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Comment Re: Drawing a paralell to the Nissan Leaf (Score 1) 231

I agree Nissan and Renault are both fighting a losing battle to hold back the tide of change. After market batteries for cellphones are often better than the genuine product, and the same will very quickly be true for electric car batteries. Small independant shops will pop up with clever young people happy to sell you a new battery pack and pehaps a firmware hack.

This leaves dealerships in a bad spot. The are currently enshrined in law in the USA, and watching many or most go the way of the dodo will be traumatic for lobbiests.

As for stealerships, I agree. The Mazda dealership I worked at had almost all the work done by under-trained apprentices with insufficient supervision. I once watched a new car with steering alinment issues come back four times because the tyre-fitter was crap and the stealership got paid again every time. Much of the profits of the shop came from getting nearly an hour of unpaid overtime from every apprentice every day. For a dozen apprentices, this adds up fast.

The sooner I can order my car on line and have it arrive in the post, the happier I will be. Electric cars are wonderfully low maintainence, with a converted Prius being my favourite. I have seen the future, and it runs on batteries.

Comment Drawing a paralell to the Nissan Leaf (Score 1) 231

Recently I looked at buying a Nissan Leaf, which is a pretty sweet ride for an electric car. I discovered a few things.

1) The Leaf just about never needs service. Change the battery pack every two or four years, and that is it. Regular inspections of tyres and suspension components as usual, but these are very relable and can be done by any mechanic.

2) Nissan has some nagware shit that makes you take your leaf back to Nissan to be reassured. For this the dealership must buy an expensive piece of specalized kit from Nissan and will then charge you, the car owner, for the workship equivilent of clicking the "Okay" button.

Reading between the lines: Dealerships don't actually make any money by selling cars (the Mazda dealership I worked at for six months sure didn't). Just about all their profitability comes from warentee work (charged back to the manufacturer, thus getting a bigger slice of the sales profits), or regular scheduled services (which are mostly oil changes done by apprentices). Electric cars have far fewer parts which are far more reliable. Switching to electric cars will neatly drive a stake through the heart of the business model of auto dealerships. I assume this Renault bullshit is for exactly the same reasons as the Nissian Leaf bullshit.

Comment Re:Hit or Miss (Score 1) 149

Why would tracking be slow? Parallax being what it is? As long as the mirror is tracking targets within the same quadrant of the sky, it should be able to switch fast enough.

As for modulation, I think you are making unstated assumptions about reflectivity and switching speeds. How are you imagining the focus to be shifted and reflectivity varied? Mylar held by variable stays, held taught by photion pressure, for example? Easy, point a big dish at a little dish for a two reflector system, and your traverse speeds (governed by mass) and modulation speed (also, to some extent governed by mass, depending on the method) are dramatically reduced, as now you only must move the smaller reflector.

I know very well about solar concentration with mirrors. A reflector array in the L1 would have the potential to extend the day cycle of a solar collection site.

Comment Re:Hit or Miss (Score 1) 149

It all depends on the size of the reflector, or better, array of reflectors.

It is probably more effective (given rotation times etc of a very large sail) to aim the array at an orbit and impart sunlight to objects as they approach in that vector. It may well be practical to rapidly turn on and off the reflectivity of the sail with shutters or LCD cells or the like, avoiding striking unintended targets.

The ability to de-orbit any satellites equipped with a solar sail alone might make this worthwhile. Also, point it at a terrestrial solar farm for double the energy production!

Outside the reams of the achievable right now, to be sure, but what are we without our dreams?

Comment Re:Hit or Miss (Score 2, Interesting) 149

I wonder at the effectiveness of putting a very large focusable solar reflector in a high orbit, perhaps at LaGrange point 1. Such a solar sail could be used to give thrust to satellites equipped with a sail, or even large bits of space junk. Obviously it wouldn't give much Delta V to junk, but it might give some, and it would be essentially free. Junk in high orbits takes hundreds or thousands of years to de-orbit, and any means of reducing the velocity of said junk would drastically reduce that time. Additionally, with a variable focus the mirror might be pointed at solar cells of existing satellites, which could improve the thrust gained from Ion Drives, assuming enough reaction mass remains to take advantage of the extra watts.

Idle musings. Feel free to shoot me down.


0 A.D. Goes Open Source 88

DoubleRing writes "Wildfire Games has announced that it will be moving its previously closed development process for 0 A.D. to open source. All code will be released under the GPL and all art under CC-BY-SA. 0 A.D. is a historically-based RTS, and while it's not yet complete, this trailer is purportedly actual gameplay footage. With a codebase of over 150k lines of C++ code plus 25k lines in development tools, this is looking like a fairly promising entrant into the open source RTS field. The screenshots are definitely pretty, to say the least."

"Iron Man" Release Brings Down Paramount's Servers 283

secmartin writes "Shortly after the release of Iron Man on Blu-ray on October 1, people started complaining of defective discs; the problem turned out to be that all the Blu-ray players downloading additional content brought down Paramount's BD-Live servers, causing delays while loading the disc. Which really makes you wonder what will happen when they decide to shut down this service in a couple of years."

Submission + - Microsoft's DRM (Xbox 360) [revised] ( 1

JayFNG writes: "I'm a proud owner of a 60" 1080p high-def TV and an Xbox 360; however, my TV only accepts a 1080p signal via one of the 3 HDMI ports. When I learned that my Premium Xbox 360 would never see an adaptor that would allow for HDMI output I was ecstatic when I heard about the Xbox 360 Elite having one built-in; I was the first person in line to purchase an Elite on April 29th. On the 30th I printed and filled out the free Migration Kit form from and waited patiently for it to arrive from Microsoft. When it finally arrived, and all of my data was "migrated" from my previous Xbox 360's 20 GIG hard drive to the 120 GIG drive of my Elite, everything was working perfectly... That is, until my wife tried to play Jewel Quest.

(NOTE: I don't want my 9-year-old son using my profile due to Xbox Live, and my wife enjoys earning her own achievements and having her own friends list.)

When my wife and son used their own profiles, they could no longer play any of the 40 Xbox Live Arcade titles that I had purchased; not even when the Elite was connected to Xbox Live! Personally, I had no problem playing games or content until recently. While playing the Live Arcade game Castlevania SOTN, during a fairly bad storm here in Florida, my internet connection was lost. The game instantly went into 'demo mode' and would no longer allow me to save my game progress.

The following day I called 1-800-4-MY-XBOX and was told to download the content again and that would solve my problem. Since I had no way to connect to Xbox Live I took my Xbox 360 somewhere with an internet connection and downloaded all 40 Xbox Live Arcade titles as instructed. Upon returning home that evening, I learned that this did NOT solve the problem. (My wife, son, and I could not play any of the XBLA games.)

Later that evening I called Xbox support again and spoke with a different support team member. This time I was told that my original console profile IDs were tied to each game and that I'd have to purchase all 40 games a second time. First of all, the Xbox Live Marketplace doesn't allow you to purchase content twice. Second, why should I have to pay another $300+ for content I already purchased? The call was escalated, but even the supervisor explained to me that due to the digital rights management of content purchased through the Xbox Live Marketplace, I'd need to purchase all 40 games a second time with the profile of either my wife or my son.

I completely understand why Microsoft has this kind of security in place; however, I feel that this method is absolutely unacceptable. When I purchase music through iTunes it's tied to my account and PC, however I'm able to authorize and deauthorize up to 5 different PC's; why can't something similar be done with my XBLA games and content?

I look at it this way; if I purchased a movie on DVD then decided to upgrade to a new 1080p upscaling DVD player with an HDMI output a few months later, that movie should play just fine for everyone in my household; regardless of whether or not I'm connected to the internet or the only person watching it. If I wanted to watch the same movie on another DVD player in my house, I wouldn't have to purchase the movie a second time. This is EXACTLY what Microsoft is doing with downloadable content from the Xbox Live Marketplace, and nobody seems to be addressing the issue.

Is Microsoft working on a solution to this problem? Will everyone who upgraded to an Elite, or customers who receive replacement consoles (after a case of the Red Ring of Death) suffer the same fate? I feel that spending $399.99 on an Xbox 360, spending $300+ on content through the Live Marketplace (not-to-mention thousands of dollars worth of games), and then dropping an additional $479.99 for an HDMI enabled version should entitle the customer to a proper solution.... Solutions such as spending several hundred dollars more on content that were already paid for and disconnecting / reconnecting an old console just to use previously purchased content is absurd... Please help me find some answers.

I've contacted numerous news websites, Magazines, etc... Nobody seems to have any info, nor do they care to help... I suppose the next step is to contact the Better Business Bureau :("

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