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Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 1) 193

Any time you transform energy from one form to another, it is "lossy". Petrol engines lose about 75% of their energy (not counting all the energy it takes to extract it from the earth and get it into the car). By contrast, pumped-storage hydroelectricity results in only about 25% lost energy overall, making it incredibly efficient. [1]

Your claim that a 40% increase in power cost would "destroy the economy" represented an unsubstantiated opinion that flies in the face of empirical evidence. The economy, for instance, relies heavily on petrol and the real cost of a liter of petrol has doubled in the US over the past 20 years but the US GDP per capita has increased.

Meanwhile, the real cost of household electricity has been almost cut in half since 1960. It seems pretty unlikely that a less than 40% increase in electricity per watthour phased in over decades would "destroy the economy" when the real cost of electricity was nearly 100% more decades ago and the economy did just fine.

The economy adapts to fluctuations in the cost of goods and services.

[1]"Energy storage - Packing some power". The Economist. 3 March 2011.

Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 1) 193

I'm not sure about Texas, but California has zero concern with cascading failures. It has a modern power grid that is able to prevent that sort of thing by shifting supply to meet demand and, if necessary, instituting rolling blackouts to keep the grid from going down (which is something that has occurred several times on the East Coast).

It's not really expensive or awkward to store power. Hydroelectric plants store so much potential energy that it has measurably changed the length of the day. We have over a century of experience with that.

Also, the costs of solar are not particularly great. The Department of Energy estimates that new photovoltaics total levelized cost per watt is less than 40% more than coal. [1] That means the entire cost per watt to the power grid to replace a coal plant with photovoltaics is less than 40 cents more for every dollar you spend. That amount can easily be made up simply by mandating greater energy efficiency. The cost of photovoltaics is higher than gas or coal, but it is not prohibitively higher.

Considering the hundreds of trillions of dollars in damage that is slated to be caused by the continued burning of carbon-based fuels over the next few centuries, I would say that it is time to start dictating to the power companies how we are going to move away from fossil fuel burning as soon as possible. After all, they are not going to be the ones that have to pay to build seawalls or to relocate hundreds of millions of people displaced by rising ocean levels.

[1]http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

Comment: Re:Unintended Consequences (Score 1) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47761105) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

1. Car thefts have not decreased slower than the property crime rate, which supports my point that car alarms did not trigger an increase in car parts.

2. Selling cellular phone parts is not particularly easy for your average strong-arm robber. The most valuable part of the phone is usually the mainboard, and that will likely be disabled by the bricking feature with only the most technically savvy thieves able to override it (possibly by modding it physically), which may not be worth the effort.

Furthermore, most theives lack the technical expertise to properly disassemble a cell phone and sell the parts, and trying to sell bricked phones is going to arose suspicion and leave a paper trail that will lead to the robber or the middleman.

As it stands now, a robber can turn a stolen cell phone into hundreds of dollars cash without too many questions asked and with little to no technical expertise. Bricking the phone takes away that ability. An S4 screen, for instance, is only worth about $100 new and it takes technical expertise to remove and must be sold online whereas an S4 or iphone itself has a street value of several hundred dollars and can be easily and anonymously hard-reset and sold by the criminal himself for the full cash value.

Comment: Re:Unintended Consequences (Score 1) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47759623) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

1. A theory is simply a statement about the natural world (or in this case, in social science, the human world) that is corroborate and falsifiable. The shape of the earth is a theory. Gravity is a theory.

2. Claiming that there is no evidence to support this theory is an argument from personal incredulity logical fallacy. For instance, in Australia, since introducing phone blacklists, the reports of stolen phones has decreased substantially as it has in other places that have similar programs, so there is empirical evidence that making a stolen phone more difficult to use can have a substantial correlation with reduced cell phone thefts.

So there is both a priori and a posteriori evidence that bricking cell phones is a statistically significant deterrent to robberies in other countries, and unlike blacklists, actually bricking the phones make it more difficult to simply ship the phones overseas. It greatly increases the amount of technical expertise and labor involved in reselling a stolen phone.

Comment: Re:The worrisome part (Score 1) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47759077) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

By that line of reasoning, there is no requirement in library funding bonds that the money not be spent adding hardcore pornography to the children's reading room, so we shouldn't fund libraries until we can deal with this imaginary potential problem.

If carriers want to give someone other than the user the ability to brick the phone, they already can, regardless of whether or not this bill passes. Laws should be simple and made to deal with a specific problem (e.g. cell phone robberies), not to deal with every possible contingency that someone can imagine.

Comment: Re:Unintended Consequences (Score 2) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47759047) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

Car alarms could have induced people to steal more unalarmed cars or to commit robberies instead of thefts, but we did not see that. Rather, the rate of car thefts decreased and there was no corresponding rise in robberies.

There is no evidence that bricking phones will increase robberies. More likely, they will decrease, as current robberies rely on the easy reselling and reactivation of phones. The bricking software will significantly decrease the value of the phone and make it difficult to resell to the market that the robbers usually target, which is simple consumer turnaround.

Whereas a robber may have been able to easily get $400-500 on the street for a stolen phone, a bricked phone will be difficult to move and those inclined to buy them will likely not pay very much. It lowers the incentive for someone to risk serious prison time.

Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 1) 193

Peak usage in the home is irrelevant, because homes (and their solar arrays) are generally connected to the power grid. It is only really an issue if you want to live off the grid.

Also, "pure solar energy strategy" can "work today". There's no technological barrier that prevents us from adopting such a strategy like there is with electric cars or fusion power. It's simply a matter of political will.

In fact, California and most of the west has already spent a ton of money upgrading the power grid. It requires further upgrades, but it is time the rest of the country catches up. It just is not politically sexy to spend $100 billion dollars on needed upgrades (especially the ability to send excess power from one part of the US to another), but we'll have to do it eventually, so we might as well start now.

Comment: Re:The worrisome part (Score 2) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47758185) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

The bill itself mandates only that the user be able to deactivate the device. It does not specify how it should be implemented technologically nor does it specify whether carriers and manufacturers should allow anyone else to deactivate the device but the user. It also mandates that the user be able to disable the deactivation function.

Comment: Re:Unintended Consequences (Score 1) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47757761) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

Phone locks are likely to do the exact same thing once they become ubiquitous. People will stop robbing smart-phone users because the devices are likely to have locks which disable the phone, just like newer cars are likely to have devices which disable the engine.

That is "thwarting the theft itself."

Comment: Re:Bets on first use (Score 1) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47757729) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

Um, it is not a "simple" matter.

1) There is no mandate that the phones have a way for anyone but the user to kill them, so law enforcement and the carriers may not even have the ability to initiate a kill switch on many or even all models of phones with the feature equipped.

2) If the police know you have incriminating video and they are corrupt, it is much simpler for them to simply seize your phone as evidence and then delete the files or "lose" the device. Figuring out exactly who had the "incriminating photos" and getting the proper paperwork done (which carriers may very well demand a court order for) to wipe the phone would not be an effective way to eliminate evidence. You make it sound like the police will be issued remote phone-wiping guns.

3) Smart device robbery may account for something like 25-50% of violent crimes in many cities such as San Francisco and New York. You present no reasonable cost-benefit analysis that these so far entirely fictional scenarios you came up with "are far more dangerous" than the violent crimes associated with smart phone robbery.

Comment: Re:The worrisome part (Score 1) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47757629) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

Did you actually read the bill, because I see absolutely nothing in there to support your claim?

The bill mandates that the user be given the ability to activate the kill switch. While the bill does not PREVENT the carriers from implementing a solution that may allow someone else (such as the carriers or the government) from activating the switch, it does not MANDATE it either. It only mandates that the user be able to activate it and leaves it up to the manufacturers and carriers how it will be effected.

Can you please provide a direct quotation from the bill that supports your claim, " it mandates that carriers must make it technically possible for law enforcement to use the killswitch," because I see no evidence to support what you are writing.

Comment: Re:The worrisome part (Score 2) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47757581) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

There's no requirement for manufacturers to give anyone but the user the ability to lock the phone.

Also, it is not as if the police are going to get some special remote wiping gun they can aim at you. If some corrupt officers wanted to get rid of the data, they would just seize the phone as evidence and then delete the files or "lose" the phone.

It is not clear that there will be any method for anyone but the user to initiate a remote lockdown and even if there were, carriers are not going to do it without going through some tedious process. Carriers won't even usually locate your phone for you when you file a police report and get the authorities to ask them. Usually there is some ridiculously long process the police have to go through which is why most departments refuse.

Comment: Re:Unintended Consequences (Score 2) 223

by Mr_Wisenheimer (#47757505) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

The probability of thefts increasing due to this feature is incredibly low. Since anti-theft features were introduced to cars in the early 1990's, the rate of car thefts has decreased.

Cell phone robberies are usually crimes of opportunity. Robbers rely on the victim's inattention and the fact that most phones can be easily wiped and resold. Rather than keep banging their head against the wall by stealing useless phone after useless phone, robbers will probably try some other way to get easy money.

The rise in cell phone robberies in major cities is alarming. People rarely carry much cash and they rarely put their wallets out where it can be easily grabbed. This bill has a real chance of reducing one of the most common violent crimes in cities like New York and San Francisco.

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