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Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program

itsdapead Assess demand? (128 comments)

and assess demand" for a swapping service.

Not sure how you can "assess demand" for something like this with a limited trial. The "demand" would be for a substantial network of swap stations that allowed people to treat EVs like gas cars and not have to plan long trips around meal breaks at superchargers. They might expand the market to customers who have currently rejected EVs because of the charging problem: if you already have a Tesla you probably looked into the charging situation and decided that it fits your motoring needs, so you're not going to be falling over yourself to pay for a battery swap instead.

Then, the battery replacement needs to be integrated with some sort of lease scheme whereby you don't actually own the battery which (some EVs use this approach anyway) which would make sense in many ways, but if you've already bought your car, complete with battery, are you going to want to swap it out?

The other issue is the long-term scalability of the "free supercharge" model - its fine with the current level of Tesla ownership, but if EVs go mainstream provision will have to ramp up dramatically (think: whole parking lots wired up for charging) or it will be common to turn up at a station and find all the bays occupied by fully-charged cars waiting for their owners to drift back from their leisurely lunches and shopping trips. A battery-swap system might be the only way to turn round enough customers. "Free charging" certainly isn't going to be long-term sustainable - but while its there, its going to be hard to persuade people to pay for battery-swaps.

2 days ago
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Apple Wins iTunes DRM Case

itsdapead Re:Good Decision (191 comments)

The decision was good. Apple did not have a monopoly. People could choose not to use Apple products and still listen to music.

What's more, people could choose not to use Apple's iTunes music store and still listen to music on their iPod. Reports of this case always seem to airbrush over the fact that the "lock out" only ever affected competing DRM formats: there was no problem with playing unprotected MP3 or AAC files from any source.

5 days ago
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Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

itsdapead Re:hum (440 comments)

So let me get this straight, so people with visas and greencards can be deported for many reasons including petty crimes or mistakes on applications, which has happened, but this illegal immigrant is complaining that his rights have been violated?

People with visas etc. sign away their right to contest deportation when they fill in their landing card (or click "I agree" on the new electronic system) - along with declaring that they're not a drug dealer, convicted felon, terrorist or war criminal (so, if you turn out to be any of those, they can book you for giving false information whether or not you've actually committed any other crime in the US).

about a week ago
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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

itsdapead Re:Last few fish in a small pond... (433 comments)

For example, a steam engine can use any heat source as fuel, so it may be useful if you can easily get wood or coal, but not diesel or electricity.

...and if you can't get wood or coal, a horse is better than a steam engine. That doesn't make a wood-powered steam car a viable alternative for the daily commute (it might be carbon neutral but it sure as hell ain't smog neutral).

IIRC, a film camera can operate at lower temperatures than a digital one.

Until you use up your 36 exposures and have to change the film wearing thick gloves. Probably why they went digital with Rosetta and all those Mars probes - not many 1 hour photo shops out there.

You're kinda repeating my point, though: you can often find a niche market for which an old technology is a perfect fit, in which case that technology will stay around for ages. That doesn't mean that it is "better" for the vast majority of uses, though.

about a week ago
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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

itsdapead Re:clarity - wrong assumption (433 comments)

Vinyl being analog by limitation of the medium can't contain this tracking information.

For the signal to survive being compressed to MP3, it would pretty much have to be encoded as a modulated audio signal that the encoder would treat as part of the music, and there's no technical reason why you couldn't include 'secret data' on a vinyl LP using the same technique... However, since thousands of copies are stamped out from each master (that applies to vinyl *and* CD) it wouldn't be much good as a way of tracing who made the copy.

Plus, it could interfere with the messages from Satan that you hear when you play your heavy metal LPs backwards, and He really wouldn't like that.

about a week ago
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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

itsdapead Last few fish in a small pond... (433 comments)

In other news, the last surviving makers of wax cylinders and shellac 78s are probably doing quite well from their own perspective. I'm sure that camera film will continue to be available for enthusiasts and specialist purposes for many years - just not in a high street near you. Since people still ride horses, I assume that there are still a few blacksmiths going strong. Then, a couple of years back, those people build a brand new steam locomotive... That doesn't mean that film cameras, Edison phonographs, horses or steam trains are coming back, or are better than their modern replacements.

I'd be quite unsurprised if "new" vinyl LPs end up being more widely available than "new" Audio CDs. Not because they're better, but they're more iconic and the machines that make them will be easier to keep running without huge economies of scale.

about a week ago
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Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever"

itsdapead Re:Why does this need a sequel? (299 comments)

Deckard was not a replicant, according to both PKD and the screenwriter.

I don't think PKD's opinion counts, since the film was so hugely different from the book, and missed out lots of plot points like the "mood organ", the social pressure to own an animal (or an electric fake), the robot disc jockey and the whole Mercerist religion (which made the VK test look suspiciously like a test of religious dogma). Deckard was human and his memories hadn't been implanted, but everything he remembered and felt had, one way or another, been an artifice.

about a week ago
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Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

itsdapead Re:Sound like... (80 comments)

It was a story about midwifes in the late fifties. One of the midwifes was a chain smoker and even smoked around children.

Yes - in the 1950s, nobody would have batted an eyelid at that (its probably a detail from the real-life memoirs the series was inspired by). My dad was in hospital with a lung infection in the 50s. They came round the ward with a cart handing out free cigarettes.

it does not in my opinion add anything to the story.

Really? It shows one aspect of how social practices and attitudes have changed in the last 50 years which is the whole bloody point of the show! Should they have quietly corrected all the now-discredited medical practices while they were at it? Perhaps they should have shown more women in senior positions instead type-casting them as midwifes and nurses?

Perhaps you should stick to watching Life on Mars instead - then you have a modern-day avatar to call the 1970s characters out on any behaviour which would not be acceptable in 2010, lest you thought the producers were endorsing it.

It is also a sell out to the smoking industry.

Just because they really are out to get you, it doesn't mean that you're not paranoid.

about a week ago
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Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

itsdapead Re:Games were the death of programming (110 comments)

...and kids at the time clamoured to get a spectrum, C64 or whatever because it was a games machine and nothing else to them. Sure, you could program them but very few did.

You seem to be mourning an mythical alternate universe where 50% of kids pestered their parents for a Nascom, UK101 or a Kim 1 so that they could learn programming or digital electronics. Sorry - that was just a handful of us nerds, it never had mass appeal.

What the 1980s games boom did was create mass-market demand for computer hardware, which brought the prices down for everybody. Plus, for those of us who were interested in programming, it ensured that there was money to be made from knocking out simple games or handy utilities.

The "death of programming" came later, with increasing sophistication, when games started having the development (and marketing) budgets of a major movie instead of something you could bang out over a wet weekend, and the rise of consoles that you couldn't program yourself or sell software for...

about two weeks ago
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Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

itsdapead Re:So who "did it right"? (368 comments)

I'm hearing lots of carping, but not a lot of citerefs of SF stories set in the far future that do honestly depict the impact advanced technology would have on society, culture, etc. at least in a way Mr. Stross would expect it to. Any /.ers have any in mind?

Well, there's the classics - both "The Time Machine" and "Brave New World" deal with societies dramatically transformed by technology, and deal with the storytelling challenges by contriving to have a contemporary narrator arrive on the scene via plot device.

Then, Asimov's Elijah Bailey sequence is really about two societies divided by their preparedness to embrace particular technologies. In fact... a society of people that are repulsed by actual physical proximity but think nothing of exposing themselves online... sound familiar? :-)

More recently, someone has already mention Iain M. Banks and The Culture... although its interesting to note that most of the actual stories just used the post-scarcity Culture as a backdrop to Special Circumstances agents interfering with more 20th-century-or-earlier-like civilisations (including 1970s Earth in "State of the Art").

Greg Egan has had a good go at tackling posthumans: most of the characters in Diaspora are intelligent software, and the remaining flesh-and-blood communities have diversified so much that different groups find it hard to communicate.

However, a lot of the "failures" pick their anachronistic societies for good dramatic reasons, not through lack of thought: I'd say that the (new) Battlestar Galactica quite deliberately made their society look like 1980s earth with spaceships. Firefly wasn't really a prediction that we'd all be wearing wild west costumes and talking cowboy in 500 years time: but that piece of whimsy saved a whole shedload of exposition about the structure of that society (also, if you're colonising, not only can horses make more horses out of grass, you can eat them if you have to: try doing that with high-tech a fusion-powered locomotion unit).

about two weeks ago
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Edsac Goes Live, At UK's National Museum of Computing

itsdapead Re:This is impossible (37 comments)

Nah, space isn't for silly things like computers - it's for important things like non-stick frying pans and biros that write upside down*.

(The comms satellites, GPS, remote sensing and general coolness of landing robots on comets and stuff might count for something, too)

* Don't bother with the snopes links - I'm being silly.

about three weeks ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

itsdapead Re:Contracts (307 comments)

Laws trump contracts pretty much everywhere and in every circumstance.

Yes, but the laws need to exist first. UK, EU, Australia etc. tend to have stronger consumer protection laws than the US (which, AFAIK, vary state by state) and often have authorities that enforce them rather than leaving it up to individuals to sue. You'll notice that big firms like Apple are often getting slapped by the authorities in these countries (e.g. for selling extended warranties that partly duplicate statutory rights) c.f. in the US (where they get hit with class-action lawsuits instead).

NB, looks like Trading Standards have had a little chat with the hotel in TFA.

about a month ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

itsdapead Re:Contracts (307 comments)

Retail or not, contracts are binding.

In the UK, national trading standards laws trump point-of-sale contracts in retail transactions.

...because otherwise you'd need to take a lawyer with you every time you bought groceries.

about a month ago
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Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

itsdapead Voight-Kamph (330 comments)

"Is this testing whether I'm a republican or a lesbian, Mr Deckard?"

Just don't ask the subjects about their mother...

about 1 month ago
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

itsdapead Re:Put yourself in your manager's shoes. (553 comments)

Our company prices disk storage at $10,000 per terabyte.

I can quite understand why maintaining 100TB of storage might indeed cost $1,000,000 over some arbitrary period, if that includes hourly backups, off-site backups, 30-minute call-out engineer support, cost of running a machine room, cost of maintaining network infrastucture and cost compliance with laws governing storage of financial records, employee/customer personal data etc.

However, (a) it doesn't follow that 101TB of storage costs $1,010,000/year (that figure will include huge fixed costs) and (b) maybe, just maybe, not everything the company stores on hard disc needs a one-size-fits-all solution with hourly backups, off-site backups, 30-minute call-out blah-de-blah-de-blah.

about 2 months ago
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

itsdapead Re:Put yourself in your manager's shoes. (553 comments)

Your managers are protecting _your_ interests by not letting you use that drive. Show a little goddamn respect.

How about the management show the employee a little respect and let him order whatever bits of sundry equipment he needs to do his job?

I think the sort or critical thinking that bosses don't want is the sort that asks "how many hours of my time do I need to save to justify the cost of a $100 hard drive?" or "if it really costs the company $500 and takes 3 weeks to procure something that Amazon could have on my desk in 24 hours for $100, maybe its not me that should be under pressure to make efficiency savings?" or even "If its all because of legal compliance issues, why doesn't big business club together, rent a few senators and get the legislation quietly fixed in a rider to the next fisheries bill?"

about 2 months ago
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

itsdapead Re:Already in the UK (720 comments)

Are you laboring under the illusion that the only way to pay a machine in the US is with cash?

No, just that chip+pin makes more sense for taking card payments on machines than... well, last time I remember using a card in a machine in the US it was swipe and... Hey, fingers crossed, who needs a PIN?

Plus, they do have an awful lot of those bill readers.

about 2 months ago
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

itsdapead Already in the UK (720 comments)

KFC and Burger King have been using touchscreen order & pay kiosks for some time, and I encountered it in a McD's for the first time about a month ago. The fact that we all use chip-and-PIN debit cards (and some people are already using NFC cards) probably helps - having to include the facility to feed dollar bills into a slot would put a crimp in it somewhat.

about 2 months ago
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Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

itsdapead Re:Driving is filled with intractible problems (287 comments)

Anyone who thinks self drive is coming to a vehicle near them soon is living in cloud cuckoo land.

I wasn't aware that Google had promised to have self-driving cars in the shops for Christmas. You have to start somewhere - and since any large-scale adoption of self-driving cars is going to require the cooperation of government, that means starting the PR campaign early, not just the R&D.

I think its great that some of the billions made from the internet boom are going into blue-sky projects like self-driving cars, electric cars and space travel. Will Google be selling a viable self-driving private car before Tesla are selling a 300-mile-range compact for the price of a mid-range gas burner, or will we still be waiting when SpaceX gets to Mars? It'll be fun finding out.

Self drive cars might work on a closed track where the number of external factors are limited and can be controlled. e.g. an airport loop, or a theme park transfer.

...large business/university campuses, shopping malls, an alternative to trams/personal mass transit systems that vastly reduces the amount of "civil engineering" needed... Sounds like a business opportunity for Google to me.

about 2 months ago
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GNU Emacs 24.4 Released Today

itsdapead Re:do one thing and do it well (156 comments)

Because the people who don't like emacs don't use it. No one builds software with emacs as a dependency and then tried to get every Linux environment to use it as a core dependency.

True, although GNU info... er, sorry, GNU info had a good college try at inflicting the emacs help system on the world.

about 2 months ago

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