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Comment: Re:But (Score 2) 79

The quickest numbers I could find say that at the scales of large power-plants, the generator is very efficient, but the turbine not so much, around 50%. This would put the system as a whole at around 40% efficency sunlight -> electricity. That's competitive with the best solar voltaic systems tested in the lab, and 50-100% better than practical systems on the market. Assuming their system really does scale up to power plant sizes, of course.

Comment: Specifically... (Score 5, Informative) 234

Specifically, states like California are now trying to reclassify temporary employees as permanent in order to collect additional tax revenue. This happened with Apple before, and they also now have a 6 month rule. See also:

Microsoft is particularly sensitive to the issue, given that it was a lawsuit against them that triggered the whole idea:

So this has nothing to do with the laid off employees (unless they are laying off contractors first, which is pretty common, if they can).

Comment: "...vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's..." (Score 1) 165

by tlambert (#47502049) Attached to: California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory

"...vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's..."

Great reason right there to not pick California.

How's that high speed rail construction project that was voted down by Californians 3 times with a large enough margin that it's a pretty clear shout of "Hell No!" each of the times it was vote on, that Jerry Brown is going ahead with anyway, working out?

Is it still taking place in a corridor where land is cheap because there's no place to get on or off the damn thing that has any significant population that would constitute the target ridership?

Is it still taking place in an era with no water to support future development potential, because all that water is being shipped down to Los Angeles, which is too lazy to build actual catchement, and just runs all their water off into the ocean, and is too lazy/cheap to build desalination plants powered by the waste heat from Diablo Canyon (which they'd prefer to have shut down, even though it's a zero carbon emission power plant)?

The man is a freaking public policy nightmare spendthrift, not to mention that Texas has no income tax; what moron would build a factory in California? Elon was just being nice when he didn't categorically rule it out when asked.

Comment: Re:Work Shortage where is the Wage Increases?, (Score 1) 516

Basic economics says if you are having a skills shortage in a certain sector then you should see wages increasing as employers attempt to attract the required labor. If wages are not going up then you do not have a skills shortage. This is something economist Dean Baker points out all the time.

Basic economics should also tell you that certain jobs have a value ceiling, and above that ceiling, you either go without, or you find someone willing to work at or below the value ceiling.

We used to have kids employed part time by businesses to do things like police the trash in the parking lot, wash down sidewalks, and so on. But the value to the business is not worth what they'd have to pay in order to get the job done, and so now there is trash in parking lots, and crappy sidewalks, and you contract someone to come in once a week or so with a strew sweeper, because it's cheaper than hiring a junior high/middle school or high school teenager at an adult wage to do the work. Unless you have the "family business/employ your kid for whatever you want" loophole, a lot of that stuff just doesn't get done.

For technical stuff, you either get the equivalent of a migrant farm worker, or day laborer from home depot, and you either get an H1-B to make it legal, or you contract it out to a third party to make it legal, in the same way that a lot of farm workers, or the guys hanging out in the Home Depot aren't legal (and are paid under the table). But what you don't do is hire someone in at a wage higher than the value of the work to the company. You stay at or below the value ceiling at all times, or you might as well be flushing money down the toilet, since your business is not going to make it.

Comment: I agree; you are making a silly argument... (Score 1) 516

... the difference between an XBox application programmer and Nokia OS programmer is ...

...that Nokia engineers have historically built products no one wants to buy, while Xbox engineers make game consoles that people actually buy.

I suppose we could retask the former Nokia engineers with making game consoles no one wants to buy, instead of phones no one wants to buy.

But frankly, Microsoft has already announced that 12,500, or roughly 70% of the 18,000 people being laid off, are primarily factory workers assembling dumb phones and feature phones, which are both low margin, and selling poorly, and they are predominantly not employed in the U.S. anyway.

The remaining 5,500 people are redundancies of the kind you get when you smash a 127,000 employee company together with a 90,000 employee company to get a 217,000 employee company, and then decide that 2.5% of them are duplicate effort which is not necessary.

Comment: Re:What is BSD good for? (Score 1) 77

by Fweeky (#47474091) Attached to: FreeBSD 9.3 Released

Not really - ports doesn't even have a *concept* of upgrading, it's just uninstall/reinstall and hope you can work out how to handle all the dependencies. This is why FreeBSD's got so many tools for managing them - portupgrade, portmanager, portmaster, all with their own little and not so little quirks.

We do have an apt-alike these days, in the form of pkgng. pkgsrc also has pkgin.

Comment: Re:What is BSD good for? (Score 1) 77

by Fweeky (#47474023) Attached to: FreeBSD 9.3 Released

It's stable enough for general use, but maturity counts for a lot with filesystems, especially when they're as complex as ZFS. It's also a third-party add-on rather than an official part of the OS which does raise some issues.

Conversely it's practically the default on FreeBSD, and it's been available since 2008.

Comment: I don't see what you are saying (Score 4, Insightful) 37

by pavon (#47470545) Attached to: Two Big Dark Matter Experiments Gain US Support

We'll have more information about the gravity attributes and locations of dark matter,

Both of these experiments aim to detect collisions of dark matter particles with their respective detectors, and if found give an estimate of the particles energy. Neither are astronomical surveys that would tell us anything about the gravitational properties or distribution of dark matter.

Comment: Re:result of the lab/funding system (Score 4, Interesting) 123

by pavon (#47444997) Attached to: Elite Group of Researchers Rule Scientific Publishing

I would even argue that as long as the students who did most of the work have their name listed as first author, there is nothing wrong with this arrangement. I dropped out of my master's program after the first semester because I was being pushed to publish, but wasn't being plugged into any research existing programs. Every "unique" idea that I thought of turned out to have already been studied exhaustively back in the 70's or earlier. All the favorite students in the grad program were people who ignored this inconvientent fact and managed to get rehashed bullshit accepted into conferences.

Several years later I went back to school at a large state U that plugged me into the work they were doing, showed me what the state of the art was and where there were gaps that hadn't been researched in detail. Without building off the ideas of my advisor I would have never been able to do meaningfull research that progressed the state of the art, and would have had nothing worth publishing. He deserved to have his name on my papers.

Comment: Re:The web is not a runtime environment. (Score 1) 608

by tlambert (#47434345) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

Basically, if you are thinking your browser is a "platform", or you are thinking "the web" is "a platform" in the traditional programming sense, as the OP obvious is, then you are an idiot.

No, actually, he's quite right. It's a different method of programming, a different paradigm altogether. He didn't talk about programming the browser so that part of your statement is irrelevant, but as a design platform the web truly is different. At least before people tried to change a markup language into a full page layout and presentation language.

The problem with web applications - and the intrinsic problem of abstraction of the complexity that's solved by historical runtime environments that the OP likes, is that the render is independent. The whole article the other day about the Google device lab:

Completely and totally underscores the fact that markup and rendering are separate from each other, and that the system doing the markup has to understand, and either have variant code that it outputs so that it renders the same in as many browsers as possible -- or you need an entire device lab, because you've given up on solving the problem, and are willing to employ someone other than a "Normal Human" (per the current article) in order to chip away on a per device basis, until you exhaustively cover all possibilities.

The separation on the render is the problem with the web, as a platform, and it's why it's * not* "a platform", it's "N back ends * M browsers" number of platforms.

This separation is the same mistake that was made when window management was separated from X windows, such that you didn't get the same look and feel on all applications based on having a particular X Terminal/X Server on which the render took place. In other words, the primitives were too primitive, and you ended up drawing boxes and lines and patterns, instead of "pop up menus" and "menu bards" and "dialog boxes".

What the OP in this article is bemoaning as being missing is a self-enforcing emergent property of the design decision to separate rendering from markup, and to separate markup from UI logic, and separate business logic from everything else. It's why web services are so complicated, and why they are so fragile.

The only thing that ever came close to dealing with the issue overall, at a high level, was WebObjects, and even then, it didn't try to do it in a way that was renderer/backend/middleware/security model/web server agnostic.

So again, I'm going to say that web services isn't a *platform* in the traditional sense of a computer running one of half a dozen 80x24 block mode terminals to front end a COBOL program was a platform, and that anyone who thinks it is ... is an idiot. At best, they are engaging in wishful thinking, if they think Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and other vendors of these things are going to settle on a common programming paradigm, and turn themselves into commodities, which would result in about 1/6th the revenue they're getting today.

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