* Posts by Jim84

258 posts • joined 20 Mar 2012

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Starlink's latent China crisis could spark a whole new world of warcraft

Jim84

Starlink vs Blimp net

While everyone seems to be looking at Musk's shinny keys, a dark horse may be approaching:

https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/no-propeller-no-problem-this-blimp-flies-on-buoyancy-alone

tl;dr - Companies like Softbank, Google, and Facebook have been trying to build an ISP using flying wing drones for over a decade, but unsucessfully as they have durability problems. Blimps that fly via changes in bouyancy and don't need propellers could be a solution. By being closer to the end users Blimps could allow mobile internet on people's mobile phones rather than requiring a small satellite dish.

Just let this sink in: Capita wins 12-year £1bn contract to provide training services to the Royal Navy and Marines

Jim84

Top down vs Bottom up

Why give a £1 billion contract to one company for the entire navy's training in a top down way (well because Captia has mates in the government who will get cushy jobs at Captia after being MPs).

You would be off better giving each navy member a credit which they can spend at the training company of their own choice, but are then forced to pass standardised tests. That would allow actual competition and innovation in the delivery of training to navy members. There are plenty of Universities and companies around that are quite good at training and use quite modern IT to do so.

Adios California, Oracle the latest tech firm to leave California for the wide open (low tax) Lone Star State

Jim84

Re: It is not about home prices...

Yes it is. If it costs your employees X amount more to live where your head office is without living in a tent then you have to pay them the extra or else they won't work for you.

The companies and employees are not the bad guys here, it is the local landlords who vote for politicians who won't allow more housing development so that they can extract economic rents.

Megabucks in funding, 28 years of research, and Boston Dynamics is to be 'sold to Hyundai' for 1/40th of an Arm

Jim84

Fuel cell quiet UAV

You'd be better off having a quieter (fuel cell) UAV carrying a couple of precision missiles that soliders can laser designate onto a target (an annoying infantryman in a "defilade" position behind a wall or rock). This would give the infantry their own precision squad level airforce. The US military tired to get a counter defilade smart gun into the hands of its infantry with the XM-25 smart grenade launcher, but this turned out to be to much extra weight to carry. Really this drone would be a "flying backpack" for mini missiles that the soliders would never have to carry, you'd just have several or dozens or hundreds of such drones flying over an operations area.

There are drones that do this currently, but both the drones and missles cost far to much. Hellfire missiles cost 100k each, and even the man carried Javelin anti tank missles (now used to hit dug in Taliban in Afghanistan) cost 50k each. Maybe with new manufacturing and off the shelf parts missle costs could get down to $150 each (or whatever price level would make their use sustainable).

To get around the problem of the UAV noise alerting the enemy to the presence of the soliders, maybe fly a lot more (cheap) UAVs over a large area of countryside.

Android without Google – and yes it has apps: The Reg talks to founder about the /e/ smartphone

Jim84

If Huawei joined that would be a real threat to Google who would then find some way to break this system (probably frequent changes to google play services that a small outfit or even a large one like Huawei cannot afford to replicate and maintain profitability).

The Google guy saying he supports this project is basically trying to look nice because he doesn't actually feel threatened by it.

H2? Oh! New water-splitting technique pushes progress of green hydrogen

Jim84

Re: Storing hydrogen is an absolute pain

Yes pumping radioactive salt around pipes is not a great idea, as they will always leak, and when they do you have an even more difficult cleanup problem than with a sodium cooled reactor.

However there are two proposed ways around this problem. Thorcon and Terrestrial Energy both propose to use a pool type reactor in a can that is replaced every seven years (this is possible with a molten salt cooled reactor vessel as they are unpressurized and are not housed in a steam explosion resistant steel and conrete containment dome.

Moltex Energy has possible an even simpler solution of putting the fuel salt (a Chloride salt) in vented steel pins*, controlling corrosion by having a lump of zirconium metal in the bottom (to make the salt strongly reducing), thenhaving these pins cooled by a flouride salt in a pool type reactor. This gets rid of the need for an online chemical processing plant as the fission products just remain in the fuel pins which are removed from the reactor every few years like standard uranium oxide ceramic fuel pins in today's pressurized water reactors.

*Today's standard uranium oxide fuel pins have to be removed somewhat prematurely due to the build up of Xenon gas (a fission product) in them that prevents the reactor from sustaining a chain reaction, another problem is that that gas in the tubes builds up to about 60 atmospheres (I think). The Dounreay fast sodium reactor experiment in Scotland tried to deal with these issues by having a uranium metal alloy sitting in vented fuel pins (the uranium sat in liquid sodium inside a steel fuel pin). You wouldn't want to try this in water cooled reactor as sodium and water react violently, but in a sodium cooled reactor it isn't a problem.However as radioactive fission products of Cesium, Iodine, and Strontium are produced, the metals (which are gases at reactor temperatures) vented out into the sodium coolant outside, making it highly radioactive. In Moltex's design the Iodine is still reduced to a non volatile Sodium Iodide salt that stays in the fuel pin, but the Cesium and Strontium are converted into Cesium Chloride and Strontium Chloride non volatile salts that also remain in the fuel pins (precipitating Zirconium metal ZrCl + Cs > CsCl + Zr).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qJpVClxzVM&t=1164s

Jim84

Re: Storing hydrogen is an absolute pain

John Bucknell (former SpaceX engineer) is proposing to use the 700 degree heat output by future molten salt nuclear reactors along with helium turbo inductor pumps (originally proposed for nuclear rockets) to produce 1000 degree heat and methanol cheaper per MWhr equivalent of today's petrol:

https://youtu.be/Q1Fi3BnwL94

IBM: Our AI correctly predicts onset of Alzheimer’s 71% of the time, better than standard clinical tests

Jim84

Leucadia Therapeutics are pursuing the hypothesis that ossification of the cribiform plate with aging is a cause of Alzheimers:

https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2018/08/undoing-aging-doug-ethells-presentation-on-the-leucadia-therapeutics-approach-to-treating-alzheimers-disease/

Finding people at risk of Alzheimer’s and treating them with Leuicadias solution and then seeing how many go on to develop full Alzhiemers May work better than trying it on already mentally stuffed individuals who may be too far gone.

Transport for London data pilot: We want to keep tabs on dockless bikes and e-bikes

Jim84

Re: I think all transport needs looking at.

You're in a small tank, they are on a bike.

Jim84

GPS for every hire bike and more docks solves the dumped bike problem

With GPS on every bike and many more bike docks you could just fine the people who dump these bikes where they please.

Fining the company just creates what is known in economics as a "tradegy of the commons", the benefit of being lazy and not returning the bike/scooter to a dock accues to the user, but the cost of the fine is born by the company, and is passed on to all users via higher fees.

Many more bike/scooter docks would also reduce the incentive to dump bikes as one would usually be handy. TfL could even tax ebike hire companies a small amount per bike trip to pay for expanded bike dock infastructure. The hire bike companies would probably do this themselves, but get tangled up in negotiating with councils on where to put the things, and might try to lock rival companies bikes out.

It seems like this is where TfL is going, so good on them!

It doesn't solve the problem of a lack of proper bike lanes in London, which is more down to Thatcher splitting the Greater London Council back in the 80s (although having a single London Mayor is starting to reverse and solve this problem slowly):

https://youtu.be/gohSeOYheXg

Gamers are replacing Bing Maps objects in Microsoft Flight Simulator with rips from Google Earth

Jim84

Re: Not just lower quality but appalingly out of date

I think MS should also have added the ability to map and photograph your own house and neighbourhood and add them to "Bing maps MSFS", maybe with a user rating system and even cash rewards? I don't know how hard this is to do with standard smartphone cameras or even prosumer cameras and drones?

Wind and quite a bit of fog shroud Boris Johnson's energy vision for the UK

Jim84

Re: Or

Yeah but over 50% of transport energy use is not in personal cars, it is in trucks, aeroplanes, and shipping. For all of which there are no good non liquid fuel solutions at present (according to John Bucknell in the youtube video at least).

So insisting that everyone use electric trains/cars to commute does not solve or really dent the transportation contribution to CO2 emissions unfortunately.

Jim84

Re: Or

The real way to decarbonise the transport sector, use heat from a molten salt reactor boosted to 1000 degrees to produce methanol from sea water cheaper than most gasoline. Former SpaceX engineer John Bucknell explains how:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1Fi3BnwL94&t=25s

It probably won't happen in the West, but there are plenty of energy poor asian nations that will be interested in this.

Whoa-o BlackBerry, bam-ba-lam: QWERTY phone had a child. 5G thing's newly styled

Jim84

The sliders never had decent keyboards

The Priv and all other sliders suffered from having keyboards with very shallow keypresses, they were a forerunner of the hated butterfly keys on the mac laptops in some ways.

I don't know how you could solve this problem without having either a gap at the bottom of the phone, to allow enough key movement, or an annoyingly big "lip" at the bottom of the keyboard. Maybe there is some obvious way to do this that my brain can't figure out. A lip that folds down when the screen is slid up?

One potential advantage - if you could slide the screen down to reveal a selfie camera (as well as up to reveal a keyboard) 100% of the front of the phone could be screen.

Even then, I don't know if there is much of a market for physical keyboards. If you want productivity on the go you'd be much better taking a bag and a ultrabook laptop or 2in1. Phones with keyboards fall between the two stools of "light entertainment device" and "productivity device/laptop".

The Surface Duo isn't such an outlandish idea, but Microsoft has to convince punters the form factor is worth having

Jim84

Blackberry Passport 2.0

I bought a Blackberry passport for on the go productivity. I quickly realised that if you want lightweight on the go productivity, just buy an ultrabook instead.

OnePlus Nord is surprisingly fixable compared to earlier stablemates, but common repairs require disassembly

Jim84

Back to the old Nokia days

I really wish some mid range brand like Nokia would produce a smartphone with a replaceable glass or metal back, separate replaceable metal sides, and an easily replaceable screen. Like a modern version of those plastic cases their candybar phones used to have.

It can't be that difficult to do can it?

Microsoft runs a data centre on hydrogen for 48 whole hours, reckons it could kick hydrocarbon habit by 2030

Jim84

Re: Hydrogen is a solution and its own worst enemy

The best way to store hydrogen is the traditional way - attached to carbon.

How to make methanol cheaper than the energy equivalent amount of gasoline from seawater and the CO2 disolved in it using molten salt nuclear heat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1Fi3BnwL94&t=272s

Rental electric scooters to clutter UK street scenes after Department of Transport gives year-long trial the thumbs-up

Jim84

Lifestyle change

These e scooters, like bikes, are a lifestyle change as you are exposed to any inclement weather. But not everyone is fit enough for a bike, so they could be a welcome addition.

Still the UK government could do some good by actually giving the mayor of London the power to override certain councils (Chelsea and Kensington) that continually block the building of any bike lanes. Forget the rows about e scooters, there is no reason that London could not be like Amsterdam other than local politics.

If they built more bike racks near stations, as well as bike lanes, that would reduce traffic.

The issue of people leaving scooters everywhere is that there is no penalty for it at the moment, I suspect because a few companies are burning through VC cash giving consumers subsidies in order to try and achieve "scale" and market dominance like Uber has supposedly done (we are yet to see if this lasts). Maybe a small fine on leaving these things lying around could fairly quickly sort this behaviour out (rather than outright bans, surely cheered on by black cab taxi drivers and other vested interests).

Personally I'm in favour of bikes and more bike lanes for trips of under 1km, but Personal Rapid Transit pods hanging off thin rails in the air to get people out of cars for medium to long trips around the city (buses and trains take to long due to continually stopping, it shouldn't take me ~1 hour to get from Putney to Covent garden). Slow transit due to congestion in cars or continual stops on buses and trains limits the economic benefits of living close to others in a city.

Hoverbikes, Hyperloops and sub-orbital hijinks: Yes, the '3rd, 4th and 5th Dimensions of Travel' are coming soon

Jim84

SkyTran’s maglev PRT seems close

SkyTran are promoting a system of maglev pods.

www.skytran.com

They are promoting them as a solution to intra city transport, but they are probably more useful as a replacement for intercity trains, as their “track” is much lighter are therefore cheaper than rails or roadway (all those bridges). They also have more utility than a train as each two person pod can travel direct to the destination without stopping everywhere like a bus or train, or missing out on serving all the towns and villages along the route like an express train. The cheaper track allows more of a network getting things away from the negatives of “transport corridors” (getting the train then having to get further transport to your final destination).

The big technological hold up till now has been the need for at least automated car self driving at level 3 (driving on highways in any weather conditions) at a reasonable price (no 70k sensor array). You can control a couple of dozen trains via a centralised computer and communications network, but probably not 1000s of vehicles. Level 3 self driving should become a solved challenge soon (I’m skeptical about car AI ever getting to level 5 and driving on suburban streets where it has to make judgements about what people will do next).

Flying taxis? That'll be AFTER you've launched light sabres and anti-gravity skateboards

Jim84

Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

With hanging pods inclines and declines can be very steep, even vertical, as the arm can rotate.

This means that elevated stations with elevators aren't needed in low intesity areas, lowering the cost of the system. Have a read of:

http://openprtspecs.blogspot.com/2010/04/twisted.html

Jim84

Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

Congestion in cities is caused because the road network is largely 2D, with crossroads, and it is incredibly expensive to put roads in the air or underground in tunnels.

Podcars hanging from steel beams are effectively running on "roads" that are cheap to put in the air. So they can avoid 2D congestion due to crossroads like flying taxis, but without the noise associated with moving 2 metric tonnes of air down per second to keep the flying taxi/helicopter airborne.

A GRT/PRT system could allow nearly the point to point mobility and privacy of cars, along with the lack of congestion of flying taxis. Yes trains or buses with dedicated buslanes have less congestion, but in a journey of greater than five stops the time spent stopping at every station becomes significant.

One big impediment to Personal Rapid Transit systems so far has been the lack of an autopilot that allows the PRT pods to travel quickly, however with this tech being developed for cars, the time of PRT might be about to arrive. Probably around some newly built airport in the developing world (note Heathrows podcars are neither fast nor hanging (still require mini roads)).

http://openprtspecs.blogspot.com/2008/06/its-roads-stupid.html

Whoa! Google to power Amazon's internet. Wait, oh, not that Amazon. The other one. The rainforest

Jim84

Afghanistan

I read an article about the Taliban forcing the national phone operator there to turn off cellphone towers before the election to limit the information available to people.

This could possibly be a solution to internet denial by the taliban.

Of course a better solution would be to legalise drugs in the West to cut off the billion dollars plus of funding they get from heroin each year (yes if you legalise drugs in the west price will go down and quality will go up and more people will die, but you'll have more police resources to spend on other areas and less arseholes like the Taliban and FARC sustaining inusrgencies off drug profits).

Labour: Free British broadband for country if we win general election

Jim84

Re: @steelpillow and ImAlrightJack

What killed private railways as profitable enterprises was the advent of the diesel truck and better roads.

In the early days the government had to force railways to take paying customers as they wanted to focus on freight. The government nationalized the railways to keep some form of commuter service going.

Incidentally it wasn't railways that killed canals. Canals were used alongside railways up until the diesel truck. Railways have stuck around because they are the only (partial) solution to moving loads of people around in congested cities.

Boffins blow hot and cold over li-ion battery that can cut leccy car recharging to '10 mins'

Jim84

Using hydrogen from reformed methanol in fuel cells now possible

It is always worth noting that late last year in China a possibly very important fuel cell breakthrough was made. By adding iron oxide nanoparticles to fuel cell membranes, the poisoning effect of carbon monoxide was removed:

https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/fuel-cells/chinese-catalyst-keeps-fuel-cells-clean

Electric cars can't cut UK carbon emissions while only the wealthy can afford to own one

Jim84

I think it is about time The Register interviewed Kirk Sorenson about molten salt reactors.

Jim84

Just produce methanol from seawater cheaper than petrol using molten salt advanced modular nuclear reactors, burn than methanol in petrol engines (modifing an ICE to handle methanol cost about 100 USD).

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1Fi3BnwL94

Or in highly polluted cities crack that methanol into hydrogen and CO2 onboard the vehicle and run the hydrogen through a PEM fuel cell. Carbon Monoxide produced from the hydrocarbon would poison the platinum catalyst in the fuel cell stack, but last year scientists in China figured out that adding iron oxide nanoparticles to the catalyst prevented this damage:

https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/fuel-cells/chinese-catalyst-keeps-fuel-cells-clean

Switchzilla rolls out Wi-Fi 6 kit: New access points, switch for a standard that hasn't officially arrived

Jim84

Active scanning of DFS channels?

I think current routers scan the DFS channels between the 2.4 and 5Ghz channels when turned on and if they detect a radar signal in them then won’t rescan them until the router is switched off and on again (apparently due to a lack of a second radio and enough cou processing power).

https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/wireless/why-wifi-stinksand-how-to-fix-it

FYI: Get ready for face scans on leaving the US because 1.2% of visitors overstayed their visas

Jim84

Stop and search

Presumably once the database and facial recognition are running a bit more smoothly this will be rolled out as an app for police who can quickly check on “random” stop and searchs if someone is a visa overstayer.

Or in an even more Orwellian move they could plug the system into some random CCTV traffic cameras within the US to fish these people out of the crowd.

Up until now AI has not been able to identify people within cars, but this is being worked on:

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2018/6/5/17427150/facial-recognition-vehicle-face-system-homeland-security-immigration-customs

We fought through the crowds to try Oculus's new VR goggles so you don't have to bother (and frankly, you shouldn't)

Jim84

Stereoscopic Vs Pseudo Holographic

Are today’s stereoscopic LCD and OLED displays even up to the task? You’re still looking at a “pop up book” stereoscopic 3D. If you have a lightfieks display these a pseudo holographic image can be created, removing a source of eye strain.

Will there ever be wireless feathering to a PC that is fast enough for high end VR?

Bill Gates declined offer to serve as Donald Trump's science advisor

Jim84

Thiel gives $1 million per year to the SENS Research Foundation

“What if he were to ask Peter Thiel (who totally isn't “harvesting the blood of the young” but is keenly interested in anti-aging research)?”

Peter Thiel donated $1 million to Trump’s election campaign, but seems to have had f all influence on Trump for his million dollars.

The above quote is having a bit of a dig at Thiel implying that he is interested in anti aging research only for selfish reasons, and in fact may be impinging on the health of the young to further his own health. But an action can be in a persons self interest as well as that of the public.

The point that Thiel and others make is that most health care spending is on people over 65, and if we could keep these people healthy and youthful it could lower health care costs and raise economic productivity a great deal.

It’s very difficult to get the public and politicians to think about anti aging medicine as humans have psychological coping mechanisms that prevent them paying attention to seemingly inevitable and awful things like aging. This is sometimes called the “Pro Aging Trance” and usually results in people’s minds coming up with quick and often contradictory objections to quickly change the subject. Examples of these contradictory objections are “what about overpopulation?” and “anti aging would only be for the rich”.

Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees

Jim84

Re: Congestion is about work not transport

Cable cars - have the problem that the wheels are clamped around the cable, making track switching difficult or impossible.

If instead you create a micro monorail and drive the hanging gondolas along on wheels from what is basically an ultra thin road... then you have reached the concept of PRT - personal rapid transit.

Two things held back PRT in the past. 1. You’ve go to build a decent network to make it worthwhile to use. 2. Olden time 1970s designs relied on every pod/gondola in the city being controlled by a central computer that knew exactly where they all were at all times. If the central computer or communications network went down then an entire city would grind to a halt. Self driving car tech solves this problem. The first one requires political will, but might get a toehold in somewhere like Israel which is always looking to stick it to the oil exporting neighbours.

For more about PRT have a look at Dan Verhoeven’s excellent blog: www.openprtspecs.blogspot.com

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

Jim84

Duke Nukem

Not if you send in a small tactical nuke to the landing zone first.

Do Optane's prospects look DIMM? Chip chap has questions for Intel

Jim84

Video Games

Layman question here, but will this have any medium term effect on video games say by allowing cars in GTA not to disappear once they are offscreen? Or by finally allowing the use of large numbers of voxels?

Tesla undecimates its workforce but Elon insists everything's absolutely fine

Jim84

Alternatively

Build a pebble bed or molten salt small modular reactor with an output temperature of 600 celcius or greater, use that to make ammonia from seawater and air, burn that ammonia in internal combustion engines, job pretty much done.

Unfortunately billions per year are spent on renewable subsidies or grid priority, while governments won't fund much nuclear research (except for China's government).

Jim84

Re: sustainable, clean energy

""It does until it goes wrong and you send a massive radioactive cloud over half the planet"

Won't happen with Small Nuclear Reactors which can be designed to fail safe with no backup power."

In addition, if the Small Modular Reactor is a molten salt reactor, the spent nuclear fuel could be cheaply reprocessed, resulting in no long term waste. Unlike with today's PUREX reprocessing, you can just keep cycling the transuranics (basically plutonium) through reactors until it is all fissioned.

Why governments will spend billions on renewable subsidies but won't fund this research is beyond me?

High-Optane thrills for 3D XPoint wanna-haves: Intel fattens gaming SSDs

Jim84

Future latency

What latency will Optane be able to get down to in the medium term?

Apple turns hat around, sits backwards on chair, pitches iPad to schools

Jim84

Apple ignoring feedback

Schools claimed students found the iPads too difficult to type on so... Apple does nothing to improve those crappy plastic keyboards for the iPads.

You could make a better iPad keyboard by having two hinges on it to hold the iPad and having the bottom of the keboard slide out backwards between them for mobility.

If Apple are worried about these improvements cannibalising sales of the MacBook Air and Pro, go dobe the path that Dell is taking with it’s XPS line and remove the bezels to get a bigger screen in a smaller device. The 13” models could become 15” models and the 15” models could become 17” models with the same form factor.

Europe plans special tax for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon

Jim84

Re: Not the whole problem

A Land Value Tax (NOT property value tax) could resolve all these problems:

https://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2015/04/land-value-tax

Amazon and Google are just network effect monopolists much like landlords are location oligopolists. They are just adding insult to injury by massaging their profits away to zero tax countries.

A tax on inputs such as labour avoids this profit manipulation, a tax on land doesn't carry the dead weight loss of a tax on labor because landlords cannot respond by reducing the supply of land.

Google can try and avoid using land in the UK, but the suppliers of goods and services that google uses in the UK, as well as customers of their online service (advertisers and consumers) do have to use land.

"Most taxes do not just depress economic activity; they also displace it—for example to offshore financial centres. The faster that tax collectors crack down on loopholes, the more clever accountants find new ones.

Land-value taxes, on the other hand, lack these perverse effects. They cannot reduce the supply of land, or distort decisionmaking. Instead they may even stimulate economic activity, by penalising those who hoard land and keep it idle (a big plus in desolate post-industrial cities where much land is vacant). The tax drives the land price down by the capitalised value of the future levies—theoretically even to zero—until someone finds a use for the land. Collection is cheap. Unlike profit, you cannot massage land away or move it to Luxembourg. If you do not pay, it can be seized and sold. Though nobody likes extra taxes, new land-value levies could be matched by cuts in other taxes, especially those paid by poor people."

Squeezing more out of slippery big tech may even take tax reforms

Jim84

Re: If you tax land

"If you tax land

Food costs will skyrocket, which is rather a bad thing for poor people who spend a relatively higher percentage of their income on food."

Where on earth did you get this notion from?

The idea promoted by The Economist and others is to tax land *value*. Farmland is inherently low value, as almost no one wants to live there.

I think you might have got the idea that a land value tax is a flat rate tax per square kilometer of land, regardless of value. This isn't actually the case with Henry George's proposal.

In fact, land value taxes have the unique advantage of being one of the only taxes that doesn't distort economic activity. As landlords cannot reduce the supply of land in response to a tax (there is no deadweight loss).

Jim84

Re: Why tax income at all?

Yes but the people who work at e-commerce companies still have to cluster into cities to work together, and enjoy the other benefits of working and living in a city. Somehow I don't think Amazon are going to pick a remote town in Arizona for their second headquarters.

The company ends up needing to pay higher wages, so that its workers can afford to live in San Francisco, so it ends up paying the LVT indirectly.

The Economist reckons that the valuation of land is not impossible:

"A third problem is that valuation of the high-priced urban land (rarely sold as vacant plots) may be tricky—and controversial. Wealthy commercial landlords could tie the assessment process up in costly legal knots.

Some of these objections could be overcome. A land tax need not be implemented overnight. It could be phased in, which would mean market signals started working before the levies were actually paid. Hard-up owners of valuable land could be allowed to commute payment until they die. Valuation of urban land, with a bit of maths, is not insuperable."

Jim84

Why tax income at all?

Why tax income at all? Implement a land value tax instead. It would work better than the continual cat and mouse game between governments and corporation's accountants.

https://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2015/04/land-value-tax

"His best-known follower was Henry George, perhaps the only tax theorist in history whose beliefs have become the object of almost cult-like devotion. One of his fans invented the game now known as Monopoly, to exemplify the evils of untaxed rent. In a book called “Progress and Poverty”, published in 1879, George argued that land-value levies should replace all other taxation, leaving labour and capital to flourish freely, and thus ending unemployment, poverty, inflation and inequality."

There is one problem with implementing a LVT however:

"Rich people tend to own a lot of land, poor people very little."

What will drive our cars when the combustion engine dies?

Jim84

Good summary on ammonia vs hydrogen here

https://www.agmrc.org/renewable-energy/renewable-energy/ammonia-as-a-transportation-fuel/

Jim84

"Forget cars, how does international travel work without fossil fuel? Sailing ships and Zeppelins ?"

Ammonia. You can burn it in an ICE to power cars, ships, planes. You can produce it inexpensively if you have a heat source greater than 500 C. Current fission rectors have a lower output temperature due to being water cooled, the upcoming molten salt reactors or other advanced 4th gen reactors will not have this problem.

It is a bit trickier to use in an ice than petrol. You want to crack 2% of it into hydrogen on the way to the motor, and run the motor at pretty much one speed to avoid needing to alter this percentage. But with a hybrid car with an ammonia ICE that problem is solved. Hybrid ships and planes may follow.

Hydrogen is too expensive to store and transport. Synthetic hydrocarbons for the transport industry would need a huge carbon source (using the minimal amount in the air is not cost competitive). Ammonia can be made from seawater and air with energy.

Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Siemens tease electric flight engine project

Jim84

Re: Advantages

""From a UK perspective, our airline fuel use is equal to about one third of the fuel use of all UK road vehicles."

From a global perspective this is a much bigger problem:

http://www.industrytap.com/worlds-15-biggest-ships-create-more-pollution-than-all-the-cars-in-the-world/8182

That's just 15. A lot more where they come from.

To keep a global economy running it is one that needs fixing sooner rather than later."

Yes you are correct to point out that shipping is an even bigger problem than cars or planes.

There is a proposed solution - use the 500 degree plus heat from a (yet to be built) molten salt reactor to produce ammonia from air and seawater. Then use that in planes and ships.

nbn™'s problems were known – in 2008, a year before its birth

Jim84

NZ vs Aus

Somehow New Zealand has managed to build a national fiber to the premises network without too much fuss while poor Australian consumers are still suffering.

Oh, that's right. NZ politicians forced the former state monopoly and owner of most the telecoms infrastructure to split into separate wholesale (Chorus) and retail (Spark) companies, whereas in Australia both governments of the left and right failed to stand up to Telstra.

You can yacht be serious: Larry might be planning his own version of America’s Cup

Jim84

These will be foiling monohulls, not your father's monohulls.

We experienced Windows Mixed Reality. Results: Well, mixed

Jim84

Re: Doomed to fail (again)

""3 separate platforms have tried to launch VR platforms in the last few years and they've all flopped."

Sony's PSVR has sold over 1 million headsets, and Occulous Rift a few hundred thousand - I wouldn't call that a flop for such early and niche products."

Yes but Kinect sold 10 million units... and motion control has all but disappeared.

Jim84

Re: Doomed to fail (again)

Doomed to fail... for now.

If you could create Microsoft's Hololens with a second lcd screen on the front of the panel where each pixel the front of the panel can turn absolutely black to block out the real world behind AR objects, improving AR and allowing VR too (just black out the entire world) then you might be onto a winner.

Also maybe a clip in bit of felt like the bottom of a google daydream mask to block out the real world below the screen in VR mode. And a light field display that auto focuses on the backs of your retinas rather than having to get the headset in the perfect position on your nose all the time....

Of course the headset would have to cost $299 and connect wirelessly lag free to you living room PS5 or Apple TV box or Xbox. And these would have to be powerful enough to drive higher resolution screens than today's VR headsets. So when all this will be possible is anyones guess. 5-10 years from now assuming Moore's law doesn't sag too much?

Flying electric taxi upstart scores $90m from investors

Jim84

Re: EV1

That is a bit of a misty eye'd view of the EV1. Here is a bit of a more hard nosed assessment of the past and future of electric cars at Ieee Spectrum by Matthew N. Eisler:

https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/advanced-cars/will-volvo-really-kill-the-gasoline-engine

"Toyota developed a plug-in hybrid, too. But sales of all plug-ins pale in comparison to the conventional Prius. Consumers, it turned out, preferred a relatively affordable hybrid that ran on a gasoline engine most of the time and produced low emissions to a more expensive hybrid that ran on an electric motor most of the time and produced very low emissions. This technological-economic calculus also explains the record of Nissan’s Leaf. It is the best-selling all-electric, but, like all compliance cars, has struggled to make money. Chevy’s all-electric Bolt is unlikely to change this record."

"At any rate, the Bloomberg analysis is based largely on extrapolating trends in battery cell cost unfolding since 2010, omitting mention of battery pack lifetime and the nettlesome question of pack replacement costs over the average lifespan of an electric vehicle. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to prove a battery’s longevity, and although strides are being made in this neglected area of research, the focus on cell cost alone is highly misleading. Actual battery costs are a virtual trade secret and much disputed, and have been further obscured by federal and state subsidies, which will not be around forever."

A better zero emission solution than all electric cars might be to have a hybrid with an IC engine that runs on ammonia. Although that needs a source of ammonia that is cheaper than petrol, which will probably only come about if high temperature 4th generation nuclear molten salt or gas cooled reactors spread.

All electric cars are probably going to remain stuck in the luxury segment, although I'd be happy if this turned out not to be the case.

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