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Comment Another day, another future battery tech story (Score 4, Insightful) 151

Battery research is far more important than building smaller phones and tablets. Increased energy storage density has important implications for household and grid storage, and electric-powered transport.

The problem is that there have been at least a dozen or so stories about new battery tech in the past 12 months. Some of them remind you of the old joke about nuclear fusion; it's always 20 years away. Enough crying wolf; wake me when I can buy one.

Submission + - Soneone is Cutting Fiber Optic Cables in San Francisco writes: USA Today reports that the FBI is investigating at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in California's San Francisco Bay Area dating back to at least July 6, 2014, including one early this week. "When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing," says Special Agent Greg Wuthrich. "We definitely need the public's assistance." The pattern of attacks raises serious questions about the glaring vulnerability of critical Internet infrastructure, says JJ Thompson. "When it's situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact," says Thompson. "That is a security person's nightmare."

Mark Peterson, a spokesman for Internet provider Wave Broadband, says an unspecified number of Sacramento-area customers were knocked offline by the latest attack. Peterson characterized the Tuesday attack as "coordinated" and said the company was working with Level 3 and Zayo to restore service. It’s possible the vandals were dressed as telecommunications workers to avoid arousing suspicion, say FBI officials. Backup systems help cushion consumers from the worst of the attacks, meaning people may notice slower email or videos not playing, but may not have service completely disrupted. But repairs are costly and penalties are not stiff enough to deter would-be vandals. "There are flags and signs indicating to somebody who wants to do damage: This is where it is folks," says Richard Doherty. "It's a terrible social crime that affects thousands and millions of people."

Submission + - BitKeeper back in action ?

bheading writes: Remember BitKeeper ? Older hands will recall how it was famous principally for significantly accelerating the pace of Linux development, thus rescuing the Linux kernel; and infamous for numerous arguments/rows/bust-ups on LKML concerning the issue of the kernel source being handled by a closed-source tool. The constant bickering and controversy over this subject eventually led to the tool being dropped by mutual agreement between Linus Torvalds and Larry McVoy; Linus immediately began work on the set of scripts to replace it, which would in turn eventually evolve into git.

Like a few other more daring SW businesses, we deployed BK at work and witnessed a similiar productivity increase to that seen by the kernel developers — and found the crew at Bitmover an absolute joy to deal with. Various issues with our upstream customer meant we had to stop using it around 2009, but I always wondered what became of them since then — especially with the rise of Git which ended up essentially being a complete re-implementation of the BitKeeper distributed model.

A Google search shows articles about BitKeeper dropped off more or less precipitously since 2005. This belies how nobody anticipated at that time that, so complete was Git's free solution to the constant "problem" of how to do agile source control properly, it would sweep like a tornado through the revenues of anyone in the commercial revision control business, in much the same way that Linux has so comprehensively disrupted the commercial UNIX market.

Their website was recently updated to confidently declare "we're back", which implies they must have went through some kind of corporate dissolution/buy-back. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Comment er .. not quite .. (Score 1) 301

Last year the UK finally passed legislation

No it didn't, as the article linked shows. The Government (via the Intellectual Property Office) issued guidance.

After the legislation passed, several groups of rightsholders applied for a judicial review, arguing that the change would cause financial harm to them.

FYI - legislation in the UK cannot be overturned by a court.

Comment Re: *shrug* (Score 0) 387

The Amiga was not only first, it was still the only multitasking OS on the desktop in 1990. Windows didn't support co-operative multitasking until Windows 95 came out, and if I'm right neither did the Mac.

Comment Re:Never consumer ready (Score 1) 229

Google and Backblaze are not typical enterprise deployments. Each company has built what is effectively an entirely in-house proprietary SAN with a large dedicated team to maintain it. Regular enterprises, ie people who are not in the storage business, cannot do this.

FYI 15000RPM SAS drives will provide significantly more IOPs per disk than 7200RPM SATA drives. Depending on the application, that may be important. The firmware on SAS drives also tends to be tuned for heavily random workloads, and for operation within a RAID array. Cheaper SATA drives come with a shorter warranty and conditions on how frequently they are in active use. Outside of these, yes the drives are essentially the same.

I suspect SSDs will eliminate most of the remaining business case for deploying SAS drives in the near future as the cost per gigabyte continues to fall.

Comment Re:Ain’t capitalism wonderful! (Score 1) 330

it's probably as much, or more, to do with the fact that electric cars require less energy to travel the same distance.

I worked out a while ago that a standard petrol car needs about 1.3kWh/mile, based on the energy content of petrol (gasoline) and a typical gas mileage of around 33mpg. A Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, expends about 0.25kWh/mile. The Tesla Model S is a bit more energy hungry, but it is also a much larger and heavier car with more toys typically installed.

This is before you price in the other consumables that petrol cars have in terms of servicing - oil, oil filters, fuel filters, air cleaner filters, spark plugs and time for a mechanic to deal with each.

On the other hand electric cars have the issue of the battery deteriorating over time.

Comment Tesla's battery is around $400/kWh .. (Score 2) 330

The difference between the 60kWh and 85kWh Tesla Model S cash price is $10,000 or $400/kWh so I'm not sure about the article's conclusion that the battery costs $300/kWh.

The Nissan Leaf's battery is closer to $300/kWh (based on comparing the price of a Leaf with the Flex option in the UK, where you buy the car and lease the battery separately); but there appear to be various anecdotal concerns about the Leaf's battery longevity. Tesla's design includes an active battery cooling system, whereas the Leaf seems to be passively cooled, and this is leading to the battery capacity on a full charge dropping rather faster than would be expected over time.

Despite this I think the conclusions are right - Li-Ion battery can only continue to improve, and if any of the several proposed methods of improving the technology are made to work they will get considerably cheaper soon. I think electric cars are here to stay, and it's a good thing.

Comment Re:Elon Musk vs Richard Branson (Score 1) 105

I went for a quick look into this. Wikipedia reveals that Virgin Australia is owned by Virgin Australia Holdings, which in turn is owned by a consortium consisting of a number of other airlines (Ethiad, Singapore, Air New Zealand), plus Branson's Virgin Group with a 10% holding.

Virgin Mobile in Australia, much like the Virgin broadband/phone/TV operation in the UK, is no longer anything to do with Branson - he sold it to Optus in 2006 and that company is currently wholly owned by Singtel. In the UK, Virgin Media is owned by Liberty Global.

This reveals how, these days, Branson really does business. Virgin is basically nothing other than a brand. It's a respected brand - funky, hip, cool, relaxed, and so on. But that's all it is. Branson isn't really an entrepreneur. The way I think it works is that people with a business idea approach him, put up their own capital, and ask for the use of his brand and his personal involvement as a promoter. In exchange he receives a generous shareholding of the new company - which, if the company is successful, he later sells. If it fails, those who put up the capital are left carrying the can.

Comment Re:Elon Musk vs Richard Branson (Score 3, Interesting) 105

And Branson will lose any such competition.

The vast majority of Branson's business ventures have been failures. The places where he does well are in monopolies, such as international airline travel and running monopolized train services in the UK (Branson tried to run a regional airline in the UK called Little Red, but failed). Even then these are on shaky ground; Virgin Atlantic has only just begun to return to profitability, probably something to do with Delta taking a 49% stake in the airline over from Singapore Airlines, and he nearly lost his rail franchise, until his lobbying efforts revealed that the UK government had made mistakes in the allocation of the contracts.

The only reason why Virgin Galactic even exists is because the state of New Mexico ponied up massive subsidies (thanks to Bill Richardson) to build the thing there. Branson never risks his own capital on long shots. He's only involved because this is a way to create publicity for his brand. Likewise his Formula 1 efforts, and likewise this nonsensical idea that he has people building an electric car.

Branson is all showmanship and no substance. He wants people to think he is some sort of environmental activist as he believes it will benefit him and his company. You'll see - we'll never see or hear of any Virgin-manufactured electric car ever again.

Hats off to the guy - he's made himself a lot of money (nobody knows how much, though) - but excepting his long-past days in the recording business, he guy has never delivered a manufactured product in his life, and never will.

Comment Re:More than curious, (Score 1) 188

Being forced to open-source their largest software project is a quite conceivable (even if unlikely) outcome.

It's neither conceivable nor likely. VMware includes a lot of very, very clever technology. (I note in VMware ESXi 6 that they can now do fault tolerance with 4-way SMP. FT, for those who aren't aware, means that two physical servers between them can keep a VM continuously available even if one server fails.

It sounds to me as if VMware are prepared to contest the matter, which comes down to whether or not a court will accept that VMware have complied with the terms of the license.

The most likely outcome is that they will settle out of court. That will, most likely, involve an agreement to pay the litigant's legal costs, and some sort of time-bounded agreement to modify their software in such a way that it no longer breaches the GPL.

Comment Re:Huge setback (Score 1) 445

Virgin is a wealthy company backed by a very wealthy man.

And, according to Tom Bower, $200m in subsidies from the state of New Mexico, courtesy of a starstruck Bill Richardson.

Branson's core businesses are built around operating monopolies and extracting subsidies from governments.

Comment Re:He tried patenting it... (Score 1) 986

Rossi's time in prison was due to uncleared allegations of tax fraud and toxic waste mishandling [], which even if true would have little to do with this story

He served time for them so they probably are true; and yes, this has everything to do with the story. This man lied to the government about his tax liability, and apparently lied to everyone with a false claim to convert toxic waste into oil.

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