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Comment: Re:I hope this is a joke.. (Score 1) 392

by LabRat (#27579317) Attached to: PG&E Makes Deal For Solar Power From Space

Well, the "mass" of the atmosphere has little to do with RF transfer efficiencies...though passing through the ionosphere certainly does. The 54% comes about due to very real limits on the efficiency of converting electricity to RF and back again. You can sort of consider that the upper bound of what can be expected from a satellite-based system. When it's all said and done, in order to deliver 200MW of regulated 60Hz to the grid is going to require them to generate roughly 600MW at the satellite panels assuming they can get roughly 50% efficiency through the beam (which is likely quite a stretch). And yes, I realize the amount of time spent in shadow is very small..hence why I went out of my way to "size" the earth-bound solar concentrator system to be twice the power rating so it was an apples-to-apples comparison.

If you liked the billions of dollars over-budget presidential helicopter, the bridge to no-where in Alaska, and other such amazing government programs..then sure...this is a great way to spend our tax dollars. Luckily, we actually have a Secretary of DOE who has a clue for a change...so we won't have to witness that.

If/when launch technology becomes "near-free" to at least low-earth orbit...then something like this might be feasible. A project such as this is sort of putting the cart before the horse. Dollar-for-dollar you are going to get a *lot* more power out of a terrestrial PV system in the proper geography than this proposed space-based system, never mind solar concentrator systems. At a 3:1 ratio just in panel area needed (which more than compensates for the additional solar incidence in orbit plus the 24-hour exposure), that puts a lot of PV on people's rooftops for the same money before even considering the cost of the launch or the ongoing expenses of maintaining the ground-based receiver station and the associated gear.

If the economics are/were actually there..I'd be all for it. Unfortunately, as an engineer who has a lot of background in such things...I just gotta shake my head for now. Once every rooftop has a PV system and solar water heater that can benefit from it, once we have developed solar concentrator facilities on all the eligible areas that we can, once we have fully exploited our wind corridors (both inland and off-shore) and once we have developed our geothermal and tidal resources....THEN talk to me about space-based systems if we need more juice. It's all about grabbing the low-hanging fruit first...not doing the most expensive option just because it's technically possible.

Comment: Re:Leik Myrabo FTW (Score 1) 392

by LabRat (#27576967) Attached to: PG&E Makes Deal For Solar Power From Space

With the RF frequencies they are saying that they plan on using..it's really not the issue. This isn't some super-concentrated laser beam. This is going to be like a suped-up satellite TV broadcast rather than microwave-based transmission beams that have been touted in other proposals. So again, "can we hit the spot" isn't the issue here (that's a given, since we're trying to "hit" a target the size of a small city with a beam of similar size) but rather if it's economical to try and do so. With the transmission losses, the cost of launch, the sheer cost of the PV panel itself, etc...I'm not holding my breath.

Even if the beam "misses", those nearby will, at worst, have an RF exposure similar to living near a TV broadcast tower. Not something you'd necessarily *encourage* but not something to freak out about, either.

Comment: Re:Leik Myrabo FTW (Score 1) 392

by LabRat (#27569895) Attached to: PG&E Makes Deal For Solar Power From Space

The point is not "can we hit a spot" on the earth..it's with what efficiency can the energy be moved from orbit to said spot. Best results I've seen recently point to about 54% efficiency between terrestrial towers. Not good enough, and definitely not worth the expense (still going to need a bunch of land for the receivers as well as factoring in launch costs) and potential downside to having a multi-megawatt RF interference generator sitting above North America.

And in the end..that's the difference between scientists (your prof) and engineers...scientists discover what can be done...engineers discover what can be done on a budget. But like I said in another post..if a bunch of VC's want to watch their money burn on this project...they're welcome to it. Just so long as taxpayer money doesn't join the "fun".

Comment: I hope this is a joke.. (Score 2, Interesting) 392

by LabRat (#27568949) Attached to: PG&E Makes Deal For Solar Power From Space

...otherwise kiss radio astronomy in North America goodbye. Those guys thought they were getting interference from the Iridium constellation? Heh..wait until they get 200MW of broadband RF interference coming down on them from this monstrosity.

Not to mention, this seems to be a complete waste of resources. I'd wager that at least as much land (if not more) will need to be dedicated to the antenna array as a 400MW (put in twice the power to make up for day-only operations) solar concentrator plant if they want any sort of chance of capturing all of the beam for conversion. Add to that the fact that the increased solar incidence in orbit will be conteracted by the losses in RF transmission (engineers were thrilled when they achieved 54% between ground towers recently...). And lets not forget the rather substantial launch costs (likely hundreds of millions of dollars). All in all...this is a concept best suited to the Sims game than real life. I'm all for alternative/renwewable energy...but this is just a waste of time and money. But hey..if some VC's like watching stacks of hundred-dollar-bills burn in the mean time...more power to them. I just hope this idiotic scheme doesn't get any federal funding. Our DOE Secretary is a pretty sharp guy...I'm sure he sees the folly in it as well and hopefully will steer well clear of it. I would think the FCC would have something to say as well..considering the MASSIVE potential for RF interference. Investment tip: I wouldn't be sinking any retirement money into this outfit ;)

Comment: Re:Prior Art? (Score 1) 261

by LabRat (#26275013) Attached to: Worlds.com Sues NCSoft Over MMO-Patent

I agree that MUDs were a stretch...but there *were* 3-d muds (can move compass rose as well up/down), just without a corresponding 3d rendering engine (although they are available these days). The patent goes into some detail regarding chat server functionality and message passing..which *was* present in MUDs. Again..a stretch..I was just throwing that out there.

EQ had screenshots released from its alpha as early as Jan 2007. It's not much of a stretch to think it was in development earlier than the 1996 filing of the "parent" patent...so I think they're sunk :D UO was even earlier..though it might not have implemented the server-side positional occlusion stuff..I don't know enough about its architecture to comment definitively though it's certainly worth investigating by ncsoft. Ditto Meridian 59. Guess we'll have to wait and see :)

Not only that...but the architecture detailed in the patent seems pretty specific...it's going to be tough, IMHO, to prove infringement. Not only that, but the latest environment for invalidating software patents in general can't be good for world.com.

Comment: Re:Prior Art? (Score 1) 261

by LabRat (#26274005) Attached to: Worlds.com Sues NCSoft Over MMO-Patent

It all depends on how you interpret some of the claims in the patent. While it does appear to mean a 3-d rendered world on the client...some of the claims are completely server-oriented. And yes, even text-based MUDs can (and were) 3-D at the server level having an ability to travel along compass rose points as well as climb/descend vertically. It's a stretch..but that's what a good lawyer does ;)

That said..obviously games like EQ will be the biggest obstacle in the prior-art argument. The continuation patent application is problematic..I haven't studied the original 1996 patent in sufficient detail to see if all of the claims THERE are applicable to the claims related to EQ et al in the 2000 patent. And again, the details in the 1996 patent go into such excrutiating minutia it's likely that any broadening of the patent claims ex post facto in the 2000 patent might very well be overturned. IANAL and all that..but I think they've got an uphill battle if they want to take on a Sony or Blizzard.

Comment: Re:Travel In Other States (Score 1) 713

by LabRat (#26271865) Attached to: Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax

Under this system, who gets the money if I live in Oregon, but I drive north to Colorado to go skiiing?

Would

Exxon probably..since that'd be a 25,000 mile trip or thereabouts :p

Joking aside...you make a good point. The tracking would have to be more sophisticated than a simple mileage accumulator that happened to use gps as a source. It would have to keep real-time tabs on your position so that it could filter out "out of bounds" travel from its calculation. If it's keeping real-time tabs...who's watching/collecting this data? This has abuse written all over it. I'll make Mr. Governor a deal...if he publishes the full contents of his email, phone records, and credit card purchases, and full gps tracking data of his vehicle(s) on the state website (personal and state-business)...then *perhaps* a quid-pro-quo style of invasion of privacy could be contemplated. Until then...he can respectfully fuck off.

Comment: Re:Redundant (not this post, but these fingerprint (Score 1) 248

by LabRat (#26232453) Attached to: DHS To Grab Biometric Data From Green Card Holders

I would imagine to verify that the person entering the country on a green card is the same person who applied for (and was granted) the green card is the motivation. The prints *are* digitized...and that's the point to compare the digitized ones on file with the ones you present at the point of entry. However, since it should be fairly easy to verify one's identity at the Point of Entry via the picture that (should) pop up on the CBP officer's screen when the green card is swiped...I'm not sure I understand the benefit of this new initiative fully, either. I would imagine that it's easier to fake a set of finger prints (via latex glue-ons) than it is to fake your face to another human under fairly intense scrutiny in person...but what do I know (besides the honorary immigration law degree bestowed upon anyone who has successfully navigated the system to LPR status LOL)? In the end...it might not actually help security but I suppose it can't hurt to have another layer of verification.

And to those crying about privacy yadda yadda...this system is for entry into the country. Nothing about being a permanent resident says anything about being able to waltz through a point of entry without inspection and/or scrutiny. Don't want to be fingerprinted (again..as parent post points out)..don't cross the international borders ;) Let me know when this program is rolled out to cross state borders and/or get on a domestic flight..then I'll join in on the chorus of outcry.

Comment: Re:30,000 F = 50kWh? (Score 1) 603

by LabRat (#26218867) Attached to: EEStor Issued a Patent For Its Supercapacitor

A Farad is similar to Amps..useless for comparing actual energy or power without the corresponding voltage involved. In (over)simple terms it describes the number of electrons being stored for later release...similar to the relationship to volume to a liquid in some arbitrary container. And similarly, asking how much work can be done with 1 gallon of water is as useless as asking how much work (ie kWh) can be stored in a 3000F (or 30,000F) capacitor. Without knowing the pressure (ie voltage), it is indeterminate.

your AA battery (and thus ultimately the 3000F capacitor it is connected to) stores 1.5V of potential. The EEStor ultracap claims to store 3500V. For every coulomb of charge, the eestore device is storing about 2300 times as much energy (kwh) as the 3000F capacitor in your example. There's the difference ;)

Comment: Re:Misleading title (Score 1) 159

by LabRat (#25838429) Attached to: AMD Shows Upcoming Phenom II CPU At 6.0 GHz+

"If you need liquid nitrogen to boost it to 6 GHz, it's not all that interesting. Nehalem 2.66 GHz offering has also been shown to overclock to 4 GHz on air cooling, and some people have got the 3.2 GHz offering up to 4.5 GHz on air. On GHz they're roughly the same, possibly with a slight Intel edge."

Show me an Intel chip that doesn't require LN2 to reach 6Ghz, and I'll agree with you that it's not interesting. The fact that they've been able to at least match an intel offering is very interesting to me, personally...given the 2 years of having their asses handed to them by the wakened Intel giant.

"I thought both companies were ditching the GHz war and fighting for actual performance supremacy? What's with the silly "my GHz is bigger than yours" competition? Do we have PPW numbers, or just press releases that mean nothing?"

Well, back in the day of the P4 versus Athlon...you might have had a point since there was such a huge gulf between the two architectures in instructions per cycle (IPC). These days, the IPC is much closer so Ghz is a decent (though not perfect) measuring stick for coarse comparisons. Obviously, the most important metric is a set of benchmarks on the application that YOU are interested in..but as a first cut Ghz will do these days (it's the closest we've had to an apples-to-apples since the old k5/PIII days). Others have already talked about how reaching the "max freq", on air and cryo-cooled is more of a testament to the engineering soundness of the design, and not necessarily indicative of the consumer-level performance to be expected. Again..benches (and the PPW numbers you cited) are where the real action is at, but it's hard to fit a full set of benches on a shelf tag so Ghz still has its place in marketing. For the first time in a while, the Ghz comparisons actually have some meaning, so enjoy the brief window of sanity in number comparisons between the two camps.

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