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Comment Re:Mass Mail (Score 1) 473

Once a week is a bit extreme, and would require the post office to store a whole lot of mail over the course of a week, but I figure we could switch to standard 3-day delivery without a problem. Half of each zip code gets mail Mon, Wed, and Friday, and the other half gets mail Tues, Thurs, & Saturday. So if someone mails you something, it'll at most take an additional two days (1 extra day waiting to go out, and 1 extra at your post office waiting for your delivery day)---assuming you check your mail every day anyway. And the post office needs half as many maintained vehicles, half as many drivers, and uses half as much gas. And there's always the possibility of charging extra for everyday delivery.

Comment Re:American concept of pricing? (Score 2) 303

To be fair, LA is 266 miles away from Las Vegas; drive 1mph slower and you'll make it. Alternatively, they plan to put in a fast-charge station in Barstow (152 miles away) as one of the first 6 fast-charge stations just to make sure people can make it from LA to Las Vegas.

Many families in the US have multiple cars and only take one on a road trip at a time. Most families don't need both cars to be able to go 450 miles on a tank that's fillable anywhere in 5 minutes.

Most people live on the coasts, and are a lot closer to places they'd regularly drive to. You could drive from New York City to Boston or Washington DC on a single 265 mile charge. In southern California, you could drive from LA to San Diego and back on a 265 mile charge. You could even drive around the entire San Francisco Bay Area on a single 190 mile charge (the $60,000 version).

A large number of (wealthy) people in San Francisco, New York, etc. don't even own cars. Surely if they don't need a car then a limited-range EV would satisfy their needs. Sure, EVs aren't for everyone; but a lot of US driving done with gas-powered cars could be easily done with EVs.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot - How can I help a seasoned technical writer find work?

An anonymous reader writes: A friend of mine is a tech writer. He's had a rough time in this recession and is at the end of his unemployment. He has a long trail of recommendations, awards, etc. I suspect that, or age discrimination may be working against him. He has operated as an independent before, but can't seem to find work that way either.

To be honest I just haven't heard of anything about openings for dedicated tech writer openings in a very long time... is that becoming uncommon? I've told him I could help him if he wanted to head toward qa and that he might get to do a little writing there depending on organizational needs, though starting money is probably not so good. I'm not sure what else to tell him. Advice?

Submission + - Sim City 5 vs. Cities XL a future showdown? (tekgoblin.com)

tekgoblin writes: "As many of you may now know, SimCity 5 is slated for release in early next year. Maxis is promising us a glorious and grand return of the title, with amazing new game play and world set up. Yet, they now have some major competition in the city building and simulation genre. SimCity’s cheif competition is Cities XL, which first appeared in 2009 to fill the city building and simulation void left by Maxis and EA when they chose to take such a long break from the franchise. It offers users a full 3D world that could be zoomed into street level and panned 360, as well as multiplayer capabilities. Cities XL offers and entire globe full of city locations and a variety or maps to choose from, with stunning new and updated graphics it brought to us everything that Sim City 4 couldn’t or hadn’t."

Comment Re:Pollution not a valid argument for the left (Score 1) 545

It's not about the concentration (absolute or relative), but the effect. If someone started to double the concentration of O2 in out atmosphere from 21% to 42%, I would call that pollution because of the large number of negative externalities (ie. due to the impact it would have on forest fires). If someone increased N2 concentration from 78% to 89%, we'd all have a harder time getting to oxygen we need to function, so continued willy-nilly dumpin of N2 into the atmosphere would be pollution.

Actually, changes to low concentrations of greenhouse gases has a larger effect than changes at high concentrations. In a simplistic picture where the transmissivity of the atmosphere in a certain band depends on a single molecule, you can write the transmissivity of the atmosphere as I = 2^(-t/h). Where I is the % of the light that makes it out of the earth's atmosphere, t is the thickness of the molecule, and h is the level at which that molecule blocks half the light from making it out of the atmosphere.

Let's assume that 200ppm will block out half the light. At 280ppm, 38% of the light made it through. At 390ppm, 26% of the light makes it through. At 480ppm, 19% of the light makes it through. By 5%, basically no light makes it through, which means that from 280ppm, 480ppm is halfway to 5% and at 390ppm (where we are now) we are a third of the way to the effect of 5%. In actuality, every molecule has multiple absorption bands, and I'm sorry I don't have exact numbers handy. But, this exponential dependence is one of the reasons why methane, which is normally at a much lower absolute concentration, is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 (the other reason being that the ocean won't gradually reabsorb it).

Comment Re:Amazing (Score 3, Informative) 178

When you submit a paper to a journal you typically sign a copyright transfer agreement. These vary a bit from publisher to publisher, but all of the ones I have seen state (and I just checked the two I have in my desk):
1. That the copyright (but not related patent rights) is transferred to the publisher, but the authors retain the right to make personal copies.
2. That it is original work, not published before in any language and is not being considered for publication elsewhere.

IANAL, but my understanding is that the first clause prohibits you from submitting the article to another journal and the second clause prohibits you from having already submitted it to another journal.

As far as I can tell, it's quite effective.

Comment Re:What sort of guarantee backs up the 20 year lif (Score 1) 743

First of all, in 1000 hours (typical incandescent lifetime) a 60W equivalent CFL saves $5.00 in electricity, so if the price premium for a CFL is less than that, it's still the economical choice (assuming $0.11/kWh) even if it lasts no longer.

My main point is that the way various light bulbs (and CFLs in particular) burn out is actually a pretty complicated process, but LEDs are pretty much the best for most non-high-temperature applications (ie. oven lights), and that they aren't lying maliciously; your usage most likely just differs from their test process. The test process for CFLs involves something like turning it on for 5+ hours at a time, which is typical lighting use in commercial or industrial buildings, but in most people's home many lights are on for 5-10 minutes at a time (bathrooms, garages, halls, walk-in closets, etc.) so they are turned on/off 25 times as much for the same amount of runtime---which results in early failure because of the loss of emission mix. Alternatively, if the power from the grid is of poor quality in your home, the ballast or emission mix may contribute to early failure.

Comment Re:Good old PG&E... (Score 1) 216

You know that California has tiers and, yes, if you use a lot of electricity you get charged a higher marginal rate, just like income taxes. PG&E charges ~$0.12/kWh for the first ~300kWh per billing cycle (~30 days) and $0.33/kWh after that. Seems pretty reasonable to me; the people who use a lot are encouraged to conserve more through higher prices. I use 200kWh/month, I only pay $0.12/kWh. Also, the average stated in the report doesn't say if it's the mean or the median, but it's important when you have tiers because a small number of people can drive up the mean, whereas most customers actually pay much less than the mean.

Comment Poll Tax (Score 1) 390

First, not everyone has a ID that is valid for voting* and making people who don't have one anyway pay to get one is basically a poll tax. Shouldn't an ID card required to vote be free?

*The following government issued photo IDs are not valid for voting: National Labs ID, State University IDs, Community College IDs, etc.

Comment Comment Summary: EULA Summary's Would be Nice (Score 4, Insightful) 233

I don't know why no one includes summary's at the top of EULAs. It's not like it's that hard of an idea to think of and I've yet to hear a single objection (though I'm sure /. can help with this). No one is actually saying you can't have pages and pages of precise details spelled out in pages and pages for the lawyers.

By the way, this is suggested on page 2 of the article for all of you who either didn't read the article, or refuse to bother going to page 2 of an article that has no reason not to be on a single page.


Submission + - Steve Jobs Wanted An iPhone-Only Wireless Network (itworld.com)

jfruhlinger writes: "One of the more profound ways that the iPhone changed the mobile industry was the fact that it upended the relationship between the handset maker and the wireless carrier: Apple sells many of its phones directly to customers, and in general has much more of an upper hand with carriers than most phone manufacturers. But venture capitalist John Stanton, who was friends with Steve Jobs in the years when the iPhone was in development, said the Apple CEO's initial vision was even more radical: he wanted Apple to build its own wireless network using unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum, thus bypassing the carriers altogether."

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