* Posts by Eric Olson

330 posts • joined 22 Sep 2007

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UK.gov departments are each clinging on to 100 terabytes of legacy data

Eric Olson

Re: funny

You're assuming that it's in some kind of high-availability storage built for concurrency or I/O, rather than chucked onto old department shares slapped together in the early 2000s, or maybe numerous Outlook archives of departed employees that people can't bring themselves to delete... most of which is likely on tape or, as I alluded to, off-the-shelf HDDs, maybe even in ESD bags after being pulled from the ancient desktop they once were part of. Perhaps even a fancy SMB NAS was thrown into the mix a few years ago. And much of it is probably backups ort is replicated/superseded elsewhere, but no one has the time to figure it out.

That's the thing about the 100 TB figure... it doesn't take a lot of desktops and laptops that were turned in during because of departure, termination, or upgrade to reach it. But with various regulations about data retention, requirements to scrub other types of data before disposal, and just the inertia of government (just like in business), the better assumption is that this is spread across a hundred or more separate storage media, devices, and systems... and the consulting firm probably did the same, grunted out a number, then used a boilerplate conclusion with the subjects changed to match the industry.

You show me a company of more than 20 people that's been around for more than a decade dealing with data, even just emails and a website, and I'll show you where to find the TBs of non-operational or archived data that someone(s) can't let go.

Of course, it is possible that some of these departments do have it on modern storage solutions... but if that was the case, it's likely they aren't suffering from the same issues that the consultant identified in their summary. It's probably reasonably searchable, has sufficient redundancy, and may even have coherent archiving and deletion policies. Then again, I've yet to work for any company that can do this across all levels.

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Eric Olson

Does this feel like a big number to scare people?

Cause it feels like a big number to scare people. 100 TB is all the space! Like... uh... 50 hard drives from Amazon. Bought for $69 a piece. But I swear it's a lot!

C'mon. I know people are programmed from birth to distrust the government (who haven't helped themselves much, regardless of citizenship) and assume the worst... but if they knew what IT policies looked like at "well-run multinationals", they would see things differently. Hell, the small company I'm at has 1TB tables in a MS SQL DB for moderate sized clients. It sure sounds large when you remember ads used to boast about 1GB hard drives, but things have changed since Pentiums ruled the world.

Sure, I'm sure that this legacy data could mostly be jettisoned, but if it's anything like the US, there are retention policies, rules, or laws that dictate what can be done with it or how accessible it should be. The finance world routinely keeps a five to seven year retention policy for audits and the like, not counting the numerous hard drives and email accounts under legal hold due to pending regulatory, civil, or criminal actions being taken.

And am I right in thinking £500M/year isn't actually that much? It sounds like a lot, but here in the US, converted to USD, that would be... 0.03% of the annual budget for the entire government, including Social Security (income for old people) and Medicare (health care for old people).

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Weaky-leaks: Furious fans roast Assange in web interview from hell

Eric Olson

@ AndyS

Here's the thing about " Leaking it to hold the rich & powerful [accountable]"; they don't care. Really, just look at Trump. Even ignoring the salacious rumors in the latest leak, during the election campaign it surfaced he once bragged about his ability to get away with sexual assault, and his response what "locker room talk." He had tax returns leaked that showed he claimed a nearly $1 billion loss in a single year, using accounting tricks that screwed his investors (they took the loss) so that he could use it as a tax dodge for 17 years. In general, he used his money and power to say, "Who the fuck cares what I did?" and the people bought it.

Leaks like Assange publish hurt those very people he claims to be helping. The average person gets run over by the bus each time these leaks happen, because they were on the periphery of the bad behavior, but they don't have the resources to make it go away or continue on, or they lose advocates who help them. Can you really name a rich and powerful person actually harmed by Assange or Snowden's leaks? Forcing them from the public sphere is not harm; those jobs were never about the money, it's the access. And when you go back to a private life, those contacts are still there, able to help you out, or your friends. And even if you lost a lucrative job, you still have all the wealth accumulated over the years.

Clinton wasn't harmed; she lost an election but her public profile is not really any worse... she still received more votes than Trump... 48% to 46%, in fact. But she lost razor thin margins in a few states that tipped the election because of the system in place here. And because of that, we now have a situation where a lot of common people will be hurt by a Trump administration, ironically many of his voters. I mean... it's becoming clear that a sizable number of Republican voters think the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is different from the Obamacare they wanted repealed for the last 6 years.... and get really upset when it's pointed out they are the same thing... or persist in saying they are different.

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Routine jobs vanishing and it's all technology's fault? Hold it there, sport

Eric Olson

Re: Automation has been happening for decades...

Address the skills gap and that group of available workers will shrink quickly.

That will help some people... but the reality also is that across the advanced economies, they've had 30 years to deal with the opening of China, India, and Russia and its former republics. Opening didn't just mean new markets for N. America and European goods, it meant a new workforce. And while supply chain management is a rising star in the "new careers" section in the high school guidance counselor's office, the reality is that much of those supply chains take raw materials from those same nations, ships them to similar nations that have better infrastructure for production, and then ships them locally.

Sure, a lot of it comes back to the US and Europe as cheap electronics (or fancy ones like smartphones), but the reality is that our consuming class is getting smaller due to slowing population growth and waning interest in the latest and greatest. Over in India and China, the new middle class dwarfs what remains in the NA and Europe, even after adjusting for purchasing power.

So it's not just that we have skills gaps, in that we have reduced consumption, less of an income advantage than we once had, and infrastructure that is woefully under maintained and stuck in a 1950s mentality (maybe not so bad in Europe, but it's terrible in the US). If you are looking to start a business today and you want to serve global consumers, maybe it's better to set up shop in Guangzhou or Chennai.

NA and Europe can only continue to compete because of automation, which just makes it harder for the consuming class to shake the funk. And like I said earlier, policy makers had no coherent strategy or vision for handling the displacement of globalization, and still don't. Safety nets might be the only way, if only because most of the big companies that created these globe-spanning supply chains and distant production centers are still based in NA or Europe. I don't have a good answer to how that concentrated wealth is shifted without causing those companies to flee, but something has to be accomplished or there will be some dark times in countries that rely on the people to make choices about their government.

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Eric Olson

Re: Agree completely

Actually, the plumber is probably fine for a while. Same with the welder, the electrician, the carpenter, etc. Those jobs require two things: geographic proximity and non-routine work. Sure, it's easy to produce flat pack for Ikea in a Chinese factory... but to join two complex metal pieces, plan and wire a house, or install cabinets, you need people on-site who can do the work.

The person put out buy automation is the woman who loaded paper for a printing press, or the foundry worker that used to descale the ingots of steel that rolled off the line. Automation can do both of those things today, and the people out of a job likely learned their trade on-the-job rather than through an apprenticeship program or post-secondary education.

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Eric Olson

Automation has been happening for decades...

Watson is just a new version of what has been going on across finance, health care, and other labor-intensive, highly repeatable processes. Even Watson is being deployed to do something that health care in the US mostly automated years ago: claims processing. There is a reason why if you walk into a highly sophisticated insurance company, you will see a handful of people doing claims processing via green screens... they are exception processing the 0.5% or fewer claims that dropped out of automated processing. There is no reason to make a fancy GUI with whiz-bang features when it's used for a fraction of a percent of the daily load.

In 40 years, the US steel industry cut 75% of its workforce, yet didn't reduce output. Hand-fed printing presses were replaced by machine fed ones (which are themselves being cut back due to a reduction in physical newspaper circulation). This is automation; it's not Watson, or apps, or anything like that. It will continue to go on, just now with more complex jobs being offered up to the altar of increased productivity.

What scares me is that the advanced economies never really figured out how to mitigate the impact of free trade and globalization on people who were highly-trained in specific tasks in a factory or production line. Even now we have demagogues pandering to those folks with false, bordering on malicious promises to bring back jobs that will never come back unless those same folks were put into chains and slept in a ditch. The labor costs are too high for products that have too thin of a margin. Even China is too expensive for things like textiles. And while still unable to handle to realities of global trade and cheap labor overseas, politicians are going to successfully address the impacts of continued automation?

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US Supreme Court to hear case that may ruin Lone Star patent trolls

Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

...nonphysical patents are probably the most trolled patents in litigation today.

It might be today, but patent trolling has been around almost as long as patents. Read up on the Sewing Machine Wars of the 1850s for a good look into the troll that begot all trolls, at least in the patent space. Elias Howe, Jr. kicked off the very first war by patenting existing, but undocumented, technology used in almost every sewing machine produced, then went about suing each and every manufacturer, tying up courts, confounding juries, and leading to the formation of the first patent pool to protect those manufactured from him. Howe didn't even produce sewing machines, or have any intent. He just wanted licensing fees and settlements.

And while here you might only find non-physical patent trolls, they exist in hardware as well as non-computer spaces. Where ever there is a collection of technologies that people assume were patented years ago and are now common knowledge, you'll find some jerk with deep pockets (or a benefactor with deep pockets) willing to find new ways to extort money. It's not limited to the computer industry. And they don't even have to be good patents, just vague enough to put settlement at the forethought of the lawyers or owner who got just got served.

As for defining "long enough", your very definition seems variable and open to modification over time. If a company is sinking $6 billion a year into R&D, they need to be able to tell the shareholders (who might prefer that cash be used for other activities that increase the share price or dividends) the output will provide protection for a finite number of years. As soon as that conversation becomes, "Well, this year it's 7 years, but the USPTO has determined that this sector is up for review next year, so patents might have more or less protection in the coming calendar years," you will have both a revolt and a very definite reexamination of priorities.

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Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

But software and other nonphysical patents live in a world running at breakneck speed, and this length is now inappropriate.

You could then argue the same for medical patents, mechanical patents, and everything else. The computing era has accelerated everything, not just the software that runs it. By using the "breakneck speed" at which computing changes as a benchmark, how does one measure photolithography? It requires constant evolution to drive down process nodes and is purely mechanical in nature. But it's absolutely vital to the reducing in IC size and pack more into the same sized die to make those nonphysical patents important and useful (another patent requirement kicked to the curb just three years after the original Patent Act). Does that mean it should follow the nonphysical rules as well?

I'm not just pointing out edge cases. Autonomous vehicles are another example. The deep learning portion is nonphysical, but the basis of those various implementations might live on for decades in cars, drones, etc. Should it be granted only transient protection, even if the product line it first appears in will last for 15+ years? What motivation does Google, MIT, Uber, or others have to patent those algorithms and designs if they know protection might only last a short time.

Keep in mind a patent is not exclusivity in that you are the only one who can use it. A patent makes a work both easier to license without secrets being stolen while also making it available for others to examine and improve upon, without having to exhaust resources coming to a similar end. Licensing is cheaper than R&D, or allows R&D to focus on something truly novel instead rehashing the same thing. And while this is less of an issue going forward in a first-to-file system, the old way still incentivized trade secrets that could be kept in a war chest and used against a competitor who had the audacity to patent their work. Then you could claim prior art, have the patent invalidated or transferred to you (still not sure how that actually works), and hamstring them.

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Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation @bombastic bob

A good example (as I understand it) would be something that happened to Harley Davidson back in the early days. They were sued over a clutch design that they never patented. So someone else patented it (Indian motorcycles?), then sued them for infringement, nearly wrecking the company.

That doesn't really make sense, given that until 2013, the US was a first-to-invent regime (one of the last, if not the last). That means that if you had evidence that you had invented the same thing earlier, you could have the patent invalidate (or maybe transferred to you?). Even today, the majority of patents that are still active were filed under the first-to-invent model. The change only impacted patents filed 2013 or later.

The point of a patent is twofold: add knowledge to the public body and allow the inventor a chance to profit or recoup investment for a period of time. As pointed out above, knowledge dies when it's kept hidden for fear of being copied and put out of business. Trade secrets or "special sauce" thinking has kept a lot of discoveries behind closed doors. Many may be similar to other secrets, or the same secret repeated dozens of times. If that is the case, a lot of time, money, and materials were wasted to reinvent the wheel over and over. That also means those brains could have spent the time modifying something else, or even creating a novel way of doing something.

A first-to-file (plus the reduced fees for small and micro inventors) incentivizes people to file for a patent rather than sit on it as insurance or try to hide it while fruitlessly shopping it around. Plus it defuses a number of potential landmines, where you do your homework, find no patent for something, file it, then have ConstructoSoft sue you to invalidate your patent based on "prior art" they found in a dusty technical drawing that was only used once, but might show a similar design.

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Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

It's worth noting that the original period of copyright and patents were actually reasonable ones.

Patents are limited to 20 years; the original Patent Act limited them to 14 years.

You have a point with copyright, though that was still up to 28 years from the start, and Europe went to lifetime of the creator + 50 years in the mid-1800s. Right now, it's creator's life + 70 years, if we are talking only about single creators.

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Eric Olson

Re: So if this goes through, everyone has to be sued in their state of incorporation

The USPTO appears to have forgotten that patents are supposed to be novel - too often it's a small and obvious incremental improvement.

Actually, novel inventions are quite rare. Even the the first patents issued were improvements upon existing processes. The original Patent Act of 1790 explicitly names "improvement thereon not before known or used". That Act was scrapped in three years because it was found to be too hard to obtain a patent. The new Act went out of its way to remove any notion that the invention or improvement had to be important, just that it was not known to the people granting patents.

The obviousness test wasn't introduced until 1952... many years and hundreds of thousands of patents later. And even then, what does obvious mean? If you are in front of a jury, a small tweak to a manufacturing process might seem novel, but to a process engineer it might have been so sensible that it could be found in dozens or hundreds of other products. How do you evaluate that? (answer: you're screwed now that the US has moved to first-to-file, though maybe you can find some evidence that it was known in the field well before the patent was submitted and get it invalidated)

TL;DR: Stop fetishizing the patent as if it was some holy writ handed down from on high using stone tablets; it's law made by humans that has undergone significant revisions. A patent allows knowledge that would otherwise be locked away a chance to see the light and be used, while enriching the creator or company that has the patent.

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Latest loon for Trump's cabinet: Young-blood-loving, kidney-market advocate Jim O'Neill

Eric Olson

Re: Small Correction

Alternatively, you can look at the "light" regulation of the supplement markets. That is the new quackery, and even assuming that the supplement contains the ingredients it claims to, rather than grass and undeclared allergens, the presumption the FDA is required to take is "safe until people start dying." And even then, it takes a long time for the supplement to be pulled, and it's often "reformulated" and sold to another white label lab to produce.

But sure, O'Neill knows what he's talking about.

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Eric Olson

Re: Small Correction

Except O'Neill made it black and white, and I was responding to your thesis that the larger context of his thought made it less so. But if you want to be pedantic about it, it's pretty binary. Light touch regulation is still regulation, and the government still has a legal obligation to evaluate efficacy and harm. Without getting into the weeds, he also incorrectly states that the Fda doesn't apply a cost benefit analysis to their decision. That is wrong. That is why you see drugs or treatments approved for very narrow cases, including prescriber instructions that indicate other treatments shod be tried first. The drug companies themselves even point them out in their ads (a completely different discussion).

O'Neill is not an expert. His resume regarding medicine is limited to being an underling in the HHS department. Without trolling through public records, his bios don't provide much detail as to what he did, and should probably be taken with truckload of salt.

In short, his comments are the same kind of concern-trolling you find among other "outsiders" who claim they are only coming from a position of love... While hiding a WMD behind their back.

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Eric Olson

Re: Small Correction

O'Neill's comments are the same kind of malarkey that non-politicians peddle when they don't understand things. The FDA is bound by law to ensure certain steps are carried out. Regardless of one's personal feelings, the FDA is legally obligated to evaluate new medical technologies (those that are being marketed for the treatment or cure of an accepted medical malady) using generally accepted metrics used by the medical community to evaluate efficacy and harm. The FDA doesn't do this as a CYA play, nor does politics play into their decisions (even during the Bush administration's abstinence is the only acceptable birth control schtick, the FDA approved Plan B as an OTC, albeit still "behind-the-counter".)

What O'Neill's was trying to do with his statement was make an emotional play to other non-experts and politicians that if only the poor, beaten spirit of Liberty was uncaged and allowed to frolic free from government interference, we could have those brave and noble bureaucrats re-homed and the free market unleashed upon the drug market to cure us of all those things that the FDA was law-bound to keep us dying from.

Of course, that the FDA was a direct result of the atrocities that were visited upon the masses by snake oil salesmen and "physicians" looking to make a quick buck by creating elixirs of opium, cocaine, and other addictive or deadly substances is lost on people like him who apparently never bothered to learn why the various government agencies and laws exist in the first place. They just want to watch the world burn and probably assume they'll survive and can pick through the ashes.

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Congrats America, you can now safely slag off who you like online

Eric Olson

Re: Celebrating bipartisanship?

Gridlock is good insofar as...

There are numerous issues with your post, including the reality that some of the worst excesses of government that you seem to complain about came about through razor-thin, single-party votes. The Democrats has a large majority in both the House and Senate in 2010 when the ACA was passed, and moreso, it would have had some kinds of legitimate compromise in it if Republicans had come to the table as invited by President Obama. Instead, it was a bill filled with ideas (many from conservative think-tanks, but that's another story) that were never debated, just stuffed in there.

Supreme Court Justices were nominated on merit, even through the Bush years. I frankly don't care to waste a moment of my time trying to figure out who you find to be radical, and even don't care if we agreed perfectly. They often passed with large majorities, because the Senate took the Advise and Consent clause to mean "provide Advice, then Consent to the President's choice." Other than Bork in the 80s, and Nixon's various attempts to appoint avowed segregationists, Supreme Court nominees outright rejected by the Senate were rare; it was much more common for them to ask to be withdrawn, usually after a skeleton or two were outed.

And term limits fix nothing; they just move the problem down the road, empower the party apparatus even further, and provide outsize influence to outside money because of the need for large sums of cash to advertise when a new face has little name recognition. Guess what the solution is if you don't like an old Senator from Iowa or the philandering Representative from New York? Nothing, unless you want to move there. They don't represent you, period. If their constituents like them enough to keep them around, that's what a representative republic is all about. I don't like a lot of the old Representatives and Senators from a lot of states across party lines, but they aren't my call. I don't live in those districts and states. I can only work in my backyard and keep my nose out of my neighbor's business. And in the end, if you don't like them, dis-empower their party and handlers, not pump those same folks full of steroids by removing the protection of incumbency from a politician who feels safe in their position to reflect their representatives instead of the party boss who put them in place.

And here's a radical idea: Increase the number of Representatives. The number we have now has been fixed since the 1910s, when the country was only a third of today's population (and only 48 states to boot). That also dilutes their individual power and also blunts the influence of cash, because it's easier to connect to 250,000 people than 700,000 or more. And certain media markets would be so expensive it would be prohibitive for anything besides issue ads.

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Eric Olson

Re: Celebrating bipartisanship?

Hear hear! The advance of time and technology should never be acknowledged through updates to law or stature. If it was good enough for Samuel Morse's curt review of a local bed and breakfast, it's bloody well good enough for us!

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Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot

Eric Olson

Re: Nope

Not all that much to aggregate when you use mainly cash.
Not true, unless you believe that a store doesn't track all items in a purchase regardless of payment type. Not to mention all the metadata, such as store location, time of day, week, and month, etc. Even if you are using only cash, people with similar habits are going to be correlated with you, and your data will be aggregated with there own, if maybe given a little less weight because of the way in which it was matched.

And let's not forget that your bank knows who you are... and even if you are conducting most business in cash, they can still get back to you (or people like you) and offer up products, services, etc. that they think match your profile base on demographics. It might not be as personalized, perhaps... though even today most campaigns are pretty broad-brushed in their approach to "personalization."

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Eric Olson

Re: Nope

No loyalty cards for me.

They can pay ME for access to my shopping habits, however I don't come cheap.

What do you think your bank, the credit card processors, and others who handle your transactions do with your data in aggregate?

Unless you operate with straight cash, the data points your generate are being sold to the highest bidders (every bidder, probably). Even with cash, your tab has a lot of data on it that will be used to give someone else a discount (hrm, lotion and tissues are often purchased together...)

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Elon Musk wants to launch 4,000 satellites and smother globe with net connectivity

Eric Olson

Benefit of the doubt...

Gareth Corfield is trying to write in the style of the fake news sites that created viral articles for the ad money.

And if this was an article about US politics, government, certain subjects about Facebook or Google, Russian hackers, or teens writing fake news stories, the shtick might have worked.

However, as this article is about Elon Musk, a South African who resides in California that made his money off of PayPal and other ventures, the satire (if that's what it is) falls very flat. Instead, as commented upon numerous times, it comes across as an angry person who was slighted by Musk, or maybe was ignored at a recent press conference by Musk or people from Musk's interests.

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China gets mad at Donald Trump, threatens to ruin Apple

Eric Olson

Re: And theres the deficit

There is no value to a lender to encourage a borrower to borrow more. Further borrowing only devalues the existing debt and increases the likelihood of default. I never understood this line of thinking, other than to attribute it vapid talk radio hosts and people trying to sound smart.

Back in the real world, China wants a strong dollar to make Chinese imports to the US cheaper and increasing market share. The US wants a weaker dollar (especially right now) to spur domestic production and export. Only the latter is achieved by increased debt issuance. China bought US debt in order to suppress its own currency, not to encourage further debt issuance by the US.

And as a preemptive strike, a country is not like a household; debt is just one more type of investment that can be made, especially in a low interest rate environment like today. Why do you think Apple, with it's mountains of cash, issued billions in bonds rather than dip into their cash reserves?

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Eric Olson

Re: That's some direct talk

There was a WSJ report the other day (or attributed to the WSJ through a generally reliable reported elsewhere) that Trump and his team were floored by what a President and his staff does, and what is required to fill the jobs to support the White House. Because of this, President Obama will be in an advisory role for the transition.

I don't know what's worse, that Trump was so clueless about the job he campaigned for, or that his team, filled with creatures of Washington and the halls of power, have been throwing stones since the first Clinton presidency without any idea of what they were even throwing at.

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Eric Olson

Re: Trade War - FTFY

Will Trump be able to stimulate American manufacturing to the levels of 40 years ago? I doubt it.^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Not even in an infinite number of concurrent simulations.

There is no going back, regardless of the rhetoric or blustering. There is no earthly reason why anyone would ever produce underwear and shirts in the US, nor the cheap electronics that fill Wal-Mart to bursting. Short of paramilitary forces holding people at gunpoint to produce for pennies a day, there will never be a profit.

Of course, the dirty secret is that in terms of value of goods produced, the US manufacturing sector hasn't looked this good in 15 years; the difference is it's being done through automation or with minimal human interaction. But that's not what The Donald ever meant, and that's definitely not what his supporters heard.

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And for our next trick, says Google while literally wheeling out a humongous tablet ...

Eric Olson

Cue the grumps

Of course, there is truth even in the grumping. My guess is that Google, Microsoft, et al., spend a lot of time in environments that your typical developer could only dream of, if only because many work for banks, insurance companies, and other less hip and more bureaucratic sectors. Even in software firms outside of Silicon Valley (and probably inside, too), the general stickiness of management overhead, whiz-bang initiatives that went nowhere, and cynicism and/or aloofness towards the fresh blood that comes in pervades and beats down the most optimistic of folks.

This board isn't for you.

It was designed for those small firms that have some kind of charismatic founder that hasn't been ground to dust by repeated rounds of VC funding, bludgeoned to death by a rebellious board filled with CEOs and CFOs from more conservative industries, or taken to the cleaners by an ex or three, plus the piece(s) on the side that wanted something to stay quiet. It was designed for the kind of firms in Silicon Valley that MS or Google are likely to visit with their new ideas to prove they are still "hip" and "with it" in the technology space. And it might work in some agencies like marketing, advertising, etc. where you're more likely to find "quirky" leaders who drink a lot, fraternize in disturbing ways, and otherwise serve as reinforcement that they are able to help MS and Google stay relevant.

Perhaps I'm a cynic too, perhaps even though I'm in one of those "fun" firms I find it a little hard to sand off the edges that were honed through years in finance and health care. But I can see some benefits to the board in my current job, if only because I find drawing pictures and diagrams on the fly works a lot better than text-heavy descriptions, and collaborating helps in a space where a bunch of people know a little bit because we're all a new-ish hires and haven't had to venture too far beyond the specific project or team we were hired for.

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HP Ink COO: Sorry not sorry we bricked your otherwise totally fine printer cartridges

Eric Olson

Re: Sorry Mr. Flaxman, but it is MY printer, not yours....

Unpopular Opinion Alert:

Yes, you own the printer: A disposable piece of plastic, copper, and whatever they scraped off the hooves of dairy cows who've stood in wet pastures. It has little actual value, and even less if it doesn't print.

They can design it however they want, up to and including encoding that only accepts their refills. You may not like it, but HP has not a secret of their stance on refilling HP cartridges and third-party cartridges. Their manuals and documentation are quite clear that you are to use an HP replacement. Using a cheaper solution is a risk you take; it's unsupported and there is no promise by HP that it will work in the future. When they do disable it, all those previously purchased black ink cartridges from Bob's Discount HP Shoppe will become useless.

If HP was the only printer game in town, I might be more sympathetic to your plight; without other options, HP would be abusing their market position. But there are numerous other options (named earlier in this thread) that can do the job, and maybe even better. That you choose to stick with HP is an issue you'll have to come to terms with.

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Microsoft: Our AI speech recognition mangles your words the least

Eric Olson

Re: 6.3% eh?

I've had 34 years of development, and I still have a double-digit error rate when dealing with accents outside of my home region, especially those from Deep South of the US, Newfoundland, and much of the non-London portion of England.

And I have better luck with people from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, talking to me through a cell phone in those locations, than whatever the Florida Man has to say.

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Google-funded group mad that US Copyright Office hasn't abolished copyright yet

Eric Olson

Re: Brought to you by Disney....

The Copyright Clause of the US Constitution gave the federal government the legal requirement to make laws that respect creators and their works for a limited period of time. The last piece is important, and as originally enshrined in legislation was 14 years, with the chance to reapply for another 14 years. That was a total of 28 years... probably half a lifetime in those enlightened times.

Europe did their own thing and quickly settled (well, sometime in the late 19th or early 20th) on lifetime of the creator, plus 50 years.

Probably should middle those and call it good. And of course, there's the reality that The Mouse built an empire on public domain works that they only moved to a new medium (animated films and/or television), and then had the gall to turn around and say those works, plus the other somewhat original works, should be protected forever (somewhere 75 and 125 years for "works for hire".)

As far as B+D designs, those are patents (probably). And they have different rules and tend to expire much more quickly. At the same time, patents can be abused in other ways...

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Eric Olson

Brought to you by Disney....

The old "How will my great-grandchildren survive if they can't continue to collect revenue from exclusive licenses of my works?!" argument.

Yes, creators need a chance to recoup investment and make a profit on their works. Why that should be an exclusive monopoly for the life of the creator plus another lifetime is one of the great mysteries.

Computer code and articles aside, protecting any published work for what could very well be 120+ years is just asinine. And of course, the numerous ways in which copyright is circumvented (those of you saying authors are protected have clearly not seen fanfic, or seen it turned into major motion pictures) means that copyright is only valuable to those with deep pockets and lawyers to spare. The rest of us mortals can and will get fucked.

A popular website known for listicles has been repeatedly torched for lifting, wholesale, content from other online sources and repackaging it without attribution, links, or even acknowledging it might have been copied from another location. But the creators, some from other popular sites with their own lawyers, have realized that there isn't a damn thing they can do other than try to round up a posse on Twitter. Because copyright law is broken and is only good for large companies with ravenous lawyers on retainer who can fire off expensive cease and desist letters.

1
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Robot cars probably won't happen, sniffs US transport chief

Eric Olson

Re: I'm not sure I understand @AMBxx

Absolutely avoidable. And in court, the phrase unavoidable accident would have been used by the pedestrian or their next of kin as a way to shift liability to the driver.

Black ice is created under specific circumstances that can easily be discerned by checking the weather report or a couple of weather sensors. Knowing that, you slow down, increase following distance, and be well-versed in steering into the skid. Of course it might not always work, but you can decrease the chances of being caught out and crashing if you are prepared.

And yes, even the most attentive driver is going to lapse or otherwise take the wrong moment to check their mirrors and find bad things coming at speed when they get back to the road. But it's pretty telling when most insurance statistics show there are repeat offenders, be it due to excessive speeding, repeated instances of inattention, or just bad at driving. Most insurers (in the US) don't even ding you for the first accident anymore if it's been a long time since your last one. And since revoking a license or being uninsurable doesn't stop people from driving, it's safe to say that the best solution is to remove the mouth-breathing meat bag from behind the wheel. Self-driving cars are one way to do this.

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Eric Olson

Re: I'm not sure I understand @AMBxx

The problem with all those scenarios is this: Assuming they would even happen.

Take the example from the article. The likely reason for a situation in which a car is about to plow into a vehicle ahead of it is driver inattention or following too closely for the conditions, speed, etc. A computer doesn't take a "quick sec" to gaze at the phone nestled against their crotch. It doesn't have a BAC of .04 that slows reaction time to require a greater following distance, or causes someone to do stupid shit like tailgate.

Also in the real world, cars going 35 mph stop pretty damn quick once the brake is applied, which is the only scenario in which there is likely to be a group of kids on the side of the road. Once again, the limitation is the meat sack in the driver's seat who was too busy digging for the last fry in the McDonald's bag.

"Unavoidable accident" is just a phrase people use to reduce their liability in court or make their conscience shut up. Kids don't materialize in the road; they came from a yard or park 10 seconds earlier that an attentive driver would have seen and made the appropriate behavior modifications when approaching, like slowing down. The same kind of down-the-street evaluation can be done by a computer, and might even tag squirrels and bunnies if the resolution is good enough.

And as far as mowing down people of the wrong skin color, well, I don't know where you drive, but it's pretty rare for anyone to be in the middle of a lane where I am. With a tiny sample size, it's easy to get skewed numbers.

5
2

NIST spins atomic gyroscope to allow navigation without GPS

Eric Olson

That's a rather accurate scale to weigh out 8 million Rb atoms...

By my reckoning, 8 million Rb atoms weighs ~1.1 x 10^-15 grams... assuming that Rb has a relative atomic mass of ~85 g.

Of course, it's been nearly two decades since I aborted my attempt at a B.A. in Chemistry in favor of Psychology.... so take it with a planet of salt.

Frickin' lasers....

1
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League of lawsuits: Game developer sues cheat-toting website

Eric Olson

Re: Peru?

Not sure if this is trolling or what, but I would like to point out that regardless of the location of a defendant, if they are engaging with or interfering in the business of the plaintiff, the plaintiff is capable of filing for relief in the home jurisdiction. So if Marvin the Martian is engaging in business practices that interfere with Tom Tucker in Quahog, RI, Tom can sue in whatever court is local to him, and any judgement can be enforced within the borders of that court's power. Sure, Marvin himself might be difficult to get a hold of, but if money flows through the jurisdiction of Tom's court (including banks or corporations), it can be frozen, garnished, etc. Same with non-monetary assets in the jurisdiction. And that's not even getting into any treaties between Mars and Quahog about judgements, extra-territorial powers, etc.

So while Riot might not have reach directly into L#'s finances since they are incorporated in Peru, I'm sure a number of L#'s customers are in the US or use banks that route through US territory, US banks, US corporations, etc. And while not criminal right now, failure to pay judgements can result in arrest, so L#'s officers, owners, etc., run a risk if they travel through the US for any reason, or find themselves in locations that have an extradition treaty to the US...

3
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Should we teach our kids how to program humanity out of existence?

Eric Olson
Coffee/keyboard

To increase the realism, find a second person to provide a not quite similar set of requirements through a friend who'll act as a business analyst on the project. Then demand that the one robot satisfies both possible users with no trade-offs or compromises. This way, they both can learn the joys of being set up for failure and conflict by indifferent (or malicious) management.

4
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Score one for the patent trolls: US appeals court says it's OK to shop for patent-friendly judges

Eric Olson

The "losing" side at the appeal court can appeal to the Nine Seniles. The Nine Seniles can pick and chose the cases they take so its not automatic to get a hearing. They do not need an appellate court split to take a case but the case (normally) has to have an appellate decision.

You're right in that it's not needed. However, the Supreme Court does get 7,000 or so appeals each year, hearing arguments in about 80 and issuing rulings without hearings for about 50 more. 130 out of 7,000 means your case must have some serious issues that require attention if there is no split among the Appeals Courts. Since the Appeals Court with jurisdiction over Patent cases relied on their own interpretation of precedent and legislative acts, the only route to change is getting Congress to change the rules of jurisdiction.

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Eric Olson

One needs to remember that in the United States, the District Courts are under the precedence set by the Appeals Court they are part of. So if there is a certain way things are done, rulings that have not been overturned, or just a general sense of "expertise" based on a lawyer or firm's experience with a certain court, an entity will file a lawsuit in what they think is home turf.

The odd thing here is that unlike other types of litigation, patent lawsuits have their own Appeals Court, which is the Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit. They have established a set of ground rules for jurisdiction, and it seems to include a test that looks for both parties doing business in the jurisdiction. Heartland does not do direct sales, have offices, or even registered in Delaware, but apparently they have a couple of national contracts who ship the "accused products" into Delaware, which according to the court means that jurisdiction of the Delaware court is established. Seems like a bit of a stretch, but those are the rules.

Normally if two Appeals Courts come to different rulings for cases with similar facts (see the same-sex marriage and Obamacare cases), the Supreme Court will step in and adjudicate the matter, thereby setting nationwide precedence. But since there is no other Appeals Court with the jurisdiction to hear patent cases, I'm not sure how that would work. It seems like it would take some pretty strong evidence of misinterpretation or misrepresentation of Congressional intent to force the Supreme Court to step in. The only remedy here is specific legislation to override the precedence.

5
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Official: EU goes after Google, alleges it uses Android to kill competition

Eric Olson

Re: It's funny...

Darn that pesky old 1791 first amendment, only a couple of years younger than the All Writs Act, so clearly of dubious applicability now we are in the Internet Age and so much smarter than those of the late eighteenth century who wrote and passed it.

Not sure where the First Amendment comes in here, unless you are referring to the reinterpretation by the Roberts Court that money = speech. If that's the case, then I'm still not sure the applicability to my comments, so I assume it was to someone else.

But to build on this, this concept that the Founders and Framers (often overlapping, but not always the same) were infallible and prophetic does need to cool down a bit. If you read source documents from the time, you see a very quick schism appear as to what the Constitution represented or codified, and that fight resulted in the Bill of Rights being introduced just two years after the Constitution was ratified, and the Bill of Rights itself being ratified two years after introduction (after going through numerous drafts, revisions, edits, and by some accounts, sloppy version control and copying). The All Writs Act is another example of those Founders and Framers quickly trying to do an end-around of the Constitution they created; the Sedition Act is an even more abhorrent example. That the very same men who created this Godly document also turned around and created such things should really close the book on any discussion about their exceptional nature or intelligence.

It's a document, written 229 years ago, quickly ignored by its creators when it suited them, and began a simmering battle of the role of the state and the government that has boiled over once and had to be settled with blood. You don't need to get into revisionism based on current standards of morality to see that the document only works because we collectively ignore all the mechanisms available to keep it alive and instead rely on hacks, ancient case law, and legal landmines. It's honestly reached a point where, like the Cold War, mutually assured destruction is all that keeps the peace.

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Eric Olson

Re: It's funny...

It's too easy to just blame money. We had a public financing system (still do, technically), but it's been superseded because the amounts are not that great and there are limitations placed on the candidate in terms of what can be done with it.

Additionally, one needs to keep in mind that the parties, though that participate in the political sphere, are private entities. The GOP and Democrats are just really large special interest groups, albeit with a special interest in being political parties with platforms that cover more than just a single issue. The "year-long" process is actually the nomination fight, which replaced the proverbial smoke-filled room. In fact, states purposefully started sponsoring the nomination primaries in the late 19th century to reduce the influence (and corruption) inherent in the party machine. Tammany Hall in New York was notorious for trading favors and money for political capital and nominations.

The actual general election is only a few months long, starting with the conventions in July and culminating on Election Day in November.

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Eric Olson

It's funny...

We see this same tale spun over and over, with the only change in players the companies in the crosshairs. Being an American, I could decree this some kind of anti-American witch hunt by the EU, but I actually doubt that's the case. More likely, this is down to American companies not having the expertise and/or connections in other parts of the world to ensure they are complying with both the letter and spirit of the law.

Yes, Microsoft got busted in the US for anti-competitive behavior, but it was so egregious, they pretty much dared the Dept. of Justice to come after them. It didn't help MS that many of their competitors, partners, and customers complained loudly and frequently about the raw deal they were getting. Google has skated by for the most part, as Apple actually maintains a strong market position in the US, and the wireless carriers are the ones with targets painted on their backs. If the political capital is going to be spent, Verizon and AT&T are first on the firing line.

Did Google sin? Perhaps. The US doesn't seem to have a problem with the kind of agreements that Google engaged in as long as there are other competitors or other avenues for relief. Anti-trust penalties are often a last resort, and as we saw with MS, they often amount to little more than painful handshake. The days of trust busting of AT&T, Standard Oil, etc. are long gone. Not because of crony capitalism (though I'm sure that doesn't help), but because it's too easy to point across the ocean and say that in order to compete worldwide, American companies are going against state-controlled or state-supported, entrenched entities (how true that is is a debate for another time).

10
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AMC sobers up, apologizes for silly cinema texting plan

Eric Olson

Re: That's a shame

Yes. Like the Free Market sorted out smoking in public places. Oh, it didn't. What happened is a significant minority were happy to share their smoking hobby with those around them, and everyone else had to suck it up (literally), or be seen as the fussy kill-joy who should have stayed at home. It took laws to sort that out.

Texting during performances is much the same. If not enforced, the thoughtless gits will be just fine with telling the rest of us to live with it, or sod off.

A terrible example. Comparing a bystander health-impacting habit to a health impact-free habit of texting is just silly. You don't like people using their phone in a theater. Fine. But if you sit next to someone with their phone out, does you suffer from respiratory issues or suffer a relapse into an unhealthy habit? If so, you may want to seek professional help...

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Four of the top 10 places in the world for internet are, er, in the US

Eric Olson

Re: I don't want to pile on...

You're ignoring the special case that this is Washington, DC, the nation's capital.

This is true... the concentration of the businesses (or government doing business as) would in of itself be enticing to a provider or twelve to set up shop. I guess I was more referring to steps taking by the government to treat DC citizens to better broadband access than their neighbors in other states, which I doubt happened. I'm saying there probably was no direct investment by the government for the city of DC or on behalf of the people of DC.

Many of those government employees, politicians, lobbyists, etc., reside outside of DC, usually in in VA or MD. The Beltway refers to the entire area surrounding DC. The cell towers are there because of the number of people who commute in; the same goes for the fiber. The residents of DC are just collateral winners, assuming they can afford it. DC proper actually has a higher poverty rate than every state except Mississippi, even with a per capital income that is higher than any state. Those would argue against a business investing in infrastructure if the city was, say, located in Alabama.

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Eric Olson
FAIL

I don't want to pile on...

But like the previous commentards, to focus on four states and DC is folly. Three of the states border DC and tend to be the suburbs for the politicians and employees of the government. All of those states range from above to well above average for percentage of the population that lives in an urban area (83% in Delaware to 92% in Mass., with the national average being 81%), so like was pointed out, would be like saying residents of the UK can't complain about bandwidth because it's so great in London. So if you do look at the country as a whole, the US is behind such places as the Czech Republic, tied with Belgium, and a just a fraction of a Mbps ahead of the UK.

I would like to point out to the commentard that inferred the DC ranking was due to investment by the federal government, that is likely not the case (but I won't completely discount it). While the federal government has created some enticements and grants to help with broadband expansion, they are mostly targeted at underserved or unserved parts of the nation, which these days is much of the nation's interior that isn't near a major city. Of course, that isn't to say that the city itself didn't use some of the budget they get from the government to build out the network or entice providers.

Rather than resorting to these kinds of articles, perhaps it would be more useful to explore the reasons why Americans and other readers routinely complain about their bandwidth options. Thumbing your nose at them because they live outside of those highly connected states isn't all that productive, unless the purpose is to just serve up ads regardless of content quality.

4
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Tablet computer zoom error saw plane fly 13 hours with 46cm hole

Eric Olson

Human arrogance leads to human error

This can either be seen as a strike against the use of technology or against allowing humanity to use technology.

I just see it as a strike against hubris... something that's taken trillions of strikes but refuses to step out of the batter's box. I'm sure this won't be the last time, either.

7
1

Facebook kills Creative Labs, cuts support for mobile apps

Eric Olson

Re: Creative Labs have NOTHING

I remember my Hercules Fortissimo II. It was a damn fine sound card. Outdid the Sound Blasters in the same price range and then some. Lasted me two computer builds, I think.

I think it made its way to the box of computer parts that needed to be recycled that some guy offered a few bucks for at our last garage sale. Memories.

1
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Eric Olson

That was definitely the boat I was in. After learning otherwise, I wondered how Creative never sued Facebook, given both operate in the technology arena (yes, one was hardware and the other for social meanderings, but still).

7
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Doctor Who: Oh, look! There's a restaurant at the end of the universe in Hell Bent

Eric Olson

Could we do a poll...

Where in addition to rating Doctors (as before), we get some demographic about the age now, when they were introduced to Doctor Who, and what Doctor they started with?

I'm getting an impression that people have fond memories of the old series and nothing that Moffat or any past, current, or future Doctor could supplant them. There's nothing wrong with nostalgia and saying the new doesn't measure up to the old. That's fine. But clearly from a commercial standpoint, Doctor Who is doing fine with Moffat at the helm, which even for the BBC is a necessary consideration (and why the original series was "suspended" for 16 years).

1
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Work on world's largest star-gazing 'scope stopped after religious protests

Eric Olson

Re: Until I Read...

Guilt by association, if there is even association, is not really a strong argument. It's entirely possible (or even likely) that this Operation Green Rights group is just piggy-backing on the sincerely felt beliefs of the native Hawaiians for some free publicity.

And... yup. Some crummy Anon group.

29
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Uber Australia is broke: 'We don't pay tax because we don't generate revenue'

Eric Olson

I think that's part of the question. Are they playing by the rules? Being hauled before a legislative body to discuss why you think your current behavior is okay is usually done for two reasons: You've done something wrong and they want to grandstand a bit, or you've violated the spirit of a rule but technically, you are right.

The former is generally done to score political points with the constituents back home, but the latter is typically a shot across the bow to either stop violating the spirit of the rules, or be prepared to face the consequences. My guess is that like their American counterparts, these senators are giving Uber, Airbnb, Chevron, etc., a warning that the should become good corporate citizens without legislative action, or the legislative action won't be nearly as friendly.

9
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Aircraft laser strikes hit new record with 20 incidents in one night

Eric Olson
Devil

I have an idea...

...and the FBI has offered a $10,000 bounty to anyone who lets them know when a dangerous idiot is on the loose with lasers.

A small part of me wants to find some idiots, plant a seed, water it with beer, then turn them into the cops. I mean, it's a public service to get idiots jailed, right? The fact that I could get paid to do it would merely be an incidental benefit.

10
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How to build a city fit for 50℃ heatwaves

Eric Olson

Re: May not be an issue

People have been predicting the coming population bust for generations. And each time a supposed inflection point is hit, the world keeps humming along.

The reality is that the world produces more than enough food for all the inhabitants. We're talking about about 1.5 times more than necessary, not taking into various religious, ethical, or medical restrictions that are in place. The amount of food wasted (or recycled into compost or animal feed) is astounding. Our issue is distribution and storage. The US is a net exporter of food, yet even it struggles to make sure that even kids get total food security (politics aside). The logistics are a nightmare.

Even when you consider the use of synthetic or mined nutrients and fertilizers to meet those needs, there are already many field studies that compare alternative growing methods and are finding that you can greatly reduce those needs without impacting the yields, just through intelligent application and modifications to existing practices. Some are ancient, such as the no-till, green manure approaches, and others are just using technology to monitor nutrient needs in real-time and applying a calibrated amount to limited areas. This has additional benefits in that it reduces growing costs over time and there is less runoff and other problems associated with over-application of fertilizer.

So no, your number is not only outlandishly low, but it's making assumptions that farmers are slack-jawed, inbred idiots who just drop tons of cow shit on the field each year and wonder why it works. Farming is extremely sophisticated, and given that it is a huge revenue source for some of the richest countries of the world, it will continue to have resources applied to make it more efficient, leaner, and able to support an ever growing world. The key will be figuring out how to get the food transported across the world to feed the places that can't grow enough.

10
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CHEAT! Volkswagen chief 'deeply sorry' over diesel emission test dodge

Eric Olson

Re: "carmakers skirt air pollutant rules by circumventing emissions testing"

Lead-acid batteries are recycled and remade into new batteries, as lead is very amenable to being reclaimed. The sulfuric acid used is easy to neutralize or recycle as well.

Both materials have other industrial uses outside of battery making. Worst-case, the recovery of lead from other ores during processing is no longer as economical, meaning that storage or disposal of lead-bearing tailings becomes a concern... though it probably still ranks low on the list of other issues like mountain-top removal, radioactive tailings, miner safety, water contamination, etc.

Needless to say, the retirement of lead-acid batteries from our car and truck fleet would be due to other reasons that have a net positive to human health and the environment. Not to mention that the transition period would be prolonged.

4
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BORN to HURL: Man's shoulders are head and shoulders above apes, gorillas, chimps etc

Eric Olson

Re: Gorillas?

Having seen some of the flinging abilities of beasts such as Mountain Gorillas, one cannot help but wonder how a test batsman would actually cope against a ball bowled by one. Given they seem to be both quite accurate, and in possession of roughly 10x the strength of the average human.

Well, it you believe the prior article by Roach et al., the structures of the human form are uniquely suited to the act of throwing a projectile with great force and accuracy. While it focused on chimps, the theory is that among primates, only our shoulders and the associated kinetic chain has the ability to generate and release the energy in a concentrated manner. This apparently was also noted by Darwin, without the luxury of motion-capture and high-speed photography.

However, I certainly would not want to try to out-hug a gorilla. I feel as though it would end quite quickly... and definitely not in my favor.

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