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Comment Damn! Damn! Damn! (Score 1) 185

At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I LOVE nVidia hardware and have always opted for nVidia chipsets whenever possible. I've had excellent experience with them, especially when it comes to drivers and support. They just plain work. I've never had a driver conflict or any other bug happen. They work the first time, every time. No comparability issues, no bugs, no need for patches etc. Always smooth as silk.

That's just my own personal experience and I'm sure someone out there will dispute it, but for me, consistent positive experiences like that are something no advertising can buy. I've had enough experience with products from Intel, AMD, ATI (before and after merging with AMD), Matrox, Creative and... well, you name it. They generally work fairly well, but none have been as headache free as nVidia.

Comment Won't be a problem... (Score 1) 300

We have gotten used to the idea that the government needs to solve problems (something that it is very bad at) due to the recent administration. The fact of the matter is that the wireless market is very competitive and a lot of money is spent to keep customers by improving systems. Whatever is required to keep bandwidth up, whether it be smaller cells, more advanced modulation, MIMO, more bandwidth sharing etc etc will be done. The companies can't afford not to and they are all already upgrading their systems and planning for future upgrades. If they don't and the system bogs down, people will go elsewhere. The company with the best mobile service will always have a competitive advantage.

We don't need to do anything. Just sit back and let the market take care of it. The government just needs to leave it the hell alone. In the late 1990's, the government decided to meddle with the lending markets to try to encourage more first time buyers to get good rates on loans. They changed the subprime markets and introduced incentives to take on high risk credit. Look what happened! There is only one way that the spectrum will become a problem: if the government starts getting its meddling hands all over it.

Comment Sad, the Nobel Peace Prize is Meaningless (Score 1) 1721

This is so clearly political it is disgusting. Without commenting directly about my feelings on Mr. Obama, lets face it: he has not done that much tangible toward world peace, especially by comparison to most past winners. Okay, sure he's only been in office less than a year, so he still has time. Many winners get the prize years after they actually **DO** anything. Why now? It's generally been frowned on to give the prize to a sitting politician because of the obvious political ramifications and the fact that it makes the committee look like they're entirely political.

That said, in circumstances where the prize has been awarded to a sitting head of state, it is ALWAYS because they have done something tangible and unusual in its implications. INTENTIONS DO NOT COUNT. **I** very much want to bring peace to the whole world, but I don't get the prize because you actually have to do that and not just want to. In the past, the prize was given for major peace accords, changes in policy or brokering some kind of treaty or ceasefire with direct results. Simply being more diplomatic than ones predecessor is not enough to make you stand out as the most pro-peace person on the face of the earth.

There is certainly some time left for Obama to do something worthy of the peace prize. He's barely been in office. Really, there has not been enough time to put any of his actions in any kind of a greater perspective. That is always important and it's the reason why the prize has historically often been held off for several years before giving it out.

This should be very obvious. A lot of people like Obama because they disliked George W Bush so much and they think Obama is very different. They also find him to be an inspirational speaker. The man is definately a good public speaker. He's gotten a lot of support as an alternative kind of politician. This is all fine, but you don't award the peace prize to someone because of that kind of thing.

Comment Potential Payload (Score 2, Interesting) 83

My understanding is that they will be launching the Dragon as basically a test item, not a fully capable version of the capsule intended to dock with the space station. The first Falcon-1 launch carried a "mass simulator" - basically a chunk of metal to act as ballast. The reasoning is, as mentioned, it's uninsurable on the first launch and there is a high probability of failure on the first full launch of a new space vehicle.

Still, I can think of one group that would love to send up a ton of cargo, even if they knew it was risky: AMSAT. The ham radio satellite organization. Launch costs tend to limit their potential satellites to being tiny cubesats, which can be hard to fit much capabilities into. Their satellites are built very cheaply compared to other satellite producers and their biggest cost tends to be launching them. They could build one hell of a satellite with the kind of mass that the Falcon-9 could put up there, and given the possibilities, they may very well be willing to accept that there is a large risk it won't even make it. It could be the one realistic opportunity to have any chance of launching a really big payload.

Comment Jumping the Gun (Score 4, Insightful) 143

This is newsworthy if he actually died from this strain which we had thought was not dangerous. Considering that it has been used as a vaccine and plenty of others have been exposed without any ill effects, it seems like concluding that the plague bacteria is what killed him is very premature. There's no direct evidence that this is the cause of death - there is no cause of death as of yet.

The autopsy showed "showed no obvious cause of death" except for the presence of the weakened strain of the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis in his blood, the U. of C. Medical Center said in a statement."

That is far from conclusive, especially given that there aren't any reports that he developed the symptoms of the infection before dying. Chances are we'll get some more conclusive information as they continue to review the case and the data from the autopsy along with tissue samples and toxicology tests. However, there is the possibility that the cause of death will not be known. There are a number of deaths each year in otherwise healthy people which can't be conclusively proven to be caused by a single cause.

Comment Re:Why regulate? (Score 1) 265

People generally do pay "full price" for electricity. Despite some government subsides, the fact of the matter is that electricity is a fairly cheap form of energy in general due to the fact that the grid is long paid off as are most power plants. Also, coal is the primary fuel in the US. Coal is dirty as dirt but also cheap as dirt. Actually, if anything, we pay higher prices for electricity than the fair market rate due to the amount of taxation and the mandates for things like "renewable energy" which is far more expensive than the standard methods of generating electricity.

If you want to force people to really really conserve then you'll need to make it artificially expensive. That is a really bad idea.

The problem with making energy (especially electricity) expensive is that it is very regressive since low income always pay more proportionally for energy. If you raise the price, the richest will not conserve. Those with a lot of money don't care if their electric bill is $300 a month or $600. For them, it's a fairly low proportion of income, so they'll keep the AC on. On the other hand, those who are much less well off will be hurt if their bill goes from $30 to $60. It's a lose-lose situation.

Also, less than 25% in the US is used by households. The largest single user is industrial and second is commercial. In this economic climate making electricity more expensive would be damn near suicidal. For aluminum smelters, chemical refiners, manufacturers and so on, electricity is a major cost of doing buisiness. Make electricity expensive and any industry left in the US will be gone overnight, it will put them out of buisiness or force them to move overseas. This has already happened. Alcoa had to close some plants in the US because they were losing money on them. They couldn't generate a profit because electricity prices went up. They were forced to move production to plants in other parts of the country and in Russia, Canada and China.

There are others who will be hit very very hard by high electricity prices. Those include municipalities that have a lot of street lighting, water authorities, especially those that have to pump water long distances, sewage treatment plants and electrified public transit. Subway and light rail operators use huge amounts of electricity. They would have to raise their prices and that could force more to use buses or cars (not a good thing for the enviornment)

There is really only one way that has proven effective in controlling emissions from electricity and that is to change the way you generate it. People use a lot of electricity and that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, electricity use should be encouraged in applications where it replaced fossil fuel use. We may soon see a major switch over to electrified transport. You can't have this without cheap and plentiful electricity, and to do it ecologically it needs to be from a clean source.

France accomplished this by building a large number of nuclear power plants. I'm not going to go into the whole debate over nuclear waste and everything, because that's getting way off topic. It can also be provided by a clean and cheap source like hydroelectric.

Comment Ridiculous, Stupid, Idiotic (Score 1) 329

A computer is not a device which you "dispose of" on a constant basis. Okay, sure, they don't exactly last forever, but a half descent computer should give a good two years of service at the very least. I'm typing this on a vintage 2006 computer and somehow I don't feel like it's useless. Cardboard is about the worst material for durability, fire resistance, liquid resistance etc. You spill a little liquid on it, its ruined. After a few months of just getting moved around it will look like hell, not to mention it does already. The CASE of the computer is not the expensive or the difficult to make part. It's just a metal box. You still have the power supply, the motherboard and everything else.

This case would easily disintigrate before the useful life of the computer ends. It would end sooner, though. If the case had some descent mounting hardware, you could upgrade it a lot easier than this.

Of course you can recycle a case made of steel, plastic or aluminum. It might not be quite as easy, assuming you need to reduce it all the way back to the raw materials.

Here's a crazy idea: A case made of reasonably durable materials. A simple ATX/FlexATX/ITX standard case. In other words, an ATCX case which also has screw holes in it so you could put an ITX style motherboard or one of the other reasonably standard variations. That case will be not just recyclable but entirely reusable until all of said standards have been completely abandoned and no longer avaliable for mother boards - which is likely to be some time. Computer getting old? Why buy a new one. Get a new mobo and pop it in the case. Use the same power supply and case and you can even use the same optical drives and other accessories! Too complicated for you? Send it back to the manufacturer and they'll put a new board in it, and even clean off all the fingerprints and grime on it.

Comment One thing the US Still has over many others (Score 0) 754

While there seems to be very little good said about US policies and the general court systems in the US, this is one place where, as an American, I'm glad that my country has things the way they are. In the United States, there has traditionally been a very high burden placed on anyone suing for libel. In the UK it is very easy to mount an effective libel case even if the claims are true. The burden is placed on the defendant. Nearly all libel cases in the US are lost, although they still may be filed just as a means of making someone's life difficult, but the actual suit is rarely viable.

Basically you can only sue for libel if the statement and case meet the following criteria:
1. The statement is factual in nature and believable - Therefore if someone says "you're a jackass" or "he's ugly" or "he's the human form of the devil" then there's no way you can sue for that. Those are either unbelievable or a matter of opinion. They're not falsifiable.
2. It must be untrue - No matter how bad or damaging, if it isn't proven to be false, then it is a no go.
3. It must be harmful to one's reputation, ability to do buisiness or some other value - There must be an at least plausible claim to harm. If they missquote the date of birth of someone, that's not enough for libel, unless you somehow can show that there is significant harm from this being said of you.
4. The person must know it is false - if they reported something that was false in good faith that it was true, they're not libel. This is fairly unique as most areas of law don't recognize ignorance as a defense. Also, it's VERY VERY difficult to prove.
5. They must have said it with malice - they knew it would cause you harm, they knew it was false and they said it knowing that harm would be caused. This is damn near impossible to prove..

At least in this one area, the US does, IMHO, a damn good job. Just wish more lawsuits had such a high burden. It comes from the tradition of freedom of speech and expression being protected. While that seems all but dead these days, at least one vestige is still around.

Comment 3G Versus Satellite (Wifi=no way) (Score 2, Informative) 438

The simplest and easiest way to get service on the road is with a 3G setup. The major phone carriers in the US all offer pretty descent data service. Verizon probably has the single largest, although Cingular is getting close. T-mobile is almost non-existent. Check their coverage maps and compare it to where you want to go. Also, note that you don't need to be in the 3G/high speed area to access the internet. The equipment will work anywhere you can get a cell phone signal. If you are out of the 3G area, it falls back on the standard 2G/Voice system. Expect the speed of this service to be slightly better than an analog phone modem. In other words, if you want to email and surf pages that are mostly text, it's perfectly fine. If you want to do a lot of video, then the 2G service will be very frustrating and take a long long long time to upload or download the content.

The best thing you can do for coverage, if you're planning on going on the fringe is use an external amplifier/booster and put a reasonably high gain antenna mounted high on the RV. With this, you'll pull in a good solid signal where the standard issue equipment won't get anything. You can find them any number of places online. Make sure it works with the high speed/3G service - usually on the 1.9 ghz band. You can get even better distance if you put the antenna on some kind of expendable telescopic pole. An antenna mounted high with a descent amplifier will get you many miles of added coverage.

If you are really really out in the boonies, like in the badlands of Death Valley or the isolated ravines of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, then there is no service that you will be able to rely on other than satellite. There are two basic kinds of satellite internet: Mobile satellite services and DBS type satellite systems. The mobile satellite services include Inmarsat, Irridium and Globalstar. These systems are explicitly designed to operate in motion and to be used in extremely remote locations. Irridium, for example, works on all points on the earth, even Antartica. The equipment is small and portable. There are a couple disadvantages: they are generally slow, and in the case of globalstar and iridium, they are absolutely snails pace - think 2400 baud under good conditions. Inmarsat has a service called BGAN, which is about 128kbps per channel. It is also astronomically expensive.. just stunningly expensive. Think 5-7 dollars a megabyte expensive. It's so expensive that if you can rack up over a thousand dollars in traffic just by casual internet surfing for a couple of weeks.

Then there is the other kind of satellite internet: the DBS/VSAT type. This type is really designed primarily for residential and small buisiness use. It is offered in areas that are lacking DSL, FIOS or Cable. You wouldn't ever want to install this in an area that did, because its generally inferior to those kinds of connections due to latency. The latency is not so bad that you can't surf the web - usually it's acceptable but don't expect to do online gaming with it, because it has ping times of 400+ ms. The equipment for this is small dish and a residential modem/gateway. It's on par with DirecTV or Dish Network in terms of the size of the dish. It costs anywhere from 50-150 dollars a month for the service. Although the dishes are generally intended to be fixed mounted, you can attach them to a tripod or something for portability. If you want to use it while you're in motion, then you can do that too, but expect to pay more than $1500 for an in-motion tracking system.

If you go with satellite, I'd recommended Wildblue, but you can also look at HughesNet and Starband. Expect to pay a few hundred for equipment and maybe 75-100 a month for the service. It will work anywhere in North America that has a clear view of the South.

Wifi? You have got to be kidding me. If you mean to use it within the RV to allow you to move freely with your laptop, then that's one thing, but to actually connect to the internet? You may get a signal if you're in a city. You're unlikely to get any signals at all on the highway. You may get a brief as you speed by a Starbucks or a home with open network access. Expect it to last a maximum of 30 seconds. Seriously, wifi only works for a few hundred yards with most equipment. If it's a high power system with good antennas and a clear line of sight, maybe a mile. You will get absolutely no wifi coverage at all in anywhere even slightly remote. If you're in the highway in Montana or something, wifi will be avaliable just about zero percent of the time.

I would seriously recomend 3G. Add satellite to that if it is absolutely critical that you get online even in the most extreme of isolated locations.

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