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Comment: The statistics, please? (Score 1) 450

by King_TJ (#48027645) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

I just received a pamphlet with my last electric bill from Potomac Edison in Maryland that broke down where the electricity they provide comes from. I don't have it in front of me, but I recall the percentage of solar power stated as 0.02%, vs. numbers in the 30-40% range or so for nuclear, oil and coal.

Even with the rapid adoption of solar panels on roofs of residences and businesses, I find it hard to believe it will really break their business model any time soon?

For example, one of the largest solar installations I know of in the area is at American Public University in West Virginia. They have a several hundred kilowatt installation (I think someone said around 430 Kwatt but don't quote me on that), but they also have at least a dozen office buildings to power -- so all of that STILL produces well under half of their power needs.

I'm trying to get solar panels installed on my house right now, and even the most optimistic engineering model their computer software could come up with for my property wouldn't generate over 67% or so of my average power needs. The problem is, you're limited by how much roof space you have that faces the right direction -- and the more efficient panels cost a big premium price too. (If you do those no money down or low money down solar loan/lease arrangements, they often only agree to supply the cheaper Asian-made panels that don't have the especially high outputs. In my case, we were looking at no more than about 40% to 42% of my needs supplied with those panels.)

If the power companies would invest in the long-term, instead of trying to fight all changes with legislation -- they could use all of this to great advantage. It looks to me like your typical solar user is still going to need to be supplied 30-50% of their power from the power company. (Battery storage tech. is still just not really cost effective on a large scale, so solar panels mean you're not able to use your own electricity after dark or during storms where skies are dark.) So they need to simply scale back how much they spend on things like coal, oil and natural gas for generating power as more solar panels come online. Share around the power they generate during the day, and use the traditional power plants after dark. They're going to be able to collect fees for the power distribution, regardless.

Comment: Re:Read the full quote (Score 1) 261

by King_TJ (#48022697) Attached to: Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

It's a reasonable statement if GM was also admitting that its attempts at electric cars are "fringe" too! The laughable part is when they speak with an attitude like they have the electric car thing all buttoned up.

Quite frankly, if we want to talk about more affordable electric cars that typical consumers would be tempted to buy today? I'd look at such offerings as the electric version of the Kia Soul (should sell at the $35K - $38K price point) before I'd look at GM. The Chevy Volt is one of those cars that's more attractive on the inside than the outside, by most people's standards. The Kia Soul is actually a small SUV that many people *want* to own already, in the traditional gasoline powered form, and choose it over all the other choices on the market.

Comment: Cook has no choice ..... (Score 1) 277

by King_TJ (#47974549) Attached to: Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

He pretty much HAS to start responding to market demand, vs. dictating what he thinks people SHOULD want. He's not a visionary with a head full of tech ideas to roll out to the masses. He's a former supply chain management guy.

Personally, I think Apple needs to find a "sweet spot" between the two, to find the greatest success. Jobs was a big believer in the concept that people don't really know what they need or want. You can survey them and they'll give you responses, but they're generally based around what they've already seen and already know exists.

I think there's something to that, but it's less relevant when you're just revising existing products. That's what you've got here with the iPhone. Everyone knows what the product is and what it does, and it's gone through 6 major releases (and all the smaller interim updates like 3gs, 4s and 5s). It's best, at this point, to find out what its users (or potential users) want to see changed with it, and try to accommodate it

Comment: Re:Meh, anything Apple does is considered "cool". (Score 1) 277

by King_TJ (#47974477) Attached to: Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

I'm a big proponent of the Mac and of many of Apple's products, but come on.... Unless you're talking about the childish "my computer can beat your computer!" comments that all of us computer geeks made as pre-teens? It's just not like that.

Back in the PowerPC days, things were quite a bit different in the computer landscape. Motorola, on the whole, was greatly respected as a company capable of making very good processors. (The old 8-bit CPUs like the 6809e and later, the 16-bit 68000 series were considered FAR superior to the Intel stuff, with more logical and efficient instruction sets, etc.) When they made the "G4" CPUs for Apple, they had a speed advantage over comparable Intel offerings, depending on what tasks were being done. (For heavy math, they were on the inferior side ... but most Mac users weren't trying to do heavy math on one anyway.)

When IBM started making the G5 PowerPC for Apple, there was a lot of hope out there. IBM made some big claims about where they could take that line of CPUs and were a big enough company with enough experience in the field so there was good reason to believe them. It looked like, maybe, Apple sided with a winner there. When that didn't pan out, Apple had no choice but to switch to Intel x86 (or AMD, which was probably a backup plan).

So yeah.... it really was both a case of "Go PowerPC!" and later, "PowerPC sucks!" as things changed. Good on Apple for rolling with the changes instead of stubbornly sticking to something that was dying.

Comment: No real problems on a 5s or a new 6, or iPad Air . (Score 1) 504

by King_TJ (#47962173) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

Didn't try iOS 8 on a 4s yet, or on an older iPad .... but for what it's worth, the only real "slow down" issue I observed was on the brand new iPhone 6, 128GB! This had to do with trying to view the purchased apps in need of updates. The phone seemed to be so busy actually processing/doing updates, it couldn't allocate the processor time to actually SHOW me the list properly. It acted frozen and I couldn't scroll up/down through the list of apps. (I could, however, press the home button to move back to the menu and everything else was fine.)

Overall, I've been really happy with the new OS, although battery life does seem a bit worse than before. That may just be needing to tweak some settings for when apps can use the GPS -- but I'm trying to get that optimized, and not seeing real results yet.

Pretty sure the .01 update will be along shortly and address some of this.

Comment: Re: unintelligible drivers (Score 1) 179

by King_TJ (#47961329) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

No... I really can't blame this on the PA equipment. I agree that at times it's not the best (some metro cars have a blown or intermittently working speaker). But the OP is correct. The majority of metro drivers just mumble the names of the stops. It's actually almost a shocking change when I get a driver who is well spoken, who choose to speak a little bit more than just some garbled version of the name of the next stop. When that happens, you can hear them perfectly over the PA.

Comment: I'm glad this topic came up for discussion! (Score 1) 179

by King_TJ (#47961307) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

This is actually one of those things I thought about a lot while riding the red line metro to and from work each week.

I've noticed that among other things, there seem to be a couple of metro drivers who like to operate the trains at speeds as fast as possible between stops, rather than just pacing it more sensibly. They'll rapidly accelerate, headed westbound out of a station like the Bethesda or Friendship Heights location, only to wind up stopping in the middle of the track someplace before the White Flint stop because they have to "wait for another train directly in front of them".

I've also experienced the trains that always seem to stop short of a station and then jerkily move into position before opening the doors. I can understand the problem if all of the trains really do behave differently and drivers have to get used to differences between each one. But there are definitely other times I take the train and it's very consistent in speed and smooth at every single stop.

Another oddity I've noticed with the DC red line is the fact that only Verizon customers get cellular service while the train is in the tunnels. All other carriers lose signal until the trains get back outside. (I'm told this is due to some old, outdated exclusive contract Verizon made with them to wire up the tunnels. It was since struck down as illegal so all carriers can now add service there -- but apparently none have been interested in spending the money to do so, yet.)

And as for the people talking about thugs and crime on the metro? I have to say, I've honestly not experienced much of that. I'm sure things are a bit different if you're taking the train late at night on a weekend after hitting the bars or clubs. But at least during the rush hours for commuters, I see practically everyone using a tablet or smartphone, or even a laptop on the train -- and have yet to see one get snatched out of someone's hands.

The only crazy issue I ran into was this 20-something guy who got on a train in the morning with a radio in his shirt pocket blasting loud, annoying techno music. At first, I don't think most people pinpointed where it was coming from and patiently waited for whoever it was to realize their headphone plug came loose or what-not. Then we started figuring out the guy had no earphones and was doing this on purpose. A guy sitting beside me who was trying to read a book asked the guy, politely, if he could turn the music down -- and the guy got all aggressive, challenging us to fight with him if we didn't like it and calling us all "lemmings" and so on.

(I told him his lousy techno soundtrack wasn't even worth fighting over.) This went on for several stops until he finally ran off the train at the Medical Center stop. Like someone else posted above, it doesn't seem like the posted rules (No eating/drinking on the train, no music players without use of headsets etc.) get enforced very well.

Comment: Pros and cons (from a parent) (Score 3, Interesting) 173

by King_TJ (#47946899) Attached to: The Minecraft Parent

We have 3 kids, two of whom are BIG into Minecraft. (The 3rd. one, our 11 year old daughter, just kind of played along since the other two were so into it -- but it's not really her thing.)

IMO, any of these computer games that encourage kids to actually create and think are a good thing. The "Little Big Planet" series of games on the PS3 work a similar way (but have much better graphics, as they're not trying to do the retro, early 80's block graphic look).

The original article's author seems to be implying that they're also a "win" for parents in the sense it gives kids a place to play and explore on the net that's still relatively safe. Unfortunately, I think that's less true than some people might think.

Our youngest girl (a first-grader, who was able to chat/type far above her grade level) ran across a fellow Minecraft "player" who turned out to be some kind of perv -- getting kicks out of sending her links to hard-core porn photos and videos, etc. She was still too young to really get what was going on with all of that. But we had to have a talk with her and make sure she knows never to give out ANY personal information in the game -- and have to review what she's doing in the game more closely now.

As much as there is to dislike about Sony and its money-grabbing, proprietary ways? I will say they seem to have a lot more invested in locking down the play environment - so I feel this sort of thing is less likely an issue in a game like LBP.

Comment: Re:Why dilute the brand? (Score 2) 393

by King_TJ (#47930229) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

I get your point, but I don't think that's the business model.

It looks to me like Tesla put out the high-dollar "elite" sports car as the first product, in order to generate enough revenue (higher profit margins on each one) to build more of a company aimed at the mass market.

So this isn't about "brand dilution" so much as the company knowing who it wants its customer to be -- and gradually lowering prices on the cars as the technology and profits from previous sales allow it to get there.

Tesla isn't trying to compete with Ferrari, Lamborghini, and the like. It wants to reach a point where it's considered a superior brand competing with brands like Nissan, Toyota, GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Comment: Yep, music sales dropped from '99 to 2009 .... (Score 1) 610

That's also the time frame when MOST people I know became disinterest / disenchanted with the new music coming out, and reverted to listening to older material instead.

I'm not saying the ease of "pirating" music with digital tools doesn't contribute to loss of music sales. It MAY (but the ease of BUYING tracks has exponentially increased too, as well as a reduction to nearly zero in costs of distribution to people -- so I'm not sure).

But quite frankly, we've regularly witnessed trends in popular music that are long overdue, here in the 2000's. As just a random few I can think of off the top of my head? We had the "rise of the alternative girl bands" (Bjork, Sarah McLaughlin, Poe, Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, etc. etc.) in the 90's. We had the brief burst in popularity of ska and neo-swing type music (Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, etc.). Obviously, we had the huge effect of the Seattle grunge scene. Before that, we saw a rise in popularity of "modern country" and line-dancing, the era of Heavy Metal in the 80's, and a period where rock/rap fusion was popular. So what's really happened along these lines in the 2000-2014 time period?

Comment: This is NOT a problem.... User stupidity is.... (Score 1) 610

Your music library WILL contain all of the stuff you choose to put in it. That's not going to change, because that's pretty much the POINT of it!

What we've got here are a bunch of whiny people who dislike U2, throwing fits over the fact that their latest album is now a part of their collection despite not wanting it there. Well..... so what? How does this really affect you in a negative way, in the grand scheme of things? You never have to add a U2 song to a custom playlist. It doesn't delete any of your other music you already have, or prevent you from adding something new that you want. It cost you absolutely nothing. And because of the way iTunes works, you don't even have to use any disk space keeping the downloaded tracks on your Mac or iOS device. You can delete them all and it just leaves a "marker" in the cloud, saying you have the ability to download it any time.

Heck, if THAT is so intolerable? Consider exporting your music library to a standard format like MP3 (iTunes gives you the ability to make an MP3 version of any of your songs by right clicking on them, even) - and use a different program as your music manager. You could still purchase new stuff via iTunes if you wanted, and just export a copy to the player you actually use.

As I understand it, this whole "promotion" cost Apple hundreds of millions of dollars to pull off -- and was likely only something negotiated courtesy of the recent acquisition of Beats and the inside connections they had with the music industry. I really don't think you're going to see this happening regularly.

Comment: It's not just the fact GM has the recalls! (Score 4, Informative) 185

by King_TJ (#47851793) Attached to: GM To Introduce Hands-Free Driving In Cadillac Model

What scares me (and I just traded in a 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe that I've owned for several years) is the way GM often decides to rectify the problems they find!

For example? Have you seen the correction they gave Cadillac owners for the ignition switch recall?! Instead of anything you'd assume GM would do (like replacing the lock cylinder with a newer revision that can't accidentally get twisted out of the "run" position while the gear selector is in "Drive"?), the recall involves issuing owners a new set of keyfobs! That's right! GM decided that by changing the way the physical key attaches to the rectangular fob, they'd give you a setup where it's less likely to put as much leverage on the ignition switch with keys hanging from it! Anyone can do this "recall" themselves with 50 cents worth of keyring parts from the local hardware store!

Thankfully, my CTS had electronic push button start, so that recall didn't even apply to me. But only a week after I traded the car in, I received a different recall notice about a problem where vibrations in the driveline (that apparently worsen as some of the lubricating grease disappears) can trick a side airbag sensor into thinking there was a crash and accidentally going off). BTW, *that* recall notice also informed me not to take my car in right away for it, as GM didn't even have the replacement parts in stock yet for that one!

Comment: Voliunteer workers for the IRS? (Score 4, Insightful) 246

by King_TJ (#47844235) Attached to: Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

I don't get this at all?

If a business has avoided paying some taxes *legally* and citizens are angry about it? The proper channel to go through is protesting the government that allowed it.

Any "for profit" business has the responsibility to maximize profits for the sake of its continued existence and growth, and as a duty to its stockholders if it was publicly held. Therefore, it would be irresponsible of it NOT to take advantage of legal tax loopholes or tactics to minimize costs.

It sounds like some people have the idea that they can "shame" businesses into volunteering to pay more tax than they're legally required to pay. I'm not saying that might not have a small measure of success in some situations -- but you'd probably achieve similar results by just randomly picketing ANY profitable business and demanding they give more to charity, or pay more of their profits to improve the local area, or ??

The crux of the problem here is the way the laws are written, so only your legislators can correct it.

Comment: Re:What is the Tesla strategy? (Score 1) 157

by King_TJ (#47827669) Attached to: Tesla's Next Auto-Dealer Battleground State: Georgia

I could be wrong, but I doubt the Tesla strategy is quite what you've stated?

At best, it might be ONE factor supporting the strategy. But I think the *primary* motivation of doing their own sales and bypassing dealerships is simply cutting out the red tape and middle-men.

The fact the dealers sell more than one brand seems pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things to me? First of all, most dealers have used cars lots that carry whatever they get in trade to resell. That will include Tesla vehicles in the mix, as they get traded in -- and Tesla has no way to prevent that. But beyond that? Most dealers still only carry 2 to 3 brands, at most, of new vehicles. Customers tend to have a good idea what they want before setting foot on the dealer lots, and select a dealership they know carries the brand they're thinking about buying. I'm sure it happens, but I've never witnessed someone go into, say, a "Hyundai and Suzuki dealership", looking at Hyundai, and have a salesman talk them into one of the Suzukis instead. Most of the time, the dealerships are even designed so the different brands they sell are partitioned off into different areas of the building, giving you the feeling you've stepped out of one business and into another as you cross over to look at the other brand. It's not really conducive to encouraging you to ping-pong between the brands while shopping.

Personally, I love what Tesla's trying to do! But just saying, I think it's more about retaining full control of the sales and customer service experience than it is a concern that traditional dealerships will steer interested buyers towards gasoline powered competitors.

Comment: You don't need LEGISLATION for this petty issue! (Score 1) 253

by King_TJ (#47816707) Attached to: Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements

The *real* problem goes far deeper, my friend. If the cellular companies in America didn't standardize on selling the handsets instead of the service, none of this would even matter anymore!

In a more sane scenario, you'd simply buy a used cellphone off Amazon or eBay, or off a buddy, or a classified ad in the local newspaper ... whatever. It wouldn't matter what make or model you selected. You'd bring it in and say, "I'd like to put THIS phone on my plan, please?" and they'd do it. (Heck, maybe they'd even charge you $10 or $15 for their time to have to go in the computer and update the information. Fair enough.) Phones wouldn't be "carrier subsidized" and marketed to death as a reason you should go with Verizon, AT&T or whoever.... and "carrier locking" phones to only work on their network wouldn't exist either.

Sure, you *might* still opt to buy insurance for your particular cellphone? But chances are, if things worked like I described above -- it wouldn't make a lot of sense except for the most expensive of handsets. (Despite the millions of cellphones produced every year, the current system makes almost half of them unusable with your current phone carrier and contract, right off the bat, because you need GSM or CDMA depending on who you're using. Then you've got all the carrier locked phones out there that you can't use, thanks to an artificial restriction placed on them. And with some of the "second tier" carriers like Cricket Wireless - they opted to use at least one special frequency band that isn't supported on many phones at all, other than the ones they provide you with.)

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.