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Comment: Re: yeah (Score 4, Insightful) 165

by lgw (#47725269) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

This has nothing to do with "free marketism", unless you're in the market for strawmen. This is the opposite.

Do you think most towns can just stand up a muni broadband network on their own? No - they're going to hire some company to build and run their MAN, just the way that many utilities work.

This is existing corporate giants, which have government granted monopolies in many areas (the polar opposite of free marketism), using their political muscle to block competition from new "utility" companies who would be stealing their business.

Comment: Re:Correction: (Score 3, Insightful) 165

by lgw (#47725183) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

Both parties have, as their first priority, protecting the financial interests of their largest (usually corporate) donors. Both parties lie about this to their voters, claiming to be the party of the common man. The only difference is that some donors don't give to both parties, and so different donors get favored depending on who's in power.

I cant speak for 45 years, but it's been this way for at least 25. Do you disagree?

Comment: Re:C++ is not the language you start with (Score 1) 434

by lgw (#47723999) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

First learn assembly, so you know how a computer works
Then learn Scheme and the lambda calculus, so you know what a computer does

Really, though, the most important thing to move past "coding for fun" is to completely grok the call stack, pointers, recursion, and lambda. You should have no fear, uncertainty, or doubt about these foundations, or you'll write ugly hacks where none are needed, or be unable to properly debug.

Comment: Re:Flaws? (Score 1) 192

by lgw (#47722567) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

Even WotC has admitted that their skill initial 4E challenge system was a flop - but if they pushed out a revised version later I haven't seen it and maybe it's fine?

Convincing the goblin chief and his horde to go home carries the same XP as wiping them out, and can be done more quickly.

Heh, I haven't been in a game for 20 years now where you got XP for killing things, or for specific encounters. I forgot that people still play that way (I guess it's natural if you're used to MMOs), rather than XP based only on quest completion.

or poison a rampaging dinosaur

I ran a game once where the party poisoned a powerful enemy with a raging dinosaur (that wasn't a fly in his soup, and a subsequent dispel magic was quite colorful - ahh, early D&D).

hate that, and even though I like 4E I'm glad their move away from an open ecosystem bit them hard.

Do you think Hasbro learned anything? Or did they take the opposite lesson from Pathfinder? I guess we'll see where 5E goes. Open game management tools (character builders, encounter runners, etc) would make the game worth checking out, IMO.

Comment: Re:Fire (Score 2, Interesting) 134

by Rei (#47718877) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

Nuh uh! There are also compressed air cars - they only explosively decompress upon tank failure! ;)

At least with batteries, flammability or explosiveness aren't a fundamental requirement of how you're trying to propel the vehicle, just an unfortunate side effect of some variants of the technology (even not all types of li-ions are flammable). There's lots of people who assume that flammability is a consequence of electrical energy density, but that's just not the case. The actual charge/discharge lithium batteries via intercalating into the anode or cathode is more an atomic-scale equivalent of compressing air into a tank, you're having little affect on the substrate flammabilities and you're not even changing their chemical bonding, you're just cramming lithium ions into the space between their atoms. The flammabilty of some types comes from side effects, such as flammable electrolytes or membrane failures leading to lithium metal plating out; these aren't a fundamental aspect of the energy storage process.

Now, li-air, that involves an actual lithium metal electrode, and that is fundamentally flammable. Of course, so is gasoline. I have no doubt that they can reduce fire risks on li-air cells and keep them properly contained to prevent failure propagations. My bigger issues with li-air are its terrible efficiency, lifespan, and cost. I'm certain the latter would come down, and I expect that they can improve the lifespan, but I'm a bit uneasy about how much they can improve its efficiency. Right now, they're as inefficient as a fuel cell. : Who wants to waste three times as much power per mile as is necessary?

Comment: Re:non sequitur? (Score 1) 134

by Rei (#47718833) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

It is a non-sequiteur. The energy density of a li-ion battery doesn't even approach the theoretical maximum storage for the element lithium shifting between ionization states. That's hardly the only way this article is terrible, mind you. My head hurt every time they said the word "efficiency", it's like they were using it to mean everything possible except for actual efficiency. And if I read it right - who knows, the article is such a total mess - the researcher isn't talking about reducing battery cost, but increasing longevity. But maybe that was mangled too.

Comment: Re:Nicatoids and bees (Score 1) 143

by bill_mcgonigle (#47718435) Attached to: China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

That is the reason.

Not every GMO contains nicatoids (engineers would know that). There are still some kids in China who could use yellow rice, and they definitely could export it to their neighbors.

Monsanto deserves a firey death for setting back non-psychopathic GMO's by 30 years or more.

Comment: Re:Off topic (Score 1) 143

by bill_mcgonigle (#47718421) Attached to: China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

I don't want to be another complainer, but this site is begging me to stop visiting. I am not very happy.

There's a town nearby that is behaving similar to Slashdot '14. They have a tax shortfall, so they raise taxes, and people move out. This creates a tax shortfall so, GOTO 1.

The property values have literally fallen in half in the past decade, while other area towns' properties have maintained or slightly increased, and there are many abandoned properties now (with associated problems).

Slashdot will seemingly keep increasing the "revenue enhancers" until everybody has moved out. At that point, I guess they declare victory and go home.

Comment: Light but reactive element = high energy density (Score 1) 134

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47718377) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

"lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."

  I'm wondering if this is a non sequitur for electric batteries.

Not a non sequitur at all.

An important factor for batteries is energy density: How much energy is stored per unit mass. This is particularly important for electric cars: The higher the energy density, the less mass you havce to haul around for a given amount of "fuel", which means the less "fuel" is spent hauling your "fuel" around, so it's a more-than-linear improvement.

Lithium is both extremely light and a very reactive nonmetal. So you're talking about a lot of energy per unit mass for the lithium-based electrode's contribution to the reaction.

Comment: Re:This is ridiculous. (Score 4, Informative) 143

by bill_mcgonigle (#47715275) Attached to: Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners

If you want to get all strict-constructionist on this matter though, planes, cars, buses, and rail didn't even exist when the Constitution was written, so one could argue that there's no Constitutional protection when travelling by anything beyond horseback, carriage, or walking.

No you cannot argue that. The Constitution says nothing about technology and everything about how humans behave.

Then there's the other side, where airlines were allowed to be in charge of their own security, letting "the market" set the balance, but then nineteen men decided to kill about 3500 men, women, and children one day, and our society realized that it wasn't gonna work to let the airlines be in charge of security.

That strategy ceased to be effective at 9:03AM on 9/11/2001 over a field in Shanksville, PA. And you know who figured that out? Ordinary Americans, doing the security calculus themselves, where the government had completely failed to protect them, despite having many opportunities to do so.

To be double-sure the airlines all secured their cockpit doors. That risk no longer exists, which is why the TSA has never caught a terrorist. They do violate the human rights of Americans all day, every day. In an effort to stop the terrorists, they have become the terrorists, all because they consciously choose to violate the highest law of the land.

Comment: Re:This is ridiculous. (Score 1) 143

by bill_mcgonigle (#47715195) Attached to: Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners

I'm not sure voluntarily going on a plane is the government violating your right to privacy.

Be sure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

Your houses have privacy, and so do your papers, and so do your effects, and so does your person. You do not need to keep all your things, including your body, in your house to keep your privacy. Traveling is *expected* behavior of people - it does not remove your civil rights.

Well, in theory. The Bill of Rights only says what the Government may do and not do - if it behaves otherwise it's behaving illegally, but so what? Complain and get violated some more. Just don't fool yourself into thinking the Constitution is more than a relic of a long-lost Republic. If you don't care about rule-of-law, then just go about your business and submit to virtual strip searches. Just don't act surprised when a right you do care about is violated.

Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing as division.