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Comment Re: Yay for price drop (Score 1) 130

abundant supply of product "should" cause price to drop according to economics, however, as we can see on a daily basis that seems to not be holding true in the fossil fuel (oil) world with the abundant supply of crude oil driving the per bbl price down to levels not seen in decades while the pump price for refined gasoline remains more than double the price which it was at when crude was previously selling at those low bbl price levels.

one would expect no difference in the lithium market, abundant supply just means the profit margin will expand dramatically and consumers will still not see the benefit from economies of scale.


Comment Re:This is why we like C (Score 1) 234

Mod +5 on the Ada observation; I too had friends in the early '90s who had worked on the Ada rewrite which was abandoned, so they ended up at our telecomm firm writing C on our projects, then C++ etc etc. Seems there has been a near continuous chain of ATCS rewrite initiatives since the '80s, none of which has replaced the core systems which very likely still have a good bit of FORTRAN (66 or 77) and COBOL inside.

Comment Re:I appreciate the name anyway. (Score 1) 62

OMG, you had the floppy drive... our high school only had the original PET 2001 with the cassette deck and chiclet keyboard. Did my first ever programming on that tough little keyboard, enduring all the fat finger typing since there was no space between the keys. Alas, I do remember it fondly.

Comment Re:Why would anybody do this? (Score 1) 229

Just surmising that as an AC poster, you're likely not in the 50-55 age group where you can't just 'hock a loogie on their desk and walk out' without giving up your pension and or 401 vesting, etc. and expect to go find another job. If you are a 50+ and are secure enough to spit in their face, then good for you. Have had too many associates in industry who've been faced with that dilemma, and middle age folks have a lot to lose, thus feet of clay vs young workers who know no fear.

Comment Explanation from the Original Programmer (Score 5, Interesting) 456

This was posted to the Disqus comments, it appears to be from a man named Jeff who is likely the original programmer. He did post another response that talked about some problems he encountered in recent years testing an emulation solution. Bravo to this man Jeff for sticking by his system for the entire lifecycle.

When the Amiga system originally went in it was controlling well over 100 buildings throughout the district, including the entire GRCC campus at the time. The Amiga replaced the head-end of the system, which was experiencing expensive hardware failures every year ... and you couldn't get parts for that mini-computer on e-bay. It is essentially acting as a huge database (schedules, configurations, control programs, history, etc.), system manager, and monitoring system ("head-end") for the remaining 19 buildings HVAC systems. If the Amiga goes down, the buildings will continue to operate using the configurations last received, with most of the individual device controls being able to be manually overridden inside each building, albeit with less energy efficiency. What you will loose is the ability to change schedules/custom control code/configurations and the ability to centrally monitor the performance of the buildings.

Each building has one or more local control systems, and those systems communicate back to the central head-end over radio-modem (there was no district-wide network back then). Schedule and other control changes are sent to the buildings and alerts/reports are sent back. That old equipment in the buildings, even older than the Amiga, is what dictates the radio communications link. They incorporate specific protocols for keying up the radio that are not directly compatible with a newer serial to Ethernet type device that would seem like a logical replacement.

The control systems themselves gather temperatures, both inside and outside the building, look at trends and do predictive control of the equipment to accomodate scheduled use of various areas of each building. For the day, this was very advanced building control and offered significant energy savings, as well as comfort in the buildings.

Over time, as buildings have been updated, sold or replaced, the local controls withing those buildings have been replaced with newer/more modern controls that communicate with newer central control systems. Replacing these controls that are local to the buildings is what is responsible for the majority of the cost I would say.

As far as the Amiga system itself, I believe most of the components are still the original. The hard drive may have failed twice over the years, requiring a rebuild from backups. They did pick up or have donated a few Amiga systems to use as parts as needed, but the system has proven to be very resilient. Obviously, Monitors, Keyboards and Mice can only take so much use without needing to be replaced. Without this, the system likely would have become inoperable and unservicable many years ago, or been incredibly expensive to keep running.

From a technical stand point, the Amiga was selected because at the time it was the only "Personal Computer" (PC) that had a true pre-emptive multi-taskng operating system. It needed to be able to handle multiple processes simultaneously, including interfacing with the systems, maintaining settings in the database, monitoring the system as well as support for both local and remote access to the system simultaneously. Basically, its capabilities fit the need. While for nostalgia reasons I would hate to see it go, it has been 30 years and I think the system has done its job. Replacing a building's control system doesn't happen overnight, and when you are talking 19 buildings with ancient (yes I am calling myself ancient I guess) control systems, it is going to take money and time. The payback in energy savings, comfort and safe control of the buildings though I think justifies the cost.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen