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Comment Re:I drive an older car because it ISN'T smart (Score 1) 87

Yep, this. My 2002 truck is more pleasant to drive in a lot of ways than my 2011 commuter car.

- No "I Agree" button on the touchscreen sever single time I start it up.
- AC controls that are a couple simple knobs, not monstrous buttons that get reset to outside air and AC every time I cycle through the defrost setting to get back to front vents.
- No XM selection I have to cycle through to get from my iPod back to FM.
- No downloaded messages about how my carbon footprint is doing for the last month that start playing 30s into my drive (very distracting to turn off via the stupid touchscreen).

Why manufacturers (and consumers) think we need all this touchscreen, and now internet connected crap is beyond me. I just want to get from home to work and back.

Comment Re:Wow (Score 2, Interesting) 310

Where the model broke down is that we let them fail. We are supposed to keep sending them orders for stuff and park the products in the Mojave desert. It works for the defense industry, but the government screwed up and actually let Solyndra die rather than converting it into a perpetual contractor like so many defense companies.

Comment Glass pencil holders (Score 2) 43

OK, so other than some flower vases, as well has hard to clean (but cool looking) beer glasses, what is the real utility?

Sorry for being a naysayer, but the whole 3D printed "revolution" has been underwhelming thus far. It has a really high cool factor, but I am still waiting to see a whole lot of useful stuff come from it.

Comment Re:Weight loss therapy that works and lasts (Score 1) 311

Bicycles are cheap.

Healthy food sadly is not. We subsidize corn syrup such that you can buy a half dozen cokes for the same cost as a bell pepper ($2 at Raley's for a bell pepper, $4 for a 12 pack of name brand soda). Companies employ teams of PhD's to make our snack foods ever harder to put down (perfect combo of sugar/fat/salt that you can eat a bag/box of without feeling full). There is slow progress to voluntarily reduce salt content to head off the rumbling for regulation, but this is a drop in the bucket of what the average supermarket shopper faces.

Even when you avoid the snack aisle it is not easy to know whether your spaghetti sauce has been corn sugared up, or if you Guacamole Spread are actually 2% Avocado. Real food and Frankenfood is often side by side on the shelf.

Coming at this from a medical perspective is too late. A pill that keep you thin is the holy grail, but it would be vastly simpler (though likely politically harder) to subsidize fresh healthy food, and tax the processed Frankenfood.

Comment 90% of the time 4 GB is enough (Score 1) 350

Even 8 GB is good enough for >95% of the days. Still, I run big nasty electromagnetic simulations a few times a quarter that run into the 20-50 GB usage ballpark. So I have 64 GB of RAM. Probably cost the company about a grand, but being unable to run those sims would cost them much more.

Engineer time is the most expensive budget item.
License costs are next.
Workstation hardware is the lowest cost by a pretty big margin.

Obviously that order varies a lot depending on the type of work you do, but I am often amazed by companies who have 6 figure employees who are required to use ancient laptops and small monitors to save a few bucks, when lost productivity often outweighs those costs at least ten to one.

Comment Never park? (Score 5, Interesting) 280

"The good news is that autonomous cars don't need to park-- they just go give someone else a ride."

They will only give another person a ride during peak hours, say morning rush hours and evening hours. Mid-day traffic will be lighter, and middle of the night traffic will be downright dead. At those time these Johny Cabs still have to go somewhere. The Schisters trying make a buck will want them programmed to waste the least gas possible. So unlike human cabs that often troll around looking for a fare, these Johny Cabs are likely to park immediately at the closest free spot and wait for someone to call for a ride with their smart phone.

Without enough regulation, these cabs may make parking matters worse, as they won't necessarily go back to home base every night if a few pennies can be saved on gas by parking near where they will be needed in the morning.

Comment Standard DC voltage? (Score 1) 466

Riddle me this, what voltage does your widget run off of? 1.5V? 3.3V? 5V? 12V? 48V?

AC to the house is 120V single phase of 240V 2-phase which covers all appliances from a few watts to many kW. There is also 3-phase 208V which is a lot less common to residential.

DC is the latest hipster fantasy plan pushed by those who mostly have no clue. It sounds all sexy to be anti-establishment, but in general DC is an awful choice for power distribution. It still need to be run at a pretty hefty voltage to keep the wire gauge reasonable, and you end up having to make a bunch of DC-DC converters (really DC-AC-DC) for each required supply voltage anyway.

120V 60Hz may be an old tired standard, but usually that is better than no standard at all.

Comment Beta (Score 2) 279

Almost everything from Google is Beta. It is subject to spurious cancellation, hard tacks in direction it is going in, and rarely is "finished" as such.

I avoid most Google things for this reason alone, there is a better chance they will lose interest and kill it than not. It is not clear to me what, if anything, is subject to long term support.

Compounding this is their invite only launches. They build huge buzz, then turn away people who want in. By time they open it up to more people I have forgotten why I was excited in the first place (Google Glass, their phone service with funky data plan, etc). If they want to sell a product, sell it. If you want to provide a service, provide it. Betas should be done quietly under an NDA, not with trumpeting press releases.

Comment Half Life (Score 1) 231

Cars have about a 12 year half life. The composition of the cars on the road will be subject to that. So even if 100% of the cars being made suddenly were autonomous it would be a long time before most of the cars on the road were autonomous. The insurance industry will have a lot longer to see the changes coming than implied here.

The long life of cars is such that I can't imagine the security mess that will come with owning a 10-20 year old autonomous car. People gripe now about XP not getting security updated, but imagine still having Win95 based vehicles still on the roads that are 10 years past EOL support. People will be irate when their Chevy HAL gets an over the air update that disables the autonomous function after the company lawyers freakout over a hard to patch vulnerability.

Comment Re:Electric is Evolution. Driverless is Revolution (Score 1) 904

Or you could just rent a gasser for the few times a year you take a road trip.

Seriously, we drive our crappy little Leaf more than our other two cars combined, and by a large margin. We take the crappy Ford Escape for longer local trips, and the Tundra truck for hauling our camping kit, or a load of crap from Home Despot. It is not a stretch to expect that we could readily get to 20-25% electric market share even without road trip capability, but the range does need to be more like 150 real EPA miles minimum for folks stop feeling like they are taking a big risk.

Comment Re:Electric is Evolution. Driverless is Revolution (Score 1) 904

"Driverless cars are the revolution. Electric makes existing car use patterns better. Driverless makes an entirely new paradigm. It may eliminate mass car ownership. It might eliminate parking lots. It might eliminate light rail in suburban areas. Taxis. Deliveries. Shipping. Police reponses."


Autonomous cars won't need to park? Do they warp to a distant land when you don't need them? Even Taxis have parking lots, though usually private ones, for when they are not operating. Similarly you see a lot of taxis sitting on the side of the road waiting to be assigned, the same would be necessary for a Johny Cab fleet. The fleet has to be big enough to handle peak usage, which is likely >10x what you need on the road at 3 AM.

Why would light rail go away in suburban areas? Often these are people taking the train because it is less of a headache than driving into the city center during rush hour (right, your idea is that autonomous cars somehow vanish when not in use...).

Deliveries and shipping will disappear?! How would that work? I buy my widget and it never comes? Thanks a lot for nothing.

Police responses go away? Anarchy here I come, HAL has eliminated the police! Do you expect machine gun turrets on top of autonomous cars, maybe automated stop and frisk bots too?

We need a Godwin's law for people who use "paradigm" in a sentence in place of "Effing miracle happens here".

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.