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Comment Re:What the hell? $600K? (Score 1) 52

Just the accounting you'd need to sell the thing to the government would cost you $100K. Oh, and you'd have to pay yourself or someone else to take part in the bidding process or apply for the granted, and that has to be recouped as part of the sale cost. Er... you were planning on paying yourself for your time, weren't you?

Also, there's a big difference between building a prototype from junk you scrounged and building a reproducible product. When you build a product the second copy should be exactly the same as the first but cost less. Duplicating a one-off prototype exactly usually costs more. Why? Proof of concept prototypes are cheap because you make them with surplus stuff you have lying around or can buy for fractions of a penny on the dollar. You can be opportunistic. The problem is any particular set of opportunities (e..g the $10,000 assembly you picked up at auction for $50) aren't reproducible.

I had a colleague whose first job out of school was writing up a detailed specification for a prototype midget submarine a defense research lab built for the Navy. The Navy was pleased at the low cost and so they wanted to be able to build a second one just like it. Well it turned out that a second one would have cost a hundred times as much they'd have had to pay manufacturers to reverse engineer stuff or start up production lines. It was one of the pointless, futile tasks you dump on newbie engineers before you know you can trust their work.

Comment Re:Basic Journalism... (Score 2, Insightful) 97

That's an asinine argument. Other people who should do it don't do it, so I won't do it either.

Wikileaks won't do it because Assange is a chaos-monger posing as a crusader. Wikileaks should do curate its leaks because when you possess information you act responsibly with it, e.g., don't expose people it is about to identity fraud.

Comment Pretty lame as far as scandal material goes. (Score 2) 174

If you want to see Democrats sniping at each others' candidates or complaining about what the party's up to, just go on any Democratic blog.

It's not a scandal. It's not a secret. It's not even a problem -- not even when people get hot under the collar and start acting like assholes. George Washington was elected unanimously by the Electoral College, but in every election since then politics has been turning Americans into assholes.

And that is a good thing. You can't make politics 100% civil without pushing out unpopular opinions.

Comment Re:Wait... Who got that other half of the $$$ rais (Score 5, Informative) 33

I spent about fifteen years of my career in the non-profit sector, so I have some perspective on this.

Raising money in a non-profit is just like selling stuff is for a for-profit. Generating gross revenue is relatively easy -- if you spend a lot of money you can rake in a lot of dough. What's a bitch to generate is net profit. In the non-profit sector we don't use the term "profitability" very much, so the metric that's often used to describe financial is "cost to raise a dollar." For typical fundraising activities cost-to-raise-a-dollar runs from 0.25 to 1.5 dollars/dollar.

Take junk mail. The cost to raise a dollar for a well-run direct mail campaign is in the range of $1.25 to $1.50, so if I want to raise $115,000 to spend on other things I have to scale my direct mail campaign to bring inover $258,000 gross. As you can see I chose a net target that was exactly 1/1000 the size of the ALS bucket challenge net, so you can compare the efficiency of the processes readily. The cost to raise a dollar for the ALS bucket challenge is actually better than a well-run direct mail campaign -- $0.91.

And it should be more efficient than direct mail, because direct mail is about the least efficient method there is. The marginal costs are huge because you pay for the names and addresses as well as printing and mailing of each piece, and most of those pieces will end up in the landfill unopened. So if direct mail is so inefficient, why use it? Because the financial inefficiency doesn't matter to the organization doing the fundraising. The end result of my hypothetical direct mail campaign is that my organization has $115,000 it didn't have before. That probably pays for one and half full time staff positions (at the low do-gooder wages we pay) for a year.

So the ALS challenge was in the financial efficiency range of methods normally used by non-profits, albeit a little towards the inefficient end. That doesn't really tell us if the campaign was responsibly run or not; to know that you'd have to look at all the expenses and compare those to costs in other viral Internet fundraising campaigns. But the bottom line is that the ALS association ended up with $115 million it didn't have before.

Can you think of a way of raising $115 million in a few months? I thought not. So presuming the guys who ran the campaign didn't spend the money on hookers and blow, I wouldn't be unduly concerned by a cost-to-raise-a-dollar of $0.91 if I was on the board.

Should donors care that the ALS challenge was a little high on the cost-to-raise-a-dollar metric? Well, I look at it this way. People did it because it was fun and for a good cause, and two years later we can point to concrete and significant scientific results from the money raised. That's not only pretty good, it's pretty damned awesome.

Comment Re:anti-science environmentalists (Score 1) 181

Actually, it's thoroughly impossible to tell how the new standards work based upon by the linked articles, but it sounds like in plain language that Florida is using a computer model that could allow more flexibility in discharge permitting. This can lead to better results, whether your definition of better is "more rationally defensible" or "more in line with what my donors want." Determining which way it is better requires review by a competent expert. It might be both.

The real issue here is this phrase from TFA: "one of a kind." That's not so good.

It's important in managing environmental data to do things in the usual way. This is contrary to the way public thinks about new technologies. If there's a new iPhone, you expect it to be better in every way or at least as good. It's not like that with scientific methods; new techniques are proposed because they have certain advantages, obviously. But they always have one big disadvantage: their results are hard to compare with what you already know. You need to do a lot of work to justify doing things a new way, otherwise you can find yourself unable to compare what is happening now to what was happening before.

Fortunately Florida can't do this on its own; it has to get EPA approval. Since this is an administration that is generally favorable to environmental regulation, if they can get this past Obama's EPA that will help give these new methods more credibility.

Comment Re:EEE (Score 1) 410

Yeah, I wasn't even a fan of Pascal, but Turbo Pascal for DOS was an awesome experience, as was both Turbo C and to a similar extent Microsoft's early QuickC. And QuickBasic was lovely -- an IDE that would literally pop up the manual page for any instruction you could type enough of to recognize, or match a string in. QB was in some sense my favorite IDE of all time, and I wrote a slew of code in Basic back in IBM PC days.

I didn't even include Microsoft's screwing of OS/2 and IBM in the list -- I put on the Extreme Linux expo in Raleigh, NC back in the day not long after that and IBM was an avid supporter; their staffers were all literally burning with anger at Microsoft and were particularly eager to loan us piles of PCs and more for our cluster demos. Claiming that Microsoft was all warm and fuzzy towards developers and that it wasn't their fault that important packages inevitably broke on every major version update, or that there was no "conspiracy" because it was against the law to deliberately break them to the advantage of Microsoft's competing packages simply ignores reality. There wasn't a "conspiracy" to remove competing web browers from Windows machines or disable them so that they wouldn't work right, but Microsoft did it anyway and lost a small mountain of money on a lawsuit. And they won, won, won the lawsuit in spite of the hundreds of millions they spent on the settlement and the billions they spent dragging the suit out for close to a decade. By then it was a moot point. After that, nobody had or is likely to have in the future, the stomach to tackle Microsoft in court but somebody enormous with equally deep pockets.

That's the problem. A hundred-odd billion dollar multinational company is largely above the law. They can outspend almost anybody, and anybody who thinks that this doesn't matter in civil or corporate court (or even in criminal court) is naive in the extreme. Once enough retirement funds are heavily invested in Microsoft stock, nobody wants them to go down, not really, no matter how much they hate them. Not congressmen. Not the president. Not union leaders. Not corporate leaders. Most of the everyday people don't care. The only ones that do are oddball nerds like me who find their corporate ethics revolting and who resent the rise of the corporate shadow government to the detriment of personal and economic freedom. And there just aren't enough of us to matter.

As Donald Trump (defending his actions exploiting major economic downturns in the past) says, "It was just business". And so it is, and so it will be, without toothy laws regulating just what "business" activities are ethical and permitted in law.

rgb

Comment Re:That's Interesting & Irrelevant (Score 1) 56

My picture was nice too, but they had system boards that shouldn't have made it through basic inspection, and of course the mechanical design was absurd. Since there was no provision for mounting the system boards in a conventional way I have to conclude that the sloppy construction at least was by design.

Now as for whether LeEco build quality will be better, worse, or the same, I have no opinion. I'm just reacting to the notion that Vizio makes a quality TV. In my experience it doesn't. Your experience doesn't negate that, because the tough thing isn't turning out quality units, it's turning them out consistently. That's why it's called quality "control" or "assurance".

Comment Re:RIP (Score 4, Informative) 56

Errr... the build quality for Vizio TVs is dreadful. I had one fail twice in the warranty period and then of course immediately after the warranty expired.

Opening the thing up the mainboard of the device was fastened to the backlight panel chassis with packing tape. I'd never seen such shoddy construction, not to mention the very poor quality of the boards themselves.

In general I think the idea of "smart tvs" is bad for the consumer economically. On top of that selling our viewing habits a profit center for Vizio on their already crappy throw-away TVs. And to add insult to injury, the UI for most smart TVS is just terrible. I replaced the Vizio with a Samsung, not because I wanted another smart tv, but because it was cheap. Not only was the search function hopelessly broken, the damn thing interrupted stuff I was watching on Netflix or Amazon with service change bulletins for Samsung services I neither subscribed to nor used. How could any UI designers be so damned stupid.

But you almost can't get a smallish HD TV that's not "smart". I ended up with a Hitachi "Roku TV" which is just a plain old TV with a Roku stick stuck in one the HDMIs. I'm much happier with Roku's UI and service, but if I wanted to I could just pop the Roku stick out and have a plain old TV.

Comment Re:They did the same thing for dual booting Linux (Score 1) 410

I still dual boot -- but I almost never use Windows, which is kind of the point. I don't use it enough to justify paying for a virtualization compatible license, and it's just a static waste of resources to boot in Windows to run Linux under a VM.

I suppose one solution for those instances where you have to boot Windows yet also access stuff in your Linux partition is to use raw partition access in a virtual machine and serve the data over a virtual network server. I know it's possible but it's been so many years since I've had to do it I couldn't comment on how other than to say read the virtualization platform documentation.

Comment Re:EEE (Score 5, Insightful) 410

Not that much more subtle. I watched as Microsoft crushed a long list of companies using exactly this strategy across the 80's and early 90's. Borland was easy -- it's so easy to break a compiler with an OS upgrade. Lotus. Word Perfect. Wordstar. Various games. They certainly tried it with their browser and it took a decade long billion dollar court case to stop them. Every operating system update, everybody else's software would break, a bit, while Microsoft's clone -- often a clone of a startlingly original and brilliant idea -- did not. Add in their marketing team to convince businesses that if they didn't buy Microsoft's house product, they would break their... um... not arms, not legs, what's the word, "interface" if the competing product didn't perfectly comply with the new specs (and of course, they never did).

Microsoft simply made it impossible to buy a PC without their operating system pre-installed in any store that sells systems WITH their operating system pre-installed with punitive pricing agreements that dropped the margins below any possibility of profit if you tried selling a naked system or a system preinstalled with some other OS. They then convinced freelance software developers that they could get rich, quick, writing for their platform (and at first, it was true!) But gradually it has become clear that if you have a brilliant software concept, write the next killer application, and do so for Windows, Microsoft will let you run wild for a few years to build up the market and use their enormous software foundry to write their clone, then they will jerk around the OS so that your product breaks but theirs doesn't until they have the lions share of the market IF you don't sell out to them when they politely knock on your door and make you an offer you can't refuse. Five years later you will wish you hadn't.

I have to admit that I'm a tiny bit surprised that they are doing this with Steam as it could backfire. I'm guessing that part of this is punitive. They WANT game developers to be in a Microsoft cage, with huge cross-platform development barriers, and Valve is the company that has seriously broken out of that mold and made Linux gaming with native libraries and code possible for games that run on Windows as well. Since they are preparing to make users lease Windows for eternity and ensure a perpetual cash flow for every Windows computer purchased, and since software sales through "app stores" run by the company are now a major profit center for companies that have successfully built them, they hope to retake world domination while they still have control of congress and the unions and all those companies with 401 and 403 plans heavily invested in Microsoft.

Unless and until the government actually enforces anti-trust laws across the board, we'll have to put up with this shit. The "free" market doesn't, and won't, have a chance as long as the company that makes and sells the OS, with a virtual lock on third party PC sales in spite of much lower priced and viable alternatives, also writes software for their own OS with an insuperable advantage over independent developers, no matter how large or powerful. Software store selling "certification" (still the same company) make it even worse.

Face it. Microsoft is in the protection racket, and has been for nearly 30 years now. FUD is their stock and trade. They represent everything that is wrong with capitalism that isn't restrained by strong anti-trust controls and limits on things like sales agreements so that they do not and cannot become long term monopolies. They have so much money that they could CONTINUE to be mismanaged for another decade and STILL would be huge. And who has the guts to tackle them (again) in the US courts? They can spend a billion dollars a year in defense, stretch an antitrust case out for a decade, lose it, and still come out a total winner. They've done so in the past and will do so again in the future.

rgb

Comment Re:Temperature increase from what temperature? (Score 1) 258

But what a great insult! Don't take away the genius of it just because it was, well, less than genius in its conclusion. After all, one can get milk in cardboard boxes already that will last "indefinitely" on an actual shelf, so the entire article is only marginally interesting from the point of view of increasing our quality of life, and since the entire first half of the discussion seemed to focus on a wilfull ignorance of the simple fact that unpasturized milk can carry all sorts of potentially fatal diseases -- including one that was a scourge at the time the process was instituted, tuberculosis -- instead of the science of the process itself. At least this thread discusses the process.

To quote the Wikipedia article on pasteurization:

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says improperly handled raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other food-borne disease source, making it one of the world's most dangerous food products.[16][17] Diseases prevented by pasteurization can include tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and Q-fever; it also kills the harmful bacteria Salmonella, Listeria, Yersinia, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli O157:H7,[18][19] among others.

So, one can take the chance that the raw milk you drink is "properly handled", which may be a reasonable bet in a rural setting where you know the cow and farmer involved, or you can insist that your milk be pasteurized. As a firm believer in the second law of thermodynamics and evolution, I personally will opt for pasteurization and encourage believers in in the comparative virtue of raw milk to drink lots of it, preferably while still young.

Given this level of nonsense in the discussion, one has to take what one can from it! "High UID Monkeys" is actually highly competitive with TFA and post itself.

rgb

Comment Re:Temperature increase from what temperature? (Score 1) 258

Is it really that god damn difficult for you high UID monkeys to use a bit of simple logic? Do you really need literally everything spoon-fed to you?

I must commend you, sir, on the invention of a unique new insult. I will remember this one, as it is spectacular. UID as a sorting mechanism for intelligence -- scary, that one is...;-)

rgb

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