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Comment imagine a firefighter's worse nightmare (Score 1) 379

Imagine a fuel cell in every cellular tower, with a CNG tank on-site in case both the power and gas lines fail (and can be refilled by truck). Imagine your central heating boiler being for home and water heating was generating free electricity as well as heat for a combined ~80% efficiency (almost as good as condensing boiler). Imagine every city block has a fuel cell the size of a utility cabinet, reducing transmission losses and easing strain on the power grid.

Imagine a firefighter's worse nightmare:

Electricity? Check.

Flammable gas? Check.

Unlimited supply of flammable gas? Check.

Neighborhood cogeneration might be interesting, but there's going to have to be some serious, serious thought put into making them safe.

Also: this does not solve the problem of needing carbon neutral energy sources. It's "better", but we've dug ourselves into a sufficiently deep enough hole that we're well past "better" being good enough. Nuclear, wind, solar, hydro. Anything else is just delaying the problem, not fixing it.

Comment Siiiiigh, the SMC provides an ESTIMATE (Score 4, Insightful) 363

Calculated battery capacity is an estimate, nothing more, used by power management to decide when the computer should be force-slept, then suspended to disk to keep from damaging the battery (ie, it's not useful to wake up too late from sleep to do the suspend-to-disk.)

The SMC's estimate is just that: an estimate. Errors build up over time, and certain things fake it out a bit. For example, note the capacity, unplug the laptop, use it for 30 minutes, plug it in. Immediately the value will be different. It'll change again when fully charged. Your battery capacity didn't actually change. Even in a perfect world, since batteries have internal resistance, capacity gauges can never be perfect(if you draw at X you'll get less power out than if you draw out at X*0.8), and the battery's capacity varies with temperature. Battery degradation is impacted by temperature as well, so unless you're controlling for temperature of the pack, this was a completely useless endeavor. The only way this would have been useful would've been to cycle several (probably a dozen or more) batteries on lab-grade equipment in a temperature-controlled environment.

The noise and big upward swings alone should tell you that using the SMC's estimate for the purposes of statistical analysis or trending is virtually useless.

The stupid shit I see "enthusiasts" of any product obsess over is absurd. The time wasted on such an exercise far outweighs the impact it possibly could have had on the author (and probably even 9-10 other people combined.) The batteries last for well over 6 hours. Most people using a ultrabook with the battery life of a Macbook Air have plenty of opportunities to charge their machines during the course of a day.

Comment Re:From ivory tower to silicon valley (Score 1) 372

though a lot of ex-hippies get to watch the drama unfold from the comfort of their homes in the Berkeley hills.

One of the things that amuses me about gentrification whining is that much of it comes from the people who cashed out and moved to much nicer, richer neighborhoods - or moved and rent out their property, exploiting the people who want to live in the nicer neighborhood. For example, I live in a community that flipped from predominantly black to predominantly white. All the black people cashed out on rising property values, buying huge houses in other areas. They then overbought, signed stupid mortgage terms, etc...people making $25k a year were given $600k mortgages. Then they all whined about foreclosures and how that was just so goddamn unfair and racism and blah blah blah.

What's goddamn unfair is that my tax dollars are going to bail out people who abandoned their communities in the name of financial gain, and through greed and stupidity, signed contracts they couldn't possibly honor.

Comment More interesting site: English Russia (Score 2) 254

You know what's a more interesting site?

English Russia. Mostly photo-essay / slideshow style, but with really high quality, large images. Tons of urban exploration themed stories, for example. Very neat.

One of the reasons that I think the mainstream press has been biting it online is that many of them still think 300-pixel-wide images are acceptable for covering a story. I have a camera where I can shoot someone's photo from a block away and practically see their nosehairs, news photographers are shooting with the same or better, and they're posting crappy, overcompressed, over-contrasted, tiny garbage.

The Boston Globe's Big Picture posts images 990x660, and they're so much better it's astounding. They're standard newswire photos - just not compressed to hell and shrunk to the size of a postage stamp like they are almost everywhere else!

Comment get a fountain pen, a good notebook, and good ink (Score 2) 217

I would add: Get a decent (~$100-200) fountain pen, good quality notebooks, and quality ink.

Waterman makes the Expert 2 and is a pretty safe recommendation, but there are a bunch of others out there to try. Note that fountain pens should be held extremely lightly against the writing surface, and are not really ideal for occasional use if you live in a dry climate. For daily or bi-daily use, they'll be fine.

Clairefontaine sells notebooks with superb paper that is very smooth, strong, and thick enough to not bleed through to the other size...and sells proper cloth-covered, stitched-binding notebooks.

Noodler's Ink has "bulletproof" varieties which will not run or bleed from almost any common solvent or bleaching agent, making them quite ideal for labs and such (or if you simply drop your notebook in a puddle.) Doubles as a very good ink for signing important documents.

Comment Military and politics don't mix. (Score 4, Insightful) 151

Are you seriously comparing a civil employee to a military officer?

If you're an officer, you're not criticizing "the administration", you're criticizing your commanders. Most people in the military understand why they shouldn't even consider getting involved in politics...if you need to understand why military shouldn't be involved in politics, I cannot help you. A history book can, however.

Comment food density; calorie restriction; muscle mass (Score 1) 461

If you're hungry, eat. When you're not hungry anymore, stop eating. This sounds simple, but it can be difficult to practice.

Yup, partially because processed foods have very high calorie counts, and sweetened drinks are everywhere. One of the reasons soda is such a pain is because it's so many calories for not a lot of stomach space. Switching to water, tea, etc helps. I almost never have anything except water with meals now. Kinda nice - cleans the palate, works with everything, cheap, etc.

But as an instructor pointed out, "You spent 20 years putting on that weight. It's not going to all come off in 20 days."

Eh, that's kind of a silly comparison or line of reasoning. The problem is mostly that there are a TON of calories in one pound of fat - 3500+. Calorie restriction works, it's just that because of the energy in a pound of fat, it can only work at a certain speed (dropping too many calories from your diet will result in weakness, getting sick more, etc), and that speed is a bit slower than people might hope. Let me put it this way: if your daily calorie usage is about 2000 calories and you don't eat anything for 24 hours, you'll lose well less than a pound (yes, I'm ignoring glycogen stores.)

Implementation of calorie restriction is difficult for many, yes. If you eat because you're unhappy, for example, then you shouldn't just talk to a dietician - you should also talk to a (licensed) mental health councilor of some sort. If you're snacking throughout the day or eating a massive lunch, you need a better breakfast. Etc. etc.

Everyone thinks exercise helps - and yes, it does, and you're definitely healthier and better off for it. But one of the cruel jokes about exercise is that when you do more of it, you become more efficient as a food-burning machine. People also underestimate the amount of calories burned from exercise, and above a certain level of activity, most of the calories come from your glycogen stores and carbohydrates, not fat.

Increasing activity and muscle mass helps, too, as muscle mass increase = daily calorie use increase. Everyone should do at least some sort of weight training, including-and-especially women, where weight lifting helps counteract bone density loss. Walking and cycling for transport helps quite a bit - even a 15-20 minute commute by bike is worth a decent number of calories, maybe 10% or so of your daily needs.

Comment and for people who aren't Estonian....? (Score 1) 399

So your government gives out these cards - great. That works fine if you're Estonian (and apparently, you don't have a choice in whether you carry one or not...unlike, say, the US, where you are not required to acquire nor posses ID.)

What if you're not Estonian? What if you're not in the country legitimately?

It wouldn't surprise me if you have an entire second class of people - those who can't get the cards, and thus can't sign contracts, can't get bank accounts, can't email officials, can't get transportation passes, etc. Do you need the card to get medical care? File a police report? Etc?

The problem with being forced into the black market is that there's a lot less legal protection in it, and a lot more people interested in taking advantage of you...especially if you can't/won't go to the police.

The technology sounds great, but it's effectively an immigration control tool. Which is a bit of a problem, given Estonia's population has plunged in the last 30 years.

Comment Please stop supporting the CSM (Score 3, Interesting) 58

Please do not link to the CSM or support them - their parent organization (which is where the profits from the CSM go) spreads belief that if you get sick, it's punishment for not being a good enough Christian Scientist/follower of god, and that you should not seek medical treatment. That's some seriously fucked up shit.

If you're a dimwitted adult and you want to deny yourself medical care, fine - but the children of Christian Scientists don't have a choice, and this cult endangers the lives of tens of thousands of children who depend upon their guardians for sound medical care decisions.

Mary Baker Eddy was relentlessly criticized (rightly so) by the press of her time for being absolutely batshit crazy (which she was. Someone should've tattooed "correlation is not causation" backwards on her forehead.) She got all huffy about being called a wacko all the time, and started the CSM - specifically to have a newspaper that wouldn't criticize her and would present her with a worldview she found acceptable.

Yes, they do good reporting. It doesn't matter - the money still supports a cult.

Comment peer review isn't worth the spit it's made of (Score 1) 163

A researcher friend recently described how their PI handed them a paper from a former lab member from many years ago and said "review this, ok?" (and what was of course unsaid was "approve it.") Turns out the journal of the National Academy of Sciences is a joke - it's just a place for members to dump crap they can't get accepted for publishing anywhere else. It certainly is a joke if you can get someone in your own lab to accept a paper from a former lab member.

Comment why bother when you already have the keys? (Score 5, Interesting) 180

The NSA will probably next be cornering the market on high GPU count graphics cards.

What makes you think they don't have the private keys already, or can't get them?

At this point it's probably not unreasonable at all to assume that the NSA either has their foot in the door somehow, or simply National Security Letter's the CA into giving them any keys they want. Technically, all they'd need is the CA's keys, as that's all that protects *your* private key when it's in transit to you, since they're already snooping for everything else.

Really, the current CA system is a dream for the NSA - encryption that is controlled completely by a small group. It's now making a lot of sense why they went after Zimmerman for PGP. The peer-to-peer trust network and person-to-person encryption must've scared the shit out of them.

While we're on the subject of reasonable assumptions - it seems reasonable to assume that the NSA has worked to insert weaknesses and vulnerabilities in most open-source encryption software. Whether they've been successful or not is what we need to know. Remember the fuss a few years ago with IPSEC, OpenBSD, and the FBI?

Comment Re:War on Drugs (Score 1) 187

Let's not kid ourselves, it probably helps that he's white and privileged, too.

The vast majority of the US prison population is white and male. Women have significantly lower arrest, conviction, and incarceration rates - with significantly lower sentencing lengths, higher probation rates, etc. Women are enormously privileged when it comes to the criminal justice system, and that includes when they're victims; males are victims of violent crime at a ratio of 3:1 men:women, and case clearance rates for female victims are higher than case clearance rates for men.

While we're on the subject of privilege: women are more likely to finish high school, more likely to go to college, more likely to finish, more likely to pursue an advanced degree. Worldwide, basic literacy rates are far lower for men...because they're out doing the menial, tough, hard labor jobs women can't/won't/don't want to do. 99% of workplace deaths in the US are men, by the way...because women can't, won't, or don't want to do the brutal, dangerous manual labor jobs.

Most of the homeless population in the US is male. Unemployment is higher for men than women. Life expectancy is significantly lower for men than women, and in every category of disease, men are afflicted more than women and are more likely to die from said disease. The draft is still male-only, and our armed forces are predominantly male...

Nice job parroting the social justice crap, though.

Comment hands-free is not less distracting (Score 4, Insightful) 214

Hands free technologies are not less distracting; in some cases, they're the worst. The cell phone lobby is desperately trying to focus on "hands free" stuff to sidetrack the issue.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/29/AR2010012900053.html

http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/12/autos/aaa-voice-to-text/index.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/even-hands-free-you-shouldnt-talk-or-text-while-driving/2013/07/29/4d7214ec-f3d0-11e2-aa2e-4088616498b4_story.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/opinion/hands-free-distractions.html?_r=0 ...and on and on, if you just google things like "hands free driving distracting"

Having your hands on the wheel simply increases your control of the car. It does not do ANYTHING about your brain being more preoccupied with the conversation or task.

Your job in your car is to DRIVE. Not to eat, not to put on makeup or comb your hair, not to text, not to read, not to talk to someone who isn't in the car. You're piloting 2-3 tons of metal that can and do injure, maim, and kill. People driving cars kill 30,000+ a year in the US alone. Take the responsibility seriously and stop faffing about trying to carry on your life in your car. If you need to get things done while traveling, RIDE THE BUS.

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