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A Remote-Controlled Plane Flies Through New York City

I would imagine that New Yorkers would be a little concerned about any unusual aircraft zipping around their airspace. So it is particularly remarkable that a team managed to assemble a remote-controlled miniature airplane, equip it with a camera, and fly it around various parts of the city, including parts of Manhattan, over the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, over the Statue of Liberty, and so on -- without getting arrested or having their aircraft taken down. Here's the video:

According to various bloggers, this flight is legal as long as it remains below either 400 or 500 feet (one blogger says 400, the video's uploader claims 500). Any pilots in the audience want to educate us on the legality of private flights in New York City?

This is one of those rare YouTube videos where the comment thread is interesting. A pilot actually weighs in on the potential danger caused by the flight, if it were to intercept a commercial flight path (remote-controlled bird strike, anybody?). Some key comments:

"...we have GPS on board and know the altitude at all times. additionally a person on the ground informs us of incoming traffic. we never exceeded 500 ft and never gotten within a mile of a private or commercial aircraft.? the altitude in the video looks much higher than it really is due to the wider field of view of our camera." -nastycop420 (video uploader)

"Excellent work! I appreciate the time, effort, and coordination that went into this. When I taught RF in college, I had my students build a UAV w/FPV as a class project. There were no? spread-spectrum RC radios back then, so we digitized the trainer-cord output of a Futaba tx and rolled our own spread-spectrum control link. We used ATV for the video link. System range was ~15 miles (air) and ~3.5 miles (ground). Was the most popular project we ever did.
Again, I applaud your efforts!
Joel" -MrTurboparker

"I'm flying! Nice? vid bro!" -britanese (Okay, not ALL the comments add to the dialogue.)

Some sample heights achieved in the video: Brooklyn Bridge (276.5 feet), Statue of Liberty (305 feet), Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (693 feet...higher than the creators claimed to have ever flown on this outing). Wow. More video from the same group after the jump.

Downhill Flight from RiSCyD : TeamBlackSheep on Vimeo.

Chicken or Black Sheep - Episode 2 from RiSCyD : TeamBlackSheep on Vimeo.

For more on the vehicle, check out this forum post. Apparently its maximum altitude is over 3,000 meters! Oh, and the official name for this hobby is "FPV RC" (First Person Video, Remote-Controlled) in case you want to go a-Googlin'.

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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iStock

There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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