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Power

Home Generators (or How DTE Energy Ruined My Holidays) 695

We are among the thousands without power in the northeast. Day four actually, and we've decided to look into generators so that next year's New Year's doesn't involve fears of frozen pipes bursting and hypothermic babies and cats. At the very least we just need enough juice to run the furnace blower, but if we're going to lay down the cash I'd like to know what it would take to get a little more power ... like enough to run a fridge, router, laptop and lightbulb. I know nothing about this sort of thing, but figure there are more than a few experts out there so I call out to the wisdom of the mob. What am I looking for? How difficult is the wiring? What will it cost me? On the extreme edge, what would it take to get off the grid entirely? (And on a side note, thanks to DTE Energy for telling us we had power when we didn't, for losing the ticket for our neighborhood, for telling us it would be back every single day when it wasn't, and for the helpful DTE representative who warned us that our pipes might burst. Thanks.)
The Internet

Wikipedia Almost Reaches $6 Million Target 412

An anonymous reader noted a story discussing the aftermath of the Wikipedia fundraiser and says "The writer suggests that Wikipedia can earn $50-100 million a month by a simple text ad. He also suggests that contributors should be financially rewarded and that the lack of financial reward is the reason why 98.3% of registered Wikipedia users are inactive. What do you think? Should Wikimedia Foundation put ads on Wikipedia? Should contributors be financially rewarded? What compensation structure would be best?" Personally I think the independence of Wikipedia is great, and any advertising would not only compromise that integrity, but give contributors a sense of entitlement that the site is better off without.
The Internet

Doubts Multiply About the "Long Tail" 194

fruey sends in a New Scientist analysis of the many second thoughts about the Long Tail theory. It summarizes four studies that show, in different markets, that the tail is both flatter and thinner than originally supposed, and that blockbusters are not going away in those markets — they are getting bigger. It's theorized that widely used collaborative filtering software is magnifying the winners' share of the various pies, and peer influence is a large contributor to consumer behavior.
Linux

Linux Compatibility With VR Goggles? 170

WorldWarCheese writes "Many's the time I wish I had a little more mobility or comfort with my computer. Laptops are OK, but anyone interested can see right onto my screen; and a laptop doesn't quite have that 'cool' factor that VR goggles / headsets do. The problem is, whenever I've looked at the options, Linux compatibility is not mentioned. Is there a VR headset out there that is compatible with Ubuntu? If not, what could I do to make it compatible, and how feasible would that be?"

Comment Re:Transformers are efficient (Score 1) 221

But in a transformer the coils are very close to each other, and are wrapped around the same lump of iron. With the devices the coils and cores are separate. Magnetic fields decay exponentially so even a small gap will reduce the transmitted power by a fair bit. There seems to be various proposed methods to get around this problem, but none of them seem to be significantly better than the others.

Interesting point about electronics reducing the idle currents, as this would be another issue.

Comment Re:let em release it (Score 2, Informative) 246

Horseshit.

If you get on a bus and travel 200 yards with an Oyster Card it does cost 90p(about US$90). However you don't because for most people it's quicker to walk. For longer distance bus trips it costs... 90p. If you travel enough in one day on a Pay As You Go Oyster it maxes out at the cost of the cheapest travelcard for the journeys you have made. Thus you get the cheapest possible tickets without thinking about it. Compare this approach to that of mobile phone companies... The price is competitive with most other cities in the UK. Thus if you made lots of 200 yard journeys every day it wouldn't cost anywhere near 90p a ride.

    I've certainly not noticed the distance of bus routes getting any shorter. Generally long distance journeys(>1.5miles) are made by Tube, DLR or Train. The Mayor of London tax is included as part of the Council Tax. House prices around outer London are very high, as some of the areas are really nice compared with some of the grottier inner city areas, thus their Council Tax is higher. Public transport in London is far better than it is in most UK cities. To find better you need to go to a city that has had predominantly Labour councils for the last few decades. A lot of the recent improvements in London are funded by the Congestion Charge.

    For a free ride, get a bike...

Music

MSN Music DRM Servers Going Dark In September 543

PDQ Back writes to tell us about an email Microsoft sent to former customers of MSN Music today. The company said it would be turning off the DRM servers used to authorize playback of music purchased from the now-defunct MSN Music store. "'As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers,' reads the e-mail. This doesn't just apply to the five different computers that PlaysForSure allows users to authorize, it also applies to operating systems on the same machine (users need to reauthorize a machine after they upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, for example). Once September rolls around, users are committed to whatever five machines they may have authorized — along with whatever OS they are running."
Censorship

SCO Chairman Fights to Ban Open Wireless Networks 343

cachedout writes "SCO's Ralph Yarro had the floor yesterday at the Utah Technology Commission meeting in front of Utah lawmakers. Yarro proposed that free wireless sites and subscribers should be held responsible should any porn be delivered to minors because hotspots are apparently where kids go to watch porn all day long. Yarro told lawmakers that open wireless access points should be made a crime because we have an Internet out of control."
Programming

Submission + - Amazon.com Suing Statsaholic

SwollUG writes: Amazon.com offers several highly innovative and useful web services (S3, EC2, and Mechanical Turk, to name a few), but do troubled waters lie ahead for users of these services? ZDNet's Alan Graham has the scoop on Tim O'Reilly's confrontation with Jeff Bezos about a lawsuit filed by Amazon's Alexa against Statsaholic, a popular web traffic comparison site built on the Alexa API. GigaOm's Om Malik has referenced this as a harbinger of the end of Web 2.0. Is this what happens when your Amazon-based website starts becoming popular? Say it ain't so, Amazon!
Microsoft

MS Requiring More Expensive Vista if Running Mac 545

ktwdallas writes "Mathew Ingram from Canada's Globe and Mail writes that Microsoft will require at least the $299 Business version of Vista or higher if installing on a Mac with virtualization. Running the cheaper Basic or Premium versions would be a violation of their user agreement. According to the article, Microsoft's reasoning is 'because of security issues with virtualization technology'. Sounds suspiciously like a 'Mac penalty' cost that Microsoft is trying to justify."

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