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Comment Re:Synonyms being used (Score 4, Insightful) 102

Any particular reason why we should just assume that only those nice, 'anonymized', 'statistics' were for sale; or that the 'anonymizing' done wasn't as pitifully weak as it often is?

Shockingly enough, people seem to be willing to pay more for data that are more or less cosmetically obfuscated, and trivial to correlate with information from other sources; and less for data that are actually anonymous enough to be impossible to reconstruct.

Comment Re:Fortran (Score 1) 617

BASIC on my own, a little bit of machine language which I did not have the patience for, then FORTRAN for school.

I would find it instructive to have people post their ages along with their first languages... but some people might balk at that. Anyway, I'm 56.

My first language was actually assembly - I had a high school electronics course where we put together a simple circuit board around some Motorola processor (IIRC). We had to write some simple program for the thing and be able to save (and recover) that program to/from a cassette tape. As I recall, we'd write the assembly language on paper, then convert it to octal and key that in... maybe it was hex, but I believe it was octal.

I learned BASIC on my own, followed by FORTRAN via an advance placement program at a local university. That came in handy in college, since a lot of my engineering courses required FORTRAN (a lot of people were more or less piecing the language together in the course).

Being able to program helped me in my first internship, since at that time it was rare for engineers to how to code - towards the end of it, coding was most of what I was doing. And, since I figured out I didn't particularly like engineering anyway, being able to code made it much easier to switch career paths early.

Comment robots.txt indeed does NOT have value (Score 2, Interesting) 171

The use of robots.txt only makes the internet somewhat harder to search. I fucking hate it when some scientific publisher haplessly uses robots.txt, only to make search of their published content nearly impossible to find. Fuck that, fuck robots.txt and the train it came with.

Comment This will probably fuck with Zotero (Score 2) 214

In principle this could prevent me from writing my scientific manuscripts with Word. On the other hand, nobody forces me to use the newest version of Word. Kind of to probe a point (but mostly because I like it more), I use Word 2007 to author all the manuscripts we publish. There really aren't any compelling reasons for me to upgrade to the new versions of Office.

Comment Re:19th and 20th century powerhouse (Score 2) 206

Solar panels have a very large capital expense, they are cheap in the long run, but they are not feasible for running industry in poor countries.

Raw, ready-to-mount, single-crystal panels are down to $0.50/watt now, in pallets of ten at about 350 watts each, and have good lifetimes. Even adding the control electronics and batteries for nighttime and bad weather power, and replacing the batteries periodically, that's cheaper than building and running coal plants and their distribution infrastructure (even at third-world labor prices).

The control electronics is mostly semiconductor devices and still benefiting from Moore's Law. Solar panels are still improving, as are batteries (following their own Moore's Law like curves.) Solar has a factor of several in efficiency yet to go, and lot of room for cheaper manufacture. Batteries are pretty efficient, but still have lots of room for improvement in charge/discharge rates, lifetime, and manufacturing cost. Coal plants, meanwhile, are already close to as efficient and cheap to run as they can get. So solar will continue to improve its lead.

The main remaining advantage to coal plants is grid power gives suppliers an ongoing revenue stream and a captive market, while solar provides only an occasional capital purchase.

(But why do you never hear about the greenhouse effect of solar panels?)

Comment Re:Email tie-in (Score 1) 71

The big problem is that for years, like, a LOT of years, you built your entire online existence on a single email address - and for many people that address was the one they got from their ISP.

Having been through a lot of ISP changes from the early 90s onward, I learned this lesson early. Fortunately, I have a permanent alumni address from one of the universities I attended. I've been forwarding that to whatever ISP or email provider I am currently using for 20-25 years now.

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