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Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 201

by swb (#47534635) Attached to: How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

Since this whole war on terrorism nonsense, they've gotten kind of funny about tours for the sake of curiosity.

The Union Electric plant didn't have a visitor center -- you just showed up outside an entrance and employee took you anywhere you wanted to go. I even got to go inside one of the generators.

Comment: Re:sure, works for France (Score 3, Interesting) 222

You can have all the vacation time you want anywhere you live

Which is why every American takes 6 weeks in the summer.

In my experience, most permanent job employers don't like to negotiate on vacation time. Sometimes they'll give on a day or two, but usually they're not crazy about vacation time that deviates from whatever the position qualifies for. The only explanation ever given to me was that because salary is "secret" it's easier to compensate employees differentially; vacation is visible to other employees at the same level and differential compensation creates tension.

In a contract employment situation you can negotiate anything, but I've found in shorter term contracts there's usually some kind of deadline that's non-negotiable, making free-lance vacationing a little bit challenging.

Comment: Re:Range is not the issue. Cost is. (Score 1) 119

From the Tesla Motors website: "As we at Tesla reach for our goal of producing a mass market electric car in approximately three years, we have an opportunity to leverage our projected demand for lithium ion batteries to reduce their cost faster than previously thought possible.... By the end of the first year of volume production of our mass market vehicle, we expect the Gigafactory will have driven down the per kWh cost of our battery pack by more than 30 percent."

Comment: Re:23% revenue growth! (Score 2) 166

by timeOday (#47532503) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell
I would like to understand this. The article says that losses for the next quarter are expected to be larger: "Mr. Szkutak listed some of the reasons: Amazon Web Services is in a price-cutting war with Google and others. Six new warehouses have opened. And the company will spend $100 million on new content to put on those phones and Kindles."

The warehouses, at least, are quintessential infrastructure investment. You are saying Szkutak is incorrect in asserting they cut into short-term profits?

Comment: Re:I wonder who is doing the actual posting. (Score 2) 157

by aardvarkjoe (#47532285) Attached to: Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress

I hope this is coming from some over zealot unpaid interns, working for the congress. Not from the actual congressmen themselves.

I hope this is coming from the congressmen themselves. They're much less likely to cause damage trolling Wikipedia rather than if they're attempting to pass legislation.

Comment: Re:raise money privately? (Score 1) 177

I think roads are the best (and in some ways the most literal) examples of what municipal broadband should be.

The government builds roads past my house but it only provides "dark asphalt" (aka dark fiber), it doesn't provide any of the services that could be provided by the highway.

The government then licenses "service providers" to provide services on the municipal roads -- taxes for trucks that deliver things to my house, taxis, or even access fees for me to drive a vehicle on those roads. I have to pay myself to utilize the services provided by the roads.

Municipal broadband should be the same way -- it should only be the transit network, anything else -- IP connectivity/Internet should require me to pay an internet provider who in turn has paid for whatever access they need to the municipal network the same way businesses pay fees (direct or indirect) to use the roads to deliver services.

Comcast could sell TV services or Internet services, although I would expect that some other ISP would offer an better product than Comcast and they would be a marginal player, which of course is their entire objection -- hey have a rent-seeking monopoly they want to maintain. If the pipe to your house was open to any service provider, it seems likely they would only get a minority of people who wanted traditional cable television.

Comment: Re:FCC does not make laws (Score 1) 177

But all the magic comes from the Commerce Clause.

You can't build a nuclear reactor without importing components for it across state lines. It starts there. I'd also imagine that NRC and EPA approval would also stem from (mostly) reasonable arguments that the natural environment (wind, water, etc) is inherently interstate and that any risk from a nuclear accident would have interstate impact. Probably some justification on national security grounds relative to radioactive materials as well.

The same thing would be used to justify federal anti-discrimination laws should I decide not serve some group in my local restaurant in which I only serve food obtained locally, cooked in a kitchen made entirely of locally-sourced, locally made cookware and served on locally-made dishware from locally-sourced materials in a building made from locally-sourced building materials by bearded, local bohemians wearing only locally sourced clothing who only drink locally brewed beer in locally made mugs.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 3, Interesting) 201

by swb (#47531351) Attached to: How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

When I toured the Union Electric hydropower plant in Keokuk, Iowa back in the 1990s when they still let you into places like that (with a camera, no less) the guy showed me a hand-crank the size of a bicycle wheel that was originally designed to dead start the plant when it was self-powered.

Apparently spinning that generated just enough power to get one of the turbines generating electricity and that was enough power to boot strap the entire plant.

Comment: Re:Avoiding Amazon Web Services? (Score 1) 166

by swb (#47531127) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

One question might be "What business is Amazon in?"

They almost feel like one of those somewhat out of fashion companies that owns a whole bunch of businesses that are only tangentially related. Are they a consumer electronics company? A hard goods company? A clothing company (Zappos, and Amazon's fashion wing)? A bookseller? An internet services company?

With regard to the last one, maybe AWS isn't a long-term business but a medium-term strategy to sell their own excess capacity to cover the cost of having excess capacity in the near term and gain specific expertise in managing large, distributed computing environments almost 100% under their control.

At some point in a more mature Amazon business, does AWS go away because they no longer need to cover their own excess capacity? I'm guessing that AWS will be big enough business not to, but Amazon's kind of amorphous business model seems to add some uncertainty.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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