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Comment: Re:Discrimination (Score 1) 572

by Pharmboy (#47809923) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

That is a Foundation issue, not something we at WER can do much about. I think they have spent a great deal of money and resources on the issue, but I've yet to see anything come of it, to be honest. Child rearing is probably to blame in part, if we are honest and accept that our culture still has a divide between the genders. Men tend to have a bit more free time, and perhaps that is the threshold: free time. I notice a lot of unemployed people editing, for example.

Comment: First press reports not very good. (Score 2) 369

by Animats (#47809751) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

The problem here is that the press reports are just rehashes of what the cops are putting out. Somebody should find this guy and interview him. He may be in hiding for reasons of his own.

His book is self-published on Amazon. It's been out since 2011, and you can read a sample there. This guy is not the next Steven King. A typical sentence: "As Zea approaches her partner she cannot restrain herself from hyperventilating as she peers at the black embossed letters on the translucent glass sign above the entrance to the central atrium".

Today, the Los Angeles Times quotes cops as saying "Everybody knew about the book in 2012", and that this is more about a four-page letter he recently sent to officials in Dorchester County, containing "complaints of alleged harassment and an alleged possible crime". There may be more clarity over the next few days, now that the story is getting attention.

Comment: Re:Vegas Movie Studio (cheap not free) (Score 1) 115

by bugnuts (#47809371) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?

I have the full version of Vegas, and for shorts I don't use more tracks than the cheap version allows. IIRC, that's the main limitation, so it's a great deal. The thing I like most about it is the speed of rendering.

You might want a compositing engine to go with it, though. That's something I miss, and sony vegas isn't good at it. Even a simple greenscreen is difficult with bugs and threshold issues.

Comment: Re: Flywheel spin and political spin (Score 1) 212

by bugnuts (#47804473) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

Sorry, localizing the storage vs storage far away, like tfa is talking about, is far more efficient. There's certainly loss on storage and retrieval.

However, I've seen several local substation proposals for storing energy using banks of flywheels, and even more for rail.

Comment: Re:Same thing from ultra-orthodox Jews. (Score 1) 510

by Animats (#47804259) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Leaving any orthodox religion is hard, after so many years of hard-line indoctrination.

In Israel, it's very hard to leave. There are extensive Government benefits for ultra-orthodox, including subsidized housing, pay for religious study, and unlimited draft deferments. This is on top of the heavy social pressure, the lack of marketable skills, and the language barrier (the ultra-orthodox in Israel speak Yiddish, not Hebrew.)

Comment: Re:Weight (Score 1) 203

by Animats (#47804185) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

"Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes."

Small drones don't have much inertia. They can be easily flipped by a small local wind gust. This is a big problem for drones that operate close to buildings, where there are eddies and turbulence as air hits the building. Pass the corner of a building and the wind situation may be completely different.

Very smart and aggressive stability control systems are able to overcome this. See this drone from PSI Tactical, which weighs about 0.5Kg and is supposed to be able to operate in winds up to 30MPH.

Comment: Re: Yes, we know that. (Score 1) 212

by bugnuts (#47802989) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

If you and all your neighbors were producing a surplus, the substations would need to be backfeedable. Most aren't, and would either need to be upgraded, or local storage would be needed.

Inverters force energy into the grid by raising voltage. In the situation where everyone is producing and nobody consuming, the lines will become overvoltaged and the solar collectors would be shut down by the inverters. Near 0% efficiency in the primary solar hours isn't a good thing.

That's the degenerate case. It won't happen because we're smart enough to see the issues. This is exactly why we need storage and backfeedable substations. We could have 100% wind and solar adoption without issue if the storage and distribution issues are solved.

Comment: Flywheel spin and political spin (Score 1, Interesting) 212

by bugnuts (#47802225) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

I've been posting about this, and the spin some politicians are pushing is reprehensible. Recently, Arizona allowed fees to charge rooftop-based solar energy producers for the privilege of selling or donating electrons to others for use. A few incredible or insane politicians are trying to spin it as if solar adopters are leeches despite the fact that they already pay for interconnect fees and all the excess energy they use.

The alternative, of course, is to go completely off the grid using your own batteries, which will end up costing the power companies (and the politicians in their pockets) even more.

But it's not all without a shred of truth. There are definitely some costs associated with high adoption rates of solar, and the breakdown is pretty easy to explain:

  • Substations convert and distribute 220 to your neighborhood, from high tension wires from the power plants.
  • Substations convert one direction only -- from the high-voltage to the line voltage.
  • High usage is generally in the warm daytime, through early evening.
  • Solar covers most of the high usage times. Some companies charge more for energy use during these times.

This works great for the power companies when a few people on one substation have some solar power generators, because they feed it back into the grid for use by those without solar. As a result, the power company can charge the full amount for the electrons used (often at higher prices), but they don't have to transfer it long distances which inevitably carries loss due to capacitance and resistance. And they get all of this without investing in the cost of increased production at the power plants.

This also works great for the solar generators, because they reduce their use during the most expensive times, and usually push themselves into a lower usage tier due to overall reduced usage. A household that uses 500kWh might only draw 100kWh net from the grid over a month, and the first 100 are usually very cheap. Some places pay for excess electrons put onto the grid, others do not.

But here's the limitation: if all your neighbors have solar, it will exceed consumption during times of bright sunlight. In other words, the substation will send out no energy (nobody needs it), and in fact cannot backfeed it to other substations. This can cause a real issue when there's a surplus. Line voltage may even go up from 110 to around 130. This is when they need energy storage. Batteries are one method, but flywheels can work well, too. They could spin up a flywheel to consume the excess energy, then release it later as-needed (e.g. a dark cloud). In fact, they can spin up a flywheel at nighttime, too, when they have excess production, to smooth out daytime use. It's not just for independent generating stations, but this infrastructure will smooth out their plants for normal use, too.

Some unscrupulous legislators are trying to saddle solar generators with the cost of those who choose not to use solar. They claim exactly the opposite, that the solar producers are driving up costs. Really, they're making a needed upgrade more obvious and in any case, there is literally no way they are "driving up costs" by reducing their own usage. That fails the basic 5th grader test.

Localizing the storage is far more efficient than sending it hundreds of miles, plus it future proofs the obvious issues of people inevitably moving away from coal and natural gas generators. These local storage solutions or backfeeding substations should be pushed by all, even those without solar generation.

Comment: Yes, we know that. (Score 4, Informative) 212

by Animats (#47802079) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

Battery storage for bulk power has been talked up for years. Mostly by the wind industry. With solar power, you get peak power and peak air conditioning load around the same time. Wind varies about 4:1 over 24 hours, even when averaged across big areas (California or the eastern seaboard). So the wind guys desperately need to store power generated at 4AM, when it's nearly worthless, so they can resell at 2PM. When the wind farm companies start installing batteries at their own expense, this will be a real technology.

With the US glut of natural gas, this isn't needed right now. Natural gas peaking plants aren't all that expensive to build, and make money even if they only run for maybe 6 hours a day. That covers most peak needs.

There are other ways to store energy. Some of the dams of the California Water Project have reversible turbines, which can run either as pumps or generators. They pump water uphill at night, when power is cheap, and let it down during the afternoon to generate power. Since the dams and pumps are needed for water handling anyway, this adds little cost.

Comment: Why? Nobody uses NFC payments (Score 1) 185

by Animats (#47798687) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

A few years ago, those Google NFC payment terminals were all over Silicon Valley. Nobody used them. Newer credit card terminals show no sign of supporting them, although some apparently have the hardware inside for it.

Another problem is that if the technology just requires the phone's presence, not interaction on the phone, it's insecure. "Near field communication" is only supposed to be up to 20cm, but a 2013 paper at Black Hat demonstrated connectivity at 100cm, which is good enough for crime. If it does require interaction on the phone, the user has to activate the phone, navigate to some app, and deal with the app. This is slower than swiping a credit card.

It's easier to do than card-reader skimmers.

Comment: Same thing from ultra-orthodox Jews. (Score 4, Informative) 510

by Animats (#47798195) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Many ultra-orthodox rabbis who demand their followers not use uncensored smartphones or uncensored internet access. In 2012, a big anti-Internet rally for ultra-orthodox Jews was held in New York. "The siren song of the Internet entices us! It brings out the worst of us!" The event was streamed live and is summarized on YouTube.

There are ultra-orthodox ISPs with filtering. The filtering is very stringent, based on a rabbi-approved whitelist. "That's all you get, and nothing else."

There are kosher cell phones. "Kosher Phone has no camera, no Bluetooth capabilities, no memory card slot and cannot be connected to a computer."

That's in the US. In Israel, kosher cell phones are so locked down that only approved numbers can be called. Even rape crisis centers are blocked.

Comment: Not detecting potholes? (Score 2) 282

by Animats (#47792119) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

Google isn't detecting potholes? Back in 1985, we had that on our DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle. The LIDAR on top of the vehicle was generating a ground profile. This was for off-road driving, where that's essential. I'd assumed Google was doing that; they have a Velodyne laser scanner that provides enough information.

In traffic, sometimes you can't see a pothole because it's obscured by a vehicle ahead, but if the vehicle ahead doesn't change speed, direction, or attitude, it's probably safe to proceed over the ground it just covered. On high speed roads, you can't see distant potholes clearly because the angle is unfavorable, but if the road ahead looks like the near road, and the near road profiles OK with the LIDAR, the far road is probably good. That's what the Stanford team used to out-drive their LIDAR range. (We didn't do that and were limited to 17MPH).

Fixed road components should be handleable. People, bicycles, and animals are tough.

Comment: Re: But is it reaslistic? (Score 1) 361

Plague is easily treated today. It's just a bacterium, and it doesn't even spread from person to person without blood exchange. That's like one of the dumbest things I've heard, only interesting because plague once killed many people.

I'd be far more worried about smallpox, an easily created virus that has few people immunized these days.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.