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Comment Clarification of target group (Score 5, Informative) 272

The submitter used the word "poorest", which seems chosen rather... poorly. The SFGate article uses the somewhat less extreme term "low income", but toward the end it is also more specific about the criteria: "To qualify, applicants must live in a neighborhood designated as disadvantaged by the state. They must own their homes and make no more than 80 percent of their community’s median household income." The provider, GRID Alternatives, promises "to make renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities", which seems more in line with what is actually going on.

So, one view of this is that this is a program to direct cap-and-trade money (generally collected to be used specifically for environmentally beneficial projects) into areas of the state that wouldn't get it otherwise. It uses donated equipment and labor as well as the C&T funding, so it's not at all tax funded. Besides helping recipients in the targeted areas get cheaper power, it is possibly reducing overall electricity demand in a green way (though this is debatable, given the limits of solar power as a baseload source).

Comment Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (Score 1) 240

> It really bothers you? How? Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience.

Many of these are obviously jokes, fine. I think what the OP was getting at is that there are nefarious purposes to which this can be put. Imagine if you want to "attack" a competitor, and make up a bunch of poor reviews (there have been court cases about this kind of thing, in this case about libel). Or, you could just boost your own product, or try to game the Amazon recommendation system to get your product recommended based on the fact that you "like" many popular items in a segment, plus this product.

Despite research on the topic, it's not going away anytime soon, just because it's obviously pretty hard to figure out when an "attack" on the system is happening (though there are some clues that have been used in automated detection, e.g. lots of similar rating events in a row, accounts used only to rate a few products, etc.).


Russian Scholar Warns Of US Climate Change Weapon 415

According to Russian political scientist, and conspiracy aficionado Andrei Areshev the high heat, and poor crop yields of Russia, and other Central Asian countries may be the result of a climate weapon created by the US military. From the article: "... Areshev voiced suspicions about the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP), funded by the US Defense Department and the University of Alaska. HAARP, which has long been the target of conspiracy theorists, analyzes the ionosphere and seeks to develop technologies to improve radio communications, surveillance, and missile detection. Areshev writes, however, that its true aim is to create new weapons of mass destruction 'in order to destabilize environmental and agricultural systems in local countries.'"

Estimating Game Piracy More Accurately 459

An anonymous reader tips a post up at the Wolfire blog that attempts to pin down a reasonable figure for the amount of sales a game company loses due to piracy. We've commonly heard claims of piracy rates as high as 80-90%, but that clearly doesn't translate directly into lost sales. The article explains a better metric: going on a per-pirate basis rather than a per-download basis. Quoting: "iPhone game developers have also found that around 80% of their users are running pirated copies of their game (using jailbroken phones). This immediately struck me as odd — I suspected that most iPhone users had never even heard of 'jailbreaking.' I did a bit more research and found that my intuition was correct — only 5% of iPhones in the US are jailbroken. World-wide, the jailbreak statistics are highest in poor countries — but, unsurprisingly, iPhones are also much less common there. The highest estimate I've seen is that 10% of worldwide iPhones are jailbroken. Given that there are so few jailbroken phones, how can we explain that 80% of game copies are pirated? The answer is simple — the average pirate downloads a lot more games than the average customer buys. This means that even though games see that 80% of their copies are pirated, only 10% of their potential customers are pirates, which means they are losing at most 10% of their sales."

Comment of course it's POSSIBLE... (Score 1) 412

Compression is just the discarding of irrelevant or less relevant information. With images or video, that means keeping the perceptually meaningful content and discarding the rest. An improvement might come about if the encoder was removing irrelevant variations (noise), or smoothing out unnecessary details away from perceptually salient objects (making them easier to see).

It's pretty hard to make an image encoder that maintains the important perceptual qualities of every possible image, so IF their encoder is good, maybe they just didn't test it on the whole range of stuff they eventually used it on.

Comment Re:What "legendary reliability of Macs"? (Score 1) 264

I sort of agree. I think it's "legendary customer satisfaction" that TFA is thinking of (that's where Apple has always lead, anyway). If you have a Mac you may have the same lowish rate of problems (many of which are possibly component problems and not much to do with Apple), but statistically speaking you're more satisfied overall, which is probably driven by the large fraction *without* problems.

Comment more details (Score 1) 345

The conclusion that a train may be "less green" than a plane is somewhat dependent on what you look at. The article notes that this is because the particular train they looked at, the Green Line in Boston, uses local power that is being generated from carbon-emitting sources. Actually, even that is only part of the story... you can read the original research ( if you have some kind of institutional subscription to Environmental Research Letters. It shows that the energy use is actually lower or the train, and that another train (SF muni) does beat the "large aircraft" (the small aircraft is much worse).

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.