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Comment It's the big problem with space games (Score 1) 2

As you say, you want to feel like your economic choices have consequence, and not just for your pocketbook. If I buy all the fish in town, then not only should the price of fish go up, but the fishing industry should spend its money in predictable locations and boost other industries.

As my subject line alludes, the real place this crops up again and again is in space games. If I'm buying and selling the complete available product of a planet in some particular industry, that should have significant effects. Or, if I blow up a bunch of cargo ships carrying spaceship parts, then that should have significant and immediately noticeable effects. Instead, none of this is true at all in basically any game but EVE.

Comment Re:All That's Needed is One Stupid Rule (Score 1) 41

I don't think a modern city would be recognizable to the opponents of the automobile or even to some of those who championed it.

If you don't look up, the difference would be less shocking than you imagine... especially since the motorcar is so very much cleaner and quieter now than it was then.

I also don't think people can appreciate what a city of ubiquitous drones would be like.

This drone thing is a fad, it will come in waves. This is the "pretty cheap" wave, it is fairly annoying. The "practically free" wave will be even worse. Then it will settle down to a dull background murmur.

Comment Re:Calling actual engineers... (Score 1) 230

Ah, good point about the skin effect. I'd count it together with other inductive losses, none of which exist with DC. You might also say that DC uses more of the wire in a temporal sense, as it doesn't waste time crossing zero all the time. But this is basically the peak vs. average argument again.

Comment Re:Microsoft (Score 1) 158

Partner with Microsoft? Sure. Burn it to the ground so Microsoft had to buy Nokia, then make a massive write-off just so they'd have a phone in the market? Probably not the plan. He executed the "We have to get off our current platform NOW NOW NOW and go Microsoft" so well people only heard the first part. But I assume they were hoping for quite a few more converts.

Comment Re:Not with a console they won't. (Score 1) 44

Titanfall? Never heard of it. Try CS:GO with a controller and I'm willing to bet you won't make it out of silver.

I've read and re-read your comment, and I still don't see how it makes sense as a reply to mine. Neither linked article contains the word "Titanfall", nor does my comment...

Comment Re:Do what people who live on boats do. (Score 1) 230

The latest crop have gotten really good, but tablets are even better -- especially when charged directly from 12V, vs. 120V w/ inverter .

And you can get a ~12VDC to 5VDC@3A with micro-usb or mini-usb for three bucks or so on eBay; I like the "CPT" brand in this price range. I use them for automotive GPS and phone charging. Much more slick to just have a little charging cable tail someplace than to dick around with lighter sockets.

Comment Re:Standard DC voltage? (Score 1) 230

It still need to be run at a pretty hefty voltage to keep the wire gauge reasonable

Most of the equipment in use, the wiring and the switches and so on, has insulation rated for up to 250V. So having a pretty hefty voltage isn't really a big problem, is it?

and you end up having to make a bunch of DC-DC converters (really DC-AC-DC) for each required supply voltage anyway.

The converters are pretty cheap when they only have to decrease voltage, though. It's only when they have to increase it that they become expensive.

Comment Re:Coal is losing the War On Coal (Score 1) 230

Coal dropped below 50% several years ago and is falling rapidly. Alpha Natural Resources -- one of the giants of the American coal industry -- has filed for bankruptcy. They're sitting on $3 billion in debt while coal prices have plummeted as a result of utilities switching over to natural gas.

Which still produces CO2, and which is based on fracking. We reached peak natgas some time ago, if you measure it by readily available sources.

Comment Re:There are far larger DC projects (Score 1) 230

I've heard of some 40% efficiency gains by avoiding the usual transformers per lamppost.

No, that's bollocks. But it might be 40% overall when you consider the ancient (passive) ballast, and redesign with reflectors to angle more of the light down to the street. There is very little efficiency difference between an arc lamp with a modern digital ballast, and an LED with its driver circuit. The difference between an old-school ballast and a modern one is not as big as you imagine; it's measurable, but it doesn't even begin to approach 40%.

Comment Re:check out recreational vehicle stores (Score 1) 230

Wood instead of propane, because I can go out and chop down a tree myself, whereas I can't refine propane by myself.

You can refine methane by yourself, though. You can refine it with just a membrane. The problem becomes compressing it so that it's useful for more than cooking. That's expensive, because it requires a fancy compressor.

Comment Re:Maemo was Good (Score 1) 158

AFAIK, the Maemo/Linux division was always just a side project compared to their Symbian mainstream. They had Linux tablets with a cloud infrastructure 10 years ago, but it just wasn't Symbian. So Elop wasn't the sole reason that line of development died, but it's interesting how he got onboard just around the time Maemo/Meego was breaking out with the N9.

I still own and use my N800 and N900; it's been hard to find another real phone-computer when everything new is a "smart"phone with plenty of CPU and RAM you can't actually use, and no keyboards even though people are mostly typing instead of talking.

Comment Re:Not with a console they won't. (Score 2) 44

I'm trying to think of what games people play competitively on consoles, and none come to mind. Keyboard and mouse flat out destroys controllers when it comes to competitive play.

That's OK, because 2015 (or perhaps 2016) is the year of the keyboard and mouse on consoles. (Sony is also licensing a kb/mouse peripheral, AFAIK this is a licensing first. Yes, I know that there were mice for prior platforms; I have them for SNES, PS, and DC. (That's all of them, right?)

Comment Not NIMBY: other factors (Score 3, Insightful) 230

The line losses are a NIMBY problem, people don't want power plants near their houses.

That's not really true. Coal-fired power plants need to be located near a large, reliable water source for cooling and the closer they are to their fuel source the less energy is used to transport the coal. They also have to be of a certain size in order to operate efficiently. Hence even if everyone was willing to tolerate a coal fired power station in their neighbourhood most locations would be unsuitable for their construction, rural communities would be too small to warrant a power station even if suitable and even then there would be an increase in the energy to ship the coal the larger distances required. This means that only small reductions in transmission losses would be possible and since this is already one of the most efficient steps in the power consumption process you'd lose a lot more than you would gain.

Comment Re:Calling actual engineers... (Score 2) 230

There's nothing magical about AC-DC conversion, and NEWS FLASH, it's much more efficient to transmit AC over long distances than DC. That's HALF THE REASON we use AC. The other half is that it's extremely easy to convert to other forms of AC and DC.

I'm afraid my degree is in physics, though I've done more engineering than pure research oriented work. In my understanding, long distance transmission efficiency is mainly about high voltage, not AC per se. It's true that you need some AC stages for voltage conversion, so the conversion part is more efficient if you only use AC. However, AC will bleed energy via induction in some cases such as undersea cables, making DC more efficient overall even after conversion losses. In addition, phase matching is an issue you won't have with DC. Then you also have the age-old facts about peak vs. average voltage that make DC easier for things like insulation, so the future of power transmission is actually going more in the way of DC, even if end users still see AC.

Frankly, this entire discussion has little to do with AC vs. DC, it's mostly about the dependence on the grid. I agree we should use more nuclear power, and perhaps educate the people a bit more to end the irrational fears about anything that has the word "nuclear" in it.

You cannot have a science without measurement. -- R. W. Hamming