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Comment Nah. (Score 1) 97

I'll stay with Windows 7 for a while longer. But I won't be installing Windows 10 willingly, if ever.

Microsoft: "We let you choose how much spying we do on your activities!"
Users: "Uh...please don't spy on us at all. Like, none."
Microsoft: "OK, here's some revised settings that don't let you actually turn data collection off! One is called 'Basic'!"
Users: "..."

Comment Re:Limit of Energy Density (Score 1) 139

Electric cars lose on the energy storage, but win on the engine. Instead of 300 kg of engine and 70 kg of fuel in a petrol car, you can have 30 kg of motor and 340 kg of battery in an electric car without increasing the mass. (Note that those masses are guesswork on my part.)

On top of that, it is hard to sell cars with 100 mile range, so electric cars dedicate more of their mass to propulsion+energy storage than fossil fuel cars.

Comment Re:What's in the future for batteries? (Score 2) 139

There are many reasons why this isn't ever happening. A very big one is that such a 'battery' would be producing heat all the time. Say your device has 10W peak demand, and your radioisotope thermal generator (nuclear battery) has efficiency 10% (better than we've yet achieved), then you'd need an RTG which was emitting 100W of heat all the time. (On the plus side, it would do a fine job of heating the interior of your car on cold days.) (If your device only uses 10W occasionally, you could pair a 1W output RTG with rechargable batteries, but now all you're saving yourself is the need to plug it in each night.)

Further reasons:
* Cost - even with efficiency of scale, producing radio isotopes will be very expensive
* Scaling - the technology works (sort of) for 100W power generation, it may be hard to scale down to 10W or 1W
* SIze - a 100W RTG is the size of a person.
* Safety - they contain really nasty radioactive sources. If you use alpha emitters, you can make them 'safe' with very thin shielding, but once the material escapes into the environment (e.g. in a house fire, or someone chops the battery with an axe) it is very nasty indeed.

Yes, future technology can help somewhat with any of these - but it needs to improve all of these problems, each by many orders of magnitude, before nuclear batteries will be practical.

Comment Re:Just looking at the first few questions... (Score 2) 139

The five stages of name-pun reaction:
1) Amusement. This stage starts at age about 4 to 6, when the punee first gets the joke. It typically lasts about 30 minutes.
2) Tedium. This stage typically lasts a few months
3) Anger. Will you stop with that stupid joke already?
4) Bargaining. If you stop making those stupid jokes, I'll stop pummelling your ribs with a baseball bat.
5) Acceptance. Let the jokes flow through you, omnipresent yet harmless like the air. Find your inner peace. Make it your life's mission that everyone who has ever made this joke will be carrying in their pocket a chemical bomb of your design.

Comment Will there always be a demand for lithium? (Score 1) 139

Demand for lithium is soaring and supply is scrabbling to keep up. If I was contemplating constructing a lithium mine/extraction facility, I would be worried that my investment might do fine for five years and then suddenly become worthless when some new battery chemistry came along. Is this fear justifiable? Is it reducing current or near-future lithium supply?

Comment Unsurprising (Score 1) 38

Patents have become another "must-have" item in a scientists resume. It presumably shows you're able to create practical applications from otherwise abstract research results.

In practice, of course, you can patent pretty much anything you want if you put your mind to it, and the vast majority of granted patents are never implemented in an actual product and never make any money at all. So researchers just jump through another set of hoops to pad their CV with, usually, a completely worthless patent or two.

The researcher is happy since they got another item on their career-critical CV. The university is happy since granted patents counts toward university rankings. The granting agencies are happy since it shows their research grants are producing tangible results. Too bad the actual end result - the patent - is utterly worthless.

Comment Re:Why federal law? (Score 0) 172

I am not now and never have been a citizen of the USA, so chalk me up to non-purposely ignorant.
Reading TFA more closely, this proposed law would only apply to federally funded highways: "the dig once bill requires states to evaluate the need for broadband conduit any time they complete a highway construction project that gets federal funding."
And local bodies are in on this too: "Dig once doesn't have to be just for state and federal projects, as cities such as Boston and San Francisco already require it locally."

Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
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