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Comment Re:LMOL (Score 1) 353

3D debacle delayed work on OLED and better picture technology.

Paying off the enormous investment in all those old LCD plants delayed OLED and better picture technology. Those production lines couldn't do anything but what they've been doing since 2002, so we've been fucking stuck waiting for the amortization schedule to run out.

Comment Re:Frank Yu doesn't know what he's talking about. (Score 1) 267

There will be a shortage if we try to replace coal, nuclear, and natural gas with wind and solar. I have on my desk a report from Morgan Stanley claiming that it would take 10 billion tons of steel and concrete annually to replace coal power.

By when? Next month? Obvious bullshit number is obvious bullshit. Nobody has suggested that replacing coal, nuclear, and natural gas with wind and solar is going to happen overnight. Not even quickly. Coal, nuclear, and natural gas represent large capital investments with long amortization schedules. The power companies will only shut one off short of its design lifespan in extremis, and there has been no spike in fuel cost for any of them. Quite the opposite. Gas is dirt cheap now, but most utility companies have set fees agreed with state PUCs when gas was expensive, which have not been revisited, so they're making money hand over fist on gas power generation.

Imagine that I have a dozen nuclear power plants all humming along at about 80% capacity. Now imagine I have one of those once in a century events that knocks out one of those power plants.

Why imagine, when we have actual numbers? Average capacity factor of nuclear power plants in the US for 2015 was 91.9%, the highest it has ever been. If you follow the link, you'll see that at least the top 10 plants are actually operating at capacity factors in excess of 100% in order to achieve that average. Now consider that, with the shutdown of Vermont Yankee, there are only 99 total nuclear plants in the US. Having not just 10 plants, but 10% of the plants running at over 100% capacity, where they are by definition eating into their safety margin, doesn't seem all that safe, and it means that quite a few of those 99 plants are running at much less than 91.9% capacity factor.

Of those 99 plants, the majority of them are of such an age and design that they're incapable of being throttled, so when they're operating, they're operating at 100% or above. That means out of the 365 days in a year, the average nuclear power plant was offline for 30 of those days, and for every year but 2015, it has been worse than that. So there is no margin to "crank up" to accommodate a plant going offline.

In short, nuclear power plants are just as dependent on the existence of the full grid as wind and photovoltaics are.

This schedule should mean that with a dozen plants and an expected lifespan of 50 years I can expect a new plant to come online about every four years.

Design lifespans were universally 30 years and between 1977 and 2013, there were no new plants started. The Obama administration approved construction of 4 new plants. The US will be transitioning from nuclear to solar and wind by default, simply because those plants are not being replaced fast enough. But it won't happen so fast that Morgan Stanley's nonsense number is even remotely relevant.

Comment Re:Yeah, not a surprise (Score 1) 540

He doesn't _look_ like a coward and a fraud, he _is_ a narcissistic fraudulent oath-breaking sleazeball cowardly weasel.

I'm curious what oaths you think Julian Assange has broken? He's an Australian citizen who is not a naturalized citizen of any other country, and he has never served in any country's military. He's been in court, so he might have sworn an oath to tell the truth at the time, but that was a short-term thing. He's never been a civil servant of any country's government, either. Those are the only places where he might have sworn any oath, and he hasn't done any of them. So, what oaths?

Comment Re:EVEN TILLERSON says it's real. (Score 1) 261

A rain belt shift that sees the Midwest and the Plains become more and more drought prone is going to have a pretty major effect on a country of over 300 million people.

A rain belt shift that saw the Midwest become more and more drought prone would indeed have a pretty major effect.

Fortunately, it's not happening. Quite the opposite. Average rainfall in Missouri is trending upwards, and is higher now than it has been since at least 1900.

Comment Re:Smoking gun of theft or go home (Score 1) 136

Carmack was working on VR shit that directly went over with him to Oculus on ZeniMax's time and dime.

I strongly doubt it. John Carmack was working on experiments and prototypes. He had an old high speed CRT and a high speed camera, among other things. Yes, he was working with them on ZeniMax's time and dime. With their knowledge and explicit permission. We all knew about it. I'm betting he has it in writing. But having conducted those experiments, he was done with that stuff, hardware and software. He had learned what he needed to know, so he didn't need to drag all that crap with him when he went to Oculus.

Comment Re:Occulus built on hype (Score 1) 136

Palmer Luckey wasn't a "tech innovator"...he was a rich geek who frequented VR modding message boards, and just like everyone else took a smartphone screen and hooked it to community-made VR software

And stuck some slightly whacky lenses in front of the screen. That's what mostly nobody else was doing. He was (and presumably is) convinced that field of view mattered a lot more than most VR was willing to admit. And since he couldn't curve the screen itself, he found a way to make the light curve instead. Very few people were willing to acknowledge that FOV was important, even within that same community he was frequenting. Plenty of people argued with him, probably including you, complaining that human FOV is actually quite narrow, and all of that. And he said yes, that's why the lenses are the shape they are, and why it's ok for the outer edges to have an effectively lower pixel density. And Slashdot loved him. Plenty of people self-reported pledging to his Kickstarter, and quite a few Slashdot denizens have Rift Dev Kits as a result.

Oculus in general and Palmer Luckey in particular only became persona non grata around here when Facebook offered him stupid money and he accepted. It was stupid money. Of course he said yes. He's not dumb like Yahoo. He was a tech innovator who knew when to say yes.

Comment Re: Great strides (Score 1) 129

Yes, they've run a load of static fire tests, and yes, I'm sure they've done a very thorough inspection of the structure, but the stresses of launch are high and you'll only really see how re-usable it is when you actually re-use it.

There's an argument to be made that the return flight is a second stress test. The booster is flying at Mach 10 above the majority of the Earth's atmosphere. Then it intentionally dives back in. Coming back in is very nearly as tough on it as going up was. Other first stage boosters actually break up in the atmosphere when they reenter, it's so tough to do. The Falcon 9 booster not only makes it back into the atmosphere, but flips itself end-for-end twice, which has gotta be a severe lateral jolt, and then soft lands. That's three kicks to the pants (deceleration burn, reentry burn, landing burn), and two kicks to the head (flipping once for deceleration and once for landing). That sounds worse than the trip up and out, which is just one long steady push with some buffeting along the way.

Falcon 9 first stages already survive far rougher treatment than any other rocket ever has. Given how many of them have made it back in one piece, it bodes well for the re-use case.

Comment Re:So... Moller sold his designs to Airbus? (Score 1) 140

I didn't read that, but it's the same, held-aloft-by-four-fans design that Moller has been hawking for decades, which means that just like Moller's "Skycar", it's going to fly just slightly better than a grand piano if even one of those engines goes out.

Moller's original design had 12 ducted fans, 3 at each corner, specifically to be able to tolerate the engine-out scenario. They were also supposed to be small enough and light enough to be manually removable by a single mechanic. The quoted weight was 60 pounds. I think I still have that issue of Popular Mechanics in a box in the basement.

What Moller didn't know was that no group of small gasoline engines is responsive enough at the throttle for stable powered-lift flight. If he'd just tried electric motors in the 70s or 80s, the world might be a very different place. It would have had to trail a power cord, and the tilt sensors would have been the size of a shoebox, but it would have worked.

Comment Re:Awesome (Score 2) 129

Awesome, hating on Elon for having a private company pay to launch private satellites on a private launch vehicle.

While actually paying the US Air Force pad lease and range fees at Vandenberg. The US government actually came out ahead on that launch.

I really wonder why Slashdot is subjected to so much ham-fisted, pathetically obvious, qualitatively bad propaganda. Why do they care what we think? Why is someone spending actual money trying to change how we think? There's a handful of millionaires lurking. I would be astonished if there's even one billionaire lurking on Slashdot. The vast majority of us control nothing, spend nothing, affect nothing. So why do we have to put up with these crap attempts to convince us to hate a rocket company? Makes no sense.

Comment Re:Great strides (Score 1) 129

And the Merlins were designed from the start under the principle of preventing the need for a full teardown. That doesn't mean that they will be cheap to reuse. But it does mean that they have the possibility of it.

Considering they've publicly stated that one of the earlier successfully soft-landed first stages has undergone no less than 10 test firings on the test stand in Texas, with "minimal refurbishing," it seems cost-effective reuse isn't merely a possibility: it's a virtual certainty.

Comment Re: God created the moon (Score 1) 140

OK, have to step in here. The map is not the territory, and the idea of a thing is not a thing. If you are saying "God is not a thing, it is an idea" I'd agree with you. But ideas are not in any necessary one-to-one correspondence with the Universe of "things that actually exist", and ideas to the very best of our experience a) are highly complex phenomena contingent on all sorts of material stuff and do not just float around like quantum particles that permeate and surround the Universe (h/t to Terry Pratchett); b) cannot and do not "create" anything, ever. In fact there is no evidence that anything, ever, has been created. The laws of physics are all pretty much constrained by conservation principles (consistent with observation) that state that nothing is ever created, it is all just existing stuff changing form and moving around.

The second thing I'd object to is the idea that anyone at all can "reason" about God in a meaningful or useful way. The first step in such a reasoning process is to choose one's premises, or axioms, or postulates -- the basis for one's eventual "consistent" conclusions. This is precisely the same whether one is reasoning about mathematics, the Universe of stuff that actually exists, or the enormous metaphysical space of pure speculation -- reasoning about pink unicorns, trying to decide if Santa likes hot chocolate with or without a splash of peppermint Schnapps on Christmas eve, how many angels can dance on the head of a standard shirt-packing pin. The premises themselves cannot be proven -- they are PREMISES -- so all reasoning contingent upon the premises is Bullshit in the precise sense that there is (as noted) no necessary one-to-one correspondence with the pattern of consistent results on derives with the very best of intentions and the real world.

The second step in USEFUL reasoning is to seek out objective correspondences between those contingent results AND the real world. To the extent that they are discovered to exist, we strengthen our degree of belief in the conclusions, and by Bayesian reasoning, the premises that led to the conclusions in good correspondence. To the extent that they are contradicted, we at least weaken our degree of belief in the conclusions, and again by inheritance in the premises that led to the contradiction. This is a slight oversimplification as multiple premises contribute to most nontrivial conclusions and it is not necessarily clear which one(s) fail, but there is no doubt that REASON requires reduction of belief in the conclusion itself rather than amplification when there is either no evidence supporting it (but there is evidence supporting competing ideas and arguments) or if the evidence contradicts it.

And here's the rub. The very first step about any reasoning process about God has to begin with the pure assertion that God exists. This is because we have no direct and usable sensory data, no direct "experience" of God the way we have experience of toast, or things falling down when dropped. We have built powerful apparatus that extends the range and sensitivity of our senses and none of it reveals God. We have conducted careful statistical analyses of human experience contingent on things like belief and prayer and behavior and -- outside of obvious stuff that behaving "well" is more likely to make one happy than being a butt in human society -- no phenomena or statistical anomalies are observed that require supernatural explanation. One cannot predict one single thing about the world and how it behaves or outcomes based on religious belief or the asserted premise "God exists for some useful meaning of the word `exists'". To paraphrase, the rain falls on Saint and Sinner alike.

What we CAN do is examine the consequences of BELIEF ITSELF. Believing in something has an enormous impact on human existence. In a sense, our society (or societies!) are defined by their beliefs, their memetic structure, their history, their evolution -- including religious beliefs. Religious beliefs make an enormous set of untestable, empirically unsupportable assertions, assertions that are blatently internally inconsistent. Contradictions abound. One can, as everybody SHOULD know, "reason" your way to any conclusion you like from contradictory premises, so it comes as no real surprise that humans are constantly manipulated and manipulate others on the basis of these absurd contradictory beliefs. Since all major religions assert a special exception for ordinary reasoning processes when it comes to reasoning about the religions themselves as a necessary step in getting people to continue to believe in the absurdity, they persist, and humans who accept them make monumentally poor decisions, choices that they would never make if they were actually reasoning correctly and optimally in and about the real world.

Religion is arguably the number one killer of humans active on the planet at this very moment. It is directly responsible for some of the largest and longest running armed conflicts in our mutual history. It enslaves and distorts the judgment of some 3/4 of the human population -- literally enslaves perhaps a billion women in the Abrahamic faiths. It causes the redirection of a huge fraction of the global production of the human species into the "service" of the priesthood(s) of the various religions, who spend most of it supporting themselves without an actual job that actually produces something useful, like toast or Schnapps flavored hot chocolate. The religions that persist after a brutal memetic evolution process involving world conquest and domination at the point of a sword are almost without exception socially engineered at this point to make the poor and disadvantaged human content enough with their lot to avoid revolution against the prevailing powers that keep them poor and disadvantaged by promising them eternal pleasures in an imaginary afterlife if only they behave themselves and are good little proles in this one.

Sure, this too is an oversimplification -- some people, in some religions, also do some good things. But that is more because they are good people than because the religion itself is good, and good or not it isn't likely to be TRUE. Reasoning from FALSE premises isn't all that great a thing to do, or to base a sane society on.

Comment Re:Makes me think... (Score 1) 175

Unfortunately, even if you could get this message out to everyone, the natural human reaction to danger is to move away. From flinching away from pain to running from sudden sounds, it's hard wired in by evolution.

The only way to overcome it is with military style training, getting people used to gunshot sounds and running towards people shooting at them.

That may be true, but there's no evolutionary response to gunfire. It hasn't existed long enough.

Yes, people are accustomed to gunshot sounds. Hollywood gunshot sounds. They are accustomed to gunshot sounds that sound a lot scarier than real gunshots. The pop of a real pistol or the crack of a real rifle are almost unrecognizable to most modern people. The T-800's gunshots in Terminator 2 were famously a combination of a manipulated sound of a .38 pistol being fired, a rifle being fired in a canyon, a cannon firing, and the sped up sound of a cannon firing, all layered together. It sounds nothing like a real gun of any kind, but it was so iconic, and so culturally pervasive, that James Cameron's thumb now rests permanently on the scale of gunshot sound effects.

For decades of film-making, gun battle scenes were shot using blanks. The guns involved fired rounds with the correct amount of real propellant in them, just with no bullet in front of them. The audio of the "fight" was recorded and actually used in the final print. They don't even bother with that anymore. Yes, that was at least partially because of some accidents on set involving injuries (blanks can still hurt, even kill), but a lot of it was because the whole philosophy of filmmaking with respect to guns shifted. Now they just fire smoke squibs, and the sound they make is irrelevant to what is heard in the movie. The sound editor is just going to replace it all anyway.

So people have neither an evolutionary response nor a learned response to real gunfire. Evolution hasn't had time, and what they've learned isn't real.

All those people who fled the terminal building in Fort Lauderdale? Almost none of them saw the shooter shoot someone. Almost none of them heard a shot fired, and the vast majority who heard a shot fired didn't recognize it. They ran because everybody was running, and somebody said "shooter!" It actually happened a second time that day, when no one was firing a weapon anywhere in the airport. News commentators on site by then were baffled. "Why is everyone running again?" one said. All it takes is for the first few people to run. That is the evolutionary response. A panicked crowd could probably trample a shooter to death by accident because of that instinctive reaction, if those first few people would run towards the shooter. Everybody else will too.

Comment Re:harder to cover your camera (Score 1) 75

That's going to make it a lot harder to cover your camera. The spooks will love it.

Impossible, I'd say. Because the problem with video chat that any off-spectrum engineer has been trying to solve since the inception of video chat is, how do you make it look like a face to face conversation? How do you establish eye contact in video chat?

The obvious answer to any skilled practitioner of the art has always been to embed the camera in the display itself. For an oblong display that is most frequently used vertically, embed the camera 1/3rd of the way down from the upper short edge, exactly in the middle of the long edges. Right where people already habitually frame their eyes when video chatting. For a tablet, sometimes used for video chat in landscape mode with groups, embed two cameras: one in the position most suited for vertical orientation, and the corresponding one 1/3rd of the way down from the upper long edge, exactly in the middle of the short edges, so it looks right in either orientation.

That assumes you want a discrete camera. If you want the best possible flexibility, you want two complete grids of elements in the display: pixels and phoxels. Picture elements and photo elements. The pixels are OLEDs. The phoxels are pinhole cameras. Millions of them.

The patent is the usual obvious bullshit, because the eye contact problem has been with us since the days when webcams were a thing. Remember those? Same problem. Same blindingly obvious solution as soon as a display tech amenable to it exists.

So the camera(s) aren't reasonably blockable at all, because they're not where they are today, near an edge. Near an edge, they could be covered, and you just use software that avoids using the pixels near that edge. You've lost some screen real estate, but the device is still reasonably usable with a blocked camera. But if the camera(s) are in the best positions for video chat, you're out of luck. They're far away from the edge, smack in the middle of the part of the display that more or less always has something important on it. Impossible to block and still use the device. Or there's millions of them, and the entire surface of the display is also a camera.

In a Panopticon world, with only discrete cameras, there's a third camera, dead center of the display, that is never accessible or enumerable by userspace software on the device. That one is for the spooks.

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Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine