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Comment Plane Truth [Re:Why??] (Score 1) 142

who invented flight thing over again, they will just keep on redefining what flight is until they are first.

Not comparable to this situation per sister message, but as far as the first manned plane flight, the definition matters because it was relatively trivial to attach a motor to a propeller and then to a thing with wings and lunge sky-ward for a short period of time. After all, gliders, as in hang-gliders, were already common by then.

One could argue it was really an evolution, but the Wright Brothers were way ahead of the others in terms of control for several years regardless of who made the first lunge into the air. They were doing figure-8's when others could barely turn.

They finally lost that distinction when others moved and perfected the "tail" on the back instead of the front, which made planes safer.

Comment Re:Why?? (Score 1) 142

Why are Americans so desperate to prove that everything happened there first...[such as] who invented flight...

What is "first" in this bone case in terms of competitor nations? I don't see any relationship between that and planes. If the claim were that Americans reached America before Europeans did, then it may be comparable, but then its meaningless. I-dont-geddit

Comment Re:I Have No Trouble Making Accurate and Precise.. (Score 1) 144

I've done many project plans for clients, and when I give them the results, they always bitch. But, when the project is actually delivered, they finally agree that I was right in the first place. After that, it gets easier...[with] THOSE clients.

Indeed. Many PHB's have to learn the hard way:

"Who knew healthcare would be so difficult?"

Comment Re:No, but they require planning (Score 2) 144

The product was finished as described in the requirement documents, but generally didn't work 100% like the customer expected.

Yip, generally it's easy to make an estimate for a clear specification. But, customers rarely know what they REALLY want until they see something in production. This is a very common problem. I don't know any easy solution to that: mind-reading machines don't exist.

One partial solution is for the technical analyst to become a domain expert first. But obviously this is often not practical. Further, sometimes the main customer/manager wants something rather odd that is a quirk of their personality. You may build something that fits the domain, but they want to see their domain in peculiar quirky way.

Another partial solution is "RAD": Rapid application development tools. Someone who knows the tool well can usually spit out something pretty quick and change it fairly quick.

However, RAD tools are not known to be very flexible in the longer run, such as when UI styles and expectations change. They achieve RAD in part by marrying business logic to the UI. This marriage makes less "marshaling" code between the database, biz logic, and the UI; BUT also hard-wires it to UI assumptions. Keeping up with the UI Kardashians can be a major PITA. Just when GUI's were maturing, web came along. Just when web was maturing, multi-device-handling needs came along. The current "in" thing is going to be klunky because it's not mature yet.

For now, it looks like we are stuck with some degree of organic meandering to get something the customer is actually happy with; but organic meandering takes more time and money and is hard to estimate up front.

Comment Re:High-brow fails [Re:It depends on the use] (Score 1) 408

That's true. But it's hard to know what will be "mainstream" in a decade or so. I'm not convinced FP will "trickle down" to mainstream (4-yr-degree staff), at least as a primary technique. It's been around for roughly 60 years (at least as Lisp). If it doesn't go mainstream within 60 years, it probably won't by 70 either.

Thus, it may not match or be part of the evolution pattern you outlined.

Even when GUI's first came out, I couldn't predict they'd go mainstream. While I thought it was "cool", I thought it may stay limited to graphical applications because for non-graphical applications they don't make one more productive than a well-designed command and/or character-based interface. (And still don't.) What I didn't count on was that most found they are easier to learn (pick up). I didn't know that issue would override others in users/manangers' minds.

Comment Assumed demand != actual demand (Score 0) 117

North Slope of Alaska. Siberia. Anyplace in the enormous expanse of the boreal forest / not-so-permafrost and targa regions that encircles the planet.

You're talking about places, not the amount of actual stuff that needs to get there that could be economically transported by airship. It would have to have such a huge cost advantage to overcome the need for in place roads and other infrastructure.

Roads are becoming a big issue with global warming (which, of course isn't happening except in the arctic and nearby regions). Even a month less of ice road makes a number of projects economically infeasible because helicopters and bulldozers don't get along all that well.

If the ice is melting on the north shore then you don't need an airship. You need an ocean going ship which will be MUCH cheaper and more reliable than any airship. It's not like you are going to send an airship during a winter storm anyway...

Of course, we are talking about things that are on the edge of possible, much less not actually existing at present. But the market is probably there if you can deliver.

You're just doing a hand wave and assuming that stuff we currently send by truck is practical to be transported by airship. It's not remotely clear that this is the case. If it were obviously economically sane companies like ExxonMobil have a lot of smart people who would try to make it work. They spend billions on technology and the cost of an airship wouldn't be a big deal at all to them. To a degree you're arguing that the profit motive of oil and gas companies isn't actually that strong.

Comment Make a business case (Score 1) 117

This is a cheaper solution.

That has yet to be established. Building a small number of very large airships is an extremely expensive endeavor. It's not even remotely clear that there is enough business for them to recoup their cost much less be a cheaper solution. If you have actual data to support it being a cheaper solution and for the value of the business to be had by all means share with the rest of the class. This is not remotely the first time this has been discussed on slashdot and those who think it is a good idea (and it might be) almost universally assume it is economically viable despite a near complete lack of evidence to support that assertion.

That's what technology is after all, the ability to do things more efficiently.

Just because you come up with a technological solution it does not automatically follow that it is more economically efficient than the alternatives.

Plus: who gets to decide what's "frivolous"? Certainly not you.

The market decides what is frivolous ultimately. But that doesn't mean I cannot look at a project and determine that there is high probability of it being frivolous without spending the money to build it. I could be wrong of course but I'd be mildly surprised if this turned into an economical solution to a real world problem. If it were obviously a better solution to a pressing problem chances are someone would have already done it. We've known how to build large airships for about a century.

Comment Market demand? (Score 1) 117

This could be used to carry large ungainly freight, like lifting a factory-built house onto a mountainside.

I'm rather dubious that there is sufficient market demand for remote heavy lifting to make it economically viable. I could be wrong of course and I'm certainly no expert but is getting heavy equipment into rural locations a really big unsolved problem? We don't seem unable to get heavy equipment into pretty remote locations today. Superficially it sounds like a solution looking for a problem.

Then of course there is the seemingly needless use of (probably) helium on what stands a strong chance of being a frivolous project. While we aren't going to imminently run out of helium, the supply on Earth is finite and should be tended carefully.

Comment Need to cover ALL charging scenarios (Score 1) 177

You are missing the point that almost each Tesla owner has is own personal gas station at home where charging occurs most of the time.

The key word there is "most". For EVs to supplant ICEs there will have to be ubiquitous charging infrastructure available for nearly all situations, not just most. Long trips, rural travel, people without garages, etc. There is a lot of infrastructure that needs to be built to turn Pinocchio into a real boy. Right now there are relatively few people who can own an EV as their sole automobile because of the fueling limitations. This more than anything else is what holds EVs back from wide spread acceptance.

Comment Why range extenders matter (Score 1) 177

No, for a car that can do 200+ miles on a single charge why would you even want a generator in tow?

Umm... because I want to drive farther than 200 miles or I'm going to a location where the options to recharge are poor to nonexistent. I do that routinely. My parents live far enough away that there is no EV on the market today that could reach them without a recharge along the way. My gas powered truck can reach them on a single tank of gas easily. Furthermore it's more than a little rude to arrive at someone's house and ask if you can mooch some of their electrons so you can get home. There are precisely zero conveniently located recharge stations along the route and even if there were the best case recharge time (Tesla Supercharger) would add the better part of an hour to the trip - each way. It's even worse if you are traveling to someplace rural. It's pretty easy to carry some extra cans of gasoline. Pretty hard to get electrons when you are nowhere close to the grid.

I wouldn't mind having a towable gas/diesel range extender for long trips until they can get a critical mass of recharge stations with adequately fast recharge times available. I'm an EV enthusiast but it's important to make allowances for the fact that the technology and infrastructure are still works in progress.

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