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Comment What internet should be (Score 5, Informative) 59

Took a look at their home page https://webpass.net/residentia... Compared to Verizon or Comcast, it's heaven on earth. A flat $550 a year, no asterisks, no teaser rates, no setup charges, no equipment rentals, no bundled content nobody wants, and free installation. I can't even tell what I'd have to pay Verizon to get the same service but I know it's at least twice that.

Comment Now that the shoe's on the other foot (Score 1) 357

Surely GOP politicians, of all people, will recognize that unlike IRS, Facebook is a PRIVATE CORPORATION which can rate trending topics by whatever criteria it chooses, including Political Correctness. If wingnuts don’t “like” it, they can use some other network, or better yet start their own.

Comment Question about Bitcoin (Score 1) 39

We've all read the stories of hackers locking up the data of hospitals and demanding ransom payments in Bitcoin, because it's untraceable. If flagrant criminals can clear payments in Bitcoin, why can't US-designated "rogue" regimes use Bitcoin to get around being shut out of international banking? For example, why couldn't Argentina pay their bondholders in Bitcoin, when international bankers refused to process their payments?

Comment hypocritical cowards (Score 1) 347

Most states already require consumers to report purchases on which the vendor doesn't collect sales tax, and to pay the tax directly, but generally the laws are not enforced, because governors as well as legislators are too cowardly to do so. They want the money but they want vendors to do the dirty work of enforcement for them.

Comment Re:Isn't this a huge mini split? (Score 1) 155

Right, and not a word on why CO2 is any better than conventional refrigerants like R-410A (Puron) that work in the same temperature range and only require a few hundred psi. I would think the only difference would be that you'd need much heavier compressors and other equipment needed to handle 2000 psi. Is it just for the symbolic value of using CO2, and a trivial amount of it, at that??

Comment Typing's better (Score 1) 192

I find typing notes on a laptop much more effective than writing. Because I can type much faster than I write, I find myself putting the ideas in my own words, hence I remember them better, even if I never look at the notes later. I've never tried a tablet, but using pen and paper, I have to keep looking down at the notes, which is very distracting. With a laptop, I can keep my eyes on the speaker and his presentation. Later, often on the plane ride home, I edit out the many, many typos, which I find is an absorbing way to review the material.

Comment RHAT IPO (Score 1) 116

I remember well the Red Hat IPO. It was supposedly open to the public on E*trade and I was at work waiting to buy in, but turns out it was only available for an instant, not sure how long exactly, but anyway I and many others missed the boat and were pretty angry, especially when it rocketed from IPO price of $14 to $300. Some even complained to the SEC. It split 2:1 but then fell below $5 so I bought a bunch then, it's certainly done better than most of the tech bubble stocks.

Comment Not really much new here (Score 1) 191

This debate has been going on for years. Those who decry the cost of publication and try to evade it have all discovered the same thing: even with volunteer reviewers, vetting, formatting, and maintaining papers securely online is expensive. Most of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) journals, for example, now charge authors $2250-2900 per article. Oxford University Press generally charges even more, and still claims to be losing money. Often, authors are hit with additional "excess" page charges beyond that fee, because their paper has expanded due to additional data demanded by reviewers. If a typical 5-year $200,000/year grant results in 12 papers, that means 3-4% of the funds are devoted just to publishing the papers. As a scientist myself, I was initially excited about the open-access idea, but I'm no longer convinced that it's any better or less expensive than the old system of private publishers. It just means the costs have been shifted from subscribers (mostly university libraries) to scientists and their laboratories, who in general can ill-afford it. "Taxpayers" already have access to all articles through PubMed within a year after publication, and they have access to the abstract (summary) immediately, which is usually as much information as they can use. Still, you wonder who is going to pay $30 just to look at one article and whether the journals wouldn't make more money if they charged $2, or something low enough so that buying it might actually be worthwhile.

Comment Utilities are the gamblers. Ultimately solar wins. (Score 1) 298

The utilities may have won a short-term victory, but starting a war against solar is a mistake, because ultimately the utilities need solar customers more than solar customers need them. Batteries, cogeneration engines, natural-gas fuel cells - all are rapidly developing. Within 10 years in sunny states it will be quite possible and even affordable to go off-grid entirely, especially when compared to punitively high fixed fees. Then the utilities will be left with the same expensive grid to maintain on an even smaller revenue base, because solar former customers won't be paying anything at all, not even the fixed fee. Any arguments about "fairness" have to take into account the considerable environmental costs of fossil-fuel consumption, which probably already exceed the actual cost of the fuel itself. In the meantime, at least the early adopters (who in general paid much more for their systems) ought to be grandfathered. The whole point of the net metering program was to expand the market and bring down the price of solar installations. In that sense the program was a spectacular success, and the early adopters who made it possible deserve to be rewarded.

Comment a nice concept (Score 1) 247

However, there are many things I would much rather be eliminated from my news: 1. All news of Apple's latest gadget release or feature and of the antics of Apple fanboys desperate to get it a day or two early. 2. All headshots of and analysis of the background and motivations of the latest suicide bombers. 3. All mention of Paul Ryan and his latest scheme to gut Social Security and Medicare.

Comment A well-deserved demise (Score 1) 247

People who subscribe to other services still need a connection, and cable co's were well-positioned provide it, but stupidly, they continue to act as if they were monopolies, refusing to offer what consumers want and need: reasonable, comprehensible rate structures without hidden charges, and some semblance of customer service. In technical terms, it's a little bit crazy for people to be using wireless broadband for data-heavy internet like video, when all this hard-wired infrastructure already exists. But that's what's happening, only because Verizon and Comcast have missed their chance and botched their business model so badly. Unlike the wireless co's, they now have to maintain their hardwired networks on an ever-diminishing base of subscribers, putting them in a classic death spiral.

Comment A broken system (Score 1) 305

There was a time, before the internet, when such advertising was a necessary counterpoint to HMOs influence on doctors to always choose the cheapest solution, but now that the information is out there for all to see, these ads really do nothing to inform, their only effect is to artificially inflate demand for expensive patent drugs. But at the same time, it was the HMOs who first promoted this idea that, once you pay the flat rate for insurance, all your medical needs, including drugs, is taken care of. That sense of entitlement is baked into all subsequent health plans, including the Medicare drug benefit and ACA. A more reasonable alternative comes from an unexpected source: George W. Bush, who early in the the Medicare drug debate proposed that only truly needy patients or those with extraordinarily high drug expenses would get any help from the government. My feeling is that such a system would have worked better to control costs. Patients would decide for themselves whether a drug with a little less of a minor side effect is really worth 10 times as much as an older generic. Seniors, of which I am one, would get used to the idea that pills, and lots of them, are just a normal cost of growing old. Of course, all of this is a trade-off. Anything you do to reduce the possibility of "obscene" drug company profits, including banning advertising, is going to reduce the incentive to develop new breakthrough drugs.

Comment Not as easy as it seems (Score 1) 131

Academics have been complaining for decades about profiteering publishers and the high cost of publications, but when they've tried to bypass the system, they haven't done much better. When the open-access movement started, estimates were that $1000 or less could easily pay for reviewing, formatting and archiving each article. After all, most of the reviewing is volunteer labor, the cost of data storage is practically zero, and since access is free, you don't have to maintain a paywall. But turns out you still need a full-time well-paid executive editor to oversee the reviews, you have to pay the associate editors something, you still have to pay copy-editors to get everything in a common format, and you still need to pay IT people to keep the site secure from hacking. It's a robust market, with many open-access journals competing, and more starting up all the time, but ~$3000 seems to be the going rate, the cheapest anyone can handle an average article - and even at that, the nonprofits still claim to be losing money on every article they publish. So I wish these folks well with their conference, and more power to them in trying to come up with a cheaper model. But I wouldn't count on it.

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