* Posts by CJ_in_AZ

35 publicly visible posts • joined 2 Dec 2014

Skype founders planning non-drone robodelivery fleet. Repeat, not drones


Potential problems -- maybe flying is easier

I have no doubt that it would work on Mars -- Curiosity and others have proven that.

But I can think of a number of problems here on Earth that the Martian environment is free of:

- What's it going to do when there's 20 inches of snow on the ground? (That's ~60cm for those on the wrong side of the Pond.) That's when it would be REALLY nice to have groceries delivered.

- There are a lot of areas where there are no sidewalks. The bipedal crowd can navigate obstacles that 6 wheels cannot, and if they can only go "walking speed" on the paved road, they're gonna get run over.

- Sure, they may be able to snap photos of people "liberating" them, but that just means that the crooks will have to use disguises, like they do now to rob banks, etc.

- Across the street as I type this is an 8-story apartment building. It's going to need some way of pushing the button to get to, say, the 6th floor. Previous commenters have talked about a mast -- maybe it could do multiple duty, and be used to push the elevator button (or, for that matter, the door bell upon arrival, or knock on the door the way the UPS guy does at my house). I'd be inclined to make the mast retractable, though.

Some of these problems/hazards go away for the flying delivery drones, though not all of them do.

FAIL: Windows 10 bulk patch produces INFINITE CRASH LOOP


Sounds like a good reason to go to Linux to me...

Now that M$ is spreading REAL FUD about it's own products...

Flash is fallible. But you'd rather have an AFA than spinning rust



One other thing that SSDs take better than "spinning rust": Vibrations. Whether it's California sliding off into the Pacific, or on-board an aircraft, the typical Flash won't even notice a shock that will cause an iron oxide disk to CATO with a head crash.

Google cracks down on browser ad injectors after shocking study


Read the contents of ads from /dev/null

I know many users who would like to have a "custom ad" injector that would display "null files" as ads in lieu of the usual load of potential fertilizer.

GLOWING TAMPONS hold the key to ending pollution


What I find surprising is that it was a guy who came up with this one. (Hmm... wish The Reg had a "send link to" button -- guess I'll just have to cut & paste the URL into a note to my girlfriend.)

My self-driving cars may lead to human driver ban, says Tesla's Musk


Insurance, not laws, will kill the steering wheel

I've been predicting since the late 90s that self-driving cars would be on the market, for purchase, on the showroom floor, starting sometime between 2010 and 2020. I don't think that there will ever be laws banning manually controlled vehicles, but I expect that the insurance rates will be so high on cars that can be manually driven compared to those that can't that steering wheels will only be a feature of the highest end cars. Yeah, a lot of fear-mongers talk about the rare conditions, but when the steering wheels disappear, drunk driving will be a thing of the past. Although I find driving to sometimes be fun, I'd sure like to be able to imbibe when out with friends, and let the car worry about getting me home. (Since I'm on meds that "amplify" the effects of alcohol, I don't drink if I think I even MIGHT have to drive.)

I also want to point out that I expect to see the first autonomous vehicles to be high end consumer, such as the Tesla, or maybe Rolls. Once they've been proven reliable in those vehicles for a year or two, then the large companies with large fleets of long-haul trucks (such as [here in the States] UPS and WalMart, to mention a couple of examples) to jump on the technology bandwagon with a vengence. Think about it -- a truck driver costs $50K or more a year, and is limited in how many hours [s]he can drive in a day. Even an investment of $100K to automate the semi would pay for itself in less than a year, considering that it more than doubles the work the vehicle can do.

And all of this doesn't take into account that the autonomous vehicle can be equipped to see in wavelengths outside the human visual range (and so be less effected by fog or smoke), and see all around the vehicle (and thus not have "blind spots").

Glad you're not on the Anthem hacker hit list? Not so fast – millions more affected


Don't suppose that the Religious Wrong [they'd say "Right", but IMNSHO "Wrong" is more to truthful] will get a CLUE that the American health care system[SIC] is broken in so many ways...

Facebook bug could have ERASED the ENTIRE WORLD


I was on FB a few years ago, and found that the time would have been better spent playing solitaire. Methinks that rather than fixing a bug, they've removed a "feature".

Drinking games: Tapper 1983, this Bud's for you...


Even older...

Wish I could locate a copy (preferably source code) for "RudeTrek" -- a text game that ran on the IBM-360 back in the mid-1970s. I heard about it, but never got to play it. :-(

Tesla loses $100 million after Chinese problems


Pwerball Lottery

Wish I'd've had a winning ticket in last night's PowerBall lottery (>$500million jackpot) -- then I could have afforded a Tesla. Only had one number right (out of 6). Oh well, guess I'll keep driving the Dodge Dart.

Elon Musk's Tesla set to unveil home storage battery


Re: WTF?

Significant parts of the (developed) world are on power plans that the cost goes up dramatically as the "peak usage" (OK, usually averaged over at least several minutes) goes up. When I was living in an apartment, I had the misfortune to be on such a plan (or "scheme", with the American derogatory connotation of that word) where the "peak usage" charge accounted for about half my monthly electric bill. The "come-on" of these plans here in the States is that the per-kWh charge is much lower. So, a battery could be charged when my demand is otherwise low (e.g., wee hours of the night) and provide power when, for instance, I'm doing laundry. Conceivably it could even out the load, even more effectively than a "load balancer".

Also, the local power company is making noises about adding a $50 PER MONTH "surcharge" for folks with solar power. That can make it more attractive to go "off grid" completely.

From the perspective of the utility (which, given that asinine surcharge, I'm not currently to sympathetic to, even though I have some "professional knowledge" of) having large batteries on-grid can potentially save some big bucks. "Base load" can cost them as little as $0.016 per kWh (and sometimes even less) "at the fence" of the power station, while "peaking" generators can be well over $1.00 per kWh. The problem today is that really big battery banks needed for a utility are prohibitively expensive, in most cases. There are a few exceptions, where they can avoid putting in, say, 60 miles (100kM) of lines to provide two or three hours of peak power per day a few days a year, when the existing lines are under-utilized much of the time.

All in all, I'm looking forward to see what Mr. Musk has come up with.

Ubuntu smartphone to go on sale: It'll be harder to get than a new iPhone


Flip phone replacement?

Might be enough to get me to replace my flip phone (which is smart enough to make phone calls) if it were available here in the U.S.

As a sidelight, Firefox has once again started blocking Adobe Flash as being "outdated" (wow, it lasted a WHOLE WEEK) -- in the couple of minutes since I read another article on The Reg. Hope that their "flash sales" don't involve Adobe!

Get internet access to those POOR country bumpkins, says UK.gov


From across the Pond

Can't help but wonder what type of computer Ms. Anne McIntosh MP uses? Does it have a certain tree-fruit with a bite out of it on the back?

I've been hearing that farmers in this country are reaping huge benefits from having Internet access -- ranging from watching markets to weather forecasts to having "apps" that watch the "health" of those tractors that drive themselves around the place based on GPS location.

Hey, guys, you have a much smaller area to cover than we do, and we're being embarrassed by the folks Down Under.

Unless your diet consists entirely of fish, everything you eat comes from a farmer, so you should remember that what's good for your farmers is good for you.

Enough is enough: It's time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell


And just WHY do so damned many ads on The Register need Flash??? Seems to me it makes reading The Register a security hazard!

Gee... and this was the first article I read after getting Flash updated to keep Firefox from whining about it...

Polish chap builds computer into a mouse


"It leads El Reg to wonder what other suitably-small consumer products would be all the better for having a fully-fledged computer inside." -- haven't you Brits heard of the Altoids Tin? (The one at hand claims it was "MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN".) That seems to be the "gold standard" in the Maker world. The "Made in USA" Beagle Bone Black fits into one.

Venture Capital investment in Silicon Valley hits dot-com boom levels


One of the things about the so-called "dot-com bust" that everyone seems to forget is that it came right after the Y2K panic. A lot of companies had blown their IT wad in preventing Y2K problems, and a lot of that included investing in shiny new hardware and software. After Jan. 1, 2000, they felt they had to cut back on new investments and enjoy the fruits of that pre-December 31, 1999 feeding frenzy. When nobody is buying, sellers aren't making much money... especially those who have depended (or gotten used to) huge volumes of sales.

This time around we haven't had the Y2K impetus driving even the most non-tech companies to upgrade their technology.

REGARD our TINY but POWERFUL LASER, suitable for very SMALL sharks


Some of us really old fogies remember that "LASER" (which is an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation") is actually derived from the term "MASER" ("Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation"). Problem was that they had trouble getting masers to work, but did get lasers to work, so young kids never heard of masers.

Spavined RadioShack to file for bankruptcy next month – report


Hmmm... guess I'll be the first to mention remembering the "free battery a month" card at RS from the 1960s (and "computer" meant something that would take more space than my parents' apartment).

In Y2K, I went to Australia, and encountered Dick Smith's Electronics Stores -- IM[NS]HO what Radio Shack really SHOULD have been.

Using American jargon, Radio Shack is to electronics what 7-11 ["convenience store"] is to groceries -- great when you need something in a hurry on Sunday afternoon, but you really don't want to do your weekly shopping there. (We Yanks aren't into going to the market every day -- Tesco found that out the hard way when their "Fresh and Easy" stores flopped here.)

Go Canada: Now ILLEGAL to auto-update software without 'consent'


Too bad it snows in Canada. This would make it tempting to move from Arizona to Alberta, were it not for the weather.

Cash'n'Carrion launches big January sale


If you had this week's Charlie Hebdot, you'd probably do well.

TCL confirms plans to 'bring back' Palm – provided you tell it how


Re: The palm was great for its day

Sounds nice, but as an engineer who's had to deal with power budgets for vaguely similar things, the receivers (for phone calls) are the part of "modern" phones that drain the batteries, assuming you don't use it as a flashlight for hours on end. The receiver actually uses more power than the transmitter. My I-pod Touch battery (several years old) will last roughly a week without recharge -- I understand that the one with the phone couldn't be away from the charger for 36 hours. The 3G/4G phones keep battery life "decent" by switching the receiver off when they're happy they can hear a cell -- it's for a fraction of a second, but it still gets the average power out of the battery down significantly.


I'd love to buy a brand new Palm Pilot. IMHO, the merger of a cell phone with the PDA gives you one box that doesn't do as good a job at being either one. I still use a flip-phone, and I have had to buy a I-pod to use (or maybe I should say "be abused by") as a PDA (after having gone through a couple of "used" Palm Pilots).

Just make sure that the "new" one is software compatible with the old. (Now, where did I put those W98 backups that I made that have the backups from my Pilot?)

One improvement I'd like to see would be to go to a "real" USB interface without having to have that custom cable.

ALIEN EARTH: Red sun's habitable world spotted 470 light years away


When I first heard of the Kepler mission I thought that in the long run it would be the most important single mission that NASA has ever undertaken, and likely to be the most important one of the 21st century. I am thinking I was right. It's nice to know that at least some tiny fraction of my tax money was not squandered on buying bleeding-heart votes for some congresscritter.

Boffins spy I in your little eye


Reminds me of the "nude reflection in the teapot on E-bay" from several years ago...

Even China's Academy of Science thinks wearables are privacy problem


Sounds like a great reason to NOT have an exercise monitor, he says lazily. ;-)

Three expat Brits explain their move to Australia


I'd love to hear about Yanks in Oz. I've been to Australia 4 times myself, though not in more than 10 years. I'd have to go for a "retirees visa" now, though. My favorite area is the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane. Anyone up for a ride on the Gympie Rattler?

Microsoft has made excellent software, you pack of fibbers


M$ did make a decent "ROMable" OS back in the 80s -- it was used in the NEC 8201A, and its clone, the TRS-100 laptop computers. I still miss the <2 second boot time, and the fact that the machine would run for ~12 hours on four AA batteries.

But anything involving something that even resembles a disk, they seem to have mucked up.

Want to shoot FIREBALLS from your wrists, SPIDER-MAN style?


I'd sure want to be careful about what sort of shirt I'd wear when using this gadget. Definitely NOT one of "man-made" materials -- if they catch on fire, they stick to skin (like Spidey's web, only burning) and will cause much worse injuries.

Q*bert: The Escher-inspired platform puzzler from 1982


I'd still like to find a copy of the 70's game "RudeTrek" which was, ahem, a "salty" version of the StarTrek game.

Microsoft patch mashes Office forms and macros


Glad I use OpenOffice...

400,000 Windows Server 2003 boxes face SUPPORT DOOM


"Microsoft is not open source so nobody can write the patches"

Sounds to me like a good reason to migrate to Linux.

Crack open more champagne, Satya, XP's snowballing to HELL


As I type this on my XP machine, I'm debating on whether to get a MacBook (with my limited $). I've got several Linux boxes I also use. BTW, I say "touchy-feely is for girlfriends, not computers".

Blast-off! Boat free launch at last. Orion heads for space


I'm just glad to see that the government is doing something useful with at least a little of my tax dollars, instead of squandering it all on [anti]social programs. (I'm in the US, so I spell "program" correctly -- and know that there's no "u" in "color".)

Violet, you're turning violet! Imagination unveils graphics-tastic hobbyist board


At 90x95mm, it ain't gonna fit in an Altoids tin.

And that connector tab is going to make it rather fragile (not to mention that it makes the PCB more expensive).

Looks to me like it's going to be a "YAAR" -- Yet Another Also Ran -- at least for the hobbyist market.

E-cigarettes fingered as source of NASTY VIRUS


Smoke-free zone

Yet another advantage of banning smoking in the workplace.

I wonder, though, how this will tie into the states where "recreational use" of marijuana has been legalized...