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Comment Third time? Or more.... (Score 2) 407

This is at least the third variation of this I've heard of - there's the Kickstarted solar roadways thing mentioned here, there's this one, and there was an earlier one that proposed larger drop-in units that were basically pre-fabricated road surface blocks with a clear (enough) top, internal electronics (including lighting) and connections out either off the road or possibly through adjacent units for power delivery.

The various arguments when those were initially proposed included that road surfaces and significant chunks of parking lots (the aisles, not the parking spaces themselves) are empty 90+% of the time (true), it's surfaces that are already not natural so there are no objections of "you're covering that beautiful field with solar panels," and by using pre-fabricated units you might be able to actually put in road surface at a comparable cost in labor.

I know my initial reaction at that time was that the concept wasn't terrible - it addressed real problems. The technology might not have been there, and still might not be there, but for some carefully chosen situations they might be a viable option. The biggest obstacle that I could see is that something like that would likely need some pretty tight tolerances in the installed environment, and "road bed" and tight tolerances don't always go together so well (see "alligator cracking").

Also, regarding the criticisms that it would cost far too much to cover all the roads in the USA, just how much electricity are you expecting to consume? I feel sure that on average houses with solar have less solar panel surface area than they have driveway area and a lot of them are (hoping to) produce more power than they need for their house. Covering all roads wouldn't be necessary, most likely even covering all suitable roads wouldn't be necessary.

And regarding France doing a large experiment with this, is it a 1000km stretch or is it multiple locations in differing road conditions, up to a total of 1000km of test plots?

Comment It's the fees, not just the rates (Score 2) 298

The two sets of changes are a gradual drop in per-KwH from 11 cents to 2.6 cents along with an increase in the charge for connecting to the grid, going from $12.75/month to $38.51/month.

If either one of those wasn't changing or was changing less then it might be feasible to at least break even; I suspect that the combination is actually designed to ensure that it costs more to feed power to the grid than you can possibly get back financially unless you have a huge (and thus expensive) solar array.

The biggest question now for me would be whether that $38.51/month charge applies even if you're set up to never feed energy back to the grid - if so, then this was absolutely set up to screw anyone with solar. If you can have solar for your own use (e.g. to cover your own AC/heating during the day) and just use the grid as backup, then it may still be feasible - particularly if cost-effective energy storage options become available. Depending on how things were set up, those options might not even need to be very efficient - heating or cooling of thermal masses for overnight temperature control for example.

Or, if you have electricity that you'll have to pay to send to the grid then it's effectively free to use it on other things. How much do Bitcoin mining rigs cost? Or incandescent-lit signs that say "F*ck The PUC"?

Comment Re:Bad title. (Score 1) 74

Many (most?) antivirus packages check for program updates along with definition updates and will warn if there's an update available. Hardware driver updates on the other hand are the kind of thing that almost never get installed unless you know you have a problem and go looking for a solution.

And as far as going without antivirus, it's a question of which is more of a concern - the things that may target the antivirus, or the things that may target the other parts of the system (browsers, maybe Flash still, maybe old Java, maybe Office vulnerabilities, etc.).

Comment Bad title. (Score 2) 74

Introducing any new software onto a system has the potential to add increased attack vectors. In the case of antivirus software exploits may be easier to get to the right place because the software by definition is looking at all the traffic coming in, but you could just as easily look for vulnerabilities in network card driver stacks for widely-used network and wireless cards.

At least with antivirus they're likely already getting updates regularly; the same can't be said for hardware drivers on a huge percentage of systems.

Comment Re:I have one, it's decent but not a daily driver (Score 1) 189

I use CallTrack to log my phone calls to a Google calendar, and I use SMS Backup+ to log my text messages (marked read and labeled with SMS) to GMail. Both of these make it much easier to go back and look at what I was doing/who I was talking to on any given day (e.g. using syntax like "label:sms after:2015/12/14 before:2015/12/17" in GMail).

Both of those are extremely useful if I'm going back later (e.g. during billing) to track down details of what I was doing.

Comment I have one, it's decent but not a daily driver (Score 1) 189

I use it on a daily basis but only as a media device - it has decent battery life, and connected to WiFi I can use it to stream audio or play podcasts without drawing down my regular phone. Pocket Casts is twitchy on it, but still syncs so it's easy to hop between devices.

I don't use it as a daily driver because of some of the software restrictions that impact how I use the phone (restricted app access to SMS and call logs). Apps are a little lacking and many are well behind Android counterparts, but that's survivable.

For the most part the builds have been stable, though I've had a few hangs in one of the recent ones related to WiFi. In the early days T-Mobile's WiFi Calling on my home network would just lock the thing up hard - but it'd come back if it was disconnected from the wireless network either by changing the SSID briefly or by going for a walk around the neighborhood.

Comment Xmarks - handy but flawed and stagnant (Score 2) 100

I use Xmarks (paid customer for it and LastPass, do they even have a free version?) but it definitely has its flaws and I don't get the impression that the company puts ANY resources into it beyond basic maintenance and support. I've had times where bookmarks simply disappeared (e.g. 80% of a folder of links to client sites), and there's no reasonable way to go back and track down when or why.

In my case I assume it was a sync issue between browsers on multiple systems, but since it was a folder of sites I only needed to access every few months it left me with a big window for when the loss occurred. I could have downloaded all of the bookmark sets to be able to search (or otherwise track changes) but that's a one-at-a-time process through a clunky web interface. Last time I looked there was no way to search through the old bookmark sets, nor is there any kind of automated changelog or indication of what changed - not even a count of number of bookmarks in each saved backup. Even having a count of the # of bookmarks would have helped, because I could have looked for spots where the total number declined since I'm bad about doing cleanup.

Overall I'd call Xmarks "just good enough to keep me from actually deciding to try to roll my own solution" which is really a pretty low bar since I have some idea of the development scope I'd be facing.

Comment SpearPhishing only? (Score 1) 94

Reading through this, it seems like it's much more likely to be useful for targeted attacks against people who are known to be actively moving all their traffic over VPNs.

Basically if the attacker is able to host a service (via port forwarding) on the IP of the same VPN endpoint that the target is going out through, then when the target visits that service (via phishing email, malicious website linked images, etc.) the VPN service will allow the attacker to see the origin of the request.

Comment Buy then enhance? Also Logical Increments Guide (Score 1) 325

For items where you can get the benefit of OEM pricing (e.g. for Windows) while customizing a system, it may make sense to purchase the bare-bones of what you'll want from someplace like Dell where you can customize, then add other items like graphics cards and SSDs on your own. If you don't care much about the motherboard details, power supply, case, etc. this may be the way to go.

On the other hand, you'll get an overall better system if you build from components - brand power supply, possibly a better case (though the manufacturers target easy/quick assembly and maintenance to keep labor costs down), etc. Take a look at the Logical Increments Guide at for reasonable recommendations at various price points.

If you know what you're looking for and can spread your purchasing over 2-3 weeks you can also get a lot of components at good discounts by watching sites like SlickDeals and possibly FatWallet for sales - SlickDeals has a lot of component sale announcements in the forums, not sure about other sites.

Comment Hopefully this is temporary (Score 1) 195

I've seen some commentary that indicated bug problems, so hopefully this is temporary.

The reason it should be temporary is that the upgrade process seems to take AT LEAST as long as the original upgrade install from Windows 7 did, and since the upgrade leaves behind a windows.old directory so you can roll it back I'm not sure how that interacts with an initial upgrade from Windows 7/8/8.1.

Comment Took longer than expected (Score 1) 181

I have a test laptop set up with Win10 and triggered the upgrade/update through Windows Update. The entire process took longer than I expected - possibly almost as long as the original Win10 install. The system can be used during the initial stages (download and some file updates) but then it reboots and you're at the black screen with a big white progress circle for quite a while.

I was working on other things, but it feels to me like it probably took more than an hour to complete, though I think it was likely less than 2.

Comment Gigabyte BRIX? Dual or triple output (Score 1) 197

It might be worth considering the Gigabyte BRIX units - there's quite a range, but most of them support dual output (HDMI+VGA or HDMI+MiniDisplayPort). There's one that lists nVidia graphics and triple displays but that might not be worth it; you might also be able to drive dual HDMI with active splitting of the DisplayPort but again, that might not be worth it.

Processors are all over the map from Celeron up to i7.

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