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Comment Car analogy failure (Score 1) 277

The front brakes on a car provide most of the stopping force when a car is moving forward due to the forward weight transfer as the brakes are applied. A number of cars are designed with disc brakes up front and only drums (less effective) in the rear.

The loss of Ctrl-C seems more analogous to the loss of the front brakes, not the rear brakes.

Comment Re: In addition... (Score 1) 179

Thank-you for your insight. That makes sense; my potential small rooftop solar system was priced at $3.72/Wdc, with some wiggle room in the price as indicated by the installer when I balked. I can see where a large utility system would have a lower cost due to economies of scale, tracking systems, etc.

I'm curious as to how the cost of land affects the utility cost, however. In a home rooftop situation, there is no cost for the land since its going on top of the structure that is already on the land. But a utility would need to acquire (buy/lease) a large chunk of land for a decent size solar farm, and to pay taxes on that land on a recurring basis. A wind farm also needs a large chunk of land. Seems like this might be a significant cost factor that isn't there for plants using carbon-based fuels.

Comment Re: In addition... (Score 1) 179

I don't believe the claim that "solar photo-voltaic electricity is now less expensive than grid electricity" as bare fact. This all sounds *great*, but when I ran the numbers on a solar installation at my house, I was disappointed. I needed to lay out $23k capital cost, to generate slightly over $600 of electricity per year. Even with generous incentives, my break-even point on the installation was at around 11 years, assuming no other costs on my end. One possible cost that was not included was that of cleaning off the arrays, which would be about $150/year as a service (which really cuts into the net value of the $600/year electricity being generated). If I need to re-roof my house within the lifetime of the system, I had a several thousand dollar cost to de-install the panels, then re-install them.

The other challenge was that this installation was not sufficient to put me "off the grid," so I still needed to buy electricity in lean times (and to "sell" electricity in good times). However, the current rates structures and incentives in my area ignore the cost to the electric utility of maintaining the distribution grid. As the percentage of homeowners generating their own solar power increases, the cost of utility-generated electricity will need to increase as well, in order for the utilities to cover the cost of maintaining the grid (alternatively, people will have to pay a "grid connection fee" that will be substantial). Distributed power generation is a great idea, but too many folks are ignoring the cost of the utility system that still needs to be in place. This ignorance is sustainable at low self-generation adoption rates, but will become unattainable as adoption rates rise into a significant fraction of the utility's consumer base. Sort of like how some electric car owners are surprised when they are charged additional registration fees (over gasoline vehicles) because the existing road maintenance cost recovery is through gasoline taxes that electric vehicles are sidestepping.

I'm not slamming the idea of distributed generation, and I dearly want to have my own solar-photovoltaic generation capability, but the business case for the individual homeowner is still not in favor of it. A few more years, some additional efficiencies, and maybe we'll be there. A radical increase in storage capability would really help.

Comment Re: No need for that. (Score 1) 295

I was thinking more of the principle: when it is in more people's interest to harvest organ's, and the supply of organ's is constricted, then society will do something to enhance the supply. Self-driving cars may reduce traffic violations, but there will be lots of other things for society to take offense of, and to increase the penalties for. Its just musing; not all of the factors Niven cited have come about - in particular, organ transplants aren't quite as trouble-free, and we don't have a method for long-term organ storage.

Comment Re: its a white dragon. (Score 1) 414

I think people will pay far above the basic cost of an item for a few items they consume (like the bread, or Starbucks coffee drinks), but most can't afford to do that for all of the things they consume. So various items can be had in an artisanal way, with people differing about what they are picky about.

Comment Re:apple does not have Mac servers any more (Score 1) 73

Any Macintosh computer can be turned into a lightweight server for $20. Its not an enterprise-class, but it works well for a home environment. My need is for a local calendar and contacts and some file services so that I can host my own and not dump all my family's personal data out on Google. Add in a VPN on my home router so that I can get to it securely from anyplace with Internet access, and Bob's your uncle. I picked up a refurbished iMac with a 27" screen, 3.4GHz Quad Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, 802.11ac wireless, and a 3TB Fusion drive (combination SSD and regular disk) for something like $1800 almost 3 years ago, and it has served as our family TV, kids homework computer, and general server ever since.

Comment Re:I'm ok with that (Score 1) 73

I agree strongly that using a cloud-based service to print from a phone/tablet to a local printer is all kinds of stupid, but I'd be a bit happier with Apple's AirPrint if they would just provide the AirPrint service as part of the Mac OS. Having to buy a special printer OR paying a third party $$ to add an AirPrint service to my local Mac server is undesirable to me.

Comment Re:So laundering your bitcoin wasn't paranoia (Score 2) 203

It is my understanding that if a US citizen has any income, they are expected to declare it, whether it is identified in data submitted by other parties (such as your employer) or not. If they don't declare and pay taxes on the income, they have probably violated the US tax code. Since buying and selling Bitcoin can result in income, not declaring that income would probably violate the tax code. The US IRS knows the tax code very well. They may sometimes push the envelope on enforcement, and every once in a while they might lose in court, but I think they win far more often than not.

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