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Comment: Re:I hope they succeed, but... (Score 1) 426

by Rotag_FU (#48794859) Attached to: Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show

I'm not arguing whether they will be constrained (initially) as to how many Bolts they can build due to the capacity of available battery factories. My point was that GM's route to the cost reductions necessary to hit $30k may simply be a different route than the one Tesla is taking. Even if GM only sells 10k Bolts per year, they can still leverage their efficiencies of scale due to their overall car business and shared parts and systems.

In short, Tesla can get to $35k largely on the back of cost reductions by investing in a massive battery plant. GM can likely get there by smaller cost advantages spread across thousands of parts (tires, bolts, paint, etc.) that their size gives them, plus the ability to reuse systems that have already been engineered for other cars in their line thus saving on design costs, plus the efficiencies of their existing massive manufacturing plants.

Yes, GM may be constrained to how many cars they can assemble because of battery availability, but that doesn't mean they don't have a feasible way to get to the target price.

Yes Tesla may be better poised to grow their EV sales than GM, but that remains to be seen due in no small part to the unfortunate impact of the various car dealer lobbyist groups that are hampering Tesla's ability to sell direct in the US. At least GM has a problem that can be solved in a straightforward manner (manufacturing investment). Tesla has to "invest" in lobbyist with a high risk of return on that investment.

Comment: Re:I hope they succeed, but... (Score 4, Insightful) 426

by Rotag_FU (#48793493) Attached to: Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show

Another thought: at $30,000, I strongly suspect it is priced as a loss-leader, meaning it is being sold under cost. Tesla needs the economies of scale of their massive battery factory they call their "gigafactory" now under construction in Nevada in order to achieve a $35,000 price point for the Model 3. It seems unlikely to me that GM has managed to bring the cost down so much without a gigafactory of their own. It seems likely to me that the Model 3, at $5000 more expensive, will be superior to the Bolt in virtually every respect (Tesla has repeatedly said that their 200 mile range will be a real-world figure, while the Bolt's 200 mile range will probably be an ideal figure in perfect conditions, though I'd love to be proven wrong about the Bolt).

I won't argue the point that the Tesla 3 is likely to be superior to the Bolt. I really like the Teslas I've seen to date. However, I do question why you find it hard to believe that the $30k target will be such a significant problem for GM? Yes, Tesla hopes to achieve their price range based primarily upon the battery gigafactory, but given their distribution issues in various states and the general scale of their automotive manufacturing capability, they cannot reasonably expect to sell as many vehicles in the near to mid term (next 5 to 10 years) as GM does. GM can use their current scale to achieve cost reductions on the procurement of parts for the entire car, leverage lots of already engineered subsystems, and also are likely to have increased cost reductions in car assembly, rather than pinning the cost reduction primarily upon the batteries. Basically these are two different avenues to get an EV cost down to a "reasonable" level.

Comment: Re:nope (Score 4, Insightful) 426

by Rotag_FU (#48793309) Attached to: Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show

The general problems are the design trade offs that occur any time when there is a direct mechanical linkage between the internal combustion engine and the drive train. The reason is because you are most likely forced to use an engine that has some greater variability in torque and rotational speed than would be necessary if there was no direct linkage.

Why does this matter? Because it likely reduces overall system efficiency. For maximal efficiency, you are better off having an engine that is custom paired to the generator, meaning that it runs at a very confined torque range and rotational speed to maximize generation of electricity since electrical generators generally work most efficiently at a specific rotational speed and fall off on either side of that speed.. This of course requires that the amount of electricity generated is enough to drive the electric motors alone (i.e. no battery support in the case that the battery is dead). By adding a direct mechanical linkage, the engine is likely to require operation over a wider range of speeds and torque and is less likely to be optimized.

Based on the specific conditions that you had indicated for when the mechanical linkage occurs (constrained torque scenario), it is possible that they were able to marry the best of both worlds in terms of efficient engine design, but I'm skeptical. Also, this setup would presumably mean that the individual drive wheels are not directly driven by electrical motors and that there is a drive shaft and differential of sorts in between the electric motor and the wheels. This likely also reduces overall efficiency than a direct drive scenario (i.e. electric motors directly connected to the individual drive wheels).

Comment: Re:Team Fortress Redux (Score 1) 183

by Rotag_FU (#48337237) Attached to: Blizzard Announces Overwatch, a First-Person Shooter

While I generally agree with you about Blizzard being a company that refines genres rather than creating them, I do think this is a little different in terms of the age/maturity of the genre in question.

When Warcraft was released, there was really only one other game that we would traditionally think of as something approaching a modern RTS (yes I'm familiar with earlier games like Mule but don't count them here) and that was Dune 2 by Westwood (who went on to make Command and Conquer). So while Warcraft was not the first RTS, the modern RTS genre was still young and very much shaped by the work of Blizzard (and others like the aforementioned Westwood).

When WoW was released, the biggest MMO's were games like Everquest and Ultima Online along with a smattering of indie games. Again, the MMO genre was still relatively young and was forever reshaped by the release of WoW.

I think similar arguments could be made for Diablo, although I'm not as familiar with the predecessors to speak of the specific lineages. Although most successors are still compared to Diablo.

Starcraft was more of a sequel to Warcraft rather than a real clone. Heck, the derogatory term for early public showings was "Orcs in Space...." before they overhauled into what was finally released.

Hearthstone and the upcoming Blizzard DotAlike game are two cases where I would agree that the genres were both relatively mature before Blizzard took a swing. These are also the only truly new games (not sequels or expansions of existing games) that have come out since the Activision acquisition so that is kind of telling of a strategic shift in Blizzard's game development practices.

Ultimately though, the FPS genre is positively elderly in comparison to most of these genres. I'm just not sure how much Blizzard can do to really put their stamp on it and the gameplay trailer itself, while cool looking, doesn't really show me anything that turns FPS games on their head.

Comment: Re:An economic and environmental disaster (Score 1) 99

by Rotag_FU (#47648403) Attached to: Toxic Algae Threatens Florida's Gulf Coast

In Florida, they often use grass species which are pretty much impossible to keep going without these massive applications, such as St. Augustine. When you stop throwing the chemicals on the yard, the St. Augustine will mostly go away.

This might vary depending upon the area of Florida that you lived in. I lived in the Tampa Bay area when growing up and never had to fertilize our St. Augustine, nor did I have to water it. It rained almost daily during the summers at ~3 PM and the grass seemed to grow too quickly to mow. Even when there was some drought and Xeriscaping was touted as the solution, this was supposed to be to address high water consumption ornamentals rather than St. Augustine grass. There were many times mowing the grass as a kid that I wished the grass would have died or at least slowed down. :)

However, I haven't lived in Florida for 16 years so it is possible that much has changed in the intervening years.

Comment: Re:I'm shocked... shocked I say... (Score 1) 354

by Rotag_FU (#47508729) Attached to: Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

Hopefully, I won't be smited (smit?, smote?) any time soon. However, I guess I'm a physical disc hugger.

I'd love to give up my physical discs in favor of streaming only (I have both today), but it simply is not a viable option now. Netflix needs to make the first move and dramatically improve their streaming portfolio rather than having me make the first move and voluntarily give up my disc sub in favor of well, nothing really since there isn't much of a viable alternative. I guess I could "rent" movies online via Amazon or Apple and pay much, much more than I do for my disc sub and likely not even get better than stereo sound. I refuse to do RedBox since it is almost as inconvenient as the dark days at Blockbuster. I won't go the illegal route of bittorrent since I am willing to pay a sensible fee for legal access to content (again the "rental" fees are not sensible). So basically that leaves me with a Netflix disc sub.

Be sure to let me know when Netflix manages to whip the content companies in line so that they can stream 80-90% of recent movies (i.e., movies 3 years old). Heck, even popular but relatively ancient movies are poorly represented. I'm just not holding my breath until then.

Comment: Re:Unless you've spent $300 on a GPU... (Score 1) 210

What about Titanfall was a specific disappointment?

I've owned it since day one and thoroughly enjoyed it. In many ways it was a breath of fresh air that shook up a lot of the cruft of modern progression based multiplayer shooters. I will acknowledge that there were a couple of rough edges at launch (mostly commonly expected but inexplicably missing minor features) however just about all of those have been resolved in updates. Still, I had more fun playing it than I have a game of this genre since probably the original Modern Warfare.

I haven't played Watch_Dogs yet so I cannot comment on it.

Comment: Re:Chicken from Hell or Chocobo? (Score 1) 78

by Rotag_FU (#46536559) Attached to: 'Chicken From Hell' Unearthed In American Midwest

I don't know. Barret was a pretty big guy. I'm not sure an ostrich or emu could successfully carry him, especially at speed. Also, I think the right chocobos could be much faster than an emu or ostrich considering how fast they could run across the veldt.

This actually sounds like a fun nerd debate topic: Is a chocobo just a friendly emu? Why or why not?!
In college I could probably have debated this with friends all night long.

Comment: Chicken from Hell or Chocobo? (Score 1) 78

by Rotag_FU (#46535877) Attached to: 'Chicken From Hell' Unearthed In American Midwest

I am kind of surprised that I am apparently the only one that is thinking this sounds kind of like a Chocobo. I guess my brain was warped by too many Final Fantasy games in my youth.

If only we could recreate these and race them! Better yet, they could be the solution for the elimination of fossil fuel based personal ground transport. Who needs a Tesla when you have a Chocobo?

Comment: Re:Clever? (Score 1) 229

Getting the data to the cell tower is easy - the problem is that the only way they can expand the bandwidth from the tower to the phone is by having more wireless spectrum which is expensive and regulated, and there are technological limitations as well (if you wanted gigabit to your phone you couldn't really have it at any price).

It seemed to me that the GP was lumping together all ISPs (wired or wireless) since he was talking about peak usage being on Friday and Saturday nights (which only makes sense for wired, not wireless). Also, I don't buy that Netflix is the top internet traffic on wireless ISPs since most people would blow through their data caps in relatively short order watching Netflix. Although I do not have the data to prove it one way or the other.

If restricting the discussion to wireless only, then I agree that the Netflix Open Connect strategy is less helpful, but I think it still provides some value.

I agree that with wireless, there are more tangible and effective limits on bandwidth than with wired. However, I think we have a long way to go before they are realized in most places.

I would also argue there are other solutions other than simply more EM spectrum. Specifically, in most places there is room to have denser packing of cell towers. Since cell phones will negotiate to the nearest/strongest tower, adding additional towers will reduce effective congestion since less people will be communicating with each tower. Obviously there are diminishing returns because eventually the towers will be so tightly packed that there is little differentiation between the closest tower and the next closest tower which results in interference and call hand-off problems.

While this effective cell tower density may have been reached in parts of the densest cities (e.g., NY) and/or sporting events, I think there is ample room for growth in most places. Admittedly, new towers are very costly (permits, installation, maintenance, etc.), however the wireless ISPs need to do a better job of reinvesting their profits into infrastructure to address this issue rather than blaming their customers. It is like they are upset their customers want to use something that they are paying for and then not investing the money to actually provide it.

Comment: Re:Clever? (Score 4, Insightful) 229

There's a lot netflix could do to make this less of a pain in the ass for the ISPs but so far they've been total asshats about the situation.

I disagree about the claim that Netflix is not trying to help the situation. After all they did introduce Open Connect (http://gigaom.com/2013/11/11/netflixs-new-pitch-for-open-connect-it-sucks-less-during-prime-time/) to address this situation. Basically they told ISPs that they would provide a content delivery network that would be colocated on their system to relieve network stresses. Netflix provides the hardware for free and all the ISP has to do is hook it up to their network and provide the space/power for the hardware. On top of that, it gives the ISP participating in Open Connect a competitive advantage since the Netflix streams can be higher resolution than other ISPs that do not participate.

Rather than being an "asshat" this seems to be going above and beyond to provide the ISPs with a solution for the claimed problems. Of course the real issue is that the ISPs (usually cable) are upset that Netflix is rapidly turning them into a dumb pipe and cannibalizing their ad revenue. However, the ISPs know that this is not a customer friendly argument so they make the, seemingly reasonable, argument about the heavy network utilization saturating. Netflix provided a solution to the stated problem, but not the real one (i.e. cable company greed).

It is also important to remember that the reason people pay the ISP for internet access is to have access to services like Netflix. If those services were not available, the ISPs would have less customers. If anything the ISPs should be thanking companies like Netflix, Google, etc. for providing content that people want and therefore compel them to want to buy internet access in the first place.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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