Archive for the 'power' Category

When Shouting Fails and Shooting Isn’t the Best Plan…

January 26, 2007

Technology truly has no surprises as the US Military has unveiled their first “Heat ray” weapon for use on battlefields and city streets as early as 2010. The weapon is called the “active denial system” and it fires an unseen energy beam that is supposed to cause a sudden burning / tingling feeling. The range of the weapon at 500 metres is a great deal further than other non-lethal weapons used for crowd control such as rubber bullets. The weapon result is known as “the good-bye effect” on the target as they run or dive for cover almost by instinct. The military told reporters that this weapons “would bridge the gap between shouting and shooting” in crowd control.

When I was in school I used to read all the military books we had in our library, most of them being out of date by years and I remember reading about “future weapons” that could be common place on the battlefield by the year 2000. One of them was the battlefield laser that would be able to fire a beam of light that would have a great deal of stopping power. The argument against such weapons was the fact that they required so much power to actually make use of them. The book said that the weapon would need a battery the size of a semi-truck trailer to make effective use with present day technology.

It would seem that the battery theory has been worked on in R&D as the new “heat-ray” is expected to be used by the US Military for crowd control and various other mission descriptions by as early as 2010. The vehicle that carries the apparatus is a hummer and it is not pulling a semi sized battery. There were some reservations raised that this weapon may not be effective on a target person who is used to extreme heat conditions but I disagree as the supposed “intense tingling effect” is far more than you get standing outside in the desert.

I am however concerned about this weapons effectiveness on crowds. Although it does appear not to have the soldiers testing the device (On BBC Report) writhing around in pain on the ground, it might have a greater effect on a child, especially an infant. You might argue that a infant is not likely to be in a setting where they would use such a weapon. If people are rioting in the streets and the military choose to use this tactic against them what happens if they use the wrong setting and cook people, for real. What happens if this device penetrates a wall of someone’s home who is not involved in the fight? There has been no mention as to how pinpointed this weapon is and what the effect on the people around the targets is.

The actual workings of the weapon give me similar pause as it doesn’t just give you a tingling feeling that is a total understatement. It actually raises the temperature of your blood. The military said “it penetrates the skin to a tiny depth, but not enough to leave lasting harm” – I question this as, what kind of time period is lasting to them and if this weapon is so new how do they know if it causes lasting harm? For all they know they could be causing problems inside your body that don’t show up right away. We all know what happens when a kitten is put in a microwave, some sick person does that about once a year. We should think a little more about lasting effects and the poor cooked kittens before we turn giant Microwaves on fellow man, non-lethal or not.


An Event of the Highest International Urgency

January 19, 2007

The recent destruction of a Chinese weather satellite should be a cause of serious concern to those of us in the West. It has the potential to destabilise the balance of power that exists between the East and the West. Hours following the event, America’s media had already decided that it was China that had destroyed its own satellite. The BBC continues to maintain and stress that it is unconfirmed that China is responsible as they have made no comment. CNN has reported that the missile appears to have been “launched from or near the Xichang Space Center.”

Not only did this action cause the governments of the US, UK and other NATO members to launch full scale diplomatic protests, CNN reported that “this is viewed as an action taken by China to directly affect the United States”. President Kennedy said something very similar to the citizens in a broadcasted address to the American people during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962, as follows:

“…It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” – President John F. Kennedy

The political climate that is developing between the governments of the United States and China at the moment has similarities to the one that existed during the cold war of the 1960s. The unexpected development of surface to space weapons by the Chinese government that could destroy the US and other countries’ surveillance and GPS satellites is an obvious escalation in what has so far been a very quiet cold war between the United States and China. The role of Russia, then the USSR, in the sixties has been assumed by China. A significant mitigating factor that was not present in the 60s is the strong economic relationship now tying western countries to China.

We all remember the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars project championed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s which called for weapons to be placed in orbit. These weapons would have been capable of destroying nuclear missiles launched from Russia directed at the United States. It was said at the time that once this technology was developed it should be shared with the USSR. In a 1985 issue of Peace Magazine, Andrew Pakula proposed that “Possibly the Soviets, faced with the reality or the perception of being at a disadvantage, of losing the deterrent power of their arsenals, might feel compelled to take the dangerous course of destroying the ‘Star Wars’ equipment.

Continuing to compare the cold war of the sixties with that of today, has China taken on the role of the former Soviet Union? It appears that China has destroyed its own satellite. This action was not an experiment “just to see if they could do it” but an announcement to the rest of the world that they have the power to disable some of the most important tools in modern warfare, specifically our strategic orbiting satellite systems. Apparently, the West has been caught off guard by this event.

The question has to be posed: If China did not launch this missile then who did and if it was some other country why have seen no reaction from China?

In the film, “The Sum of All Fears”, a secret organization detonates a nuclear device in the American city of Baltimore. The United States, believes that the Russian government is responsible for the attack. After intense negotiations fail, the United States and Russia attack each other but refrain from using nuclear weapons. Subsequently, we learn that the secret organization wanted to get the US and Russia to fight each other rather than for it to engage them individually.

How close to reality could this film be? Could it be possible that someone might really try to instigate a conflict between such powerful nations as the US and China. There is, of course, no evidence to suggest any validity to these speculations. There is, however, cause for concern that the United States and its allies measure their response accurately and appropriately. The last thing that we need is another war or skirmish especially with a military might of the size and power of that of China.

Those involved need to take a deep breath and figure out who, if not China, might have fired that missile.  In the words of Dean Acheson, a close advisor to President Kennedy, “Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before we reach the next step…  In the future, will our children be able to look back on the decisions of our leaders today and believe that they showed wisdom, prudence and discretion?


How Much Electricity Does a PC Use?

November 12, 2006

Save EnergyIt was brought up as a question in my household today. How much electricity does your computer(s) take up? My answer was a somewhat uncertain, “ummm…not much…”

As usual Google beaconed and I happened onto this wonderful website that explains just how much power your computer is taking up at it’s various stages of operation. The author of the website explains in painstaking detail the different measurements with statements like:

Add another 80 watts for a 17″ CRT monitor, or 35 for an LCD monitor. Don’t forget related devices. My cable modem uses 7 watts, my D-Link DI-604 router uses 4.5 watts, and my Motorola phone box for use with Vonage uses 2 watts while idle (3 when I’m on the phone)”   -Click for link to site

This website does not tell you how much your pc is using, but it talks in averages and gives you a good idea. I am usually pretty good at turning my PC off during the day when I am out and at night when I am asleep. I had never thought of my Thinkpad causing much of a power drain, but as it has the same general components and a Pentium 4 2Ghz processor, maybe it does.

I went ahead and changed my power settings on both PC’s. If you are not sure how to do this go to your control panel on a Windows machine and select “Power Options.” While I have been sitting here, I heard the HDD power down in my Thinkpad and a few minutes later, the screen went down. The new power management is in effect.

The website that I found has other questions that are addressed about laptops, people talking business with multiple computers and even dispels a few myths. The old “Turning my PC on takes more energy than leaving it on” is gone.

Tell someone about PC power management, turn it off when you’re not using it and let’s save some energy.