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Comment: Selfish states (Score 2) 115

by Dan East (#48625427) Attached to: Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States?

It depends on how "selfish" the state is. State lawmakers are always looking to increase revenue and income into their state. Since automobile dealers are local, and they get a cut of auto sales, it is beneficial, generically, for states to only allow dealerships to sell cars and get their local, in-state cut of the revenue. So it takes lawmakers that can see beyond that immediate income and have vision enough to embrace the future even if it has some cost to their state.

Then of course you have states like Texas, that produce oil and gasoline, who don't like Tesla and their new-fangled 'lectric cars, who of course want to make it hard on Tesla because that is a threat to revenue for their state.

Comment: Created? (Score 5, Insightful) 190

by Dan East (#48605453) Attached to: Jaguar and Land Rover Just Created Transparent Pillars For Cars

Describing a concept, and making a fake CGI video of how it might work, does not mean they have "created it". They haven't even revealed where this is at in the development cycle, and the video is very clearly pure CGI. (for one thing, nothing on these augmented displays will look right except from the driver's perspective, which will be annoying for passengers, and the camera does not show the driver's perspective in this video).

With the "B column" (the column between the front and back door), why should I have to turn my head >90 degrees to see an oddly shaped screen that shows me what is only right behind the column? When I signal how about show me EVERYTHING to that side of the vehicle on a screen that's, um, like right in front of me so I don't have to take me eyes off the road or crane my neck?

Comment: Study explains nothing (Score 3, Insightful) 113

by Dan East (#48580621) Attached to: Study Explains Why Women Miscarry More Males During Tough Times

This study "explains" nothing.

Such a pattern would provide an evolutionary explanation for such culling. It “might be adaptive,” Lee says.

An "evolutionary explanation" isn't an explanation. WHY do more male fetuses die than female during stressful situations? What is the actual mechanism causing this to happen? The answer to that is an "explanation". Further, given the relatively long time frames involved in human reproduction, how would this trait have evolved to cover such a large percentage of the population when it is only needed during stressful situations?

Maybe males require more resources from the mother as a fetus, or maybe the difference in hormones is the tipping point that causes more male fetuses to die in these situations. But just because it appears to be beneficial in some way in the vast scheme of things does not mean that it exists because it is beneficial evolutionary or was selected in some way.

Saying "we found it is beneficial for less male fetuses to be born during stressful situations" does not mean "less males are born because it is beneficial during stressful situations".

Comment: Useful (Score 4, Interesting) 291

by Dan East (#48561683) Attached to: Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

I live in a rural area, and do dual-sport motorcycle riding on mountain trails in the Appalachians. There is a small "town" where we stop to fuel up and eat, and this place doesn't even have cell phone service. However, I did find that there is an Xfinity hotspot. Actually, I didn't even know what the Xfinity thing was until seeing this story, but it now makes sense why there was a "commercial" hotspot at this little crossroads. They allow two one-hour free trial sessions a month, which just happens to be about the frequency I ride through there, so it has been extremely useful to communicate while having lunch. So I give Xfinity a thumbs-up as it was that or nothing at all (and I do mean nothing) in this one particular place.

What Comcast needs to do is share just a tiny bit of this revenue with customers whose routers provide this service. It might only amount to a dollar or two a month, but that would be an incentive to have it turned on, and would offset the extra cost of electricity.

Comment: CGI (Score 4, Interesting) 390

by Dan East (#48480181) Attached to: First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

Most of the trailer is CGI, which makes sense at this point. The movie won't be released for another year, so this early on most of the finished shots would be fairly generic CGI stuff that was being worked on in parallel to the main shooting. The hard part is all the editing and incorporating CGI into the shots with the actors, and they've only just wrapped up the shooting this month. That's what they'll be working on for the next several months.

One thing about the lightsaber scene, at first I was like "that's a lame gimmicky lightsaber", but then looking at it more closely, it doesn't have a pure even glow like a normal lightsaber. It looks more like fire and less refined. So my hunch is that sith guy had to figure out how to fabricate the weapon on his own without any guidance, so it's this crude, barely controlled weapon that has to vent extra energy so it doesn't blow up or melt or something. Yeah, that was a pretty geeky analysis.

Comment: Re:Funny Timing (Score 1) 61

by Dan East (#48431349) Attached to: The Nintendo DS Turns 10

I just fired up an old beat up micro I had laying around last week. At the time it was released, the micro had one of the highest DPI color screens I'd ever seen. Still the SP is my favorite. It was the first Gameboy of any kind with an actual backlit screen, and it was beautiful to behold. Games looked so vibrant and clear compared to the Gameboy Advanced, that they almost didn't event seem like they were the same games. The clamshell design was also new and suited to the device perfectly. When closed it wasn't much larger than the screen, and the cartridge fit flush into the device - it was nice and compact when closed. It was also the first gameboy with an integrated rechargeable battery, and it seemed to last for ages. Really, the SP was the most revolutionary single portable gaming device produced by Nintendo. The one and only thing the SP lacked, which was due to the CPU / cartridge hardware being designed well before the SP came out, was a hibernate / suspend type capability when closed (it still seems to me they could have managed that somehow).

Comment: Owning stock (Score 2) 203

by Dan East (#48431299) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

Is it common stock or non-voting? If common stock then I would think they would want the school to have a vote in what the energy companies do. Regardless, if it's a wise investment that is generating profit, then it really doesn't matter. It's not like selling the stock is going to hurt the company or the stock value. I guess some people just can't sleep at night over these kinds of things.

Comment: Re:With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (Score 5, Interesting) 523

by Dan East (#48423627) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

No matter how you build them, nuclear Radioisotope Thermal Generators are heavy.

That's totally inaccurate. I went into details about this a couple days ago when Philae was discussed here. In that case someone said that because it took 10 years to arrive at the comet, an RTG couldn't have been used. I'll just copy/paste my other post since it already covers your statement.

The lander only uses 32 watts of power. The MMRTG used in Curiosity provides 125 watts of power initially, and 100 watts after 14 years. The mass of that specific RTG (the MMRTG, 45kg) would be too great for use in Philae, but then it also produces 3 times more energy than needed (even after 14 years). RTGs have been made in many sizes for many different applications, so it would simply have been a matter of designing an RTG that produces 40-45 watts of power after 10 years.

However, one of the main uses of the 32 watts of power required by Philae is just to keep the batteries warm so they don't fail. RTGs produce more "waste" heat than they do electricity. For example, the MMRTG used in the Curiosity rover produces 2 kW of heat, of which 125 W is converted to electricity. The extra heat is used to keep the various temperature-sensitive parts of the rover nice and warm so they don't fail. With Philae, a good portion of the 32 watts of the solar power it requires is just to keep the battery warm. So if an RTG were used, it wouldn't even need to produce 32 watts of electricity since it can keep the lander warm directly.

Looking at the mass and wattage produced, the RTGs ("SNAP-19") in the Pioneer probes would have been just about perfect for Philae. They produce 40 watts of power and weigh 13.6 kg. Philae's current electrical system weighs 12.2 kg, so that's at least in the ballpark. The RTGs on the surface of the moon, as manually placed by Apollo astronauts's would have been a bit heavy at 20 kg. One of those RTGs was still producing 90% of its power after 10 years.

The SNAP-9A used in the Transit 5B-2 navigation satellite launched in 1963 weighed 12.3 kg and produced 25 watts of power. That looks about like a perfect fit for Philae, and I'm sure more efficient thermocouplers are available today that could further reduce the weight.

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