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Exploding Oil Tank Cars: Why Trains Go Boom

Phydeaux314 Re:why carry crude to in tanks on moving vehicles? (144 comments)

Pipelines have their own share of problems: Leaks, maintenance access, property arguments, security difficulties, animal migrations, the list goes on. They're definitely *a* solution, but not necessarily *the* solution.

If the suspicions of the folks in the article are correct, then it's simply a case of the manufacturers trying to take advantage of the fact that contents are sold by volume, not by weight... with the minor caveat that the extra volume has a tendency to explode. The real solution, then, would be to smack the greedy bastards pulling the stunt and ensure the oil is separated enough to safely transport.

about a year ago

Open Source Add-on Rewrites the User Interface of IE11

Phydeaux314 Why not on the side? (86 comments)

I'm still confused why everyone insists on dumping the menus and buttons on the TOP of the browser window. Web site design, for various reasons, tends to follow a fairly vertical layout: You scroll up and down to get at more content, with little to no side-to-side scrolling. Our screens, on the other hand, tend toward horizontal layouts, with aspect ratios getting increasingly wide.

It makes no sense for us to put menu bars at the top when we could put them at the right hand side, and the content in a narrower, taller window. We'd see more relevant content on our web pages, it keeps the tabs closer to the scroll bar, and minimize/maximize/close buttons are close by as well. Vertical pixels are valuable. Horizontal ones are cheap. Make the buttons and tabs use cheap pixels, please.

about a year ago

Microsoft Is Sitting On Six Million Unsold Surface Tablets

Phydeaux314 They're not all bad (550 comments)

Disclaimer: I purchased a Surface Pro for personal/school use.

The RT was, quite frankly, a bad idea.

The pro has a lot going for it, if you're in the market for a moderately high-powered x86 ultrabook with a stylus and touch screen. Basically, it's the cat's pajamas for people that need something exactly like that (I do audio recording and some graphic design work when I'm out and about), and it's an overpriced novelty for anyone that doesn't. No remorse here, I love the thing, but I know I'm not a typical end user and there aren't enough people like me to support the kind of R&D that goes into this sort of device.

The RT takes all of the advantages the pro has, and throws them out the window.

You're left with an underpowered, oversized tablet with an underwhelming user interface and no applications to speak of. It's pretty much the perfect storm of uselessness. Which makes it no real big surprise that it's selling badly.

At least with the pro they can sell it to the developer/designer folks (my sister, who does photoshop work on a regular basis, was drooling all over it) instead. The RT? Not so much.

about a year and a half ago

HydroICE Project Developing a Solar-Powered Combustion Engine

Phydeaux314 Cute idea, but... (144 comments)

...I see a few issues, some fixable, some less so.

First, while removing the boiler from the whole "steam plant" equation really does help the safety side of things, you have to be VERY VERY SURE that your separator removes ALL the water from your exhaust. Why? Because if you have even a tiny bit of water in your oil tank, and your heat it to 700F, it's going to boil and expand... and suddenly your low-pressure oil reservoir systems just turned into a really weak boiler full of oil that's hot enough to burst into flames. Instead of venting superheated invisible steam that can strip flesh from bones in seconds, you're going to be spurting oil around at temperatures that cause spontaneous combustion when meeting atmospheric oxygen. Not sure if that's really a step up.

Second, while oil and water don't mix, they do tend to form a really annoying to work with mayonnaise-like suspension of oil globules in water when mixed together really well. This takes a long time - or a lot of energy - to completely split apart.

Third, in addition to the previous problems with separating mayonnaise, heat dissipation will be an issue. Internal combustion engines carry a LOT of their waste heat away with exhaust, but in a closed-loop system like the one they're proposing here you need to remove the 85% of the energy you don't convert into work. Steamboats traditionally do this with a condenser that sits in the water, but if you're not near a large body of water, well... let's just say your condensing apparatus is going to be a huge, complicated, and difficult to work with because even if you don't have a high-pressure steam BOILER you're still going to have a high-pressure steam CONDENSER.

You could, of course, run the oil at a cooler temperature... but that drastically cuts back on your efficiency, because your power depends on having a lot of pressure inside the cylinder, and that pressure comes from the steam, and the pressure of the steam depends on the temperature... well, you get the idea. Basic thermodynamics.

So anyway. It's a cute idea, but unless they've got some really amazing tricks to solve the glaring technical fiddly parts I don't think it's going to get very far. I hope I'm wrong... but I don't think I am.

more than 2 years ago

FBI Hunt For Child Porn Thwarted By Tor

Phydeaux314 Re:It doesn't matter (714 comments)

Er. I happily pay taxes, because I enjoy the services they purchase. Roads, regulation of industries, national defense, etc. Sometimes I don't agree with the purpose to which my money is put - but as long as my perspective is properly represented and considered, I don't feel that my taxes are 'theft at gunpoint.' The representatives as a group may opt to take a path different from the one I would personally choose, but that doesn't mean what I've given is wasted.

more than 2 years ago

Drug-Resistant Superbugs Sweeping Across Europe

Phydeaux314 Re:I wonder (433 comments)

There is a *slight* difference in the function of alcohol and penicillin in how they serve as antiseptics: Penicillin interferes with cell wall construction, whereas alcohol flat-out denatures all the proteins. Random mutations that use completely different protein structures that aren't attacked by alcohol are a fair bit rarer, to say the least.

more than 3 years ago

Bill Would Make Carriers Publish 4G Data Speeds

Phydeaux314 Re:Priority's (99 comments)

Fine, I'll feed the troll. If they announced they that weren't working on these sorts of problems because solving the national debt, medicare, and social security were bigger issues that needed to be dealt with first, you would accuse them of being unable to multitask. They can't win.

And never mind that the issues are all incredibly different in scope, involving different agencies and compromises.

more than 3 years ago

A Plea For Game Devs To Aim Higher

Phydeaux314 And yet... (179 comments)

...I find games are better than they've ever been - whether or not they're doing something new. They're more accessible, more immersive, better-written, with a more in-depth and convincing set of stories. Innovative gameplay quirks, while fun, aren't the point of video games any more. We've come a long way from "Come up with a new mechanic, write a paragraph justification in a manual, sell for $10" that was around twenty years ago.

Now, games are about telling stories or creating a world. Look at the Halo series, the Half-Life series, the Mass Effect series, the recent Modern Warfare games. You have games as a medium to tell a story now, and an interactive one at that. I vastly prefer a re-used gameplay mechanic to tell an interesting and original tale with believable characters to a beautiful mechanic with nothing to keep me interested beyond the thirty minutes of "Huh, that's cool."

more than 3 years ago

Why Warhammer Online Failed — an Insider Story

Phydeaux314 OTOH... (235 comments)

On the other hand, big studios do sometimes put out good games, as well. Mass Effect springs to mind as a well-done game, with a better-done sequel, and DLC I'd actually pay for. Plus, you can't hire that many voice actors of that caliber on an indie developer's budget.

I guess I'm saying that while the "CHURN OUT SEQUELS FOR MONEY BAIL ON RISKY GAMES" isn't helping the industry, there are certainly excellent titles that have come out of that same system.

more than 4 years ago

American Lung Association Pushes For Ban On Electronic Cigarettes

Phydeaux314 Re:Good article (790 comments)

Nicotene, in and of itself, may or may not be a carcinogen. From the Wikipedia page:

The carcinogenic properties of nicotine in standalone form, separate from tobacco smoke, have not been evaluated by the IARC, and it has not been assigned to an official carcinogen group. The currently available literature indicates that nicotine, on its own, does not promote the development of cancer in healthy tissue and has no mutagenic properties. However, nicotine and the increased cholinergic activity it causes have been shown to impede apoptosis, which is one of the methods by which the body destroys unwanted cells (programmed cell death). Since apoptosis helps to remove mutated or damaged cells that may eventually become cancerous, the inhibitory actions of nicotine may create a more favourable environment for cancer to develop, though this also remains to be proven.[46]

more than 4 years ago

OpenSolaris vs. Linux, For Linux Users

Phydeaux314 Re:Nexenta (303 comments)

Here's a nickel, kid. Go buy yourself a real computer.

more than 5 years ago

Why Is It So Difficult To Allow Cross-Platform Play?

Phydeaux314 Re:same as the PC (389 comments)

Some interfaces are inherently better for some tasks than others. That's why we use different interface devices, instead of having one "standard" one that has been proven to be the best possible choice. If we're restricted with regards to our input device, as we are with consoles, we work very hard on the game to make the input work with it.

Mice are best for FPS games because they allow for a nearly direct mapping of mouse location to screen location. It's fast, accurate, and refining accuracy from a general location is easy. Joysticks are best for flight tasks, because it offers a default state - the deadzone neutral - that mice do not offer, and constant directional input. To use a car analogy, trying to play a true FPS game on a console is like rigging up a knob on your dash that controls the speed of a motor turning your wheel.

Thumbsticks on consoles are handy because they work passably for a great number of game types with some developer effort. Fighting games are excellent with thumbsticks, driving and RPG games work decently enough, and FPS games can be kludged in if people don't mind dumbing down gameplay.

more than 5 years ago

How Piracy Affected the Launch of Demigod

Phydeaux314 High piracy numbers (613 comments)

Were probably caused by the game type - basically DotA with a new graphics engine. Multiplayer/skirmish only, no story, no campaign, hell, the game didn't have a tutorial!

Having skirmish multiplayer as the only play type makes people less willing to throw down $50. Sure, if you like that game type it's awesome, but if you don't you're out you $50 and you have another game for the shelf.

more than 5 years ago

Wireless Invention Jams Teen Drivers' Cell Calls

Phydeaux314 Re:Why stop there? (232 comments)

Wow, you've got two logical fallacies rolling here.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc AND slippery slope.

There are plenty of reasons this IS and IS NOT a good idea depending on your circumstances. Constructing bad arguments to trash the entire idea as terrible is just plain stupid.

more than 6 years ago

Best Introduction To Programming For Bright 11-14-Year-Olds?

Phydeaux314 Re:Assembly (962 comments)

I agree. In the United States, we teach rudimentary algebra to most students in eighth grade. One of the key concepts of that is that a letter may represent a number. So, having X = Y + Z should be very, very intuitive to everybody entering high school.

That's why most programming courses require Algebra as a prerequisite - they don't want to spend time explaining logic and representative symbols to students, they want to teach code.

more than 6 years ago

Left 4 Dead Demo Includes Linux Steam Client Libraries

Phydeaux314 Re:How about OS X? (217 comments)

Maybe they moderated it informative in lieu of a "+/- 1 Ironic" moderation option...

more than 6 years ago


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