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Comment: Re:On the other hand... (Score 3, Insightful) 615

by Alioth (#48211001) Attached to: FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

This has the potential though to backfire quite badly on FTDI. The vast majority of users don't know that the thing they bought is fake, all they know is that it's FTDI branded and all of a sudden it doesn't work, and they blame FTDI, and FTDI gets a bad reputation for unreliable crap (even though the hardware was counterfeit).

Comment: Re:This could be really good for Debian (Score 1) 547

by Alioth (#48195397) Attached to: Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork

That's a feature, not a defect. I run Debian on a bunch of servers. I like that it changes slowly. I like that it's not trying to be the bleeding edge. I like that migrating from one major version of Debian to the next is reasonably painless. For running a bunch of servers, I want something that follows the tried and trusted, not something that rides on the bleeding edge and something that has an absolutely rock solid packaging system. This is Debian, and it's why Debian is the right tool for this job.

If you want a distro that develops, there's always Ubuntu or Fedora.

Comment: Re:Has it been working so far? (Score 1) 387

by Alioth (#48167229) Attached to: Torvalds: I Made Community-Building Mistakes With Linux

From the context, this is not forking the kernel (this is just using mainline with patches for your distro).

Forking in this context means basically what Theo de Raadt did with NetBSD. OpenBSD was a NetBSD fork, completely new OS, team, etc. due to dissatisfaction with the NetBSD group and various personality conflicts he had with the NetBSD group. No one's done this with Linux yet.

Comment: Re:Missing option (Score 1) 219

by Alioth (#48159201) Attached to: When will the first successful manned Mars mission happen?

We're doing very well at the moment, but we're doing very well by living unsustainably. Unless we do something about that reasonably soon we're going to blunder into our own collapse. There is absolutely zero sign we're going to do anything worthwhile about it so unfortunately at this moment in time I think it's reasonable to conclude that the current civilization has almost run its course.

Comment: Re:Too bad... (Score 1) 610

by Alioth (#48158997) Attached to: Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

A very large proportion would be offshore and not covering 1/3rd of the country. All powerplants require maintenance, and a wind turbine has few moving parts and is likely designed to run quite a long time without needing to be visited, and is lightly stressed compared to other power plants - no hot corrosive gases for example, and much lower power densities and temperatures for bearings to withstand. The turbine in a CCGT must by contrast withstand temperatures greater than the melting point of the metal is made out of and has elaborate cooling measures just to stop the first two turbine stages from melting (a fault during the starting procedure can easily wreck one).

Comment: Re:It's not that hard to do it right (Score 2) 54

by Alioth (#48157389) Attached to: Drupal Fixes Highly Critical SQL Injection Flaw

People can write equally vulnerable code in Python or Java or Ruby. The root cause is building SQL queries out of strings instead of using prepared parameterized statements (which I believe PHP has supported for a while -- not as long as Python or Perl or Java or Ruby, after all PHP has those god awful mysql_something functions instead of having something like perl's DBI from the get-go).

I think if you're building queries out of strings you're doing it wrong and asking for an SQL injection vulnerability. From looking at the thread it seems that it was a query that used a list, I think it would have been better to find some other method.

Comment: Learning to code (Score 1) 213

by Alioth (#48151051) Attached to: Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too

I don't think everyone should have to learn to code. I don't think everyone should learn chemistry either, but schools still do a reasonable job of teaching basic chemistry for kids who choose to pursue it.

The real issue is where I live when it comes to kids taking the option to learn to code is the awful "ICT" curriculum. The problems, in a nutshell are:
1. No environment for the kids to actually learn.
2. The curriculum is mainly nothing to do with ICT, it's really "office skills", in other words how to use wordprocessors, spreadsheets, make a simple website, that kind of thing. Nothing about how computers actually work and how to bend them to your will.

Point (1) is probably the most serious. The school I went to didn't teach any kind of computing class (out of sheer snobbery - it was available as GCSE and A level subjects when I was at school), however, what they had was a room full of computers where those of us who had an interest were provided with all the materials we needed and told basically "do what you want, except play video games - unless you coded the game yourself". We did code games as a matter of fact, which meant some kids who were too lazy to learn trigonometry in maths classes still ended up getting a good grasp of trig and some linear algebra as a side effect.

However, now the computers in schools are all locked down tighter than a duck's ass. You can't explore, you can't exercise your curiosity, you can't do anything. The usual excuse is "We can't allow it because the students might cause a problem on the network". This is easy to solve - have a separate development network just like I have at work - I don't hack code on production systems, and neither should kids at school. So you offer this as a solution and the next excuse is "We don't have the space for a room with a development network". So you point out that KVM switches are a thing and the dev network can be in the same computer room. "Oh, we can't afford the computers". The government here turns over their desktop every 2 or 3 years, and the schools can get them at a deeply, deeply discounted price. Or even use the Raspberry Pi. So they move onto the next excuse. "We'd need a sysadmin". Nope. Set up a system where the computer lab machines get re-imaged either by rebooting and pressing F12, or daily or whatever. Have one centrally made image for all the schools. It takes one guy to provide a bulletproof "trash and bash" system that can easily be reimaged. In the case of a Raspberry Pi, well, the student just has their own SD card and are responsible for it, if they screw it up they have to fix it themselves.

The other problem is that despite the monumental barriers put in their way, if a student tries to figure out how computers work on a school computer, they get suspended or expelled. It's like the school saying "We'll teach the kids how to add and subtract, but if we find them trying to learn algebra on school grounds, they will be expelled". Imagine the uproar if schools did this, but this is exactly what they are doing to kids who are curious about how computers work.

What I find utterly grotesque is that I had a much, much larger opportunity at school to learn how computers actually worked back in 1988 than kids do now in 2014. No wonder none of our kids learn to code. I suppose on the bright side it'll keep me in a job.

Comment: Re:Other benefits than a fast charge (Score 1) 395

I've commented precisely on this. The longevity is by far the most important thing if this pans out.

Charging rate is much less important, for the vehicle use everyone's thinking of, slow charging covers 99.9% of vehicle use. Get charging down for those relatively rare long distance trips to 20 minutes and it'll be good enough. Tesla is already pretty close to that.

Also a battery that lasts that long may be a practical storage medium for renewable energy.

Comment: Re:Just moves a choke point (Score 1) 395

Stations like this would probably be a thing of the past, though, if most cars were electric. For 99.9% of a car's use, the car sits for 23 hours a day parked somewhere, and during that time it can be slow charging out of a normal electrical outlet at home or in a parking spot somewhere. I don't care if my car needs to be on the charger for 10 hours if most of that time I'm sleeping. Rapid charging would only ever be needed en-route on a long journey which are the minority of journeys.

A far bigger deal for this battery is its longevity, not charge rate.

Comment: Re:Just moves a choke point (Score 1) 395

You wouldn't need the big 16 pump Costco gas stations in anywhere near the vast numbers they exist now.

My car spends over 23 hours a day stopped. So do the vast majority of other cars, mine is hardly unique. For 99.9% of driving,.slow charging at home or in an office or mall parking space is entirely adequate. If I owned a Tesla model S, there is exactly one occasion in the last year I would have needed a supercharger station en-route. This would mean an enormous reduction in the number of "gas station like" charge stations required.

The biggest deal though is not the charge rate of this battery but its lifetime. 10,000 charge cycles is much MUCH better than what we have now and will reduce the cost of ownership considerably and may open up new applications that are not automotive, for example - storage of renewable energy when there's too much sun or wind, since the longevity of the battery (and also the charge rate implies a very low internal resistance, in other words, efficiency) starts making this kind of thing practical.

Comment: Re:I call bullshit (Score 1) 395

You don't need such extremes for a small battery, having a 5Ah battery charge in 20 minutes would be awesome and need a much smaller supply. More importantly is the very high number of charge cycles (and the low internal resistance of the battery that this very fast charging would imply) rather than always needing to charge the battery at a high rate.

As for charging a car, the charging stations would need to probably be automatic and high voltage. But rapid charging will be a rarity, something most people need to do only a couple of times a year. What is more important about this battery technology is the high number of charging cycles the battery can manage, not its charging speed. The longer lifetime of the battery hugely reduces waste and cuts cost, the low internal resistance of the battery reduces power wasted during charging. Even given battery recyclability, it's better to have a battery that can be in service for a couple of decades and not need recycling in all that time, than having to go through half a dozen packs in that time.

Most vehicles spend most of the day parked. My own car spends over 23 hours a day just parked, given that and low current charging stations in parking spots and at home, it could charge at a leisurely rate and for normal daily driving use, that would be fine. If my car were electric with the range of a Telsa Model S, only one time in the last year would I have needed fast charging en-route. This is probably true for the majority of vehicles: so the high powered charging stations would be things you find along long distance routes. In reality, charging to a reasonable level in 15 minutes would be entirely adequate, since on a long distance drive you're probably going to want to stop for at least this long.

Comment: Re:No mention on capacity though (Score 1) 395

Several reasons:

* Capacitors may require a lot more space and weigh more for the same stored energy - fine at a fixed installation like a recharging station, but impractical in a car where size is a premium.

* Capacitors don't work like batteries - as you discharge them the voltage falls straight away, requiring more complex power regulation to give a consistent output voltage. Much easier to do in a fixed installation where size and complexity isn't a problem, but much more challenging in the confines of a car. Li-Ion type batteries maintain a reasonably steady voltage throughout their entire discharge cycle.

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail