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Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 3, Funny) 564

This reminds me of the worst interface design I've seen in a long time. This Holmes heater: http://www.amazon.com/Holmes-H...

Brilliant idea. One single button. You have to push it repeatedly to go through every temperature setting with low fan, then press it repeatedly to go through all the temperatures again in high fan speed. Absolutely the stupidest design I've ever seen. I would like to see them design a computer keyboard. Those brilliant minds would give us a keyboard with one button you press repeatedly a hundred times to enter a single character.

Comment Re:The technical problems with this are immense. (Score 2) 346

It might be possible to do some sort of staging approach where one uses some set of batteries to nearly empty and then have them break off in a modular plane that returns to the ground site. But that itself would lead to all sorts of additional problems.

You just solved a big part of the problem! LOL Think about gliders. Once towed to altitude, they can soar for a long time. So Musk could have some kind of quadcopter type superstructure, which includes batteries, etc, which boosts the aircraft straight up to say 15,000 feet. The craft then releases and uses standard lifting surfaces and a small electric powered prop to propel it (aka it's a standard type airplane but electric). The quadcopter framework then returns straight back down to the launch point, and either swaps out batteries or recharges. It's just a vertical elevator essentially. If your flight is less than a hundred miles, which I bet most would be, you wouldn't need much extra propulsion in the airplane portion since you are already at such a high elevation to start with.

Comment Re:Essentially a dupe from 3 months ago (Score 1) 136

I'm sorry, but his "testing equipment" isn't all that great if it can't handle that. I mean, that's pretty much the simplest problem there can be right? Entire pins of the cable swapped. Ethernet testers are designed to catch this exact thing. Slap a diode on the frigging test equipment or something.

Science

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures In 2015 (nasa.gov) 507

vikingpower writes: Earth's 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much. The British Met office also reports on the same phenomenon, even forecasting that global temperatures are very soon going to reach the one-degree-Celsius marker. According to Stephen Belcher, Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, "We've had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we're set to reach the 1 C marker and it's clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory."
Technology

Help Is On the Way In the War Against Noisy Leaf Blowers 228

HughPickens.com writes: Perry Stein writes in the Washington Post that the fight against noisy leaf blowers is gaining momentum, in part, because residents are framing it as a public health issue. Two-stroke engine leaf blowers mix fuel with oil and don't undergo a complete combustion, emitting a number of toxins, like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide, which their operators inevitably inhale. Municipalities throughout the country have moved to ban them. "You find two-stroke engines in poorer countries because they're cheap," says James Fallows citing a 2004 National Institutes of Health study showing that two-stroke engines on two- and three-wheeled vehicles in Delhi, India, account for a significant amount of air pollution. "You don't find them in richer countries because they're so dirty and polluting." In Washington DC leaf blowers can't exceed 70 decibels as measured from 50 feet away. (A normal conversation is typically about 60 decibels.) Haskell Small, a composer and concert pianist who is helping to lead the leaf-blower battle in Wesley Heights, describes the sound as "piercing." "When I try to compose or write a letter, there is no way for me to listen to my inner voice, and the leaf blower blanks out all the harmonic combinations."

But help is on the way. A new generation of leaf blowers is more environmentally friendly as the emergence of battery-powered leaf blowers takes us closer to the Holy Grail of equipment that is both (1) powerful and (2) quiet. Fallows supports the notion of a kind of trade-in program, where loud, old leaf blowers are exchanged for the less offensive kind. Ted Rueter, founder of Noise Free America, facilitated one such scheme. In the heat of his front lawn dispute with his neighbor, he offered a solution. "If you agree to use them, I will buy you two new leaf blowers," Rueter told his neighbor. "The offer was accepted and the noise level in his front yard was restored to a peaceful level," says Lawrence Richards. "When it comes to the balancing act of protecting landscaping jobs while reducing noise and emissions, it helps that someone was willing to pay for progress."

Submission + - Peak Oil Predictions Proven Wrong (battleswarmblog.com)

Nova Express writes: Remember how some economists and environmentalists confidently predicted "peak oil" sometime in the 2000s? (Slashdot ran numerous stories on the idea.) It turns out that those predictions of peak oil were wrong. Thanks to improved technology, fracking, shale oil, and declining demand, the world is now going through an oil glut that has prices down around $30 a barrel. "Once again the market has proven much better at adaptation than erroneous neo-Malthusian thinking. Anyone telling you they know exactly how things will unfold should be treated with severe skepticism. The future’s not ours to see."

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