Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Painted target (Score 3, Interesting) 126

Hey not all globalization is bad. I personally like German cars, Swiss mechanical watch movement, French cheese and digestifs, Indian silk rugs, British TV, Swedish tools, Japanese and Korean electronics, Dutch toys, large Nepali knives, and Canadian winter boots. What I don't like is the race to the bottom type of globalization that seems to be happening with cheap crap products made to increase profits and would prefer globalization where it is a race to the top in quality.

I don't like what I have seen with the quality going down on what once were great things because someone thought they could save a few cents per item by shipping manufacturing overseas. For example when I looked at small wire feed welders there were a bunch of highly questionable cut every corner ones around the $100 price point and in researching them they might work out of the box for some definitions of work and would likely fail in fairly short order all of which were made in China. From there to the one I got there was nothing but I ended up getting the smallest Hobart that while they cut corners (no thermal switch for the fan so it run all the time and the gas kit was separate but could be added if you didn't want to use flux core wire) it cost ~$270 on sale but came with a great warranty, was made in the US, is heavy as hell, and worked out of the box flawlessly for years.

Comment: Re:Exactly! (Score 2) 216

E85 lacks basic energy, not to mention the hideous cost of manufacturing.

E85 is less energy dense per unit volume of fuel than gasoline, but for a given amount of air you can liberate more energy with E85 than with gasoline. Also E85 has a much higher octane rating than gasoline so you can run higher boost or higher compression. Higher boost allows you to liberate more energy per combustion cycle while higher compression just increased your Carnot Cycle efficiency making better use of the energy you liberated. Either way producing power with alcohol fuels isn't a problem, only the crappy implementation of consumer flex fuel vehicles that are a crappy compromise so they run sub optimally all of the time (maybe they actually run really good if you can get an E42 mix).

Fuel from field corn sucks, but there are better cheaper ways of producing alcohol fuels, like starting with methane and converting it to methanol or working up to heavier alcohols like ethanol, proponol, or butanol. Butanol should be what is pursued as it can be used as a direct gasoline replacement in existing vehicles with very similar properties and energy densities. It also doesn't absorb as much water as ethanol and better mixes with gasoline.

Comment: Re:Exactly! (Score 2) 216

Hey we can't have any of that sensible talk around here. [/sarcasm] That is one thing I never understood is why a manufacturer just doesn't go fuck it and make a vehicle optimized for E85 and put E85 stickers on it instead of the unleaded fuel only ones now used. Yes it will probably get worse fuel economy (never ran the calculations) when properly optimized but as you pointed out ethanol (including E85) and methanol have some wonderful properties for performance. The 2 biggest are the phenomenal octane rating (high boost or high compression applications), plus another that is over looked in so many discussions, the ability to release more energy for a given volume of air (bad mileage but great power). This is why my project car will be converted to a supercharged alcohol burner. It is old enough that there are no real emission requirements applicable to it so I don't have to worry on that end either.

I do agree that making fuel from field corn was a stupid idea but hey it was a giant give away to the corn industry at the time which wasn't doing all that well (mid to late 90s). Even if we were to decide to use productive fields for growing fuel there are better crops but they don't have a big lobby like corn does. How often to you hear about the sugar cane lobby or the sugar beet lobby, both of whom are small parts of the sugar lobby that also happens to include corn. Either of those produces substantially more fuel per acre than corn but don't get as big of subsidies for growing, or conversion.

Comment: Re:How are they rocky? (Score 1) 67

by Bob the Super Hamste (#48922803) Attached to: Kepler Discovers Solar System's Ancient 'Twin'
Not entirely true. I wondered what happens if you had 2 small neutron stars that collide and I guess they create all sorts of useful things if their combined mass is low enough to not become a black hole. Agreed that if there was just one sitting there it basically does nothing but get some collisions of neutron stars and you get gold. Also when talking about big monsters producing heavy elements you would need something bigger and hotter than Betelgeuse, like a Population III star which are thought to have been fairly common in the early universe and while they are large and when they blow are big enough to destroy their own core and don't create a black hole. So for heavy elements in the early universe these large fast burning monsters might have been able to produce enough. Then again IANAAP (I am not an astro physicist) so I may just be jumping to incorrect conclusions from partial information.

Comment: Re:Cam-tastic (Score 1) 152

I would be very wary of strobing the lights for a number of reasons. the first is that depending on the frequency it may violate laws in my state (60-120 Hz). Second, strobing IR is also used to trigger the lights for emergency vehicles and people have gotten in trouble for that and that seems like a great way to cause all sorts of unintended problems. Finally if you wanted to mess with the cameras you would need to be fairly exact in you timing.

That said having one be photo triggered would be doable but requires additional electronics. So given all that simply having a very bright ring around a substantially darker area would seem to be the easiest and unquestionably legal. The goal is to simply make it so the automated plate scanner fails to identify you plate and by massively overexposing one area so the rest is massively underexposed seems the easiest. The trick is to put out enough power in a large enough area to do it. I want a large area but that large area needs to be really bright so the camera automatically tries to correctly balance the picture. It isn't like 200 watts is a large portion of power the vehicle puts out of it's 100+ kilowatt engine.

Comment: Re:Cam-tastic (Score 1) 152

I have thought of building an LED license plate frame to mess with the cameras and others have tinkered with the idea some. The results at best could be considered hit or miss but that doesn't mean it couldn't be improved upon since most I have seen only output a few watts of power. I have been trying to figure out if I could build one with a power draw of 100-200W using some high output IR LEDs (the new license plates Minnesota uses are designed to be highly viable in the IR spectrum). Having a frame that isn't covering the license plate at all is perfectly legal in Minnesota but other things are not Minnesota statute 169.79 Subd. 7. Also the existing laws on vehicle illumination would also not prohibit this.

By frame I mean many concentric rings of LEDs packed tightly around the license plate so that you have 100 watts of IR LEDs shining around each plate. One of these days I will get some time to do it, and may also look into illuminating the front and rear windshield with IR LEDs as well in a similar fashion to further flood the image with IR.

Comment: Re:Urban legend? (Score 1) 308

What always bothered me about that situation and I could never find an answer to is the laws about leaving property on public land in Nevada. In Minnesota, my state, there are very specific rules about leaving personal property on public land so after 14 days it becomes abandoned property and anyone can take it legally. This is why you hear about people who have their tree stands stolen that they put up weeks before hand but then state that when the reported the incident the police didn't do anything. I have wondered if there was a similar law in in Nevada because if so it would make it so anyone could have claimed his cattle and I bet some other rancher wouldn't have minded getting some free head of cattle to bolster their own herds.

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie