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Comment: Re:Land of the free (Score 1) 476

by dj245 (#48626733) Attached to: Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

The bottom line is that families were split apart and have remained apart for 60 years directly because of squabbling between the US and the former Soviet Union.

Directly because? Certainly the USA and the Soviet Union encouraged the hostility but the Korean people aren't robots. The reason North and South Korea are apart and have such lousy relations is because of Koreans. Non Europeans are also responsible for their actions.

Come on man. The USA and USSR literally drew the DMZ line at the end of World War II. Koreans didn't have much to do with that. Instead of reintegrating Korea into 1 republic, the two countries set up their own preferred style of government in each part of Korea. Nobody can argue that for the first few years after World War II, that the governments were anything but a puppet government. The US set up a South Korean constitution modeled after the US constitution, and the USSR set up communisim in the North with a hand-selected autocrat as the leader.

Korea and Vietnam were cold war fights by proxy. Maybe they would have had a conflict without foreign powers interfering, but the resources that the USSR and USA poured into the fight ensured that it was a far bigger, nastier, and longer war than it would have been otherwise. If either of the superpowers had stayed out of it, one or the other side would have won the war reasonably quickly. Both countries were responsible in creating the stalemate and both are responsible for the poor decisions of the past.

Its also important to keep in mind that outsiders of all types have been fiddling around in Korea since the 1600s- first the Chinese, then an incident with the American-owned ship "General Sherman", then the Japanese, then the USSR and USA. The History of Korea is not a very uplifting read. Korea has been shit upon by every country in their neighborhood and most of the superpowers as well. Given that history, it shouldn't be surprising that they turned inward and cut ties with the West and South Korea, which is strongly aligned with the USA.

Comment: Re:Land of the free (Score 2, Insightful) 476

by dj245 (#48626203) Attached to: Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

I just have to wonder if it's not just a PR stunt. These kind of threats from hackers does indeed sound unbelievable. Hacking a pc and setting up a terrorist strike are quite different skill sets. Am i the only one wondering if this is just a hoax from Sony/the authorities to make people change their stance on the hacks? In the beginning everybody was like "serves them right". Now everybody is like "Omg, poor Sony, i would watch the movie if i could".

These threats seem like the best thing that could happen to them after the hack. I'm kind of wondering if it isn't a bit too convenient.

I'm thinking they made a financial calculation. If the value of the materials which the hackers have, but have not yet released, exceeds the expected revenue of the movie, then it makes sense to trash the movie and just move on. I can easily imagine that such materials (especially if they implicate Sony in illegal or questionable activities) having a value of millions of dollars to be kept secret.

Plus, the Korea situation isn't that funny. The bottom line is that families were split apart and have remained apart for 60 years directly because of squabbling between the US and the former Soviet Union. That's not a joke, its just sad.

Comment: Re:Not a cargo ship (Score 1) 112

by dj245 (#48618957) Attached to: New Cargo Ship Is 488 Meters Long

The headline is wrong. This is not at all a cargo ship. It's more like an free-floating platform on which a gas refinery has been built. It will stay in place during its entire lifetime.

It should not even be compared to ships.

It may be freed from having to think too much about propulsion, but it still has to float, weather storms, and keep the crew alive and comfortable with water treatment, sewage treatment, laundry, cooking, etc. Not to mention providing all the functions of a refinery on an island made out of steel. It's an FPSO but for LNG. That kind of vessel is considered a ship, and not an rig, for the purposes of most class societies such as Lloyds or the American Bureau of Shipping.

Comment: Re:Also, in the UK (Score 1) 42

At Warsash there is a similar set of systems:

The engine room simulation looks pretty nice:

My alma mater has a few simulators, but the main training tool is a 450ft ship. When studying to be a ship engineer or a bridge officer, there is no substitute for the real thing, so we had the real thing. Each of the serious maritime universities in the USA (of which there are about 7) has a ship. Usually, the ships actually are owned by the government and can be called up by the government in times of need for disaster response or other reasons.

Comment: Re:How is this specific to Selfie Sticks? (Score 2) 111

by dj245 (#48501337) Attached to: South Korea Bans Selfie-Stick Sales

But how do smaller countries deal with this? Are there other region-wide registrations other than EU?)

Smaller countries often take different approaches. Small countries next door to a large country may adopt the larger country's standard; especially if they get most of their imports from or through that larger country. For example, Bermuda accepts either US or Canada approval, but you still need to register with Bermuda. Enforecement is typically weak in countries like that because the equipment is probably coming through the US or Canada anyhow.

Some countries are "anything goes" because it hasn't become a problem.

Comment: Re:UltraBooks are Better (Score 1) 101

by dj245 (#48491381) Attached to: Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

I have a Surface 2 that I tried using for a bit (got it from work) and it sucks, badly. The mouse design is horrible, you can barely see it. A coworker has been testing the 3 Pro for a while as a desktop replacement with the ability to quickly take the tablet/laptop thing and go on the road. He likes it, but he's got a full set up, docking station, etc. I've had the Dell XPS 12 for almost two years and LOVE it for taking it to meetings and customers at work. Taking notes with OneNote is so easy and the touch screen make it really nice to use. I rarely if ever use the tablet feature. A nice thing about it vs. my iPad is that I can put it on my lap while on the couch at home and browse the web with touch with ONE HAND. iPad requires a stand or two hands and it's just uncomfortable for me. A few months ago I got just an UltraBook with a 15 inch screen so I could program and work on servers better. It's a Dell Precision M3800 meant to compete with a MacBook but it was Windows 8.1 and touch. It's the best device I've ever had, hands down. Light, beautiful in design and screen, great mouse, touch works great. It's not trying to be a tablet/hybrid thing. It's just a great UltraBook. Don't get me wrong, I love my iDevices too (we have lots of them at home), but for work UltraBooks rock.

Hold on there. The Precision M3800 is a desktop replacement. It is not an ultrabook. It's built for power, not minimum weight or thickness.

Comment: Re: Niche energy (Score 1) 90

by dj245 (#48471043) Attached to: WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator
Wow that is a ridiculous argument. Ships used wind energy because that was the easiest thing to use with the technology available 3000 years ago (or whenever the first guy to hang a sheet on a boat did so). Harvesting wave energy using ancient technology would have required ridiculous clockwork mechanisms, which would have been extremely expensive for the day, difficult to repair at sea, and probably not reliable either. A piece of cloth attached to 1 or more sticks is far superior in all these practical concerns, and is far more obvious and practical.

Comment: Re: Money how? (Score 1) 120

by dj245 (#48470943) Attached to: BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550
Well, my question would be what are they doing with all the phones they get? If they are being destroyed, it's exactly like flushing money down the toilet. If they are being resold (through a 3rd party obviously) then those phones are still on the market and working against the very marketshare they are trying to buy.

Comment: Re:8X cost increase up front (Score 1) 516

by dj245 (#48469321) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

No - it's not even a question. Bury the lines and you will remove a large number of causes for power outages.

Quote correct. Thing is someone has to pay for the upfront cost of burying the cables and it is much more expensive. Where I live stringing wires on poles costs in rough numbers something like $1 per linear foot. Burying the cable costs about $8 per linear foot. (this is semi-reliable info from family who worked in the business and would know) Getting the funds to do any sort of meaningful program of burying wires would likely involve a rate increase which tends to be as popular as a lead filled life preserver.

In the long run buried lines will save money - even if you are in an area where the ground is filled with rocks.

That isn't so clear in a lot of places. Repairs on above ground wires are more common but cheaper when they occur. Roll a truck, look up and get busy. Repairs on buried cable is just the opposite. Even finding the problem is harder and many repairs involve a lot of digging. There are places near where I live (semi-rural 20 miles from a major metro area) where it might make economic sense to bury the cable but also quite a few where it most likely doesn't. You can do a LOT of repairs before you even break even on the buried cable despite its general higher reliability. Plus you are replacing infrastructure that already exists and lots of it so any sort of economically rational replacement program would take decades. Every place that truly needs reliable power has a backup generator anyway so it's not like you are gaining much in practical terms by burying the cables for quite a few customers.

Don't get me wrong, I think a lot more cables should be buried than currently are but it's not as simple an equation as buried = more reliable = cheaper.

All good points, and here is another small one-
The line carrying capacity of a cable on a pole is higher than the capacity of a cable in the ground (according to the codes). So if you decide to bury a power cable, often a larger cable is needed for the same capacity.

Comment: Re:Gas not less CO2 on refiring coal plants (Score 1) 143

by dj245 (#48433751) Attached to: Coal Plants Get New Lease On Life With Natural Gas

If you just replace coal with natural gas in the same plant to heat the water it is not significantly less CO2

Burning coal is pretty much just turning bulk carbon into carbon dioxide. Burning natural gas (methane, CH4) creates carbon dioxide, too, of course, but also releases energy from burning the hydrogen to make water. As a result, the combustion of natural gas produces less CO2 for the same energy output. From the Energy Information Agency - Pounds of CO2 emitted per million BTU of energy: Coal (anthracite): 228.6 Gasoline: 157.2 Natural Gas: 117.0 [I'll apologize for the units - I'm just quoting the result. If you must know, 1 lb / 1e6 BTU is equivalent to 0.43e-3 kg/MJ. Or, just look at the number as a figure of merit: lower is better.] more data here

It is even more effective than that- these numbers don't take plant efficiency into consideration. The "per million BTU of energy" is just the amount of heat produced, not the amount of electricity. A very efficient traditional coal plant is about 35-40% efficient in turning the heat into electrical power. A typical combined cycle gas power plant is about 57-60% efficient due to the nature of the different cycle. So, on a per-MW produced basis, Natural gas looks a lot better.

It also doesn't hurt that natural gas is at all-time low prices in the US thanks to our gas boom and the high cost of transporting natural gas across oceans. Gas is cheaper than coal now in many places. The only coal plants which are going to survive are the more efficient plants with short coal supply lines. It has little to do with environmental concerns, it is strictly an economic calculation in many cases. The environmentalists didn't defeat coal, the accountants did.

Comment: Re: It's still reacting carbon and oxygen... (Score 4, Informative) 143

by dj245 (#48433257) Attached to: Coal Plants Get New Lease On Life With Natural Gas

That was then. Today we have settled on standardized new-generation plant designs that avoid this problem.

What's really needed is a change in our legal system to eliminate the disproportionate power that small groups of activists have to disrupt construction. Their strategy is to raise costs by imposing phony legal delays on construction after the initial approval.

As a guy who very recently was involved in selling new power station equipment, I can say with 100% confidence that there is no such thing as a standardized power plant design in the USA. I was selling turbines to Duke, Southern Company, Exelon, Luminant, and many others. Every customer wanted something different. Some of them wanted triple redundant instruments on valves, and some were happy with dual redundancy. Some of them wanted the generator protection system to be redundant on 2 different vendor's kit, and some wanted redundancy with identical cabinets from the same vendor. Some wanted a stainless steel oil tank, and some were fine with the carbon steel + epoxy coating tank. Some of them wanted to have a large turbine deck to make maintenance easier, and some were cutting that cost since they were going to flip the plant anyway. We went into great detail about even the most mundane of things. Some of the customers wanted to have all our equipment numbering changed to their (internal and proprietary) numbering standard so that all the plants they owned had the same numbering scheme. No matter what our "standard" design was, someone had a problem with it. These guys know what they want and if it isn't included in your "standard" design, they want a price to make it happen.

This is a different philosophy from Europe and Asia, where standard designs are common and even preferred. But that's the US power market. Toshiba/Westinghouses' standard AP1000 plant isn't good enough for any of the US utilities who can afford to build such a thing. All the customers have their little quirks of wanting to be a little more safe in one area, or a little more convenient to operate, or a little cheaper to build. None of those changes affect the core safety principles of the design, they are just different. They do, however, drive up the build cost. Additionally, these plants don't get build often enough to keep the same crew on each job. By the time you build Unit #2, 10 years has gone by and a lot of the people who built Unit #1 have changed jobs or retired. It is difficult to keep such specialized experience in the economy if it is needed so rarely.

Comment: Re:Out of touch with reality (Score 1) 62

by dj245 (#48425363) Attached to: US Intelligence Unit Launches $50k Speech Recognition Competition

I am sick of these "challenges" that effectively try get programmers to work for effectively well below market rates. As if we're like children, a "challenge" is supposed to make us set aside months or years of income to work on a really difficult problem that if we had to actually go out and do for a company in the job market, we'd be paid $100K/year or more..

You're completely missing the point. They've found the Stargate and egyptologists are a dime a dozen. They need to form an elite team of programming and AI experts who will decode the symbols on the Stargate and defeat Apophis. This is just a fancy recruitment test.

Comment: Re:cheaper perhaps (Score 1) 150

But it sounds inferior in many respects. Lasers require line of sight, which is obviously a problem. We really ought to be investing in quality infrastructure.

Are you going to pay for it? Laying fiber is insanely expensive. Not because of the trench or even the fiber... it's the home owners that are the problem.

Imagine I show up at your house and tell you I'm going to dig an 8' deep trench across your yard for Fiber. What are you going to do? And your neighbor? And his neighbor? ... and the other thousand people whos yards get trenched? Lawsuits... and that doesn't even cover all the roads, driveways and sidewalks you have to dig up.

Why are you digging a 8 feet deep trench for fiber?!? Laws in different states seem to vary, but between 2-4 feet is plenty. If you use a ditch witch style machine, the trench is only a couple of inches across on the surface. If you wanted to do it really well, you could cut a strip of sod out, but it to the side, and put it back when you were done.

All the simple programs have been written.