system integration. The bundle of white wires carries the high-voltage bias power for the x-ray sensors. The bias potential is supplied by an adjustable regulator in an assembly called the Block Voltage Regulator. The BVR takes power from a low-voltage bus and generates a slightly-greater-than 300 V low-current internal bus. (That part of the BVR and the overall design of the BVR assembly was done by my colleague Lowell Fry.) That bus fed individual 0 to 300 V adjustable regulators, one for each sensor block. I designed the adjustable regulators. Because the currents being controlled were so tiny, bipolar transistors had to be used in those regulators. Here we had the opposite availability problem. Such transistors were common parts back in the days of discrete transistor television sets, but, by 2001, they were no longer readily available as current production and completely unavailable as new space- or military-grade parts. Fortunately, we found some old-stock military parts, and I was able to design a workable solution using them.
From time to time, I’m able to post some new science from the Swift mission. I feels good to have been a small part of getting it off the ground.
I’ve published a few papers and articles through the years. One of my favorites was a short piece of technical correspondence in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society called A New Set of Vented Loudspeaker Alignments. The paper describes a class of filter functions made up of cascaded two-pole functions with the same resonance frequency and how they can be applied to loudspeaker system design. The result is a single peak in the frequency response. I facetiously named the class of loudspeaker alignments BB4 for fourth-order boom box.
The day my copy of the Journal with my paper came in the mail, I got a phone call from a friend who was a professor of electrical engineering. He let me know that I had just published the meat of one of his graduate student’s proposed master’s thesis, and that the guy was having to start his research all over.
It had been a couple of afternoons’ part-time work for me.
BTW, I was a member of the Editorial Review Board of the JAES back in the ’70s.
That big piece of equipment in the picture is a Harrison Systems PP-1 post production console. This particular unit is serial number 1 which was delivered to Disney Studios in Burbank in 1979.
Post production audio consoles are used to add the soundtracks to film and television shows. The dialog, special effects, and music all come from diverse recorded sources and are mixed to produce the final product. Note that there are four operator positions at the console. Disney uses a separate engineer to handle the dialog and effects and two to handle music. One guy on music is more common.
One problem that studios faced before console automation was how to handle multiple language releases. It was complicated and expensive to remix a movie from the ground up just to change the dialog. The PP-1 was the first automated console available to the industry. It was an analog console with its main functions such as signal level and routing digitally controlled, and it had a data base system that memorized operator inputs 30 times per second. With the effects and music under computer control, redubbing dialog is much simpler. 35 years later, this level of automation is commonly available on a Mac or PC.
I was one of the engineers who designed the PP-1. My main contributions were the 3-/5-channel plus surround panning circuits, the monitor system, the low-noise processor master clocking system (there are over 50 microprocessors running in sync), and the Autograph. The Autograph was a fully automated reverse engineering job of the industry-standard Cinema Engineering passive graphic equalizer.
Our team started working the initial design of the PP-1 in November, 1978. Serial Number 1 was delivered to Disney in May, 1979, and commissioned over the next couple of months. The first feature film to use it was The Black Hole.