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Comment You can take your autonomous vehicles and...... (Score 2, Interesting) 142

Just this morning, after it's not been driven for about six years for various reasons, I paid a very large garage bill for fixing up my 1991 Honda Civic.

This car has no engine ECU, no ABS, no airbags, no lane assist, no automatic braking, no shit at all. What it DOES have is four wheels, brakes, lights and something to steer it with. It also has twin carburettors and a manual choke.

First job was to fill it with petrol, and as the engine warmed up I started to remember just how good this old car is to drive. The large garage bill was well worth every single penny. It puts a huge grin on my face every single time. There's not many '91 Civics around these days, but if you have the opportunity to buy a decent one, do so and care for it. You will be rewarded.

So, as I started to say at the top, Google and Tesla, you can take your autonomous vehicles and shove them high up where the sun don't shine.

Comment Vehicles WILL be fixed (Score 5, Insightful) 144

Over here in the UK for example, every vehicle has to have an MOT certificate to be used on the road. No certificate, no go. ANPRS cameras check that passing vehicles have certificates and insurance.

Part of the MOT certificate is the emissions test. There will most likely be a requirement that VW diesels have to have their ECU firmware updated before they can pass the emissions test.

That's what I reckon will happen.

Comment I have no problem with this (Score 1) 130

because I ALWAYS let my banks know when I'm travelling abroad, and where I'm going to. That means that when I use a credit or debit card in a foreign country, they know that it's unlikely to be a fraudster with a cloned card, and if a withdrawal is made from my card in, say, Hong Kong when I've not told the bank I'm travelling there, then they know it's fraudulent.

Therefore I have absolutely no problem with them knowing from, say, a hotel IP address, where I'm located if I use my laptop to log in to my accounts.

Comment Re:Time for a standardized DC power outlet in home (Score 3, Interesting) 198

The reason for electricity mains operating at a dangerously high voltage is that it reduces the current flowing through the wiring which therefore reduces voltage drops and wasted energy due to heat dissipation in the wiring.

IMHO the best way to maximise power efficiency is to use a decent quality switching power supply, either a wall wart or built in, which is correctly matched to the requirements of the equipment. I think manufacturers are getting better at this, for example my Virgin Media "Superhub" which is supplied with what appears to be a decent quality switching supply so both the hub and the wall wart are only slightly warm to the touch, certainly not hot.

I recall purchasing, something like 10 years ago, a small 5 port Ethernet switch which was supplied with the usual cheap wall wart with a simple transformer and rectifier inside. Both the switch and the wall wart ran uncomfortably hot with, I assume, a linear voltage regulator inside the switch which would have slowly roasted itself to death sometime after the warranty period expired. Not satisfied, I tried powering the switch with a laboratory supply which I adjusted to the minimum voltage required for the switch to operate reliably. Then I purchased from CPC a decent quality switch mode wall wart of the same voltage, which I think cost me several quid more than the switch did, and the switch has been running with no problems, just a little warm, ever since. Having used a plug in power meter on both wall warts I reckoned that the switch mode unit paid for itself in two years and the switch has lasted several times longer than I would have expected it to with he cheap over voltage supply. WIN-WIN!

Submission + - Why the hell is it even possible to crash an aircraft?

flightmaker writes: Or a cruise liner?

I just want to say, with the sophistication of modern aircraft, the on board navigation systems should know for themselves that it's a stupid thing to do to set the autopilot to 100m altitude when the ground terrain is, for example, 2000m altitude and simply prohibit it from being done.

Similarly, why are pilots permitted by the navigation systems to fly an aircraft on any old course? I refer to the MH17 incident. And why could captain Francesco Schettino steer the Costa Concordia so far off course without alarm bells going off? Surely with GPS systems fitted to all aircraft and ships, it should be a simple matter to prevent a captain taking an aircraft or ship outside a pre-defined corridor.

Modern aircraft can supposedly fly themselves from A to B, with the pilot being there to take action in emergencies. So why not let them do just that? Allow the pilot a suitably wide corridor to avoid thunderstorms, but lock out the controls if the aircraft goes off limits. If the aircraft suffers, for example, an engine failure and needs to be put down, hand over full control to the pilot, no questions asked.

If a cruise liner goes off limits, auto stop the engines and send in a boarding party.

There you have my disaster prevention ideas. I'd love to see comments in particular from Airbus and Boeing.

Comment In the case of dangerous fakes.... (Score 1) 284

My main problem is with the jerks who put out fake booze made from industrial methanol, dangerous fake electrical products, fake brake parts, fake aircraft parts etc. Any of these can cause injury or death, so the perpetrators, when caught, need to be put away where they can do no harm for a damn sight longer than 10 years.

Comment Re:Sweet F A (Score 1) 576

I don't think that to us, the sight of a space ship from another world would be such a shock as, say, a portable generator, DVD player and flat screen TV would be to people in the 16th century. We have historical records, so we know how technology has advanced during the past few centuries and assume that it will continue during the next few centuries. Assuming that we don't wipe ourselves out, which I think is much more likely than interstellar visitors.

We already know how to build rudimentary space ships. We just need a better drive system which may or may not be possible.....

Comment Re:Sweet F A (Score 1) 576

I am quite sure that if you went back 500 years and took modern technology with you, it would look quite "godlike" to those people.

I don't think I'd recommend a 500 year jump. You'd likely find yourself burning on a large stake, or drowning in the nearest body of water. OTOH it would be fun to go back and take Henry Ford for a spin in a GT40 or a Shelby Mustang. He and the other people around at the time would understand the engineering principles so you'd be perfectly safe.

Comment It also depends on the fuel (Score 1) 403

Firstly, I use petrol.

I now avoid all supermarket fuel, since the last time I bought a tank full (not saying where) that drove like all the staff had pissed into it and I really thought the poor car was going to give up and break down on it. Until then, mileage per gallon seemed to vary from tank full to tank full, suggesting to me that quality varies, so now I avoid the stuff altogether.

What surprised me recently, though, was that when I filled my 2003 Honda Jazz at a particular station on the way home from a weekend visit to a friend, and started driving off after resetting the trip counter as usual, the mpg indicator immediately started showing a far higher number than usual. So, I tried driving for economy for the rest of the 20 or so miles journey home which has a variety of level and hills, and when I got home it had done 64.5 miles per imperial gallon. What the hell was going on? I usually get more like 47 or 48 mpg.

I can only assume that the tanker driver accidentally dumped the "good stuff" super unleaded into the ordinary unleaded tank, because last weekend I purposely bought the more expensive super unleaded (again I'm not saying which brand) and achieved exactly the same mpg on the way home. If this is consistent, it's actually worth buying the more expensive grade of fuel to get the extra mpg.

My friend who has a 2005 Jazz is going to try the same experiment with the same fuel from the same filling station to do the same journey. We'll see!

My very limited experiment of three tanks of fuel also suggests that you get more mpg with the fuel from one brand than from others. So, I know what I'm buying in future.

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982