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Comment Western US anti-nuclear feelings (Score 1) 296

In the western US, the anti-nuclear sentiment has more to do with historically bad experiences with non-commercial activities. Open-air nuclear tests. A few years ago the DOE declared the Rocky Flats site in Colorado to be clean; there's a growing body of evidence that they did the job on the cheap and the remaining plutonium will get loose. Last year the WIPP in New Mexico had a leak, and DOE agreed to pay a $74M fine. This month, DOE asked the court for a further 17 year delay to 2039 to finish the vitrification plant that is key to cleaning up the disaster that is the Hanford Site in Washington. Given Republican attacks on the DOE budget, Washington has asked the reasonable question, "What are the chances Congress will continue to fund construction for another 24 years?" On the commercial side, Yucca Flats will probably open eventually, and be substantially expanded, against the wishes of the people of Nevada.

It's not all that hard to understand why western politicians are not given to believing the nuclear scientists and engineers who say, "Yes, but this time will be different."

Comment Re:Idiot (Score 2) 296

At least in the US Western Interconnect, it's feasible to solve this problem. The West has diverse renewable sources -- hydro, wind, solar, even geothermal. The West has these over geographic diversity -- eg, the wind is unlikely to stop blowing in both the Columbia Gorge and Wyoming's South Pass at the same time. There is plenty of opportunity for pumped hydro storage. It's not inexpensive because you do have to overbuild capacity, but there are a lot of detailed studies that show it's feasible.

The Eastern Interconnect, on the other hand, is a completely different problem, both in scale and in complexity.

Comment Re:I wrote one (Score 1) 227

Some years back I ended up writing my own as well. I was looking for a handful of special features. The most important one is that while I could go back and annotate earlier text, I couldn't modify it (an overstatement, but I can't modify it from within the tool). That was important to me for a "lab" notebook: what was I thinking when I wrote this two months ago, and what do I think is different now. I also needed to be able to paste in pictures, and wanted to be able to draw circles and arrows and text over and around them. Perl and Tkx for implementing it -- at one point at least I had versions for all of Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Comment Re:Not just MS Office (Score 1) 138

Since El Capitan offers basically no user visible changes (just backend ones like locking down your own computer from you), there's literally no reason to "upgrade."

It at least "feels" like they've done something good with the scheduler and/or memory management. Switching between windows and tasks when the processors are all saturated is much smoother.

Comment Vote by Mail (Score 4, Interesting) 263

Related is the voting revolution happening in the western US -- vote by mail, with scanned paper ballots. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington already send a mail-in ballot to every registered voter. Arizona and California are clearly heading in that direction. Once those "big five" western states have adopted, the smaller ones -- some of which already have permanent no-excuse absentee ballots -- are likely to follow along. I admit to being biased; I love that my polling place is my kitchen table.

One of the interesting things I've noticed is when I raise the subject with friends, the ones who are opposed almost always grew up east of the Mississippi, and are terrified that large-scale fraud will occur. There's a PhD dissertation for a sociologist or political scientist in there somewhere.

Comment Re:A step forward, but... (Score 2) 399

If L-M had a compelling case that they could deliver what they say, on the budget they claim, they wouldn't be begging for money -- the big utilities that have spun off their generating components would be lining up to provide the funding. Hell, the states of California and New York would provide funding. That L-M is begging says a lot about the quality of the information they can actually show.

Comment Re:That must be a joke. (Score 1) 1067

NaN is a reasonable "Default" value for 1/0, and has the advantage that it propagates without you checking for it.

Or disadvantage that it propagates. Many years ago I spent weeks banging my head against a pile of 10,000 lines of badly structured Fortran on CDC equipment that I had inherited responsibility for. That hardware cheerfully allowed division by zero, storing the equivalent of NaN as the result. At a relatively enormous distance away in both source code and execution, the NaN was used in an addition operation and at that point the machine generated a fault. Ultimately the problem was an off-by-one upper limit in a DO loop, but finding it made me crazy. It would have been far easier to find if the divide-by-zero had generated a fault.

Ever since, I have been rabidly of the opinion that divide-by-zero is an error condition, and that execution can proceed only if the programmer has provided some sort of try/catch structure that catches the fault.

Comment Re:See how it is already done (Score 1) 257

The Buffs still in the air are newer than that, dating only to the early 60s. While much of the airframe may be original kit, everything else in them (including avionics and other electronics) has been replaced multiple times, the electronics with all-new designs. The most recent upgrade cycle started in 2013.

Comment Re:The kernel was tied to the culture (Score 4, Insightful) 469

Consider the following anecdote:

Around 1994 or 1995 I was starting an applied research project that needed an oddball sort of network widget. I e-mailed Alan Cox, whose group was handling most of the Linux network staff at the time, describing what I was trying to do. I got an e-mail back the next day that was basically: "Sounds cool! Ethernet sockets might be able to do the job (draft documentation attached). If not, let me know and we can discuss the best place for you to add a hook to the IP stack." Ethernet sockets were sufficient; I had a basic version of the widget up and running after a couple of long weeks; it was impressive enough that mgmt let me run with.

No way any of the other kernel projects were going to treat me that well.

Comment Re:No, but... (Score 1) 109

I know a small group of people who have developed a software package that, among other things it can do in terms of reading, can score essays. The license fees are quite steep, but the customers seem happy. From casual conversation, there were a number of properly designed studies that showed the software was somewhat better than people hired to score essays on a piece-work basis (the typical arrangement for large national tests). That was a few years ago; the software has probably improved more than the human readers since then.

Comment Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 591

Indeed. I used to be a budget analyst for the state legislature in my state, and the cost for the various procedures that are followed in the event the prosecutor is asking for a death sentence runs about a million dollars. The extra costs cover a very thorough audit of the process, from initial investigation through final sentencing, and the costs of the appeals up through several levels of courts. State prison costs run about $35K per year per inmate, so that million dollars would cover almost 30 years of incarceration. The entire legal process from beginning to end typically takes ten years, so the state will pay for 10 years incarceration in addition to the million.

The death sentence is seldom sought. We do have one case in progress now where the prosecutor is seeking the death sentence; the accused killed 12 and injured 70 in a mass shooting. I can fairly safely say that the accused did it, as he offered, through his attorney, to plead guilty if the sentence was life without parole. After almost three years, the case has reached jury selection. The trial will be a travesty of dueling experts arguing over whether the accused was insane at the time or not. I figure there's a fair chance the verdict will be not guilty by reason of insanity, and he'll still get life without parole despite all the bills the prosecutor is racking up.

Comment Re:Energy use (Score 1) 332

I'm a westerner, and biased, but the West has more cause than other regions to say, "Let's watch and see if this next-gen stuff works somewhere else before we try it." Ranging from open-air nuclear tests in Nevada to Hitachi screwing up a billion-dollar repair to New Mexico fining the feds $54M for sloppy practices at WIPP, and a whole bunch of things in between.

Everybody needs a little love sometime; stop hacking and fall in love!