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Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 1) 649

by JoeMerchant (#49526901) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Sure, there's plenty of steam coming from the stacks and it's easy to point to.

There is also fine particulate hydrocarbon (tar) that settles on things and makes a sticky film. I lived in Taylor Lake Village, next door to Space Center Houston, not far enough from Pasadena, apparently. My car, parked under a carport but with open walls, would get a visible, sticky film on it in a very short time after being washed.

The crap was so pervasive it made it into our air conditioned house and got all over the electrostatic air cleaners - again, covered in tar within days of washing. When we moved to Gainesville, Florida, those same air cleaners would get covered seasonally, with pollen, but the tar from the air of Houston never showed up.

Comment: Re:Mod parent up (Score 1) 649

by JoeMerchant (#49514915) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

This is /. we extrapolate...

I'd love to build an electric car - and the design I find most exciting is direct drive with one motor per rear wheel. You could do all kinds of cool handling tricks and optimizations with that, and also put yourself in a world of hurt if you got it wrong.

I'd be fine with "Warranty voided, liability limited" if you mod your factory ECU - but making it illegal under the DMCA is just silly, silly like letting a camel stick its nose inside your tent.

Comment: Re:Oh Look, a Car Analogy for Last Week's Story! (Score 1) 649

by JoeMerchant (#49514827) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

You think you own your phone today? Sure, you pay for it, but try to move it between the major carriers and tell me that your phone isn't IP locked to Verizon, or Sprint, or AT&T. Yes, some multi-band phones can move between some carriers, but largely, it's still a lock-in game - that device that you pay for is all but useless the day your carrier says it is.

Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 4, Interesting) 649

by JoeMerchant (#49514783) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Depends heavily on the state, county, etc.

I was pretty livid living in Harris County (Houston, TX), driving past the petro-refineries pumping out visible tons of pollution per day to take my 3rd round smog test because my 1600cc car that I drive 4000 miles a year was measuring 230ppm hydrocarbons instead of the legal 220 - meanwhile our 5900cc pickup truck had a legal limit of 330ppm....

Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 2) 649

by JoeMerchant (#49514731) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

The price of a car (and everything else, for that matter) has never been been determined by value, or utility, it is determined by what the market will bear.

What they are hoping here is that the market will continue to pay current prices for cars while losing the right to modify or repair them. I'm sure the people who lease a new one every 2 years won't mind a bit; mechanics, tuners, and gearheads are another story.

Since this is a democracy, we have to hope that people standing on principles of freedom / property rights / etc. weigh in big on this issue, because tuners, gearheads and mechanics are nowhere near 50% of the population.

Comment: Re:"Drama of mental illness" (Score 2) 353

And, the only thing that is tracked is "reported suicide attempts" - how many suicidal ideation episodes went unreported before the availability of "anonymous help in your pocket?"

Suicide counselors have been wishing for decades that people would come forward earlier so they can get help - is this the manifestation of them finally getting that wish fulfilled?

Comment: Re:That is until the FAA shuts them down (Score 3, Insightful) 21

by JoeMerchant (#49256437) Attached to: Google's Solar-Drone Internet Tests About To Take Off

I don't see the FAA shutting Google down on this one. Google will get the appropriate licenses, jump through the appropriate hoops, and generally just do a bunch of stuff that most people or companies aren't capable of doing so that the FAA will say "OK Google, go ahead."

This is assuming that Google's plans are for something like a very small number of solar powered drones that are operating at an altitude that doesn't conflict with established traffic patterns, can be marked on navigational maps, include some kind of beacon to warn other aircraft of their operation, etc. Like radio towers, except I imagine a solar powered drone would try to fly above the clouds.

It's a win-win, Google gets to research and maybe 5 years in the future deploy some operations in remote areas. FAA gets to point at Google as an example of how they are letting people "do drones" in non-military US airspace, and still keeps a stranglehold on "unregulated" drone operations.

Because, really, it is starting to look like the FAA has heavily invested their personal assets in overseas drone manufacturers and they want to keep US businesses, especially the small startups, out of competition with them.

Comment: Sounds like sandbagging to me (Score 1) 498

by JoeMerchant (#49223843) Attached to: Mental Health Experts Seek To Block the Paths To Suicide

Article title makes me think of a flood analogy: "World seeks to address rising sea levels with dikes, walls and dams."

Since the psychologists are powerless to do anything about the underlying causes of suicidal behavior, now they attempt to make it harder to do? Good luck with that.

Comment: Re:Funny Quote from Article (Score 2) 247

by JoeMerchant (#49195955) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

So, in a battle between automatic rifles and flint-locks, which side has the advantage? You might need over 10 flint lock equipped soldiers to take down each soldier on the other side who is carrying an AK-47.

Now, give one side sextants and binoculars and the other GPS and aerial imagery of the battlefield. If the flint locks get the GPS, they've got a fighting chance of 1:1 parity... if it goes the way it did in Desert Storm, the winning side has lower casualty rates in-theater during battle than they do back home during training.

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson

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