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Comment Re:A better Second Life? (Score 2) 56

Keep in mind that Linden Labs are working on "Sansar", which is supposed to be a successor to Second Life optimized for VR.

As for Facebook World? I tried to imagine FB doing something like SL, and then I laughed. . . and laughed. There would be massive culture shock, that's for sure. Just imagine Facebook trying to deal with Militant Nudists, Goreans, Voreans, Fatfur Pokemorphs, etc.

SL is what the word "counter-culture" should have really been coined for.

Comment Steam has been great for Mac too! (Score 3, Interesting) 281

I can't remember ever seeing a Linux game on Steam that didn't also work on the Mac. I think if you use Valve's tool set to create Linux games, Mac compatibility is a "freebie". This has been huge for Mac gamers. Before Steam, Mac gaming was a wasteland. Now it's viable.

Comment Back in my day. . . (Score 1) 508

Back in my day, when we all had to walk five miles to school and back, in the snow, uphill both ways. . . All our assignments were written in longhand. Except one. On our senior year, before graduation, we had one assignment in English class that had to be type written.

And then there was panic, because almost nobody knew how to type or had a typewriter! There was much gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and wailing about the unfairness of such an impossible requirement. There were even stories of students paying enormous sums of money (like say $10) to other students to type up their papers. My parents dragged a portable Sears typewriter, which apparently hadn't been used in about 25 years or so, out of the back of a closet for me, and I completed the heroic task myself.

Today I was tempted to write one of those posts about how a computer shouldn't be needed for High School English class. Good to know others beat me to it. But you know, the world has moved on. I don't know what it's like out there today, and even if a computer isn't strictly necessary these days for teaching English, it certainly seems like a broadly useful thing for students to have. So I'm not going to judge. The question of affordable computers for students is valid to ask.

Comment Raspberry Pi (Score 1) 508

My feeling is that a Raspberry Pi is about the best option you're going to find. This is what it was designed for, after all.

Yes, you need at least a power supply and a flash card to make it work. Those will cost a few dollars extra. You can live without a case for a while if you're careful with it. The mouse and keyboard are generic items that can usually be scrounged up somewhere. Then use a TV for the monitor, just like we did back in the old Atari and Commodore days.

It's true that the Pi is a "some assembly required" system, but at least every system is the same and there are tutorial manuals available. It's way better than getting J. Random Computer from the flea market and then trying to figure out exactly what it is, what works and what doesn't, what OS it can run, etc. -- multiplied by X number of students!

It would be nice to imagine a super-cheap notebook computer. And technically it's doable, but it just doesn't seem to be viable in the marketplace. It would be so limited in functionality that only truly dirt-poor students would want it, which means it wouldn't sell in large volumes, which means the per-unit price would have to go UP due to lack of economies-of-scale, and then the whole purpose is defeated.

Comment Nuclear Fusion (Score 1) 248

If we really took this problem seriously, we'd be pushing hard on nuclear fusion research. I suspect we could have had fusion plants up and running before 2000 if there had been research funding. Now it's 2015 and we've got lots of fusion research projects limping along on shoestring budgets, plus ITER which is paralyzed by bureaucracy and international politics. (Remember the 20 years they wasted arguing over where to build it?)

If we managed the Apollo Program the way we've managed ITER, people today would still be laughing at the idea of space travel and joking that "A moon landing is thirty years away -- and always will be!"

Comment My High-Tech Car (Score 1) 417

My car came with an Alpine head unit in a double DIN slot. Out on the highway, road noise makes listening to music no fun. Although it has USB, I've given up trying to get my iPod to work reliably with it. The navigation is lame. There is a backup camera, but I haven't even been bothering with that lately. I've thought about replacing it with a better unit, but really I can't be bothered. When I'm in the car I want to drive, not fiddle with electronic gadgets.

There's probably some kind of feature to work "hands free" with my phone, but I haven't really looked into it. Not worth the effort.

The car's interior is spartan. It doesn't even have power steering, and I like it just fine that way. I guess I'm just living in the past.

The car. . . A 2011 year model Tesla Roadster.

Comment Did it kill VR? (Score 1) 43

I'm tempted to blame the Virtual Boy for strangling the first wave of VR development in its cradle.

The problem. . . Virtual Reality is being researched around the world. VR is being hyped in the media. Everyone is excited. Then a major, high-profile game company releases, with much fanfare, a game machine with "virtual" in the name -- but it isn't actually Virtual Reality. At all. People look at it and shake their heads. "That's it? Wow, what a let down! I thought VR was going to be something cool." And then everything just dies. Coincidence?

For what it's worth, I played Dactyl Nightmare in the arcade around that time. It was crude, but it was, in fact, virtual reality, and it was fun (at least to me). But it was something like $4 per game, at a time when most kids were balking at shelling out $0.50 per game instead of the traditional quarter. Maybe that had a hand in killing off enthusiasm for VR too.

Comment Coal is losing the War On Coal (Score 1) 466

quote: "Most power in the US is generated by burning coal..."

Coal dropped below 50% several years ago and is falling rapidly. Alpha Natural Resources -- one of the giants of the American coal industry -- has filed for bankruptcy. They're sitting on $3 billion in debt while coal prices have plummeted as a result of utilities switching over to natural gas.

As for the whole DC power thing... If you have rooftop solar, and you are generating your own DC power, then converting it to AC and then back to DC again (which most appliances actually use) is not efficient. As rooftop solar continues to spread, I suspect we'll see more appliances designed to bypass the AC grid.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 291

Silly me... I had just assumed that consumers -- who buy the cars with their hard earned money -- would be the ones who decide what is or is not competitive in the marketplace. I guess CARB will make those decisions for us from now on?

Personally, I think that convenience is what generally wins out, at least in the USA. Electric cars have a huge advantage here, since they can be charged at home overnight. I don't know how gasoline or hydrogen is going to compete with that.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 5, Insightful) 291

The top range Tesla now is 270 miles per charge. How often do you drive more than 270 miles in a day? Be honest now. . . Because most of us rarely do that.

Recharging time. . . It takes 20 seconds to plug in your car in the evening. In the morning you have a full charge. That's way more convenient than going to the gas station.

If you're on the highway, taking that epic road trip, then yeah. . . You're screwed. It's gonna kill your soul when you have to stop for a 20 or 30 minute quick charge a couple of times during the long day's driving. And you totally weren't going to stop like that in your gas car, because you are a superhuman who never needs to rest, eat or use the bathroom.

I have no idea what "shitty little cars with no cargo" you are referring to. I thought the topic was Tesla? The Model S is a full-sized car with enormous cargo space, front and back. You can haul your drum kit in it.

Comment Re:The future of electric could be much brighter i (Score 1) 291

Battery swapping seems to me like an elaborate and costly solution to a non-problem. Most electric cars are simply going to be charged at home anyhow, most of the time, because that's most convenient. In the marketplace -- especially in the USA -- convenience usually wins out.

Never trust an operating system.