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Comment These changes... (Score 5, Insightful) 254

He doesn't cook, and was able to get rid of almost all kitchen appliances because of that. He uses a butane stove for hot beverages. He powers a small computer off batteries, which get their energy from solar panels. For intensive tasks, he remotes to more powerful machines. He re-wired his apartment's LED lighting to run off direct current. Have any of you made similar changes?

No. I have a wife.

Comment Re:I rarely find offices cold enough (Score 1) 328

The proof that turning it off over the weekend will save money is this. Imagine that they turned it off for some arbitrarily long time (say a century). Would that save money? Of course. How about for half a century. Et cetera. You have to pay to cool it back down again and that offsets some of the savings of letting the temperature rise. The question really is where the break-even point comes in. If you let the temperature rise back to ambient and then immediately cool down to desired temperature, that should be an approximately break-even time. Anything longer and you are ahead. Anything shorter and well you really haven't turned it off!

This is incorrect.

The rate at which heat enters a building from warmer outside air is proportional to the difference between the temperatures. If there's a five-degree difference half as much heat energy per unit of time enters the building than if there's a ten-degree difference. The amount of heat that must be removed Monday morning is the integral of that heat flow function. If you keep the office cool all weekend, you keep the interior/exterior temperature differential large and the heat flow high. If you allow the interior to warm up then the differential decreases and heat flow decreases. Less heat in means less to pump out.

This effect is maximized in the scenario you describe, where interior temperature rises to match exterior temperature, because when the temperatures are the same heat transfer ceases, but it's useful even if the difference never falls to zero. Actually, it's even better when the temperature differential goes negative and heat starts naturally flowing out of the building (e.g. interior temperature rises during the day and exterior temperature falls enough at night to be below the elevated interior temperature). Heat that flows out naturally is heat you don't have to remove. Smart buildings should be able to improve this effect by facilitating beneficial heat transfer (e.g. opening windows or pumping exterior air through the building) and impeding undesired heat transfer (e.g. insulation, keeping doors and windows closed).

Comment The BIGGEST thing they could do... (Score 1) 502

The government could best encourage solar by streamlining regulations,

The biggest thing they could do is change the regulations on their subsidies, tax breaks, and the like to replace the requirement "installed by a licensed contractor" to "installed in conformance with the applicable electrical code, permitted and inspected where applicable". This would allow do-it-yourself installations, where done properly, to receive the same benefits as professional installations.

The price difference between a homeowner-installed and a contractor-installed system is typically larger than the subsidies. So the current programs amount to welfare for the government-approved contractors rather than the homeowners.

Comment Re:Not Totalitarian (Score 2) 75

You're confusing "totalitarian" with "authoritarian". Authoritarianism is the lack of limits on state power. Totalitarianism is when the state actually uses that lack of limits to institute a pervasive, total control of the populace in all aspects of their lives. Remember that the word was actually used in its proper meaning in a positive sense by the very people that we recognize as the first conscious totalitarians today: Italian fascists. Mussolini defined it as "everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state".

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 283

Cite? From what I see that ceases being true by about age 30 for the vast majority of people.

No, you've got that backwards. Millenials don't give a shit about cars. But IME the majority of people who give their cars names are over thirty and female, or over fifty and male.

You've changed your claim. You're now discussing not the majority of people but the majority of people who name their cars which as far as I can tell is a very, very small percentage of automobile owners. I find it believable that people who name their cars wouldn't like to rent one. Note that that's not the same as saying I believe it.

Your claim about ages rings hollow to me, though. I don't know anyone over the age of 25 who has named their car. Of course, I only know two people who have named their cars, period (one is 21 and one is 19).

However, my experience doesn't really matter. You're the one making the claim that no one will be willing to buy a car that doesn't perfectly fit all of their needs, so it's on you to support it, not on me to refute it.

Comment Re:The network for your one friend who hates Faceb (Score 1) 267

I'll have you know, we Facebook refuseniks have equal scorn for Google+.

Speak for yourself. I refuse to use Facebook, but quite like Google+. I also have a Twitter account, which I never use. But I dumped Facebook the second or third time they changed my privacy settings without asking me, and have no intention of every going back.

Comment Re:Google did it (Score 1) 70

Apple is innovating by bringing this to cellphones and screwing carries out of voicemail minutes.

Assuming anyone even cares about minutes any more, Google Voice does the same. When GV answers your phone and takes voicemail it doesn't use your cell minutes. And users of GV rarely dial in to listen to their voicemails either; the transcription is so good they just glance at the e-mail/SMS/Hangout message and get what they need to from it.

Apple may indeed be able to find some way to innovate in this space, but simply transcribing voicemails isn't going to do it.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 283

No it doesn't. A 30 min supercharge only gives you a 50% charge, which is about 140 miles, which is a bit over 2 hours at highway speeds. Nobody I know stops to eat every 2.5 hours while on a long trip.

Well, my experience with my kids is that we stop every two hours. Not necessarily to eat. Granted that it's often for 15-20 minutes rather than 30, but it wouldn't be difficult to wait a few minutes more before heading out.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 2) 283

currently the battery packs alone are $8k - $12k

LEAF batteries are $6K.

getting people to give up a major factor of anything (in this case Range/"Refueling" time) requires a significant incentive

There is no "refueling time" issue to "give up". Refueling time is a major advantage of EVs for everyday use... refueling my EV takes ten seconds. Five when I get out of the car and plug it in at night, and five more when I unplug it in the morning. I find my ICEV much, much more of a bother to keep fueled.

This is only true in the exceptional case of long-distance, non-stop travel. And even there, all it takes is enough range and fast-enough recharging to ensure that the car doens't need to spend any more time refueling than the people do.

Comment Re:Core subjetc my a$$.... (Score 1) 116

But I get the feeling what theses clowns are aiming to do is get people to learn basic coding in order to flood the market with code monkeys that know how to write an if-then-else statement in order to deflate CS salaries......Make it so that anybody with a high school diploma can apply for entry-level coding jobs.

Right, because what Microsoft and Facebook are looking for is entry-level coders for jobs that don't require much more than an if-then-else statement. I suppose it's remotely possible that flooding the entry-level market could reduce pressure on the higher end, but I highly doubt that the effect would be noticeable. The skills gap is just too large and the productivity difference between the top and bottom ends too large.

What's more likely is that they realize that good programmers are as much born as made, and that there is a percentage of the population who could be good but currently are never even exposed to it enough to find out how much they would like it. In other words, they aren't looking to pull in lots of little fish, they're looking to trawl a bigger part of the ocean for the big fish that they're trying to find.

I suspect there's also an element of "mainstreaming" involved. The programming culture can be offputting to many people, so by making it more normal they hope to interest more of the potentially-great software engineers who currently look at the culture and stay far away. Like women.

Comment Re:Casino Noise (Score 1) 129

Property tax is still an indirect tax on economic activity, as I pointed out above, since the value of property is defined by economic activity (whether the property is actually used or not), and since property tax directly affects the cost of all economic activity involving property which, ultimately, is all economic activity or so close to all as makes no difference. There may be some business, somewhere, which requires no capital expenditures and takes place entirely on public land, but it certainly isn't the norm. It's true that some economic activity is more capital intensive than other economic activity, but I don't see how that implies that economic activity which is less capital-intensive necessarily makes fewer claims on government or should be taxed less.

And I still don't see that the Broken Window Fallacy is a counterexample. Perhaps I'm dense. Or perhaps we disagree on the meaning of "counterexamples". At best it seems to highlight that economic activity and property value aren't the same thing, but I don't think that was ever in dispute.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 283

So for those several times per year, rent a car.

I lived in Colorado for three years, and regularly (almost monthly) made the 8-hour drive to my parents' home. Most of that time I had two vehicles, a Dodge Durango (needed to tow the camp trailer or boat, and to haul the whole family), and a Nissan LEAF, which was my commuter and the around-the-town vehicle when the whole family wasn't going. Given the amount of gas the Durango consumes I found it more economical (when all the kids weren't going) to rent a Prius or similar for the trips home. It worked great. Some unanticipated benefits were that the car tends to get pretty dirty when you drive it a thousand-plus miles in a short stretch, cluttered up with fast food containers and whatnot -- and there's an increased risk of spills and stains. So it's nice to just let Hertz deal with all of that.

Anyway, the point is that it's perfectly reasonable to choose a vehicle that is optimized for 95% of your driving, and rent one that is optimized for the other 5%. It can actually be very cost-effective. I've been looking into getting rid of the Durango and renting when I need a toy hauler, but so far it looks like the premiums charged for those sorts of vehicles make it a non-starter vs my paid-off SUV. Also, I haul the boat or trailer almost weekly during the summer, so the frequency of rentals would get annoying.

"Once they go up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department." -- Werner von Braun