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Comment Re:Fantastic! (Score 1) 19 19

Oh man, I've been waiting for someone to figure out how to do this. Feels like the last critical piece of VR... "reality capture".

Imagine... - Experiencing a live feed of a skydiver/basejumper/surfer/other extreme sport, where you can look around naturally in 3D - A probe in space or on another planet - An immersive control system for robots - On and on. You can now tap into and share someone else's experience viscerally, either realtime or recorded.

This is basically Strange Days.

I'm less than impressed by 360 videos so far. I'll admit that I have seen only 2: bjork's stonemilker music video and Aram Pan's North Korea YPT tour video.

The North Korea video I appreciate more, because you can look all around a location that most people will never visit. However, with both videos, I feel like I am playing "where's Waldo" with the content. Having 360 degree videos is fine, but I feel like a "director's mode" on/off toggle seems to be needed for people who don't want to feel like they are missing something interesting. I don't have time to explore every last location in a video game, and similarly I don't have time to rewatch 360 degree videos just to check every angle for easter eggs.

Comment Re:Why not have more public restrooms? (Score 1) 136 136

This is the real issue in these situations. There really isn't a good place to pee in a lot of places. People often as not rely on restrooms provided by businesses and they only let you go in there if you are a customer. So if you're not... or they're closed because it is late... then where are you going to pee?

The issue with public restrooms is that that is realestate that is valudable and you have to police and maintain them to keep people from selling drugs for blow jobs in them or rubbing shit into the ceiling.

The Solution there is to have them be public but make their maintenance the responsibility of locals rather than some city workers that will be under staffed, unmotivated, and unaccountable when they don't do their jobs. Local businesses will want those facilities to look good and be good and so they'll task someone to deal with it.

Regardless, anyone that thinks they're stopping people from peeing by putting funny paint on the walls is an idiot.

1. You can still pee on the ground.

2. Stand back and pee at an angle and you can pee on the wall.

3. Women are responsible for this far more than you'd realize and they pop a squat and pee.

So... yeah. You're not stopping anything with your paint. Put in more public bathrooms or get used to the smell of urine.

Maintenance doesn't have to be a problem for public bathrooms. Unless it is in a remote area, a 1st-world public bathroom requires water and sewer connections. Make the whole thing out of plastics / stainless / tile and put in sloping floors and a floor drain. Put some retractable rotating water jets in the ceiling, and have them go off at 3AM every day and with an occupancy sensor. I'm thinking like a soot blower (PDF) kind of device, but with water. To reduce complexity you could power the rotation with a small water turbine or just make the nozzles with 360 degree coverage. Most cities have very impressive water pressure in the early AM hours, so a pump shouldn't be required.

Japanese public bathrooms sometimes don't have toilet paper or paper hand towels. People are in the habit of carrying their own. It is better to have a bathroom and bring your own paper than to have no bathrooms at all.

A bathroom built like this wouldn't need regular cleaning or restocking. You could put them on the sidewalk in high-traffic areas to avoid having to purchase land. It's a public good, and exactly the sort of thing governments should provide.

Comment Re:This is logical next step (Score 1) 129 129

People in USA and Europe with excellent grid connections are not aware of it. But in places like India with unreliable grid, people have been using backup electricity storage for quite some time. Typically truck lead-acid batteries are used to store enough energy to power a couple of ceiling fans, a few lamps and the TV, never forget the TV, for a few hours. They put up with power outages using these contraptions.

They use inverters to convert the DC to some square wave and approximate it to A/C using electronic gimmicks. Not a pure sine wave A/C, but close enough to run fans and the lamps. Energy conversion efficiency is not bad, the inverters do hot heat up too much. But they play havoc with the motors. So the Japanese A/C makers have been selling ruggadized air conditioners that can run on the inverter electricity.

The logical next step is to create A/C to run purely on DC. Probably it would use AC to DC converters to use grid electricity. Again this DC would be poor in quality compared to battery DC. So this Aircon also would need to be ruggadized.

All these calculations about when residential solar will become viable compared to coal or natural gas are completely different between G8 and rest of the world. Places like India will pay well over the current grid price for steady electricity supply. Not all of them. But the affluent population of India is about the size of Japan, some 120 million people. They have been making do with truck-battery-inverter contraptions, small gasoline generator sets etc. They would probably form the wave of early adopters who pay for the early fixed costs of solar panel factories.

When I visited North Korea, individual solar panels were everywhere, in cities and in the countryside, charging lead-acid batteries for lighting at night. Being on China's doorstep, it may be cheaper to do this than to build out the grid. Widespread availability of food refrigeration would help poor countries tremendously.

Comment Re:Already been done in China for a while (Score 1) 129 129

I don't know about building codes, but the UL is a private organization. There's no legal need, in general, for anything to be UL-certified in the US.

I have had fire marshals come down hard on my company for electrical equipment that didn't have the sticker. I've experienced it in 2 different states, at 2 different companies. And I have heard of other companies having similar problems. If it doesn't have the sticker than it falls outside of common exclusions for inspections. We had to have electricians come in and verify that the equipment was safe by checking every wire to code and generally accepted practices.

Maybe for a residential installation it would be fine. Or maybe it wouldn't be. You're basically betting that the home inspector wouldn't see a problem with it. Home inspectors are generally assholes so that's not a gamble I want to take.

Comment Re:Already been done in China for a while (Score 1) 129 129

I've been saying for a few years that if you just had a few solar panels in your back yard, and didn't want to go through the expense of all the inverter stuff, you could just use it to charge a small battery and power a DC air conditioner. That's because you generally want air conditioning at the same time that you have the most solar power. At the time, the only DC air conditioners available were for marine use, and so they were expensive. However, in the last year and a half I noticed a lot of DC air conditioners on the marker on AliExpress (in China). Some of them even come as a kit including solar panels. The difference here is that presumably the Sharp ones are UL and/or CSA certified, so you could use them in North America.

Honestly, some of the stuff on AliExpress is impressive for how cheap it is. You can buy 500W grid-tie inverters for a solar array for the $200 range. Unfortunately they only have a CE rating, so they're not OK for North America yet. In comparison you can spend 3 to 4 times that much here.

It's really eye opening how much middlemen mark up chinese goods. My wife has ordered high-end clothing and a fabric baby carrier from Aliexpress. Sometimes the quality is typical of cheaply made goods, but in many cases we can't tell if it is an excellent knockoff or a case of "Prada ordered 10,000 units, let's make 12,000 and sell the extras ourselves". The markup on mainstream high-end goods is extreme. Independent entrepreneurs have taken advantages of this in some sectors, but not others. Only the threat of legal action is holding back the tide in some cases.

That said, I used an NEC relay in my last project, as opposed to the equivalent chinese model. Dresses and purses might have the ability to catastrophically fail, but when they do, my apartment doesn't burn down.

Comment Re:DC power (Score 1) 129 129

Well, I think we are getting better at converting DC voltages, which is why HVDC is being used for transmission lines for example.

I suspect the reason is in part portable electronics. We're trying to eke out as much power as possible for multivoltage devices (one voltage for the processor, another for the screen, another for the HDD (portable electronics includes laptops too...) another for the USB bus, etc) from a single (DC it goes without saying) battery. The amount of R&D into the voltage conversion field over the last thirty years must have been extraordinary, yet not sexy enough to warrant much media coverage.

Comment Re:Industrial network (Score 2) 59 59

IF the people in charge are asking for it, find and suggest a solution that can do it safely.

I'm with you so far.

If they are not willing to pay for your solution, find another, albeit less safe solution and present it with a list of assumed risks. Rinse and repeat until you have a solution they are willing to pay for with risks they are accepting, then do that.

In my experience, any "solution" that you present will be understood to do everything that they wanted.

Even if you say that they cannot have X at $Y. They will give you $Y and then demand X.

When you cannot do so, a contractor will be brought in to set up a flawed implementation that will reduce your security BUT will provide X at a price point that you said could not be done.

Which is why we see this story pop up over and over and over again.

Comment Re:Different approach (Score 1) 59 59

There is this piece of Cat 5 that isn't remotely hackable. Unless it's tapped, or if someone puts an inductor on it, or if they use TDR to estimate the length of the wire to figure out the distance between routers and discover where the Intrusion and Detection Systems are located.

Comment Can this be installed on a dual-boot machine (Score 1) 296 296

Probably going to be told I am a noob, but:

I have a dual-boot machine. It is an Acer machine and has a legitimate Windows 7 license and I installed Linux, keeping Windows 7 in a resized partition, and occasionally boot into it (it has a bug where it will not boot without a usb keyboard plugged in so I don't do it as often as I thought I would as I have to dig out that keyboard and plug it in). Linux is the default boot. I have no "recovery disk" and I may have lost any paperwork that came with the machine but it is a real legal copy.

So the question is: can I replace 7 with 10? Without damaging the Linux install? If it screws up grub how do I get it back?

Comment Re:Right to Privacy in One's Backyard? (Score 1) 1056 1056

That's not destruction of property, that's maintenance of property. Want a better analogy than the soccer ball? If your neighbor parks in your driveway without permission you can probably have him towed. What you can't do is take a 9 Iron to his headlights.

Like punning, programming is a play on words.

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