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Comment: Yes, we know that. (Score 4, Informative) 67

by Animats (#47802079) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

Battery storage for bulk power has been talked up for years. Mostly by the wind industry. With solar power, you get peak power and peak air conditioning load around the same time. Wind varies about 4:1 over 24 hours, even when averaged across big areas (California or the eastern seaboard). So the wind guys desperately need to store power generated at 4AM, when it's nearly worthless, so they can resell at 2PM. When the wind farm companies start installing batteries at their own expense, this will be a real technology.

With the US glut of natural gas, this isn't needed right now. Natural gas peaking plants aren't all that expensive to build, and make money even if they only run for maybe 6 hours a day. That covers most peak needs.

There are other ways to store energy. Some of the dams of the California Water Project have reversible turbines, which can run either as pumps or generators. They pump water uphill at night, when power is cheap, and let it down during the afternoon to generate power. Since the dams and pumps are needed for water handling anyway, this adds little cost.

Comment: Re:I guess that explains (Score 1) 113

by Sique (#47801891) Attached to: Radioactive Wild Boars Still Roaming the Forests of Germany
While Westphalia is part of the ancient settlement area of the historical Saxons, contemporary Saxony has nothing to do with it. Actually, the title of Archduke of Saxony was handed to the Duke of Meissen, when the original Saxon line of Achedukes died out in the 15th century, carring the name Saxony from today's Westphalia and Lower Saxony to Meissen and Dresden.

Comment: Re:Painkillers, HA! (Score 1) 207

by Reziac (#47799575) Attached to: States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths

You can only judge by the samples you've got. I suspect they're pretty durn representative, and they seem to be reasonably consistent.

But if selective breeding works for other plants, why not for pot? Considering the variation known in marijuana, and that anyone can do a "smoke test" of their own crop, how difficult could it be to select toward higher THC content? Why wouldn't they, when it can be done rapidly and easily, and best of all increases your profits?

Comment: Why? Nobody uses NFC payments (Score 1) 153

by Animats (#47798687) Attached to: Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

A few years ago, those Google NFC payment terminals were all over Silicon Valley. Nobody used them. Newer credit card terminals show no sign of supporting them, although some apparently have the hardware inside for it.

Another problem is that if the technology just requires the phone's presence, not interaction on the phone, it's insecure. "Near field communication" is only supposed to be up to 20cm, but a 2013 paper at Black Hat demonstrated connectivity at 100cm, which is good enough for crime. If it does require interaction on the phone, the user has to activate the phone, navigate to some app, and deal with the app. This is slower than swiping a credit card.

It's easier to do than card-reader skimmers.

Comment: Same thing from ultra-orthodox Jews. (Score 4, Informative) 440

by Animats (#47798195) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Many ultra-orthodox rabbis who demand their followers not use uncensored smartphones or uncensored internet access. In 2012, a big anti-Internet rally for ultra-orthodox Jews was held in New York. "The siren song of the Internet entices us! It brings out the worst of us!" The event was streamed live and is summarized on YouTube.

There are ultra-orthodox ISPs with filtering. The filtering is very stringent, based on a rabbi-approved whitelist. "That's all you get, and nothing else."

There are kosher cell phones. "Kosher Phone has no camera, no Bluetooth capabilities, no memory card slot and cannot be connected to a computer."

That's in the US. In Israel, kosher cell phones are so locked down that only approved numbers can be called. Even rape crisis centers are blocked.

Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 1) 191

by phayes (#47796961) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

While I agree in large part, that little has changed in physics over the last 60 years, there is the one wrinkle of the soviet accomplishment in perfecting oxidizer rich engines as in the RD-180s. It took a lot of work finding materials that would stand up to high temp + high pressure oxygen and they deserve more praise than they got from the achievement.

Comment: Re:Painkillers, HA! (Score 1) 207

by Reziac (#47796543) Attached to: States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths

I assume the medical pot folks have a clue, and they say it tests quite a lot stronger than in the past -- more than six times stronger on average:

The average potency of all marijuana in the US, according to the UMPMC's Dec. 2008 â" Mar. 2009 quarterly report, was 8.52% (5.62% domestic and 9.57% nondomestic).

The highest tested sample had 22.04% THC (domestic) and 27.30% THC (nondomestic). The highest tested sample ever tested between 1975 and 2009 had 33.12% THC (domestic) and 37.20% THC (nondomestic).

For comparison, the national average of marijuana's THC content in 1978 was 1.37%, in 1988 it was 3.59%, in 1998 4.43%, and in 2008 8.49%.

They also point out that today's joints are typically smaller, so the total dosage may be about the same, or at least not much higher. However, that also means it may be harder for a novice to determine his limits -- kinda like being handed a bottle of vodka for your first drink.

Comment: Re:"Against a wall" (Score 1) 142

by Reziac (#47796403) Attached to: Dell's New Alienware Case Goes to Extremes To Prevent Overheating

A great deal of a PC's heat exchange happens through the case. Plastic shells are therefore not a good idea. (If you don't believe me, wrap your machine in a towel, leaving the front and back open, and watch the temperature go up.) And this one has less surface area. My guess is it will actually run hotter than the same equipment in a standard case.

As to Dell's engineering for temperature mitigation -- a few years ago someone gift me a top-of-the-line Dell that had a chronic overheating issue. It had the hood-and-distant-fan arrangement that OEMs seem to like, but no CPU fan and only the most minimal heatsink, like we mighta used on a 486. I removed the hood and the crappy heatsink, added a standard CPU heatsink/fan (nothing special, just a cheap stock model) and the machine's operating temperature dropped by 40F degrees (yes, FORTY degrees Fahrenheit).

So much for all the engineering that's supposed to enhance cooling, eh? This was when I concluded that, given that excess heat kills a machine in about 3 years, these damn things are *designed to die*.

Computers are not intelligent. They only think they are.