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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

MyNicknameSucks It's expensive (491 comments)

Last year, after the ice storm knocked out power to large parts of Toronto for several days, the local utility published some numbers of what it would cost to fully bury Toronto's power lines; it was a mind boggling number -- in the billions. No one has the will to spend that kind of money to improve the grid's up time by .1%.

But ... above-ground lines aren't the worst thing in the world. First, if there is a problem, above-ground lines are far easier to repair. Second, parts of Toronto are prone to flooding. We lost part of our subway system for a few days a couple years ago due to flooding shorting out the buried power infrastructure downtown.

FWIW, it's not the aboveground nature of Toronto's grid that causes most of our problems; it's 60 year-old infrastructure with a rated lifespan of 50 years that kills us. Coming out of WWII, there was public will in Toronto to build grand projects -- the citizens were fine with the idea of doing without for the greater good. Once the boomers came into power, they started nickel and diming everything and put off maintenance. Infrastructure spending? Not cool. Lowering tax rates far below what their parents paid? That's cool.


Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

MyNicknameSucks What a bunch of hypocrits (474 comments)

Seriously, people. Looking at the comments here for the last couple of years, you can see the same people say, "NSA surveillance is bad because it violates my constitutional and civil rights. The government requires a warrant to gather information about me." The same people will say, "Suck it up, buttercup, because the cops are in the right when they stop and search you [for no reason other than your age and skin colour]."

3 days ago

How To End Online Harassment

MyNicknameSucks And if GG had ignored Sarkessian ... (834 comments)

Snark on:

Does anyone have a guide for which anonymous #GG users are legit and which anonymous #GG users are not?

Snark off.

The message has shifted since #GG became a thing; you can poke around the stories here, at Ars, and elsewhere and see that people who identified with the movement, early days, were often (note: I said "often", not "always" or "frequently") OK with calling people "feminazis" (since replaced with SJW). They also, sometimes, went on explain how "rape" and "kill" are almost used affectionately in gaming or dismissed the threats with arguments that, basically, said, "She hurt our feelings." I think that, as #GG has become more organized, the obvious trolling gets smacked down, at least in the forums (seriously, that's a positive step forward) ... but you can't walk back the fact that the harassing comments, (and fabricated stories about trading sexual favours for positive reviews) early on, muddled the message.

And it's the early comments that framed the debate. And those early, juvenile, minority opinion comments absolutely proved Sarkeesian's point better for more people than her videos ever could -- and gave her a FAR wider audience than she could ever have dreamed of.

Seriously, I have no idea why the #GG people interested in journalism ethics continued to use the #GG tag when its brand had been tarnished beyond repair. It tied a legitimate cause to one tainted in the public's eyes with threats (rape and murder), lies (sex for positive reviews), intimidation (doxxing, mass murder threats at the university), and outright misogyny (seriously, it's not OK to call someone a Nazi). No amount of damage control will fix that.

And, finally, since I'm about to modded down to troll anyway ... ethics in gaming journalism is not a big deal to most people. Gaming journalism rates as a cut below entertainment journalism. And, frankly, gaming (let alone ethics in gaming journalism) receives fewer column inches than the obituary section in most newspapers. It is, simply, not a subject most people care about because it doesn't affect them personally, any more than the extravagant gifts given to film journalists at film festivals (iPads, private parties) do.

about two weeks ago

NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

MyNicknameSucks Women improve business performance (786 comments)

So ... here's an article from the Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com... .

Research first reported in Science Magazine regarding the contribution of women to the collective intelligence of a team garnered worldwide attention, particularly the studies highlighting the performance of women when tested on tasks relating to brainstorming, complex problem-solving and decision-making. The findings confirmed that a group’s collective intelligence was strengthened by the inclusion of women and their enhanced capacity for listening, collaborating and intuitiveness. The CIA is one example of an organization that made a notable transformation of its culture by not only ensuring women had greater representation in senior positions, but also explicitly recognizing that it was women on their team who discovered the location of Osama Bin Laden, allowing for him to be captured.

You want men and women working together. Simple as that.

The business case goes like this:

The financial benefits of greater gender equity are undeniable. Extensive global research conducted by Credit Suisse, Catalyst and McKinsey & Co. examining the link between women on boards and stronger financial performance of Fortune 500 companies has been cited in numerous publications. Examining the return on sales, return on invested capital, and return on equity, their research confirmed that companies with women on their boards of directors outperform those with the least number of women by significant margins in each category.

Credit Suisse is not exactly some radical feminist organization out to overthrow patriarchy.

about a month ago

No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

MyNicknameSucks For gun historians ... (334 comments)

The Lee-Enfield eventually replaced the Canadian-made Ross rifle during WW I for Canadian soldiers. The Ross rifle was incredibly accurate with great range, but needed to be fired in clean conditions with perfect ammunition. Not a weapon for the trenches, but a handful of snipers kept their Ross rifles even as they were phased out for regular infantry. Ross, the manufacturer, blamed a lot of the rifle's problems on bad British ammunition, but the army eventually decided that using a less accurate rifle that actually allowed to a soldier shoot at stuff was more important than having a rifle that required a maintenance crew.

about a month ago

Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World

MyNicknameSucks We got the kids a Kano ... (547 comments)

We got the kids a Kano. Daughter 1 asks, "Do you two know how to program?" Parents, "Does the Kano have Turbo Pascal?" Daughter 2, "Is that like some kind of 80s cartoon character?"

about a month and a half ago

Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

MyNicknameSucks Re:Gallons per mile? (403 comments)

Notice I said "apparently ... 137." The numbers are from Audi, not me.

Never tried going that fast -- we bought the car because it was, at the time, the most fuel efficient luxury automobile we could get in Canada. And the only other cars, period, that were more efficient were hybrids (seriously, it's more efficient than a Smart on the highway). FWIW, speed kills fuel economy. That's why I don't drive with a lead foot.

about a month and a half ago

Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

MyNicknameSucks Re:Gallons per mile? (403 comments)

My four cylinder diesel A3 apparently has a top speed of 137 MPH.

In metric, I can get ~ 5.0 litres / 100km with a driver, 3 passengers, and luggage doing 80km / hour. At more typical highway speeds, it gets 5.5 or so litres / 100km. That works out to about 47 / 42 MPG -- and fueleconomy.gov's "guesstimate" is 42 MPG on the highway for this car. The US's guesstimate more or less nails my realworld results.

about a month and a half ago

Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

MyNicknameSucks Didn't see the video ... (575 comments)

But did he manage to deliver the "think about the children line" with a straight face? 'Cause that's like the all time best argument for when you've got nothin' else. Or you're asking someone to do something that fails the basic sniff test of, "Is this reasonable?"

about 2 months ago

Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

MyNicknameSucks Re:rather telling. (269 comments)

So ... here's the thing. Metro was designed around keyboard and touch, not mouse. Desktop was designed around mouse and keyboard. Many of the years-old keyboard shortcuts such as alt-f4 and alt-tab (definitely Win95 era, possibly Win3) work perfectly fine in Metro. Just because Metro looks "touchy" doesn't mean you can't interact with it in other ways.

I am frankly ... kind of amazed that a nerdy crowd that frequently crows about the number of ways they can interact with gadgets (different iterations of Android, MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Amiga, BeOS, BSD, BASH and on and on) have such a hard time wrapping their heads around keyboarding through Metro.

about 2 months ago

SteadyServ Helps Keep the Draft Beer Flowing (Video)

MyNicknameSucks Re:I'm a brewer (48 comments)

The standard Beer Store keg in Ontario is 58l (half barrel). That's 58 (give or take) kilograms of beer + the weight of the keg. That's closing in on 150 pounds.

If you think your kegs aren't carbonated, I have a quick test for you. Give the keg a few shakes, or roll it on the floor for a couple minutes. Take your coupler, shut off the gas to it. Attach to it a new keg. Most Sanke D couplers (at least the good ones) have blow-off valves (it's a safety feature so that the keg doesn't go BOOM! if things reach over 100PSI or so). It usually looks like a ring. Pull it open -- I will personally guarantee that you will first hear the gas leak. And then see foam. Gushing. Beer can only hold about 1 volume of CO2 (per volume of beer) -- the other 1.5 volumes typical for a beer keg will energetically fly out, taking some beer with it.

Less entertaining, you can simply hook up the coupler to the keg and open up the tap. Depending on the length of your draft run (this will work on a short run, where your line pressure is about 8 PSI), you'll be able to slowly pour beer as, again, the CO2 comes out of solution and pulls some beer with it. Warning: if you do this, the rest of the keg will be flat unless you crank up the PSI to 20 with a CO2 (not beer gas) tank or so for a few hours to force CO2 back into solution in the beer.

There are "beer in a box" systems that carbonate flat beer on the fly, but they're exceptionally rare.

FWIW, a huge part of pulling the perfect pint is to control the pour so that you get enough CO2 coming out of the beer to form a decent head. Too hard / too fast, too much foam. Too gentle / too slow, not enough; the bubbles will come out with time (or gentle shaking), however.

about 2 months ago

SteadyServ Helps Keep the Draft Beer Flowing (Video)

MyNicknameSucks I'm a brewer (48 comments)

I'm a brewer. I go to lots of bars, speak to lots of bar managers and owners, and poke around lots of beer fridges.

First, high volume bars, if they want metrics, install flow meters on draft lines. The sophisticated ones communicate with the PoS and report when the beer is flowing and how much. If the server's pouring freebies, the system will know and rat on the bartender. The system also knows if a brewer is shorting their kegs or is making foamy (over-carbonated) kegs that lead to spillage. Managers love that. Second, the meters are integrated into the lines so there's no ****ing around with flying saucers; you will always get the right data for your taps. Always. Third, most beer fridges are wet, dank pits. No one likes spending time in them. Telling bar staff to pick up a keg that weighs upwards of 150lbs and place it on a disk is ... hopeful. Telling bar staff to perform the same maneuver on a disk stuck in a keg fridge? That's borderline stupid. Those saucers are going to get punished.

Also, it's not rocket science to keep a few extra kegs around if you're managing 30 taps; you, by definition, have lots of storage. And if 4 or 5 lines blow without replacement? That is not a big deal. In fact, some bars won't replace blown kegs after dark because it makes them look busier (no, seriously, I've seen this in action) and helps to push people to less popular brands.

Seriously? Has this guy worked in a brewery ... or a bar ... recently?

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

MyNicknameSucks Currently? Can't see it (471 comments)

My feelings are summed up by Joseph Volpe's article at Engadget, http://www.engadget.com/2014/0...,

As a category, it needs to replace -- needs to completely replace our need for a cellphone. Otherwise, it's just one more thing to remember to charge throughout our busy days. To date, there's nothing any of these thinly veiled, proof-of-concept, wrist-worn devices can do that the smartphone already in your hand can't.

In my own case, I would be most likely to use one while working ... but work involves dust, steam, liquids, and 70kg kegs. It's not a good environment for something on my wrist.

about 3 months ago

UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

MyNicknameSucks Something to add (427 comments)

The reefs in the Caribbean have been dying for decades, but not from acidification.

About a quarter of the way down on this page, http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/201... , you can see what happens as the stony corals die off. The branches of the corals break off and no longer supply refuge to small fish from predators. And there's less ... well ... hard stuff in the way to slow down waves. It's kind of depressing to snorkel or dive in Florida since you can see all the old coral skeletons lying on the ocean floor, slowly being covered with silt. While, of the three images, the one on the right looks the most vibrant, most of what you're seeing is soft coral (no calcium carbonate skeleton) and sponges that are, you know, spongy. Soft corals provide little or no protection to juvenile or feeder fish.

about 3 months ago

UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

MyNicknameSucks Ocean acidification is scary (427 comments)

Higher acidity [CO2 dissolved in water forms an acid] in seawater is known to disrupt the life cycles of many marine species — from reef-building corals to shellfish beloved by humans — by interfering with the creatures’ ability to use sea-borne calcium to build their shells.

This bit should be scaring the pants off us. Not because we'll suddenly not be feasting on oysters, but because of zooplankton that form delicate calcium-based shells. If those critters go bye-bye, we will likely see the collapse of more ocean fisheries as food sources dry up.

And, in something of a double-whammy, coastal regions in the tropics are often protected by reefs from the ravages of some tropical storms. If those reefs slow down their growth (that replaces damaged reefs structures), or start dissolving, we're going to be have a tidal wave (bad pun!) of starving refugees.

You don't need to believe in global warming to see those two issues becoming problems. You need enough empathy to see this as being a problem, even if it's not in your own backyard.

If you do believe in global warming, it's a crapshoot as to whether or not the oceans will rise high enough to wipe out their homes before acidification lays a licking on marine ecosystems.

about 3 months ago

Music Training's Cognitive Benefits Could Help "At-Risk" Students

MyNicknameSucks Re:Arts in Education (58 comments)

When I was a kid, the math model taught at my school was something along the lines of, "If you show kids the math and some of the underlying principles, it will eventually all come together." It didn't work for me -- I just didn't get it, but it worked well for a handful of my classmates who went on to successful careers in engineering and coding. What did work was hours' worth of flashcards on road trips drilling times tables into my thick skull. Over time, I also picked up some tricks for estimating sums in my head (and for most things in my life, estimates are good enough).

But I was never particularly good at algebra, physics, or trig. They're too abstract for me to wrap my head around.

But give a bunch of prices to add in my head? And figure out the sales tax? And tip? I got that covered -- that stuff I can do faster and more accurately in my head than people who had better than 90% grades in high school math, and, in some cases, university math. As an adult, I've read a lot of popular science books about physics; I love the ideas, but if you show me a page of equations, it's all Greek to me.

My point? Kids learn differently. What works for one, might not work for another. There's no one size fits all method for teaching kids; that's why it's imperative to give kids a variety of different experiences at school and figure out which methods work best for different kids.

FWIW, reading to your kids is also shown to be (arguably) the best thing you can do for ensuring their academic achievement.

about 3 months ago

Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

MyNicknameSucks Re:Obvious Reason (579 comments)

Damn straight.

I am at a loss as to why a repository of human knowledge should try to engage as many people with as many different interests as possible.

Oh, wait.

about 3 months ago

News Aggregator Fark Adds Misogyny Ban

MyNicknameSucks Re:Sigh (748 comments)

Or Slashdot. It's got really, really bad here over the last couple of years. Things really nose dived after the Beta exodus and a lot of regulars left. Pick any random story about equality and it will be full of people accusing the women involved of attacking them personally and of being whiney bitches. Back when the whole Mozilla controversy was going on there were endless posts about how "just not liking gays" was somehow a perfectly okay position to take, and blaming them for daring to demand equality and human rights.

You're absolutely right.

I think what we're seeing is that /.'s culture has shifted over the years; there don't seem to be as many thoughtful people around who can see issues from other people's viewpoints. Instead, /. is skewing towards a particular subclass of nerd, one that really doesn't get (and sometimes feels threatened by) people who aren't just like them. When it comes to stories reporting on the makeup of of the IT workplace, we're likely to see comments modded up that say white men in IT are the most discriminated against despite making up 70+% of the workforce. Apparently, 100% should be the goal.

about 3 months ago

Leaked Build of Windows 9 Shows Start Menu Return

MyNicknameSucks Re:Fuck Tiles! (346 comments)

Just pointing something out ...

I've seen people complain that Microsoft doesn't innovate, doesn't try new things.

And I've now seen people excoriate MS for trying new things and trying to innovate.

And, FWIW, some some aspects of Metro have been popping up elsewhere -- I don't think Metro has been an unmitigated disaster. At the venerable NYT, http://nyt.com/ useful bits can "slide in" from the margins when you move the mouse over to the left side of the window. Tiles are the lingua franca of The Toronto Sun, http://torontosun.com/ .

  MS, however, did screw up some things. Well ... a lot of things with Metro for the desktop.

First, it's a UI designed for media consumption (and single- and double-tasking) -- that ship has sailed. Phones, tablets, and, to a lesser extent, notebooks (and, in my house, the WiiU) are for media consumption. Desktops are for productivity.

Second, Metro is actually pretty decent when you figure out how the keyboard shortcuts (win-key +s for searching, alt-tab to switch windows, alt-f4 to shut a window, etc.). But it's pretty awful if you go at it with a mouse -- and MS did not, at all, make this clear.

Third, the Start button thing is ... almost, but not quite, a red herring. If you're looking for a program that's two or three menus deep, good luck to you. It is usually faster (if you're a decent typist, at least) to hit the win key and type the name of the program. If it's a program you use frequently, it should probably be pinned to the taskbar. I've watched my kids on the Win8.x desktop -- the only time they bother with the Start button is when they log out. I think the problem here is that we've had nearly two decades of living with Start and it's proving to be a tough habit to break ...

Fourth, and probably worst of all, MS foisted Metro and its apps on users in situations where it shouldn't have. If you were writing up an email in Outlook (desktop program) and wanted to open the calculator to check your math, it defaulted to a Metro, full-screen, four function calculator. That's stupid. MS has two built-in picture viewers, both relatively equivalent. But, using the default programs app, the Metro app can be set as the default app for several times more file types than the desktop app ... even though the desktop app can open those files and be set as the default viewer through Explorer. That's bad. And some OS settings can only be set through Metro -- and that's inexcusable since Metro is not supposed to be for "power users". And there are lots of other goofy places where the Metro app is the default choice, even when launched through the desktop.

about 4 months ago

Amazon Dispute Now Making Movies Harder To Order

MyNicknameSucks Re:Now wait (210 comments)

I know a bunch of independent filmmakers -- no, none of them can make the Lego movie. They can make low-budget rom-coms. They can make cute animated shorts. And they can make some superb docs ...

But they don't have the render farm required to make an animated 3d movie (even outsourced, I am thinking that kind of processing power and the pipes required to move the data won't come cheap). They don't have the money to get quality voice actors. They don't have the marketing and negotiating chops to land a serious IP. And artists don't come cheap. The gulf here is rather large.

FWIW, basement sound producers are still having trouble making music sound as good as music (played by musicians on instruments, at least) recorded in a studio with an a-list crew.

about 6 months ago


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