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Comment: Re:Google is not unique (Score 1) 187

by ceoyoyo (#48430313) Attached to: Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

The difference is, the corporate labs had lots of smart people and a funding parent company that were interested in the field they were researching. Bell was interested in solid state dohickeys to help them make a better telephone system.

Google is a web advertising company. With enough motivation and money they could hire alternative energy engineers and set up a productive lab and potentially make some breakthroughs, but not in a few years. And since it's Google, who can't even muster up the motivation to keep a web advertising project going more than a few years, they quit.

Comment: Re: Nuclear Power has Dangers (Score 1) 445

by jd (#48428343) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

They're probably no different from regular battery terminals. Minor metallic taste, nothing special. The taste when wire-cutting with your front teeth is more interesting as you get the plastic overtones. Sniffing molten leaded solder (produces a thick smoke) is also fun. Reminds me a bit of slightly burned cinnamon toast.

I'm not normal, am I?

Comment: Americium is preferred to Plutonium (Score 1) 445

by jd (#48428235) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

It's cheaper, the shielding is lighter, gives about the same results, and the press doesn't hate it so much.

However, it doesn't much matter which you'd use, you'd get superior results. Provided things didn't break in the bounce. That was a particularly nasty prang. The yellow flags are out for sure. I wonder if Murray Walker had predicted it would go smoothly.

The way I would have done it would be to have a radioisotope battery that could run the computers and heaters (if any) but not the instruments or radio. Those should be on a separate power system, running off the battery, although I see no reason why the computer couldn't have an idle mode which consumed minimal power specifically to top off the battery.

The reason? The instruments take a lot of power over a relatively short timeframe. Same with the transmitter. That's a very different characteristic from the computers, which probably have a very flat profile. No significant change in power at different times. The computers can also be digesting data between science runs.

Well, that's one reason. The other is you don't want single points of failure. If one power system barfs, say due to a kilometre-long vault and crunch, the other has to be sufficiently useful to get work done. The problem is weight constraints. It's hard to build gas jets that can steer a fridge-freezer through space, but much harder if there's a kitchen sink bolted on. That means less-than-ideal for both power sources, which means if both function properly, you want to match power draw profiles to power deliverable. That reduces sensitivity to demand, which means you can remove a lot of protection needed for mismatched systems.

What we really need is a collaboration with ESA and NASA to produce an "educational game" where you design a probe and lander (ignoring the initial rocket stage) by plugging components into a frame, then dropping the lander on a comet or asteroid with typical (ie: high) component failure rates. Then instead of abstract discussions, we can get an approximation to "build it and see", which is the correct way to engineer.

Comment: Re: Moat? Electric fence? (Score 1) 206

by jd (#48426769) Attached to: Congress Suggests Moat, Eletronic Fence To Protect White House

That's the problem. One or two civilized actions and people will start expecting it. Before long, the country will be peaceful and almost murder free. It is absolutely essential, to maintain current levels of paranoia, schizophrenia and xenophobia, to eliminate all vestiges of ethics and morality.

Comment: Seems obvious to me. (Score 1) 206

by jd (#48426675) Attached to: Congress Suggests Moat, Eletronic Fence To Protect White House

The Knights Hospitalers (I think, could have been Templars) had a fortress that was never conquered. Attackers would be bottlenecked, relative to defenders, were forever being harassed on the flanks and faced numerous blind corners.

Simply build a reproduction of this fortress around the White House. They can build a moat around it, if they like. Ringed by an electric fence. Oh, the moat needs sharks with lasers. Any suggestion for shark species?

The great thing about this is that the White House can remain a tourist attraction. Everyone loves castles, and taking blindfolded and handcuffed tourists through the maze of twisty little passages (all alike) would surely be a massive draw. BDSM is big business these days.

Comment: Re:Migration away from Google? (Score 1) 361

Did you mean People type poorly and having spelling difficulties?

Results 1-10 of one gajillion:

(This is how Google used to work. Then they switched to automatically searching for the search query they think you want. Then they introduced the "any of these words" bullshit. And now they even change your query without telling you, leaving you literally with no relationship between what you've entered and the search results. Baffling.)

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Comment: Re:Migration away from Google? (Score 1) 361

It's not the default because it doesn't work as well for most people.

It works very well for most people. Google is popular precisely because that mode works well for most people. And virtually everyone I'm talking to right now, geek and non-geek alike, agrees Google's new search mode is shit.

Comment: Re:Migration away from Google? (Score 2) 361

Pro-tip: you can get the old useful Google back (temporarily, there's no way to save it as a default) by hitting Search Tools -> Change "All Results" to "Verbatim"

Why they don't let you make that the fucking default - in fact, WHY IT ISN'T THE DEFAULT - is anyone's guess.

Comment: Re:I have a revolutionary idea.... (Score 1) 163

by ceoyoyo (#48421027) Attached to: Bicycle Bottle System Condenses Humidity From Air Into Drinkable Water

"Do you think that a place like, say, Haiti, which has sun, humidity and wind aplenty, but lots of problems getting sanity drinking water couldn't use this technology?"

Yes. Using a Peltier element to essentially produce a solar powered solid state air conditioner is a really inefficient way of purifying water. For small scale desalination or purification where distillation is necessary, a solar still works much better and can be made with much cheaper and available materials. Often you can make one out of scavenged stuff.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.