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Comment Re:Good idea... with still a missing link (Score 1) 165

The reality of cheap solar panels is that batteries are now the more expensive part of an off grid system. And for a grid-tie system the permits, inspection, and professional installation is a big burden in the US. All those regulations are annoying, but when you’re playing with thousands of watts it’s reasonable to ensure the safety of linesmen, firemen, and occupants.

Grid-tie ends up being cheaper than battery systems and maximizes solar production of the panels as power doesn’t go unused when there is no load and the batteries are full (or near full, as they can’t charge as fast then). You’re basically using the grid as a big battery; give it energy when you produce it but don’t need it and get it back when you actually need it. That won’t scale up forever, as the grid isn’t actually a battery (yet anyway).

I’m thinking about an electric car and a grid tie roof system. I’d rarely be using the actual electrons my roof generated in my car, but it’s nearly as good to say my house generated more power than my car used.

Comment Re:There is another issue and it is a constant one (Score 1) 180

The directions are based on the spin of the Earth. The concepts were there before we discovered magnetism and named the poles of a magnet after the directions on our planet. The concept of the direction east as "toward the rising sun" is pretty basic and comes out of the mists of time from proto-languages before mankind invented writing.

Calling China and Japan the East is a more recent European centric terminology. Since the planet is a globe everything is east of some other place in a relative manner. However, if you look at the land masses of Earth the largest is Asia which still puts China and Japan in the east. Only if you consider the water covered portion as the most significant would you think of Japan as an island on the western side of the great Pacific Ocean. So considering Japan the East simply shows a land centric view.

Comment Re:Speak for yourself (Score 1) 583

I admit I overstated with the "free ride" comment. That anonymous net loss comment set me off.

But note that nearly all of those regressive taxes you and others mentioned are state taxes. The federal income taxes I mentioned are the least burden for lower income people. Yes, social security and medicare taxes are regressive, but you'll be more likely to eventually see some direct return from those taxes than from any other.

My point is that this original topic is about moon programs and NASA. That's federally funded by progressive federal income taxes. It wouldn't be funded by any of the regressive taxes that burden the poor. So the 46% of households that that pay no federal personal income tax wouldn't be spending a dime on it. Though as much as I like space travel I don't think it's worth it to spend a trillion dollars or so on going to the moon or Mars. If they can do it for a small fraction of that I'm all for it.

Of course taxes are all about other people's money. I suppose everybody has the same right to argue about how to spend other people's money whether or not any of it was originally theirs.

Comment Re:Speak for yourself (Score 5, Insightful) 583

You don't decide that for me. Benefit is, by definition, something that can only be decided by a (supposed) beneficiary.

No, I see nothing in the definition of benefit that requires the recipient to to be grateful or agree to the benefit. The whole concept of taxation, for good or ill, is that someone other than the taxee decides how best to spend some of his money. If you decide how to spend your own money for your own benefit that's simply a free economy. Taxes can and should be spent to the benefit of the population. Everyone receives the benefits of properly spent taxes whether they appreciate those benefits of not. Just try and find a country with low taxes that isn't a hell-hole with no infrastructure and crime and corruption running rampant.

Speaking for myself, I feel anyone in the lower tax brackets (such as $35K/year) is getting basically a free ride. The top 10% earners pay 70% of the income taxes. So I have no sympathy for someone who says their measly couple thousand in taxes wasn't repaid in all the government benefits they received such as road systems, emergency services, police and military protection, education system, and all the rest. The people complaining about the government not doing enough for them are invariably paying the least taxes.

Comment Re:0 kWh net grid consumption over the last 12 mon (Score 1) 498

I believe all the diodes do is keep the working panels from backfeeding through a shaded panel and killing the entire systems output. I was surprised to discover how easily a little shading can cripple the output of a solar array. It get worse when you wire the panels in series for higher voltage as is common in grid tie systems that feed up to 600 volts DC into the inverter. The most shade tolerant systems use the new micro inverters where each panels output is converted to AC individually.

Comment Re:Solar for the win! (Score 1) 498

I think you dismiss too easily the utility company's role in buffering your electricity use. I find it hard to believe that only $5000 worth of batteries would allow you to have normal electric use through multiple days of bad weather when you average over 30 kWh use per day. Seems to me you'd need something like 100 kWh of storage. Since lead acid batteries cost $200 per kWh or so that would be about $20K of batteries. And it would need to be replaced every 5 years or so.

Grid tie solar with net metering is a fabulous deal compared to off grid solar. We need a much cheaper storage system to make solar practical on a large scale. Otherwise the best solar can do is eliminate fossil fuel use during the day in good weather.

Comment Re:0 kWh net grid consumption over the last 12 mon (Score 2) 498

It's an excellent system for the early adopters anyway. Scaled up it wouldn't work for more than a fraction of the population. Don't forget a grid tie system needs to pump in an entire days worth of energy into the grid in 4 to 8 hours. If a quarter of the users were doing that it would be very difficult to accommodate. Utility companies are going to have to reject further grid tie systems once a small percentage of the population signs on.

But maybe advances in battery systems developed for electric cars will make storage systems for solar electric feasible. Right now lead acid battery systems are the most affordable and they are about an order of magnitude from being cost effective.

Comment Re:Supply and Demand (Score 1) 284

There is enough extra generating capacity off peak overnight to charge quite a large initial wave of electric cars. Selling more electricity overnight might even increase electric company profits and pay for some necessary upgrades to the grid. Undoubtedly some changes will need to be made before the majority are driving electric cars. One thing missing from large scale renewable energy is storage. It doesn't help so much if solar and wind supply great amounts of energy some of the time if you still need enough capacity of traditional power to meet 100% of the load the rest of the time. However, developing better batteries for cars may mean a reasonable storage system for utility power too, making cheap solar more practical.

Comment Re:I think Tesla maybe has better business model (Score 1) 284

Really? The Volt concept car was shown in January 2007 and the production design model in September 2008. I suppose once Obama took office in 2009 he used the secret presidential time machine to go back and force GM to create the Volt.

Or are you suggesting GM was just wasting money on a project they never intended to market until Obama forced them to follow through?


Why Creators Should Never Read Their Forums 221

spidweb writes "One full-time Indie developer writes about why he never goes to online forums discussing his work and why he advises other creators to do the same. It's possible to learn valuable things, but the time and the stress just don't justify the effort. From the article, 'Forums contain a cacophony of people telling you to do diametrically opposite things, very loudly, often for bad reasons. There will be plenty of good ideas, but picking them out from the bad ones is unreliable and a lot of work. If you try to make too many people happy at once, you will drive yourself mad. You have to be very, very careful who you let into your head.'"

Playboy Launches Safe For Work Website 98

If you're one of the three people in the world who actually reads Playboy for the articles, today is your lucky day. Every young boy's favorite magazine to find in their uncle's closet has launched a "safe for work" website. From the article: "TheSmokingJacket.com will contain none of the nudity that makes Playboy.com NSFW — not suitable for work. Instead, it'll rely on humor to reach Playboy's target audience, men 25 to 34 years old, when they are most likely to be in front of a computer screen."

New Handheld Computer Is 100% Open Source 195

metasonix writes "While the rest of the industry has been babbling on about the iPad and imitations thereof, Qi Hardware is actually shipping a product that is completely open source and copyleft. Linux News reviews the Ben NanoNote (product page), a handheld computer apparently containing no proprietary technology. It uses a 366 MHz MIPS processor, 32MB RAM, 2 GB flash, a 320x240-pixel color display, and a Qwerty keyboard. No network is built in, though it is said to accept SD-card Wi-Fi or USB Ethernet adapters. Included is a very simple Linux OS based on the OpenWrt distro installed in Linksys routers, with Busybox GUI. It's apparently intended primarily for hardware and software hackers, not as a general-audience handheld. The price is right, though: $99."

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