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Comment Re:Largest of its type only (Score 2) 83

...and doesn't require specific large-scale geography to implement.

This doesn't have to get a whole lot more efficient before it could become profitable. If you look at the wholesale electricity market in the UK, the peak cost of electricity is more than double the minimum cost over a week. So something that can store electricity at minimum cost and sell it back into the grid at peak cost only needs to be 50% efficient to be making money. Of course, that's ignoring the capital cost, but still, this is not too far off being profitable.

It's a pretty sad indictment of the state of energy storage, really. It only needs to be 50% efficient to be profitable. If it's profitable, people will do it. Therefore conclude that every practical energy storage system is less than 50% efficient (at least where it doesn't require geography).

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Simple, Cross-Platform, Video Messaging

DeathToBill writes: I spend a lot of time away from my kids (think months at a time) who are aged 3-8. I keep in touch with them by Skype, but the young ones are not really old enough to concentrate on it and we're often in quite different timezones, so it's not often it can be very spontaneous. We'd like to have some way that we can record short video messages of things we're doing and send them to each other. It needs to have an iPad app that is simple enough for a three-year-old to use with help and for a five-year-old to use without help; it needs to have an Android or web client, preferably one that doesn't require an Apple ID; it needs to be able to record a short video and send it to someone.

As far as I can tell, iMessage requires Apple kit (there is an Android app but it sends all your messages through a server in China...) and Whatsapp works on iPhone but not iPad.

What can slashdot suggest?

Comment Re:Uber/Lyft could probably do this too (Score 2) 92

Not sure if it's just a US thing. In the UK, "click and collect" is available in most supermarkets (and in Australia, for that matter). But then so is web-ordered home delivery.

As I said back when Amazon started trialing this, I think they'll find it hard to compete with the supermarkets. Fresh food can't be stored in a warehouse on one side of the country and posted everywhere; it requires a complex distribution infrastructure, with local stock regularly replenished and without everything passing through a central distribution point to get there. It also requires some well-developed methodology for estimating stock requirements ahead of time. Supermarkets that are regularly out of stock don't do well, nor do ones that significantly over-stock and have to throw goods away.

Submission + - FTDI drags consumers into an IP war: updates drivers, bricks devices (

DeathToBill writes: According to Hack-A-Day, about a month ago FTDI released a new driver for their venerable USB-to-serial bridge chip, the FT232. This driver was pushed out to Windows systems via Windows Update. Unbeknown to, well, everyone except FTDI, the driver included an update to the terms and conditions, including the text, "Use of the Software as a driver for, or installation of the Software onto, a component that is not a Genuine FTDI Component, including without limitation counterfeit components, MAY IRRETRIEVABLY DAMAGE THAT COMPONENT." Now, your average slashdotter might see that warning on a license agreement and think, "Ha ha, yeah right," but this driver update is a bit... special. It uses small differences in the behaviour of counterfeit chips to detect them, then reprograms the chip's USB PID to 0 — preventing any operating system from loading a driver for the device and very effectively bricking it.

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