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Comment Re: Weep for humanity. (Score 1) 342

Surely exactly the same thing applies to deflation? Deflation won't stop people buying something because they need it now, even though they know it might be cheaper in a year's time. So yes - it does disprove the claim (barring extreme levels of deflation). People aren't going to stop buying food or fuel or shelter because they either want it or need it now. The willingness for people to go into significant debt for things they don't really need shows that people don't really think about deflation, inflation or the value of money when they make a decision to buy something. If they did there wouldn't be so many people making minimum payments on their huge credit card debt.

Comment Re: Weep for humanity. (Score 1) 342

I think deflation is oversimplified. Deflation is just a symptom - what's the underlying cause? For example, we have some deflation now, but the underlying cause was a massive oversupply in raw materials, so for everyone (except the miners and oilies) deflation isn't a bad thing. We've not got deflation because people are hoarding money, but because there was a glut of raw materials. Temporarily, while this is going on, we have more spending power (and of course as demand starts to go up again, it corrects).

The positive feedback loop of deflation can't really grow much. We can't stop buying food, electricity, fuel or the other day to day stuff. Also I don't think inflation/deflation (disregarding extreme levels of either) really figures into people's day to day buying decisions. Deflation would have to be pretty damned high to exceed the opportunity cost of waiting to buy something, especially essential goods.

Comment Re:Forfeit all revenues from sales (Score 1) 416

I find it interesting that VW are throwing their software engineers under the bus over this.

This just isn't something that a couple of developers could independently do, unless VW's oversight and change control is absurdly sloppy. It's going to require at least someone involved in the testing telling the software engineers "we have a problem, can you do something to make the car pass in the test cell" - software engineers don't just generally add code like this for fun. One would imagine there would also be code reviews and audit given that engine management system software is now a safety of life issue (think drive-by-wire throttle, which this code would likely touch).

While it's probably true that Cxx level management weren't aware of what was going on, I find it extremely hard to believe that at least some layers of management were not actively involved with this, and people auditing the software were not actively involved in this. If they weren't, and really just a couple of software guys can put code into the engine management system with anyone being the wiser then this is probably worse (and then the Cxx level people definitely carry some of the culpability for allowing such a sloppy regime in safety critical systems).

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 416

Well, no. Where I live an electric car is powered by natural gas (the only generation we have here). In the UK, depending on where you lived, your electric car may be nuclear powered, gas powered, wind powered or coal powered. Coal is on the wane, being replaced by natural gas and wind. If you live in France, your electric car is nuclear powered pretty much all the time (France generates more than 100% of its power needs with nuclear, exporting the balance to neighbouring countries).

Comment Re:Not the total cost! (Score 2) 419

You also have to include the cost to maintain the fossil fuel plants that back up the fossil fuel plants, in the fossil fuel analysis.

The UK National Grid maintains a "spinning reserve". This has to be big enough to cope with a couple of large fossil fuel or nuclear plants going offline suddenly, which does happen from time to time (and there have been blackouts when there was not enough spinning reserve when two power stations went offline - for unrelated reasons - within minutes of each other). From the point of the UK National Grid, nuclear, coal and gas are seen as "intermittent power sources". Sizewell B, one of the largest generators in the country, could go from full capacity to zero in an instant, without any warning, if a problem occurs - and suddenly you're without a terawatt of generating capacity. Wind power on the other hand doesn't suffer this problem, wind generators are small and numerous and the loss of one of them doesn't have that kind of impact since at most they are only about 2MW each. Over the period of the next hour or two, wind is also extremely predictable. The wind doesn't just unexpectedly stop blowing. Also in the UK, it tends to be windiest when power demand is highest, those dull winter days when it's doing horizontal rain and everyone's got the lights on.

Of course you still need an alternative for when the whole country is under a high pressure system and there's not much wind at all. But any power generation system alone isn't a silver bullet, that's why we don't just have solely nuclear, or solely gas, or solely coal, or solely oil - we have a mix of different fuelled generation.

Comment Re:If the black cabs have a legal monopoly... (Score 1) 216

But London has had minicabs too for years (these are cabs you can't just hail in the street, you have to phone them to get one) and these are regulated under less onerous regulations than the black cabs. What makes Uber different to any other minicab service that's currently up and running in London? Nothing really, other than you press buttons on your mobile phone's touch screen to order one, instead of talking into your mobile phone's microphone.

Comment Re: They demanded my ID and power bill (Score 1) 232

What is a "real name" in Facebook's definition, anyway? I know many people who are not known by the name printed in their passport. There's two people at the place I work who are not known by the first name their parents gave them and that is printed in their passport. I'd argue the name we know them by is still their "real name" (more so in fact) than the name printed in their passport.

In any case I'd just photoshop mine if they asked.

Comment Re:What applications? (Score 3, Interesting) 178

In other words, virtual reality. The problem with the current VR headsets like the DK2, is you have effectively a 1080p display that fills most of your field of vision, in other words, yes - you can see the pixels and they are pretty big. The screen door effect is also pretty bad. Text is very difficult to read using the Rift DK2 unless the text is very large.

Developing very high PPI displays will be a real benefit for VR headsets. Tne next crop (the Vive/SteamVR and Oculus CV1) have better resolution (IIRC it's something like 1200 pixels vertical) and probably will have much less of a screen door effect, but the resolution really needs doubling at least for a VR headset to truly feel HD.

Comment Re:What about cars? (Score 1) 147

The charging cables would have to be enormous, though, to fill (say) to a 400 mile range in less than 3 minutes. The currents and voltages required would be absurdly high. Let's say we have a 180kWh battery/capacitor we want to fill in 3 minutes (0.05 hours). The power coupling would be running to the car at 3.6 megawatts during the charge cycle. With a 11kV coupling you'd need a current of almost 330 amps, so big, thick and heavy conductors. Even if the charger was 99% efficient, you'd need to dissipate 36kW of heat energy during charging (about equivalent to the power output of a small car at wide open throttle).

Having quick charging capacitors/batteries isn't even half the challenge of making an electric car charge rapidly.

Comment Re:How gracefully does it fail? (Score 1) 147

It's not that simple. A 12 volt lead acid battery won't give you a shock, for instance, even though it's capable of delivering hundreds of amps and stores a lot of energy. Your skin resistance is highly non linear. At low voltages (for example, the voltage your multimeter puts out when measuring a resistance), the resistance from one hand to the other holding the probes with dry skin is a few megohms. But as the voltage rises, there is a point where the resistance dramatically falls and much higher currents can flow. You need enough voltage to be present to result in a lethal electric shock.

Comment Re:Boy cries wolf (Score 5, Interesting) 435

The real WTF is that Slashdot has been running IPv6 articles for years...and *still* doesn't support IPv6.

Facebook on the other hand - not a tech site, but a site for angsty teenagers, baby pics, cat memes and partisan squabbling - has supported IPv6 fully for years.

It's embarrassing that a tech site can't do what a non-tech site has been doing for years.

FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed -- it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer. -- A.J. Perlis