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How Apple's CarPlay Could Shore Up the Car Stereo Industry

Big_Breaker Re:Less apple more ISO standard interface please (193 comments)

3rd party GPS is gimped due to a lack of wheel rotation data from the car which OEM GPS get's "for free". This wheel rotation data helps update direction, speed and position far more frequently than GPS can. If CarPlay gets access to the car's telemetry feeds to pickup wheels rotation data, it will make a huge difference in accuracy. From there on out OEM is a dead. For sure you will be stuck in a walled garden though... renting your map data at $3 a month. But that's better than an over priced, 3 years out of date system that only gets worse as time goes on. Updates are very much the exception and not the rule in OEM electronics.

3 days ago
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Carpenter Who Cut Off His Fingers Makes "Robohand" With 3-D Printer

Big_Breaker Re:Better to make a hand extension for dangerous w (91 comments)

I know about push sticks but sometimes you need more dexterity. Also people will accidentally reach for something reflexively, through distraction or fatigue, and hurt themselves even when a push stick or whatever is nearby. -- I was going to say handy but didn't want to make a pun.

4 days ago
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Carpenter Who Cut Off His Fingers Makes "Robohand" With 3-D Printer

Big_Breaker Better to make a hand extension for dangerous work (91 comments)

Once the fingers are lost, no prosthetic will be as good as the original. Why not let a "prosthetic" hand take the injury in the first place? As a bonus you have the intact, unmaimed hand to drive the actuators on the device. Use the sacrificial hands for dangerous work around saws and such. It could be like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Toysmith-833-12-Robot-Hand-18/dp/B000ID1DU0

But better... If it was good enough people would use it out of habit. Old school special effects guys used cable setups to animate puppets in live action scenes, sometimes down to the individual fingers.

4 days ago
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Sulfur Polymers Could Enable Long-Lasting, High-Capacity Batteries

Big_Breaker Re:mAh is only half the equation (131 comments)

Compressed air has volumetric energy density similar to lead acid (about half lithium ion) but extremely high power density. Energy density by weight is dependent on scale - bigger is better - because the weight scales as the surface area of the container while the energy scales with volume. But

If you are looking for a power boost on take off, compressed air is totally viable. Doubly so because it would naturally drive a propeller with an air motor which is more efficient at low speeds. Fix the expansion cooling by burning a bit of fuel in the expansion stream.

I won't want to be near a high pressure tank like that if it ruptured though! Maybe its a system that works better for cargo than human transport.

about a month and a half ago
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More Bad News For the F-35

Big_Breaker Re:Rube Goldberg (401 comments)

I think you meant to say the A-10 is the best CAS platform. You seem to be saying that for the B-52?

I could see a roll for an A-10 like drone for CAS. CAS is by definition vulnerable to ground fire so it would be nice to have it remotely piloted. You wouldn't have a 30mm cannon but maybe 2-4 individually targeted 50 cals mounted on gimbals to handle infantry up to light material. A pilot and four gunners working remotely could really tear things up vs one pilot working in harms way. Compared to bombs intended for light material such as cluster bombs, the guns should create less collateral damage.

The 30mm cannon on the A-10 doesn't seem to have as much of a purpose when tanks are so easy to identify and take out with traditional strike aircraft. Not to knock a great aircraft but I think that cannon was designed to bust Russian tanks on the European plains. It's a real piece of work though... a tank gun with wings.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Suggestions For a Simple Media Server?

Big_Breaker Re:WD TV Live plays almost everything (420 comments)

I have the same setup people hear are talking about - headless NAS serving multiple WDTV boxes.

Don't "forget" to upgrade the firmware to WDLXTV firmware. It adds tons of features - nzbget, torrents, nfs, DNLA, subtitle download and much more. In a pinch you can even have one of the boxes serve content off a USB drive.

about 3 months ago
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Kickstarter For Open Source GPU

Big_Breaker Re:utterly utterly worthless (108 comments)

No mod points so I'll comment. The binary blobs are generally not updated after a short period - sometimes as little as year. At that point you've effectively been EOL'd by your GPU because it is incompatible with later kernels. Sometimes, as is the case with the IMX6 SOC, the drivers are old when the device is released. Mir helps because android is more likely to get updates but serously... being unable to update your two year old ARM box is super lame.

Fortunately there are efforts to reverse engineer open source drivers but its an imperfect and time consuming endevor. It would be better to have open source from the get-go or code escrow at worst for 2-3 years. I bet you modern GPUs with reverse engineered drivers will trump FPGA implementations.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?

Big_Breaker Re:Hate unity? There are other *buntus. (631 comments)

I just wiped my Ubunutu box after a drive failure and went Kubuntu. It's early days but so far I love it. It's very polished, responsive and easy to get "functional" IE with binary NVIDIA driver, non-free codecs etc. It feels like a premium product I should have to pay for.

Downsides - not many.... I haven't found an easy way to mount and unmount drives through the GUI but I'm sure its there. Menues feel a bit too nested but again- there's a fix or I get used to it.

about 7 months ago
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Software Brings Eye Contact To Video Chat, With a Little Help From Kinect

Big_Breaker Might work if people look at screen not camera (111 comments)

Didn't RTFA of course but the smart way to do this is to start with video of someone actually looking at the person on the screen rather than the camera. That way camera sees an off angle but "correct" picture. that picture is then rotated so the remote video looks "right".

about 7 months ago
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Qualcomm Says Eight-Core Processors Are Dumb

Big_Breaker 8 cores but only 4 used at a time (526 comments)

Qualcomm is likely referring to Samsung's octo core "big.LITTLE" SoCs. These chips have 4 performance cores and 4 power sipping cores. Software switches between performance and power saving modes. These chips make sense anywhere quad core makes sense AND they can be a little more power efficient.

This 4+4 strategy is basically the next iteration of power saving through dark silicon. Transistors are cheap so use piles of them but only power on the ones necessary at the time. Having 4 power saving cores seems like overkill but I imagine directly paralleling the 4 performance cores may make the switching more seemless / faster.

about 9 months ago
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A Look At Quantum Computer Manufacturer D-Wave and Its Founder

Big_Breaker Re:Not a QC! (96 comments)

Everytime an electron passes from the metal interconnect to silicon in a semiconductor a quantum process is occuring. The electron has to pass a thin but but carrier empty region by quantum tunnelling because the metal either fills or empties the region of the interface. So the electron has to do a "quantum jump" so to speak. So basically every semiconductor is quantum to a degree and in an instrinic way.

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Would You Look For In a Prosthetic Hand?

Big_Breaker Mouth will probably work better than prosthetics (173 comments)

For paint brushes and other small items I imagine holding them in her mouth will work better than current prosthetic hands.

You may be thinking about the robotic hands you can see in research clips but most available prosthetics are simple devices that open and close with a turn of the forearm.

The robotic hands suffer from difficulty getting a "close/open hand" signal from the brain. Implanted electrodes are all to some degree incompatible with human tissue and degrade over time. Sensors to read electrical signals through the skin are imprecise. Some versions use buttons manipulated by other body parts (likely toes in this case) but these are not in the mainstream.

The old fashion two finger hooks seem to be the most practical answer for a lot of people. They are cheaper, durable, don't require batteries and can do a lot of useful things with any fine motor manipulation.

A human hand is a marvel of biological engineering. Sadly it is tough to replicate in a prosthetic. Perhaps she would be a good candidate for a transplant down the road? Prosthetics may improve more quickly with so many vets having suffered limb loss. To date lower limb prosethetics seem to be well ahead of hands/arms in terms of matching the original limb's functionality. Lots of "below the knee" single amputies have no obvious impairment in terms of gait.

about a year ago
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The Survival Machine Farm

Big_Breaker Re:Blueprints for Civilization: worth watching (214 comments)

I RTFA and agree that the TED talk is a far better representation of their goal then this article. The goal isn't to restart civiliation if an apocalypse comes.

Marcin tried to run his own farm. The equipment he bought was expensive and complex but not robust and not user servicable. As a phd in nuclear physics he figured he could puzzle out how to fix his equipment and make improvements but he couldn't. He also realized that "1st world" mechanized farming and by extension basic industry was totally inaccessible to developing economies or even bright individuals with 1st world access. This struck him as odd because farming and basic industry seems like the next step up from subsistance. But the gap between developing country resources and needs and what was available is simply too great. So he went about making robust, user servicable, modular equipment for farming, building houses, generating power and processing food.

about a year and a half ago
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Amazon Considering Buying Texas Instrument's Chip Business

Big_Breaker Still waiting on a server version of OMAP (108 comments)

I really wish someone would come out with a dual core arm SoC with e-sata and gigabit ethernet as a light duty server. 1BG of ram would be nice but 512MB would probably work too. Guruplug, some of the allwinner media boxes and BYO drives NAS boxes come close but each miss something or cost too much. Single core is weak for rar / par and can get bogged down (yea, yea scheduler, blah blah). USB can't set HD parameters, has material cpu overhead and is wonky for RAID. 100/10 is a bit weak throughput for even a SOHO server.

OMAP5 with the right configuration would get there. Please stop putting 100/10 interfaces on these chips @&#$%!

I'm ok paying for a light-duty gpu and hdmi display interface but e-sata and gigabit pls, pls ,pls.

about a year and a half ago
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Almost 1 In 3 US Warplanes Is a Drone

Big_Breaker 500MB/s ~ 4k resolution, 30 frames, uncompressed (328 comments)

Global hawk is a high altitude, high resolution surveillance bird. It's like a drone version of the U2. I'm not surprised that it would generate HUGE amounts of data. They aren't spending tens of millions of those things to mount a web cam. Bandwidth for more pedestrian drones like the Reaper should be far lower.

I think the bandwidth and security solution will be high altitude relay planes/blimps over friendly territory so that signals can be line of sight in the air and then sent down to ground stations in friendly territory. That type of bandwidth is only problematic until it hits a terrestrial wire. At 40-50k feet line of sight is 200 miles to sea level and 400 miles for another high altitude airplane. By contrast geosynchronous orbits are 22,000 miles away and its a round trip. I guess it is possible to use LEO satellites but those are vulnerable in a way that GEO is not.

Line of sight signals from aircraft could be stronger and therefore harder to jam. Also the angle of the signal would be harder to duplicate and overwhelm from the ground. Also with multiple relay stations you'd have an alternate way to calcuate position like GPS but without the low power satellite constraints. Bonus points for one time pad encrypting the really sensitive stuff like controls. A 120GB SSD is a lot of unbreakable communication.

more than 2 years ago
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Research Promises Drastically Increased LiOn Capacity

Big_Breaker Graphene needs a lot of layers (378 comments)

Since graphene is only 1 atom thick it is tough to make a significant volume of material. It takes so many layers before you have any thickness. Hopefully the Si layer defines the bulk of the anode, because otherwise you'll just never be able to make a big battery. The cathode and anode need surface area to drive enough chemistry and a big enough cross section to handle the resulting current. That cross section will have to come from the Si...

more than 2 years ago
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Research Promises Drastically Increased LiOn Capacity

Big_Breaker Re:Better Place (378 comments)

Close... They are rolling out in areas that have closed traffic systems, so called traffic islands. In Hawaii they have a traffic island because Hawaii is physically a collection of islands. Israel is a traffic island because Israelis rarely drive out of Israel, relations with the neighbors being what they are. Density is certainly a part of it but the closed nature of the roadways is a bigger one.

more than 2 years ago
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The F-35 Story

Big_Breaker Re:Marine version tripped up the whole program (509 comments)

It's not that the Marines don't deserve an upgraded capability - the harrier is old, old, old... It's just too hard to meet all their objectives:

Supersonic, VTOL, stealth

Pick 2, not 3 - that is if you want a jet that can be made with today's technology in numbers that matter. I don't think stealth or supersonic speed are critical to the Marines. Isn't the purpose for the marines air support? I would pick stealth over SS and make sure to have a stand off air to air capability to defeat a limited air defense. If you need more than that, you need a carrier group.

more than 2 years ago
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The F-35 Story

Big_Breaker Marine version tripped up the whole program (509 comments)

It's the VTOL/STOL version for the marines that bogged the whole program down. It was just too ambious and when this became obvious the "solution" was to put almost all the focus on the Marine version to push it through. They should have paused the Marine version instead, met all the objectives for the convential and carrier versions, then come back to the marines. In 5 or 10 years we'll be smarter about how to do it, where the airframe can be lightened, how to put more thrust in the engines, etc.

more than 2 years ago
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US Funds Aggressive Tech To Cut Solar Power Costs

Big_Breaker PV already cheap enough. We need better batteries (272 comments)

We've already hit the tipping point with $1/kw and falling PV. PV has no moving parts, a long service life and works well at the point of consumption (households). It is not so much more expensive than fossil fueled utility power after cost of carbon and power distribution is taken into account. Utility scale solar requires huge amounts of land. We should only do that after our southern facing roofs are covered in panels (or north for the aussies).

We need better batteries, not better solar power. A cheaper, denser battery that supports transportation uses and a dirt cheap, high capacity battery for time shifting loads is what we need.

more than 2 years ago

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