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Comment: Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (Score 1) 122

by Solandri (#46821135) Attached to: Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later
Looking further to the future, when we develop 3D holographic displays, you should be able to take one of the images from a Lytro camera and directly convert it into a hologram. The total angular shift would be limited (basically to the width of the lens - move your eye beyond it and surfaces which were hidden in the original pic would be revealed in the hologram). But it would still be an honest to goodness hologram, as in you could move your head side to side a bit to peek around corners (which you can't do with current 3D video - the two viewpoints sent to your eyes are fixed).

The only question is if computers synthesizing the 3D info by analyzing two pics shot simultaneously with two lenses will be able to match this capability before we develop 3D displays.

Comment: Re:It's a design problem, not materials. (Score 2) 189

by Solandri (#46821079) Attached to: How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off
Funny that you should bring up a car analogy. In the 1940s and 1950s, as cars began to get faster, more people started dying in accidents. As a result, manufacturers started building the car bodies to be stronger and more rigid. Of course when we started doing systematic crash testing in the 1960s and 1970s, we found out that this was absolutely the worst possible thing they could have done. With a rigid body, the entire force the impact is transferred to the occupants. The car stops immediately, while the passengers keep going... until they hit the front of the car at full speed. The better solution was to design a strong passenger compartment and belt the occupants to it, while the rest of the car was designed to deform and shatter to lengthen deceleration times (decreasing peak acceleration forces) and dissipate energy. Which is actually what a phone with a plastic body and a metal internal frame does.

Anyhow, I think Samsung and LG are on the right track here. The electronics inside a phone can survive several hundred Gs (you can literally shoot them out of a cannon with little ill effect). The only fragile part is the glass screen. So both companies are working hard to develop flexible screens. The only remaining issue would then be scratching the screen; but most people seem content to put a cheap plastic protector on their screen to ward off scratches.

Comment: Re:Nothing to do with hole size (Score 1) 400

by Solandri (#46808241) Attached to: In a Hole, Golf Courses Experiment With 15-inch Holes
All the stats I've seen say we work marginally fewer hours than 20 years ago, and significantly fewer than 50 years ago.

What's changed is that the middle class has proportionately less income to splurge on luxuries such as playing golf.

Comment: Permanency (Score 1) 167

by Solandri (#46802699) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?
I mostly use OneNote (was using Evernote for shared stuff, but am transitioning that to OneNote now that it's free). The biggest problem I run across is permanency. If you write something on paper, it's pretty much permanent (unless the ink fades or the paper turns to dust). If you write something in OneNote, then later accidentally select it while typing something else and don't notice it, it's gone. For shared notes, if someone wants to cover up a problem, they could simply delete someone else's remark pointing it out.

The same characteristic makes it difficult to use these note-taking apps for event tracking. For certain tasks (e.g. customer relationship management), you want an immutable record of events which you can refer back to in the future. Worst case you may even need for it to stand up in a court of law. You get this permanency with pen and paper (at the cost of disorganization). You don't get it with OneNote or Evernote.

(Yes I realize for serious customer relationship management, I should be using real CRM software. But I just fix stuff on my extended family's computers, and have been bitten by accidental deletions more than once.)

Comment: Re:Don't tell them that... (Score 5, Informative) 330

by Solandri (#46802213) Attached to: Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

We don't filter the water. We have an EPA waiver not to have to filter our water. Only one in the country, since the water up in the Bull Run Watershed is so pristine (no human activity allowed in the entire watershed area, over a hundred square miles, 1/3 of the water is supplied by dew drip off of fir trees).

That doesn't change the fact that fish, birds, frogs, etc crap in the water. This whole thing is the same reason a lot of people believe in homeopathy - the idea that extremely diluted quantities of a beneficial substance still carry the same benefits. Homeopathy is basically the converse of the disgust reaction we have to inconsequentially miniscule contamination - the idea that extremely diluted quantities of a harmful substance still carry the same harm. The ISS has one of the most sophisticated water reclamation systems ever made, whose filtration provides cleaner water than what you get out of the tap. But people are still "grossed out" over the fact that astronauts are effectively drinking their own pee. Out of sight, out of mind.

The environment is dirty, and our bodies are fully capable of surviving with that dirt. This incessant demand for absolute cleanliness is probably the cause of the rapid increase in allergy rates. The prevailing theory is that allergies are result of over-cleanliness. Our immune systems are supposed to gradually build up resistance and tolerance to all sorts of pathogens and contaminants. But our modern, ultra-clean standard of living deprives our immune systems of gradual exposure to those substances. Then when we encounter it for the first time, our body goes nuts and overreacts, causing an allergic reaction.

Our water comes from the source much cleaner than would come out of the filtration systems used in other cities.

The cleanest water you can get is distilled. You slowly raise the temperature to boil off contaminants with a boiling point lower than water. At the boiling point of water you're getting pure H2O. The residual is everything with a boiling point higher than water. While it's absolutely clean, it's actually bad for you because it lacks minerals and salts your body needs, and the lack of dissolved content means metal from the pipes carrying it leech into it at an accelerated rate. So it's instead packaged in plastic or glass bottles and sold in stores. Rainwater is effectively distilled, except it picks up a lot of contaminants as it floats through the air, then falls down to the ground.

The next cleanest you can get is reverse osmosis filtered. The pores in the filters are so small that nearly all contaminants are removed. Like distilled water, it's actually too pure. They have to add minerals and salts back into it for health and taste reasons. While it's too expensive to use for most municipal water supplies, a few cities on islands or in extremely dry regions do use them to provide tap water.

Then come the spring waters, which are naturally filtered through miles of sand and rock.

Comment: Re:Well considering that.. (Score 4, Informative) 389

by Solandri (#46796819) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?
There's a difference between income and wealth. The IRS tax stats are freely available for anyone to view. The bottom 80% of Americans (that's a roughly $80k/year income cut-off) account for about 40% of the income, closer to 45% after taxes.

Wealth is the integral of income (minus expenses). It's just how much of that income you're able to save or spend on durable or appreciating assets. A large percentage of lower- and middle-class income is spent on consumable necessities (food, clothing, gas, etc). But a lot (if not most) of it is also spent on things with no long-term value and depreciating assets with negative ROI (movie/concert tickets, iPhones, HDTVs, eating out, interest on credit card debt, the latest and greatest [anything], etc).

Given that income distribution is still pretty healthy, you can still amass a large amount of wealth if you simply live within your means and spend/invest your money wisely. I've met a little old lady who worked in a library all her life who has a half million dollar fortune, a carpenter who works out of a pickup truck who owns three houses. In my younger days I made about $40k/yr, yet over 5.5 years managed to save up over $100k for a down payment on a house. I had to live like a hermit, but it's doable. It's all about how you spend your money. If you're blowing it on things which will be worthless in a few years (or tomorrow) while blaming the 20% of people who own 95% of the wealth for all your woes, you've already lost. Yes the system can be improved, but "the man" holding you down is usually yourself.

Comment: Re:Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse (Score 4, Interesting) 182

by Solandri (#46796113) Attached to: The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper
I wouldn't blame the contractor for requesting a design change in the Kansas City walkway case. It wasn't a cost-cutting move like in the Citicorp building case. The original walkway design was one of those stupid architect/engineering designs which looked fine on paper but was impossible to actually manufacture. The original design called for 3-story tall rods hung from the ceiling to support both walkways. To install it would've required the lower walkway on the floor, attaching the rods to it, threading the retaining nuts for the upper walkway from the top down (a process that probably would've damaged the threads on the nuts enough to compromise their structural integrity), lowering the upper walkway from 4 stories up through the rods until they met the retaining nuts but keeping it suspended (the rods can't support it in compression), then simultaneously lifting both the upper and lower walkways to connect the rods to the ceiling.

The design is fine if you can magically materialize the rods, retaining nuts, and walkways in place, as they appeared on paper. But it's one of those designs where it's completely impractical to get from the disassembled parts to the completed design. The contractor correctly called out this idiotic design and suggested splitting the rods in half - one for the upper walkway, the other for the lower walkway. That way they could connect the rods to the upper walkway, lift it in place and mount it to the ceiling. Then attach the rods to the lower walkway, lift it in place to mount it to the upper walkway.

It was the architect/engineers who didn't properly vet the change. If the two rods had been above/below each other with a mating connector (emulating the original single-rod design), all would have been fine. But the contractor had suggested offsetting the two rods sideways so they could both be sent through the upper walkway, using the walkway itself as the mating connector. That offset (1) transferred the entire load of the lower walkway onto the upper walkway instead of just the rods, and (2) converted what was supposed to be entirely axial loads on the rods into a torque on the walkway floor; a floor whose structure wasn't designed to withstand that much torque, and didn't on the night of the disaster. The engineers should have caught that and come up with a different design.

Comment: Re:Frist pots (Score 1) 323

by metlin (#46796049) Attached to: I expect to retire ...

But it's you who sees religion where there isn't any. Why else would you call it "Calvinist"?

You should consider doing some reading, especially the writings of Max Weber -- "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism".

In American history, the work ethic that places value on hard work and frugality is often ascribed to the puritans. It is by no means unique to them -- if I had brought up Asian Tiger Moms or the Jewish work ethic, someone else would have jumped on that, ignoring the rest of my argument.

But historically and culturally, the puritans were known to place a higher value on being good, hardworking people than on the ceremonies of religion. In fact, their whole idea is that being a good and useful member of society is a far better display of being "good" than going to church or confessions. In that sense, they have effectively distanced themselves from the traditional ceremonies of religion, despite the origins of the term (which is also why the new GOP has a bastardized concoction of values that admire both Jesus and capitalism).

In any event, I certainly think there is value to that worldview (hard work and frugality), your religious affiliations (or the lack thereof) notwithstanding. Perhaps I should call it the Horatio Alger work ethic, as Neal Stephensen calls it.

All right, all right. I'll stop having a beef with you.

Eh. You do realize that I am an American, right?

Comment: Re:All publicly funded research needs public relea (Score 1) 348

by Solandri (#46790395) Attached to: VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Scientists publish their completed research in scientific journals. There is no genuine reason for publishing emails that were exchanged whilst the research was still in progress. Only in-genuine and dishonest reasons.

"Police offers present their completed incident and arrest reports in court. There is no genuine reason for publicly releasing recordings of what the officers do whilst the incident and arrests were still in progress. Only in-genuine and dishonest reasons."

Just saying. Seems to me if you're going to have public employees, you need to hold them all to the same standards of transparency.

Comment: Re:Frist pots (Score 3, Insightful) 323

by metlin (#46788953) Attached to: I expect to retire ...

You are clubbing all the 1% into a single group. There's a study by Saez and Zucman of Berkley/LSE that talks about how clubbing the entire 1% into a single group is disingenuous -- The other wealth gapâ"the 1% vs the 0.01%.

Most of the 1% to .1% are nothing more than hardworking Americans with a Calvinistic work ethic who have been successful. It is easy to do the math and realize how a two income family can break into the 1% territory after a couple of decades of hard work and fiscally conservative habits. Socially and economically, they are nothing like the top .1%.

The surge in 1% is entirely attributable to the growth in capital of the .1% while the rest of the 1% has in fact stagnated. The "middle rich" (1% - 10%) are in fact losing ground to the top .1% (i.e. capital is flowing upward) while the 1% to .1% have merely succeeded in holding on to their wealth.

Most government policies favor the really rich and *punish* the hardworking upper middle classes. In fact, I would argue in favor of Reagan-esque tax policies for these folks, who are for the most part well educated, successful individuals in banking, law, medicine, technology, consulting and so on. These are the ones who are really building the economy, but the ones who are being punished by the government and vilified by the mass media who club them with the truly wealthy.

Imagine a successful husband and wife earning $150k/year, working in a white collar job (lawyers, doctors, consultants, IT -- take your pick). According to the IRS, making $343k/year puts you in the top 1% (by income). But what about wealth? Well, that's supposedly $8.4MM.

Some simple math will make it evident that a husband and wife earning (an average) of $171k for 40 years (assume raises and lower starter incomes are factored into the average) who save 15% of their annual income, with a starting principal of $10000 will have ~$5.4 MM at the end of their careers. Assume that they invested in a home that cost $300k early in their careers, whose value has gone up 5X in the 30 year time that they had to pay off the mortgage. Assume that they more or less maxed out their 401K, giving them $17,500.00/year for 40 years each, which is ~$1.4MM. At best, they have $8.4 MM, assuming market crashes, children's education, and life threatening diseases didn't wipe out their savings.

However, by virtue of having $8.4 MM, suddenly, these people are being placed in the *same* category as someone with enough capital to buy legislation or pay an army of Cravath lawyers. That is not factoring in any smart investing in what's been a pretty bullish run (minus the recent crisis) or basic fiscal conservatism.

Comment: Couple problems (Score 5, Informative) 217

by Solandri (#46784285) Attached to: MIT Designs Tsunami Proof Floating Nuclear Reactor
Mind you, I am pro-nuclear.

Meanwhile, the biggest issue that faces most nuclear plants under emergency conditions â" overheating and potential meltdown, as happened at Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island â" would be virtually impossible at sea."

Simply being at sea doesn't prevent the cooling problem. Remember, Fukushima was right on the ocean. The problem is that the cooling system has to have at least two loops. An internal loop of coolant (usually water, though salt has also been used) actually travels inside the reactor. Consequently it picks up some residual radioactivity from being exposed to all those neutrons flying around. You cannot just use this single loop for cooling, or else you're releasing this radioactive coolant into the environment.

A second external loop of coolant cools the internal loop via a heat exchanger. This external loop picks up nowhere near as much radioactivity, and the coolant (water) is safe to dump back into the environment.

If it were just one loop, you could come up with a clever design using thermal expansion to make the water flow through it to provide passive cooling in the event of a pump failure. But with two loops (and the inner loop being closed), you're pretty much reliant on active pumping to remove heat from the reactor core. The problem at Fukushima was that power to these pumps failed, and backup generators designed specifically to supply power in that scenario were flooded and their fuel source contaminated.

I don't see how putting the plant on a floating platform helps in this scenario, unless you're willing to open up the primary cooling loop to the environment and just dump water straight into the reactor (with the resulting steam carrying both heat and radioactivity out). Which was pretty much what they ended up doing at Fukushima. If they'd done it before the cladding on the fuel rods melted, we'd only be dealing with a small amount of radioactive water (deuterium, tritium, etc) being released into the environment as steam, instead of fission byproducts being directly released. So I don't see how being by vs on the ocean makes any difference for this scenario.

Maybe you could design the steel containment sphere to act as a heat sink, allowing sufficient cooling when submerged? But the containment's primary job is to contain what happens inside. That's why it's a sphere - it encloses the largest volume for the least amount of material and surface area, and its mechanical behavior under stress are very easy to predict. This is precisely the opposite of what you want from a heat sink. You want the most surface area for a given enclosed volume. Which makes me suspect that the steel containment could only operate as a heat sink if you're willing to compromise its protective strength somewhat.

The other problem I see is that putting it out at sea hinders accessibility. Meaning more mundane events like a fire, which are trivial to handle on land, become much more problematic at sea.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk