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Comment Re:Grid Scale Batteries (Score 3, Insightful) 101

Solyndra was a bet that silicon prices would remain high. It was a way to get more power out of less silicon. The bet was wrong. With the drop in price in silicon, their death was inevitable. They also had a weird design decision, going for the concentrator. It made sense (in the economics of the time) to go for either concentrators or CIGS, but not both.

That said, the government took way too much flak - politically motivated - over Solyndra. With any diverse profile of startup investments, you expect some to fail. Economists analyzing the ARRA post-facto have been by and large given it quite positive evaluations for its effects on the economy. The loans program office had already wiped out the Solyndra loss just two years later.

Comment Also phone service was fucking expensive (Score 1) 197

Back in the day phone lines were so much, you didn't get to have your own phone line. You had a "party line". What's that? That's where everyone in your area as the same phone line. One line, multiple houses. It would ring a different number of times to tell you who the call was for, and if you wanted to call out and someone else was using the line you had to wait. Also this meant everyone could listen in on your calls, of course. However, that was the only way phone was affordable for most people. That's not to mention the cost of long distance, which in the old days was anything off your local exchange.

And for all the bitching about Internet service, it does keep getting better, by a lot. When I first got connected to the 'net 14.4kbps was all I could get. Faster modems were out at the time, but that's all my ISP supported. As time has gone on, I've got a steady and fairly regular set of speed increases until now I have a 300mbit connection. About 21,000 times speed increase in around 21 years. Not too bad, overall. Price is in the same ballpark too. Currently I pay $100/month for that connection. Back in the day it was $20/month for Internet and about $25/month for a second phone line, I can't remember precisely. So about $70/month in today's dollars. For that price I'd have to step down to 150mbit Internet, if we wanted to keep all things far. Still 10,000x faster. Not really that bad for a couple decades, particularly compared to a lot of other, more mature technologies. My electric service sure isn't 10,000x as good as it was in the 90s.

So ya, fiber and gig or 10gig Internet hasn't come to everywhere yet. So what? It is getting rolled out, perhaps not as fast as we geeks would like, but it is still happening, and tech improvements are increasing bandwidth on copper formats as well. What we have now works well for most people, and the improvements we've seen are not insignificant.

Comment Contact the ISPs in your area (Score 1) 197

You can get fiber, if you are actually willing to pay. You just aren't willing to pay for it.

What I mean is they'll sell you a fiber connection, as fast as you'd like, but you'll have to pay the full costs. You pay what it takes to have the line run and installed, and then you pay the full rate for an unmetered dedicated connection and they'll do it. Real enterprise class service with a nice SLA and all that. Thing is, that is going to run 5 figured (maybe 6) on the install and 4 figures or more for the monthly. That's what it really costs, that's what actually running dedicated fiber costs and what dedicated bandwidth costs.

What you want is CHEAP fiber. You want them to roll out a PON network on their dollar, and then sell you can your neighbours access to share that bandwidth for a low price. That's fine to want, but demanding it as if they owe you is unreasonable. Particularly since for something like that to be economically feasible everyone needs to be willing to pay, not just you. If it is a shared network, with the costs not being paid upfront, then a bunch of people need to pay, and need to do so for a fair bit of time.

If you look in to it, you'll find more than a few people that have no fucks to give about fast Internet. any modern service is "fast enough" for them. You can't convince them to spend on higher speed connections. My parents are like that. They have 12mbit cable. They can buy at least 100mbit where they live, maybe more (I haven't checked lately). They just won't. They are happy with what they have. They've used faster Internet, when they visit me they get to use mine which is 300mbit, but they don't care. To them what they have is good enough and they would rather spend the money on other things.

So if you are really willing to pay, and I mean pay the actual installation, operation, and bandwidth costs for dedicated fiber line, you can have that. However if you aren't willing to, and I can't blame you if you aren't, you can't then demand that they should give you stuff for cheap.

Comment That last bit is the real trick (Score 1) 197

We are pretty good these days about keeping track of shit. Probably not as good as we should be, but still pretty good. However we have LOTS of old infrastructure. The documentation can be bad or non-existent. There's not an easy way to deal with, unfortunately, since it isn't like we can just open up an access panel and have a look at what's there. It'll continue to be a problem for a long time, perhaps forever.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 928

Should have been "alumium". Next best is "aluminum" (like platinum, molybdenum, most all of the classic elements like plumbum, argentum, etc). "Aluminium" is right out. It was derived from from alumina, not "aluminia"; the i is supposed to be the joining stem (lithia/lithium, magnesia/magnesium, titania/titanium, etc). There are a couple element names that are as poorly formed as "aluminium", but not many.

Not to mention that Davy was the one who named it, and he named it "aluminum", but suggested "alumium" as an alternative.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 928

1) US troops were in neither Iraq nor Libya during their last elections.

2) Afghanistan's elections are supervised by international monitors, recognized by the international community, and not widely boycotted by entire segments of the population who don't consider the new "government" - imposed by a foreign military just weeks earlier and headed by a local mobster - legitimate or having the right to hold elections.

Even when the US was in Iraq (before they got kicked out, before they were subsequently begged to come back when Iraq was being overrun by Daesh...), Iraqis elected a government that was pro-Iran and hostile to the US. The largest party in the 2005 elections, with double the votes of the next closest contender, was the National Iraqi Alliance - a pro-Iranian islamist shia coalition. Maliki was chosen as prime minister. Do you think the US rigged the election to choose pro-Iranian anti-US government? What about in 2010 when pro-Iranian islamist nationalist power was consolidated, leading to the 2011 sinking of the SOFA? Think that was the result the US wanted? If the US was rigging Iraqi elections, they're pretty bloody terrible at it.

Comment Re:No, they didn't. (Score 1) 928

The Russians have always been good at lower performance, low cost rockets. Higher performance, they've always struggled with (particularly upper stages), which hindered their ability to launch probes (they only ever launched to the moon, Venus, and Mars, and with a rather disappointing track record). But they've built quite a few reliable, cheap lower stages and full low-performance orbital stacks. Mind you, a few of their lower-stage engines have turned out to be lemons (most notably the NK-15/33/43), but most have been real workhorses.

As for advanced tech in general, Russia has always been great at conceiving of and doing small scale implementations of very advanced concepts, but they've struggled to bring it into mass produced products. In that regard, I think the US has more to worry about concerning China; while they've long been known for mass production of lower-tech goods, they're getting increasingly good at mass production of high tech goods. The key to the US's success has been the combination of both high tech and skill in bulk production (albeit disadvantaged in that by labour costs)

US vs. Russia, I think the AK-47 vs. M-16 is a great analogy. The M-16 is by most objective standards a much better weapon - lighter, significantly lighter magazines per bullet (yet with nearly the same impact energy due to much faster velocity), significantly greater range in most regards, greater accuracy, faster to load and change magazines, easier to work the safety, predictable trigger behavior, all sorts of other ergonomic features, less recoil, better sights, and on and on down the line. Yet the AK-47 is the one that ended up ubiquitous around the world. It was simple, easy to make, had loose-fitting parts that weren't sensitive to manufacturing defects, was tough to break or jam with dirt and grime, etc. Very much reflective of the philosophy difference in general.

Russia seems to be trying to change today, trying to move more toward the American philosophy of production, in particular with respect to arms. For example they're trying to make their jets less "disposable", designed for lower downtimes and more flight hours like the US and Europe do, in order to be able to give their pilots more flight-time training (among other things), like the west does. But the changes have been incremental, not by leaps and bounds.

Comment Re: Notice the timing on the propaganda piece (Score 1) 928

Not according to every single UN report on the subject, up to and including just days ago, but by all means, keep being a dictator's internet propagandist.

FYI, since you're late to the party, there no longer is anything called "Al-Nusra". The name changed to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham when they broke from al-Qaeda.

Comment Re:No, they didn't. (Score 1) 928

Thank you, I read this headline and immediately sighed at the stupidity of it as well.

Russia likes doing these sort of braggadocious product unveilings; they're often rather disconnected from the reality of how their development goes. That's not to say that Russia can't develop good products - they can. But every time they make these product announcements it's like "The world will imminently fall at our feet due to the obvious revolutionary technological superiority of our latest offering!", when it's most often anything but.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 2) 928

Aluminum was largely the key to the "missile gap" that developed between the US and USSR in ICBMs in the 1960s. Before that, ICBMs had been liquid-fueled, which presented storage, complexity and bulk problems (also prevented underwater launch on submarines). The US discovered that the addition of aluminum powder to solid rocket propellant mixes would simultaneously increase ISP, thrust, density, and burn stability, and moved immediately toward the development of a series of solid ICBMs; the Soviets were late to catch onto the significance of aluminum in propellant mixes, and fell over half a decade behind as a consequence.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 5, Insightful) 928

Quotation needed. And no, Ukraine does not count. They had a vote and voted to be part of Russia; that's a far cry from rolling in the tanks and taking it by force.

They did send in their military, that's who the "Little Green Men" were. Even Putin has publicly admitted this. The "vote" was held under occupation, not internationally recognized, boycotted by significant segments of the population, and even Russia at one point accidentally released the "real" numbers from the vote which didn't match the official ones.

Do recall that Russia is a country where Chechnya "voted for" United Russia (Putin's Party) 99% in 2001. Some parts of Grozny voted for "The Butcher of Grozny" by well over 100%. You seriously think that's legit?

Amazing how many apologists for Russia there are here. False equivalencies are clearly alive and well.

Comment Re:In Soviet Russia (Score 0) 424

1. Very few of the emails are DKIM signed. Check for yourself.
2. Even where DKIM is signed, it relies on the following assumtions.
A: The attacker has not compromised the Google private key
B: The attacker has not compromised DKIM or any of the technologies it relies on
C: The attacker had not compromised the sending account at the time of sending.

The requirement of assumption C is applicable regardless of who the attacker is. Assumptions A and B fail when considering a highly motivated state actor. It should go without saying that everyone here knows that major powers actively work on things like A & B, and C is their bread and butter.

Do I think that a power like, say, Russia, has compromised DKIM itself, or any of the technologies it relies on? Probably not, but I certainly wouldn't put it past them. Do I think that said entity has compromised the Google private key? Probably not, but again, I certainly wouldn't put it past them. I absolutely would not put C past them - but it depends on the importance attached to the topic at hand.

To reiterate: the majority of the leak will be real. But there is an active, demonstrable history this cycle, of the attackers salting the leaks with fakes, using the real content to try to legitimize the fakes, so try not to be naive about all this.

Comment Re:In Soviet Russia (Score 5, Insightful) 424

Right. So let's take a look at how this "excerpt the gotcha" plays into that.

Slashdot writes about Zuckerberg:

a later exchange between Sandberg and Podesta showed that Mark Zuckerberg was looking to get in on the action a bit, and perhaps curry favor with Podesta and the Clinton camp in shaping public policy.

Except that the email from Shelly about Zuckerberg very clearly begins:

Mark is meeting with people to learn more about next steps for his philanthropy and social action and it’s hard to imagine someone better placed or more experienced than you to help him. He’s begun to think about whether/how he might want to shape advocacy efforts to support his philanthropic priorities and is particularly interested in meeting people who could help him understand how to move the needle on the specific public policy issues he cares most about

Likewise on the other email from Cheryl. They mention the "She came over and was magical with my kids" re. Clinton. They don't bother mentioning the reason for Hillary's visit, which can be seen in what she's replying to:

To: Sheryl Sandberg
Subject: At a loss for words

Can't imagine your pain, but know that you are surrounded by people who love you. Mary and I are praying for you, the kids and, in our Catholic way also for Dave.

... and the part before the excerpt:

Thank you – means a lot to me that you reached out.

And I like that you are praying for Dave. I have to believe in heaven now.

This wasn't some buddy-buddy campaign visit, this was a "person I know's husband just died" visit. Likewise, the implication that they're supposed to give here is that they know her because of Facebook. No bothering to mention that the reason that they actually know her is because she was Larry Summers' Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration.

Almost anything can be made to look sinister when you take it completely out of context. Which is the whole purpose of these emails.

Furthermore, do you honestly think you couldn't do the exact same thing by picking through the Trump campaign's internal messaging? Do you have any clue how many people of note a major campaign interacts with, how many people work for them, etc? We know given Trumps record on server security that hacking him would have been a breeze, but miraculously nobody bothered. Why do you think that is?

Lastly: take everything you read with a grain of salt. I know everyone's reaction to statements that emails could have been altered (and scattered amongst real ones) is going to be "You just don't want to discuss them!" No, the reason you should take things with a grain of salt is that the other anti-Clinton hacks this year have done exactly that. Leaks posted by the hackers in different places involved cases where they had involved changing the same file to say different things (such as a donation list where they added a donation from Soros to a Russian democracy activist, but had different values for the donation in different versions of their release), cases where files were dated to after the hack occurred, and cases where file metadata showed the changes they'd been making. Salting real data with fake is something that they've been doing this year, so it'd be naive to think that they're just going to stop doing it now. Come on, even the most die-hard Clinton hater is going to be hard pressed to actually believe that the Clinton Foundation has a directory sitting around literally called "Pay for Play".

Yes, the majority will be real. But don't be naive when viewing them and assume that you can just take everything at face value.

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