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Comment: Re:Just the cost of doing business. (Score 5, Insightful) 311

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#46908399) Attached to: Steve Jobs Defied Convention, and Perhaps the Law

Seriously, where do they get off saying it's rare for big companies to do illegal shit? Name me one that *doesn't* at least walk really close to that line.

I've consulted in big companies for quite a while. My experience has been that most of time, most people are trying to obey all the laws. That said, yes, "the line" does get crossed. In all the cases I've personally seen, "the line" was crossed either because of ignorance or for precisely the reason you state (the fine is lower than the expected profit).

And that's why this case is astonishing. Steve Jobs went so far over the line, he might have wound up in jail. That's something I've not seen. You know why no banker went to jail? I've seen this shit in meetings. Someone proposes something that is illegal. The discussion then focuses on costs and profits. It then moves to plausible deniability and the chance of going to jail. If the conclusion is that there is the slightest chance someone will go to jail, that's it. That idea is dead dead dead.

  Steve Jobs, like the Honey Badger, didn't care. He left a trail, IN WRITING, that could have put him in jail.

Insanely illegal.

Comment: Re:As others said, no .... but .... (Score 1) 734

The key here is the question specifically about *solar* power. When you look at the sum total amount of energy we consume, I think you'll find that you'd have to blanket a pretty significant portion of the usable surface of the earth with panels to provide all of it, if you went strictly solar.

Yes you would.

Fortunately, we already blanket a pretty significant portion of the earth with buildings, roads and parking lots. Put solar on all the buildings and cover the parking lots and you are well over half of the way there.

Here is the NREL report on this subject.

NREL states we would need 00.4% of all the land in the USA to go 100% solar electric. The report uses existing PV efficiencies. By the time we could possibly be near something like 100%, efficiencies will be higher and that land requirement will be down to something like 00.35% or lower.

Comment: Re:Safety (Score 2) 937

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#45909067) Attached to: Who Is Liable When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

And if *all* the cars on the road aren't autonomous, then the autonomous ones are mostly a traffic hazard with no clear liability.

The google self-driving car has already shown itself to be insanely good at avoiding crazy human drivers. Even going as far as swerving out of the way of human drivers trying to ram it. The only way autonomous cars will be a traffic hazard to human drivers is if the production cars take a HUGE step down from the existing prototypes. That's just not going to happen.

    I little bit of that is here

Comment: Re:There must be a very good reason... (Score 5, Informative) 579

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#45791443) Attached to: Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

Because they are usually required to pay customers a lot more for feed-in power than they can generate it for, with no allowance for their internal cost overheads, etc.

Basically they become a free power storage and backup facility only paid for any extra usage) for the customers, which is great for adoption, but means that non solar customers are adding further subsidy to the solar customers (over and above the common subside via taxation/government grants).

You cite factors that fall against solar, but miss all the ones that fall in solar's favor. The biggest is peak shaving. In many areas, usage peaks coincide with when the sun is shining. Peak power is the most expensive power. Imagine building a power plant and running it seven hours a year. Welcome to peaker plants. That's some hellishly expensive electricity. In places like Hawaii, Texas, Arizona, and southern California, when people put more solar PV in, the utility needs fewer peaker plants. This is HUGE. You know how much credit most utilities want to give to solar for that? Zero.

    But if the utility does something to eliminate the need for a peaker plant, you can bet your entire net worth the utility will be asking the rate commission for higher rates to reward them.

    The best work on this subject (trying to figure out what price has no one subsidizing any one) is coming out of the Rocky Mountain Institute. A good starting place is their survey of existing literature ( Austin electric also appears to have done really good work in establishing what they call a "fair value of solar". By their measure, the fair value of solar in Austin is currently higher than the retail rate. As more solar is added, this rate will fall. The rate is assessed annually.

Comment: Re:What a nonsense post... (Score 1) 1030

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#45497125) Attached to: A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

> BTW, they are also paying about 35 cents per kilowatt hour,

    Most of that is taxes.

    Current German solar feed in tariffs for solar range from 11.8 to 17.5 Euro cents per KwH. The 11.8 cents (which is what larger installations get) is actually cheaper than new coal plants.

    If you want to see how an upper bound on how much renewables are really costing German consumers, look at the EEG surcharge. That funds all the feed in tariffs paid to renewable producers. I say upper bound, because renewables get no credit for the downward pressure they put on conventional electricity prices (google merit order effect).

Comment: Re:What a nonsense post... (Score 1) 1030

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#45496061) Attached to: A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

Solar accounts for 0.17% of our electric production in this country, tripling it won't make any difference.

So far this year, Germany's gotten about 5% of their electric production from solar and Italy is around 7%. Solar is way cheaper now than when those countries installed the bulk of their solar PV.

    So yeah, tripling will do very little. No reason not to hit up a factor of 30 to 50.

+ - Nuon Solar Team wins World Solar Challenge 2013

Submitted by Mike_EE_U_of_I
Mike_EE_U_of_I (1493783) writes "The World Solar Challenge is a solar car race across Australia every two years. This race attracts teams from all over the world. The race started on October 6, and the Nuon Solar team from The Netherlands just won the race. My wife and I travel to Australia for the race and interviewed two of the winning team members

    Nuon's web site is here, and the World Solar Challenge itself has their best media coverage yet here

    Results are not final, but it looks like Japan's Tokai University came in second and Team Twente from The Netherland's came in third.

    Congratulations team Nuon!"

Comment: Re:This is disputed (Score 3, Informative) 380

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#44903417) Attached to: Its Nuclear Plant Closed, Maine Town Is Full of Regret

So this Fox News story was idiotic. Solar only works in Germany because it is heavily subsidized. German consumers pay a great deal more for electricity than they would without the solar subsidies. Solar will always be expensive until you figure out a way to create a much less expensive solar infrastructure, such as nano-tech based solar that you paint on a road or a roof. You have to maintain solar arrays and the low power density means large areas are needed for solar capture, and the sun does not shine at night, so you have to solve the energy storage problem too.

Solar used to only work in Germany because of the subsidies. At this point, solar is Germany is much cheaper than retail electricity. As far as German's paying much more for electricity because of solar, that's not really so clear either. If you look here:

    you can see where Germany's power is coming from at any given time. Solar is doing an incredible job of peak shaving, which lowers the cost of electricity. The accounting problem then becomes that people know how much the solar subsidy costs, but don't know how much lower the cost of all the other power is because of solar.

    You mention solving the storage problem, and the Germans are working on that as well:

    Best estimate I've seen is that solar+storage for an average retail German customer will be cheaper than grid power sometime next year.

    Even if none of this is cheap enough for you, just wait a bit. Solar is getting around 7-8% cheaper every year. Best estimate I've seen for the USA is that between 1/3's and 2/3's of American's will be able to save money by 2020 with unsubsidized solar power. A great tool to play around with and see this is here:

Comment: Welcome to how SSDs fail. (Score 5, Interesting) 552

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#44822861) Attached to: SSD Failure Temporarily Halts Linux 3.12 Kernel Work

I've owned several hundred hard drives over the last 30 years. I've never had an active hard drive drive just blank out. I have had drives that had not been powered for a couple of years refuse to ever come back. But if I did not feel the need to even power the thing on for years, you can imagine how little I cared for what was on it.

    In the last four years, I've owned around 20 SSDs. I've had five failures. Every single one was the drive just instantly lost everything. Amazingly, in four of the five cases, the drive still worked fine! It had simply lost all the data on it and believed itself to be a blank drive.

    That said, the speed of SSDs makes them worth the risk to me. But I take backups far more seriously than I used to. I need them far more often.

Comment: Re:Where were the professionals. (Score 1) 268

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#44732133) Attached to: More Bad News From Fukushima

It isn't damage control. It is technician stupidity.

Apologists need to stop trotting out equivalents to, "Don't attribute to malice.. bla bla stupidity," at every corner.

I don't really care if it is malice or stupidity. Either way, the handling of the Fukushima event has turned me from an ardent nuclear supporter to mildly anti-nuke.

Comment: Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 423

by Mike_EE_U_of_I (#44228271) Attached to: Malcolm Gladwell On Culture and Airplane Crashes

> Indian culture is hierarchical, and deference to your superiors counts enormously. Yet, Indian airlines do not have worse-than-average crash rates.

    Well yeah, that's true as long as we ignore reality.

    According to this website, Indian airlines accident rates are spectacularly higher than western airlines. Air India's accident rate is even higher than KAL's, which is the example airline for Gladwell's theory.

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller