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Comment: Re:Maybe they're misinterpreting the results (Score 1) 175

by ericferris (#33995808) Attached to: Hard-to-Read Fonts Improve Learning

I think you are up on to something here. The conclusions are based on the assumption that Arial is the easier to read font.

Well, it's bunk. Arial sucks dead rabbit eyes. It is a poor derivative of the universally derided Helvetica, itself designed only for short signs and since there overabused. Arial is NOT easy to read. Capital i and lowercase L look the same (lI), not to mention a few other glyphs.

Bodoni is much easier to read. It has been selected by a few companies (IBM notably) as the official communication font because it was shown as... wait for it... easier to read than many others.

So Bodoni _is_ considered by many as one of the most readable fonts. This invalidates the whole premises of the conclusion.

Crime

Geologists Might Be Charged For Not Predicting Quake 375

Posted by timothy
from the google-will-no-doubt-be-found-at-fault dept.
mmmscience writes "In 2009, a series of small earthquakes shook the region of L'Aquila, Italy. Seismologists investigated the tremors, but concluded that there was no direct indication of a big quake on the horizon. Less than a month later, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake killed more than 300 people. Now, the chief prosecutor of L'Aquila is looking to charge the scientists with gross negligent manslaughter for not predicting the quake."

Comment: Re:Bad efficiency, bad idea (Score 1) 132

by ericferris (#31967960) Attached to: Re-Purposing the Netherlands' Dike System For Power Generation

Believe me, the next guy who invents a better turbine is going to make a name for himself. It's not like nobody is looking for improvements. It's just that the physics is tough.

You can look online for "ceramic turbine" and "diamond coating" to get an idea of the current state of material science.

Comment: Bad efficiency, bad idea (Score 1) 132

by ericferris (#31967306) Attached to: Re-Purposing the Netherlands' Dike System For Power Generation

Tidal power plants are not new. See La Rance in France, an old project that stayed experimental because of numerous problems.

Basically, you get a very low efficiency because you have to generate power with low-pressure water due tu a small height difference; Also, salt water is not easy on turbines. This means you have a sizable investment and high maintenance costs that have to be amortized on a pitiful amount of power. A bad idea.

This is a bounty for whoever sold this pie-in-the-sky idea to the Dutch. For every one else, a disaster. It'll end up with the taxpayers sponging off the red ink, as usual.

Comment: Even the article photo is a scam! (Score 1) 114

by ericferris (#31018472) Attached to: Huge Phishing Attack On Emissions Trade In Europe

The photo illustrating the article has a caption saying "Trading in CO2 emissions allowances has been hampered in several European countries as a result of a phishing scam." The image shows cooling towers that reject nothing but water vapor. Unfortunately, 99% or the population will conclude that cooling towers reject horrible, polluting CO2.

Scamminess seems highly contagious. Or maybe it's the natural state of most journalists these days.

Image

Police Called Over 11-Year-Old's Science Project 687

Posted by samzenpus
from the duck-and-cover dept.
garg0yle writes "Police in San Diego were called to investigate an 11-year-old's science project, consisting of 'a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics,' after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb. Charges aren't being laid against the youth, but it's being recommended that he and his family 'get counseling.' Apparently, the student violated school policies — I'm assuming these are policies against having any kind of independent thought?"

Comment: Re:I see it coming... (Score 1) 419

by ericferris (#30384622) Attached to: Company Trains the Autistic To Test Software

Very true. A non-profit cannot afford to have a deficit because they are forbidden to accumulate the profits necessary to withstand bad quarters. The "no-profit" requirement also sometimes leads to poor management, if not irresponsible waste. Literally, since there is no profit and no shareholders, nobody is responsible for avoiding waste. This becomes a problem in some large institutions. For example, a very famous Pennsylvania-based charity running an orphanage has repeatedly been accused of wasting donors money because of their non-profit management structure, at a time when there is record poverty in the country.

So finding income sources and assuring the continuity of the institution is not a small matter for a non-profit.

Comment: Then why does China has a huge trade surplus? (Score 3, Insightful) 380

by ericferris (#30255538) Attached to: What the iPod Tells Us About the World Economy

I have doubts about the article's numbers. If that was true, how could China have a huge trade surplus? If the article was correct, all of the export gains would be spent on IP fees to non-Chinese companies, and would reduce their trade surplus. That's not what we observe.

So, while it's important to have a sound R&D and to have plenty of licenses ready to sell for lots of product, this does not replace a good manufacturing basis.

Linux Business

+ - Linux installfests maturing?->

Submitted by
christian.einfeldt
christian.einfeldt writes "Linux installfests apparently are expanding from an emphasis on serving individual users to mass network installs serving non-profits and schools. In the past, installfests have often been held as part of Linux User Group meetings, and involved individual new computer users bringing their computers to a small meeting to have Linux installed on their machines. But now there is an apparent trend visible in Linux installfests toward mass network installs supported by greater corporate or municipal involvement in Linux installfests. In many cases, the newly-installed Linux computers are being given to end user institutions such as schools. For example, a recent installfest in Austin, Texas, was put on by two non-profits and was supported by the personal participation of upper management at AMD and nFusion. The majority of the eighty-three machines were PXE-booted and mass-installed at that event over an ad hoc network. Likewise, at last year's LinuxWorld expo in San Francisco, 350 Linux computers were mass-installed over a similar PXE network in a mass installfest put on in a partnership between the non-profit Alameda County Computer Resource Center and the for-profit Untangle and IDG firms. The machines were donated to San Francisco Bay Area schools. Similar installfests have been held in Chile and India, to name just a few."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Unfortunately, this sounds typical (Score 1) 150

I've noticed a pattern in a lot of talent-based industries. On a small scale, or with an upstart CEO you can have talent-driven companies. But, as soon as they hit a critical mass, the bureaucracy becomes the dominate force and turns the talent into powerless labor.

This is very true. It even extends beyond the corporate world into all kind of organizations because it deeply relates to human nature.

It is so prevalent that it has been named "the Iron Law of Bureaucracy". This law states that any organization above a certain size will be taken over by people who use the organization to advance their career instead of contributing to the organization's goals.

This is why you want to keep organizations competing with others so that the rotten ones can be replaced with healthy competitors. When organizations don't have competition (such as monopolies or government), the Iron Law reigns supreme, unchecked and unbound.

Power

Jet Stream Kites Could Power New York City 263

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the kites-and-keys dept.
Damien1972 writes to tell us that researchers from the Carnegie Institution and California State University claim that a fleet of kites could harvest enough energy to run New York and other major cities, especially if they are affected by polar jet streams. "Using 28 years of data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction and the Department of Energy, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and Cristina Archer of California State University, Chico compiled the first global survey of wind energy available at high altitudes in the atmosphere. They found that the regions best suited for harvesting this energy align with population centers in the eastern U.S. and East Asia, although they note that 'fluctuating wind strength still presents a challenge for exploiting this energy source on a large scale.'"

Comment: Re:Why not (Score 2, Informative) 265

by ericferris (#28322345) Attached to: First Floating Wind Turbine Buoyed Off Norway

Actually, you don't have to "guard he waste". The MOX process "burns" (transmutes, actually) more plutonium than is generated. It's used in Europe and it allows France to reduce its plutonium stockpile. The remaining mass is about 600 liters (two barrels) of medium radioactivity waste per reactor per year, which can be stored in a warehouse until their decay sufficiently. Google "nuclear fuel reprocessing mox" for much more details.

I am against the idea of burying waste (especially the nuclear kind) becausereprocessing technology will improve and we'll find ways to neutralize today's unprocessable waste.

The nuclear waste problem is a political one, not a technical one. Get the stupid politics out of the way. Solutions already exist.

...this is an awesome sight. The entire rebel resistance buried under six million hardbound copies of "The Naked Lunch." - The Firesign Theater

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