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Jaguar and Land Rover Just Created Transparent Pillars For Cars

Balthisar Re:You mean Tata (191 comments)

Remember that Tata bought JLR from Ford, and Ford had made huge progress in improving JLR quality -- especially Jaguar (yes, ignorant people still say Ford sucks, but this isn't the late 20th century any more).

When Tata buys JLR (or Geely buys Volvo) this is a complicated trade and not as simple as "new owner starts with bad quality." Aside from the physical assets like the plants, there are large layers of technology transfer agreements (who owns Jaguar's aluminum self-pierce rivet technology?), purchasing agreements (Ford still supplies both Geely and Tata critical parts), and consulting agreements (product design engineering support, manufacturing support, etc.). Of course over time all of these will dissipate, but it takes one or more whole new generations of vehicle platforms for this to happen.

In the meantime the JLR and Volvo plants are still extant and operated by the same people who've always operated them. A new owner cannot simply walk in and change the entire manufacturing process and quality processes; that's too expensive and building cars is much, much, much more complex than the average person can fathom.

The trend these days is for the acquiring company to get better rather than to make the purchased company worse.

about a week ago
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Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

Balthisar Re:Move to a gated community (596 comments)

In many jurisdictions local homeowners have to pay to maintain public roads, too. In my own neighborhood the asphalt street is falling apart. The township and county simply aren't responsible. The township, though, can repair it by assessing each of the homeowners. The township (at its expense) arranged the bids, calculated the per-home costs based on frontage, and called us to a meeting to discuss the proposal and have a hands-up, informal vote.

In the end we rejected the proposal due to other concerns.

about a week ago
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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

Balthisar Re:Why are taxi drivers all so horrible? (295 comments)

>I don't see them being able to cut into Singapore's, where I find them cheap.

How's the quality of taxis in Singapore? (I've only been through the airport.)

In China taxis are dirt cheap, too. Sometimes, though, they pick you up at the airport (where one might expect you to have luggage) in a taxi that has its trunk occupied by a CNG tank instead of empty space where one might place luggage. And in general taxis are old, noisy, bumpy, and of poor quality, and most importantly, difficult to hail (although DidiChe + pre-tipping is making this easier).

Uber is in a few select Chinese cities now. Just this weekend I used Uber (for the first time ever) to get from Chengdu airport to the train station. The price was similar to a taxi, but the car was a late model Audi, clean, no advertisements, and most importantly, comfortable. I can't wait for them to come to my city.

about a week ago
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Apple DRM Lawsuit Might Be Dismissed: Plaintiffs Didn't Own Affected iPods

Balthisar Re:Not unexpected. (141 comments)

I didn't mention the switches because those WERE spec'd by GM. My point was, though, that a lot of things are off-the-shelf or nearly so. Look at the airbag issue that's affecting many, many auto companies right now.

about two weeks ago
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Apple DRM Lawsuit Might Be Dismissed: Plaintiffs Didn't Own Affected iPods

Balthisar Re:Not unexpected. (141 comments)

We (in the auto business) use a lot of off the shelf components, or components that have minimal changes that we specify to meet our needs. Why should we micromanage light bulb specifications when the light bulb manufacturer has engineers that specialize in all of the different aspects of light bulbs?

We don't just pick things out of a catalogue, though, and I highly doubt that Apple does, either. Apple and GM should be very, very similar.

about two weeks ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

Balthisar Re:Federal Funding is not contingent on speed limi (525 comments)

> I shudder to think what would happen if US drivers were let loose on roads such as the Autobahn in their cars, with their proficiency, and their respect for the rules of the road - it'd make some great TV :)

Really, I guess it depends on *how many* Americans (and which Americans) are released. If it's the same as the non-German percentage on the Autobahns, maybe the effect is negligible. A typical American isn't much different than the typical French (i.e., some of them won't get the hell out of the left lane).

Overall, though, I cede you the point. I used to be proud of my fellow Michiganders for example, but in the last 15 years, they're as stupid as Ohioans. Granted we have some stupid left-side exits and entrances, but gee, you don't need eight miles to prepare for them.

about three weeks ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

Balthisar Re:German autobahn is not an example for you guys (525 comments)

> Yeah, but on the autobahn there is no speed limit.

Except in the urbanized areas, which is a hell of a lot of the very densely populated country. Yup, there are free-for-all zones, but it’s not at all like most people think.

about three weeks ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

Balthisar Re:Federal Funding is not contingent on speed limi (525 comments)

Let me tell you. When I was stationed in Germany from 1991 to 1993, you were correct. Then the EU and open borders and the Eurozone and all that stuff happened. I've been back to Germany several times (no longer as poor soldier) in the 2000's, and I can say that there are a lot of foreigners on them there Autobahns (nouns are cap'd in German), and the rules ain't that strictly followed. (Not sure why I'm writing in that tone of voice.)

There's still pretty good discipline in the leftmost lane. But out of five or six lanes, it's not quite good enough. And of course in cities and urban areas there have always been speed limits. In fact the speed limits in these areas are programmed based on traffic flow and peak times.

Intercity is where the safe and prudent really works in Germany, especially because the left-most lane (not all lanes!) discipline works fairly well. Note that as early as 1991, though, there is certain liability for causing an accident in the left lane, even if there's a slow driver.

I guess my point is, Germany isn't the speed-limitless-wonderland that so many people think it is.

about three weeks ago
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Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle

Balthisar Re:Then don't sign the contract (189 comments)

This isn't uncommon in industry (it's also not the normal way of things). If we want to to be certain that a supplier builds something the right way, we might specify every detail of the tooling, and sometimes buy it and install it ourselves.

about three weeks ago
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Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

Balthisar Re:This seems different (134 comments)

>Whereas net neutrality is about not charging companies extra for delivering data to users who already paid.

But so many net neutrality bigmouths are against paid prioritization, too.

about three weeks ago
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In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

Balthisar Flawed, 'cos... (454 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.

about a month ago
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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 2 months ago
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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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K...

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 3 months ago
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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 3 months ago
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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 4 months ago
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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 5 months ago
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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 6 months ago
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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 6 months ago

Submissions

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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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