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Comment: Not putting up with jerks (Score 2, Interesting) 179

by Animats (#47732661) Attached to: When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

You don't have to put up with jerks.

  • Internet provider - DSL. No packet filtering, good support, no nonsense.
  • Phone - Caterpillar B15 ruggeized Android phone.. Bought from Caterpillar dealer, not carrier. Declined Google account at first power up. Google services disabled. No updates from Google.
  • Cellular carrier - T-Mobile. Has no control over phone. No carrier apps.
  • Email - IMAP server. SpamAssassin spam blocking.
  • Main desktop machine - Ubuntu 12.4 LTS.
  • No Google account. No Twitter account. No pay TV. Ad blocking on all browsers.
  • Main news source - Reuters. (More news about Ukraine and ISIS, less about Bieber and Apple.)
  • Main food store - Trader Joe's. No "club card" required. Good prices.

For almost every crap business, there's a competitor that isn't crap. Find them.

Comment: No big deal (Score 2) 173

by Animats (#47726537) Attached to: How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site?

This is a straightforward industrial electrical installation. There's a pad-mounted distribution transformer and meter provided by the power company, a weatherproof load center provided by the customer's electrical contractor, and the Tesla supercharger control unit and outlet stations. No big deal to install. There's a comparable installation at every large standalone store.

That's a small charging station. Here's the build-out of a bigger one. Black and Veach, which does infrastructure construction for the energy and communications industry (substations, cell sites, etc.) is doing the job. They see it as a lot like building out cell towers. (If you watch that video, you may wonder why the transformers and switchgear are on raised platforms. Probably because there's a flood risk at that location.)

Installing a gas station's underground tanks, which today are dual tanks with leak detection, is a much bigger job. There's a big excavation, lots of plumbing and wiring, and several different trades involved.

Comment: Re:There is no "FarmBot" (Score 1) 133

by Animats (#47714057) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

If you watch the video at the bottom of the article, you'll see photos of several prototype FarmBots that do, in fact, exist.

Those are just tabletop gardening robots. That was done 20 years ago.

There's lots of real robotic agricultural machinery, much of it mobile. Building a gantry over a tabletop doesn't scale.

Comment: Re:The power of the future... (Score 1) 300

by Animats (#47708177) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Fusion power is roughly 20 years away from being viable...and has been for the last 40 years LOL.

Longer than that. Fusion power has been hyped since the 1950s. From the article:

Nuclear fusion could come into play as soon as 2050

Heard that one before.

Fusion power has some real problems. After half a century of trying, nobody has a long-running sustained fusion reactor, even an experimental one. The whole "inertial fusion" thing turned out to be a cover for bomb research. There's a lot of skepticism about whether ITER will do anything useful. It's not clear that a fusion reactor will be cost-effective even with a near-zero fuel cost. (Fission reactors already have that problem.) It's really frustrating.

Fusion reactors are a pain to engineer. They have a big vacuum chamber with high-energy particles reacting inside, and huge cryogenic magnets outside. This is far more complicated than a fission reactor, and is why the cost of ITER keeps going up.

Comment: LibreOffice/OpenOffice still kind of suck (Score 5, Insightful) 572

by Animats (#47699241) Attached to: Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

The basic office-type products for Linux still kind of suck. I've been using them since the StarOffice/SunOffice days, and now use LibreOffice. They've improved a lot, but they're still flakier than they should be, a decade after initial release. Nobody wants to fix the hard-to-fix, boring bugs which damage usability.

Oracle buying the remnants of Sun didn't help.

Comment: Re:Never mind the quantity, feel the quality (Score 1) 324

by Zeio (#47692577) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Dead Is Antivirus, Exactly?

The police are paid by corrupt politicians with counterfeit dollars aka federal reserve notes. The LEOs and Military Brass take pay and pension and work daily to undermine or flat out destroy freedom and liberty here in the police state USSA. They are designed to make arrests to feed people into the law-machine for extracting wealth. They are not primarily out to maintain law and order, as we can see from Ferguson, this outfit is not smart FBI types that can profile a criminal or crowd and work to maintain law and order. They are generally morons who didnt serve in the military with guns, they never pay for a crime they commit (thin blue line, weasel justice system) and they dont care about law an order, they care about feeding people into the machine.

I refuse to put them on a pedestal in the days of lawless government.

Comment: Re:Better Idea (Score 1) 82

by Zeio (#47692565) Attached to: EFF's Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters

I like how we still think we can stop the police state with voting for politicians that support an expansion of police state power and doing "sneaky stuff" to try and get around the jackboots. IF its not already too late, the only way out of this horrible 1984 world we live in is to consider the government as the enemy of freedom and liberty rather than seeing it as something that can be fixed by playing by its rules.

Comment: Re:ASICs drive out CPUs and GPUs ... (Score 2) 267

by Animats (#47692425) Attached to: Are Altcoins Undermining Bitcoin's Credibility?

There is no such thing as an 'ASIC proof algorithm' because you simply design the ASIC to handle that situation.

This is in theory true, but there are proposed proof-of-work algorithms for which specialized hardware doesn't have a huge edge over general-purpose CPUs. Such algorithms require more memory than the existing hashes, and are designed to be highly sequential, so they don't parallelize easily. At least one altcoin claims to have such an algorithm.

Any algorithm that requires a significant amount of 64-bit floating point computation and lots of memory, like a big matrix inversion, would be reasonably ASIC-proof, simply because that's a task CPUs are designed to do fast. An ASIC that could invert big matrices would need superscalar FPUs, which makes it as complex and expensive as a CPU with comparable performance.

So far, nobody seems to have devised a "minable" algorithm based on matrix inversion, but that's a place to look for one.

Comment: Re:Instant email (Score 2) 235

by Animats (#47689665) Attached to: Email Is Not Going Anywhere

What I'm proposing is to hold up the final 250 OK until the message has been passed on, then report the result of the forwarding as an SMTP status. If immediate forwarding is not possible, return a 421 Service Not Available, so the sender will retry. If the forwarding returns an error status, return that error status. No need for local message storage or bounce messages.

Comment: Won't work in most rooms (Score 1) 197

by Animats (#47687463) Attached to: Is Dolby Atmos a Flop For Home Theater Like 3DTV Was?

I've heard Dolby's positional audio, being driven from a game, in the Dolby Labs screening room in San Francisco. It sounds great. You can hear people sneaking up behind you in the game. You can hear someone walking around you. There's a real sense of presence.

That's in a room built, at a cost of millions, as a demo for Dolby's audio technology. The room is on a separate foundation from the rest of the building, with an inner set of vibration isolated walls. The room acoustics are very good; you don't need a microphone when giving a talk there. The walls and ceiling conceal speakers everywhere, and the room with the amps and processors looks like a small server farm.

You're not going to get that in Joe Sixpack's living room. You might get close to it in some high end home theater installations, the ones that look like small movie theaters and are used for no other purpose. It's a niche market.

As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error. -- Weisert