* Posts by Orv

173 posts • joined 13 Aug 2007

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'I don't recognise Amazon as a bullying workplace' says Bezos

Orv

Re: HR is not there for the employees benefit

You are correct, except that in my experience they're also useful for filling out health insurance paperwork. Of course, they also make sure you'll have the crappiest plan possible, and they'll change it every year to make sure that remains the case.

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Orv

When the job market is such that people know being fired will prevent them from getting a new job, employers can pretty much treat them as shitty as they want.

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Testing times as NASA rattles Mississippi with mighty motor burn

Orv

Re: OK so how fast

That's a bit like asking how fast a car engine can go 0-60. It depends almost entirely on how heavy the thing you bolt it to is.

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Orv

Re: alternatives?

Steam is an intriguing thought, but I think you'll find it gives you less thrust for a given amount of liquid weight than the alternatives. You get a two-fer with hydrogen or kerosene; chemical energy being released *and* expanding a liquid into a gas.

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Orv

Re: 4 Lars

On shuttle launches they also used a water spray system to help absorb some of the noise of the engines. On the first shuttle launch they didn't have the system, and the reflected noise was so intense it damaged the shuttle's tail.

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Orv

I don't think the moon is that useful as a staging ground, unfortunately. It has most of the disadvantages of building in orbit -- no radiation shielding, no atmosphere -- and 1/6 g is still quite a deep gravity well to get something out of. It negates one of the biggest potential benefits of building in orbit, which is you can build a lot lighter if your vehicle never has to support itself against gravity.

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Orv

Re: Evolutionary Dead End

We've tried one-shot systems, and we've tried a reusable system. The reusable one turned out to be far, far more expensive per launch.

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Perhaps middle-aged blokes SHOULDN'T try 34-hour-long road trips

Orv

Re: The rise

That's an expensive habit. Sure you couldn't take up something cheap, like high-stakes gambling?

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Orv

Re: The rise

"Reality says if you don't gather fruit you can't eat fruit. And you can't eat more fruit than you gather."

You can if robots are gathering that fruit for you. Or you could, except in our system the fruit the robots gather all gets eaten by some fat CEO who owns the robots and hasn't gathered any fruit himself in decades.

(And you can't get "free money" from the government, at least not if you have no children and live in the U.S. That kind of social safety net does not exist here.)

It's all well and good to moralize about people not deserving to consume what they don't make, but we don't have enough productive jobs for everyone to have one, anymore, and the situation is getting worse. So again, I have to ask -- are we just going to let those people starve?

You also seem to think that people would not work if their basic needs were covered, as if people would never desire more, or never get bored of idleness. I think that's ludicrous. The natural state of humans is not idleness; that's why we get bored. If someone is idle it's either because something has broken their ability to motivate themselves (e.g., mental illness), or because they see no realistic way forward. Many of the long-term unemployed are in the latter category. I've never met anyone who was happy to be out of work.

(p.s.: Most people I've known who were labeled "lazy" had untreated mental illness that prevented them from working, and of course you can't get mental health care without a job because that would be eating fruit you didn't pick, or something.)

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Orv

Re: The rise

Let them decide for themselves. They might have more knowledge about their own skills and desires than "we" do about them, and they might have more of an imagination than elected politicians who would otherwise decide "our" policy for them.

That'd be all well and good if people could just pursue whatever skills and interests they had and live happily. But society doesn't just say, "you must work a job or you'll starve, you lazy bastard." It says, "you must do work that adds to GDP and thus is worth paying you for, or you'll starve."

I know several long-term unemployed people who have excellent skills; they just aren't skills that it's possible to monetize, so society puts no value on their skills or on them as people.

This is only going to become a worse bind as more and more jobs become possible to automate. Many of the "soft skills" that can only be done by humans are not considered worthy of pay precisely because many humans can do them. I'm not sure how we fix this. Either we have to have some kind of basic income scheme that allows people to survive even if they're not economically productive, or we'll have to let a lot of people starve. Right now we seem to be heading for the latter.

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Sick of politicians robo-calling you? Bin your landline, says the FCC

Orv

Yeah, right.

The FCC's enforcement on this is nonexistent. I get robocalls to my cell phone all the time, mostly from some lady claiming to be my "Google+ local business manager." A friend has been getting one to two robocalls a day to her cell phone about a car warranty scam for months.

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Tesla still burning cash: each car loses $4,000

Orv
Coat

Re: Expansionary cost, versus steady state cost

So they're losing money on each car, but they're hoping to make up for it in volume? ;)

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It's incredibly easy to bump someone off online, and here's how to do it – infosec bod

Orv

Re: Clarifications requested

Re needing an arts degree: Probably worth noting that in the U.S. a BA covers a great many occupations that you wouldn't normally think of as artistic. For example, if someone is a professional linguist, they probably have a BA, because Linguistics is under the 'arts' side of the house and not the 'sciences' side. It's all a bit arbitrary.

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'White hats don't want to work for us' moans understaffed FBI

Orv

Re: FBI agent and white hat hacker aren't even in the same Venn diagram

"Little outstanding debt" is going to make it hard to recruit anyone who graduated from college in the last decade or two.

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Orv

Re: Oh, forms....

Yup. A friend once let me know he was listing me on one of those forms, when he applied for a job at NASA. They never called me up, though.

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Petrol cars are dead in the water, says Tesla CTO waving numbers on the back of an envelope

Orv

Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

You're right that modern cars are better, but the other commenter is also right that car companies tweak their cars to game the tests, which are always done the same way and therefore easy to defeat.

One of my favorite examples is the "shift skip" feature on Corvettes, which locks out 2nd and 3rd gears under light acceleration, forcing a 1-4 upshift. This artificially inflates the EPA fuel economy numbers, since the tests involve only very light acceleration. In daily driving owners accelerate faster, which turns off the shift skip.

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Orv

Re: Dearman Engine will win

Figures on overall efficiency are conspicuously absent, and I'd like to see them.

The Achilles' heel of these kinds of systems is the thermal losses. It takes energy to chill the gas, and then that energy is wasted because to use it you have to warm it back up again.

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Orv

Re: Is it really cheaper?

Keep in mind that an engine producing 20kW at the rear wheels is consuming somewhere around 70kW of fuel, though. The other 50kW are lost as heat.

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Orv

Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

"Bio fuels take farmland out of growing useful food, increasing fuel prices so the poor go hungry..."

I'm not very convinced by that argument, at least not at the current level of production. We have farmland sitting idle in the US, and we frequently end up with surpluses of some crops (or prices so low that farmers choose to plow it under rather than lose money harvesting.) The problem of hunger is a distribution problem, not a production problem.

"Fracked shale gas to power CNG vehicles is a better option"

Depends on whether you have to live near the wells where it's being extracted, I think. I wouldn't be too keen on it if it were my tap water catching fire.

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Orv

Re: Some facts on cost...

I'll be very surprised if Tesla ever puts out an inexpensive car. They've got a good thing going pitching "Tesla" as an exclusive luxury brand; they're not going to slap that name on an econobox.

Right now Nissan pretty much owns the inexpensive (relatively) electric car market.

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Orv

Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

"Reportedly the 15 largest ships in the world combined emit more air pollution than all the cars on Earth combined. Perhaps somebody should look into that..."

Thing is, those 15 largest ships are going to be oil tankers. Which means, if we're talking about accounting for the full energy cycle of a vehicle, most of that pollution ends up counting against the cars and trucks that will be burning that oil...

It really isn't apples-to-apples to ask where the electricity for an electric car comes from, but pretend that gasoline spontaneously generates itself in the fuel tanks of the cars we have now.

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Orv

Re: Is it really cheaper?

Sending 70%-80% of the energy out into the atmosphere as heat via the radiator and tailpipe is the big fly in the ointment for internal-combustion engines.

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Orv

36% of US households rent; I think that's a more interesting statistic than population percentage. It's really not just apartments and condos that are the issue, but any rental location -- a landlord is not going to let you have electrical work done on their property to install a charger.

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Orv

That's true, but these days vapor loss is very very small; environmental regs forced car companies to move to sealed fuel systems with vapor recovery canisters. You can smell the difference; walk past a car from the 1960s on a hot day and it will smell like gasoline vapor, but a (properly maintained) modern car won't.

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Orv

Re: "...power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles."

Considering the newest 2-stroke Detroit Diesel would be 20 years old at this point, my guess is most of the 2-strokes that were put in transit buses are either already off the road or will be soon.

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Orv

Re: @Graham Dawson

Many of the raw materials are probably imported, but that's not really an argument against electric cars specifically; it's true of all cars (and pretty much anything manufactured.)

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Orv

Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

BTW, I *do* have an old car running on biodiesel, but I can't honestly say with a straight face that it's environmentally friendly. Sure biodiesel reduces the carbon footprint somewhat, but it still uses half again as much fuel as modern car would. It emits more particulates than a modern car, thus contributing a bit to the respiratory problems of everyone around it. And, being old, it seeps oil that will inevitably end up polluting a river somewhere.

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Orv

Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

In that case, I see no reason to believe electric cars will become socially unacceptable any faster than gasoline cars do.

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Orv

Re: @Graham Dawson

That applies equally to imported engine-driven cars, though; they don't magically materialize here. Of course, most "imports" in the US are actually manufactured on this continent (and so is the Tesla.)

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Orv

Re: @Orv @Derpity Still a bit confused

The reference was to 20 year old cars; the first Prius's rolled off the assembly line in 1997, so they're getting close. The average car in the US is 11.5 years old.

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Orv

I could almost see that scheme working, if not for the fact that modern high-capacity batteries have a pretty quick self-discharge rate. If you parked it for more than a few days it'd probably go dead right there in your driveway. It'd be like having a car with a gas leak.

I will say that having driven both the electric and gasoline versions of Car2Go's Smart cars, the electric ones are far superior. Putting an engine in that car ruins it.

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Orv

How many long road trip vacations do people really take, though? I'd think it'd be cheaper to rent a car for those occasions than to maintain a whole second vehicle with insurance, depreciation, and maintenance.

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Orv

Re: @Derpity Still a bit confused

There are 1st-gen Priuses still running fine, so I wouldn't count out a long lifespan from an electric. I wouldn't expect that kind of reliability from a niche manufacturer like Tesla, though, any more than I'd expect a Ferrari to hold up if I drove it to work every day.

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Orv

I'm sure we could install a subwoofer-equipped sound system to make all the vroom vroom noises you need.

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Orv

The biggest problem I see with electric cars, at this point, is you really have to be a homeowner to use one. Your average rental complex with a parking lot or street parking is not going to provide any way to charge a car. In much of the U.S. that makes them an upper-class proposition only.

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Orv

There are two real arguments to that point that EV advocates will cite:

1. Pollution from point sources is much easier to deal with; power plants can be fitted with scrubbers much more easily than moving vehicles. They're also more thermally efficient, so even with power transmission losses, charging losses, etc. the overall efficiency is as good or better than a gasoline powered car.

2. The mix really depends on where you live. On the west coast (probably the most natural place for EVs to be adopted, due to mild weather and persistent smog problems) fossil fuels are less than half of the total electricity production. A big chunk of it is hydroelectric power.

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Google turns cookie monster on AdSense, DoubleClick clients

Orv

Re: Cookies now non negotiable...

Among other things, cookies are the normal way of doing session tracking for sites that require logins, so you don't have to log in on every page. There are other ways to do it (like passing the session key as a parameter in the URL) but they're uglier and sometimes less secure.

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Bloke who tried to get journo killed by SWAT cops coughs to conspiracy charge

Orv

Re: The problem isn't Caller ID

I'm trying to decide which minority "huge largely un-civilized demographic group" is an elaborate euphemism for.

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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crackup verdict: PILOT ERROR

Orv

IMAP + multiple machines = headache

There's lots of precedent for that sort of thing, including a commercial jet crash in the 1970s (Air Canada 621) where the copilot accidentally deployed the spoilers during the landing flare when he intended to arm them to deploy automatically on touchdown.

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Got an Android phone? SMASH IT with a hammer – and do it NOW

Orv

Don't kid yourself -- the only reason vehicles have stricter standards is they're REQUIRED BY LAW to have stricter standards. Car companies would rather take the risk of lawsuits; they only do recalls on older models when forced to by the government. But things like mandatory recalls and lemon laws exist mostly because a car represents a significant investment in a way a phone doesn't, and so people pushed for those protections. Phones are considered disposable. Some, like Samsung's Galaxy offerings, arrive with so much crapware that after a couple years they can't even install app updates anymore.

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NSA: We'll move your metadata into /dev/null when you stop suing us

Orv
Coat

Sigh, I so hate to have to do this.

I don't like to defend the NSA, but they're correct -- the lawsuits mean that deleting the data now would be destruction of evidence, which is a serious crime.

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Your gadget batteries endanger planes, says Boeing

Orv

My understanding is the li-ion batteries in the 787 have more extensive safety features than typical consumer batteries, and are supposed to contain failures better. After one flight had a battery fire there was some talk of replacing them with safer, but heavier, NiMH batteries, but I don't know if they went through with that.

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Orv

Actually, most passenger jets *do* have a fireproof box available. It's called an oven. ;)

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Game of Thrones: Where to now for headless Nintendo?

Orv

Re: It's what you do with it that counts....

They're not striving for "realistic" graybrownland like Call of Duty, so "serious" gamers will always diss them. But I'm pretty impressed by the consistent frame rates they deliver at HD resolution.

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Mozilla's ‘Great or Dead’ philosophy may save bloated blimp Firefox

Orv

Re: XUL sub-sysetm

I think the reason for eliminating it is they don't want to be stuck maintaining it in the future. Breaking it out wouldn't achieve that goal, unless a new team appeared to work on it.

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Orv

Not to mention that Chromebooks get by pretty well on only 2 GB.

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Orv

Re: Firefox still the best choice for tabaholics

Many bugs have been filed about this behavior, but the Chrome devs can't understand why anyone would want more than 10 tabs open at a time. They actually seem kind of horrified by some users' workflows. ;)

Amusingly, part of the problem actually comes from the loading throbber. It seems that it's updated by a fixed, per-tab timer. So when you open 50 tabs you have 50 timers all firing off to update each tab's throbber, and everything slows to a crawl.

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Orv

Re: Agree - don't run scripts without permission. mMatrix and mBlock are good for chrome.

It's usually faster to load common libraries from a CDN than from your own domain, partly because the CDN will be using geographically close server, and partly because many users will already have the files cached from other sites using the same CDN.

Additionally, most browsers limit the number of simultaneous connections to any given domain. By loading from an external source, more stuff loads in parallel.

I agree that most sites use far too *many* libraries, though. A lot of the problem is frameworks that shove in things like trackers as a matter of course, without anyone ever asking if it's a good idea for a particular site.

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Orv

We have the right to support whatever political camp we want, yes. But we don't have the right to be protected from others exercising their right to complain about it.

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GOOGLE GMAIL ATE MY LINUX: Gobbled email enrages Torvalds

Orv

Developers rarely enjoy being system administrators, and they're rarely much good at it. The two skill sets are actually very different.

I *am* a system administrator, and I still started farming out my email after a while. There's a reason this was one of the first "cloud" services. Maintaining a mail server is a lot of work, and the work doesn't scale down much with size; if anything it gets worse, because many spam filtering techniques don't work as well without a large volume of mail to chew on. When I realized I was spending a couple hours a week tweaking spam filters and babysitting queues, I decided I had better uses for that time.

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