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Comment: Re:Another huge battery market, Robots (Score 1) 188

by EmperorOfCanada (#47803323) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed
You would still need the power to transmit a live feed from multiple cameras and sensors. That will still take a battery with some grunt.

I am a firm believer that the end design for most robots will be a combination like you suggest. That the robots will be fairly stupid and controlled by a central powerful computer. But if the robot is moving with any haste then it will need instant feedback loops running between its sensors and motors.

But even in this scenario on a farm the central computer will ideally be battery powered even if it isn't mobile. In this case I could see it also being solar powered. Just sitting way out in the field directing and fuelling a bunch of its little mobile friends.

Also there will be other uses for robots where transmitting to a central powerful computer isn't really an option. Robots that are sent way out into the field. Say water quality sampling along a river or flying huge distances doing air quality surveys.

So autonomous robots will really come into their own when they have the portable power to actually do stuff without breaking the bank.

Comment: Another huge battery market, Robots (Score 1) 188

by EmperorOfCanada (#47802717) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed
I build robots and they all suck, they suck because they don't have enough power. I could potentially load them up with $1,000 worth of Lithium based batteries or two tons worth of lead acid batteries but for a robot that I want to follow my cat I am not sure that it is worth it. If I want to build a real robot that will go out in to the real world and do real things then I need batteries. It is one thing to have smooth rolling robots running over a smooth surface and not using much power. But to have an agricultural robot weeding its way through a clumpy muddy farm right after a heavy rain, I need some serious power.

So batteries force robot designers to make many compromises: They can compromise sales by making the robot too expensive, they can compromise how much work it can do by a small battery, they can compromise the computing power to save power, they can compromise functionally to save power.

Of all the problems the one that bothers me the most is compromising computing power; it is very nice to have two or more HD cameras feeding their data to one or more GPUs that crunch what the robot is seeing in real time and plan the optimal solution also in real time. Also other sensors such as radar or laser scanners can be energy gobblers.

For instance I would be curious to find how much Asimo's battery cost, and how long it lasts.

So it is battery technology that is the last piece of the puzzle to adding independent robots to our lives in a substantial way.

+ - Deputy who fatally struck cyclist while answering email will face no charges

Submitted by Frosty Piss
Frosty Piss (770223) writes "The LA County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against a sheriff’s deputy who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he fatally struck cyclist and former Napster COO Milton Olin Jr. in Calabasas last December. The deputy was responding to routine work email when he drifted into the bike lane and struck and killed Mr. Olin. As with a lot of Law Enforcement behavior, let's see a "regular" citizen get away with that."

+ - Hacker dubbed "Rawshark" causes political mayhem in New Zealand->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "New Zealand is facing its weirdest election ever with a hacker calling himself "Rawshark" progressively dumping emails hacked from a controversial blogger. This weekend, revelations forced the resignation of one Government minister and nobody knows what will drop next.

Emails revealed that the blogger, called "Whale Oil", was in contact with both a government minister in charge of New Zealand's white collar crime investigations unit and with a PR man acting for a founder of a failed finance company then under investigation."

Link to Original Source

+ - How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

Submitted by Rick Zeman
Rick Zeman (15628) writes "The Center for Public Integrity has a comprehensive article showing how Big Telecom (aka, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner) use lobbyists, paid-for politicians, and lawsuits (both actual and the threat thereof) in their efforts to kill municipal broadband. From the article: "The companies have also used traditional campaign tactics such as newspaper ads, push polls, direct mail and door-to-door canvassing to block municipal networks. And they’ve tried to undermine the appetite for municipal broadband by paying for research from think tanks and front groups to portray the networks as unreliable and costly. " Unfortunately, those think tanks and front groups are also paid for by the companies."

+ - Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee or Naps Alone->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Caffeine is a staple of most workplaces — it's rare to find an office without a coffee pot or a fridge full of soda. It's necessary (or at least feels like it's necessary) because it's sometimes hard to stay awake sitting at a desk for hours at a time, and the alternative — naps — aren't usually allowed. But new research shows it might be more efficient for employers to encourage brief "coffee naps," which are more effective at returning people to an alert state than either caffeine or naps by themselves. A "coffee nap" is when you drink a cup of coffee, and then take a sub-20-minute nap immediately afterward. This works because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to get into your bloodstream, and a 20-minute nap clears adenosine from your brain without entering deeper stages of sleep. In multiple studies, tired participants who took coffee naps made fewer mistakes in a driving simulator after they awoke than the people who drank coffee without a nap or slept without ingesting caffeine."
Link to Original Source

Comment: My friend was immune (Score 4, Funny) 249

by EmperorOfCanada (#47757925) Attached to: TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers
A frustrating friend of mine who periodically calls me for computer help but will argue with any help I offer got nailed by one of these guys. Except that he argued with them the whole time and wouldn't follow their instructions. The only thing that ended up being changed was that he deleted his browser icon from his desktop.

Comment: Assume it isn't secure (Score 3, Insightful) 117

by EmperorOfCanada (#47751291) Attached to: Securing the US Electrical Grid
The worst thing they can do is to secure it and then depend upon the security working. Thus the system should be designed so that if it is hacked every other Monday that it can survive. There have been a number of recent (last 20 years) events that have shown that single points of failure can have devastating effects. So make sure that if terrible things happen that a lesser grid can be maintained manually.

A great example of this would be a local grocery store chain's SAP system failed shortly before Christmas(some years ago). They were so dependant upon it that their ability to order stuff and manage inventory was pretty much non existent. So the store ended up looking like some kind of soviet grocery store where the only goods on the shelves were pretty much those that are managed by the distributors themselves; things like milk.

This grocery store hopefully has learned from this and now has some kind of manual backup plan where a store manager can actually phone in his orders and crudely manage the store's needs in the case of another serious computer outage.

The same with the grid. Ideally they set some sort of minimal functionality emergency plan whereby humans can crudely manage the system as opposed to a system that either works perfectly by computer or doesn't work at all.

But I worry far less about hackers and far more about system design failures and Carrington events.

Comment: I live in a near zero earthquake area (Score 4, Funny) 191

by EmperorOfCanada (#47743355) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?
Where I live (Nova Scotia) basically doesn't have earthquakes. So the risk here would be Tsunami from a distant earthquake. Interestingly enough if there were a Tsunami the configuration of the seafloor would cause it to be massive and wipe everything out for 10 or more miles inland.

I am not sure how many bottles of water I would need for that scenario.

Comment: Never heard of it (Score 1) 129

I guess this is why this fine academic institution has never crossed my radar. I have never heard it mentioned in any publication, any citation, any contest win. I am not saying that they don't publish squat but that nothing they have published managed to catch my attention. And when I read something in Nature, etc I will check to see which institution the various authors are from to mentally compile a list of intellectually active institutions.

So as far as I can tell this place is the intellectual opposite of say, MIT.

Comment: Focus (Score 1) 610

by EmperorOfCanada (#47725943) Attached to: Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year
I suspect that if most people were faced with the choice of paying for all ad-driven sites would simply not go to most sites. I could live with a only a few sites, StackOverflow being a huge one, a mapping web site, a classified ads site, etc. Do I really need to watch russian drivers crash into each other?

Comment: Re:Who signs the checks (Score 1) 371

How did you do as compared to say the CFO or the head of marketing(assuming equal time in the company)? I am not saying that techies lose every time but that often when you see a set of technical and business co founders that often the technical founder is gone by the time things go public.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen