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Comment: Re:What? (Score 2) 577

by Safety Cap (#47448747) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

It would actually be easy enough for Walmart to anonymize them, by simply recording the transaction as "$50 Prepaid Debit Card" and not record which particular debit card number went to which customer. Also, if you anonymously acquire a prepaid debit card used for a transaction involved with some nefarious purpose, you still don't get picked up, because it may trace to that transaction, but it doesn't trace to you.

It would actually be easy enough for Walmart to switch to paper debit cards that had the amount of the card printed on the front. When you used that card, the cashier simply gave you lower-denomination of cards (say, a $5 debit card when you paid for a 5 dollar item with a $10 debit card).

Once this practice became pervasive enough, unfortunately the government would have to step in to create rules and regulations as to how all the printing would appear, and to prevent fraud. I suggest they mandate the use of engraved printing plates; green magnetic ink; and heavy cotton rag for the card. Oh, and to certain security features like holograms, watermarks, embedded plastic strips, etc.

My god, the level of convenience we'd enjoy would blow away any other form of paying for goods and services literally overnight.

Comment: Same old song and dance .... (Score 5, Insightful) 144

by King_TJ (#47448177) Attached to: Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

This study's findings simply say the same thing MANY of us have been repeating for decades now about such "intellectual property" as movies, music or computer games. If you're talking about content created for entertainment purposes, the fact that people have the ability to make duplicate copies of it and share it with others (bypassing your centralized, for-pay distribution system for it) doesn't mean you'll really lose much, if any, potential profit.

The #1 factor is convenience. When people want to be entertained, they typically have a limited time window they're able to use for it. (EG. You finally get a chance to get together with your friends on a weekend, when nobody has to go in to work, and your plan is to go watch a new movie that all of you want to see. If you aren't able to see it during THAT narrow time slot? Then chances are you're not going to see it at all.)

The theaters are ready to take your money and show you that movie, at one of a number of convenient, published time slots. All you have to do is show up.

That's always going to trump someone's plan to reproduce the same experience by downloading a pirated copy of the movie (probably having to screw around with it multiple times to find a copy encoded with the right language, no annoying subtitles, and in good enough quality), and THEN having to provide an enjoyable enough viewing experience for it. Even in the era of home theaters, how many of us really have such a setup at home where we'd be proud to show downloaded movies to our friends, knowing they'd enjoy it just as much as going out to the movie with us? I *used* to have a half way decent approximation at my old house, but since I moved, I don't anymore. I'd have to spend many thousands of dollars finishing part of our basement to even consider replicating it again.....

Comment: Re:Last century stuff (Score 2) 577

by osu-neko (#47445703) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

In America, most stores won't take your card unless you plan to spend less than a pittance. Most stores will deny you if your transaction isn't 5-10$

Not sure what backwards part of America that post came from, but I can tell you for certain that it's absolutely false in every part of America that I'm aware of. I use my debit card everywhere, for everything, including buying a single item at a dollar store if that's all I want to buy. No one has ever once even blinked. $1 at the Dollar Store, $3 at the fast-food joint, whatever, everyone's happy to take my business. I stopped using cash for anything at all over a decade ago, and the only people who don't want my card are the government -- they would rather I write a check for my driver's license renewal or whatever (which is funny, no one else will accept a check anymore around here).

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 0) 577

by osu-neko (#47445663) Attached to: Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

It's not a convenient option. I live in an essentially horseless society, but I don't mind, and it's not really limiting my freedom -- I could get a horse if I wanted, but why would I want it when it's so less convenient?

Personally, I haven't used cash in over a decade. The cashless society arrives the same way as the horseless society, not by limiting freedom but by providing better options, and letting people choose what's most convenient for them. Unless you want to force people to keep using cash, the cashless society is probably inevitable, precisely because people are free to choose other options, and will.

Comment: Re:Wow. (Score 1) 193

by Rei (#47444479) Attached to: Rocket Scientist Designs "Flare" Pot That Cooks Food 40% Faster

That I actually have done ;) On a 60-degree slope down into a deep canyon nonetheless! Also there's manmade objects and yes, *gasp* trees in some places ;) The country isn't totally treeless!

But yes, it's not exactly a very practical solution for Iceland. I'd really prefer something more designed for both roles, hanging and on the ground.

Comment: Re:Silly season much (Score 1) 124

by Safety Cap (#47444365) Attached to: Chinese Couple Sells Children To Support Online Game Addiction

Who says you can't have a second child after you sold the first one?

Peasant Han: "Honest officer! Our child was sold into slavery over a year ago!"

Officer Zau kicks over the wood stove, lifts open a patch of the tile floor and shines his light into the darkness below. A dozen eyes shine back.

Officer Zau (screaming): Zui cha. Chaqu. Yongyuan!

Officer Zau unholsters her Type 15 pistol, takes aim at Han and puts her finger on the trigger.

(fade to black)

Comment: A scary idea, if true (Score 1) 7

by Safety Cap (#47443969) Attached to: Trying to remember a conspiracy theory

I recall an old Science Fiction story along the same lines, back in the early 80s.

The protagonist was a young man in a third-world middle-eastern shitehole. He was tired of war, of losing friends and families, when he had a revelation: the "Blue Hats" (UN) were neutral, so if he joined their "army" he'd be relatively safe and wouldn't have to fight any more.

So, he obtains a discarded steel pot and paints it blue. Reveling in his newfound "immunity," he convinces his friends and neighbors to do the same. Even the other side starts doing it until everyone is a Blue Hat -- and peace breaks out for the first time in living memory.

I forget how it ended, but the gist was that the First-World was using the Third-World as a "live culture" of warfare, to keep the former's own troops trained and budgets justified. The old sides were eventually convinced to go back to fighting one another.

Comment: Re:Wow. (Score 1) 193

by Rei (#47443739) Attached to: Rocket Scientist Designs "Flare" Pot That Cooks Food 40% Faster

Are you talking about a Hennessy? I love mine. And I live in Iceland, where it's harder to use. I have no clue where you're getting that they're heavy. Unless you're comparing the regular nylon version to a silnylon tent, rather than nylon to nylon, silnylon to silnylon. The one-man silnylon versions are in the ballpark of 800 grams, including the fly. You kind of have to adapt them to use them as tents on the ground, though, they're not designed for that (but it is possible). Another criticism of them I have is that underside insulation seems to be an afterthought, and I'm not a big fan of their insulation kit (there's no reason it should be foam, I'd like a self-inflating mat). Their snakeskin packing system works well, but you can't pack up the hammock with the insulation on it; honestly, I'd love it if I could have my sleeping bag, hammock, and insulation all roll up as one element. And if had been designed to work both a tent and a hammock from the beginning, the insulation could double as a sleeping pad.

Comment: Re:Wow. (Score 5, Insightful) 193

by Rei (#47442911) Attached to: Rocket Scientist Designs "Flare" Pot That Cooks Food 40% Faster

Not to mention that as a mountaineer, I'd think he'd care more about cooking efficiency than cook time. And while it's great to utilize the flame energy more efficiently, there's a far more significant optimization one can do - make insulated cozies that fit your pots. Bring to a boil, shut off the heat, put the pot it in the cozy and let it cook. For my pots, I made an underpiece and a lid that fits over each other, both out of aluminized foam; it works very well.

(Of course, he could be one of those people that doesn't eat any "cooked" meals, only the "just add boiling water" meals. In that case, then I guess it's all about the efficiency of using the energy from the flame

What I want to see in backpacking is a full integrated system. Where the tent is a hammock is a backpack is a ground cloth is a pack cover is a camp chair and so on down the line, where most components serve multiple uses. When I think about how much "fabric" and "rigid structures" I carry with me that if designed properly could be eliminated, it just seems like a waste.

Comment: Re:Ted Postol very bias opinion. (Score 4, Insightful) 332

by Rei (#47440615) Attached to: A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

Actually, the key thing for them is "cheap". They need to keep costing sub-$1k missiles in the ballpark of these Iron dome systems - the more, the better. They might as well just omit the warheads to save money and increase range. Every $50k shot Israel fires with those systems costs 25 Israelis' annual tax contribution to the IDF. Every $55m system they deploy costs 27.500 Israelis' IDF tax contributions.

Palestinians are poor, but they're not *that* poor that they can't leverage those kind of lopsided financial ratios.

Comment: Re:Subject bait (Score 4, Insightful) 332

by Rei (#47440537) Attached to: A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

No, in the case of Iron Dome, that's only PR too. They're shooting $50k+ missiles at $800 rockets. Even after factoring in that Israel's per-capita GDP is 20 times that of Palestine's, that's still a losing proposition, even *if* they had a 100% hit rate (which this article is suggesting it's anything-but) and assuming that you get the launcher, radar, etc for free instead of the actual $55 million per unit. It's in Palestine's best interests that Israel deploy as many of them as possible and try to shoot down every last rocket, because every shekel they spend on Iron Domes and missiles is a shekel they don't spend on jets, tanks, and bombs.

Comment: That said... (Score 4, Informative) 59

by Rei (#47437451) Attached to: Sand-Based Anode Triples Lithium-Ion Battery Performance

... the greater your capacity, the less cycle life matters. If you want an EV that battery that will run a 250Wh/mi vehicle for an average 20 miles a day for 15 years, then you want it to cycle through about 30MWh. If you use a 100 mile (25kWh) battery pack, then that's 1100 cycles. If you use a 200 mile (50kWh) battery pack, then that's 550 cycles. If you use a 400 mile (100kWh) battery pack, then that's a mere 275 cycles. Actually, the improvement is even better than that in the real world, because the greater your capacity vs. how far you're actually driving, the more you can cycle the cells through a less destructive state of charge range rather than doing deep discharges.

A lot of people picture battery packs in EVs backwards, they think that things like hybrids stress the packs the least, PHEVs moderately, and EVs the worst. But it's reversed. If you look at how big hybrid packs are vs. how much electric range they hold, you'll see that they're disproportionately large, even after you factor in any differences in Wh/kg. The reason is that because hybrid packs get cycled so much, they have to keep the cycling in a very narrow state of charge range, only allowing shallow discharges. So if you only have a narrow discharge range, you have to make your pack bigger to make up for it. EVs can discharge through much more of their pack because they need fewer total cycles and only rarely go down toward the lower end of their allowable discharge range. Some EVs also let you limit the max that your pack charges up to to further extend lifespan (it's usually destructive both to use the very top end and the bottom end of the discharge range).

A large number of installed systems work by fiat. That is, they work by being declared to work. -- Anatol Holt

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