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Comment: Hell already froze over. (Score 5, Funny) 263

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49372727) Attached to: Sign Up At Before Crooks Do It For You

Maybe, some day, Congress will actually fix some of the real fucking problems we have, with having a pseudo, tech. intergrated Government. And maybe, Hell will actually freeze over!

I hear Hell already froze over - several decades ago.

It was a particularly cold snap during winter in Michigan, with sub-zero (farenheit) temperatures. The expanding ice blew out a small (millpond-ish) dam. The water under the ice rushed down the river and overflowed it, pouring down the main street of the little village of Hell, Michigan. It was several inches deep when it slowed enough that the extreme cold froze it solid.

Since then a lot of the stuff that was waiting for Hell to freeze over has been happeng. That explains the last several decades nicely, eh? B-)

Comment: Don't hold your breath waiting for news of them... (Score 1) 74

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49351405) Attached to: Facebook Sued For Alleged Theft of Data Center Design

Most of the claims aren't listed so it's hard to draw a conclusion.

And don't hold your breath waiting for them to be listed publicly, either.

If this is over trade secrets, the alleged trade secrets, if legitimate, will still be secret. So unless/until Facebook gets a judgement that the claims are bogus, the proceedings will be under seal.

Even if they ARE bogus it may not be in Facebook's interest to publish them, either. They might be little-known enough that exposing them to their competition might make the competitive environent tougher for Facebook.

So don't be surprised if the "secrets" and the details of the verdict or settlement remain under wraps.

Comment: Re:what will be more interesting (Score 1) 640

by Space cowboy (#49346829) Attached to: Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear

Fortunately the comment history is preserved. Not 5 posts up you state, and I quote:

"Most Americans don't understand just how restricted speech is in the UK by comparison to the US"

Restriction of free speech pertains to government restriction. We don't care what companies / institutions do. The BBC isn't the government.

So, I guess the gp was correct.

Comment: Gerrymandered a PRESIDENTIAL election? Say WHAT? (Score 1) 185

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49346483) Attached to: New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act

... in the last election the powers of greed tried to elect someone who was neither conservative nor liberal but really a direct representative of the 1%. They spent 3 to 4 times as much money, made people stand in 4 hour lines to vote, maximally gerrymandered every district they could...

While your underlying perception is largely correct, your supporting argiments are not. You need to understand the system more if you want to be convincing,

Of particular note is bringing up gerrymandering. In virtually all the states the electoral college votes are chosen in a statewide, popular-vote, winner-take-all contest. Gerrymandering doesn't affect this at all. (Which is good for the Republicans, as the Democrats have been far more effective at it.)

As for spending: With the support of labor unions and the media empires, the Democrats get massive, uncounted, campaign subsidies, while the Republicans mostly have to pay for their own propaganda directly..

The big exception to that is Fox News: But IMHO they, and the party establishment, are what lost for the Rs the last time around. Fox was blatantly pure Neocon (the faction of Romney, the R establishment, and the 1%ers,) The primaries are where the parties' candidates are chosen. Fox's hilariously biased reporting and the R establishments massive (and often violent) cheating, alienated the supporters of Ron Paul, to the point that they would not support him - virtually to a man - and also alienated many Rs who observed this circus. Romney lost five states by margins smaller than the number of people who voted for Paul in primaries and caucuses. Had they not done this, Romney might still have won the nomination honestly, and received eJ.nough votes to swing those states.

So, yes, their money didn't buy them the election. But IMHO what really lost it was intra-party behavior so corrupt that major factions of the party's voters decided they could not be allowed to have control of the government's levers of power - even if the alternative was an exceptionally effective, avowedly-Communist, Chicago-Machine politician

Comment: Re:the US 'probably' wont use a nuke first.... (Score 2) 339

No, the alternative was to wait.

It should be noted that:
  - The Japanese, like the Germans, had their own nuclear weapons program in progress. (That was how they were able to recognize the nuclear bombs for what they were: Bombs were SOME of the possibilities they were pursuing.)
  - While they thought nuclear-reaction bombs were hard but doable, they were actively working on the immanent bombardment of the West Coast of the Untied States with radiological weapons - "dirty bombs" spreading fatal levels of radioactive material. (Remember that much of the US war infrastructure, including nuclear laboratories such as Livermore and the Navy's Pacific fleet construction and supply lines, were on or very near the west coast. The prevailing winds are from the west and able to carry fallout blankets to them.)
  - The primary reason for using TWO bombs, only a few days apart, was to create the impression that the US could keep this up. The Japanese had an idea that making the bombs took so much resource that the US could only have a very few. And they were right.

As I understand it went something like this: There was enough material for no more than two or three more, then there'd have been about a year of infrastructure construction and ramp-up, after which the US could have started with monthly bombs and worked up to weekly or so. If the US could have gotten to that point unmolested, Japan was doomed. But a LOT can happen over that time in a total war - and big projects can get hamstrung when the bulk of the industrial output and manpower has to be used to fight off conventional attacks meanwhile. The idea was to give the Japanese the impression the US was ALREADY that far along.

Comment: $12,000 with air conditioner? (Score 1) 79

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49335727) Attached to: Better Disaster Shelters than FEMA Trailers (Video)

12 grand with the air conditinoer and some unspecified options that don't prevent it from being stacked up like coffee cups?

For only a couple grand more I purchased, new, an 19 foot travel trailer, with kitchen, (propane stove, micrwave, propane/electric refrigerator) beds for five (if one is a kid) and two are friendlly - six if two are infants), which double as a daytime couch and bedding storage cabinet, TV antenna and prewire, air conditioner, bathroom with enclosed shower, closet, white grey and black water storage for two days if everybody showers daily, a week if they conserve, all hookablel to water and sewer if available, air conditinoier and furnace, lots of gear storage, two nights of battery power (though the microwave and air conditioner need shore power - the furnace runs on the batteries/power conditioner), hitch, dual-axle with tires, awning, etc.

This looks like a very pricey, very heavy, hardshell tent - with some lights, cots, and a big-brother computer monitoring system.

But I bet agencies would love the monitoring system.

Comment: My art is prior. (Score 3, Interesting) 160

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49332793) Attached to: Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

My first unix box was an Altos. Don't recall exactly when I got it but it finally died in the late '80s.

The thing burned something like a kilowatt. It also had a four-inch muffin fan - blowing outward. While this sucked dust in all the openings, it was convenient for heat scavenging, AND exhaust. The latter was important in my non-air-conditioned college-town house.

I got a couple 4" drier vents, some drier vent hose, and a heat-scavenging diverter valve (which were big that year - for electric driers only!). Took the flapper valve and rain shield off one of the drier vents, yeilding a fitting that I mounted on the pancae fan's four mounting screws. It coupled the airflow nicely into the drier vent hose, which was essentially exactly the diameter of the fan blade shroud. A few 2x4s mad a wooden insert that went into the window in place of the screen unit, with the other vent in the middle of it. Hooked the two together with the hose, with the diverter in the middle of it, and the third hose segment feeding the hot air register.

In the summer the space-heater's-worth of hot air went out the window instead of into the house. In the winter the hot air fed the furnace distributon, providing a base heat supply to the house with the furnace coming on to "top it off" to the desired temperature.

Comment: Mandatory voting is a recipe for civil war. (Score 1) 1089

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49298305) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US

What makes anyone think mandatory voting would somehow fix thatWhat makes anyone think mandatory voting would somehow fix that?

In fact it would cause more problems that it purports to solve. In particular, it would greatly increase the incidence of violence in politics and, in particular, the likelyhood of civil war.

Elections aren't about being nice by doing what the majority prefer. Elections are about seeing how the civil war would come out, so you don't have to fight it. To do this they have to be a good enough MODEL of the war, and be run, if not squeay clean, at least honestly and transparently enough to convince the losers that, if they tried to reverse the result by violence, they'd lose THAT contest, too.

That means, among other things, that only people who care enough to fight should vote. Dragging in a bunch of people who could care less and are only voting because they're required to, dilutes the votes of those who care. If they also vote opposite to a group who care a lot and are percieved as a bunch of brainwashed non-threats, those people can easily convince themselves that they could win a war, make it stick, and are justified in fighting to reverse their oppression.

Comment: Re:non-existent fraud (Score 1) 1089

by Ungrounded Lightning (#49298253) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US

Voter fraud is when an actual voter votes multiple times or tries to vote as someone they are not.

Like the illegal alien who lived down the street from us, who showed my wife (whom he somehow thought would be sympathetic) the more-than-20 voter registration cards and bragged about how he went to a bunch of different polling places every election.

As opposed to election fraud, like the nonexistant guy who votes absentee and claims our house as his residence (whom we've been trying to get de-listed for at least four election cycles), the next-door neighbor who died of liver failure and is still voting absentee - despite her daughter taking the death certificate down to the registrar of voters, again on more than one election cycle, the several thousand "voters" who absentee voted from the same address in Berkeley, ...

Both, of course, are greatly aided by the "motor-voter law", which makes it trivial for anyone with a social security number (real real or fake) to pick up a mail-in form - or a box of them ("I'm working at a voter registration drive") - at any of several sorts of government offices (such as the Secretary of State's). Register yourself (voter fraud) or register a bunch of fake people (election fraud). It's doubly easy if your state has just-check-the-box absentee voting: Mail in a BUNCH of them and vote a BUNCH of times. Industrial-strength election corruption.

That's why there was such a flap about Obama's move to have the DHS issue Social Security numbers to illegals. Sure it's illegal for them to actually vote. But that's enforced even less than the laws against them being here in the first place.

Comment: Re:There's another law, too... (Score 1) 114

If you have to go to court against your employer to prove that all of the above are true (on your own dime), then you effectively don't really have any of those protections.

Why should you have to prove anything? Especially before you start?

You just file for your own patents, start your own company, and move on. If your idea turns out to be the foundation of a new industry or a disruptive game-changer on an existing one, and your (ex) employer is clueless, he might spend a bunch of HIS money to claim some of the proceeds once you're successful. Then you and your corporate lawyer get to watch the judge laugh him out of court - and maybe order him to pay YOU $ome buck$ on the way out.

Sure you might end up in court eventually. But that's the name of the game with patents on valuable ideas. All a patent IS is a license to sue.

Comment: Re:There's another law, too... (Score 1) 114

Sigh. I should have read your post a little more before replying.

In general, in the absence of a prior agreement to the contrary, what you wrote is true in most states.

But we're talking in the PRESENCE of a prior agreement to the contrary:
  - You hired on to do X, for Consolidated Widgets, a company that does X, Y, and Z and isn't interested in doing Q (any time soon).
  - When you hired on, Con Widgets had you sign a patent assignment giving ALL your inventions to them.
  - While still employed, you had a bright idea that's a major breakthrough for Q.
  - You develop your idea on your own time with your own resources.

In California, YOU own the Q invention, regardless of what your contract with Con Widgets says. (Con Widgets still gets your inventions on X, Y, Z, and anything you worked on in their labs.) California EXPLICITLY VOIDS the patent assignment terms in the former case.

AFAIK, in every other state Con Widgets would own your Q breakthrough, too.

Comment: Re:There's another law, too... (Score 1) 114

But this isn't a "quirk of California's labor law". This is true in almost all the States.

Really? Are you saying that, in most other states, the state law voids your patent assignment contract with your employer?

Remember: What I'm talking here is not "you invented it on your own time with your own tools". I'm talking "You SIGNED A CONTRACT GIVING ALL YOUR INVENTIONS TO YOUR EMPLOYER and THEN invented it on your own time with your own tools."

I've never heard of this anywhere except CA. I'll be very interested in what other states, if any, also do it.

And if they do it they should TRUMPET it, so inventors like me would be more interested in working there.

Comment: There's another law, too... (Score 4, Informative) 114

TFA says:

... the secret to Silicon Valley's triumph as the global capital of innovation may lie in a quirk of California's employment law that prohibits the legal enforcement of non-compete clauses.

Yes, that's important.

But (IMHO even more important) is another "quirk" of California's labor law, which you'll find as a page in the bundle of every employment agreement you're handed in Silicon Valley. This affects patent assignments:

To paraphrase: If
  - you Invent something,
  - you didn't use the company's resources, and
  - building and selling it isn't in the company's current or expected business model
It's yours.

Any patent assignment terms to the contrary are void, overridden by the state's compelling interest. Your employer can't put your great idea on a shelf to gather dust and make it stick. You can partner with a couple of your buddies, move into a garage across the street, and start a new company to exploit the invention.

This makes California an inventor's Mecca. Startup companies bud like yeast. Inventions go to market rather than being shelved or becoming just playing cards in a game of cross-licensing poker. Inventors get rich. This attracts more talent, so the longer it goes on the easier it is to find the "other two guys" with the complimentary talent you need to make your startup work, making things even easier, in continual positive feedback.

Small companies get a hiring advantage over conglomerates, too, because the fewer things an employer is into, the fewer classes of invention the employer can lock up rather than exploit.

Comment: Vanadium Redox, too. (Score 1) 437

Grid scale sodium sulphur batteries are already deployed at multiple sites around the world, especially in Japan and Hawaii. The only rare elements are in the control electronics, they last much longer than lithium and are easy to recycle.

Vanadium Redox, too. (Mainly "down under" - because the patents are still in force and the little company with them has all the business it can handle and doesn't seem interested in licensing it to potential competition.) Marvelous technology.

New Lithium (and related) batteries with much more stable (and thus long-lasting) electrode designs and hysterically low losses and fast charging/discharging are also starting to hit the market. It will be interesting to see what happens in three or four years when Tesla's new Nevada battery "Gigafactory" comes online and starts ramping up.

Comment: And wind fills that in just fine. (Score 1) 437

Basically as solar rapidly drops off at sunset conventional is having trouble ramping up to meet demand.

On the other hand, wind power in many of the best sites peaks strongly in exactly the "duck head" period.

The reason is the "lake effect": Land heats and cools far more rapidly than bodies of water (which are nearly a constant temperature on a daily cycle). The difference forms a heat engine, and the cycle lags the solar cycle by several hours. In the afternoon and evening (peaking about sunset) the wind blows strongly from the water to the land. (In the morning it blows from the land to the water though more weakly.)

The wind power available through a given swept cross-section goes up with the CUBE of the wind speed: (The energy per unit mass goes up with the square of the velocity, and the amount of mass flowing goes with the first power, multiplying one more factor of v.) That means a doubling of the wind speed multiplies the availabe power bya factor of 8, a tripling by 27, and so on. So it doesn't take much variation in wind speed to create a large variation in power.

Some of the best sites to take advantage of this are on the western temperate-zone coasts of continents (which happen to contain a lot of the urban load.) There the lake effect is extreme, combining with the prevailig winds.

One of the most extreme examples is California's Altamont Pass, where a break in the mountains funnels the prevailing, westerlies combined with the lake effect winds - with the Pacific Ocean as the "lake" and CA's Central Valley as the "land". The area is practically paved with windmills.

But you don't need something that extreme. My NV place, in the eastern Sierra foothills, gets strong afternoon winds from the Nevada Desert working against the damp forests of the Sierras.

Even without a strong lake effect to "chop off the duck's head", wind and solar power complement each other and reasonably match demand in several other ways in areas where both are available. For a lot of sites with intermittent sun-blocking weather, the climate is such that the cloudy times are windy and the calm times sunny. (Wind may be more prevalent in winter, as well.) Sun power closely tracks the solar input component of air-conditioning load, while wind goes up (though more steeply) with heat gain/loss across insulation and via air infiltration. So with a combo of wind and solar energy harvesting, when the weather hands you more load it also hands you more power to handle it.

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.