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Comment: Re:Artsy fartsy (Score 1) 175

by Smidge204 (#49679665) Attached to: The Decline of Pixel Art

Pixel art has a lot going for it, and it's not really "artsy fartsy."

"Artsy fartsy" is when too much emphasis is placed on the styling rather than substance. See "Oni and the Blind Forest" as a recent example: HD graphics, very pretty, story is pretentious as fuck. The pretty graphics are really the only thing that game has going for it.

That doesn't mean HD graphics are artsy either, I'm just saying that art style is not the only measure of pretentiousness.

On the other hand, pixel art games have a more minimalist feel to them and so often (not always) rely more on content and gameplay. You're not constantly distracted by fancy lighting, particle effects and polygon count, and you become absorbed by what's actually happening. Action takes priority over presentation. I'm playing a game for the action - if I want fancy visuals I'll watch a movie instead. I don't think it's a coincidence that many AAA titles seem to be more cutscene than gameplay, with pretty minimal player involvement, because they're basically movies that require the audience to press some buttons every now and again to make sure they're still awake - don't you dare get up for a snack during my long unskippable cutscene! (How pretentious is that?)

I also like pixel art because it leaves something to the imagination. Well done sprites may have low "resolution" but still have exquisite detail.

Lastly, I feel pixel art has a more "hand made" feel to it. Someone has to sit down and fiddle with each individual pixel to craft those sprites. There's no photoshop tool that will do an adequate job. You can't use blur or smudge or the heal tool to cover your mistakes and you often have a very small area in which to make something easily recognizable because you can't scale the sprites arbitrarily. It takes skill and time, and good pixel art is a sign that someone put a lot of effort into the project and actually gave a shit.

Comment: Well duh (Score 4, Insightful) 44

by Smidge204 (#49674293) Attached to: MuckRock FOIA Request Releases Christopher Hitchens' FBI Files

"Despite the monitoring, Hitchens files have nothing on the hundreds of pages the FBI had on Richard Feynman."

No shit. I'd expect a world class physicist who was involved in the top-secret development of the nuclear bomb would attract a bit more scrutiny than a vocal anti-religious advocate and author. One of these things is not like the other things...

Comment: Re:But... (Score 2) 186

by Smidge204 (#49627485) Attached to: The World's Most Wasteful Megacity

As a resident of Suffolk County, about half the land area is pine barrens and farms. It sounds like they're deliberately stretching the definition of "city" to include a lot of territory that most honest people would not consider metropolitan at all. Many of the other counties they're including are in a similar state of relatively sparse population.

So if they're going to compare New York to Tokyo, applying the same logic, they should include the entirety of Japan as part of the "Tokyo Megacity."

Comment: Re:Not Actually $3500 (Score 1) 317

by Smidge204 (#49615795) Attached to: Tesla's Household Battery: Costs, Prices, and Tradeoffs

Burning natural gas, aka heat, is not a "higher grade" energy than electricity, it's a lower grade energy. Electricity can be converted losslessly into heat. Turning heat into electricity loses a large chunk of it.

Natural gas can be converted into heat too, with staggering efficiency. Nearly perfect efficiency, actually! It's in transferring that heat into the thing/substance you want heated that the losses are incurred; but a good condensing boiler can easily put 98% of the energy stored in natural gas into the water that it's heating.

So really, if the metric (that we seem to agree on) that determines "quality" of energy is how efficiently it can be converted to something else, Natural Gas is pretty damn good.

Comment: Re:Not Actually $3500 (Score 3, Informative) 317

by Smidge204 (#49610023) Attached to: Tesla's Household Battery: Costs, Prices, and Tradeoffs

It's not an idiotic waste of energy if:

1) The energy would otherwise come from other, equally high grade (or even higher grade) energy sources, e.g. natural gas

2) The energy would otherwise come from non-renewable sources, e.g. natural gas

3) The energy would otherwise not be used at all due to overproduction

The monetary value of electricity flowing back into the grid on net metering is extremely low - much lower than the cost to purchase that electricity from the grid. If you have a choice between selling the power to the grid or using it to "generate low grade heat" with an electric stove, then the stove wins just on financial grounds.

If your argument is that you could use direct solar thermal methods to generate that heat - skipping the conversion to electricity - then sure it would be more efficient that way. When the source of energy is free, however, and you have already invested in the infrastructure for other reasons, it makes perfect sense to utilize solar electricity for cooking and cleaning. The alternative is to invest even more on additional infrastructure to utilize the same free energy source in a moderately more efficient way.

Use it or lose it, as they say.

Comment: Re:Far too expensive for a used car (Score 3, Informative) 65

by Smidge204 (#49607349) Attached to: Tesla Adds Used Models To Its Inventory, For Online Purchase

From owner's estimations, ~90% of the battery's stated capacity is actually available for use. The 10% is not so much "fail-over" capacity as it is a buffer to keep the battery away from the extremes of charge/discharge states, where most of the degradation occurs.

Your cell phone battery has no problems charging to 100%, since you want to get as much energy (and therefore use time) in there as possible for the weight. However, charging to 100% harms the chemistry, and after a few years the battery no longer lasts as long. That's fine for a cell phone - part of it is planned obsolescence, part of it is the reality that a lot of people won't keep their phone more than a few years.

In an EV you have the luxury of maintaining a charge buffer, since the added weight and cost is fairly minimal and people have a much higher expectation of long-term performance.

So usage pattern + design (thermal management) + energy management which does prevent the user from destroying it = significantly different performance degradation profile.

Comment: Re:This is about money (Score 1) 314

by Smidge204 (#49573499) Attached to: Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water

"There is no viable evidence" = "I'm too lazy to look"

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... (Free)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... (Non-free but synopsis provided)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... (Non-free but synopsis provided)

And that's just a minute or two of looking. Thousands of studies have been done on fluoride for safety and effectiveness on a wide range of topics, not just public water fluorination. It works, we know how and why it works, it's pretty dang cheap, and it's been hailed as one of the top ten greatest public health achievements.

Comment: Re:I love KSP, but sometimes... (Score 1) 99

by Smidge204 (#49570377) Attached to: Kerbal Space Program 1.0 Released After 4 Years of Development

You might be over-estimating the effect heat actually has, the actual sources of heat or the rate at which it builds up.

I know i haven't had sufficient opportunity to test things out for myself yet, but it really does not seem like heat is really a factor outside of atmospheric effects.

Comment: Re:This is about money (Score 2) 314

by Smidge204 (#49568843) Attached to: Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water

Too much fluoride causes tooth discoloration (fluorosis). It's harmless but unsightly.

But that aside, I wonder what's less expensive: Fluoridation programs, or dental treatment for the extra problems that would arise from stopping fluoridation. That would be an interesting study to thumb through...

Comment: Re:I love KSP, but sometimes... (Score 4, Informative) 99

by Smidge204 (#49568057) Attached to: Kerbal Space Program 1.0 Released After 4 Years of Development

But, in typical Squad fashion, they gave us the ability to overheat - but failed to give us the ability to cool off.

Parts act as blackbody radiators and will cool off just like any object would.

Solar panels also now act as passive radiators (source) so they now have dual functionality.

They also gave us a more advanced (and accurate) aerodynamics and engine performance model - but at the cost of the game's much vaunted simplicity and user friendliness.

I dare say the new model makes it *easier* to get a rocket or space plane flying. Too easy, actually... my rockets and planes from 0.90 are all way too fast and destroy themselves much faster than they used to. I haven't had time to really dig into the new mechanics but so far it's promising that my 2000+ ton rockets might actually fair better than before!

Comment: Re:Curse you, Entropy! (Score 1) 486


...means nothing with respect to carbon emissions.

In contrast, using the "renewable energy source" directly yields much higher net benefit.

Only for certain values of "benefit."

Liquid fuels are extremely energy-dense, portable and stable. Yes, you might trade total net energy for that benefit, but that's not a deal breaker if the energy is extremely cheap (renewable). You can have battery powered cars (of which I'm a major proponent), even battery powered/hybrid trucks. You're not going to have a battery operated cargo plane any time soon, nor an all-electric cargo ship, and I can't imagine a battery powered rocket.

Then there's transport. You can put liquid fuels on a truck or train car, or on a boat, and transport it anywhere. You can even use a pipe: A 6" pipe carrying diesel fuel can transport as much power as the entire output of a large nuclear power plant (~1.8GW).

The density and portability of liquid fuels is a HUGE benefit and worth paying the energy price for in many circumstances.

Comment: Re:Curse you, Entropy! (Score 1) 486

All well and good, but doesn't exactly solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

Sure it does; you'd be extracting this carbon out of the air, or from a process stream that would otherwise dump to the atmosphere. Best case you have a net zero carbon emission, worst case you're using the same carbon twice (industrial waste stream to vehicle fuel to emissions) which is still a significant reduction.

Plus it cuts down on other pollutants, eliminates the environmental damage from oil extraction itself, eliminates emissions from the refining process and possibly reduces transport energy costs.

They just need to scale it up... easier said than done, of course.

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