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Comment Re:Yes billions (Score 2) 202

Maybe. The real question is how much does it cost per unit of water generated. To be useful it would have to generate a rather sizeable amount of water even to just cover drinking and basic cleaning needs.

Well, here's the instructions to synthesize MOF-801-P and it doesn't look super complicated. The solar input is used both for heat (to desorb the water in the MOF) and electricity (to condense the vapor), so it probably doesn't need to be a super-high-efficiency panel. The MOF contains zirconium, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, so it's not like we're dealing with platinum or rare earth elements... so, I dunno. I suspect the system wouldn't be outrageously expensive when produced at volume.

Comment Re:it has come to this (Score 1) 467

Yeah, we now have BDDs and DSLs and BPELs, we have SPARQLs and RDDs, we have ORMs and NoSQLs and microservices, but somehow we can't get enterprise software that work better than decades-old programs punch-carded by people who looked like Marty Mcfly's father. What's up with that.

Survivorship bias.

Today, most software is crap. Back in the day, most software was crap, too; it's Sturgeon's Law: "90% of everything is crap." That old, crappy software got phased out a long time ago, replaced and changed and eventually abandoned or made non-crappy. And the old software that *wasn't* crappy? That survived (and often survives) to this day. The only old software you see operating today is *good* old software — software that actually helps people and serves some real business need.

Comment He only mentions iMacs... (Score 5, Interesting) 307

Here's what Cook says:

The current generation iMac is the best desktop we have ever made and its beautiful Retina 5K display is the best desktop display in the world.

Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops. If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.

Reading a bit between the lines... he said desktops are important and then fails to mention the Mini or Pro. Don't think that bodes super well for those product lines — at least, they're definitely not Top Priority. Hoping I'm reading too much into this; real professional workstations in the product lineup seems like a pretty important strategic spot for them if they're trying to appeal to the "media and development professionals" market.

Comment Re:Solar, Wind, Wave, Geothermal (Score 1) 293

You can't *not* enrich the fuel either.

You can build a fast breeder reactor which will convert the U-238 to Pu-239, which is fissile. The problem there is that plutonium is easy (relatively speaking; you're chemically processing obscenely radioactive material) to chemically separate from the other material in the fuel, so it's attractive for weapon production.

So we can not enrich the fuel; we just think that in the big picture, it's better to do the enrichment. I can't clam which is really the right choice, just that it's a choice we've consciously made.

Comment Re:Profits. (Score 4, Insightful) 179

In the US? No, because the costs of healthcare here aren't driven by the costs of stethoscopes. They cost a couple hundred dollars and last for a very long time; high healthcare costs are much more likely to come from "Oh, my exam showed a possible irregularity; to be safe, we should send you in for an echocardiogram (or cardiac MRI if the system has one)." And in the vast majority of cases, you get an expensive procedure to learn things are basically OK.

It's really easy to prescribe that, because hey, we have the machine and it seems a lot better to run a test when it's not needed than skip one that could have caught something serious. And since insurance covers most of it, it's not that expensive for an individual patient...

What this could help with is availability of basic healthcare where a $200 stethoscope is a really big deal -- especially if you're in an environment where equipment is likely to get damaged or stolen.

Comment Re:One highly-publicized case is all it took (Score 1) 489

A private company paid a bunch of money to another private company and users got the same video streaming performance they used to have before private company B starting throttling private company A's ability to deliver content that was already paid for by the users to both companies involved.


Not that I'm sad about Title II or anything, but I do think a racketeering indictment would have been another appropriate response.

Comment On my small SaaS business... (Score 2) 91

For what it's worth, I've been co-owner of a small software-as-a-service business focused on libraries for the last five years. A week or so ago, I wrote a blog post on our experience and financial situation.

Basic summary: by keeping costs low and our expectations reasonable, we're thriving even without a huge revenue stream.

Comment Re:With carbon-nuetral energy, sequestration (Score 1) 363

Want to absorb 50 POUNDS of carbon a year? Plant a tree. Want to absorb several TONS of carbon per day? Then build a single carbon sequestration plant on the edge of town.

Assuming your numbers are correct... how many is several? Let's say 50. That's a pretty generous "several." So, you're looking at 100,000 pounds of carbon a day. That's a lot! To match that with trees, it would take... 2000 trees.

I'm willing to bet that I can obtain and plant 2,000 trees cheaper than you can build a carbon sequestration plant. (I'm willing to bet this is true for 20,000 trees, too. Maybe 200,000.) Your plant is made of concrete and steel, both of which produce carbon emissions. This page suggests that I'll need somewhere in the neighborhood of 11-12 acres of land for my 2k trees (for reference, Central Park is somewhere north of 800 acres), so that's pretty manageable. In addition, I'm willing to bet I can operate my trees for less money than you can operate your sequestration plant. Then, in X years, I can if I choose harvest these trees and turn them into lumber -- this, of course, does not release (all of) their carbon into the atmosphere. And I know this is subjective, but I tend to think trees (even tree farms) are more pleasant than industrial plants.

I'm not saying carbon sequestration plants are horrible ideas, but that trees probably win economically if the numbers you cite are in the right orders of magnitude.

Comment Obligatory Neko Case (Score 1) 395

You know they call them killer whales
But you seem surprised
When it pinned you down to the bottom of the tank
Where you can't turn around
It took half your leg and both your lungs
And I craved I ate hearts of sharks, I know you know it

I'm a man man man man, man man man eater
But still you're surprised, 'prised, 'prised, when I eat ya

-Neko Case, People Gotta Lotta Nerve

Comment Re:Charging authors is not much better... (Score 2) 61

For what it's worth, I was tangentially part of an effort in the University of Wisconsin Libraries to publish the open-access Journal of Insect Science. After perhaps a year of doing that, we looked at the actual costs and found that, IIRC, $30-$100/page are not actually unreasonable costs. Yes, there's a large variance.

"How," you ask, "could it possibly cost so much to produce an open-access journal? The author is working for free! The reviewers are working for free!" Well:

  • The reviewers are generally not particularly excited to spend their time reviewing papers. They often say "sure" and then just never do the work. So you need to keep on them, and swap them out for other editors when they flake out. You need to do this without giving them a sad.
  • Different reviewers have different areas of expertise. So you need to match the content of the article to suitable reviewers. Your editor should do this, but probably isn't getting paid for that effort, and so you may need to keep on him/her to get that to actually happen.
  • Your authors don't know how to use word processing tools or graphic design tools. You'll get horribly-formatted documents, figures as 36-DPI .GIFs, strange-looking Powerpoint god-knows-whats, and gigantic tables that will never look good anywhere. Your job is to either guess at what the authors meant to do, reformat materials, and send them back for approval, or get your authors to re-do their stuff.
  • Authors also routinely ignore things like word count limits and organization guidelines.
  • While you're primarily targeting the Web, a good-looking print copy is still widely-valued. So you probably need to handle your layout nightmares twice.
  • Sometimes, people want to do Something Innovative with regard to data vis. After all, you're online, so you should be able to make this interactive, right? So, you need to decide if you want to try and implement this innovative thing (and what does that look like in print, anyhow?) or say "no, sorry, we can't make your research look super neat."
  • Online repositories work best with specially-marked-up XML. There are tools and services that will do this for you, but they all cost time, money, or both. XSLT to turn your XML into HTML or PDF can be made to automatically give you a product that is not quite nice enough to present to the outside world -- there are usually some special cases that want hand-massaging.
  • Both faculty and grad students can, at times, act like complete jerks and require a bunch of time in damage-control.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The bottom line was that we found PLOSOne's costs to be broadly reasonable (also: did you know you can essentially say "I don't want to pay" and... not pay?). Maybe it would be possible to undercut them by a factor of two with real work in process management, but generally: there's a bunch of grunt work turning researchers' paper submissions into a good quality journal. And you could get really fast at formatting, but time for catherding and massaging egos (so you don't lose your reviewers) scales linearly with the number of articles you publish.

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