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* Posts by Steve Todd

1821 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: The plug-in for plutocrats

Steve Todd
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Re: Ok...

The Chevy Volt/Vauxhall Ampera works that kind of way. You have an (approximately) 200HP (150kW) electric motor with a 1.4l petrol engine for backup power when the battery runs low. The main trick is that you rarely sustain demand for the full 200HP, so you don't need to be able to generate the full amount continuously from the petrol engine (which is mostly used coupled to an electric generator to feed the electric motor).

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Steve Todd
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Re: But why?

EU emissions rules. Motor manufacturers have to hit EU targets, so that by 2020 their average emissions are down to 95g/km. It's not going to be possible for them to make exotic V12 engined models any more, they are being forced in the direction of hybrids and pure electric because of this.

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Steve Todd
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Since the Tesla S P85

Comes in at less than £70k, accelerates faster (60 in 4.2 seconds) and is better equipped then, other than people who need the extra range that petrol gives you or like to fling their cars around tight corners, the Porsche looks like a bad choice.

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The END of the FONDLESLAB KINGS? Apple and Samsung have reason to FEAR

Steve Todd
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Re: @20legend

A no-name with a 9.8" full HD screen for less than 100 quid? You can still flog iPad 1's used for £100 so that's what you'd need to be able to beat in order for the no-name to be cheaper.

Yes, you can buy cheaper devices, but they will be cr*p in comparison, worse to use and won't save you money in the long run.

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Steve Todd
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@20legend

You'll find that the second hand value of Apple kit is considerably better than most other companies. As the spec is quite high to start with they are normally usable for longer and, factoring in sale when you want to replace it, they end up costing you less.

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Steve Todd
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That's the issue with being an early adopter and is pretty much the case with any product you care to mention. The first few iterations change quite rapidly, after which things slow down.

The iPad 2 will be getting iOS 8. The problem with the original iPad was that it was short of RAM, which is the reason it's not updatable.

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Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket

Steve Todd
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Have they managed to solve the vibration problems yet?

Last thing I heard the SLS solid boosters caused so much vibration that it would harm the crew.

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iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms

Steve Todd
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Re: iPad's iFad niche has gone

Intel chips are still not competitive on power, and in particular on price when you factor in the support chips needed also. ARM based solutions can be tailored to contain all the IO and support chips required, thus minimising system cost. There is also no longer the demand for backwards binary compatibility (back in the days of DOS there was a lot of hand crafted assembler that was hard to port, most software these days just needs a recompile to run on a different CPU). Intel are in trouble here, in the same way that the makers of exotic mini hardware were in trouble. ARMs may not be quite as fast, but they are much cheaper and good enough for a lot of work.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Ipad only a content consumption device

And here we go with the tired old tropes. The iPad isn't good at creating SOME types of content, while being excellent at others. MOST users aren't big on content creation so that hardly matters for them.

As for backup, that's been possible to the cloud since (IIRC) iOS 6. If your machine dies you get it repaired or replaced, log in with your iTunes account and everything is back.

You sound like the old mainframe guys who complained that, if a microprocessor broke, you wouldn't be able to repair it. Just because it doesn't fit the way that YOU work, or behave in ways you're used to doesn't mean that there isn't a market for it.

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Europe: Apple could NOT care less about kids' in-app cash sprees

Steve Todd
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Re: "A spokesman for Apple told El Reg..."

Er, so were they on iOS. The problem occurred because, just like Android, iOS allowed a grace period of (IIRC) 15 minutes after one purchase before you had to type the password to make another. Your sprog could make as many purchases as they liked during that 15 mins.

What Apple did was to make the severity of the restriction user configurable. At one end of the scale you can't make in-app purchases on a device at all.

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GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?

Steve Todd
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Or without any additional hardware at all

You can add an app to your smart phone that creates an ad-hoc mesh network on the 2.4Ghz ISM band that does the same kind of thing.

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Cops nab suspect using CREEPY facial recog system

Steve Todd
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Re: As a way of helping track down a suspect

There IS a reasonable case for photographs while a case is ongoing, when someone is arrested etc. The point at which they are deleted is the question.

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Steve Todd
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As a way of helping track down a suspect

Based on photographic evidence of the crime then it's not a bad idea. The photographic database on which it feeds is the creepy bit. If a person is cautioned or convicted then there's a fair case for keeping a photograph on file. If there's only suspicion, or involvement in another case then I don't see it as reasonable to give the police the right to hold photos for that long.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Sorry about this..

Ok, death by cake it is then.

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Hi-tech Fagin couple used Apple scam cash to fly pickpockets to UK

Steve Todd
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Re: 8 years for 15K

Or perhaps, less cynically, the bank knows about the problem, their support staff have been alerted and they are working on a fix? Computer F ups happen in banks too, sometimes costing them hundreds of millions in fees and penalties.

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German NSA probe chief mulls spy-busting typewriters

Steve Todd
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Digital systems don't have to be networked

And all their information can be encrypted with a key token so that even stealing the physical machine is useless.

Conversely paper documents can easily be digitised with a digital camera, and encoded data on them can be broken more easily as the current generation of ciphers aren't suitable for manual use (the older versions were replaced because they weren't strong enough to resist a computer attack).

The security of a digital system can be as high as your paranoia and budget allows while still being usable (perfectly secure systems can't be used at all).

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Running the Gauntlet: Atari's classic ... now and then

Steve Todd
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Go look for

"Midway Arcade" in the Apple App Store, it includes Gauntlet and Gauntlet II

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What the world needs now is... a Bluetooth-enabled baby's dummy

Steve Todd
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Re: No wireless near my baby

If it is low enough power to run for a year on internal power then I'd be much more concerned with other sorts of RF, like next door's WiFi, passing mobile phones etc. You need to keep all babies in a Faraday cage don't you?

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Standby consumes MORE POWER THAN CANADA: IEA

Steve Todd
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"Meanwhile - feel free to replace your car with an electric one, because from all the pushing from politicians and "energy experts" you'd be forgiven for believing that the electricity they use just appears out of nowhere and doesn't have to be generated first......"

Power generated by renewables is intermittent in nature and hard to store. That's one source. The second (existing and well known) source is the large gap between capacity and demand over night. They already sell off-peak power cheaply in an attempt to get people to use it. You don't need any more generating capacity in order to cope with (IIRC) 30% of the country's traffic being electric powered.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Remembering settings

There are these devices called EEPROMS that can store a few hundred K of data power free. A number of microcontrollers have them built in. That or there's something called flash memory, maybe you've heard of it? PCs tend to have a battery backed clock (powered by a small lithium cell) and EEPROM combined, so they stand for years without power and still start correctly.

The reason that devices like to be left running is something called heat cycling. Components expand as they warm up, and contract when they cool down. This results in failures due to mechanical stresses.

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Steve Todd
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Does anyone know what the energy impact of DAB would be if anyone used it?

Given that the latest DAB chipsets are down in about the 2-3W range when they are working, then not a lot.

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F1? No, it's Formula E as electric racing cars hit the track

Steve Todd
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Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

I would contend that nobody actually pays anything like £24k for an Astra, regardless of spec or list price.

It's not very hard to take the price of the Astra, with options, past £28K. The Beemer may have a list price starting below that, but for that you'll get 4 wheels and an engine. Everything else is an option.

You chose based in the purchase and running costs NOW, not when the government discovers that there are enough of them on the road to effect their revenue. When there ARE enough of them on the road to have that effect then the economies of mass production will have cut in, and they will be much cheaper to buy.

The main reason for the congestion charge is to cut pollution levels in Central London, not to do with traffic levels (traffic is actually flowing at the same speed, pretty much, as before the charge as they have introduced traffic calming to slow it down). EVs definitely help there.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

And take a look at its price tag of around £34k for a car the size of an Astra. You've got to be a rich eco-warrior to be able to afford one.

Considering that an Astra with roughly equivalent spec (the 2 litre diesel automatic) lists at roughly £24k, and after government rebates the Ampera costs you about £28K, plus the facts that it costs about 1/3-1/4 in fuel, costs you nothing at all in road tax, is exempt from the London Congestion Charge and costs only 5% BiK tax if it's a company car (vs 15% for the most efficient Astra) means that you don't have to work hard at all to justify it as an option.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

Take a look at the Vauxhall Ampera/ Chevy Volt. It's got a 50 mile range on pure electric, but also has a small petrol engine to generate power when the battery gets low, giving it a 320 mile range on a tank of fuel. Short to medium term that fixes your problem of range, and most people drive less than 50 miles per day so will use little or no petrol. It's also quite lively, with a 150PS motor and a sub 9 second 0-62MPH time.

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Steve Todd
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Which means these cars could be out-paced by my 1991 bike

Until you arrive at the first corner that is. These things are designed like F1 for high cornering downforce, they'll leave you for dead on a twisty race circuit.

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Apple fanbois to talk at the iWatch, INSPECTOR GADGET style – report

Steve Todd
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Has Hamill hit a new low?

Trying to drum up sympathy for cellco's now? Why on earth would users think that a new, free, messaging type was a bad thing?

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We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Steve Todd
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Obviously for the same reason that

running a green felt tip around the outside of a CD makes it sound better. Mostly because you think it does. There's probably some effect to the wow and flutter of the source, but high end HiFi folk can rarely spot the difference with their treasured improvement in a blind A-B-X test.

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Steve Todd
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Re: todays encoding sucks

What, all those lossless 16 and 24 bit FLAC files are no good? Nor are the 256K VBR AAC audio files you can get from many sources? I think you're over-generalising.

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We got behind the wheel of a Tesla S electric car. We didn't hate it

Steve Todd
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Re: Range

See the post above about range drop. This is about 1% per 10,000 miles driven. Even at 20K miles/year at 4 years you'd still have 275 miles per charge in range, though fast charging would reduce this.

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Steve Todd
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Re: There are cheaper, less environmentally harmful options.

2nd generation Prius models have a large, multifunction screen in the middle of the dash that covers everything from the GPS maps through power usage to the audio system. You don't see too many of them embedded in the landscape or other cars because of it. Screens are only distracting if they are continuously updated with information not relevant to driving.

The other point about Li-ion cells is invalid also. The cells are very recyclable (95%+). Lithium mining isn't impact free, but it's one of the cleaner mining operations and it's certainly no worse than the extraction of oil.

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Aereo has to pay TV show creators? Yes. This isn't rocket science

Steve Todd
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Re: Even without the 1 antenna -> 1 Subscriber model...

You live in the Aereo warehouse? It's not a domestic location. The exemption is for personal home use. Under no stretch of the imagination could the Aereo warehouse be considered to be a personal home location. Renting a house or flat on the other hand doesn't change it's status as a domicile.

TiVo doesn't rent you the machine or location. They also don't insist that you accept their TV guide in order to get the service (though it becomes somewhat less useful). The only part of the equation that they are providing externally are TV listings (which I believe they pay the TV companies for in order to source them), everything else is within the user's personal domestic space and therefore covered by the exemption.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Even without the 1 antenna -> 1 Subscriber model...

Stop me if I'm wrong, but that still involves rental. There is a special exemption in US copyright law for personal home recordings. The minute that a company starts involving themselves in charging for the ongoing provision of recording as a service then they're outside of that exemption.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Even without the 1 antenna -> 1 Subscriber model...

The difference is that it's all done using your own kit without paying a 3rd party rental and without streaming over a public Internet connection.

Where Aereo messed up was the idea that they could profit from offering a service that Congress had already decided should be payed for (they had legislated retransmission fees). They tried for a technical loophole in the law as it stood and were always on shaky ground.

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Smartphone SEX APPS will give you CUPID'S MEASLES - study

Steve Todd
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Sounds like they've read the logic the wrong way around as usual

The implication is that the kind of people who use these apps are more likely to engage in risky sex, meatspace or not.

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Han Solo headed for lengthy stay in bacta tank after Bay Door Control cockup

Steve Todd
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They managed to finish Gladiator after Oliver Reed died

It won't be too hard to digitally mat on images of a real, live Harrison Ford onto a body double. It may cost them more, but I doubt it will delay the film much.

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EU probe into Apple's taxes: It's NOT to do with double-Dutch-Irish anything sandwiches

Steve Todd
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As it's remarkably hard

To find Apple devices from third party companies at much less than RRP then one suspects that they aren't allowing a big margin to distributors.

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Look inside ELON MUSK'S CAR! Tesla S wundervehicle has voom

Steve Todd
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Re: Still waiting to see where the power's coming from

The answer is in the difference between peak and off-peak demand. Economy 7 has been around for years to try to encourage people to use off-peak power because it's expensive to have capacity that isn't used, even more so if the government insists on adding renewables which are intermittent or cyclic in nature. EV charging with smart chargers can help even out the troughs, and it is even possible for them to help with the peaks too by feeding surplus energy (as defined by the driver, and at a profit to them) back into the grid.

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Russians turn Raspberry Pi into fully-fledged autopilot

Steve Todd
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To big and too expensive

You can get a device with built in GPS and a degree of Arduino compatibility (you can program it from the Arduino IDE at least) for less than $30 these days. It's called a NavSpark, and it has a 100MHz 32 bit core with FPU so it's quite fast enough for this kind of work. Add a 10DOF sensor and a PWM controller and you should have change out of $60, plus a much smaller and lighter system.

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Feds crack down harder on 'lasing'. Yep, aircraft laser zapping... Really

Steve Todd
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Re: 14 years?

Wasn't just because of the laser attack. He was on probation already and had a history of bad behaviour. He got 14 years because of the combination of those things.

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Google to plonk tentacles on 'unwired' world with $1bn launch of 180-satellite fleet

Steve Todd
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Re: What I want to know

And making the satellites costs nothing? Developing, testing and manufacturing 180 satellites will likely cost well north of $1bn by its self.

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Steve Todd
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What I want to know

Is how Google expect to launch that number of satellites for only $1bn. Iridium are working on a replacement cluster for their current network. 66 satellites are costing them $2.9bn, plus nearly $500 million for SpaceX to launch them. Google want to launch nearly 3 times that number.

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Brunner does a runner: Beats designer must hand the brand to Apple

Steve Todd
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Re: coolest members of Apple

So if you don't desire to be cool then your coolness is infinite?

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Rich bitch sorority girls actually more likely to put out than low-class 'sluts': Study

Steve Todd
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Re: Sexist article

Hmm, I wonder if they can do you for being drunk in charge of an Internet, or is the embarrassment after you sober up later enough?

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Rap chap tapped for $3 BEELLION: Apple buys Dr Dre's Beats

Steve Todd
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Re: Apple is no longer a product company

I guess you haven't tried pricing up Xeon motherboards and processors, nor workstation class video cards. Last time I checked I couldn't build an equivalent box out of parts for much less than the Pro.

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Tesla's TOP SECRET gigafactories: Lithium to power world's vehicles? Let's do the sums

Steve Todd
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Re: you have to heat it quite a lot before it starts to work

So if we give it another 50 or 60 years of research we may be able to start an oxide based fuel cell with less energy? This compares to Lithium Air cells that should be in production in 5-10 years and have 3 times the energy density of current Li Ion cells (think of a Tesla model S with a battery pack half the current size and a 450 mile range)

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Steve Todd
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Re: Why look for lithium

Sodium Sulphur cells need to be kept rather hot in order for them to work, and metallic sodium is bloody dangerous (there's enough outcry over the danger of lithium cells).

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Steve Todd
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Re: I'll admit to being hugely biased here

The problem with solid oxide IIRC is that you have to heat it quite a lot before it starts to work. The cost of a start/stop is therefore high, making it poor for automotive use, though it's pretty reasonable for continuous draw uses. All of these fuel cell systems need an auxiliary battery pack BTW as they're quite poor at instantaneous demand.

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Ditching renewables will punch Aussies in the wallet – Bloomberg

Steve Todd
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Re: What about all the conventional capacity needed

@Aitor, given your own numbers a 4Kw installation would cost €8,000 to install. That money could have been earning interest (or, more likely, you have to pay interest to borrow it) so you can safely ignore the increasing cost per year as that is offset. If you can manage ENTIRELY on the power of your PV system then the average household would take 15 years to pay that back, ignoring maintenance and storage costs (you're dreaming if you think the system will sit there and need no work for over 15 years). If you can't store all of that power, can only sell the surplus at wholesale prices and need to draw from the grid at night then the time goes up significantly.

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Watch: Kids slam Apple as 'BORING, the whole thing is BORING'

Steve Todd
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Re: How things have changed

You're pushing it rather to describe the Xerox Star as a personal computer. It didn't use a microprocessor (using TTL logic, or bit slice chips in later versions) needed a file server and a print server to be any use and cost $16,000 just for the terminal, back when a secretary earned $12,000 per year.

The Apple vs Microsoft case proved that copyright wasn't a good way of protecting designs, so the Apple vs Samsung case was over two issues, design patents (the shape and design of the physical device) and utility patents (the way certain things were done in software), neither of which prevented competitors producing phones that were distinct from Apple's design, but Samsung decided they could make more money copying the iPhone as closely as possible.

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Apple wheels out sueball cannon, again

Steve Todd
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Re: This isn't about phones looking like each other

The only reason they couldn't mention the F700 was because they tried to introduce it as evidence too late in the process. It was a misstep by their legal team, not anything malicious.

Once again, which was the patent for "touching a touch screen"? Nothing was as simple as that, and all of the patents were non-essential to making a smartphone.

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