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Comment It's hard to believe. (Score 3, Interesting) 73

The amount of data you need assemble a global navigation system is enormous. You don't hire some intern to transcribe data out of Wikipedia, you license it from companies like Tele Atlas.

Now for geographic place names you'd turn to sources like the USGS GNIS system for the US, whatever the local equivalent of GNIS is, or for places that don't have that datasets like GNIS the DoD's Defense Mapping Agency.

It can't possibly be that Bing gets their place/position data mainly from Wikipedia. The only thing I can think is that they did some kind of union of all the geographic name sources they could find in order to maximize the chance of getting a hit on a place name search, and somehow screwed up prioritizing the most reliable sources first.

Comment Re:Epinephrine cost per dose in about 50 cents (Score 2) 272

Well, it's the very fact that the alternative is, possibly, death that makes it possible for a company to do this. This thing occupies a peculiar corner case where the demand is modest, but inelastic.

This means a monopolist can milk the market by raising the price to insane levels, but because the market is small no competitor wants to enter it. Were the market to become competitive it is so small that the newly entered competitors wouldn't make much off their efforts. This is contrasted with statins, which are blockbuster drugs. You don't need a very large slice of that pie for the slice to be very large indeed.

The same thing happened last year with Duraprim. If you have toxoplasmosis, you absolutely have to have it. But how many people get toxoplasmosis?

Comment Re:Useful for desalination plants? (Score 1) 78

Well, to answer your question, of course if we covered the entire ocean, or significant fractions of it, sure there'd be undesirable ecological effects. Just like anything else that is scaled up endlessly without allowance for what economists call "externalities".

If you could internalize all externalities then the market would provide a perfect solution without any kind of regulation whatsoever. But since nobody knows how to do that, then I imagine that you'll get two regimes: (1) do whatever you want as long as you grease the the correct palms (in authoritarian states like China) or (2) go through the rigmarole of doing environmental impact studies before getting permits to beuild (in democratic societies).

Comment Re:Useful for desalination plants? (Score 4, Insightful) 78

I should think not -- at least not in the way you're probably thinking.

The device consists of a wicking layer topped by a light-absorbing layer. This boils water, which produces more or less pure steam. It also leaves the minerals from the water in the wicking layer. If you take distilled water directly away from the device and replace it with fresh seawater, those minerals will build up until the layer is no longer absorbent. On the other hand if all you want is the heat, you run the steam-distilled water through a heat exchanger and return it to the wicking layer, reconstituting the original water.

So it'd probably wouldn't work to use this directly as a steam distiller. However you could use the heat you collect to run a separate steam distiller. That would be very inefficient, but the thing about "renewables" is that conversion efficiency is less important than low installation and operation cost, because you're not paying for your feedstock of energy; any sunshine you don't use would have been wasted anyway. So while it seems physically possible to use this device to power a desalinization plant, whether it makes economic sense depends on whether this is actually the cheapest way to run a plant.

Comment Re:Good lord.... (Score 3, Informative) 166

Now I'm usually one to jump on bad stats given that I took a further degree in stats, but the first line of TFA answers your question:

"The study entitled State of Mobile Device Performance and Health focuses on the second quarter of 2016"

58% of all iOS devices sounds way too high for sure, until you recognise their broad definition of failure which can include failing to connect to WiFi, app crashes and so on.

So effectively the study is saying that in Q2 2016 58% of iOS devices suffered some sort of fault, but that fault might not actually be a big deal.

Beyond that I didn't read the report because I couldn't be bothered to sign up even with my junk details, so I can't really comment on how accurate their methodology might be, and hence how accurate their results might be, but if you're interested it's here:


I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that 58% of iOS devices suffered some kind of glitch in that period - all it would take is one buggy release of a popular app such as Facebook and the number is bound to shoot right up without it ever really being Apple's fault (beyond arguably not better vetting the quality of updates of apps perhaps).

When I Googled the report though, the first result was actually the 2016 Q1 report, where the results are the exact opposite:


I suspect therefore one of two things, either it is as I say and one broken major software release on a device or set of devices can greatly sway the stats in a quarter due to their broad definition of "fault" or they're just making these numbers up as a clickbait to try and get you to sign up to build up their userbase for monetisation purposes through ad revenue or similar.

I'm swaying towards the second, not that I'm a cynic or anything :)

Comment Re:How to delete your phone number from facebook (Score 1) 102

I had a friend on MSN messenger who I knew in real life, we'd never connected on the internet in any other way whatsoever so the only way to link us was via MSN.

I was on LinkedIn but only with 10 or so contacts, all of whom were recruiters and had no common links between me and my friend on MSN.

One day when I logged into LinkedIn it suggested my friend from MSN as a contact, given that the only way to link us was via MSN it was clear that long before MS bought LinkedIn it was engaging in illegal data sales/transfers with LinkedIn and LinkedIn was willing to buy/accept illegal data too, and use it to try and grow it's business.

It seems that pretty much all big tech companies violate data protection laws. The law just seems to not get enforced against them.

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