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Comment Re:Not Really (Score 1) 410

Solyndra failed on bogus technology, not on China pre-fixing the market. Solyndra was effectively claiming that lower efficiency thin film panels would somehow magically work great when formed in tubes. Calculate the physics, and it is obvious that there is no energy gain, only additional cost. The investment decision was broken, as any competent analyst should have done the simple math to figure this out. Solyndra's own published numbers, cost per W figures, for example, which were non-competitive to start with. Their cost was way above marginal cost of normal panels with higher efficiency, so electricity could not have been produced profitably with their panels, according to their own projections.

This "China subsidy" card is one I have hard time understanding. If we get the benefit, why it is a problem? Europeans first sold Chinese and other countries solar panel plants (100+ plants claimed by one European company alone), which were efficient and could produce good quality panels for low cost. Then we buy the panels they make in those factories for zero (or claimed negative) profit, essentially Chinese subsidizing our economy again. In addition, this will be net energy gain for us. Panels produce more energy than making them consumes, so we get energy from Panels the Chinese effectively paid for us, avoiding some need of import energy or generate energy from fossil fuels. This is perfect colonialism, sell them tools and reap benefits of those tools, pulling money in three ways. We should do more of this.

Chinese may copy and import technologies we sell to them, but by the time they are capable to high quality and competitive technology, they will no more be cheap labor, and the cost levels will not be that different any more. China will be on par, and highly competitive, and they will be part of innovation, but that is unavoidable. No amount of protectionism will avoid it, rather it will protect us from improving efficiency and competitiveness. Japan is a good example of this, they took a their position in the world market, but are now economically in similar position as most western countries, with no more competitive advantage than efficiency or innovation allows. People cost and standard of living has mostly equalized already. The worst thing West can make to our own standard of living is to be inefficient and stop innovating and taking risks.

Comment Re: Sure, why not? (Score 1) 410

Novelty of the rich? Used Leafs are around 20 - 25k and at least in European market the prices are often competitive to similarly equipped gas cars. There is some price difference for new cars, though subsidies or tax differences make up most of it. Savings depend on country, for me they are several k per year, and this is in place which has no subsidy other than cheaper buy tax for the car, and only benefits are cheaper parking and some free charging opportunities. If you finance your car buy, cost savings will make up the difference. If you pay all cash upfront, you might want to calculate the cost factors for your case, it still might be pretty short payback for extra investment.

Impractical depends on who is the target. I did not have to change driving habits in any substantial way. The car is more practical for what I use it for, ie. city driving than my gas car. There are plenty of people in the "sub 100km per day, can afford 20k" or "have two cars and it is used for city driving" brackets, so claiming ev's impractical is not really true, they are practical for quite substantial proportion of the population already, even if we are in the first generation for most manufacturers. Obviously there are people for they are not practical yet.

Priced out of range: there is a used car market being developed rather quickly as the first cars sold come to circulation. If you cannot afford 35k for new Leaf, you can likely get a used one for 20-25k already (that is well-equipped 1 year old car). Also, the difference between gas car and electric with same equipment is low, at least in Europe, as EV's tend to be better equipped, by magic of automotive goodies priced by value rather than cost of them. For me penalty of buying an EV was negative as I did some shopping around. I would not have been able to get gas car as well equipped for the same amount of money. The gadgets made the difference in my case.

Comment Re:Cellular is the business model (Score 1) 424

There are examples where having one company take care of physical infrastructure (fiber network, or coaxial in cable), and providing it to anyone who then run electron or light over it, working very well to consumer advantage. One example could be Stokab, which pulled Stockholm city in Sweden some ten years ahead most other places in the planet in terms of broadband connectivity (Ethernet to home ten+ years ago, 100Mbps for 10e/month, etc).

Stokab model is utility, and it is by charter not allowed to do anything else than dark fiber.

Regulation does not work. The operators who run other businesses can always cross-subsidize between their businesses, and no regulator can effectively prove that. Regulation does not force the operators to be efficient or innovative either. With no competition, they do not need to be. And screwing competition is almost always easier than making better products, when your motivation is keep your salary and bonuses rolling and you could not care less of public benefit and innovation. Even if operator is forced to sell infrastructure, they can allocate costs and work force to infrastructure department, and to make everything possible to hurt competition and keep the prices high. I have long experience on this, we launched first commercial ADSL service in Europe and run a competitive operator in relatively progressive environment. The only solution I see working (by proof of success story) is having complete separation at passive-physical boundary, such as Stokab model.

Comment Re:Dead end (battery swap) (Score 1) 191

While I believe that battery swap idea is possible and such fears might be possible to alleviate, by guaranteeing getting "your" battery back when returning as Tesla says, it is commercially difficult concept.

Here is some math: 1 Tesla S battery stores approximately $15 worth of electric energy (number out of hat). The process takes 2 minutes, and they could have it in a very central location and could have 50% utilization rate during daytime (battery changed every 4 minutes during 10 business hours), total of 150 swaps per day. The battery wear could be assumed to be large as batteries are deeply cycled, so lets assume that they can be used for 5 years and they cost 20k a pop (investment cost today). Assume that the swapping system costs 1M per site (there won't be many of those, so development cost has to be shared with few sites, and it is rather complex system). Assume 10 year lifetime, by then we will have batteries with at least double capacity and the driver will need sleep before battery runs out (even if one would not see that happening, anyone doing business decision on this will account for that risk). The capital cost comes to 700k per year plus return on capital requirement of 5% (low) 200k = 900k. To break even on this one the battery swap would need to cost 16.5$ + energy. That, obviously assuming that the above numbers would not be optimistic, there is a market for such thing in a compact enough area and with enough Tesla S's who want to drive 800km per direction per day to feed it. I would think that this might be possible concept for, say, Taxis in a very large city, or long distance trucking, but I just cannot make a lucrative business proposal out of it for normal cars. Even highly optimistic figures would just make it break even, and it is a very small niche.

Tesla S 85 can already do around 400km per charge, which will take 4-5 hours to drive. Other than 24 hour racing I cannot imagine why any normal person would not feel like having a lunch or other food break every 4-5 hours. Most road safety organizations in Europe recommend having a break every hour or two. Other than very high speed run through Germany on unlimited Autobahns, benefit from drop of recharge time from 1 hour to 2 minutes is not that large, as gas cars will still need 2/3rd of the stops to gas up, and the difference per stop being that Tesla owner needs 1 hour stop instead of 15 minutes. Gas driver will still need top himself up and visit restroom, even it they eat while driving (I think eating sandwich at 200km/hour is a safety risk, and likely illegal in Germany). There are few people (mostly in Germany) who actually have any real time benefit. Would they pay substantial extra for that? Unlikely. Those very few people will get a large diesel car for intercity driving and use a city car such as Volkswagen Up electric for city driving instead. For them, it makes more sense today. The economics come even better for electrics in countries other than Germany, as top speed limitations will make electrics more competitive by making charging stops smaller percentage of the total travel times, as well as allowing longer per charge trips due to lower energy consumption per km.

My conclusion would be that battery swap is technically perfectly possible, but unlikely to be commercially viable.

Comment Re:Obsolete: No but only in empty places (Score 1) 734

I bought a Nissan Leaf few months ago. The primary reason for me, as an engineer, was efficiency. It is just stupid to use something which wastes most of energy you put in it in a ludicrously complex engine. The other important arguments are consequences of this.

- Ecology: More kilometers per unit of energy means less pollution. Consequence of efficiency.

- Lower cost of driving: More kilometers per unit of energy costs less money. Simpler servicing due to fewer parts. Both consequences of efficiency and simplicity. My Lexus GS cost me about 8000 euro per year on average (gas in Europe is pretty expensive). The leaf costs less than 2000 euro per year. I only use the Leaf for city driving, but that is more than 2/3rds of my use. Both numbers include insurance, energy to run it, servicing, and taxes. In addition, Leaf saves me additional money, as I get free parking and charge in Helsinki city center, where parking costs easily 6-8 euros per hour.

- My health improves and I save additional time as I no more need to spend 15 minutes cursing and cooling down after paying 120 euros for filling the gas gar.

- Quietness: Generating noise costs energy, electrics do less of that. Consequence of efficiency. Very important for me. The only problem is that now I get irritated by other cars making noise which was previously hidden by my own vehicle. Leaf makes some electrical whine, but it is way less disturbing.

- Good acceleration: Plenty of instant torque at slower speeds. Consequence of efficiency. Leaf is definitely not a sports car, but acceleration in city driving is on par with GS. It will loose to GS at higher speeds, but I bought the Leaf for city driving.

There are other lesser arguments which are not efficiency based.

- No smelly gas to handle. They will need to invent less smelly washer fluid though.

- Car is always filled up. I am saving time because of not having to go to gas station every now and then. Plugging and unplugging the car takes max 20-40 seconds per day extra during summertime. In wintertime it takes extra 0 seconds as I would also plug in my gas car to run the block heater. I sometimes quick charge on longer travel days, but the quick chargers are mostly right next to a place I can pick up a cup of coffee or groceries, so amount of time waste is around 20-30 seconds. I have visited a gas station once to get distilled water for my humidor. They had run out.

- Remote control of heating/cooling. Today was -17 degrees Celsius. The car was +20 when I left for work, and +20 when I started back to home. You can get this for gas cars, so not quite a difference, but having it standard was one less problem.

- Good feel of not using totally idiotic and obsolete technology.

- Egoistic feel of being ahead of other people.

- I also saved money when I bought the car, as I found a used demonstration car of a Nissan dealership in Spain. For the money I paid I could have gotten smaller or same size gas car with same age and km driven, with less gadgets and features in it. So, the payback time of buying electric become negative for me. Took a bit of effort to shop around, though. Driving the car back to Finland was fun, so I did not count it a cost, nor the about 100 bottles of wine picked on the way from shops and wine yards. I highly recommend looking at used Leafs or other electrics if you wish to get in to electric driving on budget.

Problems I have noticed:

- I kept the Lexus for longer trips I assumed would be likely every two weeks or so. I haven't driven it once for two months I have had the Leaf. When I borrowed the Lexus to a friend, it would no more start, as the battery was dead. Apparently I would be better off renting or car sharing whatever cars I need for longer trips. I can do plenty of that with the 6000 euros of annual savings.

- We do not yet have plenty of electrics here yet, so every week or two I have some curious guy asking questions about the car. I does not bother me too much, and I can always so sorry if I'm too busy. Leaf looks like a any normal car, so most people do not pay attention.

- I waste some time writing this article in Slashdot.


I am privileged to live in a city which is compact enough that Leaf's range is adequate to reach most places, as well as having several quick chargers around in case I would need one. I normally charge to 80%, as that seems to work for most days. I assume the range might be more of an issue in larger cities. For me, it has been better than I thought, even with my high early expectations.

Comment Re:Fucking rednecks (Score 1) 1030

Everyone seems to conveniently forget that Chinese photovoltaic industry is built with mostly European technology. European companies had or were delivering some 150 turn-key factories to China, India and other countries around 2009, and they made claim that with their production lines could produce panels at very low cost. European companies had problems because they had older and less efficient production methods. It is a bit like selling tools to gold diggers, it makes more profit than digging the gold. Thin film people can beat the cost per Watt, but the panels are already so low cost that installation, electronics, wiring and support structures are substantial part of investment, so efficiency becomes important.

The EU-China trade war is typical trade war, the party (EU) which wants to stop the flow of cheap panels is loosing by getting its demands met. A low cost solar panel imported to EU is making net profit to EU, as it produces much more energy during its lifetime than was made in its production. Even if Chinese government subsidized Europeans making cheaper energy, it would be a win for Europe. EU wants China to get more of that profit, at cost of allowing European Solar industry to become even more uncompetitive by avoiding necessary restructuring and innovation.

Comment Re:Get a Mac, it just works ... (Score 2) 278

The MacBook Pro Retina 15" can drive 3 external monitors.
I regularly have two 2560x1440 cinema displays through the thunderbolt/displayports and a 1920x1200 monitor through the HDMI port.

I wanted more though, and for less than $2K you can get a powerful multi-monitor Mac setup today.
With the hope of improved multi-monitor support in Mavericks and the 2013 Mac Pro months away and disappointing I bought a Mac Pro.
Got a good deal on eBay for a used Mac Pro 2009.
Two ATI Radeon HD 5770 and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 give me 8 displays in OS X.
I was hoping I could use my AMD FirePro W600 given the new Mac Pro will be using a variant of that GPU line, but could not get it to work in OSX.

Comment Re:Let's compare the two (Score 1) 559

If you take binary yes or no, both can be renewable ways of generating motive power.

However, it is better to use numbers, as renewable energy, at least the one most widely available, is all solar based. You take solar panel, and turn sunlight into electricity at panel efficiency of around 20% and system efficiency of around 20-30% off that for grid and conversion losses, and loose further 30% in the electric car. Or you plant some plants, algae, or other biological stuff, and have them turn sunlight into biomass at conversion efficiency from 3%-6%, and then, at use that to refine some biofuel, loosing some 10-50% of energy, loose maybe 10% in transport, and then drive your ICE car, loosing 80% there. Solar+electric cars is approximately 50 times more efficient. That is, take a hectare of land, and it will produce energy for daily 50km commute for close to 1000 cars, or about 20 ICE cars running on renewable biofuel.

Above 3-6% efficiency for photosynthesis is theoretical number, not really see in nature.

Above 20% efficiency for solar panels is current high quality consumer panel efficiency, grid losses are measured losses in grid where I live (Finland), and electric car efficiency is average efficiency claimed for most electric cars (converted car can be a bit lower).

Hectare example was calculated on solar vs. palm oil, taking numbers from palm oil plantation press releases. With palm oil, world energy need cannot be met even if we use most rain forests and most arable land. Photosynthesis requires water and good conditions as well. You can plant Jathropa in desert, but the efficiency is close to zero.

Solar panels can be installed on desert or rooftops, and as you need 1/50th of space, it actually is feasible.

In some locations, you may have other effectively renewable sources of energy, such as geothermal. Obviously, in most cases that usually drives electricity generation.

Comment No Real Names (Score 1) 335

There is a simple solution, ban the use of real names.
No one is allowed to use their real name online or be identified.
Everyone must be an anonymous coward.
That picture may look like it is of you, but it was probably shopped, you did not do whatever naughty thing that video implies you did.

Comment Re: an interesting perspective... (Score 1) 329

Free to use any carrier.

Except two of the four largest carriers, Verizon and Sprint, and only the gimp part of the AT&T (no LTE).
Sure HSPA+ is lovely and more than an enough, but at best you can really only use 1.75/4 carriers, not any.
Not to mention all the second tier carriers and most the virtual carriers are not an option either.

The Nexus 4 upgrade needs LTE for AT&T (700/AWS), T-Mobile(AWS), and Verizon(700 C Block).
Sprint LTE is useless since they do not provide a SIM card.
Then at least you could claim 2.5/4 carriers, Verizon is only a half until they retire CDMA and proprietary drivers that come with it.
Thank you FCC for the C block being forced open.

Plus your Nexus 4 lost its home, back, and menu buttons to the concept of taking up my big beautiful screen with stupid navigation buttons taking us back to the dark ages of iOS interfaces.
The Nexus 4 also lost its removable battery and expandable storage.
The camera on the Nexus 4 is not even worth talking about.
There is a reason the device only costs $299, it is gimp.

Unfortunately the Nexus line peaked with the Nexus One it seems, I am still cradling both of mine with all the same carrier options as your Nexus 4.
Sorry I am just bitter, Google could have done so much better. The bar was set so high after the Nexus One and each year I am further disappointed.

Comment Re:Upgrade to 6.1? (Score 1) 266

I am pissed that the Nexus 4 does not support LTE.

I concur.

While I think it is great that Google released a high end phone for $300, I would gladly have paid the normal Nexus retail price of $650 for a Nexus 4 LTE.
Instead I have gone with the Galaxy SIII and a custom ROM to get an AOSP and LTE experience on 2012 hardware.

The inclusion of AWS Band 4 LTE the requires some hacking is interesting.
I was hoping for LTE 700MHz Band 17 personally.
What LTE frequencies would you want supported?

"There's Always Next Year", when the Nexus 5 will have:
4/17/13/7/3/12/25 band LTE and Penta-Band HSPA+
A high quality 16MP CMOS camera sensor with O.I.S and Xenon flash.
A 5" 1080P IPS screen.
A physical QWERTY keyboard as well as physical home, menu, back, accept call, end call, and camera shutter buttons.
Dual EasyPoint Joysticks.
Hey, I can dream!

It will be interesting to see if Google can pull off a multi-band LTE device at the $300-$350 price point later this year.
It seems LTE cannot be ignored given the inclusion on the iPhone 5 and the backlash of complaints (although Nexus 4 sales exceeded supply expectations still).

But if Google "must" include LTE, how will it do it?
Penta-band HSPA+ has been a great feature of the last two Nexus Devices (only took two next years to get that).
In addition to the GSM support, the inclusion of LTE Bands 17/4 would cover AT&T and T-Mobile.
Throw in LTE Band 7 and Canada carriers covered.
The CDMA/LTE Verizon Galaxy Nexus was a headache for Google due to the proprietary CDMA binaries.
But including LTE Band 13 and counting on the 700MHz C Block FCC open rules would allow Verizon LTE coverage.
However, that would be data only on the Red Devil Carrier.
Including LTE Band 25 is tempting, but Sprint does not offer up SIM cards for its LTE device since it has no 700MHz C Block rules to comply with like Verizon.
Looking outside of North America, including LTE Band 3 and Band 20 would complete LTE coverage in handful of Asian, European, African, and the Middle Eastern locations.

I could not find the exact seven bands that the Nexus 4 Qualcomm WTR1605L chip supports.
The WTRL1605L supported bands may reveal what the Nexus 5 would support.

Of course there are rumors that Google is creating an experimental wireless network in Mountain View.
Perhaps like Google Fiber we will see Google's own wireless network rolled out...

Comment Re:I'm still grandfathered in on Unlimited Data (Score 1) 67

I did not know you could hop between Verizon phones so easily now.

Do the Verizon LTE SIM cards carry the credentials for the CDMA network transfer as well?
Or do you need to go in or call Verizon and tell them to transfer the CDMA provisioning to a new device?

Are there any LTE devices that operate on Verizon frequencies but are not from Verizon? CDMA devices?
Is that technically possible, or would Verizon block such a device despite the device accepting the Verizon LTE SIM and frequencies?

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