Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 1) 238 238

We have an existing and quite inexpensive container ship network. Is this rail project going to be cheaper than that?

Container ships are cheaper than rail. Their disadvantage is the labor-intensive step of loading and unloading the containers to/from the ship. For a couple hour trip across the English Channel, the loading/unloading cost is disproportionately large compared to the transport cost of the ship, so it makes economic sense to replace it with a tunnel or bridge.

But for cargo across the Pacific, the loading/unloading cost is roughly on par with the fuel cost. So based on the link, even if you doubled the cost per mile, container ships would still be price-competitive with rail. So there's no economic benefit to be gained by shipping goods from China to the U.S. by rail over a Russia-Alaska bridge. Add in the cost to build the bridge and it'll actually be more expensive than container ship. The only advantages you'll get are reduced transport time (from about a month to a week), and the ability to send containers directly by rail to more destinations than just port cities.

Comment Re:Impossible with #6 or lesser shotgun shot (Score 1) 332 332

but i get to punch you in the face after you shoot me...right ?

.70 ft-lbs per pellet, and there could be more than 1 based upon spead versus apparent cross-section of the drone. All you have to do is destablize the drone to get most to automatically shut down.

As to your question - yes. From a standing position 2 yards away. (:P) Distance tables are handy.

Comment Re:Impossible with #6 or lesser shotgun shot (Score 3, Informative) 332 332

You're simply wrong.

Source: actual ballistics tables

60 yards is 180 ft -- 20 ft short of the target distance. 500 FPS will still hurt quite a bit.

Maximum range with "no" ballistic energy is 200 yards, and we're talking about smaller birdshot (#7.5-8), not #6.

Sign a liability waiver, stand 200 ft away, and allow me to blast away at you with Remington 12 guage #6 if you're so sure of yourself...

Comment Re:Interesting argument (Score 1) 115 115

Yes, that's the double-edged sword here. If they're a common carrier, they fall under net neutrality but are shielded from liability for the content they carry. If they're an information service, then they are not subject to net neutrality, but are liable for the information they claim they are disseminating.

The ISPs are trying to have their cake and eat it too - be classified as an information service so they are not subject to net neutrality, but not be liable for for the information they're transmitting. You can't have it both ways - pick one or the other. At some point the light bulb will go off in their heads and they'll realize one way means possibly billions of dollars in new liability every year, while the other just means a slightly weaker business model that really isn't a weakness at all if every ISP has to abide by it. (What would be fun would be to classify just the ISPs claiming to be an "information service" as an information service, and make them liable for everything they're transmitting, while competing ISPs who abide by net neutrality are not liable.

Comment We have no idea what "superintelligent" means. (Score 2) 206 206

When faced with a tricky question, one think you have to ask yourself is 'Does this question actually make any sense?' For example you could ask "Can anything get colder than absolute zero?" and the simplistic answer is "no"; but it might be better to say the question itself makes no sense, like asking "What is north of the North Pole"?

I think when we're talking about "superintelligence" it's a linguistic construct that sounds to us like it makes sense, but I don't think we have any precise idea of what we're talking about. What *exactly* do we mean when we say "superintelligent computer" -- if computers today are not already there? After all, they already work on bigger problems than we can. But as Geist notes there are diminishing returns on many problems which are inherently intractable; so there is no physical possibility of "God-like intelligence" as a result of simply making computers merely bigger and faster. In any case it's hard to conjure an existential threat out of computers that can, say, determine that two very large regular expressions match exactly the same input.

Someone who has an IQ of 150 is not 1.5x times as smart as an average person with an IQ of 100. General intelligence doesn't work that way. In fact I think IQ is a pretty unreliable way to rank people by "smartness" when you're well away from the mean -- say over 160 (i.e. four standard deviations) or so. Yes you can rank people in that range by *score*, but that ranking is meaningless. And without a meaningful way to rank two set members by some property, it makes no sense to talk about "increasing" that property.

We can imagine building an AI which is intelligent in the same way people are. Let's say it has an IQ of 100. We fiddle with it and the IQ goes up to 160. That's a clear success, so we fiddle with it some more and the IQ score goes up to 200. That's a more dubious result. Beyond that we make changes, but since we're talking about a machine built to handle questions that are beyond our grasp, we don't know whether we're making actually the machine smarter or just messing it up. This is still true if we leave the changes up to the computer itself.

So the whole issue is just "begging the question"; it's badly framed because we don't know what "God-like" or "super-" intelligence *is*. Here's I think a better framing: will we become dependent upon systems whose complexity has grown to the point where we can neither understand nor control them in any meaningful way? I think this describes the concerns about "superintelligent" computers without recourse to words we don't know the meaning of. And I think it's a real concern. In a sense we've been here before as a species. Empires need information processing to function, so before computers humanity developed bureaucracies, which are a kind of human operated information processing machine. And eventually the administration of a large empire have always lost coherence, leading to the empire falling apart. The only difference is that a complex AI system could continue to run well after human society collapsed.

Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 1) 153 153

The overriding principle in any encounter between vehicles should be safety; after that efficiency. A cyclist should make way for a motorist to pass , but *only when doing so poses no hazard*. The biggest hazard presented by operation of any kind of vehicle is unpredictability. For a bike this is swerving in and out of a lane a car presents the greatest danger to himself and others on the road.

The correct, safe, and courteous thing to do is look for the earliest opportunity where it is safe to make enough room for the car to pass, move to the side, then signal the driver it is OK to pass. Note this doesn't mean *instantaneously* moving to the side, which might lead to an equally precipitous move *back* into the lane.

Bikes are just one of the many things you need to deal with in the city, and if the ten or fifteen seconds you're waiting to put the accelerator down is making you late for where you're going then you probably should leave a few minutes earlier, because in city driving if it's not one thing it'll be another. In any case if you look at the video the driver was not being significantly delayed by the cyclist, and even if that is so that is no excuse for driving in an unsafe manner, although in his defense he probably doesn't know how to handle the encounter with the cyclist correctly.

The cyclist of course ought to know how to handle an encounter with a car though, and for that reason it's up to the cyclist to manage an encounter with a car to the greatest degree possible. He should have more experience and a lot more situational awareness. I this case the cyclist's mistake was that he was sorta-kinda to one side in the lane, leaving enough room so the driver thought he was supposed to squeeze past him. The cyclist ought to have clearly claimed the entire lane, acknowledging the presence of the car; that way when he moves to the side it's a clear to the driver it's time to pass.

Comment Re:Is that even worthwhile? Serious Question... (Score 1) 100 100

Me, I want Android to return the ability to selectively turn off stuff that apps can do. If your app keels over because I won't let it access my contacts, I don't want your fucking app.

If your phone is rooted, you want xprivacy (requires xposed). It lets you selectively control what info apps can access, plus it'll feed fake info to the app which refuses to run if you don't let it view your contacts or location or whatever. Works with Android 4.x, requires the alpha version of xposed for Lollipop.

Comment Re:Is that even worthwhile? (Score 1) 100 100

If I have to spend even 5 minutes looking up gas prices and driving out of my way to go to a cheaper gas station, it's not worth saving 30 cents a gallon on gas. [...] Maybe my 11 gallon gas tank just isn't big enough for significant savings, but I really wonder whether these gas price apps are worth it.

If you get 30 MPG and drive 12000 miles/yr, a 30 cents/gallon savings works out to $120 over a year.

But it's pretty pointless to find a new station every fill-up or to drive too far out of the way to get a lower price - the time you waste is usually not worth it. What it's good for is to get an idea what the average gas prices are so you know if a station is regularly priced high or low, and to find a station that's consistently low-priced in the area you normally drive around. That way you can just go to that station most of the time instead of having to constantly check prices. But you can do all that via their website. I downloaded the app for my phone, and immediately uninstalled it when it demanded I create an account before I could use it.

My local Costco regularly has 20 minute lines of drivers waiting to buy cheaper gas (though it's possible that one family member is shopping and the other is waiting for gas). If I see a line at my preferred gas station, I'll use the one down the street that I know is 15 cents more expensive.

You should only wait in the Costco line if you're waiting while a family member shops, or if it's nearby and you need gas that day and have time to waste. Most Costco gas stations are open a few hours after the store closes. If you go there an hour or a half hour before they close gas service (usually around 9-11pm), there's no line.

Comment Re:Seems like a piece is missing (Score 4, Informative) 136 136

The amount of land isn't as important as the location. The land gives the country an exclusive economic zone which extends 200 nm out from the land. When claims by neighboring land conflicts, if the countries can't come to a mutual agreement the line is usually drawn equidistant from the nearest land . That's whay the line for the territorial waters between the U.S. and Mexico angles slightly north of the U.S.-Mexico border (the nearby Coronado Islands just offshore belong to Mexico), before angling sharply south (San Clemente Island further offshore belongs to the U.S.).

Countries cannot restrict passage through the exclusive economic zone, but they can regulate economic activity that occurs there - mainly fishing and mining (oil drilling). So islands in the right location are a big deal. The Japanese spent millions setting up a breakwater around a couple rocks because they were Japanese land and gave them exclusive fishing rights to over a hundred thousand square miles of ocean. The rocks were in danger of collapsing into the sea from wave erosion.

To qualify as land, it has to remain above sea level at high tide. Dumping sand atop underwater corals to create islands isn't generally recognized as legitimate land despite China's claims to the contrary, and would establish a very bad precedent if it were allowed. If that's the way China wants to play, the U.S. could in theory build a new island just off of mainland China and take away a huge swath of ocean territory from China. That's a can of worms you don't want to open. That's why the U.S. has been very clear in stressing that it doesn't recognize this as a legitimate "island," to the point of flying navy aircraft right over it.

Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 2) 153 153

The motorist in the video committed a crime -- several actually. But the cyclist committed an indiscretion by chasing down the motorist to give him a piece of his mind. That's not illegal, it's just a very bad idea.

Many years ago I heard an interviewer ask the great race driver Jackie Stewart what it takes to be a great driver. He said that a driver ought to be emotionless. I think this is very true for any kind of driving -- or cycling. Never prolong your reaction to anything that anyone does on the road beyond the split second it takes to deal with it. Let your attention move on to the next thing. Never direct it to a driver because of something he *did*. Keep focused on what's happening now.

Comment Flexibility is a feature (Score 1) 870 870

Electric car advocates continually make the flawed argument that because an electric car can have a daily range of 200 miles or so, it can replace the gasoline car for most users. This isn't true at all. People pay for gas cars not just to be commuter appliances, but to have transportation flexibility. Flexibility matters to a lot of people, even if they don't use it, it matters. It's nice to know that if I wanted to, I could drive my gas car the 790 miles to my in-laws house, or 200 miles to my brothers, or 500 miles to my aunts and uncles. It my cheaper for me to take a plane to go by myself, but, add a wife and a couple of kids, then my transportation cost for each trip is about $100-$150 in fuel and my time in driving.

So, with that in mind, I think the real tipping point for electric vehicles will be total operating time on a charge. That means, I want to be reasonably able to drive 10-12 hours on a long road trip with perhaps an hour time for charging. Once that happens, then electric cars will take over for everyone.

With that said, in a married family, having two vehicles, one for road trips, an SUV, and a daily commuter that is electric, makes a great deal of sense. But most families are going to have that "one" vehicle.

The cost of feathers has risen, even down is up!