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Comment: Re:Wait a minute (Score 4, Informative) 248

by patniemeyer (#48832797) Attached to: SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released

In a normal hydraulic system there is a pump that re-pressurizes and returns the hydraulic fluid to a reservoir. To save weight and complexity here since the hydraulics are only used for a few minutes they instead use an "open" hydraulic system in which the pressure comes from a tank of compressed gas and the hydraulic fluid is expelled or burned up as it is used. (The fluid goes one way - out - as it is used).

After the pressurized gas or fluid was used up they no longer had control over the fins.

Comment: Microcenter is the new Radio Shack... (Score 1) 314

by patniemeyer (#48822277) Attached to: Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

I have a soft spot in my heart for Radio Shack having grown up with it as the source for so many amazing things, but it should have evolved years ago. Microcenter is a chain that is closer to the big box format - they have cheap computer and gaming stuff (kind of like the old CompUSA) but they also have a pretty big section way in the back dedicated to hackers/makers with real, modern components such as Arduinos and nice tools.

Radio Shack didn't have the floor space to sell useful stuff and keep their geek cred section... They want to be a boutique but people don't buy boutique stuff at strip malls anymore...

Comment: Re:MORE SHIT??? (Score 1) 177

You'd rather have to rely on the Flash plugin? You realize you can now watch YouTube and other sites flash-free but you don't see that as reducing bloat?
Related - MP4 in Firefox fixes one of the most irritating bugs in the history of the web - the fact that browser shortcuts don't work while you are watching a flash video.

Pat

Comment: Re:Battery tech is dead-end in cars (Score 1) 124

by patniemeyer (#48765117) Attached to: Toyota Opens Patents On Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

Hydrogen fuel cells cannot even compete with *current* battery technology much less future batteries in the labs. The process of creating hydrogen, compressing it, and distributing it is insanely inefficient and dangerous and the idea that we are going to create a whole new hydrogen infrastructure in the world when every home already has electricity is just nuts. You are never going to fill your vehicle or your lawn mower with hydrogen at home. You can charge a Tesla to half its rated range in 20 minutes (for free no less) at locations all over the country and that will only improve (Tesla has said they hope to get it down to 5-10 minutes.) And if there were some reason one needed super fast stop-and-go Tesla has demo'd swapping their batteries in 90 seconds gas station style.

It's clear that battery tech has won and the only people still talking about hydrogen are people who have lots of IP invested in hydrogen.

Comment: Re:Get the facts first (Score 1, Informative) 250

by patniemeyer (#48527595) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

This is all BS. Apple didn't remove anything - iPods have always supported non-DRM music as well as Apple's Fairplay DRM music just fine. Apple doesn't care what you load on there. What they did care about was Real hacking Fairplay to sell their own DRM versions using Apple's proprietary DRM. Apple fixed their DRM impl and it broke the Real's DRM. That is all that happened.

Comment: Re:So there is a problem... (Score 1) 174

by patniemeyer (#47685073) Attached to: Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program

Why do you assume there is a problem? It sounds to me like their analysis shows that the drive units are performing so well that they can offer a less conservative warranty now. The impact that Musk mentions is about increasing the cash they need to have on hand to cover warranties for something unexpected. None of this implies that there is a problem...

BTW, this is the second time that Tesla has increased the warranty coverage on the vehicles after they've been sold - When was the last time you heard of an auto company doing that?

Comment: Microsoft killed Java in the browser... (Score 1) 371

by patniemeyer (#47642011) Attached to: Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time

We might live in a much different world today if Microsoft had not *deliberately* set out to kill Java in the browser in the mid 90s. MS saw Java and Netscape as a threat to their business model so they licensed the technology from Sun, put it in their browsers and then made sure that it would remain slightly broken and never be updated. Everyone in the industry saw this coming and at the time Sun talked about how great their lawyers were and how they had compatibility clauses in the contract, etc.... Microsoft's lawyers were better apparently.

Microsoft left a slightly broken and very early 1.x release of Java in their browsers for years and years. The motivation was clear in court documents during the antitrust litigation with quotes from people inside Microsoft saying things like: we have to ''pollute'' Java in the browser to keep it from being truly cross platform.

Imagine what the world would be like today if, instead of edging ever closer to a full fledged programming model in the browsers based on JavaScript (which was created to be glue to put Java into HTML, not to be a programming language) - if instead we had 20 years of browsers with native Java VMs, written in and extensible by Java... There is no doubt we would have had the kind of applications we take for granted today (AJAXy things like gmail and maps) 15 years ago... and a generation of developers would not have grown up with this mess that we left them in HTML and JS.

- Pat Niemeyer (Author of Learning Java, O'Reilly & Associates)

Comment: Re:What about a coal powered Tesla? (Score 1) 122

by patniemeyer (#47595957) Attached to: Elon Musk Promises 100,000 Electric Cars Per Year

1) Your analysis accounts for losses in transmitting the electricity but does not account for getting the gasoline to the consumer. Gasoline is heavy and in the final leg is distributed in trucks that burn a lot of fuel.

2) Your guess at 80% efficiency of the charging devices is low. Tesla claims 90%+ depending on the voltage and Tesla charging stations can charge the cars with DC at 120kW with presumably much lower losses. (If they were losing 20% of that to heat they'd all be on fire :) )

Comment: Re:weird choice (Score 0) 156

by patniemeyer (#47489777) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

The only reason that I can come up with for this focus on fuel cells is that Toyota and the other existing car manufacturers want to see a hydrogen distribution system put in place so that they can continue producing internal combustion engines using hydrogen instead of the fuel cells themselves. I think these car companies see their long term intellectual property investment as being in the internal combustion engines and drive train technology. My guess is that they fear the drive trains becoming commodity parts (how many ways are there to make an A/C electric motor) and then they are left simply styling auto bodies and being fashion statements...

I think that fear is unwarranted, as Tesla has shown just how differentiated an electric car can be and how much innovation there can be in the car cabin and features themselves... But history has shown that old companies cannot always change even when they recognize that a disruption is coming. And oh boy is one coming...

Tesla = iPhone
Gas cars = Blackberry at best

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