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Comment Re:ChromeOS on a server (Score 1) 63

Not sure how an OS tuned to run on under-powered laptops would be a good choice to use as a server OS.

Me either. Chrome "OS" is mostly a user interface on top of Linux. A server doesn't need a user interface.

If anything, there's an argument for a much simpler server OS than Linux. Something that's more like a virtual machine manager with remote facilities for loading, starting, and monitoring client image. The client images need a minimal OS that's more like a run-time library - no file systems, no drivers, no GUI.

Comment Re:The alternative (Score 5, Insightful) 492

I could be reading this wrong, but it looks like life expectancy is trending upwards since the 50's. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005148.html

You could be reading it wrong. Note that it explicitly says "life expectancy at birth". There has been a lot of criticism of this sort of things from statistics-enabled researchers, who point out that almost all of the life-expectancy gains in the past century have been through elimination of most early-childhood deaths. Life expentancy at birth has increased, but the life expectancy of someone 30 or 60 years old hasn't actually changed much.

There has been a bit of publicity around related topics lately. Thus, there has been a lot of discussion of the apparent fact that the increase in mammograms has produced no measurable increase in lifetime, just an increase in medical bills for the testing (and the "treatment" of false positives ;-). Similar statistical problems have been reported for prostate-cancer screening, and for an assortment of other medical tests.

Another statistical trick used to make things look better than they are is the common practice of giving cancer survival rates in terms of survival 5 years after diagnosis. This means, for example, that if you were to come up with a new test that diagnoses a cancer 5 years earlier than any existing test, your test would result in a 100% "cure" rate even with no further treatment, and no change in the death statistics. I've heard a couple of interviews in which the interviewer points out this problem, and the interviewee just continues talking about the same "5-year survival" figures.

In general, it seems that if you're over 10 years old, modern medicine really hasn't done much in increase your (statistical) lifespan, though it is sometimes fairly good at extracting money for treatments that don't increase lifespan.

(Perhaps some of the treatments improve quality of life, but the statistics for that don't seem to be widely studied or reported. It might be interesting to be shown wrong in this regard, however. OTOH, there has been a bit of media coverage lately of the problems with "treatment" of false positives.)

(And a more general problem here is that the general public -- and the media -- is generally ignorant of even the most basic statistical concepts.)

Comment Re:Tell me when the subsidie run out (Score 1) 687

The taxes on refineries especially account for nearly 1 dollar on the cost of gasoline in the US. Think about that the next time you go to the gas station and buy gas.

That doesn't even begin to pay for the external costs of petroleum use. The tax ought to be tripled.

Comment Re:NO NO NO (Score 4, Interesting) 687

Funny, my province's power is entirely supplied by a government-owned corporation, which hits about 98% renewable energy generation, has among the lowest energy prices in the world, and has still produced a consistent profit in the billions for decades. Doesn't seem to be failing to me.

Comment Re:What a Wonderful Job - for robots (Score 1) 193

Amazon kills competition. Great!
People have to find new jobs.
Robots work for Amazon.
Man, that really sucks. . . .

Amazon used to be a hand-picking operation, where computers told the people what to do. Then Amazon bought Kiva Robotics, which was already handling about 10% of online orders with their mobile robots. Those new Amazon warehouses have lots of mobile robots and very few people. "15 minutes from click to ship."

As for jobs making the robots, Kiva Systems has only 250 employees. A few robot factories, a modest number of huge automated warehouses, and maybe half of the whole retail sector disappears.

It's even fuel efficient. The biggest energy consumption in groceries is the trip by the two-ton SUV to the grocery store to move 20 pounds of products.

Comment Picking good produce (Score 1) 193

I've always been skeptical of other people picking out my groceries. On the other hand, I must admit that (at least in its Seattle delivery area) Amazon Fresh does an impressive job of delivering decent produce.

You think that happens by accident? It's done by machine vision. Fruit and vegetable processing plants have automated sorting machines on their production lines. Even peas can be individually inspected. That video is worth watching. A huge stream of peas feeds through the machine at high speed, and the peas are inspected with cameras and lasers in flight as they come off a wide, fast conveyor belt. Air jets turn on for milliseconds to knock the rejects into the reject bin, and only good peas make it to the output conveyor. A hundred humans couldn't sort peas that fast.

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