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Comment: Solar power? (Score 1) 229

by crow (#47511019) Attached to: Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

An inverter converts DC power to AC power. The most obvious use is for solar power. For rooftop solar arrays, you want efficiency, but you don't care much about density. In many cases, you have a small inverter under each panel, and size isn't an issue. But if you could get a few percent more AC out for a given DC in, that would matter.

On the other hand, if you want a solar-powered Chromebook, the inverter could be a deal-breaker on the weight. I'm guessing it's applications like that that have inspired this challenge. They want a Chromebook that you leave out in the sun to recharge. Or something similar.

Or maybe they have some other crazy idea I haven't thought of yet.

Comment: Moving is more natural (Score 5, Interesting) 230

by crow (#47442095) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

My observation is that people who don't go to college tend to get a job locally. People who do go to college often attend a college outside of the local area, and when they graduate, often apply for jobs nationwide.

The process of going to college makes moving to a new location much more natural.

It's no wonder that college grads will move to places where they can get good jobs, and that this would be places that already have a high concentration of people with college degrees.

Comment: LED for $18 (Score 1) 196

by crow (#47367483) Attached to: The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

I have a vacation rental property, and some of the bulbs are very hard to replace. I'm afraid that a tenant might try to do it and break the fixture. Also, they take R20 bulbs, and they tend to be expensive to begin with. So now I don't have to worry about the bulbs failing when I'm hundreds of miles away.

I also swapped out the ancient dimmer, but I'm not sure if that was necessary.

I'm very happy with the new bulbs. They're a bit whiter than the old ones, but they dim very nicely.

Comment: Re:Higher capacity for smaller roofs (Score 1) 262

by crow (#47266285) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

That depends on where you live. In Massachusetts, the incentives are such that you can install a system where you pay nothing up front. You can get a loan and pay for it with the savings. Or solar companies will set up a lease and power purchase agreement where they install the system for free, and you are guaranteed to be cashflow positive for the life of the system. (Those lease agreements often eat up two-thirds of the would-be savings over twenty years, so watch out for them.)

Comment: Higher capacity for smaller roofs (Score 4, Interesting) 262

by crow (#47261665) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

For many people, the limit on the size of their solar array is the size of their roof. If you want to offset your full usage, you may need higher-capacity panels than the standard 250W base panels. There are a number of higher-efficiency panels available, but the cost per Watt is higher. They probably don't cost much more to manufacture, so the more efficient panels have a higher profit margin.

Also, you have to keep improving your technology or you're out of the business when the cheap panels get to be as efficient than what you're producing.

Comment: Reviewers need to report this (Score 5, Insightful) 289

So the solution is that the professional reviewers at places like C|Net or ArsTechnica need to have a policy of redoing their testing on older models when newer models are released. If they find that the older model no longer performs as they originally reviewed it, then they need to loudly warn that the manufacturer is known for reducing the quality of the product without announcing a change.

Comment: Media Playback (not Gaming) (Score 1) 185

These reviews are nice, but they always focus on gaming. There's very little information for media playback.

How well do each of these drivers do with accelerated playback of MPEG2, MPEG4, and other formats? If given a 1080i source, can they produce a real 1080i stream to the display, or will the alternating fields get reversed? (I have an older CRT HDTV that is 1080i native. With newer displays, it's good to have the option of letting the display handle deinterlacing.)

If I want to build a low-power media player, what are my options for video hardware and drivers?

Comment: Do simple tests first (Score 3, Insightful) 311

by crow (#47136071) Attached to: Solar Roadways Project Beats $1M Goal, Should Enter Production

The should do the simple tests first.

They claim that the glass cover panels can hold up to traffic and provide sufficient traction. Why not mount just the glass covers over a stretch of road and see how it behaves? Until they get the covers right, the rest is irrelevant.

Once they have the ability to make a glass roadway, then they can deal with the question of what to put under it. How about just LEDs for traffic marking? Will they work in the day time? Will they put out too much light pollution?

Once they have the traffic markings working, they can get the heating elements needed for installing where it might snow. I'm under the impression that they have to melt the snow because the panels won't stand up to snow plows. Maybe it will make more sense to run pipes with heated antifreeze solution instead of direct electric heat. Maybe it will make more sense to redesign the glass covers to stand up to snow plows.

Once those are solved, putting in solar panels is a no-brainer that helps the economics of the project work.

In the end, once all the technical issues are solved, it's a matter of economics. What is the cost of a road made with the panels over 50 years as opposed to a traditional asphalt or concrete road when all the maintenance is factored in for each road type?

Considering all the above, I'm convinced that it makes much more sense to put solar on rooftops.

Comment: Re:Explain Like I'm Five (Score 0) 125

by crow (#47124223) Attached to: Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

It's simple. You use signed source code instead of signed binaries.

Then you use a compiler and linker that does some simple things like randomly ordering variables and functions in the executable and on the stack. That makes it impossible for an attacker to know where some key variable is and exploit it though an overflow (whether on the stack or elsewhere). The attacker is far more likely to crash your program than to exploit a bug, which is much easier to recover from.

Also, as pointed out elsewhere, while this may make debugging more complicated in some cases, it also makes it more likely that bugs where the compiler's choices matter will be found earlier in development, so you may not encounter them in the first place.

And in the case of a corporate IT department, you use the randomizing compiler to build the binary that you push out to your clients. It may be the same throughout your company, but it will be different from anything anyone outside would have access to, which is probably good enough.

Comment: Re:Gentoo (Score 1) 125

by crow (#47124163) Attached to: Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

Gentoo isn't about speed. It's about control and configurability.

All those packages with optional Gnome support? Turned on in every other distribution, but turned off for me.

Want to add patches to a package? Just put the patch file under /etc/portage/patches// and it gets included. I currently have 9 patches applied. I can upgrade the packages, and keep my patches as long as they continue to merge cleanly.

186,000 Miles per Second. It's not just a good idea. IT'S THE LAW.

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