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XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

Dzimas Affiliate link in the submitter's blog (162 comments)

The summary includes a link to the submitter's blog, with a shortened link -- -- that expands to an Amazon link with his affiliate code embedded. While I am a huge fan of XKCD, I am not a huge fan of masked links that earn up to 8% for completely unrelated bloggers. Perhaps the summary should be edited to include a direct link to the Amazon product page?


Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

Dzimas Re: Spherical Torus (147 comments)

Scientific breakthroughs don't occur on a set timeline unless you're writing a TV show. We've been "flying" in one form or another for hundreds of years - balloons, gliders, and -- with the advent of the internal combustion engine -- airplanes. One could argue that nuclear physics is significantly more challenging than achieving powered flight. After all, a reasonably competent amateur can build an aircraft -- -- in his garage over a couple of years. The same can't be said for processing fissile materials and building a research reactor.

about a week ago

NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

Dzimas Re:In other news... (216 comments)

Solar doesn't provide energy in the evening or nighttime, wind is unpredictable and hydro involves environmentally damaging waterway modifications. The end result is that fossil fuels and nuclear will always have a place on the grid.

The worst thing we could possibly do is to start installing solar cells on each individual house, while trying to maintain our current consumption. The challenge is that there is a profitable multi-billion dollar market selling grid-tied personal solar and wind power systems to millions of eager Americans, but that approach would be woefully inefficient (several thousand dollars worth of electrical hardware installed in each house across the nation, a glut of home-generated electricity during the day as everyone attempts to sell surplus back to the grid).

Instead, it's time to look at how we're using electricity. Stop building chipboard McMansions that require excessive A/C and heating. Increase the energy efficiency of appliances. Try living in smaller spaces. Discourage people from trying to build cities in the middle of scorching hot deserts, And so on.

about a week ago

Getting IT Talent In Government Will Take Culture Change, Says Google Engineer

Dzimas Re:Maybe the Prez (166 comments)

Here's a photo taken today of the President at Martha's Vineyard. It's not exactly a job you can walk away from:

about three weeks ago

Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

Dzimas Re: Automated notice not necessary here (368 comments)

Actually, it makes no sense to have different recording laws at the state level, nor should "state meddling" supercede "federal meddling."

about three weeks ago

Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK

Dzimas Re:energy production is for niggers (120 comments)

See? This is what happens when an infinite number of monkeys sit down at an infinite number of typewriters to write an infinite number of masterpieces. It reads like an ode to Tourette's Syndrome.

about three weeks ago

Silicon Valley Doesn't Have an Attitude Problem, OK?

Dzimas Re:Steve Jobs set the standard... (262 comments)

The best hire I ever made was someone that a senior VP disagreed with me about during and after the interview. I saw the skill set and personality that was needed for our team and he didn't. Fast forward 10 years, and I found myself approaching the person I'd hired for funding to keep my little startup alive and allow it to prosper. Because I had treated that employee well, we were able to hammer out the framework of an agreement at our first formal meeting. It was the easiest pitch that either of us had ever been through. Behaving like a tantruming child simply because you have money and the illusion of power is the stupidest approach if you plan on being in tech for the long haul. Sooner or later, someone you've trampled or angered *will* be in a position to give a less-than-flattering opinion of you or shut you out.

about three weeks ago

Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Dzimas Limited utility. (136 comments)

I run a company that releases all its hardware designs and am a huge proponent of OSHW. This gesture has limited utility simply because the people who use MCUs in designs aren't typically interested in delving into the minutiae of how the processor that runs the system is built. They're more interested in open source circuits which have real-world applications -- a low pass filter for smoothing PWM signals, a nice clean USB power supply, and so on.

about three weeks ago

PlayStation Now, Sony's 'Netflix For Games' -- Pros and Cons

Dzimas To summarize... (75 comments)

"But the expense of using the service is excessive, blah blah" = "It costs too much."

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?

Dzimas Re:They need exactly 63 999 employees (272 comments)

They need exactly 63 999 employees

You must work in the marketing department of a hard drive company.

about a month and a half ago

BlackBerry's Innovation: Square-Screened Smartphones

Dzimas This is the third Blackberry with a square screen. (139 comments)

Both the Q5 and Q10 phones already have square screens, although they're extremely small because both units have kept the physical keyboard and traditional rectangular shape.

about 2 months ago

Nathan Myhrvold's Recipe For a Better Oven

Dzimas Re:Who cooks at 800C ? (228 comments)

Lead melts at 327.5 degrees, zinc melts at 319.5 degrees, tin a bit less than that. You could have some serious metalworking fun in the kitchen -- get it up to 1200 degrees and you could liquify gold, silver and even copper. I seriously hope that the numbers in the summary were just an awkward conversion error, because the notion of your very own kitchen smelter is terrifying.

about 2 months ago

Bye Bye Aereo, For Now

Dzimas Re:They where acting like the cable co / CATV (93 comments)

Why should anyone pay a fee to re-transmit free-to-air TV signals? I understand that cable channels rely on subscription fees to stay in business, but we're talking about the major networks - ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS - that are broadcast across 94% of the United States at no charge.

about 2 months ago

NRC Human Spaceflight Report Says NASA Strategy Can't Get Humans To Mars

Dzimas Re:Why should we care? (206 comments)

A politician's speech is the best you can come up with to explain why we need to reach Mars? Oh, my. JFK was all hot and bothered to reach the moon because it would upstage the Soviets, not because it was a noble or even sensible endeavor. There are a number of good reasons why a mission to mars would be desirable: (1) it requires the development of long-range manned spacecraft, (2) it gets us out of low earth orbit, (3) (in the long term) it encourages the development of new forms of long-range propulsion and an important emphasis on interplanetary life support systems. I could scrawl down a few dozen more, but the *important* bit is that it encourages us to make tentative steps into the larger solar system. And -- once we can reach other planets and moons -- perhaps there's an economic opportunity to be found that drives further advances.

about 3 months ago

A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Dzimas Re:Sometimes the "idiot" isn't the problem. (255 comments)

Yes, of course I presented the user feedback as you suggest. I also provided solid use cases to illustrate how things didn't match the way their business works and what could be done to dramatically improve it. The problem was simply that the project manager had chosen to build a technical house of cards and didn't have the budget or time to change course. When faced with clear evidence that the system simply didn't work for clients, the easiest response was to discredit and kill the messenger. That only preserves the status quo for a short while, though. In this company's case, it was a matter of about 8 more weeks before an executive review killed the project and eventually the entire division.

about 2 months ago

A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Dzimas Sometimes the "idiot" isn't the problem. (255 comments)

I've had the delightful experience of being treated as the team idiot simply for declaring that the emperor had no clothes. It was one of those death march instances where a company decided to write a "version 2.0" of their extremely good program from the ground up. They brought in extremely skilled and expensive technical leads who developed a complicated new back end that was designed to be as "infinitely versatile" and then deployed a front end to match. The result was that they took a very good user experience and turned it into an arcane and slow -- but insanely flexible -- system. Client users absolutely hated the preview releases because they simply didn't let them do their work. I was the unlucky sap who had to provide feedback to the dev team. I decided not to pull punches and deliver a factual summary. The end result? The project lead declared that, "The consulting team simply doesn't understand how the system works" and proceeded to try to ice me out of the company. The organization ultimately failed because the project was such a mess. Unpleasant, but I'm glad I stood my ground and called a spade a spade. It took a while to regain my confidence after that, but my subsequent projects have all been successful and even award winning.

about 2 months ago

The World's Worst Planes: Aircraft Designs That Failed

Dzimas Re: Does not matter (209 comments)

No, it would have required the USSR to *pretend* to upgrade their air defences. The cold war is marked by repeated overestimation of Soviet capabilities and equipment, which resulted in trillions of dollars wasted.

about 3 months ago

Virgin Galactic Passengers May Just Miss Going into Space

Dzimas A long way up (203 comments)

50 km is 164,042 feet. That's a long way up. Only 543 people have reached an altitude of 50 km or higher.

about 4 months ago

The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'

Dzimas And battery life suffers. (243 comments)

My wife still carries a 4 year old Samsung feature phone with a slider keyboard. The reason? She doesn't like having to charge a handset every day or two. Her little phone will go for several weeks without charging, so she can just leave it in her shoulder bag most of the time. Her service is also dirt cheap because she doesn't have to worship at the altar of data -- she pays about $12/month. I really wish I could do the same and cut the strings; I'd probably save about $500 a year by going data-free.

about 4 months ago

Figuring Out the iPad's Place

Dzimas Re: Secretive Democracy Alliance Meeting (333 comments)

What those of us outside the USA find befuddling is that Americans truly seem to believe that the Democrats and Republicans represent a profound left wing - right wing split,when in the broader spectrum, both parties are profoundly right wing, with a heavy emphasis on capitalism and authoritarianism. Just because the current president is pushing the notion of socialized medicare doesn't mean that the country is teetering on the brink of a Marxist revolution.

about 4 months ago


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