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Comment Re:Is it even possible to buy a new 32 bit chip? (Score 1) 378

There are plenty of embedded i386 stuff around there. However, a lot of this will not necessarily need ubuntu to provide binary distribution for them. Removing support from kernel would be a bad idea. However, I assume that was not intention, just that mainstream distros focusing on servers and desktops might drop non-64bit binary distributions.

Embedded stuff has lot longer lifetimes than PCs, and it is not just ARM there. MIPS 32bit architecture is ubitous in WLAN routers, including ones being designed today, and there are new i386 architecture chips being sold today as well. 8 bit stuff is slowly being replaced with those, and as far as I can tell, there are very few 64 bit CPUs or SoCs at 2 USD range. I would not be surprised if there were more Linux-running devices being sold with 32 bit CPU today than there are 64 bit Linux anything.

Comment Re:This is the best possible thing that could happ (Score 1) 220

This is not "content industry misconception". The traditional media industry wants hyperlinks to go because hyperlinks essentially promote competition and evens out the playing field to new content providers and entrepreneurs. If the industry does not want their content to be linked to, they can perfectly well put Disallow in their robots.txt, but that is not the goal. The goal is to stop competing new industries and companies from being created. It is cheaper to use corrupt politicians to destroy or slow competition than develop something new or compete with efficiency. It is not happening just in media area, media is just most visible.

This is why large media managed lobby to outlaw links in Spain, driving sites like google news out. Not to protect their content, but to screw the smaller media companies and outside competition. If the larger content companies would have put in their robots configuration file "deny indexing", the public would have soon found the smaller news sites and other content through search engines and aggregators, and ad business would have followed the public. So Spain ruled it all illegal and does not allow opt-out. This essentially prevents new media companies from being created as they cannot get indexed either, as they are not even allowed to say google that "We are happy if you index our site". It would be interesting to see how this played out, what are Spanish people using as their news sources, can they use outside aggregators which link to global Spanish-speaking sites?

Comment Re:FreeNAS (Score 1) 212

Single bit flip can definitely cause *any* kind of corruption, it just depends what bit it was. Obviously to cause major damage you need to be somewhat unlucky. I usually have ECC ram on all computers, but on lesser stuff I have had some non-ECC computers. On those, I have seen all modified cache blocks to be written on disk as zeroes, continous random blocks written to wrong places on disk, and number of other incidents during last 20 years of having memory-error linked filesystem corruption on non-ECC computers. Not using ECC has cost me a lot more money in debugging and rescuing messed up servers and workstations than the savings on cheaper non-ECC memory, so I always find hardware with ECC. It does not really cost that much extra. For budget, HP microservers have ECC and 4 disk slots, and they are something like 200€ per unit. Supermicro has neat Atom server motherboards with ECC. Workstation motherboards are a bit more difficult as most consumer stuff, in particular Intel stuff does not have ECC or BIOS ECC stuff has been left out. AMD may have better price/performance ratio in some cases, when ECC is requirement.

Single bit flip can corrupt ZFS, just like any other filesystem. It does not help to have checksumming for blocks, as the corruption can be in metadata, memory pointers, memory data structures, and happen, say, in driver which writes blocks to wrong place, ignores checksums or generates wrong checksums, bit flipped before calculating checksum. The system can write too much or too little data, leading part of data not written at all, or valid data written over with whatever was in the memory. The list of possibilities what can happen on single bit flip is endless. Written data may be correct but it just got written over to some metadata in some wrong place. Raid features will not help here either, as the same corruption may go to all devices. After this, you have corrupt metadata, and likely, if this is not detected, you will continue to get more corruption as long as the system runs and does not stumble on the corruption, which may happen far too late to be able to rescue anything. ZFS or any other filesystem does not and really cannot protect against that. It is designed to detect disks returning wrong data to you, not memory errors.

Not using ECC is way more expensive than using ECC, if you put any value to your working hours, and properly value risks of your own or customer's data being corrupt. ZFS does NOT protect you from most memory errors. It does reasonable job protecting you from disk and disk-memory transfer errors. And it does not have fsck, so if it gets confused, sorry, restore backups. Restoring a large ZFS filesystem takes time, by the way.

Comment Re:Good god. (Score 1) 253

My experience on Lexus GS300, 1994 model:

I took the car from service center after regular service. It was still wet from wash. This was wintertime and I think the weather was freezing.

After driving some hundred meters, I noticed that the car anti-skid light started blinking and the car started accelerating.

After fraction of second thinking that I was pressing brakes and accelerator at the same time or something, I put the car on neutral, after which the engine immediately revved up to limited and revs then started going back and forth close to the limiter.

Put the car in Park, turned it off, checked the floor mats, as this was after the big headlines, nothing stuck there.

Turned on again, immediately it revved up.

Stopped the car, and called service. They come in a minute as I was close, we looked under the hood, and service center guy fiddled with things under there. We started it again, now it worked normally.

They took the car back to service center and investigated. No results, no obvious reason.

This did not repeat. It could have something to do with freezing weather and wet car, or the car's age (more than 300 000km in it) but it was a bit scary...

I have since left internal combustion engines behind me, with no regrets. ICEs have too many parts causing too many failure modes :)

Comment Re:They WILL FIght Back (Score 1) 516

They are more geographically confined, and not constantly under construction. Also usually far from areas where people live and work.

The one pictured in link below is geographically confined to approximately 100 square kilometers, will operate over period of tens of years, over which it will spew carcinogens, radioactive isotopes and all kinds of shit to atmosphere, spread by winds all over the country. To build that, number of villages where people lived were destroyed and people relocated. There are several of these in Germany.

The plant generates 2GW, which, by ironic co-incidence, is about the same amount of average power a similar sized solar plant would generate. In fact, slightly less.

To allow continuous feed of electricity, Li-Ion cells to store day's production of 1kW of solar panels, worth approximately 1k installed, would cost about the same as panels, plus some cheap electronics. Prices are current large volume prices, which would apply here. Both prices are still dropping. However, 4 million electric cars would be able to suck in all of peak solar production of such plant as well, so it is not necessary to have the batteries at the plant and buy them just for energy storage. We would need to have smart charging infrastructure or charge the cars at workplaces instead of homes. That 100 square kilometers of panels can be located on top of buildings and deserts instead of nuking vast areas of forests and arable land.

As an added bonus, those EVs would reduce need to refine oil to approximately the same amount as energy consumed by those electric cars. While only part of this reduction is electricity, saving that wasted oil currently being lost in refining process would still be reduced emissions, while being lesser effect compared to getting rid of the coal plant.

Comment Re:Thermal Management (Score 1) 398

Heat generated is proportional to speed of driving or charging, not size of battery. For driving, the heat generation is likely same or less, and likely stays in manageable numbers. I do not see more than maybe 5 degree Celsius increase after driving the battery empty. For quick charging, for twice the charged amount you need maximum twice the amount of air flow to transfer the heat out of the battery system. Note that Leaf manages charging speed based on battery temperature already. This can mean it charges slower when the battery is too cold or warm. For overnight charging, no issue, heat generation is less than when driving.

Liquid cooling may offer a bit longer battery lifetime, or you might be able to get away with cheaper chemistry, but increased cost, servicing and extra weight easily negate your benefits. This might be sensible in very dense battery of a top-of-the line car such as Tesla, but if you need to keep budget in level for mass consumer market, liquid cooling does not pay off. It is likely that chemistry developments reduce need for it further, as new chemistry can be less picky on temperature. Loosing liquid cooling system will also loose you weight, so you get positive feedback on that as well, less battery capacity needed to move a lighter car.

Comment 84 to 150 miles is 3.2 times more places to go (Score 1) 398

Getting a 150 mile battery will increase the area you can go to by 3.2 times. This is a big increase and will make a difference for lots of people. Lots of cities become within range from anywhere in the city, leaving just really large metropolitan areas still needing more.

It is also much more likely that there will be a conveniently placed quick charger somewhere you need for a longer trip.

Another benefit for 150 mile leaf is that longer trips become much more comfortable for some quick charging related reasons: On 2013 Leaf, to travel 250 miles, you at least three charging stops, if you charge on quick charger up to 80%, ie. 3*30 minutes. People rather take gas car. For 150 mile battery you need one stop, and it will be maximum 1 hour. This is because quick chargers are quick only at empty batteries, and slow down quite quickly as the battery fills up (on Leaf). Larger battery will pull peak 44-50kW much longer, so you likely get juice for the remainder of the trip faster. Also, 1 hour stop is more useful for things like attraction visit, shopping or eating a good meal.

Trips longer than 250 miles, which still would be sensible with 150 mile ev, fall into narrow crack between "taking a car" and "it is faster and cheaper to fly", and thus it is less likely to make substantial financial difference for most people. Trips as long as 250 miles are much more likely to include an overnight stop, so slower overnight charging, much more widely available, becomes an option.

I have been driving Leaf for 5 months now, and my backup gas car still continues to have count of trips made of zero. I still expect to need a gas car during summer time, but it is becoming more and more obvious that keeping a gas car sitting unused for 9 months per year is not the solution. Car sharing, rental, etc is obviously becoming a lot cheaper for those occasional longer trips. For me personally, there are two cases where 150 mile battery would make sense for me. Travels to neighboring towns, and getting to summer cottage a bit further away. Both are 15 - 20 times per year, totaling, say, 30 trips. Money-wise, it would save me about 50-100 in gas per trip (I'm Europe), plus rental or amortized cost of owned gas car, 50-100, totaling savings of 4k+ per year. So, savings from from 150 mile battery can be substantial, and it would be no-brainer to pay added price of 5k for the larger battery, with 1 year payback time. For larger price hike, it would likely need a bit more consideration.

Whether normal consumers are as analytical as I tend to be is another matter. Today they are more likely to buy the cheaper gas car based on sticker price and start loosing money after couple of years.

Statisticians warning: The above ignores environmental, comfort, noise and trade balance issues, and considers money only.

Comment Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 1) 397

This issue might be wider than just breweries and their by-products. There is another issue in regulation, which concerns small, local food (including beer) production, vs. big corporate food industry. I am looking this from European perspective, but the problem seems to be global and similarly motivated everywhere. Over-regulation can be really bad, and it is often lobbied for by larger industry, as it does not hurt them, but rather creates competitive advantage against new market entrants or mom-and-pop farmers and local foods. Few examples from Europe:

- In Europe, most smaller farmers have stopped butchering meat and selling it directly due to regulations which require very strict environment for meat processing. While this sounds great in health reasons, it killed pretty much all direct sales of meat from smaller farms. They can only butcher for their own consumption, or sell it under counter. in Europe, the commercial chain pays them less than 1/10th of the money they get if they butcher themselves and sell the meat directly to customers. The regulation here has little to do with health, it is all for corporate profits and keeping small farmers in line.

- In Europe most smaller farmers stopped keeping chicken, effectively removing non-industrial small farmer eggs and poultry meat off the market. This was due to ridiculous requirements for keeping chicken. No more picking breakfast eggs from neighboring farm in the morning.

- In France, they fought heavily for their cheese, as EU wanted to force all cheeses to be pasteurized. This would have been bad news for cheese lovers. I think the French farmers won on this, and we can still eat lovely cheeses from strange places, but likely the war against fresh food is still going on, with more and more regulation making small farmers' life and direct sales increasingly difficult.

- More local example, in Finland, local FDA-equivalent decided that it would be a good idea that local delicacy called Kalakukko, which is basically small fish baked in rye bread, to not be sold oven-fresh any more. Their logic was that if it gets cooled to fridge temperature first it somehow becomes safer to eat. When asked why, the spokesman said they know 3 cases of health issues related to eating the stuff. A quick calculation revealed that you have approximately equal chance to die in a airplane crash as you might get messed up stomach from this delicacy. Additionally, Kalakukko is baked in oven for really long time for purpose of softening the fish bits, so it actually is very well preserved food, used old times by travelers as it would not spoil quickly. Kalakukko eaters won this battle, but likely only due to complete ridiculousness of DFA claims.

I can see some point in being able to track down who made what bits of food in industrial food processing, as corporations tend to have complete lack of ethics in what comes to feeding us chemicals and falsifying contents of food they sell, but the result should not be killing sensible uses of materials, nor they should damage small, local food production. I do not know if this is the case with large corporations in this case, but by making it very strictly regulated you might actually kill your local micro-brewery instead of greedy corporation with "brewery" resembling a huge chemical factory producing tasteless alcoholic beer-like substance.

To me, traveling through places like French countryside by car, and only eating stuff picked from local markets has been huge enjoyment. I know that I am taking life-threatening risk of major food poisoning, but I have always wanted to die of eating good fresh food, drinking good local wine, and smoking cigars. Over-regulation has, politically unintended but likely industrially intended, consequences of effectively shutting down providers of these enjoyments. I am all ok with big industry labeling their stuff "All the raw materials of this food can be traced to production", as long as we can also have label "directly sourced traditional food", which is excepted from having to fill 25 forms for each food item, and paying for repeated checks and other bureaucracy.

Comment Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 1) 397

If you have enough gases to generate explosions because of microbes making you methane, hydrogen or other burning gases, your problem is that you are not harnessing a basically free or byproduct energy source properly. Buy a micro turbine or other generator and get yourself some free electricity. Or process the resulting stuff into other fuels such as bio-fuels. People do this already, at least in Europe. If the amounts are not large enough for electricity generation, pipe it to your water heater for additional energy.

Comment Re:Nuclear energy neglected by ignorance. (Score 1) 135

Simplified cost analysis:

Nuclear plant: Areva 1600 MW unit being built in Finland (and similar one in France, I think): Current cost estimate 8.5B euro (more than 11B USD). Raw cost per W (ignore service breaks for simplicity) becomes 5.3e/W. It does not take up that much space but due to people being allergic to nuclear power plant in their backyard, it needs to be located somewhere remote where there is cooling water available. Efficiency could be increased if the cooling water could be used for, say, heating application or industrial process. As the plants are typically some 35% efficient, there is large amount of excess heat generated which currently is not used.

Solar plant using ordinary panels: We need 24/3.5 times larger nominal power to get same production capacity, assuming 3.5 factor (quite common value in Europe), so we need about 11000 MW of solar panels. These cost, assuming they can be installed efficiently, about 1 euro per W (panels 0.6 + cabling and other installation stuff). In addition, we need a battery plant to even out production, lets assume that we need to store full capacity for 2 hours, or, that slightly less than half of energy produced can be used when generated and rest has to be stored. At battery storage cost of 300 euro per kWh (current cost, roughly based on Chinese Li-Ion large cells) is about 6.6B, so total comes up to 11000 + 6600 or 17600B. It is about double the cost to nuclear. However, cost of panels can go lower, in particular when you go and buy 11B worth of panels and installation stuff as one deal. Li-Ion battery technology cost is dropping and likely drop to less than half within next few years, in particular with volumes involved. If there is hydro or pump power plant possible, it will be vastly cheaper. The plant will take of about 7 * 8 km space for the panels, but any junk land will do, drier desert being the best. Wind is roughly comparable to solar, can be slightly better in terms of power factor if the site is on open sea. Unfortunately wind tends to prefer locations where people are located and complain about eyesore. Usually wind and solar work well together, sunny conditions tend to be somewhat opposite to windy conditions.

If we would make optimistic assumptions and expect panel and installation cost to go to 0.5 euro per W, and can use hydro or pump power for storage, we are looking at total cost of maybe 6B, which would already be below comparable nuclear plant cost. Likewise, if more of the power can be stored or used at peak times, for example, by smart charging of electric cars and running air conditioners to store the energy as heat or cold, we are much better off. For example, 1 M Nissan Leafs or 250 000 Tesla Model S's would do nicely. However, this will require beefier grid to transfer the power during peak production times as it effectively moves storage to consumption location.

The comparison is unfair if the nuke plant is intended for consumer power rather than industrial use, as building that expensive plant needs to be run at full tilt all the time to pay back the investment. If that is not the case, you will needs storage for nuke plant as well, for the opposite reason to solar. This would also make the costs closer to each other, as storage can be quite expensive, if no hydro is available.

Above comparison ignores cost of running the plant. For Nuclear, cost of uranium (etc) is relatively low. Likely larger costs would be insurance if nuclear plants would need to pay that, long term storage of waste, personnel. Currently nuclear plants do not have real insurance, and any disaster of any notable size comes from taxpayer's pocket, at least in European market. For solar, the panels need to be cleaned, and may need upgrading if we would be talking about similar operational life, say, 80 years. Upgrading might increase production, as we might have, within currently given warranties by panel producers (30 years), more efficient panel technology. If Li-Ion is used for storage, it will need replacing with current technology for maybe every 10-30 years. However, batteries can be recycled and within 10-30 years there is likely major technology and cost progress. It might also be possible to locate the plant so that we would get better than 3.5 power factor, again improving the competitiveness of solar production. I cannot estimate how much upgrade work a nuclear plant needs, likely replacement of turbines sometimes, worn out generators, etc.

The above nuclear plant projects have been commercial disasters for Areva, being 2.5 times over original budget already. It might be possible to build cheaper plants. For example, Russians have more cost effective plants, with some added perceived risk.

One factor I would think is important is that solar power can often be generated in the location of consumption. This avoids costs of grid expansion, and if battery systems are installed at the same time, it will increase energy reliability, as house could switch to battery power at any grid problem.

Comment Re:Bad news for ecologists--new license needed (Score 1) 136

The whole point of science is creating new information, and digging further into raw data, correlating with other data, and finding relationships and further information is very important. Monopolizing the data for one party will reduce amount of research which would benefit from that particular set of data, as there will not be anyone beyond other original creators of the data set being allowed to work on it. Keeping one to yourself might be short-sighted benefit of getting another grant, but it definitely is against public interest. If the grant system benefits people who keep their data secret, the system is completely broken.

Comment Re:What the (Score 1) 207

It is not about testing for gas in the well, the issue here is the fracking fluid, which, courtesy to excluding the fracking companies from environmental protection, contains number of poisonous or carcinogenic substances. There is no way to get that stuff out from the ground once it is there, and it will slowly move around and spread with groundwater movement. If they just used water and sand, the issue would be just CO2 emissions which can at least be mitigated by plant life, but as it is now, the long term effects are destructive, and profit-makers will leave the mess to others to clean up. This would be equivalent of allowing nuclear industry to dump the the used fuel to rivers and sea and leave any possible accident costs to taxpayers. Oh, wait...

Comment Re:Not Really (Score 1) 410

Solyndra failed on bogus technology, not on China pre-fixing the market. Solyndra was effectively claiming that lower efficiency thin film panels would somehow magically work great when formed in tubes. Calculate the physics, and it is obvious that there is no energy gain, only additional cost. The investment decision was broken, as any competent analyst should have done the simple math to figure this out. Solyndra's own published numbers, cost per W figures, for example, which were non-competitive to start with. Their cost was way above marginal cost of normal panels with higher efficiency, so electricity could not have been produced profitably with their panels, according to their own projections.

This "China subsidy" card is one I have hard time understanding. If we get the benefit, why it is a problem? Europeans first sold Chinese and other countries solar panel plants (100+ plants claimed by one European company alone), which were efficient and could produce good quality panels for low cost. Then we buy the panels they make in those factories for zero (or claimed negative) profit, essentially Chinese subsidizing our economy again. In addition, this will be net energy gain for us. Panels produce more energy than making them consumes, so we get energy from Panels the Chinese effectively paid for us, avoiding some need of import energy or generate energy from fossil fuels. This is perfect colonialism, sell them tools and reap benefits of those tools, pulling money in three ways. We should do more of this.

Chinese may copy and import technologies we sell to them, but by the time they are capable to high quality and competitive technology, they will no more be cheap labor, and the cost levels will not be that different any more. China will be on par, and highly competitive, and they will be part of innovation, but that is unavoidable. No amount of protectionism will avoid it, rather it will protect us from improving efficiency and competitiveness. Japan is a good example of this, they took a their position in the world market, but are now economically in similar position as most western countries, with no more competitive advantage than efficiency or innovation allows. People cost and standard of living has mostly equalized already. The worst thing West can make to our own standard of living is to be inefficient and stop innovating and taking risks.

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