It's an interesting concept, but I don't think I want to turn my router over to a company like Google or Facebook that makes their money Hoovering up every last bit of data they can get about me.
You have to love how they use gallons as a unit of measurement because it gives a really big number - 300,000,000. But in water terms, that's actually very little. That computes out to just under 921 acre-feet, which is the standard unit of measuring large quantities of water. Not so impressive-sounding now, so let's see what the actual costs are. Divide the $34,500,000 cost by the number of acre-feet and then again by the expected lifetime of the balls - say, 20 years. You wind up with $1,900 per acre-foot. This is a lot of money, but California residents and normal businesses normally pay around $1,000 per acre-foot. If you amortize the cost of these balls over the total water going through the system it's still a bit pricey but not insane when you consider the effects of droughts. For example, in Carlsbad, California they are building a desalinization plant with guaranteed annual sales at a cost of just over $2,000 per acre-foot.
Of course, real sanity would address the real causes of the "drought" - the fact that the two groups that use 85% of California's water pay nowhere near this much. Government pays $0 per acre-foot and wastes a breathtaking amount of water. Big agriculture pays around $10 per acre-foot (the small organic farms I buy my produce from still pay the two-orders-of-magnitude-higher residential rates). I'm all for agriculture - California is an amazing place to grow food and provides a huge percentage of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the US - but the artificially low prices have been abused by some farms and orchards. There is still a lot of flood irrigation being used (and some farmers were actually growing rice in the desert). A massive amount of alfalfa is being grown in the desert and then shipped to China, because at the subsidized water prices this is actually cheaper than China growing their own hay. Sit back and bask in that insanity. The government has dumped as much as a third of California's water supply for various environmental purposes - you could argue the costs and merits of this except for the fact that none of these projects are having their desired effect, so all of that water is just pure waste (around 33% of state water usage). And then they threaten to fine us if we water our lawns more than twice a week (> 5% of state water usage).
So anyway, for once, the black balls are the government doing something expensive but not completely stupid. But the fact that this is even necessary due to government stupidity and a breathtakingly colossal mismanagement of a valuable natural resource sort of makes it all moot in the end. There is no shortage due to drought - there's a shortage due to bad policies.
"the vast majority of internet users who refuse to pay for news."
I don't think ad blockers exist because people don't want ads or "refuse to pay for news." Ad blockers exist because ads have become so ridiculously obnoxious and disruptive with animations or even sound that they make the web pages they're on pretty close to unusable. This is on top of the occasional but still-to-frequent usage of ad networks as malware distribution platforms. If the ad networks set some reasonable standards and actually enforced them, then ad blockers wouldn't be as much of an issue. As it is right now, using an ad block is a security requirement, not an option. From an aesthetic and usability standpoint it's just highly desirable.
Speed of implementation in various organizations (or even departments, divisions, etc) runs a spectrum of "do stuff on more or less a whim" to "go through eight years of planning meetings to discuss the possibility of actually doing something." On the former end of the spectrum you buy extra capacity. At the latter end of the spectrum it doesn't matter, because you won't get the budget to buy extra capacity.
C'mon, at some point you're just hoarding junk.
Argh - I just set up my Household on Amazon... there are some issues with sharing Prime within a household, and nobody in Customer Service understands what's going on. After an hour wasted with an idiot and a supervisor I finally figured it out on my own (you have to enable Content sharing or Prime doesn't share). Most of the documentation appears to be wrong. Apparently Amazon has never heard of this whole UX testing thing... but at least I get a pun out of it.
Going long on whoever the hell makes aluminum foil...
1) I can get anywhere I want with public transportation as it is right now. The problem is that it takes literally four to eight times more time (in my specific circumstances), and my time is far from free.
2) The notion that it's free is, frankly, dishonest and disingenuous. *Somebody* is paying for it, and that somebody is me, in one form or another. Just because the money is not coming directly from your wallet at that instant doesn't mean it's not happening.
3) It ignores subjective value. I often enjoy driving. I don't enjoy being crowded into a bus or tram / trolley. Trains aren't too bad from a comfort standpoint, but still not as fun as driving.
The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings