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Comment Re: So, not really in Vegas... (Score 1) 54

Actually, the "click-thru" agreement you have to accept to activate the Tesla "almost-automatic" mode makes clear that you're expected to stay fully alert and ready to slam on the brakes despite the car being completely oblivious to an impending disaster. (i.e. it's like an airplane autopilot - barely enough good judgment to avoid driving off the road on its own)

And on this front I have to say I consider Musk an irresponsible asshole - human nature pretty much guarantees that almost no one will be able to maintain the state of sustained passive situational awareness necessary to safely operate a Tesla in autopilot mode, so making it available is willful reckless endangerment that allows him to accelerate his development of a fully autonomous system at the price of the lives lost in utterly predictable accidents.

Comment Re: So, not really in Vegas... (Score 1) 54

But what's in it for the driver? They're the person who has to foot the bill, and it seems unlikely that there will be a significant reduction in insurance rates since there's a relatively small percentage of scenarios where such a warning system will prevent accidents. It may even make things worse as drivers come to rely on the warning system rather than their own good judgment.

Plus there's going to be considerable lag between when the warning is issued and when the driver responds. At best, if the driver is constantly poised to slam on the brakes the instant they hear the warning, there will be 1/8th of a second or so of lag as the reaction signals propagate down their slow, slow nerves to activate the necessary muscles. In a more realistic case it's going to take another sizable fraction of a second, possibly even several seconds, for the driver to recognize the relatively unfamiliar sound, decide that they trust the car over their own senses, and decide exactly how to respond.

Comment Re:In this economy? (Score 3) 562

>For a machine that will likely have had no maintenance and many consumable parts?
In that case it's probably not in good condition - in which case I agree completely. There's no accounting for what collectors deem worthy of spending obscene amounts of money on. Heck, some idiot in Victorian England(?) supposedly traded an entire mansion for a handful of tulip bulbs.

Though I would also point out that anything still in good working condition after 25 years of use is probably one of the statistical outliers in the quality control spectrum and may well continue operating well indefinitely. Parts - that's a whole different issue, but a surprising number can be replaced without much effort from modern parts intended for other things, often with better performance.

Comment Re:Now this is just getting stupid (Score 1) 562

Not to mention that you could use the same basic cassette player in your home and your car - a phonograph capable of not scratching your records while driving around bumpy streets is considerably more sophisticated than the one in your living room.

Cassettes had their niche - and at the high end could even rival vinyl (though good luck finding most stuff on such high-end tapes), but in a world where a digital download that blows laserdiscs out of the water consumes maybe $0.01 worth of bandwidth and hard drive space, there doesn't seem to be a compelling case for them. At least not if the digital market delivered a fraction of the quality and convenience it so easily could.

Comment Re:No, they are not (Score 1) 562

Yep, give me good vinyl or give me high-quality digital downloads. Everything in between was a hack to cut costs or increase portability. In fact, unless your mp3s were made from a professional high-fidelity original and end up taking up more space than a raw rip of the equivalent CD, then they're hacks too.

Comment Re:It IS hipsterism (if that's a word) (Score 1) 562

What? Did you mean
> I am at a loss as to how people are supposed to get better fidelity than from digital downloads

I mean it's easy to get better fidelity from digital downloads - even with modern variable bitrate mp3s you can easily crank up the fidelity past what's achievable for CDs (assuming you don't mind if only some players can handle it, and that you didn't start from CD, in which case obviously the quality can only go downhill). And of course CDs have gotten a bad name due to the growth or horrible editing practices that make music sound louder (good for listening to in-store samples) at the expense of discarding half or more of the available fidelity.

And of course *any* digital format, but especially the "just good enough" formats that have become popular, are going to have noticeable quantization noise, but assuming you're not in the habit of listening to massive professional editing-grade recordings on comparably good replay hardware, then It all comes down to what kind of noise you prefer. Analog recordings will tend to capture the subtleties of the original sound more accurately, but also introduce lots of analog noise which can't be removed without introducing distortion. And of course they will degrade with time and use.

Comment Re:In this economy? (Score 1) 562

Depends where you're at on the ladder. Anything in the neighborhood of the middle class has seen a hit, but mostly nothing devastating unless you were already so overextended that your personal financial bubble burst. In the bottom quartile though, things are getting rougher considerably faster.

Comment Re:Canada extorts $1 Million from Amazon (Score 1) 159

And nobody is saying anything against that. What they're saying is if you advertise as "30% below the usual price", then that "usual price" actually has to be representative of the price it usually sells at in the general market, NOT some made-up number you dreamed up to make your sale sound impressive. Sell it at any price you want, but you're not allowed to lie about how big your sale really is. That's just basic honesty in advertising, something society has a vested interest in defending.

There's also another kind of fake price that has nothing to do with this one - the fake price offered by, for example, car ads to get you onto the lot - where you then discover that you can't actually buy anything at that price, because the only options available all come with lots of extras included (aka bait and switch).

Comment Re:Hey hold my beer! (Score 1) 101

Well, the plan has always been to eventually bundle at least three, and up to nine or more, rockets together to achieve launch capabilities far in excess of a single rocket without dramatically increasing the cost by building huge specialty rockets. And if they go up together, they'll need to come down together (well, anything that doesn't make it all the way to orbit)

There are some serious challenges with the proposal, but mostly with the "going up" part of the equation. If you can land one autonomous rocket with the precision currently needed* , while hitting as impressively close to the bullseye as they've been doing, then having something else doing the same thing nearby probably won't be a huge issue.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if by "simultaneous" they mean "within minutes of each other" so that they don't have to maintain formation during the entire landing process. As long as they can avoid knocking over the previously landed rockets with the backwash that would seem to introduce a lot fewer opportunities for something to go wrong.

* they can't throttle down the rockets to be weak enough to hover, so they have to hit close-enough-to-zero speed and altitude at exactly the same moment, and then cut the engines before they start going back up again.

Comment Re:you people are missing the point (Score 1) 101

Big payloads. High orbits. Mars.

A long-standing plan of SpaceX, published back before they launched their first rocket, shows them planning to mount two additional rockets to the sides of a central core to boost available launch capacity. In fact I think they planned on eventually going all the way to 8 auxiliary rockets, though that makes for a lot of potential malfunctions in a single launch.

And they're going to need that capacity to get Mars colonization ships into orbit and fueled up in anything like a cost-effective manner.

And they should also be great for things like the Bigelow inflating orbital habitats - the test modules have been performing well, and they have some much larger ones being developed, too large for any current launch vehicles. After all, in space bigger is better - most of the weight of the vehicle or habitat itself will be in the skin, so will increase with the square of linear size, while enclosed volume increases with the cube.

Comment Re:Going off course isn't impossible (Score 1) 101

Which is why it comes down to risk assessment. Nothing will ever be safe - if rockets landing nearby raise your chance of dying this year by 0.1% (of your previous chance of dying this year) then the risk isn't worth concerning yourself over. Eating the occasional greasy cheesburger is more dangerous.

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