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My Dad got into the drone business early, and I grew up watching a lot of unofficial testing of guidance systems on our boat on the bayou.

There are some things that people should know about them to make informed decisions.

First off, drones are built with the assumption that they will crash and may fall into enemy hands. There are steps taken to ensure that isn’t a major problem. The stealth techniques used on the RQ-170 are available from open sources on the Internet. The advanced features used on the B-2 and F-22 are not on the drone. Data is not stored on the drone, it is sent ‘home’ via a communications link. The drone has sophisticate sensors, but Russia and China both have sensors with the same capabilities. The Iranians now have some really nice lenses, but nothing beyond the capabilities of several countries. We expect to lose reconnaissance drones and aircraft, so we don’t put super-secret stuff on them.

It has been suggested that the drones should self-destruct. The people who suggest that don’t work at the bases where drones land. Drones are controlled today via satellite links, so there is a delay between control input and a response by the aircraft. Drones get pranged a lot on landing. because of this problem. You don’t want to blow up your own airstrip by installing a ‘bomb’ on returning aircraft.

Landings are difficult for drone pilots because the video screens don’t provide them with all of the information they would get from actually being in the aircraft. You can’t ‘feel’ the aircraft, and the delay between what you see and the aircraft responding to input is critical during landing. There are many more landing ‘incidents’ with drones than make it into media.

December 14, 2011   6 Comments

A Real Capitalist

Some people do make it into the 1% based on their own creativity and hard work. Creativity is the key, i.e. they create something that people want to buy.

A case in point is JK Rowling. She has made it into the ranks of billionaires, the first writer to do so, with her Harry Potter books. Her success has created thousands of jobs, and made a lot of people much richer than they were.

Along the way she has created or supported multiple charities, and isn’t running around complaining about her tax rate, but does complain about the Conservative policies of the current British government and their effect on the poor.

When you compare Ms Rowling with the Wall Street Whiners it becomes clear that Wall Street isn’t creating anything, they are merely moving money around, but they think they are vital to the economy. Where is the magnum opus of Goldman Sachs that justifies the salaries of its executives and adds real value to the American economy? Causing a global financial meltdown is a liability, not an asset.

December 14, 2011   6 Comments