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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Organic Brain Damage Re:Oh dear - money grows on trees... (493 comments)

If utilities increase their prices, they'll make solar more attractive and increase the rate at which they go out of business.

5 days ago
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Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company

Organic Brain Damage No way. (502 comments)

I'm a fan of solar and wind. I buy into the optional wind-source program offered by our local utility even though it raises my electricity bill by about 5%.

But when I recently looked into installing solar, got a quote from a local installer, it was going to cost $13k (after federal tax credit/subsidy) to buy and install a grid-tied system. That would replace about 1/2 the 700 kwH / month that we use at our house (gas heat, gas hot water, gas cooktop). Our utility charges $0.135 / kwH. The payback for the installation without counting on any alternative return on investment for the $13k was 16 years. The other assumption is that the solar system requires no maintenance.

Here is some of the information I got from the installer during the bid process:

1. In northern states in the USA, you can figure on about 1,250 kwH per year from 1,000 watts (manufacturer peak rating?) of panels. So if you use 625 Kwh / month, you need 6,000 watts of rated power to replace your usage 100%. That's only 24 250 watt panels, or a panel price of 6,000-$7,500.

2. If your panels do not get 100% equal sunlight, the array will produce at the rate of the most shaded panel. UNLESS you buy the panels with the inverter/converter built into it. Then each panel produces whatever it can, independent of the production of the other panels.

3. Batteries are expensive and they wear out in 10 years. So if you buy a big battery system for $6,000, you're effectively spending $600 / year on the batteries unless you make unicorn-rainbow assumptions about advances in battery technology. For this reason, a grid-tied system is probably going to be about $50 / month more cost effective.

4. Mounting systems for attaching the panels to your roof can cost around $100 per panel.

So, install it if it makes you feel good, or if you live in a place where power costs far more than the $0.135 / kwh it costs where I live. But until the costs drop by 50% or the price of power doubles, I'm not going to buy.

I think Morgan Stanley is probably going to turn out to be wrong. I don't think we'll see solar panel prices continue to drop 20% / year and right now, panel prices are only about 1/3d the cost of a system, the other pieces and the labor are 2/3rds, so even if solar panels dropped 20%, the cost of an installation would drop at best 10%, and more likely something like 6.7%.

Large-scale wind farms look more likely to me.

about 2 months ago
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In First American TV Interview, Snowden Talks Accountability and Patriotism

Organic Brain Damage Snowden is a hero. (389 comments)

Mr. Snowden exposed, in an undeniable manner, a grave threat to the freedom of each and every US citizen. He deserves a Presidential pardon or some kind of get out of jail free card on this act, because he did break the law, but the law in this case is shielding people who are secretly undermining our fundamental freedoms through massive unwarranted spying on US citizens.

Is Snowden a criminal? Yes. Is he a hero to those of us who wish to continue to live in the land of the freer than average? Yes.
Here's what our government has been doing since 9/11/2001 gave the anti-freedom brigade carte blanche:

1. As Mr. Snowden rubs our face in it: massive and sweeping unwarranted surveillance and collection of data and meta data of our phone and internet communications,
2. Secret courts.
3. Extra-judicial assassinations of both foreign nationals and in rare cases, US citizens. 4. Drone strikes on people in many countries outside of our declared war zones (Iraq and Afghanistan).
5. Declaring war on a country that has not invaded us or attacked us or any of our allies (Iraq).
6. Detaining criminals without due process, no sentence, no release date.
7. Torture on a massive scale. Abu Ghraib is just where we got caught on film. We've funded the torture of thousands of individuals. We as taxpayers are complicit and accruing a pretty massive karmic debt.
8. CIA black sites where our government can and does operate outside any bounds of law or moral constraint.
Since 9/11, we have been sliding into a nasty democracy of evil and unconstrained government behavior. We need to start rolling this stuff back. Strike down the patriot act and adopt a pre-9/11 stance towards freedom, due process, privacy and the constitution. It'd be a bargain to suffer a dozen 9/11 attacks, compared to what we're becoming because of our craven fear.

Live free or die.

about 4 months ago
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What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?

Organic Brain Damage A few more key ideas (598 comments)

1. 99.999% of end users/customers do not understand software design documents and never will understand software design documents. So we must prototype rapidly into existence so we can get useful feedback early and often directly from the people that will use the tools we build is important.

2. I rarely optimize for performance. But when I do, I always measure first, record the results, and after each change, measure again. Use a stop-watch, a routine you build yourself, or a fancy-pants Profiler that tells you how much time each line of code took, but never ever optimize without measuring.

3. Software Engineers/Programmers are usually religious fanatics when it comes to languages and tools. Almost any problem can be solved in almost any language. If you're on a project with someone who loves Java, they'll write better code in Java. This idea extends to OS choices. If someone loves the Mac OS, their programs written on the Mac OS will be much better than anything that programmer would ever write on Windows or Linux. 4.

about a year ago
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U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed

Organic Brain Damage Don't Worry (1532 comments)

1. None of the essential services, such as air traffic control, will be shut down. You'll still be able to hop into your G5 and fly to Paris for dinner tonight.

2. OSHA, on the other hand, will stop inspecting your refineries, so some of your human resources employees may need to work a little harder to replace losses due to on-the-job mortality and morbidity.

If the #1 and #2 above do not apply to you, please ignore this post, it's not your government that shut down.

1 year,22 hours
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John Scalzi's Redshirts Wins Hugo Award for Best Novel

Organic Brain Damage Asimov-like? (112 comments)

Alistair Reynolds. Charles Stross. Gregory Benford. There's three.

1 year,29 days
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What's Causing the Rise In Obesity? Everything.

Organic Brain Damage Re:Economic Stress (926 comments)

Try drugs like oxycontin, pot, booze, crack or meth or opium to dull the existential pain. Instead of food. It'll have you in a size 2 in no time.

about a year ago
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Book Review: The Healthy Programmer

Organic Brain Damage Here's an effective diet in one Slashdot Post (461 comments)

1. Do not eat at any establishment that normally has a drive-thru window.
2. Do not drink any carbonated beverage except beer or sparkling wine.
3. Do not eat candy.
4. Eat one fresh apple per day. Generally favor fresh vegetables and fruits over grains, meats and dairy.
5. Eat stuff you like, but don't gorge. For instance, I go to my favorite Taqueria once every week or two, but I get two tacos instead of five. Most days, I eat food I cook myself.
6. Restaurants are not usually making low-calorie high-nutrient food in reasonable portions. If you are going out to eat, eat 1/2 the portion they put in front of you and share the other 1/2 or take it home or throw it out. There's no points for cleaning your plate.
7. Avoid packaged convenience foods. If it comes in a cardboard box with a picture of food on the outside, skip it. It's not food.
8. Count your calories with a smart-phone app. Be honest with yourself. If you log everything you eat, you'll make better choices.
9. A normal deck of playing cards is roughly the size of a day's healthy portion of meat (3 oz).
10. Get a moderate amount of exercise throughout the day. By exercise, I mean getting up and walking 15 mins or doing pushups or planking for 90 seconds. Building the big muscles in your body helps you burn more energy while resting. Overdoing this is useless and causes injury.

For extra credit, try fasting once per week to reset your hunger point and save one day's calories. Learn that being hungry for an hour or two isn't necessarily signaling the imminent end of your world.

about a year ago
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Birthday Song's Copyright Leads To a Lawsuit For the Ages

Organic Brain Damage Orwell was right (442 comments)

The simple concept of Doublespeak explains very clearly what a government means when it says: Promote innovation through intellectual property law. Our governments mean to stifle, not promote. Copyright should not extend more than 20 years past the life of the original author. Public domain should be growing every year. Instead it's stuck to protect Disney.

about a year ago
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GMO Wheat Found Growing Wild In Oregon, Japan Suspends Import From U.S.

Organic Brain Damage We will NEED GMO food crops! (679 comments)

We are not going to do anything effective to halt CO2-influenced global climate change. So, we'll need GMO crops that can withstand our increasingly destabilized climate. In 20 years, I predict the new GMO tornado-resistant tomatoes will make our current grocery-store red rocks seem soft and toothsome by comparison.

about a year ago
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World of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million Players in First Quarter of 2013

Organic Brain Damage Re:not where from, where to? (523 comments)

What an awful waste of both Scotch and Parma Ham. The high alcohol content of the Scotch mixes with the high salt content of the ham and utterly kills your palate. You'll taste neither with any acuity. With the Parma Ham, you're much better off with a semi-dry Prosecco. With the Scotch, don't eat anything if it's good Scotch. If it's bad Scotch, don't drink it, it's not worth the liver damage.

about a year ago
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World of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million Players in First Quarter of 2013

Organic Brain Damage Re:not where from, where to? (523 comments)

It might be scary, but the graphics resolution is really really good. As is the surround sound!

about a year ago
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Can Older Software Developers Still Learn New Tricks?

Organic Brain Damage Measure Programmer Productivity? (365 comments)

How can we have an intelligent discussion about the Cost-Effectiveness of older programmers vs. younger programmers without a method to measure programmer productivity? The only thing measurable is the "Cost." The "Effectiveness" part is left out completely. When you come up with a generally accepted method for measuring programmer Effectiveness, please let us know. Until then, I predict, anti-old-programmer bias in hiring and layoffs will continue in most organizations.

How does an individual programmer deal with this bias in her own career plan?

Option 1: Burrow deep into a niche technology upon which one or more corporations depend for tens of millions (or more) dollars in profit. Ideally this niche technology will be as attractive to current CSci students as learning COBOL is today. Show up for work everyday. You'll have employment opportunities well into your 70's.

Option 2: Start a small business. Software businesses have notoriously low start-up capital costs. If you can identify an unmet or under-served software need of a number of small or mid-sized businesses and work with potential customers to come up good solution, you can create a business that will feed you and your family until you no longer want to work.

Option 3: Bag groceries, deliver pizzas, work seasonally at the post office or in retail or try real estate or insurance sales or used car sales when you're 55 trying to survive to 65 and Social Security/Medicare.

I've seen a large number of techies (not just programmers, but Engineers as well) choosing Option 3 by default because they didn't want to stare the grim reality in the face.

about a year and a half ago
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Will Donglegate Affect Your Decision To Attend PyCon?

Organic Brain Damage Re:What the hell (759 comments)

>> If women want equal rights, then there should be no feminists.
First, women have equal rights. Second, feminists are people who hold the radical notion that women are people too.

about a year and a half ago
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Will Donglegate Affect Your Decision To Attend PyCon?

Organic Brain Damage Re:Donglegate? Really? (759 comments)

Australia lags the rest of the developed world by about 25 years in relations between the sexes. China? Maybe more like 50.

about a year and a half ago
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Will Donglegate Affect Your Decision To Attend PyCon?

Organic Brain Damage Re:Human Beings (759 comments)

>> Even though we have freedom of speech, we run the risk of losing our livelihoods if we say something that might offend someone somewhere.

Freedom of speech, as enshrined in the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution protects us from our government. It does not protect us from our fellow citizens or employers. If you say something nasty to me about my wife, whether it is true or not, the 1st Amendment does not protect you when I punch you in the nose. Laws against assault may apply, but they are not based on the 1st Amendment.

>> If someone can come up with a disparaging name to call a female that is not sexist, please suggest one,

Since you asked: Jerk or asshole both fit the bill.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To (or How NOT To) Train Your Job Replacement?

Organic Brain Damage Re:Not in your contract (292 comments)

This is the best advice. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you and you may be rewarded in the end. When the manager for this company realizes you've done diligent work up to the last second of your contract and that manager moves on to another company after the newbie fails to live up to expectations, he may call you and offer you more work at an even better rate. If you hold out on the replacement and don't give him full training (that you are indeed being paid to do), then you ruin your reputation with the newbie (who knows where he'll end up?) and the manager(s).

about a year and a half ago
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Is It Time To Enforce a Gamers' Bill of Rights?

Organic Brain Damage Gamer's Bill of Rights is unnecessary. (469 comments)

If you don't like games that require internet connections without needing internet connections, don't buy them. That's really simple. If you don't like EA's other business practices, boycott EA by all means. Plenty of MMORPGs like WoW, EQ2, Rift, SWTOR and EVE require internet connections, but of course they actually derive benefit from the connections and their servers usually work.

about a year and a half ago
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British Farmers Growing Their Own Internet Service

Organic Brain Damage Those wonderful whacky Brits.... (178 comments)

And they're doing it all with components built by Lucas!

about a year and a half ago

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