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Comment Not Really (Score 2) 410 410

Here's a more complete picture of what was going on. The process for Solyndra started well before the Obama office came into power. It was fast tracked once he got there, but mostly as one of the many projects related to the stimulus. And as a side note, the main reason that Solyndra failed was due to China price-fixing the market for solar panels to the point US companies couldn't compete.

http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/nov/15/americans-prosperity/solyndra-ad-president-barack-obama-taxpayer-money/

Comment Re:Natural Gas Price Volatility (Score 1) 270 270

From Wikipedia:

It produces about 29% and 44% less carbon dioxide per joule delivered than oil and coal respectively, and potentially fewer pollutants than other hydrocarbon fuels.

Natural gas is the lesser of evils. (At least as far as direct CO2 emissions go. Damage from fracking is another story.) I'd consider it to be a stopgap fuel until we have a better infrastructure for renewables.

Nuclear does have a big advantage regarding CO2 though. A carbon tax could be a big help with that.

Comment Natural Gas Price Volatility (Score 4, Insightful) 270 270

The long run problem here is that natural gas prices are highly volatile. Prices are super cheap right now because of a big increase in supply while demand doesn't change much and storage costs are big. Prices may stay low for a few years, but nobody knows what will happen later. If we ramp up electricity production through natural gas though, that will increase demand driving up prices again. When natural gas prices go back up, that could be rough on consumers.

Here's a graph highlighting gas prices over the past 40 years.

Comment Hacking private keys (Score 1) 607 607

Here's what I found in the article.

N.S.A. documents show that the agency maintains an internal database of encryption keys for specific commercial products, called a Key Provisioning Service, which can automatically decode many messages. If the necessary key is not in the collection, a request goes to the separate Key Recovery Service, which tries to obtain it.

How keys are acquired is shrouded in secrecy, but independent cryptographers say many are probably collected by hacking into companies’ computer servers, where they are stored. To keep such methods secret, the N.S.A. shares decrypted messages with other agencies only if the keys could have been acquired through legal means. “Approval to release to non-Sigint agencies,” a GCHQ document says, “will depend on there being a proven non-Sigint method of acquiring keys.”

So various agencies hack companies' servers to obtain their private keys. Those keys get stored in some central NSA database and are used later to decrypt messages. That would indicate they didn't break all the encryption algorithms, but are getting around them via other means. Of course, it does sound like the NSA has backdoors in other protocols which let them get in. That part has been known for years, but hacking companies' servers sounds like something new. And probably illegal.

Comment Bad For Business (Score 1) 148 148

"Apple, Yahoo, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Opera Software's Fastmail.fm, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast declined to respond to queries about whether they would divulge encryption keys to government agencies."

I'm sometimes surprised at big companies cozying up with big brother. This might help get them some favorable legislation and tax breaks, but it comes at the expense of international credibility. If I worked at a company in Europe, I would have second thoughts about purchasing software from a US vendor with backdoors for the US government. Same goes for cloud service providers where the US government could issue national security letters and read all my data without notifying me. I don't know how this kind of policy could be good for Silicon Valley in the long run.

Comment Snowden's self-exile actually makes sense (Score 5, Insightful) 621 621

So why, then, did he choose to go into exile rather than accept the consequences and justify his actions in court?

Have you seen what due process has been for Bradley Manning? During his nine-month stay in Fort Quantico, he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, forced to sleep naked without pillows and sheets on his bed, and restricted from physical recreation or access to television. A military judge ruled that his treatment was excessive and credited him with some time served against any future punishment.

The government has demonstrated that it will crush whistleblowers who try to defy it. Who in their right mind would allow this to happen to them? Extreme measures for Snowden to protect himself just mirror the extreme measures our government has taken to punish those who oppose it.

Comment Re:Union negotiators screwed up (Score 5, Informative) 528 528

Unions had already agreed to $100 million in concessions during the previous bankruptcy. The bakers union was being asked for something like an additional 25% in cuts over 5 years, while there were reports of raises and bonuses for management. On top of all that, management had stopped contributing to the pension fund and there is still a lawsuit over that. Agreeing to the cuts would have taken wages well under the market average could have depressed wages for the entire bakers industry. So let's not try to play this as a one-sided "unions are dumb" argument. There were good reasons for the unions to reject the concessions management proposed.

Comment Re:Pricing Is For Cloud Storage (Score 5, Informative) 392 392

Here, 1 TB of always-available, portable storage for $99.99, perhaps less if you shop around for a discount.

Yes, portable hard drives are almost exactly like cloud storage. Except for the reliability. And the convenience. And ease of sharing. And accessibility. But besides that, it's exactly the same.

Comment Pricing Is For Cloud Storage (Score 4, Informative) 392 392

I'm not clear what the hardware is worth, but people are ignoring why this is priced so high. What nobody mentions is the laptop comes with 3 years of 1TB Google Drive storage. If you check out pricing for that much storage, you are looking at $50/month, which translates to $600/yr or $1,800 for 3 years.

So if you are a Google Drive power user and need a ton of storage space, this thing is a bargain. You get the storage at a discount and a nice free laptop. Sure, that seems like a crazy amount to spend on cloud storage space but this thing isn't exactly a laptop for the masses.

The big question here is who needs that much cloud storage space. It sounds like something that would be nice to have, but I wouldn't spend $600/yr. I'm not the target audience though.

Comment Buildings Not Up To Code (Score 4, Informative) 459 459

The real crooks are the cops and civil defense people

Corrupt building inspectors were most likely the biggest issue. Newly constructed buildings were not built to code and came crumbling down. Of course, it's a lot harder to go after those guys than just blaming some scientists who were making reasonable predictions based on the available data.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/europe/08codes.html

Comment Why not? (Score 4, Interesting) 152 152

The U.S. government makes an even more bold claim than that. They have argued with Megaupload that the government can continue to seize their servers even if the case is dismissed. I'm halfway surprised that the government bothered to drop the charges against Rojadirecta since they feel they can keep cases like this in limbo indefinitely without any consequences.

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