Building and running a land speed record car is an expensive business that requires incredibly wealthy benefactors. Doing it on a smaller scale with a radio control car is still pricy, but more within the reach of the individual. [ProjectAir] has been working on just that, and recently set out to break records with a car of his own design.
The car runs a Jetcat 220 engine capable of delivering 220 newtons of thrust, built into a custom aluminium chassis with streamlined bodywork. Early runs saw it reach 112 km/h, but the goal was to push it beyond 150 km/h to break the standing Guinness World Record.
With an RC event running on a local runway, [ProjectAir] had the venue and opportunity to make an attempt. It was tough going, with the car throwing off its nosecose in one run, while rough weather brought further struggles. Strong crosswinds played a role in a violent crash on the car’s fastest pass, which ripped the car apart and destroyed the engine. However, in the end, it had done enough to secure a record at over 152 km/h, even if its later faster efforts didn’t officially count.
It’s clear that the car has come a long way since [ProjectAir’s] initial efforts in 2022, and we can’t wait to see where the project goes next. Video after the break.
It’s taken two years, but finally it’s happened. Finally a respected national mass-media outlet has asked the question Hackaday were posing shortly after the event: what evidence was there that a drone was actually present in restricted airspace?
The Guardian newspaper in the UK is the outlet looking into the mystery of the Gatwick drone. It was the worldwide story of the moment around this time back in 2018 when the London airport closed down for several days in response to a series of drone reports. The assumption being put forward was that bad actors in the drone community were to blame, but there was significant disquiet in those ranks as the police and media story simply lacked credibility to anyone with knowledge of drones. At no point could they point to evidence that held water, the couple they arrested turned out to be innocent, and eventually a police officer admitted that there might not have been a drone after all. The damage had by then been done, as Received Opinion had it that irresponsible drone enthusiasts had put lives in danger and caused huge economic damage by closing an airport for several days.
The Guardian piece paints a fascinating and detailed picture of the events surrounding the investigation, by bringing the investigative journalism resources of a national newspaper into tracing and interviewing people involved from all sides. They talk to former Gatwick employees, off-the-record police officers with knowledge of the case, a drone specialist journalist, and the drone community including some of its members with significant professional experience in the world of aviation. It talks about the slow drip-feed of freedom of information requests revealing the machinations behind the scenes and furthermore the continuing lack of tangible proof of a drone. It’s very much worth a read, and we hope it will prompt further investigation of the events without the focus being on a non-existent drone.
As many a radio amateur will tell you, ham radio is a hobby with as many facets as there are radio amateurs. It should be an exciting and dynamic place to be, but as those who venture forth into it sometimes sadly find out, it can be anything but. Tightly-knit communities whose interests lie in using $1,000 stations to chase DX (long-distance contacts), an advancing age profile, and a curious fascination of many amateurs with disaster communications. It’s something [Robert V. Bolton, KJ7NZL] has sounded off about in an open letter to the amateur radio community entitled “Ham Radio Needs To Embrace The Hacker Community Now More Than Ever“.
In it he laments that the influx in particular of those for whom disaster preparedness is the reason for getting a licence is to blame for amateur radio losing its spark, and he proposes that the hobby should respond by broadening its appeal in the direction of the hacker community. The emphasis should move from emergency communications, he says, and instead topics such as software defined radio and digital modes should be brought to the fore. Finally he talks about setting up hacker specific amateur radio discussion channels, to provide a space in which the talk is tailored to our community.
Given our experience of the amateur radio community we’d be bound to agree with him. The hobby offers unrivalled opportunity for analogue, mixed-signal, digital, and software tinkering in the finest tradition of the path set by the early radio amateurs around a hundred years ago, yet it sometimes seems to have lost its way for people like us. It’s something put into words a few years ago by our colleague Dan Maloney, and if you’re following [KJ7NZL]’s path you could do worse than read Dan’s long-running $50 ham series from the start.
@JayM - I'm W6NEL. I usually join the North Fulton Amateur Radio League (NFARL) Tech Talk, https://nfarl.org/nfarl_nets/ their club meetings, and the Atlanta Radio Club has a weekly net I join once a month or so. There's a 10 meter net I want to join, but have so much noise on 10m that I have been able to yet.
@davenelson - don't know if you'll see this reply or not... but yes, I was licensed back in 1988. I'm a no-code Extra, which is fine since I'm not interested in CW. I was a lot more active when we lived in Winchester, VA. Local well-established club with lots of Elmers and folks glad to see a starting family enjoying the hobby. Anyway, since moving away from Winchester, haven't done much at all. Need to get an Antenna strung up - even if for just a little casual listening. What nets do you frequent?
Hi! Looks like this blog has gotten a bit stale. A lot has happened in the
last year or so, and a lot is happening right now.
Due to luck, privilege, and a high savings rate, Ingrid and I felt we were
getting within a few years of early retirement. In my own mind, I thought
I was content to continue to work in the job I had been in since 1999, all
the way until early retirement sometime in the 2020s.
There were a lot of good things about this job—I worked with several of my
closest friends, the specific tasks sometimes were really engaging, and it
enabled us to live without a care for money.
In the spring had I decided I might leave, but only if I found a job that felt
"special". I had a few interviews with one company in the 3D printing space but
I was adamant that I was staying in Lincoln and in the end the other company
decided they were seeking someone to work on-site in Boston.
However, day to day life at the company was changing. Two close friends moved
away and became remoties; another left to start his own business. The company,
having been sold by the founder a few years earlier, had a small round of
layoffs and the CEO was replaced. On the dev side, I was allocated 50% to 3
different projects for an extended period of time. ha ha not joking, though I
still only clocked 40 hours of work a week, in part due to reaching a point of
not caring whether I got fired or laid off. Technical debt felt insurmountable.
In June, just after the CEO was replaced, I was already coincidentally going to
Seattle and had made plans to meet Scott Shawcroft (@tannewt) for coffee. I
had made some small contributions to the project he heads, CircuitPython, a
year earlier. I told him a little about what I was experiencing, and then
asked him how he liked contract programming. Before I knew it, I'd agreed I'd
put in a propsal to Adafruit to do a paid project on CircuitPython. Working
for Adafruit felt like the proverbial "special" job.
Later on, I learned that in January for #circuitpython2019, Scott had written
Community is one of the defining aspects of CircuitPython and Adafruit…
As we grow bigger and bigger we need to continue to empower community members to help out at every level…
Specifically, I want to find more people to:
Help create and review core C changes (aka more @danh) including:
Modifying the supervisor
Adding additional platform support
Supercharging the skeleton systems like audioio and displayio.
is that my exact job description or what? (well, it's pretty close)
He also mentioned that Kattni would be keynoting at PyOhio, and I made plans to
attend that conference the next month. Every talk I sat in somehow sent me the
same message: my current job was not working for me, and I needed to make a big
change. Kattni, who had already supercharged me with her talk about the
importance of community, encouraged me that I should ask Adafruit for what I
I only sort of listened, asking for and getting one or two more one-off
projects. But, of course, *extra* work and extra money weren't what I was
looking for. I also interviewed with a remote-first contract development
software company who had a booth at PyOhio. They seemed to be mostly web
oriented but interested in getting into embedded/IOT space. In the end they
didn't make me an offer and I was less convinced it would be a fit for me
Then finally in August I did ask Adafruit for what I wanted: half time work on
all parts of CircuitPython. They said yes the next day. For a variety of
reasons, though, I didn't switch jobs until November. (I would do _that_
differently next time! Getting PTO for my Japan vacation was not worth that
much) Since then, I've been doing around 20 hours a week of hacking on
CircuitPython, and I've started finding the interest to do other personal
projects. I've built two 3d-printed and hand-soldered keyboards, including one
I designed myself. (It's my daily driver and the only thing I regret is that
it works so well sometimes I forget I'm using a keyboard I designed myself!) I
laser cut some designs in acrylic that I couldn't have done any other way. And
I finally made a complete etched glass edge-lit display (albeit a single
On the other hand, I've moved into a time of more uncertainty. Our 2020
household budget didn't entail giving up anything, except that we wouldn't be
making any more retirement investments. Of course, those investments are down
some obscene percentage and will probably go lower before they start to
increase. So full retirement moves an indefinite distance into the future, at
least as long as I choose to work only part time. (even before this Ingrid
joked that we would be able to retire after the next recovery. I guess she's
Other "this never happened in any other year" events in the last 12 months:
I've had foot surgery, eye surgery, and an unexpected dental crown breakage.
Ingrid had a health scare of her own (and, thanks to high deductable health
care, this is basically all out of pocket). We experienced a typhoon in Japan.
Now, with COVID-19, we've canceled multiple trips, and we're worried about
friends and relatives and the general condition of society over the next weeks
or months. Right this second, we are under a tornado watch, unusual for this
early in the spring; and then temperatures are forecast to drop like a rock and
things will freeze overnight, so global climate weirding continues unabated.
However, I've taken my best old-work friends with me to new chat systems, I've
got new friends at Adafruit (who are being extremely supportive of all their
staff and contract workers like me even while they've had to suspend physical
operations) and a local makerspace. At the moment I feel like I have the
mental space to deal with "stuff".
The first time I drafted this story was a few weeks ago, and I ended with
a caution against thinking you're at the end of your story--it's what kept me
in a job that wasn't right for me anymore. Right now doesn't feel like a
moment you'd mistake for the end of a story, but all the same we need to
remember not to see ourselves as stuck. We need to examine what is going on
and make the right changes to move forward.
No huge promises to keep up the blogging. But if you're interested in seeing
what I'm up to in software, stalk me on github or join the Adafruit discord.
You can also find me posting designs on Thingiverse when I have 3D printing
ideas. I dabbled in twitter for about 5 minutes again but haha no no way not
Back around my birthday, I ran a fundraiser for RIP Medical Debt, which buys up the medical debt of Americans for pennies on the dollar, and having done so, erases it — meaning those people, previously despairing of the cost of their medical care, just didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I noted that if the amount raised was $5k, I would write a short story, and if it reached $10k, I’d do audio. Well, we hit about $18k, so, uh, yeah. I was gonna have to pay up.
And so, here it is, and an interesting bit it is — I mentioned yesterday, when I wrote about writing The Last Emperox, my upcoming novel, that I sometimes write reference pieces for myself so I can give some context to myself about what I’m writing. Those pieces usually are never seen by others, but they’re useful for me, and they make a better book for everyone else.
This is one of those pieces. In the book, humans get around space via “The Flow” — a “metacosmological multidimensional space” that’s not of this universe but lets people get around in it at multiples of the speed of light. I decided I needed to give The Flow an origin story, as well as understand how people discovered it, so I wrote this piece for myself, which I am sharing with you now.
Because the piece is not in the book, this origin story of The Flow is not “canonical” — which is to say, while I wrote it to understand the universe I created, I reserve the right in the future to ignore it entirely or in parts if, for the purposes of writing a new book in the universe, I decide to go in another direction. To that respect, you could consider it “fan fiction” of my own universe. Which I think is pretty nifty.
So: If you donated to RIP Medical Debt for my birthday: This is for you. Thank you for being awesome.
In addition to this fulfilling my promise to write a short story for the RIP Medical Debt donators, today over on Twitter I passed the 170,000 followers mark — which makes this story a pretty nifty way to mark that occasion as well. If you follow me on Twitter: Hey, thanks. I appreciate it.
And now, without further ado, our story. The audio version is up at the top, and the text version follows.
THE ORIGIN OF THE FLOW
by John Scalzi
13.7 billion years ago, there was an event that was commonly known as “The Big Bang.”
(On first blush this might appear to be going back a little too far, but stick with this for a moment.)
After the briefest of moments after the Big Bang, it’s generally understood how the universe proceeded. There was the appearance of everything that would ever exist in the universe in a tight, hot little space, a brief but significant expansion phase, and then from there it’s atomic creation: hydrogen and some helium turning into stars which turn into heavier elements which turn into other stars and rocks and planets and air and people and so on. Which is fine as far as it goes.
Of course, it was not as far as it goes. As the Big Bang birthed the universe, other cosmological entities, not of the universe but concurrent with it and in some cases coincident with it, sprang into multidimensional being and evolved as the universe evolved, although not always in the same ways or at the same pace. The universe, despite the roots of its name, was not alone.
Understandably human beings, and presumably any other intelligent species that might have also been developing along the entropic vector known as “time,” could be forgiven for thinking it was alone, and having a parochial view of things. For most of their time as a species, humans could only apprehend, understand and respond to the physical world directly surrounding them, a planet filled with water and atmosphere and predators. It was only after the species developed the capacity for abstract thought, language and mathematics that its understanding could contemplate the possibility that its planet, much less its solar system, galaxy and universe, was not all there was to the story.
Even then, and even after their capacity for thought was augmented by machines that would eventually do nearly all the heavy lifting, humans could only theorize that things beyond their universe might exist. This was for the same reason that their ancestors could only see to what was directly in front of them: They couldn’t escape their own frame of reference. The universe, as vast as it was – vaster even than could be observed – contained them utterly, a prison extending billions of lightyears in every direction.
And so it continued, until Tirzah Dalimunthe, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, came to the realization that her dissertation work – on an excitingly new and profoundly abstruse branch of mathematics describing wildly theoretical structures called “metabranes” – accidentally, incidentally and indeed almost insultingly casually suggested that at least some metabrane structures actually existed and intruded into the known universe – a fact that could shake the very foundations of mathematics, physics and indeed reality as it was then understood.
Or would have, had Dalimunthe given a shit about it, which she didn’t, because she was desperately trying to finish her fucking dissertation, which was about something else entirely. She couldn’t just abandon years of research and antagonize her dissertation advisor, who she was pretty sure hated her guts anyway, on the mere suggestion of metabranes maybe poking into normal spacetime. That was fine and all, but what she really wanted to do was get her doctorate, find a teaching job, marry her fiancé and go on a honeymoon in Anguilla with nothing to do but drink fruity drinks and sex up her new spouse.
And indeed Dalimunthe did all of those things, in roughly that order. Then she lived, mostly happily, for another 53 years, having forgotten entirely about emergent metabrane structures. Good for her.
Twenty years after Dalimunthe was cremated, and her ashes covertly spread near a beach bar in Anguilla, there was another doctoral student, this one at the Freising-Weihenstephan branch of Technische Universität München, who came across her dissertation while searching for supporting material for their own nascent doctoral project. Unlike Dalimunthe, Korel Mainz had not already invested years to a particular topic, so when they followed the math on her discovery, they were more than willing to invest the time, and the university’s resources, in building it out fully.
Six years later, Mainz’s dissertation exploded across the fields of mathematics and physics and made them into their generation’s rock star scientist. Ten years after that Mainz picked up their Nobel Prize in physics, following the Fields-Lee medal in mathematics they had picked up the year before. A year after that, while attending symposium on the rapidly growing field of metabrane research, Mainz stepped off the curb to take a picture of the newly refurbished Empire State Building and walked backward into a bus, killing them instantly.
Two years after that fatal vehicular embrace, there was a statue of Mainz on the Technische Universität München main campus, and a final paper, revised and finished by their post-docs, which posited an instance of metabrane intrusion within the solar system, positioned, for mathematical reasons that only six people on the planet could genuinely follow, 35 astronomical units away, well below the plane of the ecliptic, in the direction of the constellation Tucana.
Sixteen years later, the Dalimunthe I spacecraft (so named because Korel Mainz was not an asshole and quite willingly gave credit where it was due, propelling the late Dalimunthe into minor posthumous fame) arrived at Mainz’s Rift, as the metabrane intrusion was colloquially called. The Rift couldn’t be seen from Earth, or in the Dalimunthe spacecraft’s cameras and sensors. The Dalimunthe rocketed at sixty thousand kilometers an hour toward a spot described only by math, of unknown size and dimension, reached it, and disappeared.
Some minutes later, allowing for the speed of light, there was champagne being cracked open in the Dalimunthe’s mission control center. Humanity had proven the existence of metabrane structures by blindly chucking a spacecraft into one to see what would happen. Someone in the Dalimunthe mission control noted that humans had effectively littered outside the bounds of the universe. Someone else dumped their champagne on his head.
Where that litter went was the topic of intense discussion among metabrane scientists for the next thirty years, with the field schisming into two camps, the ones who theorized there was a there there, and the ones who theorized there was no there there. The former camp hypothesized the Tucana Metabrane was actually another universe with more or less the same design as our own, whereas the latter camp laughed in their faces for being naïve enough to believe that any alternate universe-sized structure would operate under the same rules.
The two sides yelled at each other at annual conferences until a physicist named Diego Vasquez, of the “no there there” camp, presented a paper that posited that by wrapping a bubble of local space-time around a spacecraft, it might enter the Mainz Rift, study what was there, and exit to transmit the data. Everyone agreed this was an intriguing idea. Now all they needed to do was figure out how to create and maintain a bubble of local space time.
Which only took 58 years. Along the way several of the “failed” avenues of scientific exploration into doing so created more efficient spacefaring propulsion systems, the “push” fields which simulated gravity (and kept crews inside spaceships from being crushed by high-gravity acceleration) and a number of advances in computational science. While the scientists were working away on the Bubble Problem, commercial spaceflight, exploration and habitation took off in a significant way. When the Bubble Problem was solved and an exploratory spaceship (the Vasquez) prepped for the rift, it did not launch from Earth on the top of the rocket years before reaching its destination, but was ferried there in a cargo ship – a Lockheed/Wu Tacoma-class hauler, in point of fact – which reached the Mainz Rift from Earth orbit in thirteen days.
The plan was for the Vasquez to enter the rift, spend six hours (of subjective, relative time as counted off by the craft’s internal chronometer) collecting data, and return the way it came, if possible. As backup, an antenna aimed in the direction of a science station stationary a third of an AU over the sun’s north pole (again, relative to the Vasquez’s position as it entered the rift) would squirt data back into space. If time worked weirdly in the rift – or didn’t work at all – and the Vasquez popped out months or years later, it was designed to locate the sun, reorient, and hail the science station and start sending data.
Which it did, sixteen years and a couple of months later.
The good news was that the emergency reorient protocol worked; the Vasquez found the sun, deduced where the science station would be, and the data streamed in strong and uncorrupted.
The bad news was the data was useless; whatever was in the Mainz Rift was not observable by any of the instruments the Vasquez carried with it. The “no there there” crowd was smug about this.
The weird news was that the Vasquez’s signal was coming from AD Leonis, a red dwarf star sixteen lightyears from Earth.
The fact that the signal was coming from AD Leonis was weird in itself; what was even weirder was the fact that the signal was received just a little over sixteen years after the Vasquez had disappeared. The signal in itself had taken sixteen years to reach Earth, coursing across the heavens at the speed of light.
Which meant the Vasquez had reached AD Leonis a little over two months after it disappeared into the Mainz Rift.
To do that, it would have had to have traveled about ninety times the speed of light.
"At its worst, it's a waste of precious space, an annoyance, a solution to a problem that doesn't exist any more," complains Daniel Colin James, a writer, developer, product manager. In a recent Medium essay, he called the Caps Lops key "an unnecessary holdover from a time when typewriters were the bleeding edge of consumer technology" -- and even contacted the man who invented the Caps Lock key (Doug Kerr, who had been a Bell Labs telephone engineer in the 1960s):
I reached out to Doug about his invention, and he responded that while he still uses Caps Lock regularly, "we don't often today have a reason to type addresses in all caps, which was the context in which the need for the key first manifested itself to me."
I would go a step further, and say that most of us don't often have a reason to type anything in all caps today... [A] toggle with the same functionality could easily be activated in a number of different ways for those who really want to write things in all capital letters. (Say, for example, double tapping the Shift key, like how it already works on your phone.) Caps Lock is one of the largest keys on a modern keyboard, and it's in one of the best spots -- right next to the home row. It's taking up prime real estate, and it's not paying its rent any more.
Have you ever been in the middle of typing something, and then you get the uneasy feeling thaT YOU FLEW TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN AND NOW YOU HAVE TO REWRITE YOUR WORDS? You're not alone. Accidentally activating Caps Lock is such a relatable mistake that it's the introductory example for a research paper about accessibility issues with modern computer interfaces. Caps Lock is so frequently engaged unintentionally that password fields in software have to include a "Caps Lock is on" warning.
I've heard of people re-mapping their keyboards so the Caps Lock key becomes "Esc" or "Ctrl." But maybe it comes down to consumers. If you were shopping for a computer and were told that it shipped without a Caps Lock key -- would you be more or less likely to buy it?
Share your own thoughts in the comments. Is it time to get rid of the Caps Lock key?
I like it for compose (I like to be able to type the áçcentêd characters on my otherwise standard US layout), and of course so many emacs users like it as a place for ctrl. On my newest laptop, where I haven't bothered remapping it yet, I keep hitting the thing at random and ending up stuck in caps-world, ugh.