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Comment Re:Of course it protects the small investor (Score 3, Interesting) 267

I don't know whether there was any really nasty interpersonal knife-twisting and violatation-of-not-actually-contracts-but-verbally-they-felt-like-them in that specific case(which my account for some of the bitterness swirling around it; but I certainly wouldn't want to be 'guy with a clever mechanical power-smoothing technique' in a world where supercaps have become downright cheap, and the demands of digital electronics of various flavors have driven serious improvements in DC-DC conversion and various techniques for bludgeoning ill-mannered input power into nice clean low-voltage DC...

The question that I'm left with is whether the spring arrangement was simply too expensive in absolute terms(ie, even if the 'intellectual property' were valued at zero, is the BOM cost of the spring +simpler electronics just higher than dumb crank + more sophisticated power conditioning apparatus) or whether this is a case where the patent holder, by holding out for more than he was worth, encouraged people to 'innovate around' the patent.

Comment Re:G.I. Joe (Score 3, Insightful) 147

Yes, I'm puzzle at the sarcasm here. It's a war toy, somewhat more up to date than the war toys I played with as a kid, but cap-guns, soldier action figures, grenades, bazookas, model jet fighters, tanks, and battleships... I played with all of these. There's nothing new about this.

This is probably why most of the review-snark is focused on our wacky adventures in novel legal interpretation with a side of collateral damage, rather than the (not particularly exceptional, if comparatively cheap) capabilities of the drone itself.

The news isn't that weapons have marched on; but that we really haven't been covering ourselves with glory when it comes to using them.

Comment Re:Chloroform (Score 3, Funny) 272

Remember: Anesthesiology pays relatively well because knocking people out is easy; but knocking them out such that you can wake them back up is hard.

Also, murder charges are a real hassle, and even jurisdictions that allow you to shot people for little more than trespassing tend to frown on lethal traps...

Comment Unless French wages are crazy low... (Score 4, Insightful) 626

While '1 million euros' is a big scary number(and certainly higher than evidence handling for more prosaic cases), it isn't exactly free to have a bunch of cops go around swabbing at evidence, a judge, some lawyers, a jury, etc. Processing a case, especially a serious criminal case, just isn't inexpensive. Given the existing acceptance of the relatively high cost of justice, it seems strange to wring hands about an abnormally high cost cropping up in an abnormal case.

Even if justice didn't demand it, it seems like it would be trivially sensible to just quietly pay what it costs to get the DNA analyzed properly, if only to deter others from trying to get cute.

Comment Re:Pathetic. (Score 3) 841

You might want to ask Judith Miller about how carefully the NYT protects its valuable reputation...

In this case, though, I'm not saying that the NYT is subject to the same incentive structure as a blogger; but that the writer is.

The Times obviously wants to avoid being embarrassed by its writers; but it also has no incentive to retain writers who are unproductive or uninteresting. This means that the writer(just like the blogger), is subject to a continual pressure to produce content, and content that gets read. If they don't, it's not as though there is a major shortage of aspiring writers...

Without access to the vehicle logs, there isn't anything obviously fishy about the story so no obvious reason(or ability, without going straight to the company they are writing about, which presents obvious problems) for the Times to become suspicious before running the story. If, in the end, it becomes clear that the writer was 'improving' upon the facts, I'd expect the Times to terminate him; but we haven't reached the point where we get to learn whether or not that happens yet.

Comment Bloody hell.... (Score 5, Funny) 204

"A dead battery means important missed calls and emails, no GPS when you’re lost, no e-reader on your train ride, no communication in an emergency, and an overall feeling of dread and anxiety."

Yes, they actually say that. May I be the first to recommend spending less on fancing charging gadgets and more on anxiolytic lifestyle aids, like benzodiazepines or heavy drinking?

Comment Re:Pathetic. (Score 5, Insightful) 841

Also, why would he try to tarnish this car? He doesn't appear to own an oil company.

Which gets yet-another-nearly-interchangeable-columnist more hits?

Option 1: 'I drove a Tesla S. It takes longer to charge than to pump gas; but is otherwise pretty ok.'

Option 2: "Electric so-called 'supercar' strands writer during epic freezing nighmare journey!"

Writing for the NYT moves at a slower pace than being a blogger and whoring for hits; but is subject to the same basic incentive structures.

Comment Re:Hype (Score 1) 418

" How is this any different than 30 or 40 years ago when TVs started using transistors and you were unable to easily replace out your tubes yourself?"

Well, they switched from a component that had to be easy to replace because it burned out all the damn time under normal use to a component whose lifespan is measured in decades unless unlucky or badly abused...

In this case, on the other hand, Li-ion batteries have pretty much the same time from manufacture to uselessness as they did 10 years ago. Treating it as some sort of MS-specific problem is, of course, nonsense; but transistorization was at least a reliability improvement to go along with a reduction in ease of service.

Comment Re:It's the future... (Score 4, Insightful) 418

It's also worth mentioning that "No User Serviceable Parts Inside" is frequently code for 'There's AC power at local grid voltage and/or a beefy inverter in here, don't fuck with this unless you know enough to know that this warning isn't meant for you'.

It's much less common to see the warning on devices powered by external DC supplies, especially now that cold cathode backlights seem to be giving way to LEDs. Such devices are frequently less likely to actually be user-serviceable in any useful way(given that AC PSUs are, by necessity, frequently built from pretty chunky components that you don't even need sharp eyes to rework, while low-voltage DC gear seems to get smaller every year); but that specific phrase mostly seems to show up when there is a shocking surprise available inside.

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Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson