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Comment Not NIMBY: other factors (Score 3, Insightful) 288

The line losses are a NIMBY problem, people don't want power plants near their houses.

That's not really true. Coal-fired power plants need to be located near a large, reliable water source for cooling and the closer they are to their fuel source the less energy is used to transport the coal. They also have to be of a certain size in order to operate efficiently. Hence even if everyone was willing to tolerate a coal fired power station in their neighbourhood most locations would be unsuitable for their construction, rural communities would be too small to warrant a power station even if suitable and even then there would be an increase in the energy to ship the coal the larger distances required. This means that only small reductions in transmission losses would be possible and since this is already one of the most efficient steps in the power consumption process you'd lose a lot more than you would gain.

Comment Copyright Piracy (Score 3, Interesting) 209

It wouldn't last a week before we'd be seeing attacks against competitors.

It's not competitors I'd be worried about but the copyright trolls. Using their interpretation of copyright law practically everyone would be guilty of "stealing" their data in some form or other and so would be open to be hacked "just to check". The truly ironic thing of course is that by acting under a letter of marque they would actually be far more like a pirate than those they accuse.

Comment The BIGGEST thing they could do... (Score 1) 502

The government could best encourage solar by streamlining regulations,

The biggest thing they could do is change the regulations on their subsidies, tax breaks, and the like to replace the requirement "installed by a licensed contractor" to "installed in conformance with the applicable electrical code, permitted and inspected where applicable". This would allow do-it-yourself installations, where done properly, to receive the same benefits as professional installations.

The price difference between a homeowner-installed and a contractor-installed system is typically larger than the subsidies. So the current programs amount to welfare for the government-approved contractors rather than the homeowners.

Comment Some of these items look suspicious: (Score 4, Funny) 95

* Chewing gum
* Accordion
* Shoe-horn
* Pizza cutter
* 75 watt light bulb
* Dried armadillo
* Bicycle peddle
* Original painting of a bulldozer
* Rodent repellant
* 7 bottle caps
* Pillow feathers
* Rubber mallet
* Dog bone
* Green paint, exterior
* Detour sign
* Broken canoe paddle
* Decorative beads
* Baby pacifier
* Petunia seeds
* Empty ice tray
* Batman mask
* 3 human teeth
* Toothpick sculpture of a 3-legged donkey
* Drained snow-globe

As a hard-working tax-payer, I demand answers.

Comment Mishandling handles (Score 1) 261

I once contracted with a shop that had a process that generated garbled output data rows. It appeared to be extra stuff that didn't affect (over-write) the intended rows. The shop had added an extra processing step to filter out the garbage rows and eventually just worked around the glitch.

They had asked me to try to track it down, among other projects, because they were newbie programmers. I couldn't figure it out either because it never appeared in my intermediate trace statements. I put a trace (print) statement before every "write" in the program. None of the prints showed the garbage, yet garbage ended up in the output file. Head-scratcher galore. I was supposed to be "the expert", and thus feeling a bit deflated.

On I think the last day of my contract, I was running a test copy of the code with some changes to perform speed tests. I went to try a certain speed tweak, and I suddenly spotted the error: the file handle variable was re-used for another non-handle purpose, something like this:

fhandle = openFileForWrite(fileName);
writeToFile(fhandle, someData);
fhandle = countX + countY - 7;

The actual handle name was something like "qhand". But a regular variable, "quantity on hand" ended up "qhand" also, the same name as the file handle.

When it dawned on me what happened, I started screaming like a wildman and the others popped out of their cubicles to see what was going down. They took my coffee away :-)

As far as the link on goofy video game bugs, I remember somebody discovered that if you don't put a game cartridge in all the way, certain characters dance and spin randomly and rapidly in the sky.

It created an Internet meme, and spoofs started appearing all over, typically using stop-motion with live actors. I forgot the nickname of the meme, but I found it hilarious. It took my mind off the handle bug.

Comment Political Hot Air (Score 2) 502

It's the people with the "can do" attitude that lead us to the future.

A can-do attitude is useful when you have an idea about how to do something new and nay-sayers then argue against that idea ever working. What we have here is a political goal with no clue about how to achieve it which is not the same thing. The problem with a 100 % 'renewable' energy solution is that the power is very variable. Show me a plan to deal with that and I'll be interested. Until then this appears nothing more than political hot air.

Slowly and surely the unix crept up on the Nintendo user ...