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Comment Downsides (Score 1, Interesting) 139

Previously such thermal solar tower designs have caught a lot of flak for a number of reasons, including their ability to light passing birds on fire ('streamers'), their maintenance-intensive nature (lots of mirrors and associated electronics to clean and maintain), the risk of massive arrays of mirrors reflecting light for passing pilots, as well as their relatively low power density.

The article reads more like a fluff PR piece instead of providing any credible reason for why we should get about yet another one of these plants.

Comment Why bother with installed capacity? (Score 2, Informative) 259

One of the hallmarks of PV solar and wind (turbine) power is that its installed capacity is so completely out of sync with its utilization rate. While a coal, nuclear or gas plant can hit utilization rates of 90 - 99%, PV solar and wind tend to fluctuate around 20-30%.

In short, 70-80% of installed PV solar and wind capacity has to be discarded in order to close to the utilization percentage. It also means that you need 3-5 times as much installed capacity to get near the power delivered figures for baseload power sources.

In summary, in terms commonly used here in /., I believe this article is what is referred to as a 'circle jerk' :)

Comment Re:In other news... (Score 1) 256

The German grid more stable in 2013? Relative to the years before it, maybe. Mostly because there's a big new market springing up here for people to sell grid stabilization services, which involves buffering energy somehow. It's all a response to the utter unsuitability of wind/solar to provide reliable power output.

But feel free to believe in your propaganda... fact of the matter is that the German Energiewende is on its last legs. Subsidies are being cut, projects are being scaled back and politicians are desperately trying to figure out ways to break the bad news to the populace.

Comment Re:In other news... (Score 1) 256

Germany, Scotland and Denmark have stabilization issues on their national grids. Fortunately they are linked into other (national) grids to help stabilize things again.

Unfortunately for my country (Germany) the surrounding countries are getting a bit pissed over having to take our power fluctuations every time the wind picks up/slows down and a cloud moves in front of our freakin' solar panels.,

Even the Green party here which originally championed the Energiewende is slowly retreating on its statements and original goals. It's increasingly becoming clear that it is all just a poorly planned and very expensive joke which has only served to increase the CO2 produced. Our government has already indicated that Germany will have to back out of the CO2 reduction goals previously set.

'Renewable energy' is largely just a white elephant, with some very severe negative repercussions.

Comment Gender/sex binary nonsense (Score 1) 599

Separating children and teenagers into 'boys and girls' keeps reinforcing the idea that these are part of some black and white, unchanging reality.

The fact of the matter is that both the gender and sex binaries are a complete lie. From fluent gender roles to a wide variety of physical characteristics (where'd an intersex/hermaphrodite person like yours truly fit into this system, for example?), making a school 'girls-only' or 'boys-only' merely opens the can of worms of 'what's a girl/boy?'.

Is a transsexual boy or girl a girl or a boy? What about someone who is 'genderqueer'? What about an intersex person (pick one of many dozens of conditions there)?

For these reasons 'gender-segregated' schools feel more like an artifact of an ancient, ignorant society than something which we should admire or strive to imitate.

Comment Ada (Score 4, Interesting) 211

Is there any reason why anyone would want to use Rust when they're already proficient in both C++ and Ada?

You'd think that Ada is already covering most if not everything what Rust is trying to cover here, especially the memory safety and concurrency aspects.

Comment I worked on the ConnectedDrive system (Score 4, Interesting) 83

While I do not work for BMW directly, the company I work for does do projects for BMW. One of the projects I worked on was the iOS app which is part of this ConnectedDrive system.

To be precise, for the 'old' version of the app (My BMW Remote App) for non-i models we started off with this black box library (CD lib) which handled all the communication with the BMW servers.

While I didn't do any protocol analysis or looked at the communication between car and servers, even for this iOS app it was pretty clear to me and my colleagues what the security implications would be if someone were to be able to obtain log-in data just for that part of the communication.

Depending on the market (America, Europe, Japan, etc.) there are some limitations to what one can do with the app (based on the type of account, IIRC), such as from what range one can see where the car is on a map and whether one can unlock doors with the app or not (not allowed in the US market, from what I recall). Where these limitations are enforced I'm not sure. It might be based on the server, in which case this hack would bypass such limitations as well.

At any rate, this security leak does demonstrate quite succinctly how important it is to properly security audit such systems before releasing it into the wild. Even for the current project I do for BMW (related to the headunits), having an active internet connection means that security is essential, including plugging buffer overruns and similar.

Nobody wants to have one's headunit go blank during navigation, in a constant reset cycle or be turned into a spying device, after all :)

Note that I'm still under NDA for all of these projects, so I can't go into much detail.

Comment Human Intelligence (Score 2) 68

All I can think of while reading up on the Turing and related tests is how many humans would fail such a test.

With the many assumptions made about what constitutes 'true' intelligence, how sure are we of the assumption that a human being of at least average intelligence would pass it? What's the research telling us there so far?

Or are human and artificial intelligence somehow considered to be mutually exclusive?

Comment Amazing progress... (Score 4, Informative) 120

Amazing progress, but it would be nice if the attitude within the medical scientific community to for example intersex-born individuals wasn't still stuck somewhere in the 19th century. Progress is relative.

How many people here actually know what intersex is? I didn't know it existed (among humans at least) or what it was called until I was 21 and I was born intersex (hermaphrodite).

Don't get me wrong, it's great that these women born without certain reproductive organs are getting them transplanted, but on the other side doctors are also chopping up the genitals of intersex infants and manipulating intersex adults like yours truly into 'normalization' surgeries.

Heck, after consulting dozens of 'experts' in about a dozen countries I honestly couldn't tell you which reproductive and related organs I do or don't have exactly. I also meet so many others who had to discover as a teenager or adult that their parents and medical file have withheld details about surgery being performed on them as an infant.

So yes, happy news for some, but just a bitter feeling for many others who had the misfortune of not being born a 'normal' male or female even one missing some bits...

Excuse the brief rant :)

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]