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Comment: Rail? (Score 3, Insightful) 142

by bradley13 (#47388483) Attached to: Autonomous Trucking

What I do not understand about Germany - indeed this whole region of Europe (I'm in Switzerland) is this: We have excellent rail systems, why not put long-distance cargo on the trains? There are various initiatives to do exactly this, but they meet with a wide range of passive and active resistance. Fact is, given the existing rail system, using trucks for long-distance freight makes no sense at all.

One of the sources of resistance are the truck drivers, but their profession is doomed anyway for long distance transport. The automated trucks are a logical extension of automated vehicles - heck, they may happen before cars. But putting an individual engine on every container is anything but efficient - maybe this will actually be the impetus for getting the stuff on the rails...

Comment: Well, duh... (Score 5, Insightful) 210

...but that's exactly what the ruling does. The original case was a businessman objecting to Google links to newpaper stories about his life. This is no different.

Fact is, the court that issued this ruling screwed up big time. Perhaps, if Google can find a few more egregious deletions to make, the European Parliament will correct the error.

Comment: Publicity stunt - not practical (Score 1, Interesting) 178

This is nothing but a feel-good publicity stunt, designed to offset international suspicions that Microsoft works a little too closely with the NSA.

Pick your favorite product: Windows 7? Office? SQL Server? IIS? It doesn't matter, you are talking about millions of lines of source code. No government, or government contractor will have the expertise, time an money to analyze such a mass of code. They will be utterly dependent on Microsoft to point them to the core routines responsible for whatever they're interested in. Say, email encryption.

However, there is no way they will be able to verify that the code provided is really the code used, than no code called before or after it compromises the security, etc, etc.. It is also unlikely that they will update or repeat the audit with every new release, patch or update of the product.

Microsoft must be feeling the pinch - a few too many international contracts being cancelled...

Comment: Apples and oranges (Score 0) 441

I don't get the hostility to criticism of this study. If it were a robust study, then the content could stand up to criticism.

Let's look at the articles basic claim: "time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation". This is fine, and undoubtedly true. However, this does not address two issues that remain problematic with wind power:

1. Cost: Can a turbine be produce, installed and operated in a way that produces electricity at a competitive cost per kwh? There are numerous factors that contribute to cost, not just "enery required for production"

2. Variability: Wind power is variable, this is a rather undeniable fact - you've got to take the power when it is produced, which is not necessarily when you need it. What effects does this have on the rest of the grid? Either you have massive power storage facilities (not yet practical), or you have other power plants (e.g., natural gas) that can be ramped up and down very quickly - however, such power plants are themselves quite expensive.

The fact is: This article found one aspect of wind power to praise, but ignores the actual problems that need addressed. Why is it that the green-power people react so badly to criticism?

Comment: Emoji? (Score 2) 108

by bradley13 (#47252591) Attached to: Unicode 7.0 Released, Supporting 23 New Scripts

Great, Unicode is already a fragmented mess, and now the standards organization justifies its existence by adding characters that do not exist.

An earlier poster asked why anyone thinks Unicode is fragmented. The answer in one word: fonts. Different fonts support different subsets of Unicode, because the whole thing is just too big. If you expect your font to mostly be used in Europe, you are unlikely to bother with Asian characters. if you have an Asian font, it probably has only English characters, not the rest of Europe. huge. If you have a font with complete mathematical symbols, it will include the Greek alphabet, but actual language support is a crapshoot.

So the solution to this problem is to add made-up characters that no one cares about. "Man in business suit, levitating". Really?

Comment: The IRS is a corrupt organization (Score 1) 347

by bradley13 (#47252255) Attached to: Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

The IRS is just about as corrupt as it gets. When they decide to target someone, that person's life is over. Finished.

I have an acquaintance this is happening to. The IRS claims that he and his wife screwed up a tax return a few years ago, and now have to pay retroactively. The amount demanded is beyond anything they could have owed, but there is really nothing you can do: The "court" you go do for justice is an IRS court, and guess who it sides with 99 times out of 100?

Since there is no way they can pay this lump sum, they agreed to a payment plan: $X per month. Now, after several months of payments, they have received a statement of account from the IRS. Due to accruing interest and penalties, the amount they owe has increased. Some IRS pantywad has decided to have some fun. Ruin someone's life - it's so entertaining. No accountability, no independent appeal, you are just so screwed.

In the current case: The IRS is legally required to maintain their business records. They are supposed to produce them. "Oops, sorry, a computer crashed" - completely unbelievable. Nonetheless, it appears that they will be allowed to get away with it, and no one at all will be punished...

Comment: How good does it get? (Score 1) 82

by bradley13 (#47228441) Attached to: US Government OKs Sale of Sharper Satellite Images

I wonder about this feature-size stuff. In the Google-maps picture of our house, you can see the bright-yellow garden hose snaking across the lawn. A garden hose is a lot thinner than 50cm, even if it is long.

So: What is meant by a 50cm feature size? And just how much better are the best available satellite images?

Comment: Typical AAAS tripe (Score 2, Insightful) 123

by bradley13 (#47170567) Attached to: Plastic Trash Forming Into "Plastiglomerate" Rocks

Here's the key phrase out of the abstract: "...melted plastic during campfire burning... [increases] the potential for burial and subsequent preservation". Why? Because lumps of melted plastic stick to sand or rocks, and hence are more likely to not blow away, be degraded by UV or whatever.

This is a topic for a scientific paper, and deem headline-worthy by the AAAS? I knew there was a reason I cancelled my membership a couple of decades ago...

Comment: Point of info regarding spying on Ms. Merkel (Score 2) 519

"The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," said Carney. "The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges."

Ms. Merkel asked whether the US had been monitoring her phone, and Obama replied that the US is not doing so. The omission of the past tense was glaringly obvious at the time - essentially an admission that the US had, in fact, being doing so until caught.

Why didn't Obama simply lie? He's a good enough speaker to pull it off, and has shown no reluctance in the past. It seems reasonably obvious that the US knew the Germans had found proof of the spying, and his statement was only intended to mislead the public at large.

Comment: Re:What has happened in Florida? (Score 1) 40

"little" harm is still harm which grows exponentially as time goes on.

How do you figure?

Launches are few and far between (sadly). Otherwise, the wildlife lives pretty much undisturbed. Where do you get any sort of cumulative effect from that?

Actually, the launch center is likely beneficial to the wildlife: without the launch center, there probably wouldn't be a reserve to begin with.

Comment: TFA: But several steps remain... (Score 4, Interesting) 40

Let us not forget the primary purpose of federal environmental impact studies: They take years, employ dozens of bureaucrats, and somehow, there's always one more step, one more required study. The "Iron Law of Bureaucracy" has long since taken over...

Comment: Negative feedback (Score -1, Troll) 298

by bradley13 (#47117239) Attached to: Shrinking Waves May Save Antarctic Sea Ice

What our panic driven media (and too many so-called scientists) willfully ignore: Climate systems are dominated by negative feedback, or else the Earth would long since have turning into an ice ball or another Venus. The computer models showing catastrophe inevitably include positive feedback cycles, because otherwise there is no catastrophe.

The advance and retreat of Antarctic ice turns out to have negative feedback cycles, tied to waves and weather around the Antarctic. So, in fact, we aren't all going to die next week. Who would have guessed?

The continual attempts to get media attention through panic-inducing science are tiresome. The fact that the MSM plays naively along shows just how poorly the MSM itself understands science, or perhaps that headlines are more important than reliable content. No, the planet isn't going to cook in its own juices, nor are increasing sea levels going to drown us all. Negative feedback means that changes will be slow, gradual and contained within certain boundaries. Boring but true...

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