2142 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
@Robbie The reason why all long-distance links are HVDC is very simple: Every single generating set in a linked AC system has to be exactly* in sync, as otherwise they end up consuming power instead of generating it.*
Utter nonsense I'm afraid. An electricity grid is self-synchronizing in the same way that two people pedalling a tandem are self-synchronizing. If something synchronous (generator or motor) gets even very slightly ahead, it will start supplying energy to the grid until it is back in synch. If it gets behind, it will start draining energy until it has once again attained the same speed as everything else. If the total power drain exceeds the amount of power going in, the frequency and voltage of the whole grid will droop, until regulators at individual power plants notice this and open valves to increase the flow of steam to the turbines. The regulation is totally decentralised. There's no single control centre, no master grid-regulation station that could be attacked by terrorists.
The only time there might be trouble is if a (synchronous AC) generating plant gets disconnected from the grid and has to be reconnected. This requires careful monitoring of both the frequency and phase of the plant to make sure that they both match the grid before the connection switch is thrown. Otherwise, there would be a massive surge that would blow "fuses" and probably break many other things.
As for HVDC, as other people have observed, technology has advanced since Tesla and Westinghouse's day. Transmission losses are reduced with HVDC, and HVDC to grid-AC conversion is no longer impossible or uneconomic. Long-distance HVDC has another large bonus. It is immune to the effects of solar storms (which increase as the length of the line increases). If a huge CME induces a DC current in a DC line, it either adds to or subtracts from the power being transmitted, but it doesn't appear as any sort of abnormality to the plant at the ends. When the same happens to a conventional AC line, the DC current cannot be transformed by the transformers, and instead becomes waste heat inside the transformers. If someone doesn't break the circuit fairly rapidly, the transformers catch fire. In other words, either we suffer a short-term blackout or a long-term blackout (possibly an end-of-civilisation blackout were all the safeties to fail). Had a Carrington event occurred in, say, the 1960s, this would have been a real possibility. Today, we know to watch our sun closely, and to cut the power to save the grid if it throws another big belch at us).
If all we need is a distribution that boots direct into Gnome 2 for that much-like-XP experience, then it already exists, and Linux will conquer (not the Ubuntu flavour, though).
The block is Microsoft data-format lock-in. Openoffice and LibreOffice are not entirely compatible with MS Office, and the (slight!) incompatibilities are the reason that businesses continue to fork out several hundred quid per employee on MS office licenses, than loading one of the free Office softwares onto their Microsoft systems and then planning an exodus to Linux.
It's not just Office, of course. Outlook is another lock-in. Ever tried using Thunderbird as a mail client in an organisation that uses Outlook calendar functions? Then there are Access databases. And of course, all the proprietary Microsoft-only applications that they've bought from third-party vendors.
Truth be told, LInux lost the corporate desktop before Linux was born. The only business that can easily migrate to Linux for everything, is one that has yet to buy its first computers. And the trouble is that start-up businesses usually don't have anyone who knows about Linux and about the Microsoft data-format lock-in trap. By the time they are big enough to have even a part-time computer system manager, Microsoft will rule their roost.
The unhappy face should be crying. The business model that Microsoft uses is very similar to that of a Cocaine cartel (albeit legal). By the time the user realizes Cocaine (or MS software) is not his friend, it's too late for most users to do anything about it.
Re: Apps yes, OSes no
Perhaps Canonical will offer a paid for, ad free version. It's fair they make money after all?!?
Closed source thinking.
With open source, the source is public and someone will take the source of your no-ads version and rebuild it and put it up for download. You are not allowed to withhold that source from them, if it's a derivative program of a GPL'ed work. If you've tried to protect yourself by (say) copyrighting the artwork, it'll just take them a little longer to replace that with their own. Red Hat do copyright theit graphics, probably more because of Oracle than the free distributions. If Centos slipped up, I very much doubt Red Hat would do any more than bang off an e-mail telling them which copyrighted graphic they missed.
Red Hat understands this. AFAIK they are happy with it, but if they are unhappy it'll do them no good at all. So they actively encourage people who aren't willing to pay to use Fedora, which is a sort of years-long much-better-than-beta test. It also gives them a chance to garner feedback on radical re-designs before they inflict them on paying customers!
And if you aren't happy to live close to the bleeding edge, there's Centos (bug-for-bug compatible with RHEL) and Scientific Linux (very slighly less bug-for-bug, in that they fix any bug that's causing problems at CERN, even if Red Hat don't).
And of course, there are several Debian-flavour distributions that aren't Ubuntu. And of course, you have very great freedom to remove any packages that offend you, and install replacements that don't.
Re: So what?
Re: What if...
If you want Red Hat but don't want to pay, take you pick from CentOS or Scientific Linux. Or Fedora, if you don't mind living on the bleeding edge. I used not to, until they inflicted Gnome 3 on me. Apparently Cinnamon is now a standard Fedora package, so I may pay a return visit soon.
I am a buyer, not a sellee!
Personally, I find unsolicited advertising of most sorts actively encourages me NOT to buy the product. The more intrusive the advert into what I'm actually trying to do at the time, the greater the enduring hostility towards whatever is being advertized.
Exceptions, by the way, are mostly old media. Ads in trains and on walls and in newspapers and magazines present themselves while I am not busy with something else, and I may start thinking "interesting" rather than "annoying".
A long time ago I decided that I'd always be a buyer, never a sellee. If I want something I'll actively go and look for it (and the best value method of obtaining it). If I don't yet want it, advertizing it to me has value for the advertizer between zero and minus infinity (the most annoyingly intrusive ads get the entire company, not just the product, onto my mental no-buy list until the memory fades).
depend on just how much it’s prepared to bend to Western expectations of how a technology company should be run
Hmmm. You mean have the company run by a board of despots who stuff as much of the profits into their own pockets as they can, while skimping on the R&D and putting as many employees in their own country out of a job by outsourcing manufacture to somewhere that slave labour is all but legal? (Which somewhat ironically, is often elsewhere in China). Not giving a damn about the long-term future of the organisation, because the short-term determines how many more millions they'll have to retire on? Replacing doing the right thing for its customers, with extracting every last penny from its customers by any legal means and many not so legal?
Compared to many of our companies, this sounds pretty utopian. It also sounds not unlike the non-company that I'd like to buy shares in if I could, but I can't - John Lewis partnership. Anyway, more like that, than a limited company. Also shades of how a top UK university used to be, before the government decided it ought to be run by professional parasites, sorry, managers.
If it's just an act, it's a very expensive and successful one.
Some animals are more equal than others ...
and occasionally, the other way around.
Re: Universe = depressingly vast
Best argument against the strong anthropic principle I know.
It wasn't built for us. It was built for creatures that live s...l...o...w...ly. One thought per day rather than one per second, and a life-expectancy scaled similarly.
They might even be living in this solar system ... the slow cold parts thereof. Wild speculation, might what we call a comet be what they call bidding a final farewell to a deceased loved one? Tip the ashes down the gravity well?
Always find the fact the stuff escapes from a black hole (ie the jets) confusing
It doesn't escape. The jets are the stuff that avoids falling into the black hole, after getting close enough to be generally shredded, vaporized, and heated to incredibly high temperatures by the rest of the stuff whirling around that does ultimately fall in.
It's a bit like dust trying to escape a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Very little does. The only way it can, is to go dead straight up the axis of rotation of the vertex.
If it works down at the logical volume level, there's no reason to restrict the filestore that runs above it. zfs or btrfs might be good matches (they're supposed to be self-healing, should the worst happen and data be irretrievably lost).
Re: Limited use cases
Leverage Wake on LAN?
However, there will always be cases whre data is lost, temporarily or permanently. A whole lab of PCs shut down while the electricians or decorators work. A set of PCs being unavailable, which exceeds the redundancy in whatever redundant storage technique is in use. So it can't ever be quite as reliable as proper server-room storage with a proper backup strategy.
They're getting quite close to the physics limits. The frequency of light (visible light) is in the range 400 to 800 Terahertz. So 1THz modulation is a significant fraction of the carrier frequency, and dispersion effects will start to be very significant.
It was solved with radio waves a long time ago, but we don't yet have anything like the control over individual cycles of optical light that we do over individual cycles of RF and Microwave radiation. As far as light is concerned, we're still doing the equivalent of AM radio.
Re: my granny don't get it
Have you ever tried explaining the notion of money as it currently exists, as if to a man from Mars? One thing is certain: most people don't have a clue, and also don't have a clue that they don't have a clue.
So being too complicated for most folks to understand ought not to be a barrier to adoption. Consider also computers, mobile phones, airplanes, automobiles.
If you have Windows 7 in your coat pocket, you are part of a very small minority (technologically or sartorially or probably both).
As for the mode of working: I like overlapping windows. Anything that insists that I should only be able to see one app at a time doesn't have a clue about the sort of work I do.
I wonder what the city dealing rooms will do (four or more monitors per workstation, ALL displaying multiple windows from multipe apps)?
Re: That's gotta hurt
And crucially, this is a poll of self-selected early (pre-release) adopters, who you might expect to be of the neophile tendency, and inclined in general to like things merely for being new and different.
Things will be much, much worse for MS when XP ceases to be supported, and the folks who thought Windows 7 was a downgrade are confronted with Windows 8 (maybe as the only option on a new PC? )
Apple must be rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation.
No-one has yet made a Stross / Laundry tie-in. Hope they've installed good wards on it.
Not nearly as serious ...
This isn't nearly as serious as when the CPS discloses details of witnesses to dangerous thugs or their lawyers. The witnesses have variously been intimidated into withdrawing their testimony, roughed up, or murdered.
the CPS has a considerable amount of form for doing this. So much so, I have occasionally wondered whether incompetence was an adequate explanation.
Never believe anything in politics until it is officially denied
Otto von Bismarck apparently said this first. I tend to remember the "Yes Minister" formulation, which I think was Sir Humphrey observing "on the other hand, it hasn't yet been officially denied ...".
Serious suggestions have been made about how to clean up orbital junk. You'd need orbiting robot craft that would match orbit with each piece of junk and deal with it. You won't want to take the junk on board because that means you'd need more fuel for the next orbital rondezvous, and soon you'd be out of fuel.
The manouvering would use a low-thrust high-efficiency electrically-powered thuster such as VASIMR. When it matched orbit with a piece of junk it would attach a very lightweight "parachute". Something to maximise drag with respect to the very thin atmosphere or solar wind up there. This would cause the piece of junk to de-orbit over a number of years, ending with it re-entering and burning up.
Sort of like a fleet of orbiting Roombas!
Re: What ever happened to the "Right Stuff"?
Absolutely the wrong thing to do. Google "Kessler syndrome", or read some SF.
A single large piece of space junk can be tracked and avoided. 10000 small pieces of space junk can't. And at orbital velocities, even small pieces can cause huge damage.
Re: Sort of...
DDR3 was initially more expensive than DDR2, because DDR2 was the mainstream volume product and DDR3 the exotic new one. Today, DDR3 is the mainstream product and if you want to upgrade a system using DDR2, that upgrade will cost you more than the same amount of DDR3.
It'll be the same for DDR4 if it catches on. And if Intel backs it for the core-i4 or whatever they call it, then it most certainly will catch on!
As for upgrading a DDR4 system, I doubt that you are right. Chances are it'll be completely flexible and a system will work with 1-N sticks of DDR3, quite possibly even if they are all different sizes. There's already more flexibility than most people realize with DDR3 - matched pairs are best for performance but not mandatory (and give me 8Gb mismatched over 2Gb matched any day! )
One size does not fit all.
Microsoft's big mistake is thinking that what fits a smartphone can also fit a desktop.
I'm no Apple fanboi, but Apple knows this. An iPhone is not the same as an iPad and is absolutely different to an iMac, in UI terms.. True Apple fans go out and buy one of each, because all of them get a lot of UI things right, for the size and usage of each class of device.
Re: The Score
You missed out Win 2000 and Win ME.
I guess you weren't there in 95, because Win 95 was a bad one, 98 was better, 98SE the best of that technology, and ME an utter dog's breakfast. Having installed ME you either wiped it and reinstalled 98SE, or you were well softened-up for a new PC running Windows 2000 (which was also pretty bad).
A few months back I loaded 98SE into a VMware VM on a modern fast PC, just for fun. Boy did it boot fast!
Re: something new here ?
is this not so with every Windows OS release ?
You mean like Vista? It never got fixed, it got rapidly replaced and then buried. Neophiles got shafted. Buy into the hype and then buy again to get something that was usable!
Windows 9 will be coming sooner than many think.
Who stands to gain?
Who stands to gain by mentioning that this act of vandalism involved use of a tool called Linux? (A detail that's about as relevant as someone's window being smashed using an Apple charger brick, rather than the more usual house-brick).
Is Microsoft a large campaign donor by any chance?
Re: Great language name! Not confusing at all?
You'll very often find it referred to as Golang, possibly to make it searchable. Or use quotes: search "Go language" seems to hit on the right things.
It strikes me that one of the most interesting materials to print 3D things in, is wax. Can these printers do wax?
If you are wondering why: look up lost was casting. You surround the was with clay, heat it to boil and burn out the wax and to fire the clay, and finally cast metal into it. To start with it could revolutionize the jewellery trade. You could go from a 3D cad design to a finished item cast in silver or gold in a day. And computers can calculate (and 3D-print? ) fractal designs so easily. Just try carving a fractal from a block of wax by hand!
Re: 'just like playing bingo' ...
I think you meant "a true gamble" not a true gaming platform ....
@Cmdr3X Re: thx for asking about variadic templaces
If you still want to learn programming, start with the right language. These days I'd suggest Python. Anyway, definitely a scripting language (interpreted), so you can type bits of code at the computer and immediately see what they do. As a side-bonus, you won't need to pay a penny for a compiler or a developer environment (even if you are determined to stick with Windows).
If you get to the point where you are a competent programmer and are being frustrated by the slowness of code written in your script language of choice, you might then consider learning a compiled language. (But do first make sure someone hasn't already written what you need!)
Count yourself lucky
Count yourself lucky if the nutters find harmless things to believe in, like UFOs or NASA faking the moon landings or WTC conspiracies.
Without them they might find other things to believe in, like fascism or Maoism or any number of other -isms that have led to a state perpetrating mass murder.. They wouldn't have pre-labelled themselves as nutters, either.
see how high you can go until you find a setting that renders the board unstable.
Overclockers have always puzzled me. The manufacturer knows exactly which are the critical pathways in the CPU. They can test and appropriately speed-grade their chips by exercising these pathways. Intel turbo-mode is supported, meaning that Intel has tested your CPU at the highest turbo speed they support. You'll get correct results, as long as you stay within the thermal envelope.
But if your CPU has not been manufacturer-tested at the speed you are clocking it., all bets are off. Which matters most - getting the right results, or getting wrong results faster?
It's not an entirely rhetorical question. If you are rendering frames for a movie or game, wrong results are either immediately obvious or of no significance. However, that's a special case. One bit wrong in the allocation bitmap of a filesystem, or in the compression or encryption of a datastream, and the eventual loss may be huge. Even in a render farm, overclocking has risks: it's the same overclocked CPU crunching the pixels, and adjusting the allocation bitmap of the disk on which the results are stored.
So the question: why overclock a Pi, when you can so easily buy a faster system?
Re: During the meanwhile ...
"not eat pork as it is the greatest sin" - like what did the poor pigs do to deserve that!?!?
in the Middle East, in centuries past, pigs carried a parasite that can infect humans with dire consequences.
Declaring pork to be unclean was a very sensible public-health measure at the time. The reason why it was so was at that time unknown. The unfortunate thing about religion is that now the reason IS known, the true believers nevertheless adhere to a commandment that makes absolutely no sense if you are living in 21st-Century England.
In other words, "Don't think. Just do what you are told".
Almost all mainstream religion has this fundamental flaw. As do many well-known secular cults: communism, fascism, managerialism, and many lesser ones.
IBM got it's first commandment right: "Think!"
The prior art for that one is milennia old!
The ancients used to write with no spaces between their words. Then they started to insert dots. Finally they hit on the idea of using spaces.
As for computer prior art, awk and its split() function is a relatively recent example!
Have any of these people claiming to be hypersensitive to radio emissions been put through a double-blind test? Did any of them pass (i.e. prove that it's even possible for a human being to tell whether an alleged mobile phone in their proximity is or is not turned on, if it's sealed in an opaque plastic box that they can't touch or open, that's provided to them by a person who also doesn't know if the "phone" is on, off, or a root vegetable.
It's the same as with drugs. Some get better because they believe that inert tablets are useful medication (placebo effect), and some report unpleasant side effects even when the pills are inert dummies (which one might call drug hypersensitivity if it weren't a double-blind test).
Re: Why blue LEDs?
Why never white LEDs?
I can guess: Apple has a patent on them.
There must be something odd about those Canadian windows.
In all the years I've been looking at birds on a feeder table through a picture window, I can remember only a few bird bonks and only one fatality (a pigeon). They seem to be able to see the glass. A few do have to take emergency evasive action at the last moment - that this happens rarely suggests that they learn from experience.
Re: this device will fall flat in the UK...
It's pretty unlikely to end up standing on its edge after a fall. Wonder how many falls before it fails.
Re: Great.. .but better ways to do the power...
A PC power supply will be VERY unhappy supplying many amps at 5V and none at 12V. It may refuse to work with that load, overheat and emit smoke, or simply waste a large fraction of the power going in. They're designed for use with modern PC hardware, with the lion's share of the power being consumed at 12V.
Just source a single-voltage power supply that delivers enough amps at 5V. There will be plenty of PSUs to choose from at RS or CPC. It may be cheaper to use multiple 5V 4A or 5A "bricks" than a single (say) 40A unit, and may also be easier to wire up.
Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit
I thought Durians were banned as cargo by every airline on the planet? Or has someone purchased a jet for the sole purpose of moving loads of Durian around the planet?
I'd have thought it made them radical feminists of the "castrate them at birth" persuasion.
Forget Joe Sixpack ... think businesses.
I'd say that the main reason people who know as little as possible about computers don't use Linux is far simpler than any of the above.
Linux can't run Microsoft Office (or some other MS-only package to which they are attached by advertising, brainwashing or addiction ). Yes, they could switch to LibreOffice with less trouble than switching from Word 2003 to Word 2007 ... but they won't unless someone tells them that they have to, because of inter-operability issues. (If I said peer pressure to conform, I'd not be too far off the mark).
The question we should be asking, is why are big businesses and governments almost all still wedded to Microsoft, when one might have thought they could save huge amounts of money by switching to Linux?
One answer is "support costs too high". A more likely one is "migration costs too high". Once again, Microsoft Office is the moat Linux would have to fight its way across.
I don't know the answer, but I'm certain that arguing the minutae of font design on a particular Linux desktop option isn't the least bit relevant.
Re: Waste of my time
So, you think it would be a really smart move for the UK to decide overnight that everyone should be told to drive on the same side of the road as Europe?
Of course not. It would cause chaos and kill lots of people.
Well, Windows 8 has made the same mistake, except it won't kill so many people. (It will certainly kill some. Annoyed or stressed users having heart attacks. Emergency service operators or medics failing to react correctly or fast enough because they are struggling with the unfamiliar new interface. And so on)
Yes, I'm sure I could get used to it. I just don't see why I should waste my time on a completely pointless change.
Hybrid drive query
Something I've been wondering about hybrid drives: do they remain readable if/when the flash cache fails?
In my experience, most (not all) conventional disk drives fail gradually and the SMART statistics (especially reallocations) give you advance warning. In contrast flash devices go from working storage to utterly bricked "just like that". It would be nice to be told that if the flash part of a hybrid drive does turn into a brick, what's on the magnetic disk can still be retrieved.
Failing which it will be smarter for one's operating system to control a flash cache and a magnetic disk drive as separate devices. In fact maybe the drive manufacturers could package this option as one SATA device with two LUNs, or even make it a jumper-configurable mode?
Mathematical crypto also has its problems
Crypto systems have a critical weakness: private keys have to be kept secret. If they fall into the wrong hands, the cryptography is broken.
There are also mathematical weaknesses. It is now known that not all keys are equal. Statistical techniques have been developed that make a subset of keys very much more crackable than others the same length. Of course, once such an attack is known, vulnerable keys can be rejected, but suppose there are other mathematical weaknesses that have not been made public?
Also, most modern crypto depends on the Riemann hypothesis being true. Few mathematicians think otherwise, but it has yet to be actually proved. By the way, if you ever discover a disproof, spam it far and wide and then go into hiding for a few months. It's the only way you'll remain alive and at liberty!
Re: No life?
Venus is too close to the sun for terraforming (unless orbiting sunshades are possible). Venus suffers/ suffered a runaway greenhouse effect caused in the first instance by water vapour, which we couldn't do without.
Mars's problem is low gravity, meaning atmosphere (especially water vapour) tends to drift off into space. However, that's a slow problem taking geological time. It *might* be possible to terraform Mars by directing a lot of cometary ice at the planet to replace or supply the necessary water. Then pump loads of CFCs into the Martian atmosphere to create a super-greenhouse effect, to compensate for the weaker sunlight.
Of course that way there would never be an ozone layer to keep UV out, but Mars is further from the Sun so theUV will at least be weaker by proportion. We'd have to colonise the Oort clouds first, though, to get hold of the vast amounts of water-ice it would take.
Re: Fossil Finds...
Either way, it would cast a whole new perspective on our place in the Uniwerse.
Unfortunately, not so (unless Martian biochemistry proves to be utterly un-earthlike). Extinction-level meteor impacts can eject bits of Mars into orbits that are later captured by Earth, and to a lesser extent (because it's more "uphill") vice versa. Microbes can survive incredible accelerations, and a long time in vacuum. Therefore, it's a near certainty that whichever planet first evolved microbial life would have spread its microbes to the other. So if we find familar RNA-based microbes on Mars, they probably originated here. That, or Earthlife originated on Mars.
Citation hardly needed: do the statistics
Someone who was ten in 1945 would be 77 today. The majority of such people will still be living. The activities of the Gestapo in the occupied Nederlands are well-documented. And the legal structures of a country usually arise out of its history.
It is of course a hypothesis: as with most statements about society it's almost impossible to prove scientifically.
This is probably because even today there are people in the Netherlands living with the memory of jackbooted thugs arriving at their front doors and dragging off their loved ones (parents, mostly, these days) to be "interrogated" and shot.
The Netherlands may have gone too far to the opposite extreme, but it's certainly the lesser error.
Re: Odd system
Some branches of my extended family tree are extinct.
When the state of Germany was founded under Bismarck, my distant ancestors happily trotted off to register themselves as citizens. One of the things they volunteered was their religion: "Jewish".
The rest, as they say, is history. Never assume that government will remain even slightly benevolent for the duration of your lifetime, and for that of several generations of your descendants. In case you don't realize it, your DNA could be used to identify your children or even great-grandchildren, many years after your death.