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Comment: Re:Interesting. (Score 1) 122

by joh (#47394233) Attached to: New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory

The RPi has some very notable disadvantages: Not enough RAM, slow ethernet, too few USB ports. If you want to run such a thing as a low-power always-on Linux micro-server the RPi really sucks. It also doesn't run Debian or Ubuntu. It's a nice toy and totally usable for many things but it also has some really tight limits. Just running a web server with PHP against a database can be too much.

A faster CPU, 1 GB of RAM and dedicated ethernet (instead of sharing the USB bus) can help a lot here.

Comment: Re:Shared space (Score 2) 576

by joh (#47368047) Attached to: Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

I came to suggest exactly this. Around where I live there's a place which was hell before. Bus lanes, an underground parking lot spewing out cars, several lanes of traffic, pedestrians and bicycles. It was actually the sheer impossibility of integrating cycling lanes into that mess that lead to a shared space approach: Everything was removed, no lanes, no signals, even the paving was changed to meld together with the surrounding area.

Everybody drives MUCH slower now there (since arriving confuses the hell out of you) and people actually negotiate their way through it by looking for what's going on. What was a really dangerous place before is now the exact opposite: AFAIK there hasn't been a single accident since then. Just forcing people to look out for themselves instead of relying on lanes and signals really can work wonders. Won't work everywhere, but trying to channel everything in a mechanical way isn't always the best option.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

by joh (#47317827) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

Yeah, Germany pays an average $0.35/kwh, versus $0.12 in the US. But they also have higher electricity taxes, pay 4x more for natural gas and have insolation levels similar to Alaska; you can't just compare countries' prices directly like that.

I'm in Germany and I'm paying extra for 100% renewable power and with that I pay less than 30€ a month for electricity (all of it from solar/hydro/wind). Why? I don't use much of it. Price per kWh as a metric is pointless, cost it what counts. The house I'm living in has two feet thick brick walls and double-pane windows, there really is no need for A/C and only little for heating. Power in the US is cheap and that's one of the reasons that most of it is just wasted.

Comment: Re:News for birds... (Score 1) 46

by joh (#47088329) Attached to: Kiwi Genetically Closer to Extinct Elephant Birds Than to the Emu

Humans have started to heavily wreck the environment long before modern times, yes.

This is hardly surprising. Humans were neophytes almost everywhere and disrupted the local fauna and flora. They also multiplied like rabbits.

But this has become a global problem now, with more than 7 billion of us. The number of existing species is plummeting, just like the number of living animals of all species that are not our pets or cattle. We are the cause of a modern mass extinction event that is very similar to the handful of former extinction events, just that it happens much faster.

Comment: Re:wat (Score 1) 293

by joh (#46863635) Attached to: Australian Exploration Company Believes It May Have Found MH370 Wreckage

These pings (including an unscheduled "incomplete" one that Inmarsat says is consistent with the hardware rebooting after a short power cut, which is to be expected when the fuel runs out on an airliner) as well as the few signals of the blackboxes are the ONLY hard evidence we have. It's far better than nothing though and we would have nothing if the Inmarsat hardware on that plane wouldn't have pinged the satellite with a data-less handshake every hour despite the airline not subscribing to the engine monitoring program (in which case we would have detailed data).

Everyone with the slightest scientific inkling should know which trail to follow here. And everyone with the slightest commercial inkling should know how to use that golden opportunity to get you into the news. And everyone with an axe to grind will know how to use that plane to further his case, whatever it may be.

Sometimes I think if the pilot of that plane cunningly vanished it along with the crew and the passengers and his own live just to spite his government and create a mystery he nearly perfectly succeeded. And without this tiny technical detail of the satellite handshakes we would have not the tiniest chance to ever find out what happened. Just imagine that. The perfect meme bomb.

Comment: Isn't this obvious? (Score 1) 195

by joh (#46820867) Attached to: How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off

Apple is caught between their high-margin strategy and falling market share. The 5s/5c was a first try to do something but those were too similar to each other. Making the 5c cheaper would have eaten into the margins too much and making it crappier would have made it too crappy. So they have to make the "premium" version more premium and the budget version more different so it isn't just a cheaper iPhone.

I guess the 6s will have a sapphire screen, a 4.7" display with minimal bezels, an aluminum/ceramic case, the fingerprint sensor, a better camera and a faster SoC. The 6c will have a glass screen, a 5.x" display, larger bezels, a thicker plastic case, no sensor, a cheaper camera and a slower SoC (making it more of a phablet than a smartphone). This way they can charge a premium for the 6s, with more than healthy margins and the 6c will be sufficiently different from (and cheaper than) the 6s without one being just a slightly cheaper or more expensive version of the other. Those who want the 6s won't just buy the cheaper 6c because it is a very different beast and there'll be lots of people buying the 6c who wouldn't have considered an iPhone at all before.

It's one of the very few things Apple can do without cutting deeply into the margins. Up the margin for the premium version and make a version with tighter margins that is so different that you don't just switch to that for the price and can draw in new customers.

Well, as far as the sapphire goes: It's just there to justify higher prices and up the "premium" notion. It also may have some practical value, but honestly: My iPhone 4 is now more than three years old and there's not one scratch on the screen.

(And I also think that with smartphones becoming just "normal" products instead of "small computers for nerds" having more options in all directions is a good thing. In most normal products you have much larger price spans than even that. Go and buy furniture, clothes, houses... there's easily an order of magnitude between the cheapest and the most expensive even without going into the most outrageous luxury offers.)

Comment: Re:Surprised? (Score 1) 149

by joh (#46818715) Attached to: VK CEO Fired, Says Company Under Kremlin Control

Communism is an economic theory that can't work in theory - it centralises economic planning

This isn't Communism. It's Socialism. In Communism nothing is centralized, there even isn't a state or a government, nobody owns anything, everybody does his best and takes only what he needs.

Socialism was meant as the first step on the road to Communism and of course Communism never works apart from exceptional circumstances in small communities for a short while. It's a lovely daydream of "wouldn't it be great if...". Well, but it isn't.

Comment: Re:Being handled ... (Score 1) 95

by joh (#46808341) Attached to: The Limits of Big Data For Social Engineering

Civilisation is all about getting organized. We have learned a lot about that in the past, but this still is like alchemy. Thinking that millions or billions of people in their entirety are different than lots of atoms (who are totally unpredictable individually but highly predictable in larger lumps) is magic thinking.

But yes, there's a difference here and this is being aware of what happens and understanding things which can lead to feedback. But be assured, most people don't want to understand. They even actively resist it and then all their individual idiocies (which usually aren't very unique anyway but just a handful of familiar patterns) average out and you can nearly treat them as a fluid with certain parameters. You're seem to be a good example of that.

And if you really think we can get by on this very small planet with 7 or more billions of us just by letting things go, well. We need to get organized for real.

I think understanding nature (and this includes us) has always been the key for our success as a species and stopping with understanding things because we feel insulted by "being handled" is idiotic. We basically stopped being animals exactly when we got a grip on the world around us. And this world is now made up by mostly... us. So we need to get a grip on us. There's no way around that. Either that or we will descend again and since we have long exhausted all easily accessible resources we will never get a second chance. There's only one way left for us and this way is onwards.

Comment: Re:More in hope than expectation. (Score 1) 95

by joh (#46808119) Attached to: The Limits of Big Data For Social Engineering

Statistics works the same with people as with atoms and this is real science. Individuals may be hard to quantify, but a mass of people certainly is. That's the reason for the fact that with a small random sample you get reliable data about the population. The fact that YOU may not be part of that sample just is irrelevant since what you do is mostly irrelevant (or only relevant with a very small probability).

In physics this is exactly the same: You can't make any predictions when it comes to individual particles, but since never deal with individual particles all of this averages out and you can make predictions them as you deal with lots of them.

I'm pretty sure that every single particle would be mightily insulted if you would tell it about physics: "I have free will and nothing is telling me what to do!". Yes. But in the big picture what this particle does or not does just doesn't matter.

"Gotcha, you snot-necked weenies!" -- Post Bros. Comics