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Comment: Re: sorry, all my laptop batteries are dead (Score 1) 143

by serbanp (#48541561) Attached to: Using Discarded Laptop Batteries To Power Lights

You can't do that with a laptop battery pack. It would mess up the gas gauge counter (which, depending on the pack's firmware, could or could be not a recoverable event) and also could damage the cell-sensing circuits (during the initial assembly, there is a precise order in which the cells are connected to the pcb).

Only 1S packs could be replaced this way, but these don't use the standard 18650 units and are not found in laptops.

Comment: Re:Red Queen (Score 1) 117

by serbanp (#48464669) Attached to: How the Pentagon's Robots Would Automate War

Silly, the overhead administering it is very, very low. Much lower than the private retirement funds.

Are you really arguing against a system that helped old people live a little more decently? There is no denying that SS provided (and probably still does) a great social service.

If you're lucky, you will get old too and it's very likely you'll see it differently from now.

Comment: Re:Red Queen (Score 3, Interesting) 117

by serbanp (#48455607) Attached to: How the Pentagon's Robots Would Automate War

Sorry Bill, but this time you seem to be off mark. As a percentage of the federal budget, "Defense" is some 17.7%, to which I would add the DHS and NSA, for a grand total of about 20%. That's not spare change.

When compared to the efficient way the other two agencies that command a large portion of the US budget (Health and SS) are run, it's hard to justify spending so much money on an endeavor so wasteful.

In the end, the US military adventures in the last few decades have put the country in a tough place. Some of the actions have been unjust and for that the US is loathed by quite a few, some other created the impression of the US being the World Cop, therefore many expect it to act at a finger snap (e.g. in Syria and I still remember the debacle over *not* intervening in Rwanda). In the long run, this is a losing situation, no matter how many resources are thrown at it.

Comment: *something* in, rubbish out... (Score 1) 55

by serbanp (#48412479) Attached to: Machine-Learning Algorithm Ranks the World's Most Notable Authors

Bram Stoker being #1 in the 1910 decade, way ahead of someone like Mark Twain? In what universe?

The list is full of mediocrity floating at the top, while profound authors being ranked way lower (Calamity Jane > Chekhov for instance).

The complete failure of this ranking experiment just shows how true AI is still 20 years in the future (as it has been for the past 50 years)...

Comment: Re:Overstated or misrepresented? (Score 1) 403

by serbanp (#48094723) Attached to: Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

My 17yo Civic has a complete mileage log for all of the 205k miles it traveled, i.e. how many gallons to full (I never do partial refueling) and how many miles traveled. If anything, the mileage is consistently better than what was on the windshield when I bought it new.

In fact, looking at the numbers I can see the seasonal patterns (2MPG lower in winter), probably caused by my state switching to the winter blend (more Ethanol).

Comment: Re: I dunno about LEDs, but CFLs don't last (Score 3, Interesting) 602

by serbanp (#48004927) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

No LED-based lighting fixture uses a voltage regulator and a series resistor to limit the current through the LED.

The LED is driven by a current regulator; yes, it usually has a small sense resistor to measure and adjust the driving current, but that's something totally different from a resistor used to limit the current.

Remember, the 'D' in LED stands for (semiconductor) "Diode", which means that in forward conduction it has an exponential relationship between current and voltage. The only way to control the brightness is to control the current, you can't rely on the equivalent "resistance" (i.e. Vd/Id).

The premature failure of the LED bulb is caused exclusively by the embedded electronics degrading at high temperature. Since the LED is still dumping a lot of heat when working, the heat must be dissipated (hence puny LEDs and bulky, machined Al heatsinks) or the electronics get fried.

Guess what the drive to reduce the manufacturing cost will do to the quality of the LED bulbs?

Is your job running? You'd better go catch it!