Home Wi-Fi comes of age;

Chaos Manor View, Sunday, June 28, 2015


My love/hate relationship with the Surface Pro 3 – named Precious again , as it was when I first got it – with Build 10130 of Windows 10 experimental has moved well into love again. Everything just seems to work. I am using it Wi-Fi only; I think some of the problems have been with the docking station, either hardware or more likely drivers as they develop the beta version of Windows 10. Perhaps not; but in any event Wi-Fi has been good enough now that we have the new Ruckus Wireless Wi-Fi Access Points (APs), which support each other. There are four of them, one upstairs, one in the back bedroom, one in the kitchen, and of course one in the downstairs office which is my main office now. We have one Wi-Fi SSID, and it all pretty well Just Works.

The Ruckus APs are not just repeaters, or standalone units. Repeaters receive a signal and rebroadcast it, which cuts into the throughput speed. Instead, each AP acts as a node on the network, under central control of the ZoneDirector, which hands off your device’s connection to the closest AP. This is far simpler than the manual “Which network is strongest?” game we were playing before.

Professional wireless also automatically balances the load across all radios, avoiding congestion from every device talking to a single AP. I’m told that’s harder with Apple devices, particularly iOS (iPhone and iPad) ones, which like to stay affiliated with one AP, even as you move around. I haven’t seen that, but of course this house is fairly small.

Gear of this class scans routinely for interference (Including between APs), changing channels as necessary. This is much more critical on the more-congested 2.4 GHz band, crowded with rogue devices (including your phone in hotspot mode), microwave ovens, baby monitors, and the like, than the less-crowded 5 GHz band.

Ruckus also does beamforming, aiming more of the radio signal at the receiving device, instead of an omnidirectional pattern directing it everywhere. This extends range while decreasing interference.

The good news is, the pro gear tracks all that so you don’t have to.

I also have a new Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse for Precious. It is an optical mouse that turns off when you fold it flat, and turns on into a comfortable mouse when you bend it into an arc. Setting it up was simple, and It Just Works. It was not obvious – to me at least – from the pictures how it worked as a mouse, but it is a real mouse, and works on all the surfaces I’ve tried it on as well or better than the Microsoft Red Eye mice I normally use. Bending it into an arc wakes up Precious.


Grandmaster Larry Niven was over and we spent the afternoon being interviewed by a TV documentary maker who was more interested in art than stories, but it went well even so. Nothing may come of it, but you never know. At least they were well prepared. But it sure used up the day.


I have quite a lot of mail from gay marriage enthusiasts asking why I do not rejoice with them. I understand why they are happy; but I don’t rejoice when fundamental changes are made in the Constitutional powers by any process other than amendment regardless of the change. Read Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent for details.


Surface Pro as laptop

I bought a Surface Pro at the 2013 TechEd (for $400!). It’s a fine computer and a decent replacement for my laptop and old homebrew desktop. I added a docking station (Pluggable UD-3900) to connect my two 24” monitors. It’s not as convenient as the docking station for the Surface, but it was half the cost. The little Surface drives it all just fine.

It’s awkward as a laptop because it’s just not mechanically fit for the job. However, if you put it on a laptop cooling pad, it works great.



Elon Musk: self-driving cars could lead to ban on human drivers | Technology | The Guardian


I doubt Congress will ever decide that, but courts?


Obergefell, and black-letter text.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Here’s the Ninth Amendment, in full: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Here’s what Justice Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion in Obergefell: “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”

This is exactly right. What the Ninth Amendment explicitly says is, as you learn that meaning of liberty over time, the Bill of Rights should not be construed as a comprehensive limiting list, denying and disparaging what you find in addition through the years.

In other words, the Bill of Rights sets a *minimum* to our freedoms and liberties as American citizens, not a maximum. One would think that someone who has made sacrifices to defend liberty would recognize this.

Here’s what Justice Scalia wrote in dissent: “(The majority) have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.”

Yup. And just for the literalists who querulously ask, “Where in the Bill of Rights does it mention the freedom of {x}…?” — Well, the Framers saw them coming. They wrote the Ninth Amendment to tell them that’s the black-letter text of how the process works. They in fact hesitated to pass a Bill of Rights at all, precisely because they didn’t want the literalist argument to have any credence or capacity to limit freedom, and it was only with Mr. Madison’s drafting of the Ninth they were persuaded the Bill of Rights would be a good thing.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Hoping this finds you well,

Hal O’Brien

Assume you are correct in every measure. This argues new powers for Congress and state legislatures; not more powers for the courts and bureaucracy. How do nine unelected individuals appointed for life determine when the moment has come? They decide that it has, but they have not the power to implement their decision.  Only a legislative body can make laws.



You and Middle-earth

Well let me say something about your books. I really love Footfall and its awesome use of Orion drive. I also know you and Larry Niven from Atomic Rockets website, where there are a lot of information about science fiction stuff.
Then I stumble upon this: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/macguffinite.php
When I read that page, I found an excerpt from you. Bind Your Sons to Exile.
I could spout all the statistics from memory. Moria: first inhabited asteroid. Mining colony. Average distance from the Sun, 2.39 AU, or 357 million kilometers. Irregular shape. Average radius, 7.5 kilometers, minimum 4, maximum 11 km. Mass, 1.78 trillion tons, or about one ten-billionth of Earth mass. Rotation period 8.2 hours. Period, 3.69 Earth years, or 1348.6 Earth days, or 3947 local days’. Surface gravity, 0.2 cm/sec2 , two ten- thousandths of an Earth gee, just enough to keep you from jumping off the place.
If you jumped as hard as you could you’d go up a couple of kilometers, and take hours for the round trip. It wouldn’t be a smart thing to do.
Composition, varied, with plenty of veins of metals. Moria was once part of a much bigger rock, one big enough to have had a molten core. Then it got battered to hell and gone, exposing what had been the interior. Now you can mine: magnesium, uranium, iron, aluminum, and nickel. There’s gold and silver. There’s also water and ammonia ices under the surface, which are a hell of a lot more important than the metals. Or are they? Without the metals we wouldn’t be out here. Without the ices we couldn’t stay.
Our supporters on Earth called us the cutting edge of technology. We were the first of a series of asteroid mine operations that would eventually liberate Earth forever from shortages of raw materials. The orbital space factories already demonstrated what space manufacturing could do; and with asteroid mines to supply raw materials, the day would come when everyone on Earth could enjoy the benefits of industry without the penalties of industrial pollution.
Bind Your Sons to Exile (1976)
Then I remember that Moria is also a dwarf mine in Lord of the Rings, and it also contain precious metals such as mithril.
But of course, as a science guy I need to separate between correlation and causation. Who knows that it is just coincidental?
So I’ve searched for your books, so I can get the bigger picture. Then I found this:
The Battle of Sauron. And that is what drives me to ask you directly about this. Do you read Lord of the Rings? What is your opinion about that?

Ignatius Rivaldi

Well, yes – I have read the Lord of the Rings epic, and I much enjoyed it. Thank you for asking. When I wrote that, I was hoping that we would have asteroid mines by 2015. It appears I was a bit early in that prediction.

Video of the F9 first-stage anomaly and vehicle loss can be seen at https://youtu.be/ZeiBFtkrZEw?t=23m34s


But we have a commercial space program, and Moore’s Law is inexorable (although not as first expressed).













Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.