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Quantum of Nightmares

Quantum of Nightmares cover

Enough with the pandemic and politics, the Scylla and Charybdis of 2021 on this blog: I've got a new book coming in less than three weeks, so let me tell you as much about it as I can without spoiling it for you!

Quantum of Nightmares is the second of the New Management books, a spin-off series set in the universe of the Laundry Files, and a direct follow-up to 2020's Dead Lies Dreaming. (The US edition comes out on the 11th of January, two days before the UK edition drops. If you dislike Amazon, here are links for US independent booksellers and UK independent booksellers.)

(NOTE: for some reason Amazon.co.uk isn't showing the Kindle or audiobook editions yet, but it is showing the paperback available for preorder. Don't order it unless you're happy to wait until November! As for Amazon.com, no paperback edition is planned—my US publisher, Tor.com, do not currently publish paperbacks: it's hardcover, audiobook, or ebook only.)

So what's going on?

If you read Dead Lies Dreaming you can probably guess some of it: after Eve's boss Rupert went missing under questionable circumstances, she discovered he'd left behind a wriggling can of worms—several cans, in fact. Rupert kept blackmail files on everyone, Eve included, and the New Management's laws prescribe the same punishment for just about every infraction.

But that's not all: the Bigge Organization was in the process of buying an unpromising-looking London-based supermarket chain when Rupert met with his accident. Before he vanished Rupert tasked Eve personally with completing the takeover, which suggests to her that there's more to it than meets the eye. She starts digging, and soon the wriggling worms prove to be more than metaphorical as she discovers an alarming product adulteration issue and sends private detective Wendy Deere to find out why there's human DNA in the meat pies and members of staff are vanishing ...

Meanwhile, there's the matter of a legal document her brother Imp signed five years ago while he was stoned. No biggie, except it was written in mediaeval Norman French and had Rupert's fingerprints all over it.

Finally, on the other side of London, a respectable looking nanny arrives on the doorstep of Mr and Mrs Banks, just in time to take charge of their four children while the parents jet off to attend an international conference of government superheroes. Little do Mr and Mrs Banks—Captain Colossal and the Blue Queen, as they're known by the London Metropolitan Police—realize that Mary is a ringer, and their children have an appointment with the cultists running a certain supermarket branch ...

Eve gradually realizes that Rupert's plans ran far deeper and were vastly more nightmarish than her worst imagining—so nightmarish, in fact, that they threaten to draw the attention of the New Management down on her. Can she get to the bottom of numerous clashing conspiracies in time to save herself from Rupert's trap? Or is it already too late to prevent him from returning from the dream roads with the means to resurrect his undead god and bring about the end of the world?

(Well, that's what I would have put on the cover copy, if anyone had asked!)

As you might have guessed already, this isn't the last New Management book. (The next one, Season of Skulls, is mostly written and will probably be published in January of 2023. After that, it's probably back to the main Laundry series for at least one book: but hopefully the New Management will persist, even after Bob and co-workers have sailed off into the sunset.)

As for where Quantum of Nightmares came from, I'm blaming you, Nile. If you hadn't started asking those questions in the bar at the 2019 Worldcon in Dublin, pulling on the loose threads in Dead Lies Dreaming, I wouldn't have had to answer them! (And my headcanon vision of Eve would sleep much more soundly.)

PS: The Island of Skaro does not exist in our reality. In the Laundryverse it's a small rocky lump at the western end of the English Channel, not too far from Jersey, Guernsey, and Sark (which it is modelled after). Like the real Channel Islands, it has its own unique legal system and government. Unlike them, it is directly ruled by a feudal liege with powers delegated from the Duke of Normandy—and it is so small and insignificant that nobody has bothered to update its legal code since the 18th century or earlier. On which hangs a major plot point for both this novel—and the next.

566 Comments

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1:

Audible.co.uk is showing the audiobook available on 13-01-22. Looking forward to it.

2:

I don't see a UK Kindle link yet, but it will be available in ebook on day of publication.

3:

Thought I'd already ordered the Kindle edition, but turns out it's for Yokai.

Found the kindle page for Quantum and clicked, https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09FLBC4C9

4:

Hmmm... I have a preorder in with BigRiverCo but it's showing a different cover to the one on the blog. (Claims it's from Orbit and has Audible & Kindle options, but I did preorder it back in August, so who knows?)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0356516938 - note: this link probably won't give OGH any bonus if you order from it, so use the link from his blog instead.

5:

If you're in the UK, you will have ordered the UK edition from Orbit, which does indeed have a different cover from the US edition by Tor.com.

6:

I just ordered the Kindle edition from Amazon UK.

7:

Just ordered the audible version. Out of interest, do you know what the royalties structure is for kindle and audible? I know that when I'm out of credits it's often chapter to buy the Kindle version to get a discount on the narration, and I wondered how this affects what the author, publisher, etc get? (Buying with a credit vs buying outright vs buying both versions)

Looking forward to Imogen's narration as Homer's mockney was a little grating for this East London resident (I'd prefer narrators stick to accents they're comfortable with, even if it's not the accent of the character), and the odd weird pronunciation of technical terms was occasionally distracting from the excellent writing in Dead Lies Dreaming.

8:

Out of interest, do you know what the royalties structure is for kindle and audible?

No idea: it differs between the UK and US editions (different publishers) and also is geared to the publisher's net receipts -- books sold at a discount pay less to the author. Not sure how Amazon handles disbursements from credit.

9:

So my guess would be that if I buy the Kindle version plus the narration as an add on, you'll get less for the narration than if I buy the audible version outright, but have no idea what the author's slice of the pie is for each, therefore whether it balances out. I'm also guessing that using a credit counts as a sale for something less than the monthly sub, because they throw in a list of podcasts for free*.

It all kinds makes my head hurt, because I obviously want my purchases to benefit the people who make the book happen (i.e you and your publishers) as much as possible without spending any more than I absolutely have to. I get though that is not in Amazon's best interests to make any of this transparent, as it likely his their margins (along with other public goods like paying their UK taxes).

10:

to find out why there's human DNA in the meat pies ... NOT the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeny Todd (!)
... Skaro - who was the original evil Dalek, yes? And NOTHING AT ALL to do with the Barclay brothersRemainder?

... Contacted Transreal for a (signed) copy .....

11:

NO! Skaro was the planet that the Daleks came from. Davros was the founder/inventor or whatever of the Daleks. The word "Dalek", in the Whoniverse, is a Zatanna of "Kaled", the name of the race the Daleks were developed from.

12:

Will you be doing any online author chats (Tor.com)?

13:

"for some reason Amazon.co.uk isn't showing the Kindle or audiobook editions yet, but it is showing the paperback available for preorder. Don't order it unless you're happy to wait until November!"

I am confused. Are you saying that the preorder system is borked and will impose an eleven month delay that leaves people still waiting when people who just ordered without any pre have got their copies long ago (in the way that some kind of borkage of that general nature afflicts people every time you have a new book out, going by their comments on here); or are you saying that the delay will happen anyway, and the significance of the pre is merely that that's the only option available at present?

14:

This has already been discussed: If you don't have a reserved pre-order hard copy, then when the first print run runs out, it will take about 10 months before another print run will occur (because Covid).

15:

Are you saying that the preorder system is borked and will impose an eleven month delay that leaves people still waiting when people who just ordered without any pre have got their copies long ago

No, he isn't. The paperback version isn't published until November, so if you order that version it won't arrive until then. Hardback and electric versions are due in January.

16:

Will you be doing any online author chats (Tor.com)?

Nothing planned, but (a) you've got me here, and (b) I may do something on Reddit in /r/LaundryFiles.

17:

The hardcover comes out in the UK on January 13th. The UK paperback comes out in November (hint: it's cheaper, they don't want to cannibalize hardback sales). However Amazon will helpfully take preorders for both editions right now, and some folks will obviously pre-order the cheaper edition (and not notice the 10 month later publication date).

18:

If you prefer to own books in a series in the same format - which I do - and that format is paperback, the U.K. paperbacks are better than the U.S. paperbacks anyway (more solid). And the big river dot CO dot UK does deliver here in the U.S.

You just have to be willing to wait until it comes out plus how ever long it takes to get across the pond & clear customs.

19:

It's up (Kindle, audiobook and hardcover) on amazon.com.au, which I guess follows the US, so I've pre-ordered for Kindle. Probably take a break from Graeber to re-read Dead Lies between now and when it lands. All good and much obliged! Something to look forward to in the new year that isn't a new daily-rate contract gig.

20:

Ah, thank you, I get it now.

21:

I have the eBook version pre-ordered.

I've thought about getting the audiobook as well. What's the most economical way to do so?

22:

I'm confused. If I want the Kindle edition and for OGH to get the biggest royalty, what should I do?

23:

Good to see it coming out!

Are Transreal getting a box of hardcovers for signing?

24:

Checked the pre-order I made ages ago for the ebook from Kobo and that is still looking good.

25:

For those that want to avoid Amazon, you can pick it up from the Kobo store. For some reason my mind has completely blanked on what happened to Rupert at the end of DLD, I guess I've have to re-read.

26:

Buy it when it comes out, is all. Ebook prices are pretty consistent across all platforms, and I get a strict percentage of the net sale price. (If you wait until it hits paperback -- being in the UK -- the ebook will be cheaper. And so will my pay cheque.)

27:

Yes, Transreal will be selling signed stock. I'll update this blog entry when I have a link to Mike's website for orders.

Note that due to omicron I'm minimizing my trips outdoors. In particular, I don't want to have to traipse out to a small bookstore three or four times to sign dribbles of stock on each visit. So I may not get in to sign the orders until a few days after the release date, or whenever Mike tells me new orders have tapered off.

(I assume everyone here wants me to still be alive to sign copies of Season of Skulls in due course, right?)

28:

You may want to re-read it in detail, but it's recapped (from Eve's POV) fairly early in Quantum of Nightmares. It's a huge plot point for the rest of this series!

29:

4th in line for our library's ordered copy :-)

30:

"Rupert kept blackmail files on everyone, Eve included, and the New Management's laws prescribe the same punishment for just about every infraction."

That sounds mighty familiar:

Chen Sheng and Wu Guang are leading an army to a rendezvous point, and they are late. Chen says to Wu: "What’s the penalty for being late?" Wu: "Death" Chen: "And what’s the penalty for rebellion?" Wu: "Death" Thus began the Dazexiang Uprising. the Qin dynasty never recovered

31:

I just finished reading Dead Lies Dreaming this afternoon. I look forward to the new one after I've ploughed my way through the shelf of Xmas books that are likely approaching me in the next few days.

32:

The key difference is that Rupert is not the New Management.

33:

Which doesn't affect the analogy…

The expression I learned as a child was "might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb".

34:

Which doesn't affect the analogy…

Yes it does.

(Rupert is a blackmailer, and has committed other, much worse, crimes. He arranged to get Kompromat on Eve that would hang her if it came to light, because he appreciates loyalty in his minions (even if it arises at gunpoint). But he's missing now. If Eve can find and destroy it, she's safe.)

35:

Well, for some reason that she hasn't mentioned, Ellen got a $5 credit from Amazon for any book by a C. Stross. Quantum of Nightmares, the $15.99 kindle edition, has been preordered.

36:

I normally ask you to share a picture of your cats on new book threads. Can I see cats?

37:

There's currently only one cat (and has been only one for about a decade): here's Menhit.

38:

Happy christmas/solstice/yule/hogmanay/saturnalia/hannukah/new year* everyone.

*delete as applicable/to taste

41:

This year, Hannukah fell on Nov 28th to Dec 5th.

42:

Things are looking up around here. It's been 48 hours since I took the last of the pain medication for my mouth. Today I have my partial upper in for the first time in a month, so I can now chew real food with the one tooth I have left (no longer have to put everything in the Vitamix to liquefy it.

Santa even brought me a present this year (or maybe it was the USPS), anyway it was on the front porch this morning when I took the dog out - a hot mitt therapy glove for my hand; put it in the microwave for a minute & then stick your hand inside it & it's like a heat pad that you don't have to struggle to keep wrapped around your hand.

I got my printer back from the repair shop yesterday - $225/repair vs $1200/replace. I've mentioned before I'm a "use it 'til it breaks, repair it, use it again, use it up & find a way to use it for something else before you recycle it" kind of guy, so this is the best Christmas present I've gotten for myself in years.

I hope all y'all have great winter holidays (or a mid-summer holiday if you're antipodally inclined). I wish you all the best of the season, even those who are currently ignoring me or have made it on to my little list. [YouTube link]

😉

43:

Glad it's going well for you. Thanks also for your M193/M855 reply earlier - may yet prove to be a (very minor) plot point.

44:

The Mikado - One of the "most English" things I've ever seen (including working in Kent for several months).

45:

Paws / JBS
"The Mikado" was the result of a Japanese culture-&-trade delegation to Britain, which WSG saw & met ... "The Mikado" is, of course a deep satire on British social attitudes, like almost all of "G&S". However, I've seen a production set in 1906, the year of the Russo-Japanese war, where "The Emperor's Train" was a (carboard-cut-out, moving across the back of the stage of a train of that period. And the whole thing suddenly became much more deeply disturbing.

Same as setting "Die Fledermaus" not in 1874 Wien, the year of its first production, but in ... 1936.
Really creepy.

46:

No arguments there except for the assumption that "(Home Counties) English" = British.

47:

I see that Mary Poppins is Amazon.com's daily deal.

48:

Apologies to all.

I thought Hannukah was a solstice festival rather than a lunar festival.

Sorry.

49:

I'm a huge fan of the 1995 film version of Richard III with Ian McKellen. I understood there to have been prior art on this... 70s era stage productions with contemporary uniforms and rifles for instance, maybe even a low-budget version for TV around the same time (something I might remember seeing, or might have just confabulated from still photos). Anyhow it's a powerful version, but I recall best the little shifts in meaning that the filmmakers introduced: Lord Stanley changing sides being pivotal because he leads the Air Force, for instance, and new irony in the line "my kingdom for a horse".

Also regarding the Mikado, I understood that the event you describe triggered a huge wave of japanophile material culture fad, with Japanese style everything you could possibly imagine popping up on the market, from kimono-influenced clothing to tea sets and general furniture. And the thought that the Mikado would be seen as a similar genre to Jules Verne, thus not really that far from what we now think of as SF, which is mostly a layer of exoticism (or post-Berthold, verfremdungseffekt) used for cover to explore social themes that might get you banned and arrested otherwise, or at least to slip in under the voluntary suspension of disbelief thingy ("Oh aren't those Japanese a silly old lot?", "Ah, but this shows how we are in fact the silly ones", etc.)

50:

Great name. I am amused to see her standing between a Hugo Award and a C-19 vax pamphlet. Very context, such deep, wow.

51:

Damian @ 49: I'm a huge fan of the 1995 film version of Richard III with Ian McKellen. I understood there to have been prior art on this... 70s era stage productions with contemporary uniforms and rifles for instance, maybe even a low-budget version for TV around the same time (something I might remember seeing, or might have just confabulated from still photos). Anyhow it's a powerful version, but I recall best the little shifts in meaning that the filmmakers introduced: Lord Stanley changing sides being pivotal because he leads the Air Force, for instance, and new irony in the line "my kingdom for a horse".

Also regarding the Mikado, I understood that the event you describe triggered a huge wave of japanophile material culture fad, with Japanese style everything you could possibly imagine popping up on the market, from kimono-influenced clothing to tea sets and general furniture. And the thought that the Mikado would be seen as a similar genre to Jules Verne, thus not really that far from what we now think of as SF, which is mostly a layer of exoticism (or post-Berthold, verfremdungseffekt) used for cover to explore social themes that might get you banned and arrested otherwise, or at least to slip in under the voluntary suspension of disbelief thingy ("Oh aren't those Japanese a silly old lot?", "Ah, but this shows how we are in fact the silly ones", etc.)

There are a large number of productions of the Mikado on YouTube ... amateur to professional. There are a bunch of other Gilbert & Sullivan works there as well.

I've been stuck in this house long enough now I may have watched most of them.

I took a break from my usual round of arguing with idiots on the internet and spent the day today with Photoshop. It ain't going well. It should be screamingly fast on that machine, but right now it's dogging. Sad to think I might have spent the day more productively if I'd gone with the idiots instead.

52:

Re: 'I wish you all the best of the season, even those who are currently ignoring me or have made it on to my little list.'

Best of the season to you too!

Good to hear that you're able to eat 'real' food again. Also much easier to exchange socially-distanced greetings with the neighbors when you're not in pain.

One of my neighbors and I will be doing a bring-your-own hot chocolate (socially distanced across the yard) chat the next snowfall when we'll be out with snowblowers and shovels anyways. The hot chocolate after shifting heavy snow is both a reward and an excuse to stay out and chat longer.

Good song - thanks!

53:

Grant: Judaism, like Islam, runs on a lunar calendar -- 12 months per year for three years, then a year with a leap month. Upshot: all the festivals migrate by +/- a month on the Gregorian calendar.

54:

I took a break from my usual round of arguing with idiots on the internet and spent the day today with Photoshop.

So, arguing with the idiots at Adobe instead? :-)

I've found Affinity Photo faster than Photoshop, and entirely adequate to my needs. Cheaper too.

https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/

Free trial, $75 CDN on-time fee (no rental).

55:

I believe that Christianity fixed its lunar calendar(*) to the seasonal calendar when it was Romanised, so the dates still wander around though not compatibly. Christmas as we know it is a very late inflation of a previously minor festival, probably because the Germanic peoples wouldn't give up Yule :-)

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/6-table-find-easter-day.pdf

56:

Then Pope Gregory listened to his wizards and fixed the calendar to deal with the leap year needs and I think to avoid Easter coming too far away from Passover. But the Orthodox, (not sure if some or all), didn't fully agree with the correction so they are always 2 weeks behind. If you cross marry you get to do everything double.

57:

The Christian calendar had been tied to the Roman one a long time (centuries) before Gregory - i.e. the Council of Nicaea.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter#Controversiesoverthe_date

The change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar had nothing to do with Easter, directly, but naturally had an effect on it. I don't know when the exact calculations were first formalised - he may have done that as well.

58:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregoriancalendar#Gregorianreform

"The motivation for the adjustment was to bring the date for the celebration of Easter to the time of year in which it was celebrated when it was introduced by the early Church. The error in the Julian calendar (its assumption that there are exactly 365.25 days in a year) had led to the date of the equinox according to the calendar drifting from the observed reality, and thus an error had been introduced into the calculation of the date of Easter."

And I read about this decades before Wikipedia existed.

59:

Yes, yes, I know that, and have done for well over half a century. Its motivation may have been to restore the date of Easter, but it had nothing to do with Easter, directly. MUCH more importantly, it was NOT the action that tied the Christian calendar to the Roman one (which was the original topic). That was done centuries before.

60:

The filename of this image is inaccurate, which I never knew until I copied it to post here. But I must ask you, is it possible to see it and not immediately start whistling(etc) a certain tune?

http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/TRANSPORT/nwheelcar/chinese-three.jpg

As for Easter, if you ask me it's high time they just nailed it down to the first Sunday in April and packed it in confusing everyone with having it essentially randomly dotting about here and there all over springtime. If we can have a fixed date for Christmas which probably isn't even vaguely correct anyway I don't see why the only other Christian festival that anyone takes any notice of should be any different.

61:

“nailed it down” Nice choice of metaphor!

62:

You wanna talk creepy? Try the 1995 production of Richard III, set in the late 30s... with all the German 'califlower' (offizer collar badges) and Nazi influenced uniforms, plus the Soviet helmets. Richard, of course, carries a broom-handle Mauser. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114279/

63:

Robert Prior @ 54:

I took a break from my usual round of arguing with idiots on the internet and spent the day today with Photoshop.

So, arguing with the idiots at Adobe instead? :-)

I would if I could. Adobe used to have fairly GOOD tech support back when I first started using it (Photoshop 5) ... but that went away about the time they switched over to the subscription model.

I'm up to Photoshop CS6 Extended Edition, & I'd willingly pay for GOOD tech support, but you can't buy it from Adobe; not even for the Creative Cloud rental ware.

I've found Affinity Photo faster than Photoshop, and entirely adequate to my needs. Cheaper too.

https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/

Free trial, $75 CDN on-time fee (no rental).

I'll check it out, but taking a quick look at the website it's not clear if it's available as 64-bit software. I saw something about a "full 32-bit workflow for HDR", but I don't know if that's just FOR HDR.

The current project I'm struggling with is similar to HDR. There's just enough difference in focal length & parallax Photoshop's built in HDR can't seem to get the images aligned, so I'm having to do it the old fashioned way with layers, selections & masks ... and levels & photo filters to adjust for the different exposures.

The thing is Photoshop should be SCREAMINGLY FAST on that computer. I built it specifically FOR Photoshop and I have very little other software on it (a web browser so I can follow tutorials on YouTube). Specs: Intel I7, 32Gig DDR4 RAM, 8GB Radeon 850 (GDDR3?) into a 4K 32" display; 256GB SSD boot drive; 120GB SSD dedicated scratch disk, 3x4GB Storage drives.

In fact, when I first built it, it did run Photoshop screamingly fast. I got "up and running" assistance from Adobe. But that was before Adobe switched over to the rental ware model ... and it was before the Windoze10 Upgrade FIASCO where I lost all of those tweaks & settings.

I made a backup of my Windows 7 installation and created the RESCUE DISK, but Windoze10 turned out to be so bad, I couldn't get it up long enough to to REVERT. Instead I had to reinstall Windows 7 from disk, it wouldn't recognize that I had a backup to restore even though I was using the media I had previously created.

Adobe no longer supports CS6 and Micro$haft doesn't support Windoze7.

What I'd really like is to find a full 64-bit, stand-alone, perpetual license version of CS6 Extended Edition for Mac. I'd go ahead and buy a Power Mac from one of our local suppliers even if I'd have to give up the 32 inch display.

64:

David L @ 56: Then Pope Gregory listened to his wizards and fixed the calendar to deal with the leap year needs and I think to avoid Easter coming too far away from Passover. But the Orthodox, (not sure if some or all), didn't fully agree with the correction so they are always 2 weeks behind. If you cross marry you get to do everything double.

Yossarian saw everything twice.

65:

I'll check it out, but taking a quick look at the website it's not clear if it's available as 64-bit software. I saw something about a "full 32-bit workflow for HDR", but I don't know if that's just FOR HDR.

The software is 64-bit. It does HDR as 32-bit, and lets you edit HDR files at that bit-depth.

Not that I have — I use Photomatix for HDR as I'm used to it and have all my presets saved — but Affinity Photo does a decent job of HDR. If I hadn't already purchased Photomatix I'd probably be using Affinity Photo for HDR processing right now.

66:

I'll check it out, but taking a quick look at the website it's not clear if it's available as 64-bit software. I saw something about a "full 32-bit workflow for HDR", but I don't know if that's just FOR HDR.

You are misreading, the 32-bit HDR is the file type/size for HDR images and not the program itself, which appears to be 64bit given it lists 64bit Windows as a requirement.

67:

Oh. Thats worth knowing.

Had never occurred to me. I thought they all did something like "The first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox" type tricks for festival dates.

At my age I am amazed I have never known that. An extra month in the calendar! I wonder if you get extra holiday allowance that year?

68:

Oh ffs, I've been expressing it that way for years and nobody has seen that before, including me...

69:

"Affinity Photo does a decent job of HDR."

Easiest piece of code in the package to write. Like ioctls for /dev/null.

70:

Grant: Judaism, like Islam, runs on a lunar calendar -- 12 months per year for three years, then a year with a leap month. Upshot: all the festivals migrate by +/- a month on the Gregorian calendar.

I'm not Muslim, but one of the things I admire about Islam is Ramadan on the lunar calendar.

Here's the deal: the month of fasting that is Ramadan was invented on the Arabian peninsula. To me, one of its many functions is to get people used to going without food and water during the day in a desert.* The interesting part is that, by plugging it to the lunar calendar, the fasting month wanders through the year, so that you get to fast winter, summer, fall, spring, long nights, long days, every time imaginable. There's a certain thoughtful functionality to that, that is right up there with the reason the Mormons forbid coffee.

*Of course, the way it works out, some people feast so much after sundown that they gain weight during Ramadan. Oh well. Similarly, many Mormons are perfectly aware that the theobromine in chocolate is quite similar to caffeine. Since it's not forbidden, chocolate is apparently quite popular in some Mormon homes. And so it goes.

71:

That HDR looks nice, certainly beats in-camera processing. Have you tried the focus stacking?

This could be just the thing. Since I withdrew from my PhD, I no longer get the full CC subscription I had access to through the university, and while my wife gets the PS+LR plan and I'd pretty much decided to do the same, this looks like a really viable alternative. For her too I guess, the subscription model is a bit of a hard-to-justify money sink over time.

72:

I realised what was sitting oddly and jostling for attention in the back of my head over both the post here and the appearance of Skaro in DLD... and that is of course that in my head canon, Skaro is the home planet of the Daleks. Apologies if this has been done, but I'm guessing it's not accidental and is one of those robots that is supposed to be slurped (or however the acronym is usually chopped up after being murdered). And without remember the last paragraph above when re-reading DLD, I noted that references to Rupert's legal standing in Skaro were there for a reason, not yet explored. So I'm glad of the heads up that it's a space to watch.

73:

67 - No, none of them move except Easter, well apart from the bit where "the second Sunday of $month" might be anything from the 8th to the 14th in a given year.

70 - Which logic rapidly breaks down if you live, say, in Scotland where "sunset to sunrise" can be anything from as little as 6 to as many as 18 hours. (BTW I do know Muslims who live in Scotland)

74:

On calendars,

I've always liked the fact that in these days of ISO, IEEE, ITF etc etc, the international standard for identifying dates is still a document called Inter Gravissimas ("Among the most serious...") written in Latin in 1582.

75:

kiloseven
Other good touch .. the authentic Leica camera being used by the press. Fail on the express train, though, they should have used something from the 1930's NOT a "Britannia" ( Built 1950/51 ). The shot of "Margaret Beaufort" leaving for Paris - on N Weald Airfield in a DH Dragon Rapide was spot-on, though, & the cars all seemed to be "period".

H
Fasting in Ramadan works quite well when your diurnal variation is small. Try it in even Edinburgh in June & you are going to fall over, quite probably. - As paws has also noted @ 73.
Stupid fucking religious rules, designed for small areas that don't apply across the whole planet . . . Same as "pig" in the Middle East is a food competitor for humans ( Ignoring the parasite problem ) - but in N Europe, pigs convert inedible stuff ( Acorns, etc. ) into edible meat.

IIRC there was an Act of Parliament, regularising Easter, back in the 1920's .... stupid wankers never got round to actually enacting it.

77:

Heteromeles

Are you OK? I know the chances of a direct hit are incredibly tiny but still.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/28/us/el-cajon-california-plane-crash/index.html

78:

I can't say Ramadam looks especially thoughtful to me. To an outsider its very little different to Lent, but with a harsh authoritarian edge - as its obligatory.

Theres little to be learned from fasting - most of us have already got high levels of self control and discipline or society could not function. I would conjecture the main reason for its existence was to encourage mindless obedience to ritual.

Religions borrowing ideas and festivals from predecessors is far from unknown. Christmas deriving from the solstice is fairly obvious and Easter is a dead give away.

79:

That HDR looks nice, certainly beats in-camera processing. Have you tried the focus stacking?

I use the focus stacking a lot for macro shots. Am beginning to use it for wide-angle landscapes, too.

I've also got Affinity's Designer and Publisher, which nicely replace Adobe's Illustrator and InDesign. I like them all, although I don't use any of them to the limits of their capabilities.

Oddly, what prompted me to get Photo years ago was the lighting tool, which I hardly ever use. I use the panorama viewer a lot to edit spherical panoramas, focus stacking, and of course the usual curves masking etc as non-destructive layers.

My biggest complaint is that they haven't come out with a replacement for Lightroom. I'd buy it in a heartbeat, and finally be able to upgrade my computer and replace my creaking 10+ TB Aperture library. :-)

80:

Fasting in Ramadan works quite well when your diurnal variation is small. Try it in even Edinburgh in June and you are going to fall over

Corollary: I try to avoid Indian and middle-eastern restaurants (both for sit-down meals, in the Before Times, and for take-aways in the Plague Years) during Ramadan if it falls between May and September. Not only do they get rammed with tourists, the staff are half-delirious with hunger (unless you go there for lunch).

81:

To an outsider its very little different to Lent, but with a harsh authoritarian edge - as its obligatory.

So? Judaism has a few annual fasts, too. (Not an entire month dusk-to-dawn, but they're dusk-to-dusk, so actually a bit longer.)

There is an opt-out for the young, the elderly, and the infirm or ill. It's expected of able-bodied adults, but not to the point of causing harm -- if you're on medication you have to keep taking it, if you're diabetic or have special dietary needs you stick to them, and so on.

I have not quizzed an imam on this matter but I'm pretty certain the same is true of Islam: it's a discipline or a religious observance, not a suicide pact.

82:

Does Judaism also forbid water? That is the only aspect that struck me as extreme.

Muslims on a journey are also allowed to transfer their fasting to some other time. And the Koran makes it very clear that it is a discipline and act of worship.

https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A2002.02.0006%3Asura%3D2%3Averse%3D18

83:

The junction shown in the video of the plane crash is here:

https://goo.gl/maps/wQy8wRMGALXTQjaMA

Its likely that this has taken out power around the area too, so its quite possible that H is OK but not able to get on line.

84:

Also, the fire chief in the video says the plane crashed while trying to land on Pepper Drive; it didn't hit any houses or kill anyone on the ground.

85:

Per several media articles, acceptable practice in communities in Canada's Arctic is to, instead, observe Ramadan using the sunrise / sunset times of a major city to the south where this is less than 18 hours of daylight.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yukon-ramadan-muslims-mosque-1.4666461

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/03/ramadan-canada-arctic-fasting-hours-sunlight

86:

"Easter is a dead give away"

Also Nowruz and Purim. I recently saw a suggestion that Purim actually derived from, or was reinforced by, Nowruz during the two centuries of Persian overlordship, as subsequently recalled in the Book of Esther story.

87:

Robert Prior @ 65:

I'll check it out, but taking a quick look at the website it's not clear if it's available as 64-bit software. I saw something about a "full 32-bit workflow for HDR", but I don't know if that's just FOR HDR.

The software is 64-bit. It does HDR as 32-bit, and lets you edit HDR files at that bit-depth.

Not that I have — I use Photomatix for HDR as I'm used to it and have all my presets saved — but Affinity Photo does a decent job of HDR. If I hadn't already purchased Photomatix I'd probably be using Affinity Photo for HDR processing right now.

Ok, thanks. I don't do much HDR, but I occasionally do something that's almost HDR "like". I'm more in the camp of HDR is Ok as long as you can't tell it's HDR by looking at it.

That's the problem I'm having with this current project, it LOOKS too much like HDR. It's not supposed to be HDR, it's supposed to look like I used a split ND filter when I took the photo.

In fact it looks too much like BAD HDR.

I also have to figure out what I'm going to use to organize my photos if I leave Photoshop behind. I already had an organizing scheme before PhotoshopCS came along with Bridge. But I like Bridge and use it a lot, mainly because it makes it easy to organize my photos according to my existing organizing scheme.

I DO NOT use Lightroom because it wants to use a different organizing scheme and it also hides the actual location of your photos.

What do you use for "Asset Management" along with Affinity Photo?

88:

Does Judaism also forbid water?

Yes, subject to caveat about not endangering onesself.

(NB: I am an atheist, I think the whole thing is silly ... but I was brought up Jewish.)

89:

Thank you. There are plenty of silly practices in the variants of the CofE that I was brought up in, too.

90:

Per several media articles, acceptable practice in communities in Canada's Arctic is to, instead, observe Ramadan using the sunrise / sunset times of a major city to the south where this is less than 18 hours of daylight.

Someone from the conservative path in the US told me given how crazy it can get in various time zones and lattitudes they say something like "sun down is considered to happen at 7:00pm local time where ever you are". If it happens earlier then he would go with that.

91:

In Chicago, the ultraOrthodox Jewish community uses 17:30, I believe, in the winter.

92:

It's not so important for Jewish fasts because they're approximately 24 hours every time -- from dusk until dusk the following day. Ramadan, however, lasts from dawn until dusk on each day, and wanders all over the place, so the duration is variable.

93:

To an outsider its very little different to Lent, but with a harsh authoritarian edge - as its obligatory.

Lots of exceptions. Medical reasons, for example diabetes or medications. Being elderly. Travelling. Combat (actual or expected — ie. active duty troops are exempt).

94:

I'm more in the camp of HDR is Ok as long as you can't tell it's HDR by looking at it.

Me too.

That's the problem I'm having with this current project, it LOOKS too much like HDR. It's not supposed to be HDR, it's supposed to look like I used a split ND filter when I took the photo.

How many shots. What exposure bracketing? What software have you tried? I've done a lot of HDR work, and while I cringe at my earlier efforts I think I'm managing to stick pretty close to Michael Freeman's ideal, which is that you amaze people with the dynamic range you've captured without them thinking that you used HDR. :-)

What do you use for "Asset Management" along with Affinity Photo?

Aperture. Everything eventually ends up in Aperture. I haven't found anything else that comes close to letting me do what I want to do.

Every trip (or day on a trip) is a separate project, stored as referenced files in folders with the same name as the project on my hard drive. All project names include the date, so "2021-06-12 East Duffins" for example. Photos are named thematically with sequence numbers within projects, so "Sunrise I", "Sunrise II", etc. Component photos (exposures of HDR and/or panoramas) have index numbers, so "Sunrise I 1", Sunrise I 2", etc.

All files are backed up on another 2 external hard drives, as is my main Aperture library file.

Files that Aperture can't read are still stored in those folders, with the same naming system, so I can get them if necessary, with a note in the related photo description about the file so I don't forget.

It's not ideal, and every year I ask Serif about coming up with a DAM program and offering to help test it. So far all I know if that it is 'under consideration'.

95:

Heteromeles Are you OK? I know the chances of a direct hit are incredibly tiny but still. https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/28/us/el-cajon-california-plane-crash/index.html

I'm fine, thanks for checking. While I'm not going to give out my exact address, it's only worth worrying about me if you hear about a Marine Corps plane crashlanding on a suburb a few minutes after takeoff from Miramar. Or Air Force One, for that matter (that is a weird-sounding jet...). We don't get overflown by civilian or commercial planes very often, but the USMC flies over us on the way to burning fuel out over the desert bombing ranges. A report like that will put me at about 1 in 80,000 risk of being hit.

In other, more interesting news, the Holiday Bowl Football Game between UCLA and North Carolina State in San Diego was canceled this afternoon, when too many of the UCLA defensive line tested positive for Covid, so they couldn't take the field. I may break my normal rule of never watching Faux simply to see how they deal with a bowl game canceled with about three hours' warning.

The particularly San Diegan part of this mess is that, for the first time ever, they rebuilt our downtown baseball stadium to host the football game (the new football stadium is under construction). And then the game gets canceled in the second most awkward way possible. Over the last few years, San Diego's had a string of high priced real estate fiascos that cost lots of money with no return. I'm wondering if this will be added to that tally, or whether it will just be chalked up to Covid and the isolation skills of college footballers.

96:

I was down in your area today, trying to talk on the phone with my wife around 4:45 while a jet from MCAS Miramar was flying overhead. They weren't bombing, however, just practicing takeoffs and landing.

97:

In other, more interesting news, the Holiday Bowl Football Game between UCLA and North Carolina State in San Diego was canceled this afternoon, when too many of the UCLA defensive line tested positive for Covid, so they couldn't take the field. I may break my normal rule of never watching Faux simply to see how they deal with a bowl game canceled with about three hours' warning.

Make sure you're watching the "news" and not the "sports" arm of Fox. There is very little that ties the two together except corp branding.

NCSU is a local team to me. I was not following this so I just checked it out in the local paper. Campus is maybe 5 miles away. And Univ North Carolina is down the road maybe 20-25 miles. Duke is a similar distance. Let's see in terms of Covid related things.

  • Last year NCSU had to pull out of the College baseball semifinals due to Covid on their team

  • Over the last month UNC and Duke have had to reschedule multiple games due to Covid in other teams.

  • East Carolina had their bowl game cancelled last week due to the other team getting Covid

  • And now this

And as to the money aspects mentioned by H for San Diego, what about the teams' expenses. I wonder who get stuck with the bill. Just the travel expenses for 200 to 300 people and equipment from east coast to west coast plus hotels and practice facilities and meals and .... Plus the money both teams would be paid for just playing. This is this 5th cancellation of a bowl game this year.

I somewhat like in a strange way that it was the UCLA offensive line. I saw a retired NFL lineman talk about playing with Covid around. He was wondering just how it could be contained. As he put it linemen tend to know what the guys on the other side had to eat before the game due to how up close and personal they get.

98:

I was down in your area today, trying to talk on the phone with my wife around 4:45 while a jet from MCAS Miramar was flying overhead. They weren't bombing, however, just practicing takeoffs and landing.

You have my condolences. If those were F-35s practicing touch and gos, they're rather louder than the F-18s. Guess it helps with their stealthiness, or something.

99:

Yes, it always gets personal somehow. I've got friends at UCLA, so even though I don't follow the teams, it does suck on at least an abstract level.

I'm not paying attention to the financials, but: --they'll have to refund all the tickets --all the local restaurants won't get the full game time and postgame rushes they were hoping for (there goes tax revenues) --probably most of the UCLA fans packed up and headed home, so that's less hotel revenue. I'm assuming they'd want to drink and/or party after the game, and then not drive two hours or more in the rain to get home. Since hotel taxes are the major income stream for city coffers, that's going to sting a bit.

But the big stinker is that somebody paid Petco Park to rebuild from a baseball diamond to a football stadium, with an extra bank of seats, redoing all the grass, and so on. That's a big expense, and someone gets to swallow that sunk cost with nothing to show for it. Unfortunately that is very much in line with some other big money losses that the city's managed to rack up recently. And it's very San Diegan.

The extra special kicker was the local news doing reaction shots from disappointed fans. Someone grumbled, "I saw them all together at Sea World a few days ago. They weren't having any trouble then. Why now?" Why indeed....?

100:

Judaism has a few annual fasts, too... There is an opt-out for the young, the elderly, and the infirm or ill... I have not quizzed an imam on this matter but I'm pretty certain the same is true of Islam

All of these, as I recall from casual conversation, plus pregnant and nursing women are also exempt from fasting. (I expect the same is true in Judaism but the subject has never come up.) To be sure, I am neither an imam nor a rabbi so my information is worth what you paid for it.

101:

In which general context, why is the prevalence of Covid in UK soccer teams seemingly higher in the senior (lower numbered if you can call "Premiership, Championship, Division 1, Division 2" a numbering system) tiers?

102:

I think its one of the "pillars" of their faith. So its obligatory and not a matter of conscience between you and your deity of choice.

You are, in effect, forced to comply, which nudges you toward accepting other restrictions and behaviours that are little more than ways for the local political/religious structure to retain a strangle hold and, in many cases, a very comfortable lifestyle.

Submission, unquestioning obedience and theocracies - making life crap for 3000 years.

Give me a disorganised religion any day.

103:

If those were F-35s practicing touch and gos, they're rather louder than the F-18s.

Any jet with enough thrust to do STOVL is going to be insanely loud: has to have thrust to weight ratio > 1.0, and it's using all of it when it lands -- a point when most other jets have throttled right back.

The loudest thing I ever heard was a Harrier GR.7 in hover, about 300 metres/1000 feet away and 100 metres up, demonstrating at an air show. You could see the exhaust plumes hitting the ground below it and blasting straw and grass into the air. I was standing next to an un-muffled Rolls-Royce Merlin on a test stand, running at full power. But the Harrier at the other side of the airfield drowned out the racket from a 27 litre turbocharged V-12 engine with no mufflers running flat out within arm's reach.

104:

Yeah, it's often said that a Harrier doesn't actually fly, but shouts at the Earth until it goes away! ;-)

106:

Are the European typewriter and Merlin helicopter on the cover things we should expect to see explained in the text rather than just stock images?

107:

Administrative notice

Yes, I know, the SSL certificate expired half an hour ago. You can stop emailing/tweeting at me: it'll be fixed within a couple of days. Site still works, your browser is just whingeing at you because Google like everyone to use SSL (more advertising revenue for them).

108:

The Merlin is indeed explained, no idea where the typewriter comes from, though!

109:

I suppose you meant supercharged 27 liter V-12. In a more sensible world General Motors would've licensed RR's excellent two stage blower for use on their V-1710, the combination would've been sweet.

110:

when the Osprey took off, the rubber matting was blown apart by the force of the rotor wash

Yes, and? It seems to me the fault was at least partly with Addenbrooke's for cheaping out on the helipad. In Scotland it would be either poured reinforced concrete or hot rolled tarmac.

111:

St Olav's hospital in Trondheim has a similar, albeit slightly less severe issue.

The standard air ambulance in these parts is, off the top of my head, a Eurocopter EC135 - common for emergency services in most of Europe, I think.

Recently, the Search and Rescue service have started flying a new helicopter model - the local name is Sea Queen, so-named as a nod to the ancient Sea King models that they're replacing.

You might know them better as AugustaWestland AW101 - or Merlin. The self-same helicopter that half of Europe uses for heavy troop transport, sonar dipping, and the RAF have picked up as an AWAC carrier.

Merlins are big. Like, really big, carry 45 troops in full combat gear big. A lot bigger than the EC135 that'll carry a patient lying down and two accompanying medics.

The problem at St Olav's is that the helipad is on the roof of the Akuttmottak (Accidents and Emergencies to the native english speakers), and the downwash from a Merlin is a lot more powerful than that from an EC135. So they have to close the road underneath for as long as it takes for the Sea Queen to land, unload, and depart. The combination of the downwash and the urban canyon effect is, apparently, best not experienced. And quite expensive to keep 3-4 security guards on 24/7 alert to do that closing.

My main complaint is not the road closure - it's rare enough that it's only ever bothered me once on my commute. It's the noise. My office is only about 400m away, on the other side of the hostpial site, and there have been a few days with 3-4 landings in a row. Merlins are really fucking noisy!

112:

/me attempts to explain calendars.

The Roman calendar was originally lunar-solar: it was based on lunar months with an extra month being added from time to time to keep the start of the year in sync with the solstices. However, the people who chose when to add the extra month (priests, IIRC) started to act politically, adding or not adding it based on which party was in power. This resulted in such a mess that Caius Julius Caesar had to have a year of 15 months in order to get things back in sync.

Caius switched to a pure solar calendar - one where the pattern of months is decoupled from the moon and just matches the solstices. He worked with a year of 365.25 days. The actual figure is around 365.2422, so there was a slow drift that by the late 16th century had moved things by around 10 days. Pope Gregory (with expert advice) changed the calendar to be based on a 365.2425 day year and also applied a one-off shift. In the UK this shift was delayed until 1752, meaning it was 11 days rather than 10, and is why the tax year starts of April 6th.

Easter is defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox. A mathematical model is used rather than astronomical observation. The Roman Catholic church and the Anglican church both follow this model using Gregory's rules (which include a couple of hacks in them) and the 365.2425 day year. The Orthodox Catholic church still uses the Julian calendar and the 365.25 day year, meaning Christmas tends to be a bit later.

The Jewish year is lunar-solar, using algorithms to determine which of 6 different year lengths are used. The aim is to keep the month starts around new moon, but the month pattern aligned with the solstices.

The Muslim calendar is pure lunar. Months start at new moon (more precisely, on observation of the new moon) and the solstices take no part. As a result, the calendar year averages around 354 days.

Just over 10 years ago I gave a paper to a law conference on related topics. My script and slides can be found at:

http://www.davros.org/presentations/whattime-20110627.html

113:

Yeah, I got the full demonstration of the F-35 in hover a few years ago at the Miramar Air Show. Rather louder than the Blue Angels doing low passes in F-18s.

That was a fun event for seeing megadeath romanticized, getting inside the bomb bay of a B-52, and seeing the family organizations for various squadrons with tents up selling merch, apparently to raise money to help them with extras, a la the PTAs at local schools.

The irrelevant factoid is that right now, they're practicing touch and goes with F-35s at Miramar, which means a pair of the chirpy little buggers are flying slow circles that take them over the freeways at each end of the Miramar runway. It's not the most optimal environment for a phone call, hence my condolences to anyone who has to do that.

114:

It was too cloudy and near-dark to be sure, but I think they were F-35s. They were sure as fuck way goddamn loud!

115:

I was at Middle Wallop when a Vulcan did a low pass over the Helimeet; skies darken, earth shakes, and a hearty WTF was that?. I imagine that a Concorde takeoff would have given it a run for its money ;)

Still beaten by standing at the focal point of a 60,000 person crowd, as the Scotland team ran out of the tunnel at Murrayfield to play for a Grand Slam in 1984…

116:

The other thing for really loud, before it's airworthiness ticket ran out, was the last flying Vulcan.
Used to come in fairly low at airshows, do a slow pass along the runway, & then stand on it's tail & turn the wick up ....

117:

Well, if we're doing aluminium eclipse stories, the first time I saw one was in the late 1970s. We were holidaying in North Wales, specifically driving round Anglesey, and outside an airport. Suddenly, the Sun went out. This was a Vulcan on finals (or possibly circuits) at RAF Valley.

118:

Loud takeoffs.

Back around 1981 or 81 I was in the St. Louis airport waiting for my commuter flight. Hours. So I was sitting in the then terminal area with the very large window overlooking the main pair of runways. Periodically I'd hear some jet engines roar a bit as a 707 or 727 lumbered down the runway and took off just before the edge of where I could see almost to the end of the runway. I was reading when an ungodly roar happened. I looked up as 2 F16 (I think) did a side by side take off and were rotating in front of my at about 1/2 the distance of the various passenger jets. And they went up at an angle of 30 degrees or more. Impressive.

Northrop Grumman, who manufactured the F16, had a factory and maintenance base on the other side of the airport runways from passenger operations. I don't know if it is still there or not.

119:

aluminium eclipse stories

We had an apartment south of DFW airport for a while. I was there many weekends and a few weeks during the year. Not too long after we got it I was there "working from home" when there was a HUGE flash of light. Went outside and looked around and didn't see anything. Then it happened again and I figure it out. The apartment was located between the flight paths of the two western DFW runways. When the large banks of flights would come in at times the sun was just right so that the reflected light would sweep a path which included the apartment windows. Didn't happen all the time or every day but with 50 to 80 flights landing in a row multiple times per day at times things were aligned just right.

This was 2015 or so when AA paint scheme was mostly bare aluminum.

120:

Concorde on landing is loud enough that she could be heard through double glazing with fairly loud music on at eight miles out -- our flat is bang under the approach for 27R at LHR, and I used to use the incoming Speedbird 002 as a signal to pack up when I was working from home.

Concorde on takeoff is something else again. We were sitting in a friend's garden in Hampton one Sunday afternoon when she took off, and you literally could not hear somebody shouting in your ear for a minute.

121:

aluminium eclipse stories

Yep. I grew up in Morecambe and Vulcans used to do low level practice up the bay, I had one come right over my head when I was walking home from school (about 1980 I guess?) and it did feel like it blocked out the sky.

122:

On the other hand, I also remember sitting on the top of a hill in the Lake District looking down into the cockpits of smaller jets flying up the valleys. And seeing Hercules going up Windermere at low level. Used to see a lot of interesting flying back then!

123:

Same holiday in Wales (qv), we visited a coastal nature reserve, and saw a stream of Hercules escorting Nimrods (or vice versa) heading West.

124:

"Used to come in fairly low at airshows, do a slow pass along the runway, & then stand on it's tail & turn the wick up ..."

That was also a standard crowd-pleaser for the SR-71. Very loud.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk62llQf4us

125:

I suspect the aluminum eclipses of the 21st Century will look more like this crazy loud performance:

https://twitter.com/tropicostation/status/1457064186333200386

126:

Aluminum in the air When my late wife and the kid and I relocated from Austin to Chicago in June of '94, for three weeks we stayed in friends' condo (they were divorcing, no idea what happened to Joa) about 3mi due east of the tower at O'Hare. Mid-late afternoon until after rush hour, all conversation came to a halt every 4 min or so.

A year and a half later, I'd be driving onto I-90, west of O'Hare... and the flight paths had them coming down about 200-300 feet over the Interstate.

"Oh lord, don't you drop that airplane on me...."

127:

As also in Wales. Half way up a mountain somewhere and suddenly there is this deafening aircraft noise and you look up and there's nothing there. Then a bit later it happens again and there's still nothing there. After a few more repetitions you no longer bother with looking up and then you see the aircraft: a couple of fighter jets absolutely belting along the valley floor low enough to fire their guns straight up the arseholes of the sheep on the inbye, like something out of a video game, taking seconds to cover the length of a valley that would take you minutes even on a motorbike.

Somewhere on the internet there is an account from someone on board one of these planes doing this up Nant Ffrancon in the fog. Apparently it was not unusual. For those unfamiliar with the topography it basically means you fly head on straight at this cliff at 600mph and then at exactly the right instant make a hairpin 90 degree turn to the right: tenth of a second too late and you hit the cliff, tenth of a second too soon and you hit a different cliff. Some people have an odd idea of fun.

128:

Similar experience in Torridon (NW Scotland). I was about the only person on the trail who didn't duck, but hey, that put you nearer to the jets!

129:

"your browser is just whingeing at you because Google like everyone to use SSL (more advertising revenue for them)."

Aye, well Google can get fucked.

One of the things I like about your site is that although it does offer SSL, it is not set up to be a complete wanker about it like more or less every other site is these days. There is the Upgrade-Insecure-Requests header which is easily filtered out, but if you send a plain request to port 80 then the expected plain response is all you get, and it doesn't force you to do anything different.

So as a user of the site, one has the choice, and is not compelled to be subject to an extra layer of complication and fragility.

I get thoroughly fed up with sites which refuse to honour requests on port 80 and instead insist on redirecting everything to HTTPS before they do anything else. If I want something to be encrypted I am perfectly well able to type an extra s myself; if I do not type it, that is a deliberate choice, on the basis that there is no earthly point to it and I am more concerned with avoiding at least the additional setup time for an SSL connection than with some advertising twat's spurious bollocks about "security", and I do not appreciate my choice being overridden for no reason.

As for the sites which just don't respond on port 80 at all, or redirect everything to the root URL over SSL regardless of what URL was requested, or give 403 or 404 when the same request on port 443 works fine, I spit on them.

The effects of Google's policy are fourfold: (1) at minimum everything gets slower; (2) plenty of things don't work at all for reasons like idiots failing to configure their alternate names properly, or some system update makes libssl more fussy so it starts rejecting sites that worked fine with the old version; (3) site operators get badgered about it; and (4) if you're trying to debug some crappy but important site which doesn't work then you can't wireshark your own bloody data to try and find out why, which is utterly shit.

So I congratulate you on being one of the very few people who still gives people the choice.

130:

Indeed, and if anyone is trying to screen scrape my credit card details from this here blog, well, at least they're not trying somewhere more likely to be productive.

131:

Robert Prior @ 94:

That's the problem I'm having with this current project, it LOOKS too much like HDR. It's not supposed to be HDR, it's supposed to look like I used a split ND filter when I took the photo."

How many shots. What exposure bracketing? What software have you tried? I've done a lot of HDR work, and while I cringe at my earlier efforts I think I'm managing to stick pretty close to Michael Freeman's ideal, which is that you amaze people with the dynamic range you've captured without them thinking that you used HDR. :-)

Two exposures. No bracketing because as I mentioned I'm trying to combine photos that have just enough difference in parallax that Photoshop's auto-align won't work and without auto-align HDR doesn't work (or at least I haven't been able to get it to work). I'm trying to align them by hand, which does require a bit of free transform. The final image will be cropped out of the part where they overlap.

I was up on top of a seven story parking garage trying to photograph thunderstorms & lightning over downtown Raleigh, with the skyline about a mile south of me and the storms miles south of downtown. I was shooting with a mid-telephoto zoom on a tripod, but I did change the focal length & move the tripod side to side over a range of about 20 feet or so. At the time I wasn't thinking about how I was going to align frames later.

...

So anyway ... I had this long detailed description of the images & what I was trying to do, but in writing it out I semi-figured out how to do what I wanted.

I haven't done much photographically or "Photoshopically" since Covid, and my skills have atrophied. But I finally got I can live with even if it did turn out to look like HDR.

...

Every trip (or day on a trip) is a separate project, stored as referenced files in folders with the same name as the project on my hard drive. All project names include the date, so "2021-06-12 East Duffins" for example. Photos are named thematically with sequence numbers within projects, so "Sunrise I", "Sunrise II", etc. Component photos (exposures of HDR and/or panoramas) have index numbers, so "Sunrise I 1", Sunrise I 2", etc.

That's pretty much the scheme I settled on, folders YYYYMMDD_n-job_description (where 'n' is if I've done more than one job in a day). Inside the folder the images are batch renamed to "Camera Model"-00nnnn with the "00" providing padding for when I go past shutter activation "9999". If I've used more than one camera on the "job", there will be sub-folders for each camera model.

I never delete images in camera because it just confuses me later. I probably should go through them later and discard them, but it's easier on me if I don't have to remember why there's a gap in the number sequence.

132:

Tim H. @ 109: I suppose you meant supercharged 27 liter V-12. In a more sensible world General Motors would've licensed RR's excellent two stage blower for use on their V-1710, the combination would've been sweet.

Since it came in sequence right after Bellinghman's comment about the Osprey at Addenbrooke it took me a minute to figure out the "Merlin" in question is the helicopter on the cover illustration for "Quantum of Nightmares".

I think it's powered by a turbo-shaft engine rather than a V-12.

133:

Martin @ 115: I was at Middle Wallop when a Vulcan did a low pass over the Helimeet; skies darken, earth shakes, and a hearty WTF was that?. I imagine that a Concorde takeoff would have given it a run for its money ;)

Still beaten by standing at the focal point of a 60,000 person crowd, as the Scotland team ran out of the tunnel at Murrayfield to play for a Grand Slam in 1984…

There are a number of low-level military training routes in eastern North Carolina. I frequently encountered aircraft operating as close to tree-top level as regulations will allow. The C5 Galaxy is impressive when it sneaks up on you from behind, as is an encounter with flights of 6 or more C-130s just after sunset (setting up for night jumps at Ft. Bragg.

But I think the loudest encounter was a pair of USMC F-4 Phantoms that passed over US Highway 64 right in front of me one afternoon, followed less than a minute later by another pair that passed right over top. My best guess is they were all four operating at about 100', doing what the elphant's back legs were doing.

134:

Some years ago, I was walking up Longsleddale/Gatesgarth Pass road/walk ... and realised that there was an aircraft sound ... looked around to see a Herky-Bird, below me, but approaching rapidly ... it passed over at not very many feet/metres above me & then dropped out-of-sight into the valley that contains Haweswater. I found out afterwards, that they were practicing low-level para-drops on to to "The Rigg" - a peninsula into Haweswater - yes, well ...

Pigeon
"Port 80" ????

135:

paws4thot @ 117: Well, if we're doing aluminium eclipse stories, the first time I saw one was in the late 1970s. We were holidaying in North Wales, specifically driving round Anglesey, and outside an airport. Suddenly, the Sun went out. This was a Vulcan on finals (or possibly circuits) at RAF Valley.

There's an intersection on U.S. Highway 70 SE of Goldsboro NC 1 where you could watch the B-52s come in on long final to Seymour Johnson AFB while waiting for the traffic light to change. It was a fairly LONG light. That was long ago when the B-52s were still stationed there. I was only just barely old enough to drive the last time I saw them.

They were replaced by KC-135 & KC-10 aircraft wings, but it ain't really the same thing. And now there's a bypass around Goldsboro that's miles east of the old route.

1 (35.346639, -77.918169) My family used to drive through there on the way down to Morehead City & Atlantic Beach. Later I used to go through there a lot when I was traveling for the fire & burglar alarm company.

I think the B-52s were gone by then, but I saw them a couple of times going down to the beach with friends as a teenager ... 350 mile round trip and it was already 4 lane highway most of the way; the jitney got 20mpg and gas was less than $0.50/gallon ... you could make it a weekend on $20 with 4 of us chipping in.

And, since it was MY CAR I could pull over to the side of the road if I wanted to take time to watch them approach, something my Dad wouldn't do.

136:

Kardashev @ 124:

"Used to come in fairly low at airshows, do a slow pass along the runway, & then stand on it's tail & turn the wick up ..."

That was also a standard crowd-pleaser for the SR-71. Very loud.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk62llQf4us

But the BEST SR-71 Blackbird story of all time is still the "LA speed check":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILop3Kn3JO8

137:

I have thoroughly enjoyed the spinoff to date and I hope there's a world where it can continue alongside the main Laundry Files series (it feels like there is an opportunity the occasional narrative pincer action, complex though it might make the writing).

138:

""Port 80" ????"

Port 80 is the standard TCP port on which a server listens for an incoming HTTP connection.

Port 443 is the corresponding TCP port for HTTPS.

139:

"I think it's powered by a turbo-shaft engine rather than a V-12."

No, not the helicopter - the Merlin under discussion is the one Charlie saw at an airshow, which was a 27-litre supercharged V12, running on a stand right next to him but inaudible over the Harrier hovering 300 metres away.

They are sort of legendary in the UK as being the engine used in the Spitfire, as well as several other iconic WW2 aircraft.

They were built by Rolls-Royce, who like to give their engines names. So someone built a home-made "car with a Merlin engine" and put a Rolls-Royce radiator grille off a scrap RR car on the front of it. This caused Rolls-Royce's legal department to throw an eppy and make him take it off again. It was a cheat anyway though, because it was only a Meteor engine (the detuned tank version of the Merlin without the supercharger), and the car was a fucking ugly piece of shit.

140:

Um, back in the sixties and seventies, in the US, you could buy a new hood for the original VW beetle... yeah, it looked like a Rolls Royce car hood.

https://forums.aaca.org/topic/230812-a-volkswagen-with-a-rolls-royce-hood-kit-rolls-royce-the-kit/

141:

But the BEST SR-71 Blackbird story of all time

Was the Blue Riband run, US east coast to Ireland with the record-setting SR-71[1] landing in the UK. The RAF welcomes our American friends any time they want to drop by of course but they decided that the SR-71 should be, ahem, "escorted" into HM the Queen's airspace, may God bless her and all who sail in her, so they set up an intercept using the fastest EE Lightning in the RAF toyshed after polishing the shit out of her to gain another few knots over Mach 2.

The pilot bounced the SR-71 from above and behind, getting film of the intercept while draining his fuel tanks dry on reheat and under instructions that if he did have to eject he must at all costs save the camera. The Victor tanker fleet supporting the intercept kept the Lightning in the air though.

[1]Concorde still holds the wheels-up to wheels-down Transatlantic flight speed record, the SR-71 Blue Riband time was taken from "gates" at altitude via radar.

142:

the SR-71 Blue Riband time was taken from "gates" at altitude via radar.

Given that speed in the air was the issue above all else, not intercept or gate to gate times, the SOP was for an SR-71 to take off with not much fuel then tank up once in the air. I'm not even sure it could take off with a full load of fuel.

143:

I found out afterwards, that they were practicing low-level para-drops

Growing up in far western Kentucky in the 60s we used to get formations of paratroop planes flying over at low altitudes. Turbo props noisy as hell at 1000 feet or less. I suspect they used Paducah as a "city" to practice over as it was the biggest thing in the entire area that didn't have tall buildings to avoid. (Our tallest as 10 stories with the next one at 3 or 4.)

These were planes from Ft Campbell where the 101st airborne was stationed. I suspect a lot of the guys in those planes died not too long after they flew over.

And there was the time, also in the 60s, I was outside and a Navy prop trainer flew over the neighborhood at a few 100 feet. Maybe only 200. It turned out it was my cousin flying from somewhere near Memphis. He was training to be a Navy pilot.

144:

Some people have an odd idea of fun.

Heard of these guys? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKqTe8F18sQ

Video is less than 3 minutes long.

146:

The SR-71 didn't have a great range at high speed -- I believe the Blue Riband run needed a second refuelling operation in mid-Atlantic and another refuelling operation after breaking the "gate" over the coast of Ireland before it landed in England.

I recall reading about an SR-71 recon flight probing Warsaw Pact military facilities close to the North Sea coast. The 12-hour flight required eight specialist tanker aircraft orbiting safely in international airspace to cover all eventualities including having the SR-71 being chased at speed from the Eastern Bloc nations it was flying over and having to refuel in a hurry from a non-scheduled tanker. I expect the Blue Riband aircraft had multiple tankers to hand at the scheduled refuelling points, just in case.

Concorde on the other hand could sustain Mach 2 for the entire Transatlantic crossing without needing to be refuelled. Its actual maximum speed is comfortably over Mach 2 but structurally and thermally it couldn't maintain really high speeds for any length of time. It also had a toilet on board.

147:

The Mach Loop is not the only plane-spotter camping spot in the UK, there are some other places where planes sometimes fly low and twisty -- Derwentwater is one of them IIRC, and Lake Windermere up in the Lake District. The Mach Loop is close to a USAF base though so it gets more action.

148:

I can't remember where, but my wife and I had the experience of a jet unexpectedly coming up from below us a few hundred feet away. When we had descended to earth after our leaps, ....

149:

I imagine that a Concorde takeoff would have given it a run for its money

Oddly, no: I've been in a 747 in the queue at JFK right behind a Concorde -- turning onto the runway as Concorde, ahead of it, opened up the afterburners -- and stood by the end of the runway at Turnhouse for the last ever Concorde departure from Scotland. Also been at JFK by the windows several times while a Concorde was taxi-ing in or out. Concorde is a 1960s vintage airliner, and not significantly worse than a Boeing 707 or an early-model 737 -- both low-bypass turbofans -- unless/until it uses afterburners. Even on afterburners, it's much quieter than any military plane I've heard on afterburners.

I mean, airliners have had noise abatement measures applied since very early on, if only to avoid deafening the passengers. Whereas the military just don't care.

150:

135 - Thus far, the only replacement for a BUFF is another BUFF.

136 - More or less matched by the shorter:

Habu25 - "Habu 25 to Control. Requesting FL 680. Over." (FL680 is 68_000 feet barometric)

Control - "Control to Habu25. 680 is clear, if you can make it, you can have it. Over."

Habu25 "Control. Roger, descending 680. Habu 25 out."

139 - Not actually unique; Charlie Broomfield has done similarly with a Rover SD1 body shell. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiZIU54WYxw

141 - This is also true. I'm only sorry that there is not digital footage of the "bounce".

146 - Concorde could also maintain Mach 2.0 on dry power, unlike the Tu-144.

151:

135 - Thus far, the only replacement for a BUFF is another BUFF.

Although if I was a betting man I'd put money on the transport bomber concept. And so, it seems, do the USAF, because they seem to be pursuing flight testing of Rapid Dragon.

152:

Interesting. Isn't that going to be highly destabilising?

"Oh we're just moving defensive forces forward using our transport capability" is then indistinguishable from "We're extending our operational attack range".

153:

The B-52 is dead meat against any sort of modern air defence (AD) network. It's fine if the US wants to blow up a lot of natives with pointed sticks in grass huts but without an AD being degraded by stealth aircraft attacks and missiles then they're not going anywhere where the targets can shoot back. The B-1B has the speed and onboard sparkly bits to penetrate an active AD and maybe survive, the B-2 is stealthy to start with.

154:

"Oh we're just moving defensive forces forward using our transport capability"

Remember a modern ground-based mechanised force burns ridiculous amounts of fuel and munitions while it's moving? IIRC the figure for the Iraq invasion was 1000 tons of fuel and explosives per mechanised brigade per hour while they were advancing. That sort of consumption requires heavy sea-lift: Desert Storm took a six month build-up that moved a couple of million tons of equipment into the theatre of operations before it kicked off, for example.

(Arguably, the inventions that did most to win the second world war for the allies were: palletized shipping, the fork-lift truck, the jeep, and the bulldozer. For Vietnam it was the 20-foot multimodal freight container and the bar code.)

What Rapid Dragon and co. do is, they're force multipliers for a long range bomber capability that can beat up on enemy ground defenses in the initial stages of a war. But while they're serving as bombers the C-17s and C-130s are not serving as transports, which turns out to be quite an interesting trade-off: do you want more teeth up front if it costs you your support tail (ability to rapidly provide high value replacement materiel or to medevac personnel from the theater of conflict)?

But really, if a war kicks off in the next few decades between comparable opponents -- not the asymmetric crap we've seen over the past 20 years -- there won't be time for a big resupply effort once the missiles start flying. So maybe you shrug and throw the switch to turn every freighter you've got into a slow, non-stealthy, field-expedient cruise missile bus, because they're not much use for anything else.

155:

That's pretty much the scheme I settled on, folders YYYYMMDDn-jobdescription (where 'n' is if I've done more than one job in a day).

It's a workable system.

What I like about Aperture is that I can include photos in albums (including "smart albums" which are effectively saved searches) and it doesn't matter which projects they are in — so I can store chronologically (by project) and view thematically (by album).

It took a while to get my head around the idea that "projects" were about storage rather than actual projects like a photo book, as many of my projects involve pictures from multiple shoots, while a shoot's pictures will often be in multiple projects. Once I understood how Aperture used the term it became easy.

156:
Finally, on the other side of London, a respectable looking nanny arrives on the doorstep of Mr and Mrs Banks, just in time to take charge of their four children while the parents jet off to attend an international conference of government superheroes.

I am not caught up on Dead Lies Dreaming yet, but... I mean, I guess nobody cares that a major industrial democracy has entirely surrendered to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and is now working for the other side? Like none of the other OCCINT organizations have told their attendant governments "hey, the government of the UK has to be considered an existential threat to life on Earth, and maybe you should treat'em like that? You DEFINITELY shouldn't be including them in intergovernmental conferences and initiatives of any sort, that would be crazy! Like inviting the Nazis in during WWII. Especially given that the US is currently embroiled in a civil war, which is also something, by the way, we should be considering intervening in given that one of the sides in that war is, again, an existential threat to life on Earth."

Or has the planet basically completely surrendered to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN already and every major nation-state and its attendant occult defense organizations are now in service to one invading power or another, and we're just going through the motions now?

157:

But really, if a war kicks off in the next few decades between comparable opponents -- not the asymmetric crap we've seen over the past 20 years -- there won't be time for a big resupply effort once the missiles start flying.

Someone in the Pentagon or similar as far back as the 90s I think said the next such war will be a "come as your are" conflict. Unlike WWII there will be no "let's build 1,000 or 10,000 new warplanes or tanks". It will be fought with whatever is in the inventory.

158:

On SR-71 stories:

I heard the following related by a commentator over the PA at an air show, so take with appropriate amounts of salt.

Anyway, the story was that the US used to fly an SR-71 up one side of the Baltic, pull a hair-pin turn just before Finland, and fly back down the other in order to keep an eye on what the USSR was doing in the Baltic states (and Kaliningrad). This irritated the Swedish air force, but there wasn't much they could do.

One day a particularly irritated Swedish air force pilot timed a sortie to coincide with one of these overflights. He pointed his nose at the sky and "went ballistic" in the original sense of the word. His engine flamed out as he went above operational altitude, but he had just enough speed and control left to point his aircraft at the back of the SR-71 and get a missile radar lock. Then he lost it as the SR-71 activated its ECM.

He subsequently got a letter from the USAF congratulating him on being the first pilot ever to get a missile lock on an SR-71 "very briefly".

159:

At risk of a series-level spoiler, if it isn't glaringly obvious by now, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is a metaphor for global anthropogenic climate change (global anthropogenic thaumaturgic change, maybe?) and everyone is having to reach accommodations in their own way.

(If you haven't read The Labyrinth Index yet, it's mostly set in the USA which ... is not having a good time of it.)

160:

Turns out the Swedish Air Force had multiple run-ins with SR-71s.

Here's a more detailed version of how both the Swedes and the East Germans intercepted the SR-71s on the Baltic Express run. Yes, that's multiple interceptions by multiple countries: https://theaviationgeekclub.com/viggen-vs-blackbird-swedish-air-force-ja-37-fighter-pilots-able-achieve-radar-lock-legendary-sr-71-mach-3-spy-plane/

Here's a story about how the Swedes intercepted an SR-71 having technical problems and escorted it back to the American side. They were finally given USAF medals for their actions.

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/12/30/finally-declassified-swedish-pilots-awarded-us-air-medals-for-saving-sr-71-spy-plane/

161:

At risk of a series-level spoiler, if it isn't glaringly obvious by now, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is a metaphor for global anthropogenic climate change (global anthropogenic thaumaturgic change, maybe?) and everyone is having to reach accommodations in their own way.

So long as it only lasts 50,000 years and the Thames drowns London...why not?

Guess I'm too literal about such things.

My real comment isn't about the analogy, it's about how with climate change, civilization (in some part or in a whole) knew about the problem from the middle of the 20th Century (and actually knew about the process from 1896 on), understood the scope of the problem by 1990, and not only did nothing, but deliberately accelerated GHG emissions rather than developing workable alternatives. That particular part hasn't shown up in CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN yet, but oh would it be nice if it did...

162:

I'd not seen that one before, but as it involves a SAAB Viggen, could have happened.

163:

Interesting reading; thanks.
(Worth noting that the 787th IAP Foxbat was Soviet, not East German; the DDR was just where it was based.)

164:

Concorde on the other hand could sustain Mach 2 for the entire Transatlantic crossing without needing to be refuelled. Its actual maximum speed is comfortably over Mach 2 but structurally and thermally it couldn't maintain really high speeds for any length of time.

The one time I flew in Concorde, from LHR to JFK, we did Mach 2.2 for most of the trip (having gone supersonic southwest of Bristol and then bounced through a jet stream at Mach 1.5 or so.

This wasn't just the display for the passengers: I spent about 20 minutes on the flight deck (this was around 1990, when you could still just ask) and the air speed indicator needles read 490 knots with a 7-segment "2.2" in the middle.

165:

Feorag and I have a bit of a grump on because for years her brother worked for BA as a baggage loader ... and could list relatives for purposes of booking flights at "friends and family" rates.

We were going to bug him to put us on his list in 2002 so we could fly Concorde (which I could finally afford -- at "friends and family" rate) when BA announced they were retiring them, and every single seat vanished like the morning dew.

166:

A friend of ours used to put in significant transatlantic time on BA whilst working for one of the major Yank Banks. About twice a quarter he'd be asked if he wanted to do the Saturday Concorde rather than one of the Friday overnight 747s, and always turned it down on the grounds of getting home at 0800 on Saturday rather than about 1800.

He's still kicking himself that he didn't sacrifice a Saturday just the once...

167:

Back in the day there was serious money to be made if a bank or financial institution could get paper documents from the City at end-of-business to Wall Street before the exchanges and trading floors closed in New York. Cue Concorde.

Nowadays everything is digital and signed with crypto so no more supersonic stock certificates. Damn.

168:

Interesting reading; thanks. (Worth noting that the 787th IAP Foxbat was Soviet, not East German; the DDR was just where it was based.)

Thanks in return. I don't know from Foxbats, so I looked them up. Now I'm wondering if the US built a successor to the SR-71 more along the lines of a stealthy MIG-25 than a titanium dart, slightly slower and a lot cheaper. Personally I doubt it (USA! USA! We're soooo techie), but it wouldn't have occurred to me if I hadn't looked up the Foxbat. If other planes could get a radar lock on a SR-71 regardless of how high and fast the bugger flew, that in turn suggests that missiles may ultimately win that particular Red Queen race.

169:

Aperture. Everything eventually ends up in Aperture. I haven't found anything else that comes close to letting me do what I want to do.

Not a photographer so no need for software to manage it so this suggestion may be worthless, but darktable is on my list of software to play around with. Open source so should be around for a while and no subscriptions to be roped into.

It may be worth a look at for you, supports macOS 10.7 and later

https://www.darktable.org/install/

170:

Given that speed in the air was the issue above all else, not intercept or gate to gate times, the SOP was for an SR-71 to take off with not much fuel then tank up once in the air. I'm not even sure it could take off with a full load of fuel.

Apparently it could, but it was complicated and caused problems.

This article explains the why of the necessity of taking off and refueling immediately

https://theaviationgeekclub.com/former-sr-71-driver-explains-why-the-blackbird-had-to-refuel-after-takeoff/

171:

@ 170

Thanks for the reference. I had no idea about that, and it's very interesting.

172:

Robert Prior @ 155:

That's pretty much the scheme I settled on, folders YYYYMMDDn-jobdescription (where 'n' is if I've done more than one job in a day).

The dreaded markdown has struck. Should be "YYYYMMDD\_n-job\_description" ... in Preview the underscores showed up, and now in Preview the back-slashes show up too.

It's a workable system.

Especially since I've been using it for a decade & a half and can easily remember it.

What I like about Aperture is that I can include photos in albums (including "smart albums" which are effectively saved searches) and it doesn't matter which projects they are in — so I can store chronologically (by project) and view thematically (by album).

It took a while to get my head around the idea that "projects" were about storage rather than actual projects like a photo book, as many of my projects involve pictures from multiple shoots, while a shoot's pictures will often be in multiple projects. Once I understood how Aperture used the term it became easy.

For something like that I'd copy the PSD files into a separate folder under Photo Work.

I've also got some of my old film scanned & digitized ... what I didn't lose to Hurricane Fran in 1996. I did everything I was supposed to for my film photos, keeping negatives or slides in archival sleeves & sleeves for contact sheets in 3-ring binders. When the roof came off and the ceiling came down it crushed the shelves the binders were stored on, and because I was on state duty for post hurricane cleanup, I didn't get to clean up my own damage for a couple of weeks and by then most of what I had in the binders was UN-salvageable.

But over the years since then I've discovered some old film that survived because I'd been too lazy to properly store it. Mostly film from BEFORE I was married that I must have hidden away from my Ex-Wife's jealousy. And there's film from AFTER Fran, that I just didn't see the point in archiving properly.

From December 1980 on I have the mileage logs from my vehicles that I kept & somewhere along the way started to not only write down the info about gas purchases, but recorded the mileage for each stop. They get more detailed over time, so by 1985 I had a fairly detailed record of everywhere I went by date and mileage. I can look at the envelope the film was in and figure out pretty closely when, where and what I must have been photographing at the time. I still have a pretty good memory, so it only takes a little prompting to help me recover the who & when.

I got pretty heavily involved in photographic documentation while working for the fire & burglar alarm company, with the military in the National Guard and especially again after 9/11. And, of course, when I got back from Iraq I didn't have a job waiting (last employer before I was called up was out of business) so I decided to go to school for commercial photography. Half way through I got a cancer diagnosis. Treatment saved my life (I'm an 11 year survivor and as of last Monday still cancer free), but it left me partially disabled and I can't WORK ... can't give a client or an employer 100% and I refuse to do less for a job. I'm retired and still do some photography, but it's entirely on my own terms.

I've got a parallel structure for film scans; folders by year and sub-folders by YYYYMMDD\_n-Where\_was\_I\_shooting (again where 'n' accounts for multiple locations on the same day) and the individual frames identified YYYYMMDD-R00N-fr0nn (or -fr0nnA where I didn't get the film perfectly aligned with the pre-exposed frame numbers).

So my overall Top level is Working Photos with sub-folders for Digital, Family, Film and Photo Work

The Family sub-folder is anything I did with photos from my Mom & siblings along with old family photos I inherited. And Photo Work includes any jobs I've done for others with their photos in addition to multi-source "projects" using my own photos.

173:

Murcushio @ 156:

Finally, on the other side of London, a respectable looking nanny arrives on the doorstep of Mr and Mrs Banks, just in time to take charge of their four children while the parents jet off to attend an international conference of government superheroes.

I am not caught up on Dead Lies Dreaming yet, but... I mean, I guess nobody cares that a major industrial democracy has entirely surrendered to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and is now working for the other side? Like none of the other OCCINT organizations have told their attendant governments "hey, the government of the UK has to be considered an existential threat to life on Earth, and maybe you should treat'em like that? You DEFINITELY shouldn't be including them in intergovernmental conferences and initiatives of any sort, that would be crazy! Like inviting the Nazis in during WWII. Especially given that the US is currently embroiled in a civil war, which is also something, by the way, we should be considering intervening in given that one of the sides in that war is, again, an existential threat to life on Earth."

Or has the planet basically completely surrendered to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN already and every major nation-state and its attendant occult defense organizations are now in service to one invading power or another, and we're just going through the motions now?

Given what we know about what the Black Chamber was up to in the U.S. as of The Labyrinth Index, I expect the other major powers have their own problems to deal with and maybe the U.K is on its own for now.

Don't know if that means they're "just going through the motions" ... maybe it's like the French Resistance during WW2.

174:

Heteromeles @ 168:

Interesting reading; thanks. (Worth noting that the 787th IAP Foxbat was Soviet, not East German; the DDR was just where it was based.)

Thanks in return. I don't know from Foxbats, so I looked them up. Now I'm wondering if the US built a successor to the SR-71 more along the lines of a stealthy MIG-25 than a titanium dart, slightly slower and a lot cheaper. Personally I doubt it (USA! USA! We're soooo techie), but it wouldn't have occurred to me if I hadn't looked up the Foxbat. If other planes could get a radar lock on a SR-71 regardless of how high and fast the bugger flew, that in turn suggests that missiles may ultimately win that particular Red Queen race.

I give you the mythical Project Aurora

175:

I give you the mythical Project Aurora

"Personally I doubt it (USA! USA! We're so techie)"...Aurora wasn't a myth, it was the B-2. And the successor spy plane, if it exists, is allegedly some sort of hypersonic stovepipe, or something that flies above the stratopause so friction won't melt it.

Nah, I'm wondering about those darned flying dorito chips from 2014. Double exhaust just like a Foxbat.

176:

H
Surely really high-power Lasers will "win" that race?
Any guesses on the "chips"? - I'm suspecting that they really are a "black" US programme.

177:

If other planes could get a radar lock on a SR-71 regardless of how high and fast the bugger flew, that in turn suggests that missiles may ultimately win that particular Red Queen race.

The end of the SR-71 was ordained when CCD cameras were invented. And flash memory to some extent.

Satellites no longer had to do film and drop it down to earth. All with limited supplies on board an eye watering expensive bus sized satellite.

178:

168 - Well, the Habu is/was already more stealthy than the Foxbat, and indeed has/had a higher cruising speed too.

177 - Well sort of. The end of the Skunk Works pure photo-reconnaissance mission was ordained at this time, if and only if you could put a satellite over any given point within 12 hours of mission requirement, and the mission requirement did not include ELectronic INTelligence (ELINT) as well as photo.

179:

In general the cost of photo recon compared to satellites got so big that Congress said no more. And I have to wonder just how many satellites the US (and others) have in polar orbits watching things.[1]

And for a fast picture with 0.5 to 1.0 meter resolution, just order it on your phone.

Over my house at this minute and over the next 12 hours the "SpyMeSat" app gives me the ability to order a photo from 29 different satellites passing over me. At 1.0 meter or less resolution. The next one in 32 minutes at 1.0 meter resolution.

I can pick the spot I'm interested in and get alerts as to when sats will be overhead with just minutes of notice so I can decide to get a photo or not almost in real time. Clouds and such may change my mind.

I keep meaning to take a pic on a sunny day but it keeps falling off my round2it list.

Oh. You can put a pin anywhere on the planet. Not sure if all sats will take a picture in all locations. :)

We DO live in a different world than 20 years ago.

[1]As a side diversion in this conversation Jerry Pournelle wrote an essay on why the SR-71 was cancelled. His thesis it was a cheap operation and only required about 50 men per aircraft to run. (As an average, not that you could stand up an operation with 50 men.) And that made it anathema to Colonels and below as the commands were too small to help their careers. But his essay didn't include the tanker specialty fuel requirements which likely cost much more day to day than the actual flights and maintenance.

180:

The problem with spysats is that satellites are relatively predictable -- if you've got their orbital elements, you know when they'll be overhead, so it's SOP for most militaries to roll tarpaulins over anything sensitive that's exposed to oversight from a passing foreign spysat.

Spy planes have the advantage of being able to pop up from any direction at any time. But they're vulnerable to being shot down.

AIUI the successor to the SR-71 was really a succession of stealthy drones stuffed with hard disks/SSDs and CCD cameras. They began testing the waters with the D-21 drone in the early 70s; there is virtually nothing in the literature about hypersonic stealth drones in actual service (aside from some rumours about the possibly mythical SR-72) but it's also likely they're subsonic -- just optimized for very low observability, high altitude, and small size. Think in terms of an uncrewed U-2.

181:

Yes. But it is getting to the point that the tarps have to be up all day long. And more and more as infrared cams get better 24/7.

182:

179 to 181 - Indeed. David has proven the low cost of satellite imagery (as do I regularly by using overhead view in mapping applications); OTOH I also positively know that live missile trials are scheduled for times of day when no, or at least only allied, satellites are over the range in question.

183:

Heteromeles @ 160: Here's a more detailed version [of the SR-71 interception story]

Thanks. I'd always wondered just how true that story was.

184:

Charlie @ 180: if you've got their orbital elements, you know when they'll be overhead, so it's SOP for most militaries to roll tarpaulins over anything sensitive that's exposed to oversight from a passing foreign spysat.

This is a minor but fun plot point in Bruce Sterling's The Zenith Angle (minor spoilers ahead).

There is a top secret spy satellite that isn't working. Its orbital elements are the most secret thing about it, to stop its targets being hidden. A scientist is bought in to troubleshoot. He needs the orbital elements so he can look for correlations between its position and the malfunction, but the military won't tell him. So he gets some commercial satellite imagery of its likely targets in India, figures out when the Indian military are pulling tarps over secret stuff, and deduces the orbital elements from that. There is a fun scene when he explains this to the General, complete with the orbital elements, and the General realises that 1. he is outclassed, and 2. his precious multi-billion dollar spy satellite is useless even if they do manage to get it working.

185:

For something like that I'd copy the PSD files into a separate folder under Photo Work.,/i>

To me a big advantage of Aperture was that it dynamically applied edits on top of the original file, so multiple versions of a photo didn't consume appreciably more storage. (Something Adobe copied when they released Lightroom.)

Given that many of my panoramas are over 1 GB, keeping multiple copies of them would quickly fill a hard drive :-)

186:

Sort of my point in a different way.

If I have 29 options for the area around me in a 12 hour period, just how much time can folks spend covering and uncovering things. I suspect most such things people want to hide are mostly now under huge 1/3 cylinder metal sheds. Quonset hut type things. And the ones fixed to the ground have such roofs that roll back as needed.

My area includes Fort Brag (82 Airborn), Seymour Johnson AFB (F15s, Tankers, and I think F35s down the road), Cherry Point Marines, a port, and a few other odds and ends.

And yes, I suspect there are stealth drones in use but not many. If there were very many someone would have crashed one by now.

I think most time in the saddle by US 'pilots" is currently booked via folks sitting in those high tech containers next to Los Vegas. Many at Nellis AFB but likely others in the area around there.

187:

"And for a fast picture with 0.5 to 1.0 meter resolution, just order it on your phone.

"Over my house at this minute and over the next 12 hours the "SpyMeSat" app gives me the ability to order a photo from 29 different satellites passing over me. At 1.0 meter or less resolution. The next one in 32 minutes at 1.0 meter resolution."

They also have archival imagery an order of magnitude cheaper than other providers I know of, who may match they on a $/km^2 basis but have minimum order requirements of 20 km^2 or so. I just got a 1 km^2, 80 cm resolution pic of a site of interest from early September 2021 for $19.95.

Consumer-level spysat imagery -- not something we considered back in the day.

188:

Agreed on the Spysats: there's a whole cottage industry dedicated to plotting the orbits of spysats. There was (is?) another whole cottage industry (MISTY) devoted to stealthing satellites, and is a whole US military corps (The Space Force) that flies an unmanned shuttle to do a bunch of loiter/fly/return/etc. stuff up there, along with other non-random assets, soon to be swarmsats, if I'm reading the bullshit tea leaves correctly.

As for spy planes, the US still has one acknowledged, the U-2, which mostly does signals intelligence rather than camera overflights (when it's not doing communications or other work). Since it's basically become the closest thing to a transformer that the USAF possesses, it's quite the versatile system.

Lest we forget, the problem with the SR-71 was to keep it from melting* from friction at full afterburner. While I'm interested in what they're doing with hypersonic craft, the part I'm missing is where the hypersonic plane doesn't melt doing Mach 5 in the stratosphere. The SR-71 flew near the top of the stratosphere, so I'd guess that if a plane wants to go faster than that, it needs to be built of some super material system that giggles at heats that make titanium buckle (ceramic backed by aerogel?). Otherwise, it's got to go into the mesosphere above the stratosphere, which is a) really hard to get to, and b) allegedly an unknown realm for flying craft in. Yes, sounding rockets fly into the lower mesosphere on a regular basis, and space rockets fly through it fairly regularly, but flying in that layer requires the plane to get lift out of something that would be called a decent vacuum at sea level. That qualifies as a neat trick in my book.

Could they be doing flying in the mesosphere? Well...maybe. John Powell's Airship to Orbit system is based on flying a mile-long V-shaped airships that fly in the mesosphere to reach escape velocity, coupled with thousand foot-long V-shaped airships that loft people up to the stratopause. Considering how much engineering he's done with almost no funding (he's on Patreon), it's just possible that he's duplicating work someone already did in the 80s.

The evidence? the Phoenix Lights from 1997. Those could have been on a giant, V-shaped airship much as Powell's trying to build. While we usually think of balloons as slow, they have gone Mach 10 when dropping from orbit and survived to reach the ground. So it's just possible that someone figured out a way to get a big-ass airship into the mesosphere, then to use the giant wing to get lift out of the mesosphere, and accelerate it slowly but steadily until it's faster than a SR-71 by the time it overflies its target on the other side of the world. If the airship's metal and thermal bits are camouflaged from below and it's visually camouflaged from above, it would be an awful nuisance to target, especially if the crew could just patch a hole made by a missile and keep flying (airships are hard to shoot down). It would also be less maneuverable than a Habu, but how often does that matter? The bigger question is whether something this cumbersome could do things that a spysat could not, and that is another one of those questions.

Otherwise, I agree, the photo reconnaissance mission is probably mostly being flown by drones now.

*Well, softening enough to suffer catastrophic structural failure.

189:

The idea of an uncrewed U2 is nice.

No heavy people, support hardware or even cockpit.The weight benefit would be considerable and that would up the altitude and duration or allow more imaging types to be employed at the same time.

I assume automated midair refueling is doable so, as long as you can train an AI to fly the thing at just above stall speed, its a winner.

Not sure I see the virtue of a hypersonic drone reconnaissance mission. If its spotted over the target county their first assumption might be "Inbound First Strike". Very dangerous.

190:

It may be a year or two before they have an uncrewed U-2.

Here's a link to what the U-2 could do back in 2014 (sadly, Foxtrot Alpha got cannibalized, and the pictures are missing in the current version of the story): https://web.archive.org/web/20140515183233/http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/a-spotters-guide-to-the-u-2-dragon-lady-and-its-many-1539282603/1539906115/+matthardigree

The point here is that the U2's major advantage seems to be that it can be radically reconfigured for each of its missions: wing pods can be taken on or off, the radome in the nose can be reconfigured with three differently-sized radars, a superpod can be mounted on the top of the fuselage, at least nine different payloads can be slung in the main bay, and various data links can be festooned on the nose or tail.

That kind of flexibility seems to be better matched with a human pilot. It would be interesting to get a drone programmer to program the drone to handle all these different configurations and how they affect the plane's handling. This goes double with the U2, which earned its "Dragon Lady" moniker for its problematic handling.

191:

OTOH, if you turn a U-2, never mind an ER-2, too tightly at altitude, the inside wingtip goes into stall, and the outside simultaneously goes into Mach buffet.

192:

It may be a year or two before they have an uncrewed U-2.

What, like the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, which has been in service since 2007?

(And this is what we know about because it's public.)

Those various external mission hardpoints on the U2 render it completely non-stealthy. Stealthed airframes try to conceal everything inside the blended wing/fuselage. (Even the SR-71 and its predecessor the A-12 did this, back in the 1960s -- internal bays in both the fuselage chines and the fuselage itself held all the interesting apparatus.)

Also, recon drones are largely remotely piloted -- satellite link to a pilot sitting in a control room back in the US, there's a control lag of a couple of seconds but they aren't designed for dogfighting anyway: the pilot tells it where to go and it goes there, from minute to minute.

193:

Heteromeles @ 175:

I give you the mythical Project Aurora

"Personally I doubt it (USA! USA! We're so techie)"...Aurora wasn't a myth, it was the B-2. And the successor spy plane, if it exists, is allegedly some sort of hypersonic stovepipe, or something that flies above the stratopause so friction won't melt it.

Yeah, that's what THEY want you to believe.

Nah, I'm wondering about those darned flying dorito chips from 2014. Double exhaust just like a Foxbat.

Double contrails would just mean the engines are separated far enough the contrails don't mix. All of the twin engine commercial jets leave a double contrail.

But "flat across the back like a Dorito" triangular aircraft is the quintessentially the description of the "mythical" Aurora.

I still have an open mind about it. The main argument against it is that it would be (by now) a 30 year old aircraft and yet no one had produced a demonstrably NOT FAKE photo and given the U.S. poor record of keeping military secrets I would have expected some leakage by now.

If it was built, I don't think there could be many of them. The same problems that plagued the A-11/YF-12A/SR-71 would mitigate against it, i.e. the Soviets (now Russians) control most of the world's Titanium output and how do you keep a project secret when the sole supplier of your most vital material needed for building it is the "enemy" you're trying to keep it secret from?

The key word everyone seems to forget when discussing UFOs and other unidentified aircraft is UN-identified.

194:

Look, up in the sky! Is it a 'plane? Yes, and still low enough that you can see a double contrail from the wing tips.

195:

Charlie Stross @ 180:

The problem with spysats is that satellites are relatively predictable -- if you've got their orbital elements, you know when they'll be overhead, so it's SOP for most militaries to roll tarpaulins over anything sensitive that's exposed to oversight from a passing foreign spysat.

That's what they did while training for the Sơn Tây raid during the Vietnam War. They built a full size replica of the POW compound for training, and dismantled it every time a Soviet Spy satellite was due to pass overhead.

196:

Robert Prior @ 185:

For something like that I'd copy the PSD files into a separate folder under Photo Work.

To me a big advantage of Aperture was that it dynamically applied edits on top of the original file, so multiple versions of a photo didn't consume appreciably more storage. (Something Adobe copied when they released Lightroom.)

Given that many of my panoramas are over 1 GB, keeping multiple copies of them would quickly fill a hard drive :-)

I have something like 9 TB on my Photoshop Computer, and 12 TB on my file server. It would be more, but I went for two parity stripes in my RAID array. I should be able to rebuild the array even if I lost two disks. Storage space, especially "spinny" disks, is fairly cheap; about $20/TB (for Seagate Iron Wolf 4TB drives).

197:

Grant @ 189: The idea of an uncrewed U2 is nice.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk

Wingspan: 130.9 ft (39.9 m) vs U-2 Wingspan: 103 ft (31 m)
Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,000 m) vs 80,000 ft (24,000 m) plus
Lift-to-drag: 33 vs 25.6
Endurance: 32+ hours vs 12 hours
Range: 14,154 mi (22,780 km, 12,299 nmi) vs 6,090 nmi (7,010 mi, 11,280 km) plus

Cruise speed: 357 mph (570 km/h, 310 kn) vs 475 mph (765 km/h, 413 kn)

That's probably close enough for government work.

198:

Oh dear. Please READ THE LINKS.

Here's an original report by one of the "interceptor club" who saw the three dorito chips flying in formation southwest of the Amarillo Airport in 2014: https://deepbluehorizon.blogspot.com/2014/03/mystery-aircraft-photographed-over.html

He's well-known as an aviation fanatic who publishes the blog black horizon.

He DOES NOT think that the dorito chips were surveillance craft. His best guess is that they're specialist small transporters, something like a small, stealthy C-130, capable of carrying 12 SEALs and dropping them in HALO over denied airspace. His reasoning is that the US has known, stealthy versions of most of its other classes of plane, but there's no stealthy transport known. There's also a telling bit in the story of the assassination of Ben Laden. The SEALs ultimately chose to fly in semi-stealthy helicopters, one of which crashed. It was clear earlier on that they had multiple choices for insertion, but chose the copters as the least problematic. Assuming they jumped in, what would fly over denied airspace and let them jump off? Ummmmmmmmm.

Two other points: I don't think anyone is nuts enough to fly three hypersonic planes in formation maneuvers. That's not exactly what they're built for.

The other, more interesting point, was the question about why the three doritos were doing, flying in broad daylight right where a known black plane spotter was having lunch? The best guess is that this was right before the Russians invaded Crimea, and the Obama administration wanted to advertise that it had more military planes than it had publicly revealed. The reveal didn't have the intended consequence, and I may be wrong. But with all the sky to play in, it would be silly for them to do this for a lark. That was a message, not a goof.

As for reconnaissance planes, as I pointed out above, titanium only works for a hypersonic craft if they're flying it above where the SR-71 flew, because the SR-71 was specially designed for heat management above all. Otherwise, they need to be thinking about things like space shuttle heat tiles and similar metamaterials. And they probably have been. As Greg pointed out, even with a super-fast plane can't outrun a laser. Worse (as demonstrated by the Swedes and the Soviets) it's entirely possible for a somewhat slower interceptor to lock an even faster missile onto a superfast sled, so it's not the ideal strategy.

As for the RQ-4, they're supposedly retiring it this year, while the U-2 is still flying. The key difference is that the U-2 is a massively multipurpose platform, while the RQ-4 just doesn't get its pilots shot down.

199:

Charlie and everyone here:

Best wishes for 2022!

Thanks for all the lively and informative discussion - looking forward to more in the New Year.

Take care, SFReader

200:

Nant Ffrancon is further north than that. You can see in the north of the map in that article a pattern of the dark shading that appears to relate to land around 1000m which looks like an arrow pointing at a zit. The zit is Snowdon, the head of the arrow is the Glyders and the shaft of it is the Carneddau. Right in the angle where the shaft meets the head there is a crack between the two that goes round the bend. That's Nant Ffrancon. It's pretty cool.

If you start at the bend you can climb up the corner of the Carneddau, all the way to the top of Pen-yr-Oleu-Wen on a pretty continuous gradient steep enough that if you stand up straight you have to be careful not to fall all the way down again. That leaves you at the Carneddau summit level with all the knackering part already over and done with, and you can spend the rest of the day strolling easily about up in the clouds, which if there actually aren't any clouds is pretty great.

201:

AIUI, the “slightly less steel” MiG-25 was the MiG-31…

@192 - the problem with UAVs is that their navigation systems have (in the past) not worked properly; the Iranians ended up with a crashed RQ-170 on their soil, and claimed it was done by their jamming rather than an avionics failure…

The end of the Cold War meant the end of budgets for aircraft with staggeringly expensive operating costs, such as the SR-71. As has been pointed out, satellite-mounted CCD and decent local storage/bandwidth removed much pressure to have a replacement; like JBS I’m skeptical about any supersonic Aurora.

202:

The end of the Cold War meant the end of budgets for aircraft with staggeringly expensive operating costs, such as the SR-71. As has been pointed out, satellite-mounted CCD and decent local storage/bandwidth removed much pressure to have a replacement; like JBS I’m skeptical about any supersonic Aurora.

Ummmm, it's $5,000/hour to fly an F-18 and the plane costs $67 million-ish. Per Wikipedia, the F-35 costs $44,000/hour to fly. The bare bones version of the F-35 costs $78 million (cheaper than some), but the lifetime cost of the program is $1.6 trillion.

Those are prices for single-seat fighters. A single B-2 costs $737 million.

Meanwhile, an SR-71 costs the equivalent of $250 million in today's money.

So, no, I'm not convinced that planes are getting cheaper. I do happen to agree that we don't have a hypersonic plane flying, despite rumors...unless it's a crazy airship that can fly at around 95-ish miles up and slowly accelerate to hypersonic speed. That would be fairly cheap (make it of mylar and carbon fiber spars, and really, really big), but no one's proven it can fly yet.

Otherwise, I tend to agree with you. There are better spying systems out there. The internet, for example...

203:

So, no, I'm not convinced that planes are getting cheaper.

My reading wasn't that he was claiming planes are getting cheaper, but rather that specialized expensive (relatively) planes whose only purpose was to spy on the Soviet Union were an easy target for cuts.

204:

Fair enough. Since planes are currently designed to scatter jobs through as many congressional districts as possible, to make it harder for them to be killed by cost overruns, I'm not sure this new system is any better.

One puzzlement is this whole new hypersonic thing. Is it because there have been enough breakthroughs that it's feasible, or is it just every big power and wannabe trying Reagan's Star Wars gambit to see who goes bankrupt first?

205:

Sadly, I'm one of the last still stuck in 2021. Nonetheless, I'd wish everyone a cromulent 2022. May the vaccines get to you well before the viruses do, may no computer crash on you unexpectedly, may your only screams be of joy or laughter, and may the only quantum of nightmares you observe be a novel by Charles Stross.

Now I'll go back to cleaning 2021 out of my home.

206:

I bring tidings from the future, and it is us. Happy new year and all that, hope it is a better time for everyone.

207:

"the Iranians ended up with a crashed RQ-170 on their soil, and claimed it was done by their jamming rather than an avionics failure"

AIUI, military navigation systems basically use GPS to update an inertial unit, but the inertial unit has priority and can monitor the GPS inputs to make sure they aren't going awry. So even if the Iranians succeeded in jamming the GPS, the inertial part of the system would have continued, though with increasing error as it drifted. Inertial isn't going to be jammed unless somebody comes up with a sufficiently powerful gravity wave projector...

209:

the pilot tells it where to go and it goes there, from minute to minute.

Which is how the F22 and I guessing the F35 work. I recently watched an hour long YouTube of an intro lecture by an AF test pilot with a lot of time in hundreds of aircraft but also a lot in F22. Per him you dial in the maximum G force you want to see at the current time then use the throttle and control stick to "ask" the plane to take you in that direction. The avionics then use "where you are" as a starting point and get you going withing the limits of the G force setting and the plane's abilities. Many of the control surfaces then operate in ways counter intuitive to how a pilot learns to fly with less power and speed.

And the F22 is not current anymore in terms of avionics computing. At all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n068fel-W9I

210:

Bear in mind that airliners don't come free in the cereal box either. A narrow-body twinjet like a 737 or A320 costs roughly $40M new; a big-ass widebody (747-8, A380, B777X, A350-1000 is anything up to $300M. (The latter two are twin-engined long range widebodies that overlap with the 747's capacity but are cheaper to operate: jury is out on how well they'll sell, given the pandemic.)

You're looking at maintenance costs of $1000/hour for the A350, and in general airliner costs are one-third maintenance, one third personnel (including cabin and ground operations), and one third airframe/depreciation (over a 30 year lifespan): so the widebodies are on the order of $3000+ per hour to operate.

So civil aviation doesn't cost peanuts either.

An aspect of the military stuff you're pointing at that tends to go unremarked is that they're also typically tasked with carrying a bunch of munitions, which are not featherlight: for a B-52 it's about 30-35 tons of bombs and/or cruise missiles, for an F/A-18 or F-35 it's something like 5 tons, plus another 5 tons of external fuel stores (their internal fuel tanks are quite small, and while you could hang heavier weapons on them in return for more in-flight refueling calls, that imposes its own trade-offs -- for one thing, tankers aren't cheap to operate because they're basically converted airliners with a bunch of specialized extra equipment on board).

But what about bizjets, you ask? Turns out bizjets are eye-wateringly expensive too. The cheapest options start in single-digit millions of dollars: by the time you budget for a fully tricked-out Gulfstream G650ER, you won't have much change from $75M. (You can sometimes save money by buying an airliner -- either a new Business Jet version, or a second-hand one that can be fitted out. Spare parts are more readily available for something like a Boeing BBJ -- either a modified 737 or 777 -- than for a Gulfstream or Dassault.)

TL/DR: once you bolt jet engines onto a thing with wings, they tend to get very expensive, very fast.

211:

A narrow-body twinjet like a 737 or A320 costs roughly $40M new; a big-ass widebody (747-8, A380, B777X, A350-1000 is anything up to $300M.

You're short by a factor of 2 or 3 on the small guys. A 737max sticker price can easily get to $100mil.

The B777x and A350x can also have sticker prices above your number.

But most buys are for 10s of planes if not 100 or more. And with that the airline is also buying 10 or 20 year maintenance and upgrade deals which gives them a break on the sticker price.

The 747 and A380s are in a weird position just now. No more are going to be built and some that are not all that old being scraped as the secondary market makes it more worthwhile to set them aside for parts rather than try and sell them. But a parked for parts jumbo can cost a million or more $$$ per year to keep the parts viable.

I suspect the last 2 747s that are meant to carry people will be the ones for POTUS. The rest of the market will be for freighters. And a thin market at that.

Oh, yeah. The kick the tires price on a 737max is a bit depressed just now. As Airbus rakes in a lot of business for their A320neo iterations.

4 engine passenger jets are dead. Long live 2 engines. (In a terrible pun.)

212:

Storage space, especially "spinny" disks, is fairly cheap; about $20/TB

It is now. When I set up my system it was a lot more expensive. Multi-layered Photoshop files get large quickly — I had files that were 200 GB before flattening, in the era when a 1 TB disk was large.

Fortunately my panoramas haven't got much bigger over the years — there's a limit to the number of pixels you need — so storage cost per panorama is dropping.

213:

Meanwhile, an SR-71 costs the equivalent of $250 million in today's money.

Operating an SR-71 is another matter. It used specially formulated fuel[1] that, according to one source I read, cost as much per litre as malt whisky. The fuel was used as coolant for the skin surfaces most exposed to frictional heating before being burned in the engines so regular dollar-a-gallon Jet 1A wasn't going to cut it.

I mentioned an SR-71 mission up-thread, 12 hours in the air with eight specialist tankers flying in support plus, probably, a few minder escort fighters hanging around in the area just in case things went seriously tits-up, also rescue ships in case the plane went down in the sea. Satellites are a LOT cheaper.

[1]One of the few SR-71 airframe operational losses happened when someone loaded out a SR-71 tanker with regular Jet-1A rather than the exotic cocktail that should have been on board. After taking on a load of bad fuel the plane stopped flying and the pilot and RSO ejected safely.

214:

tits-up

How is this not a totally sexist phrase?

And one that I used regularly until not too long ago until I did a mental "Huh?".

And as I understand things is more of an urban legend in real life than anything else.

215:

"You're short by a factor of 2 or 3 on the small guys."

A few years I was looking at space launch costs and found that commercial aircraft and space launch rockets were roughly compatible in the sense that the smaller ones cost something under $100M and the big ones ~$400M - $500M.

Of course, the airplanes weren't single-use. Mostly.

216:

Heteromeles @ 198: Oh dear. Please READ THE LINKS.

Maybe you should lighten up a little. I did read the links and I did look at the photos. They're very good photos of some kind of minuscule, barely discernible DOT leaving a contrail in the sky. I say again: The KEY WORD in UFO is UN-identified.

UN-identified. UNDERLINE that word. Engrave it on plates of gold! Post it on the wall over your computer.

And whatever you do, don't drink the Kool-Ade.

PS: "As for the RQ-4 ..." retirement plans appear to be on hold for now because the Air Farce doesn't yet have a replacement for them. They're still flying for the same reason the U-2 is still flying.

>PPS: Does the U.S. have SECRET aircraft? I have no doubt about it.

Do those guys (or you) KNOW any more about those SECRET aircraft than I do? Not in a billion fuckin' years.

217:

My understanding is that the word tits is derived from teats (when not referring to birds of the genus Paridae) and when I last looked, men had nipples aka teats just like women, mostly.

Breasts are another matter, anatomically speaking and yet moobs aka man-boobs are also a thing. Ain't science wonderful?

218:

“ The 747 and A380s are in a weird position just now. No more are going to be built and some that are not all that old being scraped as the secondary market makes it more worthwhile to set them aside for parts rather than try and sell them.”

Commercial jet size is constrained by airport design decisions made in the 1970s.

A380s are too big. Airport design was “future proofed” for a max 80m wingspan. Trying to fit a huge jet to that meant a fuel-inefficient design.

High fuel costs, high operating costs (4 engines have twice the moving parts of 2), so no secondary market in cheap airlines or freight. Most 380s will go from over $300 million new to scrap in a bit over a decade.

219:

A380s are too big. Airport design was “future proofed” for a max 80m wingspan. Trying to fit a huge jet to that meant a fuel-inefficient design.

The Boeing 777X gets around this limit by having [folding wingtips(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_777X#Wing). Larger models of the 777X and the A350 (not yet flying) exceed the low end passenger capacity of the 747-400, while delivering greater range on less fuel.

220:

Martin @ 201: AIUI, the “slightly less steel” MiG-25 was the MiG-31…

@192 - the problem with UAVs is that their navigation systems have (in the past) not worked properly; the Iranians ended up with a crashed RQ-170 on their soil, and claimed it was done by their jamming rather than an avionics failure…

Rather "their navigation systems have (in the past) not [ALWAYS] worked properly". Are Iranian claims to military prowess demonstrably more reliable than the lies told by the RAF or USAF?

The end of the Cold War meant the end of budgets for aircraft with staggeringly expensive operating costs, such as the SR-71. As has been pointed out, satellite-mounted CCD and decent local storage/bandwidth removed much pressure to have a replacement; like JBS I’m skeptical about any supersonic Aurora.

FWIW, that's the mythical Project Aurora, which I pointed out IF IT EXISTS would be a SECRET the Air Farce has managed to keep for 30+ years. I assign that a low probability, but it might turn out to be one of the six impossible things you have to believe before breakfast(???).

221:

IF IT EXISTS would be a SECRET the Air Farce has managed to keep for 30+ years.

Yep.

As the service life of an airframe is typically 30 years -- although post-cold war military airframes run a lot longer: some F-16s and F-15s are creeping up on 50, B-52s will still be flying by the century mark and some in-service B-52H's are probably older than I am -- I'd be astonished if a flying aircraft in service for 30 years wasn't public knowledge by now, even if its precise specifications remained classified.

If nothing else, just saying "yeah, there's this Z-43 thing we call Aurora, here's a silhouette, we could tell you more but then we'd have to shoot you" would cut down on the annoying time-wasting UFO conspiracy theories and FOIA notices. (It'd also make it a lot easier to shut down any witnesses if a Z-43 thing had to make an unscheduled emergency landing at Chicago O'Hare during rush hour. "Oh, it's those whacky Air Force dudes again, not a Martian invasion, nothing to see here, move along now.")

222:

Charlie Stross @ 210: An aspect of the military stuff you're pointing at that tends to go unremarked is that they're also typically tasked with carrying a bunch of munitions, which are not featherlight: for a B-52 it's about 30-35 tons of bombs and/or cruise missiles, for an F/A-18 or F-35 it's something like 5 tons, plus another 5 tons of external fuel stores (their internal fuel tanks are quite small, and while you could hang heavier weapons on them in return for more in-flight refueling calls, that imposes its own trade-offs -- for one thing, tankers aren't cheap to operate because they're basically converted airliners with a bunch of specialized extra equipment on board)

I recently read that the B-52 is getting another "upgrade" that should keep it flying through it's hundred year anniversary. Along with new Rolls-Royce engines, they're getting new avionics and for the first time will have USB ports installed.

223:

The best joke about this is that it's getting USB-A ports which only deliver enough juice to charge a tablet (probably under 20 watts). And the combination USB charger and LED map-reading lamp costs $3000 a pop.

I suppose it's better than a 40 year supply of external Lithium-Ion USB charger bricks, with the corresponding fire risk, but you'd think they might at least have gone for dual USB-C sockets with PD 3 for up to 100 watts? That surely won't be obsolete for at least a decade!

224:

Airport design was “future proofed” for a max 80m wingspan.

Then there is LAX.

My wife dealt with the passenger signage system (those TV screens) there for a while. At the terminals she dealt with small planes can fit one per gate. Larger ones require 2 gates and things like 777s maybe 3 depending on the gate. So there's a carefully choreographed scheduling of which sized planes come and go where. When things go off schedule, well, it's a really crappy situation. Things like when a large plane blocking 3 gates is very late leaving then the incoming planes get stuck waiting to take turns at other gates. While the passengers fume. A lot.

And there's no real fix other than doing a Denver or DFW and making an entirely new airport way out somewhere. And that's just not going to happen.

Pick your fav mapping site with overhead views and see how much fun it can be to move planes around LAX.

225:

I don't know if I want crew plugging USB sticks into B-52 ports. These planes are tasked with carrying nukes.

Back in the day when the computers were custom build one off things, well maybe. But today I'm betting there's a lot of Windows and Android systems inside those hulls.

226:

The end of staggering budgets? Um, you might want to take a look at the current US overt military budget (not counting the black budget), and tell me that's not eye-watering enough.

227:

My immediate reaction to that one is "bollocks!" How is that not a sexist term?

I have never heard either used with sexist connotations, but have lived most of my life in the UK.

228:

specially formulated fuel[1] that, according to one source I read, cost as much per litre as malt whisky.
About 1 pound per litre before duty!? ;-)

229:

I had always assumed that tits-up & balls-up were variants of belly-up, as in how dead goldfish float in their bowls. Is arbitrarily assigning a sex to the metaphorical fish sexist?

230:

Robert Prior @ 212:

Storage space, especially "spinny" disks, is fairly cheap; about $20/TB

It is now. When I set up my system it was a lot more expensive. Multi-layered Photoshop files get large quickly — I had files that were 200 GB before flattening, in the era when a 1 TB disk was large.

Fortunately my panoramas haven't got much bigger over the years — there's a limit to the number of pixels you need — so storage cost per panorama is dropping.

When I started using Photoshop a 30GB hard-drive was large. My RAW files from that time average around 13MB (6MP).

When I built the Photoshop computer I started with a 30GB boot drive, I don't remember what size the drive was for the scratch disk, but it was a dedicated disk and I sprung for a 2 TB storage disk (a very large disk at the time). The computer has been upgraded since then to a 250GB SSD boot disk, 120GB SSD for the scratch disk and three 4TB drives for local storage.

231:

David L @ 214:

tits-up

And one that I used regularly until not too long ago until I did a mental "Huh?".

And as I understand things is more of an urban legend in real life than anything else.

It's not gender specific. Everybody has "tits".

232:

I don't know if I want crew plugging USB sticks into B-52 ports. These planes are tasked with carrying nukes.

Here, have a USB condom. (You can bet that the B-52 USB port will be juice-only, with no connection to avionics or weapons systems. Also, the tablets in question are the electronic flight bags for the aircrew. They're very convenient and save weight but a typical tablet battery life of 10 hours won't run throughout the entire duration of a B-52 mission, so they need a way to recharge.)

233:

Charlie Stross @ 223: The best joke about this is that it's getting USB-A ports which only deliver enough juice to charge a tablet (probably under 20 watts). And the combination USB charger and LED map-reading lamp costs $3000 a pop.

I suppose it's better than a 40 year supply of external Lithium-Ion USB charger bricks, with the corresponding fire risk, but you'd think they might at least have gone for dual USB-C sockets with PD 3 for up to 100 watts? That surely won't be obsolete for at least a decade!

My first thought was "Now they can play MP3 files".

234:

And a happy new year's to all... and may the new year be better than the old.

As I used to say in the APA I was in, "next year in orbit".

235:

Charlie Stross @ 232:

I don't know if I want crew plugging USB sticks into B-52 ports. These planes are tasked with carrying nukes.

Here, have a USB condom. (You can bet that the B-52 USB port will be juice-only, with no connection to avionics or weapons systems. Also, the tablets in question are the electronic flight bags for the aircrew. They're very convenient and save weight but a typical tablet battery life of 10 hours won't run throughout the entire duration of a B-52 mission, so they need a way to recharge.)

The article I saw didn't really go into what kind of USB port it was going to be or how they were going to use it.

I guessed it was going to be like the USB thumb drives that became ubiquitous in the Army for "transporting documents" (PowerPoint) shortly before I retired ... put "sealed" orders & stuff on the thumb drive and when certain conditions are met you plug it in to the port to read whatever is on the stick ... a somewhat modern replacement for the sealed envelopes they opened in "Dr. Strangelove" ...

236:

Do I think the USAF can keep secrets?

Sure, why not? Most of the stuff that does get leaked is either borderline obsolete or crashes by accident.

Two very good examples are the Flying Dorito Chips from 2014 and the Stealth Copter from the 2009 Ben Laden Raid. They've been demonstrated to exist, but they haven't been made public.

Stealth copters in particular seem to stay black until they're obsolete. For example, we know about the Quiet Bird they used in Vietnam (got sold for scrap), but what to make of CIA assertions that there were multiple black copters even in Vietnam? BS, or not? Is there a lineage of stealthy and quiet copters in the US military, or is it a normally-dormant idea that gets periodically revived as needed?

Also the US Space Force is having the problem that every system they used is classified to some level. This turns out to be a real headache for the Space cadets in at Colorado Springs, because the service has to figure out how to read them in to tell them about what they're being read into, so they can then learn about it. This apparently (per public reporting) has led to some thought about reworking the Space Force secrecy system, and about what needs to be classified.

237:

Operating an SR-71 is another matter. It used specially formulated fuel[1] that, according to one source I read, cost as much per litre as malt whisky. The fuel was used as coolant for the skin surfaces most exposed to frictional heating before being burned in the engines so regular dollar-a-gallon Jet 1A wasn't going to cut it.

I got curious, so I poked around. The JP-7 article on Wikipedia is informative, and somewhat amusing. Turns out, the first run of a million pounds of JP-7 for the USAF back in 1955 (for use in the U-2) resulted in a year-long shortage of the insecticide Flit, because it used the same materials.

Alas for the story of a plane running on whiskey-priced fuel, the DoD published some fuel prices that, erm, leaked online. For them JP-7 cost $3.00 per gallon in 2003. That's $4.53 in 2021, which is almost exactly the same price as a gallon of gasoline near me, and about 1/5th the price of Bushmills near me. It's even cheaper than Olde English 800 (malt liquor). However, it is the most expensive fuel on the list, for what that's worth.

Haven't checked the cost of the triethylborane they used to get the SR-71 turning over properly. Perhaps that made up the price difference, and not just its colossal fuel consumption?

238:

almost exactly the same price as a gallon of gasoline near me

However, consumer petrol (gasoline) is taxed, while aviation fuel isn't. So it's probably a bit pricier than petrol, but not in the same league as whisky (unless the whisky is duty- and tax-free).

239:

"Is arbitrarily assigning a sex to the metaphorical fish sexist?"

Or is there a roughly 50% chance of it being sexist? Or is it one of those complicated fish where you have to consider how old it is?

I suspect you could argue it with comparable validity any way you want, and assuming my suspicion to be correct it is therefore the case that all such arguments are about as useful as tits on a fish.

240:

"Breasts are another matter, anatomically speaking"

Not sure that's actually entirely correct. AIUI the same anatomical structures are present in both the standard human body variants (ie, the two types produced by the normal biological development process in the great majority of instances); the difference is principally in the degree of development of fatty masses which augment size but don't do much else.

The actual mammary gland structure is a comparatively small amount of tissue, is present in both standard variants, and is even potentially functional in both variants, except that in one variant it is extremely rare for it to receive the necessary signals to be activated. It increases in size during lactation but this is less obvious in humans than it is in other mammals like dogs which do not have the underlying fatty development.

According to Desmond Morris this is one of those spurious signalling of reproductive fitness things like the peacock's tail: human females have big jubbly boobs, and human males have grotesquely large dicks, by comparison with other large apes. He relates this to a combination of the upright posture making these features conspicuous, and humans just being a sex ape anyway. (Of course that was a pretty long time ago now, and I don't know if current thinking still agrees.)

241:

However, consumer petrol (gasoline) is taxed, while aviation fuel isn't. So it's probably a bit pricier than petrol, but not in the same league as whisky (unless the whisky is duty- and tax-free).

Pretty much. California taxes at 70 cents/gallon for gasoline, $3.30/gallon for alcohol. Gas is getting more expensive, but the big thing is that parts of California have such bad smog problems that gas is specially formulated, winter and summer, to deal with air pollution. That drives up the cost considerably. The savings is in lung damage, but since that's probabilistic while gas prices are deterministic, it's hard to tell whether people have saved enough on asthma drugs and the like to make up for the costs of driving.

Anyway, the functional chemistry that went into making JP-7 (it's a gas. And a hydraulic fluid. And a coolant. Then you burn it) is more interesting (if less relevant) than the challenge of keeping people alive longer in La La Land.

242:

What about cock-up? Is that sexist? Balls-out has an engineering explanation which I have always considered a retroactive bowdlerisation of the original expression but who knows (see also, "tinker's damn").

Now bust-up, hmmmm...

243:

IIRC the relative length of penis and scrotum in hominins is quite variable. Also, as pointed out in Animal Exuberance, humans are actually among the most sexually conservative apes, by and large. For bonobos, for example, non-heterosexual sex is the norm, and what we would consider homosexual sex is quite normal, probably at a higher percentage than found in most human populations.

I'd also point out that humans are quite diverse in secondary sexual characteristics (SSCs) as well, and also, critically, in how they respond to the SSCs of potential partners. That's the problem with theorizing about how (or even if) human SSCs are of any selective advantage whatsoever.

For example, if Sir Mixalot was one of these theorizing male anthropologists, he might well wax loquacious about the selective appeal of big butts (and he would not lie). As for breasts, at least one Papua New Guinea culture has men who prefer women with pendulous breasts that indicate they've nursed a baby and are thus fertile, while western culture allegedly prefers "perky tits" that indicate no children. Have either of these purported cultural norm been around long enough to have any evolutionary impact whatsoever?

244:

What about cock-up? Is that sexist? Balls-out has an engineering explanation which I have always considered a retroactive bowdlerisation of the original expression but who knows (see also, "tinker's damn").

I wonder if balls out is a version of "balls to the wall." The latter probably isn't explicitly sexist (ahem). It came out of military aviation in the Vietnam era, where it meant that the throttle was pushed to the maximum. Why do throttles have balls? As noted above--ahem! We won't make any jokes about seamen servicing the cockpits of fighters as part of their normal mission either.

If cock-up is a less vulgar version of fcuk up, then I'm not sure whether it's explicitly misogynist, although it certainly has to do with sex.

246:

In the US "tits" refers to the female anatomy 99.999999% of the time.

And here's some discussion on my point.

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/227589/what-is-origin-of-the-phrase-tits-up

247:

In the US "tits" refers to the female anatomy 99.999999% of the time.

That's because the US has cockchafers rather than tits like we have in Britain. Of course "cockchafer" could be considered sexist even if it wasn't a reference to "tighty whiteys", which come to think of it, is probably racist.

248:

If you want to know the etymology of such phrases then the best thing is to invite Susie Dent to the blog.

249:

We won't make any jokes about seamen servicing the cockpits of fighters as part of their normal mission either.

Well, someone has to polish the pilot's joystick.

250:

I loved The Naked Ape when I was a kid but, reading it again in college left me nonplussed. Desmond Morris liked to state things as absolute truths, without mentioning any controversies or alternative explanations, or providing any footnotes. It turned out that many of his statements of fact were completely incorrect.

251:

H
Oh come now! "Balls to the wall" is openly sexist & funny - it's part of the "Ballad of Kirremuir" - which comes from time immoral, or immemorial, or something.
( Do your own research on that one! )

252:

In the UK, we are more anatomically aware :-)

Have any of you seen a dead mammal when it has started to bloat? That often puts it on its back, and is where I assumed the expression came from. The connection with copulation is contorted, and sounds contrived.

253:

I'm fairly certain that "balls out" came from early steam engine throttle/governor systems where the spinning balls regulated the flow of steam into the cylinders. They would lever up and out as things got faster. Pulling up the control lever(s). If the balls were as far out as they could go the engine was running at max speed.

Again:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifugal_governor

No genitalia involved.

254:

Nothing has changed significantly. The anthropological establishment still does that, as well as ignoring any inconvenient facts that conflict with its dogmas.

255:

Many older men have quite impressive breasts, due to a drop in testosterone levels and rise in surplus body fat. They are as useful as tits on a boar, as the saying goes :-)

Human males can lactate to some extent, under some conditions, too.

256:

Re: 'Is there a lineage of stealthy and quiet copters in the US military, or is it a normally-dormant idea that gets periodically revived as needed?'

This showed up in my GoogleNews - curious what the aviation/high-tech folks here think.

I've never heard of this before (no surprise) therefore have no idea whether this is/was another of those 'secret' aircraft but it's 'interesting' and personally relevant as in: is this why my Internet connection goes wonky intermittently for no good (ISP-related) reason?

http://ntv.ca/plane-used-for-electronic-warfare-loses-engine-and-diverts-to-st-johns/

257:

Also, on a somewhat grimmer note, men can get breast cancer too. It's much rarer than among women -- many breast cancers are oestrogen-linked and most men have very low oestrogen levels[*] -- but men account for about 0.5 - 1% of breast cancer diagnoses, and are usually diagnosed in stage III or IV, because who the hell expects breast cancer in a man? (Clue: social conditioning makes us discount the risk.)

[*] But not zero: it's one of a family of steroidal sex hormones that also include testosterone and progesterone, and the ability to make any of them implies possession of the metabolic pathways to make them all, and biology is notoriously sloppy and doesn't observe boundaries: "male" and "female" are both child classes of "human" with some of the configurable variables tweaked differently, in OOP terms.

258:

Yes. While our primary sexual characteristics have evolved to be categorical, our secondary ones are all simply a matter of degree.

259:

253 - Likewise, and I've been in marine engine rooms (well, their viewing galleries), watched shows like "Para Handy" (set on a steam powered Clyde puffer), and visited places like Kew Bridge Steam Museum at a weekend when most of their engines (some things like London Water pumping engines) are in steam.

256 - IMO "stealth helicopter" is a bit oxymoronic. I've detected a "Wokka" (Boeing Chinook) by sound from over a mile away, whilst driving and listening to a CD.
Having said which, there has been some progress in reducing rotor slap sounds, like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BERP_rotor , usually found on later model Lynx (and hence Wildcat) and Merlin.

260:

No, the EC-130H isn't a secret. It has it's own Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LockheedEC-130HCompass_Call

As for the stealth copters, here's the one that's popped out of the woodwork repeatedly "The Quiet One" a Little Bird modified to be as quiet as possible for infiltration operations in Vietnam: https://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/air-americas-black-helicopter-24960500/

You can find video and other articles on it. Whether that was the only quiet copter in Vietnam is an open question. A CIA memoir implied there were others--though that might have been a deliberate fabrication.

Here's a 2013 article on the other dark helicopters known or suspected to be out there. It's a mix of fact and speculation: https://deepbluehorizon.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-fish-food-express-and-other-secret.html

The key takeaway is that there's two kinds of stealth, not one: sonic stealth is much older than radar stealth, and there were multiple planes and one copter in Vietnam that were designed for sonic stealth and used in limited roles. Stealth copters are often about low noise, because they fly low enough to miss most radar.

261:

SFReader @ 256:

Re: 'Is there a lineage of stealthy and quiet copters in the US military, or is it a normally-dormant idea that gets periodically revived as needed?'

This showed up in my GoogleNews - curious what the aviation/high-tech folks here think.

I've never heard of this before (no surprise) therefore have no idea whether this is/was another of those 'secret' aircraft but it's 'interesting' and personally relevant as in: is this why my Internet connection goes wonky intermittently for no good (ISP-related) reason?

http://ntv.ca/plane-used-for-electronic-warfare-loses-engine-and-diverts-to-st-johns/

The EC-130H been in operation since April 1982. It's about as secret as anything that has a Wikipedia entry can be. St. Johns is the last really good runway before heading out over the North Atlantic and/or the closest place to put down in an emergency returning from the U.K. or Europe.

Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call

The missions they fly are certainly classified, but unless your ISP is the Taliban or Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the aircraft is probably not to blame for your wonky internet connection.

paragraph

262:

Re: “staggering budgets” - do a search for defence spending as a percentage of GDP, from the 1960s onwards. The USA went from spending 8% of GDP when the SR-71 was ordered, to 6% by the time of KH-12, to just under 4% now.

The U.K. has likewise seen its defence budgets cut by more than half over a similar timeframe.

As they say, “No Bucks, no Buck Rogers”…

263:

IMO "stealth helicopter" is a bit oxymoronic.

What I'm waiting for with choppers is optical stealth, from above.

You've got multiple rotor blades doing 200-400 rpm. We can make really thin, light, bright OLED displays these days, with refresh rates of 120Hz in consumer devices. What if we put CCD cameras on the underside of the rotor blades and fuselage, and feed what they're seeing through to the top surface? And vice versa? If you're standing under the chopper you get a display of the sky above it, and if you're above it you get a view of the ground below it.

Alternatively: if you put cameras on those blades, you can turn the helos rotor disk into a single synthetic aperture imaging array with a surface of 200 square metres if it's something like an AH-64D. I bet you could see a lot of fine detail in the ground clutter with a 200 square metre imaging array, if you've got the signal processing chops to handle it.

Finally, there's already a bunch of work going on about using helicopters as "mother ships" for special purpose quadrotor drones and, presumably, swarming suicide drones, kind of like this Chinese ground-launched version.

So you can hear the gunship coming, but you can't see it with your eyeballs, it's too low for radar to pick up until it's right overhead, it can draw a bead on a mosquito at twenty kilometres, and drop a swarm of semi-autonomous mesh networked suicide robots on you instead of relying on old-fashioned unguided bullets.

264:

paws4thot @ 259: 256 - IMO "stealth helicopter" is a bit oxymoronic. I've detected a "Wokka" (Boeing Chinook) by sound from over a mile away, whilst driving and listening to a CD.
Having said which, there has been some progress in reducing rotor slap sounds, like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BERP_rotor , usually found on later model Lynx (and hence Wildcat) and Merlin.

Photograph of a "stealth" Blackhawk.

The "standard" Blackhawk has a much quieter rotor than the UH-1, and there's a lot more to reducing the sonic footprint than just the rotor. Seems like there's a lot of attention being paid to muffling engine noise.

Modified Tail Rotor of the bin Laden raid Blackhawk.

Graphic comparing the modified Tail Assembly to the standard Blackhawk.

Speculation regarding the "stealth" Chinook supposedly used in the bin Laden raid. Taking what is KNOWN IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN about the "stealth" Blackhawk that crashed and an artist's conception of how that technology could be applied to the CH-47

265:
At risk of a series-level spoiler, if it isn't glaringly obvious by now, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is a metaphor for global anthropogenic climate change (global anthropogenic thaumaturgic change, maybe?) and everyone is having to reach accommodations in their own way.

I get that, but I also feel like that metaphor is increasingly strained given that at least theoretically, the various OCCINT organizations were taking CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN seriously (not the case with damn near any government organ in the real world re: climate change) and that CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN it at least vaguely recognizable as a relatively standard alien invasion, just one exacerbated by the way the very presence of a critical mass of human minds invites them in.

At the meta level... I also realize that these books run the gamut, but at their core they've always operated under their original conceit of being classic spy novels, and even the most complicated of those usually have the vague notion that the protagonists are doing the right thing. Ever since The New Management took over, it feels increasingly like I'm reading thriller novels where the protagonists are working for Nazi Germany, or North Korea, or some shit. It's like... why do I care if the Laundry succeeds at their goals, where "succeeds at their goals" means "Nyarlathotep adds another skull to his skull throne." It would be different if there was an obvious resistance storyline running, but so far that's been confined to that piece of shit Mike Armstrong vaguely alluding to it and not much else.

(If you haven't read The Labyrinth Index yet, it's mostly set in the USA which ... is not having a good time of it.)

I have done, yes. You might recall an American fan asking you at a signing in Toronto why you'd gone with the most generic white-man President possible stripped of all possible political identifiers, where a decade before you'd been going "fuck it, I will just put Cheney and Rumsfeld and whoever in, I'm not afraid of pissing ANYONE off" in the Merchant Princes book.

(I know you answered that question there and in multiple other places as well; your explanation made quite a bit of regrettably salient economic sense.)

266:

Also 263 - My intention was not to open a discussion on "how stealthy can a helicopter be?" but just to illustrate that present "normal tech" in the helicopter field is anything but stealthy. The referenced Wokka may have been low enough to cause most radar systems issues, but having heard it, I could see it from a moving vehicle. I'm quite certain that a Rapier optical director in the same vicinity could then target it and fire.

I didn't feel it necessary to mention that a typical 4 to 6 blade rotor head is noticeably quieter than a classic Bell 2 blade head (although the Bell head does have sufficient energy to allow a pilot to perform a dead stick auto-rotate landing, and then take off again without starting the engine(s)).

I can't comment sensibly on JBS' "stealth H-6" because I'm not sufficiently familiar with any of the tech used except the thermal shroud on the engines.

267:

Also 263 - My intention was not to open a discussion on "how stealthy can a helicopter be?" but just to illustrate that present "normal tech" in the helicopter field is anything but stealthy. The referenced Wokka may have been low enough to cause most radar systems issues, but having heard it, I could see it from a moving vehicle. I'm quite certain that a Rapier optical director in the same vicinity could then target it and fire.

It's worth diving into the "stealth helicopter" page on Wikipedia for what is, for once, a good, non-military reason.

It may well be that stealth copters are actually a side show. The technology they're likely using is a more extreme version of tech already used on urban helicopters to make them less noisy, so that there are fewer complaints when they are flown over cities and suburbs. Certainly you can hire the OCD sonic engineer to chase down all the diverse and various sources of noise on a stealth copter and minimize them, but getting the sound characteristics changed and volume lessened to avoid annoying the groundlings is probably as profitable, if not more profitable, than building black ops vehicles.

And I'm not sure you can say the same about stealth airplanes.

268:

Cheers - The most obvious points from that piece would seem to be that the RAH-66 uses a fenistron tail rotor, which reduces both noise and beam radar signature. A NOTAR system rear stabiliser would do likewise. Also there is some interest in the use of faceted surfaces to reduce radar reflection (compare https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westland_Lynx with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AgustaWestland_AW159_Wildcat ).

270:

“Reduces” is relative. Main rotor blades are big and move fast (tips approaching Mach 1), and show up on Doppler radars…

https://radar2018.org/abstracts/pdf/abstract_117.pdf

271:

Talking of computing & brain powers & side-effects [Case Nightmare Green] ... I'm getting odd error-messages saying that my available storage is low, which is fucking nonsense ...
When I check back it says: .. C:/ 169/237Gb free & D:/ 852/931Gb free. w.t.f? What's going on? Since I obviously have lots of storage left.

Oh yes, while I'm on that - my Widoze has two things called "Dropbox" & "One Drive" ....
I don't use them, don't think I want them, w.t.f are they FOR? And can I delete the lot without any bad side-effects?

272:

Just the thing that a freedom-loving Home Secretary wants to clear the roads of ecological demonstrators.

273:

Almost certainly a full Temp folder. Look up "full Temp folder" on MS Windows support for the safer ways to deal with the matter (I usually just hit "select all", "delete", but this has known bad effects).

One Drive is MS's cloud storage application/patented way to lock you into a permanent paying MS subscription. You can safely delete the program, according to MS.

Drop Box is a secure file exchange application. I always think of it as FTP on steroids, which shows my age. Actually very useful if you want to exchange really large files (think the kinds of 200 megabyte images that JBS regularly shunts around) with somebody not on your house/university network.

274:

Note my use of the word "beam"; note also that I've been considering "stealth" as 3 items, visual, audible and radar section. I hadn't actually thought about using pulse Doppler (primarily on rotor discs) but do know that radar Doppler is dependent on delta range from head to target varying.

275:

thewehie
Actually, I was given a hint that its' "Norton cloud storage" which is limited & nothing on my own machine. But, I will also follow your suggestion up ... there's too much cruft in here, already ...
As for the rest, thanks again - I will Nuke OneDrive, thus avoiding unwanted redirections, but leave DropBox, just in case ...

276:

You've got multiple rotor blades doing 200-400 rpm.

Two issue I see right off.

The LEDs (or whatever) have to have a really fast response time compared to what is used in fast displays today.

For either rotor based scheme you mentioned there would need to be a very high speed link between the shaft and the copter. Which is hard when the shaft is rotating as such speeds.

And yes I suspect there is funding somewhere in the US DoD budget working on such things.

277:

I must admit that my read of it was that there were people in The Laundry trying to do the "right" thing while also continuing to survive the New Management. I read Bob, Mo, Mhari and the others being the nearest thing to a resistance that was now possible. If you are dead, you cannot in any way seek to improve the situation. Its dark, but people are unlucky enough to live through dark times.

Surely, the Eater of Souls was bound to the Senior Auditor and the Service but now the Service has changed, is it merely waiting for a good time to do its own thing? And after 80 years being nearly human, what happens if that turns out to be governing the world from the Long Room at Lords and obliterating (with extreme prejudice) anyone who eats their cucumber sandwiches with the crusts on...

278:

One Drive is MS's cloud storage application/patented way to lock you into a permanent paying MS subscription.

And some comments that Dropbox is better.

Yes, Dropbox is free to get started. When sharing file Dropbox wants to put a copy into the recipient's Dropbox folder on their system. And most users have no idea what magic makes it work so when it fills up their allotment most of them just pay for more space. I see this all the time with non tech people who need to get big things from other non tech people. So "free" to get started then after a while you're paying $$$ per month.

OneDrive's sharing model is for you to pick things in your OneDrive folder to share and it give's you a URL link to send to others. They download and put the files where they want with no need to even think about buying into OneDrive.

Pick your poison.

I've never been a fan of Microsoft and have been a user of their products since the early 80s. But Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) is a vastly different model from Ballmer's ideas of customers are to be used and abused. And compared to Google these days, they are downright enlightened.

279:

Norton cloud storage

I've been avoided Norton "things" for a decade or two as they have seemed more and more like a marketing machine selling faux trinkets for computer users. With their purchase of, and folding into their products, the sleazy slimy LifeLock they hit bottom. Well are at least trying for the bottom.

280:

Norton Utilities for DOS was good but everything they did after that has sucked. It would probably have been better in the long term if Norton Utilities for DOS had sucked as well so they wouldn't have been able to trade on its memory.

281:

Greg: OneDrive was Microsoft's clone/rip-off of DropBox (Apple did one too -- iCloud Drive -- as did Google -- Google Drive).

What they are: each of these service providers has a bunch storage in data centres. The application (be it OneDrive or DropBox or Google Drive) presents a virtual filesystem interface on your machine -- a folder in which you can drop files, which then get replicated to the servers in the cloud. You can link your Dropbox account, or OneDrive account, to multiple computers, call them A and B: if you dump a file in the Dropbox folder on machine A, it will appear in the Dropbox folder on machine B as well. No copying commands necessary, it works in the background and if your internet connection is interrupted it starts up again when you reconnect.

All these systems have a bunch of complex synchronisation options, including the ability to exclude some files, or to only download a "placeholder" for a file that appeared in your Dropbox on another machine -- the complete file or folder is only downloaded when you try to open it.

I use Dropbox a lot, for replication of work between my various machines and as a last-resort offsite backup. (I have OneDrive and iCloud Drive, but barely use them.)

282:

The LEDs (or whatever) have to have a really fast response time compared to what is used in fast displays today.

Consumer TV displays that can do 240Hz switching are a thing this year, apparently. Not cheap, but peanuts in the context of a military budget.

Data link between the shaft and the airframe is probably best done optically. Power for the display elements ... induction coupling to cross an air gap around the shaft?

It certainly ups the cost of replacing a damaged blade (from bird strike, FOD, or bullets), but helicopter blades ain't cheap to begin with (lots of high grade alloys and/or carbon fibre there).

283:

Thanks, everybody for the information about "storage" etc.

On a possibly more cheerful note ...
Any comments on this fusion story?

284:

The semiotics of "spy" in 2020 were no longer what they had been in 2000, when I finished the first Laundry novel. Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian (ack, spit) Assange, and Reality Winner changed it for us in the wake of the Iraq invasion. Are we the Baddies? kind of sums up how I feel about the Laundry at this point in the series.

We're around 300 comments in, so here's a potential series level spoiler:

The New Management books (starting with Dead Lies Dreaming) kick off about 6-12 months after the end of the Laundry Files, including the as-yet-unwritten final novel.

By the time of the NM books, the Laundry (more formally, SOE X-Division) has been renamed, reorganized, split, merged, and disbanded. Something that used to be part of it, called the Department for Existential Anthropic Threats ("there is no "H" but if there was it would be "the Department for Existential Anthropic Threats to Humanity") exists, but it's inside the Cabinet Office planning apparatus. Other bits were absorbed by the Police (Home Office), the Military (Ministry of Defense: think MI5/MI6), and the Ministry of Justice (don't ask). Senior Laundry alumni who weren't executed are in some cases very high up in the government now.

I do not know yet whether Bob and Mo (and Spooky the cat) have survived or got a happy ending: they're in the Schroedinger Box for the time being. Don't bother asking about anyone else. I do know that Persephone Hazard not only survives but is running errands for His Dread Majesty: we see her briefly in Season of Skulls, the third New Management book. It seems likely that Iris Carpenter is still His chief of staff.

And finally, the New Management's grip on power is not 100% secure. As you will realize if you read between the lines when you get hold of Quantum of Nightmares.

285:

Greg: the solar fusion environment relies on gravity and radiation pressure to do a lot of work. We can't achieve a sustained exothermic fusion reaction at temperatures as low(!) as the core of the sun (about 12M celsius) because we can't achieve that kind of pressure and radiation environment. So we have to use insanely powerful electromagnets and a much hotter plasma.

Having said that, the Chinese tokamak is getting into the same sort of area as JET, ITER, and non-tokamak designs like Wendelstein 7-X (a stellarator).

Alas, I think fusion reactors aren't a silver bullet for solving our energy problems unless we can run an aneutronic fuel cycle -- not Helium-3 (that would be batshit crazy for anything other than proof of viability), but possibly a Boron cycle (no need to strip-mine the moon). Which apparently takes temperatures in the 500M to 1Bn kelvin range (there's a much higher Coulomb barrier to overcome for fusion between the heavier nuclei).

286:

Consumer TV displays that can do 240Hz switching are a thing this year, apparently. Not cheap, but peanuts in the context of a military budget.

I haven't done the math but I think you need another 0 or two in the response time to have a rotor blade show the ground under a moving copter. Blade speeds on the advancing side are 500mph or so at the edge and under 100mph on the trailing side when a copter is moving at speeds. But with a slow (quiet?) design with slow rotor speeds... Maybe not bat shit crazy.

I don't get your optical design. Have to think about that for a while.

287:

The danger, of course, is that this god could be replaced by that god.

As for Threats, putting them in the planning department is probably a worthwhile idea: point Nyarlahotep at a threat and it will rapidly stop being a threat. ("Sir, we've penciled in destroying the Cult of the Yellow Worm and devouring their souls for Tuesday, but if you're busy we can send Bob.")

I wouldn't expect Bob or Mo to be executed when they can be used as cannon fodder - send them at the "Threats" until they hit something they can't survive.

288:

Consumer TV displays that can do 240Hz switching are a thing this year, apparently. Not cheap, but peanuts in the context of a military budget.

You can do a proof of concept by getting a bunch of old Apple Watches and a large-vial centrifuge (each glass vial large enough to hold a watch) spinning it up (probably with a camera monitoring, rather than naked eye), to see what happens to displays when they're subjected to those kinds of forces. The camera's cheaper to replace if things start breaking in ballistic ways. Unfortunately, you need to run this in glass tubes so you can see what happens to the watch, rather than in a steel tube like a sane scientist.

More to the point, what's the mission for a copter with optical camouflage rotors? If you're sneaking in on a moonless, cloudy night, you don't particularly need a light show, you need quiet and ECM. If it's during the day, stealth seems fairly useless for most things you can do with a copter anyway. Probably I'm not thinking this through, but this seems like an expensive weapon in search of a mission.

However, there might be something useful in here for tactical deception. Instead of rigging a horribly expensive helicopter for visual camouflage, how about rigging a bunch of cheap drones to look like a massive attack (or defense) in some other sector as a distraction. Certainly this goes back to WW2, but that doesn't mean it's not viable.

Another strategy is for attack copters to emulate B-52s. In their current mission, they're flying low and blasting the surroundings with as many countermeasures as possible. There was a column many years ago in Smithsonian Air and Space (I think it was called "Rogue Elephants") about what a flight of B-52s did to a USAF war game when they went off script and used their full ECM arsenal against their opposition. No one got a shot at them, even though they definitely weren't stealthy.

289:
At risk of a series-level spoiler, if it isn't glaringly obvious by now, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is a metaphor for global anthropogenic climate change (global anthropogenic thaumaturgic change, maybe?) and everyone is having to reach accommodations in their own way.

That being so, there's an interesting -- but probably unusable (for literary reasons)-- plot twist available to you: North West Europe gets much, much colder when the Greenland Ice Sheets melt!

We've had it before, and quite recently, too. 20,000 years ago there were glaciers covering most of England down to the M25 (hint: the village of Ridge near the South Mimms services is actually sitting on the terminal moraine over-looking London. You had Malham Cove for geography; we had the Thames basin.)

As a plot device it is far, far too twee!

The switch-over between Hippos bathing in the Thames and ice sheets was just ten years or so -- with the people from Luton hiking across Doggerland to Western Germany. [Isotope analysis of teeth found in Germany.]

ps I do hope Rupert is dead, and not going to creep out from behind the metaphorical curtains going "Boo!" Of course I realise that in The Laundry Files "dead" is a somewhat doubtful state change.

290:

Ok, cockchafer's a new one on me. Googling, I find it's a large beetle.

291:

Read the link.

https://www.pgpf.org/blog/2021/07/the-united-states-spends-more-on-defense-than-the-next-11-countries-combined

You've also neglected inflation, and the literally trillions of imaginary money in the Ponzi scheme known as the "stock market".

292:

Sometimes called "june bugs". Guess when they come out?

293:

Sorry, that's not the case. Some people do have to look at reality.

https://media.defense.gov/2021/Oct/21/2002877353/-1/-1/0/DOD-CLIMATE-RISK-ANALYSIS-FINAL.PDF

Come on - NASA tossed some small change a few years ago, to have theologians work out the reaction of the idiots to alien intelligent life; insurance companies pay real attention to climate change, and you think no government agencies do the same?

294:

Ever heard of fuck bugs/lovebugs?

Let me tell you about driving from Austin, TX to Worldcon (US Labor Day weekend) in Orlando in '92 in an old E-150 van, no a/c.

295:

Charlie
So, we'd better bet heavily on the R-R SMR's working out of the box as hoped-for, then?

296:

Ok, cockchafer's a new one on me. Googling, I find it's a large beetle.

Yeah, he might have meant cockroach. Cockchafer's a European scarab.

Then there's the birds called tits, not because of their shape, but because of the noises they make. We've gotBushtits over here (and titmice, for that matter), we don't have Great Tits in the Americas, sad to say. They're a Eurasian specialty.

Similarly, we'll applaud the town of Tisdale, Saskatchewan for changing their official slogan "Land of Rape and Honey." Rape, in this case, is the brassica that produces rapeseed oil, now happily rebranded as canola oil. Canola came from "CANada Oil, Low Acid."

And we'll talk no more about plants like the clustered broomrape (Orobanche fasciculata) which is not a mustard but a parasitic plant that does not even parasitize ("rape?") mustards or brooms. Nor does it look like a rapeseed plant or even a broom plant. But it does have clusters of stems. And according to Wikipedia, it was used by at least one Indian tribe for the treatment of hemorrhoids. Go figure.

Names are weird.

297:

Ok, cockchafer's a new one on me. Googling, I find it's a large beetle.

Yeah, he might have meant cockroach. Cockchafer's a European scarab.

Then there's the birds called tits

Chickadees even? They seem to be the closest to the various avian tits found in the UK.

298:

Martin @ 270: “Reduces” is relative. Main rotor blades are big and move fast (tips approaching Mach 1), and show up on Doppler radars…

https://radar2018.org/abstracts/pdf/abstract_117.pdf

I expect that most tactical operations with [stealth] helicopters would be conducted at an altitude where the radar signature of the rotors are likely to be lost in ground clutter.

The more important characteristics to suppress are the sound and visual. When helicopters are operating at tree-top level (or lower) the ground observer knows where to look for the helicopter by the sound. If they can't hear you coming, they don't know which way to point their guns.

At night, in the dark, defenders spotting a helicopter operating even at significantly higher than NOE (Nap Of the Earth) altitudes can be a problem even for UN-stealthed helicopters.

When flying NOE the pilots don't go over the trees, they go around them.

299:

(not the case with damn near any government organ in the real world re: climate change)

Anyone paying attention for the last decade or so has been aware of the disconnect in the US between the GOP (climate change denial yet pro military) and the US military publicly acknowledging that climate change is not only real but a serious threat to their ability to function.

300:

Chickadees in North America overlap with tits in Eurasia (same family, in some cases even same species), so yes, you're quite right.

301:

RR's SMRs are in no way small -- they're nearly the same thermal output as the AGR fleet. The only benefit I can see is that they're modular, so presumably designed for mass production and fueling/dismantling at a central factory.

I don't see fission as a viable way forward. Not enough trained engineers to run a sufficiently large fleet to keep the lights on -- it takes multiple years to train a nuclear engineer, remember -- in the time available, even if we started pouring concrete like there's no tomorrow.

I think the RR SMR proposal is just a gambit to keep their nuclear reactor capability in being between runs of nuclear-powered submarines -- AIUI there's nothing in sight due for commissioning after the Dreadnought class, and manufacturing capabilities as specialized as nuclear reactors are very much "use it or lose it".

302:

I remember watching a (Nova? Wings?) program on Stealth some time ago. There was research done during and after WW2. Two points I remember: 1) Painting your plane a light blue made it hard for the enemy to see. The men in charge at the time seemed to think this challenged America's image or something so was not implemented. 2) Putting forward pointing flood lights on the wings also made the plane hard to see in the daytime. This was used on the submarine hunters during WW2, it allowed them to get close enough to a submarine on the surface that they didn't have time to dive before the plane got there with a torpedo.

Considering LG has shown flexible large screen OLED screens, it may be better just to do a body wrap of the main body (for active camo), and paint the blades blue.

303:

Greg Tingey @ 271: Talking of computing & brain powers & side-effects [Case Nightmare Green] ... I'm getting odd error-messages saying that my available storage is low, which is fucking nonsense ... When I check back it says: .. C:/ 169/237Gb free & D:/ 852/931Gb free. w.t.f? What's going on? Since I obviously have lots of storage left.

In Windoze, you can go to "Computer" and right click the icon for the drive and select properties. Under "General" there should be a button for "Disk Cleanup". You should be able to see any junk cluttering up your drives from there and selectively remove it.

Also, depending on the version of Windoze, it might be a "memory leak". You've got plenty of storage, but Windoze has blinded itself to its existence. This is fairly common if you don't shut Windoze down for a long time (months or more) but open & close a lot of programs every day.

Save everything you need to save and shut the computer down. Give it a minute or so to rest before re-starting it.

Oh yes, while I'm on that - my Widoze has two things called "Dropbox" & "One Drive" ....
I don't use them, don't think I want them, w.t.f are they FOR? And can I delete the lot without any bad side-effects?

OneDrive is Micro$oft's cloud storage & file synchronization app. I think it's part of Micro$oft Orifice. It hadn't been invented at the time I switched away from "Office"

Dropbox is another cloud "file sharing & synchronization" app. It's not a "cloud storage" app per se, it's mainly for sharing collaborative files where more than one person is working on it. But it can also be used for file delivery.

If you don't need those functions, it should not do any harm to remove the programs. Just be sure you don't leave any UN-saved files in there when you uninstall the programs.

304:

297 - Yes, tits and chickadees are both members of Paridae.

298 - Exactly my point upthread; I detected that Wokka in an unfriendly (to sonic detection) environment by sound and then vision.

302 - British (and Swedish) reconnaissance aircraft of the 1940s and 50s were painted blue, specifically https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_blue#Air_superiority_blue/PRU_blue .

305:

Dropbox is another cloud "file sharing & synchronization" app. It's not a "cloud storage" app per se, it's mainly for sharing collaborative files where more than one person is working on it. But it can also be used for file delivery.

Actually it has somewhat morphed into "cloud storage". They all have.

306:

There is continue interest in Tokamaks. One notable change is that specialized computing power is getting fast enough to use more advanced techniques, e.g.machine learning techniques, for prediction of plasma instabilities and to control avoidance/correction of them.
As to whether working tokamaks would ever be a viable large-scale power source, probably, if there were a will to do so, but as Charlie says they'd compete (depending on geography/weather patterns) with direct and indirect (e.g. wind) solar (fusion) plus storage/transmission.
(And potentially, new nuclear. Have to say I'm bothered by closures of existing nuclear plants without serious technical justification; such closures are acts of mass homicide, in the fullness of time, if much of the power they produce is replaced by fossil carbon burning.)

307:

thewehie @ 273: Drop Box is a secure file exchange application. I always think of it as FTP on steroids, which shows my age. Actually very useful if you want to exchange really large files (think the kinds of 200 megabyte images that JBS regularly shunts around) with somebody not on your house/university network.

Files might get that large while I'm working on them, but the output file is generally a high QUALITY JPEG and not that large ... VERY rarely larger than 10 megabyte and usually less than 3. I generally wouldn't "share" the PSD files with a "client" because I'd have no control over the final appearance.

308:

Re the earlier comment about hearing a Chinook easily, well, yes.

Remember, Rule 1 is “Never try to sneak up on anyone in a chinook”. Rule 2 is “No, really, never try to sneak up on anyone in a chinook”.

309:

paws4thot @ 274: Note my use of the word "beam"; note also that I've been considering "stealth" as 3 items, visual, audible and radar section. I hadn't actually thought about using pulse Doppler (primarily on rotor discs) but do know that radar Doppler is dependent on delta range from head to target varying.

Also consider IR or Thermal signatures.

310:

Greg Tingey @ 283: Thanks, everybody for the information about "storage" etc.

On a possibly more cheerful note ...
Any comments on this fusion story?

Says it ran for 17 minutes setting a new record, but it doesn't say if they were able to get more energy out than they had to put in.

311:

A key problem with tokamaks is that all current designs run on the D + T fuel cycle, which pumps out neutrons in bulk. So you end up with a thoroughly irradiated reactor core, just like a fission pile except the fuel by-product is mostly He (which is quite useful and rather harmless).

Another problem is that there's no natural source of T, so you need to either breed it in fission reactors (where we normally get it from) or try to breed it by capturing those junk neutrons from the fusion reactor, adding complexity and a whole 'nother fuel cycle.

Worse: that irradiated reactor core? Neutron embrittlement of metals and graphite in a fission pile is one thing, but sufficient neutron capture by the high-temp/high-field superconductors required to run a tokamak magnetic field could conceivably damage the electromagnets to the point where they fail catastrophically. No melt-down of fissionable fuel elements because a tokamak doesn't use them, but your entire very expensive precision-engineered fusion reactor suddenly gets very hot -- thermally -- as all the energy in those coils gets turned into heat instantly. And remember, if it melts, it's full of happy fun secondary activation isotopes.

My best understanding is that ITER will probably make break-even on power output, but has no way of harnessing the power usefully. It'll take another generation to work out how to breed tritium in sufficient quantities to run a reactor, and then maybe we get to a prototype designed to deliver base load. The two research programs could in principle be parallelized, but some of what we need to know (eg. long term effects of neutron irradiation of exotic superconductors) is going to take at least a decade. So we might get to a prototype commercial tokamak as early as 2040-2050.

But if we don't get off carbon fuels before then, it's going to be game over for us, so it doesn't really matter.

312:

You call "firing an optical guided missile from ~2 miles away" "sneaking up"!? Because I don't.

313:

paws4thot @ 304:
298 - Exactly my point upthread; I detected that Wokka in an unfriendly (to sonic detection) environment by sound and then vision.

Did it have any visible modifications designed to reduce its sonic signature or was it a plain vanilla CH-47? I think all you've proven is that a standard CH-47 is incredibly loud.

It's not that bad on the inside if you wear hearing protection.

314:

This is getting really repetitive; I was able to acquire from over 1 mile by audible and then visual means, whilst also driving a car.

315:

"My best understanding is that ITER will probably make break-even on power output, but has no way of harnessing the power usefully. It'll take another generation to work out how to breed tritium in sufficient quantities to run a reactor, and then maybe we get to a prototype designed to deliver base load."

I don't keep track of such things all that closely, but the scheme that kinda makes sense in a hand-waving way is to surround the fusion plasma with a jacket of flowing lithium salt. That would, again in a hand-wavy way, both capture the energy by heating up and taking it to a heat exchanger and breed tritium.

Details need to be filled in.

316:

ITER is intended to have a Q factor of 10, that is it will produce ten times the amount of heat energy it uses to create and sustain its plasma if it works to its design criteria. In addition the aim is for it to sustain a fusing plasma for hundreds of seconds continuously. Once the bugs are shaken out it is hoped to achieve both these aims simultaneously and eventually do so in a stable and repeatable manner.

The original engineering design of ITER is designed to cope with 500MW of fusion energy from an input of 50MW. There's a lot more to ITER than just achieving fusion though, there are materials testing programs (being spearheaded in other tokamaks such as the JET) and radiation control, decommissioning of expired equipment, fuels, theoretical modelling and a host of other things. As a side benefit plasma physicists who aren't focused on power production get a wonderful new toy to play with.

317:

I think the RR SMR proposal is just a gambit to keep their nuclear reactor capability in being between runs of nuclear-powered submarines -- AIUI there's nothing in sight due for commissioning after the Dreadnought class, and manufacturing capabilities as specialized as nuclear reactors are very much "use it or lose it".

On the contrary - design work on the successor to the Astute class is already underway, and there are some fears that the delays to Audacious due to corona and the delays that are expected/anticipated to occur during the building of the Dreadnaught class are suggestive that the Astute successor won't be built in time to maintain attack submarine numbers given the expected lifetime of the Astute class.

RR may not need to build reactors particularly fast, but there's a nuclear submarine building program at least anticipated out to 2050 or so (warning: pdf)

318:

“British (and Swedish) reconnaissance aircraft of the 1940s and 50s were painted blue”

Except for the ones which were painted pink to reduce visibility at dawn and dusk.

320:

Charlie, I'm getting serious Apocalypse Codex vibes out of this Christian Sect starting the Colorado fire news...

321:

"...serious Apocalypse Codex vibes out of this Christian Sect starting the Colorado fire news..."

Damn Cthuga worshippers.

322:

The Colorado fire/fires were DELIBERATE?

If true, what's the penalty for arson on that scale?

323:

Point. (doesn't know nod emoticon in Markdown or HTML)

324:

Now we're past 300, an update to our long-running theme on the coming collapse of the United States:

A Canadian politics professor has warned that the US is likely to be under a right-wing dictatorship by 2030.

Meanwhile Steve Bannon is busy trying to make sure that this happens.

325:

Paul
Since they are now openly using the Nazis playbook, I'll believe that.
Adolf's first failed coup - 1923 / elected to part-power ( before internal coup ) Jan 1933.
Trump's first failed coup - 2021 / "elected" to part-power 2028 or '32, with full power in 32.
Only question is - who becomes the frontman or "Guide" when DJT drops dead, as he is likely to do, before 2032?

326:

While it may be a gambit just to keep manufacturing going while there are no battleships to be produced the SMRs do seem to be rather competitive price wise with large stations.

And there is nothing wrong in trying to maximise our baseline energy availability using nuclear given that we don't have that many other technically viable options.

327:

Back when the first stealth bomber came out, painted a midnight black, there was a story going round that more effective patterns were mottled white/light-blue/pink, but a US Air Force general had declared that his men wouldn't be flying "no candy-ass airplane" so the less-effective but more macho black was chosen.

No idea how true that is.

Given that the US Navy swapped out their plain uniforms for a mottled blue camouflage pattern, the better to conceal sailors overboard from searches, I can believe that there's an element of truth at the root of the story.

328:

The UK lost a lot of its capability in about 1990.

The nuclear engineering dept at QMC got closed down and the MOD site at Winfrith threw wheel-barrows of cash at the team there to retire and generally piss off.

No doubt the accountants took home a bonus that year.

329:

At least it was black.

There was an American car model called the Stealth. I never saw a single one that was not painted fire-engine red from the manufacturer.

330:

The "chafer" part of "cockchafer" just means it's a beetle.

I presume a "cockroach" is a kind of stone insect which you put in the end when you roll a wukwuk.

As for tits, I'm sure I've heard of some American mountains which are quite blatantly and uncompromisingly (I don't think being in French counts) called The Big Tits. Indeed there are craploads of mountains called things like that. There's even a wikipedia page about them.

331:

The Grand Tetons, which I read, many, many years ago in a book about airline stews, when asked what it meant, they responded "the sweater girl mountains".

332:

ActionService @ 320: Charlie, I'm getting serious Apocalypse Codex vibes out of this Christian Sect starting the Colorado fire news...

Have you got a link? A Google News search for Colorado Fire doesn't turn up anything suggesting they have a suspected culprit.

This Colorado Public Radio article has a YouTube video with an update from Colorado & Boulder County Emergency Management as of 03 January 2022.

333:

Greg Tingey @ 322: The Colorado fire/fires were DELIBERATE?

If true, what's the penalty for arson on that scale?

The origin of the fire is STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

334:

"Save everything you need to save and shut the computer down. Give it a minute or so to rest before re-starting it."

No, do a Restart - nowadays in Windoze when you chose Turn Off it just goes into a hybrid sleep mode in order to be able to boot some seconds faster and is not equivalent to a reboot (WRT freshening up system etc)

(But you can disable this annoying feature in the advanced Energy Settings - just disable "Fast Boot". I don't have any english W10 installations so no further clues to give but should be aesily googled anyway)

335:

Robert Prior @ 327: Back when the first stealth bomber came out, painted a midnight black, there was a story going round that more effective patterns were mottled white/light-blue/pink, but a US Air Force general had declared that his men wouldn't be flying "no candy-ass airplane" so the less-effective but more macho black was chosen.

No idea how true that is.

Given that the US Navy swapped out their plain uniforms for a mottled blue camouflage pattern, the better to conceal sailors overboard from searches, I can believe that there's an element of truth at the root of the story.

Traditionally the Air Farce & Navy colors are BLUE, so of course they have "blue" camouflage uniforms. I believe someone mentioned the usefulness of "tits on a boar" and that applies to Air Farce & Navy camouflage uniforms.

Note that the US Army and USMC DO not have blue camouflage uniforms, although they appear to be still searching for an effective pattern & design for a combat uniform. They've been through at least three changes (that I'm aware of) since I retired.

I'm pretty sure the original matte "black" for the stealth bomber was chosen because it has a low reflectivity in IR. Also note that those infamous "black helicopters" are not actually black, they're a really dark, dark green. It might look black, but if you've ever seen one up close & personal ...

336:

Geezer-with-a-hat @ 334:

"Save everything you need to save and shut the computer down. Give it a minute or so to rest before re-starting it."

No, do a Restart - nowadays in Windoze when you chose Turn Off it just goes into a hybrid sleep mode in order to be able to boot some seconds faster and is not equivalent to a reboot (WRT freshening up system etc)

(But you can disable this annoying feature in the advanced Energy Settings - just disable "Fast Boot". I don't have any english W10 installations so no further clues to give but should be aesily googled anyway)

I'll look into that for this computer, but I got the impression Greg was still using Windoze7, for which my suggestions are good (also Windoze8 or 8.1).

Even if it's Windoze10 or (shudder) Windoze11, there should be a way to do an actuall full POWER OFF shutdown to guarantee you've cleared the memory leaks (IF memory leaks are what's causing the problem).

337:

JBS
I don't think I have EVER used Win7 ....
Currently I'm on 10 - & will not switch to 11 unless-&-until madam's firm does so.
Full Power Off - but -not only tell the machine to "close/shut down" but also wait a couple of seconds & then physically turn off the mains power, so that nothing is going in/out. I do this at close of business, every day.

338:

RE: The original paint job on the F-117...

You know, the internet does have pictures. They're here: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/41163/why-the-f-117-made-its-first-flight-in-pastel-camouflage-40-years-ago-today

The original paint job wasn't blue, it was three-tone desert camouflage, then uniform light gray (pictures at link). Then the boss of Tactical Air Command decided that uniform black hid the faceting better, and black it became. Several other paint jobs were implemented after the black decision, but you'll have to click on the link above to see "Toxic Death" and the others.

339:

The "chafer" part of "cockchafer" just means it's a beetle. I presume a "cockroach" is a kind of stone insect which you put in the end when you roll a wukwuk. As for tits, I'm sure I've heard of some American mountains which are quite blatantly and uncompromisingly (I don't think being in French counts) called The Big Tits. Indeed there are craploads of mountains called things like that. There's even a wikipedia page about them.

A wukwuk is a helicopter rotor? I don't catch your drift, man. Anyway, cockroach is what happened when people in England heard cucaracha, which was brought over by the Spanish Inquisition, possibly before the English introduced wukwuk to North America.

As for mammary mountains, the idea of a Mountain Mother Goddess goes back in western culture at least to Rhea, and probably millennia before.

340:

To put it in context, the interesting part of a plasma pulse at JET typically lasts for 10 seconds, because that's how long the neutral beam heating systems can run for. Unless the pulse terminates early for some reason and goes WHAM!!

One of tho things ITER will do is prove the tritium breeding technology. The fast neutrons from the DT reaction will be captured by the lithium blanket, producing more T. Or at least that's the plan.

The UKAEA's STEP reactor, currently in the very early design churn phase, is intended to put power into the grid.

341:

The original paint job on the F-117

As the original production stealth fighter meant for wide deployment it wasn't nearly as stealthy as later planes.

It was call Nighthawk for a reason.

342:

I'm not familiar with "wukwuk"; "Wokka" is specifically an H-47 Chinook variant, because the interplay of the rotor discs produces a very characteristic, and loud, "wokka-wokka-wokka..." sound.

343:

At work we use Kaseya VSA to monitor and remote control our customers machines. One of the columns displays "Last Reboot Time" for the machine. Regularly when someone calls in with diffuse problems (something or other not working as it should any longer) and I ask them when they last rebooted the answer is quite often "I turn it off everyday" but the beforementioned column says last reboot was several weeks ago...

Nearly always in these cases when the computer is properly rebooted (not turned off/on again - sorry IT Crowd...) the problems disappears

Seems that this has been a feature of Windoze since 8

A more thorough explanation can be found HERE

344:

Geezer-with-a-hat
But - I am effectively rebooting every time, since I'm turning the power off, completely, yes?

345:

No. As upthread, turning the machine off without using the shut down procedure effectively puts it into hibernation rather than actually shutting down and purging the RAM.

346:

I'd never seen that scheme on a Wobblin Goblin before; it looks rather like an Israeli AF ground attack scheme! I had seen the blue camo on a "Have Blue" though.

347:

Funnily enough (or not), stealth really was toxic death for some:

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/1997/jul/20/the-secrets-at-area-51-deadly-real-its-toxic/

Was that a very poor taste joke on behalf of the pilot?

348:

Traditionally the Air Farce & Navy colors are BLUE, so of course they have "blue" camouflage uniforms. I believe someone mentioned the usefulness of "tits on a boar" and that applies to Air Farce & Navy camouflage uniforms.

So why does the Navy have camouflage uniforms? It makes it a lot harder to spot someone who's gone overboard, but they still have them…

Story I heard (from someone in the Navy) was that it was for morale — being in camo meant better morale for the sailors, and so the Navy accepted the downsides for that. No idea if this is true — it sounds plausible, though.

349:

As upthread, turning the machine off without using the shut down procedure effectively puts it into hibernation rather than actually shutting down and purging the RAM.

I thought turning off the power (as in turning off the mains power) purged the RAM?

Greg said he turns of the mains power every day.

350:

"One of tho things ITER will do is prove the tritium breeding technology."

'Prove' is perhaps a bit aspirational. The ITER folks prefer 'explore.'

https://www.iter.org/mach/TritiumBreeding

"The fast neutrons from the DT reaction will be captured by the lithium blanket, producing more T."

About a decade ago the US Department of Energy tasked JASON to look into the basic feasibility of tritium breeding in fusion reactors. The report, succinctly titled 'Tritium', is at https://irp.fas.org/agency/dod/jason/ . It's short and interesting.

351:

Yes, but that's not the point. Most 'power switches' on modern domestic (and some business) equipment merely signal to the CPU that it needs to shut down, and it can easily save state to permanent memory before doing so (and often does). On systems without batteries, turning off the power at the mains will crash the system, which is reasonably safe for Linux but not so safe for Microsoft.

352:

I thought turning off the power (as in turning off the mains power) purged the RAM?

Nope.

Modern operating systems -- since the 1970s -- provide virtual memory: if they run short of RAM they can swap out less-frequently-used memory areas to a disk partition and swap in whatever's called for. For technical reasons this requires a dedicated swap partition equal to or larger in size than the installed memory. (Some OSs can also swap to a file in the regular filesystem, which makes it easier to "add memory" if you find yourself running hot, although virtual memory is several orders of magnitude slower than RAM, even when you're using a fast SSD rather than a spinning rust platter.)

A more recent innovation that came in with laptops with MMUs is to dump a snapshot of the entire current active RAM into the swap partition. So Windows -- and, sometimes, macOS -- do this when they hibernate. The advantage is that system startup is a laborious process that involves startup for a whole bunch of programs which need to read configuration files, load data, and so on. If you instead just read a snapshot into RAM, you bypass all those program execution overheads. The result is that a several minutes' startup process can be bypassed. But if you're having problems because a running process has gotten its knickers in a twist or leaked memory like crazy, reloading from swap simply reloads and recreates the corrupted state or memory leaks.

Upshot: if you want to shut a Windows system down, you have to tell it to shut down and/or reboot -- merely shutting down the power isn't sufficient to clear out the cruft.

(Apple machines typically use less power while in suspended mode, so suspend rather than hibernating when you shut the lid on a laptop. Which means they start up instantly, rather than taking 10-30 seconds. But if you run the battery down on a Macbook, when it hits about 1% it will swap the contents of memory out to the SSD. And when you plug it in again and turn it on you will see a weird greyed-out image of the desktop as it looked when it was frozen, along with a loading bar as it gradually swaps everything back in again. Which is most disconcerting, as this almost never happens in normal use.)

353:

I ask them when they last rebooted the answer is quite often "I turn it off everyday" but the beforementioned column says last reboot was several weeks ago...

I work with clients in offices. I tell them the process is to re-boot the computer at the end of each day. I keep getting into conversations like yours.

ALL SOFTWARE HAD BUGS. The longer any piece of software (macOS, WinXX, VI, whatever) the more likely you are to hit a bug. And what's worse the effects of the bug may now show up immediately or seem to be in any way shape or form related to what the user is doing.

And yes there are server setups that run for days, weeks, months, etc... But, in a counter to the anti Docker anti VM folks, more and more data centers reboot their instances after each user logs out or for DB type of things every week or even 24 hours or so. More and more such software is written so no one "instance" has to be up for the data based to be usable. This is also done to keep malware at bay. If you're running on an instance that is booted clean every few minutes, it's hard for malware to get in. And this is not a traditional boot. But something that happens in less than a second. Maybe less than 0.1 second.

354:

Story I heard (from someone in the Navy) was that it was for morale — being in camo meant better morale for the sailors, and so the Navy accepted the downsides for that. No idea if this is true — it sounds plausible, though.

I had a room mate way back when who served on a destroyer in the South Pacific off Viet Nam in 69. He was particularly still pissed at the captain who demanded they re-fuel in dress whites so they would look good while in the middle of the local task force. His destroyer was from 1939 and burned something similar to road tar as fuel.

355:

Apple machines typically use less power while in suspended mode, so suspend rather than hibernating when you shut the lid on a laptop. Which means they start up instantly, rather than taking 10-30 seconds.

My day to day computer is an Intel MacBook Pro. With 3 VPN clients installed. And a dock I use wired when at home in my office. But I move around the house with it at times and some days may connect to 3 to 5 other networks. Not just the Wi-Fi SSID but on different WANs. And I almost always have 3 browsers open with 10 to 200 tabs each plus 2 email clients going all the time.

Every few days it just gets pissed and stops talking reliably over networks. I restart and all is fine. For a few days to a week or so.

To the other points. A shutdown in reality isn't really a shutdown unless you make it so. Even on a Mac I see folks (myself included) who don't wait for it to get there and just close the lid. So when they raise the lid the system either continues the shutdown or figures it must be time to start back up.

356:

On systems without batteries, turning off the power at the mains will crash the system, which is reasonably safe for Linux but not so safe for Microsoft.

Anecdotal but my own experience with a Win10 box I built and configured myself. I run an AMD video card which allows me to enable Sleep mode, something that doesn't work with nVidia cards when I tried it. Hibernate works for both types of cards.

Sleep keeps everything in RAM alive and allows me to get to a working desktop after pressing the spacebar on my keyboard within 6 to 8 seconds. Hibernate, which saves the system to HDD or SSD takes about thirty seconds to restart to the point of having a working desktop. A complete restart after power down takes well over a minute, including BIOS flash screen.

When I had a power cut a few weeks ago, lasting for about an hour or so I restarted my computer using the main power button. It woke up through the BIOS option and displayed the login screen. After logging in it seamlessly restored my working environment from just before the power cut without me having to do anything. I might have lost some unsaved work, text edits etc. but I can't remember but I had my web browser windows and open pages restored automatically.

357:

Even on a Mac I see folks (myself included) who don't wait for it to get there and just close the lid.

That's not a shutdown, that just puts it to sleep. Unless things have changed a lot since Yosemite.

After a power failure, I know both my desktop Macs boot from disk when they start up again, I have to log in to my user account again, and any apps etc that were running when the power went out are closed. This is why I assumed that killing the power (like unplugging, not just hitting the power button) was equivalent to a cold restart.

358:

That's not a shutdown, that just puts it to sleep. Unless things have changed a lot since Yosemite.

It can get confusing on the newer one that are so much faster. Closing the lid while it is in the process of a shutdown puts it to sleep. Maybe. It seems to depend on how much of the process is left to run. And when you open it you don't always get what you expect.

And the newer M1s, even after a "power off" tend to start up if you look at them cross eyed.

Desktops are a different matter. And they DO try and write out RAM to disk when power is going off but with the older OS versions and non SSD drives, I'm not sure if they even try. Especially the older ones. Putting in a $50 SSD for the boot drive will make you think you've bought a new system. A one cash short office I swapped out HDDs for SSDs and it gave them an extra 4 years or more life out of their iMacs. Of course after a while the staff began to wonder if they'd ever get new systems. :)

359:

You haven't mentioned the camo uniforms sported by... the US Space Command.

Here, we'll hide behind that green asteroid....

360:

Charlie wrote:

For technical reasons this requires a dedicated swap partition equal to or larger in size than the installed memory.

Old school We stopped allocating that much swap when RAM got past 16G. These days, 2G swap is considered "just fine".

Note that I was working on servers with up to 2TB RAM....

361:

You know perfectly well that the moon is made of green cheese! Green is very sensible, when you take that into account.

362:

Pratchett :) A wukwuk is the troll word for a penis, or whatever it is that trolls actually have; one may assume at least a genital organ which is long and cylindrical, because it is also the troll slang word for the troll version of a joint. So it is vaguely plausible that "cockroach" is a possible English translation of the bit you put in the mouth end when you roll one...

Of course, it's not funny now (if it ever was).

363:

Putting in a $50 SSD for the boot drive will make you think you've bought a new system. A one cash short office I swapped out HDDs for SSDs and it gave them an extra 4 years or more life out of their iMacs.

Yup. Can't do that with pretty much anything released since 2016, it's all soldered to the motherboard, but older Macbook Airs could have an SSD upgrade, as could iMacs. My 2020 Intel iMac 27" can in principle have an upgrade, but in practice you have to be willing to remove the display, a bunch of glue/sealant, and then everything down to the power supply before you can get at the drive: as it has Thunderbolt 3 it's simpler just to plug in external storage, and I already maxed out its RAM.

This shiny new 2021 Macbook Pro 14" is lovely, but the RAM and SSD are all in the same die/package as the CPU, so unless it turns out Apple did an IBM trick and there's a firmware midlife kicker available, it's not upgradable. (IBM often ship mainframes fully populated but only switch on RAM, CPU, etc when you pay them the license fee. Which sounds very tacky but means if you suddenly find a pressing need to add 32 processor cores to your zSeries iron you can wave a credit card at IBM and suddenly you have lots of extra performance.)

364:

"Desktops are a different matter. And they DO try and write out RAM to disk when power is going off but with the older OS versions and non SSD drives, I'm not sure if they even try. Especially the older ones. Putting in a $50 SSD for the boot drive will make you think you've bought a new system. A one cash short office I swapped out HDDs for SSDs and it gave them an extra 4 years or more life out of their iMacs. Of course after a while the staff began to wonder if they'd ever get new systems. :)"

Hehe. Mine doesn't. Because I have never configured it to :)

Not that it would ever have call to, since it only ever goes off when there is a power cut. (Or when it crashes. It seems to have an overheating problem which can be triggered by going full tilt on all 8 cores and which I ascribe to my apparent inability to get hold of any fans which aren't obsessed with being quiet at the expense of actual airflow, even when I wire them direct to the PSU so I can be completely sure that none of the speed reduction bollocks is doing anything.)

Apart from the fsck step recovering the journal when the above happens, which occasionally takes a bit of a while, and a deliberate 60 second delay which I inserted manually for some reason I can't remember and can't be arsed to remove, most of the boot time is spent in POST. There is an HP SAS card in it which takes forever to initialise itself. Once it gets the kernel up it whizzes through the rest of it. Using sysvinit, of course, because there is fuck all wrong with it whatever that arsehole Poettering thinks.

But SSDs to keep something going 4 years longer... I have /usr on an SSD and it does make it much faster to initially load a large application like GIMP which does a lot of frigging around in the filesystem before it can get up and going. But that's a one-off kind of thing. It has 32GB of RAM and doesn't use more than a fraction of that for actual live stuff, so anything that I use often will be cached in RAM anyway so it doesn't have to fetch files off the actual disk at all. (The other thing all that RAM is useful for is that if something runs away and starts allocating endless memory in a loop, I have a reasonable chance of being able to catch it and kill it before it makes the whole thing seize up...)

...and I've just realised it is now over 7 years old. Which means that SSD is not all that far off the age beyond which the manufacturers won't say it won't start forgetting things. Which is why the only SSD is for /usr which is mostly read-only and can easily be recreated, and everything else is on real disks. It will need some more of those stuffed in it in due course, and if I can finally find some decent bloody fans at the same time, I see no call to do anything but keep it for at least as long again.

(Oldest machine I have in daily use is a Pentium 150. It still does what I want it to, and will therefore stay there until it explodes... at which point I have a couple more of them sitting doing nothing to replace it with.)

365:

Blue cheese... ;-)

366:

I was mostly talking about Macs but still. Having the OS and swap space on an SSD can do wonders for performance. And some of us keep 10 or more applications going at one time.

As to the age of the SSD and how much life is left; there are utilities which will tell you how much they have burned up. Based on articles practical experience most all major brand SSDs will last much longer than the initial warnings about burn out. Unless they have a true "electronic" failure. But HDDs have the same risk of that.

anandtech.com

They go into excruciating detail on how the various brands deal with such things. Based on the articles there and other places I put some Samsung 840 and later 850 EVOs into some RAID cabinets 5 years ago. And these cabinets didn't even have an option to treat SSDs differently. (Which CAN matter.) After 3+ years I had a single drive fail so I pulled out the others to see how much they had burned up. 3% after 3 years. And this RAID 6 setup had 6 1B drives giving 4TB of usable space. And the office had about 2TB when they started with this. And generated from 5 to 15 GB of modified and new files a day on this server. I feel we can get another 10 years out of them. If we are still using them at that time.

367:

Can't do that with pretty much anything released since 2016, it's all soldered to the motherboard, but older Macbook Airs could have an SSD upgrade, as could iMacs.

I was talking about replacing spinning HDDs with SSDs. Not so much upgrades. (I'm always pissed at people who buy minimum storage but that's another story for another day.)

No spinning HDD options after:

Macbook Airs 2010

Macbook Pros 2012

Desktops much later. Those stupid fusion drives to allow low prices points, especially for edu, were a travesty. IMNERHO

But you could replace a spinning HDD in a desktop iMac or Macmini if you could get to it. The MacMinis were just packaged densely. iMacs with their glued up ultra thin displays were quite a bit harder. I decided to never do one. Too easy to break the screen.

368:

slaps forehead Silly me, of course you're right, no wonder they use green camo....

369:

slaps forehead Silly me, of course you're right, no wonder they use green camo....

Much as I like that explanation, given where the USSF groundlings work, I'd rather they wore desert camouflage. Black camouflage probably overheats terribly at Area 51, at least during the summer.

Fortunately, at least on aircraft carriers, their actual working uniforms are color-coded and quite visible. None of that blue camouflage silliness.

As for active duty sailors, my personal recommendation for uniforms is that they ditch the camouflage and go for shark deterrence in a way that increases their visibility if they go overboard. Something like this, perhaps. Although not quite this. The Russians have a similar design, although I don't think it's as functional as shark repellent.

370:

Greg Tingey @ 337: JBS
I don't think I have EVER used Win7 ....
Currently I'm on 10 - & will not switch to 11 unless-&-until madam's firm does so.
Full Power Off - but -not only tell the machine to "close/shut down" but also wait a couple of seconds & then physically turn off the mains power, so that nothing is going in/out. I do this at close of business, every day.

That allows you to rule out the kind of "memory leaks" prior versions of Windoze were notorious for.

Did you find anything about the "full Temp folder" thewehie suggested?

371:

Heteromeles @ 338: RE: The original paint job on the F-117...

You know, the internet does have pictures. They're here: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/41163/why-the-f-117-made-its-first-flight-in-pastel-camouflage-40-years-ago-today

The original paint job wasn't blue, it was three-tone desert camouflage, then uniform light gray (pictures at link). Then the boss of Tactical Air Command decided that uniform black hid the faceting better, and black it became. Several other paint jobs were implemented after the black decision, but you'll have to click on the link above to see "Toxic Death" and the others.

@ 335:

"Back when the first stealth bomber came out, painted a midnight black, there was a story going round ..."

Perhaps you're unaware of the difference between a fighter and a bomber.

The B-2 is a stealth bomber. The F-117 is a stealth Fighter. That's what the 'F' stands for.

372:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1962_United_States_Tri-Service_aircraft_designation_system

I thought you knew this, sorry. The F-117 is not a fighter, because a fighter, per the above, "is designed primarily for air-to-air combat." Bombers are "designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry (such as bombs), launching torpedoes, or deploying air-launched cruise missiles." An attack aircraft "has a primary role of carrying out airstrikes with greater precision than bombers, and is prepared to encounter strong low-level air defenses while pressing the attack."

The F-117 should properly be designated an A-117 or B-117, because it's clearly not designed for air-to-air combat. It's not the only F-series plane that's not an air-to-air combat plane either. Why the name? Per Wikipedia again, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_F-117_Nighthawk#Designation, "A televised documentary quoted project manager Alan Brown as saying that Robert J. Dixon, a four-star Air Force general who was the head of Tactical Air Command felt that the top-notch USAF fighter pilots required to fly the new aircraft were more easily attracted to an aircraft with an "F" designation for fighter, as opposed to a bomber ("B") or attack ("A") designation."

So yeah, the F-117 is a bomber.

373:

Yep yep. And never mind the "F" designation; a typical armament is AGMs, not AIMs (to the extent they don't even have one self-defence missile.

374:

Why would they need one? I mean, they’re completely invisible, right. TFG said so and We All Believe Him

375:

Robert Prior @ 348:

Traditionally the Air Farce & Navy colors are BLUE, so of course they have "blue" camouflage uniforms. I believe someone mentioned the usefulness of "tits on a boar" and that applies to Air Farce & Navy camouflage uniforms.

So why does the Navy have camouflage uniforms? It makes it a lot harder to spot someone who's gone overboard, but they still have them…

As long as they wear their High Visibility Vests over the uniform while on deck they should be easier to find in the water if they fall off the ship.

Story I heard (from someone in the Navy) was that it was for morale — being in camo meant better morale for the sailors, and so the Navy accepted the downsides for that. No idea if this is true — it sounds plausible, though.

Could be. I know every red-neck, hipster goofball and 2nd Amendment psycho in the U.S. wears camo as often as possible. People who never even go as far into the woods as the parking lot of a state park wear camouflage. They even make camouflage stretch leggings for the ladies.

Why should sailors have to feel left out?

Disclaimer: I'm currently wearing a 30 year old pair of 6 color desert camouflage battle-dress trousers left over from Desert Storm. Doesn't mean anything except that I need to do laundry.

I've got to pour a new concrete pad for my washing machine. The old wooden platform it sits on is deteriorated & lets it wobble too much during the spin cycle, so I have to stand there ready to reset it if it shuts off prematurely.

376:

Robert Prior @ 349:

As upthread, turning the machine off without using the shut down procedure effectively puts it into hibernation rather than actually shutting down and purging the RAM.

I thought turning off the power (as in turning off the mains power) purged the RAM?

Greg said he turns of the mains power every day.

I don't know. On previous machines shutting down put the machine into a power off mode. You got a standard boot after read the bios, load the OS from disk, etc. Anything that was in memory before you shut down was GONE (but anything you saved before you shut down should remain).

But Wake-on-Ring or Wake-on-LAN required some components to be powered while the computer was turned off in order to function. That's when they started putting a power switch on the back on the power supply itself that you could turn off.

Sounds like Windows 10 writes the memory state to the hard-drive when you turn it off. In that case it might restore any garbage that was in memory when you turn the computer back on even if you turned power off at the power supply or at the mains?

Shut down Windows 10 completely

377:

The F-117 should properly be designated an A-117 or B-117, because it's clearly not designed for air-to-air combat.

Similarly the SR-71 was supposed to be announced to the world as the RS-71 (Reconnaissance, Strategic being it's mission), but got changed because Curtis LeMay had a snit; there was also, at one time, going to be a B-71 (a laser-guided lump of concrete dropping in at Mach 3.2 will ruin almost anyone's day -- any explosives on board would merely be an afterthought).

Type designations are political/marketing as often as not.

378:

And it gets even more fun. Windows 10 will do updates in the background (unless you have the Enterprise edition, then your IT dept will do that to you). Sometimes the "preliminary" installation steps for the update clobber something that the currently running software needs.

And, yes, a restart will fix all that. DO NOT POWER OFF THE SYSTEM WHILE THE OS IS UPDATING.

(insert old-timers story here about figuring out why the nightly backups never worked....)

379:

every red-neck, hipster goofball and 2nd Amendment psycho in the U.S. wears camo as often as possible. People who never even go as far into the woods as the parking lot of a state park wear camouflage.

The 20th century men's suit was descended from 18th/19th century military and hunting attire. (Compare it to pre-renunciation male court dress and it's fairly clear why the lace and stockings of the latter weren't suitable for hunting and the battlefield ...)

As William Gibson observed, military costume is designed not just for practicality but for messaging -- ask yourself what message cops in BDUs and helmets are sending -- and it is frequently adopted by Fashion. These days you can find desert camo mini-dresses in the boutiques, and tactical pattern diaper bags: also note the way Hugo Boss (couturier to the Gestapo and SS) got turned into office formalwear for the sharks of Wall Street in the 1980s. Or the way womens' jackets periodically revive 19th century Hussar styles, complete with elaborate frogging. It's everywhere, once you start looking.

380:

I presently have (for my sins) a Windoze 10E laptop with an SSD. Time from boot password to login prompt is about 3s, except when IS have been buglering about with Windoze and/or the "administration policy" when half the time I can flatten the battery before I reach the login prompt, and the other half it takes over a minute.

381:

whitroth @ 359: You haven't mentioned the camo uniforms sported by... the US Space Command."

Here, we'll hide behind that green asteroid....

You mean Space Farce? ... who now actually have Space Cadets at the Academy?

Looks like a standard OCP camouflage. I'm guessing that's meant for wear here on Earth, because in space it wouldn't be able to supply the necessary life support.

382:

Heteromeles @ 372: The F-117 should properly be designated an A-117 or B-117, because it's clearly not designed for air-to-air combat.

I agree. It SHOULD have been. But it wasn't. It was designated the F-117. I didn't fuck up the type designation, they did, so there's no reason for you to get in my shit and belittle me because I didn't consider it in a discussion about the first Stealth Bomber, the B-2, WHICH CLEARLY WAS PROPERLY DESIGNATED.

So, ... and the horse you rode in on!

383:

They even make camouflage stretch leggings for the ladies.

That's so I can hit them when they're jogging down my streets when it's not bright sunshine outside.

I've never hit anyone, but some of these walkers/joggers seem to go out of their way to be invisible to the background around my neighborhood.

384:

Actually, I have the best US Navy camo pattern yet: Seaweed camo!. And it's in stock. Good for invading harbor side buildings, I believe.

What I'd personally like to see is anti-drone dazzle patterns become the fashionable. That could be both very interesting and very annoying.

385:

Re: Calendars 'Just over 10 years ago I gave a paper to a law conference on related topics.'

Very interesting paper/presentation - thanks!

A question for you: Has anyone tested how 'cloud computing' changed the ability to accurately measure time during online activities/transactions? I'm asking because if using the cloud means that data gets routed via whatever happens to be available at that moment this means that it probably isn't following the most direct route. Therefore depending on your personal access, the speed at which your data reaches its destination (or the speed at which - how long it takes - your laptop gets info) can vary. If you're a stock trader - where microseconds matter - this can make a substantial difference. Ditto for some scientific measurements esp. any measurements where aggregation from different sources/directions is done. (Sorta getting a melange of cart and horse results.)

Re: Greg Tingey @ 271: 'Talking of computing & brain powers & side-effects [Case Nightmare Green] ...'

Recently heard about this from a friend in academia - it's SF/F-weird but true - therefore worth discussing here. The authors of this opinion piece are real scientists and there is/was an accompanying petition asking scientists/gov't to look at the ethics of this.

Considering that CRISPR-Cas9 - which won a Nobel for its developers - did result in some serious ethics reviews followed by cautions to scientists to use this technique more carefully/slowly, I think this remote/Internet-gadget (therefore anonymous/untrackable) enabled 'dream-selling' deserves at least as much serious peer-reviewed short and long-term research and discussion before it's let loose. (Yeah, marketers are likely to moan about lost $$$ but since quite a few of the likely enablers/users aren't paying taxes anyways -- stuff 'em!)

'Advertising in Dreams is Coming: Now What?

An opinion piece on recent developments in dream incubation technologies and their ethical implications

[The below is only the first paragraph and not a summary of results - you'll need to read the entire piece to get a sense of what's going on.]

Molson Coors recently announced a new kind of advertising campaign. Timed for the days before Super Bowl Sunday, it was designed to infiltrate our dreams [1]. They planned to use "targeted dream incubation" (TDI) [2] to alter the dreams of the nearly 100 million Super Bowl viewers the night before the game—specifically, to have them dream about Coors beer in a clean, refreshing, mountain environment—and presumably then drink their beer while watching the Super Bowl. Participants in what Coors called ‘the world’s largest dream study’ would get half off on a 12 pack of Coors; if they sent the link to a friend who also incubated their dreams, the 12 pack was free. With this campaign, Coors is proudly pioneering a new form of intrusive marketing. “Targeted Dream Incubation (TDI) is a never-before-seen form of advertising,” says Marcelo Pascoa, Vice President of Marketing at Molson Coors [3].' 

https://dxe.pubpub.org/pub/dreamadvertising/release/1

386:

Heteromeles @ 384: Actually, I have the best US Navy camo pattern yet: Seaweed camo!. And it's in stock. Good for invading harbor side buildings, I believe.

What I'd personally like to see is anti-drone dazzle patterns become the fashionable. That could be both very interesting and very annoying.

I don't expect to see that one in the Army/Navy surplus stores any time soon.

387:

Re: 'I don't expect to see that one in the Army/Navy surplus stores any time soon.'

Maybe not official/actual Army/Navy but there's already been about 10 years of thinking about how to achieve this.

https://www.wired.com/2013/01/anti-drone-camouflage-apparel/

Personally I think that the first real-life field-tested versions will likely come from China.

I've been reading how China is implementing its zero-tolerance for COVID in prep for the upcoming Olympic Games and some of the articles have explicitly mentioned (even shown) street-level surveillance of folks wandering out of their homes and looking over their shoulders directly into a camera/lens. Given that every society has its share of criminals/pushers, anti's, resisters, etc. I'm thinking that at least one of those groups is likely to come up with something to hide them from observation.

The recent Kazakhstan turmoil may be another opportunity for developing surveillance-evasion street-wear. This Kazakhstan situation is really troubling becuz the old regime has called in Russia for help but China has become increasingly important as an economic ally. Culturally*, the K-C relationship has been a mixed bag of successes and failures. Anyways - so now we've got Ukraine and Kazakhstan to watch.

  • I probably wouldn't have bothered to read Kazakhstan related news were it not for a talented singer. Soft power!
388:

It'll take another generation to work out how to breed tritium in sufficient quantities to run a reactor, and then maybe we get to a prototype designed to deliver base load.

The prototype is called DEMO, the planned follow-on to ITER. Proposed to be 2-4 GWt on a continuous basis, so 1.4-2.0 GWe depending on the thermal efficiency of the electricity generating loop. The most recent timeline has construction starting sometime in the 2040s and operation in the 2050s.

389:

JBS
"Anti-Drone dazzle patterns" - I would expect them to be very fractal in nature.
One of the semi-definitions of fractal patterns is that they are "self-similar" - or - "scale-invariant". So that an object or person covered over with such a pattern would be very hard indeed to distinguish from a general background, provided, of course that the colour-&-tone-match was reasonable.
Mind you, even with very crude "camouflage" some people will simply not "see" things that are - almost - right in front of them.
A couple of times, when mushrooming, I've been walking in dappled woodland, wearing dullish green/brown trousers a small-checked shirt & a green/grey (etc) Tweed jacket & heard other people - stopped dead still - and they've walked within 3 or 4 metres of me, without the slightest sign that they knew I was there.

390:

It would be super fun to be an astronaut or something and really screw up this ridiculous nanosecond trading shite. "I observed the two transactions to take place the other way round!"

391:

Main rotor blades are big and move fast (tips approaching Mach 1), and show up on Doppler radars…

One of the stories told by old timers in US Navy weapons procurement regards a radar-guided anti-aircraft gun. The gun operator held down two switches, one with each hand. If both were released, the gun fired. Navy helicopter pilots hated landing on ships equipped with the gun because, lacking anything else, it would track them all the way in. The next iteration of software was specified to not track objects moving less than 30 knots or so. On the first trial, the gun tracked the helicopter as before. Then someone noticed that the gun barrel was now twitching slightly instead of holding steady. It was tracking the parts of the rotor blades that were moving above the threshold velocity.

392:

Maybe not official/actual Army/Navy but there's already been about 10 years of thinking about how to achieve this.

Yeah well, get back to me on how well that anti-drone camo works against drones that use hyperspectral imaging instead of the simple RGB/CMYK colour models that human retinas respond to.

We're humans, and a side-effect of our humanity is that we're trained from infancy to respond to sensory stimuli that fall within a certain range. Auditory sensitivity drops off sharply below 50Hz and above 15-20kHz (depending on age), but we know that other animals have different hearing ranges: elephants apparently use infrasound to communicate across long distances using the soles of their feet, cats and mice can hear up to 50kHz and above, bats even higher. Cats and dogs only have two types of cone cells in their retinas and are red/green colour blind by default: we got the red/green discrimination because our long-ago ancestors were fructivores. And there's no reason to limit ourselves to optical wavelengths or indeed to sound/sight; why not go for chemotaxic sensors -- smell, taste?

Upshot: I expect drones to out-evolve camouflage for quite a long time to come.

393:

And then there's polarisation, for each wavelength. You could probably still do it visually for one (precise) set of weather conditions, time of day, direction of attack etc., even including that and the whole 'optical' range. I will leave the comments on the military usefulness of that to our milbuffs ....

394:

@SFReaderTherefore depending on your personal access, the speed at which your data reaches its destination (or the speed at which - how long it takes - your laptop gets info) can vary. If you're a stock trader - where microseconds matter - this can make a substantial difference.

Stock traders don't run their HVT servers in the cloud - they get as close to the stock exchange's equipment as they can (ideally co-located in the same datacenter) in order to minimise the round trip time for their trades so that they can front-run other, less ideally located, traders. The speed of light in optical fibre runs is a critical chokepoint for these operations.

I work on the utility-side of banking (as opposed to the casino-side), so cloud-enabled architectures are making inroads there; but even so there are regulatory issues that have to be dealt with - you can't use cloud services that sit outwith China to run payment processing for the Chinese market for instance and there are other markets where cloud services are forbidden and everything has to be on-prem.

395:

Yeah well, get back to me on how well that anti-drone camo works against drones that use hyperspectral imaging instead of the simple RGB/CMYK colour models that human retinas respond to.

Probably the 2013 anti-ID makeup is outdated, but the general idea of screwing up the ID abilities of low-res closed-circuit cameras is not. A cheap hoodie, jeans, and a pandemic facemask do extremely well, at least according to 9 out of 10 thieves who rob liquor stores. Drop a small pebble in one shoe to screw up gait ID, if you're worried about that.

The other fun question, especially if you're worried about murder-bots, is what you could do to mess up targeting, either on your person or in your environment.

As for anti-drone/AI counters that were crowd-sourced, the protesters in Hong Kong already came up with a good candidate: umbrellas. Hard to see much of anything through that cloth. Or hit them with pepper spray, especially when they're in formation with overlapping brollies.

For the tech-heads in the audience, how much anti-camera and ECM technology could you fit into a standard umbrella design, considering how much fun you could have cramming the handle and shaft with electronics, and customizing the materials in the outer and inner canopies? My guess is that you could get something reasonably useful and quite disguised without breaking four figures.

396:

I don't expect to see that one in the Army/Navy surplus stores any time soon.

Of course, although it would be amusing if an admiral's wife wore it in a gown and it then turned up in Goodwill.

The second point is that there's a bunch of perfectly cromulent seaweed and kelp camouflages out there (google "Seaweed camo" and "kelp camo"), so there's little excuse for some Navy not having a "terrestrially-colored" camouflage pattern for land ops that's nonetheless entirely marine in inspiration.

The Versace seaweed camo gets back to Charlie's earlier point, which is that fashion adopts militaria as one of their influences. In this case, it seems that (semi)abstracted prints may generically become known as "camo" if it helps them to sell, even if they're on silk.

The last point is that there are "political" subdivisions within camouflage patterns. There's military camouflage, of course, but there are also hunter-pattern camouflages (cf Mossy Oak) that are designed especially for hunters in the US Midwest and South. There's also underwater camouflage for spearfishing, Neptune help us.

397:

SFReader @ 387:

Re: 'I don't expect to see that one in the Army/Navy surplus stores any time soon.'

Maybe not official/actual Army/Navy but there's already been about 10 years of thinking about how to achieve this.

https://www.wired.com/2013/01/anti-drone-camouflage-apparel/

Actually, I meant I don't expect to see Battle-dress made from that $125/yard silk seaweed cammo.

https://www.britexfabrics.com/versace-versatile-seaweed-green-camo-silk-crepe-made-in-italy123.html.

At least not until the price comes down a whole lot.

398:

Greg Tingey @ 389: JBS
"Anti-Drone dazzle patterns" - I would expect them to be very fractal in nature.
One of the semi-definitions of fractal patterns is that they are "self-similar" - or - "scale-invariant". So that an object or person covered over with such a pattern would be very hard indeed to distinguish from a general background, provided, of course that the colour-&-tone-match was reasonable.

I haven't studied on "Anti-Drone dazzle patterns", so I couldn't say what might work or not. But I understand the difficulty is masking the wearer's thermal signature because after a while you get too hot inside and have to vent the heat somehow.

Mind you, even with very crude "camouflage" some people will simply not "see" things that are - almost - right in front of them.
A couple of times, when mushrooming, I've been walking in dappled woodland, wearing dullish green/brown trousers a small-checked shirt & a green/grey (etc) Tweed jacket & heard other people - stopped dead still - and they've walked within 3 or 4 metres of me, without the slightest sign that they knew I was there.

The ultimate Urban camouflage ... courtesy of your grandmother's sofa. 😀

399:

Re: 'And there's no reason to limit ourselves to optical wavelengths or indeed to sound/sight; why not go for chemotaxic sensors -- smell, taste?

Upshot: I expect drones to out-evolve camouflage for quite a long time to come.'

Agree that we shouldn't limit ourselves to just vision or even to the traditional human spectrum versions of the basic five senses.

Not sure about the drones: Who's going to program them, how? I'm guessing that such drones would be in constant (real-time?) communication with some central AI that would do the actual data sifting. And this makes me wonder how many different scenarios/drone sources could a surveillance AI sift through in parallel/at the same time. How easy would it be push the AI into sensory data overload? (I'm guessing that 'sensory data' is typically more complex, varied and larger than a banking transaction, therefore slower to parse.)

400:

Re: '... so there's little excuse for some Navy not having a "terrestrially-colored" camouflage pattern for land ops that's nonetheless entirely marine in inspiration.'

The image that immediately sprang to mind was a soldier/marine/sailor rummaging through his/her closet trying to figure out which 'camo' uniform to pack on the basis of his/her destination(s), season(s) and times of day that he/she would be out in the field. Never mind the cost of one camo uniform done up in $125/yd silks, the cost of outfitting on a per-likely-scenario basis could easily run to a dozen different uniforms. Could get pretty expensive per capita even using relatively inexpensive fibers. And then all of this would also have to be packed and carried. Egads - next thing you know, they'll be hiring/training valets!

401:

"There's also underwater camouflage for spearfishing, Neptune help us."

But does it actually stop the spearfish being able to see you...? Does it have the right sort of patterns to confuse a spearfish sensorium as opposed to a human one? Or is it simply designed to look invisibly good to humans (The Emperor's New Clothes were in camo so nobody could see them), and sooner or later the spearfish are going to figure this out and have a word with their chromatophores and before much longer people are going to be swimming along and suddenly go "oh shit, I've been speared, who did that?"

Mind you I am given to understand that US toilet designs are very often of a type which is, sensibly, rather uncommon elsewhere in the world; a type distinguished by the broadness and emphasis of its invitation to Neptune to kiss one's ass. So the whole thing is probably dead risky in any case.

402:

"But I understand the difficulty is masking the wearer's thermal signature because after a while you get too hot inside and have to vent the heat somehow."

Depends when and where, I guess. I would hazard a guess that the basic sensitivity of a burglar alarm type PIR sensor is higher than that of IR camera pixels because of the much larger size of the sensitive area; I do know that one of those sensors will not detect a motorcyclist in frosty weather (it may detect the bike's engine, but it won't detect the rider walking around separately). And these days you could have an electric motorbike so that round town at least there'd be next to no heat from the bike either.

403:

I expect that most tactical operations with [stealth] helicopters would be conducted at an altitude where the radar signature of the rotors are likely to be lost in ground clutter.

Nope. Doppler radars are quite able to look into ground clutter, "looking down" is what they do best. Your big hint is that the rotors are moving towards / away from the radar, several hundred knots faster than the planet they're hovering over...

Rumour had it that the M247 DIVADS (Sergeant York), a delightful US attempt to emulate Gepard and ZSU23/4 by being "agile" and "rapid" ("Let's take those knackered old M48 chassis, stick some 40mm guns on it, and guide it with the radar from an F-16") resulted in something overpriced which allegedly locked on to the metal extractor fan in the toilet block next to the demonstration grandstand... (because doppler effect)

When flying NOE the pilots don't go over the trees, they go around them.

Stop listening to pilots, especially when they start with "This Is No Sh*t" or "there I was, upside down, nothing on the altimeter but the maker's name...". Yes, they'll hide behind trees (particularly with rotor/roof-mounted radars or optics) - but flying around them is a recipe for disaster, unless they're going so slowly that a truck would be faster.

Granted, flying NOE (particularly in formation), is so cool that it deserves theme music; probably "Fortunate Son".

On the "naughty" side, I may have been enough of a planespotting nerd on an Army exercise, to point out to the nervous around me that we'd just run on to several of the new Chinook HC.2 with digital engine control unit (shortly after the Mull of Kintyre crash) and the Loadmaster was checking the LEDs on the avionics boxes in the ceiling, just before takeoff ;)

404:

Oh dear, the idea that there's a thing called a spearfish. To be old-fashioned, ROFLMAO.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spearfishing

However I agree that spearfishing camo is probably most useful in making it hard to find the bodies of drowned spearfishers who thought that hiding in a kelp bed was a good idea.

But it is cool-looking, although I liked the older models that actually looked like kelp instead of the new digital knockoffs.

405:

No idea how effective spearfishing camo is, but I had an experience snorkeling with my then 9 year old in Hawaii when all the fish suddenly started swimming rapidly away. When I looked to see the source I saw a 'camoflaged' spearfisher coming over the reef.

So the fish knew what was up, though whether they identified the person, the spear, or the camoflage as the hazard is an open question.

406:

Closest I've gotten was a blackhawk going directly over me not far above treetop, when I was doing a survey on an army base. Come to think of it, I had a V-22 go over me rather low in a desert canyon. I think the latter is probably a better use of NOE flying, since mountains do, in fact, block radar on occasion.

There is, however, video of a demonstrably quiet helicopter. I don't think it will be in military use though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d7amKu5iW8

407:

Pigeon
POSEIDON, please ....

H
W.T.F ???

408:

Re: '... video of a demonstrably quiet helicopter. '

This is amazing!

The video you linked to immediately went to the next one showing the students who built/flew this thing. Danged - some look (high school) young!

U of T Engineering Grads Win Sikorsky Prize

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebMcqG1Un-Q&ab_channel=UofTEngineering

Wonder how this would work over water.

409:

Wonder how this would work over water.

You want the pilot to have to be a swimmer as well as a cyclist?

I remember when the Gossamer Condor managed a figure of eight course, back in the 70s. A helicopter seemed wildly impossible then.

410:

Mind you I am given to understand that US toilet designs are very often of a type which is, sensibly, rather uncommon elsewhere in the world; a type distinguished by the broadness and emphasis of its invitation to Neptune to kiss one's ass.

The last time I visited America, I was struck by the broadness of American asses…

411:

Any thoughts on this development? - vast improvement in battery technology, but only at a small size - whether it scales up economically & practically is the question.

412:

As someone who lives in the USA I am similarly struck at times.

As to the size of the toilets, I've never seen one with a seat where anything larger than a medium cat would fit through. Where are people seeing this monstrous openings.

We USAians get yelled at for calling ourselves American's. I think you're from Canada. Wouldn't you also be one? Or were you including the width of Canadian discharge points in your comment?

413:

GT 411: Looks fascinating, I hope it works at scale. Personally I find the hand wringing about Lithium batteries to be a bit disingenuous (most of the articles I've seen tend to come from petroleum funded 'institutes' etc). That said, more sustainability is always a preference.

412: Canadian here. I've never noticed a difference in toilet seat size between the US and Canada, nor Europe for that matter. Rear end size, yes - the Euros are thinner than USians and Canadians both, and my perception is that the US seems to be trying for mass as a measure of prosperity.

414:

We USAians get yelled at for calling ourselves American's

As you should. You're Americans, not American's.

Unless, of course, you're a grocer.

415:

Greg @ 411:

I track this a bit, at least to the extent of reading such stuff when I see a link to it.

You see this kind of thing a lot. Batteries are important, and there are a lot of research groups digging into different aspects. The same goes for solar cells and wind turbines, and to a lesser extent wave and tidal power.

So a couple of times a month some group or other produces a paper on their latest experimental rig, and the University PR department makes sure that a simplified write-up gets to the relevant journalists, and you get something like this.

The reports fall into roughly two categories:

  • Incremental improvements in kWh per $ or kg for Li-ion chemistry.

  • Possibly-dramatic improvements in some chemistry you've never heard of, but still not enough to give Li-ion a run for its money.

  • Similar things happen in solar cells. I recall a category 2 report I saw recently about a "1,000 fold increase in solar cell power", which turned out to be for some other kind of solar cell chemistry that was previously only of interest to electrochemists but now might be something more. Interesting, and a step in the right direction, but it wasn't going to knock Si-based cells off their perch any time soon.

    This particular report is type 2. You can find their paper here: it applies to Sodium-ion batteries and Potassium-ion batteries. The basic electrochemistry is the same (Na and K are in the same periodic table column as Li). The new development is a better anode. Carbon is the preferred material for all these batteries, but the carbon has to be able to accommodate the sodium ions. Since Na is a bigger atom than Li, and K is bigger still, that has been a problem. These guys have worked out a way of making an aerogel out of carbon, which they think should solve the problem. Next step: commercialisation (they hope).

    The conclusion quotes an energy density for one of their materials of around 220 Wh/kg for a working battery, which would be competitive with Li-ion (Wikipedia says 100-265 Wh/kg). On the other hand maybe the same trick would also improve Li-ion as well; I'm not an electrochemist so I can't really tell.

    They also say that they can fine-tune the properties of the materials they produce, which is always a bonus.

    So if I were a battery manufacturer I'd definitely want to know more. But don't hold your breath to see this stuff in your car or laptop.

    416:

    I'm not seeing monstrous openings, I'm seeing dodgy pan designs.

    There is a variety of toilet which uses Bernoulli effect entrainment to suck water out of the pan as well as just using ordinary gravity to flush it through with water from the rim. You can see this in action when you pull the chain and the level in the pan drops dramatically before the rim jets start up. Over here these designs are distinctly rare and I've only ever seen about two in actual use. But I've seen plenty of photos of them installed in the US, and I've had plenty of USians respond in the sense of "oh they're all like that here" when I call such toilets weird.

    They can be distinguished in their quiescent condition by the very obvious presence of half of Wobegon Lake in the pan when you lift the lid, coming most of the way up to the rim. This of course both maximises a certain hazard relating to reciprocal trajectories, and renders ineffective or impractical the kind of method by which the already lesser such risk presented by the usual UK designs may be nearly eliminated. (I've half an idea that someone else mentioned this on here a few weeks back, which is what put it into my head in the first place.)

    Moreover, for half the defecating population it introduces an additional hazard which in the usual UK designs is simply not present at all. It is surely for this reason that while both "Neptune's kiss" and "pan baffle" have their entries in Roger's Profanisaurus, there is (AFAIK) no corresponding entry for anything like "Poseidon's blowjob".

    417:

    "We USAians get yelled at for calling ourselves American's."

    Well, not often yelled at outside of the levofringe and dextrofringe in Latin America, but it is a point of sensitivity that I more or less sympathize with. From previous adventures I've got a driver's license and kind-of-residency card that both say "Nacionalidad: Estadounidense".

    Estadounidense can be translated as USian.

    In the USA, of course, I'm an American.

    418:

    "Personally I find the hand wringing about Lithium batteries to be a bit disingenuous (most of the articles I've seen tend to come from petroleum funded 'institutes' etc)."

    I don't think I've seen any articles from petroleum funded institutes; I've merely come to the same kind of conclusion myself because it's rather obvious.

    Lithium being the kind of interesting stuff it is from a nuclear point of view, most of it got eaten by astrophysics before this planet was even formed, so it's rather rare, and AIUI there are very few minable concentrations of it around; also AIUI many of those are in the kind of places where it is even more difficult than usual to make sure the mining industry cleans up all its mess and washes its hands before it has its dinner. Sodium on the other hand is all over the place and easy to extract without even doing any mining at all if you don't want to. If you can make sodium work in a battery then the advantages of the much more readily available material ought to make it the default choice.

    Also, we appear now to have got ourselves into a situation where everyone goes lithium batteries!!!11!!1 as a solution to bloody well everything, with no regard for the availability of raw materials (or at best a cavalier dismissal of the problem), when in fact they may well not be the best option even out of the list of battery technologies that we have already.

    A perhaps minor example is mobility scooters. These days a lot of them come with lithium batteries for apparently no better reason than that they sound whizzy. They are not a good choice. The ability to be charged very rapidly simply isn't important. The low mass is a positive disadvantage, because the narrow wheelbase and high C of G inherent in a mobility scooter makes them prone to falling over going round corners, and having 40kg of lead-acid batteries in the chassis is very useful as ballast. The cost per kWh is about five times that of lead-acid, so in order to avoid doubling the price of the whole vehicle, what you get is a tiddly battery with only a fifth of the capacity, and the range sucks. And lead-acid batteries are very recyclable and their recycling is already well established.

    Lithium batteries are now the default choice for any kind of electrical device that you carry about with you, from something as basic as a torch upwards. The energy per unit volume certainly matters here, but the energy per unit mass is far less important. If you can get the same sort of energy per volume out of sodium, then you'll never even notice your torch being a few grammes heavier, but you will notice it being cheaper. Similarly for laptop batteries which are an outrageous price.

    At the other end of the scale we get people proposing lithium batteries for grid scale storage, which is basically just plain daft. For something that size you just use whatever is cheapest and deal with its limitations by making it bigger. After all, there's buckets of space on all the old coal power station sites... And you probably also get something which is at rather less risk of the whole bloody lot going up catastrophically if something goes wrong.

    I haven't worked out how much of the mass of a lithium battery is the actual lithium, but looking at the chemical formulae of the kind of ingredients they use and seeing how lithium atoms tend to be greatly outnumbered by much heavier elements, it can't be much. So even if you replace the lithium with an alternative that has three and a half times the atomic mass or so, if everything else is more or less similar then it won't make all that much difference to the total. If you can indeed make sodium work, I wouldn't be surprised if the result would still be very nearly as good mass-wise for about the only application where the low mass really is important - cars - and a heck of a lot better on cost.

    419:

    Never mind the cost of one camo uniform done up in $125/yd silks,

    I knew someone who'd had his tailor line his issued camouflage-pattern combat jacket, in silk.

    Why yes, he was a cavalry officer, how could you tell?

    420:

    Sorry. In the US for decades now toilets use only 1.28 to 1.6 gallons per flush. (4.85 to 6 liters). They might use less but those are the standards. Which includes any water in the bowl. I have NEVER heard anyone complain of a splash unless it's a commercial unit and they keep sitting while they flush.

    As to why, unlike most of the European toilets I've used (and yes my experience is limited to 3 countries) there is no flapper valve at the bottom. It is all done via a siphon arrangement from vitreous fired porcelain. So no cleaning the crap off the flapper valve. 99% of it just whooshes down the drain. And anything stuck to the sides comes off easy.

    Now way back 2+ decades ago when the water standards were new it took a while for the manufacturers to get the siphoning right to deal with the low water amounts allowed. But these days it's hard to buy a US toilet that doesn't work well. At prices ranging from $100 to $1000+ for the absurdly rich.

    421:

    We USAians get yelled at for calling ourselves American's. I think you're from Canada. Wouldn't you also be one?

    In common usage up here, "American" refers strictly to the USA (and/or its inhabitants).

    We've been over this before, although I don't remember on which blog post. There are people who get their noses out of joint about you folks claiming the name of the continent to refer to your country, but in common usage no one would assume that an "American" was a Canadian citizen.

    Certainly Trump didn't mean the entire continent(s) when he coined "Make America Great Again".

    And Biden is referring only to the USA when he talks about "made in America" :

    https://joebiden.com/made-in-america/

    422:

    While you're being annoyed, let me add in my current annoyance: why the fuck would you power everything with a USB cable? When I was working, we got an electric screwdriver... with a USB power cord.

    423:

    H W.T.F ???

    Um, thanks?

    Since I've been cheeerfully and maniacally unloading chiropteran feces in the last few posts, I might be able to give a more in-depth response if I knew which one you were responding to.

    424:

    Well obviously bullshit warning, it's because USB ports are better at rapidly transferring watts than old three-prong outlets are. Doesn't that make sense?

    I'm just imagining the USB cable one would need to recharge an electric car.

    425:

    I agree with you about the use of limited supplies of lithium. I'd rather limit them to things where mass truly matters, like cars (and planes?)

    That said, most big lithium cells are purportedly simply mass quantities of AA lithium cells, racked and controlled in hopefully sufficiently sophisticated ways. Adding other battery chemistries involves setting up alternate battery production lines, and that's going to take time and resources. I don't think it's a bad investment, but I get why the LiON crowd simply want to scale up the existing production lines and assume that more lithium will be found.

    That said, the interesting question at the moment is whether tradition Li-ion or Li-Fe-PO4 (lithium iron phosphate) are better. The argument for the latter is that they don't contain cobalt or other conflict minerals. I'm looking at house batteries, so these are options I'm playing with.

    Separate note, about the heat generation of electric motorbikes. Ummm, I don't have an eBike, but my eCar certainly does produce quite a bit of heat. I'd be surprised if they're not visible on IR.

    426:

    The USB power cord is for people like me who drive from one place to another to do our jobs. It allows the screwdriver to be charged in the car.

    427:

    USB charging ports in cars are great. Phones, ear buds, tablets, and other things. More and more also come with 120V inverter outlets. (I'm guessing 240V in some areas.) But plugging a 120V USB A or B power lump into a 120V inverter driven by the auto 12V would be an incredible waste of "stuff" and conversion watts.

    428:

    I recently read about a prototype or trial of an Fe based battery cell for grid storage. To the previous points, it would be 30% more volume than Li based batteries but cost a LOT less. And the 30% isn't all that big a deal if you're not driving or carrying the battery around but bolting it to a concrete pad.

    429:

    Cigarette lighter socket. Full 12V and usually fused at 10A or more, with decent sized contacts to deliver it through. Wouldn't be much fun trying to run a tyre inflation pump off a 5V piddle-current outlet.

    430:

    A perhaps minor example is mobility scooters. These days a lot of them come with lithium batteries

    (Good points snipped for brevity.)

    I don't understand why mobility scooters don't come with (a) a semi-permanently-installed lead acid battery down low as ballast, and (b) DC input connectors for J. Random Other Battery to be added at the user's discretion -- maybe in the luggage basket, maybe under the rider's seat, could be lead-acid, could be lithium-ion, it just needs to supply 12VDC in a controlable manner. The point being, the lead-acid battery is the default, but if you run flat while out shopping, or want extra range before you leave, you can plug in a spare.

    Also, for grid backup, I would have thought electrolyte flow cells would be infinitely preferable to lithium ion. The only reason LiIon is even out there in grid sites is because (a) Elon Musk built a couple of giant LiIon battery factories and wanted the publicity, and (b) you can take battery packs off cars that are down below 80% of capacity (at which point they're problematic for cars), stick them in racks, get use out of them by running them until they're fucked, and then recycle them to reclaim the lithium.

    431:

    why the fuck would you power everything with a USB cable?

    Not all USB cables are equal; the special magical magsafe one that came with my shiny new Macbook Pro delivers up to 90 watts over USB-C, and the firmware in the laptop tells the charger to switch off or switch to a trickle feed when it's got enough juice on board.

    IIRC there's a proposal to let USB-C negotiate for up to 200 watts. That should be plenty for a generic household low-power distribution system -- not that many appliances need to draw more than 200 watts, and USB PD gives you vastly more control options than a dumb 110/230 volt AC plug with heritage dating back to the 1890s.

    432:

    Electric motorbikes I was thinking of around town. While you can belt manically about the place using large amounts of power, if you are concerned with not attracting attention and accordingly are riding in an unexceptional and inconspicuous manner, you really use very little power (and spend a fair bit of time coasting). And unlike an IC engine where the amount of heat coming out of it is several times greater than the amount of work, with an electric motor it's several times smaller. So in winter conditions you'd be in a fair way of achieving a similarly low IR signature for the bike itself as you already get without trying for the rider.

    433:

    Maybe you're showing you age. Maybe.

    I haven't had to need a tire inflation "in the field" in decades. Either my leaks are so slow I have plenty of time to get to somewhere. (Most of them have taken a day or two to loose 3 or 4 psi.) Or they are to the point that a air pump is useless. Like when I hit my 18" truck tire into a culvert entrance on a curb. Tire was torn and fun and games ensued as I had to find all the jack bits. The truck was new to me. At least is was at my daughter's house and in daylight. So I recruited her husband as a helper and could see without lights. And whoever did the lug nuts previously put them on so tight I bent the lug wrench taking them off.

    Anyway, to power. I've not seen a car without the old 12V cigarette lighter port OR a 120V AC outlet. Either would work fine for a pump for a tire.

    Me? When I go on the road I toss a few of my 4AH 18V Ryobi batteries, a charger, and a tire pump that runs off these batteries into the "boot". Along with some lights that use these batteries. If I can't do what I need to do with 12 to 16AH of batteries I'm hosed anyway. The charger is in case I DO use the batteries and want to charge them up while at the hotel or whatever for the night.

    434:

    Electric motorbikes

    Electric anything is much easier to deal with if you want to store it inside of "conditioned" living space. Petroleum fluids are usually a bad idea in such space.

    435:

    Those of the same kind of age as mine are actually nearly there already. (They are all amazingly similar, far more so than cars of similar complexity ever were.) Pair of 12V sealed lead-acid batteries strapped in at chassis level (in series to give 24V, so the currents aren't too awful: maximum legally-allowed power output corresponds to 7A), and the charger socket is wired straight to the battery with a 10A fuse. So you could, in principle, simply by not bothering to connect the third pin in the charger plug (which stops the thing moving with a charger plugged in), carry an auxiliary battery (between your feet in the footwell, probably) and plug it in for a bit of extra range.

    I wouldn't like to do it in practice because it would probably melt the wiring while leaving the fuse intact - they stick to the legal limit for speed because it's obvious, but they play fast and loose with the limit on power output, and can pop the 30A breaker going up a steep enough hill; and the charger socket wiring on mine is not up to carrying even the 10A the fuse allows. Also it would be preferable to disconnect the installed battery when the auxiliary one is plugged in.

    But the necessary modifications would be absolutely trivial - thicker wires, beefier socket, and a switch - and probably need less than a quid's worth of bits at factory prices (the switch would be the worst). And it would certainly be a great improvement over the joke of a get-you-home facility they have as standard, which is to guddle about under the rear bodywork to find the lever to disconnect the transmission, and then get someone to push you (or borrow a couple of Staffies).

    Thing is they come with this all-pervading aura of egregious neshness and utter repudiation of any idea of self-reliance (which is kind of contradictory in a device whose explicit aim is to restore lost self-reliance, but still). Absolutely the only solution that can ever be countenanced to any possible problem is "get someone else to sort it out". To be sure some of them will be used by people for whom that is a valid approach, but most users won't be in that bad a way, yet they still do their best to deny all users the option of choosing other solutions and deciding for themselves whether or not they can cope. To this sort of mentality the idea of carrying an auxiliary battery at all, let alone using it, would be a reason to absolutely have kittens.

    436:

    David L
    Parisian toilets, even as late as 1987 could be ... grim. Stand or semi squat over the hole in the ground, basically - for either or both sexes.
    Euw.

    H
    Re. Seaweed camo - probably not worth bothering, now.

    437:

    That depends on the mobility scooter. Some of them are designed to be light enough to be carried up or down a flight of stairs; others to fold up small enough to go in a car boot. Either way a lead-acid accumulator seems "sub-optimal".

    438:

    About 10 years ago I read an article about how the authorities were trying to convince Parisian "dudes" to stop pissing in public. On the sides of buildings and elsewhere. Apparently finding one of those duel half cylinders surrounding a hole in the side walk was too much hassle. And who wants to go into the cafe with a puddle of piss next to the door.

    And there is this: https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/14/europe/paris-urinal-intl/index.html

    I just read how they are trying to make the River Seine swimable for the upcoming Olympics. Apparently is has been an open sewer with storm water mixing with sewage in the underground system since, well, forever. Swimming was banned in the 1920s. Not everyone who might swim in the Olympics is enthralled with the idea.

    439:

    Parisian toilets, even as late as 1987 could be ... grim. Stand or semi squat over the hole in the ground, basically - for either or both sexes.

    Squat toilets are much easier to use when constipated.

    Just sayin'…

    440:

    That said, most big lithium cells are purportedly simply mass quantities of AA lithium cells

    They're usually 18650 cells rather than AA, physically bigger so generally more capacity in each individual cell. (In the numeric naming scheme AAs are 14500, 14mm diameter and 50mm long, 18650 are 18mm diameter and 65mm long)

    Nickel strip and small spot welders to make up battery packs are surprisingly (worryingly?) cheap.

    441:

    "Also, for grid backup,"

    As for grid backup, the UK data for last month (December 2021) as reported at https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/download.php provided an example of what's needed. 14-23 December was a time of very low sustained output from wind+solar, requiring many tens of gigawatt-days of backup. In the event, backup was readily available, notably in the form of methane-burning CCGT. If the G goes away, what then?

    442:

    What he said, Charlie. My SO uses a wheelchair at a con - if she didn't, she'd be flat on her back the next week.

    And we need to be able to put one in the back of our minivan. Right now, she's only got a regular wheelchair. I've been looking for a conversion kit that's not outrageous.

    443:

    Re: '... cheeerfully and maniacally unloading chiropteran feces'

    Okay - here's a personal jet-pack video for you.

    Pretty informative overall. Plus, the designer mentioned a few technical challenges that he'd like others to look at like using electricity/batteries instead of diesel/jet fuel.

    A strong lightweight (armored) suit in case of crashes could be useful. Linen might not work but maybe some other ancient world tech?

    How Gravity Built the World's Fastest Jet Suit | WIRED (Nov 2018)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAJM5L9hhBs&ab_channel=WIRED

    444:

    Explaining software development by flying to Mars. https://toggl.com/blog/mars-software-development

    445:

    For sure there are all sorts of sizes, but we were talking about ones which are intended mainly for outdoor use. The ones mainly for getting around indoors naturally have a different set of priorities; range and cornering stability don't really come into it, and the degree of debility of the users is likely to be greater also.

    As for carrying them in cars... mine is one of the larger sizes but it will certainly go into the boot of an unexceptional estate car, along with a pair of ramps to get it in and out with. You just have to take the seat off and fold the handlebars all the way down. For non-estate cars you can break it down into smaller pieces - take the handlebars off altogether, split the chassis into front and back halves, battery out, wheels off - bit of a pain, but bearable if you hardly ever have to do it. (I could even do it myself, I'd just have to sit down for ten minutes in between lifting each part in and out so it would take me ages.)

    446:

    Thanks! Wonder what he's up to now...

    447:

    442 - Well, I don't know that this will help much but my Dad had one that would fold enough to go into a Honda Civic (7th gen 3 door hatch) or Jazz/Fit 4th gen hatchback.

    445 - I can't speak to the size but it could do several miles on pavement or gravel with the spare battery available, and that was light enough that my Mum could and would carry it.

    448:

    Kardashev if the G goes away Hopefully lots of R-R SMR's.

    449:

    I really, really, really don't like the idea of transferring that sort of power over USB. The problem isn't the cable, but the connectors - a bit of corrosion, looseness, plastic breakage, poor wire connection etc. and a significant proportion of that gets dissipated in the connector. UK mains plugs are obviously on a different scale, and I have seen serious heat damage with only 1 KW draw.

    450:

    If your knees can take it. Many older people's knees can't.

    451:

    A lot of such things need negotiating over (single) steps even if they are never carried (e.g. into the ground floor of houses). Ramps help, but you have to then carry the ramp.

    452:

    "Hopefully lots of R-R SMR's"

    Yes, but since the backup SMRs occasionally will have to carry a large fraction of the grid demand for days at a time, you have to wonder why they're backup rather than primary.

    453:

    Martin @ 419: Why yes, he was a cavalry officer, how could you tell?

    Puts me in mind of a story I heard. 3 lieutenants were awarded medals, one each from Army, Marines and RAF, and went off to Buckingham Palace for the Queen to pin their medals on.

    On the day, HMtQ says "Something I've wondered about. Supposing you woke up and found a scorpion in your tent. What would you do?"

    "Well ma'am" says the Army man. I would hit it with my boot, and throw it out of the tent."

    "I would also hit it with my boot" says the Marine, "But then I would stick it on my tent pole in case I woke up hungry."

    "And what would you do?" says the Queen to the RAF man.

    "Well ma'am, I would pick up the phone, dial Room Service, and say 'What the hell is this tent doing in my hotel room?'"

    454:

    A strong lightweight (armored) suit in case of crashes could be useful. Linen might not work but maybe some other ancient world tech?

    Jet pack safety is hard, but I suspect you need two or three things:

  • Armour to protect the central nervous system (skull and spine), thorax, and abdomen. Legs and arms need to be free to move for steering/balance and can be surgically repaired or replaced by prosthesis, but there's no coming back from an aortic aneurysm or a C2 fracture or a smashed skull.

  • A ballistic recovery system sized for one -- a parachute with a rocket to drag it (and the jetpack wearer) up to a sufficient altitude for it to open and bring them to a soft landing. Basically the guts of an ejector seat without the seat.

  • Air bags.

  • You can maybe skimp on one of (2) or (3) if you've got the other, but going without one of those things is asking for trouble in the shape of broken bones (at least).

    Having all three of course makes the jet pack much more cumbersome and less wearable and it's going to need to carry more fuel and have beefier engines. But on the other hand, how much does a parachute and a handful of airbags weigh? I suspect you can get everything but the armour down to under 10kg, and the armour to something similar.

    Limits: the armour and BRS won't work if you're too low, or flying indoors. The armour and air bags won't save you if you're at 1000 metres when your engines all die on you and the BRS fails -- they're for too low/flying indoors. The combination of all three systems ought to turn "all jet pack engines die at 1000 metres" into something you can walk away from, most of the time, as long as you're flying over forgiving terrain at something below terminal velocity.

    455:

    Also note nuclear reactors are not good at providing power on demand -- some of them take a couple of weeks to come up to full power and provide base load via the grid (e.g. the UK's AGR fleet), others can throttle up or down, but take multiple hours to do so.

    If you've got an energy sink you can dump surplus power into (pumped hydro storage, compressed air under salt domes, or Sufficiently Insanely Large Batteries) you're good to go, but nuclear is probably only good for primary power and doesn't play very well with renewables.

    Possible exception: there's some waffling about using direct capture of electricity from fusion reactors by piping the plasma through some sort of magnetohydrodynamic trap. If you can turn fusion plasma directly into electricity then all bets are off -- you've got a flick-of-a-switch Mr Fusion generator right there. But it is at a minimum decades away.

    456:

    On jet pack safety:

    I used to fly a hang glider. My emergency chute was in the harness on my chest and wasn't all that bulky. The instructions suggested that deployment under good conditions over smooth ground was something you would probably walk away from.

    Paragliders (i.e. those ram-air chutes designed to be flown off hills) use big spine protectors that are designed to absorb the energy when you land on your seat, which is where the harness generally holds you.

    As you say, the danger zone is when you are below about 100 feet AGL; high enough for the fall to kill you, too low for the parachute to save you. Part of the solution is to just stay out of that zone as much as possible. As they say, its the ground that hurts.

    (Anecdote: unfurling and repacking your emergency chute every few months was a good idea, lest you try to deploy a lump of compacted nylon in an emergency. One fellow pilot decided to try his chute on a windy day. He hooked it to his car roof rack and threw the chute up. It deployed perfectly, and he was last seen chasing his roof rack across the field.)

    On fusion: I don't know what to think about Helion. The idea is that two bolts of plasma are accelerated towards each other, fusion happens in the middle, and the energy is then extracted via reverse EMF from the containment field. So no steam boiler is required, and you can start generating power at the click of a mouse button. They claim to be on course for a prototype with net power output by 2024. A lot of smart Silicon Valley types are pouring money into them, but on the other hand these were also the people who believed Elizabeth Holmes.

    457:

    Yes, beat me to it. Jet packs are less safe the helicopters, and I'm not saying that autorotation is safe. The way the inventor is flying over water with a pursuit boat is about as safe as it gets.

    I'm not sure there's any decent (especially lightweight) armor that ameliorates crash trauma.

    I should note that these problems also crop up in drones scaled up to carry humans. You have been warned.

    Since I'm not sure they have any non-recreational/entertainment use for a jet pack, I think the smarter idea is the flyboard, which uses water jets. The main unit is basically a jet ski to which a hose is bolted on, and the system pumps water up the dude flying 20-30' up. There are a few nice features. For one, the "flyer" doesn't have to carry fuel, for another the power unit floats, so rescuers can find crash victims. For a third, crashing into the water from 10 meters up is a bit less dangerous than hitting pavement from 100 meters up.

    There's also Yves Rossy's winged jet suit. He has to take off from midair and land via parachute, but otherwise his system flies further, more safely, than any other jet pack does, mostly because he flies high and has a parachute as an integral part of the system.

    458:

    My preferred method of capturing energy from a fusion reaction is to have a big-ass fusion generator 96 million miles away and capture the energy through photon interception and from running heated fluids through large turbines.

    459:

    One fellow pilot decided to try his chute on a windy day. He hooked it to his car roof rack and threw the chute up. It deployed perfectly, and he was last seen chasing his roof rack across the field.

    When I was in high school one of my friends made a parafoil kite, and hooked it up to a winch mounted to the bumper of Wild Blue (his VW Beetle).

    Saskatchewan is rather windy, the kite was large, and Wild Blue ended up on two wheels but fortunately didn't overturn.

    460:

    People have mediaeval ideas about armour!

    To protect against a crash, you need a lot of semi-crushable padding (e.g. plastic