* Posts by vtcodger

1612 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Sep 2017

VR headsets to shift 30 million units a year by 2027, vastly behind wearables

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Still too expensive

Maybe the small, but stable, market for VR headsets will be training programs, not games. Maybe headset price isn't so critical if you're trying to teach folks to fix nuclear reactors or land aircraft at night on an aircraft carrier. My guess is that even at a few thousand per unit, time on a VR simulator is a lot cheaper than time on a real flight simulator. Or a real aircraft. Or, God help us all, on real nuclear reactors.

That assumes that VR is actually effective in training.

30 million a year? Maybe. I suppose. If they start being used in schools. And they aren't all that durable.

Lawsuit claims Google Maps led dad of two over collapsed bridge to his death

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Re: So answer this.

Welcome to rural America. Unpaved roads are far cheaper to maintain than paved roads. And as long as traffic is light and the town runs a grader or bulldozer over the ruts and washboarding every now and then, the dirt roads are often far smoother than their potholed paved cousins. Of course, there IS that week or so in early spring when the road, thawing from the top down, turns into an endless river of mud. But the locals take that in stride. They've even been known to close schools for a few days if the roads get so bad they threaten to engulf school buses.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: So answer this.

Not sure it's relevant, but my understanding is that commercial map producers throw in a few deliberate errors in order to discourage their competitors from copying their maps without travelling the roads in question. And in fact a few years ago saw a road on a map that looked like it might be a shortcut. I took it and about a mile in, I ended up in someone's dooryard face to face with a barn that looked like it might have been there for a century or two. I doubt the rest of that road ever existed beyond that point. Certainly not for a great many years.

Moral -- maps, Google's or anyone else's -- aren't completely trustworthy.

Authors Guild sues OpenAI for using Game of Thrones and other novels to train ChatGPT

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Re: All authors started as readers

Indeed, if parody is OK -- and it seems to fall under the category of "Fair Use" -- then using other people's characters, style, and plot line would seem to be something that you or I or that monster computer over there are free to do. (So long as we don't misrepresent who wrote the text).

'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk

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Digital Town Square

So not quite the world's digital town square ..

More like a digital biker bar methinks.

Lithium goldrush hits sleepy Oregon-Nevada border

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Re: You can never have too much Lithium

@Adair: That's an entirely reasonable assumption. But I think it's somewhat flawed. For example, metal-air (Zinc-air, Aluminum-air) have significantly higher energy densities than Lithium-ion and aren't (anywhere near as) subject to thermal runaway. So why are we messing around with Lion? Simple. Currently practical metal-air batteries are primary cells -- not rechargeable. Pretty much restricted to hearing aids and a few similar applications. Lion OTOH is not only rechargeable, if not abused, it can be recharged a lot of times before performance degrades significantly.

Choice of battery chemistries involves juggling a bunch of considerations. Energy density, temperature range, self-discharge rate, tendency toward thermal runaway, outgassing, toxicity, number of recharges, etc, etc, etc.

I'm not an expert on batteries. Probably others around here know much more than I and might tell us more.

FWIW, my impression is that the holy grail of transportation batteries would be a metal-air battery (possibly Aluminum-air?) with mass, range, safety parameters comparable to fossil fuel. The vision is that you'll haul into a service station, make use of the facilities, buy an overpriced snack, pull out your old degraded Aluminum anodes, throw them in a recycle bin, insert new ones, and be on your way. "They" have been working on that for 40 years. They can't even run a demo today. ... Maybe in another 40 years. ... Maybe never.

vtcodger Silver badge

You can never have too much Lithium

You can never be too rich or too thin or have too many Lithium reserves.

Seriously, Lithium batteries have some problems -- especially their lamentable tendency to, on rare occasions self-immolate, often destroying not only themselves but everything remotely combustible nearby. But they are the best we currently have for many applications where energy density is important. They are likely going to be around for a long time. 7 or 8 ir 10 billion humans are probably going to want/need a lot of Lithium. Discovery of deposits is almost certainly a good thing even if the aren't currently economically viable.

NASA rockets draining its pockets as officials whisper: 'We can't afford this'

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Re: British Moonshot Rocket

I've long felt that humans in space is mostly a really dumb idea. We're mediocre investigatory probes with huge support requirements -- (food , oxygen, waste disposal/recycling, radiation protection, etc, etc,etc). Lots of mass. Lots of expense. Lots of things to go lethally wrong, Mechanical probes are much cheaper. The machines get better every year. Humans don't. And no one sheds all that many tears if a few billion dollars worth of hardware is inadvertently reduced to useless scrap by misjudgment or pure bad luck.

That said, the space shuttle had a failure rate under 2% -- two failures in 133 launches. Y'know what. That's damn impressive considering the complexity of the effort. The problem with the space shuttle wasn't so much safety as outrageous costs. Looks to me like the SLS is headed down the same road. By way of contrast, the much less ambitious Russian Soyuz program has had two lethal failures ( and a couple of near misses) in 1900 launches. There's an interesting list of human spaceflight failures and near misses at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_spaceflight-related_accidents_and_incidents

I think there's a lesson to be learned here. People do not, for the most part, belong in space. And for the rare exceptions -- Skylab, Hubble Repair -- KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Oh yeah -- And there's a reading assignment. Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shu琀le Richard P. Feynman -- https://www.refsmmat.com/files/reflections.pdf

Microsoft teases Python scripting in Excel

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Re: Nice in concept but...

Now that you mention it, yes, Rube Goldberg -- master of wildly complex "solutions" to simple problems -- would no doubt find much to admire in the computation of spreadsheet cell using a distant computer and an elaborate communication network.

BTW, I'm pretty sure that Open Office has had Python scripting in Calc for a LONG time. My vague impression is that it works fine (and without the cloud) but isn't very useful for most people most of the time.

Biden to bolster boondocks broadband with a billion bonus bucks (barely)

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Wrong Priorities?

The idea that rural users need 100Mbps seems bizarre to me. What most rural users need from the government is access to essential services -- emergency communication and warnings, weather, tax filing, medical information and the like. I think that most of the people pushing high speed access everywhere and always are folks who want to extend the Internet of Garbage (IoG) to everyone. And they want someone else to pay for it. I would want that too if I were a IoG provider.

I think it would probably be a lot more cost effective for the governments to spend some money to make sure that essential services are not bandwidth hogs then spend a lot less than $700,000,000 dollars to try to get, say 1 Mbps, (I think that's about the maximum ancient copper wire systems can do even with modern technology) to as many folks as possible. The relatively few users who actually need more can probably pay for satellite. And if the IoG folks want 100Mbps to everyone, no problem -- they can write a (very large) check.

On top of which there is the reality that communications providers in the US seem to be an infinite money sink. For decades, they have been promising rural broadband, taking money for rural broadband, and largely failing to deliver rural broadband. BTW, I don't think this situation is limited to the US.

Hold the Moon – NASA's buildings are crumbling amid 200-year upgrade cycles

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Re: NASA is responsible for it's budgets

The NASA launch sites in Florida are relatively low latitude. Useful if you want to end up in an equatorial or near equatorial orbit. And you pick up significant free velocity from the Earth's rotation when you launch Eastward from a low latitude location. There is an extensive downrange tracking network in place for Florida launches, so you know if the launch vehicle malfunctioned slightly -- which you don't always for launches from Vandenburg where the new satellite's orbital status can be something of a mystery until it turns up over a tracking station (or doesn't) several hours later. And your classified payloads are less likely end up in a lab in Russia or China in the event of a launch malfunction when you don't launch them in trajectories passing over, for example, Cuba or Venezuela. The three letter folk probably sleep better at night if you refrain from doing that.

US Space Force finally creates targeting unit – better late than never, right?

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Re: Can someone explain this to me?

"What is this actually doing?"

Probably nothing that wasn't previously being adequately addressed by the US Air Force, US Navy, and the "black" agencies. It's a Trump initiative and gives every appearance of being neither necessary nor useful. But I don't think it actually costs very much. It's budget is around $30B out of a total "Defense" (i.e. War Department) budget of $1770B. And that $30B is mostly funding for things that would be (and were previously) done by some other part of the military.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Can I ask a stupid question?

Not a stupid question at all.

The short answer is "they couldn't figure out how to build it."

A long answer is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative

Tesla knew Autopilot weakness killed a driver – and didn't fix it, engineers claim

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A rude question

"it was technically a 'very hard thing' for the hardware and software to account for cross traffic."

Would it be rude to ask what other things us meatbags think to be fairly trivial -- stuff we do all the time while driving while not thinking much about it -- might be technically a "very hard thing" for Tesla hardware and software to handle?

Boffins reckon Mars colony could survive with fewer than two dozen people

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Why do people call a small outpost a colony ?

I don't really disagree, but 780 days is , I believe, the interval between when a minimum energy (Hohmann) transfer orbit from Earth to Mars is possible. The actual flight duration for a Hohmann flight would be around 250 days? Moreover in an emergency situation -- getting a critical part there SOON -- a higher energy orbit would likely be possible. In practice, I should think that most of the supplies for the first manned Mars mission will be prepositioned, and that the Astronauts will follow several years later after it is certain that everything they might possibly need for the mission is in place.

Not that I think that, based on what we know today, there is any actual reason to send humans to Mars. But I'd be delighted if our rovers and probes turned up something that justified sending someone out to look at it.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Why do people call a small outpost a colony ?

Indeed, I think we've all read too much Science Fiction and watched too much Star Trek. It's hard to see much reason for sending people anywhere outside the Earth's atmosphere other to wave a flag and make a memorable speach. Frankly, we're lousy exploratory probes requiring elaborate support systems to function at all, having limited sensory capability and not functioning all that well even on our best days. Moreover, exploratory hardware devices are evolving rapidly. They get more capable every year. I can imagine that in a few decades, we may have rovers reporting back from truly hostile environments like the surface of Venus. People, on the other hand are going to need tens of millions of years of evolution to get adequate radiation hardening, the ability to function in a vacuum, etc, etc, etc. A few more arms might help as well. I don't think humanity will evolve in that direction anyway. No reasons to

An intelligent race would probably simply kick back, work on improving their society and, in their spare time, build better and better probes and automated systems to explore their planet and nearby objects. I doubt humanity will do that, preferring instead to spend vast amounts in order to send humans forth to do jobs for which they are poorly suited. And I suppose both roads lead to much the same place. It's just that one is a lot bumpier, tedious, and dangerous than the other. Little doubt in my mind which road humanity will pick.


The one mission where I could see humans in space would be command and control of Mars (and other deep space object) rovers without a 3 to 22 miniute speed of light delay. Send a crew out to a nearby rock (a moon in the case of Mars). Hollow out a radiation safe habitat and prosper. If you need a staff of 3 on duty 24-7 to manage the rovers, you'll probably need four shifts, plus a bunch of support folks to handle medicine, cooking, clean up, maintenance, etc. -- about 40 folk. Give or take. It'll cost a pretty penney. I doubt it will happen.

Cruise self-driving taxi gets wheels stuck in wet cement

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Thrilled...we're thrilled

GM must be absolutely thrilled by the abundant free publicity their Cruise unit is getting. After all There's no such thing as bad publicity so long as they spell your name right< (attributed to P.T.Barnum)

US task force to look into how military could use generative AI

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God Help Us All

"Current tools may not end up being much use to the military, however, considering their tendency to generate false, misleading information that cannot be trusted"

If the folks quoted in the article are any sample of the thought processes of whoever is in charge, false and misleading might be an improvement. If "they" are actually thinking of using generative AI in strategic planning, I think our optimum strategy might be to seek out an enemy and surrender. In the long run, it'll likely save a lot of grief and money.

Shifting to two-factor auth is hard to do. GitHub recommends the long game

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Letting perfection be the enemy of progress ?

However it's better than no 2FA.

Maybe .. in a few cases. But mostly, 2FA seems to be a dubiously necessary PITA if it works at all -- which way too much of the time is simply does not.

China floats strict screentime limits and content crimps for kids

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It'll be interesting

It'll be interesting. I'm not sure how much how much experience the folks proposing these controls have with kids.

The controls probably won't work any better than most things digital. There will probably be ways to get around the controls. Probably lots of them. And even with a remarkably low birthrate, there are a lot of kids in China. Hundreds of millions of kids in China. Some of them will be pretty clever. So I reckon we can expect that some kid somewhere in the Middle Kingdom will quickly figure out how to bypass the controls. And I can pretty much guarantee that within 48 hours of that happening, half the kids in China will know how to bypass the controls. It might take as much as a week for the knowledge to diffuse out to most of the rest.

China bans export of drones some countries have already banned anyway

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: "Beijing says it just wants world peace"

More likely than not, the Chinese don't want to "rule" anything outside the traditional boundaries of their "Middle Kingdom". The rest of the planet being occupied by vast numbers of noisy, uncultured barbarians. Really and truly, if you look at their history, China hasn't been expansionist for a long time. They even gave up exploration back in the mid 1400s. They'll trade with the rest of the world. And maybe "help" with some infrastructure in some developing countries although there may be a strings attached.

But "rule" the world? Who in their right mind would want to rule the world?

Sysadmins are being left out of AI implementation

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Sysadmins don't need no steenking AI. The already have an abundance of on-line resources to generate dubious/useless/just plain wrong "help".

Microsoft places huge cap-ex bets on datacenters for cloud and AI

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Re: "a dollar a day to significantly increase the productivity of an employee"

How is the ability to query an unvetted stream of text going to increase any employee's productivity ?

I'm guessing you are fortunate enough not to have had much experience with large bureaucratic organizations. Let me assure you that in such organizations, the average productivity of an employee is around -2.3 on a scale of 0 to 10. Not that I think that AI will contribute anything useful or actually increase productivity. But it might give the illusion of utility and/or increased productivity. And in that world, illusion is everything.

A room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductor? Take a closer look

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Cold Fusion

FWIW -- There were actually two groups working on cold fusion in Utah in the 1980s. One was Fleishmann and Pons notorious effort at Utah State. But 100 miles away at BYU, a guy named Steven Jones was working on something called Muon-catalyzed fusion. Also cold and theoretically perfectly sound if some practical problems can be overcome. Jones was only able to get about a third of the way to where he needed to be to have a possibly practical device. Others are still working on the concept. It's possible that some day they'll have real success. I wouldn't hold my breath while waiting.

There's a Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon-catalyzed_fusion

FCC boss says 25Mbps isn't cutting it, Americans deserve 100Mbps now, gigabit later

vtcodger Silver badge

But ... but ... but

I upvoted you because I agree with the sentiment. If you're going to build a society that depends on ubiquitous digital services, you better make sure that the necessary communications services are provided. And by this time it should be clear that the major communications operations have minimal interest in providing them. They'll take money and maybe make some token efforts. But they are driven by sales and profits, not by any actual interest in providing service.

OTOH, I don't think you appreciate how big and thinly populated much of North America is. I'm not at all sure that fibre to every farm, mine, campground, and village of a few hundred souls is realistic, affordable or even possible. The alternative -- cellular phones -- is not currently all that great. And I'm far from certain it's practical either. Cell service here in Northwestern Vermont is not great. Lots of not-spots. And this is in an area with enough people to qualify as a Census Bureau Metropolitan Statistical Area. I can only imagine how poor it is in the Great Basin or Western Plains once you travel out of the few large metro areas. Canada and Australia have even worse situations I should think.

Satellites? Maybe

Anyway, I think we need more engineering, less marketing, and perhaps some political leaders who are a bit less clueless.

Tech support scammers go analog, ask victims to mail bundles of cash

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Even crooks

Even scammers and crooks are concluding that conducting financial transactions on the Internet is neither secure nor safe?

AI maybe on everyone's lips, but it's not what's driving IT spending

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"John-David Lovelock, distinguished vice president analyst at Gartner ..."

Mildly curious. Does Gartner also have undistinguished vice president analysts?

Tesla board members to return $735M in compensation settlement

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: The board members have collectively agreed to return more than $735 million

By way of contrast, the independent directors of Berkshire-Harhaway -- net worth just under $1T in 2022 -- are paid either $3300 or $7300 a year. They include Bill Gates and a number of other folks with fairly impressive sounding bios. I'm not sure what that indicates. Maybe that you don't have to pay a lot for quality. Or perhaps that directors don't contribute much of value to corporate operations.


First of Tesla's 'bulletproof' Cybertrucks clunks off production line

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Re: Save the Champagne

"Exactly none, would be my guess."

Well, it does have -- on paper at least -- a much higher payload than a presumably cheaper F150 (3500 lbs vs around 2000 lbs). Maybe a few people will have a valid work-related use case.

A question: A lot of work and recreational use of pickups involve driving through fairly deep water. Crossing streams. Launching and recovering boats, etc. Water and electricity are a notoriously poor fit. Is that going to be a problem?

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Save the Champagne

From that it's obvious they aren't in serial production so the truck produced in Austin is very much a test piece ...

Indeed. Production lines for complex products need debugging just as the products do. Presumably, Tesla will fix whatever glitches they observed in producing this vehicle, then fire up the line, produce one or a handful more, identify more problems, fix them ... repeat a few times. And finally they will presumably start stamping these (rather weird if you ask me) vehicles out in volume.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Are people seriously buying these?

"ISTR they did rehearse their presentation."

Sounds plausible. I think anyone who runs demos quickly learns to walk through the script at least once before going live. The worse the product, the more walk thrus.


As for who is going to buy these things. Tesla fan bois of course. And if they are actually bullet proof, the Mexican drug cartels might take a few hundred. Denizens of Chicago might want one, but I expect there might be an affordability problem. Maybe the Ukrainian military? Can you mount a machine gun in the back? How are they at clearing landmines?

Twitter ad revenue has halved since Elon Musk took over

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Re: Learning the hard way

A somewhat less frivolous Buffett quote on airlines from the 1990 Berkshire-Hathaway annual letter.

Since our purchase, the economics of the airline industry have deteriorated at an alarming pace, accelerated by the kamikaze pricing tactics of certain carriers. The trouble this pricing has produced for all carriers illustrates an important truth: In a business selling a commodity-type product, it's impossible to be a lot smarter than your dumbest competitor.

There's more in the following years newsletters. They're available at https://som.yale.edu/sites/default/files/2021-12/Module8-Readng.pdf if anyone is interested.

vtcodger Silver badge

Learning the hard way

I would imagine that once the dust settles and the blood has been mopped up, Musk will come up with some clever quote similar to Warren Buffett's assertion that investors would have been saved billions of dollars if someone had shot the Wright Brother's plane down. Buffett in NOT a fan of the airline industry. I wouldn't overlook the possibility that almost all tech companies are enormously overvalued by the financial markets and that Elon is just one of the first to discover that the hard way.

vtcodger Silver badge

I doubt Elon cares who, if anyone, advertising goes to. His only concern is whether he gets paid by his advertisers.

In fact, it sort of looks like ads that go to no one at all might be quite profitable.

"The cost of promoting a tweet is between $0.50 to $2.00 for every first action. On average it falls around $1.35 every time a Twitter user clicks, replies, or retweets your content. This makes Promoted Tweets a perfect match for brands that want to capitalize on high-performing tweets."

AdsTargets https://adstargets.com › Home › Online Advertising

Of course, I haven't a clue how Twitter or Twitter advertising works. I don't go near Twitter (or Facebook) or anything similar any more than I'd patronize a bar where customers are routinely ejected through the plate glass window.

Three signs that Wayland is becoming the favored way to get a GUI on Linux

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"Would you run a Ferrari on Boudica's chariot wheels?"

No, but I probably wouldn't drive a Ferrari on dirt roads or on ice or snow covered roads here in Vermont. Neither would I use it to plow a field unless the alternative was pulling the plow myself. If I HAD to drive a Ferrari on Roman roads and I had a choice, I probably would select something quite different than the factory wheels and tires and perhaps closer to chariot wheels. And I'd probably try to do something about the road clearance.

I'm curious what you think has changed in the past three decades that requires upgrading from X11. It's not like GUIs have actually done anything other than repaint and rearrange the deckchairs in that timespan.

If you actually have a use case that requires Wayland, by all means use it. That's one of the virtues of Unix. It's relatively easy to replace even major subsystems. But I have to say that from the point of view of running applications and getting results -- which is what I use computers for -- systemd and to a lessor extent wayland -- look to me like solutions in search of a problem.

Indian developer fired 90 percent of tech support team, outsourced the job to AI

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Re: The last Indian Call Centre...

"The most incompetent, useless bunch of script readers on the planet."

Most incompetent? Nonsense. The most incompetent, useless bunch of script readers on the planet are at Comcast. Others may try to beat them out. But success is unlikely.

India slaps massive 28 percent tax on online games of skill

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Re: "massive 28 percent tax"

Not always. Donald Trump managed to lose money running casinos. Failure is always achievable for those with sufficient talent if they work hard enough at it.


vtcodger Silver badge

A tax ob skill

India slaps massive 28 percent tax on online games of skill

A skill tax? Well it's possibly an innovative idea. I can't recall anyone trying it before. Perhaps we can apply it not just to gaming, but to everything. If it requires skill and is done properly, we'll tax it.

What's that? Won't raise much money except possibly in some professional sports? Hmmm .... Thinks a while .... You're probably right,

Tesla ordered to cough up data for Autopilot probe or face heavy fines

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Re: Raise the fines

On "Full-Self-Driving". My understanding is that it is an attempt to achieve (semi-)autonomous vehicle control on the cheap using a (probably) quite inadequate array of inexpensive sensors and software magic. It doesn't seem to work very well. And unlike Waymo and Cruze who have achieved a good imitation of an elderly driver who isn't quite clear on where he/she is or or why, but doesn't run into things (much) Tesla self driving appears to be a danger to all living (and many inanimate) things. Long past time to shut the damn thing down and return any money paid for it to customers. If Tesla wants to peddle a driver assist technology to buyers, they can damn well buy one that works (and is certified to work) from some company that knows what they are doing.

On parking Teslae. Are we talking parallel parking or just pulling up next to a curb? Parking wasn't all that easy when I learned to drive in the 1950s. (Anybody else remember curb scrapers-- little mechanical noise makers that were clamped low down on the passenger side bumpers to tell you when you were next to the curb?) and has only gotten harder with the passing decades. For the past 30 or 4o years, it has been impossible for the driver of most vehicles to see where the corners of the car are. Not many Teslas in Vermont as they aren't a very good match to the climate or the many unpaved roads in rural areas. But the few I've seem seem to be quite large. Maybe the problem isn't so much the drivers as the sheer bulk of the things they are driving?

Twitter rate-limits itself into a weekend of chaos

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Re: NYT Bestselling Book Title

"is Musk now claiming he can reverse gravity?"

Claiming he can reverse gravity? That doesn't sound like Elon. Now if he were claiming that SpaceX or Tesla (or the Boring Company for that matter) were working on reversing gravity and confidently expected to release a product in six to nine months ... THAT sounds like Elon.

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Re: NYT Bestselling Book Title

Am I the only one wondering what the heck an AI Agent trained on zillions of Twitter posts could possibly be good for?

Report reveals US Space Force unprepared to counter orbital threats

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Re: Think Tanks found to leak; use New Never-Before-Seen Sealant for Instant Repair!

"Isn't this a retread of The Third Ronnie, appropriately surnamed Raygun, and his Evil Empire rants of the early 80s? With its very own Budgetary Defense Initiative, nicknamed "Star Wars"?"

Not exactly? I had drifted away from the ABM world by the time of Reagan. But IIIRC, Reagan had been convinced by Edward Teller that Xray lasers could be used to shoot down ballistic missiles and orbiting nuclear weapons. Thus Star Wars. Turns out that Teller et. al. couldn't build the lasers. AFAIK we still can't build weaponizable Xray lasers although I'm not sure the military would tell us if they had them and were deploying them. And there were a lot of other problems including convincing arguments that Star Wars was strategically a huge money sink that would cost more money than it was worth even (or maybe especially) if it worked.

I'm not sure that the Space Force, a Trump initiative, is even as well thought out as Star Wars. I kind of wonder if its only product isn't press conferences.

FWIW, I'm pretty sure that the US Navy used their Aegis system a few decades ago to destroy a satellite that was going to burn up in a few days. And the US Army has something called THAADS that can purportedly intercept some ICBMs on good days. And the Patriot Air Defense system can be used against some incoming missiles although I remember some some plausible arguments that the most likely result of an attempted Patriot intercept is that you end up with two or more large, heavy objects falling on you instead of just one.

Someone around here probably knows a lot more about all this than I do.

Forget these apps and AI, where's my flying car? Ah, here's one with an FAA license

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Argh, what is it going to be??

In the long run, I think you're correct. If flying cars were to be ubiquitous, they'd have to be computer controlled. And note that today we can't even properly control vehicles in two dimensions, let alone three. I can visualize them someday replacing ferries in some places. And shuttling folks from airports to downtown. And a few other things like that. But they'll need to have a lot more load carrying capacity. And they'll need to be pretty good at handling sudden weather changes. And maintenance will be an issue. Ignoring that strange noise the engine sometimes makes is sort of OK on the highway. If it suddenly stops making any noise at all, you can probably coast over to the side of the road and call a tow truck. Or you can abandon the blasted thing and hitch a ride. Probably. It's likely to be more of a problem if the engine quits at 2000 feet while traversing a large body of water.

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Re: Flying cars

Indeed. On bad days Ground vehicles STOP. Flying cars DROP.

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Re: Ahhh yes, flying cars.

"The thing about problems with public transport is, that none of them are intrinsic. Not a single one."

That's a bit utopian I think. In fact there are several intrinsic problems with public transit. It's rather slow at best. It's not well suited to bulky loads. And it works poorly in suburban areas and worse in rural areas.

For example, Tokyo has a rail line -- The Yamanote Sen -- that connects all the districts on the periphery of the city. There's a train every 4 minutes (2 at rush hour). Everyone uses it. It carries about 4 million passengers a day. A pretty good answer I think to "How do I get to ..." But its average speed is about 35kph. Faster than walking. But hardly speedy. It takes about half an hour to get to the other side of town on the Yamanote. And you still probably need to walk at a bit at both ends of your ride or maybe wait for a train if you're headed out of Tokyo proper.

Then there's things like grocery shopping. Where I live now, my nearest supermarket is about 3 km away. There's actually a bus occasionally that stops there a few times a day. And there are bus stops. Several. But they are all about a km from my house. Exactly how am I going to get 30 or 40 kg of groceries home from the store? As a one time thing, I could handle that. As a weekly or biweekly thing, I'm pretty sure I'd come to hate it in very little time at all. And I live in the burbs not the boonies.

Longer term, while I agree that mass transit is often the best answer to getting around big cities, I'm not so sure about the long term future of big cities. I don't think most people are terribly fond of megacities. Given the choice, many (most?) folks seem prefer places with a bit more room, a bit fewer annoyances, and some plants. And I think with the slow rise of digital communications and automated manufacturing, I see fewer and fewer reasons for folks to cluster together in endless rows of apartment blocks. I think we may well see the big cities of the world starting to fade away over the course of the next century.

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Range of 150 miles

That's 150 miles on a bright, sunny, windless, early June day with a new or nearly new freshly charged battery. Now let's try it again with a battery that's been in service for a decade on a dramatically subfreezing day in January in Canada or Alaska with a refreshing North wind blowing maybe 30 or 40 knots.

Your Mileage May Vary.

Singapore, Amazon lead push for 'purpose bound' digital money

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"digital money as a store of value and programming logic denoting its use based on programmed conditions." Once those conditions are met, "digital money is released, and it becomes unbounded once again.

Is an English language translation of this available? After struggling with it for a while, I think that it might be proposing some sort of digital escrow. You pay up front. Some unnamed trusted third party holds the cash. The money gets paid out when certain conditions are met. Might be doable. No obvious scam potential other than the "trusted third party" absconding with the cash. But just because it could be done doesn't mean there is any need for this.

vtcodger Silver badge

If airports ... ?

Airports need to deal with preventing disastrous conflicts over runway usage. On very rare occasions, they fail to do so. The results are grim.

"Flying cars" will presumably be VTOL (the V is "Vertical") if they plan to be of much use. Nowhere near the groundspace needs of conventional aircraft. A more important question is who controls airspace usage for zillions of vehicles and how do they do it? On top of that there is the problem that we haven't even produced one vehicle capable of Level 5 autonomous driving in 2 dimensions. Exactly who is going to safely navigate these creations in 3 dimensions? To get an idea of what "drivers" -- human or computer -- will be up against, watch The Fifth Element. Does anyone seriously think that most of us could safely "drive" a flying car in that sort of environment?

US cyber ambassador says China knows how to steal its way to dominance of cloud and AI

vtcodger Silver badge

Re: Nr 1 Right, Nr 2 Wrong

"Then there are AI controlled Tesla cars which crash into parked trucks..."

Yeah, but if one believes Elon the Cagefighter, all Tesla AI needs is one or two more fixes. Then it'll be awesome.

This AI hype is enough to drive you to drink, lose sleep

vtcodger Silver badge


Did the researchers use AI to prepare this report? Did they feel the need for a drink or three after doing so? Did they finalize the report before or after a few stiff ones?