2418 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Corrosion is probably the easier part of the seawater problem.
The other part is that it's full of living organisms, and they're looking for something solid to anchor themselves to (and, often, to eat). Look at just about anything that's been sitting in the sea for a while, and it's covered with life-forms.
They still don't know how to make submarine cables that won't be destroyed by marine life within a small number of decades. Moving parts, that's harder still.
Solar Thermal storage
The other way to store energy from sunlight is extremely simple, and doesn't even need Solar PV cells. Concentrate the sunlight with a big mirror. Use it to melt stuff. Generate electricity using the molten stuff to generate steam and spin turbines. "Stuff" is one of a number of possible salts and metals (and maybe polymers, if a good polymer chemist sat down to think about the requirement).
For overnight electricity, pump the molten stuff into a big well-insulated tank, for use to generate steam after sunset.
Solar-Thermal doesn't get the press that Solar-PV does, but I'll hazard a guess that polished aluminium mirrors will always be cheaper than high-tech PV panels.
Thorium reactors and A-bombs.
The trouble with a Uranium fission reactor is that it inevitably breeds Plutonium, which can be chemically separated and used to make bombs.
A Thorium reactor inevitably breeds Uranium-233. I've never been able to find out whether it's possible to build U233 bombs. Anyone know for sure? Thorium reactor advocates often say this technology is safe against A-bomb proliferation, but why? U233 is quite definitely fissile.
Last time I Googled this I found no good answers, and probably got myself an elevated NSA-profile. Anyone *know*?
Re: Commercial fusion may not be as far away as you think
Tritium will be manufactured in fusion reactors by exposing Lithum to neutrons, if we ever get to the stage of having just one working fusion reactor. In other words, fusion reactors are Tritium breeder reactors if you want them to be (and it's also hard to think of any better way of dealing with the thermal flux and the fast neutrons).
If you want more parties, you need some kind of preferential voting system, so votes for the least popular candidate are distributed according to next preferences amongst the remaining candidates - repeat until one candidate has more than 50% of the vote.
Actually, not true. The simplest and probably best system (except never tried on a large scale) is approval voting. You mark every candidate who you'd be willing to see holding office. You can vote for one, or all-but-one, or anything inbetween. The votes for each candidate are counted. The one with the most votes is elected.
One huge advantage is that several candidates from the same party can run, representing different nuances of one party's platform. There's no such thing as "splitting the vote" under his system. If you want to vote for a party, then just vote for all members of that party.
Personally I'd make one further refinement: a "none of the above" option. If "none of the above" won, all of the candidates would be disqualified from the re-run of the election that would then take place.
Re: the PC power switch!
In the early days of PCs, the power switch sometimes protruded proud of the case. Back then it was a hard mains switch, not a soft switch. I've seen major damage caused by pushing the keyboard back against the idiot-designed case. Later, the power switch (and reset button) were always recessed. Ease-of-use is not always a good thing. Big red switches ought to come with Mollyguards. Needing three fingers for C/A/D was definitely good design not bad. It's pretty much impossible to C/A/D by any kind of mistake.
Re: Calm Down
This isn't so much a walled garden as it is a thin paper ribbon.
For how long? Until the next firmware upgrade? Until someone decides to replace paper by steel and flicks a virtual switch at Samsung HQ?
Until that sticker disappears from the box, and all mention of region-locking is gone from the documentation, refuse to buy it. This is the only way to protect yourself from slav^H^H^H^Hexploitation.
Other rmanufacturers: this is your chance. Guarantee and advertize that your product will work globally, with any SIM, forever. Do it now. Strike while the iron is hot!
It's a stupid design - a spinning-rust drive balanced on its narrow edge with power and USB cables dangling. What could possibly go wrong?
A colleague had one of this design. The wire got snagged, the (active) drive fell over, and the data was all lost. External hard drives should sit in their most stable orientation, i.e. flat. END OF. If you have bought one of these, run it lying flat. Even if it looks silly that way. Vertical is for books and cereal packets.
A cynic would say the poor design is deliberate. Lusers knock their drive over, blame themselves (or their partner or their cat), and buy another one.
Looking good, right up to the price tag.
Re: the bus following me has wings.
Digression. I once flew on a commuter flight about 200 miles down the US east coast on a plane that looked almost exactly like a Leyland single-decker bus with wings and a tailplane bolted on top. Square fuselage section. The least aerodynamic-looking aeroplane I'd ever seen, and that's including WW1 fighters. A prop-driven thing, unpressurized, with a howling gale coming in under the door and over my feet, so my toes were all but frostbitten by the time I arrived.
Even so, remember thinking Boston to Long Island airport by plane beats JFK and the Long Island Expressway(*) hands down. (*) Equates to the M25 on a bad day but with more potholes, and more^2 cars.
I'm inclined to think that any executive who wishes to follow Ballmer is an executive without whom Microsoft will be much better off. Conversely, those who now see an opportunity to redirect the corporation in a more fruitful direction shouldn't need any greater incentive than Ballmer's departure to stay. They've already benefitted 10% on their shares because of Wall Street's reaction. Their negotiations with the company should be all about Microsoft's future direction and their part in it, rather than about renumeration.
Don't know if there's anyone gullible enough to believe this stuff here, but the fundamental weak point in the "chemtrail" conspiracy theories is the crazy idea that any fine particulates sprayed into the atmosphere several miles up actually descend onto ground even vaguely underneath.
In fact, anywhere (even everywhere) on the planet is not just possible but probable.
I've had my car (in London) covered in red dust courtesy of sandstorms in the Sahara. Darwin recorded the same on a boat off the coast of Brazil (and it's now known, sandstorms in the Sahara are an important source of plant nutrients in the Amazon basin). I've seen and smelled woodsmoke in Minneapolis from a forest fire a thousand miles West. People in the UK can suffer allergic reactions to plants that grow only in the USA. That Icelandic volcano with an impossible name shut down aviation in Europe. Bigger volcanoes in the past have turned sunsets spectacularly orange everywhere on the planet, and have even caused dips in global temperature for the year or three it took for the dust to finally settle. The crew of a space shuttle reported that the Earth's atmosphere was "all milky" in the weeks after Pinatubo (Phillipines) errupted.
And that's all with ground-level sources of dust!! Targetted Chemtrails - ROFL.
As far as I know nuclear decay is the only easy genuine random source available
Completely wrong. Others are thermal noise (in analogue electronics), and turbulence (in airflow). Your audio input jack and hardware can be a very effective random source. For best effect, connect a thermal noise source instead of a microphone: it's trivial to build one from a few discrete electronic components, and power it off a USB port.
But even a microphone listening to background noise will do. Even if the spooks have a hi-fi uncompressed bug in your office, it won't be recording exactly the same audio stream. The least significant bit per sample will be random, which is quite a reasonable source of entropy to blend into an entropy pool. (If you stick your random noise microphone to your PC's fan grille, it'll be more than one random bit per sample).
Finally, for an entropy pool you don't need random in the sense of passing all statistical tests for a random source. It just has to be non-reproducible and not remembered by anything. So the "signal" bits of the background noise in your office also qualify to a greater or lesser extent.
Is it still inexplicably veering off course?
I remember reports that it wasn't quite where Newtonian/ Einsteinian gravity says it should be. There were various explanations mooted other than new physics, but they seemed a bit strained. The longer it carries on diverging from its Newtonian trajectory, the more strained the other explanations become.
It's a *very* small deviation. But if it's real, Voyager may yet become most famous as first evidence of some new physics.
They already make hot pepper chewing gum as a medical aid for people suffering painful mouth ulcers arising from chemotherapy. The "hot" sensation blocks the pain sensation.
I've occasionally thought it might find a wider market as a sort of confectionery.
So... since every fool knows that the moderate doses of capsaicin as found in culinary chillies are not harmful, is this a form of S&M "torture" that's legal?
Just curious. About the law.
@bazza: Re: He's right.
Not enough extra transistors to make any difference, compared to the 100 million plus transistors per SoC. It could be done with a standardised ROM containing a list of device IDs (64 bits, to avoid ever running out of IDs) and a base address (64 bits). Some address decode logic, and 128 bits (128 transistors?) per device.
Any patent on a ROM containing a look-up table surely expired in the 1970s.
No reason a ROM consumes any power at all, except when it's being read. But even ignoring that, a thousand transistors compared to many million is under 0.1%. That's way below manufacturing variability.
Re: Public bodies such as local authorities certainly shouldn't be exempted
Always respond to anything involving the slightest chance of legal action by letter, recorded delivery. This has several advantages. They can't turn around and deny whatever they told you in their reply. They make themselves look bad (in court, or on your official complaint) if their reply is in any way evasive, inaccurate, or never arrives. And best of all, it costs them far more to process than a phone call would.
I'd suggest the same retalliation to 0870 and 09xx numbers. Put down the phone. Write a letter. Send it recorded delivery.
Re: I remember watches - @Denarius
Depends (broadly) on whether you're talking electronics, or new antiques. Rolexes, and the whole of the expensive "classical" mechanical watch industry, are retailing new antiques.
The classic watch "user interface" is good, and auto-winding so they never stop (if worn occasionally) is also good. Electronically, you can have the same with a Citizen eco-drive (light-powered), and better timekeeping, and a longer keepalive-time while stored in a dark drawer.
Re: Alternative option
I was thinking they could call their colour Shampagne, but I'm not sure how that would play with potential French customers.
$400 for the competition??
I can't remember the exact year, but I remember that when I was in the market for my first scientific calculator (as a schoolkid), the competition was between the Sinclair and the Commodore SR-36 at about twice the price. I bought the Commodore (for a vaguely-remembered £59? ), and never regretted it. Everything worked perfectly right through to about 2005(*), during which time I never felt a need to buy another calculator. I think it was the keyboard which proclaimed "quality" just as the Sinclair one proclaimed "cheap, nasty".
The Commodore SR-36 was a real class act.
(*) except the rechargeable battery, whch I had to replace a couple of times (screwdriver and soldering iron required).
Re: My own, minor, experience..
Outsourcing to the wrong organisation? Who chose this grocer? Sainsbury, Tesco, Asda all do free delivery on orders much smaller than £500!
I wonder who is paying for "those people"'s lunches?
Re: Prisoner Escort - a question
It's a bus isn't it? One where the passengers are handcuffed to the seats (or something - never seen inside one!). But does that make it any less of a bus?
Re: There cannot be an exponential that doesn't end," he said. "You can't have it."
Isn't the growth capitalism depends on measured in money? Which is subject to inflation? I've always assumed that capitalism works just fine on somewhat illusory growth. In boom times growth is ahead of inflation, in slumps inflation is ahead of growth, and if there's a fundamental reason that this cannot continue for the forseeable future I don't know of it.
Re: Human Brain 1000000x more powerful than a computer
non-faulty computer or calculation design will always return the same answer, assuming other variables remain constant. A Human brain is completely different in that it is likely to return a different answer each time, even if the variables remain constant.
Straw man! assuming other variables remain constant If it's a realtime event-driven system with unpredictable and unrepeatable inputs, that is never the case. A brain is clearly such a system. One may speculate that is a large part of its superiority over a computer (though of course, an operating system is also of that nature).
Re: Human Brain 1000000x more powerful than a computer
it's the power, cooling, and interconnect on the large scale that needs work.
Very well said. When Moore's law finally runs out, the next major breakthrough will have to be in parallel coding.
A (human) brain has ~10^11 processing elements clocked at maybe 10Hz. A CPU has ~10^9 transistors clocked at ~10^9 Hz. By that measure a humble desktop CPU should be ahead of us by a few orders of magnitude. So what gives?
Well OK, a neuron is a much more complex device than a transistor, but a million times more complex? Unless it's in some sense a quantum computational element rather than a classical one (which cannot be ruled out), I don't think there's a difference of complexity of order 10^6. Surely not 10^9 (comparing against a 1000-CPU cluster).
Which leaves the dense-packed 3D interconnect in a brain, and even more so the way it is able to utilize its hardware in parallel for a new problem without any (or much) conscious organisation of how that hardware will be organised, what algorithms it will deploy.
The next huge breakthrough will have to be in problem definition technology. Something that fulfils the same role as a compiler, but working across a much greater range between the statement of the problem and the hardware on which the code will run. There are some scary possibilities. Success on this front may reveal that a decent scientific computing cluster is actually many orders of magnitude superior to ourselves as a general-purpose problem solver, and might also reveal intelligence and consciousness as emergent properties.
Jill (*) or Skynet?
(*) Jill is the most benign first AI I know of in SF. Greg Bear, "Slant".
Re: Trade in value will make it or break it.
a 4 or 5 year old 100K Tesla may prove to be an unwanted relic .
Or a design classic. It's certainly one of the more attractive vehicles out there, and it will almost certainly be seen as the first successful electric car. Beautiful and historically important. IMO more so on both fronts than, say, a mark 1 Porsche 911 or an E-type Jag.
As for advancing battery technology: if batteries in five years time have twice the capacity, surely someone will work out how to retro-fit a better battery into a Tesla? Also a lot of the cost of a battery pack is the raw material (Lithium) it contains. You should get a large trade-in allowance against a new one, and an appropriate payment for the one in a scrapped car.
Re: Front 'trunk'
Mostly trunks aren't completely full with solid stuff. If they are, the car is almost certainly dangerously overloaded (and being used way outside its specification, so any consequences are definitely its user's fault). Usually, baggage is light and squashy stuff (like clothes or desktop PCs).
For reference, a cubic meter of concrete is about 2.5 tons. The maximum permitted load for a typical car, (evenly distributed between both axles, and including the passengers) is in the ballpark of 1.5 tons. Probably quite a bit less for a sports vehicle like a Tesla, and at most half at the front.
Re: The battery pack is an issue on trade in value.OTOH remember what happens to BHP?
It's built like a tank.
Which is NOT the right way to build a safe car. Run a tank-like vehicle into an equally solid obstacle (such as a bridge pier) and the occupants are subjected to a very high G force. They'll therefore suffer greater injury. The seat belts and airbags will do theit best to cushion them, but there's only half a meter or so of cushioning there.
As the article says, a Tesla has a front boot, all of which is engineered as a crumple zone. It therefore has an engine's length of extra crumple-distance than a front-engined car, meaning it's got maybe twice the distance for the passenger cell to decelerate within, thereby subjecting the occupants to half the force.
In reality it's not quite as great an advantage as that example, because front-engined cars aren't that badly designed. They're designed to crumple so the engine is forced downwards and the passenger cell rides upwards over the engine. In other words, not at all solid like a tank!
Re: The Truth is out there ( pa' vItna' tu'lu'). Old Klingon saying!
They've declassified Ared 51 as a red herring. The real secrets are, of course, to be found at Area 667. Yes, of course you've never heard of it.
Re: English Electric Lightning ????
Going in a different direction, maybe. At top speed and overtaken by, no way!
Re: Law Talk?
They might actually be doing Openoffice / Libreoffice a favour.
The right way to get free software is to download it via the appropiate web-site (www.libreoffice.org, www.openoffice.org). If you don't know where that is, Google is your friend. If you're professionally paranoid, you check the sha256sums after you've fetched it.
The wrong way is to trust that www.dodgyfreedownloads.ru is your friend and that what you download has no added extra malware. And if a site is advertising a MS Office torrent, it's definitely very dodgy!
Re: We are seeing Lenovo riding Windows 8's coat-tails
My thought also. It's not the big corporates who care whether Windows 7 is factory-installed. On the other hand, what about the small companies out there? (Four men and a dog ltd.) They also don't want Windows 8, and don't always have the downgrade rights that big corporates take for granted.
If Windows 7 drivers aren't offered, that's a do-not-buy flag to any size of customer that wants to run Windows 7. And factory install maybe suggests a greater comittment to Windows 7?
Re: You'd have to pay me to use it
It's not quite that bad. If I couldn't buy a Logitech mouse, I'd pick a Microsoft one.
I read the OP as irony
Re: NO, Windows 9 is make-or-break
Make or Break will be when Microsoft announce an EOL date for Windows 7. As long as businesses can "downgrade" to 7, they'll just ignore Windows 8 while suffering the (just about manageable) pain of migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7. If MS has any sense left it'll announce that Windows 7 has guaranteed support until at least 2020.
If there's no user-compatible upgrade path from Windows 7 when it's EOL announcement arrives, that will be the date that businesses divorce Microsoft. (I mean divorce. Messy, acrimonious, and horribly expensive).
PS the desktop isn't dead, and never will be. It may run a non-MS O/S, or become a thin client for a noisy fat monster in the server room, but it will have a proper keyboard and mouse and a big monitor at the far side of a desk. What you need for real work, as opposed to playing, posing or skiving.
Oddly, the design and engineering deficiencies of the Titanic didn't deter travellers of that age from embarking on the Olympic (Titanic's sister ship)
Sinking-ship icon needed.
Re: Make or Break?
Just as long as you can go into its BIOS, disable secure boot and UEFI, and install Linux and/or Windows 7, I'll be happy with a discount.
We can already see what non-repurposeable Windows Surfaces are worth, can't we?
Re: Size Matters
I still have a CRT telly. I don't want to throw away a piece of 1970s technology that still works perfectly, despite the 25 kilovolts in its innards and the hige multiplicity of discrete components.
(And size doesn't matter - a 25 inch telly is quite big enough! )
Tabphone or Tabfone might work, in a way that Phablet definitely doesn't.
For gentle mockery of anyone who spends too long talking into one, what about ear-iron? (makes for flat ears).
Why no two-part phones yet?
Seems to me that what's needed is a two-part system. A largish tablet, for internet access. A small and very light weight "phone" for one's shirt pocket. Link the two parts by bluetooth.
Even better if they standardise the interconnection protocols, so any tablet can support any bluetooth phone. (I'm dreaming).
Re: Very Large Phones
I was thinking megaphone ... except that's already taken. Sigh.
Re: VLP == Vain Losers Poserphone
I doubt that being seen with it is a consideration these days. I'd expect that the typical user of this device wants to use the internet a lot more than he wants to make phone calls. Or is visually impaired, and finds any smaller screen verges on un-usable.
Re: Start making archive drives
I'm guessing it won't work. At the very best you'd have tracks twice the length, but you'd have to slow down the disk rotation speed to half both to maintain the aerodynamics that floats the head and to reduce stress on the bigger disk to a manageable level. Data bandwidth would decrease as data size increased. At worst vibrational instabilities would kill the idea. (General engineering rule: the bigger it is, the less stiff it can be).
If the manufacturers can get the price of a 4Tb 3.5 inch disk down to the £35 which has been the price of every previous size of disk drive at the time it was superceded, they'll be in business for a while yet. Get HAMR and/or BPM to market and sell 40Tb disks for £35, and I doubt Flash will ever compete.
The dark horse is ReRAM. I think it may kill flash first, followed by disks, both within 15 years of today.
Re: SSD are not reliable enough yet!
SSDs are certainly more rugged. For laptops that get banged about, they might be the better choice. SSDs aren't more reliable on the desktop. They don't give advanced warning of failure. One moment they're AOK, the next monent they're done for. They wear out and die - the more that is written to them, the faster they wear.
Nevertheless my employer is going over to SSD for the system drive of all future desktops. The speed-up (especially in boot and log-in times) is extremely significant. They also save quite a few Watts per PC (and again on the air-con). No irreplaceable data lives on the SSDs. Everything that matters is on "enterprise" big RAID-6 arrays of spinning rust in the server room (and incrementally backed up to another site every night). If the desktop's SSD fails, just throw it away, connect a new one, reinstall the image across the network, and carry on as if nothing happened.
Re: Not in my experience
Really? Did you run software to check the SMART statistics that turned into bricks? Did you try ddrescue after the failure? You must be a very unlucky chap. Based on a sample size of several hundred over a decade, the majority of hard drives (probably 2/3) do show signs of going bad before they fail completely (at which point I pre-emptively replace them), and ddrescue can retrieve a large part of the data from maybe half of the other third.
Anyway, we have backups, don't we?
Re: Sex or Murder?
Or a labourer having fun? (Strap the phone to the handles of a pneumatic drill ...)
Re: Real risks are long term
So you don't let it get loose on the surface. It needs to be treated like it would be if it was effluent coming out of a factory. The oil and gas industry has plenty of experience of dealing with high-pressure conventional gas and oil wells that need no encouragement to flow, and they very rarely leak near the surface. A fracked tight gas well is a much more benign entity.
How to dispose of this mildly toxic water (which is probably safe enough to swim in, but not to drink)? I don't know what the regulations say. Personally I'd guess that the thousand-fold dilution you'd get even in the immediate vicinity of dumping it into the sea would render it quite harmless.
"Radioactive isotopes?" Are you implying that fracking is a new method of isoptope separation that doesn't require ultracentrifuge chains, etc? Or are you just referring to the Radon being produced with the fracked gas, just as it's produced with conventional gas? Yes, the gas that feeds your heating is measurably more radioactive than the air you breathe. (Unless you live in Aberdeen, in which case natural radioactivity in the local rock that the city is built from likely guarantees it's the other way around!)
You get bigger earthquakes when a car drives over a speed hump near your residence. A fire engine at full emergency tilt over that hump is Richter 4-plus (Wikipedia: Noticeable shaking of indoor objects and rattling noises. Felt by most people in the affected area. Slightly felt outside. Generally causes none to minimal damage. Moderate to significant damage very unlikely. Some objects may fall off shelves or be knocked over.)
They monitor for tiny quakes because of the theoretical risk that fracking might lubricate and activate an occult fault (one that's present underground but not visible on the surface). AFAIK to date, there has been no significant seismic event capable of threatening life caused by fracking. Pre-drill seismic prospecting will show up most faults before the drilling goes anywhere near them.
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