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Comments

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Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

lgw Re:Kittens? (184 comments)

Can I use kittens in my design?

Yes, as long as they fit in the box (so you're likely limited to 1 kitten), and as long as they're not water cooled kittens.

12 hours ago
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The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

lgw Re:Pft (499 comments)

From what I hear, death threats are quite normal in the video games industry. Certainly the vitriol flies on gaming forums (can't imagine how busy the moderators for official game forums must be). This article seems to boil down to "but women get rape threats too". OK, sure, men don't often get those, fair point. But in an industry thick with death threats, how many developers or commentators have actually been lynched by angry fans since the beginning of time? Roughly zero? It's not rational to actually be creeped out or worried about this stuff.

For goodness sake, Jack Thompson is still alive and well. If any of these threats of violence could be taken seriously, he'd be the first casualty. Think you're more hated than that guy?

12 hours ago
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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:Why do you want pieces of plastic (297 comments)

I have 100 discs in my Netflix queue that aren't available on streaming. Go through about 6 a week, and have for years (I don't have cable). Only about 10% or what I watch can be streamed. And sadly the count of "very long wait" is up to 20 now, and climbing.

For the most part, it's only recent (but not too recent) content that's streamable. Heck, you can't even stream The Wire, and that's not that old. You can't stream any of the pre-reboot Dr Who episodes, and I could add another 100 discs to my queue just for Dr Who (does the BBC have these streaming yet?)

yesterday
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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:Time will tell (297 comments)

If there were an alternative to Netflix for disc shipment, I'd switch today. I might pay double, certainly 50% more, for the breadth of selection Netflix once had, if catalog growth continued, stuff got upgraded to BluRay, and so on.

But there's no such animal. Kids these days are all about streaming. Netflix's model of "delayed gratification" for TV watching was a miracle in the first place. I'm amazed it's lasted as long as it has.

yesterday
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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:Time will tell (297 comments)

The advertisement for Hulu plus will resume after this commercial break. Stay tuned afterwards for our Best of Commercials Spectacular, we're sure you'll love it.

yesterday
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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

lgw Re:call them (297 comments)

Netflix streaming is nearly-worthless - there's just no content.

Hulu streaming is totally worthless garbage. Fuck commercials.

Amazon has the wrong model. PPV isn't where it's at.

There's no question Netflix is gradually ending their disc service (selection is falling rapidly), and that really sucks. The ~$1.50 price to watch a disc was right for me, and it's sad to see it die. There's so very much great stuff from the 20th century that seems doomed to vanish with the death of physical media (and the complete and utter failure of government and the legal system when it comes to streaming and licensing).

At this point, I can only hope good rips of everything are around somewhere and being archived by hobbyists, awaiting some fix to copyright law. (Torrents may be plentiful for new stuff, but new stuff is easily available in legal ways for those who aren't broke anyhow. Torrents for last-century works are a different story).

yesterday
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New York Judge OKs Warrant To Search Entire Gmail Account

lgw Re:Warrants are supposed to be narrow (150 comments)

I don't think the question is really whether the judge can order such a thing. I think it's more of a question of whether it is justified in this case.

We lack the data to second-guess the judge's judgment. I'm elated by this story, personally. There was a judge; there was a warrant; that's amazing progress for email!

2 days ago
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Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

lgw Re:IBM (381 comments)

You seem blind to the fact that your arguments only make sense when viewed through the "only Americans matter" lens, but are obviously false otherwise. How else do you explain it?

2 days ago
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The debate over climate change is..

lgw Re:n/t (278 comments)

On human timescales, let's say a maximum lifetime of an average building, on most places climate would be stable.

Well, assuming you mean a few hundred years, like a European building, then not so much. Look at the Vostok Ice Core Data, if you haven't already. The past 10k years or relative climate stability is a stark anomaly compared to the previous 400k (apparently the previous 800k years are much the same).

Based on the data, the warming spike to current conditions should have been over very quickly, and the glaciers should have been on the march by now. No one knows why the last 10k years is odd. Heck, we don't even know that much. Is the Quaternary Ice Age coming to an end after ~100 M years? If so, human actions mean nothing on the scale of that, but it seems a bit non-Copernican to suppose it's so. (OTOH, the past 10k years of anomalous climate stability were key to humans emerging as a technological species, so it wouldn't be entirely coincidence.) What mechanism causes the abrupt temperature spike every 100k years? What brings it down again so sharply? What's different this time? The science here is in its infancy.

With human influence, in particular their massive release of CO2 and it's feedback effects, it looks like climate can and indeed will change so fast, that buildings close to oceans may get submerged in massive scale, farmland may become unarable faster than it's economical to create new farmland with all the food production infrastructure that goes with it etc.

Don't watch so many disaster movies. America grows enough food to feed itself on a small fraction of the land it needed even 100 years ago, and there's plenty of land to the North of current farm belts. This stuff won't change in a handful of years, not by and order of magnitude or two, and a handful of years is all it would take for modern agri-industry to move farming north.

Basically, the bad case for warming is that cities would have to move over generations to higher land. There's certainly an economic cost one could assess for that. If the climate models ever get to the point where they're useful, we could even put a dollar figure per year on it. But I expect heavy dependence on fossil fuels is just a passing phase in technological progress anyhow, and we'll be largely beyond it before it really matters.

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

lgw Re:Did he just notice that? (524 comments)

The thing is if employers want the duty to just pay you for services, then they should get out of everything that does not involve work.

I couldn't agree more. And that goes double for the government. Heck, even the concept of health "insurance" as we have it today seems broken - does my car insurance pay for tune-ups? I'd like nothing more than being able to buy catastrophic care insurance (what was once called "major medical") like I buy car insurance (including the government-mandated high-risk pool so that no one gets priced out - we made that work for car insurance after all), and let all the day-to-day medical stuff be a cash transaction no different from an oil change.

It's an imperfect world.

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

lgw Re:Did he just notice that? (524 comments)

BTW, on the QA side, Microsoft did in fact give people a few months to apply internally for dev jobs (it wasn't official that the rest would face lay-offs, but the writing was on the wall). About half of them made that jump. That's not re-training, of course, but it's nicer than most corporate layoffs.

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

lgw Re: Did he just notice that? (524 comments)

I know plenty of people at MS. Several months ago, they announced the end of SDT (QA) as a thing. About half the SDT guys found internal transfers to the development teams. The other half were clearly looking for seats before the music stopped. Well, the music stopped.

That's the thing about software - whatever your technical skills, they have a half-life. You have to keep on top of that, or you'll find that what you know how to do simply isn't valuable any more. SDT was supposed to be a "developer, but writing test code" job all along. Now that MS is following the herd in making all test automation part of dev's job, those who had the talent and inclination to become normal devs had plenty of time to make that transfer. And about half of them did.

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

lgw Re:Did he just notice that? (524 comments)

Your employer's duty is to give you money, not hold your hand and guide you through life.

Microsoft had a very generous severance package for engineers. They're on the payroll for 2 months after "being layed off", they get 2 weeks pay per 6 months tenure up to some high cap, from what I've heard.

When I got layed off in the dot-bust, my employer gave me a check and a shove out the door, but not having to work for 6 months gave me plenty of time brush up my skill set and to place myself with another company.

A free man doesn't expect his employer to be his mommy too - that's how a serf thinks. A company who wants to hire professionals ever again, after laying some of them off, will make sure to have a decent severance package - and MS did that. Most big companies that aren't in a death spiral do.

3 days ago
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The Hacking of NASDAQ

lgw Re:The market is rigged already (76 comments)

They must take out more value (than they could possibly even theoretically add) or else they would be broke.

Ahh, liberals, forever convinced economics is a zero-sum game.

Market spreads and brokerage prices had been coming down way before HFT were inserted into the system. It's like all the efficiencies of the last couple decades have been so great that you don't even notice when HFT quietly slip in a new tax on everyone.

It's all the same trend. HFT isn't some cliff we fell off - trade frequency and market maker participation has been increasing steadily for 20 years as technological advance made it more and more practical. Spreads fell steadily during this time as a result.

3 days ago
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Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

lgw Re:IBM (381 comments)

"How do we race towards middle class standards for all by cutting middle class jobs for white people, simultaneously concentrating white people wealth in fewer hands"

By creating many more jobs for other people, which clearly you don't even see as people in your moral equation.

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

lgw Re:Did he just notice that? (524 comments)

Microsoft layed off a bunch of v\factory workers and QA guys while complaining how hard I is to hire developers. Seems legit to me.

But is so much more fun to shout "big companies are evil!" "rich guys are evil!". than to think about issues. Here's a thought for you: if you think rich is bad, you won't get rich.

3 days ago
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The Hacking of NASDAQ

lgw Re:The market is rigged already (76 comments)

Well, maybe I don't know what you mean by "shop around". There may be multiple exchanges selling the same thing (though not for stocks), and you usually aren't even aware if which one your broker deals with, as arbitrage keeps prices the same on all of them at faster than human scale these days - another example of making markets efficient.

The market makers simply trade on the exchange, filling orders at better prices than the bid/ask would be without them there. Because they trade so frequently, they can make good money off of quite a small price difference between what they buy and sell at.

You seem worried about these "losses for everyone else", but the market makers aren't siphoning off a % of each trade or anything like that. The only ones hurt are real parasites on the system: those who would profit from inattentive traders, by taking advantage of a thin market for price gouging.

It really seems like you're trying to argue "they add no value, because they must be taking money form someone, because they add no value."

4 days ago
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The debate over climate change is..

lgw Re:n/t (278 comments)

Me too, but sorry, that's not an option. Stable climate isn't really a thing, and merely removing human influence won't get you a stable climate. Maybe with a century of research we might attempt "climate engineering" to deliberately mess with the system to achieve a desired result, but that's SciFi today.

4 days ago
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The Hacking of NASDAQ

lgw Re:The market is rigged already (76 comments)

Well, these are exchanges, so "shop around for a better price" isn't really a thing. What you can't do is profit from someone not paying much attention - profit from the inefficiency of the market. And that's a good thing: there should be no game to play, no skill at haggling required, nor deep understanding of market mechanics, simply to execute a trade. Deciding what price you're willing to buy or sell at is where the smarts belong, but if you buy something by mistake, and turn around and sell it 2 minutes later, that should cost you as little as possible.

4 days ago
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LibreSSL PRNG Vulnerability Patched

lgw Re:Shocked I am! Shocked! (151 comments)

Never forget Poe's Law. Not only is there no statement so absurd that it can't be taken seriously by someone, it will be. Even TimeCube.

4 days ago

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Journals

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Economics in Brief (Internet Flotsam)

lgw lgw writes  |  about 3 months ago

Here's some internet flotsam attributed to a graduation speech by Thomas Sargent (without digging into whether this speech really happened: the content is interesting).

Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts,
and their preferences than you do.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That
is why social safety nets don't always end up working as intended.

5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.

6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their
choices. That is why it is difficult for well meaning outsiders to change
things for better or worse.

7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are
some promises that you'd like to make but can't. No one will believe those
promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to
deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about
whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change.
This is how you earn a reputation.

8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.

9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is
what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do
(but not the social security system of Singapore).

10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or
tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.

11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government
transfers (especially transfers to themselves).

12. Because market prices aggregate traders' information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.

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Geothermal vs Solar Power

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Here are the basic numbers on aailable geothermal vs solar power (since this has come up in discussion more than once).

The surface area of the Earth is about 5.1 x 10^14 m^2. The cross sectional area is about 1.3 x 10^14 m^2 (one quarter of the surface area, of course).

Per this paper found as a cite on wikipedia, the total heat flow out from the Earth's interior is 4.42 x 10^13 W, or 0.0867 W/m^2. Of course, the available power is much less because it's only the subsurface-surface temperature difference that's available.

Total solar irradience is 1361 W/m^2 by NASA's latest estimate (so about 1.7 x 10^17 W across the entire cross section), or about 1000 W/m^2 on the surface at noon on a cloudless day. Averaged over the day-night cycle (surface area vs cross-section, so 250 W/m^2), and taking clouds into account that's about 180 W/m^2 (I can't find a solid source on that yet, but it looks close).

So, total solar power flow is about 4000 times as large as total geothermal flow. I'm not quite sure how to estimate the (ideal) available power as a percentage of the total geothermal power flow, but if we use a WAG of 50%, then the available power from solar is also about 4000 times per square meter more than geothermal - significantly more if we average solar power only across populated latitudes.

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Global Warming Link

lgw lgw writes  |  more than 5 years ago

This is the best summary of the great global warming fraud I've yet seen, and published in the most unlikely of places.

To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.

Although I feel Harold Ambler makes some good points, he misses what I've always felt was the most important. Given that the climate will change (as it always has), do we want it to be warmer, or colder? As glaciers covering Europe (the norm for the ice age we've been in for the past 100M years) seems to me far worse than rising sea levels, I've never understood why we'd want to fight warming in the first place.

I think the whole global warming fraud started by ignoring all of the available evidence and blindly asserting that the climate is naturally stable, so therefore if man did something to break that stability we'd be creating an otherwise-avoidable catastrophe. What BS. The only thing historically unprecedented is the inexplicable stability of the climate for the past 10K years. Change is unavoidable, with or without the actions of man.

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Some quotes I like

lgw lgw writes  |  about 9 years ago

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." - Abraham Lincoln

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.'" - George Orwell

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