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A Mythbuster's Biggest Tech Headaches (and Solutions)

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the watch-for-flying-HDD-magnets dept.

Television 395

An anonymous reader writes "The Mythbusters' Jamie Hyneman shares his top tech annoyances. Hyneman runs down the little things that bug him about everything from tools (exotic chargers) to cars (useless features). He also notes that there's a lot of room for improvement on PC desktops: 'In addition to being buggy ... extra features tend to bog down your system by demanding more processing power and memory. Computer-makers: Don't load up operating systems with features and then make us sweat to figure out how to get rid of the fat ... There's another solution available to consumers: Switch to a Linux-based OS such as Ubuntu. Since most Linux OSs are free, there's no business reason to bloat up the system with feature frills.'"

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No offence, (5, Insightful)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22236886)

But it seems like this is just a fairly famous person telling us what we already know. Nothing new or insightful here IMHO.

Re:No offence, (2, Interesting)

mattsgotredhair (945945) | more than 6 years ago | (#22236952)

I agree... I really couldn't care less if the Mythbusters want my phone to have a universal power adapter. Why is this news? It seems like the paragraph or two that mentioned Linux was the only reason for this article to be relevant, and I don't wanna read about another person telling me why a Windows PC is bad.

Re:No offence, (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22236984)

it seems like the paragraph or two that mentioned Linux was the only reason for this article to be relevant

I would say "you must be new here", but I doubt you are.

Oblig (-1, Offtopic)

flitty (981864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237048)

Why is this news? It seems like the paragraph or two that mentioned Linux was the only reason for this article to be relevant
..you must be new here..

Re:No offence, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237066)

I have to disagree about the iPhone thing as well. I don't want a phone/camera/mp3 player/web browser/etc that costs me several hundred bucks. What I would like is a PHONE that does that one job very well for less than a hundred bucks. Still, companies keep loading them with features that are useless to me while making it difficult to find a phone without all that crap. Why I'm still using the same LG model for 8 years now.

Re:No offence, (5, Funny)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237136)

If you want devices to be single function, always look for the ones endorsed by the AARP.

Layne

Re:No offence, (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237580)

Personally, I think that's one of the iPhone's "sleeper" features that hasn't really been touted. There are by now tens of millions of iPod docking ports, docking cables, adapters, etc., around. IMHO, all phones should just pay Apple some minimal sum and standardize on the iPod port for their recharge/data cables. In the meantime, the iPhone is the only phone you can take virtually anywhere on the planet and borrow a cable from someone to recharge it. (of course, it would be nice if it could get service anywhere on the planet for reasonable money, but that's another story.)

Re:No offence, (5, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22236972)

Not to mention the article's free of any "fixes" promised in the first paragraph. The best we get is "it should be like this!" Uh, yeah, it should, but got anything more practical?

I love Jamie and Adam, but he needs to realize that engineering!=profits, hence all these annoyances.

Re:No offence, (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237108)

Well, no, not to a geek. But the general public might find some of it enlightening.

Also, it's kind of nice to get support for this kind of view from a celebrity. It's like "no, you're not crazy. Jamie Hyneman Agrees!!".

I am in total agreement with his stance on Vista for example. (I find it almost hilarious that MS now includes a movie editor, MSN, media this and media that, but still doesn't provide a decent text editor.)

You've missed the point (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237172)

...because we're on Slashdot. We all know what Jamie is saying is true.

But he's near-famous. He has a show that millions of people watch. And he's saying that Vista blows, and why it blows, and that Ubuntu kicks its ass.

And he's saying it in Popular Mechanics. You see those everywhere. My barber has a rack of them by his waiting bench. So does my doctor. You see PM magazines all over a doctor's waiting area.

It's called getting the word out.

A lot of us here on /. complain about how Joe Sixpack has no clue about computer issues. Well - now Joe Sixpack has an opportunity to be sitting in a dentist's office, and see a PM magazine with Jamie on the cover and think "Hey cool - think I'll read that. That's the show where they blow stuff up. It'll be interesting to hear what he has to say."

And suddenly he's exposed to the problems with Vista, and the joys of Ubuntu by a person he respects and likes. Maybe he'll call up his geeky cousin later on in the day on Jamie's recommendation and ask him what this Ubuntu thingy is.

This is how mindshare happens. A war is a million little battles, and we just won one.

Re:No offence, (4, Funny)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237638)

And ironically, I had to click away a jumping JavaScript pop-in window in order to see the page talking about bloat and loading up an interface with crap.

Shame he didn't... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22236898)

..share it on his TV show, where it might have mattered. Posting it here is just preaching to the choir, so to speak.

Geekgasm (1, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22236904)

Mythbusters and Linux? What a Slashdot combo!

Jamie's the one who tries NOT to get hurt on the show, of course.

Re:Geekgasm (2, Funny)

bwcarty (660606) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237062)

Jamie's the one who tries NOT to get hurt on the show, of course.


Of course, when he does get hurt, it looks more painful than Adam's frequent miscues. That shot he gave himself when cutting the line to his handheld grappling hook winch was rough...it almost ranks up there with Adam putting his lips in the vacuum motor.

Re:Geekgasm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237232)

that explains why he's always seen using Ubuntu while Adam's been compiling Gentoo for the last 2 seasons

Re:Geekgasm (4, Interesting)

berzerke (319205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237360)

Actually, I'm somewhat surprised Jamie mentioned Linux. I have noticed in some (past) shows they show a computer screen in a few camera shots and I recognized AOL. AOL is rarely the choice of the computer literate. Since Mythbusters seems to avoid product placements, I believe the fact I could spot AOL was more an accident than intentional. Haven't seen it lately though.

Still, going from the choice of the not computer literate to talking about Linux as a desktop OS, in a non-computer tech magazine...that's a sign of progress. Is that another crack I hear forming in MS's empire?

Re:Geekgasm (2, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237626)

As an avid fan (I've seen all the episodes up until the last season back-to-back once upon a time) they seem to use the tool necessary for the job. Yes, I've seen Windows desktops surfing AOL (with their research staff) but I've also seen PowerBooks.

Apparently Jamie got some time between the last season and now to test out that Ubuntu thingy and he really likes it. I'm a Linux/Mac-sysadmin, I don't necessarily like Ubuntu for myself (too dumbed down) but my parents currently run it on their desk- and laptop and they have stopped calling me every week about something that went wrong with their computer. I run Fedora Core here at work simply because it gets the job done (RPM's for specific scientific stuff), I am running all-Mac (2 PowerBook) at home now but I would use Gentoo (desktop). Slackware (other desktop) or Debian (router/server) if I had non-Mac computers.

Bloat? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22236910)

Since most Linux OSs are free, there's no business reason to bloat up the system with feature frills.

But Mandriva have never let a little thing like that stand in their way.

Use something else, then. (0, Offtopic)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237064)

If you think Mandriva is bloated, then use a different distro. Goddess knows there's only a few hundred to choose from.

Re:Bloat? (4, Funny)

yoyhed (651244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237300)

Since most Linux OSs are free, there's no business reason to bloat up the system with feature frills.
Are you kidding me? I've always thought that the eyes that follow your mouse around were an essential feature to an OS.

Adam (5, Funny)

cruff (171569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22236934)

I though for sure his top tech annoyance would have been Adam Savage. :-)

Obligatory... (0, Offtopic)

Brazilian Geek (25299) | more than 6 years ago | (#22236956)

Kari's hot.

I don't care how badly her hair is cut nor how fugly red she has it, she's still hot.

I know this isn't Fark, but it has to be said.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237026)

Not only is she hot, but she's hot in a very approachable way. Oh, and long red hair is HOT. Short red hair, not so much.

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237184)

It says of her on the Mythbusters website:

Sculptor, painter, actor and one-time-only backside-model.
I guess that was the airplane toilet episode. I wonder whatever happened to that model Jamie made...

Well, if they ever get low on cash... (4, Funny)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237326)

It says of her on the Mythbusters website: Sculptor, painter, actor and one-time-only backside-model.

I guess that was the airplane toilet episode. I wonder whatever happened to that model Jamie made...

I can only imagine what that'd bring on eBay.

Re:Obligatory... (0, Flamebait)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237034)

Kari is pretty much average. Being a geek has obviously lowered your standards.

I can't even count on my two hands the girls I know personally who are as good if not better looking than she is.

Re:Obligatory... (5, Funny)

chubs730 (1095151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237104)

I can't even count on my two hands the girls I know personally who are as good if not better looking than she is.
This is to be expected, it can be difficult to stretch a value of zero across ten fingers.

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237150)

MOD PARENT +5 INSIGHTFUL

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237128)

http://pornhater.com/wp-content/photos/karibyronmystbusters277zs_md.jpg [pornhater.com]

I can't even count on my two hands the girls I know personally who are as good if not better looking than she is.

Yeah, but not everyone has a mom who is a pornstar.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237146)

Yeah, but how many of them are on national TV?

Re:Obligatory... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237228)

My list of hot girls I know that are way hotter than Kari - >50 I could name, >100 if I have a couple of days to think it over.

My list of hot girls I know that are way hotter than Kari AND on national TV - 3. If PBS counts.

Being able to think over the hottness of girls I bot know and don't know, and compare the two - priceless.

And all this means, what, nothing? Yeah... I want an SLI rig so I can be less useless in BFwhatever. Earth Girls are plentiful and currently cheaper than a slammin gaming rig. Wasn't always that way...

Re:Obligatory... (1, Insightful)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237338)

I doesn't count if you just "bot know" them.

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237162)

Just goes to show, even having ten fingers not everybody can count that high.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

theskipper (461997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237276)

I can't even count on my two hands the girls I know personally who are as good if not better looking than she is.

You could have saved us some reading time by leaving out the "who are as good..." part.

Re:Obligatory... (4, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237290)

Kari is pretty much average.

Granted, she's not Catherine Deneuve, but hot body+cute face+understanding of physics and engineering is not average, not by a long shot. Either you spend too much time in your basement or you're banging Playboy models on a regular basis.

I'll leave it up to the reader to decide which is the most likely scenario ;)

Re:Obligatory... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237686)

"Granted, she's not Catherine Deneuve..."

No, but if Kari wants to do a lesbian sex scene with a young and still hot Susan Sarandon, it would go a long way to convincing me otherwise.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237322)

Hotness is not always determined purely by aesthetic values. As an intelligent human being, one would hope to find the best mate to propagate the species with, so a moderately hot chick (aesthetically) with brains and a good personality only becomes that much hotter overall. Some geek you are... :P

Re:Obligatory... (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237472)

How many of those girls are "approachable" though? Would you want to hold a conversation with them? Like many Mythbusters commentators you have failed to fully grasp the premise before criticizing the work, which makes you a tool.

Oh, and if you want to see the dumbest people online (even dumber than Youtube commentators), then look no further than the Mythbusters fansite. People are looking so hard for something "they screwed up" that most of the time they don't even seem to know what exactly the Mythbusters are testing.

Re:Obligatory... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237512)

I would have to say you're out of your mind. Then again, I'm not you, and you may have different standards as to what's hot and what's not.

Some guys prefer blondes, some prefer redheads, some prefer brunettes. Some guys don't really care about the hair color so much as the hair length, style, and texture. Some guys prefer blue eyes, some green, and some plain ol' big (or small) brown eyes. Some guys prefer tall and skinny, some short and curvy, some even obese or manly-type muscular.

That's just the external. There are many factors which guys are attracted to which aren't necessarily skin deep. Maybe Kari's intelligence plays a factor in the GP's definition as to why she's hot?

Point is, beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. A girl that may just be average or unattractive to you, or to the editors of Maxim, or Playboy, or Perfect 10 or whatever outfit relies on pictures of attractive women to sell their magazines or media, may be another person's girl of his/her dreams. No point in trying to criticize someone else's taste in women.

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237080)

Kari's hot.
I'd like to bust her myth...

My apologies.

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237264)

I'd like to bust her myth...
I'd like to myth her bust.

My apologies.
Likewise.

Re:Obligatory... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237652)

"I'd like to myth her bust."

I'll tell you what, you can take a good look at Kari's ass by sticking your head up there, but wouldn't you rather take her word for it? Uh... no, I mean you can take a good look at a T-bone by sticking your head up a Kari's a**, but then... No, it has got to be your bull...

Re:Obligatory... (1)

mcmire (1152897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237344)

And the sky is blue. Just in case you didn't know.

And another thing. (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22236968)

How about web articles that have more words than ads. Come on. This paragraph-at-a-time stuff is more annoying than even Vista.

Re:And another thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237008)

Stop reading them or use adblock

Mythbusters, Ubuntu and Open Source? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22236986)

I think I just shot a load all over myself

Regards,
CmdrTaco

So if Jamie represents Linux... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22236998)

...and Adam seems to like Apple, who gets Microsoft?

My guess is Buster.

Re:So if Jamie represents Linux... (5, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237050)

I don't think Buster's had a chair thrown at him just yet.

Re:So if Jamie represents Linux... (1)

dondelelcaro (81997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237466)

I don't think Buster's had a chair thrown at him just yet.

One would think that having the chair (well, throne) he was siting on thrown (well, attempted to be propelled) into space [wikipedia.org] qualified.

Re:So if Jamie represents Linux... (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237250)

Well, I know everytime they show Grant doing a websearch it's very apparent he's using AOL (WHY???), so he'd probably be the MS fanboy of the bunch, even though you'd think he'd be smarter than that...

Re:So if Jamie represents Linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237690)

Or there's an advertising thingy called product placement...

Corrected for him... (4, Funny)

InsaneMosquito (1067380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237042)

If I want to be nagged in my car, I'll bring my wife.

Brilliant! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237070)

Yes, let's all recommend ubuntu to the ignorant masses! Nevermind that people have trouble with Windows box maintenance!

More mongoloids spamming forums with "HOW DO I APT GET MY UBANTO?? PLZ HELP I R NEW AND I DONT LIEK TO READ MAN PAGES AND TERMINLES ARE SCARY!!!"

In before modded down/ubuntu fanboy rage.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237314)

What's the point of Ubuntu again? Is it to be super-power user now? And here I was thinking it was supposed to be linux that your grandma could use. It's not quite there yet, but that's the point of Ubuntu, and it's getting pretty close.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237608)

If you want something *nix-based that's compliant with grandma standards, use OS X.

Ubuntu/Linux in general is not ready for the home desktop. The problem isn't necessarily with the distro, but the userbase. Ubuntu attracts all the Windows users who ruin everything. Linux is pretty damn easy to use, even something CLI-based like Arch, after some research - the problem is, nobody wants to do that anymore.

Put simply, the majority of ubuntu users are those who want to be spoonfed while they thump their chests for being so awesome because they have a Linux box.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237404)

This is actually a good question with a number of good answers:
1) If the ignorant masses complain in the wrong places, they'll get flamed.
2) More exposure to the ignorant masses might actually IMPROVE Ubuntu. Once we see what people actually want, someone can adapt the OS so that they can HAVE what they want (even if it is a point and click interface to 10 apps). With Windows, they just keep complaining and people make money charging them $5/minute to tell them to go buy a new computer to upgrade to the latest version of Windows.

Things will be getting simpler, and are already. (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237076)

All my phones in recent years use a USB port to charge. My new iMate Ultimate 6150 does, my previous HTC Trinity did, my wife's Motorola phones do. I won't buy a phone without a USB port to charge with. We carry around a small AA charger that has a USB port on it to charge devices on the go, it works great for long flights or any sort of travel away from a USB port.

In my car I tossed the 12V "cigarette lighter" from the dash to the truck. I also increased its power from a small 5A fuse to a 10A fuse, so I can run a reasonably sized 120V inverter (also in the trunk) to power a few devices on-the-go.

In the place of the dash 12V adapter, I installed a nice custom panel with 3 USB ports. They're high power ports, so I can charge a phone, a GPS receiver, and a plethora of other devices that use USB to charge. In the future I'd like to connect one port to a radio so I can play music on-the-go without my iPod.

In the past, I've had relatively complicated small PCs to run my music system, but I'm seeing more and more options for in-vehicle PCs running Linux. Eventually I think we'll see a system that works well and is cheap. Since we only buy used cars, tossing the radio is one of the first things we do, and it's at most a loss of maybe $25 worth of electronics.

There are many things I wish were modernized, standardized, and more open. First, vehicle information is very proprietary. Why is it that cars can't report status information via a simple USB connection? All the information is either there, or could be generated VERY cheaply. I ran out of wiper fluid two days ago (lots of snow in Chicago lately), and I sat there thinking how lame it is that the wiper fluid reservoir doesn't have a simple sensor to detect low fluid (it's a 2001 vehicle, not THAT old). Even that could be transported across a USB chain with regular updates. Heck, a $2 sensor could even sense fluid at 3 levels. Simple enough.

At home, we have a DC run throughout the house wherever we upgraded our power, and I'm seriously thinking of changing it to USB charging. AC in the home is useful, but so many devices use DC (and the dreaded overheating wall-warts!) that I'm shocked that more devices aren't standardizing on DC. 18V, 5A+, not a big deal -- but so many devices could use it (charging tools, video games, cell phones, even some computer monitors). Simple, without needed ANOTHER heat-generating and wasting transformer. My laptop is DC, too, yet I need the darned transformer throughout the house.

But I still see more and more devices standardizing in many ways. Over time, manufacturers are seeing that power is a commodity, not a profit maker. I tell my friends and family to stop buying products that use proprietary charging hardware. With tools, the battery situation is frustrating, but I think we'll see some changes there. I like the idea of having a standard 6V pack, and just adding more if you need 12V or 18V. Even better would be a "serial/parallel" switch so you could go from 6V 1A to 6V 2A or 12V 1A with the flip of a switch. Ahh, to dream.

a small 5A fuse to a 10A fuse (4, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237302)

I hope you upgraded the wiring. I have scars (well, one) from a wire that was undersized for the load. It started to melt. Across the fuel line...

Re:Things will be getting simpler, and are already (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237328)

At home, we have a DC run throughout the house wherever we upgraded our power, and I'm seriously thinking of changing it to USB charging. AC in the home is useful, but so many devices use DC (and the dreaded overheating wall-warts!) that I'm shocked that more devices aren't standardizing on DC. 18V, 5A+, not a big deal -- but so many devices could use it (charging tools, video games, cell phones, even some computer monitors). Simple, without needed ANOTHER heat-generating and wasting transformer. My laptop is DC, too, yet I need the darned transformer throughout the house.
Thomas, is that you? . [wikipedia.org]

Re:Things will be getting simpler, and are already (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237446)

I ran out of wiper fluid two days ago (lots of snow in Chicago lately), and I sat there thinking how lame it is that the wiper fluid reservoir doesn't have a simple sensor to detect low fluid (it's a 2001 vehicle, not THAT old).

Sure, you may think you want it to notify you of this now, but try driving an Alero around. Anything that might be a problem, it notifies me. Every time I start the car, there is a bell and a light that doesn't turn off until the problem is corrected. Is it useful? Slightly. Does it need to blink and ring every time I turn the key? Definitely not.

Re:Things will be getting simpler, and are already (5, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237680)

In my car I tossed the 12V "cigarette lighter" from the dash to the truck. I also increased its power from a small 5A fuse to a 10A fuse, so I can run a reasonably sized 120V inverter (also in the trunk) to power a few devices on-the-go.


Drawing twice the power than the wire was fused for is a good way to need another car soon. Unless you also upgraded the wire, I wouldn't recommend changing the fuse size.

I have a reasonably sized inverter in my trunk also, next to the battery. 1KW will power most anything except hair dryers you care to bring along.

At home, we have a DC run throughout the house wherever we upgraded our power,

This is not a good idea. Volts X Amps = Watts in DC circuits. To run a 100 watt laptop cross the house on 12 volts with less than 10% voltage drop requires a huge wire. Do the math.

http://www.otherpower.com/cgi-bin/webbbs/webbbs_config.pl?noframes;read=6346 [otherpower.com]

Don't forget a 50 foot cord is a 100 foot DC path.

To cut your loss in the wire by 100 as in a 10$ loss is now a 0.1% loss, go from 12 volts to 120 volts. That is the simple reason for the big inverter in the trunk. I can run a 100 foot 14 AWG extension cord and have less than 1% voltage drop in the cord to a 100 Watt laptop.

From the page "14AWG = .00297 ohms / foot". Doing the math, a 100 foot 14 gauge extension cord is 200 feet of wire with a resistance of .00297 ohms per foot. 0.00297 X 200 = 0.594 ohms. To get 100 Watts at the far end of the wire at 12 volts, you need to deliver 8 and 1/3 amps. That amprage going on that almost .6 ohm wire will have a voltage loss of 0.594 X 8.3333 or 4.9499 volts. To get 12 volts out, you need to put in 12 + 4.9499 volts. Volts X Amps in the wire is the power lost.. Let's see, lost 4.94 volts along 200 feet while carying 8.3333 amps. That's 41 Watts. In short to drive a 100 watt load, you toss out almost 1/3rd of your power in the wire.

Now using the same cord and laptop but now using 120 volts. Instead of needing 8.3333 amps for the 100 watts, we now need 1/10 of that or 0.8333 amps. Our voltage loss is now 1/10th what it was or 0.49499 volts at 1/10th the current. We now lose 1/100th the power in the wire we were before while still delivering 100 watts to the laptop. Now the wire has a loss of 0.41 Watts. I don't need to boost anything to make up for it.

I'm shocked that more devices aren't standardizing on DC. 18V, 5A+, not a big deal -- but so many devices could use it (charging tools, video games, cell phones, even some computer monitors). Simple, without needed ANOTHER heat-generating and wasting transformer. My laptop is DC, too, yet I need the darned transformer throughout the house.

Do the math and you won't be shocked at all. I would rather lose 5 watts in a laptop power supply than 40 watts in the 50 foot wire from the battery fuse box to the laptop.

I've standardized on 120 VAC for almost everything. As a bonus, I don't have to buy special 12 volt CF bulbs at $15 each. I can use the buck a bulb ones instead. It's all about saving money. A 1 KW inverter is chaep and can be located very close to the battery to keep loss minimum in the low voltage wire.

http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11234952&search=inverter&Mo=13&cm_re=1_en-_-Top_Left_Nav-_-Top_search&lang=en-US&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Sp=S&N=5000043&whse=BC&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=Text_Search&Dr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ne=4000000&D=inverter&Ntt=inverter&No=3&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1 [costco.com]

Those going to all 12 volt DC either have a very little house or have nothing that uses much power like a laptop.

Re:Things will be getting simpler, and are already (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237696)

>First, vehicle information is very proprietary. Why is it that cars can't report status information via a simple USB connection?

Build yourself one of these [obddiag.net] . It's an OBDII-to-USB converter. It still requires *extensive* software on the computer side, but you're already talking about having that. On-board vehicle diagnostics are fairly complicated, but there are plenty of programs that handle it, many for free.

I agree it'd be nice to have sensors to detect fluid levels... but until sensors are more reliable, you might start relying on something that has broken and end up in trouble. In my car, the wiper washers are plumbed such that when you're just about out of washer fluid, the rear window pump stops working, which is clever and avoids having to add an extra sensor.

It would be nice to see more electronics that used USB connectors to get power, if they can stay under half an amp. It'd also be nice to see more wall-warts with some sort of load-detection circuitry and a solid-state relay so if they're not being used, they disconnect the transformer/switching PS from the AC so it doesn't sit there sucking up power.

Ubuntu no better (1, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237090)

Don't load up operating systems with features and then make us sweat to figure out how to get rid of the fat ... There's another solution available to consumers: Switch to a Linux-based OS such as Ubuntu. Since most Linux OSs are free, there's no business reason to bloat up the system with feature frills.'"
I don't see Ubuntu being a "better" solution in this regard. One can also make Ubuntu highly bloated. As the article mentions, one can reduce the Windows bloat by de-selecting options. How is Ubuntu inherently better in this regard?

Re:Ubuntu no better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237164)

One can also make Ubuntu highly bloated.
One can make...? Ubuntu's already bloated out-of-the-box!

Re:Ubuntu no better (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237320)

Well, in ubuntu's defense, it's at least fairly easy to remove the excess software (through apt). But yeah, if you're looking for a bare OS to only run the apps you install, then debian would be a much better choice.

Re:Ubuntu no better (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237362)

Agreed! For the average user Ubuntu is about as easy to get up and running as building a skyscraper with toenail clippings.

I'm no slouch when it comes to unix or programming, but I had to find all sorts of code repositories, libraries, make files, and freakin' drivers just to get my PC up and running.

More like Nobuntu round here anymore.

Re:Ubuntu no better (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237522)

You're just a tired old troll. Practically all the drivers and codecs you'll ever need are included with ubuntu. Certainly a lot more than Windows, where you have to hunt down drivers for every 3rd party peripheral you have. And the ones that aren't included, find themselves the first time you need them. All you have to do is click 'Yes'.

Crawl back under your bridge.

Re:Ubuntu no better (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237676)

Well you don't actually know what drivers I needed do you? All I'm saying: it was a hassle. Setting up a Windows box took a small percentage of the time.

Thanks for coming out.

Re:Ubuntu no better (2, Informative)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237372)

Because it ships as non-bloated, and you have to add the bloat yourself, mostly.

I have to say that I've been fairly impressed with Ubuntu thus far. It seems fairly stable and reliable, and the little update widget is remarkably painless, and has only insisted on a reboot a couple of times (for things like kernel changes). Add to that the ability to get software to do just about everything I want to do with either apt-get, synaptic, or that add/remove programs thingy, and there's no more dependency hell. I wouldn't call myself a 'fanboy' exactly...but I -am- fond of it.

Re:Ubuntu no better (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237412)

How is Ubuntu inherently better in this regard?

As the lead guitarist of the Clash said (paraphrased) "It was easy for kids to jump from long haired glam rockers in the mid 70's to the short spikey haired punks in the late 70's over night. Had they wanted to do the reverse, they would have to wait a while for their hair to grow out."

Except with software it reserved so its easier to add than to remove.

Re:Ubuntu no better (1, Troll)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237484)

Ubuntu is horrible.

I installed it earlier this week. It had been a few years since I rebuilt my Win2000 machine (my primary box), and I decided to give Linux another try (after a miserable time with Storm about ten years ago.)

Have fun if you want to install a video card that's not "on the list". The response I got on the various boards was "you should buy a better video card. 1024 in 2d should be enough. lol" It's a friggin' Radeon (albeit a few years old) not a Voodoo card. (All of which happen to be supported for some reason.)

Really awesome, guys. Really awesome. And yes, I tried installing the proprietary ATI drivers, tried Envy, but it just doesn't work. Even better, if you pick an invalid resolution, it tests FINE, then just blanks out your display when you click "ok".

It seems like every time the kernel updates, the drivers fail. My guess is that there's no stable API and everyone who hates the old function names just renames them (or they tie the names into the kernel version). Egads, that's WAY WORSE than ANYTHING Microsoft has EVER done. Period. (Including ME and BOB.)

That's just the "dustiest table in Pompeii". I've had nothing but problems with it.

This should annoy him (5, Funny)

serginho (909707) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237098)

Re:This should annoy him (1)

Monsieur Canard (766354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237246)

That picture has been my desktop at work for a few days now. Those who get it laugh heartily. Those who don't ... I usually just tell them that the explanation would take too long.

lolcats just lose all funny when you have to disect them.

There is a business reason for crap software!! (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237116)

The reason is that they get paid to install crap software on your computer!

Remember when the promise of cable TV was that you wouldn't have to watch commercials because you were already paying for TV? That didn't last long... the promise was broken and now you pay for TV service *AND* you have to watch commercials.

You pay for magazines and news papers and with the exception of consumer reports (at least that was the case in the past) you get commercial ads in there too!

It seems no business can resist the temptation to sell their customer's eyes to advertisers and other parties. It's a very bad business practice and one that eats at the trust that customers have with their vendors and service providers. But it's so common place these days that to do otherwise would be an exception rather than the rule. It's not an excuse for bad behavior, it's just a fact.

Dell does a lot less of that than others and you can certainly request that anything be loaded or not loaded as well. But the average consumer doesn't know this and so they are victimized by having their computers compromised right out of the box.

But there is a business reason for the extra crap-ware to be installed... they get money when they do it.

Re:There is a business reason for crap software!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237306)

That's because the customer of the media company (magazine/tv/radio) is the advertisers, not the readers. The media company provides eyeballs to the advertisers, and any money they make off the readers is gravy.

... no business reason (1)

jamesl (106902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237118)

Since most Linux OSs are free, there's no business reason to bloat up the system with feature frills.

Since most proprietary OS vendors try to make a profit, there is no business reason to spend development time and money bloating up the system with feature frills.

non standard screws (5, Insightful)

artdwpmt (1222908) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237144)

Not specifically a tech issue, but affects numerous tech products as well.

What really drives me nuts is non standard screws intended to prevent you from opening your device.
(Unless of course you have the special magic screw driver.)

I really hate these. I love opening things, to fix them or just for the fun of seeing how they're made.
I bought it, it belongs to me, don't prevent me from trying to have a look inside if I want to.

optimisation is always the last step (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237188)

The short product development cycles mean that there's a huge pressure to ship as soon as (or sometimes before) a product is functionally complete and relatively bug-free. That means there's no time in the schedule for optimising performance and reducing bloat.

With very few exceptions, these aren't factors that make it onto the feature list.

So far, this hasn't mattered too much as the performance of new PCs rises rapidly - what was a slow program on last year's box is fine on this year's. Great if you're buying new - no so great if your machine is a couple of years old.

The ony solution I can think of would be to force developers to use less than bleeding edge hardware - but then development would slow down.

On the web: Pagination (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237198)

Why do websites have to paginate stories? The scroll bar is there for a reason, why not let it do its thing? It is really annoying when I can read the sentence or paragraph you put on each page faster than it can load.

I think a story or article should only be split into different pages when it is big enough to have different chapters. Since almost all news articles are way to short to have chapters, why try to split them up in an annoying way?

Re:On the web: Pagination (2, Insightful)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237414)

Why do websites have to paginate stories?
for the same reason that people bloat up OSs. Money. More pages = more ads.

Re:On the web: Pagination (1)

ragefan (267937) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237568)

Why do websites have to paginate stories? The scroll bar is there for a reason, why not let it do its thing? It is really annoying when I can read the sentence or paragraph you put on each page faster than it can load.

I think a story or article should only be split into different pages when it is big enough to have different chapters. Since almost all news articles are way to short to have chapters, why try to split them up in an annoying way?
Increased ad views, obviously. The more pages you click-thru to read the story, the more money the site makes from advertisers.

Wouldn't fix the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237204)

PC manafacturers are PAID to put that bloatware on the computers. They would do the same thing to Linux too. They would be just as fine with selling the hardware at a higher price and nothing else on it. Dell and HP and the like only pay around $30 for windows

Car locks (2, Interesting)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237208)

Not only do you get locked in automatically, but the other weird thing that they did was the "only unlock the driver door" feature. Now I always have to hit the button 3 times to make sure I have unlocked the tailgate. Once should open all of the doors by default. If I want the new, magic driver-door-only feature it should be a configuration option someplace.

Re:Car locks (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237356)

but the other weird thing that they did was the "only unlock the driver door" feature. Now I always have to hit the button 3 times to make sure I have unlocked the tailgate.

The idea is that its more secure this way.

Picture the scenario... "woman gets into car in dark parking lot... car automatically unlocks... stalker/weirdo/freak hinding behind the car climbs in on the passenger side when she unlocks the door..."

And countless variations on the theme. Rapists. Carjackings. Whatever.

How much validity you give to the likelyhood of this feature ever stopping an attack is up to you... but its a feature people wanted, that showed up in polls and focus groups.

Re:Car locks (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237540)

The idea is that its more secure this way.


DING DING DING!!!! You are correct. My mom was talking about this very subject last week. Her Honda has door locks which you can unlock from the inside. You can unlock the driver or passenger door individually by hand or the driver can use the switch to unlock all the doors at once.

She mentioned that she is no longer able to lock/unlock just her driver door by using the lock. When it gets taken in for its yearly checkup, she wants the place to look at her driver-side door lock. My dad claims there's no problem but obviously since it no longer works like it used to, there is a problem.

Tool Batteries (2, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237216)

I liked his Idea of tools using 6V battery packs. I got several tools out in the shop, a few 18V, a few 12V, one or two 7.2v, etc. Even the 3 18V tools have different battery packs, with different chargers. A huge portion of the back of my workbench (near the wall) is nothing but chargers. I would love to have a standardized version of the battery packs.

Half the time, I don't even need the power of the 18V drill, I just need a bit of Juice to turn a bunch of screws. Wouldn't it be slick to pop in 3 6v Batteries, and be able to toggle a switch to choose between connecting them in serial or parallel? IE, more power, or longer lasting battery?

Re:Tool Batteries (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237442)

Simplest solution: corded tools. I have no need for a cordless tool that's going to have a dead battery in a year.

Deliberate (4, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237220)

Most of these annoyances are very deliberate. HDMI is intended to be non-interoperable and failure-prone. OEM Windows preloads contain extra bloatware because bloatware makers paid to have their crap installed. Tools use nonstandard battery packs, in order to sell proprietary replacement packs.

These aren't engineering failures. They are just examples of products that are made to serve interests other than the user's.

Re:Deliberate (3, Informative)

Kaptain Kruton (854928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237532)

He wasn't describing them as "engineering failures." He was describing them as annoying or troublesome when used for his purposes. There is a big difference.

Annoying cars (1)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237244)

Cars are a PITA to maintain these days because, to increase efficiency and meet emissions regulations, they have to be lighter and have tightly controlled combustion. The lighter bit means smaller, meaning smaller engine compartments, meaning more difficult to access and repair engines. The tightly controlled combustion means computer controlled fuel injection, and sensors everywhere for feedback.

I don't care much about fixing engines - they are so complex these days you're SOL if you don't have an ODBCII kit (or, heaven forbid, a CAN or MOST bus analyzer - $$$$!!!) My pet peeve is the loss of real, honest-to-god bumpers. Nowadays if you tap a cement parking block going more than a couple miles per hour, you crack your front fascia, and get to spend $600 buying a new one. Ugh.

Re:Annoying cars (1)

vortigern00 (443602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237554)

The exception to this is (for now, anyway) American-made trucks. I got rear-ended really hard the other day by another Ford truck. We got out, looked at our undamaged bumpers, grinned at each other, and drove away :)

-Vort

old news. (1)

magnusrex1280 (1075361) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237364)

I read this in the actual print magazine, some time ago. Besides being old, it's not really "news" anyway.

It's not an oversight ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22237400)

If the carmakers can install all those oh-so-convenient comfort controls, do they really need to make me do gymnastics to change the oil?

Yes - because they don't want you to change the oil.

What they want you to do is to go to the dealer to change the oil, or the battery, or do maintainance. Basically, for anything other than filling up the tank and emptying the cup holders, they want you to go to the dealer or "authorized service center" (which paid big bucks for the authorization), so they can supplement their revenue stream. As an added benefit, the harder it is to do service on the car, the longer it takes, and the more they can charge for labor costs.

And if the car is off warranty or you bought the car used? Well, you should just buy a new car then, shouldn't you?

The obvoius counterpoint (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237486)

Since most Linux OSs are free, there's no business reason to bloat up the system with feature frills.'"

Since most Linux OSes are free, there's no business reason for them to deliver features people want (and hence are prepared to pay for).

And... (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237518)

To show their gratitude to Jamie for all the free publicity, Ubuntu has announced that their next version will be "Mythical Mongoose!"

Failures of standartization (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237536)

After all, you don't buy a Chevy battery to start a Chevrolet.

No, but wheels are almost unique to each model — replacing Geo Prizm with a Honda Fit, for example, forced us to replace our set of winter wheels/tires recently... While we have some decent standards already — the AC current, the bed-sizes, for example, too many things remain non-standardized. DC power is the most obvious example. Although Research-in-Motion and Nokia should be praised for trying to cut down on the number of different adapters, that is still not enough:

The Open Mobile Terminal Platform (omtp.org) is supported by a number of manufacturers that would like to see the micro USB become the standard connector. It's too early to know if they will succeed; let's hope they do.

Woo-hoo! If that reduces the number of "bricks" around, great. But I look forward to just having standard DC-outlets next to the AC ones...

Strangely enough, the MythBusters folks don't mention the maddening diversity of screws and bolts. Even inside a computer there are several different size. Oh, and they sometimes differ in the shape of the required driver too, not just length and diameter...

I doubt this is done on purpose, in order to secure future income for the company by producing the parts — computer-makers neither make nor sell the screws, for example. It is just a designer creating, what they think is ideal for the task, instead of picking up what's good enough and already available...

Computer-software vendors, BTW, suffer from the same problem — how many application-specific programming languages were created even after John Ousterhout's famous lamentation [amazon.com] ?... Even if there are some of them, which are better than Ousterhout's TCL (or Perl, or Python, or JavaScript, or whatever general purpose language you prefer), are they so much better as to justify forcing users to learn yet another language?

It's not the question about WHO but WHAT. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237596)

This will be a lot of barfing about similar subjects, you have been warned!

And I see that Mr Hyneman has a point here. Jamie and Adam seems to be two guys that just happened to get well-known. They didn't really plan on being world famous and I doubt that they make a lot of dough off their persons (with exception for the occasional exploding dough-can).

What we all know, but is pointed out by the article is that it's often not the engineers that does the stupid things it's the economy bean-counters that thinks that a saved cent there can make the car no different from before but cheaper. (OK, there are engineer screwups too, so they aren't entirely blameless). Maybe there are at least a few persons that actually reads the article since it's written by a well-known dude.

And I really understand the point behind a 'nag' button. Who wouldn't wanted one one time or another? (but I understand that a seatbelt warning for the driver may be permitted to nag.) And the need for removal of a wheel just to replace the battery seems to be one of those moments... It's almost worth an episode of it's own! And there are a few other problems aside the battery and it's changing bulbs and filling oil on the car. Whenever you try to fill up the oil you will invariably drool it on every other part of the engine too, just because you have a distance between the bottle opening and the engine opening of maybe half a foot, and when you need it most you don't have a funnel...

Operating systems are all bug-filled and bloated over the edge, which we all know by now so nothing new. The cordless tool and phone charger issue is right on the spot! There are far too many variations of batteries and chargers, but when you open up the inside you will find that they actually pack the same Sony Cells or whatever electronics and that it's just the packaging and contacts that are different.

And it's always funny to see all the variations of specifications of batteries and things too. There is an international standard that specifies penlight batteries (LR03, LR6, LR14, LR20 etc, but often the more illogical AA, AAA etc. is used, which for the untrained gives a complete loss of information.)

Even worse is the gauge of wires where a higher number means a thinner wire, which is extremely illogical. Measure the area instead, 1.5 mm2, 2.5 mm2.

Car Maintenance (1)

AmeerCB (1222468) | more than 6 years ago | (#22237644)

I am with him on car maintenance. There is no reason I should have to remove my tire to get to my oil filter (anyone else owned an accord in the past 15 years? You'd think they would have fixed this by now).

Filters, fuses, spark plugs, brakes, and rotors at the bare minimum should be EASILY accessible and replaceable.

And what about diagnostics computers? Why do I need a seperate component to read the error code? I owned a '95 maxima that allowed you to hold the computer's button for a few seconds and, after doing so, the engine light would give you a sequence of long-short pulses. You could look this sequence up in a manual to determine what the error code meant. All car diagnostic computers should have features like this.
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