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Comment This is the noose Uber hangs itself by... (Score 2) 30

The self-driving car is very much going to project that sinks Uber. It's an enterprise so far outside their core business, with such a sheer volume of money required to bring to fruition, and they're just not going to get there. Moreover, it's not at all clear that their financials support being able to back a project like this if it doesn't bring quick and immediate success.

Google are probably the current leaders in this field. And to their credit, there's a logical value there - Google's business is, essentially, AI - which is what the problem boils down to (and integrates nicely with the rest of their search business - object identification, categorization etc.).

When investors start wanting to cash out, Uber is going to wind up sliced and diced and a lot less valuable then it looked on paper due to projects like this which they can't possibly fulfill.

Comment Re:Garbage what? (Score 3, Insightful) 71

The oceans produce 70% of the oxygen on this planet. A huge portion of those "worrying about their next meal" depend on ocean ecosystems for that meal. And most of that plastic is produced by the first world, not the third.

And you know, they're also capable of speaking for themselves. You, a first-worlder, have food security. So what's your excuse for not using your privilege and means to do something about this problem?

Comment Re:Article summary (Score 5, Insightful) 396

Quite possibly it'll be the ultimate thing which buries the company though. Toxic workplaces tend to be very good at ultimately pursuing bad ideas that sink them, because they eventually drive away anyone who might have the drive to try and fix or oppose them. Drone delivery might be the first sign of that with Amazon. Plus - we haven't seen the fallout of a genuine crash in cloud hosting yet, and there's a lot of business being built on the idea that Amazon will always exist. Inject some genuine uncertainty and you have to wonder if they're in a position to deal with that.

Comment Re:How it's supposed to work... (Score 2) 396

This is how the labour market is supposed to work.

I would never work for Amazon - I accept lower pay in exchange for work/life balance. But for those people for whom money is more important, Amazon provides them with that opportunity. To each their own. ...and to those who didn't know what they were getting into when they started working at Amazon, that's their own fault. Amazon's working conditions are pretty well-known.

This is all well and good, but the executives at places like Amazon have the ear of government policymakers. Sure, it's not slavery if you can quit...but it is when everywhere else can act the exact same way.

Comment Re:It's nice to have ideals (Score 1) 466

If you break it down like that everything in the modern world looks like a lot of work for "something so simple". Consider the mechanicals of that air conditioner for "just some cool air in a car".

AC motors are very efficient but in no way are they enabled by AC line voltages - efficient AC motors always do multiple conversion steps to produce AC current matched to the present speed and position of the motor. The simple AC motors you find in cheap power tools are nowhere near as efficient (and a DC motor is usually better anyway because it'll torque its way through just about anything).

Comment Re:He wasn't able to give it up. (Score 2) 466

Maybe so, but big data centers are starting to have big solar installations and a bunch of Google and Facebook ones are notionally self-sufficient if still grid tied.

So plus a few base-load nuclear power plants and they automatically become coal-free, which becomes more practical with reduced residential electrical demand.

Comment Re: Nonsense (Score 1, Insightful) 466

The line losses are a NIMBY problem, people don't want power plants near their houses.

The fuel-source problem is people not being willing to pay for more expensive renewables, or in electing politicians that oppose them while continuing to subsidize fossil-fuels.

Those things can be fixed only if people as groups are willing to accept these differences and their costs, or if someone decides to put solar panels, at increasing personal expense given the utility companies' objections, on their property.

No a NIMBY problem is one which is stupid, like people not wanting nuclear plants anywhere near them "just in case". Living near an actual coal power plant is actually dangerous for your health in all sorts of ways including radiation.

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

A cubesat launcher modified with manoeuvering thrusters so it could do multiple deployments would work. The question is how small and low-power can you make the atomic clocks?

In practice though, You could get away with some lower orbit probes and synchronize your manouevers to only those times they're overhead providing positioning coverage.

Comment Re:Impressive, if true (Score 1) 248


You can get to the Moon for circa 800 ms-1 for a flyby. Injection is more but can be done for well under 3000 if you're willing to wait.

You are right - obviously you can't actually land on that, and manoeuvering/circularization adds more, but there's been a lot of work on this.

The 3000 figure is if you're using the classic, fast approach of the Apollo missions. But you can also do it very cheaply - so cheaply you could get enough delta-V out of a sufficiently high orbit Cubesat with arc-thrusters.

"If Diet Coke did not exist it would have been neccessary to invent it." -- Karl Lehenbauer