Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment Free and open source? (Score 1) 199 199

At $1.49/month or $10/year, this might be enough to drive some people who otherwise would not to check out some of the free, open-source games out there

Out in the real world, people only care about the "free" part - doubly so, given we're talking about Windows users.

Comment Re:"We have a profound opportunity to distort." (Score 1) 64 64

It will also vary depending on the performance of the vehicles immediately ahead of, oncoming-and-passing, or crossing ahead of the street view vehicle. Especially the first: The sensor will be running in the exhaust plumes of the vehicles ahead of the street view car, so the map will be a very non-random sampling.

On the other hand, the partculate and "volatile organic compounds" sensors will produce some very interesting data. The latter is what the federal standards call "unburned hydrocarbons" when emitted from an engine, and the output of modern engines is vanishingly small. But many species of evergreen trees emit them in enormous quantity, as part of their ongoing chemical warfare against insects that eat trees. That's what the blue haze around pine-forested mountains (such as "the Smoky Mountains") is about. You can literally destroy (by extreme and long-term contamination) an automotive conformance test cell (the room where they test the car's emissions), requiring it to be torn out and rebuilt, by placing a Christmas tree in it overnight.

I expect some towns in remote, forested, mountain areas, where people move "for their health" and "for the clean, fresh, air", to get a rude awakening. B-)

But I doubt it will affect the extremely tight standards for automobile engines - except maybe to cause a flap that tightens them further. These days many engines are so clean that running then can IMPROVE the air quality in some places (such as portions of Los Angeles, with topography that created such a thermal inversion that a single settler's campfire could leave the whole valley filled with smoke for a day or more) by inhaling and burning far more hydrocarbon and particulate pollutants than they create.

Comment Umm, I hope that translation is to blame. (Score 1) 34 34

I really hope that "proud to declare that we are at the cusp of a reclaiming our heritage of being connected to each other and connected to the world." made a lot more sense before some translator mangled it; because otherwise it seems like absurd nonsense. If people were connected long enough and far enough back in time for it to count as 'heritage', the technology behind those connections must have been comparatively primitive. Is he saying that communications have regressed since that time? What golden age of connectedness is he talking about?

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 235 235

I didn't make it suitably clear; but the 'complexity' is really more of a historical issue. The fact that you can get power transistors, digital logic, and similar solid-state goodness for peanuts, possibly even less than the carbon brushes or other electromechanical alternatives, is a comparatively recent thing in historical terms.

Now that you can, doing so is pretty compelling for any but the highest-power tasks; but it has not always been the case that you can throw semiconductors at a problem for astonishingly tiny amounts of money. Today it is; but a lot of very clever electromechanical, inductive, and similar tricks were developed during the time that it was not.

Comment Re:Low cost chip, high cost support (Score 3, Interesting) 91 91

What I find a bit weird about SPARC's near-total obscurity is that(please correct me if I'm wrong on the details; but to the best of my understanding from what I've read) the ISA is available for use on a royalty-free basis, and there are even a few BSD or GPL verilog implementations out there. That's even less encumbered than MIPS(which has some patents that the owners like to wave around on a couple of useful instructions).

My naive expectation would have been that SPARC on such liberal terms would show up a bit more often embedded in various chips that need some sort of CPU to do housekeeping, as the ISA of security and/or nationalism driven 'indigenous technology' efforts, and potentially even as the cheaper-than-ARM option for application processors.

Clearly that hasn't actually happened, and it's mostly ARM in SoCs and application processors(with PPC holding out in certain automotive and networking niches for some reason; and MIPS in router SoCs and the occasional Chinese vanity project); so ARM's license fees must just not sting that much.

Building SPARC parts that go toe to toe with Xeons would obviously be a much more ambitious project(as well as an act of directly fucking with Intel's juciest margins, which they probably won't take very kindly); but I am surprised by the fact that SPARC is so rare among the zillions of devices that have no need for x86 compatibility and are mostly about delivering performance in the gap between beefy microcontrollers and weak desktops for as little money as possible.

Comment Lots of room for methodology issues. (Score 2) 293 293

The lack of accidents and crime are more likely related to a general trend in crime going down from before they started turning off the lights. ... Give me at least one full year worth of data so I can compare it to the prior year, and have half of the country keep their lights on so It can be compared to the same time frame as well.

Hear, hear!

There's lots of room for methodology errors. Here's another:

Comparing murder rates between Great Britain and the US is complicated by differences in reporting. The US bumps the murder stat when there is a body and evidence of foul play. G.B. bumps it when they have a conviction.

Do they do that with other crime? If so, stable stats in the absence of street lighting might mean that any rise in crime is compensated for by a fall in identifying, apprehending, and convicting the criminals responsible. (Indeed, turning off the lights might easily result in LOWERED crime statistics at the same time it was causing a drastic increase in actual crime.)

Comment What hospital is that? (Score 1) 54 54

I'm an anesthesiologist. I put people to sleep for cardiac surgery. My hospital does around 400-500 hearts a year... and we don't kill any dogs.

What hospital is that? I'll want to avoid it if I ever need heart surgery.

Seriously: How does your cardiac unit's mortality and morbidity rate stack up against those of hospitals where practice surgery on live animal, models, at least where the surgeon is new to the procedure, is more common?

Comment Re:Disappointed (Score 2) 235 235

The competition for good DC-DC conversion is reasonably fierce(given the existence of DC telco and datacenter operations, and the fact that even 'AC' shops are really just doing the conversion in each chassis(and unlike the old AT PSU days, an ever larger chunk of the output power is 12v going directly to a DC-DC converter on the motherboard to feed the CPU and RAM, with fewer and fewer components, aside from HDD motors, being sufficiently high voltage to feed directly from the PSU); so even modest improvements in DC-DC efficiency would make you quite wealthy indeed.

I haven't kept a close eye; but I think that the present standard for DC-DC modules still uses a number of off-chip components(whether because the needed capacitance and such simply can't be done in silicon, or are cheaper as discretes, I don't know); but you can get some very, very, dense little modules.

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 235 235

Especially if you are dealing with solar-derived DC, which is going to be (reasonably) steady. For some purposes, it doesn't matter that much whether or not the voltage actually crosses zero; but the ripple is essential if you want the magnetics to work correctly. If you have to go to the trouble of switching the DC to get that working, odds are that it's time for a pure DC design.

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 235 235

There are good reasons to be skeptical of complexity(such as basically all software); but at least for motors small enough that solid state switching isn't heroically expensive and/or practically disposable, 'complex' and 'digital' also mean 'has convenient ways to monitor and control the motor's activity in some detail'. Simple is good; but when the complexity is in solid-state parts you get a serious discount and sometimes some cool features.

Frankly, Scarlett, I don't have a fix. -- Rhett Buggler