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Comment: exaggeration (Score 1) 112

by spage (#46572069) Attached to: JavaScript Inventor Brendan Eich Named New CEO of Mozilla

after a string of recent short-tenured CEOs at Mozilla's helm.
Kovacs became CEO in 2010, and announced his departure in 2013, I think 7-year veteran Jay Sullivan has been acting CEO since then. Before that John Lilly was CEO for 2 years, taking over from Mitchell Baker who remains as Chairman. Two short-term CEOs in a row makes a pair, not a string.

People who don't like Firefox's six-week release cadence can quit bitching and run the Firefox Extended Support Release.

Comment: feasible but zero demand (Score 3, Interesting) 115

by spage (#45480141) Attached to: Toyota Announces Plans For Fuel Cell Car By 2015

All the comments about H2 efficiency and explosive risk completely miss the point. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been feasible for years, there have been a few Honda Clarity and Mercedes B-Class FCVs driving round Southern California (which has the ONLY public refueling stations in the entire USA) for several years.

The problem is demand. If you care about the environment you plug in for your regular commute. You can can already buy a plug-in hybrid for half the price and lower running costs than these 2015 cars. As Volt owners gleefully report, most drivers travel for hundreds of miles recharging at home, but for long trips the car has the quick refueling of gasoline that's available everywhere.

There's a market of people who don't want any tailpipe emissions and can't plug in and regularly drive long distances and live near the handful of H2 stations and are willing to spend a lot of money on a new technology, but it's vanishingly small!

Eventually fossil fuels could be so expensive or restricted that H2 will be the range-extender we use for our plug-in vehicles, if ethanol from biomass doesn't work out. But that's a long way away. Meanwhile Toyota and Hyundai are very cagey about whether you can plug in their HFCVs; it seems the answer is No. Their cars have a battery and motor so plugging in is the cheapest way to drive the first few miles, and I think soon consumers will reject a motor-driven car that you can't plug in. The comparative reviews of the first HFCVs against 2015's plug-in hybrid cars will be brutal, and there will be dozens of "gotcha" pieces, wherein the brave reporter drives out of Southern California and gets stranded.

Comment: hydrogen combustion is dead (Score 1) 115

by spage (#45480065) Attached to: Toyota Announces Plans For Fuel Cell Car By 2015

The hydrogen combustion car is dead, dead. It combines the chicken-and-egg problems of hydrogen fuel distribution with all the inefficiency of blowing stuff up to make heat and a little forward motion. At least fuel cells are efficient.

The BMW 7 series and Mazda rotary hydrogen ICE demo cars came out years ago. Nothing serious since. Periodically some lame manufacturer without access to fuel cells or batteries converts an engine to burn hydrogen, but it's a stunt that goes nowhere.

Comment: yup, not Gibson, but he came close (Score 1) 35

by spage (#45323143) Attached to: Mind Control In Virtual Reality, Circa 2013

The summary seems to imply that Gibson made the Matrix. No it doesn't, there's an "or" in there.

However, William Gibson never envisioned mind control in Virtual Reality either. You jacked in to cyberspace, a consensual hallucination of a graphic representation of data (which never took off, there's no "representation" of the net at all when you jump from Slashdot to YouTube), but Gibson explicitly had his hackers typing commands while jacked in: "distant fingers caressing the deck", "whip moves on those keyboards faster than you could follow", etc.

Gibson's Neuromancer follow-up Count Zero is stuffed with profoundly prescient ideas like fully-immersive telepresence and one of the first descriptions of hanging out with people's avatars in cyberspace, but the closest he comes to a "brain-computer interface" is slotting in a piece of microsoft behind your ear which gives you the knowledge to fly a real plane in physical reality. Similarly, in Spads & Fokkers (his short story with Michael Swanwick) players use a brain interface to control a holographic plane in a videogame: "He fitted the Batang behind his ear after coating the inductor surface with paste, jacked its fiberoptic ribbon into the programmer, ... when it was done, a sky-blue Spad darted restlessly through the air a few inches from his face. It almost glowed, it was so real. It had the strange inner life that fanatically detailed museum-grade models often have, but it took all of his concentration to keep it in existence. If his attention wavered at all, it lost focus, fuzzing into a pathetic blur."

In another comment undefinedreference says You could play a video game or work in a virtual environment while your body is essentially at the gym. Gibson foresaw that too, but “The street finds its own uses for things,” and so Rikki in Burning Chrome is "working three-hour shifts in an approximation of REM sleep, while her body and a bundle of conditioned reflexes took care of business. The customers never got to complain that she was faking it, because those were real orgasms. But she felt them, if she felt them at all, as faint silver flares somewhere out on the edge of sleep."

Gibson's ideas are masterful poetic riffs on the future, but they aren't its operating manual.

Comment: Re:Just Stop. Please. It's Time to Stop. (Score 1) 89

by spage (#45116139) Attached to: JavaScript-Based OpenRISC Emulator Can Run Linux, GCC, Wayland

Oh STFU. If you come out with a neat piece of software that runs in a browser, you can post a link to it (like this one) and millions of people can run it in a single click because it's so damn easy. If your software is written in anything else but JavaScript, people have to screw around downloading runtimes and saving and executing binaries, and at best 5% as many people will bother trying it. Sure, an app store simplifies that, but now you have to build multiple app versions, iOS, Android, and whatever the hell Windows uses, and you've still left millions of potential users out.

It's the universal availability of JavaScript and zero-install that you get by running it in a web browser that drives the innovation and interest in it, and there's no sign of it stopping. Go build an OpenRISC emulator in C that's far better in every way than this, post a link to the installer, and watch your effort get ignored.

Comment: Re:Looks just like Spy Central UK (GCHQ) (Score 1) 257

by spage (#45115967) Attached to: A Peek At Apple's Planned $5B HQ

GCHQ designed by Gensler is 1.1M square feet for 4,600 staff. Apple is 2.8M square feet for 14,200.

Foster and Partners are a fantastic firm, their buildings are reliably masterpieces of design and engineering, and Sir Norman is arguably the greatest living architect, but they don't come cheap. The insanely great HSBC building was the most expensive building in the world in 1985.

Comment: The point of a "demand" paddle (Score 1) 196

by spage (#45115821) Attached to: Cadillac Unveils Pricier Alternative To Tesla Model S

Well, what should happen when you lift off the accelerator? In a conventional car, the engine brakes the car, and engine braking increases in lower gears. So GM has reused the concept to adjust the amount of brake regen when you lift off. Other electrified cars coast, or apply a set amount of regen. I don't know what VW's new plug-in hybrids, with a conventional dual-clutch transmission, do.

Tesla hooks brake regen up to the accelerator pedal, so as you lift off more more brake regen increases, turning it into an accelerator/decelerator control. One-footed driving sounds like a blast.

Comment: ultracaps aren't happening (Score 1) 196

by spage (#45115331) Attached to: Cadillac Unveils Pricier Alternative To Tesla Model S

You made sense until your last word. Ultra-capacitors aren't happening. As batteries steadily get cheaper, you can use a bigger battery. A bigger battery can handle more power, so it can cope with more braking regen and recharge faster (and deliver more horsepower); and it's not cycled as much as a smaller battery, so it lasts longer. That reduces the fast-charge and longevity benefits of ultracaps, which are still far more expensive and heavier than a lithium-ion battery of the energy. Ionova claims 10 Wh/kg for their ultracaps while li-on is over 100 Wh/kg. In theory you can recharge an ultracap in seconds, but the future fast charger to recharge a Model S battery in a minute has to deliver 7000 amps at 500V instead of ~240 amps, so it's going to cost a fortune.

Ultracaps still have a chance in hybrids, the Prius only has a 1.3 kWh battery. Only price keeps ultracaps from replacing that battery. But again, as batteries get cheaper, more people will expect to be able to plug in.

Comment: movies as raw material, as William Gibson foretold (Score 1) 79

by spage (#44914323) Attached to: LucasFilm Combines Video Games and Movies To Eliminate Post-Production

Others have commented how this will lead to dumbed-down movies with videogame features and Mario/Angry Birds franchise tie-ins, such as

Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball models, in swimsuits, in all the future movies!

... all with the face and voice of Jar Jar Binks ...

But this would actually be fantastic if if the movie watcher got to control the remix. There are cut-scenes in Red Dead Redemption that are rival anything in a movie (Marston's last encounter with Bonnie, so polite, so suffused with longing!) and then you can enter the world as one of the characters. Why limit your favorite characters to one setting, legal threats from George Lucas notwithstanding?

In a marvelous talk 10 years ago to the Director's Guild of America (read it!), William Gibson explores the long past of movie-making as storytelling, and predicts the future of it.

Any linear narrative film, for instance, can serve as the armature for what we would think of as a virtual reality, but which Johnny X, eight-year-old end-point consumer, up the line, thinks of as how he looks at stuff. If he discovers, say, Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, he might idly pause to allow his avatar a freestyle Hong Kong kick-fest with the German guards in the prison camp. Just because he can. Because he’s always been able to. He doesn’t think about these things. He probably doesn’t fully understand that that hasn’t always been possible. He doesn’t know that you weren’t always able to explore the sets virtually, see them from any angle, or that you couldn’t open doors and enter rooms that never actually appeared in the original film.

Or maybe, if his attention span wavers, he’ll opt to experience the film as if shot from the POV of that baseball that McQueen keeps tossing.

Somewhere in the countless preferences in Johnny’s system there’s one that puts high-rez, highly expressive dog-heads on all of the characters. He doesn’t know that this setting is based on a once-popular Edwardian folk-motif of poker-playing dogs, but that’s okay; he’s not a history professor, and if he needed to know, the system would tell him. You get complete breed-selection, too, with the dog-head setting, but that was all something he enjoyed more when he was still a little kid.

But later in the afternoon he’s run across something called The Hours, and he’s not much into it at all, but then he wonders how these women would look if he put the dog-heads on them. And actually it’s pretty good, then, with the dog-heads on, so then he opts for the freestyle Hong Kong kick-fest ...

Because I see Johnny falling asleep now in his darkened bedroom, and atop the heirloom Ikea bureau, the one that belonged to his grandmother, which his mother has recently had restored, there is a freshly-extruded resin action-figure, another instantaneous product of Johnny’s entertainment system.

It is a woman, posed balletically, as if in flight on John Wu wires.

It is Meryl Streep, as she appears in The Hours.

She has the head of a chihuahua.

Comment: the Pre-viz becomes the movie (Score 1) 79

by spage (#44914045) Attached to: LucasFilm Combines Video Games and Movies To Eliminate Post-Production

What you said, definitely. DVD extras (the best part of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) show preproduction steadily evolving. Nearly all movies are story-boarded before production, and animation houses have always made animatics showing the key frames and shifts of the camera. Nowadays effects-heavy movie scenes are pre-visualized on a computer: someone builds a 3-D world for the scene, puts some 3-D character models in it, animates the models, and then moves a virtual camera around to create a computer animation of the sequence of shots. The result is a clunky computer videogame cut-scene version of the sequence.

Which raises the interesting prospect that as computer graphics continue to improve, film makers will stop at the pre-visualization and declare victory. Why make a movie at all when it already exists? Five years ago after watching the "making of" featurette for the effects-heavy movie Hancock I wrote

You see Charlize Theron watching the pre-viz on a Mac notebook, watching her 3-D character to learn what she's supposed to do in the shot! ... The cameramen, the actors, even the director, all watch a movie that already exists that dictates what they need to do.

So record the actors at the table reading of the script, lip-sync the existing character models with their voices, and you have the movie. Perhaps if the real-world actors can do a better job emoting than the pre-viz animators (a big "if" for some actors!), film them and composite into the existing movie.

Comment: research area for decades, solar anyone? (Score 2) 147

by spage (#44859605) Attached to: Engineers Aim To Make Cleaner-Burning Cookstoves For Developing World

Bloody university PR departments presenting every research project as if it's some Eureka moment.

"For over a decade, cookstove experts and enthusiasts have gathered at Aprovecho [Research Center]". In 2009 The New Yorker had a long article about stove enthusiasts designing better stoves, what's changed since then? The Chinese are already cranking out Rocket stoves in volume; other commenters have linked to, Biolite, etc.. The problem isn't engineering, it's economics and cultural.

Meanwhile, any stove still requires spending hours collecting firewood, contributing to deforestation and CO2 emissions. As an adjunct people can put food in a black pot in an insulated container heated by a cheap solar reflector. But now you've got two $20 purchases per family, one of which only works part of the time. Meanwhile the U.N. spends millions trucking fuel into refugee camps. Again, the problems are NOT engineering ones.

Comment: Re:OpenWebOS is still around... (Score 1) 207

by spage (#44846009) Attached to: Time For a Hobbyist Smartphone?

The scripting is all html/css/javascript using the Enyo framework.

It's cool that they open-sourced the webOS calculator, contacts, email, notes, etc., but it's not the complete phone image, I couldn't find the system settings, dialer, etc. The APIs that the published webOS apps use seem disconnected from any standardization efforts, and some apps seem to contact a local nodejs server instead of making simple JavaScript function calls. If it's all HTML/CSS/JavaScript, why is there a copy of Qt in the tree? Google suggests "much of the actual webOS GUI is (in webOS 2) Qt-based". The best explanation of Open webOS development I've found says

* JavaScript applications with HTML5 and CSS3 using cross-platform Enyo framework
* PDK for native C++ applications using OpenGL/ES, typically for games
* JavaScript services implemented with node.js
* System services implemented in either C++ or Javascript (node.js)
** Web access vs. performance
* Standard applications use Enyo framework
* User interface is a series of Qt C++ applications, libraries and services with some QML

That's one way to do it and Tizen is similar, but compared with Firefox OS's everything in JavaScript calling web APIs, it's far more elaborate and less in the "everything scriptable" approach that TFA wants.

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.