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Comment: Should I do an ad blocker? (Score 3, Interesting) 107

by Animats (#47561759) Attached to: Which Is Better, Adblock Or Adblock Plus?

I'm behind Ad Limiter, which limits Google search ads to one per page, picking the best one based on SiteTruth ratings. You can set it for zero search ads if you like. It also puts SiteTruth ratings on Google search results. It's a demo for SiteTruth search spam filtering.

This Mozilla/Chrome add on has a general ad-blocking mechanism inside. Unlike most ad blockers, it's not based on regular expressions looking for specific HTML. It finds URLs known to lead to ads, works outward through the DOM to find the ad boundary, then deletes the ad. So it's relatively insensitive to changes in ad code, and doesn't require much maintenance. The same code processes search results from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Bleeko, DuckDuckGo, and Infoseek. (Coming soon, Yandex support, and better handling of Google ads within ads, where an ad has multiple links.)

So, if I wanted to do a better ad blocker, I could do so easily. Should I? Is another one really needed? Are the headaches of running one worth it?

Comment: Cell and battery production in same plant (Score 5, Informative) 80

by Animats (#47559917) Attached to: Tesla and Panasonic Have Reached an Agreement On the Gigafactory

The Tesla/Panasonic plan gets cell and battery production back into the same plant. The battery industry has, for a while, had a model where cells were made in one country (usually Japan, Taiwan or S. Korea, or at least with machinery from there) and assembled into device-specific battery packs near where the end device was produced (usually China or the US.) For the Chevy Volt, the cells come frm LG Chem in Korea, and the battery packs are assembled at the Brownstown, MI Battery Assembly plant.

There's no good reason to do it that way now that the era of cheap labor in China is over. As a rule of thumb, labor has to be 4x cheaper to justify offshoring. The coastal provinces in China have reached that level with respect to US/Japan wages.

Done right, this isn't labor-intensive. Brownstown has only 100 workers in a 400,000 square foot plant, and they're doing battery assembly, which is the more labor-intensive part of the operation. Tesla claims to need 6,500 employees for their 10 million square foot plant, but they're probably counting construction-phase employees.

Comment: "Beginning of mainstream 3D printing" (Score 4, Informative) 55

by Animats (#47559309) Attached to: 3-D Printing Comes To Amazon

But this could be the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.

We heard that when Staples did it.

Amazon's 3D printed product offerings are rather lame. They're not offering any of the more advanced 3D printing processes; for that you have to go to Shapeways. All you can get from Amazon is plastic junk.

Comment: No new tools. Low-budget operation (Score 3, Informative) 57

All they're offering are some existing tools, ones you can get for free. The main ones are the Clang static analyzer and Cppcheck. They're not offering free access to some of the better, and expensive, commercial tools.

Cppcheck is basically a list of common errors, expressed as rules with regular expressions. Clang is a little more advanced, but it's still looking for a short list of local bugs. Neither will detect all, or even most, buffer overflows. They'll detect the use of "strcpy", but not a wrong size to "strncpy".

Comment: The scammer's dream. (Score 3, Insightful) 154

by Animats (#47551715) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

Over half the Bitcoin exchanges have gone bust. Entire Bitcoin "stock exchanges" disappeared with the money. Bitcoin "investments" promising substantial returns each month were, of course, Ponzi schemes.

Bitcoin is a scam magnet. Irrevocable, remote, anonymous money transfers are the scammer's dream. (Yes, there are people talking about cryptographic escrow schemes so you can buy something with Bitcoins and have some recourse if it doesn't show up. So far, that hasn't reached usability.)

That's why Bitcoin needs regulation. If you're going to hold other people's money, you have to be regulated. Deal with it.

Comment: Each server is worth $189 or less. (Score 1) 206

by Animats (#47544815) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do With Half a Rack of Server Space?

If you want more servers like that, Wierd Stuff Warehouse in Sunnyvale, CA, has the same HP series G Xeon servers for $189. (2 3GHz quad-core Xeons per server! Hard drives are extra, but cheap.) Wierd Stuff has huge supplies of previous-generation data center equipment.

It's amazing how cheap computer hardware is now.

Comment: Space travel isn't feasible. (Score 3, Interesting) 107

by Animats (#47544719) Attached to: SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

Reality check: space travel with chemical fuels just barely works. It takes huge rockets to launch dinky payloads, and that hasn't improved in 45 years. Satellites and probes are useful. Man in space has just been a boondoggle.

If fusion ever works, this may change, but with chemical rockets, it's not getting much better.

Comment: Amazon isn't out of expansion area (Score 1) 168

by Animats (#47533631) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

Amazon isn't out of expansion area. Their target is all of retail, and there's still a lot of non-Amazon retail. Most other big US companies with lots of cash have hit their natural limits.

Trying to go beyond those limits is tough. Google has not been successful in expanding beyond ads. (Android only makes money as an ad platform; Google's phone revenue is small.) Apple has a lot of cash, but can't find any way to use it that will yield the kind of margins Apple is used to. Facebook is still growing, but again, it's all ads.

There's only so much ad spending in the world, and the ad-based companies are all fighting over the same pot. There's more room to grow when your business model is "sell everything".

"You tweachewous miscweant!" -- Elmer Fudd

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