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Comment Re:15 years old? (Score 3, Insightful) 303

Most environmental concern is BASED on the findings of science,
whereas lack of environmental concern is based on either ignorance or selfish greed.

Your statements and his are not mutually exclusive. The bulk of people who are environmentalists or who think climate change is bunk form their positions on these issues for philosophical or economic reasons, not rational reasons. I'm an engineer and I spend a lot of time "educating" them. If you don't know the difference between kilowatts and kilowatt-hours (as most of these people don't), you have no business trying to influence energy policy. It's completely obvious you're basing your opinion on things other than facts.

The environmental scientists who research this stuff do so with a fairly neutral approach. A lot of engineers are environmentally conscientious as well because it correlates with energy efficiency, and engineers love optimizing for efficiency. But they're realistic about it. That's why such a large segment of slashdot readers are both pro-environment and pro-nuclear. They're realistic enough to realize that although nuclear has its drawbacks, the drawbacks of opposing it resulting in continued use of coal and oil are much, much worse (because wind and solar technologies are not yet capable of taking over base load, and probably won't be for another 20 years). Go ahead. Ask anyone who's pro-solar how many square meters of solar panels they'll need on average to charge their EV every night (using batteries as interim storage). Most of them have no clue, and wouldn't even know how to start figuring it out. Heck, most of them don't even have the faintest concept of how big a solar panel it takes to light a light bulb. How can you compare a technology to alternatives and come to a decision to advocate it if you don't even understand these basic things?

Comment Re:thats strange (Score 1) 166

That's not all there is to it. The EPA tests just two aspects of driving - highway cruise (65 mph), and start-and-stop city driving (averaging 21 mph). A lot of people's driving seems to fall somewhere in between those two test cases in terms of speed - i.e. around 30-40 mph.

That speed corresponds to the peak efficiency for diesel engines (gasoline engines peak around 40-45 mph). In other words, the EPA highway mileage rating for a gasoline engine is closer to the best MPG you can expect from it in any use case. But the best MPG you can get from a diesel is actually a lot higher than the EPA highway rating, and you can see a lot more MPG improvement if you drive slower in a diesel than if you drive slower with a gasoline engine..

Comment Re:Newton's second law of motion (Score 1) 166

So if an SUV is two times heavier than a light sedan it requires two times more force (energy, fuel) to accelerate (to drive). I mean if two cars are of approximately the same technological level the heavier one burns more fuel, and consequently emits more CO2.

Actually, most SUVs are only about 1.5x heavier. And there are other complexities. e.g. Engines don't operate at the same efficiency at all RPMs. So a transmission with more gears will be heavier, but may allow the engine to operate in a more efficient range for longer, resulting in lower fuel consumption despite the increased mass. So you can't regulate assuming weight is always proportional to fuel consumption.

Also, MPG is the inverse of fuel consumption (and therefore emissions). So those ultra-high MPG vehicles like the Prius aren't really saving you much fuel. Every time you double MPG, you save only half as much fuel. The biggest fuel savings (and therefore most pollution reduction) comes from making high fuel consumption vehicles more efficient. In other words, we should be concentrating on improving the efficiency of trucks and tractor trailers first, not econoboxes.

This is why Europe never bothered with hybrids until automakers started making them for the U.S. market. The rest of the world measures fuel consumption in liters per 100 km, which is proportional to (not the inverse of) fuel consumption, and so there was little pressure to improve fuel efficiency at the low-consumption end - you pour billions of dollars (euros) into R&D for very little payoff in terms of fuel saved.. Improving a SUV from 17 MPG to 20 MPG may not sound impressive, but it saves just as much fuel as improving an econobox from 35 MPG to 50 MPG. In L/100km, those figures are 13.8 to 11.8 for the SUV, 6.7 to 4.7 for the econobox, for the exact same fuel savings of 2 liters per 100 km.

And improving a tractor trailer from 7 MPG to 8 MPG (33.6 to 29.4 L/100km) results in 4.2 liters saved per 100 km. More than twice the fuel savings of getting someone to switch from a Civic to a Prius.

Comment Re:Why emojis/emoticons are in Unicode? (Score 1) 240

ASCII is 7-bit so only supports 128 different characters. Unicode was made to encompass all character sets of all languages, so is 16-bit, supporting 65535 characters. It has since been expanded with 16 "planes" (4 extra bits), giving a total of over 1 million characters. That's considerably more than all the character sets of all the languages on Earth (even including Chinese), so there is a lot of extra room to do silly things with. Computer data storage has become so cheap that it doesn't cost you much to store all the extra graphics of emojis.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 381

Actually, the standard 3.5mm jack does have a design flaw. When it's inserted, it sticks out from the device. That's fine if you want to place the device in a pocket so that the jack is pointed at the opening. But if for some reason you want to orient the device so the jack is pointed away from the opening, it'll stick out and catch on things, increasing the risk of breakage.

A better design would be a spring-loaded recessed plug, so when you press the jack in all the way, only the flexible part of the wires stick out of the device. Or something that latches on flat against the side of the device (spring clip or magnetically attached).

Comment Re:Yes/No (Score 1) 245

Stadium matches have their own security procedures and personnel. The French police are already spread thin with the current level of alert, and from the looks of it on TV they've even brought in military personnel to help augment the patrols. They simply do not want to have to devote additional resources to provide security for a protest, even if it was already scheduled and organized.

Atypical security personnel armed and trained to deal with militants tend not to mix well with an angry mob of protesters.

Comment Re:I Process Retail Returns Daily (Score 1) 105

In brick and mortar, top electronics returns are phone chargers with the wrong plug (Lightning instead of micro-usb or vice versa)

So not only does Apple flaunt the EU directive to standardize on micro-USB for phone charges, it shifts the cost of their non-compliance onto retail stores (and thus the rest of us) which have to deal with the returns?

Comment Re: Will Apple be able to spec/source a good OLED? (Score 2) 225

Color cast is entirely an Android problem. If Google would get off its butt and implement color management in Android, you could simply profile the screen and correct the color in software. That is in fact what Apple does with its phones, tablets, and laptops to eliminate color casts - they color calibrate each screen and implement the correction in software. It's got nothing to do with OLED - as long as red, green, and blue are being generated in sufficient quantities, you can have a perfectly color calibrated display assuming the software lets you actually calibrate it. And OLED generates gobs of red, green, and blue - enough to cover AdobeRGB color space and beyond. Most LCDs are limited to sRGB or less (they only use blue LEDs, and a phosphor which converts some of that blue light into yellow, with the yellow substituting for red+green).

Uneven backlighting and dark splotches a LCD problem. You try coming up with an arrangement of lights around a rectangular perimeter which provides even brightness across the entire surface area. LCDs use an complex arrangement of diffusers and light channels to try to spread the light around evenly. It is not precise at all, and very fragile. I had left my laptop closed on a table, and someone signed a piece of paper on top of it. Apparently they pressed down very hard, because the pressure from the pen was concentrated enough to deform the diffusers slightly, and that laptop screen developed a dark splotch right where the person signed.

Pixel noise is due to most LCD panels being 6-bit and using time-dithering (rapidly flickering it between two 6-bit color values) to achieve 8-bit color depth.

Color gradients I've seen on OLED screens, but it's not because of the OLED layer itself. It's something to do with the layers they put on top. It's greatly exaggerated if you look at the screen through polarized glasses. In theory OLEDs should look identical through a polarizer as without. But something they're doing with the layers above it (maybe the capacitive touch layer?) leaves stresses in the material which are obvious through a polarizer.

Burn-in is the one problem OLED does have. But I used my Galaxy S for 5 years without any significant burn-in.

Comment Re:Or just make the diesels hybrids (Score 1) 184

Hybrid electrics complement gasoline (petrol) better than diesel. You basically have three modes of vehicle operation you want to optimize. Acceleration from a start, highway cruise (only requires about 20-25 HP for most cars), and acceleration at speed for passing on the highway.

Gasoline engines hit their torque peak at mid-RPM (torque is basically how much energy is generated per cylinder firing), and their power peak at high RPM (horsepower is how much energy is generated per second, so torque * RPM). Typically you can design an engine for optimal efficiency at a single RPM, and so the sweet spot for a gasoline engine is mid-to-high RPM. In an ideal case, the engine would only ever operate at this sweet spot RPM. This means gasoline engines are great for passing at highway speeds, but suck for accelerating from a start (low RPM) and highway cruise (low power). Hybrids complement them exceptionally well because an electric motor's gobs of torque at 0 RPM helps with acceleration from a start. And the electric can handle highway cruise, with the gas engine starting up only occasionally (and running at its peak torque or HP range) to recharge the battery.

Diesel engines have a higher compression ratio so hit their torque peak at low-RPMs (in addition to being more efficient than gasoline). This makes them good for acceleration from a start, great for highway cruise (why most freight trucks are diesel), but they suck at accelerating at highway passing. A hybrid electric motor doesn't complement diesel as well - the main benefits it adds are things a diesel already has. The primary benefit would be regenerative braking, which is only about 30% efficient anyway. The tech which best complements a diesel is a turbo, which increases power output at higher RPMs.

If you did want to do something to a diesel to help with the start-stop cycle of city driving, some sort of mechanical flywheel arrangement to provide regenerative braking would probably be a lot cheaper and weigh a lot less than batteries and electric motors. And yes I know most locomotives are diesel electric. That makes complete sense when you force a tiny engine to pull a huge load. If you compare hp to weight ratios, a locomotive is roughly equivalent to a car with a 5 hp engine. If you wanted to make a car with a 20 hp diesel engine (so it could generate enough power to overcome aerodynamic drag at highway speeds), then coupling it with an electric motor is much more preferable to having a transmission with 25 gears.

Comment Re:Scheduled programming is doomed. Maybe ads too. (Score 1) 232

The future of television is on-demand and not scheduled programming with the option to pay subscription fees to kill all advertising. This means no cable TV as we currently see it. All TV programming will be sent over IP networks. Over the air local TV stations will start offering TV streaming to smart TV's, and will retire their transmitters. The spectrum will be freed up for other uses.

Well, that last one won't happen until cellular Internet becomes ubiquitous (so broadband speeds are available everywhere). But I agree, Cable TV is on the way out. I just got a Roku this weekend. The thing that struck me most was how much clearer the image was. See, when you have Cable or Satellite TV, they have to transmit all the channels to you all the time regardless of whether or not you're watching it. That takes a huge amount of bandwidth, so they have to do a lot of compression on all the channels. With streamed content, only the channel you want is transmitted to you. There's still compression - Internet speeds aren't yet realistic for streaming Blu-ray quality (48 Mbps). But from what I've seen so far it's typically a lot less than with Cable or Satellite.

(Note: Get a Roku only if you just want this stuff to work with minimal fuss. It intersperses its own video ads, which gets annoying real fast if you're trying to watch a bunch of short clips. And get a 2015 model Roku 2, not a 3. I went from a 3 to a 2 and got to play with both of them. As far as I can tell, the base units are the same, the only difference is the remotes. The Roku 3 remote would even pair with the Roku 2 base. The Roku 3 remote has some useful features over the 2, but the fly in the ointment is the new voice search button. They put it right next to the OK/select button. If you're navigating and reach down to hit OK, and accidentally hit Search, you drop back to the Home screen and have to start your navigation all over again. That cost me more time than I saved by using voice search. Unfortunately the Roku 2 remote is IR-only, so you have to point it at the Roku. The Roku 3 remote is RF so doesn't need line of sight. I just ended up getting a Logitech Harmony hub + RF remote, since I needed to consolidate my control of the TV, Roku, A/V receiver, and cable box anyway.)

My take on Advertising: Advertising is a scourge which causes weak minded people to go into debt wasting money purchasing things they don't need. Think of it as the 20th/21st century Jedi Mind Trick.

Like most things in life, advertising has good and bad sides. Yes the slick feel-good ads are designed to unnecessarily part you from your money. But ads are also informational, telling you about new products and services that are available. This became apparent when I lived without a TV for a year. I was hanging out with my friends and we decided to go see a movie. They began discussing which movie they wanted to see, and I was completely lost because I had no idea what all these movie titles were. The movie ads they'd seen on TV had been enough to give them a sense of the theme and plot of the movie. They tried quickly summarizing each movie, but there were just too many and a verbal description is much harder to remember than a slick video. After a couple minutes of wasting time that way, I just told them to pick what they wanted and I'd watch it as well.

Point being that while excessive advertising is bad, no advertising is bad as well. There's a balance point where a certain amount of ads is enough to inform you, without becoming annoying or irrationally skewing your behavior.

Comment Re:iFixit is NOT unbiased (Score 3, Insightful) 246

The declarations of someone who is complaining that others are making it harder for him to make a buck need to be taken with a large grain of salt. iFixit for all their merits sells spare parts & repair kits. It is thus clearly in their own interest for everyone else to make it profitable for them to sell their products. iFixit would be very profitable if all phone manufacturers did everything they could to make it easier for them to sell their repair kits & repair/upgrade instead of replacing.

I disagree. iFixit would be out of business if all phones and laptops were easy to take apart to repair. I don't have to visit iFixit to repair most Windows laptops because their disassembly is (reasonably) straightforward. I do have to visit iFixit to repair most Macbooks because Apple tries to make it as difficult as possible. Most of the spare parts and repair kit tools iFixit sells are only necessary because of the proprietary and weird things Apple has done to make their products difficult to open up and take apart.

So iFixit is actually advocating something which would effectively put them out of business. A true sign of people who value the craft more than the money they earn from it.

Comment Re:Wait, they shipped the private key? (Score 1) 65

I've actually seen this before with OpenVPN setups. The standard setup procedure has you generate the keys and certificates on the server, but doesn't make clear which files are the private keys and which are public. One of the guides now carefully points out which files you're supposed to keep secret. But I've seen several OpenVPN setups where someone didn't know better and just installed the client, then copied all the config files (all the certificates and keys) from the server to the client.

Explaining it in the documentation isn't enough. The code which generates the keys should explicitly put the private and public keys in different directories whose names say whether they need to be kept on the server, put on the client, or copied to a USB flash drive and locked in a safe. Right now everything is just dumped into the current directory under the assumption that the person generating the keys knows which key is for what. You shouldn't assume everyone who will use the software will know how the software works.

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 594

The U.S. bases in Japan are there because the peace treaty ending WWII says Japan cannot have an external military, and instead the U.S. will provide for its national defense. Frankly I think it's time to revise those treaties and have Japan pay for its own defense (which would drive China nuts), but until that's done the U.S. bases in Japan have to stay.

The U.S. bases in Germany are there because both are NATO countries. The original objective of NATO was to repel a Soviet invasion, so having U.S. troops on the ground in place was necessary. This is probably due for revision as well, given the unlikelihood of a foreign invasion of Western Europe.

The U.S. bases in South Korea are there because there was no peace treaty ending that war, only a cease fire. Technically we're still at war with North Korea. Anyhow, the U.S. forces aren't there as an occupying force nor to provide stability. If you ask any of the troops there, they know exactly why they are there. They call themselves speed bumps. Their job in a North Korean attack is to die, so the U.S. has a reason to join the hostilities on South Korea's side. Their purpose is deterrence.

All three countries are more than stable enough to not need a U.S. military presence anymore, and have been stable enough for at least two decades (South Korea being the most recent to transition from a military to a civilian government). Unfortunately, we abandoned Iraq before it was self-sustainably stable.

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 4, Interesting) 594

What's the line then? There are millions of conflicts around the world that we can 'get involved with'. Saudi Arabia likes to behead and crucify people, should we 'get involved' with them? What is the number of wars and death it takes to make everyone do exactly what we want them to do?

The conflict in Iraq is special because the U.S. precipitated it. I was against invading Iraq, but once we did it I was absolutely committed to staying there until it was stable. While Saddam Hussein was a monster, like most monsters his grip on power provided a good deal of stability. Removing him also removed that stability, so we had a moral duty to stay there until a comparable level of stability was restored. Unfortunately, a majority of the U.S. just wanted out quickly regardless of stability and the consequences, and elected a President who promised just that and delivered. What we're seeing now with ISIS is the consequence of shirking our responsibility to fix what we broke, and not withdrawing from Iraq until it could provide its own stability.

Did you know ISIS was born of intervention policies from the U.S. government? The reason why they are even around is because we are involved.

Did you know U.S. inteventionist policies were born from Muslim acts against the U.S.? You've probably heard the opening line of the Marine Corps anthem:

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli...

The Montezuma part makes sense. The U.S. fought several wars with Mexico, so of course the Marines would be involved. But Tripoli? That's way over in Libya (that's Africa for those weak in geography). What the hell were U.S. Marines doing there?

Funny you should ask. Way back in 1800 when the U.S. was a freshly minted nation, it ran into a problem. Prior to the revolution, the U.S. was a British colony, and thus fell under British protection. When the U.S. gained independence, it lost that protection. The Muslim Barbary States decided to take advantage of the situation and began capturing U.S. merchant ships and holding the crews for ransom. Their thinking was that since these people weren't Muslim, it was ok to kidnap them and extort a ransom.

The fledgling U.S. had its own domestic problems and didn't want to meddle with things going on in other countries. But it didn't have a navy which could deal with the situation, and attempts to negotiate a treaty with France to protect U.S. vessels fell through. So for the first few years, the U.S. just paid the ransom. Of course paying criminals just encourages them, and it became open season on U.S. flagged vessels. Eventually the payments became exorbitant, and the U.S. recommissioned a navy. President Thomas Jefferson (y'know, the guy who wrote famous things like, "We hold these truths to be self evident - that all men are created equal") launched a military operation to Africa to end the kidnappings and free the hostages.

That is how the U.S. Marines ended up in Tripoli. That is how U.S. meddling with foreign nations began. Because a bunch of Muslims decided to take advantage of a fledgling non-Muslim nation by kidnapping its citizens and demanding ransom for their freedom. So if you want to play the blame game, the first incident, the precipitating act which began over two centuries of animosity, was actually committed by Muslims against the U.S.

Leveraging always beats prototyping.