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Comment anti-science slashdot? Get a clue, guys. (Score 3, Insightful) 305

Argonne has been a center for battery research and testing going back to 1976 . They have teams of materials scientists, chemists and physicists who have been working on various aspects of improving battery systems for many years, with a lot of published researched and patents. They also has one of the top 5 supercomputers in the world on-site, an entire center devoted to nanotechnology research, the biggest x-ray source around (for materials property research), and all sorts of other resources that make this more than "just another place" to do this work.

This grant is all about combining and focusing the efforts of all sorts of other public institutions and private manufacturers, with leadership from what is truly a "critical mass" of smart folks who work at the Argonne campus.

It is not likely to be any one "magic bullet" but lots of little improvements in each aspect of battery technology, gaining a percent or two here, a few more percent there, that when combined together will result in impressive gains. You know, like... science.

Comment Re:Completely wrong focus (Score 3, Informative) 314

The cable companies are not entirely to blame for the high prices and lack of viewing options.

The real reason CATV bills are too high is because of the content companies, studios, and the local TV stations. All of their contracts compel the cable operator to pick up not just one or two channels, but entire "packages" of channels, sometimes 10 or more, in order to get the channel you really want to carry. Often times, the cable operate MUST provide a channel to every single subscriber, or the studio won't let them have it at all. The contracts also have provisions about where the channels can be placed in the channel lineup. You also have channels that only a small number of customers are interested in (like certain premium sports channels or packages), but the CATV operator is contractually forced into providing to ALL customers, and into paying a hefty fee (above $3/month per customer) for a single channel.

I have seen small market TV stations asking for over a $1/month per subscriber for the privilege of the CATV operator carrying the exact same programming they broadcast over the air for free.

Lastly, the content providers usually want to lock the CATV companies into multiple year contacts, with price escalations. They are also putting language into the contracts specifically to forbid any sort of IP network based content distribution to the end customer.

Comment Re:Make broadband a tariffed, regulated utility (Score 1) 208

So, does Charter have coax on the road? Is the only thing holding you back the cost of getting the coax down the driveway?

Here's a solution that is cheap and wrong, but it works.

You know how construction sites have a small pole (usually a 6x6 10 foot beam the ground) with a plywood backboard for electrical and phones?
You can get a coax CATV drop done to a "work site" demarc. They may say no initially, but you can do it.

You could create your own "construction site" temporary service pole near the road, within easy distance of an existing utility pole. Then get cable Internet service delivered to your "construction site", along with an electrical meter and small electrical panel (get the electrical first). It is easiest if you own the land near the pole, but you can get an easement in writing if needed from a neighbor, or just have the neighbor order it if you know them well.

Get a NEMA rated outdoor enclosure box to put the cable modem into, and power, and big enough to also hold some sort of old SDSL or VDSL modem (as part of a back-to-back pair). The VSDL modem will just be a straight ethernet bridge (plug the cable modem ethernet into the modem's ethernet, cross-over if needed). Run outdoor rated, gel filled Cat. 5 ethernet cable from your "construction site" along the driveway or in the woods. You can get 1000' boxes of this for about $130. More than 1000 feet? fine, get more boxes and splice the cable together (either yourself with tape or buy a real weather proof telephone splice kit for about $25 at Home Depot). Bring the Cat. 5 into the house, and hook up the other VDSL modem in the back-to-back pair, and then connect to your firewall or PC. The VDSL gear should train up at at least 5Mbit of service, maybe more (depends on distance). May not be as fast as the cable modem, but better than nothing.

You don't have the bury the Cat 5 or anything. You can just lay it on the ground, in places where it is not going to get driven over, at the edge of the woods and the driveway. The outdoor gel filled cable is UV resistant and can handle being totally under water without issue. This cable will last you at least 5 years, maybe 15 -- as long as your splices are good.

It might cost $500 in total for the materials (NEMA box, cable), the construction demarc pole, and a couple of used VDSL or SDSL modems (check ebay). Plus the cost of the electrical install, and the monthly electrical bill (likely minimum billing) and the CATV cost. But you will have broadband, and the total cost will probably be around $100/month.

Another variation on this is to get the service installed at a neighbor's house the abuts your property, and just run the cable there.

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