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Comment Re:Avoid the Microsoft tax! (Score 2) 308

When you go to the grocery store, do you whine about the Kellogs tax on your Corn Flakes?

No, because I have the option of buying some other brand like Post or Malt-o-Meal, or the house brand. Micro$oft is doing everything it can to make sure you don't get a choice and have to pay them even if you use someone else's software.

Want Android? Pay M$.
Want Apple? You're probably paying M$.
Want a PC? Unless you build it yourself, you're paying M$. Even if you don't, they're still controlling the hardware specs.

This is extortion and monopolization at its finest.

Meanwhile, my blood ran cold when I read this knowing that LadyAda sold out. I guess she needed the money. So much for Adafruit.

Comment Here are some facts from a former Reno native (Score 1) 62

There are so many wrong "facts" and conjectures here, I had to log in and correct them. I was born in Reno and raised nearby, and I've been in the area many times, unlike just about all of you.

What is now an industrial park was formerly a ranch, and, despite being in the middle of a mountain range, has enough flat land within to allow all of this building. At the north end of this ranch is the Truckee River, along with runs Interstate-80 (old US Highway 400 and the Southern Pacific Railroad, the first trans-continental railroad. The first trans-con telegraph and telephone also ran through here, and a lot of fiber does as well, Reno to Salt Lake City.

This is high desert, around 4-5k-feet in elevation at the bottom, and gets snow in winter, usually not more than a couple of inches, very rarely several feet via backdoor fronts (from the east so the Sierra Nevada and Cascade rain shadow has no effect). Typical winter lows are single digits and teens (in Fahrenheit), with records dropping well below zero. Summer highs used to be only 100 a couple days of the year, but thanks to that climate change, 100+ is becoming somewhat more common now. The all time record high is 108.

The location for the Gigafactory and these datacenters is directly off I-80 about 11 miles east of Sparks (USA Parkway aka NV-439, I-80 Exit 32 to Vista Blvd Exit 21; these exit numbers are miles from the California state line). It is nowhere near Lake Tahoe: from the Gigafactory to Incline Village, Google Maps shows 56.4 miles, or 34 miles using the measurement tool (as the crow flies).

As I mentioned, there is a lot of fiber in this canyon: ones I know about from 8 years ago when I left are MCI, Worldcom (separate systems), Williams, and Nevada Bell (now AT&T once again, but their local version). Sprint enters Reno from the north as it uses the Union Pacific RR, while AT&T doesn't follow a railroad, and their eastbound fiber instead goes down to the state capital Carson City before going east (they didn't care about latency back then). There are also now direct fiber connections to Las Vegas (the signs say Nevada Bell, but I have good word there is a lot of dark/dim fiber being utilized there), which follows US-95, and a 3rd party fiber running down US-395 to provide broadband to the California communities on the east side of the Sierra, though the south end terminates in Barstow and the north end in Reno. One issue here is that all these fiber routes converge on Reno, so some sort of ring will have to be used to prevent the "eggs in one basket" scenario discussed by some posters as far as connectivity. (Outside of connectivity, you should have multiple data centers, obviously.)

Power may be a problem. There is a planned 500kV line running between Reno and Las Vegas, but AFAIK it still hasn't been built: the original intention was to ship (renewable) power between north and south, as N/S connections east of California are lacking. However, they may be needed to supply all these new data centers instead, though some power has become available thanks to a lot of the casinos going belly-up. Presently the vast majority of power in western Nevada comes from two 345 kV lines, one coming from Alturas and thence from the Columbia River, and the other, older one coming from NE Nevada from some coal plants that may be going away soon. There are also some peaker and upgraded-to-combined-cycle plants at Tracy very close to the Gigafactory and datacenters. The Path 27 HVDC line runs N/S around 20 miles to the east and has no connections here, its mid-path.

Meanwhile, despite the latitude (39.5), this area gets LOTS of sunshine, particularly in summer, helped by the Sierra/Cascade rain shadow as I mentioned, along with being far enough west (119.5--120 West is the California/Nevada state line as well as the Alberta/BC line and is further west than Los Angeles) to miss out on most of the North American Monsoon that gives the 4 Corners states their summer rainy season. The only catch is that, being mountainous, it becomes important to place solar panels in areas that won't be excessively shaded in the morning and evening.

There are some links to fill in that "Citation Needed" jonesing you may have:


Comment Uninstalling it (Score 1) 492

I did the free upgrade on our guest lobby computer. After seeing the fallout, including guest account disappearing and other issues, I think I'll just use the restore utility (this was an el-cheap HP Black Friday special from a few years ago running an AMD E-300...yes, it's VERY slooowwww...) to put win-7 back on it.

Comment Re:What did you read? (Score 1) 485

but even in the case of Google -- with whom I share a great deal of data -- I'm selective about what I do share.

This sums up my beliefs / hopes (I can't call them more than that) about Google vs the Twin Towers of Redmond and Cupertino: I use Google (through Startpage and Android on my phones) because I have to, and I toggle everything off I reasonably can. Yeah, I turn on location data and use GMaps, but not to go anywhere that could get me in trouble (I hope--besides, they can always track the carrier location register). I access my bank through my phone's bank app sometimes, but only because I'm so poor that the convenience outweights the security dangers. For anything REALLY security-serious, I use my old laptop running Slackware and Firefox with all the usual privacy extensions. I worry about the talk of getting serious about remotely rooting and BIOS attacks, but ultimately I don't have the money or time to put into a CoreBooted machine, Silent Black phone (I'm not important enough for that, anyway), or what-not.

So, yeah, choice of lesser evils, but--so far--Google has been far less evil than their bretheren, at least in public. Of course, I'm always afraid of what we'll see when the curtain is pulled back from them like Snowden did with our government (and, as we saw, by extension ALL western governments!) since their ties with the CIA, NRO, and NG(I)A continue to this day. But what's the alternative other than going down the path of RMS?

Comment What Voltage? (Score 2) 239

Noticeably missing from both linked TFAs. As discussed here and elsewhere previously, 48V would probably have too much ohmic loss unless this A/C is right next to the supply. Higher voltage would work better, but call into question safety issues you don't have with AC due to it passing through zero volts 100-120 times a second.

Comment Re:I don't know about Aus weather forecasts (Score 1) 54

here in the UK our Met Office sometimes can't even get it right 12 hours in advance.

Here in the western USA, reading the AFD's (Area Forecast Discussions), whenever model tendencies come up, the Euro and Canadian models tend to be way off, perhaps because, despite being global models, they're optimized for high northern latitudes whereas we're in the Horse latitudes. Only a guess, but it's a constant. Further south, for tropical eastern Pacific hurricanes, the results tend to be hilariously off and are dismissed by the forecasters almost immediately.

Comment Re:No Foul play... (Score 1) 173

Really? That's your approach to this? Yet another young guy trying to find a way to get rich by setting up a system built from the ground up to infringe on others' copyrights, and which gave laughable lip service to take-down notices (ripped off material that was removed re-appeared more or less instantly). Foul play? The foul play was on his part, and of course the chickens came home to roost, which is why he gave up on the scheme. Whether or how yet another failure of a Piracy-As-A-Service "start-up" might have contributed to his death remains to be seen.

Paid for by your friends in the MPAA and RIAA.

Comment OPNSense not really M0n0Wall successor (Score 1) 34

OPNSense is more of a fork of pfSense and competes with that project. In fact, OPNSense was pretty much born of the fact that the pfSense developers made their development tools proprietary-licensed and pissed off some 3rd party developers as well as scaring a larger group of people that the whole project might become closed-source. SmallWall keeps the tiny aspect of M0n0Wall as a firewall and little else while *Sense are network security appliances, Asterisk servers, and pretty much anything else you want--something Manuel never liked. All of these and more trace their origin to M0n0Wall so, technically, they're all successors.

None of these are as small as *WRT distros and they still to this day only run on x86 and x64, but you get OpenBSD's packet filter (claimed by most to be superior to Linux's) bolted onto FreeBSD (for better hardware support?) and a BSD license if that matters to you.

Comment Re:You can't send electronics into that environmen (Score 1) 64

Absolutely, positively *NOT* true! If that WERE true, we wouldn't have satellites flying around in and through the Van Allen RADIATION Belts, surviving solar wind storms, and so on! What do you think the reactors rely on internally when they're operating? Radiation-hardened electronics feeding to non-hardened electronics on the outside, that's what.

At the very worst, you can always go back to vacuum tubes (that's "valves" in the Queen's English) which, by definition, are rad-hard.

Comment I've been thinking about this for a LONG time (Score 1) 597

A few facts that, for some reason, haven't been stated in this discussion:

1. EMI/RFI--AC systems radiate a lot of noise. Some come from lines discharging through a natural diode and the rest is the lower frequency 50/60 cycle AC and its harmonics. Even discounting the EMI-sensitive people out there (whether you believe them or not), there's no question that it affects receivers and some other electronics, and occasionally magnetics like a credit card. DC normally shouldn't have this problem.

2. Outside of motors and other heavy loads, most loads outside of factories and such are light loads, thus 48-60 volts with light gauge wiring might be sufficient for short (household or small business) distances.

3. A *BIG* safety issue no one has talked about is the increasing danger with voltage and going DC. This is a 2 pronged problem:

A. with AC the voltage goes down to zero every half-cycle, which is why switches can be made relatively simple under that 400 volts mentioned. But this disappears at DC and an arc or spark that fires WILL *STAY* FIRED as long as the power remains applied! I learned this at a GM discussion for mechanics when they were discussing the (new then) Chevy EV1 and its competition from Honda and Toyota when they talked about why they chose 36 volts for that car: its the highest voltage that won't carry a stable arc. The speaker pointed out that a pin hole, which would self-heal and not normally cause a problem on normal 12 volt circuit, would cause a self-maintaining arc at 48 volts if the hole came into contact with the frame. Of course, we all know what happened: the car failed due to lack of range (using lead acid!) and power (ohmic loss). But the safety issues remain, even on modern cars with high voltage DC battery packs, even though they seem to be solved...

B. Above 400 volts or so flash danger becomes a real threat, as lots of Youtube videos attest. Going to DC this could be a lot worse, I would think, as the arcs wouldn't self-extinguish. Combine this with heating inside the cells due to internal resistance and you could see a big BOOM!

Comment Re:Impractical (Score 1) 597

As it currently stands, commercial buildings often have 277V lighting circuits (this is in the US) because it involves installing less copper in the ceilings.

Perhaps that was the reason in the old days, but more likely (especially for newer construction) it's because this is the voltage you get between a leg and neutral from a 3-phase wye transformer at 480 volts leg to leg AKA 480/277Y. Here in Phoenix you see this a lot at the bigger retailers where that 480 volts is used to drive the freezers and general building refrigeration needed in summer. It makes sense, from a safety standpoint, to use the lower 277 volts where the power draw doesn't necessitate a higher voltage. (Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not wrong here, and your Cu cost argument is totally sound, especially these days!)

The lower voltage version (here in NA) is 208/120Y and is VERY common in certain places such as the motel where I work where 120v is needed most, but 3 phase is needed by a few things (in our case, the washing machines and outdoor sign). The A/C units are wired to accept the lower 208 volts instead of 240 and we buy them that way from the retailer (they can still be rewired to 240 if necessary).

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas