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Comment: At the same time auto loan terms are increasing (Score 1) 334

by hmbJeff (#48340851) Attached to: Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices
Auto loan terms are getting longer these days with the average length up to 66 months and around 25% having a term between 6 years and 7 years. The interest paid on a seven year loan vs. a 5 year loan can be as much as 50% higher.

This, and the the previous poster's point about using a temporary shift in fuel price as a basis for a long-term decision, show that there is a kind of desperate denial in place for many Americans.

They were sold the big dream and are unwilling to see the simple truth; the dream of an easy, middle class life for most Americans is gone. The SUV is their symbol that they still have the kind of economic freedom that a widely-shared national prosperity used to offer. The inconvenient truths that it will cost them outrageous amounts of money to fuel, and that it will probably need major repairs long before the 7 year loan is paid off are comfortably far away when they are in the showroom buying their toy.

Why is the dream gone? That is a whole nother' thread that covers many parallel trends.

But one overarching factor is that the overall pie is stagnant or shrinking. Aside from the unproductive shenanigans of the finance parasites, and a similar milking of trillions of dollars through the for-profit health care system, plus the temporary fracking bubble that drills most of its wells at a loss using other sucker's money, there really aren't many growing sectors of the economy. We've lost many of the productive activities that had broadly-shared economic multipliers.

I'm not sure why that is exactly, but I suspect that it is driven by the inexorable decline in the ease of extraction of energy and all forms of raw materials. The easy oil and gas, the rich deposits of minerals, the virgin forests holding hundreds of years worth of stored growth, the teeming fisheries are all nearly gone. And the easy wealth goes with it.

So rather than clinging to the illusion that our lives will continue to be about which status-enhancing consumer product we should buy next, we probably should start looking at what elements are actually required to have a satisfying life without the pumped-up economic circus.

I'll give a hint--it's not about what you buy, its more about who you love and who can trust you to do what you say you will.

Comment: There really is something to this (Score 1) 160

by hmbJeff (#45622287) Attached to: Gut Microbes Linked to Autism-Like Symptoms in Mice
I have two close friends whose children each had symptoms similar to Asbergers/Autism whose lives have been transformed by changing their diet in ways that are generally aligned with the ideas in this study (unhealthy bacterial conditions in gut cause undigested proteins to leak through the gut into the bloodstream, where they cause problems when they bind to receptors in brain or other tissues).

There is a strict diet called the GAPS Diet that both of these families followed and they began to see substantive changes within months, and ongoing improvements over a couple of years that have really allowed these kids to blossom.

This is not hearsay. I knew these kids before and I know them after, and they have improved dramatically.

Comment: I help run such a network (Score 1) 257

by hmbJeff (#40208771) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Provisioning Internet For Condo Association?
I live in a community of 60 households (clusters of duplexes a little outside of town, rather than an urban highrise) and we have run our own internet service here for 15 years.

We started with some cheesy radio links and have moved up in speed over the years to where we now have a direct fiber connection to a local ISP. We are currently buying 50MB symmetrical service for data, and that is sufficient to allow widespread streaming of Netflix for our residents (we don't have access to cable TV here, but a few folks have satellite). We added VOIP phone service a few years back, which the same ISP sells us over a separate set of fibers to avoid call quality issues. We have local servers for email, community website stuff and for the VOIP service (using the excellent SIPx open source software). We use open source PFSense software running on a low-power ALIX box as our central firewall & DHCP server.

We charge $30 for Internet and $30 for phone, with unlimited domestic long distance, which includes a small margin that allows us to accumulate funds for maintenance and improvements. These prices are considerably lower than people here would pay for equivalent services, and people are pretty happy with the quality. The system is maintained by a small team of volunteer geeks, and our residents understand that we won't necessarily jump out of bed to fix a problem--we'll do the best we can, but don't guarantee 100% service levels. We don't enforce any bandwidth caps per-household, and that has not been a problem.

This kind of thing is entirely feasible, as long as you have a core group of geeks that consider it something they are interested in putting some time into. We have saved our residents many tens of thousands of dollars over the years, keeping that money circulating in our local community instead of shipping it off to some corporate behemoth. And for those of us who do the work, we generally find it an engaging and enjoyable use of our time, and find it satisfying to provide a useful service to our neighbors.

Oh, and I concur with an earlier poster--if you do it, do it wired. Provide one jack to each condo, and let the owners distribute around their rooms as they see fit. You might provide some wireless access in common spaces.

Comment: Just like the memory industry (Score 1) 435

by hmbJeff (#38516668) Attached to: Prospects Darken For Solar Energy Companies

How many times in the last 30 years have we seen this exact kind of boom and bust in the computer memory business?

There seems to be a 4-5 year cycle of high prices, over investment in production, and price crash. You see similar cycles in disk drives, LCD screens and other components. I suspect it is endemic to businesses that have massive capital costs for each technology iteration.

Yet we don't hear people saying that computers aren't viable simply because memory suppliers are having challenges timing market demand cycles.

Comment: These comments prove the point (Score 2, Insightful) 803

by hmbJeff (#37928570) Attached to: Fedora Aims To Simplify Linux Filesystem

As I read the comments for this topic, what stands out is that there are a bunch of arbitrary and conflicting interpretations of the "right" place to put things on a Unix/Linux system, each of which is justified by some sacred "historical reasoning" (even though no one can ever agree on said reasoning).

And that is the problem. Why should I have to know which arbitrary approach happened to be followed by a particular distro or installed package?

I don't have touchy geek pride or a need to whip out my big nerd phallus at parties--I just want the systems I manage or use to be reasonably robust and consistent. I don't care who wins--I just don't want all the variations.

Comment: Re:Direct Competition? Already being demonstrated (Score 1) 156

by hmbJeff (#37869012) Attached to: ARM Goes 64-Bit With Its New ARMv8 Chip Architecture

There are already several comanies working on multi-core ARM chips for servers, because they believe that will be the most power-efficient way to handle big workloads. Here is one product announcement from the day after ARM 64 was announced:

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Applied Micro Circuits Corp. fired a shot across the bow of Intel, demonstrating the first 64-bit ARM server processor here. The X-Gene chip is the first of an array of competitors that will attack Intel's multi-billion dollar server franchise with cheaper, lower power ARM SoCs.

AMCC's X-Gene packs multiple 3 GHz cores complaint with the ARM 64-bit V8 architecture announced today at ARM Tech Con. The cores are quad-issue, out-of-order superscalar designs. The chip also sports Ethernet MACs, PCI Express and Serial ATA linked on an 80 GByte/second fabric.

The company showed a working version in an FPGA emulation it will ship in January. Silicon will sample in the second half of 2012.

Comment: Does nuclear really equal "progress"? (Score 5, Interesting) 848

by hmbJeff (#36436022) Attached to: Italy Votes To Abandon Nuclear Power
Nuclear is, at best, a faustian bargain--awful, but arguably less awful than a few other choices.

While many Slashdotters happily wave away its real-world problems (waste, decommissioning, uninsurability, capital intensiveness, fuel supply, terrorism, non-distributed grid model, construction lead time and yes, slight potential for massive damage to life and property in a large geographic area) as irrelevant, many others are less sanguine. And that is not just because they are idiots--they look at the factors, weigh them and draw different conclusions.

And there are alternatives that might well be better. A recent study by the California Energy Commission that looks at estimated costs of 21 types of energy generation facilities estimates that a gen-3 Westinghouse AP1000 1,000 MW Pressurized Water Reactor would generate electricity in 2018 (the first year any of them could be expected to reach operational status) for between $0.17/kWh and $0.34/kWh.

The cost of solar PV today is already competitive with the high end of that range, and is dropping at a rapid pace.

This comes on the heels of another new report showing that the free-market insurance costs for nuclear would add from ($0.20/kWh) to a staggering $3.40/kWh.

If costs are the same or lower for renewable energy technologies that have numerous benefits and far fewer risks, why would rational people choose nuclear?

+ - Nuclear in 2018 more expensive than solar PV today->

Submitted by hmbJeff
hmbJeff (591813) writes "A study by the California Energy Commission that looks at estimated costs of 21 types of energy generation facilities estimates that a gen-3 Westinghouse AP1000 1,000 MW Pressurized Water Reactor would generate electricity in 2018 for between $0.17/kWh and $0.34/kWh.

The cost of solar PV today is already competitive with the high end of that range, and is dropping at a rapid pace.

This comes on the heels of another new report showing that the free-market insurance costs for nuclear would add from ($0.20/kWh) to a staggering $3.40/kWh.

If costs are the same or lower for renewable energy technologies, why would rational people choose the risks of nuclear?"

Link to Original Source
Technology

Amazon, Rackspace Add New Cloud Capabilities 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the gold-and-silver-lining dept.
miller60 writes "Amazon Web Services has rolled out Elastic Beanstalk, a free feature which automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring. AWS execs tell GigaOm that Beanstalk represents a move up to Platform-as-a-Service and is designed 'to address the idea of vendor lock-in and inflexibility that commonly afflicts other platforms for application development.' Meanwhile, Amazon rival Rackspace Hosting has extended its cloud platform to its European data centers, opening the service to customers bound by data protection regulations, and says it now has more than 100,000 cloud customers."

Comment: For something more polished, try SipX (Score 1) 83

by hmbJeff (#34003952) Attached to: Asterisk 1.8 Released With Support For Google Voice

I looked at various Asterisk-based distributions for the residential phone system I run in my condo complex, and I found them all to feel pretty messy and hacked together. I kept looking and found SipXecs (http://sipfoundry.org), which is an amazingly polished open source project used in many companies.

It has a completely-integrated web management interface that controls all aspects of system config and operation. It is highly scalable, allows for clustering, comes pre-integrated to support SIP trunks from many carriers and phone devices from many vendors. It includes voicemail, IM, ACD (call center functionality), all completely managed through the web interface, and provides a user web portal as well for allowing access to these features plus call routing rules, phone directories, etc.

Architecturally SipX is cleaner, I think, than Asterisk, and is fully SIP-based. Calls between phones on a SipX switch pass their audio directly to each other, rather than passing through the switch, as is the case in Asterisk. Integration for SIP trunks is built-in. However if you need to use physical phone lines, SipX connects through external SIP gateway hardware from many vendors, rather than depending on the messy integration of cards into the server itself.

I now run phone service for myself and 25 of my neighbors for less than half of what we were paying, with way better features. Many SipX installations scale easily to hundreds of users.

Comment: Inexpensive and open stuff from EKM (Score 1) 172

by hmbJeff (#33703332) Attached to: Real-Time Power Monitoring Options?
Check http://ekmmetering.com./ They sell simple metering units that can either meter small (up to 30 amp, I think) circuits directly, or any size circuit using external current sensor rings. You can chain together a number of meters with simple 2-wire serial connections and attach them to a net-connected controller. The controller can be read from anywhere with a simple TCP socket call or they provide a free app that does it. The app runs on Windows, Mac or Linux. I plan to use their stuff for a networked submetering system for the co-op I live in, to allow us to consolidate down from 30 utility meters (which cost $14 per month just to be hooked up) down to 4 meters. This will also allow us to share and net-meter a large solar array we are developing.

Comment: Re:Have you ever heard of "positive feedback loops (Score 1) 1657

by hmbJeff (#33078540) Attached to: Global Warming 'Undeniable,' Report Says

One individual is not threatened--he could just move when his ecosystem gets unworkable, although he would have a hell of a time selling his old assets(who would buy them?) and buying new ones somewhere else.

The problem is, when this happens to hundreds of millions or billions of people all at the same time, where do they all go? Into your cozy niche?

Not to mention the problem of losing many of the investments of thousands of years of civilization, when cities are made unusable due to rising coastal waters and tidal estuaries, failing water supplies or the repeated damage of extreme weather events. What is the economic hit of losing Manhattan or London, or Tokyo?

Sure, some people will be OK, but do you really think we can maintain our economic growth, our just-in-time global industrial systems, our political stability and the rule of law under such stresses?

Maybe, but why would anyone think so, when tiny little fluctuations in the economies of single countries (like the runs on currencies in Mexico, Thailand, Russia, etc.) end up causing huge global disruptions. Don't you think a systemic change in the physical viability of large areas of the planet might knock a point or two off the old DOW?

Comment: Have you ever heard of "positive feedback loops"? (Score 1) 1657

by hmbJeff (#33075646) Attached to: Global Warming 'Undeniable,' Report Says

This seems to be a key point that is obfuscated or ignored by deniers. That there are gigantic sinks of fossil carbon, in addition to the fossil fuels we bring up, that have been sequestered safely under the conditions prevelant during all of human civilization. Many of these are predicted to, or have already begun being released, as global temperatures rise. Positive feedback means the more it happens, the more it will happen, until the system spirals wildly out of control.

Example of this are the permafrost areas at the edge of the Northern polar region, the Methane Clathrates, reversal of the Amazon rain forest from a carbon sink to a source, and the greater absorption of heat from sunlight as melting ice and snow changes Earth's albedo.

And here is what is meant by irreversible--that these feedback loops will accelerate and cause massive disruption in time scales directly relevant to human civilization--i.e. the next few centuries, at least. Deniers like to bring up crap about there having been massive changes in temp all throughout the billions of years of the fossil record, so we should all relax. That is true, but in each case, these changes caused massive dislocation or extinction of the dominant plant and animal species of that time.

We're talking about what happens to this particular race of animals that is here spending its time reading and writing Slashdot postings. It is disingenuous for deniers to claim some lofty halo of wisdom that transcends mere human-centric concerns, especially when, for the most vociferous of them (such as the paid lackeys of Exxon-Mobile), they are more concerned with making a buck in the next fiscal quarter than they are about the concerns of even the humans alive today, much less those not yet born.

Comment: Pixel Qi screen -- better than Kindle (Score 3, Insightful) 584

by hmbJeff (#31457664) Attached to: Here Come the Linux iPad Clones
See the Adam device from Notion Ink. It will ship with a Pixel Qi screen that works in reflective mode (like the e-ink screen on a Kindle) in sunlight. However, unlike e-ink, it can also run in full color with normal video-friendly refresh rates, just by turning on the backlight. You get the best of both worlds, including very low power usage when running in reflective mode. On most Pixel Qi devices this switching on and off of the backlight can be done manually or automatically with an ambient light sensor. The Adam device runs Android, rather than a direct Linux OS.

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