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Comment: Re:The difference isn't the card. (Score 2) 440

I know this is a humorous post, but for really high-bandwidth applications, cables do actually matter. For example, driving WUXGA (1920x1200) at 60Hz, 24-bit/px, this is roughly 3.3Gb/s, or a little north of a gigabit/s for each color (RGB). Since each color runs over a single wire (I think), this is comparable to the requirements of gigabit ethernet -- except (I think) gigabit ethernet over twisted pair uses all 4 pairs of wires, as opposed to just a single wire for VGA. And, given that VGA is analog, noise certainly does creep in.

With a bandwidth in the 10s of kHz range, yeah...I sorta doubt audio cables matter much at all =)

Comment: Re:Interesting... (Score 2) 119

by by (1706743) (#47351041) Attached to: Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks

But what wouldn't a benevolent progressive government pay for the ability to collect more data? Especially from the phones voluntarily plugged-in by unsuspecting residents?

From TFA:

The benches also connect wirelessly, using Verizon’s network, to the Internet to upload location-based environmental information, such as air quality and noise-level data.

I don't think they're trying to upload data through your phone without your knowledge, I believe the "cell phone charging" and "connects to the cell network" are unrelated, aside from the fact that both are supposedly powered via the solar panels.

Comment: "Victims" received positive or negative newsfeeds? (Score 3, Interesting) 219

According to the WSJ's coverage ,

The impetus for the study was an age-old complaint of some Facebook users: That going on Facebook and seeing all the great and wonderful things other people are doing makes people feel bad about their own lives.

So although conventional wisdom might say that seeing positive things makes you happier, here there have been accusations to the contrary -- positive things about other people makes you feel lousy about yourself. This study ostensibly looked at that (and I think it found something along the lines of conventional wisdom: happy posts make you post happy stuff, a [dubious!] proxy for your own happines...).

If Facebook knew (and how would they?) that X makes you depressed, then yes...there might be some moral issues with that. But it seems that Facebook asked a legitimate question -- especially so given that it was published in PNAS.

That said, feels a little shady. But then, when I log onto Facebook, I am certainly not expecting any aspect of the website to be designed with my best interests in mind!

Comment: Apps which require location? (Score 4, Interesting) 67

by by (1706743) (#47348489) Attached to: Ars Takes an Early Look At the Privacy-Centric Blackphone
Obviously, if you're concerned about privacy, you should avoid apps which require location, etc., information. However, it would be neat if you could get PrivOS to spoof things like location (and possibly calls, contact lists, etc.).

Location information could still be very useful for apps that need it, if you have a sane spoofing policy (either manual or automatic). If you, say, travel to another city for a week, you could have the OS spoof a single location in that city for the duration of the trip. The privacy implications of, "Bob is in San Francisco" are somewhat different than, "Bob is at 14th and Valencia."

Of course, I didn't RTFA, so I have no idea if something like this is implemented/in the works/impossible...

Comment: Re:consent (Score 2, Interesting) 130

by by (1706743) (#47344357) Attached to: In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions
But surely users are allowed to be put in an A/B test used for *commercial/advertisement* purposes, right? Is doing something for academic purposes somehow worse than for business purposes? Personally, I would rather my online behavior be used for a purpose which nominally increases our knowledge than for a purpose which increases someone's bottom line.

That said, I do find this whole thing to be a little shady...but I'm not sure it's a particularly rational reaction, given that I rarely care about A/B testing when it's being used to shamelessly make money off of me...

Comment: Re:Aluminium (Score 4, Informative) 365

by by (1706743) (#47340279) Attached to: Germany's Glut of Electricity Causing Prices To Plummet

...pumped hydro...has an input-to-output efficiency of about 65 percent.

I think that's a pretty low number, perhaps typical of older designs. Newer designs can have efficiencies upwards of 80%:

...and nuclear generation doesn't need storage to be useful and meet demand...

I believe nuclear tends to be quite bad at load following:

Of course, it is excellent for always-on power, but not ideal for surges or lulls. In certain cases -- L.A. in the summer, for instance -- solar power, although intermittent on the whole, is intermittent in the most useful way: on a nice clear hot day, there's the biggest demand for A/C and the best solar power production.

...but no-one ever adds the cost of storage to the cost of renewables when comparing prices.

Well...staunch proponents with an ax to grind may not include such costs, but then, staunch proponents of coal with an ax to grind will ignore any externalities related to airborne toxins. Any legitimate study of renewable energy should really include storage costs.

With all that said, I really think Germany did the wrong thing with the whole anti-nuclear energy thing. To paraphrase that quote about democracy, nuclear is the most dangerous form of energy generation, except for all those other sources we've tried ( ).

Comment: Re:As true as "hybrid cars get 400 MPG" (Score 1) 461

by by (1706743) (#47322499) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly
It is neither physically nor mathematically impossible to power the world with solar power -- it's just financially difficult.

The amount of sunlight falling on the Earth per year is around 3,850,000 EJ and the amount of energy used by humans per year is around 600 EJ -- covering 0.05% of the Earth with solar panels that are less than 5% efficient would yield more than enough energy. The Sahara desert makes up almost 2% of the Earth's surface area, and solar panels can easily exceed 5%. (And surface area / distribution gets to be less of a problem if you add in parts of the US's southwest deserts, some of Australia, etc.)

Yes, storage and distribution are Big Problems, but there are ways of solving these problems (hydro storage, molten salt storage, electrolysis of water to hydrogen, etc.). Storage (or conversion to hydrogen, etc.) comes at a loss, but there is so much solar energy hitting our planet that, if properly managed, we could have enough juice to spare.

In the short term though, yes -- I completely agree that we need to ramp up nuclear energy use, and "prudent" use of fossil fuels seems sadly to be required, until we start investing serious money in alternative (or even conventional nuclear) energy.


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