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Comment Somebody help, what I don't get about batteries (Score 1) 465

With batteries, there is the time it takes to recharge. If you could somehow deliver the amps faster, what does that do to the power grid?

Way back in the 70s when I was studying Computer Science. I had a class focused on emulations, and we students had to come up with some sort of thing/system to emulate which the instructor approve and then we'd go and do it. I chose to emulate various forms of electric auto, including hybrids etc. My main source was a book called Alternatives to the Internal Combustion Engine by Robert U. Ayres and Richard P. McKenna.

My conclusion, as I recall, was aluminum oxide batteries which, when exhausted, would be left at the equivalent of a filling station, where you would install fresh batteries the way nowadays you fill up with gasoline. The exhausted batteries would be collected and recharged at special facilities then returned to the 'filling stations'. Thinking about it now, my utopian fantasy is taking the exhausted batteries to a solar recharging plant out in the desert.

There are problems with aluminum oxide batteries, but it always seemed to me they should be solvable problems.

Now, other people, including Elon Musk no doubt, must have considered the model of quickly exchanging exhausted batteries for fresh ones (even if not the aluminum oxide part), and rejected it. Why? (My thought is that maybe they are in a hurry and think building up the infrastructure would take too long. One could start with some particular locale. Maybe I-6 between California's Bay Area and LA. Renting cars to drive along there perhaps with the 'filling stations' at each end?)

Comment Keynes failed prediction, the 15 hr work week (Score 1) 370

John Maynard Keynes was a famous economist from the 1st half of the 20th Century. I vaguely remembered reading a remark he made about a shorter work week, a little googling and I came up with this from

Back in 1930, Keynes predicted that the working week would be drastically cut, to perhaps 15 hours a week, with people choosing to have far more leisure as their material needs were satisfied

So, as productivity increases, why haven't we just started having a shorter work week? It seems to me that Parkinson's law trumps Keynes's vision. (Named after C. Northcote Parkinson) that work expands to fill the time allotted. I find it very depressing myself. On the one hand, you have unemployed people, on the other hand, you have people employed in a lot of 'busy work'.

Comment Rise and Fall of Nations:Forces of Change.. Sharma (Score 1) 338

Full Title:
Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in The Post-Crisis World
by Ruchir Sharma,

Sharma is an investment analyst and brings a very pragmatic perspective to the economic situation in the world. He backs up his opinions with a lot history and statistics, but it is not a dry or hard to read book. Apparently he has met everybody. For example, he cites an incident when he gave a talk in Russia, with Putin present. He praised how Putin had done things to revive the economy, but suggested that he was now steering a wrong course. He saw Putin taking notes and thought Putin was writing down his advice. Uh Uh, he became very much persona non grata in Russia after that.

I think I should also mention my runner up, Hillbilly Elegy a sort of memoir of growing up by J. D. Vance. He grew up mostly in Ohio, but with a Hillbilly ancestry and cultural milieu. Eventually he graduated from Harvard Law School even though he was a fish out of water there. But I would say his main purpose was to provide insight into the poor, and poorly educated, lower class white segment of America, from an insider's point of view.

Comment Does this show what a billion accounts is worth? (Score 1) 71

A billion accounts, how many are really valid? How much sifting does somebody have to do? And, when they get something, what can they do with it?
OK, you hack somebody's account, get answers to questions like date of birth, (Mother's maiden name?), so then you 'steal their identity' and do what? I know there are times when it can be a nightmare for somebody, but the real horror stories seem to be when somebody was specifically targeted, like for revenge. Are all those zombie bots out there compromised from this kind of stuff? I don't know.
These are not rhetorical questions. I'd really like to know how bad it is. I see ads that try to be scary about it all, but there have been so many stories about accounts being compromised, and then life goes on that I have to wonder.

Comment Re:Cue the hipocrisy...It's ALWAYS like that (Score 4, Interesting) 412

Since the beginning there has been a struggle with those in power trying to suppress inconvient truth. (Maybe with the exception of Thomas Jefferson's presidency.) The grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin Bache was a newsman who criticized George Washington and John Adams and the government passed the 'Alien and Sedition Acts' of 1798 and had him arrested. From the wikipedia article on Bache:

The law [Alien and Sedition Acts] may have been written to suppress opponents such as Bache. The persistent theme of Republican journalism of the 1790s was that the federal government had fallen into the hands of an aristocratic party aligned with Britain, and that the Federalists (particularly Washington and Alexander Hamilton) were hostile to the interests of the general public while promoting corporate interests

Another quote from abolitionist Wendell Phillips in 1852:

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few.

Comment Why not postgres? (Score 1) 153

OK, I'm not a DBA (IANADBA? Hmm, I like the sound of that, 'yanadba', which syllable to put the accent on though.)

But, really, why do corporations not use postgres? Is it some inherit deficiency in the product? A general antipathy to Open Source? Lack of publicity and marketing on the part of Postgres? Nobody from the company to hold the customer's hand when they first get it? (In that case, maybe there needs to be a Red Hat Postgres) Or something else?

Comment Re:The Greene Machine, 8/N/1, Eskimo North, RIME,. (Score 1) 181

The old BBSs were too frustrating for me, and too limited. Usenet of the 80s may not have been all that civil, but its sheer breadth was kind of exhilarating. People from other countries, new boards popping up. Even the flames were sometimes witty or at least over the top! That's what I feel nostalgic for. I confess I've never used Facebook, or Twitter, or them other things, so I can't say whether they're better or not. I do think Slashdot's moderation system is a somewhat useful noise filter, but Slashdot has changed since the days when my 5 digit ID was a 'high' number, and not for the better. Nevertheless, I'm still here.

Comment Newtonian is wrong though, so if he derived... (Score 1) 164

Isn't Newtonian gravity wrong though? It failed to predict the precession of the orbit of Mercury. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it just basically the inverse square law, which applies to radiant phenomena (like the intensity of light radiating from a point source.)

So, if this guy 'derived Newtonian Gravity' from his theory, then his theory is wrong too, isn't it?

What am I missing here?

Comment Human nature means this question keeps on coming (Score 1) 401

Yes, we moan and groan and point out flaws in the methodologies, cite counter-examples etc. It applies to both the topic of this thread, "Which language is most popular?" and also the similar question, "Which language is best?" But the investigations will not go away because people really, really, really want to know. Programmers starting out want to know so they can find good jobs. Corporations want to know what language to use to build up their own particular software edifice. And finally, computer scientists want to know because they're scientists (Yes, they really are, some of them anyway.) And it piques their scientific curiosity and finding a way to determine the answers is a challenge, and they want to be able to design better languages.

Comment I learned it when I had to, and still sometimes... (Score 2) 131

There was a time when the command line was the best thing you had. It meant you couldn't just sit down and start doing stuff. You had to learn commands. This applied to applications like text editors also. I'm not here to evangelize for command line stuff, but now, when I have the choice of the command line, or something graphical, I very often choose the command line because it's quicker and easier now that I've paid my dues on the learning curve.

When I entered the Unix world, the most popular editor was vi. (I had a little experience with ed, and I'd come from other operating systems with editors whose names I don't even remember. My brother even wrote his own homebrew text editor for a homebrew computer in one weekend, but it was all command line oriented.)

When I tried emacs at work on some kind of Vax computer, it noticeably slowed the computer down, so I stayed with vi, like everybody else. Eventually though, I got an Atari ST as my home computer, and after trying various things out, to my amazement, the best text editor for the Atari was a 'micro-emacs' that had just the most useful emacs commands and nothing else. Those commands got ingrained enough that my fingers would type them out automatically without my even having to think about them. So, when computers got fast enough that emacs was responsive, I'd sometimes use it when I wanted to do something that I thought was easier with it than with vi. I was a computer programmer and none of the other programmers ever bothered to learn emacs. It was only because of that Atari experience that I had even bothered, and I was grateful for that.

I looked at the emacs manuals and tried out various features. There were some things I liked that micro-emacs didn't have or anything else, like delete-rectangle, so I incorporated that into my repertoire, since I used it often enough for it to become 'automatic' and stay 'automatic', but I didn't see the point of learning things that would be so rare for me that I'd have to keep going back to consult the manual.

So, when I see that there are even more features, I scratch my head. For those that want to learn all that, more power to them. Maybe they're on to something. Maybe one gets to the point where they're just in emacs and do everything with fingers hovering over the keyboard and it's really fast and automatic and one never has to reach for the mouse and that's really cool. But personally, I don't think I'll be having a go at it anytime soon.

Comment Interaction with earth's magnetic field??? (Score 1) 248

IANAP (where the 'P' is Physicist in this case), but if the device somehow interacted with the earth's magnetic field, then it could be transferring momentum between earth and itself. If so, in space there might not be enough ambient magnetic field for it to work though.

Just the fact that it's using energy means that it's going to lose mass (a very small amount though, probably not measurable.)

Just radiating photons out in one direction should also produce some thrust.

I presume all the scientists saying this won't work have thought about these possibilities and ruled them out. I just haven't read anything explicit about them ruling those things out.

I suppose that there is a minute but non-zero possibility that it's accidentally stumbled onto some new physics, like maybe it's tapping in to dark matter and pushing that around.

Comment Re:Captain Kirk says...More like Vampire Chronicle (Score 1) 314

I do think immortality could get boring.

But there's something else, something more immediate. A line I remember from the Vampire Chronciles was one rather old vampire saying "The world changes, we do not. That is the irony." I'm old enough now that, when feeling particularly sour I said something about not liking the music now, the attitudes now, etc. And in the next sentence, I admitted that my father felt that way about current times when I was in my 20s. The world has changed and I don't fit in quite so well anymore. Some of that change is the physical aging of course. If my physical body were rejuvenated to 25 no doubt my libido would get a charge. In dealing with people, I think all the hard earned experience and knowledge I've gained could be put to good use (old saying: "we get too soon old and too late smart"), but would I really embrace the gestalt of today? I'm not sure. And I think the 25 year olds of today would know there was something different about me even if I looked like one of them.

Here's something else from a more philosophical point of view:
Even if you continue to live, are you still the same person? Sometimes, when I remember stuff from way back, it almost seems like I'm examining the memories of a different person. If you don't change, you're not really living, just existing, but in changing, the old you disappears a little bit at a time.

Comment Re:Linux is far worse than Microsoft (Score 1) 541

To some extent, any complex system is going to force changes on users. Remember switching from a.out to ELF? Systemd happens to be more controversial than most.

I haven't studied systemd from the standpoint of technical merit, but apparently it was forced on developers by the powers at the top in an undemocratic way, which to me is mighty suspicious. Somewhere I read that the real reason to push systemd had to do with its LGPL licensing. That could be a motivation for undemocratic foisting.

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