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Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program

AlanObject Used Batteries: meh (133 comments)

What I don't like about this scheme is that I end up driving my car around with someone else's batteries. With my own battery pack I know what the batteries have been through -- their service record, the conditions they have been in, and also what I can expect out of them in terms of performance because I have been using them recently. When you swap out the battery pack that all goes out the window.

These batteries degrade over time. So I could end up swapping my batteries with 400 hours on them for batteries that have 10,000 hours on them. No thanks.

about a month ago

Study: New Jersey e-Vote Experiment After Sandy a Disaster

AlanObject It makes no sense (77 comments)

Has anyone managed to explain why e-voting always fails when the same technology can be used to run a network of online banking and ATM services, backed up with face-to-face tellers (yes they still exist!) to serve those who don't have online access?

I haven't heard that banks are losing tons of money because it is all online and a lot more convenient for me than it was last century. Yes there are crooks but they are quickly detected and dealt with.

If these systems can keep track of trillions of dollars of transactions with an open-ended commitment to each customer surely a single vote per customer constraint should be no problem.

Electronic voting doesn't work only because we don't want to make it work.

about 3 months ago

U.K. Supermarkets Beta Test Full-Body 3D Scanners For Selfie Figurines

AlanObject Well.. (165 comments)

Are naked selfies allowed?

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Smarter Disk Space Monitoring In the Age of Cheap Storage?

AlanObject Only part of the problem (170 comments)

I have less concern than the amount of data being stored as I do the incredible number of files that a typical system stores. Do an ls -lR / on a typical system and you will get tens or even hundreds of thousands of files.

As recently as the days of Windows/NT 4 I could probably keep the gist of the entire structure in my head -- what each sub-tree is for and in most cases what each directory/file is for. Somewhere since then it has become impossible to do so and that goes for Windows, MacOS X, or almost any Linux distribution.

about 3 months ago

What It Took For SpaceX To Become a Serious Space Company

AlanObject Elon's secret (96 comments)

I don't know that much about him other than as an investor, but the thing I have noticed about Elon Musk is that he does the homework. He works the numbers and if they don't add up he does something else. So although it seems to an outsider that he is doing something wild, he is actually keeping to a dry spreadsheet.

Someone who didn't do this might have tried a newer whiz-bang battery technology for Tesla. Or maybe fuel cells. Instead he stuck with "boring" old Li-Ion battery technology because he found a way to make the numbers work. And if that technology improves over what it can do today so much the better.

Maybe someone here more knowledgable than I am about what SpaceX is doing can say if he has done the same thing there. From the article it seems like SpaceX has managed to apply technology to get the price-point he thought was necessary. That suggests to me that Elon did his homework many years ago and did it right.

about 3 months ago

Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers

AlanObject Re:It had better be reliable! (158 comments)

If you are curious about this you should take a look at the electronics that go into airliners. My company makes a circuit board that uses Freescale processors and many other chips and they want us to guarantee availability for another 20 years. In fact I think we have orders on the books through 2026. During that time one of my successors will have the nice job of finding chips to build them if the various silicon manufacturers decide to shut down the line.

On another application we kept a product going for 5 years after the main chip went EOL by working with a company that specialized in licensing EOL designs just for this purpose

The thing about an automotive application in the console is that the "1000 or more parts" PCB that we are talking about can be replaced with an upgrade much more easily than anything that flies. Boeing has $20,000 circuit boards that were designed 25 years ago they still order even though I could replace the whole thing with a $15 FPGA on a $30 PCB today. The reason: you don't mess with flight critical components without millions of dollars of testing. The $20,000 assembly is cheaper.

In contrast the Tesla console could probably be redesigned in a few years with updated components and possibly even 100% software compatible. The barrier to getting it qualified would be far less even though the car is highly dependent on it working. So if you are making a list of things to be worried about in buying a Tesla this shouldn't be on it.

about 3 months ago

Ubuntu Touch For Phones Hits RTM, First Phones Coming This Year

AlanObject So what's different? (132 comments)

Didn't we all hate Microsoft for pursuing the convergence roadmap? (Desktop -> Tablet -> Phone)

about 4 months ago

China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

AlanObject Re:Wow (152 comments)

It is not a health concern, and has been used in organic food production for decades before suddenly becoming controversial once genetic engineering got involved.

The difference is that Bt used to be applied topically, and in a relatively short while biologically breaks down so you don't ingest it.

In contrast, Bt corn produces the chemicals internally. The chemicals get ingested intact where before they never were. As a result entire populations of people test positive for contagion of Bt that never were before.

That's my understanding anyway.

about 5 months ago

DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

AlanObject You know where this is going. (383 comments)

Are you guys ready for your laptop to demand a semen sample from you? How about a public access terminal?

about 5 months ago

The Technologies Changing What It Means To Be a Programmer

AlanObject The more it changes this thing never changes (294 comments)

My experience reaches back to the toggle-and-punch cards days and I don't want want to bore anyone with stories about that.

But one thing I have noticed in all those years a I cannot recall a single year where it wasn't proclaimed by someone that software engineering would be dead as a career path within a few years.

Academia and Industry is actually pretty good at coming up with new and better ways to program. Hundreds if not thousands of new languages, frameworks and tools have appeared over the years and an amazing number of them were designed with the idea that "you don't need a programmer anymore." They're still doing it.

If you have been around long enough, you realize it will never happen.

about 5 months ago

Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company

AlanObject Re:A Republican clearing up your misconceptions. (502 comments)

Didn't Jesus have access to power sources unknown to us? The Bible tends to refer to this as "god's" power and it doesn't give any more detail but I am pretty sure what Jesus did would require energy sources beyond what the Bronze age could provide.

about 6 months ago

Tesla's Already Shopping For More Office Space

AlanObject Office Space? (100 comments)

My office is in the Warm Springs district of Fremont less than 1KM from the Tesla plant. I can't step outside without a Tesla fresh from the factory or a demo rolling over my toes.

There is a huge amount of empty real estate around here. The main Solyndra building got purchased by Seagate, but they occupied several other buildings which are still empty. Including the Solyndra HQ which was visited by Obama for a photo op. It used to be the HMT building, then MMC, then Solyndra bought it and completely refurbished it. Next to it is about 500,000 sq ft of what used to be a Compaq facility, then HP, then Solyndra, now empty.

There are tons of other buildings that were full of dot-com era tech that are all now empty. And new buildings on what was the McCarthy Ranch. It is a few miles further away but easy freeway access.

Let's just say it is a buyer's market. Why Tesla would be having any difficulty all choosing what space they want to occupy is an amazing notion. I'll never understand commercial real estate.

about 6 months ago

NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

AlanObject Re:Let them drink! (532 comments)

Intelligent people can fall prey to addictive substances including heroin, narcotics, and nicotine. Sugar is addictive and it has been shown to be on par with cocaine that way. How else do people down 44 ounces of liquid in a single serving?

Beyond simple sucrose/glucose, high-fructose sweeteners used by the soft drink industry have additional negative health consequences even beyond weight gain that aren't readily apparent to consumers. The sugar-water companies reap huge profits -- as big as any the tobacco industry ever did -- selling this stuff.

We regulate dangerous consumables, so why not sugar and HFCS? If I had my way minors wouldn't be able to buy this stuff.

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

AlanObject Language? What Language? (466 comments)

My personal experience is I spend 10% of my learning curve learning whatever language and 90% of my learning curve learning the available libraries for that language.

So I tend to want to use Java for everything not because the language is better than some other (it isn't, but arguing about it is pointless) but because I am proficient in a lot of class libraries that come with it. Also it has a defacto-standard project structure pretty much enforced by Apache Maven.

Most recent case in point for me is learning Objective-C to do IOS applications. Learning the language itself is not that big a deal even if you do stumble a lot (at first) over the square-bracket syntax of its message statements. The only thing that makes it usable at all is Xcode's excellent IDE support for the library documentation always just a context-sensitive click or two away.

That, to me is the biggest problem with Javascript. The language itself is pretty cool in some ways yet full of pitfalls and more prone to abuse and misuse than almost any other language I can think of. Netbeans does a decent job of making a debugging platform workable but the class libraries alway require web searches for examples and tutorials. Until you are proficient (months of coding maybe) it is really slow going.

BTW, if you really want to go the Javascript route but still yearn for Python you should look into CoffeeScript.

about 7 months ago

Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public

AlanObject Re:What about the shareholders? (211 comments)

The plaintiffs would have to demonstrate how the company lost value by them doing that. If Tesla somehow lost significant value and a lawsuit against management were initiated for some other reason, this issue might be appended to the lawsuit to try to build the case for mismanagement. The defense would counter that since the shareholders did not vote as a majority to replace the BoD with one that would appoint officers (not Musk) that would not do such things, the BoD was simply following the will of the majority of the shareholders in their own best judgement. There used to be a lot of law firms around that would try it, but while the company's stock value is up there simply is no way to claim damages.

about 7 months ago

Snowden: NSA Spied On Human Rights Workers

AlanObject Re:Outrage fatigue (230 comments)

If you spy on every damn thing then there is no way you can adequately cover the important things.

I don't agree with this -- they are taking the same approach that I would have taken given their mission statement. They want to collect everything then go through it later when a need arises. This is sound engineering and it can be effective law enforcement. Anyone can think of many scenarios where it would be desirable if not vital to track back what an identified person has been doing for the last 30 days.

The flaw is their assumption that nobody should mind having everything about them recorded as long as nothing but a computer program looks at it. After all I have to show my ID to police on request and the requirement on their side is that they don't do it arbitrarily. The NSA officials see what they are doing is the exact same thing. The flaw with that is of course I have no idea what NSA is doing or has done with the data they have already taken with me. Nor do you. Nor anyone. Their "internal procedures" to prevent abuse have been shown to be not trustworthy.

So NSA is on a track where they are sound technically, but way off legally and ethically.

about 10 months ago

Why Are We Made of Matter?

AlanObject Does it matter? (393 comments)

Never mind.

about 10 months ago


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