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Comment: Too good to be true? (Score 1) 39

by Dereck1701 (#49360653) Attached to: Taxpayer Subsidies To ULA To End

I always get a little concerned when too many bits of good news come out of a sector of government that has been entrenched in a particular activity (waste, abuse, corruption, etc) for decades and suddenly they decide to "change". I hope it is true and this just a confluence of a realization that they're public servants, more transparency/competition will help not diminish their goals as public servants and a little bit of political pressure. But there is also a nasty tendency in government to notice a shift in opinion and to make it "look" like you're bowing to that opinion while actually doing nothing or in fact using it as a vessel to get your particular activity even further intrenched into government. Cautious optimism isn't unreasonable, but close scrutiny of the "changes" they are suggesting is also prudent.

Comment: Laundry detergent waste? (Score 3, Insightful) 172

"16 percent of laundry detergent"

If you're wasting that much laundry detergent you're doing something very wrong. I use liquid and when the bottle runs dry I take a few cupfuls of water out of the washer and put it in the bottle, give it a few shakes and then dump it straight into the wash. I doubt more than 0.1% manages to stick to crevices in the pour spout. Even if you didn't do that I have a hard time believing that more than 3% sticks to the sides of the bottle. With your average bottle 16% is more than 5 loads worth of detergent still in the bottle.

Comment: $6K-$12K? (Score 2) 79

by Dereck1701 (#49332719) Attached to: Better Disaster Shelters than FEMA Trailers (Video)

$6,000 to $12,000 for a rigid one room 4 bed tent with no facilities? Are they insane, you can get a full fledged multi room camper with a bathroom, kitchen, running water and just as many beds for $15,000. There is definitely a use for this kind of emergency shelter but not at that price point. Heck you can buy some of those multi-room camping tents for $300 each. A quick redesign to make it easier to set up and the addition of some kind of living module (bathroom, shower, kitchen) and you could have something far better than this and probably wouldn't cost more than $2,000

Comment: Re:Desalinate Hadera style (Score 4, Interesting) 416

by Dereck1701 (#49313263) Attached to: How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought

Where are you getting $2,000 per AF from? From what I can find when properly done desalination with current technology costs about $800 per acre foot. And while California farmers used to get some pretty low rates $20 is far from normal any more, some farmers in Fresno have had to pay $1,100 per AF and north of Sacramento they've been paying around $500. A third of the farmland in some water districts is being left fallow (unplanted). This being Californian things can be extra insane, there are some cases of farmers being charged MORE money now using little or no water then when they were using massive amounts of it before the drought, called a "standby charge", if their use falls below a minimum threshold.

Comment: "water usage" (Score 1) 416

by Dereck1701 (#49313121) Attached to: How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought

I wonder what they are defining as "water usage". If you're talking about irrigation being pulled from natural water course I can somewhat understand but something tells me they're lumping in rainfall, private retaining ponds and other sources that wouldn't make it to a cities aquifer in any case along with ones that would. Farmers should take steps to prevent water loss in a drought situation, but there are also stories a plenty of individuals, government officials and companies burning through millions of gallons to keep their lawns green and their cars sparkling.

Comment: Simple fix (Score 0) 70

by Dereck1701 (#49308453) Attached to: Government Spies Admit That Cyber Armageddon Is Unlikely

And the disturbing fact is even if there is a risk it would be childishly simple to remove that risk, just pull the network plug to the utilities and harden consumer electronics. Even if you need remote monitoring it would be easy to create equipment that would allow for unidirectional monitoring with absolutely no risk to critical systems. Instead we seem hell bent on integrating ever more insecure systems even further into our lives. And our supposed "protectors" seem content to continue this trend and even introduce new flaws into electronics in some foolhardy attempt to gain superfluous intelligence that often isn't even acted on when something nefarious is indicated.

Comment: Mind boggling numbers (Score 2) 437

Sounds great, few problems though. First off is cost, they're talking about placing solar panels across millions of square acres. I could have mistyped but from what I can figure (6.7M acres / 15 sqft solar panels) that would take a mind boggling number of solar panels, almost 20 Billion. At current rates that would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $19 Trillion dollars. Secondly what do you do with all that power, you'll either have to build one heck of a grid storage system or fundamentally rethink how electricity is used, or a little of both. Our energy future will involve a mix of power if we have any sense, Some solar to take up the slack on those hot days, some fossil for peak loads or cloudy days and nuclear/coal/wind for baseload.

Comment: Now if we could only kill SLS (Score 2) 179

by Dereck1701 (#49261241) Attached to: Russia Abandons Super-Rocket Designed To Compete With SLS

I have to agree with the summary, this could be a blessing in disguise for the Russians given the right future economic conditions. We're burning enough money here in the US just on DEVELOPMENT of SLS that we could launch the mass of a WWII aircraft carrier into orbit on commercial launchers in todays launch market let alone the economies of scale you would get if we tried to do so. And the "$500 Million" per launch claim that NASA is putting out is hysterical, It will probably cost at least $1.5 Billion per launch not including development. If our intention is to make space access more reasonable there simply is no good reason for a SHLV at this time, we can do everything and more with standard LV's and if we get enough yearly flights economies of scale and competition will kick in and help space access costs even more. SHLVs are currently only good for shoveling massive amounts of money into the bank accounts of a few well connected defense contractors.

Comment: Re:Is he dangerous? (Score 1) 163

by Dereck1701 (#49255609) Attached to: Man Claiming Half Ownership of Facebook Is Now a Fugitive

Most DUI's are victimless "crimes", no one was harmed, no property was damaged and quite often even past the "legal limit" the person was more in control of the vehicle than someone who hadn't got enough sleep or was too busy stuffing their face with a cheeseburger or doing their makeup, both perfectly legal. It has the POTENTIAL to cause harm (injury/property) but so do a lot of things including but not limited to hunting, fishing, bowling, racing, eating large portions, sleeping around, snowmobiling, etc and yet even when those things do cause harm often their punishments (if any) are less than simply being caught with a 0.08 BAC in the drivers seat of a parked car. When it progresses to actual harm then yes the person should get a hefty sentence from the courts but until then its worthy of no more than fines and maybe a suspended license and definitely shouldn't involve significant bail.

Comment: Re:Is he dangerous? (Score 4, Insightful) 163

by Dereck1701 (#49237129) Attached to: Man Claiming Half Ownership of Facebook Is Now a Fugitive

"Bail is supposed to be a fee that you pay"

Not quite. Its supposed to be a guarantee that you'll show up for your court case, and if you don't you either lose a significant chunk of change far in excess of your crime or you have a bail bondsman with a very good reason to hunt you down. The problem is that bail has been corrupted beyond all reason, people who would have no cause (minor crimes, roots in the community, etc) to flee are held under tens of thousands of dollar bail. People with minor DUI crimes will sometimes have bail in excess of $100K. Its become more of a pre-punishment then a guarantee that you'll return to court, if you have the money you're effectively paying hundreds to thousands of dollars (in lost interest, both investment and inflation) if you don't you're paying a bail bondsman ~10% on your bond. And with court cases dragging on more and more each year (its not uncommon for trial to take 2 years) people are paying more and more.

Comment: Re:Wired article wheel fire (Score 3, Insightful) 208

by Dereck1701 (#49210319) Attached to: A Year On, What Flight Simulators Can't Prove About Flight MH370

You assume that those procedures are always going to work after....... a fire! Its not inconceivable that a fire on an airliner could damage vital components possibly related to the environmental, radio and even control systems. Don't get me wrong its an unlikely situation where the radio AND avionics/air handling/navigation systems and their backups (if any) are effected simultaneously but when you have 36.5 million commercial air flights per year its bound to happen eventually.

Comment: Exhaust (Score 5, Insightful) 221

by Dereck1701 (#49207283) Attached to: New Concept Tire Could Recharge Car Battery

I realize this "tech" is designed for electric vehicles but if you had the ability to convert heat into a meaningful electrical source you would start with the exhaust system of a standard car and do away with the alternator. If they can't do something with that rather significant and easily accessible temperature differential (+300F) I am pretty dubious about them utilizing the relatively minor temperature differential (~30F) of tires.

Comment: I'll be rich! (Score 1) 61

by Dereck1701 (#49185039) Attached to: SpaceX's Challenge Against Blue Origins' Patent Fails To Take Off

I knew the patent system was horribly broken but this is obscene. Perhaps I'll patent "Utilizing a multi-wheeled conveyance to traverse a network of engineered level surfaces to traverse from an origination point to a destination point". This patent doesn't seem to cover any real technology but the general idea of "launching from a land site and landing on an ocean platform".

Comment: Cash (Score 3) 230

by Dereck1701 (#49168435) Attached to: Will you be using a mobile payment system?

I'll stick with cash until some form of widely accepted "carry on your person" digital currency is available. Credit/debit/mobile payment methods are trackable, insecure, ripe for misuse by authorities and dependent on large interconnected networks that can go down (happened a few days ago while I was grocery shopping). They have their uses, especially where you are already using said networks (online purchases), but too much reliance on them is foolish.

Comment: Re:Microscope (Score 2) 286

by Dereck1701 (#49076407) Attached to: 1950s Toy That Included Actual Uranium Ore Goes On Display At Museum

Count yourself lucky, as a kid I can vividly remember my mother taking me to practically every toy/hobby store within a 20 mile radius looking for a simple chemistry set for a fair project. The closest thing we found was some eye droppers, we finally broke down and asked some of the employees at a fairly high end hobby shop. They told us there was no chance of finding one in any retail store, they had been practically outlawed (by the "Consumer Protection Safety Commission" I believe) out of "safety"/drug concerns. I had to make due with one of those little "build your own radio" kits that I never did get to work right.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?