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Comment: Re:Stop Now (Score 1) 173

by khallow (#46791929) Attached to: Cost Skyrockets For United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

That's not a prestige project, that's a giant bell jar with really good vacuum pumps.

It started life as a status project. Sure, that's a sunk cost now, but someone burned a lot of money in the past on it which biases it as a model for our attempts to price similar scale projects now.

As for those giant tents, they may be prestige projects, but that doesn't really mean anything.

It means that the sponsor isn't particularly concerned about cost which is a strong bias upward in cost estimates for such projects.

If you're going to build a truly massive vacuum chamber on the cheap, then you can probably build it somewhere like Fall River Pass in Colorado so that you only have to hold off .65 Atmospheres of pressure, although I don't know if there are any suitable pre-existing depressions around there that you can use. Honestly, your plan sounds pretty neat and is probably practical. The problem is that inflatable vacuum chambers are still a pretty novel technology. So, you would be basing one highly experimental project on another highly experimental project.

Those other necessary highly experimental projects would be part of the cost and it wouldn't be just one such project. Some would be at a scale capable of being fit into a large garage.

Even the inflatable vacuum structure is itself another stepping stone to a large ground-based fusor project. The point is that a series of very focused and cost controlled projects can build up quickly and relatively cheaply to a competitive project, but you have to strictly control the design burden on these projects.

Building a project that does a very limited thing, even if it is at a scale which hasn't been attempted before, is far cheaper than building a project that does a number of disparate things at a very high standard of operation and a very large scale of operation in each of these things.

Comment: Re:Nothing new - Always had tech jobs (Score 1) 272

by khallow (#46791817) Attached to: Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

Wouldn't have happened because the supply chain would have imploded.

That is a swamp that needs to be cleaned out. GM will go bankrupt again and we'll be back at this same argument in a few years. I don't see to protecting a few jobs for a short time at the expense of the future.

When a company the size of GM + its supply chain goes under, the jobs go away too and aren't easily replaced.

Except by the next few major auto companies.

Comment: do one thing and do it well (Score 1) 474

by CAIMLAS (#46791799) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Most of my favorite tools do one thing and do it well.

My list:

* Swiss Army Knife (now called the 'Spartan' - no frill bullshit). I've redone entire racks of equipment with only this at my disposal and it's not fallen over where multiple others (such as leatherman and gerber) and have had no problems. I've also done god knows what else with them - I've had a total of 2 in the past 25 years as "always in my pocket", and both still work.
* IBM Model M - goes without saying. They don't break or die.
* Compaq iPaq desktop - hey, mine is still kicking and working like a champ on my network. Not a fancy billed item, but I've had mine working continuously as a small home network services system for over a decade now, and it's reasonably power efficient even by modern standards.
* Brother ML1345 printer - black and white laser. Still kicking.
* Nintendo Gameboy - the original. Built like a fucking tank. Mine got run over by a Ford F150 and still works: my kids use it.
* Hitachi hard drives: they're the best out there. I've never had one die and have owned dozens personally.

Comment: Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (Score 1) 115

Do you know for sure that condition is true? How? Again, I'm honestly asking you.

First, their efforts, such as supporting libertarian think tanks, tea party candidates, or opposing AGW efforts are much more aggressive and costly than merely exploiting tax loop holes, moving wealth into low tax areas, or bribing a few congresscritters.

Some of these efforts are clearly reactionary though not necessarily right wing. Resisting climate change mitigation can be done on other grounds than merely right wing ones. And while restoring the rule of law, individual freedom, and financial responsibility sounds reactionary and conservative, it remains one of the more out there aspects of liberalism.

People don't really want to live in a budget at the national level, respect laws (particularly legal restrictions on law and regulation) that go against their inclinations or ideologies, or observe the freedom of other people to do things with which they disagree. Those sorts of inclinations are ancient. The division of politics into left and right while it may have made lots of sense in past centuries and still does to some limited degree today, just isn't aging well.

Comment: Re:Yeah? (Score 1) 327

by lgw (#46791633) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

I disagree: the Model S was the right car to do first. All electric cars before it were simply crap. Worthless, horrible rides that only a hippie would drive. Yech. The Tesla is fine for many uses, and the main thing is: it's overpriced in a market where it's normal to be overpriced; it's overweight in a market where it's fine to be overweight (the S class was 3 tons not that long ago). It's a nice car, nicer than a Camry, where instead of the refinement of a luxury car for the price difference, you get the novelty of an electric car. And at that price range, you probably also have a gas car (or if not, you can rent one as needed).

Electric car tech simply isn't ready yet for low-margin vehicles. High margin cars, where intangible value is a big part of price, they work fine. It makes perfect sense to me to start there, and gradually come downmarket as they get the hang of it.

Also, most US families have 2+ cars, so one short range car isn't a problem I don't, so I'm skipping the Model S for now, but I'd love a similar car with a 50 HP gas generator under the hood. It doesn't need to provide enough power to run on, just enough to recharge given a few hours in the parking lot. None of this fancy, sure-to-break, parallel hybrid nonsense, but the great "fixie" Tesla drivetrain with a purely separate generator so I can recharge using gasoline as needed.

Comment: Re:Metaphor (Score 1) 197

by lgw (#46791571) Attached to: Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out

Any language except C has classes that prevent buffer overruns. Heck, I did assembly programming for 5 years, and the natural way to move data around avoided buffer overruns (mainframe assembly). The tools are right there, people just don't pick them up.

It's not about the language, and it's certainly not about "don't screw up", it's about a coding style that's not amenable to the mistake, and that's practical is most any language except C, really.

(Really, C and Managed aren't the only choices out there.)

Comment: Re:Just one more reason (Score 1) 235

by HornWumpus (#46791027) Attached to: Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

Tweak smells like cat pee. Pot smells a little like skunk only much, much better.

You someone is truly reeking up a large area, they need to upgrade to better strains.

They could find my patch with Google earth. But enough thieves have gotten ventilated and farmers walked, that they are starting to be a lot more careful. The real problem with the story is England's broken gun control laws.