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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Motors in wheels as part of the package ... hmm (Score 3, Interesting) 150

Right. What I was getting at is that the blurb and accompanying article seems to almost imply that through some magic and a fuel cell the plane could move itself without some means of motive power. Currently this comes from the jet engine and that's it (barring, of course, external sources like a tug). Adding that motive power would add weight. Other non-sexy things might include some sort of chain embedded in the taxi way that could grab onto the front wheel of the plane, similar to the systems that bring a car through a car wash. The tug could get the plane out to this system and pull it along until it got to where it needed to go. Given that this is a system that would be in one place, and likely using electric power, you could generate those electrons in whatever eco-friendly way you wanted. Of course, this also hand-waves about a billion engineering difficulties away, as well -- chain strength, debris getting in, weather, etc. And then you could use the hand waving to extend the idea to use a catapult system to launch your commercial jet, just like an aircraft carrier ... which is happening with electricity nowadays ... just scale it up, that's easy, right?

Your point about operating temperature is also a good one. Given that you want the engine making the most power at takeoff, running up a cold engine may not be a fantastic idea. I'm guessing for this use case of frequent short flights that this airline has, the engine is likely up to operating temperature more quickly. For long haul flights, time on the ground will shrink and be dominated by flight time.

Comment Motors in wheels as part of the package ... hmm (Score 3, Insightful) 150

Not mentioned in the blurb is that this also includes putting motors in the plane's wheels and adding controller hardware. That's going to add on weight to the plane, as I can imagine a set of electric motors (and associated gear trains, etc) that can move a plane that weighs something like 100,000-150,000 lbs are exactly "light". Plus there is the difficulty of packing it all into the landing gear, where there's not exactly a lot of room. You could do a hydraulic drive of some sort, but then you have the pump and motor sitting somewhere, too, plus the weight of the hydraulic fluid.

Less sexy would be to develop a tug that could not only push the plane back, but also perform taxi duties. You could have that thing run on batteries, fuel cells, etc -- and you don't have to fly it everywhere with you.

Comment Consider paying to use a good machine. (Score 3, Insightful) 165

Depending on how many parts you are having made, consider sending them to a company with a good machine. I had to have a few parts made for a work project. I sent the parts, they sent me a quote, the price was reasonable and I got my parts quickly. I don't do this every day, so for me I wanted the parts in my grubby little hands rather than the machine to make the parts.

Comment Open door for Shelby? Mustang? Others? (Score 1) 276

I know for years Carroll Shelby was trying a number of schemes to build "new" Cobras, importing chassis as washing machine parts and the like. I also know there are any number of kit manufacturers (Factory Five, and others). Looking at auction prices for an original Cobra, Mustang, Camaro, GTO, Charger, etc -- I wonder if the manufacturers are going to dust off the old dies and build some "new" models, or if these new rules don't allow someone like Ford or GM to do that. The list of "old" cars people would buy "new" could be very lucrative. In addition to the American brands I listed, there are people who love 911s, Toyota AE86, Nissan 240sx, Z cars, MR2, Supra, RX7, etc. Plenty of those would never pass modern safety regs, although it could be more possible to put in an engine that would pass emissions and upgrade things like the brakes.

Comment Sensational headline misses the point (Score 2) 270

This affects all American businesses doing business overseas -- and that's a lot of businesses, not just Apple. American goods are selling at a considerable price premium versus competing goods in those markets. Long term, that's not a fantastic place to be as it acts like a export tariff on US goods and makes them less competitive. Also when you are selling overseas what sales you make take a cut due to exchange rates. It's demoralizing to see your sales force bust their ass to log a big YOY sales growth in their country but then have exchange rates eat that up and make it a 0% growth (or a loss) on the bottom line.

And I know we all like to throw barbs at Tim Cook sleeping on his mountain of cash, but this applies to all US business, not just Apple.

Comment You pretty much covered the options (Score 5, Informative) 234

You can do the onsite thing, but you are right in that you will limit the groups which may be interested, and also you may need to pay more as the group may include the cost of hotel stays, food, etc in their quote for doing the work. So you can limit your potential personnel and it can cost more.

If you do the remote thing, they don't have to log into virtual desktops, they can log into real hardware just as well if performance is an issue.

Also, "I need you to fix my source code but you can't see it" ... that's kind of a paradox.

And regarding your source code, set up a NDA. If the group you contract with is a quality group with a good reputation, this shouldn't be a problem. Actually I hate to break it to your management, but unless you are doing an air gap/search of employees entering a special lab where they have no means of getting the code off (floppies, USB keys, etc), your source code has likely left the building one way or another, for good or ill.

You can also tell your management that if they want to do this all internally, etc that the timeline needs to be extended. They are giving you legitimately contradictory constraints. Not that this is uncommon (constraints conflict all the time), but you need to know where the flexbility is.

Comment Re:Can't imagine why Apply would build cars (Score 1) 110

There are very few companies in the world that do well with multiple products lines in the same space, and even fewer that do well with multiple product lines in radically different spaces. Apple has become wildly successful going after things they do well in the areas they know, generating repeat business and creating a lot of satisfied customers. I'm not a Apple fanboy but you can't deny their business acumen. They could do far better by expanding their already substantial presence in entertainment. I'd find it far more plausible to know they were (for example) going after setting up a Netflix competitor a la Apple Music, or even going after exclusive cord-cutting deals with a major sports league or sports distribution network so that (for example) Apple TV users could watch live NFL games without a cable subscription. They certainly have the money to find these efforts, and have already shown they will pay to get an exclusive (HBO Now).

Comment Re:Cleared that up (Score 1) 110

This is the Internet. We specialize in vague conjecture!

The conjecture comes in that it would fit with the "secrecy" argument. The construction of an auto plant is something that involves too much captial, material, involvement with local, regional, national officials, permitting, etc that you can't just make prototypes happen like you can with small devices like phones and computers. To some extent you can keep a lot of that kind of thing controlled, although of course once you scale up and send it out to be made, it's considerably more difficult, especially when small cameras are ubiquitous.

So if you set up a proxy and have them do the grunt work it can happen in broad daylight. The proxy does all the public meetings, ceremonial first shovel of dirt and all that. Then when things are done, the proxy is bought out by Apple and they have their sealed lab again, with all the machinery needed to fab something up. Walt Disney did similar things when acquiring land for Disney World, and Harvard University used a similar tactic to grow their campus -- buying land through proxies so that the sellers didn't know who they were selling to.

I actually also really discount the Apple Car idea, myself. Apple looks for ways to have large margins on goods the produce, and also is really set up for a consumer electronics life cycle of offering new and better product on a six month cycle (depending on how you look at it ... but they announce new stuff about every six months for one of their product lines). Your typical automobile doesn't make anywhere near those margins. There's whole new worlds of complexity that are inherent that they aren't used to dealing with. Dealer networks are entrenched and protected by law, etc. It's a way to throw a pile of money at something and not convert that into a bigger pile of money in a quick manner. Bigger and easier money exists in the domains they already know well through their existing businesses. A jump to old-style manufacturing just doesn't make much sense.

Comment For the Hermione Grangers of the world, I guess (Score 1) 105

Anything with a title that begins "An Elementary Introduction ..." isn't likely to inspire staying up late with your friends.

My kids went right after that Scratch / Minecraft skin and Hour of Code stuff because it was Minecraft-related, and also because the examples provided actually DID something ... and did it quickly, and it was Kind of Fun. It also Just Works in the browser. No significant barrier to entry, you don't even need Minecraft ... since it's just a Scratch skin running in the browser ... any browser.

My kids are also keenly interesting in making videos of their Minecraft adventures, and also want to get into mods so they can make purple cows or whatever. They want to know the absolute bare minimum required to get from A to B, and will at first follow any instructions by rote and pray they work, and if they don't, they get frustrated and then look around more. Reminds me a lot of when I started fooling around with computers, although I didn't have this big fancy Internet thing to find answers on, I had to get answers other ways.

Looking at the blog post ... arithmetic operations, pie charts, creating lists and operating on the lists, and ... DAD, CAN I PLAY MINECRAFT NOW? THIS IS BOOOORING.

Comment Re:What about life? (Score 1) 88

Somewhere in a binary star system, there's someone saying it's impossible for life to evolve in a star system with a single sun.

"How can they live without continual light from a star? They would need to have a lifespan of one planetary revolution, and that's nonsense. No way intelligent life could come from an environment like that."

Slashdot Top Deals

"For the man who has everything... Penicillin." -- F. Borquin