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Comment: Okay (Score 1) 21

by ledow (#49551889) Attached to: Oculus Rift: 2015 Launch Unlikely, But Not Impossible

Okay, why does my "bullshit detector" go off. Not on the article, but I thought I'd pop onto Wikipedia and find out when Oculus Rift was first started as a project.

There's no mention. They mention the huge buyout in 2014, but no mention of the start of it, even under the "History" section.

And only one of the citations is from before that - an article in 2012. Now, it's not a deep secret, I can google and find stuff from that kind of era discussing it, but why OMIT this information in the History section of your own product's page?

Maybe it's because, 3 years on from the kickstarter, and millions and millions of dollars later, there's still no commercial product?

Comment: Re: Do not (Score 5, Insightful) 41

by ledow (#49551801) Attached to: Liquid Mercury Found Under Mexican Pyramid

Oh, fuck off.

They heated cinnabar ore. You get mercury when you do that. These people had metal, mined, and could build vast structures that weigh more than any skyscraper did for millennia after them.

You don't need a supernatural explanation that they found a liquid metal (a liquid mirror, in effect) fucking intriguing and so prized it as some kind of treasure to bury with their kings.

That people in these ancient eras had brains seemed to be frowned upon, as if we're the only humans who could be allowed to do that. Ancient Greek, ancient Egyptian, etc. civilisations all had astounding knowledge and abilities. Just because they were never able to fully capitalise on them and then we suffered a few thousand years of poxy ignorance doesn't mean they weren't geniuses. (Just so happens that several of those millennia were dominated by religious shit, Crusades, etc.).

Antikythera (extremes of "clockwork", gearing and mathematical technology), pyramids, battery technology, steam-powered engines, railways, they had a shit-ton of expertise, but the problem was that the insights were few and far between and hard to do, and secondary to surviving for the most part, so unfortunately they never were able to be joined together in the way we could do now.

Fuck your aliens. Pay your respects to thousands of years of education, science, inquisitiveness, some of the greatest minds who ever lived, single individuals who knew all of established science for their time, amazing insights, and artisans capable of creating their off-the-wall ideas using some of the most difficult craftsmanships in existence.

Comment: Re:Nice idea but... (Score 1) 224

by swillden (#49551435) Attached to: Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes

Electrical bill is $14.95 a month because you have to pay the "fees"

To be fair, there *are* fixed costs to the power company in keeping you connected to the grid, in fact those costs are a fairly significant portion of the normal power bill. It's just that the current fee structure doesn't reflect it well.

Comment: Re:and... (Score 0) 224

by Kjella (#49551267) Attached to: Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes

This isn't stupidity, exactly, it's obstinacy. And actually, it's cognitive dissonance. Typically, when you see someone passionately arguing against their own best interests, that is what at fault. In this case, one of the people ranting against solar and storage is arguing that if this were a good idea, it would have been done already, because they want to believe that they are more intelligent than Elon Musk, every PG&E employee, and the majority of slashdotters who have woken up and recognized that batteries have gotten immensely better within our lifetimes â" and will likely improve just as much in the next thirty or forty years.

You use a lot of big words, I don't think you know what any of them mean. What I argue is that there's structural differences that makes this a better idea to to centrally than at home, regardless of how good or cheap the batteries get. If it's cost effective for you to store the power in a battery and use it in the daytime it's going to be more cost effective for them to store the power in a battery and sell it to you in the daytime. The very reason they sell it cheap at night is that there's no cost effective way to store the excess power for later, if there were the low night prices would go away. You're on the wrong end of the Dunning-Kruger effect here, buddy.

Comment: Re:So, Microsoft is a social leech! (Score 0) 80

by Kjella (#49551177) Attached to: Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach

Scenario A: Google back when they initially developed Android ran into a design roadblock. They saw no way to solve the particular problem until one of the developers read a MS patent that solved their issue. MS is therefore paid royalties on their patent.

It's not about finding a solution. It's about taking what somebody has worked on, experimented with, done usability testing, put in a product and convinced the market to use and have a second company come in and say thanks for all the hard work, in a month we'll have a cheaper clone doing the exact same thing.

Scenario B: Google developed Android without ever having heard of any MS patents.

...and not knowing of any product using any of the MS patents, even if they were unaware it was patented and by who. Particularly in the same business, it's rather hard not to know what features the competition is advertising. It's certainly hard to prove you didn't know about them. Submarine patents are a different story, but for example when they made Android they probably couldn't claim ignorance of any features the iPhone had. Even the business requirements and feature requests can be "contaminated" by other products, it's not a feature you'd have added unless someone else had done it first.

Of course sometimes you get unlucky and develop the exact same solution, but that also means you're reinventing the wheel. Do you want a medal? Or you might feel it's obvious and widespread now, but was it that obvious when it was patented? Ten years ago is a long time in the tech industry, things that I go "well, duuuuuuuuh" to today maybe wasn't. If they were, I'd like to go back and redo my investments. I'm sure you all remember the warm reception the iPod get, boy was that right on the money...

Comment: Re: and... (Score 1) 224

by TheRaven64 (#49551027) Attached to: Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes
It obviously can be done, the question is whether it makes financial sense. It seems that, if it were cost-efficient to store electricity in LiIon batteries then the biggest buyers of them would be power companies, so maybe there's some market inefficiency that you can exploit by doing it in customers houses, but it even with that it sounds like it will have a very long ROI. I pay about £400/year for electricity (about $600). A $13K battery storage array would cost me the same as almost 22 years of electricity. Even if it reduced my electricity bills to zero, it would take 22 years for it to pay for itself. I think the overnight rate, if I switch to a tariff that has one, is about half of the normal rate, so it would actually take 44 years. Probably a bit less as electricity prices are likely to go up over the next few decades, but even with a 20 year ROI there are far better uses of my money.

Comment: Re:One of many potential causes (Score 1) 82

by Rei (#49550329) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

Yep. It's wierd because the symptoms can correspond with many different causes. For example, the climate change thing makes sense because bees can be tricked into thinking it's spring and start foraging or even swarming in the middle of winter when they really should stay in the winter cluster. The occasional warm day is good for them to be able to get out and void themselves, but longer periods of significantly fluctuating weather can be bad.

But it also matches other problems. Diseased or dying hives often lead to "desperate" swarming where bees start abandoning the hive to try to establish a new, safe place. Most of these swarms, however, will die. The behavior could be seen as a general "exteme stress" behavior. It could also be seen as a neurological disorder from pesticide exposure.

In short, it could match almost any possible cause. And probably is a result of many of them.

Comment: Re:The study was flawed (Score 2) 82

by Rei (#49550295) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

I think it's important to ask questions because there's been literally "dozens" of different things "definitively linked" with CCD. The public likes to seize on neonicotinoids, but they're probably one of the least supported of these many different "definitively linked" reasons. Whole countries have gone so far as to outright ban neonicotinoids, with no effect on CCD. France, for example, banned them. The next year they largely switched to blaming the condition on Asian Hornets when the decline rates didn't decrease.

The problem is that when you ban a certain pesticide, people start using others. And going from neonicotinoids to organophosphates is a massive step backwards in terms of general safety, not just to pollinators, but especially to more complex animals as well. But the biggest problem with the neonicotinoid theory is that neonicotinoids are only used in a small fraction of the areas where CCD exists. Bees can only fly several kilometers from the hive, they're not going cross-country and picking up every pesticide in every farmer's arsenal. It even exists among people who are in places where no pesticides at all are used.

It's easy for the general public to latch onto a particular cause. But once you learn more about beekeeping you realize how incredibly much out there is that can utterly f* up a hive. And which have in history regularly collapsed bee populations, far worse than the collapses we have today. Trachael mites once nearly obliterated beekeeping in Europe, saved mainly by the development of the Buckfast bee. Check out this very inexhaustive list of bee pests and diseases. There's even some really counterintuitive effects in that small levels of some pesticides can actually increase hive survival rates, in that they're deadlier to bee pests like mites than to the bees themselves.

The public also tends to totally understand colony collapse disorder in the first place. Normal winter colony death levels are about 15% in most locations (though where I am it's higher). CCD raised the US average to about 30% at its peak. This is painful and expensive to beekeepers, but it has literally no impact on the ability to sustain bee populations. A new beehive can be started with just a queen and a handful of workers. Hives can be made to produce queens en masse through proper management. Hence people can mail order starter hives, and there's never going to be a threat to the ability to produce these starter hives - a single hive can make many dozens per year. Even normal hives not managed for breeding starter hives will naturally produce several swarms every year; beekeepers try to discourage and/or catch these swarms.

In all likelihood, neonicotinoids are one among many different stressors to bees in the modern era that causes CCD. Modern bees are much more "stressed" than bees in the past. We've created an environment where new bee pests and diseases have spread far and wide to bees that never would have encountered them in the wild. We raise them on corn syrup and sugar water in the winter (good for reducing dysintery and increasing honey yields, but robbing them of certain vitamins and minerals). We transport them on flatbed trucks hundreds or thousands of kilometers (these are animals that get confused if you move their hive a couple meters; their ability to navigate by sight is poor, they're best navigating by the sun and dead reckoning). And countless varieties of poisons, even unintentional ones, affect them every day of their lives. There's so many factors now that weaken hives that any "new" factor to an area can push them over the edge.

Comment: Re:and... (Score 3, Insightful) 224

by Kjella (#49550257) Attached to: Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes

Cue Slashdotters claiming it is either impossible or a really bad thing in 3..2..1..

Impossible? No. Economical? I don't see how, if it were why isn't the power company doing this centrally? Then they could average it out across everyone on the grid, instead of just you as the problem is usually production not transmission capacity. I guess it might make sense if you're producing your own power with solar panels and don't have to transfer power into the grid when it's sunny and out of the grid when it's dark, but the price seems steep for what you're getting. I mean this tech already exists but only for solar powered cabins off the grid, it's really expensive per kWh and usually just to power light bulbs and such.

Comment: Re:The study was flawed (Score 1) 82

by Rei (#49550221) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

I'd really like to read the paper but unfortunately it's down. But for example, do the neonicotinoids add a UV signature to the liquid not present in the sugar water? That would have little to no influence in the case of flowers in nature (where they're not looking at the nectar, and there's all sorts of other chemicals in the nectar). What other chemicals are in the neonicotinoid solution (they're rarely pure, they usually have all sorts of other chemicals to increase their effect)? What's their cleaning and handling procedure for preparing and filling the sample containers? I want to know how they controlled these experiments against factors that humans can't detect but bees absolutely can.

Just the very act of hooking electrodes up to bee neurons I'd have concerns about. Is there any induced electric field involved, or even rubbing against the bee hairs? Bees transfer information to one another via dances, such as the waggle dance. Bees build up an electrostatic charge on their body, and a waggling bee imposes an electrostatic force on the antennae and hairs of all adjacent bees, causing them to feel dance over a short distance. Their stereoscopic sense of the dance lets them know the direction, and that combined with the time allows them to work out a direction to a food source relative to the (moving) direction of the sun. It functions like transferring a memory from one be to another. There's also "negation" behaviors, by other bees who don't like the information giving out; they have a different frequency buzz to say "don't go there", and sometimes different bees may even fight with each other over what's good and what's bad information.

Also note that the linked articles refer to a second study published simultaneously which showed no effect on honeybees next to rapeseed fields sprayed with neonicotinoids versus an altogether unsprayed field. Which is pretty remarkable, because you expect almost *any* pesticide next to your hive to have a profoundly negative effect on it.

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