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Comment: Re: What Would be a Trivial Amount? (Score 1) 180

Hadn't thought of a timer switch for the water heater. Only thing I did was lower the temp to 115F. That seems to be as low as you can go and still have a hot shower. Run the shower at maximum hot. Safer too, can't get scalded.

I really want to go to a solar water heater. But $5000 and up, when a cheap tank is only $350, is too much money. Would take a century to pay that difference back. I want payback times to be no more than 10 years, and that's stretching it. I'll take 5 year paybacks every time, but between 5 and 10 I have to think about it. Mroe than 10, forget it. Just too many other random events can intervene: dramatically improved tech or lower prices, or you might move or yoru house is damaged or destroyed by vandals, fire, tornado, earthquake, or flood. Well, I don't have to worry about a flood, as I refuse to ever live in a flood plain.

I looked into tankless as well. They cost about $1000. But mine is a gas powered unit. To change from tank to tankless, have to put in a larger diameter gas pipe, and a larger diameter flue pipe. The tankless unit is not freestanding, has to hang on a wall. It also needed an electrical outlet. To make all the changes needed to switch added about $500 to the cost. At $1000, switching was a toss up. At $1500, the tank wins.

At any rate, the new tank is way more efficient, using about half the energy of the old one that was made in the 80s and lasted 27 years. Only a 6 year warranty, and it's been a bit more than that now. I was hedging, hoping it lasts just long enough that solar will be a good deal by the time it fails.

Comment: Re: What Would be a Trivial Amount? (Score 4, Interesting) 180

10 watts is bad. It's also typical. Last time I checked, some 6 years ago, AT&T's U-verse DVR box used about 10 watts while on standby. While 10 watts at a cost of a dollar per month doesn't sound like much, it adds up. If you have 3 game consoles, 3 DVRs, and a bunch of wall warts for recharging cell phones and whatever other battery powered devices you have, you could be spending $10 per month. And why burn it if a better design can work just as well and not use so much energy?

I have done a lot to cut my power use. And it's made a big difference. Went from about 10,000 KwH per year to 5,000 KwH. You don't get there by ignoring 10 watts. I did it by living with higher temps in the summer and lower in the winter (83F and 68F respectively). That was the biggest. Even after that, heating and cooling is still by far my biggest energy user, accounting for about 50% of my total usage. Have always had heavy drapes. But it's always frustrated me just how bad the cookie cutter house I have is for keeping temperatures comfortable without wasting megawatts of energy. The moronic builders put the outdoor part of the A/C on the west side of the house. Those guys who want to sell the expensive double pane windows could never justify the price. 30 year payback? Not doing that. I changed all the incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent, and now am moving to LED, and would like to employ skylights. Have had too many times when the electricity went out while I was in the shower, leaving me in total darkness though it was daylight, as the bathroom is an interior room. A skylight would fix that, and save energy. I got low energy computers, basically laptop designs that were packaged as a desktop. My best one uses 30W max, and that only when running an intense 3D game. If playing video on Youtube, it takes 20W, and if just reading and writing email, it takes 10W. Even so, I have them set to go to sleep after 10 minutes and use almost no power. The best old style desktops with the classic +12/+5/-5 volt power supplies take around 80W. The 80plus program helped with those kinds of power supplies, but it's better to run off a single voltage as laptops do. Another big help was the move from CRTs to flat screens. A CRT uses from 50W to 120W, depending greatly on how bright an image it's displaying and the resolution. Early flat screens use 30W no matter what's being displayed, and now with LED backlighting, that's down to 20W. In 1996, refrigerators took a big leap forward in efficiency. Unfortunately, we had a 1995 model. Finally ditched it, and got one that's twice as efficient. Another appliance that used an unexpected high amount of power while off was the Maytag gas drier of all things. 5W while "off" and doing nothing! Felt warm to the touch on top.

Comment: Re:WTF AM I DOING HERE! (Score 1) 109

by bzipitidoo (#49313047) Attached to: New Alzheimer's Treatment Fully Restores Memory Function For Mice

My mother has Alz, which has become severe now. I think she still remembers me, but maybe not. It's hard to really know. She doesn't know anyone's name anymore, and her speech has become fragmentary.

Big Pharma may have caused or contributed to her condition. About 15 years ago, this Hormone Replacement Therapy, for women only, became quite popular. My mother was given this treatment. Then some more information about HRT came out. Seems the treatment doubles the risk of the patient developing dementia. It might also increase the chance of breast cancer, and cause hearing loss. The HRT treatments and drugs were quietly stopped and dropped, pretty much without explanation.

The issue is complicated. Newer research suggests that whiel synthetic versions of estrogen increase the chance of dementia, perhaps the exact molecule decreases that risk. What to believe?

Comment: Re:Moving Parts (Score 1) 307

Or, go fanless. For hard drives, SSDs are looking good.

I love being able to move up to a better technology. Sometimes an otherwise good product has a weakness that causes early failure. Most people throw the whole thing away and buy another one. That is often a sensible thing to do. But sometimes an upgrade can modernize an old product enough that it's still worth keeping and using. Haven't been able to do much of that with computers, they change so rapidly and radically in such short times. I have a 200M hard drive that's still good, as far as I know. Too bad it's pretty much useless. But for other products, have had somewhat more success.

I have kept a front loader washing machine in good working order through 3 failures. First, a defective Hall effect sensor, fairly easy and cheap to replace for $20. Then the "spider", the piece that attaches the motor to the drum, was made of die cast metal that quickly corroded upon exposure to the water and detergent, breaking after a few years of being weakened. (The idiots at LG who pulled that stunt thought they could get away with being cheap there.) We got a new spider and had it coated. Finally, the door seal became moldy, and we replaced it. We now know that the door should be left open between washes, so it can dry out.

It's similar with cars. 1960s cars were good for as little as only 50K miles. It used to be remarkable to get the odometer to roll over. Upgrade a few things, and those old cars can last far longer. About the first high maintenance item to toss is the ignition system. Points have to be replaced at least every 10K miles, but one of the early solid state systems, so that you don't have to add a computer, can last the life of the car. Whenever an incandescent bulb goes out, replace it and every other one within reach with an LED. A big help is that lubricants have gotten much better. Even if you don't modify anything at all, old cars last longer just by using modern motor oils and the cleaner gasolines of today. Aftermarket parts often benefit from superior understanding or better availability of better materials, and can be much better than the originals. For instance, the original brake pistons on this 1960s car were chrome plated steel- they called that "hard chrome", as opposed to the "soft chrome" used for a bumper. Nevertheless, the plating eventually wore through, and the pistons began to rust and stick. I thought I'd just get them replated, but no, they make pistons out of stainless steel now. Much better. One reason for this change is that over the years, other improvements in metallurgy, mining, and trade, have made stainless steel cheaper. I am eager for the day of the electric car, which may be sooner than the year of Linux on the desktop. Electric motors are far simpler, more reliable, more efficient, smaller, quieter, and all around better than combustion engines. Good enough batteries will enable electric cars to sweep gasoline and diesel completely off the market, the same way that flat screen monitors swept CRTs away.

Comment: Re: Electric car progress (Score 1) 229

I seriously considered buying a Fiesta. The current one is actually a European vehicle, not an American one. Most European small cars are actually decent, though they have had their share of lemons. Today, maybe a cut below the Japanese on quality, but good enough. I have a 1960s Ford Anglia and Ford Cortina, made in England, and they've been quality cars. Hopelessly obsolete by today's standards of course, but for their time, quite good. Once had a 1970 British Leyland Austin America, which was very innovative and far ahead of its time. Had a sideways mounted engine and an automatic transaxle, which is standard fare on small cars today, but was very radical in 1970, and a suspension system that was halfway to being a lowrider, no shocks or springs. But the execution was poor and the thing broke down constantly. One design idea that proved to be a very bad one was that it didn't have separate transmission fluid, it used engine oil for that. Even if you changed the oil far more frequently than usual, maybe every 1000 miles, the transmission would still fail quickly, lasting maybe only 1 year. In short, that car was a lemon.

Sadly, even the good quality small cars didn't sell that well in America, thanks to the American contempt of small. That contempt does several things. You can get a good quality used small car in the US for quite cheap, because no one thinks they're worth anything. Though they and parts for them are harder to find. You can expect that the previous owner will have treated the car badly. Most of the time, I also find it useful that people can't see past the size of my car, and assume I must be dirt poor. Surely no one would choose to drive such a pathetic car if they could afford "better". Where that gets rough is with the ladies. Be prepared to have a lot of dates be one time only, because after she sees the car, she runs away. I always wanted to ask those ladies why they hate the environment, and force men to wow and woo them with big, impressive, expensive cars, but figured there was no use. I consoled myself with the thought that I wouldn't want a gold digger anyway.

Anyway, what killed the Fiesta for me was that Ford did not offer the combination of the 1L 3 cylinder engine with the automatic transmission. Can get the 1L engine with a standard, or the automatic with a bigger engine. I have no problem driving a standard, but others in the family cannot. Now it's too late, the reasons for buying the car have gone away. My plan now is to drive the Chevy Metro I have until it falls apart, then I'll switch to electric. I'm hopeful that the Metro buys me enough time to see significant improvement in electric cars, to the point that they are poised to sweep combustion engine cars off the market.

Comment: Re:Electric car progress (Score 1) 229

A good thought, because it was the terrible Chevy diesels of the 1970s that killed the US market for diesel cars, No one would try a diesel, from any manufacturer, after Chevy screwed them up.

US auto manufacturers have earned a well deserved bad reputation on little cars. They won't make a decent quality little car. I like little cars, but I won't buy a little GM, Ford, or Chrysler, unless it's a rebranding of a Japanese or Korean car. Can GM overcome the American contempt of little cars, and actually make one that's decent quality?

Comment: Re:So cheaters are rewarded, customers get nothing (Score 1) 322

by bzipitidoo (#49285987) Attached to: Microsoft Offers Pirates Amnesty and Free Windows 10 Upgrades

The cheater here is Microsoft, not any of us. Microsoft has committed many crimes. It is a convicted monopolist. It deserved to be convicted. And it's totally unapologetic and lacking remorse, Obviously, the punishment wasn't harsh enough. You talk as if poor, poor MS is bleeding to death, when the facts are that it has vast reserves of money and its chief, Bill Gates, has frequently been the wealthiest individual in the world.

Microsoft's cheating is far more egregious than the supposed cheating of all the software pirates in the world.. Remember the Microsoft Tax? Many people, including myself, paid for a copy of Windows we never used or in some cases even received. That's only one of the many, many dirty things MS has done over the years. At the least, MS owes everyone several free copies of Windows.

But that's a bandaid on the real problem, which is the brokenness of the entire business model of selling copies of software. Copyright is dying. MS should understand that. If they don't, it speaks very poorly of their technological understanding and prowess. I suspect they do, and made a deliberate decision to align themselves with the few other copyright extremists in the world, who are mostly in Big Media and Big Pharma, but also includes Monsanto. It was an extremely anti-social move. They used and abused copyright, doing such monstrous things as creating the BSA, and encouraging disgruntled employees to rat out their employers for supposed copyright infringement. Instead of standing against Disney's attempts to steal from the public domain with their lobbying for copyright extension, MS joined them! They loudly announce that they view everyone else in the world, you, me, and all our relatives, friends, and associates, as software pirates. No one should take that. I am NOT going to accept being accused of piracy, when it is the laws that are in the wrong. If copyright is abolished, then there's no more piracy, no more infringement. MS could have been at the forefront of new business models and technology, instead they chose to align with the reactionaries who will not admit that copyrivght needs major reform if not total abolishment.

Comment: Re:EA got too greedy (as usual) (Score 1, Insightful) 256

by bzipitidoo (#49282463) Attached to: SimCity's Empire Has Fallen and Skylines Is Picking Up the Pieces

You're scaring me. You wear your chains willingly, and mock people who protest. Slave.

It's been said that Steam is DRM done right. All who think that don't appreciate that the only amount of DRM that is okay or right is none at all! If it's possible for DRM to shut down legitimately purchased games, no matter the circumstances, that's wrong. The only good DRM is dead DRM.

And don't confuse keeping track of accomplishments with DRM, like some others in this thread.

Comment: Re:well.. (Score 1) 760

Punishment should never be the first option. Another option is to equip cars with governers that make it impossible to speed. Why can cars even exceed the maximum speed limit? For those rare emergencies, like rushing the pregnant wife to the hospital to give birth? Or, could simply put in such a small engine so that the car's maximum speed is only 80 mph. In concert with this, roads could be better standardized.

I've driven through many a small town that went below and beyond the speed trap and had something really funky. Maybe some really screwball intersection, or an antiquated and very bumpy block still using the bricks it was originally paved with in the 19th century, parallel parking in the middle of the road, or a brand new elementary school right up against the highway, or something else that leaves you scratching your head wondering what where they thinking. The towns act as if they have the right to do anything they want, and can just make a total mess of the highway. It's always a good idea to take it real slow the first time through a strange town, until you figure out the ropes. The problem is sometimes avoided by building an expensive bypass around the whole strange town and their strange citizens, rather than fight whatever wackos they've elected to run the place. You just don't know if the mayor is the kind of guy who also has a side business in some sort of automobile service, and is actually counting on the neglected roads to bring him more business. That's how automobiling used to be in the early days around 1920. Towns could and would screw up highway signs, and pull other dirty tricks to milk travelers out of their money.

There's just too much potential for corruption. Red light cameras are a perfect example of this fad of trying to monetize law enforcement. We have an entire prison industrial complex exerting undue and improper influence on our laws and policies.

Comment: Re:if that were true (Score 3, Insightful) 348

by bzipitidoo (#49221917) Attached to: Obama Administration Claims There Are 545,000 IT Job Openings

Employers are to blame for the mess. It's been an employers' market for years now, and they still aren't satisfied?! Affordable Healthcare relieves them of the burden of handling employee health insurance themselves, but many don't like it. They actually preferred having that as another hold on employees. Be a real shame if you and your whole family lost your health insurance, wouldn't it? You will do what it takes, even if that means putting in 80 hour weeks for the next 6 months, won't you?

On B, it's pretty crappy to put the burden on candidates to train for positions they might not get. Especially when the training wanted is very esoteric. Learning on the job is something many are quite capable of doing, but employers won't even accept that arrangement. Nor will they admit that closely related experience is relevant. Seems the only people companies are willing to train are cheap foreign replacements.

I have to agree on D. It's not startups exactly, it's failing companies. Startups merely experience higher rates of failure. Working on a sinking ship is horrible. As management desperation increases, what fairness and good sense they have vanishes. They began demanding extreme performance, asking for long hours with no extra pay, refusing to see that even if they get it, it won't be enough to save the company. They can turn very abusive. They also look for scapegoats. Soon they're blaming everyone but themselves. They make examples of people, firing some hapless low level employees on trumped up baseless reasons, just in case anyone doesn't get it. You're going to sweat visibly to give 110%, or they will fire you. Then for the grand finale, they don't tell anyone they've run out of money until they can't make payroll, screwing everyone out of a month of pay, and having the nerve to whine that the employees not only shouldn't complain about being cheated, but should feel sorry for them that their glorious vision didn't work out. Their pain is more important! And maybe everyone should keep on working for free in the faint hope that soon fortunes will make a dramatic u-turn and the company will profit enough to pay all the back pay.

Employers also engage in illegal and unfair hiring practices. All this talk of not beimg able to find competent people is simply not true, and is only cover for the real reasons. If they want to, they can always find a reason why someone won't do. And too often, they want to. Often they've already settled on a hire, who can be some incompetent doofus who is related to the boss. They are merely going through the motions of interviewing others, to satisfy the EEOC, knowing that they have no intention of hiring any of them.

Another thing I find hilarious is the recruiter. First those guys are in a big hurry to shove candidates into any job vaguely related to their skills, then once they get a hit, rather than go to bat for their candiadte, they're all over lhe candidate to do the heavy work to win that position. They demand that the candidate heavily alter the resume to the point of outright lies, and say all the right things. Some of the modifications they demand are just plain stupid, but they expect you to shut up and do it if you want a job. The candidates who refuse to cooperate in the mangling of their own resumes are dropped faster than a hot potato, because there are plenty more candidates where they came from.

Comment: Re:it isn't a real question (Score 1) 215

Is it even a real issue? Cynicism suggests that the idea of teaching programming in grade school is a great way to employ some CS grads as teachers, lesson planners, and system administrators and the like, for a while, until it fails miserably and everyone becomes disillusioned with the idea. Businesses, especially tech companies, think that if this works, they can drive down the cost of labor even more,

I think that it could work, but it's too early. Ancient civilizations didn't teach literacy to everyone for a variety of reasons. For one, languages were harder to learn. Hieroglyphics is harder than a phonetic language. Our programming languages are still in the hieroglyphics stage. They're full of boilerplate, excess verbiage, redundancy, and tedious details that obscure what a program really does. Some of our best algorithms textbooks use pseudocode because that's the only way they can omit irrelevant detail. Those that use a real programming language struggle to keep the code brief.

Comment: for a faster boot, roll your own kernel (Score 1) 765

by bzipitidoo (#49204483) Attached to: Ubuntu To Officially Switch To systemd Next Monday

You know one thing that can be done for a faster boot? Without systemd, that is? Roll your own kernel, containing only the drivers for the hardware that the system actually has. Strip it down. Strip out all the other cruft, like support for file systems that you are not going to use. And, this is the critical part, make them all part of the kernel, not modules. Don't even have modules.

No dsitro that I know of goes this exact direction. Gentoo sort of does.. Distros go as generic and inclusive as possible so that their one-size-fits-all system will work on almost any hardware out there.

I wonder why no one has created tools to probe the hardware and generate a suitable kernel config file, and actually automate this into building a custom kernel for the user, as part fo the system installation and update process. make localmodconfig is as close as it gets right now.

Comment: Re:I live in the Netherlands (Score 1) 304

by bzipitidoo (#49158093) Attached to: I ride a bike ...
Is that really something employers should have to do? Instead, we could change our culture so that it's acceptable to be sweaty at work. It's very likely healthier not to shower every day like we do now. Or, until we can stand the thought of body odor and get over this obsessive compulsive disorder towards showering, we could build facilities ourselves, put public showers near workplaces.

Comment: Re:Horribly misleading summary (Score 1) 681

by bzipitidoo (#49109093) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge
Some CS grads are shockingly narrow. Too focused on the technical details, and never get a broader education, as can happen with a BS degree rather than a BA. They can bang out C++ code with the best code monkeys, but they are confused about evolution and science itself, can't sort obvious propaganda from fact, and think they aren't being devout if they don't believe in Creationism. Ask them if they think science is just another religion, and they aren't sure. An appropriate course to clear all that up wasn't part of their curriculum. To be fair, they should have learned that in high school. But then, high school fails students on a number of subjects.

Comment: Re:its all about the $$$ (Score 2) 93

Red light cameras are a money grab. Safety is just an excuse. A former CEO of RedFlex, the contractor Chicago engaged to run their red light cameras, as well as an employee of the city of Chicago, and a few others have been indicted on corruption charges over these cameras.

First, make sure the cameras are functioning correctly. That includes stopping authorities from tinkering with them to boost violations. These devices have been very erratic, more erratic than can be explained by technical glitches.

Next, make sure that the yellow is an acceptable duration. There's an informal standard of 1 second per 10 mph of speed limit. Studies show that's not quite enough. There's also a lower limit of 3 seconds, Can't have the yellow shorter than that. The only formal standard on this is circa 1977, a rather involved formula that takes into account the slope of the approaches, as well as the speed limit. May also have something for whether there is a curve on the approach. We don't have anything more, most likely for political reasons. A few times, cities have shortened the yellow, and been caught. Now they search out badly timed lights that already have too short yellows, so they can deny that they shortened the yellow.

Getting punitive about a problem should be the last resort. Every other solution should be tried first. Even worse is making up a problem to get punitive about. There is no epidemic of red light running for the simple reason that nature may deal out a far harsher punishment to violators than a traffic ticket, and everyone understands that. You want to get your car wrecked? Break some bones? Risk death? Then run those red lights! The majority of red light violations are for missing the light by under 1 second, and nearly no violations are over 3 seconds. Punishing people over a 1 second judgment call is unfair. A few more violations are for honestly not seeing the traffic light, and sometimes that can't be entirely blamed on the driver. Years ago, I saw a traffic light a little ways west of the small downtown that was thoroughly obscured by trees (Olney, TX on state hwy 114). It was not visible at more than 20 feet, and the intersection was not in any way distinct from the dozen or so intersections on either side that didn't have traffic lights. The city should have gotten in trouble for that. Only reason I was able to stop for it is because I knew the light was there and was watching for it. Another town (Charles City IA, US 218, before the bypass was built) had 3 lights in a row, in which the 2 at the ends were on arms hanging over the street, but the middle one was on a post and was somewhat camoflaged by buildings, signs, and other lights. Of course they were mistimed so that the middle turned red at the same time the other 2 turned green. Tricky. Only a very few violations are deliberate, and even there, the driver could have good reason, like being on the way to the emergency room.

What happens when intersections are run fairly is that red light violations drop so low that cities take the camers down to save money.

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