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In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

Balthisar Flawed, 'cos... (453 comments)

(I work for an auto manufacturer, but my opinions are my own. And my lifestyle is my own, and doesn't reflect 100% of slashdot).

1. Peak demand. In car-culture areas there's a peak demand. *Someone* has to own the rush hour fleet. But no business is going to want to invest in a fleet that has 21 hours of downtime during non-peak loads.
2. Consumers want reliability and 100% availability. Consider Uber and Lyft that promise this, except during surge pricing periods. People hate this. It's economically correct in the case of Uber and Lyft, and an obvious idea, but surge pricing during rush hour isn't going to work. People will still own their own cars.
3. Personalization and customization. Hey, I like my cars stock, but I still have my stuff in the center console, my presets on the stereo (yes, 760 am in the morning, I'm a dying breed), and my iPhone paired to Sync. A different car every day isn't going to cut it. And think about comfort, especially on a commute. If it's hit or miss as far as comfort, people are willing to pay for 100% access to a Fusion versus an Elantra (or choose an Elantra versus a smaller B-sized car).
4. Toy haulers. You're not going to call Uber or Lyft to tow your trailer to a state park or tow your boat to a launch. And this isn't 99%'er speaking, this is blue collar worker in my part of the country.

Will annual sales go down? Yeah, probably. Maybe undoubtably (how's that for hedging?). But families in most areas are still going to continue to own their own cars. Maybe not two or three cars -- supplemented by autonomous vehicles or ride sharing -- but the private market most definitely won't dry up, even amongst the 99%.

I'm limiting my projections here to about 50 years. Beyond that, who knows. Most of us will be dead then, so it's good enough.

2 days ago

The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

Balthisar I can push a broom (205 comments)

Surely Google needs custodians, too. Or security. Or gardeners.

Granted, most of this can be contracted out. But if I were cleaning toilets I could still say, "I work at Google" and not "I work for Generic Contracting Services LLC."

about a month ago

"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

Balthisar Bad summary? Or horrible editorializing? (259 comments)

"Tax evasion" is a crime. "Tax avoidance" is what is being done here.

about a month and a half ago

Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

Balthisar Re:Big Old Liar (276 comments)

And it's been established that Italians were in China (living here) before Marco Polo:


As much as they try to shrug off foreigners in China, the statue and museum in Yangzhou dedicated to him are touching. I didn't know of them before I visited, and I certainly had no knowledge that there were already Italian communities!

about 1 month ago

The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

Balthisar Re: I dunno about LEDs, but CFLs don't last (602 comments)

>but it output is configured in current mode

It's not even that difficult. You probably know exactly how they work, and are only struggling for words.

"Constant current" is the same as "constant voltage" if the load is static. If an LED needs 100mA and the voltage (as you accurately described) is constant, there's no "current mode" regulation needed. Just a known resistance.

For others, LEDs are definitely current devices. Remember: current isn't *put*; it's *drawn*. If the conductor is big enough (e.g., no resistor), then regardless of the voltage, LEDs will suck up all the juice they can, glow brightly for a short amount of time, and then die. So with a known voltage, put a resistance in series, and you have a stable LED semiconductor.

A good switching power supply will produce a stable output voltage regardless of the input voltage (within specs, that is). Ergo failure of LEDs due to overcurrent situations is most likely the result of crappy switching power supplies.

about a month ago

Microsoft Surface Drowning?

Balthisar Can I run a Hackintosh distro? (337 comments)

I was watching a WWDC Xcode session video on an airplane Saturday, and a surprised passenger walking past asked if I was running Mac OS X (ecks, he said) on my first gen iPad mini. That got me thinking... yeah, I'd buy a surface pro if I could run a Mac OS X on it. My iPad is mostly useless to me other than plane trips and Omnifocus.

I'm off to Google VMWare Player on the Surface 3... that would make a surface a no-brainer. OneNote on Windows is sooo much better than OneNote on Mac. Put them together, and a Surface actually makes some sense to me.

about 3 months ago

Google Spots Explicit Images of a Child In Man's Email, Tips Off Police

Balthisar Chilling not just for scanning email... (790 comments)

This implies *much* more than the simple scanning of email and image recognition. After all, is Google also reporting innocent pictures people take of their babies in, e.g., the bathtub to send to daddy while he's in China on a business trip? Or is it more likely that Google knew the guy was a sex offender and targeted the scanning of his email specifically?

about 4 months ago

Google Reader: One Year Later

Balthisar Re:NewsFox (132 comments)

NewsFox was my absolute favorite! Then I moved away from FireFox to Chrome, and there was nothing nearly as good as NewFox.

The nice thing about moving to Chrome was forcing myself to use Google Reader. At first I rather hated Google Reader, but with a Chrome extension and some themes, I got it to finally work more or less like NewsFox.

These days I'm using Tiny Tiny RSS.

about 5 months ago

Google Reader: One Year Later

Balthisar Re:Tiny Tiny RSS (132 comments)

Yup, Tiny Tiny RSS on my shared BlueHost account, with some mobile reader plugin I can't remember the name of (it looks mostly like mobile Google Reader looked).

about 5 months ago

Apple Kills Aperture, Says New Photos App Will Replace It

Balthisar Re:Final Cut? (214 comments)

And it still works well with a keyboard. The only thing missing is a two dimensional grid, though.

I love full screen and spaces, and my mind handles the layout perfectly. I want to be able to have left-right orientation of major apps, and up-down orientation of the apps I'm using the support. Thus a 2D grid instead of the currently 1D line we have.

For example: I like Parallels to be far off to the right of my desktop. XCode to the left of my Desktop. OneNote under XCode. PHPStorm to the left of XCode. Photoshop under PHPStorm. Chrome to the immediate right of the desktop. Safari under it (sometimes I need Safari). In 1D, these are all spread out and it's too far to move.

about 5 months ago

NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

Balthisar Re: We should have a choice (455 comments)

Well, here's the current map of superchargers: http://www.teslamotors.com/sup...

So unless my plans coincided with that map, I would still take a gasoline fueled vehicle. But like I said, that range isn't a deal-killer for me, personally, because I have the option to take a second vehicle. But I don't represent the majority of the people, and the majority of the people don't plan their routes around charging stations, and given that we're talking "wide acceptance" I would presume that means something that is useful (in the context of this type of travel) for the majority of the users.

Actually looking at the current supercharger map, I think I would take a Tesla on a previous road trip I've made. I could have made that supercharger map. A couple of spotty areas, but doable. For me, a very small portion of potential road trippers on a specific route.

I'm not trying to hate on Tesla. Like I said in the parent, shiny, want. But my circumstances support it and I'm not egocentric enough to think that what's good enough for me is good enough for everyone else.

about 5 months ago

NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

Balthisar Re:We should have a choice (455 comments)

Yes, exactly, but although to prevent others from misunderstanding what you clearly understand, the 80% figure was just a standard Pareto choice.

In my case I would have to decide what percentage each of my needs/wants is. Is it a percentage of my annual miles/km driven? Percentage of activities that merit a certain vehicle? Or percentage of days of the year that I perform those activities?

A Tesla-like vehicle would certainly cover 99% of my miles driven, but maybe only 70% of days I use a vehicle, but also 90% of the activities for which I want a vehicle.

about 5 months ago

NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

Balthisar Re:We should have a choice (455 comments)

I've had two cars most of my serious adult life, so it wouldn't be a concern for me, personally (I'd simply take a gasoline powered vehicle on a cross-country trip, which I've done on several occasions).

For a cross-country trip, though, yeah, 265 miles isn't far enough. That's about four hours of driving versus the 400 mile range of a typical gasoline car giving about six hours of driving. And it only takes a few minutes to fill up, and you don't have to plan which gas station you use. So for a lot of people, the idea of making a cross-country trip in a Tesla is still disadvantageous versus a traditional automobile.

Tesla is shiny, and I want one. It would serve 80% of my driving needs. I still require a different capability vehicle for the rest of my needs/wants, though.

about 5 months ago

Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

Balthisar Re:GM = Made in China (431 comments)

Actually you import cars into China. The duty is reported to be 100%. My neighbor had to import her Lamborghini (it's too big for her garage, so she leaves it parked outside). Another neighbor has a Lincoln Navigator that's not made her. Another neighbor has one of the big GM-Hummers, although to be fair, it's possible that it was manufactured here.

On the subject of made-in-Chinay, most of my neighbors have Chinese-made Audis and Mercedes, though. My Chinese-made Ford is just as good as Belgian-made version, except for the reduced feature set (really, no fuel economy indicator?). The key thing is that although Chinese people are building them (really, robots are doing the heavy lifting), it's still Europeans and Americans here ensuring that our brands are not injured by local practices. There are thousands of foreign engineers in China making sure that we build the same stuff in China as we do in the rest of the world.

about 5 months ago

Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work

Balthisar Re:So what's the alternative? (422 comments)


People will laugh. But in an office environment it's an excellent solution. But one can still write formulas directly in reports and forms, so code review isn't necessarily easier.

about 6 months ago

Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?

Balthisar Re:Car driver ethics: What do I hit? (800 comments)

> One, a crash with a bigger car is worse _for me_.

Why do you think that? Whether your car hits a stationary brick wall or a parked Suburban, a tiny, little Aveo, or an infinitely thin, infinitely strong force field, the force of the impact is the same for your car. There might be said for variation due to the specific dynamics of the crash, such as, does your little car do under the SUV's front bumper, but the mass of the object you're striking isn't relevant beyond the point your car can no longer move the object you're crashing into.

about 7 months ago

How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

Balthisar Re:Business class is a misnomer (146 comments)

Or, well, you get to silver, gold, platinum, or diamond and then get promoted to business class 90% of the time for the price of a coach ticket.

about 7 months ago

This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

Balthisar Slashdot took me on a Wikipedia-like adventure (276 comments)

It's seldom that Slashdot takes me on a Wikipedia-like adventure. But once I was there and realized that archive.org is more than a Wayback Machine, I started looking up issues of RUN magazine (C=64 and C=128 centric magazine of the time). I was determined not to stop until I found the two "Magic" articles that they published for me. Issue 65 and Issue 69, long lost in the real world, and now added to my digital trophy case.

I can't believe I was programming 8502 assembly language back then and haven't so much as learned a damned thing about Java these days.

about 7 months ago

An Engineer's Eureka Moment With a GM Flaw

Balthisar Re:Criminal Charges (357 comments)

What is "incorrect"? Companies will change parts due to customer satisfaction, too. That's not an admission of wrongdoing. It's an admission that they didn't meet customer satisfaction the first time (and yes, you could jump in and say that not dying is satisfying, but that's not my point).

In the case of the ignition switch, there's very easy plausible deniability. The newer, customer-satisfying version has higher torque. Customers have come to expect resistance when they turn a key, and they identify a too-easy-to-turn key with toy-like "cheapness." If the new key switch module can add less than 1 per unit in manufacturing and also improve customer satisfaction, then it's absolutely justifiable in this situation.

There is a huge emphasis on closing efforts these days. The result of all of this work is that I typically slam car doors closed, because my old-man expectation is that the door is heavy and needs a lot of energy imparted into the action. Most customers, though, appreciate easy-to-close doors. Car makers go through a lot of effort to compete with each other on this detail. It's not at all related to safety, but to customer satisfaction.

Of course "customer satisfaction" leads to increased sales and profitability. It's a downright disservice to spread misinformation that manufacturers (of any product, not just cars) only compare bottom-line price, because the successful ones realize that they cannot compete based *only* on price.

about 8 months ago

'Google Buses' Are Bad For Cities, Says New York MTA Official

Balthisar Re:Foxconn and friends were faster (606 comments)

Most companies pay a 13th month salary just before New Year, and that's also when Red Envelopes and bonus payments are made. So in cases where people are going to leave anyway, this is the time they're likely to do it. To be qualified for 13th month and bonus, you have to have been at the company since October. This all causes:
  - Lots of people don't return to work after New Year. In my company it's about 11%.
  - It's very, very hard to hire people (except fresh graduates) between October and New Year (Jan-Feb, usually).

Internal migrants are also similar to Mexican migrants in the USA. They come, make a lot of money (by their standards for a short time), and return to the family home. And in the case of our engineers, they simply add our prestigious name to their C.V.'s and get a 30% raise at the next company.

about 9 months ago



Google announces Google Nose — "Smelling is believing"

Balthisar Balthisar writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Balthisar writes "Being stationed in the Asia-Pacific region certainly has its advantages on certain days of the year, such as today. I'm happy to have discovered Google's launch of Google Nose. According to their information page, "Google Nose(BETA) leverages new and existing technologies to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available.""
Link to Original Source


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