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Comment Too many challenges (Score 1) 51

CEO's nowadays always make it sound like their visions are brand new, that no one's ever tried to invent this stuff before. But c'mon, if the VTOL car was even a remote possibility, it already would have been invented. But there's already a rich history of people who have tried, and either failed in inventing it, or succeeded but failed with commercializing it, both fixed-wing car varieties and VTOL varieties.

There's too many challenges:

1) Safety -- If a car breaks down / runs out of fuel while in use, it rolls to a stop. If a flying object breaks down / runs out of fuel in use, it crashes.
2) Price -- To reduce risk associated with problem #1, you can't cut corners or make things cheaply.
3) Lack of Infrastructure -- Cars, airplanes, and helicopters all have governed mediums by which and through which they can travel. A flying car does not. Nor will it fit perfectly within any of the existing mediums reserved for the existing vehicles.
4) Fuel consumption -- VTOL consumes a considerable amount of fuel for takeoff and landing.
5) Inefficiency with Tilt-Rotors -- Most current engineered VTOL aircraft use tilt-rotor systems (like the V22 Osprey. They work for VTOL, but inefficiently, as explained here, and their nature limits where they can take off and land.

Some engineers, like the makers of the Elytron, have come up with some neat hybrid fixed-wing/rotor solutions, but these aren't solutions that can be commercialized easily into flying cars like suggested in this article.

Personally, I'm getting pretty tired of "Backseat Visionaries" who tell everyone what the future is supposed to look like but don't do their part in driving us there.

Comment Someone is confused (Score 1) 51

the aircraft would be used to shorten commute times in busy cities

Obviously the person who thought up this idea has no idea how traffic in cities work, let alone the other issue of how to navigate between tall, narrowly-spaced buildings.

And no, the chase scene in Phantom Menace or the sky paths of Bladerunner are not how it's done.

Comment Re:Positive development (Score 1) 103

Means more room for humans. We're succeeding as a species. I suspect it wont end well for us though.

I don't see any reason to believe it will end badly, at least not for reasons related to this issue.

Homo Sapiens has proven to be an extraordinarily adaptable and successful species, a global superpredator, which has inevitably displaced many other species. The Holocene Extinction, which has been in progress for thousands of years, is the result. The rate of extinctions accelerated dramatically in the last few centuries, particularly as the human population has exploded.

However, in the last few decades humans have become aware of the issue and have begun to care about it. This isn't to say that we'll ever value other species as highly as our own, but we've begun to think that it's important to avoid destroying them. That coupled with the fact that human population is likely to peak within 30 years and then begin declining and the fact that new technology is enabling us to tread more lightly means that extinctions directly produced by human activity (e.g. habitat expansion) will slow and perhaps cease.

Indirectly-caused extinctions will likely continue for millenia, though. Global warming is going to do in a lot of species (though it may create a good number as well), as climate shifts exceed the ability of species to migrate. It may also provoke some more directly-caused extinctions as it causes humans to migrate. Not much, though, since we already live pretty much everywhere. The accommodation of human-transplanted "invasive" species is also going to take a lot of time, and transplantation is probably going to continue as much as we try to avoid it, so there's going to be a sort of homogenization effect across the globe which will wipe out a lot of species as more aggressive and capable species get moved into their area. If humans choose to begin engineering planetary climate and stabilize it, so that it stays permanently within a particular range, that large driver of new speciation will be eliminated which will also contribute to the establishment of an equilibrium that will likely contain many fewer species than the planet has had for most of life's history upon it. It's also possible that we'll begin engineering biodiversity as well. That's hard to say.

Or maybe we'll have a massive nuclear war, simultaneously removing ourselves from the picture, ending the Holocene extinction with a spike, and kicking off an explosive new round of speciation. I think that and similar humanity-caused, humanity-ending disasters are unlikely, but I am an inveterate optimist.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hey there, Fuckface in 2020

Yes, you. I hope you're sittin' pretty high on the metaphorical (or physical, what do I care) hog. I'll keep this short, but I've noticed that in my 10+ years of Slashdot-journalling, there's one thing I can count on: I never expect this entry to last quite so long, nor do I expect myself to live quite so long. So, let's see who outlives who.


Anyway, if you can read this, 2020 karniv0re, you're in one of 3 states:

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 931

That's indeed the kind of ideas that is now floating around. I rank it in the category of Iraq coming to kill us all, with the same combination of inflating the threat and at the same time regarding the opponent as a pushover. I think Colin Powell has made some sensible comments on that. Russia is paranoid about us, about NATO. We scare them. They are a small power, we're a big one that is surrounding them more and more, and then sabre rattling is a sensible response.

That doesn't explain why they weren't rattling their sabers a few years ago. The Economist has a recent article that does offer an explanation that covers that as well The thesis is basically that domestic troubles caused by a weak economy have motivated Putin to seek ways to distract his people from domestic concerns. Specifically, he's tried to recapture the superpower position of the Soviet Union. He can't, really, because Russia isn't the Soviet Union. Without the central planning structure to force the massive overproduction of military resources, the Soviet Union wouldn't have been the Soviet Union, either.

But his people don't really realize this and, frankly, the rest of the world tends not to realize it much, either. So Putin can rattle his rusted and broken saber and the rest of the world reacts as though he was the mighty Soviet Union. Except... there is one area in which is military isn't so rusted or broken: nuclear weapons. Oh, his nuclear armament is aging and dilapidated, but it's still very real and Russia has the technological wherewithal to build highly functional nukes and missiles to carry them. Russia can't afford to build very many of them, but it doesn't really take all that many.

So, as it becomes more and more apparent that Putin doesn't really have the conventional forces to make the world treat Russia with the fear and respect that the Soviet Union got, he's almost certainly going to be making more and more use of the nuclear threat that the world can't ignore. And that will help to keep his people feeling like they're a major world power again, which will keep him in power.

Is this true? I don't know. Makes sense to me.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 142

Hangouts used to have seamless SMS/Hangouts.

No, it was never seamless in the sense that iMessage is. The seams were harder to see, and that was exactly the problem that motivated the clear separation; the failure modes of the combined messaging were subtle, hard to understand and opaque to users. The upshot is that the combination made Hangouts messaging appear to be unreliable.

Actually, iMessage isn't really seamless either. It breaks badly if iMessage thinks the destination device is an iPhone but it isn't. It's very good in a pure-Apple world, though.

Submission + - Tesla shocks Wall St. with huge earnings surprise and actual profits (

anderzole writes: Tesla on Wednesday posted its earnings report for the quarter gone by and investors will have a lot to cheer about. While analysts on Wall St. were expecting Tesla to post a loss, Tesla during its September quarter actually posted a profit, and an impressive profit at that. When the dust settled, Tesla posted a quarterly profit of $22 million and EPS of $0.71. Revenue for the quarter checked in at $2.3 billion.

Illustrating how impressive Tesla’s performance was this past quarter, Wall St. was anticipating Tesla to post a loss amid $1.9 billion in revenue for the quarter.

Submission + - Carriers to Implement Do Not Originate List to Defeat Robocalls

Trailrunner7 writes: An industry led strike force is preparing to take away one of the most valuable pieces of technology used by phone scammers: caller ID spoofing.

The Robocall Strike Force, convened by the FCC and comprising wired and wireline telecom companies, has been working since August on a handful of new technologies, standards, and other techniques to help address the robocall problem. On Wednesday, members of the strike force delivered their report to the FCC and said that a trial of a new Do Not Originate list has shown tremendous promise in preventing scammers from being able to spoof numbers belonging to government agencies, charities, and other legitimate organizations.

A trial of the DNO list that’s been running for the last few weeks on some IRS numbers has resulted in a 90 percent drop in the volume of IRS scam calls, officials from AT&T, which leads the strike force, said during the FCC meeting Wednesday. The carriers on the strike force, which include Sprint, Verizon, and many others, plan to continue testing the DNO list in the coming months, with the intent to fully implement it some time next year.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1, Insightful) 931

But the Euromaidan protests were sponsored by western governments and NGOs.

Hello Russian troll! How's the weather in St. Petersburg? Getting your daily vodka allotment?

No one in the West, especially NGOs, sponsored the Ukrainian protests over Yanukovych's refusal to listen to the people. Your repeated lies about supposed billions of dollars used in this endeavor are nothing but fantasy and delusional rantings of drunk, paid trolls such as yourself.

Ukraine wanted to go their own way and have closer trade relations with Russia rather than the crumbling EU

Once again, more delusional rantings. The people of Ukraine made it very clear they wanted closer ties with the EU and the West in general. They saw the prosperity, and freedoms, which exist in an open society compared to the oppression and repression which exists in Russia under Putin's regime and wanted to experience the same.

When Yanukovych ignored the will of the people he then ordered his Berkut security forces to murder the protestors, then fled into the arms of Putin for protection, taking with him hundreds of millions of dollars he had stolen from the Ukrainian people.

but you can't act like Russia started it.

False once again. Russia started it when it first tried to bribe Yanukovych then, when the people made it known they didn't want anything to do with the oppression of Russia, Putin then made up the excuse of people who spoke Russian in Ukraine needing his protection.

It was at that point Putin sent his troops into Crimea to steal it, and also sent in Russian troops to prop up the terrorists who were on the verge of defeat in the spring of 2014. We know for an absolute fact Russian troops attacked Ukraine because a) there was a sudden increase of hundreds of dead Russian soldiers being buried, all with their date of death within the span of a few days, b) the terrorists have stated several different times the Russian soldiers saved them from defeat and c) Russian soldiers continue to be killed and captured in Ukraine.

What makes Putin's lie about supposedly defending Russian speakers in Ukraine so laughable is he is persecuting the Tartars in Crimea who want to speak their own language, who want to have their own schools, who want to have their own radio stations. Putin continues to indiscriminately arrest Crimean Tartars and put them in jail for no reason other than they want to speak their own language.

Russia lost. Get over it. The thousands of dead Russian soldiers, the billions Putin has spent invading and now supporting the terrorists, the sanctions, all are taking a toll on Russia. Putin is at a turning point. He has until, roughly, June before Russia will run out of money. Unless he can steal more, Russia will go bankrupt. Even your own Finance Minister says Russia will suffer for twenty years because of the invasion, support of the terrorists and sanctions. Or are you saying your own minister is lying?

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 142

Hangouts does everything you describe. It's what I use all the time. It is seamless across my phone and table and my PC. And it is seamless across windows, linux and apple.

It is seamless between SMS and the internal delivery system, and the conversations are synced to my gmail account allowing me to search them.

I like Hangouts and use it constantly, both personally and for work (I work for Google, where it is arguably the primary means of communication), but it isn't quite as seamless as iMessage in one respect: SMS integration. In iMessage there is no distinction between SMS and iMessage messages; they're all just messages. If they can be delivered via Apple's infrastructure, they are, if not they're routed via SMS. With Hangouts, SMS and Hangouts chat messages are distinct. They look similar, but they're different in subtle ways.

Of course, Hangouts clearly is superior to iMessage if you or your friends use non-Apple devices, because Hangouts works on a much wider variety of platforms, and for those who understand the distinction it's *good* to know what is SMS and what is not, because SMS is inherently unreliable -- and in some parts of the world SMS is also ridiculously expensive while data is cheap.

So, although depending on your context Hangouts may be better than iMessage, it's definitely not as seamless in a pure-Apple world as iMessage is.

Submission + - The Future of Sustainable Farming Might Be Bugs (

gthuang88 writes: The idea of insects as a protein source to feed the world isn’t new. But the U.S. agtech industry may be warming up to it. Now a Seattle startup called Beta Hatch is growing and harvesting mealworms and their waste, about 600 pounds a week, and packaging them as chicken feed and fertilizer. The goal is to be healthier and more eco-friendly than traditional feed, which uses soy. Together with companies like Tiny Farms, Exo, and Six Foods, this represents a new wave of efforts to commercialize insects for sustainable food and farming.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 4, Insightful) 931

Because they want to remain a sovereign nation going their own way

Which is why Russia is invading Ukraine and supporting terrorists when Ukraine wanted to go their own way and have closer trade relations with the West, right? Because the sovereign nation of Ukraine didn't want to live under the thumb of Russia any longer.

Why the fuck the rest of the European leaders don't go the same way as Russia I have no fucking clue.

Because people don't want to live under a dictatorship where the guy at the top can steal your business on a whim and hand it over to one of his oligarch friends.

Nor do they want to live in a place where the dictator decides who can and cannot run for political office and where, if you become too popular with the people or reveal the corruption endemic in his rule, he'll have you killed.

If you can't see the obvious, you might be a Russian troll.

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