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Curiosity's Mars Crater Was Once a Vast Lake

RobinH Great (42 comments)

So why is it so hard to find fossilized evidence of previous life then?

about two weeks ago
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US Treasury Dept: Banks Should Block Tor Nodes

RobinH Already doing it some places (84 comments)

I setup a Raspberry Pi as a tor *relay* (not a tor exit node) just as a weekend project this year. Within a couple of days, we couldn't log into our bank (TD Canada Trust). I was able to log in by VPN'ing into my work PC. I took the tor relay offline, and within a couple of days I could log into my bank again from home. Both relays and exit node IPs are public knowledge, but I still think it's wrong to block relays.

about two weeks ago
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Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies

RobinH Re:Utilities will be the biggest users (461 comments)

Are you saying all those Tesla car batteries only have a lifetime of 2 to 4 years?

about two weeks ago
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Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies

RobinH Utilities will be the biggest users (461 comments)

This will revolutionize the grid. I was reading that lithium ion batteries are around $500/kWh right now wholesale (and I've seen some you can buy from China that make me believe that's roughly true). Then there's a projected cost as low as $180/kWh in about 5 years after Tesla's factory ramps up (and no doubt others start to come online).

Right now (in Ontario) I can buy peak electricity at about 13 cents per kWh and maybe 7 or 8 cents per kWh at night. Imagine a system of batteries where I buy power at night, store it, and then use that during the day. I worked the rough numbers and at today's battery prices I'd be hard pressed to get a return on my investment in 20 years, and that's only considering battery cost. However, if you use $180/kWh, suddenly you might see the payback period on a system like that drop below 10 years, and if I can do it at that price, what can a utility do with its economy of scale?

The addition of economical grid-level storage will radically change the way the utilities run their business. You won't need so much idle generating capacity such as natural gas or coal sitting around to service peak loads because you can charge up your battery banks at night using nuclear and during the day with solar and consume them during the peak periods.

about two weeks ago
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Google, National Parks Partner To Let Girls Program White House Xmas Tree Lights

RobinH Reverse discrimination (333 comments)

I'm sure a lot of women think this is great because it's just doing to men what they perceive has been done to them, but I fail to see how this is fair when the victims of the discrimination are young boys, who haven't even had a chance to do anything wrong yet. This is punishing them for alleged wrongs that they could never have had any part in. It's going way too far.

about three weeks ago
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First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

RobinH Useless (390 comments)

You can't tell anything from a trailer other than how much they're willing to spend on special effects (and how much they're willing to ignore canon). The real test is whether or not the story is any good, and we'll just have to wait and see. Honestly I doubt it, but here's hoping. Also, friggin' shakey cam! Boo!

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

RobinH Re:It boils down to energy storage costs (652 comments)

The GP means you could solve it with grid-level storage, which is on the order of a billion dollar problem, but solar satellites would be more expensive.

about three weeks ago
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What the US Can Learn From Canada's Internet Policy

RobinH Re:Was impressed until.. (144 comments)

At least in Canada I know what I'm buying then. I get X GB per month, and there is (at least in my area) 3 different ISPs (1 cable, one DSL, and one independent) that I can go to. I go to the one that gives me more bandwidth, higher caps at a lower price (duh). It's $48/month for 300 GB, and there's an unlimited package for about $60, but we just don't seem to ever break that cap. (We came close once but reduced it by lowering the bandwidth settings on my wife's Netflix profile :)

about a month ago
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Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

RobinH Re:Sounds like what Sun did (525 comments)

AFAIK, there was no $500 option after VS2010 Pro. That was the last version you could buy without having to buy a mandatory MSDN subscription, so the base price was up around $1200 after that.

about a month ago
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Website Peeps Into 73,000 Unsecured Security Cameras Via Default Passwords

RobinH Not just cameras (321 comments)

Cameras are a problem, but it's not just cameras anymore. Nest thermostats, for instance, have occupancy sensors and they connect to the internet to work. So your thermostat tells a server on the internet if anyone's home (potentially). Smart meters have similar problems. We recently bought a temperature sensor (AVTECH brand) for our small server closet, and it automatically connected to GoToMyDevices.com as soon as I got it on the network, and started uploading sensor data. There was nowhere in the device's built-in web interface to enable or even disable this "feature". Nothing in the documentation. I looked online and found a forum where it explained that you had to telnet to the device, and at the main menu you had to select a hidden menu item, and then type a command to turn off this feature. It's that kind of absurdity that makes the whole "internet of things" just a house of cards waiting to collapse.

about a month and a half ago
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

RobinH Re:Just curious (ejection tech) (445 comments)

I thought this ship was suborbital. Re-entry isn't a big huge deal if you're not going multiple km/s sideways. The red bull space dive thing just had a guy in a spacesuit.

about a month and a half ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

RobinH Re:Crock o' beans (739 comments)

I'm a Canadian who, for a time, worked in the US and had a US health insurance plan (early 2000's), before the ACA. I paid for that health care plan because it had a drug plan and the Ontario health coverage does not. A few times it was convenient to go see a doctor in the US because it was close to the office, and I clearly remember wondering what all those people were doing behind the desk of the doctor's office. In Canada you might see 1 or 2 people in the administrative side of the office, but in a US doctor's office, there seemed to be an army of clerks. I looked into it and it seems like it was all to do with handling all the paperwork due to everyone having a different insurance company. In Ontario there's only one health insurance... the government one, and they just pay for exactly what the doctor bills, there's no "is this covered, is this not", etc. The administrative overhead is much, much lower. The ACA can't possibly have fixed this problem, so you're still paying a lot more overhead for your health care in the US than we are in Canada. Remember, the only "service" an insurance company provides is dividing the costs of a group of people evenly over that entire group. A publicly run insurance scheme doesn't need to pay for advertising, salespeople, lawyers or lawsuits. It's very inexpensive to run, and a lot less hassle for the people who use it.

about a month and a half ago
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Cutting the Cord? Time Warner Loses 184,000 TV Subscribers In One Quarter

RobinH Re:They tried to raise prices 20% unnanounced (392 comments)

Yes, we went to a Rogers HD DVR for a while after TiVo and couldn't believe how much the UI sucked. I never really learned how to use it well, and relied on my wife to do the various incantations to get it to record what we wanted. A lot of the menus made no sense, especially trying to get it to not record something, or to wait and not switch the channel when it wanted to record something. Then we got rid of cable and first tried Boxee, then finally broke down and just put a PC there. Best decision ever.

about a month and a half ago
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Cutting the Cord? Time Warner Loses 184,000 TV Subscribers In One Quarter

RobinH Re:They tried to raise prices 20% unnanounced (392 comments)

GP said they weren't in the US, so CableCard might not be an option. I am in Canada and nobody here offers CableCard, which is why we had to give up TiVo when it came time to get an HDTV. TiVo is CableCard only (and there's a good reason for it). The real reason they want to encrypt everything is to rent you the DVR.

about a month and a half ago
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Cutting the Cord? Time Warner Loses 184,000 TV Subscribers In One Quarter

RobinH Re:They tried to raise prices 20% unnanounced (392 comments)

When I tell people we don't have cable TV, and just stream, they're always interested in it, but few of them want to compromise. When I tell them you can't easily get sports though, then they usually say, "that wouldn't work for me." Plus, I know a lot of people that have tried streaming on their own, and they definitely end up on the "wrong" site and end up with a malware infested nightmare on their PC. We just stick with Netflix and Hulu mostly, with the occasional "rented" streamed new release and we have no issues.

about a month and a half ago
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2600 Profiled: "A Print Magazine For Hackers"

RobinH Re:2600 cost me my job but taught me a lesson (71 comments)

I'm pretty sure you're talking about the article on how to get your video rental late fees removed from Blockbuster by impersonating a clerk from another store. FWIW, it's the only article I can remember reading from 2600 during that era, and it's a good lesson in how *not* to structure your corporate-wide system between all your stores. :) Sorry it cost you your job, but if that was you I appreciated the article.

about 2 months ago
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Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

RobinH Re:Because studies show ... (253 comments)

Obviously when I said the mother "refuses" I don't mean she legally keeps him from taking any, I just mean that she "discusses" the matter with him and explains why she'll be taking all or most of it. Sheesh.

about 2 months ago
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Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

RobinH Re:Because studies show ... (253 comments)

The 12 months includes the 6 weeks or whatever of pregnancy leave, as far as I recall. So the father can't take all 12 months, there is a minimum that the mother takes. However in almost all cases I've seen, the mother refuses to give up any of her 12 months. There are certainly lots of fathers taking some of the time, but it's still a minority. When I discussed with my (female) boss about taking 6 months of leave she looked literally horrified, and then proceeded to tell me a story about how she was back at work days after having her first kid. There's still a lot of pressure on professional men, in Canada, to avoid taking time off for this, unfortunately.

about 2 months ago
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Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

RobinH Re:We're ignoring them... (406 comments)

I agree that most people have just seen the act before. However, your idea that it's all common sense isn't correct. No first-time traveler is going to assume the life vest is velcro'd under the seat, and the seat belts don't work the same as the ones in cars. Plus, have you ever read the safety features brochure? The instructions for opening a hatch and deploying the slide/raft is not 100% common sense either.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Should I fight against online voting in our municipality?

RobinH RobinH writes  |  about 5 months ago

RobinH (124750) writes "Our small-ish municipality (between 10,000 to 15,000 in population) has recently decided to switch to online voting. I should note that they were previously doing voting-by-mail. I have significant reservations about online voting, particularly the possibility of vote-selling and the general lack of voter secrecy, not to mention the possible lack of computer security. However, it's only a municipal election, and apparently a lot of municipalities around here are already doing online voting. I'm not sure if the rank and file citizens care, or if they would listen to my concerns. Should I bother speaking up, or should I ignore it since municipal elections are not that important anyway?"
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The New Battle Over Community Q&A Sites

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 4 years ago

RobinH writes "Just as Fog Creek Software is about to launch their new "Community Knowledge Exchange" Q&A software product called StackExchange, an open source clone of the service called Shapado has popped up, and the kicker is that Shapado is free. That's a lot cheaper than the $129/month that the StackExchange service will cost, and to top it off, Shapado is going to offer a database import format that's compatible with the StackExchange export format. Fog Creek's developers posted an optimistic rebuttal."
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Slashdot - You have a major flaw in your submissio

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 5 years ago

RobinH writes "On your submission page it says Submitted by and it has my user name. If you don't know to look, you don't realize that instead of linking to your user page on slashdot (like every other instance of your user name on slashdot), it links to your email address! And right beside the box where it asks you to enter your email address on the profile page, there's a little question mark box that says it's "never given out to anybody". That should be the default! You shouldn't default to posting someone's email address on a really public website. I now have an email address that I'd successfully kept spam free for 9 years, and I have a ton of spam coming in. Please fix your submission page so you don't trick other submitters into publishing their email address."
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StackOverflow For Any Topic

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 5 years ago

RobinH writes "The successful question and answer website for programmers, StackOverflow, is now over a year old, and the top user, Jon Skeet has just passed 100,000 reputation points. Now it looks like one of the creators of StackOverflow, Joel Spolsky, and his company Fog Creek, are developing a software as a service form of the StackOverflow engine called StackExchange to support any topic you want. The software is currently in private beta, but the first of the beta sites have surfaced. Topics include Business Travel, the Home, Parenthood, the Environment, Finance, and iPhone Game Development."
Link to Original Source
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How do you take memos on the go?

RobinH RobinH writes  |  more than 5 years ago

RobinH (124750) writes "I'm frequently driving home when I remember something important that I need to do when I get back to my computer. I know if I don't record it I'm likely to forget. Writing is dangerous while driving. My cell phone has a voice recorder, but I have to find it in the menu, and I have to remember to check it later, which defeats the purpose. What I want is a device that I can pull out with one hand, hold down a button, say a memo, then put it back. Then with no other action on my part, the recording shows up in my email inbox the next time I check my email. This shouldn't be hard. Is there such a device?"

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