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Comment I don't buy it. (Score 1) 645

Nuclear power is NOT the be-all and end-all. That being said, Beijing is so polluted that it's sickening the country's LEADERS! As such, they have built some 25 Nuclear plants with another 26 or so coming on-stream. The French have an excellent nuclear program. Ontario does too (except for ridiculous cost overruns).

Sloth: Sticking our heads in the sand rather than making the science better solves nothing.

Thorium: Pretty much not able to go critical. The flaws are very high corrosion of the system but thorium is plentiful planet-wide.

Solar: In the end, it's the way to go - but it will take a while before commercial production is at a cost-effective price point.

Wind: Yeah, right. Inconsistent with horrible returns on investment (18 yr payup).

Storage: using lead batteries in cars all over the planet to store energy at night has serious long-term consequences...

Best bet: A combination of solar and hydro: daytime sun pumps water to run turbines at night...

Meantime: We don't have a choice about cutting down on carbon output so let's go nuclear.

Lastly: We are not tackling the issue of methane from animal husbandry. This eclipses all other pollutants and is being ignored as a major contributor.

Comment Close the loop (Score 1) 108

If I were a manufacturer with a 20% return rate on my products, I'd do the following:

1. Put an immediate message out that "We have our best people working feverishly on the issue."

2. Force my engineering and channel sales experts to conference call each and every customer until they learn enough about the issue to fix the reason the product was returned.

3. Perhaps the products are not defective (such as RAM) but that the purchase process does not identify the correct RAM needed. I'd have my software team write code to detect the correct RAM needed (for example).

4. I'd tie the design team's bonus structure directly to return rates.

5. Lastly, I'd also close the loop with distributors - any product where return rates started to climb would be pulled.

(When you are getting a 20% return rate, you're not making profit anyway.)

Comment Comment on comments (Score 4, Insightful) 399

As you read the initial comments about this article, a clear pattern emerges: a vast preponderance of comments refer to any lack of formal trail process, gaping cracks in the factoids quoted and major concern that males will be 'tried' and 'convicted' without due process.

Sexual (and physical) assaults are crimes - but they are not crimes limited to one gender nor are limited to one gender upon another. Ideas like this perpetuate stereotypes while significantly reducing real rights and freedoms.

Statistics have shown that lesbian people (as an example) experience domestic violence at a very similar rate to that of heterosexual women (Waldner-Haygrud, 1997; AVP, 1992). It has been estimated that between 17-45% of lesbians have been the victim of at least one act of violence perpetrated by a female partner (Burke et al, 1999; Lie et al, 1991), and that 30% of lesbians have reported sexual assault / rape by another woman (Renzetti, 1992).

In short, if such a system is to be introduced, it needs to be gender neutral, have significant oversight and be tightly tied to the legal system.

Comment Mandate open access (Score 1) 148

A couple of years ago, I bought a Samsung TV. The O/S was so bad that I returned it and wrote the president (getting no response).

The stupid thing would randomly update itself - right in the middle of footballs games or other live events - going offline for15 minutes at a time. Changing channels was also extremely slow: about 2 seconds between stations. TWO WHOLE SECONDS.

There was no way to get rid of crapware on the TV. The main menu was 'polluted' with all sorts of junk trying to push the viewer to Samsung's corporate offerings.

I can't wait for an Android or Linux smart TV that will give the viewer ONE remote with one entirely user-configurable menu.

Wouldn't it be great to never have to switch between HDMI inputs? Just... click on genre or network or streaming service and watch.

Wouldn't it be even better to completely block all those crappy cable advertising channels?

Submission + - Amazon appears to be experiencing a major failure (

XB-70 writes: The whole buying/order system is down for everyone. It is not possible to get through to customer support. Phoning gets you: "Please hang up and try your call again."
Amazon Instant Video is not working. Posts in the seller forums confirm this.

Comment Pointers from another re-newbie (Score 1) 149

I enjoyed the hobby back when I was in my teens. Forty years later, I am picking it up again. A few pointers: design, design, design. Read, read, read. Learn, learn, learn. Make a who host of layouts using SCARM. Be prepared to build an initial layout. A second (better) layout and a third (dream) layout. Going through this process will get your skills up to speed.

Get to know some other hobbyists and ask to attend a session. This will give you great insights into whether you want to RUN a railroad or just enjoy BUILDING one.

Buy less, use the best. There is a lot of second-rate stuff out there. It will only plague you with problems - shorts, derailments etc. etc. Buy quality vs quantity.

Couplers: go with Kadee. There are others, but Kadee are the de-facto standard.

Ideal rolling stock trucks: all my research seems to point to using Kadee trucks but with Intermountain wheel-sets (Wheels and axle).

Track: want to build a really sweet layout? Use Fast Tracks hand-built switches for your layout:

Switch machines: I like to go manual for most. A lot of guys use Tortoise Switch Machines. Everyone raves about them but I think that they are huge and would love to know of better, smaller, cheaper ones - with all the same features.

Models: All sorts of kits exist out there but EVERYONE (OK a lot of guys) use Tichy for parts like windows. (I love their rolling stock and have built over 50 iron ore and other cars from them.) Exquisite detail and great customer service.

Essentials: get an NMRA standards gauge. Buy a temperature controlled soldering station. Buy a Dremel with a cut-off wheel (for cutting rail). Wayyyy better than snips. Also, buy a serving tray with high sides. When working on the hobby, ALWAYS keep all your tools in the serving tray. Makes finding them much, much easier. Buy a good air brush like Iwata.

DCC vs DC. I am migrating to DCC. Phone Tony's Trains in Vermont for DCC advice. They are fairly unbiased experts and can help you choose the best system for you.

Weight: get your rolling stock to the proper weight: 1 oz + 1/2 oz for every inch of car length. This will help your trains track better.

Open source: The whole DCC open source thing is a bit klugey at present (in my opinion). This could be an area where you may be able to contribute significantly. Meantime, you may want to buy off-the-shelf to get started and then poke around with Arduino and the like for controls (unless you are a total geek).

Lastly, go look at real trains. See them in yards. See them at crossings. Watch them beside you on the highway. Look at tracks and switchwork... Figure out what era and purpose your railroad will have: Switching? Mainline? Steam? Diesel? Commuter? Short Line? Industrial? Mining? Learn all the background about it that you can and use it to dive in and enjoy!!

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