Monday, December 4, 2017

U.S. SUPREME COURT - Digital Privacy

"Can police use cellphone location data without a warrant? Supreme Court ruling could have wide impact" PBS NewsHour 11/29/2017


SUMMARY:  A Supreme Court case centering around a piece of technology that most of us have in hand's reach has the potential to transform privacy law in the digital age.  John Yang sits down with Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal to explain the details and the potential effects of the case.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

ROBOTS TODAY - What's New Atlas

I know you've seen a robot walk, but have you ever seen one do a backflip?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

PC GAMING - Sniper Elite 4

Weeks ago I installed Sniper Elite:Italia and some DLCs (Steam) on my Win7 Pro 64bit desktop.

I also have Sniper Elite v2 and Sniper Elite 3.

This is the best of the series from Rebellion.

It has all the elements of Sniper Elite 3 and more.

What I like about this game series is using and improving my tactics to complete missions.

In addition to the Main Mission (several parts) operations in Italy, there are 4 DLC Missions.

  • "Target Fuhrer" (one mission)
  • "Deathstorm" (3 part mission)
And there's "Bullet Time where you watch your shot in slow-mo.

    Below are some screenshots from the game:

    Your target is one of Hitler's top henchman, and what he carries, in the mansion in the far background.

    When you start a mission you can choose weapons and supplies.  Your primary is (of course) a sniper rifle, secondary is an SMG, and third is your pistol.

    Your Level changes weapons effects:

    Those bullet drop and wind.  Of course you still have the "Hold Breath" option which puts a red target where your shot will hit.

    As you play, at the start of each mission you can adjust your "Skill Tree" with the skills you earned during missions.
    The yellow [i] means these have not been assigned, one you have not earned are grayed-out.

    Then there's your "Service Record" (aka Stats):

    I have played several rounds over the weeks and have reached the Level "Ghost" and am working on the Level "Elite" (2,481,370 out of 3,000,000 pts).  And I am Death Incarnate.

    And now videos:

    Monday, October 9, 2017

    THE RUSSIA FILE - Hacked NSA Documents

    "Report: Russia hacked NSA documents with aid from antivirus software" PBS NewsHour 10/5/2017


    SUMMARY:  The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia obtained classified information about how the U.S. military protects its computer networks and conducts electronic spying.  The breach occurred when data was stolen by an NSA contractor, then hacked by Russia.  Hari Sreenivasan speaks with The Wall Street Journal's Shane Harris.

    Monday, July 31, 2017

    SIMULATIONS - X-Plane Flight Sim (updated)

    Finally done something I've been thinking about for years.  Got me a flight simulator and joystick.

    Way, way back I did try Microsoft's flight sim but I had only keyboard-mouse.  Flight sims are almost impossible to use with keyboard-mouse.

    So, finally, I got X-Plane 11 fight simulator and the Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Flight Stick.

    X-Plane 11

    Example Cockpit View
    You can change your view from the cockpit including exterior like looking at the airport tower.

    You can use your mouse to click on most controls and switches.  Like when starting engines, turning on lights, etc.

    Where you chose your aircraft and customize for your flight
    Usually the first screen you go to after launching X-Plane is to start [New Flight].  This gets to  the "Flight Configuration" window.  This is where you choose your aircraft and customize it, set weather conditions and Time of Day (includes a checkbox to use your system time).

    The 'stock' aircraft:
    • X-15
    • Beechcraft Baron 58 
    • Cessna Sky Hawk 
    • McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender
    • Boeing 747-800, 747-400, 747-100
    • Boeing 737-80
    • Stinson L-5, L-5G, L-5G Uurated Sentinel 
    • ASK-21 glider 
    • Boeing B-52G Stratofortress
    • Skorsky S-76C  helicopter
    • Beechcraft King Air C90B
    • Lockheed SR-71
    • Blackbird F-4 Phantom II
    • Space Shuttle Orbiter
    • Beechcraft Baron 58
    • Cirrus Vision SF50
    • Beechcraft King Air C90B
    • Cessna 172SP
    • McDonnell Douglas MD-82
    You can buy/download more aircraft from X-Plane Org.

    Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X

    This version can be use for PC or PS3 via USB.  Features:
    • Wide hand-rest for optimal comfort
    • Programmable:  The 12 buttons and 5 axles are entirely programmable
    • Dual-system aerodynamic control, by rotating handle (with integrated blocking system) or by progressive tilting lever
    • Internal memory, to save all of your programming, even with the joystick disconnected
    • High-precision joystick with adjustable resistance
    • Programmable:  12 buttons and 5 axles are entirely programmable
    • Detachable, real-size, ergonomically-designed throttle control
    • Exclusive "MAPPING" button:  All functions may be instantly switched around between each other
    • High-precision joystick with adjustable resistance
    • Exclusive "PRESET" button to switch, while playing, instantly from one program to another
    • Plug & Play for ultra-simple and fast installation with all functions pre-configured for immediate takeoff (without worrying about configuration)
    • Trigger for brakes (civil flight) or for rapid fire (military flight)
    • Multi-directional Hotas button to change views (panoramic view)
    • Weighted base for greater stability
    This is my setup

    This pic was taken while going to "Flight School" sims included in X-Plane.  Note I have Thrustmaster 'detached' for easier use.

    The things I learned while using X-Plane:
    • This is a simulation, which means if you fly from San Diego International (aka Lindbergh Field) to Las Vegas and your route takes 2hrs, you spend 2hrs at the sim.
    • To fly, you need a Flight Plan.  X-Plane comes with just one default Flight Plan.  You have to go to various WEB sites to get a flight plan:  Online Flight Planner , SkyVector (professional flight planer not for sims, but easy to get basic info, including airport charts and info), SimBrief (this is for sims, use it to actually produce a Flight Plan file for X-Plane)
    • Flying ain't easy.  Really.  Especially landings.
    So far, I've spent 3 consecutive days on X-Plane (Fri-Sun).  Now it's time to give it a rest.


    I made/published a Flight Plan via SimBrief from KSAN (San Diego International aka Lindbergh) to KSDM (Brown Field Municipal Airport) with routing.

    I actually made it!  The full flight in a BeechCraft Baron 58 (twin prop).  OK, very sloppy landing but I didn't crash.  It only took me several weeks (only 'flying' weekends), with much frustration.

    I also created the reverse Flight Plan, KSDM TO KSAN (same routing).

    My next challenge is to figure out how to use the Baron's autopilot.

    Found an outstanding site for Sim training videos:  WEH Videos
    Provided many of the answers I had about Sim flying.

    Today 8/20/2017, I completed a Flight Plan "Montgomery Field" to "Palm Springs International Airport" and landed without crashing.  Although I missed the designated runway.

    Monday, May 15, 2017

    CYBER WARS - Impact of Worldwide Attack

    "Analyzing the impact of the worldwide cyber attack" PBS NewsHour 5/13/2017


    SUMMARY:  Nearly 100 countries around the world worked to restore services after a massive cyber attack on Friday.  The ransomware attack appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows, which was identified by the U.S. National Security Agency and later leaked to the internet.  Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin joins Hari Sreenivasan for more on the attack.

    Monday, May 8, 2017

    MEDIA - Instagram

    "How Instagram pictures the world" PBS NewsHour 5/1/2017


    SUMMARY:  A startup no longer, Instagram boasts 700 million monthly active users and counting.  As it grows, the free, photo-sharing mobile app is grappling with how to innovate and stay relevant, as well as how to foster a safe community.  But with 95 million uploads a day, monitoring is a tall order.  Judy Woodruff reports from California.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  The rapid rise of one of the world's biggest social media networks, Instagram.

    It's building up steam, with 700 million people now using it each month, and it just took four months to pick up its latest 100 million new accounts.

    But along the way, the company has faced concerns over how it can be used, and even some criticism for the way it essentially copied ideas from its rival, Snapchat.

    Judy Woodruff recently got an inside look during her trip to Silicon Valley.

    JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  One of the first things that greets you inside Instagram is, no surprise, a place to take pictures.  The free photo-sharing mobile app was born in 2010 with its first post, a foot in a flip-flop alongside a stray dog.

    Turns out it was taken in Mexico by co-founder Kevin Systrom.

    KEVIN SYSTROM, CEO and Co-Founder, Instagram:  It's a mixture of teams.  So, we have got design teams, we have got partnership teams, we have got a community team, and then a bunch of engineers.  We don't really have an organization.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Systrom showed us around Instagram's new offices in Menlo Park, California, designed to accommodate an ever-expanding staff.

    You moved here six months ago; is that right?

    KEVIN SYSTROM:  Yes, six months ago, we moved from the original campus.  And we designed this entire experience inside here to be cleaner, and a little bit more Instagrammy.  So we have got the hip wood walls, and the polished concrete floors.  It's very start-uppy, but it's in an Instagram way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  A start-up no longer, Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for a cool billion dollars.  Then, the company had 13 employees.  Now it has more than 600 to keep up with a rapidly growing user base, 700 million monthly active users and counting, 80 percent of them outside the United States.

    How do you explain the phenomenal, rapid growth of this?

    KEVIN SYSTROM:  On Instagram, very early on, you would post an image, and anyone anywhere in the world could see that image, and understand what you were trying to say without speaking your language.

    So, we like to say that Instagram was one of the first truly international networks in the world.  And I think that's what's allowed it to scale to the hundreds of millions of people that use it every day today.

    Monday, May 1, 2017

    TRUMP AGENDA - Robber Barons of the Internet

    "FCC chair Ajit Pai explains why he wants to scrap net neutrality" PBS NewsHour 4/27/2017

    First, as a retired Computer and IT Technician I understand the internet.  I support 'NET Neutrality' because the internet delivery businesses WILL eventually give in to greed, to wanting bigger profits, at internet users expense.

    Also, the Trump Administration LIES!


    SUMMARY:  Ajit Pai, President Trump's new FCC chairman, has plans to do away with net neutrality rules that have been in place for the last three years.  Pai argues the rules are too burdensome and that they stifle innovation and competition.  William Brangham discusses the changes in oversight with Pai.

    JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  A political fight is brewing about access to the Internet.  The new head of the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, wants to clear away regulations about who controls and polices the flow of content on the Internet.

    William Brangham has that.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  We're talking here about what's known as net neutrality, not the easiest concept to grasp, so bear with me.

    Almost all of us in America get our Internet access via one main provider.  These are the telecom and cable giants like Verizon, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner.  They provide the infrastructure that delivers the bounty of the Web to our homes and phones; sites and apps like Google, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, you name it.

    The telecoms build the highway.  The others guys are like the cars traveling that highway.

    The idea of net neutrality is that the telecoms have to treat that highway as an open road.  They can't pick and choose which Web sites or services get to you faster or slower.  The fear is that, if they do have that power, they will be tempted to favor their content, their sites, their own videos over a competitor's.

    But the telecoms argue that's not fair, they should be able to control that flow, and be able to charge more for faster access.

    In 2014, the Federal Communications Commission under President Obama wanted to lock in these net neutrality rules, but it faced intense pushback by the industry.

    The fight even spilled into pop culture, with this from HBO's John Oliver:

    JOHN OLIVER, Host, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”:  If we let cable companies offer two speeds of service, they won't be Usain Bolt and Usain Bolt on a motorbike.  They will be Usain Bolt, and Usain bolted to an anchor.


    WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  But those net neutrality rules did pass and have been in place for the last three years.

    But Ajit Pai, President Trump's new FCC chairman, now wants to get rid of those rules, arguing they're too burdensome.  And this week, he began the process of rolling them back.

    And FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai joins me now.

    Welcome to the NewsHour.

    AJIT PAI, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission:  Thank you for having me.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  So, you, I understand, are not a fan of these net neutrality rules from a few years ago.  What is your principal concern?

    AJIT PAI:  Well, I favor a free and open Internet, as I think most consumers do.

    My concern is with the particular regulations that the FCC adopted two years ago.  They are what is called Title II regulations developed in the 1930s to regulate the Ma Bell telephone monopoly.

    And my concern is that, by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on Internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out Internet access to a lot of parts of the country, in low-income, urban and rural areas, for example.

    And that, I think, is something that nobody would benefit from.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Is there evidence, though, that these rules have disincentivized those companies?  There are — businesses are doing very, very well.  They're spending billions on the spectrum.

    AJIT PAI:  There is significant evidence that investment in infrastructure has gone down since the adoption of these rules.

    For example, there is a study by a highly respected economist that says that among the top 12 Internet service providers in terms of size, investment is down by 5.6 percent, or several billion dollars, over the last two years.

    And amongst smaller providers as well, just literally this week, 22 Internet service providers with 1,000 customers or less told us that these Title II regulations have kept them from getting the financing that they need to build out their networks.  And, as they put it, these net neutrality regulations hang like a black cloud over our businesses.

    And so what we're trying to do going forward is figure out a way that we can preserve that free and open Internet that consumers want and need and preserve that incentive to invest in the network that will ultimately benefit even more consumers going forward.

    Saturday, March 11, 2017

    GAMING - No Man's Sky

    "No Man's Sky is an action-adventure survival video game developed and published by the indie studio Hello Games for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows.  The game was released worldwide in August 2016.

    The gameplay of No Man's Sky is built on four pillars: exploration, survival, combat, and trading.  Players are free to perform within the entirety of a procedurally generated deterministic open universe, which includes over 18 quintillion (1.8×1019) planets, many with their own sets of flora and fauna." - Wikipedia

    The above is an understatement.  It is also an open universe and open world.  It also plays somewhat real time, like how long it takes you to fly to a planet even with your 'Pulse Engine' aka Hyperdrive (as-in Star Trek).  Also, as you approach a planet you encounter asteroids that have to be avoided or destroyed with ship weapons.  Then there's the enemy starships.

    They just released Pathfinder Update v1.20:  "The Path Finder update introduces planetary vehicles, Base Sharing, PS4 Pro support, ship/weapon specialization, permadeath mode, and much more.  It shows the path for the future."

    Base Sharing:  "Bases can now be shared online, allowing other players to discover and explore your outpost."

    The play goes like this:
    • You start with your starship crashed on a planet
    • You have to repair your starship so you can take off, which means....
    • You have to salvage parts, gather minerals and ores, etc, needed to do ship repairs and upgrades to your environmental suit and 'weapon'
    All the while avoiding getting killed by the 'natives.'

    I am really having fun playing it.