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Comment You're right, it's bogus. Dang! (Score 1) 118

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_detector mentions none of this.

You're right, it's bogus.

I was told that decades ago. But a little research (in the online patent databases) shows that there were ionization smoke detectors for decades before that (back in the tube era, even, when beta emitters were easily available to the common man). NASA says their only involvement with smoke detector design was (in collaboration with Honeywell) coming up with a variable-sensitivity design to stop annoying false alarms in Skylab.

Sorry to have repeated a myth. B-b

Comment Re:Is it the year of the Linux desktop yet? (Score 1) 110

Right now, today, I have a P3 desktop running CentOS6/32 as a network monitor. It's old as the hills. My phone beats it handily in performance. But it runs on about 15 watts, and does the job so reliably that, in 10 years, it's never skipped a beat. It started with the original RedHat 6.1. (before RHEL was a thing)

I know it won't actually make any records, but I'm sure it's one of the oldest 0.01%, maybe even 0.001% of computers in terms of durability. It would be a remarkable machine if it wasn't otherwise so unremarkable.

Comment Re:Take back Slashdot (Score 2) 1304

Wish I had mod points! So, I'll agree, blah blah.

It seems absurd to have lameness filters that seem to specifically target code on a site that caters to the coder types! And the 4 minute limit is just silly. Back when it was still publicly shown, I had karma out the yin yang. I'm sure I still do, even though it's no longer displayed in any form that I can tell.

Slashdot trumps Reddit for quality of articles, Reddit bests Slashdot for UI and comment participation, though posting on Reddit has become such a land mine I don't bother unless I'm on a very small/exclusive subreddit)

Comment Heroes in more ways than one. (Score 4, Interesting) 118

The Appollo I martyrs are heroes in more ways than one.

One of NASA's responses to the fire was to design a detector for miniscule amounts of smoke particles, to provide an early warning of electrical problems that might lead to a fire - in time to evacuate the capsule if on the ground or hunt down and fix the problem if in space.

The detector used a miniscule amount of radioactive material to ionize the smoke particles and then detected the current conducted by the ions. (Radioactive materials were for NASA, a government agency, to design with, difficult for random inventors or corporations to even consider.)

The first, space-rated, low-volume prototypes were pricey. But the circuitry and the detection chamber were dog-simple and could be dirt-cheap when manufactured in volume.

So this was plowshared, and became the ionization-type smoke detector, the first practical, affordable, smoke detector suitable for broad deployment in residences. Even when this was the only type in use, it was quickly saving, first hundreds, then thousands of lives per year.

Modern detectors, combining ionization and photoelectric mechanisms, are credited with cutting the death toll from fires by somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2. They detect different types of fires, and the one detected by ionization accounts for somewhat less than half of them - which is still an enormous number.

So the loss of those three lives has been repaid with enormous interest in the decades that followed. The benefits are still flowing.

Comment Such sites would RATHER be boycotted. (Score 1) 118

Even better if they boycotted all sites which block ad-blocking viewers, ...

If you're blocking ads, you don't contribute to their revenue, but do contribute to their resource consumption. So the operators of such sites would RATHER be boycotted by people using ad-blockers.

Sounds like a win-win. B-)

Comment They should have argued it was a "Taking". (Score 0) 84

But the rule has meant millions in lost profits for utilities. Those companies argued that the program impermissibly targets retail customers.

They should have argued that it was a "taking" and the government had to reimburse them for their losses.

The tail end of the Fifth Amendment reads:

[...] nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

and the Supremes have already ruled that new laws and regulations, and changes to existing ones, that suck part of the value out of property (in this case, the value of the power generation and transmission infrastructure, which is based on the profit it creates) constitute a "partial taking" and require the government to pay for what it took.

Getting the Supremes to recognize that a rule change which imposes a change in the flow of money from customers to the investors in a busines can constitute a fifth amendment taking of the value of the latter's investment would inhibit arbitrary economic winner-picking regulations and move the US economy away from Fascism (alias "crony capitalism) and toward (free-market) Capitalism.

Comment But how about BeagleBone? (Score 1) 147

So happy to see the Raspberry Pi 3D support. Thanks for the goodies!

Goes double.

Is anything similar planned for BeagleBones - especially BeagleBone Black, which is the current cutting edge?

I have to deal with them, and the last time I looked their kernels were coming out of a separate project - which distributes an archive of script to be applied to the corresponding version of the packages, to be overlaid on and applied to the corresponding kernel sources, to hack them into shape for the Bones. It would be far easier to keep up with kernel fixes if the Bones (or at least the Black) were supported directly by the official kernel distributions.

Comment Retry: Re:Why retail? (Score 1) 298

(Stupid Lenovo touchpad just hit "submit" before I was done. Fortunately, it did it when the first part of the post was pretty clean. Reposing with the rest - unless it does it again B-b )

Why should you be paid retail for generation? That totally ignores the part the grid takes in handling your energy...

You also pay a monthly "be connected to the grid" fee, which pays your share of the ongoing expenses of maintaining the grid, along with a one-shot "get connected to the grid" fee, often amounting to thousands of dollars, which literally pays for installing the infrastructure - poles, drop transformer, etc - to bring the grid to you.

(When the contractor building my rural retirement house connected it to the grid, without my orders, I paid many thousands - money I'd intended for a solar system. Part of that was half the price of the existing transformer that I now shared with my next-door neighbor, who had paid the whole price and was now rebated half of it.)

Utilities are very good at dividing the service into appropriate chunks and billing you reasonably fairly for what you actually use. The bulk of the background costs are already covered (with the standard profit margin), so sellers to the grid are not so much the parasites you might think.

Net metering was a cheap hack - based on the common, low-end, pre-"smart" mechanical meters, which ran equally well forward and backward. It doesn't account for the losses in transmission - but (as was mentioned elsewhere) in the case of distributed generation the power doesn't travel very far, so the losses are far lower than those for power shipped from major power plants to widely distributed residences (and since much of those losses are proportional to the square of the currents, local generation reduces them more than in proportion). Billing a rate that doesn't vary by time of day is ALSO a hack based on those meters: Solar and wind tend to produce surplus power when it's expensive and have a shortage when it's cheap, so net metering (when few enough are using it to not substantially affect grid management) is actually a good deal for the power companies.

Having said that: With arbitrarily capable smart meters available a truly fair pricing scheme would involve some offset between the "buy" and "sell" prices - but the "buy at wholesale" level is far too low.

Utilities, though sometimes privately owned, are generally regulated monopolies with pricing schemes imposed by governments in the interests of their citizens. Attempting to apply free market arguments to them is disingenuous. We're dealing with Fascism, not Capitalism, here.

Comment Re:Why retail? (Score 1) 298

Why should you be paid retail for generation? That totally ignores the part the grid takes in handling your energy...

You also pay a monthly "be connected to the grid" fee, which pays your share of the ongoing expenses of maintaining the grid, along with a one-shot "get connected to the grid" fee, often amounting to thousands of dollars, which literally pays for installing the infrastructure - poles, drop transformer, etc - to bring the grid to you.

When the contractor building my rural retirement house connected it to the grid, without my orders, I paid many thousands - money I'd intended for a solar system. Part of that was half the price of the existing transformer that I now shared with my next-door neighbor, who had paid the whole price and was now rebated half of it.)

Comment Re:I knew something was up (Score 1, Interesting) 298

No worries. With the Great Global Warming Conspiracy in place, power companies have already been raising rates and gouging people for years and anticipated being able to do so for decades. Solar simply bites into that with net metering.

But it is nothing like the bite that is going to happen if any of the three or four companies or major projects that claim to be on the verge of fusion energy turn out to be correct within the allotted timeframe. Or, better yet, if two or three companies solve it slightly differently at once, so there isn't even a window of real patent-monopoly free from competition.

Of course that is also going to more or less kill solar in its tracks unless/until they can get prices down to order of $0.10/watt/decade of operation. That will break even with fusion, maybe, possibly -- the difference between free but unreliable "fuel" in the case of solar vs almost free and reliable fuel in the case of fusion, with both of them costing order of $100 million/GW for the generation facility, a quantity that is recoverable at current retail rates in a matter of days of operating at capacity (power companies charge order of a billion dollars for ten hours of the electricity produced by a gigawatt plant).

If Lockheed-Martin's semi-sized megawatt plant works, we might even see the real demise of the electrical grid and giant regulated monopolies, over time. Communities could buy off-the-shelf generation in a modular way and plug it into a municipal grid and pay for it on a co-op basis.

In the meantime, all measures taken to combat carbon dioxide raise the cost of electricity. All things that raise the cost of electricity increase the profits of the government regulated monopolies that sell it, that are usually permitted only a more or less fixed marginal profit. They'll make electricity using squirrels in cages if that's what the public mandates, as long as they get a fixed MARGINAL profit on the final retail price.

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Comment Re:"I forgot" (Score 1) 500

Ah, I see what you are doing there...

Proposition A) We should never let crazy or stupid people own or carry firearms, just like we shouldn't let them reproduce, vote, operate power tools, drive, teach, preach, or work in government.

Proposition B) It is crazy and stupid to own a firearm! Studies show that you are more likely to shoot a relative than a criminal (even if that relative DID "need killin'"). They are expensive. They serve no useful purpose except to enable an individual to hurt someone or punch meaningless holes in things from a distance. Criminals have a higher probability of carrying firearms than the general population, which means that it is a provable fact that firearm owners are more likely to be criminals. So crazy, stupid and you're probably a criminal as well you gun owners you.

Conclusion) If you want to own a firearm, you shouldn't be allowed to. Only people who have no interest in owning firearms should be allowed to own or carry them. And only then if they aren't, by a definition that I (being sane and smart) would be happy to write down as a standard to be fairly applied to the entire populace, crazy or stupid or both.

Carry on the good work, brother! We can work on the reproduction, voting, etc later!

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