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

SIGBUS Trees vs. powerlines (459 comments)

In my neighborhood (Chicago area), they most certainly trim the trees, to the point that many of them look downright weird. That doesn't completely prevent storm-related power outages, but it at least makes them pretty rare for me.

Still, if the crown of one of those trees snaps off, like it did in a severe storm late this June, it can result in an extended outage. That's when I discovered that my UPS outlasted the batteries in Comcast's local infrastructure by a wide margin.

11 hours ago

What is your computer most often plugged into?

SIGBUS Re:Lots of reasons (233 comments)

I've never had voltage sag to the point that the battery was needed, but there have been a few times, during summer heat waves, when my UPS would go into boost mode (about 108V or so at the wall socket). Lately, though, I've been getting higher-than-normal voltage, consistently 124-127V, and when it gets above 126 the UPS will knock 16V off. At least it can use an autotransformer to deal with minor over- and under-voltage conditions, instead of killing the battery. If it were switching to battery I'd be calling my power company.

2 days ago

What is your computer most often plugged into?

SIGBUS Re:UPS (233 comments)

Back on June 30, a severe storm knocked out power to my neighborhood for about 20 hours. I had my systems on a 1500VA APC Smart-UPS, and after a couple of minutes, when it was obvious the power wasn't coming on soon, I turned off the big machines and stayed online with an Atom box.

Unfortunately, it appears that Comcast hadn't planned for long power outages. Twenty minutes after the power went out, the internet went down and stayed down. That kind of performance doesn't give me much confidence in their home phone service, needless to say. Of course, the AT&T landline kept on trucking, but it's looking like that won't be an option for too much longer.

2 days ago

Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues To Alien Life On Europa

SIGBUS In other news... (75 comments)

"Extreme Shrimp" is going to be my next band name.

3 days ago

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Build a Home Network To Fully Utilize Google Fiber?

SIGBUS No subsitute for hardwired Ethernet (279 comments)

I've tried both wireless client bridges (300Mbps N) and powerline Ethernet adapters for an HDHomerun tuner, and my results were: a) only one tuner could stream over the wireless and b) the powerline adapters were an epic fail. The punch line is that the HDHomerun works fine and dandy over 100BaseT. Between the crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum and the poor penetration of 5 GHz, wireless just doesn't cut it for anything that needs throughput.

String some Cat5e or Cat6, and leave the wireless for laptops and tablets.

Cat5e will work fine for gigabit. Cat6 will support 10G, but 10G costs a fortune.

about a month and a half ago

Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

SIGBUS MPG estimates based on driving like an idiot? (403 comments)

I have a 2010 Honda Fit with the manual transmission and a 1.5l four-banger. In my real-world driving, I get about 32-36 MPG in city driving, and 38-42 MPG on the highway. As it turns out, that's quite a bit better than the EPA numbers: 27 city/33 highway. I try to drive efficiently at least, but I wouldn't consider myself to be a hypermiler, either. I can't help but think that the EPA numbers assume idiotic driving with jackrabbit starts and racing to red lights. And now they're claiming that the estimates overstate things?

about a month and a half ago

Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

SIGBUS Re:I quit using Belkin years ago, (191 comments)

I guess I can't be too surprised that they'd pull a cunning stunt like this, just because they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar already, with the "spam router" fiasco. It's hard to believe it's been over a decade since that, and they're still baking stupidity into their routers.

It's sad to see they snapped up Linksys, but Linksys was already on a downward spiral anyway. In any case, I'm not buying a router unless I can install DD-WRT or OpenWRT on it. Of course, with Comcast now pushing integrated router/cable modem setups, I might just have to run a firewall distro inside a VM on a system with two NICs. I trust Comcast even less than I'd trust Belkin.

about a month and a half ago

Raspberry Pi Gets a Brand New Browser

SIGBUS Re:Awesome (107 comments)

Recent versions of the BeagleBone Black have 4 GB of internal flash and come with Debian pre-installed.

That being said, I have a RPi, mainly for use as a media center (one of the best uses for it).

about 3 months ago

Do Apple and Google Sabotage Older Phones? What the Graphs Don't Show

SIGBUS Re:Hardly new (281 comments)

I've noticed this problem (not the CPU so much as RAM and storage space) with my LG F3. Recent updates to Google services have bloated things enough that I have trouble applying app updates in its limited storage space, and multiple apps that used to work well together now no longer fit in available RAM. Sometimes I have to uninstall and reinstall an app to update it now. Things get cramped with less than 1.3 GB of internal storage, even with an SD card installed.

I'd love to see an up-spec F3 with double the RAM and gobs of storage (but keeping the SD slot and removable battery). I don't really need a hyper-expensive flagship phone, tempting as it may be. For all of the F3's faults, it has LTE, good RF performance in general, and outstanding battery life. It also puts the lie to the claim that you can't have a slim phone with a replaceable battery and an SD slot.

about 3 months ago

My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

SIGBUS Switched to LED for porch lights (278 comments)

I've generally had about 3 years or so from CFLs in the porch lights, which are on all night (approx. 9-15 hours per day depending on the season). I'm still working my way through a six-pack of CFLs (the others are inside), but last fall I decided not to wait for the CFLs to go before switching the porch lights to Cree soft white LEDs. So far, I'm quite happy with the results, especially with the instant full brightness regardless of temperature. When it's -14 F, CFLs are pretty dim.

about 4 months ago

The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

SIGBUS Re:Cree FTW (196 comments)

Last fall, I switched my front and back porch lights from CFL to the Cree 60W-equivalent soft white LED bulbs. It was nice to have full light output on even the coldest winter days, and the light looks so much like an incandescent that it would be easy to think it really was (except for that little dark spot at the tip of the bulb). As a bonus, they use less electricity than even the CFLs (13W for the CFL, 9.5 for the LED).

Inside the house, though, I still have a bunch of CFLs to work through before I switch them over. I mainly wanted the full brightness at low temperatures for the outdoor lights.

about 5 months ago

Overkill? LG Phone Has 2560x1440 Display, Laser Focusing

SIGBUS How about a higher-spec F3 instead? (198 comments)

I've been running LG's F3 for a while, and there are things I love about it, and other things that I hate.

The good: Incredible battery life (can get two days with moderate use and still have battery to spare), slim design that can easily be operated with one hand, reasonably fast CPU, bright IPS display, good RF performance, and LTE. Also, it has a replaceable battery and a MicroSD slot.

The bad: That MicroSD slot is needed, because there's less than 1.3 GB of internal storage, and there's only 1 GB of RAM. Fortunately, Firefox allows you to move it to the SD card, otherwise I wouldn't be able to run it.

Suggestion: take the F3, and add more RAM and internal flash. A quad-core CPU would be nice, but isn't really necessary.

That being said, in spite of the overkill display, the G3 at least has brought back the replaceable battery and the MicroSD slot, which went missing on the G2.

about 5 months ago

Tesla Makes Improvements To Model S

SIGBUS Re:All the improvements could want except... (136 comments)

What he hasn't done yet is created a compelling alternative to the gas-powered car. The Tesla has a very clear niche where it might be practical if cash were no object: private garages and long, regular commutes of 50-100 miles: long enough to make you want to travel in a luxurious car, short enough to fall comfortably within the Tesla's range, home-based so you can recharge overnight.

Exactly. It's an executive car - but that's a good place to start. Advance the technology and make it available to the early adopters to get the ball rolling. The biggest single obstacle to making long-range electric cars available to the masses is the price of the battery pack. The reason a Nissan Leaf is relatively affordable is that it doesn't have the huge battery pack needed for long range.

Now that Tesla has taken care of building the cars, and the charger network is expanding, it's on to scaling up the battery production, and that's where the upcoming Tesla/Panasonic battery factories step in. Aside from reducing battery costs and increasing production for the cars, they should be useful as storage for charging stations as well.

I know there's a lot of impatience (I want my electric car NOW, and Superchargers on every corner!), but starting a car company from the ground up isn't easy, especially when you're taking over a century of auto industry tradition and standing it on its head. I'm glad to see the progress that's already been made, even if it's still a long time before I could afford to go electric.

America needs more businessmen like Elon Musk and fewer like Donald Trump.

about 6 months ago

Google's Business Plan For Nest: Selling Your Data To Utility Companies

SIGBUS If Google did Clippy... (167 comments)

It appears you are running a marijuana grow op. Do you want to:
( ) Hire an attorney
( ) Locate nearby vendors of weapons and security systems
( ) Find out about hydroponic equipment and cultivation techniques

about 7 months ago

Groove Basin: Quest For the Ultimate Music Player

SIGBUS Re:Foobar2000 for Linux (87 comments)

Foobar2000's big win is in its music library handling. You can view it by folder, by genre, by artist, by album artist, or make up your own sort criteria (including sorting by any tag that you might define). Nothing else I've tried even comes close.

about 7 months ago

Groove Basin: Quest For the Ultimate Music Player

SIGBUS Re:Foobar2000 for Linux (87 comments)

Foobar2000 runs perfectly under WINE on Linux and OS X. I have been using it for years without any problems. So far, the only flaw I have found is that it does not find new music placed into your media folder after it finishes scanning for new files during start-up, so you have to restart the thing to help it find music just added.

For values of "perfectly" that include pops, clicks, distortion, and lack of 24-bit support, in my experience.

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

SIGBUS Bad Capacitors (702 comments)

Come to think of it, that's about the time that bad capacitors started turning up in just about everything electronic. Motherboards and power supplies seemed to be the worst offenders, though, and poorly-made caps are still popping up (sometimes literally) today.

about 7 months ago

60 Minutes Dubbed Engines Noise Over Tesla Model S

SIGBUS Re:Because Hollywood. (544 comments)

That's true for audio-only recording work as well. The musical performance that sounds wonderful when heard live will turn out to have all sorts of background noise (noisy HVAC, people moving about, things being dropped, audience whispers, and so on, not to mention cell phones).

about 8 months ago

Dear Asus Router User: All Your Cloud Are Belong To Us

SIGBUS Which D-Link model? (148 comments)

I have a couple of D-Link DIR825-C1 units on my network, both with DD-WRT, one in client bridge mode and the other as my router. Both have been rock solid, and a worthy upgrade from my classic WRT54G boxes.

about 9 months ago

James Gosling Grades Oracle's Handling of Sun's Tech

SIGBUS Re:Solaris name dead, but OSS code lives on (223 comments)

I took a look at OpenSolaris late in 2009 when I was considering building a new storage server for home. I really liked what I saw (ZFS, COMSTAR, and the built-in CIFS support), and wound up using OpenSolaris for the new build. Then, Oracle decided to spoil the party. I'm very glad that illumos got off the ground; once OpenIndiana came out, I switched over to it.

As much of a Linux fanboy as I may be, I really like OI or OmniOS for storage server duty, and OI makes a nice virtual machine host with VirtualBox and SMF scripts as well. I would like to see better hardware compatibility, though...

about 10 months ago


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