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Comment Some free advice - Retire (Score 1) 267

Sorry, I don't sympathise with this guy.

FTFA :- "Even major companies like Apple have suffered from their technology being copied by Chinese firms"

Technology like rounded corners. That is when I lost my last shred of sympathy

He invented a radio with a clockwork motor driving a dynamo. The company (of which he sold his share) subsequenty manufactured radios with batteries charged by hand-turning a dynamo. Sounds far more than a "tweak" to me. Which part of his patent does he think they infringed - the handle? The dynamo? or the radio? - I have heard of all those things before. The combination of those things? - they did not use that combination of things.

I remember this guy on TV, with Mandela who was welcoming it. Of course Mandela would, as would enable him to broadcast his spin to his remote population.

Comment Re:Simple solution? (Score 1) 267

I've got a great new idea that will revolutionize the commercia airline industry. Do I have to build an airplane to keep my patent.

It is extremely unlikely that you have an idea that will really "revolutionize the commercial airline industry" unless you are already so familiar with it that you will be in the aircraft industry already. Even if you do, the best thing will be to get into the industry yourself first to promote it.

There are too many "armchair inventors" who are out of touch with the field in which they believe they have revolutionary inventions, unless it is really trivial like a revolutionary clothes peg. I once worked for a railway company (London Underground) as an engineer, and among other things I had the job of assessing technical suggestions sent in by members of the public, briefing the Chief Mech. Engineer on them, and writing back to the author. Most of them were completely crackpot, based on the same sort of pseudo-science as perpetual motion machinery. Typically, they considered static stability but neglected dynamic stablity, or (like the one about blowing the trains along by filling the tunnel with compressed air) neglected the fact that we needed to run trains at close intervals. (That one also neglected the fact that it costs money to compress air - they thought compressed air was free).

During my time there, being in a "think tank" type of branch, I made some suggestions for improvements myself; but to be honest I think that the outsiders' suggestions got more attention than my own did! I was particularly peeved when one of my suggestions was rejected as "impractical", yet two years later I saw that the Japanese had introduced trains with the same idea - they had invented it quite independently. Different inventors Inventing the same thing is quite common (photography, jet engines, TV etc) when a need for it arises.

Comment Re:Of course it protects the small investor (Score 1) 267

He's not a particularly good poster child for someone living in poverty either, living on his island on the Thames in South West London. He's just overextended his finances, and has an overextended sense of entitlement to match.

Agreed. He is living in one of the most expensive spots in London. While "He built the house ..... in the 1970s for just £20,000" might sound cheap, it is disingenuous; that figure it cannot include the land cost, which was probably 10 times that figure back then and 100 times it today.

Comment Re:Pound foolish. (Score 1) 188

[tuppe666 wrote :]

I had a little look at what office would cost me. £220($340) for the crippled version £389.99($605) for the full version.

[westlake replied :]

The geek always quotes retail list for the most expensive version of Office he can find. The odds are quite good, of course, that he qualifies for the academic or professional discount.

I see that tuppe666 has already replied that he does not qualify for such discounts, and neither do I as it happens.

But I also notice that Westlake has dropped the £ (GBP) prices leaving only the dollars, so I guess he is in the USA. Tuppe666's prices might seem shocking, but the fact that he gives the prices in £(GBP) first shows he is in the UK (as I am) where the prices ARE shocking. What he quotes is a fair example in that they are Curry's store prices [], and Currys here are the dominant IT retailer. The only other retailers I could reasonably get to in person are small outfits where the prices are generally higher still, last time I looked.

Yes, you can buy cheaper on-line (even from Currys) but the average Joe would prefer the shop because the buttering-up he gets from the sales-person helps to ease his FUD about buying anything technical.

Comment Re:Just your friendly neighborhood physicist (Score 1) 94

While some religious nuts are over-playing this, you are seriously under-playing it. We would not "all die", but you would certainly not want to be standing 1 km from the [projected] impact point. It would be like a 1-2 Megaton bomb going off more-or-less over your head (from the Purdue link - which I ran and found the results rather ambiguous btw). The Hiroshima bomb (also an air blast) was only about 1% of that energy and took out the centre of a city to a radius of about 2 km.

Asteroid 2012-DA14 is about the same size as the 1908 Tunguska Meteorite. Take a look at the descriptions and the photo (taken ~50 years after the event) and the descriptions. Trees were flattened out to 25 km. Here :-

Comment Re:It's all about technology (Score 1) 215

it's simply about insulation. Buildings and houses can save 90% of energy used by simply insulating things like attics and walls. Boring I know.

I don't know about New York, but most houses in the UK are already insulated up to the hilt. There may be another 5% to gain if you add another yard of insulation, but it is diminishing returns. 90% less? (Do they really mean using only one tenth the energy they do now?) - no way! Even starting from a base of no insulation (like my parents' house did) there was no-where near a 90% gain. More like 30%

To get 90% gain you would need to knock all buildings down and start with something fundamentally different. Airlock doors for a start, like into a microchip factory clean-room.

Comment Re:Neutral Gear (Score 1) 1176

Automatics still have a neutral gear. Most people don't use it


I always start in neutral if I am going off forward. I can only start in Park or Neutral and if I start in Park I must pull through Reverse on the way to Drive [P-R-D-3-2-1) which gives an irritating backward jerk. I also put it in neutral at most red lights as the engine pulling against the final drive through the torque converter will be using more fuel. Traffic lights take ages to change in the UK.

Comment Re:It's called the key (Score 1) 1176

Nevermind that the parking brake is nothing more than a manual engagement of the same brake system. If the brake system isn't working for whatever reason that little manual handle or pedal isn't going to do a thing.

In the UK it is a legal requirement that the handbrake does not use the same system as the footbrake, except for the shoes themselves, which are far less likely to fail than the means of actuating them. Thus the footbrake system is hydraulic (usually) and the handbrake is Bowden cable.

As it happens, though in the UK I have an American car, but it is the same and no different from the USA models in this respect I understand, so I guess the law is the same there.

Comment Re:It's called the key (Score 1) 1176

I would recommend against this practice [coasting] mainly for security reasons. You may suddenly need to accelerate to avoid an accident.

In many years of driving I have never once needed to accelerate to avoid an accident - except when overtaking, when of course I am certainly not going to be in neutral. Can you give an example of how this could occur - passing a red light and realising you need to get clear of the intersection asap perhaps? Not my style. I confess I did used to coast downhill years ago (college days) but do not do this today as (as others have said) modern cars shut off all fuel on the overrun.

Your advice on "security" grounds is very dated - it originated in the days when car brakes were quite poor, final drive ratios were quite low and the engine drag was a significant part of the effect. I actually have my Grandfather's "How to Drive a Motor Car" handbook from the 1930's that explains this. However, in all my own cars over the last 20 years (all larger cars), the retarding effect of the engine on the overrun is near negligable. I have also driven small cars where it is an appreciable effect however.

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