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Comment: Asphalt is only used because it's cheap. (Score 1) 362

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49473389) Attached to: Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels?

Asphalt gets worn down by [all sorts of stuff] ...

Like fossil fuels in general, Asphalt is used for road surfaces currently solely because it's overall cheaper (better price-performance) than many alternatives that we know damn well how to use. Restart a crashed civilization without cheap oil and one or more of these other alternatives will be used.

Asphalt is cheap because it's one of the side-effects of oil refining - a product that is valuable enough as a paving material that it's more profitable to sell it as-is than to "crack" it into lighter stuff and boost the fuel output (or other products) by a couple percent.

Comment: Re: No, the program didn't fail (Score 1) 238

Mr. Kennedy is not a credible source. You know that, right?

I'm not concerned with whether he's credible. I just responded to the question about where the 3 months bit was coming from. It's poor form to imply people are pulling it out of a dark orifice when it's right there in TFA.

Another thing though that no one else is bringing up; how much tax revenue have they given up for 10 years?

The "lost tax revenue" I could care even less about. Governments habitually operate at a higher tax rate than the peak of the Laffer Curve. (Raising taxes further brings in more in the short term, though it ends up costing more than it brought in later. That's why they go far past the peak rather than zeroing in on it and maximizing the amount they suck out of the people's pockets.) So, on the average, every million dollars they DON'T tax now is MORE than a million dollars they'll eventually get in taxes later, once the transient has worked itself out. It's also SEVERAL million dollars more that people will earn in "generating" that added tax.

What concerns me more is including the wages and jobs LOST thanks to taxing the people to get those millions to spend "promoting" the plan, when comparing it to the pay for the jobs "generated" by the plan.

Comment: Re:No mention of getting data out (Score 1) 71

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49465473) Attached to: Chinese Hacker Group Targets Air-Gapped Networks

It can do bursts of computation, memory access, or anything else that varies the amount you wiggle voltages or currents on wires in a way that emits radio waves. You can do it without even trying (which is one way some smartcards exposed private keys ...).

In the days of CRTs that applied especially well: Graphics output could modulate the beam and generate a LOT of radio. (Doing gray scales by making shifting fine patters would be an especially "in your face but you can't see it" approach.) A fast photocell could read it from the light, as well.

Preventing / shielding against things like this is what "Tempest" is about.

I recall, back in the late '60s / early '70s, when I was doing software on a machine at a classified site. It had a music program that worked by wiggling the lines on three console display lamps that were also connected, by three resistors (forming a cheap D2A converter) to a volume control T-pad and a loudspeaker. Turns out it also modulated the memory access and/or other signals - a lot. I had left it playing "moon river" overnight, drove up to the building, and heard it on my A.M. radio.

I realized it would have been trivial to exfiltrate a small amount of data, even on my starving student budget, by emulating an FSK modem and hooking a transistor radio to a battery-powered tape recorder (about the size of a briefcase in those days) left in the trunk of my car. (Not that I'd have needed to, since I could carry mag tapes in and out, but as a "white hat", how could it be done, exercise.)

The security guys figured that out, too. A bit later I got a ping from management: Some guys from Washington had also driven up, noticed the arcade-quality "music", and given them grief about it.

Comment: Re: No, the program didn't fail (Score 1) 238


From TFA, as quoted in the story post:

The low numbers didn't stop some state officials from defending the initiative. "Given the program was only up and running for basically one quarter of a year," Andrew Kennedy, a senior economic development aide to Governor Cuomo, told Capital New York,

Did you try actually reading it all before posting?

Comment: "ONLY" 76? Holy COW! (Score 1) 238

Wait a second -- this program has only been running for one quarter of a year? 76 jobs doesn't sound that bad, on such a short time frame.

Damn right!

It takes a substantial time to set up a company. (The startup I just helped start up took over five months before I was actually "employed" (and over 6 before the payroll was in place to pay me as an employee with a W2 rather than a consultant with a 1099).)

Three months and they ALREADY have 76 new jobs? It sounds like there are some bats exiting hell!

Come back in a year and see how many there are, and how fast more are being added.

And when counting the cost of the program versus the benefits of it, don't forget to take into account that investments provide their payback over time - so count those costs against the paybacks from several years.

Comment: Re:I wonder (Score 1) 258

by Moridineas (#49460981) Attached to: A Robo-Car Just Drove Across the Country

Governments don't exist by taxing, they exist because we as humans have figured out that a central power working on behalf of the population works better than the alternatives. Tax simply is how we fund this enterprise.

So, I take it since you have neither disputed the point I was made nor answered the question, you're not really interested in the discussion and just want to internet argue. Fine with me, but I'm not going to take you up on it. If you're looking for low-quality political flames, I might suggest a different forum.

Comment: Re:Start with an erroneous *world view* ... (Score 4, Insightful) 181

by DaveAtFraud (#49454957) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving

Fixed that or you.

People who come up with this crap usually live in urban areas and have never driven on anything but city streets and urban highways. I somehow don't see the autonomous car getting me up an old mining road in the Colorado Rockies that doesn't show up on any road map. I also don't see me trusting said car to pick it's way around, over and between the various obstacles like wash outs and large lose rocks that take some very careful driving to get over or around. Especially when there's a 1,000 foot drop on one side and a cliff face on the other. Routes like the Alpine Loop between Silverton and Lake City or the "road" to Argentine Pass to name just two places I've driven.


Comment: Re: Energy storage in the grid is 100% efficient! (Score 1) 279

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49450977) Attached to: The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid

Modern Li-ion batteries have a round-trip efficiency of about 85%.

And some of the high-power, super-fast-charge Li-* batteries coming into production have efficiencies in the high 90s.

They have to. One of the limits on the charging and discharging rate of the batteries is the inefficiency. That lost energy doesn't just disappear. It turns into HEAT, INSIDE the battery. If you can dump 3/4 of a high-capacity battery's capacity into it in a couple minutes, without melting it down or setting it on fire, it's because the battery didn't turn much of the energy into heat. (Ditto on pulling it back out quickly.) That means it went into chemical storage, rather than loss.

Comment: Also the THIRD amendment! (Score 1) 46

The next topic is "general warrant". One of the reason US revolution took place is because of unhappiness due to King George's general warrants, allowing to search everyone without reason. The outcome was 4th amendment which clearly defined that persons and their private life are untouchable, unless there is suspicion, affirmed by the government servant and approved by the judge.

Spying on the population was also a big driver behind the THIRD amendment:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

While forcing the colonists to provide housing and upkeep for the soldiers sent to oppress them was an economic issue, there was more to it than that.

A soldier "quartered" in a colonist's house also served as a spy for the crown and its army. He eavesdropped on the conversations of the family and visiting friends. He had the opportunity to view their records when they weren't home (or even if they were). He reported anything suspicious to his unit. His presence inhibited getting together with others to hold private discussions, especially about opposing (by protest or otherwise) anything the government was doing. He was a continuous walking search, fed and housed by the people he was investigating.

It seems to me that law-enforcement and intelligence agency spyware, such as keyloggers and various data exfiltration tools, is EXACTLY the digital equivalent: It is a digital agent that "lives" in the home or office of the target. It consums the target's resources (disk space, CPU cycles network bandwidth) to support itself. It spies spying on the activities and "papers" of the target, reporting anything suspicious (or anything, actually) back to its commander, to be used as evidence and/or to trigger an arrest or other attack. It is ready, at a moment's notice, to forcefully interfere with, destroy, or corrupt the target's facilities or send forged messages from him.

Spyware is EXACTLY one of the most egregious acts (one of the "Intolerable Acts") that sparked the American Revolution. I'd love to see the Third brought back out of the doldrums and used against these "digital soldiers" the government is "quartering" inside our personal and private computing devices.

Comment: "lived out high democratic ideals" (Score 1) 489

by pecosdave (#49437293) Attached to: The Courage of Bystanders Who Press "Record"

"unknown cameramen and women lived out high democratic ideals"

What's recording someone being an ass-hat have to do with being democratic? Recording people is being used by people of every though process - right or wrong it's blackmail, in this case I consider it "good blackmail" - we're blackmailing those who "enforce the law" into complying with the law, the same way they record us to prove when we weren't. Blackmail is more or less a universal trait that bridges every political ideology, except maybe the most enlightened ones that will never gain traction because they lack the necessary evil to gain mass adoption.

Comment: Re:Pi (Score 2) 39

by ncc74656 (#49424569) Attached to: Getting Started Developing With OpenStreetMap Data

I spent days getting the wrong results until I realised the problem was pi. i had been using pi=3.1415926535

Why are you trying to represent an irrational number with a rational number of unnecessarily limited precision? If pi isn't defined as a constant in whatever language you're using, calculate it yourself and store it in a variable for future reference. 4*atan(1) is fairly common and simple for this purpose, and you'll get as many digits as the underlying datatype will support.

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