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Comment: Re:That's Fine (Score 1) 104

Oddly enough, I'm pretty impressed with my local waste hauling company. I was getting overcharged for the size of garbage can I had for a number of years without me noticing after containers had been switched out to different types. I placed a single call to my utility company, and they told me they'd have to contact city hall, who manages the city-wide contract and billing. "Great, I'll never see that money", I thought, with quotes about "fighting city hall" coming to mind. A few weeks later, I see a full refund in my online account for the overcharged amount. The employee had followed through and taken care of things for me with just that single phone call. WTF? Excellent customer service from a utility? Mind blown.

In general, I rarely complain when mistakes are made. After all, we all make mistakes. What really counts to me is how those mistakes are dealt with. I think I might write a letter thanking their customer service department. It's probably a rare enough occurrence in an otherwise relatively thankless job, so it would be nice to know that their efforts are actually appreciated.

So yeah, thumbs up for my local waste disposal utility.

Comment: And done elsewhere (Score 1) 237

by Sycraft-fu (#47440405) Attached to: Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

In Tucson 10%ish of the drinking water comes from reclaimed water (aka filtered sewage). Makes sense in an area with not a lot of fresh water resources. Also in those areas you can have different kinds. You can purchase a non-potable (not for consumption) water source for irrigation. Again, reclaimed water, but it undergoes less filtering and thus is cheaper. Plenty of larger places get a hookup to keep their watering costs down.

It is a very sensible way of doing things and you actually have more control of purity than water that comes out of the ground.

Comment: That and DACs aren't the issue anyhow (Score 2) 491

It is easy to make good DACs these days. Basically any DAC, barring a messed up implementation, is likely to sound sonically transparent to any other in a normal system. When you look at the other limiting factors (amp, noise in the room, speaker response, room reflections, etc) you find that their noise and distortion are just way below audibility. Ya, maybe if you have a really nice setup with a quiet treated room, good amps, and have it set for reference (105dB peak) levels you start to need something better than normal, but that isn't very common. Even then you usually don't have to go that high up the chain to get something where again the DAC is way better than other components.

Now that said, there can be a reason to get a soundcard given certain uses. For example you don't always want to go to an external unit, maybe you use headphones. In that case, having a good headphone amp matters and onboard sound is often remiss in that respect (then again, so are some soundcards). Also even if you do use an external setup, you might wish to have the soundcard do processing of some kind. Not so useful these days, but some games like to have hardware accelerated OpenAL.

Regardless, not a big deal in most cases. Certainly not the first thing to spend money on. If you have $50 speakers, don't go and buy a $100 soundcard. If you have a $5000 setup, ok maybe a soundcard could be useful, but only in certain circumstances.

As a side note, the noise in a PC isn't a big issue. Properly grounding/shielding the card deals with it. A simple example is the professional LynxTWO, which is all internal yet has top notch specs, even by today's standards. http://audio.rightmark.org/tes...

Comment: Re:Modern Day Anti-Evolutionists (Score 1) 439

by tbannist (#47417683) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

New York still hasn't flooded

Are you sure about that? I mean sure not reading the article is pretty common on Slashdot but not reading your own sources is pretty lame. The article you linked says that New York will experience more flooding under storm conditions. The top category of flooding in my linked article for the flooding damager during Hurricane Sandy in New York City is 6-18 feet of water, because the top recorded flooding level was a little over 17 feet of water. There seems to be more than a few buildings in that top category. And the article says the average flooding level in New York city will rise by an estimated 4 feet of water by 2032 (20 years after the article was published). I don't see how that can be considered good evidence for your claims no matter how I look at the issue.

Comment: Re:That is not how conspiracy theories work. (Score 2) 439

by tbannist (#47417581) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

The guy should have just opened up his email voluntarily. He could then remove anything personal, which I'm guessing is his primary concern.

If he had removed anything they'd just claim that the removed emails contain the evidence that they were looking for, and more people would be inclined to believe them because they now have evidence that he's hiding something. Frankly, I suspect even if he opened up his email voluntarily and didn't remove anything personal they'd claim that obviously he'd already hidden the evidence they were looking for. Witch hunts don't end just because you're co-operating with your would-be executioners.

Comment: Re:"Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully." (Score 1) 439

by tbannist (#47417293) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

Why can I simply multiply the temperature of the earth at 1 atm pressure by 1.176 to get the temp on venus at the same pressure?

Using the numbers from Venus Atmosphere Temperature and Pressure Profile:
Average Earth temperature: 14 degrees x 1.176 = 16 degrees Celcius
Average Venus temperature at 1 atmosphere (49.5 km above the surface): 66 degrees Celcius

It appears that you shouldn't be able to do so, and that's ignoring the question of whether the surface temperature on Earth should even be directly comparable to the temperature 49.5 km above the surface of Venus.

Comment: Re:"Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully." (Score 1) 439

by tbannist (#47417121) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

Anybody who denies AGW catastrophism is termed a "denier" and the 97% number is trotted out to refute them.

No, generally speaking anyone who denies that global warming is occurring is labelled a "denier", because the evidence is conclusive that it's happening. The people who deny that catastrohpic climate change could occur because of global warming ir more properly lablled as a "luke-warmer", because they generally don't believe it will get "that hot".

So it's fair to point out that the number 97% is "nonsense" when used for that purpose.

No one (but you) is using it for that purpose.

Even if the paper wasn't shoddy in its methods, its conclusion would be useless for the AGW alarmism debate, because pretty much everybody believes that climate changes and that humans "play a role".

Surprisingly, close to half of Americans don't actually believe that, they think that there's no consensus on whether global warming is occurring. Probably because their primary news sources are under the control of Rupert Murdoch who personally stands to lose money from his portfolio if it's widely acknowledged that global warming is occurring and that human emissions are a key factor. Rupert, in case you didn't know, has a lot of money invested in coal companies which would bear the brunt of the effects of regulation, carbon taxes, or carbon trading markets.

Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 676

I can't comment on the file format issue in Office, as I'm not familiar with that.

As far as DirectX goes, I do recall how they released DX 10 on newer platforms (Vista and up). Personally, I think it was a stupid decision, because it limited the potential adoption of DX10 rather than providing an incentive to upgrade to Vista as they hoped. They're pulling the same boneheaded decision to limit the latest DX release to the Windows 8.1, if I recall correctly. Again, trying to shore up a crappy OS release using DirectX will do nothing but cause DirectX to stagnate. The OS's will be replaced in their own sweet time. This seems to be a more recent trend of Microsoft's, and it's a bad one.

I think that the examples you cite are bad decisions on Microsoft's part, not because of what they did, but because they simply did it too soon. I think it's reasonable for them to stop developing software and platform updates for their older software at some point, but with DirectX 10 it sort of had a backlash effect. Even today, overall DX11 use is often paired with a DX9 compatible rendering engine simply for legacy WinXP support, even though any modern video card has long had DX11 support in silicon. We're only now seeing a trickle of DX11-only games starting to come out, all because of that decision. Well, that and the fact that the Xbox 360 was roughly a DX9-equivalent machine.

So yeah, some good examples there. I was thinking mostly in terms of 3rd party application compatibility, for which they have a really good record (i.e. you can pretty much play any DirectX videogame ever as long as it was properly written, which I think is pretty amazing). But they've done some fairly silly things with releasing their own software and platform updates.

Comment: Re:Nearby... (Score 1) 105

by Dutch Gun (#47410389) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

Yeah, that was the weird part. I lived close enough to feel the blast, but the winds blew all the ash east (I lived north of it), so didn't see a bit of the stuff. Felt bad for some folks in eastern Washington, who got blanketed by several inches of ash, if I recall. Fortunately, they're much better equipped for snow removal than in Western Washington, so that was fortunate. I'm guessing by the time it got to Texas it was a much lighter dusting? Still pretty impressive.

Comment: Re:Monster Volcano? (Score 1) 105

by Dutch Gun (#47410333) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

After all, no volcano in the world today can really compare to the potential of that one.

I disagree. I can think of two, just in the US - the Long Valley caldera in eastern California and the Raton hotspot of New Mexico. Further, the largest volcanic eruption of the past 20 million years occurred at Lake Toba in Indonesia. What is special about that site (perhaps a large, geologically "rapidly" replenished reservoir of high viscosity, high volatile content magma?) may occur elsewhere in the Ring of Fire and other subduction zones.

Sorry, I meant currently active volcano. Unless I missed a major geological event, I'm presuming there aren't any currently active supervolcanoes.

Comment: Re:Start menu is only part of the answer (Score 1) 676

Agreed. The flat, ugly UI is just nasty, and they tried to justify it by explaining how the shared UI would save on battery life. My desktop and it's insanely powerful video card doesn't give a shit about battery life on some Windows phone, and that's not a valid reason to uglify your desktop OS. It was a stupid excuse then, and they still haven't retracted it.

I'm sort of looking for a revival of an attractive UI as a touchstone to see if MS is really recanting all the idiocy involved with Windows 8. It probably won't prevent me from buying Windows 9 if I get new hardware, but I'll be damned if I pay for an upgrade to an OS I can't stand looking at. Call me shallow, but when you spend ALL DAY EVERY DAY on the damned OS, I'd like to at least not cringe when I look at it. Besides, there isn't a real compelling technical reason to upgrade at this point either.

Comment: Re:Who cares? (Score 1) 676

Is Windows relevant to anything anymore?

Only to about 90% of home computer users who still run Windows applications and such that don't work on other operating systems. On the server, it's a bit more balanced, but Windows is still a major player. And of course, Windows is a relatively small player in the smart device market (a bit more than Linux on the home desktop, for comparison).

If you think Windows isn't relevant, you're living in a *nix or apple bubble. Good for you, but don't mistakenly project your version of reality onto the rest of the world.

Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 676

You forgot to quote "improvements".

BTW, when has MS ever created incompatibilities with old versions for no reason? I assume you're talking old versions of software? They've historically jumped through ridiculous hoops to provide backward compatibility. It's an area in which they've actually done a rather outstanding job, in my opinion. There's plenty of reason to criticize MS, but seriously, backward compatibility is not one of them.

Comment: Re:But, will they learn from their mistake? (Score 1) 676

While it is nice to see Microsoft undo a horrific mistake for once, lets not be too quick to forgive and forget.

Why? I'm not in some personal relationship with them. I buy operating systems and other products from them. If they're good, I buy them. If not, I don't, and wait to see if they'll improve, or find an alternative. Why should I worry about their long-term survivability? It's not as though someone wouldn't fill up the market share should they disappear tomorrow. And let's not kid ourselves - MS could completely stop developing new products and they'd probably be around for another decade at least.

Also, as much as I disliked Windows 8 personally, calling it a "horrific mistake" and a "monster" smacks a bit of hyperbole. Many users actually like Windows 8, and honestly, the ones most hurt by the product was MS's bottom line. Other than the UI and usability blunders (and let's not kid ourselves - they're huge blunders), it's actually a fine OS.

Comment: Re:It's as if (Score 1) 676

Microsoft doesn't know the meaning of the term "focus group testing". Although I guess it is sort of pointless if you already know the masses are going to eat whatever shit you dish out.

I'm betting they did a lot of focus testing, but ignored the result of them at a very high level. There was too much momentum in the wrong direction (the idea that touch/metro should supplant the "legacy" desktop in their main OS) to change it by the time consumers got in front of it.

In the end, the market forced them to acknowledge what the focus groups were probably telling them all along.

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