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

ray-auch depends where you live - some figures (486 comments)

Thought I'd actually look up some real numbers for reliability by country (terms can be found on wikipedia, larger is not better...):

International Comparison of 2007 Reliability Indices

COUNTRY ..... SAIDI SAIFI
United States 240 .. 1.5
Netherlands .. 33 .. 0.3
Austria ...... 72 .. 0.9
Denmark ...... 24 .. 0.5
France ....... 62 .. 1.0
Germany ...... 23 .. 0.5
Italy ........ 58 .. 2.2
Spain ....... 104 .. 2.2
UK ........... 90 .. 0.8

Source: Council of European Energy Regulators ASBL. (2008). 4th Benchmarking Report on the Quality of Electricity Supply. Brussels: CEER.

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

ray-auch Re:Hide your cables (486 comments)

Sounds more like doing a crap job does not work - which is pretty much a universal truth.

The underground cable coming into our property looks to be at least 50yrs old and I doubt the path above it has been lifted in that timescale either, and it definitely hasn't been touched in the 17yrs I've been here. Some of the distribution wiring out in the street has been upgraded in the last ten yrs because we were getting outages every couple of months, now we get zero, I doubt that wiring had been touched for decades and I don't expect the new stuff under the street will be replaced in the next few decades either. Doing this stuff right isn't rocket science and we knew how to do it over 50yrs ago.

Transformers sometimes flood, but new ones shouldn't unless you don't have design standards or don't enforce them - just looked up some here and for consumer substations it's 300mm of concrete above the 100 year flood level. There are problems with older substations built to lower standards or because flooding risks have simply changed - there are places that haven't flooded in over 100yrs and then this century have flooded several times, call it climate change or whatever, it means the 100yr flood line has effectively moved. But that is older infrastructure, if you have new areas where transformers are "constantly" getting flooded then you have poor standards or poor monitoring of standards.

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

ray-auch Re:Super-capitalism (486 comments)

For one, the US is big.. really big.. So it's not cost-effective to run power cables and alike underground. So that makes them more vulnerable.

That is not the problem - most of our long distance high voltage stuff is above ground here, but that is usually redundant (hence "grid"). The weird thing about the US is the way the last-mile low voltage stuff, which is more vulnerable and typically _not_ redundant, is above ground too. Many people are convinced that is why your power is more flaky - it is not actually the grid (although the US high voltage grid does not have a good reputation either).

So, how's our grid ? Well, a few years ago we started to get more power outages - by which I mean one every couple of months for a few minutes to a couple of hours. The distribution cable from the substation was either degraded or handling too much new load, anyway that was enough for them to dig up all the roads a year or so ago and replace / add new cables. Haven't had a single noticeable power outage since then.

yesterday
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Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans

ray-auch Which is why we have gods... (331 comments)

Exhibit B, God (or Gods), generally regarded as being infinite/omnipresent/omnipotent/otherwise not subject to laws of physics - hence plenty of room for an infinite tape.

God does the complicated bit of deciding whether puny humans should kill or not - the "why" - leaving the humans to decide the simple bits like "when / who" (goes first), "how" (which bits to cut / shoot / throttle / stone), and which way up to hold the camera.

about a week ago
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Longtime Debian Developer Tollef Fog Heen Resigns From Systemd Maintainer Team

ray-auch Re:Don't like Systemd... fork it. (550 comments)

My understanding is that cgroups is moving (for various reasons) to require a single userspace process manager a la systemd. No, it doesn't have to be systemd but it sounds like it will have to be something _like_ systemd if you don't use systemd. Also, if your one process manager needs to manage stuff spawned from init, maybe it is right that it should _be_ init - I am not actually sure, but that seems to be the argument.

I am not sure if RedHat is chasing a phantom use case as you say or a genuine and valuable innovation - probably only time will tell - I just think it is clear they are chasing something in the PAAS / cloud / server space, and that that is where systemd is coming from.

about two weeks ago
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Longtime Debian Developer Tollef Fog Heen Resigns From Systemd Maintainer Team

ray-auch Re:Don't like Systemd... fork it. (550 comments)

Mod parent up.

Exactly right - systemd isn't about desktop boot times at all, it is about servers and process management and supporting containerization (and managing using cgroups). See RedHat Atomic / OpenShift / Geard etc.

I agree that monitoring and re-spawning doesn't _need_ to be at OS level, but the cgroups type of stuff (resource limits, accounting, namespace isolation) really does.

Systemd is definitely about servers, lots and lots of servers delivering PAAS clouds, so no, traditional discrete server admins won't like it, but then they won't like PAAS either (if it really takes off) as it outsources / automates a large part of their job.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ray-auch Re:Nonsense (219 comments)

For me, for _typing_, anything less than a good solid desk and a proper keyboard with springs in (i.e. Model M or similar) is already inadequate, the chromebook keyboards I have seen look awful, and probably are given that the whole machine is less than twice the price of a proper keyboard (and probably about the same weight). Yes, the clamshell format is better for typing than a tablet, but both are a lot worse than a desktop. Tablets can also use fancy predictive or modal keyboards (swype et al) to swing the balance back.

Let's also not forget that these are kids, they have not grown up with real keyboards and then switched to touchscreen, they have grown up with touchscreens, they live by their overwhelmingly touchscreen phones, what is more comfortable and efficient for us old ones may not be for them.

> Plus when the lid closes the screen is protected, the iPad has to go into a sleeve of some sort for protection.

The kids' school iPads never come out of the (allegedly mil-spec) protective case, and I'd be a lot happier dropping one than any kind of laptop, closed or open.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ray-auch Re:Different strokes. (219 comments)

As somebody who works in the IT Department at a large public school district, I find the inclusion of tablets (not just iPads, but any tablet) to be a bit of a headache. You can add all of the peripherals you want to a tablet, such as a bluetooth keyboard, etc., but it can not match the span of usability of an actual laptop. Likewise, accidents with tablets are a bit frustrating to deal with. The act of holding the device, by nature alone, causes the chance of damage to rise considerably, as opposed to a device that sits on a table and is used accordingly.

See this is where I think people go wrong - you are viewing a tablet as "can it replace a laptop" rather than "what can it do". I don't understand why schools even use laptops in the first place - the entire purpose of a laptop is to be portable (less so than a tablet), but you say they "sit on a table". In that case, a desktop is surely better in every way - more robust, more upgradeable, more ergonomic in terms of screen and keyboard positioning, etc. If on the other hand you are actually _using_ the portability (the raison d'etre of a laptop) then you have schoolkids carrying them around, and then bring on the breakages - unless you have the budget for the likes of ToughBooks.

Tablets on the other hand are straightforward to ruggedize with external cases (being essentially a cuboid slab with zero moving parts), and open up a lot of use cases you simply wouldn't even consider a laptop for. When my kids' school trialled them, the most interesting and perhaps the most compelling use cases they came out of it with were things I had not even considered, simply because I had always used some combination of desktops laptops and phone.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ray-auch Re:Who is ubmfuturecities? (219 comments)

Notepad++, full screen mode, portrait if you have it, or landscape with multiple tabs side by side.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ray-auch Re:Not really... (219 comments)

I work in a school. We've been through the whole "every pupil gets a computer" phase and it was a disaster - we used eeepcs running Xandros and initially there were complaints about how crummy the programs were. (IE people expected Office, but they got OpenOffice instead).

Then after a few days the breakages started - minibooks left in bags, being dropped, screens smashed, drinks spilt on them etc. So that meant that teachers couldn't rely on everyone having one any more and the whole point of them was lost. They stopped being used and we ended up getting about 30% of them back after the year was out,

I am astounded how many people still think it is a good idea to give non-ruggedized kit to school kids, it's as if they deliberately forget what it was like to be a kid.

Tablet form factor (and lack of moving parts) lends itself to ruggedization, and there are lots of case options available, laptops (or chromebooks etc.) with moving and spinning parts need to be built rugged so you want ToughBooks or similar - but then you've blown your budget by a mile.

My kid has a school iPad, it's locked into a case that claims to be mil-spec - I have my doubts, I don't think you could throw it in a puddle, drive over it and pick it up and use it afterwards like the old Husky Hunters (the military being somewhat like overgrown school-kids) but you can certainly splash drink on it or drop it down some stairs without problems. Their breakage rate after a year was about 1%, which is way better than professional developers manage with corporate laptops IME...

Like anything else - research properly before splashing cash.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ray-auch Re:Compromise combos don't work (219 comments)

Another anecdote is the school where my wife teaches are about to dump iPads in favour of a convertible laptop (Not decided on a Surface or a Transformer or which specific device, but it will run Windows and it will be a full laptop / tablet convertible), and the private school across the road already did last year and went with Asus Transformers.

The iPad is a shit device for learning.

The ASUS transformers are awesome little beasts, but they don't have the camera capability which seems to be a major use case for tablets at my kids' school. I'd also question if the surface "cover" or even the transformer are rugged enough for schoolkids on their own, and getting ruggedized cases that accommodate the convertible feature may be tricky. Tablets are relatively easy to ruggedize.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ray-auch Re: Compromise combos don't work (219 comments)

It is doomed, but that is not why. If MS chose to unlock it, you could rebuild native x86 apps for RT no problem - that's how they did Office. But MS didn't want to allow that, they wanted a go at the 30% of everything sold in the app store model - the fact that that failed is IMO good.

The real reason RT is doomed though is that it was built to give Intel a kick to get better performing low power x86 chips out (or alternatively to hedge their bets on mobile hardware platform). Since Bay Trail atoms came out there is just no reason to run Windows on an ARM tablet, and hence no need for the arbitrarily crippled RT.

They are going to take the ARM port and produce ARM server Windows I believe, which might actually make more sense (more limited set of software than desktops, more of it custom and hence rebuildable, and admins who won't be as confused as desktop users about requiring ARM or x86 binary). Again, it will be to hedge their platform best but also maybe to push Intel to more efficiency in server chips.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ray-auch Re:Nonsense (219 comments)

Problem is they aren't laptops, they are locked down limited devices like tablets, but without the portability (and camera etc.) benefits of a tablet - worst of all worlds really. Ok, so you get a sort-of proper keyboard, but you could add a keyboard (bluetooth or docked) to a tablet and get the same without losing the portability of the tablet to, say, get instant video feedback on your technique in athletics.

about two weeks ago
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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

ray-auch Re:Open records isn't the issue here (461 comments)

Presumably someone (or some people) has the job of validating the licences and that the dancers are indeed dancing, nude, and capable of providing entertainment to an acceptable standard in that category.

Probably that person/people don't want to lose that job... [which , when you look carefully enough, is the reason why government does 90% of what it does].

about two weeks ago
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Google Releases Open Source Nogotofail Network Traffic Security Testing Tool

ray-auch Re:Any device? (36 comments)

Nor OpenBSD - maybe Theo told them nicely that they didn't need it :-)

about three weeks ago
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SpaceShipTwo's Rocket Engine Did Not Cause Fatal Crash

ray-auch Re:Odd... (150 comments)

Nope - under ICAO, for air crashes, preliminary report is supposed to be within one month.

Plus, this was a test flight, and was probably instrumented to death - very likely they have full real time telemetry before they even need to go near recorders in the wreckage. Apparently they have cockpit video too - something the aviation industry has always resisted (at least the unions).

about three weeks ago
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Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic

ray-auch Re:Political science (265 comments)

he also made it clear that we had to vote for a lizard, otherwise the wrong lizard might get in...

about three weeks ago
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Pianist Asks Washington Post To Remove Review Under "Right To Be Forgotten"

ray-auch Re:If only... (257 comments)

Except bad and good are entirely subjective terms.

They aren't to me...

about three weeks ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

ray-auch Re:Nonsense. Again. (432 comments)

Have you compared the size of a pig and a glow worm ?

I think a glow worm would be pretty well fucked if a pig stood on it...

about a month ago

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