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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

willy_me Re:HP Calculators (552 comments)

An amendment. Forget USB - add inductive charging. Now you do not require any physical ports. The keyboard membrane should be designed so that it also provides a watertight seal between the keyboard and the electronics. Now you have a calculator you can use in the rain, on a ship, or anywhere else you do not want to use a cell phone. Engineers can use it in the field - without taking off any gloves.

5 hours ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

willy_me Re:HP Calculators (552 comments)

Someone needs to start a Kickstarter project to create a decent calculator. A solid case and keyboard as per the older HP calculators. Color display - they're common enough. Embedded ARM CPU as you would expect in a cell phone. And similar to a cell phone, a rechargable battery. Add in bluetooth, WiFi, and USB for communication and your hardware is done.

The interesting part would be on the software end. One could attempt to emulate an HP calculator - but a standard Forth VM would also be interesting. Synchronizing with a PC is a huge area where things could be improved. It would be great to share a workspace with a computer so that once you solve a problem on the calculator - the requred functions would be available on the PC allowing you to automaticaly integrate the solution into your own code / spreadsheet / etc.

An open calculator design would open up lots of possibilities. Cell phones are great start but regardless of how impressive the software is, it still lacks a physical keyboard. Automatic type correction works great for text - not so much for calculators.

5 hours ago

WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever

willy_me Re:It is the single most reliable piece of tech (449 comments)

Get a repeater. An antenna mounted on your roof and pointed at the tower works wonders. Any attempt to replace a PTOS with wireless will most likely rely on such repeaters for approval.

about three weeks ago

More Than 1 In 4 Car Crashes Involve Cellphone Use

willy_me Re:Statistics suck (367 comments)

I have observed that breasts outside the vehicle and penises inside the vehicle is also a bad combo. Especially on those hot days when people tend to perspire. I suppose the only solution is to keep both breasts and penises out of vehicles.

about three weeks ago

Iran Builds Mock-up of Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier

willy_me Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (298 comments)

One of the big cost savings is in not having to constantly maintain and operate aircraft and pilot skills. With drones you just leave the thing packed up in storage until it is needed. Just look at how many hours your typical F18 has on it before it is ever used in combat - that's a big expense that an air-to-air drone would not have.

about a month ago

Samsung Galaxy Glass Patent Plans To Turn Fingers Into a Keyboard

willy_me Ambient noise does not have to be a problem (63 comments)

Multiple microphones can be used to triangulate the different sources of incoming noise. Some intelligent filters that take into account the expected 3D position of the speaker can then be used to filter out ambient noise. Cell phones are already doing this - at least the good ones are. This is why the iPhone has multiple microphones. I imagine Samsung is doing something similar. You can learn more and see some impressive examples in the Stanford on-line artificial intelligence lectures. I believe they were posted in iTunes University a couple of years ago. I now use a Linux desktop so I can not verify that they are still available.

about a month and a half ago

All Else Being Equal: Disputing Claims of a Gender Pay Gap In Tech

willy_me Re:Similar to most studies (427 comments)

The guy donated some genetic material. The woman had the thing grow inside them for 9 months. Who's gonna be more connected?

You are correct that the woman is more connected and that it has to do with time - but not for the reasons you've implied. It really comes down to the fact that men can reproduce more frequently then women so they have less invested into each individual offspring. Women only get so many chances so it is worth it for them to invest the time to maximize the success rate. Men maximize their DNA propagation by procreating as frequently and with as many women as possible.

Men and women are different both on the outside and inside. Different brain chemistry leads to different behaviour. Why do some people (not parent poster) find this so hard to understand?

about a month and a half ago

Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck

willy_me It will have problems in the real world. (242 comments)

Anything that light will have serious issues with cross-winds. If current trailers can blow over just imagine how bad it will be when you reduce the weight by 4000 lbs.

Some time ago, I recall reading on /. how Walmart was researching new energy efficient tires for use with trucks. Looks like they are being used here - a single large tire to replace the current standard dual-tire configuration. But this makes me wonder what the impact of a blow-out would be. Perhaps they have it figured out - or perhaps there are good reasons why this will never become a production machine.

about a month and a half ago

How An Astronaut Nearly Drowned During a Space Walk

willy_me Re:I'm confused (144 comments)

Not all gallons are the same. Muros must have thought this was obvious. I thought it was obvious.

If two people independently read the same meaning in a message you've written, it's unlikely the problem is with the reader.

Only true with a small audience. When read by thousands, the two that could not figure it out are to blame.

about 2 months ago

Tesla Used A Third of All Electric-Car Batteries Last Year

willy_me Re:No radiator in a Leaf (236 comments)

I have a Leaf, there is no radiator of any kind. Heat comes from resistance (pre 2013) or heat pump (2013 and beyond).

Heat pumps still require radiators. They are much simpler and less maintenance then a typical automotive radiator - but they are still there. Just look at the back / bottom of your refrigerator for an example.

about 2 months ago

Crowded US Airwaves Desperately In Search of Spectrum Breathing Room

willy_me Lower power towers.. (105 comments)

The solution is to build / install multiple mini-towers to replace large towers covering a larger area.

Dialling down the transmit power of both the device and tower will reduce the congestion. With fewer devices on each tower, bandwidth will increase. Also, devices will require less transmit and receive power so their batteries will last longer. And when in a more rural setting with fewer devices, service providers can still go with a larger tower to cover more area.

This is the only real solution but it requires an investment in infrastructure. From the perspective of a service provider, it is far more cost effective to convince the government to give / sell them more bandwidth. Regardless of how much bandwidth they have, they will always be begging government for more.

about 2 months ago

Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

willy_me Re:Not pro-business? (917 comments)

No, I can't agree with that. You can't force the proprietor of the business to do anything the customer wants. Let's say the baker's kid just died, is it okay for a customer to demand that the baker ice the cake saying something nasty about the dead kid? It's freedom of speech, right?

Sorry, but your analogy is horribly flawed. I do not think anyone is claiming that business owners have to serve jerks. It is only a issue when a business refuses to perform a service that they would otherwise perform based solely on the sexual orientation of the customer. With the bakery, it was only a problem because the baker would gladly draw genitalia for straight customers - but not a gay couple.

about 2 months ago

Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

willy_me Re:Two different forms of "freedom". (917 comments)

Unless you are, you know, wearing no shirt or no shoes. Then it's OK for a public business to discriminate.

Sexual orientation is not a choice but one's attire is.

about 2 months ago

Under Armour/Lockheed Suit Blamed For US Skating Performance

willy_me Re:Its too bad.. (357 comments)

Exactly, the Olympics has turned into yet another pointless profit driven media frenzy. It's not even about the athletes anymore.

You're wrong about that. It has not turned - it was never that way in the first place.

The Olympics is a huge money-making business where they do not have to build their own facilities (host Countries/taxpayers do that) nor do they have to pay their athletes. They stoke the flames of patriotism to get people interested then sell them the rights to watch the event. It's the ultimate low risk, high income business to be in - and there is no competition.

I am not a fan of professional sports but at least the NFL/NHL/NBA etc. pay their way. Their athletes are well paid and they do not burden the host cities with the cost of their facilities - generally speaking. But the Olympics rub me the wrong way. If they did something positive with the billions they get for media distribution rights it would be different but they just pocket the money.

about 2 months ago

India To Build World's Largest Solar Plant

willy_me Re:It's not even comparable to a single nuclear pl (253 comments)

This generation can be used to offset the additional load of air conditioners - it is not going to be the only power source. Considering that air conditioners use the most power when it is sunny, it actually works out all right.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Is Linux Set To Be PC Gaming's Number Two Platform?

willy_me Re:FreeBSD (281 comments)

FreeBSD would be a little stupid. I love BSD, but it lacks driver support for video cards. SteamOS has to support multiple different hardware configurations so going with Linux makes much more sense. Sony is a special case because they are in a position to standardize on a single hardware configuration. For them, BSD should be great.

about 3 months ago

Nissan Unveils 88 Pound 400-HP Race Car Engine

willy_me Re:Battery weight? (239 comments)

The battery would be small so it is probably light compared to a hybrid. If they have the money and space, they might even opt for super-capacitors. They're bulky but very light and waste far less power when charging / discharging.

about 3 months ago

The Other Exam Room: When Doctors 'Google' Their Patients

willy_me Just have to have the right name. (231 comments)

This will only work on a few people. When I google myself, William Douglas, I get a pile of hits and none of them are for me. Additionally, people can still change their name if they want to distance themselves from their past. Will not hide you from government agencies but will be good enough for everyone else.

On a side note, a question to the grammar Nazis. When using the word "Google" as a verb, should the first character be capitalized? And as a website that supposedly stays neutral, should it even be used as a verb within headlines?

Now if you would please forgive me, I must go monitor Bing to see if their is a sudden spike in searches for "William Douglas".

about 3 months ago

X.Org Server 1.15 Brings DRI3, Lacks XWayland Support

willy_me Re:How well does XWayland work? (340 comments)

Since using X applications on Mac OS X did not work seamless at all, that statement is not very reassuring to me

You can't expect a program written for X11 to be seamless on another operating system. To integrate properly one would have to get the X11 app to respond to native keyboard shortcuts, integrate drag-and-drop, have knowledge of the host file system. The list goes on but my point is that an X11 app will remain an X11 app even if run on a Mac/Win host. One can not expect a seamless experience.

But things are different for Wayland. All of the previously mentioned problems will not impact Wayland in the slightest. It is reasonable to assume that the user experience will be seamless.

about 4 months ago

GNU Octave Gets a GUI

willy_me Re:qtoctave (166 comments)

QtOctave is not an integrated GUI for Octave - it's more of a graphically enhanced command line interface. It looks great on the surface but fails to have any depth. I don't mean to fault the QtOctave project - limitations in Octave are what prevented it from working well. From what I've read, Octave has been undergoing changes for the past two years in order to restructure it in such a way that it can work well with a GUI.

The situation is similar to GCC. GCC does not integrate will with IDEs - sort of but not really. The CLANG project solves these problems because it was designed to be more modular and facitlitate interacting with other programs and not just the command line. CLANG based IDEs have better support for highlighted code, variable highlightling, and anything else where the GUI needs to perform a task typically done by the compiler.

I only bring up GCC and CLANG because their differences help explain why the old Octave and QtOctave could never provide a good, integrated GUI. Sounds like Octave has changed to be more like CLANG so we can now expect improvements to the stagnant QtOctave. Only the design changes to Octave are so great that it is simpler to start a new project then modify QtOctave.

about 4 months ago


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