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Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink

Solandri I am skeptical (132 comments)

Assuming the copper filaments are cylindrical in shape, that's a surface area to volume ratio of (2pi*r*l) / (pi*r^2*l) = 2/r.

OTOH, in a copper fin configuration, the ratio of surface area to volume is (2lw) / (lwt) = 2/t.

In other words, if you use the same volume of copper and the thickness of the fin is half the diameter of the sponge cylinders, you have the exact same surface area. The thinner fins may be weaker, but since the additional fin material on the sides reinforces the structural strength, I assume that's not too big a deal. Just place thicker (stronger) fins along the outsides and you have a structure which is much more solid than the sponge.

Now consider that in passive cooling the airflow is slow enough to be laminar. The flat surface of the fins (oriented vertically) will then impose less aerodynamic resistance, leading to higher flowrate, and thus greater heat exchange.

Unless there's something else going on here (maybe the sponge filaments are wrinkled instead of smooth), or it's that much harder to make thin fins than spongy cylinders, I don't see how this could be better than a traditional fin-type heatsink.

10 hours ago
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35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Solandri Re:Lies and statistics... (500 comments)

I've also heard of, particularly gym memberships, being sent to collections because the company had constructed a labyrinth of obstacles to cancelling membership (e.g. Gold's Gym). So people would simply stop paying, and ultimately be sent to collections for non-payment of a service they didn't use. I suspect this form of collections will be on the rise, as the growing trend of writing mandatory recurring payments into contracts increases.

I accidentally discovered why more companies want to go with recurring payments instead of a one-time payment. Subscriptions can survive a credit card cancellation. I lost one of my credit cards and called the credit card company within 24 hours to cancel it. They issued me a new card with a different number and I thought all was well in the world.

A month and half later, I got the bill for my new card and there was some charge I didn't recognize for a website subscription on it. After a lot of phone calls I finally got the whole story on what had transpired. The thief had used the card on the website (whether he was in cahoots with the site, I don't know). When my card was declined because it had been canceled, the website processed it as a non-electronic transaction. You know, the old machine where they put carbon paper over your credit card and slide a pressure roller over it to make an imprint? Apparently these are not time-gated like electronic transactions since it can take an unknown number of days for the forms to be mailed back to the credit card company. A legitimate paper transaction can arrive at the credit card company after the card has been cancelled.

Normally this would've raised some flags and the credit card company would've done some investigation or notified me to verify the charge. But the website had labeled it as a charge for a subscription. Apparently the policy on subscriptions is that they're rolled over to the new card automatically. On the one hand I can understand this - if you have to cancel a card as I did, you don't want a legit magazine subscription to be suspended because you forgot to notify them of the new card number. On the other hand, a scammer or disreputable merchant can use this to charge your new card without you ever telling them your new card number.

11 hours ago
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A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

Solandri Re:Wow ... (393 comments)

Visa/MC and the banks have security measures in place, merchants who follow the process aren't liable for loss from fraudulent cards. Asking for ID provides no additional protection to merchants and to the extent they rely on it instead of established Visa/MC processes it can lessen security.

The info on the ID is the security measures Visa/MC have in place. They allow a merchant to enter info like address or phone number, and their computers will tell the merchant whether or not it matches the address/phone they have on file for that card. When you pay for gas with a credit card and the pump asks you to punch in your zip code, it's not collecting marketing information. It's using the zip code as a (rather flimsy) security measure to protect against someone buying gas with a lost/stolen credit card. Yeah you can ask the customer to recite their address, but any burglar who stole the card from a house or mugger who got their victim's entire wallet would know the address. A photo ID with that info, while fairly easy to fake, requires a bit more effort on the part of the thief.

Credit card security is in the dismal state it's currently in because Visa/MC/Amex have successfully transferred all the damage from fraudulent transactions onto the merchants. Since they lose practically no money to fraud, they have very little incentive to improve security. (The exorbitant interest rates are to cover the cost of credit card holders who default on their debt.) For market forces to work correctly, financial penalties for risks which fail must be linked to financial profits when those same risks succeed. What Visa et al have done is decouple the penalties from the profits (profits go to them, penalties to the merchant), leading to a situation where they are not penalized when the risks they take (poor security) fail. Consequently there is no motivation for them to improve credit card security beyond the laughable state it's currently in.

yesterday
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

Solandri Re:Flash panic (160 comments)

When we (academics) do experiments on people however trivial we usually have to go through ethical clearance, get informed consent etc. I think its skipping that part that people are uncomfortable about.

You do realize that you yourself conduct such "experiments" on your friends every day? While making conversation in the lunch room you ask, "Hey, anyone wanna see Planet of the Apes tonight?" That elicits a lukewarm response, so you then ask "Well what about How to Train your Dragon?" You get a lot of interest in that one, so next time you ask about watching movies you're more likely to make suggestions where they can bring along their kids.

I think the dividing line between when you need to get informed consent is when the experiment begins to make people do things they wouldn't have done anyway. Tweaking how people get paired up for dates is fine if they were looking for a date anyway. Forcing them to go on a date when they weren't planning to would require informed consent (and probably compensation).

2 days ago
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World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China

Solandri That last link (85 comments)

Goes to the full August 1946 issue of Popular Science, including a first-hand account of Able - the first atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll. That glimpse into life as a tech geek in 1946 is more interesting than TFA.

2 days ago
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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

Solandri Re:Great... (565 comments)

Guy comes to my house and kills a member of my family. In "self defense", the next day I go and burn down his house with him and his family in it.

Rather that just reading the anti-U.S. rants about this, you should try visiting Asia and talking to the Asians who had to live under Imperial Japanese rule. Much like the Nazis, the Japanese saw themselves as a genetically superior race, and other races were nothing more than cattle to them. My grandmother was forced to watch as her sister and niece were raped and killed by Japanese soldiers, all to coerce my grandfather (a doctor) into treating one of their officers. The Imperial Japanese needed to be put down, at all costs, for the sake of civilization.

The correct analogy is guy terrorizes neighborhood killing hundreds of people. Then happens to go into your house and kill a member of your family. You fight back and eventually surround him in his home where he's instructed his entire family to die defending the house. You manage to take him and one family member out with a new weapon that vaporizes the part of the house he's in, which spares the rest of his family. The loss of the family member is regrettable, but it's a positive outcome when you consider the part you've conveniently left out of your analogy - that killing his entire family would have been an acceptable cost to free the neighborhood from his reign of terror.

2 days ago
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Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

Solandri Re:All software is full of bugs (143 comments)

I was demonstrating to a shitty software developer the other day how all his input sanitizing routines were in the javascript front end to his web application and anyone bypassing the javascript could essentially have their way with the back-end database, and he told me "Oh you're making a back-end API call, no one will ever do that!" No one except the guy who's hacking your fucking system, jackass.

That actually happened in one of the online games I used to play. The game company decided to run a promotion where you filled out a short survey on their web site, and as a reward you'd be mailed a small prize in the game. Someone sifted through the code for the website, and found it was just telling the game server's database to mail the prize's item number to the player's account. He tried changing the item number and it worked. Soon he had dozens of the rarest, most valuable item in the game in his mailbox and was selling them for the RL equivalent of thousands of dollars.

Anyhow, this is why I've always scoffed at the title "Software Engineer". Real engineers sign off on their work, and can be held personally liable if their design turns out to be flawed and leads to damage, injury, or death. In some engineering professions (e.g. civil engineering), a notable failure can lead to losing one's professional accreditation, turning that expensive engineering degree into a worthless piece of paper. The software industry needs to decide if it wants to continue down this "anyone can write a program" wild west route, or if it wants to become a real profession with real standards and real consequences for failing to adhere to those standards. Just like anyone can write code, anyone can build and wire their own house, treat themselves for an injury, or represent themselves in court. But if you want to sell your services for doing these things you have to be licensed, and you are personally liable for any harm that comes from your work not being up to professional standards.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

Solandri Re:already done (127 comments)

External events are considered in US plant design already, this author seems to be a bit ignorant on how the safety case for plants is built. Who cares if we refine the probability of an event is if the plant is already designed to withstand it?

Technically, the Fukushima plant was also already designed to withstand this type of event. It had sufficient backup power systems necessary to continue operating the cooling pumps in the event of a catastrophic disaster of this type.

Where they screwed up was in the redundancy of the backups. This is unfortunately a fairly common failure mode in engineering designs. Say a single diesel generator has a 10% chance of failing to start up if you try to run it during an emergency. People then naively think that if you just put 6 diesel generators into the design, then that reduces the statistical probability of failure to 1 in a million. The chance of all six generators failing is (10%)^6 = 1 in a million.

That's the correct math for generator failures due to independent internal causes. But everything changes when you talk about external causes. Suddenly you have a cause like, oh, say, a tsunmai, which can affect all the generators simultaneously. The failure mode for each generator is no longer independent, and your redundancy does nothing to decrease the odds of a failure. All they had to avoid this effect was put the generators and diesel fuel tanks in different places. But no, the typical Japanese obsession with order and symmetry* mandated that they put all their generators in a row in the same place. And the tsunami took them out and contaminated their fuel all at once. Indeed the two newer Fukushima reactors where the generators and fuel were stored in a different location got through the earthquake and tsunami just fine.

* I rag on the Japanese, but the same thing happened with the Space Shuttle Challenger. They were having problems with poor O-ring seals in the solid rocket boosters. So to reduce the probability of a failure, they just added more O-rings. That worked to stop the independent failures (burn-through due to improper seating of an O-ring in one spot). But when an external factor popped up which caused all O-rings to fail simultaneously (cold weather), the safety of the redundant O-rings was negated.

3 days ago
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Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

Solandri To little too late (77 comments)

This is kind of a double post, but it's important enough to warrant a separate post.

Unfortunately, Congress has dilly dallied on this issue for too long. We're now past the point where mandating carriers unlock phones will help. There are still phones which will work across a broad range of carriers, but they are now few and far between. Most of the newer phones are limited in their frequencies so they'll only work fully with one carrier. Take it to another carrier and you'll either suffer degraded service, or even lack certain service like LTE. So even if you can unlock your phone from the carrier, it won't do you any good because you'll lose 4g or even 3g capability if you try to use it with another carrier.

The only thing that will help now is a law mandating that carriers must provide service to any phone a customer brings with them that's capable of operating on their network. That will open up the markets so that manufacturers begin selling multi-carrier and world phones directly to customers (bypassing the carriers). You can still buy a phone from Verizon if you really want, and it'll be crippled so as not to work with any other carrier even if unlocked. But the smarter person would buy the version of the phone sold by the manufacturer at Best Buy or Amazon which supports enough frequencies that it'll work with any carrier. That's actually what Google did with the Nexus 5 - it supports enough frequencies to work on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and a bunch of other international carriers. It's technically capable of working on Verizon (with LTE in areas where Verizon provides band 4 - New York and Los Angeles from what I hear), but Verizon blacklists it so you can't use it on their network. What we need is a law making it illegal for Verizon to do that.

4 days ago
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Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

Solandri Re:I don't see what good unlocking does (77 comments)

The "retarded" Verizon specific phones are actually some of the most compatible phones you can buy today. Not only do they work on the Verizon CDMA and "bastardized" LTE networks, but they include full functionality for GSM and HSPA networks. I have two Verizon phones, right at this moment, that I'm using full time on other networks with full capability. My Verizon iPhone 5S is currently being used on an AT&T postpaid plan. All LTE, HSPA, and GSM functions work with 100% compatibility. My Verizon LG G2 is being used on T-Mobile with full LTE, HSPA, and GSM services. Nearly every phone worth having today is fully compatible with the GSM/WCDMA (HSPA) network technology. Phones are becoming more compatible, not less.

That's not quite true. CDMA phones with LTE have GSM SIM cards because the LTE spec requires it. Most of them also have GSM capability, while the GSM-only versions don't have CDMA capability. So that respect you're right that Verizon and Sprint phones have better global compatibility than GSM-only phones.

However, a lot of newer phones are limited in which frequencies they support. Your Verizon G2 for example only supports LTE at 750 and 1700 MHz. Verizon's LTE bands are at 700 and 1700 Mhz. T-Mobile's and AT&T's are at 1700 Mhz. Sprint's however are at 800, 1900, and 2500 MHz. So your phone won't get LTE with Sprint.

Unfortunately, Congress has dilly dallied on this issue for too long. We're now past the point where mandating carriers unlock phones will help. There are still phones which will work across a broad range of carriers like your G2, but they are now few and far between. Most of the newer phones are restricted in their frequencies so they'll only work fully with one carrier. Take it to another carrier and you'll either suffer degraded service, or even lack certain service (like no LTE on your Verizon G2 with Sprint). So even if you can unlock your phone from the carrier, it won't do you any good because you'll lose 4g or even 3g capability if you try to use it with another carrier.

The only thing that will help now a law mandating that carriers must provide service to any phone a customer brings with them that's capable of operating on their network. That will open up the markets so that manufacturers begin selling multi-carrier and world phones directly to customers (bypassing the carriers). You can still buy a phone from Verizon if you really want, and it'll be crippled so as not to work with any other carrier even if unlocked. But the smarter person would buy the version of the phone sold by the manufacturer at Best Buy or Amazon which supports enough frequencies that it'll work with any carrier. That's actually what Google did with the Nexus 5 - it supports enough frequencies to work on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and a bunch of other international carriers. It's technically capable of working on Verizon, but Verizon blacklists it so you can't use it on their network at all. What we need is a law making it illegal for Verizon to do that.

Incidentally, for anyone cursing CDMA in the U.S. complicating matters, don't. CDMA won the standards war. Your GSM phone uses CDMA - most HSPA implementations are wideband CDMA. It's only because the U.S. didn't mandate GSM and allowed carriers to try out different technologies that a superior tech - CDMA - was able to prove itself in the market and was eventually incorporated into the GSM spec. If CDMA hadn't been around, we'd probably be stuck with 1 Mbps or slower data speeds today. (LTE works very similarly to CDMA, except in the frequency domain instead of the code domain. Each phone is assigned an orthogonal set of frequencies, while in CDMA they're assigned an orthogonal set of codes.)

4 days ago
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Will Your Next Car Be Covered In Morphing Dimples?

Solandri Re:11% fuel efficiency improvement (136 comments)

I can think of lots of reasons.

  • It's expensive. Stamping or rolling a sheet of metal into a flat shape or single-curved is quick and easy. Adding lots of little dimples takes time and adds cost. While I can't say how much cost, some or most of the fuel savings may be offset by additional energy consumed during manufacturing.
  • The mechanism for forming the dimples may not be cost-effective. A similar idea was tried with planes - NASA drilled lots of holes in the wing and attached suction tubes to keep the boundary layer attached, leading to laminar flow over the entire wing and better wing efficiency. That's the opposite of what you're doing here (the dimples disrupt laminar flow and cause the airflow to detach and become turbulent prematurely, which actually reduces drag because the air doesn't "stick" to the car as well). But the drawback may be the same - the weight and space of carrying all that sucking equipment completely offset any fuel and cost savings.
  • People don't like it. Auto manufacturers would love to eliminate the cost of the shiny clearcoat layer on top of the paint. But buyers love smooth and shiny - it sells new cars. So they don't.
  • It'd be a lot harder to clean. Dirt and other material like dead bugs and bird droppings would tend to collect and dry in the dimples. With a smooth surface, you can scrape these off. With dimples, the crud would collect inside, and you're going to take a lot more work to clean it out. Maybe enough for an owner to say "screw this, it ain't worth an 11% fuel savings." Deformable dimples may fare better, but the dried crud may prevent the dimple from completely flattening, leaving you with a similar problem.
  • It causes lots of reflections. Most of your car's body is flat panels so you only see reflected sunlight at certain angles. You deal with this by temporarily covering your view of the offending car withy our hand, until you've changed angles so there is no more glare. But put a lot of small curved surfaces on a car and they will reflect sunlight into your eyes from almost any angle. Are you prepared to drive on a road where every car is covered with lots of little glare dots from the sun? It would be less of a problem if cars were painted with flat paint, but see two bullets above.
  • Easier/more annoying to vandalize. Antisocial kids would run around popping these with a pin while your car was parked. You wouldn't notice it until you were up to speed and the dimple suction mechanism complained of reduced vacuum pressure, so the culprits are highly unlikely to be caught.

And those are just off the top of my head. That's not to say they're legit - maybe they won't turn out to be that big a problem in practice. But if you can't think of any reason why this hasn't already been done yet other than "it's an auto industry conspiracy!", then you haven't really put a lot of thought into it.

5 days ago
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One Trillion Bq Released By Nuclear Debris Removal At Fukushima So Far

Solandri Re:I also measure distance (190 comments)

Bq seems a fair measure to me. It's a measure of radioactivity. Would you prefer pounds (or kilograms) of X, with no measure of the rate X is releasing radiation?

It's a bad unit to use in this context because it's a measure of individual atomic decays per second. It's kinda like you asking me how far you have to walk to get to the nearest bus stop and me telling you the distance in angstroms. The scale is just completely devoid of any common reference frame for the number to be intuitively useful (not that most people have a common reference frame for radioactivity). That's why Bq is commonly used by people trying to scare the public about radioactivity - when you're talking about a lot of material like, oh, a field, it results in really, really big numbers.

Let's put it this way. A block of soil one square mile by 1 foot deep (790,000 m^3) has a natural radioactivity of 653 billion Bq. If they excavated 1.1 trillion Bq of radioactive material from Fukushima, then they removed about as much radioactive substances as is naturally contained in 1.7 square miles of soil one foot deep. Of course the piece of information that we're missing (and no it's not in TFA) is how much volume of material they removed. If we knew that, we could come up with a ratio and say "Ah hah! The stuff they removed is x times more radioactive than the natural radioactivity of dirt!"

5 days ago
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Why Are the World's Scientists Continuing To Take Chances With Smallpox?

Solandri Re:The problem is... (190 comments)

Yes, the point is that it's like MAD and other weapons policies: you don't want to put down your gun (or shield, for that matter) while the other guy is still holding on to his.

MAD doesn't work for self-replicating things like bioweapons. If you put your gun or nuke down, and the other guy still has his and decides to shoot at you, you're screwed.

OTOH, if you destroy your smallpox virus samples, and the other guy still has his and decides to use it on you, well he's just given you a smallpox sample you can use right back on him just as if you'd never destroyed your samples.

The only bioweapon for which MAD would work would be one which kills quickly enough that the target nation is killed off before it can collect samples and send them back to the attacker. But any bioweapon that kills that quickly would be useless because it would kill the victim before he could spread the contagion to others, thus defeating the very characteristic which makes a bioweapon a weapon of mass descruction.

about a week ago
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EPA Mulling Relaxed Radiation Protections For Nuclear Power

Solandri Re:There is no "safe" amount of ionizing radiation (230 comments)

Yep, I think we can all agree that it's worth a few punkin' headed babies and/or a couple of deaths so the rest of us can have brighter colors and whiter whites.

That's the tradeoff we make with vaccination programs. A small percentage of kids who are vaccinated get sick, and a few of them die every year. But we still vaccinate everyone because the benefits far outweigh those costs.

The flaw in your reasoning (it's a pretty common flawed line of reasoning, not just yours, so I'm not picking on you) is that you're trying to compare against a nonexistent zero state. Radiation can cause death. If there were no radiation, there would be no deaths. Therefore we must avoid radiation. Likewise, if we didn't vaccinate, those kids who died from vaccination wouldn't die. Therefore we shouldn't vaccinate.

To do a correct comparison, you can't compare to a zero state. You must take into account opportunity costs; you have to compare with alternative equivalent states. Without vaccination, far more people would die from the diseases we're vaccinating against. Without nuclear power, the world loses 13% of its electricity. The harm from that far exceeds the few deaths from even Fukushima-level accidents. Or if you replaced that nuclear generation with the next most-viable alternative (coal/gas), the emissions from those are far more harmful than the radiation hazards from nuclear. Even if you managed to replace them with wind and solar, the number of deaths installing and maintaining all those turbines and rooftop panels (roughly 11,000 turbines for a Fukushima-level plant, or 4.8 million homes with 40 m^2 of panels installed on each of their roofs) far exceeds the number that nuclear has killed.*

* Math for the wind/solar comparison:

  • The Fukushima plant had 4696 MWe of nominal generating capacity.
  • Nuclear has a capacity factor of 0.9, so in a year it produced on average 90% of that, or 4226.4 MW.
  • Average wind turbine generates about 1.5 MWe peak.
  • Onshore wind's capacity factor is about 0.25 on the high end, so in a year that turbine produces an average 375 kW.
  • You'd need 11270 1.5MW turbines to equal Fukushima's output.
  • PV Solar using high-end 20% efficient panels generates about 150 W/m^2 peak.
  • Average rooftop installation is about 20 m^2, but the roof size is about 40 m^2. So 6 kW peak.
  • Solar's capacity factor in the U.S. is 0.145. So on average the rooftop would generate 870 Watts.
  • You'd need 4.86 million rooftops to equal Fukushima's output.
  • Working in high places is dangerous. Roofing is the 5th most dangerous job in the U.S., at 34.7 fatalities per 100,000 workers each year.
  • If a solar installation requires 3 roof-top workers and they can do 100 installs per year, you'd expect 51 deaths per year vs. an estimated about 30 deaths from cancer caused by Fukushima's radiation release in a once-per-25-year accident.
  • I can't find stats for turbine worker fatality rates, but wind already kills about 5-10 maintenance workers per year while providing less than 1/10th the world's electricity that nuclear does.

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

Solandri Re:The patreon model could really work (192 comments)

It only takes something like 1000-2000 regular donors to keep a writer in reasonable comfort

Put another way, if the median income is $45,000, then 1500 regular donors giving 1/1500th of their annual income or $30/yr each will give an author a median income. (In reality, it's less than 1/1500th because the mean income is higher than the median, so the more affluent donors will allow the author to hit the median income with less than 1/1500th of each donor's income.)

I think it's also important to keep in mind that the current book/music/movie pricing model does not scale. A DVD costs $18.95 whether they sell 10,000 copies or 10 million. In every other industry except the IP industries, price drops as sales increase. At first DVD players cost $150 and they only sold a few tens of thousands of them. As their success grew and sales reached into the tens and hundreds of millions, the price dropped to the $25 they're at now. The Patreon model brings this price scaling to the IP industry (much to the chagrin of the established players). If you're supporting an author in a niche market that you really enjoy, you'll be encouraged to donate a lot to him just to keep him writing. But if the author is enjoying J.K. Rowling-level success, you'll be less inclined to donate as much or won't donate at all, knowing that he's already getting plenty of money from other supporters.

about two weeks ago
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EPA Mulling Relaxed Radiation Protections For Nuclear Power

Solandri Re:About time (230 comments)

It's good to see the EPA finally considering relaxing some of its uptight, business-hostile regulations. No wonder the US is losing ground to the developing world when for a few decades it has pushed this regulatory regime that holds industry back and has really harmed wider adoption of nuclear energy.

You're trying to be sarcastic, but your words are quite literally true. 0.25 mSv is:

  • 12x the radiation you get from a chest x-ray
  • 6x the radiation you get from a 5 hour airliner flight
  • 3.5x the radiation you get from living in a stone, brick, or concrete house for a year
  • about half the radiation dose from a mammogram
  • an eighth the radiation dose from a head CT scan
  • 1/28th the radiation dose from a chest CT scan

If the 0.25 mSv limit were applied consistently to other aspects of our lives, we'd ban mammograms and CT scans, limit people to a dozen chest x-rays in a year, restrict pilots and stewardesses to just 30 hours of flight time per year, and severely curtail brick, stone, and concrete as building materials. If the proposal someone made below to reduce the limit to 0.025 mSv were carried out, we'd have to ban air travel and chest x-rays altogether.

about two weeks ago
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New Map Fingers Future Hot Spots For U.S. Earthquakes

Solandri Re:I'll stay here in the northeast (49 comments)

That's actually why I avoid big cities in the Northeast. New York has had a quake of magnitude 5 in the recent past (1884 if I remember). While a 5 is not big, it is serious enough to do damage to unreinforced structures like brick. And the huge number of brick buildings in New York are about as unreinforced as they come. (Brick construction has no lateral strength, and topples over with just slight sideways shaking. One of the few fatalities in the 5.9 Whittier Narrows quake was a man who pulled his car off the road to ride out the quake, and the free-standing brick wall he parked next to fell on top of him.

This map just shows you the likelihood of a big quake, not the potential for damage from a quake. To get the damage potential, you need to come up with a maps of how lenient the local building codes are, then multiply the two. The areas of highest risk are actually those where big or even moderate quakes are infrequent, leading to complacency among the residents and lax building codes.

This is why a 5.7 in Morocco kills 12,000, while a 6.9 just outside San Francisco only kills a few score. Residents of the former city never thought a quake would hit there. Residents of the latter knew a big quake was coming and built appropriately. You couldn't pay me to live in St. Louis, South Carolina, east Tennessee, or New York City. All have the potential for moderate to huge quakes, but they're so rare the building codes don't take them into account.

about two weeks ago
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Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

Solandri Re:But scarcity! (390 comments)

The issue is that they don't think of a much smaller ISP like Level3 as a peer, and don't want to give them settlement-free peering - they don't peer for free with lots of other ISPs for the same reason.

Level 3 is a tier-1 network, about as big as they come. This isn't big Verizon poo-pooing some little ISP as you seem to think. This is like your local gas station Verizon trying to get Exxon to pay them for the "privilege" of shipping them product their customers have already paid for.

about two weeks ago
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Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

Solandri Re:Wrong priority! (503 comments)

Seriously, is that really what matters now? What an arrogant *****. What really matters is who did it and why. What's the risk for other planes.

In the grand scheme of things, yes those are the things that matter. But unless a U.S. citizen was killed, the U.S. really has no business getting involved in this. It's the same reason the U.S. stations troops in South Korea. Their job isn't to help repel a North Korean invasion. Their job is to die so the U.S. has a reason to get involved.

The plane was a Boeing, so Boeing and possibly the NTSB will be involved in the investigation. But unless another country requests it, the U.S. cannot bring in the FBI or CIA to investigate this unless a U.S. citizen was killed. Given that Russia has already removed the black boxes and purportedly the missile truck used in the attack was secreted to Russian soil, those are the kind of intelligence assets you really want investigating this.

So yes the things you say are most important, but answering them reliably very much hinges on whether or not a U.S. citizen was among those killed.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

Solandri Re:Maybe MSFT was trying to learn from Xerox (161 comments)

Maybe MSFT was trying to learn from Xerox, Kodak, and other companies that pioneered technologies and then failed to follow through.

While Xerox deserves full blame for missing opportunities (the mouse, GUI, ethernet, and laser printer were all invented there), Kodak does not. They were always on the forefront of digital imaging. They built the first digital camera in the 1970s, and had a line of digital SLRs in the early 1990s. They knew exactly where the industry was heading, and in fact did most of the early R&D to get us there. The only reason they managed to hang around as long as they did was because they owned most of the patents on digital imaging and were collecting massive royalties.

What led to Kodak's downfall is obvious if you look at the pictures in that wikipedia link. Those are Nikon (and later Canon) bodies with Kodak digital sensors. Kodak was a film company, not a camera company. They weren't in the business of making cameras (aside from some cheap consumer models and disposables). When the industry shifted from film to digital, the companies which ended up on top were companies skilled at making cameras/lenses (Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss, and their arch-rival Fuji which had been busy making decent point and shoots prior to the switch to digital), and companies skilled at making electronics/silicon (Sony, Panasonic, Casio, etc). Kodak thought they could carve a piece of the digital sensor pie for themselves, but rapidly found themselves unable to keep up with companies with decades of expertise manufacturing microprocessors who simply shifted that expertise into manufacturing sensors. In other words, the best business model for making camera sensors turned out not to be knowing how to make camera sensors. It turned out to be knowing how to make microchips.

about two weeks ago

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Students figure out how to unlock school-issued iPads

Solandri Solandri writes  |  about 10 months ago

Solandri (704621) writes "The Los Angeles Times reports that the LA Unified School District's plans to assign an iPad to every student in the district are on hold after students figured out how to unlock the iPads. Once unlocked, the iPads can be used for decidedly non-academic activities such as surfing the web and accessing social media sites. According to students, unlocking the devices is simple — just delete your personal profile info."

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