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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Smidge204 Re:How does Net Neutrality as proposed solve that? (131 comments)

Well it's a shame then the FCC rules under discussion would have nothing whatsoever to do with that,.

Except this is exactly what it's about, and it's something that Comcast has already been caught doing. Allowing "fast lanes" would just be a way for them to legitimize the practice of stymieing competing services and/or extorting money from content providers.
=Smidge=

5 days ago
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The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

Smidge204 Re:Spoilers (131 comments)

This doesn't address what is the true threat: It's not about ISPs choking bandwidth to individual consumers, it's about ISPs choking bandwidth to their competitors.

For example, Comcast offers, internet, streaming video, cable television and telephone services.

If I, as a third party, want to offer telephone services that use broadband internet (VoIP), Comcast will be able to make my access to their consumers so crap that I can't compete with their telephone service. The only way around that would be to pay them for "fast lane" access which will also ruin my ability to compete as it cuts deeply into my budget.

The end user can have all the bandwidth the infrastructure can provide, and it won't mean a damn thing because my traffic, specifically, will be choked by the monopoly ISP guarding the gates.
=Smidge=

5 days ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Smidge204 Re:sure, everybody can (444 comments)

Free kinetic energy? Where?

In the wind. There is no capital cost for making the wind blow.

There's a capital cost for building and maintaining the equipment required to tap that energy, but the energy itself is free once you've covered that initial cost.

Also, the Model S is not their "entry level" vehicle. That vehicle is still under development. Tesla aimed to cover the high cost of relatively low volume early production vehicles by producing their high end sport offering (Roadster) first, then their luxury offering (Model S). Part of the reason the gigafactory is such a big deal is it would help lower the cost of the battery packs, reducing the price of future vehicles.
=Smidge=

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Smidge204 Re:It's not horseshit. It's happening. (444 comments)

Basically you're saying that just because the presence of a knife in someone's chest correlates with their death, is no reason to assume causation between these two things.

After all, plenty of people have been stabbed in the chest and lived, and there are no witnesses, so even though the coroner has ruled out every other possible cause of death we can't say for sure the knife is the problem.

To bring it back: There have not yet been any proposed totally-natural mechanisms that account for the current warming trends we see. There are natural mechanisms of course, but none of them add up to what is being observed. The only explanation is that human activity is indeed significantly impacting the global climate. This should not be terribly hard to believe, considering the damage we do almost routinely; Lifeless sea floor in the gulf of Mexico, dozens if not hundreds of once flourishing species now extinct, entire mountains cut down, entire forests leveled, ect.
=Smidge=

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Smidge204 Re:Not just Reno (444 comments)

Still not burning "record amounts" of brown coal.

=Smidge=

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Smidge204 Re:Not just Reno (444 comments)

Except that they aren't burning "record amounts" of brown coal, and total coal burning is down quite significantly.

http://www.ag-energiebilanzen.... (PDF)

=Smidge=

about two weeks ago
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SpaceX and Boeing Battle For US Manned Spaceflight Contracts

Smidge204 Re:Decisions, Decisions... (123 comments)

As an astronaut, I wonder which would appeal to me more? The "Exciting Choice" or the "Safe Choice?"

Depends... is your surname "Kerman" ?
=Smidge=

about two weeks ago
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Music Training's Cognitive Benefits Could Help "At-Risk" Students

Smidge204 Re:Maybe, we just should not do SAME thing nationw (58 comments)

The requirements are standard. The actual manner of teaching is not. Education standards are about what to teach, not how to teach.

You might find recommendations on how to teach, but they are not enforced as requirements. Find me an example of enforced methods of teaching, rather than curricula (which is just a laundry list of what needs to be taught, not how).
=Smidge=

about two weeks ago
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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

Smidge204 How to improve the situation (448 comments)

"...but is there a way to improve on what we face now?"

Sure there is. If you want to stymie this sort fo thing in the future, all you have to do is stop equipping foreign forces with US hardware.

If you're not selling/giving the hardware to non-US forces, it will be very difficult for non-US forces to get a hold of it.

Pretty simple, though that might cut into some weapon manufacturer's profits so it's probably not tenable.
=Smidge=

about two weeks ago
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The Quiet Revolution of Formula E Electric Car Racing

Smidge204 Re:Neat, but I can't wait for... (116 comments)

So swapping a battery mid-race would be "a close equivalent to juggling a live bomb" but for nearly two decades it was acceptable to fling around a massive fuel hose?

Not to mention what those NASCAR guys do, carrying a giant jug and often spilling it everywhere.

Pretty sure that if the battery is safe to be inside the car at all, it's safe enough to be replaced in the pits. Why they haven't gone with this strategy I don't really know... they claim it's for safety but I've never seen any elaboration on that point.
=Smidge=

about two weeks ago
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The Quiet Revolution of Formula E Electric Car Racing

Smidge204 Re:Actually... (116 comments)

You sound bitter and frustrated. For example, it doesn't matter one iota what the head of FIA is up to...

As to attendance figures, I had to Google that because I don't really follow F1 as a sport. I've seen speculation on everything from prohibitive costs for tickets to better television/internet access to simply fewer people being interested, but the only people who say it's because of the "lack of noise" are a handful of seemingly bitter dipshits like yourself who always throw in non sequitur arguments like you did. Makes me think that the "noise hypothesis" isn't particularly powerful.

Lastly, it seems attendance has been dwindling for several years now - so it doesn't seem likely that only the most recent change is the cause.
=Smidge=

about two weeks ago
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The Quiet Revolution of Formula E Electric Car Racing

Smidge204 Re:Actually... (116 comments)

F1 has had energy recovery (aka "hybrid") drivetrains for a few years now. The big difference is they've basically doubled the size and capacity, and added a turbine to the exhaust to recover energy from that instead of just regenerative brakes.

I can't say I'm much of a racing fan but the technology is quite interesting in and of itself.
=Smidge=

about two weeks ago
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This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning

Smidge204 Re:Los Angeles (103 comments)

You are in a maze of twisty little subway lines, all different.

What happens if you try shouting "xyzzy" ? Or I suppose you'd need to translate it into Japanese first...
=Smidge=

about three weeks ago
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$75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

Smidge204 Re:$75,000 for a prosthetic arm? (194 comments)

Seriously, they charge an arm and a leg for prosthetic limbs!

=Smidge=

about a month ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Smidge204 Re:Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (442 comments)

Sounds like you've got a much higher essential demand than what I figured on - desalinization?

Sorry for the delayed reply but I was re-running the numbers :)

When I was doing the calcs originally, I was really only interested in staving off power outages like we had with Sandy, which was about two weeks worth... not being completely off-grid. So focusing on hurricane season as a baseline, a 7kW system with 6kWh of storage would provide essentially unlimited off-grid capability from April through December *if* I managed my power consumption to essentials with just a little bit of creature comfort.

The winter months, however, result in a deep, DEEP deficit. I'd need 10kW of PV with 80 kWh of storage to be completely off-grid based on PVWatts data (with no power management). Of course, that's still relying only on Solar, and being completely off-grid was never the intention.

I don't pertain my own home is a good proxy for a regional or national grid, though ;)
=Smidge=

about a month ago
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Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

Smidge204 Re:Drop solar heat for direct conversion (521 comments)

Except you can not exceed the solar power that hits the surface of the planet from the sun.

...which is a hell of a lot of energy. Collectively it's several orders of magnitude more than we as a species could ever reasonably harness, let alone use.

You could, for example, generate more kWh of electricity by putting 15% nominal efficiency PV systems on the roofs of ONLY single-family homes in the US, based on 2010 census data (67% of 130 million residences being single-family homes, with an average size of 2,400 sq.ft.).

In other words, we could hypothetically generate more than 100% of the electricity we need in 7800 square miles - about 5 Rhode Islands. That's at 15% nominal efficiency, assuming only 4 hours per day of operation. In other words, an extremely conservative value.

Just putting things into perspective.
=Smidge=

about a month ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Smidge204 Re:Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (442 comments)

What resources did you use to model these inputs? PVWatts I can understand for solar, but I'm not aware of any similar tools for wind and micro-hydro. Genuinely interested in what your data sources were.

Not that I'm yet convinced your model is applicable to a regional or national scale grid. Did you account for geographical diversity? Availability of these resources spread out over maybe 200-300 mile radius?

Also, peak demand of 5kW for 3 hours? My home has all electric appliances and I rarely, if ever, hit that... including the 3kW clothes dryer. This observation is neither here nor there, but that just strikes me as a high value.

To put things into perspective, I've been collecting minute-by-minute data for my own home's electrical usage (Got one of these things) and based on incomplete-at-the-time data it was looking like I could get away completely off-grid with a 6-7kW PV system and about 6kWH of storage. Less if I was smarter about how and when I used that power. Maybe your data doesn't have good enough resolution to really optimize the system.
=Smidge=

about a month ago
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Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

Smidge204 Re:Estimates (521 comments)

1. Solar Thermal plants are built in the desert because that's where they have the most ideal operating conditions. The fact that there are more birds in forests than deserts is completely irrelevant because they don't build concentrating solar plants in forests.

2. We would expect the casualties to scale roughly with the number of plants, so is you had 1,000 such plants, that would be 1,000x the casualties. Still a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of birds killed by feral cats every year in North America.

3. You are right, of course, however you have to consider a cost-benefit as well. The cost of preventing bird deaths from not building concentrating solar plants (both monetarily and environmentally) versus, say, the cost of preventing bird deaths by doing something about the cat population. If saving the birds is the priority, then perhaps your dollar would be better spent on programs to reduce feral cat populations than preventing solar thermal plants from being built.

=Smidge=

about a month ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Smidge204 Re:Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (442 comments)

A single home isn't a very good proxy for a regional or even national scale grid.

With your house example, the only options are solar and generator. In reality you would have more than these two options. For example, add wind to the mix. You can argue that it's not 100% but it will cover a lot of run time at night, saving you battery capacity and reducing the required over-sizing of your PV system. Perhaps instead of 400% oversizing on PV, you only need 200% PV+Wind oversize.

Now add in something else... biogas perhaps. That covers you a little bit more and you can again reduce your oversizing.

Now add geothermal, hydro, solar-thermal (which works at night), and you start to easily fill in the gaps.

The US had 1,153 billion watts of generating capacity as of 2011 (Nameplate ratings, spreadsheet) and used ~3,797 billion kilowatthours that year. Naively we can say that if all our powerplants ran at 100% nameplate capacity, we could generate an entire year's worth of electrical energy in just about 3300 hours, or about 4 months... giving us a roughly 300% oversize on our electrical generating capacity *now*.

The key, of course, is that none of those plants are operating 24/7/365, and rarely are any of them operating at peak capacity.
=Smidge=

about a month ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Smidge204 Re:There is a big construction boom in Germany... (442 comments)

I'd also point out that Germany's accelerated decommissioning of nuclear power plants (all shutdown in 8 years) has a lot more to do with the coal plants than the increase in renewables.

Doesn't make sense: Coal power has actually decreased since 2000 when it was first decided that Germany should ween themselves off of Nuclear power, and the slight increase in coal power in the past two years is only a fraction of retired nuclear capacity, both in total and as a percent of total generation.

Germany's renewable energy push is what's filling that gap. If it wasn't for the nuclear phase-out, they'd probably have lost a third of their coal plants instead.
=Smidge=

about a month ago

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More info from Nissan LEAF Tour

Smidge204 Smidge204 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Nissan's national tour of their new electric vehicle offering, the LEAF, recently completed its last stop at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey. Nissan representatives were on hand answering questions about the car and their plans to bring it to market, and I was able to collect a lot of good information which the Slashdot community might find interesting and useful. Below is a fact-dense summary of everything I was able to tease out of them.

The LEAF is a 5 passenger, 4-door hatchback bearing a striking resemblance to the currently available Versa, although once you see it in person it becomes obvious that the car is an entirely new platform designed specifically as an electric car, rather than a tweak of an existing vehicle. First impressions, shared by other visitors I met, was the vehicle was much bigger than the phrase "electric car" brings to mind.

The LEAF's technical specifications are no less impressive, though still somewhat tentative as production is not scheduled to begin until this fall:

80kW (107.3 HP) synchronous AC motor producing 380 ft-lbs (280Nm) torque. 24kWh worth of air-cooled, modular (48 modules, 192 cells total), laminated lithium-magnesium batteries located under the floor and rear seats giving a listed driving range of 100 miles (as tested under LA4 methods, aka "the city test") and a max speed of over 90MPH (144KPH). Curb weight is approximately 3300 pounds (1500 kg) including the 480 pound (217 kg) main battery pack. The main battery is rated for full capacity from -30ÂF to +100ÂF (-34ÂC to +38ÂC) and has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years, with "end of life" defined as capacity degraded to 70% of the original. The LEAF comes with four wheel disc brakes and two stage regenerative braking which can recover up to 30% of the vehicle's kinetic energy in most situations. Brakes are hydraulic (w/ electric booster) and steering is drive-by-wire. A cable operated parking brake is also included.

Power from the main battery is cut in the event of an accident for safety. It is not known if a separate kill switch for disconnecting the battery manually will be provided.

The LEAF is capable of three charging options: it comes standard with a 110v outlet charging cord, allowing you to plug your car into any 15 amp outlet for charging via the charger incorporated into the vehicle itself. Charge time for 0% to 100% is estimated at 16 hours using 110v. Alternatively, you can charge the car using 208v using a required "charging station" in about 8 hours from 0% to 100%. Both of these methods use the same J1772 socket, recently made a standard by SAE International, meaning this and all other vehicles that plug in to charge will use the same connectors.

The 208v "charging station" is, I was told, simply a surge protector and over-current protection device which must be professionally installed and certified for code compliance and liability issues. While Nissan plans to offer Nissan-brand charging stations, you will not be obligated to buy one as the 110v charging cord is supplied with the car. Charging stations may also become available from third party manufacturers since they do not contain anything proprietary, and like the J1772 connector should be compatible with any plug-in car on the market.

The third "quick charge" option uses 480v connection through a second, dedicated socket and connector and can charge a dead battery to 80% in just under 30 minutes. Quick charging is halted at 80% to prevent damage to the battery. There are no plans to offer quick charging stations to the general public since very few houses have 480v electric service available. Nissan is working with private companies to install both 208v and 480v public charging stations for general use.

The LEAF includes, as standard equipment, an integrated GPS navigation system which helps you plan routes that pass near by public charging stations. Monthly updates to the navigation system will be provided for free. Also included is 3G communications which allow the on-board computer to send and receive data via the internet. The computer can be configured to send e-mail status updates, and various features such as charging schedules and heat/air conditioning operation can be done remotely via internet connected PC or cell phone. When asked about privacy concerns, the reps said that Nissan plans to collect usage data via an opt-in program only from their initial test users. There are no long-term plans to monitor driving and charging habits.

Other standard features include heated seats and steering wheel, air conditioning, power locks and windows, AM-FM/CD stereo with aux input for portable players, keyless entry/startup and 24/7 roadside assistance. All vehicle lights are LED. Features that are not offered include power seats, sun roof and spare tire.

The "ignition" is a large power button located just below and to the right of the steering column. The rep said there is no delay turning off - meaning you don't have to hold the button - but she never tried it "at speed" so it is unclear exactly what will happen if you turn the vehicle off while driving.

There is no set price yet, but I was given a target range of $28,000 to $33,000 before rebates and incentives. Official pricing is due to be announced in April. At present, the LEAF qualifies for $7,500 in federal tax rebates, along with 50% of the install cost for the 208v charging station (up to $4,000). Additional rebates and incentives may be available from your state government as well. Nissan plans to offer buy and lease options, but they can not offer battery-only leases due to federal laws. The federal government considers the battery to be part of the drive train, and it is illegal to sell a car without a functioning drive train.

Production is scheduled to start in Japan this fall, with a portion of those vehicles being imported to the US for test markets and early adopters. Official announcements are scheduled for December of this year. By 2012 Nissan plans to have a vehicle and battery manufacturing plant operating in Tennessee with a capacity of 150,000 vehicles and 200,000 battery packs per year.

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