Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Why don't taxis just provide good service?! (Score 1) 135

The medallions avoid a couple things,
- drivers charging on a hail unsafely then haggling over who can carry them
- lots of empty cabs driving around

Gas prices and the expense of operating a vehicle in the city takes care of the second. Taxi companies won't run cabs if they're not making money, so the problem is self-limiting. Medallions only serve to artificially limit supply.

Comment Re:Cool article... (Score 2) 135

One of the reasons Uber, Lyft and all the other "ride sharing" app companies get so much flack because they are breaking the law.

I'd be more sympathetic if 1) Uber and Lyft were offering the same services as taxis (you can't flag down an Uber; you have to request one), and 2) many jurisdictions hadn't already ruled that you're wrong.

Comment Re:Why don't taxis just provide good service?! (Score 3, Interesting) 135

In most jurisdictions the taxi companies have been subject to more rigorous (i.e. expensive) standards than Uber has been following.

...because they paid good money to write those laws. Taxi laws are a prime example of regulatory capture. For example, Company A got a sweet deal on credit card readers and they spent 2 years installing them in their cabs. Then, they tell the local regulatory body that credit card readers are a necessary public good and suggest that all taxis should have readers installed in a reasonable time frame - say, within three months. Finally, they laugh as their competitors scramble to shell out inflated prices for emergency rush orders on credit card readers so that they can stay in business.

For another example, three companies get together for group bargaining with an insurance company: "if you give us a good rate, we'll guarantee that all of our cabs will carry your new expanded coverage." Once that deal's in place, they ask for regulations to require all taxis to carry that level of coverage. Of course, all other companies have to pay the un-negotiated rate and now they have a harder time competing.

You don't get to write the laws and then bitch about them. Well, apparently you can, but you shouldn't be able to.

Comment Re:Higher voltages (Score 2) 147

Really??? So if I connect two (super)capacitors in series, thereby doubling the voltage limit, I have somehow squared the energy storage!

You've also halved the capacitance and doubled the volume. So: twice the voltage (4x), half the capacitance, (0.5x), and twice the volume (0.5x). Looks like your energy density didn't materially change.

Comment Higher voltages (Score 4, Informative) 147

Well, yes, the amount of energy stored goes up as the square of voltage for a given capacitance. However, for a given dielectric getting twice the voltage requires twice the thickness and cuts the charge in half -- so the energy per unit volume is unchanged.

Which shouldn't be surprising since the energy is stored in the dielectric by (e.g.) straining the molecular structure of the material.

The biggest reason for going to higher voltages is to reduce the interconnects, which get enormous at low voltages and high currents. (Cross-sectional area goes up inversely with the square of voltage for any acceptable IR loss, which is why long-distance power lines run at scary voltages.)

Comment Re:Flipped Classrooms (Score 1) 307

LOL: best group project I ever had was when I was taking an online class. I had a lot less difficulty interacting and interfacing with the other students in my group, ONLINE. At least through the planning phase. In the DOING phase, I was basically the only person doing any of the work. Which is okay, because I documented everything, and the teacher saw the outcome and graded appropriately. Other than that - great team! great experience! 10/10 would solo that group project again!

(okay, maybe my sarcasm comes off a bit harsh online. . . )

Comment Re:It's about fraud (Score 1) 494

A lot of people in states with tight emissions standards are going to be selling their cars to people in states where they don't check. That's my prediction. It's going to be a fire-sale. I wish I lived in a loose-emissions state, because I'd be able to look at autotrader in california, and find one of these cars cheap as hell.

Comment Re:Guess: Engineering told to do the Impossible (Score 1) 494

The PowerPC was twice as fast as the Pentium II. On some ops. On some ops, it was 20 times as fast. The problem was use-cases. Most software was never optimized for the vector units. And even when some was; these were particular use cases that were not common. Most UI responsiveness is based on integer math. Where the PowerPC really screamed was in multimedia, particularly ripping CD's (encoding MP3's). Before I decomissioned my G5 last year, the machine was 15 years old, and it was unbearable to use for most tasks (mainly because Apple abandoned OS updates for it; but also, the IO bus was shitty). But I could still rip a CD way faster than my brand new 8-core i7 desktop.

So; VW do have a great piece of engineering here. Just for the limited use-case of passing an EPA emissions test.

Comment Re:How long will the company stay up? (Score 2) 494

Much of the stuff that breaks on VW's breaks independent of mileage. For example: a Dual Mass Flywheel should NOT break after 30000 (mostly highway) miles. (compare that to a single-mass flywheel; which will basically last forever, because it's a solid hunk of steel or aluminum; there are clutch breakdown scenarios that will DAMAGE a flywheel to the point where it has to be resurfaced like a brake rotor, but single mass flywheels never had these sorts of problems - VW added moving parts to a component that didn't need to have moving parts, for what many car enthusiasts would consider to be no damn good reason).

A lot of the vacuum tubes, electrical relays, harness cables, and etc, break from age, and in VW's case, we're talking about 2-3 years.

IMO: the worst "reliability problem" VW's have, in the US, is their dealer network. They refuse to stand by their warranties, and they refuse to stand by their product. They charge outrageous rates. They inflate the prices of their parts. They void the warranty if you do your own oil change, because of "oil grade" issues: but their own service department sells oil NOT of the required 505.01 grade; and then the clerk would tell me "that's what we use in the shop" (to do dealer-service oil changes). In some diesel models, if you're not using the correct oil grade (or even if you are), your cams will wear in as little as 30,000 miles. That's not a cheap repair. I've read countless stories online of people with TDI VW's where they may still have $10k left on their car loan, then something breaks like the injection pump ($2000), or in particular, the particulate filter, where it grenades, and sends contamination up into the fuel system (because they burnout the filter by periodically injecting fuel), and this contamination will cause ongoing problems with operation of the engine until the ENTIRE fuel system is replaced, at an average cost of about $7000. They don't cover this repair under their shitty warranty. Then there's issues with ice buildup in the intercooler, which sends chunks through the inlet blades of the turbocharger. If you're lucky, those don't find their way into the cylinders and snap valves. But that's usually what happens. I've heard this happening to BRAND NEW cars, and at least those poor folks get warranty coverage.

This emissions fakery just seals the deal.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.