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Comment: If there were competition (Score 1) 221

by rossz (#47725909) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

If there were competition, the broadband companies would be going out of their way to roll out something bigger and better than the next guy. Except, all too often, a broadband company gets a monopoly in a city, raise their prices while cutting their services. They have zero incentive to roll out any improvements. They rarely even bother with doing basic maintenance. Upgrades and repairs cost money, that cuts into profits. It's not like the market has anywhere else to go.

A taxpayer funded project isn't a barrier to future infrastructure improvements. Monopolies are a barrier to future infrastructure improvements.

Comment: Re:Don't reinvent the Wheel (Score 1) 462

by cshark (#47723941) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

Hard to say. I would almost consider building new wheels to be part of the learning process for a new programmer. And I think there's value in it. Not just in the base problem solving skills that comes with re-inventing the wheel a few times, but in the perspectives that come along with it. If you don't re-invent the wheel at least a couple of times, then you will have no basis for forming a valid opinion on the best way to implement a wheel. Which, granted, may not sound like much, but it makes a difference in so many other areas. Besides, even when you're talking about literal wheels, those get re-invented all the time. If they weren't we would never have gotten innovations like the rubber tire, or the memory foam insert for armored cars. We would still have wooden wagon wheels, which, while useful, aren't especially interesting or versatile. I think, in the long run, the same is true for code. If someone wants to write a big new shopping cart product, based on what they think are the best practices for such an implementation... let them. If someone wants to think out a new way to write a blog, or send an email, that's fine too. If I were bringing young guys onto my team, I would honestly prefer to work with people who had that kind of experience, over people that didn't. Just my 3800 satoshi.

Comment: The other thing... (Score 1) 462

by cshark (#47723831) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

The other thing I wish I had known earlier as a programmer is that while open source is nice for developing skillsets, it's also nice to make a few bucks with the things I create. Had I been a little more business minded in my early years as a programmer, I would have been a lot richer, a lot sooner. This also relates back to mentoring. As a young programmer, it's very important to seek out and work with grizzly old programmers who have been where you are, and experienced the things you might be trying to figure out right now. Personally, I didn't even realize I needed mentors until about five years in. I should have looked for them earlier.

Comment: Light but reactive element = high energy density (Score 1) 138

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47718377) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

"lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."

  I'm wondering if this is a non sequitur for electric batteries.

Not a non sequitur at all.

An important factor for batteries is energy density: How much energy is stored per unit mass. This is particularly important for electric cars: The higher the energy density, the less mass you havce to haul around for a given amount of "fuel", which means the less "fuel" is spent hauling your "fuel" around, so it's a more-than-linear improvement.

Lithium is both extremely light and a very reactive nonmetal. So you're talking about a lot of energy per unit mass for the lithium-based electrode's contribution to the reaction.

Comment: Re:12% of the population is Muslim (Score 1) 358

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47698599) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

Well, they cannot become martyrs by just dropping dead. At least they have to kill some unbelievers as well...

Actualy, they CAN become martyrs by dropping dead - after deliberately NOT leaving the area of a plague and thus avoiding the spreading it, at the cost of their own lives.

Martyrdom doen't just come from being killed in a religious war.

Another way to become a martyr, for instance, is to die in childbirth.

Yet another is to die while defending your home and/or family from robbers or other attackers (as my wife pointed out to a crook who was trying to extort "taxes" for a local gang.)

Comment: Early reports indicate they may have had reasons. (Score 2) 358

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47698539) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

According to a report I saw (following a link from the Drudge Report yesterday):

1)The early symptoms of Ebola are very similar to those of Malaria, to the point that people with malaria are being thrown into the ebola quarantine camps. (Also: Many of the people who HAVE ebola, or their support network, may THINK thay have malaria.)
2) The camp ran out of gloves and other protective gear - leaving the staff and patients unable to clean up after and avoid contagin from the body fluid spillages of the actual ebola patients. Come in with SUSPECTED ebola and you soon have ebola for sure.

That, alone, would make it rational for someone not yet sick or mildly sick, incarcerated in the camp, to break out and hide out.

3) Stories are circulating in the area that ebola is a myth and the oppressive government factions/first worlders/take your pick of enemies are using this story, plus the odd malaria case here and there, to create death camps and commit genocide in a way that gives them plausible deniability.

That idea, of course, can lead to mass action by some of the local population to "rescue" their fellows and sabotage the camps.

The whole think is a real-world example of the cautionary tale "The Boy who Cried 'Wolf'". When the officials lie to the people for their own benefit, repeatedly, until the people come to expect it, the people won't believe them when they are telling the truth about a real threat - and all suffer.

Comment: Re:Truly sad (Score 1) 358

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47698411) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

Ebola is one mutation away from being airborne transmissable. It already happened with Ebola Reston -- fortunately for us all, that turned out to be transmissable to monkeys but not humans.

I've heard reports that it may have happened with this one, too.

It doesn't have to be as GOOD at doing airborne transmission as, say, the common cold, to be a BIG problem.

Comment: Hate to be the one to point this out... (Score 5, Insightful) 267

by cshark (#47690965) Attached to: Are Altcoins Undermining Bitcoin's Credibility?

But they said the exact same thing about Linux distributions in the 90's, after the post Redhat influx of distros. What we learned from that experience, and some of us knew it at the time, was that the more people you have working in their own isolated environments, solving the problems that are important to them... the more innovation you have in the greater Linux space. It's the trickle down effect in open source software, and it's what makes a product or product ecosystem stronger. And we're seeing the same effect in the Bitcoin space. Just look at the proliferation of Scrypt variation, Gravity wells, different variations on proof of work, proof of stake, and others. Like Linux, Bitcoin is more than a bundle of software products, it's an entire ecosystem. To dismiss that, and say that there should only be about Bitcoin seriously misses the way open source innovation works. The rest is all marketing, which is bullshit by definition.

Comment: Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (Score 1) 435

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47690447) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Like file downloads vs. interactive sessions, some power loads just need a long-term average and can be adjusted in time, without noticable impact, to shave peaks and get a closer match to generation - even if some of the generation, itself, is uncontrollably varying.

In fact, this is already being done. A prime example is in California, where a large part of the load is pumping of irrigation and drinking water. California utilities get away with far less "peaking generation" than they'd otherwise need by pumping the water mostly at off-peak hours. Cost: Bigger pumps, waterways (and in some cases "forebay" buffer reservoirs, below the main reservoir) than would be needed if the water were pumped continuously. This is practical because it was cheaper to upsize the water system than build and run the extra peaking plants. (Also: The forebay-to-reservoir pump generates when water is drawn down. It can also be run as a peaking generator, moving reserevoir water down to the forebay during peak load hours.) Similar things can be (and are being) done with industrial processes - such as aluminum smelters.

But there's a limit to load flexibility. Sure you can delay starting your refrigerator, freezer, and air conditioning for a few minutes (or start a little early, opportunistically), to twiddle the load. But you can't use such tweaks to adjust for an hours-long mismatch, such as the evening peak, or an incoming warm front leading to calm air and overcast skies on a chunk-of-the-continent basis. Try it, and your food spoils and your air conditioner (or heat-pump heating system) might as well be broken, or too small for your living area. Sure you can tweak factory load some. But do it too much and you reduce the production of billion-dollar factory complexes and workers who are still getting paid full rate.

Renewable energy actually helps - because its large-scale variations are driven by some of the same phenomena that affect heating and air conditioning loads. More wind means more heating and air conditioning load due to more heat transfer through building insulation. More sun means more air conditioning. Solar peaks in the day and wind in the evening (due to winds driven by the "lake effect" on a subcontinental scale), so a mix of them is a good match for the daily peak. But it's nowhere near "tweak to match generation and load without waste".

Comment: Works with sound, too. (Score 2) 98

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47680587) Attached to: Correcting Killer Architecture

I heard a story about another "killer building" near Chicago. (Haven't checked the claims for truth - just repeating it as I heard it.)

Seems there was this nice commercial builing next to O'Hare Airport. Curved walls, lots of lawn, nice walkway up to the door in the middle. Great view through the space over the airport runways.

There was this one spot on the walkway where more than one person was found unconscious or dead of apparent heart failure. There were enough that somebody looked into the coincidences.

Turns out the building's curve was parabolic and it faced a runway. If you happened to be at the focus when a jet taking off crossed the axis, the building concentrated the sound of the engines on you...

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson