Tag: nintendo switch

Episode 67 – Garmin Goes After A Patent Troll

Welcome to the Citizens of Tech podcast, show 67. We’re of the nerdy sort. Essentially, we’re IT geeks who plaintively pontificate on perturbations about our passions requiring power. That’s right – tech! Because tech devices need electricity. See what we did there?

Eric, what have we got today?

Solar power, a new EV from Honda, Patent trolls, How Many FPS can the human eye actually see?, Haiku, Nintendo, Content I Like, and Today I Learned.

Solar power hits economies of scale.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/04/whats-next-for-solar-energy/

  • “In 2002, the International Energy Agency forecast suggested that, by 2020, global solar capacity would still be hovering at around 10GW and still barely register on the global energy markets.”
  • But we’ve done way better than that. The revised forecast is for 400GW by 2020, and even that might be too conservative.
  • The issue about growth is now a money problem. Investment money has got us to this point, but it will take more to ramp up manufacturing volume and to do more research into new solar tech.
  • IF more money comes in, that could result in more efficient and more durable (longer lasting) panels made at a higher volume, which would drive down the cost per megawatt hour of solar overall.
  • So, at the moment, we’re at a spot where solar is still pricey and spiky. Batteries would help with that, though…but again, pricey. However, “by 2030, projections of battery tech and costs, combined with their projections for solar power, would leave solar + batteries competitive with current coal prices.”
  • Grid-aware infrastructure could also help stabilize demand and reduce spikes, making renewables with battery storage a more reasonable supply option as time goes on. For instance, “being able to set your washing machine to start its run once electricity prices drop below a set point, to over-cooling or heating buildings overnight, allowing them to use less power the next day.”

Honda’s Half-Hearted Hybrid Hopes

https://electrek.co/2017/04/12/honda-all-electric-plug-in-electric-version-clarity/

  • Honda is finally joining the Plug-in Hybrid scene
  • “The Honda Clarity is aimed at accelerating the deployment of advanced electrified powertrain technology and bringing electrified vehicles further into the mainstream. The Clarity series also heralds the advancement of our Honda Electrification Initiative, representing our investment in the full spectrum of electric-vehicle technologies.”
  • Range, range, range
    • 1.5 Litre 4 cylinder range extender engine
    • Total range of 330Mi / 530km
    • That’s just not enough for a $35,000 car, is it?
    • The Honda Clarity is a PHEV with 42 miles (~67 km) of EV range
    • The all EV version is good for around 80mi / 130km
  • Oddly enough the PHEV version of it sounded similar enough in specs to my Volt that I did some digging, and sure enough, GM and Honda recently entered a business arrangement to work together to, according to insideevs.com, “expand the companies’ collaborative efforts beyond fuel cell vehicles to include plug-in hybrids/EREVs.” http://insideevs.com/breaking-general-motors-honda-partner-develop-future-plug-hybrids/
  • 105 MPGe – which is slightly behind the Volt, but it is a larger car.

Patent trolling as a business model runs into the Garmin legal machine.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/04/garmin-sued-in-east-texas-over-patents-on-an-internet-drink-mixer-seeks-legal-fees/

  • Leigh Rothschild has a patent holding company called Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations LLC (RCDI).
  • At least some of his patents are non-specific. Essentially, he creates a patent out of an idea and generic diagram. Nothing specific enough to merit patent treatment.
  • RCDI initiated a lawsuit against Garmin, citing his “customized mixed beverages” patent.
  • Early settlement offer of $75K. Keep it out of court by paying a fee that’s small to Garmin, big to RCDI if enough people would go for it.
  • Garmin didn’t go for it, instead pointing out that his generic patent is in violation of Section 101 of US Patent Law, which means you have to be specific.
  • Drop the lawsuit, or Garmin would file a motion that the patent be invalidated.
  • Garmin isn’t done. They are going after RCDI for legal fees, and questioning company residency, as there is some confusion about where the company, patents, business owner, and legal address are, a mix of Florida and Texas addresses. A technicality, but legally enforceable one.
  • “One of the two patents asserted against Garmin was featured in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” series, in which EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer noted that the patent amounted to nothing more than an “Internet drink mixer.” In its lawsuit against Garmin, RCDI says that Garmin activity trackers like the Vivoactive device infringe its claims on a “personalized consumer product.” RCDI has used the same patent to sue Toshiba (PDF), seeking a royalty over the remote operation of cameras. It also sued Sharp (PDF) for sending scanned documents to a mobile device.”
  • This guy is a clown that should be stopped. Making money from bogus patents stifles innovation. I hope Garmin has some success here.

And now, a nerd haiku.

Vlad The Tech Support

http://nerdhaiku.tumblr.com/post/901512942/vlad-the-tech-support

  • Working the nightshift
    No calls, no sun, no people.
    Vampire tech support.

Content I Like

Zelda on Nintendo Switch

  • Is the game all that? The one that is going to drive sales of the Switch?Eric, proud Switch owner, tells all.
  • Related. How stupid is Nintendo for cancelling the NES Classic in North America?

Content I Hope To Like

MST3K Reboot On Netflix

https://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2017/04/the-new-mst3k-isnt-the-same-show-but-its-same-enough/

  • Kickstarter raised millions.
  • Netflix picked it up.
  • Big names tied to it. Patton Oswalt, Felicia Day. Wil Wheaton shows up.
  • Not 100% the same if you’re used to the old format, but pretty close.
  • I don’t get Netflix, but I’m thinking about getting it for a month so I can binge.

Today I Learned

The setup–high refresh rate TVs and the “soap opera” effect. Now to the question. How many frames per second can the human eye actually perceive?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame_rate

https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/227633/how-many-frames-can-human-eye-see

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-highest-frame-rate-fps-that-can-be-recognized-by-human-perception

10 to 12 images per second look like individual images. Higher than this looks like motion. But the human eye is analog. It doesn’t perceive in FPS. The question is really, ”At what point does is the human eye no longer able to see a difference in increased frame rate?” And anecdotally, that answer is somewhere between 60 and 120 FPS.

Lake Nyos disaster

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos_disaster

“The Lake Nyos disaster occurred on 21 August 1986, when a limnic eruption at Lake Nyos, in northwestern Cameroon, produced a large cloud of carbon dioxide (CO2), which descended onto nearby villages, killing 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock.

The eruption triggered the sudden release of about 100,000–300,000 tons[1] (some sources state as much as 1.6 million tons) of CO2. This gas cloud rose at nearly 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) andspilled over the northern lip of the lake. It then rushed down two valleys, branching off to the north, displacing all the air and suffocating people and livestock within 25 kilometres (16 mi) of the lake.[4]

A degassing system has since been installed at the lake, with the aim of reducing the concentration of CO2 in deep waters and therefore the risk of further eruptions.

It is not known what triggered the catastrophic outgassing. Most geologists suspect a landslide, but some believe that a small volcanic eruption may have occurred on the bed of the lake. A third possibility is that cool rainwater falling on one side of the lake triggered the overturn. Others still believe there was a small earthquake, but as witnesses did not report feeling any tremors on the morning of the disaster, this hypothesis is unlikely. Whatever the cause, the event resulted in the supersaturated deep water rapidly mixing with the upper layers of the lake, where the reduced pressure allowed the stored CO2 to effervesce out of solution.[citation needed]

It is believed that about 1.2 cubic kilometres (0.29 cu mi) of gas was released.[6] The normally blue waters of the lake turned a deep red after the outgassing, due to iron-rich water from the deep rising to the surface and being oxidised by the air. The level of the lake dropped by about a meter and trees near the lake were knocked down.”

Stealing Fingerprints From Photos – Episode 60

Today on the show: a block-chain social network, China driving down the price of solar power, Nintendo’s Switch issues,  EV owners avoiding taxes, Faraday Future’s FF91 sticker shock, giving away bio-data with a simple photo, measuring infinity with Verizon math, Content We Like and Today I Learned!

Steem. Blockchain cryptocurrency earnings for social media curators & contributors.

https://steem.io/

https://steem.io/SteemWhitePaper.pdf

    • Rewarding people who contribute or curate with cryptocurrency.
    • System has careful governance in place to make sure the currency is stable. Explained in their whitepaper as a balance between Steem Power, which you can eventually convert into Steem Dollars, and the Steem Dollars themselves.
    • Your ability to reward other with Steem is limited. Once you’ve upvoted, it takes a bit of time before you can upvote again.
    • Would be hard to game the system. Lots of checks and balances.
    • From what I can tell, the system is insular.
      • I don’t see a way I could have readers of my blog reward me with Steem, at least not directly.
      • You’d have to be on steemit.com.
    • But…who wants this? What’s the point?
      • The big ideas are noble ones.
      • Principle 1. If you contribute to a platform, you should get something back.
      • Principle 2. All forms of capital are equal. Time has similar value to money, for example.
      • Principle 3. Products are produced for the community. (Reinforcing my point about Steem being insular.)
    • “The Steem community provides the following services to its members:
      • 1. A source of curated news and commentary.
      • 2. A means to get high quality answers to personalized questions.
      • 3. A stable cryptocurrency pegged to the U.S. dollar.
      • 4. Free payments.
      • 5. Jobs providing above services to other members.”
  • Will this go anywhere? Lots of issues with Steem…
    • The rewards aren’t valuable enough to put up with the lack of audience.
    • The competition for attention is brutal.
    • Monetization schemes with similar or better real-dollar rewards already exist in the form of ad revenue. Yeah, ads suck especially when done badly. But it’s a proven system that rewards creators for their content in direct relation to their quality. The better the content, the greater the audience. And audience numbers, to a degree, correlate to ad revenue. Thus, creators are already incentivized to make strong content.
    • Being rewarded in a new cryptocurrency seems like an intangible rewards, bordering on getting coupons.
    • Might it work? Yes. Are the ideas noble? I think so. Will Steem gather any steam? I don’t see it.

Chinese driving down the price of solar.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-energy-renewables-idUSKBN14P06P

  • $360 Billion (with a “B”) in renewable energy
  • By 2020… that’s 3 years away
  • Estimates 3 Million new jobs to be created
  • Wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power (nuclear isn’t exactly “renewable”)
  • They’re scrapping 80-odd planned or in-progress Coal power plants
  • China is the #1 carbon emitting country, releasing roughly 2x the carbon of the United States
  • However, China became the world’s top solar generator in 2016
  • The cost of solar installation has dropped 40% since 2010

Is the Nintendo Switch purely a portable?

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/01/nintendo-switchs-identity-crisis-could-echo-microsofts-kinect-disaster/

  • The Nintendo Switch is an impressive portable gaming system
    • 6.2” (15.75 cm) screen
    • 1280×720 resolution
    • Nvidia Tegra SOC
    • 32GB Internal storage
    • Expandable with SDXC
    • Two speakers (and a headphone jack, because they lack courage)
    • 6+ hours of battery life (depending on what you’re doing, the new Zelda tops out around 3 Hours)
    • It charges via a USB-C port – so you could even bring a portable power bank with you to charge it.
  • This article posits that its biggest “feature” the ability to “Switch” from handheld to home console is its largest detraction point.
  • I am actually inclined to agree. I don’t think it’s necessarily a fatal flaw, but the logic works.
  • The Switch is only slightly more powerful than the failed and cancelled Wii U, but as a mobile device that’s actually just fine. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful looking game.
  • When you dock the Switch to play on your TV it actually gets slightly more powerful, because there is more power available and it does some sort of “turbo mode” apparently, slightly overclocking the SOC.
  • The biggest use case for this is to play games wherever, whenever. I love this idea, and rarely take the time to sit down in front of a TV to play video games.
  • The switch does not compete in power with a PS4 or Xbox One (let alone the new Pro and S models, respectively)
  • Why does it need to have a dedicated docking system to add complexity and cost to the package?
  • $299 is the launch price and some quick tallying on the part of the Ars author estimates that the launch price could have been lowered to $229 or $249 – making it more price competitive with Sony and Microsoft’s consoles.
  • With that said, this is a “hardcore” system. Just not the way “hardcore gaming” usually is used… this system is, at least at this point, targeted at hardcore Nintendo fans. Zelda and Mario and Splatoon and Xenoblade fans.
  • I really, really want one. I could take or leave a PS4 or Xbox One, (though there are some games coming out for the PS4 that may change that). This is right in my wheelhouse: the right genres of games, the right game franchises, portability, it really hits a sweet spot for me.
  • I gotta say, $299 is pretty steep for it though. $199 or even $249 certainly would be a lot more palatable.

EV fees vs. lost gas taxes

https://electrek.co/2017/01/17/yearly-ev-fees-to-replace-lost-gas-tax-revenue-are-less-reasonable-than-they-seem-indiana-the-latest-to-scapegoat-evs/

  • The freeloading EV argument. Hey, they use the road, but aren’t paying much (any?) in gas taxes.
  • Solution? An EV fee to balance it out.
  • But are these fees fair? Article argues no, not even close. Their arguments are…
    • Little EVs don’t trash the road like large gas-burning semis do.
    • Fossil fuels are damaging the world more than road damage done by EVs.
    • Not many EVs on the road, so the fees don’t amount to much.
    • EVs fees tend to cost more than taxes enacted on a gas vehicle.
  • These arguments seem mostly specious to us.

Faraday Future FF91 price comes in…

https://electrek.co/2017/01/13/faraday-future-ff91-electric-vehicle-cost-300000-ceo-jia-yueting/

  • Discussed in a recent episode (Episode 58) estimated “At least $100k”
  • Eric: I admit I was wrong.
  • I was waaaaaaay low!
  • “Under $300k” according to the CEO.
  • Estimates from $100-200k abounded, but it looks like it’ll be significantly more.
  • So now there’s an EV for the folks who just can’t be seen in a $100k Tesla.
  • The FF91 is a step in the right direction while simultaneously a big step in the wrong direction.

Giving away your biodata in hi-res pictures.

https://phys.org/news/2017-01-japan-fingerprint-theft-peace.html

  • Japan’s National Institute of Infomatics is warning people about the peace sign coupled with digital photography.
  • “The NII researchers were able to copy fingerprints based on photos taken by a digital camera three metres (nine feet) away from the subject.”
  • To prevent fingerprint theft, there’s an NII-developed coating containing titanium oxide that can be worn to prevent theft via photo, while still allowing your fingerprints to function normally for traditional means of identification. But it won’t be ready for a couple of years.

Verizon joins in on the unlimited data threats, too. Not just AT&T.

https://9to5mac.com/2017/01/11/verizon-unlimited-plan-200gb-disconnection/

  • Grandfathered Unlimited data users without a contract
  • Specifically users on Month to month plans for which a comparable plan no longer exists
  • If you are one of these users and consume over 200GB, Verizon will terminate your service.
  • Done. Gone. No more bits to your handset.

Content I Like

The Grand Tour

http://www.amazon.com/TheGrandTour‎

  • First few episodes were…? Not confidence inspiring.
  • Last few have been great. Actual LOLs.

Today I Learned

Rolling coal is the practice of modifying your diesel engine so that it emits lots of sooty exhaust. You might roll coal in front of a Prius. Probably an illegal modification.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_coal

TIL the term “genuine leather” isn’t reassuring you that the item is made of real leather, it as an actual distinct grade of leather and is the second lowest quality of leather there is.

https://www.heddels.com/2014/06/overview-guide-leather-grades/

  • Full Grain
  • Top Grain
  • Suede
  • Genuine
  • Bonded