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

gewalker Re:In Finland (497 comments)

And the US is primarily serviced by either public utilities (usually owned by the city) or by regulated utilities that regulate the utilities including the profit margin, approval of capital projects, and other things. I.e., not any real reason for their to be a different between US and Finland in this regard.

I guess the real difference is a combination of the following:

1) general philosophy of, good enough, great is not required
2) Electric infrastructure is a little older on the average in the US
3) The regulation that exist probably more optimal for cost than service in the US in comparison.

Of course, cost is the reason why overhead lines are used. Contrary to what several posters have mentioned, maintenance cost on underground lines is actually usually higher on underground lines to overhead, but this factor is relatively minor in comparison to the significantly higher capital costs.

2 days ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

gewalker Re:here we go again (628 comments)

You really need a better economic analysis. You can only do as you say because solar is a small percentage of the grid. If solar was providing say 25% of the total electric kWh, the grid would be saturated with electricity during the solar peaks -- under those conditions, you can barely sell electricity at all -- you, even have to pay to dump the electricity you do produce to the grid -- yes, in the US we have grid conditions where you have to pay to dump the electricity you produce.

When solar collapses around 3-4 pm and people start coming home and cranking up their A/C and other appliances you reach peak electric use after solar has started its collapse. This requires a fast spin up for the non-solar electric sources -- trust me, this will be expensive juice. Government policies like forcing utilities to buy back home-installed solar at retail price just exacerbates the problem as it overemphasizes the economic case for solar -- eventually leading to increased instability in the market.

And then you hit the 2nd week in January where there is essentially no solar or wind for about 10 days straight (you can see events like this in the actually data from the German grid) -- Maybe this is why the Googly guys were saying we can't depend upon renewables for 100% of our energy.

2 days ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

gewalker Re:No the solution is population control (628 comments)

Ok, you've settled on the population control solution. How do you do this?

1) Repressive government control
2) War, disease, etc.
3) Economic success -- The first world countries fertility rate has already dropped below replacement rate (about 2.2 babies per adult women in her lifetime) -- see the fertility rate by country. I believe the only exception is Israel.

And how do you get economic prosperity? Cheap energy and lots of it. This also helps to enable better health, education, and comfortable living.

2 days ago
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Attack of the One-Letter Programming Languages

gewalker Useless rant of an article (127 comments)

Although one letter language names have issues for search (as do other generic terms, or other stupid names like .Net), the only useful point is that some programmers like to use less-popular languages and may introduce them into your codebase confusing other developers. Of course you can hire more developers that speak the obscure language in your shop if it is otherwise well-known.

Of course, we already know about that problem. It matters not if the obscure language (for your shop) happens to be R, F#, awk, java, python, etc. with longer and longer names.

For any new language, adoption is a problem. Interesting languages like Eiffel, Smalltalk, etc. never really made the big-time and never will.

Sometimes, you have to choose the obscure language. Javascript being a good example -- as the well started to become dynamic, decent Javascript developers were in very high-demand because there was no real alternative.

3 days ago
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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

gewalker Re:I'm glad there is rioting. (1087 comments)

Stunning example of a straw man argument there -- equating the shooting apparently innocent people (the Walmart shopper and the 12 year old boy) with the shooting of an apparent thug using lethal force against a cop.

I don't know that Brown is innocent, I just know that the grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to go to trial. We are supposed to accept that verdict unless there is strong reason to suspect the system was corrupt. I just do see that that exists. I would have said the same had the grand very found against Brown and let is go to trial again without rioting. Brown may be guilty and may have committed the perfect crime and get away with so. Personally, if such is true I hope he suffers the severe punishment in the future.

Like a lot of American's -- I thought O.J. was guilty. When the verdict was announced I did not see this as a reason to riot, though I did not feel the verdict was just.

As far as holding police responsible, I whole-heartedly agree. If you can determine the cops or politicians are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, hang-em-high, Finding them guilty by racial association it beyond stupid

There is no perfect system of justice. Mob rule via riots, lynching, vigilantism, etc. is far worse than what we see in Ferguson.

3 days ago
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Profanity-Laced Academic Paper Exposes Scam Journal

gewalker Re:remember this.... (134 comments)

Not to burst your bubble ... O what the hell.

Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis

Report: 1350+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against Man-Made Global Warming Alarm

No reason to mention the pro-AGW impending doom papers, no one doubts their existence.

My thoughts -- Yes, some GW is related to CO2, at least some fraction of the additional CO2 is due to man's activity, in particular burning of carbon fuels. It may even be a serious problem. BTW, what is the optimal level of CO2 anyway, be sure to show your work.

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

gewalker Re:Helium shortage (116 comments)

Classically, containing hydrogen gas is a worse leakage problem than helium, but this is primarily due to the other properties like flammability and metal embrittlement.

Strictly considering leakage rates, Graham's law of effusion says that the rate of effusion is inversely proportional to the square rate of the molecular weights. So H2 leaks faster than He by a factor of about 1.414. Graham's law is of course an approximation as it ignores that molecular size is not strictly proportional to molecular weight, but it should be quite accurate when molecular sizes of the gas are considerably less than the holes in the container.

Given that He is very much smaller then H2, I would expect somewhat less difference in effusion rates than than predicted by Graham's law, though this may not be measurable as far as I know.

But for unmanned operation, I don't know why Google would not use H2. H2 is much cheaper and can be easily made on site with little technology.

Theoretically, pure He has 93% the lifting capacity of H2 -- but your lifting gas is never pure and structural elements such as the balloon and frame have the same amount of dead weight in either case. So, in terms of payload, H2 is significantly better then He.

A very nice article on lift comparison. points out that the Hindenburg design would simply not work using He as the lifting gas due to the "small difference" in buoyancy of the 2 gases.

5 days ago
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Coal Plants Get New Lease On Life With Natural Gas

gewalker Re:Gas not less CO2 on refiring coal plants (142 comments)

Combined cycle plant are a remarkable piece of engineering and a truly more efficient.

However, most of the natural gas plants being built are not the high efficiency plants. There are the older, cheaper (capital cost) design since they are primary used for peak load conditions since they can spin up much fast than coal plants.

Natural gas is is also much worse than coal in terms of price volatility. In the US, gas is cheaper than coal, although last winter in the Northeast it was much higher than coal during the worst cold of the winter. Since they have shut down more nuclear plants, there is a real chance the problem will be even worse during the next arctic blast.

about a week ago
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World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

gewalker Re:Dad sacrifices sons childhood for MCP (276 comments)

Are you telling me I could not use a compiler on Windows. Or write device drivers on windows? Granted, I have to download or maybe purchase the compiler for Windows, but there is really no big difference on the fundamental concepts. There are many differences in the details.

E.g., on Windows you don't fork a process. This prevents you from doing some multi-processing things in Windows as easily as the natural way under Unix. But if you are learning the fundamentals, you can happily learn what you are doing with either environment. You can still use multiple processes on Windows, you just don't can't inherit the parent process state so it is more complicated. Way back when, fork/exec was unnecessary overhead in Unix since most of the time all you wanted to do was spawn an unrelated subprocess. Unix fixed this extra overhead long ago, but Windows never added fork to its API -- so Advantage Unix. Potentially a big advantage.

There are also built-in WIndows APIs that have no equivalent on the Unix. -- Advantage Windows.

Price, freedom, source-code, etc. -- Linux

Apps -- Maybe Window, maybe Linux depends which apps aee important to you.

Games -- Windows

In fact, you are better off learning both environments even if you have a strong preference for one of them. It opens your mind to different ways of thinking.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power

gewalker Re:This makes no sense to me. (41 comments)

Should be clear, I know facebook is using batteries for a short time to serve as the power till the diesel kicks on. But how can you beat a flywheel in-line with the diesel.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power

gewalker This makes no sense to me. (41 comments)

Given then Facebook should have acres of servers, why are their data centers not using a flywheel / diesel combo for power backup.

If you only have a couple of racks of servers, batteries make sense, but they should have thousands and you need something like a generator if your power can be longer than your battery will last. Its not like this is a new and unproven technology.

Is there really any good reason to consider batteries for a large data center?

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

gewalker Re:Desparate Microsoft pulls a "Sun Microsystems" (525 comments)

You people with you unreasoning hatred of Bob. I personally have benefited from Bob. Was is a meeting with some MS guys sponsoring a segment. The room was overcrowded and getting too hot fast. The MS guys has brought along some freebie copies of Bob and volunteered the use of Bob to prop the doors open to help cool the room.

There was much applause. Problem with Bob was that it was frequently misused. Made a perfectly good doorstop.

about two weeks ago
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Internet Sales Tax Bill Dead In Congress

gewalker Re:Ok, they got ONE right... (257 comments)

The republicans were with minor exceptions out of power in congress since FDR. Finally, they got the power that they desired. Within 2 elections, they proved themselves to be no less venal than the democrats.

I helped to vote them in to power. I was disgusted by the result.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men -- Lord Acton

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

gewalker Re:Home storage (488 comments)

Cost is one factor, a 50kWh battery is about over 25,000 USD -- about $500 per kWh for lithium ion car batteries. Projected cost by 2025 is about $160 per kWh, so only $8,000 in in 2025

It does not last a few days of intensive use either. Avg US household use is in 2012 was 10,837 kWh per year, or about 29.7 hWh per day, so 50kWh is less than 2 days..

about two weeks ago
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Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys

gewalker Re:Well, (198 comments)

Sure, no that Ebola is in the news everyone wants more Ebola money. Obama was proposed budget cuts in the same budget in prior years too. I'm sure you can find Republicans that did & will do the same thing.

In this case I would half expect that Republicans would increase Ebola funding because it proves bi-partisanship, etc. I can't imagine Obama vetoing this either.

about three weeks ago
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Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys

gewalker Re:More proof the Republicans are in control (198 comments)

Yeah, it's all Dick Chaney's fault. Oh wait, it says in the article that Dick Cheney was largely responsible for the large funding increase for treatment of Ebola, etc.

Now the Bloomberg article clearly and accurately points out that Cheney did this to combat potential terrorism threats. But hey, no reason not to blame Republicans for being pro-death, anti-vaccine, etc. just because you have no idea about the actual funding details in this case.

Like most people, Dick Cheney has some things to like, some things to dislike. At least Cheney shot an attorney in the face.

about three weeks ago
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Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

gewalker Re:Marked Paper Ballots FTW (388 comments)

Of couse, near fool-proof was only meant in terms of legitimate voter. Outright voter fraud via ballot stuffing or illegal voters (non-residents, felons, etc.) or other external factors cannot be solved by careful handling of real ballots.

about three weeks ago
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Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

gewalker Re:Marked Paper Ballots FTW (388 comments)

We use mark sense locally. Voters feed their own ballots into the tabulating machine. It looks for pretty much all the detectable marking errors and kicks it back to the voter immediately. in the event of a detectable problem. Ballots can also be hand-counted.of course

There is no perfect system, but what we use is about as close to foolproof as possible.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Major Data Brokers hacked by ID Theft Service

gewalker gewalker writes  |  about a year ago

gewalker (57809) writes "Have we reached the point where it is time to admit that the ID thieves are winning and will continue to win as long as their incentives are sufficient to make it lucrative for them? According to Krebs On Security a breach in 25 data brokers has been identified including the heavyweights Dun and Bradstreet and LexusNexus. The truly telling quote is

“We could well be witnessing the death of knowledge-based authentication, and it’s as it should be,” Litan said. “The problem is that right now there are no good alternatives that are as easy to implement. There isn’t a good software-based alternative. Everybody in the industry knows that KBA is nearing its end of usefulness, but it’s not like you can instantly roll out biometric identifiers to the entire US population. We’re just not there yet. It’s years away. If ever.”

"
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Microsoft restores transfer rights to Office 2013

gewalker gewalker writes  |  about a year and a half ago

gewalker writes "Bowing to significant unfriendly customer feedback regarding its new "no transfer" license for Office 2013, Microsoft recants and allows Office 2013 licenses to be transferred between computers. Actual license language will not be reflected for a few months for shipped products, but Microsoft will allow transfer of license effective immediately. Calls to customer support will be necessary as the activation servers won't be updated for a few months."
Link to Original Source
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First evidence of gravity waves

gewalker gewalker writes  |  more than 2 years ago

gewalker writes "This is supposed to be published soon in "The Astrophysical Journal Letters", but in short researchers claim they have detected gravity waves from the husks of 2 stars 3000 light years away. They are losing energy and circling each other faster over time as the gravity waves remove energy from the orbits of the pair. This energy loss agrees with the prediction of general relativity — not a direct observation of gravity waves."
Link to Original Source

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