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Comment Re:Young engineers ... (Score 1) 242

That and they have less to loose in case of failure. So they are willing to take more risks and perhaps get bigger rewards. Having a family while personally rewarding forced you to play it safer as failure will effect more than themselves.

Anyone with a foot out the door of the company they are working for is in the same boat. Once I realized that the company needs me more than I need them, I was a lot more willing to stand up to management and forcefully push for needed changes. I just didn't care if I lost at that point since I wasn't planning on sticking around.

I have been assigned a lot more responsibility since then. Maybe that's what it takes to be in management- boldness on the edge of recklessness.

Comment Re:Uh, no you're not (Score 1) 156

"We are building a citizen-fueled clean power plant,"

Uh, no you're not. You are running an energy saving campaign. You are not creating anything new power here.

I agree, but under some current regulatory models, such shenanigans are treated similarly as an actual power plant. To the grid, adding 50MW of supply is the same as subtracting 50MW of demand (in most cases). There are several things about this that greatly concern me, especially the part about a tech company entering the energy market and extracting large amounts of money while providing very little benefit.

Despite the reforms after Enron, the energy market is not regulated very well, regulation varies by location within the US, and some of the tricks being pulled would make Wall Street blush. It's a complicated system that requires a lot of specialized experience to understand. I work in the energy industry and we have a saying- "Whenever there is confusion, someone will exploit it".

Comment Re:Censorship? (Score 1) 146

Ok, abcnews does have it on front page, CNN, wsj, nytimes do not.

Blame readers.

At the end of the day newspapers are in the business of attracting readers. A story about NSA hacking tools is too esoteric for most of their readers and lacks the cool characters or personalized villains that drive narratives.

Even the last /. story only had 130 comments, and it's a story specifically about the NSA and hackers. If it barely interests the /. audience I don't imagine it's going to be a hit with the general public.

130 comments is a pretty good discussion on Slashdot. It may even be above average.

Comment Re:Points based systems are inherently racist. (Score 2) 415

So we're going to discriminate white and asian applicants over one of another race?

Goodness, isn't that similar to what happened to blacks during the early 20th century too?

Being racist to stop racism doesn't solve the problem. It's just more racism.

It's a kludge to try to solve the problem of income inequality. My kids are mixed-race and enjoy all the advantages of a family in a comfortable financial position. They got more attention when they were very young since one parent could afford to stay home. That means they heard a lot more language on a daily basis. They go to a good Pre-K program and will go to a decent school when the time is right. They also have college savings plans so they won't have to worry (so much) about paying for college and can potentially make a better choice.

Poorer families are at a big disadvantage. They can't afford to live in neighborhoods with great schools, they can't afford to stay home for the first couple years of life, and won't be able to save as much for college. Poor kids will always be on an uphill climb to get to my kids level since my kids have enjoyed advantages from the very beginning.

I don't see race as being relevant to the above, other than the fact that minorities are disproportionately poor and therefore more affected by these problems. The best way to solve these issues is with universal Pre-K, paid paternity/maternity leave, and making sure that the schools in poor neighborhoods are equivalent to those in better neighborhoods. Trying to solve these problems with incentives and preferential treatment at hiring time is way too late.

Comment Re:Manned versus unmanned. (Score 1) 190

Same as manned spaceflight - the glory days have gone. This is 300 foot long. The Graf Zeppelin of 1928 was 776 feet long with a useful lift of 60 tonnes. The Hindenberg was even bigger.

Material science and strength calculation complexity was a lot less advanced in the 1920s. You could build a better airship today if you wanted to, but it probably wouldn't make sense. Cargo airplanes are likely more cost efficient. Fuel-wise, the airship might be favorable, but the financial impact of an expensive asset taking 3 days to travel 6,000 miles vs 12 hours for a plane is a large consideration. The 747-ERF freighter can carry 248,600 lb (112,760 kg), nearly double the Graf Zepplin. And it can do 3 round trips of 6,000 miles in the time that it would take the Graf Zepplin to do a single 1-way trip. It's not easy to think of a market nowadays where airships would make sense.

Comment Re:Waste of helium (Score 1) 190

The Helium used in party balloons is highly impure and it is not cost effective to refine. One would hope that this aircraft is using the same impure Helium.

Not always. According to this helium wholesaler, grade 4.5 (99.995%) gas is often used in the balloon industry. Granted, getting the "5th nine" is a lot more costlier than getting to 4 nines, but I would not use "highly impure" to describe that level of purity. Most industrial uses use 99.997%. Anything higher than that is research/military grade and probably relatively low-volume in comparison to the welding shops, cryogenic cooling systems, and manufacturing users using 99.997% or lower.

Comment Re:Overages? (Score 4, Interesting) 71

And here I am, having been an unlimited-everything T-Mobile customer for the better part of a decade...

Several of the MVNO's using AT&T's own network have offered "unlimited" (usually capped 4G + unlimited 3G) for several years. Their network could obviously support the traffic. The only reason AT&T didn't until now was because they could get away with it. I guess the competition finally forced their hand.

Comment Re:Mobile! (Score 3, Interesting) 81

I am not sure the concept of "emerging market" has much relevance any longer...mainly due to "time". Manufacturing has gotten so fast and mimicry so entrenched as a business plan that anything emerging this year won't be emerging next year. It will either be fully emerged or, worse, stale. Companies look at what Apple did to some markets and are now determined not get Appled by Apple or anyone else. There is an article on NYT about how companies are evading anti-trust laws by buying any startup that looks like it might become a competitor.

Every smart phone looks like an iPhone to me, there's no differentiation that regular customers could care about. Self-driving cars seems like a hot new area. Except no car company of any reasonable size is not working on them. There will be no emerging market for these, it will be created fully merged. Robotic assembly lines make it relatively easy and quick to switch on production of just about anything requiring mass quantities. Scaling up is easier with robotics.

I see this as a consequence of global supply chains, subcontracting, and little if any vertical integration. All the little details that used to be trade secrets of a vertically-integrated company are now quite transparent. You open up the device, see who made all the different components, and call them up and ask for a quote. We have come a long way from the days when a company manufactured most of their core products in-house. Just as one example, GE has been subcontracting out the manufacture of steam turbines, to their own competitors, since at least the 1970s. You could argue that they were simply divesting themselves of "mature" technology in order to focus on the more profitable cutting-edge stuff, but I would argue that steam turbine technology only became fully mature because they gave away (licensed) the technology to Hitachi, Toshiba, Doosan, and Ansaldo and let them run with it.

Comment Re:I'm a consumer whore! And how!! (Score 1) 191

Well, it depends.

Many new-model phones are based on the latest reasonable tech. That $400 OnePlus Three uses a state-of-the-art Qualcomm processor with six cores operating in heterogeneous mode--slow and fast cores run at the same time, allowing for power scaling without scaling the whole system down. You can get eight-core or eight-and-eight core phones, if you want to pay $1,000 for them, too.

Packing more cores into the phone doesn't necessarily improve performance. Down the line, your 4-core phone might not be outperformed by an 8-core phone of the same speed; yet the new phones have 4-core processors running at 1.5 the clock rate, with more-efficient processors, consuming less battery and executing at 3x the computational speed. New applications and the sheer load of the stuff you're already running increase, and your phone doesn't work so well anymore.

So a phone that's "Made to last" might require technology that costs 4x as much, eats battery at 6x the rate, and halves the replacement rate. Overall, that phone will cost you twice as much (costs x 4, lifetime x 2). A phone that's made on the state-of-the-art might last 2-3 years, at a stretch.

Then someone releases a new graphics standard, and your phone is incapable of using certain things. Not really important on a phone; it's not like you need the latest OpenGL/Vulcan to run Android.

People think the manufacturers are purposely making phones to wear out after 1-2 years. They don't want to pony up $1,400 for a phone that'll still run well in 6 years, all the while running nearly hot enough to burn a hole in your pocket, with a 4-hour battery life.

You could have made all the same points (minus the multicore discussion) in the 1990s/early 2000s about desktop PCs. Nowadays, the notion of upgrading or replacing a PC or laptop every 2-3 years seems somewhat archaic. Any powerful PC/laptop today generally remains so for 3-5 years now. The lack of major desktop/laptop processor advancements has been going on so long now that people don't even talk about it, because it is irrelevant for most people. SSDs were the last upgrade worth having, and those are very widespread now.

Phones will get to that point of maturity too, probably within 10-20 years. The only potential obstacle is the issue of software and software updates.

Comment Re:Every single year (Score 1) 62

And where might those be? As a fellow Houstonian, I was under the impression that you had to go way out into the countryside to escape light pollution.

Tell you what, it's not going to be real dark skies, but it's better than downtown Chicago (where I'm from). I was in Hermann Park last night, and the viewing wasn't as bad as most cities I've been in.

Say, as a fellow Houstonian, can you give me any tips for decent camping nearby? I've only lived in Houston for 11 days (I got here on the first). It's my first time down here.

I have yet to go camping in state, but I have heard good things about Brazos Bend State Park. The Galveston area could be an option, although Galveston is a bit trashy in general. If you do camp near/on the gulf, take care about how far back from the water you are. The tidal range can be several hundred feet, especially in Galveston where the slope of the beach is so gradual.

Comment Re:Every single year (Score 1) 62

The viewing is good here in Texas. I'm in Houston, and not far from downtown, but because of the strange variations in population density here, and the complete lack of zoning laws, you can still find some relatively dark skies where I am.

I'd forgotten all about Perseid until I saw the second one and remembered this is August.

And where might those be? As a fellow Houstonian, I was under the impression that you had to go way out into the countryside to escape light pollution.

Comment Re:He didn't "build" anything (Score 1) 319

He was most likely put up to it by his activist dad, particularly since he knew exactly what to say to the cops - he told them the truth, but in such a way that they would think he's lying. That's not something you know when you're 14.

The whole thing smells rotten to me too, but I have to disagree with your reasoning. A 14 year old kid can be just as shifty and generally suspicious as adults. He didn't have to know how to be truthful but suspicious. That might just be his character. Plenty of people just seem to be "up to something" or "hiding something" all the time. Those behaviors didn't just appear at age 18.

Comment Re:if by "plant" (Score 1) 215

They can buy stuff from the Russians just like we do.

This sort of thing isn't hard anymore. The key technologies (advanced materials, computer-aided design and manufacturing, computer guidance systems) are so widely available, and cheap now that even the idea of an embargo or blockade is ridiculous. I just searched for "inconel 718" (a key superalloy used for many aerospace parts) on Alibaba and 19,658 results came back. I wouldn't put chinese materials in my rocket engine, but for the DPRK they will probably work fine. The only obstacle in designing and building a rocket is money, and the cost gets lower every day. CNC hot glue guns (aka 3D printers) are incredibly cheap. The same technology (4-axis of motion, PID temperature control of multiple heaters) was used for many "advanced manufacturing" processes that were cutting edge in the 1960s and required for aerospace development. Back then it cost a fortune, but today some of the Prusa machines are approaching impulse-buy price points. Designing complex assemblies with the CAD packages today is a breeze compared to the nightmare it was 50 years ago. There is very little stopping the DPRK from developing everything they need by themselves.

Comment Re:Why on Earth? (Score 2) 88

Why on Earth are browsers revealing my battery status to random websites? Does Google dictate these changes in exchange for funding?

I think it might be a case of "we could do it, so we did". The battery HTML API can indicate whether a device is plugged in and charging, or not. In theory, you could write code that was more computationally-intensive if the device was plugged in, or very lean if the device was on battery. That seems like a legitimate use to me. It may not have occurred to anyone that this would be used for nefarious purposes.

Comment Re:How to floss regularly (Score 1) 257

1. Floss 2. Smell used floss 3. Be totally grossed out. 4. Floss forever. Story is a beat up. They didn't say it makes no difference. They just said the research supporting it was old and had poor methodology, possibly because "Big Floss" didn't think "floss research" was worth throwing money at and people have been doing it anyway because it's common sense. So another clickbait headline which will have AP's media customers rubbing their hands with glee, but misleading and many people will take away the wrong conclusion.

There's a legitimate medical question here. The existing studies are not great and some have conflicting results. I agree that flossing has many benefits (odor being a huge one) but the floss manufacturers make various claims as to the medical benefit which aren't backed up. Yet. Given proper study, medical benefits will probably be shown. There are many different floss materials, different coatings, etc. There are even non-floss floss-type products, like the awful flossing sticks. Some may work better than others. Some may even be useless or detrimental compared to not flossing. More studies aren't a bad thing.

I think it is great they are setting the example with Floss. If the company-sponsored studies for Floss can be questioned, the company-sponsored studies for most any other personal care item with health claims can be questioned too. Maybe companies running these studies will be more careful in the future. There are certainly a lot of shoddy pro-product studies out there.

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