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Comment Re:Wow (Score 1) 18 18

there's marine life attached to the wing

i was wondering two things:

1. if not by species, then maybe by subspecies, or some sublte variation within a species, that they could attach an area to where the wing developed the attached creatures

2. if there are variations in isotopes the marine species would absorb differentially by area, if that can be pinpointed to an area. that would probably be very subtle and not helpful. just an idea

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 197 197

I didn't make it suitably clear; but the 'complexity' is really more of a historical issue. The fact that you can get power transistors, digital logic, and similar solid-state goodness for peanuts, possibly even less than the carbon brushes or other electromechanical alternatives, is a comparatively recent thing in historical terms.

Now that you can, doing so is pretty compelling for any but the highest-power tasks; but it has not always been the case that you can throw semiconductors at a problem for astonishingly tiny amounts of money. Today it is; but a lot of very clever electromechanical, inductive, and similar tricks were developed during the time that it was not.

Comment Re:Low cost chip, high cost support (Score 3, Interesting) 56 56

What I find a bit weird about SPARC's near-total obscurity is that(please correct me if I'm wrong on the details; but to the best of my understanding from what I've read) the ISA is available for use on a royalty-free basis, and there are even a few BSD or GPL verilog implementations out there. That's even less encumbered than MIPS(which has some patents that the owners like to wave around on a couple of useful instructions).

My naive expectation would have been that SPARC on such liberal terms would show up a bit more often embedded in various chips that need some sort of CPU to do housekeeping, as the ISA of security and/or nationalism driven 'indigenous technology' efforts, and potentially even as the cheaper-than-ARM option for application processors.

Clearly that hasn't actually happened, and it's mostly ARM in SoCs and application processors(with PPC holding out in certain automotive and networking niches for some reason; and MIPS in router SoCs and the occasional Chinese vanity project); so ARM's license fees must just not sting that much.

Building SPARC parts that go toe to toe with Xeons would obviously be a much more ambitious project(as well as an act of directly fucking with Intel's juciest margins, which they probably won't take very kindly); but I am surprised by the fact that SPARC is so rare among the zillions of devices that have no need for x86 compatibility and are mostly about delivering performance in the gap between beefy microcontrollers and weak desktops for as little money as possible.

Comment Lots of room for methodology issues. (Score 1) 168 168

The lack of accidents and crime are more likely related to a general trend in crime going down from before they started turning off the lights. ... Give me at least one full year worth of data so I can compare it to the prior year, and have half of the country keep their lights on so It can be compared to the same time frame as well.

Hear, hear!

There's lots of room for methodology errors. Here's another:

Comparing murder rates between Great Britain and the US is complicated by differences in reporting. The US bumps the murder stat when there is a body and evidence of foul play. G.B. bumps it when they have a conviction.

Do they do that with other crime? If so, stable stats in the absence of street lighting might mean that any rise in crime is compensated for by a fall in identifying, apprehending, and convicting the criminals responsible. (Indeed, turning off the lights might easily result in LOWERED crime statistics at the same time it was causing a drastic increase in actual crime.)


Are We Reaching the Electric Car Tipping Point? 591 591 writes: Geoff Ralston has an interesting essay explaining why is likely that electric car penetration in the US will take off at an exponential rate over the next 5-10 years rendering laughable the paltry predictions of future electric car sales being made today. Present projections assume that electric car sales will slowly increase as the technology gets marginally better, and as more and more customers choose to forsake a better product (the gasoline car) for a worse, yet "greener" version. According to Ralston this view of the future is, simply, wrong. — electric cars will take over our roads because consumers will demand them. "Electric cars will be better than any alternative, including the loud, inconvenient, gas-powered jalopy," says Ralston. "The Tesla Model S has demonstrated that a well made, well designed electric car is far superior to anything else on the road. This has changed everything."

The Tesla Model S has sold so well because, compared to old-fashioned gasoline cars it is more fun to drive, quieter, always "full" every morning, more roomy, and it continuously gets better with automatic updates and software improvements. According to Ralston the tipping point will come when gas stations, not a massively profitable business, start to go out of business as many more electric cars are sold, making gasoline powered vehicles even more inconvenient. When that happens even more gasoline car owners will be convinced to switch. Rapidly a tipping point will be reached, at which point finding a convenient gas station will be nearly impossible and owning a gasoline powered car will positively suck. "Elon Musk has ushered in the age of the electric car, and whether or not it, too, was inevitable, it has certainly begun," concludes Ralston. "The future of automotive transportation is an electric one and you can expect that future to be here soon."

Comment What hospital is that? (Score 1) 52 52

I'm an anesthesiologist. I put people to sleep for cardiac surgery. My hospital does around 400-500 hearts a year... and we don't kill any dogs.

What hospital is that? I'll want to avoid it if I ever need heart surgery.

Seriously: How does your cardiac unit's mortality and morbidity rate stack up against those of hospitals where practice surgery on live animal, models, at least where the surgeon is new to the procedure, is more common?

Comment Re:Disappointed (Score 2) 198 198

The competition for good DC-DC conversion is reasonably fierce(given the existence of DC telco and datacenter operations, and the fact that even 'AC' shops are really just doing the conversion in each chassis(and unlike the old AT PSU days, an ever larger chunk of the output power is 12v going directly to a DC-DC converter on the motherboard to feed the CPU and RAM, with fewer and fewer components, aside from HDD motors, being sufficiently high voltage to feed directly from the PSU); so even modest improvements in DC-DC efficiency would make you quite wealthy indeed.

I haven't kept a close eye; but I think that the present standard for DC-DC modules still uses a number of off-chip components(whether because the needed capacitance and such simply can't be done in silicon, or are cheaper as discretes, I don't know); but you can get some very, very, dense little modules.

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 198 198

Especially if you are dealing with solar-derived DC, which is going to be (reasonably) steady. For some purposes, it doesn't matter that much whether or not the voltage actually crosses zero; but the ripple is essential if you want the magnetics to work correctly. If you have to go to the trouble of switching the DC to get that working, odds are that it's time for a pure DC design.

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 198 198

There are good reasons to be skeptical of complexity(such as basically all software); but at least for motors small enough that solid state switching isn't heroically expensive and/or practically disposable, 'complex' and 'digital' also mean 'has convenient ways to monitor and control the motor's activity in some detail'. Simple is good; but when the complexity is in solid-state parts you get a serious discount and sometimes some cool features.

Comment Re:I don't want to 'feel' it, I want it to be real (Score 1) 249 249

Wow, someone got out the wrong side of bed this morning...

I think it's pretty clear that by "feel" he means "is" in every practical sense. I mean... How do you make it "feel" fast without actually being fast? Paint go faster stripes on the side perhaps?

The "personal" bit was a little less clear, but he is referring to plug-in support. IE had it but it was shit, and other browsers all have it. Edge will get it soon. Personally I won't be using it until there is a port of uBlock and Privacy Badger or some similar tool, so I'd say it's a pretty important feature.

Comment Re:I found this bit quite funny (Score 1) 249 249

To be fair I do forget the names of apps some times, particularly these days where all the good ones are taken and we have to rely on stupid abbreviations and faux URLs. Developers also have a habit of giving odd names to sub-apps in a suite, e.g. you might have an electronics cad program with separate schematic capture and PCB layout apps. Fortunately Windows 10 is good at figuring that stuff out and showing it when you search for the app suite name.

Comment Re:Um... (Score 1) 249 249

Don't forget the LGBT mafia who chased out one of the founders because he donated a small amount on his own money on his own time several years ago for a cause they disagreed with.

Are you seriously suggesting that his leaving contributed significantly to the downfall of Firefox?

Are you also suggesting that people who feel they could not support a company he was head of should force themselves to use Firefox anyway, or perhaps be mandated to do so by law? I imagine a lot of companies would employ bigots if that were the case, just to force people to use their products.

Look, I don't buy Sony stuff because they are a shitty company. I don't eat at certain restaurants because they serve halal meat. And I don't read books by authors who use the profits to fund causes I find abhorrent and immoral. Sorry, that's just the way the world is, you can't completely separate your private actions and beliefs from your professional life.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.