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Comment Re:What they really need (Score 1) 218

Google offered a private bus service between downtown SF and Mountain View and there was a literal, outright rebellion against it. Protests blocking the busses and lawsuits and everything. They offered a private ferry service as well between SF and Redwood City (closest water port to MV) and that was quietly strangled despite being extremely popular. Citizens are very, VERY against making SF more popular to live because it's helping skyrocket the cost of living there way faster than businesses can adjust. In a sane rational world the city would respond by zoning more housing but they seem absolutely dead set against matching housing vs needs.

Comment Re:What they really need (Score 1) 218

I've been looking in to this lately. Apparently in the late 70s early 80s they passed a law that says property taxes can only increase at a MAX of 2% per year. Inflation is 4% per year so over 10 years your effective taxes drop by HALF. This means you can't pay for infrastructure improvements as density increases, and there's no incentive for people to sell, which means there's no property to develop in to higher density residential stuff... if you can even get the local city council to approve such a project. Everything between SF and San Jose is basically suburban sprawl that backs up in to the mountains and marshland. There is PLENTY of land to build 35 story condos with 300 units of 2000 sq ft flats. There is no shortage of land to build huge, relatively cheap housing options for workers if you zone for it. But the locals there and local government is just totally broken and has zero incentive to improve housing. So you have a bajillion 22 and 23 year old programmers living in 600 sq ft efficiency over people's garages in the suburbs or five kids sharing a 2 million dollar house because the housing isn't there and local government won't zone to build it. It's nuts. I want to move to Mountain View or Palo Alto (because SF is too expensive so people are renting in the suburbs and commuting via Caltrain) but there is literally no 2 bedroom apartment available for less than $5000 a month(!) In Dallas I pay barely $1000 a month. I don't know how you can realistically survive within 2 hours of SF without making at least $70,000 a year, and even then you'd have to rely on public transit and eat ramen.
If there were a ferry between Oakland and Mountain View that would really open up the real estate market but there's no way I'm taking the ferry from Oakland to SF, and then a 45 minute "baby bullet" train from SF to Mountain view to save $1000 a month.
There's more jobs than housing, and that keeps pushing the rent higher and higher. Eventually either more housing is going to have to be built, or companies are going to have to move out of the area. But right now this is not sustainable with the majority of housing being 1 or 2 story 4 and 5 bedroom suburban houses.

Comment Re:Uber supporters (Score 0) 215

I can get an Uber any time of the day or night to take me where I want to go. An Uber shows up within 5 minutes - always. If I call the taxi company for a cab, one may or may not show up between 45 minutes and an hour - if one shows up at all. Uber drivers are held accountable for the condition of their cars, their appearance, their personality. Taxi drivers stink, are rude and their cars are always a mess. I would never use a taxi. I always use uber.
Better yet, for the world traveler, Uber works in pretty much all major cities, tied to the same account. No messing around with local vs foreigner rates, tipping, blah blah blah. Just get in and GO. Then get OUT when you arrive. I HATE arguing with cabbies over fares, rates etc etc. it's absurd. Uber gets rid of all that and gives me a simple interface and one point of billing. If Uber was forced out of my city, I'd go buy a car rather than use Taxis.

Comment Re:will they "cost no more to" buy? (Score 1) 182

Well it's down to 55c/ kWh over an entire year. Over 11 years it's actually cheaper than electricity. Assuming 50% utilization and a 25 year service life (rated, real world is expected to be 30) they are in fact both cheaper than grid electricity and by quite a bit! Especially if you are living on an island. Which about a billion humans are right now.

Comment Re:will they "cost no more to" buy? (Score 1) 182

Solar's pretty close to being cheaper than buying it from the local power company. Like, really, really close. Google's got a big fat bounty for reducing the transformer/inverter down in cost and size, that's the last step. Lithium battery tech is about to make a huge generational leap, solar panels are very nearly free (they pay for themselves in the first year), it's just the controller/inverters.
Hell if someone would sell a 2-Ton DC-powered Air Conditioning unit wired directly to some solar panels and an ultra capacitor, that alone would drop your power bill by 70% in the summer here in Texas and 30-60% during the rest of the year. Trickle charge some small batteries for daily stuff. Electronics just absolutely sip power these days. My 40" HDTV uses just 40 watts - that's one third of the power my 2.1 "home theater" system uses.
It might sound fanatical but other than my dish washer, washing machine, air conditioning and dryer, I don't think there's any one device that uses more than 100w of power in my house any more.

Comment Re:Offline mode on reinstall? (Score 1) 230

I'm not super worried about it, they are rolling in money, have no public shareholders to be accountable to, and almost completely hold a monopoly on the PC digital download market. And every time they fuck up with the community they backpedal as hard as they can. It's possible they will go under in the next decade, but that's longer than the lifespan of a console, so I'm ok with that. When Gabe Newell dies some day (he's what, 65?) then it could take a turn for the worse but right now they seem be headed on the same upward vector that they've been headed on since about 2004 or so. I will continue feeding them a few bucks a month in terms of game sales for the foreseeable future. If their health becomes questionable, I'll reconsider it, but I've been an extremely satisfied customer since at least 2007.

Comment Re:Toilet paper and timber? (Score 2) 269

Thanks yeah I came here to post this. Not only are trees farm-grown for paper/wood products, but importantly there are more trees now in North America than in 1850 thanks to more efficent planting and better resource planning.
It's very likely that due to deforestation for agricultural purposes, there are fewer trees. But paper products are a 100% renewable resource and the wood products industry is actually on top of keeping things replanted etc for a long term crop/resource point of view. So the western world need not worry, it's all the literal dirt-poor farmers in the Amazon who are burning up forest land to plant crops and graze cattle on notoriously nutrient-poor soil. You can help with this by stop eating McDonald's beef products most of which come from that region. The box and bag your Big Mac came in however, were probably made in the USA with renewable materials.

Comment Porable Laptop Solar Panels are a thing, now (Score 3, Informative) 146

There's an outfit on amazon/ebay that sells 18v "Allpower" solar panels with an array of adapters to use with whatever brand laptop you have for reasonable prices. They just unfold, and then plug right in to your laptop. On a modern laptop, you could probably get away with running/charging a laptop on a 21w array for $90, but they make up to a 28w array for $130. Modern Haswell/Broadwell laptops run at about 15w with the display at full brightness. There's a 14w array too for $60, but if you're seriously considering buying a device like this you probably want the ability to run and charge at the same time, and it's unlikely you'll find a place that allows you to put the panel in full sun and comfortably work on the laptop. With 18v, you'll never fully charge the battery (you need 19-19.5v to do that) but it'll satisfactorily charge your laptop to about 93% very reliably.

Of course, if you're stuck in a rainstorm for three or four days and you wear down your laptop battery, you might have trouble getting it charged back up until the sun comes back out. But with modern 15 hour batteries in laptops you should be able to squeak by for a day or two of normal office work.

Comment Re:Copyright in game streams (Score 1) 94

It's free advertising that has amazing marketing data generation, and customer interaction levels on par with the Victoria's Secret fashion show they televise every year. If they don't already directly address copyright issues in their EULA now, they will soon. All of the major publishing houses have been promoting e-sports for a while and there have been close to zero takedowns based on game streaming.
I see the potential for conflict here, but in the last four years it has been a non-issue, and Google's army of lawyers have vetted the project so I'm reasonably sure they're in the clear here for all but the smallest/out of touch developers.

Comment Re:Surge Pricing - Why The Hate? (Score 1) 250

The point of the government (in the US, originally) was to regulate interstate, international trade and provide a common defense. At some point along the lines, states lost a lot of their power to the federal government and we've moved in to a welfare state model (i.e. socialism). That's not a bad thing, especially as manufacturing is increasingly automated, and computers replace white collar jobs at an alarming rate, we're probably going to need some sort of guaranteed minimum income, but to answer your question, the primary purpose of government is/was to protect businesses and enforce trade agreements and defend against invasion/pirates. Neat stuff like guaranteed vacation, maternity leave, social security, health care etc are luxury items, like leather interior or power windows over the standard package.

Comment Re:Just call a taxi... (Score 1) 250

It's near impossible to get a taxi to pick you up during peak hours from your house to go to a bar. The taxi drivers just plain won't do it for the $6 or so they get, plus time/gas lost going to pick you up, it's not worth risking missing an airport ride.
With Uber though, the invisible hand of the market selects them, and they must respond. I get rides to work on time, nearly every day. You can't reliably use taxis as transportation in my town, sadly.

To downgrade the human mind is bad theology. - C. K. Chesterton