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Comment Re:Solving the wrong problem (Score 1) 346

Pickens's idea was as follows:
1) while 1% of our electricity is from oil, about 25% is from gas.
2) Replace that 25% with wind.
3) Take the gas freed up and use it to power vehicles.
Result: Reduction of foreign oil.

Now, the problems with that plan were:
1) Wind is variable, and therefor cannot be used to replace base load generation, which is where much of the gas is used.
2) Wind power needs land. The land that has good wind is NOT where people need power, so you need to build transmission lines to move the power where it is needed.
3) BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) will oppose both your wind farms and your transmission lines.

The only real way this sort of idea would have worked would have been if every wind turbine also had enough local storage (e.g. vanadium redox batteries) to store power so that you could make the turbine act like base load power. Normal power company policy is to take the baseplate power (e.g. 2 MW peak) and divide by 10 for wind. So, if each wind generator had roughly 5MW-Hour of storage, you could then average over 2 days, and make each turbine "act like" a 200kW base load generator. Of course, redox batteries aren't cheap, and the total cost of land+turbine+battery+transmission lines+shutting the BANANAs up is >> the current costs to make electricity with coal or gas.

Comment Re:Wait... (Score 5, Insightful) 178

"Why would any sane person possibly give McDonald's any of their personal information in the first place?"

Fixed that for you.

It's a damn burger, not a car - it's not like I have to finance the damn thing! I hand you money, you hand me something that, under bad light, might pass for food.

The closest they might get is if I charge the burger, and even then, all they get is a confirmation code from my credit card.

Comment Research and Development (Score 5, Insightful) 81

If the goal is to create a marketable product, it is DEVELOPMENT, not research.

Research is trying to find basic things that you can use to identify areas to roll into development.

Research SHOULD fail regularly ("fail" in this sense being "did not lead to areas to develop."). If it isn't failing regularly you aren't trying hard enough.

This is the key that too many businesses now-a-days miss.

Comment The new system (Score 1) 183

Level 0: "Friendly pat" - no terror threat. Only theoretical, as we will never see this level.
Level 1: "First Knuckle" - be afraid citizen, but only a little, as the DHS will protect you. Now, cough, please.
Level 2: "Middle Finger" - citizen, we are going to have to "set aside" your rights for a bit. I hope you aren't allergic to latex.
Level 3: "Two in the stink" - prole, you will comply, for the good of the country.
Level 4: "Fist" - your papers are not in order. You vill follow us to the back room.
Level 5: "total(itarian) domination" - What searches? There are no searches! You have committed thoughcrime and wordcrime. Big Brother Loves You, and wants you to be better, and will re-educate you.

Comment Re:They *ARE* being smart (Score 1) 8

That is probably an excellent idea. I should find a good credit card vendor - with an online system that makes it easy to pay off purchases before they accrue any interest - and walk away from this check card bullshit.

That would be almost all of them, now-a-days. I don't ever mail in checks, I just go online. Of my three, I've had the most issues with Bank of America and Chase, but Discover has always been easy. Indeed, I could download my transactions into Gnucash and have my Discover up to date automatically.

I have one card that has a high enough limit to purchase a new car straight off a dealer lot [...]

That might not work as well as you think. I bought a new car back in '04. I had financing from my credit union, pre-approved for more than the cost of the car. But, you have this little dance: In order to issue the loan, you have to take the title to the credit union so they can put the lien against it. But, to get the title, you have to give the money to the dealer. But, to have the money, you need the loan. So, here we sit, deadlocked. I say "look, if nothing else, my limit on this card is almost twice what the car costs, and the card is paid up. Charge the car to the card, I get the loan, I pay the card." "Nope, the law doesn't allow us to let you buy a car on a credit card." (note: this may be Kansas specific, IANAL, IANYL, etc.). Finally, since I'd done business with the dealership before, they said "Just write us a check, when the money is in place, call us and we'll cash it."

[...]the last internet purchase I made on this card was through paypal [....]

That's a whole 'nuther ball of ugly there. I have those crooks only tied to one credit card, so that if they try to screw me, I tell the CC company to deny the charges and charge it back. As a friend of mine used to say, "Let's you and him fight".

Comment They *ARE* being smart (Score 1) 8

Whoever is stealing your info is being smart. They know that the instant they start using your card, the clock is running out. No matter what they buy, there is a chance you will notice. So, they can either
a) get as much value out of the card as possible as quickly, using your reaction time against you
or
b) try to be sneaky. They might get more money, or they might get less.

These people work on the principle of volume - they want to turn over as many cards as possible in as short a time as possible, to maximize their profits.

So, the compromise your card, they sell it on one of the myriad of sites just for that purpose for $50, and move on - they just made $50 for a relatively small amount of work.

The gold farming WoW thief that bought it then moves to quickly make as much off it as he can, knowing the WoW accounts will be close relatively quickly - but in that time he turns the $50 he spent on your card into WoW "gold" and then turns that into $100. Don't think about the $500 he "spent" on the WoW time - *he* didn't spend $500, he spent $50.

I've know people in the position to turn over to the credit card companies a significant fraud operation - hand it to them on a silver platter, all the CC company had to do was contact the police at the destination and they could have busted a group committing over $10K of fraud. The CC company wasn't interested - "Just don't send them the goods, or we will hold you accountable, bye [click]".

After all, why SHOULD the CC company care? They have successfully externalized the cost of fraud: for all they complain about fraud "costing them" millions, it doesn't cost them jack, as they just charge it all back to the vendor, even though the vendors did everything "by the book" and the CC were the ones who said the purchase was legit.

The only way this will get fixed will be to force the CC companies and banks to internalize the cost of fraud: If the merchant did all the steps to confirm the purchase as valid, and the CC said it was valid, then the merchant is off the hook, the card owner is off the hook, and the CC must eat the cost. Don't let the CCs charge annual fees, don't let them charge for balances paid off in full within the grace period, encourage people to do just that, and suddenly, when somebody calls the CC company to report fraud, the CC WILL call the cops - hell, they will likely start using the Pinkertons to follow up on fraud in the cases where the cops cannot or will not.

Bringing it down to a personal level:
1) Don't use a debit card for ANYTHING. Your risk exposure is too high.
2) Get a credit card that supports creating virtual sub-cards.
3) Set up a sub-card for each recurring charge you have that needs to be on a CC. Set a limit just over the maximum amount that account should see. Fund those cards only as needed.
4) Set up sub-cards for the various on-line sites you shop with. Again, set the limits reasonably, and fund them ONLY when needed.
5) Some CCs will allow you to have a secondary "low limit" card for daily use. Get that, and use it for things like restaurants and gas.
6) ONLY use the high-limit card for big ticket items. Don't let it out of your sight. Don't carry it unless you plan on needing it.

And I agree: ditch your bank. If you are getting zapped once a year, either you are being careless or you bank is. You can change the bank as a variable, as it will be more difficult to change your behavior.

Comment I love slashbots - they are so predictable (Score 1) 741

So, I make a comment about how the slashbots will shout down any mention of Ron Paul and Libertarianism, and just as I expected, they prove my point for me.

Read the parent comment, look at the moderations, and read the responses if you doubt me.

That is one of the many reasons I no longer give a Rattus rattus's pink rectal tissue about this place or my "karma", and why I now so rarely comment.

Comment Re:Thanks Congressman Ron Paul (R)! (Score 1, Insightful) 741

Oh, to the slashbots, Ron Paul is far WORSE than being a Republican: He is a Republican who actually BELIEVES in smaller government, who has consistently acted on those grounds, and campaigns for it. He is a Libertarian in disguise! He must be reviled at every turn, and any time he does good, it must be drowned out! slashbots cannot let the idea of personal responsibility and small government take hold - while they are quite happy to see the government prevented from interfering with their vices, the idea that the government won't give them free stuff and that they might actually be held accountable for their own actions and the consequences thereof - that's just crazy talk.

Comment Simple (but not easy) solution (Score 2, Interesting) 140

There is a simple solution to the problem. Unfortunately, being simple does not mean it is easy.

1) ISPs by default implement some basic filtering:
1a) do not allow access to port 25, save to their own servers
1b) do not allow inbound nor outbound access to certain "LAN only" type services (e.g. NFS, SMB/CIFS, etc.)
2) NOTA BENE: ISPs SHALL allow users to elect to bypass these filters, but:
2a) This shall require action on the part of the account owner.
2b) Upon doing so, the account owner SHALL be responsible for their actions
2b.i) The ISP SHALL provide a contact mechanism (e.g. WHOIS record for that IP) that notifies both the ISP and the account holder of abuses.
2b.ii) The ISP SHALL act on complaints if the user does not.
2c) The action to disable blocking SHALL be done in a way that prevents a bot from doing it (e.g. require a phone call to the ISP, or a Turing test, etc.)
3) ISPs SHALL look for "infected" behaviors, like port scans, BEFORE the traffic leaves their network (remember people, the term "firewall" comes from building codes, where a building is supposed to have MANY levels of firewall. ISPs should be no different).
3a) such behaviors SHALL be investigated, and potential infectees quarantined and the owners contacted.
4) ISPs SHALL be required to address complaints
4a) The SHALL be required to have an automated means to report such abuses. No, Web pages don't count.
4b) ISPs that fail to address complaints SHALL be listed in such a way that other entities can block them (e.g. DNS-RBLs).

For too long ISPs have been able to externalize the costs of infected machines. Obviously, any cost a business can externalize will be externalized, and thus the business won't handle it. The solution is to force the costs of infected machines to be internalized to the ISPs. They will, of course, bitch mightily about this - again, no business will allow a previously externalized cost to be internalized without a fight.

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