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Comment: Re:Bigger scenes were impressive IMO (Score 2) 86

I don't know -- I'd say the character is well up the slope on the "realism" side of the valley.

As for the cost of hardware, well, an ATI video card that I installed about ten years ago came with some canned demos. It casually mentioned that one of the demos implemented a technique that was first displayed at SIGGRAPH in, I believe, 1995 or so -- some ten years earlier -- at which time each frame took several minutes to render on a large server farm. In the space of ten years, hardware advances took us from the render farm to real-time rendering on a sub-$1K card.

Now, maybe we're too close to the far end of the S-curve to see that kind of improvement over the next ten years. But I'm not convinced.

Comment: Re:Worlds Biggest Utility Battery (Score 1) 329

by jeffb (2.718) (#49568313) Attached to: Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage

Okay, 26 MW for 15 min is about about 6.5 MWh, ignoring load scaling (total capacity tends to be higher if you don't draw it as quickly). $35 million for 6.5 MWh is about $5.40 per watt-hour.

The Tesla battery is 10KWh, with an initial retail price of $13K. That's $1.30 per watt hour, less than a quarter the price you quote for the ABB battery.

Does this mean the Tesla solution's cost is 1/4 that of the ABB solution? Hard to say. Building something at the ABB scale, with reliability guarantees suitable for a utility, surely adds expense. On the other hand, mass-production leads to economies of scale that ABB probably won't ever enjoy.

Thanks for the links!

Comment: Re:Ah the Z-80 (Score 4, Insightful) 124

by jeffb (2.718) (#49557831) Attached to: When Exxon Wanted To Be a Personal Computing Revolutionary

If you have a child in middle school, there's a very good chance they'll be required to use a TI calculator -- these days, a TI-84, most likely. Those calculators run on a Z80. If your child's ambitious, he/she can still tinker with Z80 assembly on an actual physical host.

This is a small tribute to the Z80 processor, and huge, scathing indictment of TI's lock on the education market. ~US$100 for a Z80-based calculator? In 2015? It was a sweet chip in 1977, and it's clearly still useful. But at this point the calculators should be selling for well under $10.

Comment: Re:Americentred worldview (Score 1) 164

Ah, so you think that the second story is silly -- never mind the first, straight-news story, which the doltish AC apparently missed.

So, overlooking the irony that you're here on a Web forum mocking people instead of Bringing Aid To The Victims yourself... no, I find that I can't actually overlook that irony. HAHAHAHA, as you say. But, for the sake of argument, what would you have people do on Facebook? Or here? Perhaps you'd prefer that people in the affected area refrain from tweeting, and restrict themselves to decorous registered post?

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 407

by jeffb (2.718) (#49527053) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

Thanks.

I started to edit the penultimate paragraph, but it messed with the flow too much. I have "mellowed" quite a bit in the intervening eight years -- I've gotten older and a bit more comfortable with my mind as it is. Being the smartest guy, or at least feeling like the smartest guy, doesn't seem quite as urgent any more. I'd love to have more selective attention, better memory, or savant skills, but not if it ruins my sleep, or makes me hot-tempered or cruel.

In more detail, I'm not sure exactly what's changed. I feel like the whole concept of "intelligence" isn't as clear to me any more as it used to be -- it still seems like certain people are smarter and certain people aren't, but I've seen so many smart people believing and doing stupid things that it's sometimes hard to put much stock in the concept. I'd hate to see performance-enhancers just enabling people to do stupid or misguided things more quickly and effectively.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 4, Insightful) 407

by jeffb (2.718) (#49525143) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

They can't, which is why it won't happen. People at the top are there because they're very good at hamstringing competition. So the only legal performance enhancers will be those that are either inefficient, like coffee, or too expensive for you to afford.

And if people are willing to risk their lives and freedom to get an illegal drug that just makes them high, what makes you think laws will prevent them from getting a drug that makes them more money?

Comment: A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 5, Interesting) 407

by jeffb (2.718) (#49525033) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

When this came up a number of years ago on another forum, someone wrote:

[...] if the scientist working on a cure for cancer is doing this um what's the problem? Even if it were to have some negative side effects, and he knowingly chooses to risk it b/c he feels it will help him.

And I wrote this (slightly edited here):

Let's walk a few years down this road. It's 2025, and ehancers are legal, or at least their use is tolerated.

Your son has just joined a law firm. The other new arrivals are using Modafinil, or its successor, to let them work 100+ billable hours per week. While his employment agreement explicitly states that he's not required to use any enhancers, it's also clear that he'll never make partner without them. Is there an element of compulsion here?

Your daughter is getting ready to take her SATs; she's smart and ambitious, and wants to get into a top-tier school, eventually going into med school. Recent anonymous surveys indicate that 20% or more of students taking the test are using enhancers. Nobody's been able to do a formal study, but there are indications that these students are seeing boosts of 200-300 points in their scores. What advice do you give your daughter?

Fast-forward another ten years. Your kids have been using enhancers for the entire time. Originally, they were just a way to get a little extra "edge" -- but, having established a performance baseline while using them, who wants to become "dumber", slower, or sleepier by giving them up?

The problem is, the drugs aren't working quite as well as they used to. It's not surprising, really, at least not to a cognitively-enhanced neurochemist; enhancers, particularly the primitive second- and third-generation varieties, lead to short-term habituation and long-term neurological adaptation. New drugs are better, and with their help, new researchers are smarter. But they still can't do much to help those who scarred their brains with the older drugs.

Your son is fairly secure in his position as a full partner, but the firm's newest hires are scary. Most of them simply don't sleep, ever; they're at the office for days at a time without rest, and when they do take "time off", they're out skydiving, or rock-climbing, or just partying. Partners have always had the power in law firms -- but how long can they maintain power when their underlings are so much smarter and more ambitious?

Your daughter... your daughter isn't doing so well. She's landed a great residency, but the early-21st-century movement to limit the length of residents' shifts faltered and died in the face of enhancement drugs. She doesn't really need sleep, but she misses it, and she misses the companionship that was once associated with it. (Who wants to be involved with a surgical resident, who's almost never home?) When she does try to sleep, her dreams are invaded by the brain-burn victims she sees at work, and she wakes up screaming.

And sometimes the dreams intrude while she's nominally "awake". It's an increasingly common syndrome in long-term gen-3 enhancement users. The neurochemists are hoping that the new gen-5 products will help reduce this symptom.

I think we will go down this road. There's a very good chance I'll go down this road -- I've never felt like there was any such thing as being "smart enough". I think people in general, and researchers in particular, will be able to become "more intelligent", and once they do, they'll be able to figure out ways to accelerate the process.

But I think it's going to hurt. A lot.

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