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Comment: Re:Anecdotal evidence (Score 2) 238

by caseih (#49710963) Attached to: How Windows 10 Performs On a 12-inch MacBook

Hardly. Windows Me (and Win 9x), as bad as it was, was lightyears ahead of classic MacOS from an architecture pov. It was fully preemptive, multitasking. And it was to a large degree really 32-bit, though it was bootstrapped from a 16-bit environment, and some of the drivers appear to have been 16-bit. But it did run in protected mode. Wasn't nearly as good as Windows NT of course, which was also pretty darn good, based on the venerable VMS operating system's architecture.

As for Vista, under the hood it was similar to XP and Windows 7. There were horrible UI decisions (the UAC mainly), but the core was solid and stable, and fast. Windows 8 was just fine too. It was just a UI mess.

OS X, while not particularly speedy under the hood, is solid and stable also. Of late their UI has started to suck more and more though.

Comment: Re:It's not limited to the US (Score 4, Informative) 218

In Australia and western Canada, neonic-coated seads are typically placed in the ground via a gravity-fed metering system (box drill), or via an air drill that blows the seed into the ground behind shanks that open the soil. So dust particles laden with neonics get buried in the soil where bees won't be exposed directly to them. In the midwest US and eastern Canada, where the crops are predominantly things like soybeans or corn, they use vacuum planters which suck the seeds from storage one at time and drop them into the ground. Unfortunately the vacuum planters blow a lot of dust from the seeds into the air. So neonic-laden particles get blown everywhere and we know they affect bees and any other insect. So it could very well be that widespread use of vacuum planters is a part of the problem. Unfortunately air drills don't work very well for row crops that do best with rows of singulated seeds.

The Alberta Bee Keepers Commission refuses to back any attempt to completely ban neonic use in Canada as it would decimate their industry. Fewer crops means fewer bees are required by farmers.

The reason neonics are used is that when the plant is young, the neonics are taken up through the plant and make the plant toxic to pests that would eat the little leaves, killing the plant. On one of my dry bean fields last year was seeded without neonic seed treatment, and we did see some yield reduction from pests eating the plants at an early stage, including from works eating the shoots underground. If there's a chance neonics can be used safely, then for sure they are a huge benefit.

There is the other issue of neonics present in the pollen, leading to bees getting a bit of a buzz. It's not clear to me how much neonic there is in the flower at that late stage of the plant's growth, or what the consequences of that are. Bees around here are heavily used to pollinate hybrid canola, all of which was treated with neonics. So it's really hard to say what the consequences are.

It's true we can control the use of pesticides, and we should and do. This doesn't have to mean an outright ban. A complete ban would mean the return to more toxic insecticides being sprayed at more regular intervals on a crop, which none of us wants.

Comment: Re:Take A Bow For Your Accomplishments (Score 3, Insightful) 218

In Alberta, where there are more commercial bee keeping operations than anywhere in Canada, of honey and other types, and where neonic use is higher than in many other places. Bees are simply are not having the problems seen elsewhere. The bee keepers association here in Alberta is strongly opposed to an outright neonic ban because it would severely hurt their pollination and honey business. Without neonics there would be a lot less Canola and other crops to pollinate.

Now, this isn't to say that neonics aren't a big part of the problem of bees dying elsewhere. It could have to do with how the neonics are being used. In Alberta they are used when treating the seeds with fungicide, and typically they are placed in the ground with a gravity-fed drill, or an air drill that blows them into the ground. So all the neonic residue gets placed under the soil. In other places, they use vacuum planters (corn, soybeans) which blows neonic-laden dust into the air. So it could be this that contributes to the problem.

Comment: How one drives is a big part of the story (Score 4, Informative) 395

by caseih (#49646403) Attached to: 25 Percent of Cars Cause 90 Percent of Air Pollution

It's easy to meet EPA standards on test bench. Out in the real world it becomes a lot harder. Heavy acceleration is bound to dump all kinds of particulates, NOx, and CO, despite pollution controls like catalytic converters. Things like catalytic converters and other pollution controls run best under constant conditions, with the proper amount of fuel to air, temperature, etc. All of which probably works well while cruising at constant speed down the open road. The moment you start doing stop and go, all bets are off. Hit the gas pedal hard and the fuel mixture goes fairly rich as the engine tries to keep up. I'm not a hypermiler freak, but I do tend to accelerate and brake conservatively (I have a CDL and drive big trucks occasionally as well, which influences my habits) which seems to anger people in city driving, unfortunately. I also try to take curves in a manner that makes things as smooth as possible.

Most people on the road seem to not care one bit about fuel consumption and race from light to light, without actually getting ahead of anyone doing that, nor actually getting anywhere faster. I'm sure emissions could be curtailed quite a bit if everyone just slowed down and cars limited their acceleration to something realistic.

I imagine these horribly-bad 25% of cars emitting the most pollution would do a lot better if people would drive them properly.

Comment: Re:The grid needs storage - not battery storage (Score 1) 334

by caseih (#49568579) Attached to: Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage

That doesn't change the fact that on the power grid itself, there is no storage, so any efficiency, even bad efficiency is better than nothing.

As to your used battery idea, it is not a good one. Most used batteries are car batteries. And no they are not an excellent way to add more storage capacity. A used car battery won't hold a charge, or deliver current. That's why they are replaced after all.

Comment: Re:systemd, eh? (Score 1) 494

by caseih (#49546073) Attached to: Ubuntu 15.04 Released, First Version To Feature systemd

Linux audio sucked before pulseaudio. I would never go back to the old days.

What is undebuggable about systemd? What problems are you having? It's modular and verifiable, and it's quite a bit easier to debug service problems than init scripts (am I the only one to have to turn on set -x in an init script to find out what is going on with hacked scripting logic?). There are lots of reasons to dislike systemd particularly with how it deals with syslog, but your arguments seem a bit tired.

Comment: Re:DAB or DAB+? (Score 1) 293

by caseih (#49502281) Attached to: Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017

Had a year's worth of Sirius satellite radio with a new vehicle. Couldn't stand to listen to it. the sound quality was awful, just like you describe. Even talk stations were tinny and clipped and grating on the ears. Anything remotely "classical" as far as music was concerned was utter garbage. Analog FM sounds way better. And as you say, it's a codec issue more than a digital issue. A modern MP3 encoder such as LAME can create pretty good audio with a 64 kbs stereo stream.

I guess most people aren't discerning listeners though, because I know of many people who love their satellite radio.

Comment: Re:Should be micro kernel (Score 3, Interesting) 209

by caseih (#49466775) Attached to: Linux Getting Extensive x86 Assembly Code Refresh

Just because Minux has only 100 lines of assembly doesn't mean anything about Darwin, even if Darwin has microkernel components, so your association there is a bit fallacious. Unless it's changed recently, Darwin does have microkernel (mach in fact) underpinnings, but a complete FreeBSD subsystem is grafted onto that. So if anything Darwin is a hybrid kernel. Like most real systems out there, it's not a complete microkernel system.

Comment: Re:The obvious answer (Score 1, Insightful) 332

by caseih (#49457643) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water

As far as industries go, farming is in a rather unique situation. Manufacturing and processing plants, which can use a fair amount of water, simply pass on their increased costs to the consumer. Water conservation increases somewhat, which is good, while overall prices go up. Farmers, on the other hand, cannot pass on their costs to consumers. They are price takers. So simply making farmers pay more for water may help somewhat, but ultimately it will just drive farmers out of business. If enough farmers are driven out of business and production plummets (a likely scenario), supply will dwindle and prices will go up, which benefits the farmers who help on by the skin of their teeth. But overall it's a huge negative to everyone.

It's unfortunately that urban and rural areas are beginning to clash over water. More and more urban populations are so far removed from food production that they don't realize that cutting off farmers entirely is cutting off their own food supply, at least in part. CA is in a position where a lot of water is virtually exported in the form of exported foods, which is a problem (although a lot of food gets imported as well), but if consumers are willing to pay for it, farmers can and will switch to growing foods exclusively for local consumption.

Currently, as far as I can tell, most cities don't recycle water very much. They are dependent on a fresh source (hence the desalination plant), which goes through the city, and is then treated and released. There's very little technical reason why nearly 100% of the water that isn't lost to runoff or evaporation can't be recycled and put back into the potable supply. Surely if people are willing to shut farmers down they should be willing to recycle their own waste water, including sewer water. Maybe only 25-30% of water can be recycled, but that'd be a good help.

Comment: Re:masdf (Score 1) 297

by caseih (#49452807) Attached to: Would-Be Bomber Arrested In Kansas; Planned Suicide Attack on Ft. Riley

Bombing is going so well for us isn't it. And the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan with guns and bombs and prisons and such worked amazingly well. Just like these FBI stings work so well. Sure ISIS is slowly crumbling under the constant assault, and will likely be defeated soon. But when it's over the people who are left will be in more need than ever before, and even more vulnerable. ISIS2 will be even worse. In short it's just not working for anyone involved.

Look, at some point we will have to engage on an ideological level. We must find out why so many people are susceptible to fanatical messages and figure out how to convince them that the moderate way is better for everyone. If everyone did have adequate access to mental health care (to say nothing of basic health care, food, and jobs), then yes, ISIS would have had no power to begin with. Comparatively the US doesn't have the problems with certain populations and extremism that other nations in the middle east have, because of the fact that basic needs are usually met.

Perhaps western ideology has little to offer these people. If so then both they and we are in serious trouble.

Comment: Re:Great, Let's Build IFR's (Score 2) 417

As long as something is still radioactive, there is wasted energy (not to mention dangerous to store) that could be extracted. That's what the IFR program was all about. Process the material until it breaks down into things with such a short half life that it doesn't make sense to process them anymore. And at that point you have waste that has a radioactive half life of decades not centuries or thousands of years. And it sounds like in the short decade they were in operation, they were very successful.

As the article stated, the end of the IFR program was an entirely political decision, not a technical one. Given that we need the technology so desperately from a humankind point of view, it bothers me that politicians today won't even discuss the idea. They are willing to entertain conventional, inefficient nuclear energy, at least to give it lip service.

The good news is that in the future when logic prevails, all the stores of toxic nuclear waste can be mined for fuel for the next generation of IFRs. Provided it can be stored safely.

Comment: Re:Great, Let's Build IFR's (Score 2) 417

Except if you study the IFR idea, you'll find there are very few rational concerns about it. In fact it handily addresses all the traditional concerns about Nuclear energy. Safety, waste, etc. If the article linked to by the GP is correct, even the worry about plutonium bomb making is unwarranted as IFR technology simply can't be used to make a bomb. If this scientist is correct (and I see no evidence he's not--after all he worked on this project for many years), then any politician opposing IFR is irrational, or in a conflict of interest with some aspect of the energy sector.

Comment: Re:BASIC (Score 1) 315

by caseih (#49443197) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

QB64 is only a download away and presents a classic QB4.5 style text ide with an integrated compiler and debugger. It's as close to an out of box learning environment as you can get. And it can do graphics in an SDL window. Might be a perfect start for some budding programmer. Just encourage structured programming and you should be fine.

In a different vein, installing Python and IDLE isn't hard and gets you running very quickly.

It's not an optical illusion, it just looks like one. -- Phil White