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Comment Re:I hate to be THAT GUY... (Score 1) 229

I just read the book. Basic biology is somewhat lacking throughout. But potatoes are one of the few foods you can survive on indefinitely. They contain quite sufficient vitamin C to prevent scurvy.

Sufficient light to grow 'em would have been a problem, but if they can get by well enough to feed a nation even with Ireland's average cloud cover, perhaps a better choice than most crops. Might get one somewhat scanty crop, anyway. (I've seen 'em produce even when all the light they got was what leaked through broken boards into a closed shed.)

The bacteria issue was overblown; Watney could repopulate the whole place from his own colon, even if a large proportion didn't encapsulate as many bacteria do when stressed. And potatoes themselves are hardly sterile.

I did gather the author has never used freeze-dried food, including instant mashed potatoes.

Comment Re:I hate to be THAT GUY... (Score 1) 229

I just got done reading the book about two minutes ago. I have not yet seen the film.

Lots of interesting points about what's scientifically accurate or not... I had complaints every time it touched on biology or food (freeze-dried potatoes are a whole different beast than fresh potatoes.) Having driven in the desert, where dust pits are a hazard, I muttered about that too. Some I could chalk up to "Not Watney's area of expertise" but some was pretty evidently "author just didn't think to check beyond his own lack of experience".

But what I noticed more than anything is that this is a book written for the masses. It is NOT written for an experienced SF audience, and is barely SF -- and then only because it's set on Mars rather than Antarctica. Mars is more dramatic. Good choice. But when I realised this, I stopped expecting ordinary hard-SF rigor from it.

Comment Re:Monopoly on what exactly (Score 1) 205

Which is why, "escorts," can get busted for prostitution- they claim they're being paid in a fashion similar to paying for the date with a random other consenting person, but in-fact the courts find that the sexual aspect is a paid service even if it was not discussed in-advance.

Uber's arrangement isn't even as informal as that of the escort's position on sex. The fee for the ride is determined in-advance, as a commercial transaction. This isn't some known-associate being nice and giving a ride, for the passenger to volunteer to reimburse the driver unexpectedly.

Comment Re: Monopoly on what exactly (Score 1) 205

And that is the same technicality that taxi drivers have. You are giving money to the company they drive for, not to them. They get paid by the company. Only the tip (which you presumably also give an Uber driver) goes directly to the driver.

That's not always true. Cab companies around here rent the cab to the driver, the driver keeps all of the money sans rental-fee. The cab driver can use company-dispatch and can also select his or her own fares. The rental fee covers everything so that the cab is turn-key to the driver, the company worries about insurance, maintenance, registration and vehicle inspection, etc. The driver might be on-the-hook for keeping the car clean enough for the next driver, but the bulk of the car itself falls on the company.

Comment Re:Just (Score 3, Interesting) 125

Just get solar inexpensive enough and I'll be perfectly happy. It sure isn't there yet.

For me it would be, if the goddamn electric utility would set fair rules.

If the utility is going to charge me a grid-tie fee, make that fee the same as all of the subscribers. IE, any house with approximately the same service type (200A 240V Single Phase with Neutral) should have the same grid-tie fee as I as a solar user would have.

As a power producer, they should pay a reasonable amount of money for my power to them during peak hours. They should not be allowed to only reimburse me the rate they charge for middle-of-the-night lowest-demand time, which is something like 10% of what they charge during peak hours. I understand that I'm not going to get 100%, that's not the issue. I do expect to get more like 50%, especially if they itemize all power customers' grid-tie separate from their usage fees.

As they want it now, they want to benefit from my power production when they have the most demand, and to charge me for the privilege of supplying them with that power.

My argument in favor of my position is that during peak hours (I live in a hot desert climate) my production means that they do not have to supply as much power from on-demand power stations that are more costly to operate than their base-load power plants. They don't have to burn natural gas or propane or diesel to keep up with all of the air conditioners if enough solar customers are selling power back to the grid. The solar customers also put power back on to the grid locally, which reduces amperage across the higher current distribution portion as local power in a local section is being produced.

As they have it now it's a racket, and there is no reason for it to be so.

And yes, I am well aware of danger to linemen if there's a general outage and a residence is still supplying power. I would put in a transfer switch capable of intentional islanding and some form of intelligent grid AC resync and reconnect if I were to do this.

Comment I think that cookie-cutter approaches are useless, (Score 1) 823

not just for the question of how a contributor should be treated, but also for the question of how a leader should act.

If a leader is able to get world-beating results by being an asshole, then so be it. That leader has beaten the world, and I am not going to quibble with success. If a leader is an asshole and subpar output is the result, then by all means, tell them to treat their team differently.

Team dynamics are a complicated thing. You just don't fuck with a winning team. If they are using four letter words all the time and sacrificing live chickens at midnight, but the results are running circles around everyone else, I for one do not want them to stop, even if it would save a chicken's life.

At the same time, if they are doing all of these things and the results are uneven or poor, then by all means, change the behavior.

In this case, I'd say that the results of Linux kernel development speak for themselves. And if you just don't belong in the culture, then go somewhere else. If the culture starts to be counterproductive, give the world a great, big "I told you so!" and collect your profits on the book deal. But otherwise, to expect people to fuck up a successful operation for your feelings, for manners, or for high-minded ethics concerns is just bad juju. It's not lawyering or doctoring, ethical concerns are not front and center. It's software. The goal is that it works and works well, and in fact that's the highest ethical aspiration *of* software, given the many critical ways in which it gets used in today's world.

The value to the users is first. The comfort of the developers is second. If the culture and development process are working well, get the hell out of the way if you don't like them. As this person has done. So—problem solved.

Comment Re:Emissions testing needs to be fool proof (Score 1) 97

I don't think that we'll return to the late seventies and eighties. It appears that American car manufacturers have perfected the two valve per cylinder pushrod V8 and the four valve per cylinder overhead cam V6, GM, Chrysler, and Ford designs are all getting gobs of power on-demand and excellent fuel economy when driven cautiously- the 3.6L V6 available in nearly every Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram is absolutely fantastic.

Comment If the black cabs have a legal monopoly... (Score 5, Informative) 205

...then what uber drivers are doing, by not being licensed black-cab operators, is against the law.

If I understand it correctly, London is a lot stricter with their drivers than most other cities, such that to simply drive a cab one must pass a fairly difficult testing process before being able to obtain a license.

At this point I'm not really sure why this is a Slashdot story anymore. It's about a livery company whose legally questionable practices and claims have drivers that are picking up hailed fares. There isn't even a technological angle on this aspect of the story, not that cell-phone dispatch is anything especially novel.

Comment Re:Please ... (Score 1) 202

There are also initiatives from the federal government to attempt to push Internet connectivity like how the Electrification of America was pushed, and how the telephone system was pushed. That at least has some tangible benefit to the people that live there, while this spaceport does not.

Comment Re:Why New Mexico (Score 5, Insightful) 202

A spaceport that doesn't have any commercial flights is probably a worse waste of money than a sports stadium. People will drive for a hundred miles to go to a sporting event if they care about one of the teams playing. They'll buy gas, they'll buy food, they'll pay admissions, they'll go to the bars and the restaurants after the game, they might even look for a hotel to stay in before going home.

A spaceport in rural anywhere only makes sense when there are flights, and for it to be paid for by the taxes collected in an area the area needs to derive an actual benefit.

As for a town of 6000 with only 21% bachelors degrees, that is absolutely no surprise at all. A town of 6000 people probably doesn't have very many jobs that need bachelors degrees. There will be a doctor or maybe a few, there will be some nurses. There may be a dentist. There will be at least one pharmacist. If there are schools the teachers will have degrees. There will probably be a few business owners that originated in the area, left and got their education, and came back, possibly employing some in the town. If anything, 1/5 of a small town having bachelors degrees is probably rather high.

Comment Re:Emissions testing needs to be fool proof (Score 4, Informative) 97

Cars from the sixties and seventies that were fun to drive were horribly wasteful on fuel when driven hard. Carburetors are like that. The point now, is that we have technology to sample the air pressure, air temperature, and exhaust mixture to try to achieve the most thorough burn possible, which is why the cars of today are more fun and more powerful than they were in the sixties and seventies. And I say this as someone that is mid-restoration on a seventies Mopar.

The tradeoff is complexity and cost. The cars are much more complicated because the systems that regulate fuel pressure, nozzle duration, spark duration and timing, and valve timing are much more complicated than an accelerator pump, a venturi, and a simple vacuum-advance distributor.

Comment Re:Emissions testing needs to be fool proof (Score 1) 97

And this is why we need more regulation, not less. Car companies were given the option to tell the government that they met the rules. They didn't meet the rules but lied to fraudulently sell cars. I say, send a complete drivetrain system with a driveable chassis that conforms to the mass and approximate airflow characteristics expected in the finished vehicle, or rather, a fleet of them, and give the EPA the budget to both test the finished drivetrain in the unfinished vehicle and to make baseline measurements. Later on, the EPA will lease or rent or otherwise procure through their own means actual vehicles that the emissions profile was to meet to compare them. If they're off by more than say, 15% as new vehicles, or if they violate the absolute limits, the model is pulled from sale and existing examples are recalled.

I will find it very amusing if a generation of European cars are essentially worthless now that the cheats that made them desirable are gone. German engineers are disproportionately smug in their abilities, but I think this one may have knocked them for a loop.

Comment Re:Parts fail, it needs to be planned for. (Score 3, Insightful) 97

what ever happened to personal responsibility?

Personal responsibility is whatever the court and/or jury decides it is. Sometimes the judgement is probably too far in favor of giving idiots what they don't deserve. Sometimes it allows a company that's negligent to get off lightly for something that they really should not have ever sold. Sometimes it works out as it should.

Comment Re:Emissions testing needs to be fool proof (Score 1, Troll) 97

Just get rid of the EPA. They've screwed up the diesel market and VW was hacking around it. The VW engines produce less nox per mile than a gasoline engine, but more per gallon, and the EPA is derp-tastically stuck on gallon which makes no sense to any rational being. Rather than price diesels out of the market, VW did the right thing for the environment and hacked around the EPA. Yeah, they got nabbed, but they didn't do anything wrong ethically, unless you favor regulatory compliance over the environment. As usual, the EPA causes more harm than good.

Comment Re:Ford Truck (Score 1) 224

Dad had a similar bit of fun recently...

He has an '89 Dodge Dakota factory convertible. It had an engine fire that they managed to put-out before it spread past the firewall and fender liners. I suggested he do a V8 swap, as the '89 Shelby Dakota had the 318 TBI shoehorned in, so it would fit.

Well, he ended up going with a '95 extended cab as a parts truck, found one lightly hit that was mechanically decent. Ended up using '92+ front clip instead of figuring out how to put the flat-front on and relocate the stuff that would interfere. Despite the extreme similarity of the two trucks (90+% sheet metal same) the electrical system from front to back was completely different. He ended up swapping every single harness from the '95 in, shortening where it was different because of the extended cab.

Thing runs much stronger now, probably twice the performance, and that's only going from a TBI 3.9L V6 to an EFI 5.2L V8. If I ever own it I'm swapping-in an EFI 408ci (6.7L) stroker built from a 360/5.9 with 4.00" stroke instead of the stock 3.58"