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Comment Re:PEBAAC (Score 1) 1146

I can't begin to tell what the GP post was trying to say. I will say this, however: Cars don't have emergency brakes these days. They have "parking brakes". Sure, you can try to use it in an emergency, but it's not for nothing that all references in the manuals and other documentation call it a "parking brake".

In the case of the 2004-2009 Prius, the pedal for the parking brake is hooked directly to a cable that goes straight to the rear drum brakes. That means it will work fine in an emergency, but remember, these are only the rears, and they're drums (except the touring edition). It still might work in many emergency situations, but I don't know if that's enough to stop a car that thinks you're flooring it.

Comment Re:Not driver error? bzzt - wrong! (Score 1) 1146

The Prius is a hybrid. It can move with the electric motor without ever starting the gasoline one.

And yes, that could be done completely by the computer.

Problem is, it can't be done when the battery is physically disconnected from the electric motor. When you turn the Prius off, there's a big honkin' relay that actually cuts the supply from the traction battery to the motor. That relay doesn't get connected until the start button gets pressed with a valid key present, plus about a couple of dozen more checks. For a Prius that's actually shut off to start moving would require a cascade of failures to occur just to even get the battery reconnected to the motor. Then, once that happens, the ECU would have to shift itself out of park, which it's designed not to do unless the brake pedal is depressed. So, again, a couple of failures have to occur simultaneously for that to happen.

A much more likely scenario is that someone gets out of the car and forgets to turn the car off because the engine's already stopped. Not saying it's impossible for what the GP described to happen. It's just about a billion times more likely for the driver to screw it up. Occam's razor and all that.

The Military

Airborne Laser Successfully Tracks, Hits Missile 287

fructose writes "The Airborne Laser managed to acquire, track, and illuminate a test missile a few days ago. According to the press release, the Boeing plane 'used its infrared sensors to find a target missile launched from San Nicolas Island, Calif ... issued engagement and target location instructions to the beam control/fire control system ... fired its two solid-state illuminator lasers to track the target and ... fired a surrogate high-energy laser at the target, simulating a missile intercept.' The sensors on board the missile confirmed the 'hit.' Michael Rinn, ABL's program director, said, 'Pointing and focusing a laser beam on a target that is rocketing skyward at thousands of miles per hour is no easy task, but the Airborne Laser is uniquely able to do the job.' The next steps will be to test the high-power laser at full strength in flight and do a complete system test later this year. Its success or failure will determine whether the project gets canceled. Looks like the Real Genius fans out there are finally living the dream."

Comment Re:Broken by design. (Score 1) 505

I have actually seen this happen at least a dozen times. Basically, the insurance company's processing software sees the parent as the subscriber, then sees the patient as the dependent with birthdate xx/xx/xxxx, sees the second service for a dependent with the same birthdate, and immediately denies the second service. They never think to check the name or flag it for review or anything. If their software even checked the gender on the 2 patients, that would at least let the cases of male/female fraternal twins through.

Microsoft

Windows 7 RCs Shut Down To Force Updates 414

nk497 writes "The release candidate for Microsoft Windows 7 will expire June 2010, and the software giant will let users know they need to pay to upgrade by shutting down the system every two hours for three months. According to Microsoft: "The RC will expire on June 1, 2010. Starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you'll need to install a non-expired version of Windows before March 1, 2010. You'll also need to install the programs and data that you want to use.""
First Person Shooters (Games)

The Duke Is Finally Back, For Real 309

After the first announcement on 1997-04-27 and over eleven years of fresh start after fresh start, Duke Nukem Forever finally comes to your system. At least if your system is an Xbox 360. Jon Siegler, the webmaster of 3D Realms, confirms this on their site: "As has been reported around the net today, we can confirm that the game has indeed passed final certification with Microsoft on Friday the 15th of August (on our first try, no less). That means the game is done — it is now in the hands of Microsoft." Update: 08/19 10:47 GMT by T : Several readers have written with a correction: this announcement is actually about Duke Nukem 3D, rather than Duke Nukem Forever.

BattleBots & ESPN Strike TV Deal 120

NMajik writes "Although BattleBots has been largely removed from the public eye since episodes stopped airing years ago, a new deal has recently been struck with ESPN to return combat robots to the living room. Episodes will be broadcast as a series on ESPNU and ESPN2 after filmed at the competition in June 2008. This is the first notable progress towards televised combat robotics in years."
Social Networks

Aboriginal Archive Uses New DRM 182

ianare writes "An application that gives fresh new meaning to 'digital rights management' has been pioneered by Aboriginal Australians. It relies on a user's profile to control access to a multimedia archive. The need to create profiles based on a user's name, age, sex and standing within their community comes from traditions over what can and cannot be viewed. For example, men cannot view women's rituals, and people from one community cannot view material from another without first seeking permission. Images of the deceased cannot be viewed by their families. These requirements threw up issues surrounding how the material could be archived, as it was not only about preserving the information into a database in a traditional sense, but also about how people would access it depending on their gender, their relationship to other people, and where they were situated."
Education

Submission + - University of Arkansas buys Second Life "Islan (uark.edu)

adavidw writes: "University of Arkansas bought an "island" in the virtual world game Second Life to use for "research and educational purposes". An Second Life "island" is a very large plot of in-game land dedicated for the exclusive use of it's owner, and hosted on a dedicated server at the game's creator, Linden Labs. U of A will be using their island as a combined effort of their Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Art departments to research various projects. Some projects proposed for the island include "using SL to recreate Ostia Antica, the ancient port city of Rome and mirroring a real healthcare facility in SL and instrumenting it with RFID and smart devices that communicate with each other"."
United States

Airlines Have to Ask Permission to Fly 72 Hours Early 596

twitter wrote to mention that the TSA (Transport Security Administration) has released a new set of proposed rules that is raising quite a stir among groups ranging from the ACLU to the American Society of Travel Agents. Under the new rules airlines would be required to submit a passenger manifest (including full name, sex, date of birth, and redress number) for all flights departing, arriving, or flying over the United States at least 72 hours prior to departure. Boarding passes will only be issued to those passengers that have been cleared. "Hasbrouck submitted that requiring clearance in order to travel violates the US First Amendment right of assembly, the central claim in John Gilmore's case against the US government over the requirement to show photo ID for domestic travel. [...] ACLU's Barry Steinhardt quoted press reports of 500,000 to 750,000 people on the watch list (of which the no-fly list is a subset). 'If there are that many terrorists in the US, we'd all be dead.' TSA representative Kip Hawley noted that the list has been carefully investigated and halved over the last year. 'Half of grossly bloated is still bloated,' Steinhardt replied."

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This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.

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