Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Polls on the front page of Slashdot? Is the world coming to an end?! Nope; read more about it. ×

Comment: Niche products for the well-heeled? (Score 1) 353

by lfp98 (#49810611) Attached to: How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies
"solar panels and electric cars . . . . remain niche products for mostly well-heeled customers." I'd agree that might be accurate for Musk's cars, but for EVs and solar panels in general it's at least misleading if not flatly false. The people I know who drive electrics aren't particularly wealthy. Other than Teslas, EVs now sell, after the rebate, at roughly the average price for a new car in the US, about $30,000. Decent used ones can be had for $12-15,000. Plenty of middle-class families manage to come up with that much and more for a car, so the implication that EVs are out of reach of the masses is just wrong. And unlike many tax breaks, the EV credit doesn't increase just because you're in a higher tax bracket, everybody gets the same $7500. A solar panel array actually costs less than the average cost of a new car, even before the tax rebate. And, both EVs and panels actually save the purchaser money in the long run. If they skew toward wealthier folks, it's probably because highly educated people are buying them. As far as states bidding for manufacturing facilities with millions in subsidies, that's now pretty much standard procedure. With China and others subsidizing manufacturing, we have to do it too, or else cede all production to others. When the US went for free trade and let China into the WTO, that's what we were committing ourselves to.

Comment: HVDC (Score 1) 589

by lfp98 (#49793727) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
Seems to me the author is understating his own argument, and missing the point, to some extent. The devices he excludes ("Appliances like electric ovens, electric water heaters, and air conditioners will [still] require 110VAC") are precisely the ones that take most of the power, probably 80% in aggregate. So, if you want significant savings, those would have to be DC as well, but it would have to be 220VDC or at least 110VDC, because for 12 volts you would need at least finger-sized copper bus running all through the house. In fact, the most efficient new air conditioners / heat pumps (e.g. Daikin Altherma) run on DC, i.e., they convert the AC to DC which then powers inverter-controlled synchronous motors. A water heater, even an existing one, could just as easily run on 110/220 VDC, you'd just need to replace the control unit. What you'd probably want is a system with at least 2 voltages, say 24V and 220V, each with its own battery charged by its own solar array, so you don't need to do DC/DC voltage conversion (which also has losses though probably not as much as an inverter). Most of the house would only have 24VDC wiring, 220VDC would only go to the kitchen and utility room, just as it does now in AC systems.

Comment: Re:Wind power is not the answer. (Score 1) 256

by lfp98 (#49738283) Attached to: Energy Dept. Wants Big Wind Energy Technology In All 50 US States
The noise is not from bad bearings but simply from the blades whooshing through the air. I don't have first-hand experience but those who live near turbines say it can be pretty severe. I can see a place for turbines offshore and in the wide-open spaces of the Great Plains where there is ample wind. But in the more populated east and west coasts, the noise and visual pollution just aren't worth it, especially when the wind is so intermittent. The few remaining undeveloped spaces there deserve to be left alone. Are we to have every Appalachian mountain ridge dominated by turbines even larger than the monsters already in use? In the long term, PV solar with battery storage is the only sensible solution. It's a little too expensive now, but in 10 years if not 5 years it will likely be comparable to wind and cheaper than any fossil fuel. By the time mega-turbine wind gets going, it will already be obsolete.

+ - Legal dispute clouds future of crowd-funded solar farm

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Having exceeded their goal of $300,000 and raised over $440,000 for a crowd-funded solar farm (, CloudSolar is locked in a legal battle with crowdfunding site Indegogo. The CloudSolar page on Indegogo has been taken down (, without explanation. In dueling emails to contributors, Indegogo cites unspecified violations of its terms-of-use, while CloudSolar insists that Indegogo thoroughly reviewed and approved their project and is now changing the rules retroactively. Apparently, the two sides are still negotiating but meanwhile CloudSolar has sued Indegogo, which remains in possession of the funds. CloudSolar had garnered extensive press coverage for their innovative financing model, wherein crowd funders would retain legal ownership of individual solar panels on the farm and receive periodic payments from the sale of the power they generate Some “Apollo”-level funders put up $9000 each for a group of 15 panels, which is now in limbo.

Comment: Children should wear reading glasses (Score 1) 144

by lfp98 (#49310093) Attached to: Excess Time Indoors May Explain Rising Myopia Rates
Or at least not wear their "normal" prescription when reading. I know for sure what happened to me. I spent plenty of time outside but I read a lot of books too. I acquired nearsightedness by about 5th grade, so of course they gave me corrective lenses to restore 20/20 vision, i.e., perfect focus at something 20 feet away. That meant that for reading, my eyes had to focus even closer than they would otherwise, in order to compensate for the glasses trying to focus farther away, so I got even more nearsighted, got stronger corrective lenses, and it just snowballed. By the time I finished college, I had corrective lenses of roughly -5.0 left and -4.0 right. Now, with no glasses, my natural, relaxed focal distance is about 4 inches in front of my face, anything farther I need glasses. I realize now what I should have done is at least take off my corrective glasses for reading and any close work.

Comment: Osteoporosis (Score 1) 304

by lfp98 (#49156017) Attached to: I ride a bike ...
In my younger years it never occurred to me that I would some day be too old to bicycle, and certainly not in my 60's, but now I realize it is simply too dangerous. Given my bone density, typical of an 80-year-old, a fall, even a minor one, would likely be catastrophic. My case is unusual, but the majority of 60+ seniors have some degree of osteoporosis and most of them probably shouldn't be biking. My father-in-law biked well into his 70s, but had a fall - on a bike path - and was never quite the same after that. I'm just kind of surprised no one talks about this much.

Comment: What is the goal? (Score 1) 273

by lfp98 (#48805969) Attached to: Silicon Valley's Quest To Extend Life 'Well Beyond 120'
So far, efforts to increase longevity and slow the aging process have indeed extended the number of years over which people can still be productive, healthy and independent, but they have extended by almost as much the subsequent period of decline during which people are still alive but largely unable to care for themselves. Proportionally, we are spending a larger fraction of our lives in disability than ever before, thanks to modern medicine. One can make a pretty good argument that we have already gone too far in increasing human lifespan.

Comment: Make your own prescription (Score 1) 464

by lfp98 (#48727627) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?
Progressive lenses take the prize for most useless invention (apologies to Mr. Franklin). To use the reading portion of the lens, you have to cock back your head uncomfortably or put the reading matter down on our chest. It's far easier to just switch glasses when you need to. For computer viewing, they're completely useless. For distance vision, I need very strong corrective lenses (approx. -5.0 left and -4.0 right). Progressive lenses are made by simply adding approximately +2.0 to the reading portion of the lens. So I just added +2.0 to my prescription ordered full lenses with -3.0 left and -2.0 right, resulting in a focal length of about 2 feet, perfect for computer viewing, which is what I got them for, but I'm finding that they are fine for almost everything I do in life, which generally involves focusing on things at roughly arms length. I have a pair with the original prescription specifically for distance vision, but the only time I use them is for driving, and occasionally for watching seminars.

Comment: Were they really helped? (Score 1) 739

by lfp98 (#48280785) Attached to: Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare
I'm not saying they're right, but a lot of people who bought policies or even were enrolled in expanded Medicaid don't necessarily feel that they were "helped". They rather liked the old system where you get along with no insurance and minimal healthcare for much of your life, wait till you get a catastrophic illness in middle age, and then throw yourself on the mercy of the system, which is forced by law and tradition to provide care regardless of ability to pay. Then you just muddle along for a few years until Medicare kicks in. It was a chaotic, unfair, inefficient, expensive, and convoluted system that we all paid dearly for. But was it really that much worse than the Rube Goldberg contraption set up by ACA? Many people don't think so. And only the most deluded liberals ever thought there would be any political payoff from grateful enrollees.

Comment: Re:They should be getting jobs at univeristies (Score 1) 283

by lfp98 (#48090239) Attached to: Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science
It's not a generational thing. Rather, universities are only hiring people who already have at least one grant, and these days most such people are already middle-aged. Hiring a new Assistant Prof straight out of a postdoc, no matter how prestigious their publications, is just too risky, given the miniscule probability that they will get funded. The new paradigm is for so-called Assistant Profs to get a grant while they are still in their mentor's lab, then start looking for jobs. Nothing sets the creative juices flowing like being set loose in your own lab with nothing but some good ideas, and that experience is being lost. But I'll admit, a big part of the problem is the large number of baby boomer scientists with $150,000 salaries, who could retire comfortably but just don't know when to quit, and keep getting funded mainly because of their political connections.

+ - President of UT Austin declines chancellor's request to resign-> 2

Submitted by lfp98
lfp98 writes: President Bill Powers has long been in conflict with Governor Rick Perry over the direction and goals of the University of Texas' flagship Austin campus. This week, news leaked that the Chancellor requested Powers' resignation before this Thursday's meeting of the Regents (who are all Perry appointees), under threat of being fired at that meeting if he did not resign. So far Powers has refused, while expressing an openness to leaving after the end of the current academic year []. Powers is highly regarded by UT students, faculty, alumni [] and the larger academic community, but has been criticized by Perry and other conservatives for not being sufficiently focused on providing educational services at the lowest possible cost. Powers' supporters view the forced dismissal as brazen political interference with University governance, primarily for the purpose of allowing Perry to influence the choice of a new president before he leaves office in December [].
Link to Original Source

Comment: Nothing new under the sun. (Score 1) 140

by lfp98 (#47120061) Attached to: Report: Verizon Claimed Public Utility Status To Get Government Perks
A real eye-opener, and almost an exact replay of the Credit Mobilier railroad scheme of the 1860s: A government-regulated corporation receives a monopoly franchise as well as generous subsidies from the government, yet still manages to rack up huge losses because so much of the money is siphoned off to other ventures, while a few of the principals accumulate astronomical wealth.

You can tell how far we have to go, when FORTRAN is the language of supercomputers. -- Steven Feiner