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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: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 Re:So now (Score 1) 656

About 30 days in jail and a hundred bucks for trespassing. That'd be the going rate..

For 30 year sentence, the prosecutor's cut for the prison company's sales margin is 30*365*50*0.25*0.10 = 10950 USD, assuming 25% sales margin and 10% kickback of sales margin from prison companies. It is likely that prison companies also make extra money for forced labour etc, but for simplicity's sake lets leave that out for the moment. Now, 30 days only makes 30 USD. Guess what the prosecutor will be shooting for ?

Now, has anyone cross-referenced prosecutor's and judge's shareholdings for prison companies and other related businesses? Might be interesting...

Comment Visibility in news (Score 1) 506

Obviously, this was all over arstechnica, slashdot, reddit, huffington post, cnet. So, obviously this is news. Copyright stuff itself probably not mainstream, but getting censored should be. Lets see what the mainstream news media says about it:

(Typing "Copyright reform" and "Derek Khanna" to relevant search boxes on mainstream news sites) Nothing
CNNmoney: Nothing
Wall Street Journal: Nothing
USA Today: Nothing
NBC News: Nothing
Fortune: Nothing
CNBC: Nothing
Business Wire: Nothing
The New York Times: Nothing
Al Jazeera: Nothing (Maybe not that relevant in Middle East)
Financial Times: Nothing (Well, they are in Europe)
Washington Post: Nothing (Kind of thought that these guys were whistle blowers somewhere in history)
The Onion: Nothing (Not even The Onion!)

The American Conservative: Several articles refer to event, including text of original paper. Not mainstream, maybe?

Interestingly, copyrightalliance,org mentions it, but does not say what was the controversial proposal, just says "it should have been left there". (True, removing it started some Streisand effect, it it had just been left there there might have been some discussion but it would not have been such a major thing, just some controversial proposal from young politician).

This is worrying as we are not seeing full Streisand effect - most Americans will not see this at all, as they only consume mainstream news. With SOPA google, Wikipedia, and other mainstream sites protested, so mainstream media could not really ignore the event.

Comment Re:The Wireless Networks are setup wrong! (Score 1) 151

I pitched this to investors 8 years ago, and got "Telecoms is not in fashion right now", "3G cost billions to design, and you claim to do same result better for peanuts (20M :)", "This seems to be a massively good idea, but our tech advisor says it is not possible". We did do some prototyping with seed money, but mothballed it when the capital clearly was not there at that time. Maybe we should take it out and try again...

Comment The paper seems to ignore refining completely? (Score 1) 341

I could not find anywhere in the paper mention of electricity consumption of refining, it seems to take only two things to account, pump-to-wheel for ICE, and generation-to-wheel for electrics, and then add on top of that energy consumption of making the car. Do I read it correctly? If yes, this is not exactly scientific.

At least in the US, refining consumes approximately the amount of electricity used by electric car for the whole distance, which makes it pretty hard for any ICE using gasoline or diesel to compete in energy/pollution ratio with electric cars, unless making the electric car would consume hugely more energy than making a ICE car. I cannot see that very likely, as ICE car will gobble huge amounts of energy during its lifetime (my oldish lexus uses approximately 4000 litres of gasoline, or about 1000 Gallons, per year, for approximately 30000km I drive yearly! This equates more than 10000kg of CO2).

From quick google around, making a car seems to produce 6-20kg of CO2 per kg, lets assume that a normal car production is 10000kg or CO2 and electric 20000kg, so the difference is 10000kg of CO2. Which seems to be 1-2 years of CO2 emissions of a typical driver?

For gas cars, the amount of CO2 produced by making the car itself will be around 5-10% of amount of CO2 it will puff out during its useful lifetime. For electric cars, the ratio is different, but mostly due to fact that electric car is much more efficient when used, so larger part of its lifetime CO2 production relates to manufacturing it. If comparing to an ICE car, it will break even quickly and save huge amounts of energy from then on. There is no way a gasoline car could match electric at use, as ICE already consumed the same amount of electricity before it is even filled up, due to electricity used at the refinery.

And if you put the savings on gasoline into installing a beefy solar installation on your roof, you won't make pretty much any CO2 after panel CO2 debt is paid (approximately 1 year). And, then, drive for free, besides, which is a notable benefit for most people. Two years savings on gasoline buys me a 4kW solar system, which gives me some 60-80 km per day, enough for all my city driving, and probably leaves some extra kWh for other stuff.

Comment Re:01001110 01101111 00100001 (Score 1) 642

for i in 01010010 01100101 01100001 01101100 00100000 01101101 01100101 01101110 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101111 01100111 01110010 01100001 01101101 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00101110
echo -n `echo 2 i $i p | dc` | awk '{ printf "%c", $1 }'

Comment Tracking systems cost and need maintenance (Score 1) 159

You will also need controllers and stuff in addition to the $50 electric motor. If you are handy, you build it out of spare bits from the computer junk box, but if you are normal consumer, you will go to solar store and want a ready-made system. That will not be $50. Adding one zero will not be enough, I have been asking around.

A Motor needs servicing and electronics to run it, more mechanics which can break down, etc. When servicing company needs to go on site to fix it, it will cost far more than $50. It only makes sense for a very large system, where single motor can tilt large number of panels connected with rods or such. Panels are around $900 per 5 square meters (approximately 1kW peak power), so the focus is shifting into how to install these cheap in fixed angles, such as going from aluminum structures to plastic molded things etc. It simply becomes cheaper per kWh produced. For example, normal roof material and installation cost is around $1000 per square meter, 5 times the cost of panels, to give some relationship. While roofing is more expensive, panel installations need to carry similar loads, with the difference mostly being not needing to keep rainwater off.

Optimizing for the late evening will not create such a big benefit, as you will loose half of the panel surface when they start shading each other, and atmosphere will start eating into power quickly at low angles (in particular when some scattered clouds are blocking the sun). There are panels with surfacing which optically collects the sunlight from low angles more efficiently, but what really matters is cost and site. You win a lot more by installing at a good site and optimal angle than installing fancy systems to collect the last 10% of power, and getting panel area at the best times of day will buy a lot more kWh per $.

For small sites, tracking systems tend to be very expensive. I asked around for prices, and got tracking system costs supporting 5kW of panels, and the tracking system cost around $4000 with installation and panel supports (which are more expensive in this case). Enough to buy installation supports and panels for at least 3kW more. Group these extra panels into morning and evening sun and you will same or more power, but will not need servicing. Also, If you need to replace the tracking system, say, every 10 years, it will eat into your produced energy quite a bit. This is the same for small wind turbines, get more rotor diameter buys a lot more power than having 5% more efficient blade design.

And install a reflecting pond in front to mirror more sun into the panels, looks nicer, even if the amount of extra energy is negligible :)

Comment Re:Of course, prior to mid 1800s (Score 1) 252

Producing natural herbal remedies competes with remedies made by large corporations, usually patenting the same naturally existing elements, and thus is illegal. This was part of business already at 1700's, but in much smaller scale than today. It was more related to keeping the powerful in power by making sure the public had their bread and circus services than profit. Today, the society has advanced much further, by introduction of much more profitable system consisting of public services such as police forces and prisons run by large corporations.

Taking an example of stake burning: Stake burning is not very profitable, it takes a few hours and the revenue source is lost in the process. Most revenues, like media rights and tickets are one-time, and there is little side business generated by relatively simple process requiring only some wood, rope and matches and few hours of manpower. Also, stake burning faces heavy competition from terrorists and natural accidents.

Instead, jailing people for long periods of time provides continuous revenue source and much more complex system with more possibilities for increased revenue. For example, every inmate could produce 100+k revenues per year (ARPI, Average Revenue per Inmate), plus additional revenue from using inmates for manufacturing purposes, and selling products to them at good profit. New proposals have been made for inmates having to pay their stay at rates of $50 per night. As the inmates can only work for the prison operator provided factories, the process can be optimized so that all that revenue goes to the prison operator, or to a wider mesh of corporations, in addition to revenue from governments paying for running the prisons. Talk about captive audience.

To keep the revenue growing, you need long prison terms, and more punishable crimes. Thus, more and more things need to become illegal, and instead of fines, years-long jail terms are used. The ecosystem includes politicians who get paid for new laws, judges who get perks or direct commissions for longer prison terms, and the whole industry working around the prisons.

Getting other bits of the system privatized provides full vertical integration, and creates huge new possibilities. Instead of ARPI, we are talking about ARPC, Average Revenue Per Criminal. Imagine:

- Private police goes around arresting people for new crimes after taxpayer-paid private investigation. This can even be partially automated, in particular in copyright crime field, P2P tracking can be automatically used to generate arrest warrants, to generate a flow of mass crime. More complex Crimes can involve tens of people generating a large case, intelligence services, etc, generating millions of revenue per each case and all the money from the Criminal is taken and given to one or more of the corporations (Megaupload, for example) . Even false arrests are hugely profitable, almost anyone can be arrested by almost anything, buying fertilizers, making cynical jokes, talking with someone suspicious, etc. As most accountability has already been removed or is being removed, this is now perfectly valid business model, as long as appropriate measures are done to outsource to suitable offshore production units, for example, to Guantanamo.

- Criminal is taken to privately run court, where defense and prosecution lawyers, both paid by taxpayers, stage a good show, best of which can be sold media rights for. By increased number of criminals, lots of new facilities, court houses, etc need to be build and more people employed.

- Then the Criminal is put in prison, where both inmate's own and taxpayer money is squeezed out, and then for a predetermined time the inmate acts as production tool for some purpose. Around this number of taxpayer financed services are created, like counseling, education, training, etc.

- After release, the system will focus on turning the Inmate a Criminal again.

ARPC would probably double or triple with this system compared just to ARPI.

Comment Re:big win (Score 1) 241

In Finland, the press completely ignored Pirate Party. During 3 months up to the election, there was one article, and even that was mudslinging on particular candidate's views. The press simply will not pass any articles, not even nasty ones, which would make people pay attention and look up what Pirates are actually promoting.

The press worked around the populist party instead, as they had no anti-copyright agenda, and had a colorful chairman as well, sells well and does not have business-interest damaging agendas. Most voting questionnaires from mainstream press and outlets, including national tv, we have were designed to carefully avoid any copyright and privacy related questions. Thus, the only way to voters to find Pirate Party candidates is actively searching knowledge, which the general public hardly ever does. I actually got pirate party candidate on top of my voting questionaire, but only because he happened to agree with me on many other matters as well. The questionnaire did not have a single question on copyright or privacy. The copyright lobby in Finland is very strong. Even though the latest version of new copyright law, designed to be intentionally unclear and ambiguous, got less than 10% acceptance in questionnaires, it was passed in the parliament as is. National TV regularly campaigns against any new development of technology or more open copyright legislation, even when it is clearly against interest of public and damages innovation.

Infiltrating popular newspapers is impossible, they are all owned by large media conglomerates, and any reporter getting out of line on any anti-traditional media views gets moved to home cooking department of the said newspaper or fired outright.

So, what would be a way for Pirate parties to make sure they actually are noticed, and how to get around press silence? Colorful chairman of the party? Big and noisy stunts? Advertising in google?

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