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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

Scootin159 Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

Or if a competitor made such a hypothetical $25 replacement for the TI-84/86, schools could just standardize on the new model. The argument for not switching to Casio, etc. right now is that younger siblings typically get their older siblings hand-me-downs, but if the replacement model was only $25, that argument would loose a lot of weight.

Although with the Ti's current tenure, they're now getting into the range where there's likely students using their grandfather's hand-me-down calculator in class. I know students were using their parent's hand-me-down Ti calculators when I was in school.... and I'm old enough now to have kids of my own in school

about two weeks ago

Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements

Scootin159 Automotive analogy (253 comments)

Because everything needs an automotive analogy.... "Car dealers should keep one of every part in stock for every car that's currently under warranty"

This would be completely unrealistic for a car dealership to do, so instead they stock only the parts used most frequently, and then just rely on the manufacturer to have an appropriate stock at regional/national warehouses. It's been this way for years, and yes it's an inconvenience for the day or two (or ten) that it takes the parts to come in, but it is what it is.

Perhaps the better plan, again taking a lesson from dealerships, would be to have "loaner" phones on hand to let you borrow while you wait for a "new" phone to come in. Of course, dealers seem to never have enough loaner cars, and I'm sure the phones would be the same thing - they'd also need to address the concern of getting the phones back (perhaps have warranty phones shipped to local store, and only given out upon receipt of the loaner?).

about two weeks ago

Is the Porsche Carrera GT Too Dangerous?

Scootin159 Re: The "news for nerds" on this.... (961 comments)

I'll admit to having no technical reference for this - just a decade of driving and tuning race cars and reading all I can on the matter. I'd argue we're both correct - at the micro level you're absolutely correct - a more compliant suspension will both give more grip and more driver confidence.
However at the macro level a stiffer suspension will give less body roll, leading to better camber control, and thus more grip.

about 9 months ago

Is the Porsche Carrera GT Too Dangerous?

Scootin159 The "news for nerds" on this.... (961 comments)

Since Slashdot is supposed to be a place for nerds... and nerds like to know the technical details more than just sensationalizing the latest headlines (or at least like to think so).... here's some technical information on why cars like the Porsche Carrera GT is so difficult to drive. I unfortunately don't have time to write out all the details here, but here are some basic principles of automotive suspension tuning to keep in mind:

  • There's nothing special about it being a "Porsche" in this scenerio. It's more a factor of being an aggressively tuned high-performance sportscar. Your Toyota Camry will have a VERY different handling profile than the ones you see circling at the Daytona 500 - despite both being "Toyotas". To lump the precieved "dangerous" handling of a Porsche 930 (the car that started the sensationalizing of being a "dentist killer") with a Carrera GT, just because they're both "Porsches", is almost equally absurd.
  • There's nothing unique about the Porsche Carrera GT that could cause these crashes - other than perhaps that they're headlines when they happen. It's more a factor of it being an agressively tuned chassis than anything unique to "Porsches". Most of the top-level modified "race cars" you'll see at any amateur racing event will have much the same "issues" of being hard to drive.
  • Pneumatic tires require a "slip angle" to work properly. This is defined as the angle between where the tire is pointing, and where the car is heading. Even when you're driving your Prius at 20mph around a casual bend, there will be some flex between the angle of the tire and the angle of the car (this is why your Prius tires don't last forever) - it's a very, very small angle in that case, but it critically exists.
  • In any suspension design, you'll have something resembling a basic bell curve that describes the ratio between slip angles and the amount of grip available. As you increase slip angle, you'll have more grip in your Prius... to a point, at which it will start to fall off
  • The more aggressively you tune a suspension (stiffer components, stickier tires, etc), the higher the peak of this bell curve will be.... but at the same time the steeper the drop offs on either side of that peak will be as well. This bell curve is how drifting works, and why drifting isn't the fastest way around a corner. At very high slip angles you'll have much the same grip level as at very low slip angles - meaning that your cornering speeds at large yaw angles will be very similar to our casual Prius driver.
  • Aggressive race cars will want the absolute highest peak possible, even if that means sacrificing the area under the curve. Drift cars conversely will look for maximum area under the curve, as it will allow them a larger window to play in. Street cars will be tuned for a very flat curve, as it's the most natural to the average person - they'll also need to compromise total area under the curve in the quest for comfort.
  • The stiffer components in a suspension will improve the suspension's consistency (input x = output y) and responsiveness. This increased responsiveness will also make things happen quicker (duh), so you had better have a quicker reaction time if you hope to "catch" any mistakes. In high-strung race cars (open wheel formula cars for instance), this responsiveness can become so quick that you almost have to predict the mistakes as you can't move your hands quick enough to "catch" them if you wait for them to happen before trying to adjust. Likewise, your "catches" need to be more precise, as you've got a smaller peak in that bell curve above to aim for.

As you can see... the more aggressive you tune a chassis (which the Carrera GT was designed to be very aggressive, as that's the market they were after), the less compliant the car will be, and the more apt it will bite you if you make a mistake. Is this unsafe, or just a fact of the physics involved that you can't drive an aggressive sports car and expect it to handle like your Camry?

about 9 months ago

Is the Porsche Carrera GT Too Dangerous?

Scootin159 Re:No, it isn't (961 comments)

Lift off oversteer isn't exclusive to Porsche - pretty much any car that adheres to the laws of physics will do it. It stems from the weight transfer off the rear wheels when you lift off the throttle (due to less forward acceleration pushing the body of the car "back"), this decreases the normal force on the rear tires, causing the total grip to decrease in the rear (while the exact opposite is happening at the front end), and shifts the grip balance towards the front.

The only reason most "other" cars don't exhibit this behavior as strongly is that they aren't setup (from the factory) with such a neutral balance - they're setup to understeer so strongly that the balance window you play in goes from "more understeer" to "less understeer" - not "understeer" to "oversteer".

about 9 months ago

How We'll Get To 54.5 Mpg By 2025

Scootin159 Re:Cheating and/or paying through the nose (717 comments)

They've already done this...

Many "crossovers" (which are just hatchback sedans with lift kits) are being classified as "light trucks" to both improve their passenger car average (by removing the less efficient vehicles from that spectrum), and improve their light truck average (as they are "ringers" in the truck mpg category). Additionally, cars have been getting slightly longer and wider on average, as increasing this footprint gives them the same gov't break as actually increasing the fuel economy, but is much easier to do.

A classic example of this is the PT Cruiser (which is just a 4 door Neon hatchback with some "retro" styling cues) is being classified as a light truck.

about 2 years ago

New York Plans World's Largest Ferris Wheel

Scootin159 Re:Loading (170 comments)

Ferris wheels like this don't stop for loading - they just have a mobile loading platform that moves with the wheel. Also remember that it's not 1440 people per car, but only 40 people that need to be loaded at once.

about 2 years ago

NASA Considers Apollo-Era F1 Engine For Space Launch System

Scootin159 Apollo-era F1 Engine? (197 comments)

Am I the only one who was wondering what NASA was going to be doing with a Cosworth DFV?

more than 2 years ago

On the iPhone and Apple's Meteoric Rise To the Top

Scootin159 Re:five models (317 comments)

+ iPhone 3GS (you just missed it in your listing)

more than 2 years ago

Hundreds of IP Addresses Make Pirate Bay a Hard Target

Scootin159 Re:I wonder if they have IPV6 support (224 comments)

Just curious, how are they blocking your searches? Not that you really want to get into this game with your employer, but couldn't you just run your search at instead?

more than 2 years ago

IBM Creates 'Breathing' High-Density Lithium-Air Battery

Scootin159 Re:This cannot be allowed. (582 comments)

If this really is the 'next big thing', does this mean that Lithium will soon replace Oil as the 'natural resource to have'? At least the lithium could be easily recycled...

more than 2 years ago

Pentagon Orders Dual-Focus Contact Lens Prototypes

Scootin159 Re:Motion sickness (41 comments)

If you do get motion sickness (which is entire possible), it's also very likely to go away pretty soon. I get exactly the same feeling you describe anytime I get new glasses or contacts, but within an hour it's barely noticeable and by the next day you don't even realize it anymore.
As a regular contact lens user, I would appreciate some contacts that give you a wider field of view even just for daily wear

more than 2 years ago

Report: Amazon Cloud Backed By 450,000 Servers

Scootin159 Re:one server per human (45 comments)

Who says it hasn't already?

more than 2 years ago

Kim Jong-Il Was an "Internet Expert"

Scootin159 Trust me... (238 comments)

"I'm an interenet expert, and I've seen what damage it can do... you don't want it"

Possible that he just self-proclaimed himself as an "internet expert" to add credibility to his claim that DPRK doesn't need or want to be on the internet? Also would add to his magical mystique - "All praise our dear leader for being so skilled on the internet to save us from it".

more than 2 years ago

Rural Broadband to Replace POTS As Beneficiary of US Gov't Subsidies

Scootin159 Re:Make broadband a tariffed, regulated utility (208 comments)

Why not start an ISP yourself? Seems you've done the research, and your research suggests that there is a market ready. While your ROI timeframe may scare away investors, you might be able to get some of the locals who will be using this service to invest in it themselves, as they too likely see the value.

more than 2 years ago

Obama To Sign 'America Invents Act of 2011' Today

Scootin159 Make sure you patent everything (244 comments)

... otherwise someone could easily steal your design, write up a patent for it, and beat you to the patent office. Now you're out of business unless you pay royalties to them because they beat you to the office first.

Makes me wonder what FOSS software hasn't been patented yet, seems like all you need to do now is file a patent and you can claim ownership over a project that you had nothing to do with.

about 3 years ago

Journey To the Mantle of the Earth By 2020

Scootin159 Heat issues (262 comments)

The soviets have already tried this, but ran into issues with the deep-crust temperatures (570*F when they stopped, but it was still climbing) melting their drill bits. How is this project intending to resolve this issue?

more than 3 years ago

Volkswagen Unveils 313 MPG XL1, Slates Production For 2013

Scootin159 Re:"Sport" mode (417 comments)

At 1000 lbs 40hp actually is very sporty. In fact, most Formula Vee race cars will reach 120mph and post lap times comparable to a Z06 Corvette.

more than 3 years ago

Drug Catapult Found At US-Mexico Border

Scootin159 How long until used for immigration purposes? (225 comments)

Am I the only one who pictured this being expanded upon in a Simpsons episode to include an immigrant launcher as well?

more than 3 years ago


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