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Comment 300,000 Machines? (Score 4, Insightful) 201

There have been about 30,000 days since he started working in 1930. If the 300,000 number is accurate, he would have had to fix an average of 10 typewriters, every day, for the past 80 years. That's without any weekends or holidays.

I guess I have no direct experience repairing typewriters. However, I would have certainly guessed that it takes longer than ~1 hour to "fix" a typewriter. In addition to that, I would think it's hard to find a stream of that many typewriters to repair. (I.e., a rather successful business.) If these numbers are true, the guy was pretty impressive.

Comment Re:What's it like in Japan? Will this cause change (Score 2) 322

Other than poorly designed clocks, what other devices actually care about the power line frequency?

Actually, mains power should normally be a very good frequency source for a clock. Utilities periodically adjust the frequency such that the long term clock drift is near zero. From wikipedia:

Network operators will regulate the daily average frequency so that clocks stay within a few seconds of correct time. In practice the nominal frequency is raised or lowered by a specific percentage to maintain synchronization. Over the course of a day, the average frequency is maintained at the nominal value within a few hundred parts per million.

Comment Re:Well I understand reducing it (Score 1) 222

So yes, 1w is a lot of power.

The parent's point was not to say that 1W is useless. (Indeed, as you point out, 1W can be put to great use.)

Instead, he made a very logical argument that if society's goal is to reduce wasted energy (a noble goal), then it is misguided to try to expend tremendous engineering effort trying to reduce a device from 1W down to 0W. If, instead, we improved the efficiency of a 75,000W SUV by a mere 0.1%, we will have saved two orders of magnitude more energy.

Attack the biggest problems first, not the smallest ones.


US To Shoot Down Dying Satellite 429

A user writes "US officials say that the Pentagon is planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite expected to hit the Earth in early March. We discussed the device's decaying orbit late last month. The Associated Press has learned that the option preferred by the Bush administration will be to fire a missile from a U.S. Navy cruiser, and shoot down the satellite before it enters Earth's atmosphere. 'A key concern ... was the debris created by Chinese satellite's destruction -- and that will also be a focus now, as the U.S. determines exactly when and under what circumstances to shoot down its errant satellite. The military will have to choose a time and a location that will avoid to the greatest degree any damage to other satellites in the sky. Also, there is the possibility that large pieces could remain, and either stay in orbit where they can collide with other satellites or possibly fall to Earth.'"

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Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.