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Comment Re:Useful for desalination plants? (Score 3, Insightful) 47

I should think not -- at least not in the way you're probably thinking.

The device consists of a wicking layer topped by a light-absorbing layer. This boils water, which produces more or less pure steam. It also leaves the minerals from the water in the wicking layer. If you take distilled water directly away from the device and replace it with fresh seawater, those minerals will build up until the layer is no longer absorbent. On the other hand if all you want is the heat, you run the steam-distilled water through a heat exchanger and return it to the wicking layer, reconstituting the original water.

So it'd probably wouldn't work to use this directly as a steam distiller. However you could use the heat you collect to run a separate steam distiller. That would be very inefficient, but the thing about "renewables" is that conversion efficiency is less important than low installation and operation cost, because you're not paying for your feedstock of energy; any sunshine you don't use would have been wasted anyway. So while it seems physically possible to use this device to power a desalinization plant, whether it makes economic sense depends on whether this is actually the cheapest way to run a plant.

Comment Re:Who would have guessed? (Score 4, Interesting) 251

Government procurement contracts pretty much preclude the government obtaining goods and services on the open market. Instead it must rely to a large degree on contractors and vendors who have the capability of handling all the special paperwork and requirements.

So if you're on a procurement committee you don't have much choice. Once you discard the vendors who (a) can't absorb the amount of money to be spent on schedule and (b) jump through the statutory federal contractor hoops, what you're left with is a rogues gallery of usual suspects.

Comment Simple answer: (Score 1) 188

Charge for the non-security feature updates -- maybe even do it through the app store. Customers have to pay for updates one way or the other, so you should be able to sell a competitively priced phone and then make just as much money selling fewer physical phones and more software updates as you would under the status quo. That'd be good for the environment too.

The one sticking point is, as always, the carriers. They'd much rather you trade in your perfectly good phone for another one whose price is rolled into a contract extension. I'm convinced that Verizon on several occasions deliberately botched upgrades to force you to buy a new phone with more RAM.

Comment Re:Pet Rock (Score 2) 192

Sure, the only really unpredictable aspect of this scenario is the size of the peak. If their business plans were predicated on maintaining usage near the initial peak indefinitely, then they were stupid plans.

I'm guessing that the plans for this product aren't that stupid. In that case a sensible goal will be to maintain a modest but loyal group of regular users and to periodically introduce new features that will entice usage jags out of occasional players.

Comment Why not public transit instead? (Score 1) 445

Public transit provides a service that complements as well as competes -- especially in an old, dense city like Boston where there isn't a lot of room to add cars and public transit carries about half the commuters despite being in dire financial straits.

Think about what would happen to Uber and Lyft in a place like that if you doubled the number of people using surface roads.

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