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Comment: Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (Score 1) 192

by steveg (#46632963) Attached to: Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

It's both. Copyright is for authors. Patents are for inventors.

Congress later (1909) broadened the meaning of what an author is, so now copyright covers more than just text. Patents are still for inventors.

Whether either actually works to promote progress is another discussion, but it was clearly the intent of the framers.

Comment: Re:Gyroscopic precession (Score 1) 262

by steveg (#46625469) Attached to: Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy

Good point, although this effect *is* significant for aircraft (called "P"-factor.) Most of that effect is aerodynamic rather than gyroscopic, but not all of it.

The complication of coupling two flywheels to the drivetrain are minimized if you do it electrically. Flywheels can act as high power-rate batteries, and you would then treat the drivetrain as a "conventional" hybrid. The big difference is that you're not limited by the rate at which you can feed electricity to a battery from the brakes or draw from it while you accelerate, since flywheels are much more flexible in that regard.

Comment: Re:Waiting since the '90's (Score 1) 262

by steveg (#46596733) Attached to: Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy

When I was in school (mid 70s) there was work being done on "super-flywheels," both for automotive use and for fixed energy storage. Flywheels can deliver (or accept) virtually unlimited power -- not unlimited energy, but if you need a burst of power in a very short time, your limitation is not going to be the flywheel.

One of the applications I read about then was for a university particle accelerator. The local city got upset at having the lights dim all over the city when they fired it up, so they spent hours spinning up a flywheel to release it in milliseconds.

This is handy for vehicles, since batteries can't accept or deliver power as rapidly as flywheels can and that limits both braking and acceleration. On the other hand, in an accident, being able to release power rapidly is more dangerous.

Super-flywheels, incidentally, were made of fiber based materials spinning at very high speeds, just like described here. They had the same or higher energy density as metal flywheels but failed less catastrophically. Metal flywheels tend to chunk when they fail, the fiber materials to shred.

Comment: Re:Gyroscopic precession (Score 1) 262

by steveg (#46596491) Attached to: Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy


You're going to get this effect (under braking or acceleration) no matter what orientation the flywheel is using. In one case it will be precession, in the other it will be a straightforward angular acceleration. The vertical axis might work better when your speed is constant.

When you apply the brakes with a vertical axis flywheel, you are accelerating that flywheel which means an application of torque. The frame of the car will experience the opposing torque, providing a twisting force in one direction or the other, depending on which direction the flywheel spins. Drawing energy off the flywheel to accelerate the car will twist you in the opposite direction.

Counter rotating flywheels would probably solve the problem.

Comment: Re:Brake Pedal (Score 1) 262

by steveg (#46596325) Attached to: Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy

I haven't seen this. My hybrid (Ford Fusion) bleeds a little off the speed when I lift the throttle, but somewhat less than a regular ICE drivetrain would. The brakes, on the other hand, extract speed energy into the battery as fast as the battery can take it -- if I'm braking harder than that, it simultaneously applies the friction brakes. From a "user interface" perspective, I can't tell which part of the brake system is being used until I've come to a stop, when it gives me a "braking score" that shows how much of my braking energy was recovered. After a while you get a feel for how hard to brake to get the most back from braking. As a bonus, brake pads might last you 60 or 70 thousand miles.

I'm pretty sure the reason the car doesn't freewheel completely on throttle lift is so that the car will behave more or less like 40 years of driving an ICE car has taught me to expect. That's a lot safer -- principle of least surprise, y'know.

There's a downhill mode that makes the car recover energy more aggressively, intended for when you're coming down a mountain. If the battery fills up before you get to the bottom, it will fire up the engine as a brake. I don't know how much (if any) fuel it uses for this -- the mpg meter stays pegged at "60+", which is its highest value.

Comment: Re:Because people already have E-mail addresses? (Score 1) 149

by steveg (#46350091) Attached to: Facebook Shuts Down @Facebook Email System

More than that. Many other Google services that used to be unrelated now require G+ to get full use of them. e.g., Google Talk became Hangouts and some of the functionality requires G+ to work.

But no, you are not required to get a G+ account even if you have other Google account based services. I still don't have one even though I do use Gmail, Google talk, etc. Those services periodically whine at me, trying to get me to sign up when I inadvertenty try to access a function that now requires G+.

Comment: Re:Beta is...meh. I was expecting worse. (Score 1) 17

by steveg (#46187199) Attached to: How to fix Slashdot Beta?

It's not so much that the whitespace on the side is distracting (you're right, it is) but more that because it wastes space, it makes each comment take up more vertical space and reduces the information density. That makes it harder to see the whole picture. OK, in a thread with hundreds of entries, it's hard to see the whole picture anyway, but anything that makes it worse is not helpful. The whitespace on the sides is far more destructive in this respect than collapsing the line breaks is constructive, and collapsing those line breaks makes it harder to read even if it does slightly improve the density.

And I agree with you about sigs. Up until about 2 days ago, I had never made use of the sig capability. I'd love to be able to go back to ignoring it again.

Comment: Re:Just be honest - it's not for *US* (Score 4, Insightful) 2219

by steveg (#46180897) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

Why not?

Are you saying that in 2018 user expectations are going to be lower?

What the trend of your new design is pointing to is a lower information density. If you believe that such low density will meet the expectation of your users, that seems to indicate you are expecting different users.

Thanks for telling us you don't want us anymore.

Comment: Re:And that's exactly what I asked for. (Score 5, Insightful) 2219

by steveg (#46180717) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

I've got to say that the initial post on this topic perpetuates one of the paradigms that is sticking in the craws of Slashdot users. We are not an audience. We might be users, we might be members, we most certainly are contributors. But we are not an audience.

If you persist in thinking of us that way, then you're going to get it wrong. You serve an audience differently than you serve contributing members of a community. Most of the complaints hinge on that difference.

If we were an audience, we'd be coming here for the articles. Most of the complaints are about the comment system, how difficult it is to follow a conversation, how difficult it is leave a comment, etc. I come here, most of us come here, to read what my/our fellow slashdotters have to say. The value here is the community, and the most important contributors are other members, not the site or the editors.

If you don't get that straight, then you aren't going to "get" why we're upset, so there's no chance that you'll deliver us something that we can live with. And that community is going to vanish, leaving you with nothing of value.

You can take suggestions and maybe reduce the implosion, but unless you understand *why* we're upset, you're going to be heading in fundamentally the wrong direction.

System checkpoint complete.