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Comment: Re:Thermodynamically Impossible (Score 3, Informative) 311

by reg (#47138583) Attached to: Solar Roadways Project Beats $1M Goal, Should Enter Production

As someone with a PhD in Pavement Engineering, and an active researcher into pavement design, let me say this is a classic case of someone thinking that because something looks simple it is. Pavements are the most complex civil engineering structures to design, because they are the only structures designed to fail in fatigue. My wife showed me their video the other day, and all I could do was laugh. Reading their FAQ now, shows they've never asked an actual pavement engineer for their input (and FHWA funding shows nothing, in fact googling shows that they're not even really being funded by the FHWA research budget but by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program i.e. this is money to promote small business, the research is a secondary goal).

Just a correction for you though - there is not really an AASHTO testing protocol, that was a one off test done 50s and 60s. Now, most proof testing of these types of innovative designs are done by accelerated pavement testing.

Before we even look at the engineering, look at the cost: the highest cost pavement currently are precast concrete slabs, which are similar in some ways to this idea (except they are 50 times the size). They cost about $3 million per lane mile to install. There are over 8 million lane miles of public road in the US, so their idea in their video of covering all the roads in the US would only cost $24 trillion (or nearly twice the US annual GDP) assuming they could get the cost down to that of concrete... Assuming for the moment that the solar panels themselves are cost neutral, just the cost of the glass and support structures would make this impossible to afford.

From an engineering perspective, you have functional and structural criteria. Functional are skid resistance, spray, noise and light reflectivity. The glass would polish, resulting in low skid resistance at high speed, and bad light reflection. Their textured surface would be OK for low speed skid, but really bad for noise and spray, even with drainage between the panels. Many new pavements have a porous top layer for this. Their paving stone like pattern would be really bad for noise (like block paving). Putting LED lights into pressure sensors for animals would be fun, but probably not reliable, and on roads you have to have systems that are reliable because either drivers can trust them, or they are a waste of time.

Structurally, the fact that they refer to gross vehicle mass is a dead giveaway that they don't know the first thing about pavements... The critical number is wheel load. Their panels look to be an awkward size between an interlocking block paver where the wheel load is spread across several blocks, and a concrete slab. The panels would need to be connected in such a way that they can expand and contract, with sufficient load transfer between panels for the entire surface to act as a continuum. With this size of panel there would a lot of flex at the joints, which would break most materials. Concrete slabs get joined using 1 inch dowel bars... Assuming these were placed on existing pavements, maybe they would work, but my guess is that they would get beat up quickly by highway traffic.

Then there is a question of life cycle assessment. Their "numbers" page shows they also know nothing about this either. They just include the benefits... There is no measure of the system, including manufacture, construction, maintenance, etc. They also don't have albedo measurements, etc...

So, to conclude, I don't think this idea is going anywhere fast. Their first step should be to hire a pavement engineer. Then they need to do some lab testing, then use their $1.7 million for an accelerated pavement test to determine if their design can work as a road, before they do any more messing around with electronics... At least their idea is not as silly as the people who want to put piezoelectric generators into pavements to capture all the "wasted" energy...


Comment: Re:Wrong, wrong, wrong (Score 3, Informative) 303

I've followed trial very closely, and I read every line of the court transcripts of the original trial, although not every exhibit or submittal. They did not make this argument. They also did not make it on appeal, as far as I know. ("The parties have not disputed the district court's analogy: Oracle's collection of API packages is like a library, each package is like a bookshelf in the library, each class is like a book on the shelf, and each method is like a how-to chapter in a book." pg.7) Instead they used poor analogies for what the API is and does, and allowed it to be defined badly.

Having finished reading the ruling... pg 28 is about the doctrine of merger (expression being dictated by idea). That's not what I am talking about. But it does discuss the issue I suggest on pg. 19. I'm talking about 37 C.F.R. Â 202.1(c). The only reference I can find to that statute in this case is in http://www.groklaw.net/pdf3/Or..., where the idea of blank forms is only tangentially mentioned. There was some discussion of Baker v. Selden, but mostly in the context of the SSO of the API. Oracle actually concede in that that the individual method specifications are like a blank form, but not explicitly. Google never picked that up.



Comment: Re:Coder Boycott (Score 5, Insightful) 303

Don't be naive. This will be used to shut down APIs. Increasingly the software world is a set of web based and hosted APIs, with big money but little business behind them. Imagine, for example, someone like Snapchat copying Twitter's API to enable their service to grow faster. This ruling, it is stands, will be used by incumbents to shut down start-ups or open-source/non-spyware clones.

Probably Google's biggest mistake at the get go was to not do a /Java/Davlik/g. Since all code needs to be recompiled, this can be done easily by the build system while maintaining a single source file...


Comment: Wrong, wrong, wrong (Score 5, Insightful) 303

This is a very bad decision and is only going to harm the software industry. This is Google's fault for using the wrong arguments. APIs are digital forms. You fill one in and give it to a worker, it does what you asked (possibly with side effects) and returns results. This is not an analogy, it is a fact. Forms are not copyrightable, for good reason. Imagine if every bank had to make up a new name for a 'deposit slip', and someone could copyright "First Name, Last Name" on a form! Google copied Java's API, the same as businesses have been copying each others forms since the dawn of time, and for the same reason: its easier to present a known interface to customers.


Comment: Re:The Slide-to-Unlock Claim, for reference (Score 3, Interesting) 408

by reg (#46691487) Attached to: Apple: Dumb As a Patent Trolling Fox On iPhone Prior Art?

Actually, the more logical explanation, given what was said by the jury foreman, was that they got bogged down on the first day, but he then had an ah-ha moment the next morning, and helped them get past their confusion with his insight. He reasoned that it was really hard for him to get a patent, because the patent office kept telling him about prior art and obviousness, etc., and that stuff can be really confusing. By extension, it must have been hard for Apple. The insight was that if the Patent Office had granted the patents then they must be valid, and all of Samsung's defense was just smoke and mirrors: the Patent Office must have seen all that and still granted the patents... He explained this to the other members of the jury, who had no clue about patents, and they agreed it seemed like a good insight - avoid all those messy deliberations that had bogged them down, assume the patents were valid (in direct contraction to the jury instructions), go with Apple's general flavor that they were the innovators and Samsung just copy, and get down to the business of deciding which phones violated which patents. As for Samsung's claims, those were just them tit-for-tat, they weren't real...

This is not to say that Samsung didn't copy, or didn't violate the patents, or that the patents are valid. Just that their case hinged on showing the patents were invalid, and the jury didn't answer that question. From what was said, there is no indication that they ever came back to the hard questions (and given the time frame, they couldn't have).

Unsurprisingly, Apple are going with the same defense in this trial - spinning a story about the years of work and effort that went into the iPhone, and avoiding talking about the specifics of the actual patents in question.


Comment: Re:Peering and Bandwidth Symmetry (Score 3, Insightful) 182

by reg (#46546999) Attached to: Level 3 Wants To Make Peering a Net Neutrality Issue

But that's not how my peering arrangement works with my ISP! I connect my network with theirs and they charge me for all the traffic they send me! Hint: there is really no such thing as peering, only a network-of-networks that makes the Internet. Any other definition is the not the Internet. The only rational model is for the sink to pay for the asymmetry, like the power grid.


Comment: Lawyers using wrong approach (Score 3, Insightful) 198

by reg (#45610459) Attached to: Tech Companies Set To Appeal 2012 Oracle Vs. Google Ruling

Application Programming Interfaces are like forms - you fill one out and hand it to something to get work done. Then someone hands you back a response. If the Java APIs can be copyrighted then so can the layout of forms. Except US law says forms cannot be copyright (says Wikipedia):

37 Code of Federal Regulations  202.1(c) (2006) ("Blank forms, such as time cards, graph paper, account books, diaries, bank checks, scorecards, address books, report forms, order forms and the like, which are designed for recording information and do not in themselves convey information [are not subject to copyright]"); see also Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1880).

This is just another example of adding "on a computer" and claiming it is something new.


Comment: Re:If they get this reversed, it will shut them do (Score 2) 198

by reg (#45610193) Attached to: Tech Companies Set To Appeal 2012 Oracle Vs. Google Ruling

This is not arguing that the language is copyright, but the standard library API. Thankfully the C standard library API is an ISO/IEEE standard, and so is C++, but many, many other libraries are not. Be prepared to have lots of old, failing tech companies come out of the woodwork looking for money... For example, XMLHttpRequest(): is it properly standardized? Not really. Could Microsoft sue? Why do you think they are supporting Oracle... Is it critical to the Web? Yes.


Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.