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Comment: Umm, yeah? (Score 1) 135 135

Surely there would already be a long list of people who have died while watching TV, playing videogames, or putzing around on the phone while sitting on the couch; at least if such incidents weren't(while individually tragic), so boring that nobody has bothered to compile a list?

This is not to say that highly immersive simulations are riskless; I'd personally want to be either sitting down, or in a decent sized room with no sharp-edge furniture and ideally a cushy carpet if I were going to play some VR horror sim that is likely to cause me to jump wildly and potentially fall over; but that's basically the same precaution I would apply to playing some Wii kiddie game that involves flailing around wildly so the accelerometers pick up my input.

Given that you are, effectively, blindfolded; and being fed spurious(relative to the room you are actually in) visual stimuli; VR gaming is going to require more caution than flat screen gaming, especially if standing up and moving around are involved; but "VR: It's So Scary You'll Die in Real Life!!!" doesn't seem like a major issue.

Comment: Re:I'm all for recreational drone use but... (Score 1) 69 69

I can't comment on operator demographics; but it's worth noting that even the fairly small drones(if the propellors are unshrouded or improperly shrouded) can fuck you up surprisingly well.

I imagine that one or two of us here may have had the misfortune of accidentally sticking a finger into an active case/CPU fan at some point. The zestier 80mm, and most of the 120s, will draw blood and possibly take a nail off without much trouble(though they might throw a blade doing so, and then tear their bearings apart, which can be fun to watch). Observe that those sorts of fans are too feeble to lift off. The same is not true of drone propellors. They can, and will, give you a pretty decent slashing.

Barring substantial bad luck, it'll mostly be surface soft tissue damage, lots of blood and maybe a little scarring but no serious long-term effects; but still not what you want to have happen.

Comment: Re:Umm, who are these guys? (Score 1) 89 89

I don't know if there are other sources or not. The concept of non-crystalline metal alloys is not itself patented; but the problem with them has historically been that they can only be fabricated by cooling the metal at truly heroic rates(achievable with hair-thin samples that are just large enough to poke at in the lab; but anything of actually useful size would partially or wholly crystalize during cooling). The 'Liquid Metal' guys originate from some Caltech research that identified alloys that remain amorphous during processing that is actually practical for parts of moderate size.

They certainly hold all the patents that they can surrounding that; but if somebody else has a sufficiently distinct alloy that also doesn't crystalize during cooling, they just need to avoid stepping on any trademarks.

Comment: Umm, who are these guys? (Score 1) 89 89

This product doesn't appear to be outside of the realm of the possible; bulk metallic glasses are a real thing (and apparently not excessively expensive for consumer electronics, a number of Sandisk's adequate-but-cheap-and-wholly-unexciting MP3 players used them as chassis materials); and the rest of the specs are on the high side; but available.

However, there appears to be almost nothing about this 'Turing Robotic Industries' except a couple of sites with the same 3d renders and vague puffery. Is 'cryptic' just what all the cool kids are doing these days, or is this the ever delightful scent of vaporware?

Comment: Re:This makes complete sense (Score 1) 43 43

Yeah, you put it way more concisely than I managed to.

I suppose you could also swap out an entire crew at a time; but I suspect that that plan wouldn't work as well in practice. You will need some alternative to just having the crew assembled for the duration of the operation; and then resting or replacing it when you return to port; whatever seems best.

Comment: Re:Please stop (Score 1) 72 72

Aren't all sports classified as 'games'?

It's certainly true that the impact of playing a field game vs. playing a computer game is likely to be different for the player(whether it will actually be healthier depends on how brutally the field sport chews up the human resources vs. how badly inactivity and carpal tunnel syndrome get you); but from the perspective of the audience there isn't much difference.

It's not as though watching intense phsyical exertion gives you exercise by osmosis; so while I'd tend to agree that gamers are not 'athletes', I have little time for the people who are sitting on the couch with a beer and a bowl of chips, decrying the physical passivity of the gamer geeks.

Comment: Re:eSports commentary is already superior (Score 1) 72 72

Aren't "analytics", at least at a fairly rudimentary level, something that was already present in most RTSes, long before it became a buzzword among online advertisers?

I'm not even terribly serious, and I remember most multiplayer or skirmish matches having an end-of-match display of CPM, units built/lost, structures built/lost, resources gathered/spent, graphs of all these variables over time, and so on.

Nobody even bothers to call that 'analytics'; it's just a summary of the salient aspects of the game. If you happen to have a second, 3rd, or nth screen available I don't see why you wouldn't want to be able to see those variables in real time; but the idea that 'analytics' is somehow novel or revolutionary is just nonsense.

Comment: Re:This makes complete sense (Score 1) 43 43

I didn't mean to imply that the crew were expendable; but to respond to the grandparent post's note that technology that enables very long deployments isn't going to stop the people from burning out after a while.

My intended point was that, while people do react increasingly poorly to very long deployments, that is a comparatively predictable problem, which can be combated by a moving people in and out of active duty to control the length of active service; which is something that militaries have done for quite some time. If some fancy ultra-long-endurance technology allows you to send a ship out for X years, determining how you'll rotate crew in and out to keep each sailor within acceptable limits is going to be more complex than it is in lower endurance ships were the endurance of the crew is equal to or greater than that of the ship, so everyone leaves and comes back at the same time; but steadily rotating part of the manpower of a relatively large ship, base, etc. in order to compromise between cohesion and length of active service isn't a fundamentally novel problem.

Comment: Re:This makes complete sense (Score 1) 43 43

On the plus side, unless WWIII is breaking out(in which case the personnel getting burned out is likely to be a trickier problem; but also one you'd encounter regardless of spare parts), you can probably swap out crew more easily than you can parts(especially the larger ones, or the more sensitive ones that you can't just put in checked baggage); unless the ship is in the midst of active hostility, in which case the crew would be pretty dumb to sabotage equipment that increases their odds of making it home alive.

With humans, you have some uncertainty(accidents, unusual medical issues, the occasional psych freakout or disciplinary problem); but the approximate rate at which you need to rotate people to keep them from burning out is comparatively predictable. With spare parts, there are some you know you'll need; but an impractically bulky number of ones you might need; but can't say for sure about. Much easier to ferry out a fresh batch of crew every X months than it is to guess, sufficiently far in advance, what parts to put on the next supply boat.

Comment: Re:I can see it now (Score 1) 43 43

It's true that 3d printing isn't going to solve all your problems; but some are likely to prove hairier than others:

Microchips are a pretty nasty case. Between long development cycles and the demand for mil/aero rated and otherwise hardened versions, military gear is quite likely to be riddled with already-obsolete parts by the time it is formally declared 'finished', much less when the Block N variant is still in use 30 years later. Unfortunately, fully accurate emulation of even relatively feeble digital ICs can be fairly tricky(just look at how much effort it takes to get a 100% binary compatible emulation of the NES' less-than-heroic 1.8MHz 6502; never mind newer stuff or analog/mixed signal); and even painfully obsolete IC fab processes are orders of magnitude smaller than alternate fabrication technologies are good for.

Boards and wiring harnesses are also less likely to be amenable to 'just press print and away you go'; but unless you've destroyed the schematics and for some reason can't tell your multimeter minions to trace it out; such relatively large assemblies should be easier to reverse engineer if necessary and rebuild as well or better with modern parts.

Parts, depending on their size, may or may not be amenable to direct 3d printing: if you go with the really fancy processes, smallish parts with comparatively obnoxious-to-machine properties might actually be easier to print than to produce by the original methods. In other cases, you might not 3d print the parts directly; but you could use 3d printing to greatly speed up the re-creation of tooling necessary to fabricate parts(sintered copper, say, is not terribly useful as an aerospace material; but if you need some tooling in stainless steel or another material that's a pain in the ass to machine precisely, being able to sinter copper to your preference, and then do sinker EDM could save you a great deal of time.)

I suspect that some older designs, unless we consider them worth a fully reverse-engineering, are now too ill-documented to be revived; but given that any current design(and probably some moderately old ones) do have CAD representations produced during design and construction, suitably robust printing technology, in combination with some other techniques, we aren't going to just nanofab them all in one piece), does hold promise.

Except for ICs, not sure what is to be done about those. Given economies of scale in the IC market; it might actually be easiest just to adopt the brute-force-and-ignorance approach and order 100x or even 1000x as many as you need, when constructing a system approved for service, just in case it ends up lasting a long time. Yeah, it will look wasteful, and some of the time it will be a waste; but economies of scale will soften the blow a bit; and you'll be saved having to source second or third hand ICs scavenged out of e-waste by the Chinese and fraudulently re-marked as new old stock; which is probably a good thing for system reliability.

Comment: Won't somebody please think of the contractors! (Score 1) 43 43

This seems downright unamerican! If a branch of the armed forces develops the ability to do something internally, how can it be contracted out? Perhaps congress will oblige us with a variant on the farm bill; and ensure 'price stability' by paying the former producers of now 3d-printed parts to not produce them.

Comment: Re:who tha fu.. (Score 1) 480 480

The 'feature' occurred on Windows Phone first, not sure exactly what version. I assume that it made a great pitch to prospective carriers, since they all love offloading customers onto anything that isn't their data network as often as possible, and typing passwords into your phone is a pain, so automating it likely increases network offload considerably.

At these prices, I lose money -- but I make it up in volume. -- Peter G. Alaquon