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Comment: Insanity (Score 1) 1651

by Sta7ic (#41526885) Attached to: To Encourage Biking, Lose the Helmets

Ultimately it should be a personal choice, but there's an element of wisdom in wearing a helmet.

I've been in two bike accidents (and am not yet 30), both times seemingly random faceplants at low speed. The first one was with a helmet, and I looked pretty banged up for it. The second was without a helmet, and required stitches.

Helmets are that ounce of prevention, and while bicycle accidents are statistically less fatal than car accidents, safety measures are still a very good idea.

Comment: Load contracts (Score 2) 295

by Sta7ic (#41457147) Attached to: Microsoft Pollutes To Avoid Fines

The fact that it's M$, as mentioned above, is a fluke. Large power consumers will enter into contracts that say 'we will use Xm to XM power annually with S loadshape, will not consume more than L peak power at once, and will throttle our power use up or down if asked to N times a year fo D days.'

Deals like this help optimize generation and keeps the grid balanced. Unlike in SimCity, you can't just plop down a stack of generators and wait for load to catch up with it, the generators have to output at a fixed 50/60hz (+/- a little). Like a truck engine, the fuel required to keep a particular speed is dependent on the load at any one time. Forecasting this load then becomes an issue that a *lot* of utilities put time, money, and effort into, so that they can ramp up or down as needed, keep to their own contracts of power quality and quantity, and efficiently use the generators they have. It's not like they're happy about selling less power when the loan payments on the multimillion US$ generator comes up each month.

The power customer with simply taking the more contractually prudent course of action ~ spending $70k, rather than spending $210k. The fine is as much to cover the fuel burned on generators that were left spinning for the customer as to thwack them upside the head about contracts.

(disclaimer, I write software for the energy industry)

Comment: Re:Not sure about the thesis of the article, but.. (Score 1) 718

by Sta7ic (#41380801) Attached to: Why Aircraft Carriers Still Rule the Oceans

There hasn't been any mention of the tactical response times offered by a carrier. Sure, a country can launch ICBMs and strategic long-range bombers for long-range offense, but having a floating city twenty minutes out from the operational theater changes the game a fair bit.

In the rarely employed non-combat roles, there's again the benefit of having however many tens of thousands of tons of ship and resources at your disposal on-site.

Comment: Hat-controller (Score 4, Funny) 219

by Sta7ic (#41226343) Attached to: Valve Job Posting Confirms Hardware Plans


A mouse that has a dedicated scroll wheel for hats.
Extra buttons for hat-based emotes: tip, straighten, salute, decapitating throw.
Two- and three- factor authentication.
Age recognition scanners to auto-ban 13-year-olds.
Hat-shaped controllers with force feedback.
Tickle-Me Companion Cube with lifelike 'clunking' sounds.

Comment: Re:Be as nasty as you want to the Baby Boomers... (Score 1) 480

by Sta7ic (#41124939) Attached to: Astronaut Neil Armstrong Has Died

If we can run a space station, we can run a moon base. One of them won't be in a constant state of free-fall, even if we'd need to figure out a way to balance the nonstop solar radiation with the need to not fry the occupants.
It's all about the cost and the energy ... and the will to make it happen.

Comment: Re:If this article... (Score 1) 398

by Sta7ic (#41061305) Attached to: Apple Is Now the Most Valuable Company In History

Market value and strategic value are independent of each other. "Meaningful value" lacks quantifiable metrics.

What's the value of a company that designs and orders build contracts for entertainment devices? If the manufacturing is overseas?
What's the value of a company that refines aluminium and steel alloys? If they do this domestically?

Comment: Good Idea (Score 1) 67

by Sta7ic (#39824359) Attached to: DARPA Aims To Reuse Space Junk
This is a really good idea, considering the fuel cost to get something up into orbit, plus the nonzero risk of the launch itself. Heck, if we can start with refurbishing 'orbital junk', we're getting into orbital manufacturing. Mix in an odd asteroid for raw materials, and we might actually get off this rock!

Comment: Re:Erosion of the Commons (Score 2, Informative) 544

by Sta7ic (#37675330) Attached to: Illegal To Take a Photo In a Shopping Center?
In general, the *USA* laws say that you can legally photograph anything visible from public property that does not require "specialized equipment", and anything on public property. You cannot legally take photographs of places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including in restrooms, within private dwellings, and underneath clothing. Exceptions exist, but the law is far less restrictive than social norms are about photography.

The UK laws imply that you have the right to apply lubricant, if you brought it, before they violate your rights.

IANAL, but I have fun with a DSLR, and educate myself on what I legally can or can't do with it.

In the parking lot, the most the guard has the rights to do is to ask you to leave, and to escort you off the property. The police can escort you off the property, should a representative ask you to leave. Confiscation of cameras in the US is theft. Charges of wiretapping are bullshit, and routinely overturned when some police officer feels threatened by a camera.

Comment: Re:We have a system at work like this (Score 1) 160

by Sta7ic (#37110390) Attached to: 1 in 8 Take Fake Phone Calls to Avoid Talking to Others
Another good way to dissuade coworkers from hanging around is to pull out a camera. It's the shotgun of office politics ~ there's no mistaking the sounds of the lens covers coming off, or the click of the shutter. Point'n'shoots, with that whirrr-whir as it extends the lens, also gets people's attention. Just some exposed glass has been enough to clear some of my coworkers out of the 4-plex, from time to time. Every now and then I even turn the camera on and get some random pictures. 55-200 lens get REALLY CLOSE UP from 10'.

Comment: Re:Typical gov't program (Score 1) 262

by Sta7ic (#37061434) Attached to: Obama Administration Closing Recently Opened Datacenters
SSC never went active, whereas these data centers went live, were monitored, and deemed to be excess infrastructure that didn't help the deficit. Something similar happened around here, with the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF). Could've been pumping out medical isotopes, but noooo, we needed to shut that thing down.

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.