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Comment: Re:Is this new? (Score 1) 685

by Zebedeu (#47402675) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

To give the screeners their due, they let me go after a few minutes - after I'd heard their complaints about the potential radiation doses they and the passengers were receiving from the backscatter X-ray thingers

You're a much luckier man than me.
When I refused to go through the cancer machines and opted for the pat-down, they had me wait for over 10 minutes.
They knew I was with other friends (who decided to risk a dose of radiation to save on a minor inconvenience - we had plenty of time) and decided to be as annoying as the law would allow them to be.

Didn't learn my lesson though. I'm not stepping into one of those machines if I have a choice, thankyouverymuch.

Comment: Re:Is this new? (Score 1) 685

by Zebedeu (#47399861) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

DSLR, sorry I wasn't specific enough :-)

Come to think of it, I've also had trouble with my old external HD. It was one of the old huge ones which required an external power supply, and it was checked almost without fail (they took it to a separate machine to check for explosives).
I've also had trouble with a sandbag stand for my GPS holder, but usually I'm just asked to show it to them and they know what it is once they see it.

Comment: Is this new? (Score 1) 685

by Zebedeu (#47398473) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

Is this a new rule?
I've been asked before to power up my SLR when going through the security check.
It never happened with any other device, so I always thought it was some particular feature of the SLR which made it seem like evil stuff to the scanners.

I believe this already happened in Europe and Asia, so I can't say if they weren't doing this in the US before.
In the paranoid minds of the Airport security personel it actually makes sense. From a scan it's impossible to distinguish legitimate circuitry from bomb or plane-hacking components.

Not that I agree with the general airport security apparatus. I wish it were more like taking a train, or a bus, but I digress.

Comment: Re:Carbon neutral aviation biofuel ... (Score 1) 160

by Zebedeu (#47016911) Attached to: Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

There are other advantages to electric engines besides the pollution aspect.
For one, they're much quieter, which is one of the major problems with modern air transportation. The engines are also a lot simpler, reducing maintenance costs and risk of failure during flight.
Electricity is also a much more versatile form of energy than combustibles, since we know how to generate it from almost every other energy form.

Imagine a hybrid electric plane. You could charge it at the airport and take off on battery power. Then recharge the batteries during flight and land on electric power again. Just by doing that you enormously decrease air and sound pollution near urban areas.
It might even be feasible to install solar panels in the plane surfaces to get a bit of extra efficiency going (not sure it'd be worth it, just throwing the idea in).

Or install a wind turbine at the back - the faster you fly, the more energy you generate! :-)

But seriously, the use of electric engines to power aircraft is the most interesting knowledge coming out of this prototype. I doubt that Airbus can contribute much to the current research on battery storage, but electric flight might be advantageous even if you're powering it with gas generators for the most part.
As technology evolves, you start to rely less and less on the generators until you can remove them completely.

Comment: Re:Hey Tim (Score 2) 274

by Zebedeu (#46951711) Attached to: First Arrest In Japan For 3D-Printed Guns

Every adult in Switzerland has an assault rifle, but (almost) none of them have any bullets to go with it.
You see, the assault riffle is issued when you finish the military training, and you're supposed to maintain it until the day when the country gets invaded and the government distributes the rounds through the populace.

As to your other point, you may not be able to stop the flow of illegal products, but you sure as hell can make it inconvenient enough that only people who really want it can get it, at a risk to themselves.
Most of the gun injuries in the US today can be attributed to either accidents or heat-of-the-moment exchanges. In most of those situations guns simply wouldn't be available if firearms were forbidden.

Comment: Re:I agree (Score 1) 399

by Zebedeu (#46859925) Attached to: Japanese and Swiss Watchmakers Scoff At Smartwatches

Yeah, I think that a smartwatch along the lines that you describe would be a plausible consumer product. For me, limited battery life would be the killer, but that might have solutions. One that I would like to see is ePaper for the display, which would also help with outdoor readability. On a watch, you could experiment with color schemes that are not your Kindle classic black text on white background. With a good designer, an ePaper smartwatch could look a lot like a Swiss fancy watch, but pack all sorts of functionality inside. (I've been convinced for years that the "bigger and fatter" trend in men's watches is a scheme designed to pave the way for wrist computers.)

The Pebble was supposed to have an e-ink screen, but it turns out they're using some type of LCD sort of like your standard digital wrist watch.
I guess the problem with e-ink is that even the fastest displays are too slow for interactive UIs. E-books sort of pull it off since the benefits while reading outweigh the horrible interface responsiveness, but for a smartwatch I think it might not work.

I think a lot will depend on whether they can design a non-obtrusive charging method. My idea is to make a little inductive platform that you keep in your bathroom, which is the resting place for the watch as you shower. When you are done with your shower and put the watch back on, it has a guaranteed week of normal-use battery life. (Not that users would only shower once a week, but sometimes they won't shower at home and they shouldn't have to worry about watch death.)

I don't care much as long as it's easy to plug in and take out, like with an inductive charger, then it should be fine.
A lot of people I don't typically wear their watches at home, and I guess for even those who do, most don't sleep with them on. Especially if it's a heavy piece, as smartwatches will be for the foreseeable future.
For me, dropping the watch in the charging pad next to my bed, or the door won't be a big deal.
In any case I don't see a big difference between needing a charge every 2 days or every 5. You'll be getting into the habit of charging it every night or risk forgetting to do it when the battery is running out.

The most important bit is the battery life. The Pebble is supposed to last 2-5 days and the Samsung Gear will last you a day if you're lucky (but that's a beast of a watch, hardware wise).
Nobody is sharing details on the upcoming Android Wear devices, which is annoying but expected. Hopefully it'll be at least a week, but honestly I'm not too hopeful.

Comment: Re:I agree (Score 1) 399

by Zebedeu (#46859219) Attached to: Japanese and Swiss Watchmakers Scoff At Smartwatches

I've been quite interested in smartwatches in general because I actually think they can be quite useful, depending on the implementation.
I haven't had the courage to get one yet since technically the current offerings seem to be a bit on the weak side, and they tend to look the equivalent of those calculator waches from the 80s.
The Motorola watch seems to be the first smartwatch to actually look the part, and hopefully the Android Wear thing will cover the other part. We'll see.

Anyway, I do not see the watch as redundant to my phone, but rather as an extension of my phone's screen.
Take the following scenarios where you'd typically be fetching your phone from your pocket or holding it in hand for a long time only to glance at it from time to time:
- Jogging
- Using walking directions
- Checking why the phone just vibrated (or if it vibrated)
- Controlling the music player and the volume
- Checking the time (ah!)

You don't need fancy hardware for any of that. You phone already does all those things, so all you need is a screen, battery, weak processor and basic input.

Look at the reverse situation: why would you want to watch a video on your phone if you have a huge flat-screen TV in front of you? Ideally, you'd make that TV an output to your phone and watch the video there - the kind of thing which is starting to be possible with devices like Chromecast, or those DLNA boxes.

Comment: Short sighted (Score 1) 399

by Zebedeu (#46858961) Attached to: Japanese and Swiss Watchmakers Scoff At Smartwatches

Company representatives seemed sure that people in practice would be uninterested in constantly recharging their watches and downloading software updates just to tell time.

That's short sighted. Smartwatches serve as much to tell time as smartphones serve to make calls, i.e. it's one of the basic functions, but it does so much more that the original use is not even the main one any more.
Nobody will charge their watch every night just to tell the time, but they may do it if they think it's worth the hassle for the extra functionality.

Of course, there's still the argument to be made whether those extra functions are something people will actually want, but it just seems these companies aren't even asking themselves the right questions, and may be setting themselves up to a very big surprise.

Comment: Re:Is it wise to use Systemd? (Score 1) 641

by Zebedeu (#46683635) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Not to defend Kay, but the system not booting is the result of another bug which was immediately fixed: systemd had some assert which was wrongly spamming log messages when debug was activated.

The discussion then turned around the more general idea of having a user-space application listening to kernel debug settings instead of listening only to settings under its own namespace.
I don't feed qualified to answer on the technical part, but from what I read it was at least clear to me that Kay's general arrogance and unwillingness to cooperate towards a solution have completely justified Linus' action.

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