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Comment: Criminals? No, not for coding... (Score 1) 305

by rbrander (#49262469) Attached to: Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders

..."Enterprise Software Systems Architect". "Framework Analyst". "Data Modelling Architecture Consultant".

These are the positions that suck $200/hour out of your accounts as they ask you to explain for the fourth time how you manage your list of projects and track their progress and pay their bills. Tens, then hundreds of thousands will disappear like Danny Ocean and the Boys had visited your bank, as your hoped-for upgrade to your Access application is turned into a web-based app with 20-second response time.

Former(?) criminals would be the 'best fit' for these jobs as a certain indifference to the customer's costs, stress and general suffering is valuable.

Comment: Re:Physics violation (Score 1) 690

by rbrander (#49015293) Attached to: Free-As-In-Beer Electricity In Greece?

> Isn't there SOME loss of heat in creating order, information inside a computer?

Article in Scientific American some years ago about that: as it turns out, it can be shown thermodynamically that processing information has to increase entropy because it *destroys* information. Net. You put more data into a calculation than you get out. 5 + 7 can be turned into 12, but not the other way around; the 5 and 7 are lost.

Comment: Re:WTF (Score 2) 297

by rbrander (#49006349) Attached to: Canadian Climate Scientist Wins Defamation Suit Against National Post

Can you provide links to the stories of these "skeptic scientists" (isn't that redundant?) Are you talking about people with peer-reviewed papers being fired because their boss didn't like the results of the work? Or are you talking about people who couldn't get properly-done science published because a peer-reviewed journal had it in for them?

Or are you talking about "scientists" that had strong opinions NOT backed up by science of the kind that can pass peer review?

Even that is fine; firing people for opinions, even ones they cannot prove scientifically, is pretty bad - but I'd like to see the cases, see if they have merit.

I mean, thanks for your link to "climate audit" - the middle of a mathematically-complex *criticism* of a scientific paper; but I know I'm not competent to adjudicate that dispute. Peer-reviewed journals *ARE* able to, generally, and if this criticism could only get published at "", and not the Journal of Climate or any of 21 other climate-related peer-reviewed journals, then I'm sorry, but I have to assume it's not very good.

My reliance on peer-reviewed journals is not the logical fallacy of "Argument by Authority"; that refers to statements like "Penicillin works because the King has proclaimed it". The statement "Penicillin works because 35 careful studies of infection outcomes showed positive and repeatable results" is another kind of authority altogether.

Comment: Mainstream for the second time, maybe (Score 1) 141

by rbrander (#48788881) Attached to: 3D Cameras Are About To Go Mainstream

I have a fun book called "3D Hollywood" with dual-photo pages by silent film great Harold Lloyd (contemporary of Chaplin). Lloyd was retired by the 50's, with a huge home, "Greenacres", in Hollywood. He was a buff for the then-popular 3D film cameras and the photos are of film sets, Hollywood parties, including those of a 3D photographers club that included other famed actors of the time, like Dick Powell, Ronald Colman, Edgar Bergen - father of Candace, whose teenage coming-out party was shot with 3D portraits. Lloyd also had several 3D photos of Marilyn Monroe who shot a scene by the pool at Greenacres.
Then the fad went away, probably along with the 50's 3D movie fad, though Lloyd continued his hobby through the 60s. Now that 3D cameras are being made again, the purveyors are acting like it's the first time. But it really is the second.

Comment: That's 2%, not 4% (Score 1) 401

by rbrander (#48592507) Attached to: The Shale Boom Won't Stop Climate Change; It Could Make It Worse

Burning methane has about half the CO2 emissions per unit energy as coal, basically all carbon. Add in the effect of 2% losses from drill to furnace, and you have the same greenhouse effect as using coal for the same job.
For residential use, there's no question that many handling processes, storages, and miles of ever-smaller pipes has losses well above that.
Even for heavy industrial consumers connected straight to major supply pipelines, it's surely over 2% loss; from leaks around the wellhead to every stage of the plant processing to pipeline joints, leaks happen.
Gas is a cleaner-greener fuel in that all the other bad stuff in coal emissions are not there; coal kills perhaps 24,000 Americans per year - but the greenhouse impact of gas is certainly worse than coal, or oil.

Comment: How much is that in dollars? (Score 1) 375

by rbrander (#48504545) Attached to: The Cashless Society? It's Already Coming

Despite a lifetime of gadget-loving, I'm a smartphone holdout. (My employer pays for my cell, and it's dumb. ) But what I really note about smartphones is they're quite heavy, most of the volume must be battery - and they still need nightly charging.

The movie "No Country for Old Men" made an impression on me that cash weighs something - that $2M was 50lb, even in hundreds. It seems to me the weight of a smartphone, even just in a mix of 5's 10's and 20's, is the weight of more cash than I spend in a week. How many bills is the weight of, say, an iPhone 5 equal to?

I wonder if those of us who have only a 3-oz DumbPhone now will find our pockets heavier or lighter after we are compelled to get an iPhone 9 to buy lunch.

Comment: It will come in by steps (Score 1) 454

by rbrander (#48444647) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

It's always struck me as obvious that driving will be automated in order of difficulty of job. First, trains (already done for many of them). Then buses in "BRT" systems (where the buses have a dedicated lane) and then buses on regular roads. Only after all of these have become routine sights will you see your automated Car2Go -type taxi services.

But just automating mass transit will increase the use of it. Why are trains lumped together in 3 cars that only come by every 15 minutes? To save on drivers. One car every 5 minutes is the same capacity but one-third the waiting time.
And you could be getting to the station from your house from bus stops where a small van comes by every 5 minutes, too. Chopping out that time-consumption (and where I live, COLD waits for half the year), would probably double interest in mass-transit right there.
Effects that make mass-transit more appealing have a positive feedback loop effect going for them, because of the same "network effects" that drive adoption of new popular communications like fax then E-mail the social media. If twice as many people take the train, then it comes every 2.5 minutes, and they start building tracks to more places.

Meanwhile, there's then a positive feedback loop hurting the car industry. The fewer people buy cars, the more expensive they get and the more likely your employer is to charge you for parking, because only half the employees even use it, and why should you be subsidized? These positive feedback loops can lead to "tipping points" more quickly than most people would tend to predict.

Comment: Party of Fear (Score 0) 445

by rbrander (#48417169) Attached to: Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

Makes me almost nostalgic for the days when the dread terror that was going to kill us all in our beds at least had a navy, air force, and nukes. Yes, as it turned out all three were hopelessly inferior to ours and they were never about to attack, merely paranoid that we were about to; but still, they looked pretty scary and only a millionth as much surveillance was justified by it.
But every President of every party seems to become President of Fear upon taking office, even Mr. Constitution Professor. The notion that they are "Commander if Chief" of all those dozen defense and security and spook agencies is a little comical; it's clear who really gives the orders.

Comment: Also, they use public roads (Score 0) 228

by rbrander (#48309143) Attached to: New GCHQ Chief Says Social Media Aids Terrorists

It's their Terrorist Transportation Network Of Choice, officer. They also use libraries, schools, water fountains.

It's called "having an open society" and it's what we're paying you to defend. So quit complaining about open society before we wonder if giving you weapons and surveillance powers is creating a bigger problem than the one its your job to solve.

Comment: All based on a false-to-fact payment model (Score 5, Interesting) 179

The *expenses* that any utility has providing services fall into three broad categories:

1) One time costs of putting in infrastructure - or at least they appear one-time for any human lifetime, as lots of pipes (and even copper phone wires from the 30s) outlast people. But everything needs replaced eventually on some "lifecyle" of 20-120 years. These costs are handled by large banks loaning money over long periods so that it becomes a yearly cost that can be broken down per subscriber, or reasonably apportioned to subscribers by usage category (you vs Netflix, they pay thousands of times more).

2) Yearly fixed costs. They have to employ X guys to keep the lines strung through snowstorms, whether your line falls or not. Again, this breaks down to a monthly bill per subscriber and regulators can routinely agree how much you vs netflix pays, based on whether your "category" is 1-500 GB/month or 500-5000 or >5000.

3) Costs that are exactly proportional to usage. The actual cost of water per gallon, once all the pipes and plants are paid for; the actual cost of electricity per kWh, after all wires are bought and maintained. And there can be complexities here with utilities that have "rush hours" where using power when they're maxed reequires buying more expensive power - these can be addressed with "peak time surcharges" if needed.

With power especially, these are routinely broken out so that you don't pay $0.11 per kWh - you pay $20/month plus $0.07 per kWh. That's only fair. Any kind of pro-rating means some subscribers subsidize others.

With internet, every single ISP tries to blend all their costs into one monthly charge, and so you have $50/month and $80/month and $120/month "plans" with caps. It's all hogwash. THere should be ONE formula. And from the Netflix corporate filings, we know the Big Secret: data in bulk is now transmitted for barely 2 cents per GB.

So, your $50 plan should be a $48 plan, plus a nickel per GB - that's still giving them a vast profit per GB transmitted, but nobody will care as few use more than 100GB per month.

If they were regulated into breaking out fixed costs vs per-GB costs, all this crap with "data caps" and throttling would go away. No caps, because you pay per GB and they want you to buy more. No throttling for the same reason.

Even DISCUSSING the notion of a "cap" or a "throttling" is buying into their model of pricing, which is good for them and not for you. Don't do it.

Comment: Re:Why South Korea and Japan can do it and USA can (Score 1) 291

by rbrander (#48212641) Attached to: Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

What the other replies said to this guy about average vs local density is perfectly correct. But even in low density areas, this is STRICTLY an upfront capital issue. Only the original install costs much more. The increased service delivery cost once you have the larger amount of fiber per customer installed is barely worth discussing except for the accountants who finally figure out that the US suburbs should be paying 1.87 cents per GB rather than would be those kinds of numbers.

The article says it plainly: in dense apartment areas, $280 per install; US housing, $2200. But really, what's $2200? A one-time investment that pays off over what, 40 years? The copper lines to my house date to 1954, the TV cable to 1973. The asset lifespan exceeds the 40 year max that even a large utility can get to pay down an investment. So even with interest (which these days is tiny, by the way, but lets use 4%), it's about $100/year added to your bill to pay off your install, unless you want to pay up front.

God, it's such a crap argument in so many ways - so unworthy of a nation that was among the first to bring in electricity and then phone and then cable, the last especially to provide so much less utility (57 channels and nuthin' on...) than Internet...but it comes up every time. That 57 channel TV cable was DONE, jack, between about 1970 when I first heard talk of it, and 1980 when everybody had switched to it. Here we are 20 years after everybody started wanting on the Internet, and virtually no new lines strung, they're still using the 1930s phone wires and the 1970s TV cables that were already paid for...but charging you like they had.

The people making these excuses for them are among the robbed, and they should just stop.

All the simple programs have been written.