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Comment: Re:Broken thinking... (Score 1) 368

by AdamHaun (#49380845) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

If you can master technical skills and complex math, overwhelming data suggests that you have also learned to read and think, and on the path to proving your competence have also managed to write clearly.

I used to think that way, but my whole working life so far has been the opposite experience. Many, many technically competent people simply don't put any effort into reading and writing. They might have passed the tests in school when they were being graded, but their emails, specs, and source code comments are not up to scratch. Very few people are *good* at writing, of course, but most people don't even proofread.

Comment: Re:There's only three plants. (Score 1) 417

by AdamHaun (#49322601) Attached to: How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought

I was talking about the suggestion that California uses enough water to have a significant effect on Pacific sea levels. My back of the envelope estimate suggests that lowering the Pacific by one inch would take at least ten thousand times as much water as California uses in a year.

Comment: Re:Ever notice (Score 1) 438

by AdamHaun (#48462901) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

Ever notice that NAND flash prices per megabyte have plummeted while EEPROM prices per kilobyte have remained high and then wondered how that could be rational?

Kilobyte-quantities of EEPROM are cheap enough that the package is probably a non-trivial part of the cost. The die cost is not the only lower bound on the price of a memory IC.

Comment: Re:100 year old survival knowledge in PDF files??? (Score 1) 272

by AdamHaun (#48264623) Attached to: A Library For Survival Knowledge

"Electrolytic capacitors leak, electrodes corrode"

none of those are present in a Kindle.

Those were generic examples. A better one for a mobile device might have been that the contacts on the charging port wears out. Based on the rest of your post I'm skeptical that you know anything about the components used to make Kindles, but I didn't design it so I won't speculate further.

I apologize for the LCD/E-Ink confusion. But it doesn't make a difference because neither of them are designed to last for 100 years. According to the company, they expect that "over 90% of E Ink displays will last more than 10 years with typical usage", where "typical usage" is defined as room temperature. Kindles are rated for operation between 0 - 35 C (32 - 95 F), and discussion on Amazon suggests that this is a real limitation. That range is similar to what LCDs can handle. I suspect that both are limited by a chemical breakdown process (which would happen exponentially faster at higher temperatures) but I don't know enough about displays to say for sure.

you cant get more "temperature extreme" than what [Voyager 1] experiences. and it has "electronics" in it.

If you think that a space probe is in any way comparable to a consumer e-reader, then I'm afraid you don't understand anything at all about electronics or engineering. Had you kept reading on Wikipedia, you might have found stuff like this:

The Flight Data Subsystem (FDS) and a single eight-track digital tape recorder (DTR) provide the data handling functions.

The digital control electronics of the Voyagers were based on RCA CD4000 radiation-hardened, silicon-on-sapphire (SOS) custom-made integrated circuit chips, combined with standard transistor-transistor logic (TTL) integrated circuits.

Electrical power is supplied by three MHW-RTG radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). They are powered by plutonium-238 ... and provided approximately 470 W at 30 volts DC when the spacecraft was launched. Plutonium-238 decays with a half-life of 87.74 years ... Additionally, the thermocouples that convert heat into electricity also degrade, reducing available power below this calculated level. By 7 October 2011 the power generated by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 had dropped to 267.9 W and 269.2 W respectively, about 57% of the power at launch ... As the electrical power decreases, spacecraft loads must be turned off, eliminating some capabilities.

Voyager-1 was designed from the ground up for reliability in a hostile environment. I can't find a price for the hardware itself, but you can bet it was a more than $100, probably by several zeros. And even so, it's looking like the power supply will fail before it turns 100. A Kindle is nowhere near that level of reliability. It doesn't need it and nobody wants to pay for it.

Comment: Re:100 year old survival knowledge in PDF files??? (Score 1) 272

by AdamHaun (#48253751) Attached to: A Library For Survival Knowledge

If cared for a kindle DX can last 100 years.

On what do you base that statement? Consumer-grade electronic devices are not designed to last that long. Electrolytic capacitors leak, electrodes corrode, copper in IC traces migrates and shorts out, batteries wear out. I don't know about LCDs, but I'm sure they have long-term failure modes too, especially if they're exposed to sunlight. The whole device will be exposed to temperature extremes due to the lack of air conditioning in a survival situation. I'll buy 20-30 years. But 100? No way.

Comment: Why is 1984 in this poll? (Score 5, Interesting) 410

by AdamHaun (#47974693) Attached to: It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

The American Library Association maintains lists of the most frequently challenged books (i.e. the ones people try to ban). Although 1984 shows up on the list of challenged classics, there is only one challenge listed -- someone in Jackson County, Florida in 1981 thought that it was "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter". The first part shows a massive failure of reading comprehension, not actual hostility towards the content. 1984 doesn't show up in the top 100 challenged books lists for 1990-1999 or 2000-2009.

1984 is definitely worth reading, and since its story features a banned book its presence in the poll makes a certain amount of sense. But it's not a great example of a challenged book, and the presence of several other dystopian works makes me wonder what the poll writer was thinking. Book banning in the U.S. is not a top-down government-led project to turn people into sheep for a New World Order. It's a bottom-up process where private citizens (mainly parents) try to "protect" children and teenagers from what they see as objectionable content.

As can be seen from the top 100 and top 10 by year lists, sexual content in books targeted at teenagers is the biggest concern. Most of the challenges are to fictional books, but a few non-fiction sex ed books make the list. The 2011 list even has a book for kids about what happens when their mom gets pregnant! Aside from sex, it seems like drug and alcohol use, offensive language (particularly racial slurs), and "religious viewpoint" (probably criticism of religion/Christianity) are popular reasons for challenging books.

The Handmaid's Tale prominently features all of those subjects, and is an excellent book as well. The first-person narrative really drives home the crushing horror of the setting. If you're looking for some dystopian fiction to read, I highly recommend it.

Comment: Re:Infoworld... pass (Score 1) 729

C's bit fields are a really helpful feature in embedded programming. Unfortunately their implementation is strongly tied to the target CPU architecture. In particular, the endianness of the fields cannot be redefined in code, and bit fields are usually not allowed to cross word boundaries.

Comment: Re:Incredibally stupid argument (Score 1) 322

by AdamHaun (#47827981) Attached to: The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

1) Never trust a civilian that says "these weapons you want are not very effective or what you need". He is not trained or capable to make that argument.

Why not? Is it impossible for civilians to study military matters? Are you saying that all military historians are quacks? You realize that weapons development and production is done by civilians, right? And that our military and its funding are under civilian control, which is also the case in China and Russia? Are you aware that people (even in the military) always want things that make their own job easier, regardless of the overall cost? And that always giving them what they want is bad management?

You can boil down his argument to what I originally said -"these weapons are good at killing people"

No, you can't. His argument is that hypersonic missiles will not give us enough of an *advantage* in killing people (or destroying equipment, which is arguably a more important use) to justify the cost. Absolute destructive power is meaningless on its own. A weapon only gains value in the context of specific opponents, strategies, and doctrines. In the context of mutually assured destruction, a hypersonic missile is useless.

You're trying to paint Gubrud as some sort of naive hippie who doesn't believe in war, and that's simply not supported by the article at all.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson