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A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes

bentcd Re:"kilobots" (56 comments)

If it takes 1000 of these little guys to make a composite bot that is actually interesting, then they are in fact millibots.

Which means they're only off by six orders of magnitude.

about two weeks ago

California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

bentcd Re:So, such rules are bad for keeping people worki (327 comments)

A coke oven is a chemical?

Strictly speaking pretty much everything we sorround ourselves with is a chemical. (Although a coke oven will typically be several chemicals.)

Obvious exceptions include light and other EM phenomena, plasmas, and elementary particles. Neutrinos aren't chemicals but then we don't really see much of them either even if they are everywhere.

about two weeks ago

Patents That Kill

bentcd Re:Patents are not the problem. (240 comments)

Or, according to /. earlier today. The people approving the patents are actually doing whatever the fuck else they want, instead of their job, and getting paid for it.

Which may be rational enough. Patent examiners are educated, intelligent people and they are inside the patent system so they know it well. They probably realize what a complete and unmitigated disaster it is from end to end and figure they have better things to do with their lives than try to polish a turd.

They do like the wages though.

about two weeks ago

Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

bentcd Re:Govt panders to short-sighted voters, news at 1 (291 comments)

Cheer up and take heart in the fact that even in these tough times of austerity they did at least commit to buying 58 more Joint Strike Fighters for $12.4 billion. Cut down on sicence and buy more flying lemons, at least they have a sound strategy.

That $12.4 billion buys them the continued good will of the world's strongest military power. It's not really about the Australian air force, it's simply cheap insurance.

My country does the same but only half heartedly tries to claim it's all about strengthening the air force. Hell, if we're really lucky there might actually be some decent jet fighters in it for us in the end. That's not the main point though.

about a month ago

DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue

bentcd Re:It's a tragic story, but.. (249 comments)

Given the nature of trademarks, DC is pretty much forced to deny such a request since each request granted represents a dilution of the trademark and introduces a small risk of the trademark being lost to DC.

On the other hand it is not clear why their permission is required at all in this case. Trademarks protect against someone other than the trademark owner selling products displaying that mark, but, there is no reason to believe that the intention is to create this statue and then try to sell it to someone as a genuine Superman product. There therefore cannot exist any confusion in the market as to the provenance of the statue since the statue isn't in the market in the first place, and so it doesn't constitute a violation of anyone's trademark.

This would only be an obvious trademark issue if they also intended to create merchandise based upon the statue and then sell that, I don't know if this is the case since as any good slashdotter I never cared to RTFA.

Had this been a copyright issue things would be different.

(I am not a lawyer and these are the random babblings of an amateur.)

about 1 month ago

Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

bentcd Re:What's the big deal, Occulus? (131 comments)

That isn't consistent with them selling the units. The moment you charge money you are just selling them. If you are selling them, you can't argue you're trying to target devs.

But of course you can, if that is in fact what you are doing.

Then they shouldn't be selling them to anyone who orders one.

And apparently they are not anymore: they're no longer selling to China because they've learned they don't tend to end up with developers over there.

The devkits are theirs to sell to whoever they wish, and if they don't want to sell to China then that's their business.

about 2 months ago

Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

bentcd Re:What's the big deal, Occulus? (131 comments)

I realize they have the right to stop selling anything to anyone at any time for any reason, but I'm struggling to figure out what their beef with this is.

The value of the Oculus brand is greater the more developers they can snag to work on/with their product, and so the more developers that get their hands on the devkit the better for Oculus. They are limited in how many devkits they can build however and so it is important to Oculus that every single one that they make goes to an actual developer, because that developer increases the brand value. Every devkit that goes to a non-developer is a net loss to Oculus because that is a devkit that did not go to a developer.

This would be different if they were not production constrained but I expect that they are.

about 2 months ago

Mass. Supreme Court Says Defendant Can Be Compelled To Decrypt Data

bentcd Re:Except, of course, they have to prove you can (560 comments)

STFU until you get a lawyer

Cops can lie and get away with it

So is there anything to stop a cop from saying, "I'm your court appointed lawyer now tell me everything"?

about 2 months ago

Mass. Supreme Court Says Defendant Can Be Compelled To Decrypt Data

bentcd Re:Except, of course, they have to prove you can (560 comments)

Out of interest - what makes a lawyer so special that he can talk to the cops? Are lawyers vaccinated against cop-tricks or something?

The lawyer isn't under suspicion and so need not be afraid that the cops are trying to build a case against him.

A lawyer that is under suspicion should only say "I wish to remain silent and I want a lawyer" just like anyone else.

about 2 months ago

New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

bentcd Re:Clarification (249 comments)

The main problem with your cynicism in this case is that if the product were to be mainly marketed to imbeciles then why does it have any pretense at privacy protection at all? Such people don't care one whit and so in the previous system they would just always click "accept" and "install" and there wouldn't be a problem (for Google).

The problem instead seems to be that there is in fact a sizable portion of users out there who do care at least a little about their privacy and who do get nervous about it every time an app asks for more permissions on an update. This is why they are (apparently) now changing the permissions system, to give an appearance of privacy protection while not really offering it: they want to sell to people who actually care about their privacy and who are prepared to take reasonable steps to safeguard it, such as click "Hell No" in an installer/updater.

about 3 months ago

US-EU Trade Agreement Gains Exaggerated, Say 41 Consumer Groups, Economist

bentcd Re:Not About Growth Anyway (97 comments)

Where is the harm in saying that KÃlsch has to be made in the designated area around KÃln.

(I don't know why I can't get proper umlauts but you can.)

The main issue is that the public has had hundreds of years to learn that Champagne is a particular type of bubbly alcohol, and now that specific public awareness gets thrown under a train in order to co-opt a couple centuries of goodwill into money into the pockets of local special interests. This is exactly the opposite of what trademarks are meant to be: this explicitly deludes the public as to the nature of the goods that they are buying so that they are tricked into not purchasing the item that they actually wanted which may have been bubbly from California but they can't have this anymore because they're searching for Champagne which no longer means what they thought it meant.

The public perception will correct itself within a couple decades but this shouldn't have been necessary. Trademark laws should help preserve the public awareness, not randomly undermine it.

(Of course these aren't actually trademark laws, they are localised protectionism, but in my opinion proper trademark and consumer protection concerns should trump such shenanigans.)

about 3 months ago

$10k Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At Planes Goes Nationwide

bentcd Oculus Rift (264 comments)

Give the pilots an Oculus Rift headset with images fed from cameras mounted on the headset. Make sure you don't get a high-end headset "now capable of accurate reproduction of laser beams". While you can still blind the cameras with a laser you cannot burn out the pilot's retinas.

(I do hate myself a little for plugging a Facebook product.)

about 3 months ago

Sony Winding Down the PSP

bentcd Re:Piracy (85 comments)

While that is a standard "piracy has no effect on sales" arguement I don't buy it.

If you don't buy it then you are part of the problem.

(Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week!)

about 3 months ago

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

bentcd Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (212 comments)

I've maintained for years 'civilization' is a thin veneer over mankind essentially being barbarians, and that it's getting thinner every year.

They were saying the same thing 1000 years ago.

And 2000 years ago....

The first half of the topmost speculation is probably correct, and the last half is probably not.

It is a mark of the great strength of human culture that we have been able to so effectively suppress our barbaric animal nature.

about 3 months ago

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

bentcd Re:NOT zero-emissions! (160 comments)

Those diesel generators will not be feeding power to the grid so that statement is irrelevant.

They very well might, you cannot know that they will not.

Falsely calling something zero emission stops progress because if falsely states that the goal is already met.

Which indeed it is for the vehicles themselves. Now it's time to start working on the power grid.

This is a factually false statement. You miss the CO2 produced by the electricity plants to produce the electricity to charge the vehicle.

No you are mistaken, European CO2 caps on electricity generation guarantee that the switch from gas guzzler to EV will cut CO2 emissions to zero for your car use. If you are in Europe, of course.

Would a processed food be organic if no pesticides were used during the processing of the food?

Meh, "organic" foods is modern voodoo, not interested in the debate.

about 3 months ago

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

bentcd Re:NOT zero-emissions! (160 comments)

In every country of the world at least some of the electricity is produced from fossil fuels. If you want to say "zero emission" and not "low emission" then all the electricity has to be produced from non-fossil fuel sources.

Again you are demanding an absurd and impossible standard. However green your national power grid is, there is always going to someone somewhere using a diesel generator for something or other. This cannot be the yardstick used for moving towards a greener economy because all progress would be impossible.

Someone buying a green certificate does not decrease CO2 production because it does not change how the energy used is produces. All it does is allow the buyer the smug idea that they are using clean energy while someone else who does note buy the certificates is using more unclean energy. CO2 caps are different in that they require a limit in the production of CO2. The deciding factor is that at the CO2 cap is not zero. Therefore anything that uses electricity is not zero emission.

It remains a fact that anyone exchanging their gas guzzler for an electric vehicle is causing a reduction in CO2 emissions equal to what the gas guzzler used to produce. Simple arithmetic then reveals that the electric vehicle is in fact zero emission even at the power plant. And this is even before we start considering the various steps an individual can take to make sure that his own electricity use is completely emission free in the first place.

It all comes down to the use of an absolute term like "zero emission". Terms like these should be used very carefully as they are very powerful. Would you consider a food fat free if it has .1% fat in it? I would call that low fat but "fat free" makes better marketing. To me , plug in electric vehicles are low emission.

I would consider a food fat free even if the people working at the food manufacturing plant do have fat in them. You could have picked a better analogy however because I don't see why I would ever want to mandate that employees in the food industry should be fat free.

about 3 months ago

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

bentcd Re:NOT zero-emissions! (160 comments)

The driver of the vehicle does have a choice; to drive or not to drive.

The choice between having a life and not having a life, is no choice at all.

The choice to drive causes the power plants that generate the electricity to power the vehicle to emit CO2.

Only if those power plants actually do produce CO2, which is often not the case. Your assumption that all power generation always emits CO2 is over one hundred years out of date.

That is a marketing ploy as it does not decrease that actual emissions. It only causes people who don't buy certificates to use a higher proportion of dirty energy. It makes the buyer feel good but has no effect on the environment.

You are mistaken. Europe has a cap on total CO2 emissions in electricity generation, but no cap on total CO2 emissions from vehicles. It follows that every fossil burning car that is replaced by an electric one reduces CO2 emissions from the vehicle pool, and that the extra electricity that must be generated to power this new electric car will come from non-CO2 emitting power generation. That is the law. Your region may or may not have similar regulations, but of course, if your politicians have decreed that there shall be CO2 generation then the problem is with them not with the vehicles that enable emission free transport.

about 3 months ago

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

bentcd Re:NOT zero-emissions! (160 comments)

"Is there CO2 created in generating the energy used to move the vehicle? "

This is not a property of the vehicle, it is a property of the power plant. There definitely are electric vehicles that get their electricity from emission free sources such as wind, solar, hydro or nuclear. Norway, for one, is full of them.

There could be power plants that produce electricity from burning little babies for all I know and if there are then this does not reflect negatively on the vehicle that ends up using that power because it doesn't really have much choice: once an electron enters the grid it goes where it goes. It does of course reflect negatively on the power plant itself (and perhaps you'd be able to buy pink certificates to ensure your power comes from non baby burning sources).

about 3 months ago

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

bentcd Re:NOT zero-emissions! (160 comments)

It keeps getting repeated because people keep misusing the term "zero emission". When you use an absolute term such as "zero emission" it is either true or false. In this case "zero emission" is false. All electricity from the grid, which is where these aircraft will probably be charged from, has some component of fossil fuel based generation. Therefore by using grid power the aircraft is causing emission; just on another location.

You are trying to hold the term to an absurd and impossible standard. By this standard you will find that in fact no human activity can ever be zero emission because if there is just one single human involved in the activity then that human breathes oxygen in and CO2 out, and this is not zero emission.

The term "zero emission" was not invented just so that it could never be used and so a much more reasonable interpretation of the term "zero emission vehicle" is that the vehicle itself doesn't emit CO2 in operation. The fact that its electricity production, and marketers, and fanboys, etc., may emit CO2 in their various activities has no impact on this.

about 3 months ago

BMW Created the Most Efficient Electric Car In the US

bentcd Re:Full-size, heavy car (258 comments)

Rules of thumb that seem to be used in connection with Tesla is 90% efficiency battery to engine, and 90% efficiency engine to road, for ~80% efficiency battery to road. Then regenerative braking goes through that twice: once from road into battery and once back from the battery down into the road, and so gets 80% x 80% = ~60% efficiency overall for regenerative braking.

about 4 months ago


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