top The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy
I didn't find my favorite brand at Costco, but I second this. I also recommend people try a few different kinds in different light fixtures in their house before deciding. I have a few bulbs that are a real pain in the ass to change (e.g. so high over my staircase or outside that I need a pole to change it), and those were the first to be switched (in the hopes that I never have to change them again).
The initial cost can be high, but if you only buy 1 or 2 a month, the cost is spread out, and your electricity bills should go down gradually over time. As a gradually switch over, I also find myself needing to buy less and less light bulbs over time. The CFL's I was buying were burning out way too fast (faster than incandescent it seemed). I don't know when the first LED's I bought will fail, but so far every last one I bought is still doing fine. A few brands/types I tried give off weak lighting, so I stuck them in fixtures that have 3 bulbs to lessen the impact.
top Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?
On the astronomy side, I second the camping with a telescope idea. I've had friends tell me about groups of astronomy enthusiasts who schedule nights to meet up in places to star-gaze and/or camp out. Most of them bring their own telescopes and like to chat and show off the various features and techniques, show you things they've found with their telescopes, help you with yours, and so on. Check one out and see if it's a kid-friendly environment for a fun camping overnight (I have no idea if it would be or not, and it may depend on the group). If your kids take an interest in it, you'll have even more reason to pursue it further.
top Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?
Seconded. All seemingly impossible projects can be broken down into manageable pieces. Break it down logically and tackle specific pieces that seem doable, then build on top of them.
top Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline
I don't think that's true unless its waste and/or corpse gets buried deeply enough that bacteria can't cause it to decompose. When bacteria eats plants/animals/organic waste, it releases a lot of CO2 back into the atmosphere.
top OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL
If they end up stripping it down to a minimal library with the core functionality, cleaning up the public interface (e.g. exported functions), and making it easy to create your own OS-specific wrapper around it, then they are actually doing something that should have been done in the first place. If they do it right, it will become much more popular (and most likely more light-weight and secure) than the current OpenSSL project.
top Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket
I think Netflix's business model is more like WalMart's early model. Even if they can get away with it, they avoid raising prices because they want to stay on top by consistently offering the lowest price (usually by keeping very low profit margins). When they were finally pressured to increase prices, they chose to split the streaming and DVD rentals into two separate services (allowing you to lower your monthly cost if you only wanted to keep one). IMO they also fought against the price increase for as long as they could, and while many customers got pissed off and threatened to leave (and many did), there still wasn't a competitor that came close to it unless you count pirating the shows.
Very low margins makes them vulnerable to lobbying/litigation/price-fixing attacks from other companies like Comcast/AT&T, which is what we're seeing right now. This bandwidth throttling scheme is analogous to a price-fixing scheme, and Comcast/AT&T are using lobbyists and lawyers to keep it from being declared an anti-competitive practice. They really don't care about the little bit of extra money they're extorting from Netflix right now. They know Netflix has margins low enough that this will hurt, and they know Netflix's customers are ultra-sensitive to price increases. Either way Netflix will be hurt, which is their primary goal. Both offer more expensive competing services to Netflix, and together both offer the only way for most Americans to access Netflix. It's a clear conflict of interest. They will do the same to Hulu and any other serious competition that pops up.
top The Highest-Flying Wind Turbine
And when lightning strikes one of these babies, you get a nice surge of 1.21 Jigawatts.
Being more serious, I think this is a really good idea, but I would think big storms would be the biggest problems for these things. Of course, FTA:
"The largest barrier to implementation right now is the need for a product that is reliable in all weather conditions for long periods of time,"
top Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft
Hey, I have the perfect solution! After each deposit, the bitcoin exchanges should print the critical bitcoin info out on paper (encrypted first with a private key) then destroy the electronic copy. Then, in case they get robbed by a physical thief who is also a hacker, they should destroy all copies of the private key. See? It's perfect.
top Google Removes "Search Nearby" Function From Updated Google Maps
Maybe it's because only 300 people know about it? Yes, that was a joke, but seriously Google Maps has millions of users, and Google knows how many people click on it. If the vast majority don't (even if it's due to not having a clue), I could see why Google might drop it.
top Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian'
Good point. I missed that part of it. Though in cases where the company feels they can get away with giving you a smaller increase (like if they think someone from rural Georgia won't notice and/or complain), a lot of businesses will. It's not racially biased, it's business.
top Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian'
I don't think it matters. Companies will pay significantly less for employees in rural Georgia than they do for the same employees in Silicon Valley because rural Georgia has a much lower cost of living. This is standard business practice everywhere. Is that racial (or any other kind of) discrimination? Of course not. This is the same practice regardless of whether the manager technically said "for an Indian" (which sounds less politically correct) or "for someone living in a low-cost area like India" (which sounds more politically correct). And IMO it doesn't count as whistle-blowing to call someone out on a business practice that is neither illegal nor immoral. He's being fired for being a dumbass and making a big stink about nothing, not for being a whistle-blower.
top 2013: an Ominous Year For Warnings and Predictions
"That'd be nice - 'science' could just stick to doing sciencey things, then, instead of creating contrived and falsifiable histrionic reports about things which, almost invariably, will not prove out to be true."
All of this started when NASA was asked to do "sciencey" things with a clear non-political goal, namely to start tracking/modeling/predicting global weather patterns to help the US prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, floods, droughts, etc. However, those things are very hard to predict without trying to look at larger climate patterns, which means gathering and crunching as much data as they could pull together. When all of that data pointed toward a potential long-term danger, NASA scientists did their jobs and informed their bosses of the potential danger.
Is that danger 100% clear? No. Did NASA scientists claim it was 100% clear? No. People like Al Gore may have, but last I checked, he wasn't one of NASA's scientists. Have the predictions remained constant over the years? No, they've been modified as more has been learned, and they will continue to be modified because there is always more to learn in every field of science. Have their discoveries and claims been backed up by other climate/weather tracking organizations like the ESA? Yes. The only thing that is 100% clear here is which side of the fence has been politically motivated the whole way and which side has not, which side has been trying to learn more and which has merely been obstructionist, etc.
The human race has never been short of people like the hunters who killed the very last of the dodo birds and smashed the last of their eggs, poachers who illegally hunt elephants and tigers toward extinction, fisheries who dredge the ocean floor because it's getting so much harder to find/catch enough fish to stay in business, or loggers who illegally cut down the rest of the trees in the Amazon rain forest. Every one of them is certain that the world is too big for their contribution to make a difference, and every one of them is wrong. Most global warming deniers aren't doing anything illegal or immoral (unless they're actively publishing fake scientific "studies"), but they have the same mind-set.
"I don't see what your point is. People (and the companies they run) make choices in the interest of self preservation and self-interest."
They sure do. And just like when someone's (or some company's) choices involve something illegal like human trafficking, it is the government's job to put a stop to it. It is also the government's job to decide whether something that is legal today should remain legal. They'll never be able to satisfy everyone, but it's their job. Of course, we can't outlaw coal and oil without harming everyone (yet), but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to look for ways to head in that direction.
top 2013: an Ominous Year For Warnings and Predictions
Actually, I find the opposite to be true. If people stop believing in (e.g. forget about) the evil others can do when unchecked, then it all comes crashing down.
top Exponential Algorithm In Windows Update Slowing XP Machines
That's the best way to force users to upgrade that I can think of. They're already planning to end-of-life it. After EOL, they can simply start adding empty patches to the update system until it drives left-over XP users to upgrade.
top DARPA Issues $2mil Cyber Grand Challenge
The title of my contest entry will be called the MCP (Master Control Program). It will enslave all other programs on the network.
top Windows 8 Killing PC Sales
Exactly, only it didn't always fully compensate. Ultima 3 still ran WAY too fast to be playable with turbo disabled on my 386.
about a year and a half ago
top Motorola HC1: Head-Worn Computing For Workplaces With Deep Pockets
And I thought my laptop case and touch-screens got oily fast from fingers. Head-worn devices will bring it to a whole new level for a lot of people.
top Researcher Reverse-Engineers Pacemaker Transmitter To Deliver Deadly Shocks
This sounds like a plot for an episode of Pinky and the Brain.
top The US Navy's Railgun Program
"Any country hostile to the USA would need to devote some of its resources, both money and brains, into similar RAD."
Not really, the Chinese will wait for us to sink the money into the tech, then steal the plans.
top CyanogenMod Drops ROM Manager In Favor of OTA Updates
Oh, I agree 100%. I'm just pointing out that the grass isn't always greener on the CM side. CM definitely improved battery life for me, let me get rid of the crap-ware, and gave me more control, but the lack of a camera still killed it on that specific phone.
I go for the cheaper no-contract phones because I'm not willing to pay $40+ a month for phone service I rarely use/need. So I go for the $200 no-contract phones (recently picked up the Exhibit 2 for $180) and I pay $10 every 90 days for 30 minutes of cell time, and I only use it for emergencies (including minor ones, like when the wife changes her plans and needs me to pick up the kids). I think the only time I needed to recharge the minutes before the 90-day period was up was when the car broke down and the tow truck driver had a hard time finding me (he called my cell about 10 times while driving around looking for me).
If that means I need to avoid CM because the devs spend more time perfecting the more expensive phones, for $3.33/month it's something I can live with.
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