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Comment: Things to solve (Score 1) 412

by Alioth (#47447095) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

There are still some things to solve for the cashless society.

1. Electronic transactions are still far too expensive. Every shop I go into to get (say) my lunch have a minimum amount you have to spend before you can use your debit card (or you have to pay a surcharge). My lunch always falls below this value so I must use cash. Things like vending machines too. Until it's cheap enough to use something like a debit card to buy an item costing 60p, then you'll still need cash.
2. Security. Debit/credit cards are too insecure, and the burden of making them secure is on the merchant in the form of PCI-DSS. It means if you're a small business taking debit/credit might not be an option. The burger van in the car park for instance, it's still impractical for him to take electronic transactions due to the equipment requirements and PCI-DSS.
3. Very hard to settle private debts. For instance if I hire a builder for a small job, he now has to give me all his bank details if I'm to do an electronic transfer. It's about 100 times easier to give him cash.

Comment: Re: Entrusting our lives to complex software (Score 1) 464

The parent wasn't quite right, in reality software flies your airplane 100% of your journey right now.

Modern Boeing and Airbus designs are pure fly by wire. 100% of the time you fly it though software. The engines are FADEC (full authority digital engine controls).

Comment: Re:Power? We dont need no stink'n power! (Score 1) 464

Autoland has been a thing since the early 70s. The first aircraft to have it, the Hawker Siddeley Trident 3 (an aircraft similar to the Boeing 727 in layout - three engines at the back of the aircraft and T-tailed) was flying autolandings in pretty much zero visibility decades ago.

Comment: Re:Power? We dont need no stink'n power! (Score 1) 464

Since all modern large airliners are fly by wire, you're screwed anyway.

Airliners have multiple redundant power buses. Each engine has a generator, and there is also an APU (auxilliary power unit) which has a generator. If all three fail (for example, because the plane ran out of fuel, it's happened, or flies through a flock of Canada geese and loses all engines and for some reason the APU won't start) there is a ram air turbine that sticks out into the airflow and powers a generator. There is also a mandated amount of reserve battery power. Talking of losing all engine power, the Airbus A320 that went in the Hudson has purely electronic controls, and remained controllable after a double engine failure.

Comment: Re: Failsafe? (Score 1) 464

That's not how it works at all.

Airliners pretty much since the jet age have had at least some measure of "envelope protection". In the 60s this was pretty simple - just a stick pusher to prevent stalls since stalls in many airliners can easily become unrecoverable. Airbus's envelope protection is much more sophisticated than just a stick pusher.

However when there's a systems failure the Airbus systems will automatically drop to a different control law that effectively works like basic stick and rudder flying.

Boeing uses fly by wire now too by the way.

Comment: Re:Political/Moral (Score 1) 305

by Alioth (#47359391) Attached to: How Often Do Economists Commit Misconduct?

No, it's basic human nature to kick the can down the road, nothing exclusive to politicians. Look at things like IPv4 space exhaustion - we're still kicking the can down the road right now and we'll continue to do so until it becomes so painful we reluctantly start transitioning stuff to IPv6. Same for fossil fuels, "conventional sources" have already peaked and the cost of energy is just going to go up, but we will do the minimum possible and kick the can down the road until it becomes so painful we're forced to change.

Comment: Re:Political/Moral (Score 2) 305

by Alioth (#47359315) Attached to: How Often Do Economists Commit Misconduct?

Lots of people predicted it. I'm not entirely familiar with the US housing bubble, but in the UK the bubble collapse could be seen from a mile off. I remember yelling pointlessly at the radio when someone from one of the demutualized building societies was trying to justify lending an even more stupidly massive amount of money to people charging interest only "because we want to make property affordable" when it was doing the exact opposite (fuelling the bubble and making it more unaffordable). I also remember discussing it with my Dad on numerous occasions who had got caught up in all the hype. The problem is people got so greedy (both banks and customers alike) with the banks breathlessly falling over themselves to give people mortgages on ever more unsustainable and ridiculous terms, and customers falling over themselves to take them including lying on mortgage application forms, it was obvious that it would only take a slight upset in the economy to make the whole thing come crashing down. It was so blatantly unsustainable. Anyone who wasn't one of the breathless banks or customers could see it coming. The only thing that wasn't entirely predictable was the timing of the burst or the cause of the burst. That upset at least here was skyrocketing energy prices causing all the people who had got mortgages so big they were living paycheque to paycheque with nothing left over to begin defaulting as increased fuel and food costs demolished their non-existent reserves.

Comment: Re:What evidence do you have of Gates intelligence (Score 1) 198

by Alioth (#47350859) Attached to: Overkill? LG Phone Has 2560x1440 Display, Laser Focusing

No, Microsoft's domination is down to pure luck.

If Compaq hadn't cloned the PC BIOS, or the IBM PC been a flop, Microsoft would have been just a page in history now along with Lotus, Ashton-Tate and various other software houses that got borged by IBM and other large companies. With no IBM PC, MS-DOS would never have sold much, and would never have been the "Microsoft tax" that bankrolled the first versions Windows and Microsoft Office. Even Intel might be a secondary player today, it may have been Zilog who became Chipzilla as they became the preferred supplier for CP/M machines and their 16 bit (and later 32 bit) follow ons, with companies like NEC or SGS or possibly Mostek being where AMD is now as they were Zilog second sources. And Digital Research (CP/M vendor) would be the big bad monopolist instead of Microsoft.

Comment: Re:FM (Score 1) 101

The size and construction of the head probably makes quite a lot of difference. I have an old Dallas D banjo ukulele (a George Formby branded one, no less) and the head had an inner hoop in it which makes the effective area of the head a bit smaller than the entire diameter. As such the overtones are softer and it sounds less "banjoey" (but still very different from a standard ukulele). The other consequence of the banjo uke head is that if you play a chord like F# where one string is not strummed, you need to mute the string that's not played otherwise the head will cause the string to vibrate and make the chord sound awful.

Comment: Re:Seems plausible... (Score 2) 104

by Alioth (#47330893) Attached to: Funding for iFind Kickstarter Suspended

You can buy hardware from a factory a la carte. I've done it. There are quite a few companies doing prototyping services where you can do this for easily affordable sums of money.

I've had a small run (100 units) of an ethernet board I designed made in a factory. The board was a 100mm x 60mm 4 layer PCB. I supplied the gerbers and a BOM and a month later I had 100 boards back (I did put on the through hole parts myself). It cost me a couple of grand to do, they could do it cheaper than I could if I had ordered the parts off Farnell and soldered them onto the boards myself. Hardware is much easier to do today on a shoestring budget than it was even 5 years ago.

Now it's different if you're needing an ASIC - then you're looking into spending a couple of million. But off the shelf BTLE SoCs already exist.

The thing I find implausible about this Kickstarter is that they are attempting to break the laws of physics, not that you can't make a pretty decent sized prototype run on the funding they had.

God made machine language; all the rest is the work of man.