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Comment Good! (Score 1) 365

A step in the right direction. The solution is always going to be a mix of technologies. One size does not fit all

A couple of weeks ago I flew over Altamont Pass just east of San Francisco and the wind farms weren't doing much...but it was sunny, so solar facilities would be cranking out the watts. As it should be. Earlier in the summer I was in northern Alberta (Edmonton -> Peace River -> High Level) and the perpetual wind had me watching for wind turbines. Saw a few.

Here in B.C. we have lots of hydroelectric capacity (and some fossil fuel generation, alas...) and are playing with wind and tidal power. Our climate isn't particularly sunny (except for the Okanagan), so solar is a non-starter.


Comment Do it yourself! (Score 1) 106

A few years ago I measured my longitude myself, just for fun. I measured the time of local noon, using a portable shortwave radio tuned to WWV. Correct local solar time to mean time with the equation of time, read off my longitude. I would have won the prize. Shows what an accurate clock can do.

I've read Captain Cook's logs and in his time they observed things like the moons of Jupiter to get a time reference. Reasonably accurate, but time-consuming.


Comment Form and function (Score 1) 417

The only "tech" things I ever seem to use in a car are cruise control and the entertainment system. On a recent trip I had a rental car with all the in-car controls on a touch screen. I appreciated the convenience of being able to adjust the cruise control and climate control, play tunes, tune the radio and so on, all from a common interface. This is a car, dammit, not a mobile computer laboratory. Techie toys must do more than be cool. They must solve problems.

I'm reminded of airplane glass cockpits. Pilots rarely need exact numbers, most of the time they just need a glance at an analogue display. "Full power...confirmed! Gauges green...airspeed alive...rotate..."


Comment Not in a long time... (Score 2) 284

I think the last time I used a Windows 95 system was in the 2000/2001 timeframe. It's been a while.

I used Windows 95 a lot. It worked, but when USB started to become important I upgraded to Windows 98. Some people claim there is a USB implementation for Windows 95 but after careful study I have come to the conclusion that they are mistaken.

I worked for the Evil Empire in the early '90s and had access to early versions of Windows 95 (still codenamed Chicago). One memorable early build crashed and corrupted my hard drive after I attempted to adjust the mouse settings.


Comment How things are paid for (Score 1) 528

We decided, a long time ago, that the web would be supported by advertising. Other business models are possible, and were explored, but subsequently abandoned. So be it.

OK, so show me good ads. Cut the "weird trick" ads. Lose the pop-ups, lose the auto-play videos, lose the bad HTML that makes web pages fidget and bounce around while the browser figures out what size your image really is. Lose the web pages that never finish loading. And please lose the Flash ads that freeze the entire browser.

When I loaded this page I got a BMW ad, an ad for a camera store and an ad for shoes. I can deal with that.


Comment Re:Tipping? (Score 1) 904

Or drive by's.

A few years ago the U.S. military were evaluating a new hybrid vehicle to replace the Hummer. Their main interest was logistics, since Hummers aren't the most economical vehicles to operate. They couldn't help but notice that in electric mode their new vehicle was quiet.

Around here the Toyotas are positively noisy. The Teslas, on the other hand, only make a faint whirr from their tires.


Comment Debian on an Ultra 5 (Score 1) 152

The standard desktop at the company I work for used to be a Sun Ultra 5, and when the company imploded I picked an Ultra 5 with a fast processor (400 MHz), put some more memory in it, took it home and put Debian on it. It worked fine. Entirely decent interactive performance, like a fast Pentium 2. Not a box for video editing or other high-CPU/bandwidth activities, but fine otherwise.

I was amused to note that it wasn't a Windows box, so it was immune to Windows attacks. It wasn't an x86 box, so it was immune to x86 attacks. I guess I amuse easily. :-)

We had a pile of 32 bit SparcStations. We (literally) couldn't give them away.


Comment Re:Pre-cambrian computing (Score 1) 191

And I am guessing that spaceyhackerlady does, in fact, know she is surrounded by linux machines.

My employers pay me to do cool shit, and we use Linux to do it. Company standard is CentOS, but my personal research/playpen box is Slackware.

FWIW, I've run Linux on x86, 68k, ARM and UltraSPARC. My home computer, the one I actually spend my own money on, is a Mac. It shares desk space with an x86 Linux box and a Raspberry Pi.


Comment Pre-cambrian computing (Score 4, Informative) 191

Prior to the IBM PC there was enormous diversity in computing. I have some early issues of Byte and the hardware in the ads is all over the place. Most of the names are long forgotten now.

The BBC did Micro Men, a cute (and mostly historically accurate) program about the rise and fall of Acorn, which happened in the same time period. They too got broadsided by IBM, but managed to develop the ARM processor before they imploded.


Comment Re:What about Data in Star Trek TNG (Score 1) 236

Yup. There are some examples of good AI in tv shows. Data and the hubots in Real Humans stand out in my mind.

I remember the scene in The Offspring where Data's daughter Lal was complaining about not being able to feel emotions. While doing an awfully good imitation of anger and frustration...


Comment Re:And when she is questioned by CBP... (Score 1) 334

1. I am an American citizen, and I have the right to enter my country.

You do. Just as I, a Canadian citizen, have the right to enter Canada. I do not have the legal right to enter the United States, but can do so with official permission. Which usually amounts to the Customs agent at the border or airport telling me to have a nice day.

If the government want to be difficult, your citizenship must be verified. Then Customs can give you the once over: yes, you can enter the country, but they want to know what you're bringing with you.


Comment I ride the bus (Vancouver, Canada) (Score 1) 654

I ride the bus to work. It's a non-issue. It's the right thing to do. No parking required, let somebody else deal with the traffic. I have a car that I drive on weekends. One day a week I drive to work to remind myself why I take the bus the other four days. The bus takes a little longer than driving, but not enough that I worry about it much. I save up mid-week errands for the day I drive my car.

If I'm going to downtown Vancouver I take the bus. Parking is scarce and expensive. The traffic is impossible. UGH!


A freelance is one who gets paid by the word -- per piece or perhaps. -- Robert Benchley