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

R3d M3rcury Re:In a Self-Driving Future--- (419 comments)

I would say the number for whom driving is a passion is a significantly smaller number than those who drive because they have to.

That said, the quote I thought was interesting, from the summary:

Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls.

This is an intriguing point. What you might end up seeing is the death of economy car.

I have a fast and sexy car in my garage (okay, it's not THAT fast but it is kind of sexy, or so I've been told). One reason I bought it is that I liked how it looked, it had decent performance, was comfortable, and still got good gas mileage. But I'll be the first to agree that, at least out here in Southern California, what kind of car you drive generates a certain image about you. And I'm not sure that renting a self-driving "pod" for a date would give the same message as showing in a gorgeous Mercedes, Bentley, or Maserati.

Those who buy a Toyota or Honda because they're solid, dependable, economical cars would be the first people to trade in their cars for a rental pods. But the people who buy "aspirational" brands--Lexus, Cadillac, Mercedes, etc.--wouldn't be so quick to trade these in because they'd be giving themselves a poorer image. Arguably, if I pull up in front of a club in a self-driving rental "pod" versus pulling up in front of a club in self-driving Mercedes or a non-self-driving Lamborghini, I'm getting a heck of a lot less attention from potential sexual partners.

The mistake, of course, is to think that it must be one or the other. The reality is that, here in America, there is room for all of them. Like I said, I could see people who live in dense urban areas renting a nondescript pod for a trip to the grocery store where it would be inconvenient to carry all the groceries home in your arms. I could also see people owning their own slightly nicer pods because it's more convenient to go out to the garage and hop in every morning and be able to leave stuff in your pod. Heck, you might even defer some of the cost by renting out your slightly nicer pod when you're not using it. You might see luxury pods with bars and hot tubs.

You might even see non-self-driving cars! Like you said, I think there will continue to be demand from those who like to drive and those who don't feel comfortable entrusting someone/something else to transport them. What I think will be interesting is what form those cars will take? I mean, a self-driving sports car would be like a Harley with training-wheels. But sports cars can be expensive. Would it be worth it to produce inexpensive sports cars--like Kias? Are there enough people who would buy these to drive? Or will it become only the province of the wealthy to be able to drive themselves?


Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House

R3d M3rcury Re:Moat? Electric fence? (211 comments)

Or, conversely, the politicians that ban guns in all federal buildings yet believe wholeheartedly that anyone should be able to carry semi-automatic assault rifles into their local Walmart.

4 days ago

Bicycle Bottle System Condenses Humidity From Air Into Drinkable Water

R3d M3rcury Re:Unintended consequences (164 comments)

Good point. And if you have all those cyclists breathing hard, they'll produce more CO2 which is a greenhouse gas.

5 days ago

Bicycle Bottle System Condenses Humidity From Air Into Drinkable Water

R3d M3rcury Re:How much does the device weigh? (164 comments)

Just in case you're not up on this, I believe he's talking about a Camelbak. It's basically a backpack with a bladder for holding water and a hose that you can drink from. They're handy for bicyclists and runners who want to keep moving and not fiddle with bottles.

5 days ago

Electric Shock Study Suggests We'd Rather Hurt Ourselves Than Others

R3d M3rcury Re:Missing Option (123 comments)

I assume (RTFA? Pfft!) that the idea was that I was offered the choice of zapping someone else or zapping myself and getting money (ie, if I chose to zap someone else, I merely got the satisfaction/revulsion of zapping them but if I zapped myself, cha-ching!)

So it now becomes a question of how much money does it take for me to not inflict pain on another person. Did they actually know who the other person was? I don't necessarily mean names, but could they see the other person and see them getting shocked? Because that introduces a bunch of biases and how much money would it take to overcome them? That might be a neat study...

It'd also be interesting to see what happens over time. Would the amount of money change? "I didn't zap that person for $5, but after zapping a few people, you're gonna have to pay me more to stop..."

about a week ago

NYC To Replace Most of Its Payphones With Free Gigabit WiFi In 2015

R3d M3rcury Re:My guess? (106 comments)

I'd also add that it's easier if the city runs them to shut them down in the event that it becomes necessary "for public safety."

about a week ago

Military Laser/Radio Tech Proposed As Alternative To Laying Costly Fiber Cable

R3d M3rcury Re:cheaper perhaps (150 comments)

lasers require line of sight because unless you have very special optics going on light *ONLY* travels in straight lines.

Maybe if you pointed the laser into some sort of optical cable...

about a week ago

Toyota Names Upcoming Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

R3d M3rcury Re:oh, I thought it was Japanese for "Hindenberg" (194 comments)

there is one fuelling station in the country, out in the toolies [...]

Yeah, it's not like there aren't any Toyota dealerships in America where they could put in some kind of fueling station...

I suppose this is an advantage to having a dealership network...

about a week ago

Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph

R3d M3rcury Re:Meanwhile in America.... (418 comments)

Personally, all else being fairly equal, I would prefer a train.

Why would people rather travel by airplane? Because it's faster. And I don't blame them one bit. I'd rather fly across the country in five hours than take a train for five days. Who wouldn't?

But trains have a number of advantages. There isn't necessarily the case for "let's see how many people we can jam into a given space." Cars can be added or removed based on demand. Luggage is another example--want to travel with a bicycle, wheelchair, or something kind of large? You're going to paying a heck of a lot more and it's going to be really inconvenient.

Consider California's High-Speed Rail project--or at least the concept (we can argue over the implementation, but that's not the point I'm making). This would have trains that would go between LA and San Francisco in three hours. It takes about an hour to fly between LA and San Francisco--where I'm jammed into a tiny seat and have to pay extra just to bring along more than an overnight bag. Compare that to a three hour train ride where I have actual leg-room and could bring along clothes for a week stay without paying extra. Heck, I might even be able to bring a bicycle without packing it up!

I know which I'd prefer.

Now, I could sort-of take a regular train from LA to San Francisco (it actually ends up in Oakland). It takes about 12--count 'em--12 hours! Yeah, given a choice between an hour of misery or 12 hours of comfort, I think I'd put up with the hour.

about a week ago

Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

R3d M3rcury Re:Huh (223 comments)

While I'm not sure how many football fans are here on Slashdot, there are always plenty of Monday morning quarterbacks.

about two weeks ago

US Gov't Issues Alert About iOS "Masque Attack" Threat

R3d M3rcury Re:I don't get it... (98 comments)

This takes real work on the part of the user to do that they don't normally, or ever see.

But, in return, when they jump through all these hoops, their iPhone will run 50% faster and they'll be able to make money just by surfing the web.

about two weeks ago

Florida-Based Magic Leap Builds Its Team With Bay Area Hires

R3d M3rcury Re:And you get to live in Florida!!! (161 comments)

Well, I looked for a location for the company and it said Dania Beach, which is along the Atlantic Ocean side probably about 20 miles north of Miami. While Florida may be "red" state, the Miami area is pretty "blue."

That said, a company I used to work for got bought and we all ended up moving down to Miami. I was in my mid-20s and Miami was a pretty fun place. Lots of fun bars in Coconut Grove and South Beach (which stay open until 4AM!). You have a warm ocean, so you don't need to put on wetsuit if you're spending more than 10 minutes in the water.

The heat and humidity? Yeah, it can be bad. Make sure you live someplace with a pool. That solved the problem for me. Also, it's one of those cases where pretty much every place you live has central A/C. If they don't, you don't want to live there.

About the only issue I had was that after a year or so in Miami, I felt like I'd been everywhere and done everything. And once you get out of Miami/Dade, you're in The South which definitely was grating.

about two weeks ago

Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

R3d M3rcury Re:Why Hasn't Anyone Thought Of This Before (221 comments)

It has been thought of. The issue here is "How do you look for something as general as 'life'?"

Consider the various probes we have launched to Mars that are looking for signs of life currently or formerly existing. When we say that, though, we're looking for signs of life kind of like what we know on Earth. Which is great. But if we don't find any, it's tough to say definitively that life doesn't exist on Mars because what if it's a different form of life that we don't understand?

about two weeks ago

Bounties vs. Extreme Internet Harassment

R3d M3rcury Re:Wait.. (716 comments)


On the other hand, if I then said, "So-and-so supports a position that I am opposed to, so I think I'll shoot So-and-so," then yes.

about two weeks ago

What People Want From Smart Homes

R3d M3rcury Re:Selfish? (209 comments)

So, in other words, the smart home is a self-indulgent thing, then?

Yes, frankly. Welcome to the human race.

I'm old enough to remember when TVs had dials on them to change the channel and it was only the invalid who had remotes for the TV. Show a person a TV with a remote and the first thing they'd say is, "I'm not so lazy that I can't get up and change the channel." A remote for the TV was an indulgence. Nowadays? It's a requirement.

So, yeah, first priority for me would be convenience. But much of that convenience would be in the realm of saving energy--which could be considered "environmentally friendly" if I'm using less electricity and gas in my house. Imagine the house that turns off the lights when I leave a room. That adjusts the air conditioning/heating in the room based upon occupancy history. I don't need the living room to be a comfortable temperature when I'm sleeping at night. It's certainly more efficient to heat/cool just one room of the house at night than the whole thing. But I'm not going to run around the house and open and close vents before bed.

about three weeks ago

Scotland Builds Power Farms of the Future Under the Sea

R3d M3rcury Re:um, no (216 comments)

Nuclear is the least damaging to the environment [...]

As long as nothing goes wrong.

about three weeks ago

Scotland Builds Power Farms of the Future Under the Sea

R3d M3rcury Re:This article needs fact checking (216 comments)

I don't know where the poster got their numbers from, but an average coal plant is around 500 megawatts not 1000.

I'm not a Scottish or European person. Perhaps the average coal plant in Europe is around 1000 megawatts.

about three weeks ago

A Smart Electric Bike: Taking the Copenhagen Wheel Out For a Spin

R3d M3rcury Re:What about thieves? (136 comments)

I've been there [...]

You mean you're the one who stole my bike!? You bastard! :^D

I've heard that bikes get stolen all the time so it is not worth putting too much money into them.

This sort of depends. I've yet to have a bike stolen, but I tend to ride to places where I know my bike will be safe. If I'm going somewhere where I don't know that my bike will be safe (like to the local mall), I'll ride my cheap bike.

The nice thing about something like this is that since it's pretty much self-contained, you can take it with you. So I could attach this $800 wheel to my $150 Huffy and ride 30 miles or so. When I get to my destination, I'd detach the $800 wheel and take it with me and use a simple lock on the Huffy. If somebody really wants my Huffy, they can have it (though they'll need to get a new wheel).

about three weeks ago

Virginia Court: LEOs Can Force You To Provide Fingerprint To Unlock Your Phone

R3d M3rcury Re:LEOs (328 comments)

I always think that, too, but it's Law Enforcement Officers.

Of course, I was wondering why Leos would be able to force you, but Capricorns or Virgos wouldn't be able to.

about three weeks ago



Don't Try To Sell a "Smart" Gun in the U.S.

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  about 7 months ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "How's this for a good idea? A gun that won't fire unless it's within 10 inches of a watch? That's the iP1 from Armatrix. Of course, don't try to sell it here in the United States:

Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. “Belinda?” the person wrote. “Is that you?”

Her offense? Trying to market and sell a new .22-caliber handgun that uses a radio frequency-enabled stopwatch to identify the authorized user so no one else can fire it. Ms. Padilla and the manufacturer she works for, Armatix, intended to make the weapon the first “smart gun” for sale in the United States.

“I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans,” one commenter wrote.

Their complaint? The gubmint..."


Text Someone Who's Driving and You Could Get Sued

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  about a year ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "A recent decision from the New Jersey Appelate Court [PDF] states that you can be sued if you send a text message to someone who, in the course of reading or responding to the message, is involved in an accident. In this particular case, the judges decided that the person who was texting, Shannon Colonna, was not liable because she didn't know that the defendant was driving. So the litmus test appears to be that if the sender knows the recipient is driving and knows the recipient will likely read the text immediately, they could be in trouble. (page 25) Not sure how you'd go about proving this..."

Late Night Gaming Banned in Vietnam

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 3 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communication has asked ISPs to block access to on-line games between 10:00PM and 8:00AM. 'The request, made on Wednesday, is another move from the authority to mitigate the side effects of online games. The request follows numerous stiff measures by the ministry to tackle the issue, including cutting internet access to agents at night beginning last September.'"
Link to Original Source

What Clown on a Unicycle?

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 4 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "The New York Times has an article about walking and using a cellphone. But the interesting part was an experiment run by the University of Western Washington this past fall.

There was a student who knew how to ride a unicycle and a professor who had a clown suit. They dressed a student up as a clown and had him ride his unicycle around a popular campus square. Then they asked people, "Did you see the Unicycling Clown?" 71% of the people walking in pairs said that they had. 51% of the people walking alone said that they had. But only 25% of the people talking on a cellphone said that they saw the unicycling clown.

On the other hand, when asked "Did you see anything unusual?" only about one person in three mentioned a unicycling clown. So maybe unicycling clowns aren't enough of a distraction at the University of Western Washington..."

Link to Original Source

Save The Planet: Eat Your Dog

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  about 5 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "New Zealand's Dominion Post reports on a new book just released, Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living. In this book, they compare the environmental footprint of our housepets to other things that we own. Like that German Shepherd? It consumes more resources than two Toyota SUVs. Cats are a little less than a Volkswagen Golf. 2 Hamsters are about the same as a plasma TV.

Their suggestions? Chickens, Rabbits, and Pigs. But only if you eat them."

Link to Original Source

Save the Apollo Landing Sites!

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 5 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "The Lunar X-Prize is a contest offering $20 million to the first private organization to land and maneuver a robotic rover on the moon. There is also a $1 million bonus to anyone who can get a picture of a man-made object on the moon. But one archeologist believes that "The sites of early lunar landings are of unparalleled significance in the history of humanity, and extraordinary caution should be taken to protect them." He's concerned that we may end up with rover tracks destroying historic artifacts, such as Neil Armstrong's first bootprint, or that a mistake could send a rocket slamming into a landing site. He calls on the organizers to ban any contestant from landing within 100KM of a prior moon landing site. Now he seems to think this just means Apollo. What about the Luna and Surveyor landers? What about the Lunokhod rovers? Are they fair game?"
Link to Original Source

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 7 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "I was going through the links in the 'Funnies' section and I found that a bunch seem to have been discontinued.

Mikey — Appears to have been taken over by a squatter.
Dr. Fun — Has been discontinued.
After Y2K — Updating sporadically at best. Looks like the last one was in 2004.
Helen — Ended at the end of last year.

Also, the Fifth Wave has moved to

Anyway, it might be time to clear out those five. Perhaps replace them with AppleGeeks, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Joy of Tech, Sheldon, and Evil, Inc.. Of course, that's just my list. What other comics do people think would be entertaining for Slashdot readers?"

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 7 years ago

R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "The Wii's controller is an innovative device. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the strap that you're supposed to attach to your wrist to keep the controller from accidentally flying across the room. Televisions, walls, and windows are in danger from the flying Wii controller. The website "" has the stories."



An Open Letter to Mike Frager

R3d M3rcury R3d M3rcury writes  |  more than 7 years ago

So I saw Mike's Open Letter to Steve Jobs and I kind of wanted to comment. Since he doesn't have a comment section...

First, from his letter, this one jumped out at me:

I rely on dual monitors and a Mac Pro is not within my company's or personal budget.

So here's a crazy idea, Mike: Buy an iMac.

From Apple's iMac page on graphics:

[...] all three iMac models let you use a second display in extended desktop mode -- in addition to simply mirroring the first.

So you can buy a $999 iMac and still use your second display with it. Or, if you prefer the beefier graphics cards of the higher end models, go with them. You can still use your second display with it.

On a more general note, though, supporting PCI cards actually requires some things such as a minimum size and all to keep things cool. Some of us old timers remember, for example, when IBM came out with the PS/2 Model 30 which would accept IBM AT cards--except that the enclosure was too small for them to fit. Apple's PowerMac Cube was another example--you could use whatever PCI cards you wanted, except that they had to be specially designed to deal with the Cube's size. Needless to say, I think only nVidia did one.

So, in other words, you want a Mac in PC clothing.

This isn't a bad thing to want. Personally, I sort of agree with you--I'd like to see Apple do an inexpensive Core 2 Duo tower. But I recognize that my aims and Apple's don't mix.

First, I think you overestimate the market for this. The "Tech Savvy" market is nowhere near as big as we geeks tend to assume. There are far more people who will be wowed by Mac mini's small size or the iMac's stunning looks than would be interested in a "Me too" looking tower. For business who want dual-monitor support as inexpensively as possible, again, the $999 iMac rears it's head. For home users wanting to replace that virus-ridden desktop, the Mac mini and the iMac will fill their needs quite nicely. The lack of expandability isn't really hurting Apple. Macs are expandable "where it counts"--memory and hard disk space.

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