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Comment: Economics (Score 4, Interesting) 148 148

Could someone fill me in on the economics of nuclear power generation? I'd like to know what the usual payback period for a plant is, and how much it costs to operate a plant over that period.

Just doing some napkin figuring here, if the plant ran 24/7 at full capacity for a 20 year payback period, and assuming that operational costs are about the same as initial construction costs (i.e. using the $10 billion number from the summary, so $20 billion for construction and operation), that gives me a figure of about 5.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Obviously the plant wouldn't run at full capacity for 20 years straight, but that does put something of a lower bound on the price of power generation, and it seems like a reasonable number given US electricity prices.

I'd also like to know how this compares to hydro, gas, coal, solar, wind, tidal, and any other generation method currently in use.

Comment: Re:Snow Leopard (Score 3, Informative) 96 96

If I upgrade to 2G of RAM, it looks like I can upgrade to Lion, but not Mountain Lion. I was going to upgrade the RAM anyway because it seems to run a bit sluggish, but the Mini maxes out at 2G, which is the lower limit of Lion. So it may be a wash, performance-wise.

No, it will be a huge step backwards. Do not, under any circumstance, install Lion if you can possibly avoid it. Not only is 2GB not enough to run Lion in any reasonable manner, but even if you have more RAM than that, Lion is a molasses sucking pig. The last OS for any hardware I used that was that bad and that much of a step backwards from what came before it was... umm... Wow, can't think of one. Lion wins. Or, actually, loses.

Installing it was the worst single decision I've made regarding Apple software on my early 2008 MacBook Pro. I even did a clean install from official Apple USB media (i.e. the USB fob you had to pay extra for instead of just downloading it) and upgraded RAM to 4GB on account of Lion. Take it from myself and several of my coworkers who regretted every getting within 100 feet of Lion that it is best avoided. Mountain Lion didn't suck, but only by comparison to Lion. Mavericks is a little bit better yet, but still not nearly as snappy as Snow Leopard.

My gut reaction: Don't worry about Snow Leopard being out of date, even security-wise. A man-in-the-middle is rare in most environments, and Snow Leopard is already quickly diminishing in market share, so it's not terribly likely to be widely exploited. Compared to the every day pain you'll cause yourself by installing Lion or later, the tiny risk profile of running a vulnerable Snow Leopard is worth it, in my opinion.

Comment: Re:diagreeing with same sex marriage != hate (Score 3, Interesting) 1746 1746

Your observation jives with one of my own thoughts on the matter.

Many people have something which they incorporate as the center of their identity, be it their race, their ethnicity, their gender, their sexual proclivities, their religion, their choice of operating system, their athletic team, their place of origin, their family, their career, their hobby, and so forth. People who have convinced themselves that their very identity is tied first and foremost to one aspect of life have an incredibly strong, even visceral, reaction to anyone who expresses anything less than complete agreement with them. There is a term for this: zealotry. A zealot is unable to distinguish disagreement with their view from a personal attack or even hatred, as their very identity is melded with that for which they are zealous.

One of the most zealous sets of people we see today (at least in my myopic U.S.-centric personal experience) are homosexuals. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but my observation seems to be that this particular group of people has made homosexuality the defining feature of their life. As such, even minor disagreement with the idea that homosexuality is completely normal results in a strong adverse reaction and accusations of fear and hatred.

Personally I am saddened by this, that people have focused so strongly on one aspect of their identity so intensely that they view themselves first and foremost as that thing, rather than as a person, complete and whole. This is unhealthy, and when widespread (as we see today most strongly in both political zealotry and the zealotry of homosexuality) we end up with a fractious society that struggles to engage in a civil exchange of ideas, and at its worst can lead to quite literal violence and bloodshed.

Comment: Re:Is there an end to this? (Score 1) 352 352

I certainly hope not.

My sister's car was damaged when an SUV rear-ended me as I was stopped at a traffic light. The driver of the SUV did stop, but refused to identify herself and provide insurance information. I could tell by the driver's actions that she was about to flee, and quickly noted her license plate number, and sure enough she fled while I pleaded with her to reconsider what she was about to do.

It took about a month longer than it should have, but eventually the machinery of justice caught up with the driver, and my sister was made whole for her financial loss. If it hadn't been for a clear and visible license plate it is doubtful that any compensation would have ever been recovered.

Comment: Re:Liked SC1 better than SC2 (Score 1) 160 160

While overall I liked SC2 better than SC1, I too missed the strategy game aspect of SC1, for much the same reason -- it was a quick strategy game instead of a long RPG-like adventure. SC2's humor was spot-on, so that was a huge bonus.

I remember not having a code-wheel to use to start up SC1, but my college roommates and I knew that "PARTY" was one of the answers to the startup challenge screen, so whenever we'd want to play it was "cd \games\starcon", "starcon", followed by repetitions of "party", "party", "party", then F3, until the game let us in.

Also, the SC1 music emitted by the old Radio Shack "Game Blaster" was better than that from the Sound Blaster that I replaced it with -- I can still feel the melee music in my bones 23 years later.

Comment: Surprising results (Score 3, Interesting) 327 327

I looked back at my past year's worth of bills and saw that I used a total of 3648 kW-h. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, though each month my power company sends me a notice that states I'm using about 15-25% less energy than my energy efficient neighbors. I live alone in a house that's bigger than I need but not ludicrously so, and I don't tend to leave computers running. As 30-year old appliances fail I've been replacing them with more efficient models, and as they burn out I'm replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs (but dang, some of those daily-use incandescents are over 12 years old at this point, I'm beginning to think they'll never fail).

The big surprise for me, however, was my bill from last January; my electric energy use easily outstripped even my summertime air conditioning use, and was a fair bit higher than the months immediately before and after. The bill kindly informed me that the average temperature that month was 9 degrees colder than the year before, but I couldn't see that making such a huge difference. Could it be the air circulating fan in the furnace that I let run on low most hours of the day? Maybe, but why the anomalous month? I considered a incorrect meter reading, but realized that it's read remotely rather than by a guy walking around the neighborhood, and any mistake would have been offset the other direction the next month. Then I remembered.

For occasional use by my houseguests I have one of those oil-filled radiator-styled space heaters in my guest bedroom. I recall that sometime in that December-January timeframe the heater was used, and I forgot to check that it was turned off after a houseguest left. It sat there maintaining a comfy temperature in the otherwise unused bedroom for approximately a month before I happened to enter the room and noticed.

So now I know just what an energy pig that space heater is, and I'll be extra careful to check in on it after houseguests depart. Thanks Slashdot, you've probably saved me several tens of dollars over the next decade as I become more vigilant about the heater's use.

Comment: Brighter whites? Really? (Score 1) 202 202

Am I the only one who doesn't want brighter whites, and would even go so far as to avoid them?

On my smartphone, computer monitors, laptops, and even my old CRT monitors and TV I keep the brightness turned down. When I have opportunity to see LED TVs at my parent's place or elsewhere they always seem eye-piercingly bright, to the point where I don't care to watch them. The same goes for any LED based TV in a store -- or basically anywhere. This was one of the main reasons I was looking forward to eventually purchasing a plasma TV (instead of an LED TV) to replace my CRT TV.

Truer whites I'm all for, but brighter whites do nothing at all for me.

Comment: Re:Tracktion (Score 1) 223 223

Thank you for mentioning this! I purchased Tracktion 3 for the Mac a number of years ago because its workflow and interface mapped better onto my brain than any alternative I could find (well, at least those I could demo for free, which was quite a few). However I was disappointed when Tracktion appeared to become an abandoned and unmaintained product, and it kept losing bits of usefulness with each OS X release. To be honest I'd given up on it and considered it to be lost money. But if it's back I'm *definitely* going in for the new version -- particularly as even the non-upgrade price is now around 20-25% of what I paid for the previous version (and an even better ratio on the upgrade price).

I initially looked at it for the purpose of MIDI sequencing, and that's what I based my purchase decision on. However I never used it for that purpose but instead have done a small number of multitracked board recordings from my live sound-guy gigs. Back before the bit-rot it did an absolute bang-up job for those projects.

But, anyway, given there's a new version and it would appear that active development has resumed, I'll definitely recommend checking it out. I mean, there's free demos for Windows, Mac, and Linux -- with certainly enough going on in the demo to determine whether it fits your style of operating and is worth purchasing.

Direct links: and

Comment: Re:As the saying goes... (Score 0) 999 999

Nothing was lost? All the work that the government workers could have been doing during the shutdown was lost.

You mean all that work that was so important that it was deemed non-essential?

All the revenue from the National Parks were lost.

Which amounts to what, maybe a grand total of a couple million, nationwide? Maybe? The federal government burns through that in seconds.

Two weeks food inspections, drug inspections, VA claims processing were lost.

And yet safe food and drugs were still being produced, shipped, and sold. The lost value-add was... umm...? And a few VA claims are paid out to drug companies and the like about two weeks late -- yawn.

Worldwide confidence in the US and the US dollar was lost. US credit rating was compromised with the possibility of higher interest rates on new deficit.

Wake me up when people stop loaning the U.S. federal government money, charge it higher rates, or stop keeping their wealth in dollars. If anything those first two effects can't come soon enough, to put the brakes on the spending spree that's selling out of every taxpayer, particularly the younger ones who will labor under the burden of paying that debt for most of their life. I say throw the retiring Baby Boomers to the wolves -- they spent their trust fund on federal baubles for decades, and now it's time to pay the piper. That fable about the ant and the grasshopper has more than a little merit.

Scientific tests will have to be thrown out and restarted.

So this was all a job creation program for scientists, you're saying? After all, they can look forward to redoing all that work. Sounds just about as effective as the previous economic stimuli to me!

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil