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Comment: Re:When can we stop selling party balloons (Score 1) 296

by Rei (#47883153) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Helium exists in the atmosphere not because of the helium reserve, but because the planet constantly outgasses it. It's a product of the radioactive decay chains within the planet.

And if it costs $7 a liter, you better believe people will consume it a *lot* slower. Mainly recapture, but also less frivolous usage.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 530

by Rei (#47880779) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

It's an important difference.

Fox News is a right-wing punditry operation. They spin everything that happens in a light that promotes the viewpoints of US right-wing policy. If right-wingers are in power, they spin to the government's favor, and otherwise spin against the government.

RT is a literal government propaganda outlet. They have a story of what they want to tell people happened (regardless of whether it did or not), and tell people that it happened, to the point of routinely hiring actors as interview subjects. (side note: the Russia media really needs to get a larger acting pool, though... it's funny but sad when the same actor claims to be several different people for different stations in the same week).

If you see something inflamatory claimed on Fox, it's almost certainly spun. Possibly outright false, but unlikely - generally just highly spun. If you see something inflammatory claimed on RT, it's almost certainly false. Possibly just heavily spun, but generally willfully outright false.

Example: Fox News will pick random true stories from around the country, overplay them, and tell you that there's a War on Christmas. RT will hire a woman to play a refugee from Slavyansk to weepingly tell you that the Ukranian army is crucifying children in the town square to torture their mothers before killing them.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 530

by Rei (#47880593) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

Well, I have to say, I've noticed something about Russia, and also about most (but not all) of the other former USSR states: the exact same sort of thing has kept happening under capitalism. Things like injecting a mother of a dead soldier with a tranquilizer on-camera when she spoke up during a press conference on the Kursk disaster, assassinating dissidents with polonium, arresting and outright assassinating journalists, sham trials to sieze assets either for the state or for Putin allies, heavy media censorship and the requirement for all major blogs to register as media outlets, elections so rigged that Chechnya went 99.59% for "The Butcher of Grozny", and on and on. It's no different today.

So, basically, the presence of these things says nothing about communism; it says that Russia has a history of strongmen leaders who confiscate peoples' belongings, outlaw dissent, condemn people without fair trials, and so forth. And when you look at these third world communist states, you usually find that their third world capitalist brethren rarely behave any better.

I think that communism, at least in its pure form, is terrible as economic policy. But one can easily run the risk of over-conflating.

Comment: Re:When can we stop selling party balloons (Score 4, Interesting) 296

by Rei (#47868519) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Helium balloons are a minor part of the overall picture. The overwhelming majority of uses are industrial, such as cryogenics. The problem is that they don't recover it. If you want to make a big impact on the helium consumption rate, hard drives is pretty much one of the least effective places you could focus - focus on industrial recovery.

Note that humans will never "run out" of helium. Even if we assume that space-based resource extraction becomes realistic, one can always refrigerate it out of the atmosphere. Or more accurately, refrigerate everything else out and leave the helium behind. There's only a tiny bit in the atmosphere, but for important uses it'll remain a possibility. I saw page that says that neon is $2 per liter. If you're refrigerating neon out of the atmosphere, pretty much all that's left is helium, so you're co-producing it, at a ratio of 3.5 to 1. If we assume that helium demand vastly outpaces neon demand, then the helium cost would be $7 per liter. And maybe less in mass production.

That's not really an absurd price for many uses - such as hard drives. On the other hand, it's dramatically more than today's prices at about $0.005 per liter! You're not going to be making helium blimps at $7 per liter. But if industry learns how to recapture and reuse, they should manage.

(Of course, humans probably wouldn't have to resort to helium extraction from the atmosphere for centuries, pretty much any gas coming out of the ground will be richer in helium than the air)

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1) 108

by Rei (#47853175) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

I'm not lying, that's the actual size, something like 420k. It may have been a bit shorter playtime, perhaps 20 seconds (I didn't time it), but still, it was quite small.

Nobody said videos on Facebook are Blu-Ray quality. But you seem to have weird concepts about how big videos need to be to be good enough quality for a web page. Just as a test, I took an original high quality full-motion video of a concert, reencoded it with ffmpeg, audio codec aac, vbr audio quality 0.5, video codec x264, preset veryslow, cf 33, resolution 512x288 (half original size), 20 seconds. File size? 420k. Of course the video from facebook was darker and quieter, so one would expect it to compress better. If we give my sample concert clip an allowable size of, say, 550k, then I can up audio quality to 0.7 and cf down to 30. Either way, the resultant clip was fine, the sort of thing you'd expect to see on a Facebook wall.

Anyway, the key point is, Facebook feeds aren't loading you down with 50 meg videos, they're little couple-hundred-k clips, the same size as animated gifs. And while I haven't measured it, they don't appear to start streaming until you scroll down to them, and look to stop after you scroll away.

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1) 108

by Rei (#47849965) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

1) I just went and pulled the first anim-gif I saw off 9-gag, a fairly simple thing of Ralph Wiggum with little motion, so it should compress quite well for an animated gif. Size: just over 400k. I then pulled the first video that showed up on my Facebook feed, a 30 second full motion clip, and downloaded the entire thing (including the audio stream, full quality). Size: just over 400k.

So....?

2) Are you actually sure that it is downloading the audio stream when it does muted autoplay? Not saying that it oes or doesn't, but do you actually have evidence either way?

3) See the reply below.

There's really no argument. If you're going to allow animated gifs, you should allow autoplay videos. So that we can finally put the nail in the coffin of the awfulness that is gif by removing the last common use of it.

And FYI, 400k is not that much. Slashdot is a pretty simplistic website compared to most, and I just measured how much data is downloaded just to read the front page: 1.4M.

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1, Interesting) 108

by Rei (#47848645) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

Why is it any more evil than animated GIFs? Both play automatically, neither happen with sound, and compression on x264 is *way* better than with animated gifs.

I was initially opposed to autoplay on FB, but after thinking about it, I changed my mind. We already see tons of animated stuff on web pages, and the videos from people who show up on my page about are usually things I'd find interesting (if the user posting them didn't usually post interesting things, I'd have stopped following them). There's no unexpected sounds to bug me, and the quality to size ratio versus animated gifs is, what, two orders of magnitude better?

Comment: Re:I understand the FAA's position... (Score 1) 222

by Rei (#47843061) Attached to: FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters

It both scares me and pisses me of that the government can do whatever it wants with nuclear weapons, while my ability to use them is very, very restricted.

Who do they think they are, claiming the right to use things that the general public can't? Let me use my nuclear weapons!

Comment: Re:Responsible Agency Enforcing Law (Score 4, Insightful) 222

by Rei (#47843045) Attached to: FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters

Until I can be sure things are as safe as they reasonably can get I'd rather not have drones delivering packages yet

But that's exactly what drone proponents are asking for - a permitting standard that gives them the right to fly in these conditions and for these purposes in exchange for meeting a set of safety standards. Passive or automatically-engaged active safety features that ensure that "death by falling drone" is effectively an impossibility, whether that things like be cowled propellors, parachutes, an inherently low terminal velocity, fully independent backup propulsion, or whatever the case may be.

And in case you didn't notice, massive objects weighing hundreds of tons loaded with massive amounts of fuel and capable of taking out whole city blocks and/or skyscapers already fly extensively over your head. But you're worried about little plastic helicopters?

Comment: Re:Sigh... (Score 1) 789

by Rei (#47822107) Attached to: Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

It's not a "non-need", but it's not the end of the world, for several reasons.

First off, everything comes down to time. If one had, say a decade, they could build a full, brand new gas production infrastructure from scratch, designed to produce in different parts of the world and export straight to the EU.

Great, except EU gas reserves aren't that big. They have a max capacity of about 6 months, usually filled to about half that at this time of year, though higher than average now. Russia makes up 30% of EU imports. Basically, reserves provides something like 9-12 months of Russian cutoff.

Next we have instant displacement. Much of the EU has been working to shut down coal power plants, and ones that are in operation are often run at lower and lower capacity factors. In the event of a full Russian gas cutoff, these would be all fired up and used heavily, while NG plants would instead be mostly shut down.

Then we have slower displacement, which can take anywhere from a month or so to a couple years. NG power plants can be converted to other thermal sources. Industrial consumers of NG for heat can switch to other heat sources. Etc.

On the home and commercial perspective, the higher cost of gas will lead to more investment in efficiency on its own. Government efficiency programs can improve this even further.

On the production side, the spike in gas prices will instantly make higher-cost, formerly unecomomical European fields economical. Some of these will be available right away, some will require weeks, some months, some years to bring online. But it does put a lot of new gas into the picture.

On the non-European side, there's LNG. The US is really a read herring on this front, at least for the time being, as Sabine Pass won't come online until the winter after next, and others even later. The Middle East is the primary LNG exporter here, particularly Qatar, whose LNG capacity alone is more than all the gas Russia sells Europe. Thankully, the EU is loaded with largely idle LNG import terminals (nearly enough to replace all of Russian gas as-is), and LNG tanker rates are very low right now, there's a glut. Now, Europe would have to pay a very high price for it. LNG is expensive to begin with, and they'll be competing with the gas's current customers, primarily Asia. Europe, of course, would pay more, leading to all of the aforementioned things - increased production, increased displacement, etc - to occur in Asia to offset their reduced LNG imports. Interestingly, the US actually *can* help there - the US does have a Pacific LNG export terminal that was recently brought back into operation at Kenai, Alaska.

The net combination of these factors is that, no, Europe will not just "run out of gas and freeze to death" or any of those other doomsday scenarios that people throw around. But there's no question that Europe will have to pay more for gas, probably at least 50% more. And nobody's going to like the resumed usage of coal power - but in the short term, they're not going to have a choice.

On the other hand... for the EU, the extra energy costs for gas and oil may represent something like a 5-10% GDP hit. But for Russia, losing all of their oil and gas exports would be like dropping a nuclear bomb onto their economy.

Comment: Re:Sigh... (Score 5, Interesting) 789

by Rei (#47815493) Attached to: Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

They don't. If they did, they'd have already threatened Russia with them to make them stop. That's the point of having nuclear weapons, after all.

Ukraine foolishly believed that the US and Europe would protect them when they agreed to give up their nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War. They're paying for that mistake now. If Ukraine survives but doesn't get to become a member of NATO, expect a full force nuclear weapons program on their part (which shouldn't be too hard, they have lots of nuclear power plants, lots of spent waste full of plutonium, and are the world's #9 uranium producer).

Comment: Re:Sigh... (Score 1) 789

by Rei (#47815421) Attached to: Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

Hey, don't call him a dictator. He was legitimately elected! People in the country love him to death. For example, he got 99.89% of the vote with a 99.59% turnout in Chechnya, which is obviously totally legit! In some parts of Grozny, as many as 107% of voters turned out to vote for the "Butcher of Grozny".

Totally legit!

Comment: Re:Sigh... (Score 1) 789

by Rei (#47815401) Attached to: Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

My favorite was when he "found ancient pottery" right by the shore of a heavily trafficked beach. That even beats when he "singlehandedly saved a TV crew from a tiger attack" ;)

The Jim Jong Un/Il stuff is a serious comparison. He doesn't take it as extreme, and Russia is only "way, way down" on the list of global press freedom rather than "at the very bottom". But it's along the same "Great Leader" lines.

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