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Comment: Re:Interesting (Score 1) 322

by Ancil (#47624641) Attached to: With Chinese Investment, Nicaraguan Passage Could Dwarf Panama Canal

Shipping tonnage and water displacement are two very different things. Tonnage refers to cargo, and because it determines a lot of fees and taxes, the industry has been "tinkering" with it for centuries:

Tonnage (ships)

For a good explanation of the Panama's post-expansion capacity, see:

The New Panamax

Comment: Free Money (Score 1) 482

by Ancil (#46893343) Attached to: Really, Why Are Smartphones Still Tied To Contracts?

The answer's pretty simple: Lots of people go more than 24 billing cycles before they upgrade their phone.

Some people just forget. Some people are waiting for a particular phone. Some people don't even realize they CAN get a new phone.

I worked with a guy who was paying Verizon a standard, subsidized phone rate. He was using a 4 or 5 year old flip phone. No kidding. I literally had to bowbeat this man into getting a new phone.

This is free money for the carriers. Heck, the last time I had a subsidized phone I kept it for 27 months. I was waiting for the Nexus 4 to come out, and it just wasn't worth the hassle of switching carriers or SIM chips to avoid 3 months of "overpay".

Comment: Re:What are the questions? (Score 2) 313

by Ancil (#46119571) Attached to: Half of US Nuclear Missile Wing Implicated In Cheating

An attitude like yours ensures that we get shit people in the military, not people who care to do a good job.

I'd say it's the military's "up or out" policies which keep lousy workers in the military.

Forcing 10 or 15 good, competent E4s to muster out because there were only 5 promotion slots available this year is insane. Most organizations will do almost anything to avoid high turnover in their employees.

Comment: Where are the ChromeBoxes? (Score 5, Interesting) 139

by Ancil (#44833431) Attached to: Here Come the Chromebooks, As Google and Intel Cozy-Up On Haswell

The Chromebooks look nice for certain situations, and I've been tempted to pick one up.

But why haven't there been any good ChromeBoxes?? I have unused monitors and keyboards sitting around, and there's plenty of cases which need a larger screen and a real keyboard.

If you can sell a full notebook with LCD, keyboard, and battery for $199, where is the $49 Chromebox?

Samsung's efforts have been a complete joke. Over $300? Really? Dell sells "real" computers for less. With Windows, even.

Supposedly the new Chromebox from ASUS is based on Intel's "Next Unit of Computing". That thing starts at about $200 with no RAM.

If Roku can sell an ARM box capable of decompressing Full HD streams for $49, why can't Google get one to run ChromeOS?

Comment: Why Datacenters? (Score 1) 109

by Ancil (#44181117) Attached to: Underground 'Wind Mines' Could Keep Datacenters Powered
How about an alternate headline:

Underground 'Wind Mines' Could Keep Electrical Grid Powered

Or is this electricity somehow only usable by data centers? In the same vein, couldn't you also store excess production from nuclear plants or coal generation this way?

Is electricity no longer fungible?

Comment: Re:Samsung image tarnished with Android (Score 1) 107

by Ancil (#43242787) Attached to: Poking Holes In Samsung's Android Security

Never ever ever buy a smart TV.

TVs should be beautiful and dumb as dirt. They should be like a computer monitor: turn on when they sense a video signal. That's all the smarts they need.

Seriously, why would anyone ever want to build things like Netflix streaming and who-knows-what-else into a TV? What happens next year when you want to switch to Amazon's service, or Google's, or Apple's, or...? And your TV doesn't support it? What, buy a new TV??

You think a TV manufacturer is going to be Johnny On The Spot updating and patching last year's $3,000 "smart" TV which they don't even sell anymore? What's in it for them, exactly?

What if their search UI is worthless or they decide half of the guide screen should be targeted ads? What will you do about it? Buy à whole new TV?

Listen, friend. Buy a $99 blu-ray that streams from your provider of choice. Or better yet, a used Xbox 360. Buy a 3rd gen Roku box. Here's the good part: in 2014, if it doesn't meet your needs anymore, you're out a hundred bucks. No need to buy a new TV.

Comment: Re:Can he sell covered puts... (Score 3, Insightful) 170

by Ancil (#37227318) Attached to: Apple Puts $383 Million Handcuffs On CEO Tim Cook
No, because you can't cover a put option with stock you don't own. He won't own any of this stock for 5 years.

Recall that US-style puts can be excercised any time before they expire. He also can't cover a "European" put option, because there's no guarantee he'll keep working for Apple and own the stock 5 years from now.

Comment: Airlines (Score 4, Insightful) 360

by Ancil (#24834059) Attached to: China Sets Sights On Rail Record
Speed: There is a very narrow range of trip lengths for which high-speed rail makes sense.

Suppose this train actually achieves the stated 236 miles per hour. Without making any stops at all, you're still looking at about 13 hours to get from New York to San Francisco. With five or six stops (that's not even one per state), it would approach 20 hours. This is a 6-hour flight. Anywhere farther than 600 miles is going to be faster by air.

For trips less than 250 miles, it's just not worth the hassle of getting to a major rail hub, parking your car (or taking transit and transfering), waiting to board the train, arriving at your destination with no ground transport and having to rent a car, etc.. It's easier to just jump in your car and drive there. Cheaper, too.

Those are best-case scenarios. In reality, the Acela takes 8 hours to get from Boston to Washington, DC -- a flight I've made in about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Cost: Anyone with $50 or $100 million can start their own airline, leasing a few planes and plying low-volume routes to make money for expansion.

Good luck getting a high-speed rail built for less than $50 billion. With that kind of money, you could outright buy 40 or 50 brand-new airliners and hire people to fly them. That lets you provide service to a lot more than just two cities.

Capacity: It would take over a decade and untold billions of dollars to build a track. That's ignoring all the right-of-way and environmental headaches. Once built, the track can't exactly be picked up and moved if peoples' travel habits change. Air routes change all the time, based on passenger demand.

Airspace is already there, and it's free. The only real limit on capacity is landing slots, and big airports like LAX can land over a thousand flights a day.

Security: In flight, the only external threat to an airliner would be from ground-to-air missiles. Those aren't exactly easy to come by. You can't make one in your tool shed. Airliners are very delicate, but they're also very hard to reach, six miles above ground and moving along at mach 0.8..

High-speed rails travel a fixed route at predictable times. You could destroy one pretty easily using an IED. Even a small fuel-fertilizer bomb would be sufficient -- moving at hundreds of miles per hour, anything which gets the train slightly off-kilter is going to cause massive casualties. Patrolling thousands and thousands of miles of rail, 24 hours a day, is impractical and expensive.

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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