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Comment Re:Just modify the constraints... (Score 1) 167

Although I wouldn't blame anyone who got the contrary impression, I'm actually a supporter of nuclear energy as well (and, just by way of vaguely connected story, I was a veritable nuclear power fanboy at the age when kids are supposed to be enthusiastic about trains or trucks. I had cutaway posters in my room showing the layouts and components of major commercial reactors, my model fuel pellet, assorted nuclear-physics-at-the-picture-book-level books... One time my dad arranged a tour at the nearest nuclear plant for my birthday. We got lost on the way in and ended up innocently wandering right into the main control room. Luckily, this was pre terrorist-hysteria, and having a kid along probably helps with the harmlessness, so we didn't get hassled. I think the operators thought it was cute that there was this random kid who wanted to see their stuff. Unfortunately, some sort of NRC regulation pertaining to areas of potential exposure meant no under-18s. I was crushed).

In this case, having to pull workers out at inconveniently short intervals to keep doses down is a specific nuclear nuisance (heavy construction/demolition work, plus aggressive dust control, isn't any faster because the workers are limited to very, very short shifts); but I was thinking of the much broader, and much older, cultural habit of putting certain people (mostly those who needed a very particular combination of independence and motivation-management) into a role where they are The Leader, and enjoy nontrivial power; but if things go bad, they have nontrivial responsibility, and it is both considered shameful(and often illegal) not to fulfil that as well. Take ship captains. That one in Italy is being raked over the coals right now over the question of whether or not he left his post before all possible rescuing was done. That's not because one pudgy 40-something was considered vital to the rescue effort; but because he was The Captain, and being the captain means that that is among your duties. Some military designations and higher level government posts(where resignation is effectively mandatory on the occasion of certain types of scandal, even if you could easily mount a legally sound defense) carry similar flavors.

As for the 'nontrivial power' bit, there are certain people who you want to put the fear of god into and make, within their sphere, more powerful than people who would ordinarily be above them on the hierarchy. You want the captain to be able to say "Listen, the nautical something system is not seaworthy. There is no way that that ship is going anywhere under my command until that is fixed. Period." You would want a nuclear plant operator to be able to say the same thing about the system under his charge. Those are just the sort of functions where you need to power, even impunity, some of the time(do you want the guy handling safety systems to know that he'll be fired if he raises any expensive questions? You would want him to be able to barge into the CEO's office and tell him that This Isn't Bloody Good Enough, if that's what it takes. On the other hand, you can't just toss him a load of general-purpose power and impunity; because failure to carry out his own assignment dutifully and correctly could have very, very, messy consequences indeed.

Comment Re:Orange alert?! (Score 3, Funny) 156

'Red' smog alert is expressed by drawing the chinese pictogram for 'sandpaper' inside the pictogram for 'lungs'.

(yes, I know that that's absolutely bullshit; but I've had enough of that 'Since I've been strongarmed into giving a commencement address to H.S. 341232's singularly uninteresting class, did you know that the Chinese word for 'crisis' is the combination of their word for 'danger' with their word for 'opportunity'? Really makes you think, doesn't it? Now, don't get too shiftfaced in college, what you learn there costs you more per hour than you are ever likely to make, so keep that in mind. And, um, Go class of 2000-and-something!'

Comment Flow modelling? (Score 1) 156

If I were wearing a respirator for something Seriously Important(pathogens, war gasses, beryllium dust, etc.) it would be very important to me that absolutely everything is as it ought to be (and I'd probably be fucked, because good luck getting a nice seal if you get caught with a faceful of stubble, and sucks to be the beard guy, though that isn't a concern of mine personally).

However, if I were just trying to help my odds against something in the 'definitely unpleasant, very probably not good, especially at a population level' category, I'd see a role for something that provides 100% only in the hands of an expert; but 50-90 in the hands of n00bs.

That said, though, most filters impede air passing through them to some degree, so inhalations would likely favor any unfiltered imperfections in fit over a trip through the filters, making even dimensionally modest gaps much more serious in practice.

Does anybody know how badly that effect bites you? Obviously, for viruses or something where literally tens of them, if you aren't lucky, can be enough, it basically doesn't matter; but what's the efficiency drop-off for generic bulk particulate masks as user competence declines? Is it, because of airflow taking the low resistance path, basically all or nothing, or is it a fairly smooth decline in effectiveness, with progressively less competent users getting less protection; but no ugly cliff somewhere in the effectiveness value?

Comment Re:Gee, didn't they tell us ... (Score 1) 137

Gee, didn't they tell us only Apple Maps had problems?

Only if "they" refers to Slashdotters or tech pundits. But Apple Maps *did* have significant - even egregious - errors/problems at launch. It seems quite usable now.

My preferred navigation app has been Waze, but that is unfortunately going downhill since the Google acquisition. They seem more interested in adding ads rather than fixing the app's shortcomings. It's usually really good for highways and major thoroughfares (although oddly enough it picked a really weird and obviously wrong route for me after the first post-acquisition app update); but, at least when I've tested it in and around Seattle, it often picks bizarre routes in the city - roads that any resident could tell you are going to take two or three times as long to get there (and yes, I've occasionally driven them anyway to be sure Waze didn't know something I'd overlooked).

Comment Fiduciary duty to stockholders. (Score 4, Interesting) 348

Surely energy policies are about creating a feel-good aspect to the brand. Plus if you learn something along the way by trying perhaps you can commercialize it and it takes you off on another wild ride, like the iPhone did.

Directors and officers of a corporation have a fiduciary duty to the stockholders to run the company in their interest.

This USUALLY means trying to maximize return on investment. But the sotckholders may want other things, in addition to or in place of, financial gain. When this is the case, the duty requires them to set their own target appropriately.

This is not uncommon: Think "green energy company" or "church" for two examples. The Bell Telephone company, started by Alexander G. out of his research into hearing aids, has always done work on assisting the hearing impaired. Hershey's, at the direction of its founder, is owned by a trust and 30% of its profits go to support a school for orphans.

One typical strategy is to "satisfice", rather than maximize, financial gain, while pursuing other interests. This produces a sound financial base for pursuing those interests. (i.e. Hershey's, churches, "green companies"...) Another is to do things that are win-win with respect to the business (i.e. Bell Telephone, doing things like designing phones to work well with hearing aids, make ringing sounds that are auddible to the partially deaf and light-flashing ringer devices, and otherwise making the phone system accessable to hearing impaired.)

As you point out, these approaches may also lead to financial benefits that typical businesses and business-school graduate executives miss in their pursuit of the short-term bottom line. Good will, new inventions, synergies, etc.

Another example: Hershey's, not constrained or incentivized by short-term bottom-line, doesn't use typical industrial-food ingredients such as corn syrup, or follow other food-processing fads. It sticks with basic, high quality, time-proven, ingredients and recipies. This produces a consistent product (which also forms the base for consumer recipies) and a loyal customer base. (No "New Coke" debacle or gradual deterioration of product quality over decades with this company.)

Comment That's similar to why dial phones were invented. (Score 4, Interesting) 137

When I was working in retail about 5 years ago competitors of ours did the same. Our store name, their phone number.

That reminds me of why dial phones were invented.

Early telephone exchanges used an operator to connect all calls. You picked up the phone and this lit a lamp and sounded a buzzer at an operator's console in the central office. The operator pulgged a cable into a jac and talked to you, found out who you wanted to talk to, and plugged another cable into the other customer's jack (or a trunk to another operator) to hook you up. Similarly when you hung up, or (if the call needed some other modification and you "flashed" by flicking the hook switch).

Some businesses bribed unscrupulous operators to redirect their competitor's calls to them, stealiing some of their buiness (especially in high customer turnover businesses, where a large fraction of the calls were initial contacts.) There was much flap over this, of course.

One such customer - an undertaker - decided to attack this problem at its root. He also happened to be what we'd now call a hacker (in the "exceptionally competent technologist" sense). He developed the earliest version of a dial telephone system, and got one of the telephone companies serving his area to install it. Electromechanical stepper switches were not susceptable to bribery, problem solved.

Of course electromechanical stepper switches are also cheaper than even low-wage people. So dial systems caught on very quickly. You still needed operators for non-simple stuff, but a company handling the bulk of the calls mechanically needed far less of them, and when such service was available businesses switched over en masse.

Comment Re:Good luck with getting that through security (Score 4, Informative) 37

Is this cell site actually intended to be connected back to the grid, or is it only for communication between phones connected to this one site?

Back to the grid. According to TFA:

Backhaul to Vodafone is through the Cobham Explorer 500 Broadband Global Area Network, with communications being encrypted through IPsec.

That's a satellite modem that sells for about three grand. A bit over 0.4 mbps of encrypted data plus voice.

Comment Re:Is Win 8.1 that bad? (Score 3, Insightful) 392

And what if even the free version is a failure? Can't give it away...

That's the thing. When I hear people complaining about Windows 8, it's *never* about the price. Lots of people just flat out hate the product.

I really doubt making it free is going to significantly impact adoption rates.

Comment Re:WTF (Score 2) 179

I agree it should be on by default - however, people being what they are, I'm sure in that case we'd have read at least one Slashdot story where Joe Blow screams about his unexpected $100 SMS bill because he didn't notice there wasn't a data connection and he sent 100 text messages while on vacation in Mexico.

Comment Re:WTF (Score 4, Informative) 179

And any other iOS user wont be able to send you txts as they will be attempting via iMessage by default.

As long as the "fall back to SMS if iMessage fails" setting is on, then there's no problem even in this case. The iMessage will fail, and then Messages will resend it as a text message without any intervention needed.

I guess having to look at the settings of a phone is pretty "obscure" though.

Comment Re:The better solution is to buy Nikon (Score 1) 88

Nikon is great... if you want a full-frame sensor. But there are gaps in their DX (APS-C) lens offerings. They seem to think every DX owner is only interested in shooting with zoom lenses.

Sure you can use full-frame primes on a DX camera, but that's unnecessary weight and size (compared to what a DX prime would be) - plus the optimal focal lengths aren't the same.

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