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Comment: Generation and distribution (Score 5, Insightful) 517

by jbeaupre (#48008427) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Utilities actually have two businesses: Generation and distribution. We pay one bill and conflate the two. Solar just makes it clear they are different.

With home solar increasing, utilities will just invest less and less in generation. The transition is pretty gradual, so they can adapt just fine. Profits from generation will decline ... life will go on. But only if we accept that distribution also needs to be paid for.

If and until home power storage also becomes economical, homes are still going to need to connect to the grid. That infrastructure will need to be paid for. It's going to be tacked onto the utility bill. In the past, we subsidized small users by paying by the kwh. Now we have to decide if connection fees are more appropriate. That's what the debate is going to turn into.

Comment: Re:Not just iPhone (Score 1) 421

by jbeaupre (#47983267) Attached to: Users Report Warping of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus

Some more engineering thoughts:

Stiffness for a solid rectangular bar is h^3*w. The 5s is 7.6 mm thick, the 6 is 6.9, the 6+ is 7.1. Ignoring width and internals, this would mean the 6 and 6+ are 75% and 82% as stiff as the 5s.

But hold on, the length of of a beam also greatly affects the bending moment. Deflection for a cantilever beam is a cube function on length.

Together, the 6 and 6+ will be much more flexible than the 5s.

Stresses causing yielding will be a bit less extreme. And exact type of stress matters. But being longer and thinner is (duh) going to make it weaker.

Comment: Re:They want it but don't understand it. (Score 3, Interesting) 408

by jbeaupre (#47956343) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

Careful with that word "we." I'm an engineer, but put a huge emphasis on industrial design. The form of my designs are integral to the function. They don't just hold the electro-mechanicals I'm designing (which is my specialty), they are the interface with my users.

So I fuss for days sometimes to get the right distances and sizes to fit 95% asian woman and 95% western men. Tweaking the curvature transition of complex surfaces to feel natural, give tactile feedback, and be able to be injection molded from a single pull mold (yeah, I do preliminary mold design too). While still containing and constraining internal mechanisms (which I also design). Choosing textures and colors that build on that base. And so on. Often I have people with industrial design or fine arts degrees consulting on the designs.

It's not rocket science, but you are right: it shouldn't just be slapped together at the last minute.

Bevels and rounded corners? Easy stuff. There's an optimum, but not a huge sensitivity. Where Apple and others excel is under the skin, as well as fit and finish.

Comment: Re:Replacement Organs (Score 1) 75

by jbeaupre (#47907163) Attached to: Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Bingo. You seem to have done a better job of choosing key words for searches than I did. I'm also in Asia at the moment, which sends the search engines off on odd tangents.

It was pretty incremental improvement. Just a pair of ostomies. Stick a hose in each end and flush with dialysate. It doesn't sound like much, but solved a couple problems. We also had a pretty refined formulate (I can't recall details). But it was simpler to make than baking a cake. Mostly manitol and some salts to control ion flow. I think we even used tap water just to prove it worked. Trying to turn it into protected IP would have been like trying to protect S'mores.

We dialysied several pigs that has simulated renal failure. It just worked. The only problem we ever had was early on when we didn't realize how powerful it could be and pulled too much fluid out of a pig over the course of a couple hours. She died of dehydration. I guess that could be construed as a potential fatal flaw.

If you are truly interested in picking up the research, I can put you in touch with the clinician. I believe he was interested in the procedure, but he and the hospital had to make a call on what research they would pursue. He's done amazing work in other areas and just might not have been able to juggle two lines of research. I don't fault them. Just disappointed.

Comment: Re:Replacement Organs (Score 1) 75

by jbeaupre (#47905263) Attached to: Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Oh, I'd be happy to point you in the right direction if I could. But this was 13 years ago. All I read were excerpts and summaries from dozens of old medical journals in half a dozen countries. I was the engineer, not the guy searching old archives, so didn't pay any attention to where the stuff was published. Heck, I've searched for information since, and can barely find anything useful. The only thing I found even related was through a link in Wikipedia:

Scattered in the old literature were about 100 reports of different forms of lavaging bowel to affect blood chemistry. Sometimes it was serious research on one or two patients. Sometimes it was accidental. In one case, a guy drank 4 gallons of colon cleanser each day and managed to stay alive. Most patients were extremely sick and didn't do well, but improved vs no treatment. We used some surgery to greatly improve outcome and potential quality of life. A breakthrough we couldn't make a dime from.

And unfortunately, the non-profit research hospital we donated it to did not publish the research (they were a consultant to the company for the work, so could have easily published). It was animal research, but still relevant.

Comment: Re:Replacement Organs (Score 1) 75

by jbeaupre (#47904617) Attached to: Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Active work was done the 1920's to 1930's. Accidental discoveries were made even decades later. There are over 100 different citations in as many publications. I wouldn't even be able to recall one of them. And you'd be hard pressed to access the publications.

If you want to claim that development was done by a non-capitalist system (which is a weird statement for other reasons), then you'd find they eff'ed it up big-time. They figured out bits and pieces but neglected to optimize, make it patient friendly (I swear one dude probably lived on a toilet), or roll it out for general use.

We made one critical breakthrough. But it was the procedure. Patenting it would mean suing thousands of individual customers for a thousand dollars. That's would have been stupid on so many levels, we didn't bother.

Comment: Re:Replacement Organs (Score 1) 75

by jbeaupre (#47898939) Attached to: Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Sorry to rain on that thought, but it was a capitalist company that spent $250k doing research that from day 1 they weren't sure would make money. Then when they decided it wasn't a good fit, donated the research and some money to a non-profit institution. Trying to snatch victory form the jaws of defeat.

As far as I can tell, the government supported non-profit took the money and never did anything at all. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of government funded organizations.

Comment: Re:Replacement Organs (Score 1) 75

by jbeaupre (#47898869) Attached to: Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Sorry, there are no links. Take a look at the response to another guy for a description.

As for why we couldn't make money, the work was based on research 70 years old. Patents would have been nearly impossible. And the supplies were commodity already. As in Home Depot and supermarket commodity. And about as hard to make as baking a cake (probably easier).

The final straw was that it was in a market that was too different. It would have been like Apple deciding to sell oatmeal.

Comment: Re:Replacement Organs (Score 1) 75

by jbeaupre (#47898831) Attached to: Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Sorry, but we never published. The original work was 70 years old, so a bit hard to find online. But I can describe it.

We called it intestinal dialysis. In the early 20th century, there was research on 3 kinds of dialysis: hemo, peritoneal, and intestinal. Hemo made the first breakthrough. The others were forgotten until peritoneal was reexamined in the 80's.

If you google intestinal dialysis, you'll find something distantly related to the old research and what we worked with. But very different. We found in animal studies that you could isolate a section of small intestine to turn it into an "artificial kidney". Intestine has good blood flow and a huge surface area designed for gently moving fluids and compounds into the blood stream. We use an osmotic gradient to reverse how the intestine works.

In other words, we created precise diarrhea.

The only supplies required were tap water, a bucket, baby laxative, and a hose. Adding salts made it more precise. A touch of sugar is important (to feed the intestine). Our test system was computerized, but was essentially still just a bucket up on a shelf and a hose for siphoning.

The procedure was a bit like hemodialysis, but done non-sterile. The big difference is not removing blood from a patient. The dialysis unit is the patient's own section of intestine. Robust, self repairing, able to repel bacteria, etc.

But it was too different from our main business. It would be like Apple deciding to sell breakfast cereal. So we gave it away.

Maternity pay? Now every Tom, Dick and Harry will get pregnant. -- Malcolm Smith