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Comment: Re:"Current infrastructure" (Score 1) 340

by swb (#46787145) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

I think it's a scaling problem that affects not just local distribution but all distribution and even generation.

There's roughly 200 million passenger vehicles in the US, if 20% of them switched to electric you have a new total electrical load of 400 gigawatts. I think there are significant power scaling issues there that are hard to offset (eg, night charging, on-site solar, new efficiencies in other consumption, etc). Even if you cut it by a factor of 10, it's still a lot of power consumption that just doesn't exist now.

I'm skeptical that adoption will grow that fast for all kinds of reasons (cost, consumer acceptance, battery availability, etc) but I'm also skeptical that the power network can scale fast, either.

Comment: Re:Which is why the smart grow underground (Score 2) 243

by swb (#46786231) Attached to: Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

A guy I used to know in college was from a rural area. There was a small river that was navigable by canoe, and his brother used to go canoeing in the spring and plant seeds along the river.

He'd make a few trips during the summer to check up on them, in the fall he'd come by, cut them down to dry and then make one last trip to pick up the most promising plants.

Comment: "Current infrastructure" (Score 1) 340

by swb (#46784401) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

I'm curious if the residential electric grid (the part in most single-family home residential neighborhoods) is up to the task of charging electric cars if there's some rapid shift to EVs.

There's maybe 50 houses on my block, and say 75 cars. If half go to a Tesla-style car and charge at 10kW, my block alone suddenly has a new load on the neighborhood grid of nearly 400kW. Are we wired for that, especially in A/C season?

Suddenly that looks like a whole lot of grid demand.

Comment: Re:We do not need solid state to replace platter d (Score 1) 248

by swb (#46780345) Attached to: SSD-HDD Price Gap Won't Go Away Anytime Soon

I think the theory behind caching is that what *should* work best is just keeping a list of the most frequently accessed blocks on flash, since, well, that's what you access most frequently. I would be nice to have a config tool that would be able to flag file(s) or directories as "always-cache".

I think the parent is mostly right in that most of the hybrid drives just have too little flash to really provide a lot of meaningful acceleration. 8 GB just doesn't cut it against 750 GB of platter. More flash capacity would also allow you to reserve some meaningful space to cache disk writes.

Comment: Spectrum sharing? (Score 1) 91

by swb (#46777769) Attached to: Bidding At FCC TV Spectrum Auction May Be Restricted For Large Carriers

I can't but help think that there needs to be some way to share or combine spectrum between carriers. It seems grossly inefficient to have a geographic footprint served by multiple carriers over a wide spectrum but have phones that can only talk on part of it due to arbitrary division by the carriers.

It also seems like it creates such ridiculous barriers to entry that competition is inherently limited because the requirements to being a carrier are so large -- you need radio spectrum and broad coverage.

I think there should be some kind of scheme where handsets work on all possible spectrum and carriers are forced to allow connections from all devices. When a subscriber from carrier A gets on tower run by carrier B, carrier B needs to handle their connection and backhaul at some defined cost. A system of backend accounting to balance the cross-carrier connection charges could take into account the usage of each other's infrastructure, with charges reduced depending on the carrier's infrastructure investment at the specific cell site (ie, if carrier A has a backhaul presence but not RF presence at a site, their usage costs would be proportionally less.

It would be in the carriers best interest to have their own towers to offset backend costs. The benefit to consumers would be better coverage, since any one cell tower could offer maximum spectrum coverage resulting in fewer overall towers needed.

Comment: "Drone" -- the "cloud" of aviation? (Score 3, Insightful) 33

by swb (#46776381) Attached to: FBI Drone Deployment Timeline

I think we're getting to the point where "drone" has become a generic buzzword for any kind of remotely piloted aircraft that can do any kind of visual surveillance, whether it's a $100 toy that can take pictures of my back yard or a multi-million dollar turbofan-powered military aircraft with explosive missiles.

I hate to sound like an apologist for the FBI, and I'm sure whatever they fly is probably more sophisticated than a lot of quadcopters, but I think some of the reaction to the FBI using drones seems misplaced. It's not like the FBI doesn't have access to Blackhawk helicopters and probably more than few equipped with military-grade FLIR & other surveillance gear. If they can accomplish whatever air surveillance they need without burning through $5k/hour or whatever it costs to operate a Blackhawk or the millions to buy another one, I'm OK with that.

I think sometimes the fuzzy definition of drone implies the FBI has this magic fleet of autonomous surveillance craft performing wireless intercepts, reading my mail and spying in my bedroom window. I'm just not sure that's what's really happening.

Of course the FBI's secrecy and [redacted] behavior doesn't help.

Comment: Ever switched to the other NRA mags? (Score 1) 282

by swb (#46776011) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

American Rifleman is fairly entertaining for a bathroom read. I know you can (or at least as a life member, I can..) get one of other NRA mags instead of AR. I keep thinking the women's version might be interesting, at least as a sociological amusement, and perhaps something to leave at the Pediatrician's office to keep 'em guessing.

Comment: Re:Bad, Bad idea (Score 1) 137

by Frobnicator (#46774951) Attached to: Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

This whole idea is unnecessary if the wireless carriers would just set up a database of stolen IMEI information.

They already do in many countries. The UK has had IMEI blacklists for several years. The US is just late to the party.

Now in an ideal world they would actually track the devices back, notify law enforcement, and collect the stolen device. But sadly that doesn't happen.

Comment: Re:Yay for government!!! (Score 5, Informative) 137

by Frobnicator (#46774901) Attached to: Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

The carriers already can (and do) block stolen phones. Each phone has a unique IMEI number, in addition to the SIM card number.

The carriers are already required to do this in some countries, and do it voluntarily in other countries. They just don't do it in the US.

IMEI blacklists are common in many countries, including the UK. When a device is stolen the IMEI number is put on the list and carriers reject the device and (potentially) notify investigators.

Comment: Re:Rewarding the bullies... (Score 1) 789

can the police officer force the boy to destroy evidence?

Not legally. Read the article. The officer can ask, cajole, beg, and plead, but not force the destruction.

Imagine this in court, "I'm sorry your honor, we had evidence but the police officer destroyed it." Every officer knows and is repeatedly trained that they cannot destroy evidence. That doesn't mean they can't encourage others to do it before it becomes 'evidence' in a case.

The details in the story are important. The officer didn't destroy the evidence. Because that would be, you know, bad. Instead he told the kid to delete it and made threats about what might happen if the boy got in trouble and the evidence were used against him.

Comment: The pro-life bit seems off (Score 4, Interesting) 800

by swb (#46765701) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

Another important frame: Pro Life! Abortion is bad, because it undermines the power of the father in the family. When a teenager becomes pregnant, it's her own fault, and she should live with the consequences. She didn't listen to her father, who is the moral authority and who decides what's good and what't wrong. When an adult woman decides to have an abortion because she wants to work on her career, she undermines this strict-father-morale as well. A career is not for women - they should stay at home and raise the children. Pro Life is not about life, it's about male dominance. Pro Life is not about the life of that baby - they don't care about that baby that probably would have little value to them. Pro Life is not about life, because it's OK to physically attack and occasionally kill people who work at abortion clinics. Casualties of war!

This doesn't seem right. I'm not familiar with pro-life rhetoric being about abortion undermining patriarchal power in the family, usually it seems to be a general attack on women, often no different than opposition to contraception. Usually it seems to be about undermining female sexuality by increasing pregnancy risk, which may affect patriarchal authority coincidentally but not specifically. The other angle seems to be a more general cultural conservatism that sees non-reproductive sexuality as a general contributor to moral decline -- with pregnancy as a non-risk (through contraception and abortion), there's no reason for marriage as a necessity for sexuality since there is no pregnancy.

I think it's even been argued that contraception and abortion actually contribute to male promiscuity since they also free men from the responsibility burden of pregnancy. It wouldn't surprise me if this doesn't tie into some radical feminist critiques of contraception/abortion as having an inherently patriarchal nature, since it eliminates any male responsibility for their sexuality and reduces women's value to that of merely a transactional sexual partner at best When the classist and gender discriminatory nature of economic relations is taken into account, women are further reduced to near-prostitute status, being obligated by both economy and lack of male sexual accountability. Of course I'm not advocating this as being true, but it's not hard to tie it together with this kind of rhetoric.

Comment: Re:The Real Breakthrough - non auto-maker Maps (Score 1) 193

by swb (#46765571) Attached to: How Apple's CarPlay Could Shore Up the Car Stereo Industry

I think the whole point of CarPlay is that it's an external display/mirroring solution that takes over the entire in-car display. Knowing Apple, a term of licensing is probably not allowing any overlay or alteration of the display. The only thing allowed is probably switching away from CarPlay completely to show in-car data like the backup camera or car-specific info.

What hasn't been talked about is whether OEM integration with CarPlay to control OEM-specific features like HVAC, audio settings (EQ/fader) or trip computer data currently controlled or displayed on the in-dash display. I can see either Apple providing generic CarPlay apps (eg, "Climate") that tie-in to these OEM systems or some combination of a generic apps and maybe an OEM app that implements these features in CarPlay.

As for taking over/using an OEM display, check out the "Mimicsx2" -- it looks like it implements the bits for using an OEM display with a phone by basically acting as a switcher and touchscreen coupler. I'd call this basically a third party hardware hack for implementing CarPlay-like functionality. It looks interesting, but obviously not nearly as slick as one purpose built for phone integration.

"If value corrupts then absolute value corrupts absolutely."