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Messages - evensgrey

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1
The Podcast / Re: Podcast for 11 November 2018
« on: November 12, 2018, 10:57:40 PM »
Most nuclear reactors are run via PDP-8s or PDP-11s, which are old '70s DEC minicomputers. I've heard plenty of nuclear engineers say that if they were to open a new nuclear plant, they'd want someone to build new PDP-11s to manage them. They work, they're reliable, they don't network and can't be hacked without being in the same room with them.

Actually, the PDP-11 was still made as late as 1990, with the /93 and /94 models.  The line was replaced with the VAX line derived from it because the architecture of the PDP-11 simply didn't allow enough memory space for the kinds of programs people increasingly wanted to run on these types of systems in the late 80's and early 90's.

There was an attempt at building PDP-11's under license in the early 80's, but Foonly only ever delivered one machine.  The F-1 was the fastest (at that time, anyway) PDP-11 ever built, but suffered from reliability problems because it was built using wire-wrap (which was considered twitchy back in the early 80's when it was still easy to get people who were actually good at it, being able to order cheap PCBs from China with quick delivery has basically resulted in nobody ever using it any more).  Foonly was a company run entirely by engineers, and so nobody was able to force the issue of "We need something we can SHIP, you bastards!" before the money ran out.

2
The Podcast / Re: Podcast for 11 November 2018
« on: November 12, 2018, 04:40:07 PM »
Not only is the power grid computationally diverse, a lot of it is very old and hence has a small attack surface due to having little to no features.  (Particularly so in the case of things like nuclear power plants, which are the best terror targets because people are already irrationally afraid of them.  Both designers, builders, and operators are loath to update systems in nuclear plants because you already have systems in place in them that are well-tested and regulatory approved, putting in anything new means getting it tested and approved to the same degree.)

Batteries as storage for the grid are even worse than the obvious losses of the battery itself (both the loss at conversion between electrical and chemical energy and what leaks out while being stored).  The grid is AC, and batteries are DC.  You end up wasting a lot of energy converting between the two.  (And wind turbines have relatively poor conversion efficiency of the electricity they do produce.  Because wind speed is variable, the frequency and voltage produced also vary.  This means you have to use what is basically a huge switchmode power supply and DC-to-AC converter to convert it to grid voltage and frequency.  Switchmode power supplies are only highly efficient in a narrow range of input voltages and frequencies, and DC-to-AC converters that don't make horrible waveforms are both inefficient and very expensive, especially if you want something that can convert megawatts.   The fact this stuff all needs to be very big and very reliable and thre aren't going to be that many of them means each device will cost a lot.)

If you want solar power, we need to put it in space and beam the power down.  Except you might not need to beam it down, since the best way to ship large quantities of stuff up and/or down appears to be these wonderful things called launch loops and orbital rings, which can rise out of the atmosphere under electrical power.  (These also make vac trains practical, since they get free vacuum without engineering problems, and you actually kind of need them to get around the network.)  The same technology allows construction of solid rings at rest relative to the surface at orbital altitudes.  A suitable network of such things allows a rigid structure from geosyc all the way to the surface that can carry lots of power.  Even if making elliptical orbital rings with a worthwhile variation in max and min heights is infeasible, you can still step between rings by tethers, which can certainly carry power as well.  We can probably build these now, without any new materials like long-strand carbon nanotubes.

3
The Podcast / Re: Podcast for 4 November 2018
« on: November 05, 2018, 09:36:35 AM »
"You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?"

4
General Discussion / Re: Fav quotes
« on: November 04, 2018, 02:42:54 PM »
OK, Louis Rossmann finally did it:


A 16:30 video about his adorable cats.  Not as epic as his recent screed about how he's going to cost Apple one hundred thousand times what they're costing him with their screwing around with Customs, but pretty cool.

5
I've read TONS of fanfic that's better than Rand...

Rand learned to write, such as she did, writing Hollywood screenplays in an era where the best films being made were really mediocre by modern standards.  Combine that with being from Russia, where the novel writing tradition is to write these kind of over the top political things that are really just better written versions of the kind of political novels she wrote...

Seriously, when did Atlas Shrugged turn into a GREAT novel?  I read it 30 years ago when I had no taste and still knew it was bad.  IMPORTANT, but BAD.  (I read The Fountainhead as well, and I still really don't see why they decided that was a good name for the adopted homeworld of the Nietzschians.  It also isn't really any better.  And you actually need the omnipotent narrator to explain that no, Howard Roark is not a monster.  Seriously, who would write a hero who acts in such a way that only avoids being monstrous because of entirely incidental facts?) 

(Unfortunately, the only way to come to appreciate great films is to watch great films, and the only way to learn how to make great films is to make great films, so the early decades of any movie industry are going to be nothing but junk.  Seeing some great films from outside will help a bit, but not a whole lot.)

6
The Podcast / Re: Podcast for 21 October 2018
« on: October 23, 2018, 05:34:53 PM »
A cell phone with suitable software already installed on it could do any or all the things McAfee describes in response to an SMS message.  I used to do support for corporate software that could do things like lock or wipe the phone by SMS command.  Incidentally, all cell phones continue to receive SMS messages as long as they have power, even when switched off.  As many current phones have copied Apple's mistake of making batteries fixed in place, it is difficult to power a phone down.  If there is software that takes orders by SMS, it will obey when the phone is turned back on.

7
General Discussion / Well, here I am, late to the part again, but...
« on: October 21, 2018, 03:39:28 PM »
This time Fran Blanche needs some cash to help her move Fran Lab (which is both her business and the location where she shoots most of her YouTube videos) to a new location, as the developers who recently bought the building she's currently in are giving her the 'Brooklyn Shove'.


And I'm again late to the party because her moving go Fund Me is already, after 2 days, at $17,390 of its $10,000 goal.

https://www.gofundme.com/franlab-needs-a-new-home

(For those not familiar with Fran's work, she is, among many other things, one of the greats in guitar effects pedals, and also a leading expert on the computer systems actually flown on Project Apollo, even having corrected some errors in previous official documentation.)

8
General Discussion / Well, this is a worrying new development
« on: October 21, 2018, 08:03:14 AM »
It appears YouTube has instituted a new way of concealing videos.  This video by Sargon on his The Thinkery channel


did not appear in subscriber feeds (I know it didn't appear in mine), and doesn't appear in the video list of the channel page either, and has no thumbnail, despite not being in any identifiable limited state.  I checked, and you can like/dislike, comment, and it even came up with an ad when I viewed it.

Sargon thinks this is a sort of shadowban feature like Twitter uses against people it just wants to suppress without admitting to it.  You might want to check your video lists to see if anything you've posted is missing in this way.

9
General Discussion / Re: Fav quotes
« on: October 20, 2018, 06:11:50 PM »
Ahmed Al-messad's video is glorious!


it starts with the title: "planet Pot will slam into planet Earth"

It's his reply to a video from an Egyptian guy who's clearly on pot, where he says that the WWE predicted that a planet will slam into our own. Translation would take forever--he says a lot, but I'll just leave you with the start:

"
Some highlights

I am curious as to where the original commercial is from.  Canada legalized recreational weed three days ago, and there's private retailers in at least one Province.  (The law changed at local midnight, so it was legal first in Newfoundland And Labrador.  There was a shop in Saint John's that opened right at midnight to sell the first legal recreational pot in Canada.  The guy who bought it told the media he was going to frame it as a historical artifact.)

10
General Discussion / Re: Most misdirected political robocall
« on: October 20, 2018, 05:59:51 PM »
Fortunately, even if the Blue Wave doesn't fizzle entirely (which is looking more and more likely as Democrats continue to pull one bone-headed move after another), it looks like they aren't going to be electing very many of the nut jobs who want to Impeach Trump and not consider what it would mean to establish the practice of simply ejecting a President from the other party for no actual reason.

11
General Discussion / Re: Most misdirected political robocall
« on: October 19, 2018, 08:17:04 AM »
I'm currently in Arizona and a former resident of Texas.  I'm getting robocalls from politicians in Texas.

That's pretty dumb of them.  You'd think they'd filter out the numbers with out of state area codes.

12
General Discussion / Most misdirected political robocall
« on: October 18, 2018, 01:52:38 PM »
I just got a robocall from a mayoral candidate in Kingston, Ontario, which is about 150 miles from where I live.  How far away have the rest of you gotten political robocalls from?

13
The Podcast / Re: Podcast for 14 October 2018
« on: October 16, 2018, 11:21:48 AM »
Nobody was harmed by radiation release from the Three Mile Island incident because there was no radiation release.  While primary containment failed, the backup containment measures kept all radiation contained.

We had an interview with a journal editor in the area the study author's call 'grievance studies' on CBC Radio One.  He was angered about the 'unethical' act of testing the validity of their review processes.  He also claimed that it showed there wasn't a problem with review, because only 7 of 20 garbage papers were accepted for publication.

IIRC, there were some actions taken by the last two popes against a few abusers, several of whom were rehabilitated by the current pope because they support his agenda.

And...W00t!  My new 27" monitor came this morning, after my VESA desktop mounting system came yesterday.  Now to set up my improved desktop monitors!

14
And a (month late) update on the primary:

Brianna Wu got crushed, at 16,766 votes to incumbent Stephen Lynch's 51,882, a margin of slightly better than 3:1.

https://ballotpedia.org/Massachusetts%27_8th_Congressional_District_election_(September_4,_2018_Democratic_primary)

And that's probably what comes of explicitly running against the party you're seeking the nomination from.

15
General Discussion / Re: Fav quotes
« on: October 10, 2018, 11:34:38 AM »
And from Louis Rossmann (who, incidentally, is boosting the Libertarian candidate for NY Governor), borrowed from CBC News (who actually did a pro-consumer piece for a change):


On camera, getting an Apple employee to quote $1200+ for a repair Louis would do for free.  And without generating large quantities of e-waste.

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