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Comment Gimmicks and real technologies... (Score 1) 242

Carbon fiber trailer, aerodynamic body, central driver seat etc are gimmics.

A high efficiency power source, mediated via battery and electric motor is really interesting technology. The locomotives made the switch to diesel electric from steam in 1940s very very swiftly. In just one decade the steam engines were gone. The electric motors are ideal things to turn the wheel. Their torque peaks at zero rpm, exactly when it is needed. IC engines via clutch + transmission + gear box is a hack. But trucks have been using synchromesh transmission and gear box for all these years. Even without a battery in the middle, constant rpm diesel engine producing electricity would have been simpler than the complexity of the gearbox. That is exactly how locomotives work.

It is high time diesel-electric or micro-gas turbine + electric trucks are designed at least experimental platforms.

Comment K-cup is open now. (Score 1) 769

Their K-cup patent has expired. They might pipe dream about migrating all their users to more expensive DRM protected coffee machines. But it will die like Vista. And it will give the generic K-cup makers, who have just 8% of the market now, a new lease on life. Eventually like Microsoft they will tuck their tail between their legs and come out and compete in a level playing field. But these top honchos who dream up these things will do a few power point presentations, do some hustle to make bonus, cash out the stock options and will go out looking greener mountain to roast something other their share holders. Dump the stock now if you own it.

Comment Over compacted, under compacted ... (Score 2) 121

Jean-Michel Claverie: 'We thought it was a property of viruses that they pack DNA extremely tightly into the smallest particle possible, but this guy is 150 times less compacted than any bacteriophage [viruses that infect bacteria].

I am sure this scientist is going to be perplexed by this too. this . I expect him to say, "I expect the human torso to be kind of roundish in cross section and two hands hanging by the side. But this guy is over compacted. We don't understand any thing anymore."

Comment Would be useful in bike shares (Score 2) 166

Cities are introducing bike share stands, where people rent bikes by the hour. A technology like this could broaden the appeal and market for them.

If they make it compatible with bicycles that fold into a car trunk, it could reduce drunken driving. People who find themselves too drunk to drive could rent drivers to take them home. These drivers would arrive in a folding electric bike, fold their bike and put it in the trunk, take the sensible drunk home and return on the electrified bike. They could do it in a regular bike too, but with some electric assist more people would be interested.

Comment Perry Mason sort. (Score 1) 195

Perry Mason: "Someone rented a car, returned it and rented it again. We need to find that person."

Paul Drake: "Do you know his name?"

Perry Mason: "No"

Paul Drake: "Do you really want me to take all these receipts and compare each against everything else? Do you know how long will it take, Perry?

Perry Mason: "Paul, Just sort these receipts by name and look for duplicates"

Donald Knuth, quoting Erle Stanley Gardener, in the chapter on sorting in the TeX book.

[Quoting from memory, please forgive inaccuracies].

Comment The sensor does not consume power. (Score 1) 22

You still need power to act on the recognized gestures. But to output a small set of states it does not consume power and uses ambient energy. Looks like they recognize some four or five gestures. Hand coming in, hand going out, fist. Mixing them temporally, they may be able to get some 8 different states. It can lead to always on sensors, but even to act on the recognized sensors you need an always on actively powered (not ambiently powered) system.

It is cool, though.

Comment That debt is solid gold! (Score 4, Informative) 538

It can't be discharged by any bankruptcy proceedings. You are hooked for life once you take a loan in this form. We abolished debtors prisons sometime around 1800s, then indentured labor then fought a civil war to end slavery. Then created a debt that can survive even bankruptcy chaining the earnings of someone for life!

Comment Directly contacting gov agencies. Good idea? (Score 5, Interesting) 137

Is it really a good idea to contact these law enforcement agencies directly, via a cold call? These agents come with varying background and knowledge about various spheres of life. You can't expect all FBI agents to be well versed in cyber crime etc. And most of them deal with law breakers most of the time. After spending decades in that mode, they would be suspicious of everything. Yes, most criminals would not contact the cops voluntarily. But many mentally unstable people would, so would people with political axes to grind looking to find some patsy to create a media story. So cops would be quite suspicious of people, even if they voluntarily call them. So even if I stumble on some serious security hole, I am not sure I would directly call the cops.

But there will be access logs and ip addresses saved in all kinds of places that will have evidence that I had stumbled on to that security hole. If I try to cover my tracks that would be even more trouble for me.

I don't know what the right thing to do would be. May be I should spring for a lawyer, document everything with my lawyer and use the lawyer to contact the agencies.

Is there a recommended way by FBI or Secret Service where one can go, establish the non-criminal bona-fide of oneself and have an intelligent conversation with someone and point out such security flaws? It is in the interest of FBI to maintain such a unit.

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Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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