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Comment: Re:Enh as much as I dislike Oracle... (Score 1) 48

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46785245) Attached to: Oracle Deflects Blame For Troubled Oregon Health Care Site
I'd assume that their legal team would be running around the company quietly busting skulls if they didn't.

"Incur significant legal exposure during the course of fucking up a high-profile project for a government client" isn't one of those good strategies.

Doing one or the other can actually be surprisingly lucrative; but both, less so.

Comment: Re:Government picking favorites (Score 3, Insightful) 82

Don't forget market power: something that no sane individual trusts a telco to exercise benignly, and which even ardent free-marketeers recognize as pernicious if abused.

If fatty were benevolent, well liked, and known for fairness and decency, there'd be no reason to kick him out just for being the fat guy. However 'benevolent', 'well liked' and 'known for fairness and decency' are not concepts you associate with the phone company. Terms like 'smirking, sociopathic fuckweasels' more usually come to mind. You don't want any of them getting their hands on more market power than absolutely cannot be avoided.

Comment: Re:Government picking favorites (Score 2) 82

Wireless is no substitute for wireline, this much is undeniable.

How, though, is it relevant to a discussion of how to divide scarce spectrum between competing wireless use cases(doubly so when both of them inhabit markets shaped in part by a semi-substitutable wireline implementation of the service they offer)?

The question isn't whether wireless is the future (it isn't, and anybody who says it is is probably lying to save on capital investments) but whether broadcast television is the best use of an unfortunately finite natural resource; and, if it isn't, whether we owe broadcasters some sort of dignified exit strategy or whether we can just kill them and get on with our day.

Personally, I'd be the first to agree that the default 'Sell to Ma Bell or The Exaflood will eat your babies or something, something' policy is utter bullshit. Given the notable successes of ISM-band wireless protocols, despite the fact that the ISM band is kind of a slum, I'd advocate letting the poor telcoes suffer with their 4G and allocating more relatively unencumbered spectrum.

However, I'd also be the first to axe broadcast television as an institution, leaving not one transmitter upon a tower, to free up that additional spectrum. Broadcast TV is a howling wasteland and its arguments that it offers some sort of valuable public service aren't exactly getting more convincing as time goes on.

Comment: Re:Skateboard comparison = fail (Score 1) 98

I suspect that the hover mechanism could do a fair bit of the work; but I posited additional elements because it would be a bit of a downer if the hover mechanism were tuned too far in the direction of being a good thruster/steering element, since you'd be walking a potentially touchy compromise between being capable of aggressive maneuvers and being inherently stable, rather than liable to assist you in tipping over even faster and harder that gravity would cover if you leaned too far out of the equilibrium position.

Just for the sake of consumer safety and not reducing bystanders to hamburger too often, the preferred arrangement would probably be some sort of EDF/Vectored thrust arrangement: all the advantages of a standard electric propeller (ambient-temp exhaust, none of the noise and fuel-line hassle associated with teeny internal combustion engines, runs on normal batteries rather than some sort of hobby fuel); but no exposed blades to do surprising amounts of damage upon somebody's first mistake.

You'd have to avoid going too deep into propeller-beanie-chic zones of absurdity; but if you could get the actually-hovering bit worked out, I suspect people would overlook that for the chance to zoom around at dubiously sensible speeds.

Comment: Re:power cars? technically no (Score 3, Insightful) 155

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46773179) Attached to: 'Thermoelectrics' Could One Day Power Cars
My (admittedly pretty hazy at this point) memory of heat engines is that their theoretical peak efficiency depends on the thermal delta they manage to achieve. Exactly the same resource that thermoelectric materials scavenge (albeit at miserable efficiency) into electricity.

Anybody who actually has some grasp of the matter want to chime in on where and why you would use thermoelectrics (and how efficient they would have to be) rather than simple insulation or one of the various waste-heat-recovery systems that transfer some amount of the heat remaing in outgoing exhaust gases into incoming working fluids?

Is the thermoelectric advantage purely that, assuming material reliability is OK, they are a 100% solid state, trivial to scale from 'handle with tweezers and magnification' to 'pretty large', and their output is easy to transfer and useful for all kinds of things after just a little DC-DC cleanup, or are there actually situations where they might be absolutely more efficient than insulation and heat recovery, rather than just easier to tack in almost anywhere in a design that you have a few extra cubic centimeters and expect a temperature difference?

Comment: Re:Skateboard comparison = fail (Score 2) 98

In space, 'just use rockets' is not the answer people want to hear, because mass is precious.

In an atmosphere, though, all you need is a little extra battery power to shove air in whatever direction you prefer, which works just fine for modifying your path. It wouldn't be much like skateboarding; but I suspect that if you threw some accelerometers, clever math, and a mixture of control surfaces and glorified model airplane thrusters at the problem you could have a system that can be 'steered' by shifting your body weight, as people are accustomed to, with the actual work being handled by the aerodynamic components, since you don't have solid objects to push off of.

Doesn't solve the 'make hoverboard hover' problem; but if you ignore that...

Comment: Re:Woudln't carbon nanotubes themselves be worthwh (Score 3, Interesting) 98

The things have more uses than space elevators. A thinner stronger cable is always going to have uses even if it's only a few metres.

If we could fab them cheaply (and they don't turn out to be as carcinogenic as irradiated super-death-asbestos or anything), we'd probably use carbon nanotubes in everything. All sorts of neat thermal and electrical properties, strong as hell, just replace fiberglass with engineered carbon and feel the strength!

However, (aside from the pure sci-fi value) I think the reason that space elevators get the attention is that, unlike many other things that are entirely doable with lesser carbon fiber, fiberglass, aramid, etc. but would be X% better with nanotubes; the going consensus seems to be "If you want to stretch a rope from earth to orbit, it has to be This Strong, and that really narrows the options down to carbon nanotubes and, um, um...

The question of whether what we build with carbon fiber composites today will be better tomorrow is interesting; but its a 'difference of degree not of kind' sort of thing. 'Space elevator' vs. 'Haha, huddle in your gravity well like pitiful ants!' is a much more dramatic matter.

Comment: Re:City within a Building (Score 3, Interesting) 98

There's a big difference between 'cautionary tale' and 'impossible' (indeed, 'cautionary tale' is one of the valuable tools that designers can use to make things possible and not fuck them up...); but anytime somebody proposes some arcology-style megastructure, I immediately think of all those (relatively modern, relatively upscale in terms of rent/unit area and clientele, office buildings that can't even maintain comfortable temperatures in many of their rooms, despite being built, by a single entity in the position to dictate the solution used, at a point in history where networked, digital, temperature sensors are nearly free compared to the price of putting up a decent, code-compliant, office building...

That's obviously exactly the sort of problem that 'big data' people probably love, just throw a few more sensors in there, let us crunch the numbers and build an expert system to control the heating ducts, etc; but it's also an example of how even people who should know better, and who can afford to buy what they need to do better, fuck up so often it isn't even a surprise anymore. On an arcology scale, that sort of incompetence starts to edge into 'life-support failure' territory.

Comment: Re:Backport\Upstream? Seems unlikely (Score 1) 285

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46760751) Attached to: OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL
They also just don't have much in the way of resources, so even things that are doable from a software engineering standpoint may well be impractical from an available man-hours standpoint, and pretty much anything is probably taking time away from some other aspect of OpenBSD development.

Comment: Nice little service you've got there... (Score 1) 319

Really, netflix, congratulations. Very disruptive of you and all that. And the transition from a primarily USPS model to a substantially streaming service (barring that one really embarrassing fuckup that you could hardly have handled worse, oh how we chuckled over here...) Really sticking it to the stogy incumbents.

Now, it would be a pity if your customers were to... experience service disruptions... would it not?

Comment: With considerable annoyance... (Score 2) 382

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46756963) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?
I think I chose 'Tax Act' based on price to e-file federal and state; but I was very displeased. Not so much by 'Tax Act', or even by the taxation(I, um, did my best to refrain from calculating how many years I'd need to buy Uncle Sam another slipped F-35 deadline, or a Literal Coffin Ship); but by the fact that I was, largely because of lobbying by Intuit and friends, paying to re-type numbers from a variety of forms the IRS already has. Seriously?

Yeah, sure, if you have some sort of complex arrangement get thee to a tax accountant, maybe even a suitable lawyer; but this was just redundancy for its own sake: I took a W-2 and a bunch of 1099s and a few other bits and pieces, all provided by various institutions to both me and the feds, and then retyped them into another form so that they could be submitted to the feds. WTF? That wouldn't even make sense for free, much less paying.

C'mon, IRS, just let me see what you think my return should be(you have to calculate it anyway when deciding who to audit) and I'll tell you if I have any changes or disputes. We'll both save time and trouble. How about it?

Comment: Re:I've heard this somewhere before... (Score 3, Insightful) 144

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46756345) Attached to: How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

Amazon, in its majestic equality, requires both code monkeys and senior executives to pay for their own upgrades.

It beats the alternative of providing the upgrades for free to the people who can most easily afford them, in the service of maintaining a good, solid, hierarchy.

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long