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The Actuator – May 29th

Level 17

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend, surrounded by friends and family. Summer is upon us, finally, which means more yard work to get done here.

As always, here are some links from the Intertubz that I hope will hold your interest. Enjoy!

5G could mean less time to flee a deadly hurricane, heads of NASA and NOAA warn

This is not a new debate, but as 5G gets closer to being a reality, the debate is getting louder.

London Underground passengers told to turn off their Wi-Fi if they don’t want to be tracked

Love the idea of using data in a smart way. And I like how they are upfront in telling you they are collecting data. Now, why is this not an opt-in? Seems rather odd, in the land of GDPR, that they are not required to get consent first.

US Postal Service will use autonomous big rigs to ship mail in new test

We continue to inch closer to autonomous vehicles becoming a reality, and at the same time making the movie Maximum Overdrive a possible documentary.

Facebook plans to launch 'GlobalCoin' cryptocurrency in 2020

Well, now, what’s the worst that can happen?

The blue light from your LED screen isn’t hurting your eyes

Maybe not, but screen protectors, dark themes, and looking away frequently aren’t bad ideas.

Building a Talent Pipeline: Who’s Giving Big for Data Science on Campus?

I remember 10 years ago when a colleague told our group “…a data scientist isn’t a real job and won’t exist in five years.” Well, it’s now a job that is seeing money pouring into higher education. There is a dearth of people in the world that can analyze data properly. Here’s hoping we can fix that.

Falsehoods programmers believe about Unix time

Time zones are horrible creatures, and often the answer you hear is to use UTC for everything. But even UTC has flaws.

Summer has started; we were able to enjoy time outdoors with friends and family:


Level 15

Nice view of the backyard. 

Interesting article on the 5G and Unix Time.

Thanks for the post!

Level 12

Nice pit!


Nifty the autonomous USPS trucks will be driving through my area....Dallas traffic is nasty at time, especially up near the DFW airport where there is a big postal distribution center.

Level 12

The article about Unix time and leap seconds was fascinating, as are proposals to eliminate leap seconds.

Regarding the London Underground, TfL is a government organization and we are expected to trust and honor Big Brother with all of our information. GDPR doesn't apply to government agencies that use data to prevent threats to public safety, and an argument will be made that public safety is enhanced by tracking every person who rides the tube.

I really wish we could see more data on the potential of 5G to interfere with atmospheric moisture monitoring. Most cell phones are limited to 200 mW PEP, and the closer they are to towers the lower the transmission power is, going well below 1 mW. The ATMS units on JPSS satellites consume 130 watts of power and have much stronger transmitters. Additionally, using the free space path loss equation (loss = 20 log(distance) + 20 log(frequency) + 20 log (4*pi/C) - transmitter antenna gain - receiving antnna gain, where the logrythms are base 10 and C = the speed of light, roughly 2.99 * 10^8 m/s), I really want to see how the 5G network will interfere with monitoring hurricane moisture when transmitters are 100 miles away will be over the horizon from the storm.

There are few things I would want less than facebook cryptocoin.

Level 20

That's a nice little backyard area you've got there Thomas!  C U @ Cisco Live in San Diego.

Level 20

Don't think the tracking is any different here in the USA.

Level 20

The most recent published Frequency Allocation chart from The Department of Commerce:

Also if you want to order a poster of the Spectrum you can directly from GPO at:  for 6$... it's really neat actually.

Level 12

5G could mean less time to flee a deadly hurricane, heads of NASA and NOAA warn - The Verge I don't understand the science behind how collecting data in the ocean affects 5G services on land. I know eventually hurricanes reach landfall, and maybe not having the data near land is the issue.

From the article, "’ll have to have to decide whether you’re more inclined to trust heads of two respected scientific agencies, or the groups that profit from rolling out 5G as quickly as possible." In this case I'll side with a government agency.

Level 9

Nice fire pit.

Thanks for the reads.

Level 13

Thanks for another installment of great links to read.  Let's see, Facebook and cryptocurrency.  What could possibly go wrong?

Re; the London Underground - I understand the privacy angle, but it is free wifi for pete's sake.  So they should pay for me to stream/download/whatever I want for nothing but not receive any benefit in return (and this does seem surprisingly benefical coming from a public system).  Sorry - not much sympathy here.


The issue is due to interference between a small chunk of the 24Ghz bandplan that covers the spectrum allocated to 5G phones.  Sensors in the ocean broadcast data up on those frequencies and the data is collected by satellites.  With traffic on adjacent frequencies requires better filtering to reject that which should no be received.  In the radio industry, that is called desense. 

Think of it as you are in a movie theater talking with your friend before others show up.  You can easily talk to the person beside you.  As other come in and even though they are talking at the same volume, the collective volume in the room has increased and you may have to talk louder to be understood by the person beside you.  This also increased the base level noise.  This desenses the ability of your ears to pick out a specific conversation.  Even when your friend is not talking, you hear a bunch of noise and many of the fine details are now missing.  The level of noise is called the noise floor.  If the noise floor is higher than the ability of the receiver to pick out the desired signal you will never hear it.  Out in the deeper ocean where there won't be 5G traffic is not as much as an issue.  Once you get closer to shore where the 5G traffic increases the noise floor they won't be able to get the data needed.

Hopefully this helps.

Level 14

Great fire pit and outdoor setup.... very nice!

On 5G .... who really knows what to believe... stay tuned I can't wait to see some media generated hysteria...

Level 14

Autonomous USPS trucks... so here's some questions?

1. Will the carry "normal" mail or Amazon packages?

2. Will it really make a difference?

3. When will they really get adventurous and test the roads and traffic in the Northeast (New England)?

Level 16

Falsehoods programmers believe about Unix time

I'm having second thoughts after reading this...

Level 16

If there's profit to be made, 5G will be pushed in before it's ready or safe.  Besides, then the insurance companies will get business, too, when people can't flee storms because 5G was implemented when it wasn't ready.  All the money-makers win.

Hmmm.  Turn off your smartphone to avoid tracking in the London Underground.  Or move the smartphone to airplane mode.


I'm pretty sure we were previously told hardware and companies and apps were NOT tracking us at all.  But they actually WERE.

Do you think I'll believe them when they say "move it to airplane mode or turn it off and we won't track you"?  Nope.  It might SAY "airplane mode enabled", but we've had our trust broken by companies.  What's to prove it really IS enabled?  Or, that when it's disabled, the phone won't have logged everywhere you've been and stored it in cache, and the dump it out to the Internet with a complete history of your travels?

Worse, now they want me to believe that my phone is really powered-off and disabled when I select Power-Off.  Well, the display stopped working.  Of course, it does that when it's locked, too--but it's still working.  So the buttons don't work until you hit one that turns the phone back on.  I'm just crazy enough to imagine the phone's still transmitting while the display is off and appears to be shut down, or it's logging your GPS locations while "apparently off" and it will dump them from cache to the Internet when powered back on and in range of service.

That's what happens when trust is broken.  People stop believing and start mistrusting, eventually moving to paranoia.

But it's not paranoia if the companies really ARE out to track you without your knowledge.

Autonomous mail delivery is coming, and other deliveries, too.

Just imagine a hacker or malevolent group / nation-state finding a way to control them.  Or just imagine simple human error.

loganTrim - YouTube

Autonomous vehicles might need to be postponed until ALL vehicles are autonomous, lest human error intervene on the roads.

Facebook launching crypto-currency?  Uff-da!

Can everyone say "That's a really bad idea!"  or "Why didn't you learn from previous block chain currencies that failed?"

Maybe the answer is "We learned from watching organized crime successfully leveraging block-chain currencies to anonymize criminal activity and make a lot of untaxable income.  Ever hear of ransomeware?"

Blue Light and its blockers and their apps.  My kids are all about this.  They're skeptical Millenials in college or grad school, trusting many things about which they (perhaps) should remain skeptical.


Funding schools that produce awesome STEM grads?  Minnesota's main campus University STEM program has 100% employment of grads, and 92% are in their ideal choice of fields.

As we search for new team members to do Networking for our IT group (switching, routing, firewalling, DHCP, Monitoring, DNS, logging, and security) we're interviewing applications people.  That's never happened here before.  It's in reaction to understanding the plain fact that the future is changing, hardware is moving to bulk commodity items management, and the programming interfaces are where the power will be for improving security and reducing employee time managing L1-7.

Funding STEM schools makes sense.

"UNIX Time".  Many folks react as though you've put them into a hypnotic trance anytime a conversation between a non-I.T. person and an I.T. person includes the word "UNIX".  It's as if that word is magic, a shortcut to all the nerd and geek and beanie-propeller-capped awkward-but-intelligent social misfits you can stereotype.

Thick glasses, greasy hair, overweight, system admins who speak their own private language, sharing their own in-jokes about apps and hardware and ignorant users.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Eschew stereotypes and open the eyes to take in new solutions that are faster than ever, and more reliable.

And put aside all those memes.  None of them are true.

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Well, maybe that last one is true.

Level 9

The 5G article is interesting. 

Level 14

Thanks for the links.  Interesting about the blue light - I have the feeling that it'll continue to be debated for some time.


Cool article


Summer has started; we were able to enjoy time outdoors with friends and family: -

Level 14

As a SysAdmin I resemble that remark.

Level 14

Yes but who cares about whether people live or die.  Being able to tweet about absolute nonsense to people you don't know is so much more important     

Level 14

It's not for my sake.  I can't access it.    

Level 14

As I commute daily on the London Underground I can save them the trouble.  Everyone is stuck somewhere underground going nowhere slowly in conditions you aren't allowed to transport cattle in.

I love the smell of sweaty armpits in the morning (not)   (To badly paraphrase the famous quote).

Level 14

We used to have something similar here in the UK.  No wait.  They were trains and could carry much more for a lot less money.

Level 14

Oh great, something else we don't need from them.  What is wrong with buying stuff with already established currency backed by governments.

Level 14

Blue light from LEDs.  If only there was some sort of long term testing program available that could see if there was any truth to this.  I imagine the fact that millions and millions of people use LED screes every day with no apparent issue might just prove something.

Level 14

Data Scientist not a real job.  When I was at University we used to laugh at those people doing the 'mickey mouse' degrees like Environmental Science.  D'Oh.

Level 14

Of course TIME is an artificial construct.

The Illusion of Time: What's Real? | Space

Level 13

Thanks for the articles.

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.