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Comment: Re:Talk about creating a demand (Score 1) 185

by Venner (#49568931) Attached to: Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage

This article in Discover magazine about Jack Bitterly's* desire to use new flywheel technologies to power automobiles, is what got me excited about choosing engineering as a college major. It's quite sad that nothing ever came of it, other than a few highly specialized applications, such as the space station. (I read one claim that Kevin Costner's investment in the company was a total loss, but that it had a lot to do with NASA taking over the project and stiffing some of the creditors. Cum grano salis.)

I recently saw that a company called Velkess got a kickstarter project funded for 3-15kWh 48v flywheel storage systems, with expected product delivery dates in the 2016/17 range announced. We'll see if they deliver on promises and if they're in any way price competitive.

*Jack was 77 when that article was published in 1996. Every so often I've looked him up on the internet and as late as 2009, he was still alive and kicking and still working. I've also run across patent applications he has filed as late as 2013. Wow. I hope like heck I'm still that active and doing things I am passionate about in my 90s.

Comment: Re:Somehow I'm reminded of Kirk (Score 1) 114

Cheat: "To violate rules in order to gain advantage from a situation."

He is specifically trying to find a way around the rules that does not violate the letter of the law. It is ipso facto not cheating.

It's a novel and creative approach, and shows both his personal initiative and ability to think outside the box. I would offer him a post myself.

Comment: Re:Get over it ! (Score 3, Insightful) 370

by Mattcelt (#49421289) Attached to: How the Pentagon Wasted $10 Billion On Military Projects

Well said, the pair of you. What's more, $10 billion, while a lot of money to the rest of us, is a molecule of sweat on a lip of the bucket (i.e., not even a drop in it) compared to the US national budget.

There are what, 200 million taxpayers in the United States? That means that the Pentagon spent about $50 per taxpayer. I'd say that much can afford to be "wasted" without really hurting anyone.

Besides, $10 billion is literally less than what Americans spent on Starbucks coffee last year alone. (2014 US revenue for Starbucks was $12.4bn.) You can't really complain about these projects when it's less than your coffee, can you?

I'm certainly in favour of responsible spending at the government level. But the OP (and TFA, for that matter) clearly doesn't understand the scale here, using these numbers for political grandstanding. This is less than 2% of the DoD's yearly budget... being spent over 15 years.

There really isn't much of a story here.

Comment: Re: what will be more interesting (Score 2) 662

by Mattcelt (#49345447) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

The Beeb are not a government organisation. They are independent of HMG (at least in name).

They are not directly tax-funded. Subjects in the UK pay a TV licence (currently about £145, IIRC) that subsidises the organisation in the UK.

The BBC in the UK are, I believe, non-profit - meaning only that they spend all of their £5 billion+ endowment each year. The details are less clear on BBC Worldwide, at least as far as I can find; I have a sneaking suspicion that that organisation is actually a for-profit centre and somewhat independent from the BBC in the UK. Don't quote me on that, however - it's conjecture and speculation on my part.

Comment: Re:Do It, it worked in AZ (Score 1) 886

by Venner (#49340711) Attached to: Gen Con Threatens To Leave Indianapolis Over Religious Freedom Bill

I fall rather squarely into the prescriptivist class of grammarians (as opposed to the extreme corpus linguists who seem to feel that language is entirely fluid and dynamic and should be bound by no rules whatsoever), but find it perfectly acceptable to use the third-person plural forms for persons of indeterminate gender or identity. While it has often been taught that using the 3rd person plurals in that way is incorrect, there are a number of pragmatic and historical reasons why it isn't so. A couple:

1.) It is readily understood by native speakers; we've been doing it that way for a very long time! Shakespeare, Chaucer, Jane Austen, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, George Bernard Shaw, George Eliot, Elizabeth Bowen, C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, all have used 'them' as an indeterminate singular pronoun.

2.) It fulfills a need. Using 'he' causes an assumption, as does using 'she.' Some authors choose to alternate between the two, but that is just confusing. Saying 'he or she' and 'his or her' every time is far too wordy and cumbersome. Considering that English only has a neuter third-person plural, 'they' is a perfectly good stand-in. (Heck, the Germans use 'sie,' 'sie,' and 'Sie' (her, they, You) without any issues. Aside from some fun and intentional linguistic wordplay, ambiguity is resolved through context.)

Comment: Re:Are the CAs that do this revoked? (Score 2) 139

by Mattcelt (#49330389) Attached to: Chinese CA Issues Certificates To Impersonate Google

If you can't trust that the entity with which you're exchanging information has the security of the information as their highest priority, no amount of securing of channels is going to help.

How do you know the person handing you the fingerprint hasn't switched it for a manky one?

How do you know the server that generated the key hasn't been compromised?

For that matter, how do you know that the remote entity hasn't been strong-armed into simply giving over all of your information? A government threatening to shut down a business or jail its workers shifts the priority to their own self-preservation, which means that in most cases, you're fucked.

The Certificate Authority model is the best one we've been able to come up with to date. It's been around for 20+ years, and while it does have its flaws, it is the least flawed system I've seen proposed.

Comment: Re:Look and Feel case of the music industry (Score 1) 386

OTOH, it may actually make it easier for us. Canon in D is very clearly in the public domain, and if every song using four chords is a derivative work, then all the songs you mentioned are themselves ineligible for copyright, at least in part. So while I couldn't reproduce the lyrics of "It Was Good" by Better than Ezra, I could reproduce the chord changes exactly and be entirely worry-free* that I was infringing on his copyright.

*worry-free that I was actually infringing. I would still have to worry about a potentially very-expensive court case.

Comment: Re:WTF (Score 1) 110

by Mattcelt (#49160975) Attached to: Ultra-Low Power Radio Transceiver Enables Truly Wireless Earbuds

I have a pair of the Plantronics Backbeat Go 2. For a $70 bluetooth set, they are more than adequate. I have used them daily for nearly a year with no major problems.

Battery life is approximately 4-5 hours for phone conversations; slightly less with louder and/or bass-heavy music. Recharge time is slower than I'd like (about 0.5x discharge time), but they're not bulky, are fully flexible (no hard parts between the buds), and very comfortable in my ears. I wear them around my neck constantly so there's no risk of damaging them in pockets. I also run 5-10k with them at a stretch with no discomfort or real risk of falling out.

My only complaint is there's no way to disable the 'play' button functionality on android devices over bluetooth (only with wired headsets, argh), but overall they're as close to the holy grail of bluetooth talking/running phone/music buds as I've ever found.

Comment: Re:"Metric" tons? (Score 1) 121

by WasteOfAmmo (#49048309) Attached to: Study: 8 Million Metric Tons of Plastic Dumped Into Oceans Annually

I'd like to see your reference for this statement "A ton is and has always been metric".

As I understand it a "ton" is typically non-metric (either Imperial or US) whereas "tonne" is metric and "metric ton" is the term typically used in the US that refers to tonne. This has been my understanding for years but a quick check on Wikipedia ( and seems to agree, although I notice there is some confusion when talking about an Imperial ton (or long ton) and a tonne as they are very similar mass and therefore "ton" has been used interchangeably for both.

I am curious which country you are from and if you are familiar with the non-metric terms for mass.

Comment: Re:Useless (Score 1) 100

by WasteOfAmmo (#49042591) Attached to: Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone

So just to be clear... "Well it's better than nothing (so better than Canada)" are you saying that Canadians cannot unlock their phones? If so then either you or I need to update our information because as I understand it we can now request our phone be unlocked after 90 days (in contract) or immediately if you purchase the phone outright. Of course there can be a charge for getting the phone unlocked, unfortunately.

Comment: Re:TFA Says Patch is Fixed (Score 2) 136

Yes, except... if your machine still has updates outstanding then from what we have seen it is best if you "check for updates" again before installing them. It looks like if the patch was already downloaded then it will install unless you refresh by checking for updates again before installing.

Comment: Re:oh you motherf~}NO_CARRIER (Score 4, Informative) 136

After some investigation it looks like the update may not have been configured to do a silent install properly and actually hangs as it is waiting for user input on an invisible dialogue box.

If you have a machine that does hang we have found the following:
1. wait until there is virtually no disk activity (counting on you have a light that shows you) and then power the machine down, or
2. use either PowerShell remoting or psexec to kill the two processes involved in the update: "Setup" and "vstor_redist".
With PowerShell: Invoke-Command -ComputerName hostname -ScriptBlock {Stop-Process -Name Setup,vstor_redist -Force}
With PSExec something like this will work:
Psexec \\hostname cmd
Taskkill /im Setup /f
Taskkill /im vstor_redist /f

If the machine is doing a number of updates killing the two processes above will allow the machine to continue with the rest of the updates.

Of course the standard disclaimers apply: No guarantees the above will help and not harm you computer, your mileage may vary, batteries not included, objects in code are buggier than they appear, yadda, yadda.

Comment: Patent Grammar Too (Score 5, Informative) 425

by Venner (#48971537) Attached to: One Man's Quest To Rid Wikipedia of Exactly One Grammatical Mistake

Yep. I work in patents, where a small incorrect use of grammar or terms of art can mean losing millions of dollars. The classic case in point:

Patent A:
"A vehicle comprising 3 wheels and a motor."

Patent B:
"A vehicle consisting of 3 wheels and a motor."

Assuming it is 1700 or something and no prior-art exists,

Patent A can go on to claim 4-wheeled motorized vehicles (since a 4-wheeled vehicle does after all have 3 wheels), 3-wheeled vehicles with shark fins, whatever. "Comprising" is open-end and interpreted as "it has at least this," or as you say, "including."

Patent B is strictly limited to 3 wheels and a motor, no more and no less. If a competitor uses 4 wheels, or adds shark fins, or two motors, then it isn't covered by the patent. "Consisting of" is a closed phrase interpreted as "having exactly."

The incorrect grammar "comprised of" would be an ambiguity, and as such, interpreted in the strictest way -- limiting as in Patent B.

It may seem worrisome that scientists and engineers of all people -- some of the absolute worst butchers of language and grammar out there! -- are the ones who become patent agents or patent attorneys, but all-in-all, the ones who do so tend to be some of the smartest folks I've met. You need to be well-rounded to do the job.

The moving cursor writes, and having written, blinks on.