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Comment My last 3 android phones have had this feature (Score 1) 40 40

Taking and transcribing voicemail? My last 3 phones, all Android and going back at least four years, have had this feature. Is Apple really that far behind, that this feature comes out as News, and what's more, implies that they invented it?

Christ, does anyone editing this site actually keep up with technology?

Comment Re:Unions (Score 3, Insightful) 506 506

Second, plan on having something you can offer to employers besides the threat of a revolution or strike; good workers can find good jobs.

Anything you can do can be taught to someone else willing to work for less.

Have you so soon forgotten Disney's attempt to replace their techs?
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-disney-technology-h1b-20150617-story.html

Seems that the only thing that stopped that was the publicity it got once the techs started complaining.

Comment Re:Why go without GPS? (Score 1) 30 30

Indeed, Titan the easiest large world to explore by drone, so long as they tolerate the cryogenic conditions. A highly efficient version could potentially fly continuously just on RTG power (there have been proposals along these lines), although anything adapted to deal with the added weight / inefficiency of hardware to carefully land, collect samples, carry them, etc would probably have to use flight batteries.

Comment Re:Interesting argument (Score 3, Insightful) 121 121

Even if that wasn't the case, they're arguing AGAINST being a "common carrier".

Won't this make them responsible for any of the crap (death threats, libel, etc) that they distribute as part of them being an "information service"?

Music

"Happy Birthday" Public Domain After All? 168 168

New submitter jazzdude00021 writes: No song has had as contentious of copyright history as "Happy Birthday." The song is nearly ubiquitous at birthday parties in the USA, and even has several translations with the same tune. Due to copyrights held by Warner Music, public performances have historically commanded royalty fees. However, a new lawsuit has been brought to prove that "Happy Birthday" is, and always has been, in the public domain.The discovery phase for this lawsuit ended on July, 11 2014, yet this past week new evidence surfaced from Warner Music that may substantiate the claim that the lyrics were in the public domain long before the copyright laws changed in 1927.

Comment Re: Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 876 876

I called you daft for not understanding the concept that someone who runs a swapping service station covers all costs related to their business activities and rolls them into what they charge for service, just like every other business does. I fail to see what is hard about this for you to understand. The answer to "who pays for X cost" is *always* "the service provider, with the costs indirectly passed on to their customers via the rate charged".

Really, you think that bad fuel can't damage an engine? It can and does. And it's the supplier who ultimately bears the cost. No, "bad electricity" is not a proper analogy (although your sarcasm in this regard is funny given how many devices are damaged by surges every year); a gas station fuels vehicles by insertung fuel into them, while a swapping station fuels vehicles by inserting pre-charged batteries into them. Batteries correspond to fuel in this context.

In what world do you live where car parts are regularly inspected by the manufacturer after being installed into the vehicle? Cars have hundreds if not thousands of parts more safety critical than a battery pack, and yes, manufacturers *are* liable if their failure modes due to damage pose an unreasonable risk of injury. Think of a famous failure case - say, for example, the Ford Pinto fires. Were the gas tanks defective? Nope. But the cars had an unacceptably bad failure mode in certain types of crashes, and it fell on the manufacturer to fix it - as it always does. A part must meet its use case, and if its use case is "deliver electricity from a swappable system and not burn the vehicle down if damaged", it has to contain the necessary safety systems to do that.

Lastly, you're still stuck in bizarro world where ICE vehicles full of combustible fuel are incombustible, whereas EVs with no combustable fuel and more often than not with batteries less flammable than a block of cheese (once again: *not all li-ions are the same*!) burst into flames left and right. Meanwhile, in the reality that the rest of us live in, the opposite is true. Heck, last summer I saw a flaming hulk of a passenger car with fire crews trying to put it out to extract the burned bodies of the two tourists who had been driving it. Meanwhile, Teslas and Leafs have been in many wrecks - go to Google Images and search for "crash tesla" or "crash leaf". Where are the fires from these oh-so-flammable vehicles? Yes, they have happened, but at a much lower per-vehicle rate than gasoline cars according to NTSB stats. Sorry, but your fire conceptions are just not based in reality.

Comment Mod parent up. (Score 2) 364 364

I've had similar arguments with telco people. If the DIGITAL part of the system is not dropping (or delaying) packets then there is no problem with the DIGITAL part of the system.

Swapping cables that are not causing dropped/delayed packets for other cables that won't drop/delay packets is useless.

And testing the digital portion is very easy.

If you think you hear a difference, it is probably your imagination or the analog portion on either end.

Comment Re:Why go without GPS? (Score 2) 30 30

On the Moon or Mars they wouldn't reach very far. But a RTG-powered version on Titan would have unlimited range (although may need to land periodically to recharge its flight batteries). And even a rocket or gas jet version would have quite significant range on an asteroid.

Such a design is obviously going to be very mission sensitive, hence the need for different propulsion systems. Some missions would benefit significantly as well from wings to allow for long distance flight on bodies with atmospheres (Venus, Titan, maybe Mars, etc). A couple worlds, such as Titan, might benefit from landing floats. And so forth. But that's where rapid prototyping tech (such as 3d printing) becomes useful - they engineer the base model and then can play around with variants with ease. Hopefully in the end they'll have a sample collector module with a workable version for almost any body in the solar system. And for the interests of science, we really need something like that, a universal adaptable drone module - to be paired with a universal adaptable ion tug module, one of a couple variants of a universal adaptable reentry / landing modules, and the same for adaptable ascent modules.

It's impressive what science can be pulled off on the surface of another world. But it's nothing compared to what we can do here on Earth with a sample return.

Comment Re:Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 876 876

In one truck, yes. The frequency of dead batteries, however, will be the same as passenger vehicles; who will dispose of those?

Seriously, you can't be this daft. The operator, of course, with the price rolled into the service cost.

All of which are relatively involved.

No, they're not. Even your laptop battery estimates its capacity, and that's about as simple as li-ion battery packs get. Coulomb counting, voltage measurements at start and end compared to the charge temperature, charge voltage curve shapes, direct measurement of pack heating over the course of charge to measure internal resistance, and about half a dozen other methods are all usable and widely used to estimate capacity remaining in a pack. Pretty much every modern EV and hybrid in existence checks its battery pack's performance at least at the pack level, if not the individual cell level (Tesla does it at the "brick" level), to see how it's aging and when components or the pack as the whole need to be replaced.

Measuring remaining battery capacity is a concept older than the light bulb.

testing and inspecting a battery for damage and danger conditions so you don't install it into someone's vehicle and get a lawsuit for "vehicle exploded in a giant flaming blaze" (or drive all your customers away with "we don't test our batteries for anything but charge, and damaged batteries may set your truck on fire") is wholly different.

Just like gas stations check their gas for impurities that can cause damage to an engine? No, it's the manufacturer's issue to ensure that the product meets its stated usage specs - in this case, the specs including safe handling of damage and X number of swap cycles. Meeting damage control specs is why Tesla isolates each cell in a canister to prevent failure propagation. And why packs always come with fuses/breakers that blow when the pack gets wet or there's otherwise a short.

(Just ignoring that many types of li-ions don't burn even when abused. Tesla uses standard cobalt-based 18660s, which is why they have to have a failure isolation system, but vehicles like the Volt and Leaf use more stable spinel chemistries)

That may result in diesel being the cheaper fuel by far

Tesla's battery packs have an 8 year, unlimited-mile warranty. Even if we assume that they're only good for 1000 full charge cycles (which should be well on the low end), at 30 tonne-miles per kWh of charge, times 1000 cycles, and $150/kWh for the pack, that's 200 tonne-miles per dollar of pack capital cost. A diesel truck will get about 120 tonne-miles per gallon of diesel, and diesel costs somewhere in the ballpark of 6x more than electricity per unit range (depends on your location), meaning that the electric version saves about 3-4$ per dollars of energy cost per dollar of pack capital cost.

There are a lot more batteries on a truck.

Wait, so you're picturing them being done individually, one after the next? Seriously? *smacks forehead*

Fortunately, if you mount batteries under there without a bunch of armored doors and other shit to hold it all together, the cargo container catches fire when the batteries become damaged.

In the parallel world where EVs are always catching on fire, and petroleum-fueled vehicles aren't - quite unlike our actual world.

Robotics

A Robot That Can Walk and Jump On Water 39 39

Taco Cowboy writes: Researchers from Seoul University and Harvard have constructed tiny robots that can walk across the surface of standing water, and even jump into the air. The robots were designed to imitate the way pond-skimmer insects take advantage of surface tension to maneuver on top of still bodies of water. After studying the insects, the researchers found their legs started with a small amount of movement before gradually accelerating downward into a jump. The insects also sweep their legs inward during the jump to maximize the amount of time they stay in contact with the surface (abstract). "Using these principles, the researchers developed an ultra light robot made out of nickel titanium with a 2 centimeter long body inspired by origami. Its 5 centimeter long wire legs are curved at the tips like a real water strider's and coated with a material that repels water." Pictures of the robots are available here and here, as well as this animated gif.

Comment Re:First note to the PAs on the new show: (Score 4, Interesting) 203 203

You know, that would be the best prank ever. Convincing Clarkson that he's getting a new TV show but having the actual point being to secretly film him when he's not acting for the fake "show", as they subject him to situations that would be increasingly uncomfortable for a speed-obsessed labour-hating hot-headed racist diva. Sort of "Top Gear" crossed with "An Idiot Abroad". ;)

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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