alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
I only recently found this report about a means to increase the capacity of lithium cells. It could be useful for many things. Netbooks and telephones are the obvious candidates, but it might also make electric cars genuinely practical.

If the use of renewable energy is to be substantially increased, will require a lot of energy storage, the doing of which is not currently known, if frequent power cuts are to be avoided, and this may be part of the solution.
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
Srsly, here is a Klingon keyboard. (Though it may be a Ferengi knockoff instead of Empire Made.)
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
I believe that software patents are unnecessary, and mostly a means to allow large companies with lots of cash to stop anyone else from doing things so obvious that the smaller businesses, intent on their line of business, have been doing for years, and would never imagine should be patented.

At present, to the best of my understanding, pure software patents have no legal force in theory, but courts in the EU have supported tham. The EU parliament has soundly rejected software patents on the last occasion that the EU commission tried to get them into law, but they have not stopped trying.

If think you might agree, please read the info on the petition page, and sign if you do agree.
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
Here is an interesting news report about cultured neurones controlling a robot body. It is certainly interesting, specially because neurones simulated in software will be given the same tasks, and this should lead to a greater understanding of what neurones do, even if not so much of how they do it.

Is it creepy? I am not sure, but probably not at this stage. After all, I swat insects that bite or sting, and I believe they have more neurones. However, this does raise the interesting question: At what stage, if ever, could a grouping of cultured neurones possibly become conscious (if we can discover what consciousness actually is) and at what stage, if ever, could it become an intelligent entity that should have legal rights?
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
When anything technological fails, I am inclined to take it apart and attempt to repair it. Sometimes it is not practical, sometimes I don't have all the necessary knowledge, but more often than not I have succeeded. BUT, things have occasionally turned into an epic, so in recent years, I have tried to temper the tendency to fix everything myself with a policy of paying for repairs for things which the full time repair person can do much more efficiently.

This has worked for car repairs, because it doesn't take a lot for someone to do it more quickly than I do. I can get down on the ground under the car fairly easily, but, increasingly, standing up again afterwards is difficult and I need a rest. All the right tools to hand, and a hydraulic ramp, not to mention the practice of doing the job, wins most of the time.Cut for length )

This is relevant to the latest repair; [ profile] rustica's laptop computer. Months ago she asked me about something inside rattling, and I told her that it was probably the heatsink from the graphics chip (which turned out to be true) but that because it was still under warranty, it would be best if I didn't fool with it.

A couple of days back I removed the easily removable covers underneath the computer, now out of warranty, to find out if it had a place where an internal wireless card could be fitted. No such luck, but I found the heatsink from the graphics chip wedged in the air outlet from the processor cooling assembly. Come the warmer weather, it would have kept crashing, if it did not fail completely. It was the most difficult laptop to dismantle that I have found so far, but there was no point in paying a repairer who had not fixed the problem previously, to make a pigs ear of it again.Cut for length )

I can't quite see how people who don't have a good idea how most of the technology they use works can avoid ending up throwing away and replacing things which fail, no matter how small the fault. Thus the volume of waste to be buried or recycled grows. Sadly, reliability is likely to be lower now that environmental legislation requires lead free solder in electronic equipment.

Luckily lead-free solder is not yet required in avionics, but I suppose that if you wanted to discourage the more cautious among us from traveling by aircraft, introducing this would work.


alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)

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