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Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

aaarrrgggh Do they tokenize account information? (156 comments)

Hopefully they have some kind of one-time/vendor-specific account number rather than the actual account! Risk-based assessments are nothing new; hopefully knowing what the factors/algorithms are doesn't kill the effectiveness.

about a week ago
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California Sues Uber Over Practices

aaarrrgggh Re:Better solution (139 comments)

Check out how much insurance is for a limo driver. That kills Uber in a second.

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

aaarrrgggh Re:Are they really that scared? (461 comments)

The fact that they are switching away from making energy consumption basis for charging you to peak demand. Expect peak demand fees to be assessed on generation as well before too long.

The major remaining challenge today for renewable energy is that peak demand has moved to an hour before sunset through two hours after sunset. There is talk about moving the peak period away from noon-time and to later in the day already. Local energy storage solves that remaining utility challenge quite effectively. After that, the utility just becomes a (bad) standby generator.

Right now, off-grid power with a nearby grid readily available is a poor investment, as are batteries when you are connected to the grid. It is cheaper to just add panels at $1.15/W than add batteries for net metering.

about two weeks ago
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Taxi Medallion Prices Plummet Under Pressure From Uber

aaarrrgggh Re: The lesson (329 comments)

Economics. Drivers don't go out when they can't make any money. Painful way to limit capacity, but it will happen eventually.

about three weeks ago
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France Wants To Get Rid of Diesel Fuel

aaarrrgggh Re: Why (395 comments)

Cummins at least is dealing with particulate in the cylinder, and using after-treatment to deal with NOx. This eliminates the problem with PM2 generated by PM10 particulate filters. It is a pretty elegant solution and generally makes sense (although the DEF is a pain to need in addition to fuel.

It sounds more like a jobs program to disadvantage German cars though.

about three weeks ago
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Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

aaarrrgggh Re:PR works well? Where? (413 comments)

Belgium might not be the best example. Do they have a government yet?

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

aaarrrgggh Re:Aerial or underground ? (516 comments)

Depends on the environment. In Hawaii, underground lines have approximately half the life of aerial cables in general, and one third the life of aerial cables on steel poles. From a cost, reliability, and time-to-repair perspective you can't beat aerial there.

The biggest problem in general with the sub-distribution grid though is over-subscription. You have infrastructure designed pre-air conditioning that is now carrying 2-3x it's design load in many places. Transformers don't get replaced until they fail catastrophically, insulators aren't cleaned, and the right-of-way is not properly protected from trees, cars, etc.

about three weeks ago
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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

aaarrrgggh Re:This whole thing reeks (1128 comments)

A lot of the buildings in the area date back to the 1950's, so limited sprinklers is reasonable.

about three weeks ago
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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

aaarrrgggh Re:It was an almost impossible case to prosecute (1128 comments)

If there isn't grounds for a trial, the grand jury isn't supposed to pass the buck. That is their job. It prevents an undue burden of defense.

The prosecutor is going to publish all data; it will be interesting to see what comes out. I think it is likely that the officer had a bias in the incident leading up to the shooting. However, that isn't something that can be prosecuted.

I find the claims of "hands up surrender" a little hard to believe personally, but that is my bias based on the fact that he was high, possibly had a knife, was quite large, and had just stolen something. The "surrender" pose seems suspicious. The evidence will be interesting to peruse.

about three weeks ago
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Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

aaarrrgggh Re:Helium shortage, US govt effed-up (116 comments)

Yes, the government fsck'd up the helium market, but for applications like this it isn't that big of a deal. You can use hydrogen instead, although the flight time will likely be half due to leaks. For a while there was a good bit of research into using hydrogen as a deep diving gas in place of helium, but pesky safety issues got in the way.

about a month ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

aaarrrgggh Re:The rest of the country needs to face reality (554 comments)

Los Angeles has made significant progress over the past two decades with mass transit; they have 87 miles of track, and the system is expanding. Unfortunately, geography doesn't help them as much as it does for the SF Bay Area (BART has 104 miles of track).

Los Angeles is a failure of metropolitan planning, especially in the late 70‘s through the 80‘s where several outlying cities popped up. This isn't sustainable, and the solutions you outline are important to making things work well. Unfortunately, it isn't that uncommon to need to drive 50 miles in a day each way given economic realities. As the manufacturing base declines it will be interesting to see what happens to the area. Me, I live close enough to work that I can ride my bike in and not own a car. Not realistic for most people though.

about a month ago
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Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

aaarrrgggh Re:Use the money you save (488 comments)

Yes, it lasts forever. Just don't try to run it through an engine after 3 months. If you are lucky it just clogs the filters.

Regular diesel is good for 6-12 months before a polishing is needed. Polishing completely at 3-4x the frequency has its own problems.

about a month ago
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Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power

aaarrrgggh Re:The industry really needs to switch to DC power (41 comments)

I used to think the same thing, until I ran the numbers. The simplification in system architecture alone justifies the change, and once you throw in NFPA 70E distributed backup of a local dc bus quickly makes more sense.

  It doesn't work for all applications, and you need the IT staff (rather than facilities staff) to make it work, but it can simplify things tremendously.

about a month ago
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Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power

aaarrrgggh Re:Li-Ion batteries aren't good for this role (41 comments)

LiIon is great when you just want 30-60 seconds backup, and is economical there. Knowing Facebook, they likely load balance to charge the racks on off-peak energy and discharge during peak period, even if it is just a minute x15kW per rack for the trivial savings.

"Pure lead" batteries are likely more cost effective, but they are larger and heavier.

about a month ago
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Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

aaarrrgggh Re:Use the money you save (488 comments)

Biodiesel has a very short shelf life-- 3 months max. You need to use it if you make it. The best strategy I have seen is basically having segregated tanks, with the one at 2-2.5 months being used for fleet vehicles. Aside from this being illegal in the US, it is a lot of fuel to need for the fleet of a hospital. An average hospital in California has 30-40,000 gallons of diesel; 10,000 gallons per month is a lot to use in other ways.

That said, the answer is energy storage in whatever forms are viable. The "Cold Winter Night" scenario is fully manageable between candles and fires residentially and diesel generators commercially, assuming you still have or can import 10-20% of your peak demand. The real problem is an arctic front that lingers for a week with far below normal temperatures.

about a month ago
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ISPs Removing Their Customers' Email Encryption

aaarrrgggh Re:Meh (245 comments)

As long as there is no reference to the password being emailed separately, it is fairly reasonable basic level of security. If someone cares, the zip password protection is weak enough that it won't keep a secret long from the boogeyman.

about a month ago
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Google To Lease and Refurbish Naval Air Base For Space Exploration

aaarrrgggh What a bargain! (89 comments)

$20MM per year in rent for an airfield, golf course, and of course the hangars! Google got a steal; they likely paid more for parking rights for their planes.

about a month ago
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Elon Musk's Next Mission: Internet Satellites

aaarrrgggh Re:Same problem as Iridium (74 comments)

You might be underestimating the cost benefit ratio for wireline service. Incremental cost to provide service to a customer in the coverage area with fiber ranges from $700-10,000. For satellite you are looking at $300-500 worst-case, anywhere in the world (you are able to provide service).

The advantage of wireline (especially fiber) is you can realistically recapture your investment over 20-50 years. Satellite is more like 5-10 years.

about a month and a half ago
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Elon Musk's Next Mission: Internet Satellites

aaarrrgggh Re:All very nice (74 comments)

No, Irridium's failure was in that they had an extremely low bandwidth design initially, when other higher bandwidth options were becoming available for the majority of applications, at substantially lower costs. Adding to the challenge is the fact that upgrades are harder.

A new generation can be planned out as needing to eventually compete with gigabit networks. $700MM For a constellation (plus launch and ground facilities of course) might make it possible to refine the design and do faster upgrades if warranted.

about a month and a half ago
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What People Want From Smart Homes

aaarrrgggh Re:Most people understand comfort (209 comments)

Weren't some of the best violin makers deaf... Or was it just the composers?

about a month and a half ago

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