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Comment Re:I hope the laptop shell's monitor is LED. (Score 1) 98

I've had a number of laptops where the CPU was doing just fine but the monitor died due to fluorescent lamp end-of-life.

So, um. Why didn't you just, uh, you know, fix them?

Because they belonged to my, um, employer, who by then had handed me a later model for my primary machine.

I've only had one of my own die so far, and it wasn't the screen backlight that failed.

I intend to pop that one open and see if it is something simple, like a loose connection. But it was one of two identical ones I bought used for like $50 or less, and had already run for me for two years. So I swapped the disk into the other one and I'm not in a big hurry.

One nice thing about Linux: It runs just fine on older hardware, as long as you don't need the extra crunch of a new model for some application. (Better, even, since the driver guys have had time to figure out the peripherals.)

Comment Maybe the charge jcreeping deeper into the crypt? (Score 1) 424

TFA says exactly where the power goes: the car's electronics don't sleep when the car is off.

So the next question is: Is the fix only partial, leaving a lot of stuff still awake? Or is there something else? It looks to me like his measurement of the leakage and vampire load has a methodology problem.

I note that the test performed by the author would find another "drain": Charge diffusion in the batteries.

When a battery is first charged the surfaces of the electrodes become fully charged, but the bulk of the plates are still not quite full. As the charge carriers diffuse deeper into the material, the cell still has the same charge (except for leakage, which is a separate issue). But the surfaces become less charged as the core comes up to match them. (This is why the last stage of charging is slow - to get MOST of this done before charging cuts off.)

This is a BIG DEAL on lead-acid batteries. I'm not sure how much of this effect is present in lithiums, which is what Tesla uses, but I bet it's lower but not zero. (I note that my cellphone does both bulk and "topping" charging of its lithium batteries - ramping up quickly to the 80% level and then trickling its way up to "100%".)

So if he's running his car in the day, charging it until it hits 80% in the evening, unplugging it overnight, and plugging it back in, I bet that, even in the absence of ANY leakage, the charge controller will see the lower voltage as the cells from surface charge diffusion as the battery not being quite at the 80% setpoint. So it will "top them off" to the setpoint level again. If the computation for the display doesn't take this into account it will look like a lost of charge.

He should:
  - Leave it on the charger for several days, not driving it (while the whole bulk of the cell material reaches equilibrium), then
  - Unplug it overnight, and
  - Plug it in in the morning.
Then he'll be measuring just the leakage - from the cells and any vampire loads.

Comment Re:Vampire? Huh?! (Score 1) 424

Again, I love it when non-engineers talk out of their ass.

It's fun when engineers do it too. B-)

They all need current clamps which are just one side of a transformer coil to step that current down into a usable range.

Transformer-type current clamps won't measure DC.

You need either a (powered) hall-effect sensor type clamp or one where the magnetic field directly moves a mechanical needle. Those are a lot harder to find.

Comment Re:Now if only it could TRANSMIT. B-) (Score 1) 75

The dongle receivers are typically I/Q receivers.

Yes, I understand that. I guess I phrased it ambiguously.

What I meant is "convert data from the USB to I/Q OUTPUT, i.e. do the TRANSMIT side of a transceiver, too, not convert the receive side to I/Q from something else.

Then we need a local oscillator and mixer to boost it back UP to the desired frequency band (which might be done with the companion block downconverter chip if the appropriate signals are accessible or if it is actually also a transciever chip). Add a "power" amplifier (for suitably small values of "power"), a diplexer (if you really need to use a single antenna for both directions) and you're done.

Comment (Supposedly) Broken for only some buses (Score 1) 75

One of the cited article talks about the system having two cases:
  - The buses with the tracking hardware are displayed based on the tracking.
  - the buses without the tracking hardware are displayed based on the schedule.

Now maybe the line you're on has buses without tracking. (Or maybe the tracking system doesn't work and it's all a crock.) But the anecdote that your particular line is just showing an automated schedule doesn't show that all others are doing the same.

Comment Now if only it could TRANSMIT. B-) (Score 1) 75

Its the RTL-SDR project. A Linux developer discovered that a digital TV receiver chip made by Realtek (used in $15 dongles) had the ability to receive the raw sampled RF data. The bandwidth is nearly 3Mhz so that means you can view a HUGE chunk of the RF spectrum at once and decode the signals via software.

Now if only it could transmit.

Or if it could also convert digital signals into I/Q and we could feed that into the Rx mixer of the block downconverter, run backward. Then two $11 - $15 dongles, one of them hacked slightly and with a small power amplifier added, would be a two-way software defined radio for very cheap.

Comment Re:The public Internet is NOT a government project (Score 1) 1030

... the Telco and Cable companies bringing you this commercial Internet, this bastion of free enterprise you are talking about, is about as heavily subsidized as an industry can get?

The public Internet wasn't developed by the Telco and Cable companies. It was developed by garage shops that started as small ISPs or equipment companies. Telcos fought it, while cable companies watched from the sidelines.

The "Mom and POPs" built the public net at first. Some of them were literally in people's bedrooms. (At least one I know used rack-mounted equipment but built its own 19" rack panels out of two-by-fours.)

Many of the equipment companies, too, started in garages. Cisco, for instance.

Once things were up and running the Telcos decided they were missing out on a good thing and tried to enter the marketplace. But at first they did it by trying to sell their own overpriced ATM-based services. Others continued to compete rings around them - though often leasing their copper wires for the last mile and various digital carriers for long-haul - or leasing those from the more competitive long-distance carriers.

DSL and cable modems were both developed, not by the Telco and Cable companies, but by private equipment manufacturers (including one spun out of Bell by the antitrust decision), trying to sell boxes at a profit. Some cable companies used this new stuff to leverage their installed base and get into the ISP game. Other ISPs, such as Covad, used DSL to push fat bandwidth through legacy Telco copper leased at regulated wholesale rates.

What finally happened is the FCC relaxed the access requirements on the legacy telcos - deciding two competitors was "competition" (when it takes three to four, minimum, to destabilize defacto price fixing and drive the price down towards cost). The tellcos immediately started squeezing their competition in the ISP market (for instance, Covad), eventually doing in or crippling pretty much everybody but the Cable companies (who also had legacy subsidized copper in place) and some rural little guys.

Telcos and cable companies, with their government subsidized infrastructure and rights-of-way, are the bulk of the ISPs NOW. But they AREN'T what "build the Internet". They're the big fish that ATE it.

Comment Stop thinking of the GOP as a monolith. (Score 1) 1030

... but it's abundantly clear that the GOP is not seriously opposed to government intervention in energy markets.

You make a big mistake when you think of the GOP as a uniform monolith. It's composed of about five major factions, and much of its recent behavior comes from the Neocons' iron grip on the party machinery (and the others' attempts to dislodge it).

Of particular interest is the Liberty Movement faction - with a primarily libertarian and/or constitutionalist ideology, but far better tactical savvy than the Libertarian Party's people. They're gaining power rapidly. On this issue they're bovernment-hands-off: Don't subsidize: It actually retards development and deployment. Don't interfere for entrenched interests: Ditto. They also want the people energy-independent, and thus better able to resist external control (both foreign and institutional).

Comment The public Internet is NOT a government project. (Score 3, Insightful) 1030

It's ironic that you're posting this on the Internet which was invented by government funding.

This isn't about invention of the fundamental underpinnings. Plowsharing is a grand tradition.

This is about development and deployment in the public sector. Bringing the Internet to the masses wasn't government funded. It occurred when the government got out of the way and let commercial interests play with the new toy. (THAT's what Gore rightly claims substantial credit for.) Scaling it up and the burst of innovation in using it was done with private money in a largely free marketplace, not government subsidies.

In fact, government subsidies HURT this development-deployment phase. The picked winners have no incentive to innovate - they're paid to work on what is already there. The non-picked have no incentive to innovate, or even enter the market - they start at a big competitive disadvantage, and if the did succeed they can expect the government's cronies to get still more subsidies (unless, like Solyndra, they collapse so fast the pumping is ineffictive).

Solyndra failed because they spent the government money like water, ending up with a product that was slightly MORE expensive than the non-subsidized competition - when moving potential customers to a new variant of an existing technology requires a substantial improvement in price-performance - and about a factor of ten to obsolete the previous mainstream approach.

What's driving the current burst of innovation and deployment is the loss of government subsidies around the world. Now the playing field is closer to level. More companies are playing with private investment. The products must compete with existing grid systems, so innovation is occurring and price/performance is improving to where they ARE competitive in progressively more situations.

Indeed, panels are now available at less than a dollar per watt, which is about the point where solar starts beating grid costs in most places where there's enough sun, rather than just remote places or small loads where it's cheaper than running miles of new lines.

Comment Antiserums (Score 3, Interesting) 453

With antibiotics becoming less effective, and molecular biology making such advances, perhaps medicine will stop relying so exclusively on antibiotics (selective poisons) and increase the use and development of antiseurms (mixes of antibodies specific to small regions of the pathogen's surface).

Indeed: When antibiotics were the new "magic bullets", some diseases still responded far better to antiserum treatment than the antibiotics the doctors switched to treating with.

In those days making antiserums was a matter of injecting the pathogen into an animal (typically a horse), then (after a few days) extracting some antibodies (to EVERY pathogen the horse had experienced) and injecting the lot into the patients.

Now we can identify the "conserved regions" that the bug can't change without becoming non-pathogenic, making human antibodies to those regions, sorting out the most effective ones, transplanting the DNA into suitable cell cultures, and making exactly the desired antibody by the bucketload.

With a library of antibiodies to test against we have automated mechanisms - based on silicon chip technology - to assay a pathogen against thousands of them and identify the effective ones within minutes.

Antiseurm the body's own, very effective, way to prevent a recurrence of a disease or infection that one has already survived. But the body's own R&D and deployment takes about three days. Like doctors giving antibiotics, it relies on more general approaches to fight off the initial infection. Giving it assistance with the better-tuned countermeasure in the early stages should be at least as effective as antibiotics were before the development of resistance.

Antibodies can be made to just about any molecular shape the bug exposes to its surroundings. (The hard part is avoiding making one that also appears on normal tissue.) The antibody works, not just by jamming up some necessary machinery in the pathogen, but also by marking the pathogen for destruction by the rest of the patient's immune system. So this approach should work on just about any bug that isn't avoiding the immune system by hiding inside cells or other places it can't reach, or has already devastated the body's clean-up crew.

Comment Re:terrorism! ha! (Score 2) 453

How about, before you put life changing drugs inside animal fodder, YOU prove that it's REALLY harmless.

Because proving a negative like that is a bitch. The number of subcases to prove is arbitrarily large and the political opponent can always claim (again without effort or proof) that there are more (unidentified) subcases that haven't been addressed.

There's also the comparison of risks: Does failing to knock back the parasite load of the food animals lead to more infections in humans that then get treated with antibiotics, potentially leading to the same, or higher, rates of resistance acquisition while also creating more human misery and death?

Also: Who funds this research? You're putting the financial burden on the food industry. Would you trust the research results of the people they hired? Especially given the example of the results we saw from the Tobacco industry?

Why should the burden of proof be upon me ?!?

Because you're the one who is trying to stop somebody else from doing something profitable with his own property, by claiming a risk to yourself or others. If you want to restrict someone else's behavior by a claim of involuntary harm or risk, it's up to you to present a compelling case for it.

(I, too, think routinely dosing the beasts risks breeding antibiotic-resistant human pathogens. I'm just addressing the political implications of your approach to regulation in general. Applying it would stop essentially all human progress, lead to technological stagnation, and ultimately to regression as, for instance, the bugs continued to breed resistance even if just the people were getting the drugs.)

Comment The first amendment says lobbying is a right. (Score 1) 239

Congress shall make no law [...] abridging [...] the right of the people [...] to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

People in companies have as much right to ask the government to do things differently, to make things better for their own interests, as everybody else does.

How would you make lobbying illegal? Throw people in jail for talking to their congressman?

Comment Re:EMV is designed so you CAN'T copy it. (Score 1) 222

The details of the computer are not so secret.

At the time these were being designed the PHBs were TRYING to keep those secret, too.

After all, the card contains the key information you need to clone it. Cloning it is EXACTLY the what the crook needs to do and the design is trying to prevent. So they make getting into the card's "vault", without destroying its contents, as hard as possible.

Part of that, from their viewpoint, is keeping the details of the design closed in order to raise the bar on engineering ways to defeat it and extract the keys.

If these guys find a way to defeat the security and clone the card, expect the card manufacturers to immediately try to find ways to block their crack, before it's used by crooks. This, of course, will break it again for the "legitimate" card cloners.

Comment Re:Raytracer written in OpenCL (Score 1) 121

The POV-Ray developers could still add an OpenCL raytracing engine, and as I understand etash's complaint, POV-Ray is becoming irrelevant by their not doing so.

Now that it's open, ANYONE can add an OpenCL rayrtacing engine, making it again (by your definition) relevant.

In fact, YOU could do it. What's the holdup? B-)

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