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Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company

theIsovist Re:Wouldn't electric cars have the opposite effect (502 comments)

You would think, but the big issue with renewable energy is that when the power is flowing, you have to use it. Storage is not increasing at the rate of improvements in tech. But that's changing. With better batteries, electric cars plugged into the grid can act as a large storage system. The batteries can be both filled and drained by the grid, meaning that energy can be stored and pulled from the network of cars that are sitting idle. This (potentially) fixes the storage issue of renewables, and allows for a decentralized grid, which is far more resilient to damage. So, as Morgan Stanley suggests, the age of the centralized power source may soon be over.

about a month and a half ago

Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

theIsovist Re:I work IT in the taxi industry. (273 comments)

Part of what makes Uber (and the like) so attractive is that money is handled through the app itself. I cannot tell you what the company does to ensure that the driver is paid, but the payment is secured through the system itself. Once your ride is completed your card is charged through the system, eliminating the "I don't have enough cash" issue that cabs deal with currently (I've seen this happen unfortunately more than once just from riding with friends who don't carry cash). As the driver is paid through the company itself, there's a mechanism in place to ensure he can't be stiffed. This is assuming the company is proactive here, but that's the same with all companies.

As for the rating system, I've also seen the company - Lyft in this case - change a rating for both a driver and a passenger. The company quickly reverted an accidental low driver rating without issue, and the driver removed a flag on a passenger when there was a miscommunication on pick up location due to a gps error.

These are anecdotal, but show that the system can be and has been purged of improper records. As with all jobs, the driver is ultimately punished by the company that hires him, which means that his reputation inside the company will likely be weighed against any complaints.

about 3 months ago

Continuous System For Converting Waste Plastics Into Crude Oil

theIsovist Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (139 comments)

yes but what it does do is that it provides a further use for the plastic besides being discarded into the landfills. better to be used completely rather than just thrown away.

about 3 months ago

Even In Digital Photography Age, High Schoolers Still Flock To the Darkroom

theIsovist Re:Nostalgia (240 comments)

I can't deny this, although the stuff coming out from the darkroom I learned in was decent quality, probably just because it's a college darkroom. But is this a bad thing? You have an opportunity to both teach the students something and create a lasting impression. If they enjoy coming to school for this reason, could that have an effect on their other classes?

about 3 months ago

Even In Digital Photography Age, High Schoolers Still Flock To the Darkroom

theIsovist Devil's Advocate (240 comments)

There have been a lot of posts talking about the negatives of the dark room. In light of my own photography instructor passing away this week, I feel obligated to talk about the benefits. Here's what I learned:

A physical photography class is a lesson in both physics and chemistry. It's not as in depth as a physics class or a straight chemistry class, but a basic understanding of lenses and chemical processes used to take and develop film offer up applicability for both of those classes, which is often beneficial for students. In the same way, you could digitize physics and chemistry, but nothing takes the place of a good physical experiment.

Physical photography does not allow you to take five hundred shots and hope for a good one. This is great for beginning students, as it forces them to think about each shot that they take. This gets them into the habit of composing shots to show exactly what is intended, as opposed to lucking into a good picture.

A physical photo does not allow you to put on digital filters. Any modification of the picture must come from an understanding of the tools used to modify the photo. Understanding how to dodge and burn a photo in real life will help when moving to digital.

There is a nostalgic element to developing film, but what film provides is a solid, tangible object. You can print digital photos, but unless you're using photo paper, the tactile nature is different. Also, the digital shot is limited by the printer. This isn't as much of an issue these days, but it's something to be aware of.

My photography instructor admittedly shot nothing but digital in his own work. You're right, there are too many benefits in the professional world. But there are benefits to learning the old tools as well.

about 3 months ago

Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

theIsovist Re:$30,000 per year (1040 comments)

I'm currently in Seattle, living as a graduate student. I'm employed in a school associated research lab as a graduate researcher, making the maximum the lab can pay me, per school guidelines, at $15/ hour. This glorious number is set to be the new minimum wage. So let's talk about what it's like to be on minimum wage. Or at least what it will be like.

Should I find a better job? The job I have is a fantastic for when I leave school, providing an exceptional network and excellent experience. I'm doing research to reduce energy use in the construction sector, which benefits society as a whole. Leaving this job would be short sighted. Admittedly, when the minimum wage increases, not all low paying jobs will be like this, but many good jobs still are.

Should I live elsewhere? Rent in the area is high and going higher, so I live with 3 other people. My location is in the city, but in the cheaper areas, not trendy at all and less safe overall, but it works. I live in this city because this is where the jobs are. I could move to the suburbs, but that would require both car payments and gas payments, neither of which are cheap, especially given >$4 gas. Public transportation is an alternative, but it costs both money (2.50 or so a ride) and time (an hour each way, so that's 30 dollars of lost productivity per day). That may not seem like much, but on $15 an hour, it's tough. So I currently bike when I can.

Eating out here is quite expensive, with most non-fast food places providing meals that start at 12-13 dollars and quickly rising from there (and that's the going rate for a burger, the most pedestrian of foods), so I eat in. Can't waste an hours worth of work to have a meal out, after all. It's not terrible, because I can cook quite well, and I've shifted to a primarily vegetarian life style, as meat is expensive.

So at the end of the day, my paycheck goes to food and shelter, both of which are kept as cheap as possible. What little extra I have is saved and used for emergency funds, which can be wiped out pretty quickly in some unforeseen event. God help me if I'm hit by a car, or come down with the flu. Being out of commission for a week is not an option. All in all, I feel I'm doing a good job pushing my future forward. But my present is a fragile system that could be wiped out given a large enough hit.

So what am I saying? Your simplistic idea of "you're an idiot and you should move" completely ignores what life is like on a tight paycheck. There are bright people on a low paycheck, and it's quite the trap. Life on a slim budget has no room for error, and when your entire system revolves around survival, it takes extra work to plan for a future.

What should be more frightening to you is that you are surrounded by people who live like this. The people who take your cash at the starbucks, the people who clean your trash out from your desk. You rely on these people, and yet you look down on them and mock them. You're lucky you are where you are at, because what you do not have to do is pull yourself up from nothing. And if you are the person who came from the mean streets and a poor family, congratulations, you've done something amazing. But if you are, you're an amazing jerk to all those who are trying to do the same thing you did.

about 4 months ago

With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market

theIsovist Re:Surface: the only Hope (379 comments)

It's a mix. Partially due to it being an architecture school, there's a need for the cad drafting programs (autocad, revit, rhinoceros), but even during times where rendering, layout, and diagramming (using adobe suite products that used to be the mac's bread and butter), no one bothers to change to the mac side.

about 4 months ago

With the Surface Pro, Microsoft Is Trying To Recreate the PC Market

theIsovist Re:Surface: the only Hope (379 comments)

As someone who had the macs in school as a kid, as well as macs in the school I'm at now, I think it's the sexy packaging more than anything else. All the school's computer's now are loaded with bootcamp, and are almost entirely run on the windows side. This is in a design school, where apple always had a foothold with the students. The shift came not from exposure while you, but from a smart understanding that computers don't need to be a bulky, beige box, and can be a status symbol.

about 4 months ago

Researchers Experiment With Explosives To Fight Wildfires

theIsovist Re:This was tried in San Fran in 1906 (80 comments)

To be fair, that was over 100 years ago and a completely different setting for wildfires. I would be the science behind this technique may have improved since then. But it does provide precedent for not fighting urban fires with explosives, which is hard to label as bad find.

about 4 months ago

How Virtual Reality Became Reality

theIsovist Re:Except It Isn't (104 comments)

Jesus, when did Slashdot become populated by Luddites? 20 years ago, VR was populated by overly heavy, underpowered, expensive systems. the 2000su system (the first vr system I ever had a chance to experience, coincidentally) was a second gen system, and yet still cost somewhere around £10,000 []. The head sets themselves were about a half pound heavier than the oculus rift (50% increase), had a resolution of 756x244 pixels, and a view range of under 60 degrees (with only 47 degrees in the vertical dimension!). []So yes, 20 years ago, this was a bad idea.

Well, wait. "What about the virtual boy?" you might ask. let's look at that one and see why it failed. resolution? 384x224 resolution (4 color with 32 levels of Intensity). head tracking? no. processor? 32bit RISC 20mHz Clock speed. Check out that speed. []

So the Oculus Rift is higher res by a factor of 5: 960 x 1080 per eye. It has a higher viewing angle, 100 degrees. it weighs one third less than the old standard. the system is just a display for a computer, so the processing power is both upgradable and much faster than before. and the development kit, not even the production version which will be cheaper due to scaled production, is only 350 dollars. And software wise, there's a lot of work out there to provide interesting experiences from standard gaming to straight simulation of flight.

Being a naysayer is boring. Next time try to imagine what could be instead of thinking your perfect little view of the world is the only way.

about 4 months ago

Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test

theIsovist Re: Watch Out for PETA (466 comments)

I'm speaking from memory of a tour of the facility that I took last year. I did a quick search for the biosolids portion of tour, and found this on their website: and If I recall correctly, the biosolids are treated for everything except viruses, and that's what the third party takes on. That said, I'm speaking from memory, which while good, is not something I'd hold up in court. I also work at the Bullitt Center (, which has composting toilets that they are sending out to the same third party company when the on-site composting is complete. Both the water treatment plant and the BC have a wide array of treatment systems to filter out dangerous pathogens, chemicals, etc. Fun fact, the BC actually was required to become it's own water municipality to be off the grid.

The grass clippings, I do not know. I'm speaking only on the wastewater treatment. However, I do know that the city collects yard waste for composting purposes. I'll leave the extra research up to you.

about 5 months ago

Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test

theIsovist Re: Watch Out for PETA (466 comments)

The compost is treated to a specific level on site, then passed along to a third party company that handles viral and chemical issues. It's actually the reason the waste water treatment plant cannot directly offer you the compost. That said, there's a ton of research going into this and a working system in place that currently opposites commercially. Your concerns are valid, but they are also taken into account.

about 5 months ago

Bill Gates & Twitter Founders Put "Meatless" Meat To the Test

theIsovist Re:Watch Out for PETA (466 comments)

Seattle's already doing this. The water treatment plants compost solid waste and turn it back into, well, usable compost. I've heard this is becoming common elsewhere as well. The big issue, now, is to reduce agricultural run off which represents a huge break in the nutrient loop.

about 5 months ago

Why the Sharing Economy Is About Desperation, Not Trust

theIsovist Re:Money isn't always involved (331 comments)

As a male couchsurfer who has both hosted and traveled with the service, I would argue you have some misconceptions about the system. Most recently stayed in Chur, Switzerland with a host (male, straight) who picked me up at the train station, offered a couch to sleep on in his apartment, and then proceeded to give me a tour of the town and act as a translator. All in all, he asked for nothing in return but a good story. That has been the norm for the entire time I've been on couchsurfing (around 6 years now), and from my discussion with others in the group, my experience is common. The people who seem to have a difficulty using the system are those who don't understand that couchsurfing, while free, isn't free. While you could hop into town, sleep on someone's couch and leave, that's not the spirit of the system. The system revolves around the idea of the gift, that these people are opening up their home and lives to you. Ideally, you should be there to exchange culture, stories. I found it was helpful to offer to buy my hosts drinks for the night, or offer to pay for their dinner, but this is by no means a requirement. However, for the price of a meal, I was able to share in someone's life. This was inevitably cheaper than renting a hotel room, and far more enlightening.

about 5 months ago

Should NASA Send Astronauts On Voluntary One-Way Missions?

theIsovist Re:Yes, for any mission (307 comments)

Sending them on a one way trip turns risk into reality. It's one thing to say there's a 20% chance of survival and another to say, we're not bringing you back. Short of suicidal people, there aren't many I know who would choose to die (not to possibly die) for the sake of science.

about 6 months ago

How interested are you in Virtual Reality tech?

theIsovist Re:VR again? (202 comments)

The killer app probably depends on your usage. As an architect, I'm interested in seeing something like the Oculus Rift combined with 3d modeling apps like Rhinoceros. Being able to actually stick your head into your models would be a huge advance in getting to understand the feel of a space.

about 6 months ago

Darker Arctic Boosting Global Warming

theIsovist Re:Terraforming 101: Chapter 1 - What not to do (378 comments)

Admittedly, these experiences are like one's first experiences with learning how to paint - finger painting and messy but with much larger existential consequences and no actual paint.

So it's more like "Baby's first handgun?" Let's hope we survive our first "test" here.

about 7 months ago

Plasmonic Nanostructures Could Prove a Boon To Solar Cell Technology

theIsovist Re:I will believe it when I can buy it (107 comments)

"But at a solar/green event I went to, I use so little electricity that only after mentioning that was it *maybe* worthwhile for me."

This is a very good point. Homes, individually, don't take too much power, so powering each one of them with it's own generator (solar or otherwise) is redundant and expensive. Maintenance, too, is a pain for the average home owner. So centralizing power generation is great, for the most part. At least until you start factoring in transmission loss. What ideally will happen, and this will take time thanks to the cooperation it requires, is that district power plants will spring up. That a commercial building can produce so much power that it can sell the rest to local houses. You're starting to see this happen, and in the future, hopefully it will happen more. There's other benefits to this approach as well. Say, for instance, you run a massive server farm. This farm produces a lot of heat, and if you can capture this heat, you could use it to power your building and perhaps other neighboring buildings as well. It's an idea that's catching on in Europe and a few places in the US. So maybe solar power on your home isn't going to become viable, but that doesn't mean solar won't be in your future.

1 year,7 days

Software Brings Eye Contact To Video Chat, With a Little Help From Kinect

theIsovist Re:there's always looking right at the camera (111 comments)

Yeah... and I didn't help myself for not fully reading their comment. Read the article and not the comments, I should be banned, right?

1 year,20 days


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