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Comment: If maintenance is the excuse, then wrong units (Score 1) 826

by EmagGeek (#49736959) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

If they really want to make road taxes usage based, then they need to charge by the ton-mile or something like that. Wear and tear on roads goes by the weight of the vehicle, and if I remember correctly it is a non-linear relationship (square or cube, I can't remember).

It's pretty trivial for a vehicle to compute its own weight, so it is similarly trivial for a vehicle to compute its own road tax as well. Many cars are now coming equipped with GSM modems as well, so your car could simply upload your road impact once/month and you can be billed for your use tax.

Piece of cake.

Comment: Re:Language, Density, and Whitespace (Score 1) 244

by EmagGeek (#49719165) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

Oversimplified language creates more ambiguity, not less. It may *seem* less ambiguous to people who don't understand the subject matter. But, to people who do, failing to be both precise and descriptive in your language creates more questions than are answered by your text, or worse, sends an inaccurate message.

Comment: Re:Typical government response... (Score 2) 393

I think you're right except for a couple of glaring, incorrect assumptions on your part. First, PTC is not new technology. It has been around for a very long time. Second, it is not under "rush" deployment because it has been under deployment for a very long time. In fact, George W. Bush signed into Law a mandate to deploy this technology where appropriate by this year. Finally, the curve in question does not require PTC because the speed limit leading up to the curve is below the maximum safe speed for it. Under normal operating conditions a slow-down is not required beforehand.

The only thing that I find super-shocking about this whole event is that Bush has not yet been blamed for it. After all, he could have sent the Law back to Congress asking for a faster deployment, not that it would have made a difference in this case since it is not a requirement for this curve.

Comment: Language, Density, and Whitespace (Score 3, Funny) 244

by EmagGeek (#49689489) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

What I've learned from decades of reading professionally-written manuals can be summed up in two steps:

The first step in writing a good manual is to have a very weak grasp of the language used by your target audience. It is important to use many grammatical and spelling errors, just to make sure the reader stays on their toes and pays attention. Research has also shown that users do not like to read manuals that use advanced vocabulary or complex grammatical structures.

The second step is to manage the density of information on the pages properly. A piece of paper is pretty large, and so are most screens, so a lot of information can be included on a single pane of view. It is important to make the most of this space and convey as much information as possible, as densely as possible. The more information a user can see without having to turn pages, the better. Use of separating devices, indications, and other correlative marks should be avoided, as it takes away from space that can be used for more information. They also can cause there to be more whitespace on a page, which should be avoided at all costs.

Comment: Re:Band-Aids Won't Work (Score 1) 334

by EmagGeek (#49568151) Attached to: Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage

There will never be anything other than a politically-motivated, secret back-room solution to any problem. Solutions will be chosen based upon who benefits, not upon whether they are actual solutions.

This is the world we live in where the incompetent shitbags float to the top and ends up in Washington while the competent people remain trying to do competent things in the face of an endless stream of policy waste from those same shitbags.

Comment: Our local generator has three huge batteries (Score 2) 334

by EmagGeek (#49568101) Attached to: Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage

Our local nuclear station has three enormous batteries that hold GWh of electricity for peak times. They are called Lakes Jocassee, Keowee, and Bad Creek.

During the night when the nuclear station generates excess power, water is pumped uphill through the succession of lakes. During the day, when peak demand hits, water flows downhill to generate extra power. It's efficient and relatively cheap to maintain over time.

The surfaces of Bad Creek (at the top) and Jocassee (in the middle) can fall tens of feet over the course of a few hours. Keowee (at the bottom) is maintained level as it is also the source of cooling water for the reactors.

It's a pretty cool system, and having the manmade lakes has generated billions in economic activity for the area in real estate, recreation, and tourism.

Comment: Answer: You don't. (Score 1) 634

by EmagGeek (#49568025) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

The reason there are fewer women than men in engineering is not because of some grand societal mechanism of oppression. It is because men and women are not the same. This goes back millennia. Our predisposed gender roles are baked into our DNA.

I have a much better idea. Why don't we stop obsessing over making everyone on the planet exactly the same, and let people do for a living that which they like and enjoy doing? Women who want to become engineers will become engineers.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.