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User information for Zathrus

Real Name Zathrus   
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Nickname Zathrus
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Signed On Sep 18, 2003, 15:27
Total Comments 4286 (Master)
User ID 18483
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
40. Re: Space Elevator Sep 5, 2006, 10:02 Zathrus
Not seeing the practical upshot of a satellite in orbit to lift things up into space

It costs roughly $1000/lb to lift things into LEO today. With a space elevator the cost (amortized over the life of the elevator) is about $1. Probably less -- you get most of your power for "free" -- it takes energy to lift stuff, but you get that energy back when you move things back down. Done smartly you do them at the same time and your only costs are friction loss and similar. Plus the tether itself will generate electrical power (long theorized, but recently proven by NASA experiments).

their weight would pull this magical satellite back down unless it had its own thrust to hold it in orbit

Uh, yeah, certainly the dozens/hundreds of physicists that have worked on this haven't thought of this.

That's not the issue at all. The real issue is that we still don't have the material science to build a tether -- the required tensile strength is extremely high for a 26,400 mile long cable (or x2 if you don't use an asteroid as a counterweight). Carbon nanotubes are strong enough in theory, but we aren't close to producing the quality necessary.

And then there's that annoying radiation problem -- AFAIK, nobody's solved this one, so the elevator is only useful for transporting non-living, non-radiation sensitive goods. There are some ideas, but none that are actually feasible yet.

Belief that there is no God takes an enormous amount of 'faith', since it is not possible to prove or disprove His existence.

It cuts both ways though. That's the entire point of faith, as you point out.

Christians are not the ones making the laws in CA where you aren't allowed to speak out against the act of homosexuality

Really? I suspect that most of the lawmakers in question would indeed identify themselves as being Christian.

Creationism: Nature tends towards chaos not order.

That's true for a closed system. The Earth is not a closed system -- we have massive energy input from the Sun, and minor (now) matter input from external sources (e.g. - asteroids entering the atmosphere). And thermodynamics does not prevent local, short-timed order arising in systems (in fact, it always does). In the timespan of the universe, we're not even a blink of an eye so far. Heat death of the universe is still looking quite probable -- but that's something like 10^1000 years off (current age of the universe is <10^11) or so, with life as we know it ending somewhere in the 10^14 to 10^36 range.

This argument has been debunked so many times it's absurd. It indicates a complete lack of perspective and scientific knowledge on your part.

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News Comments > Out of the Blue
6. Re: No subject Sep 1, 2006, 11:33 Zathrus
Moving sucks. Our house looks like another one exploded inside of it -- which it pretty much did. But it's all done now -- we're completely out of the old house, and we're slowly getting situated in the new one. Took this morning off to go to the Georgia Aquarium, which was a much needed break (even on only ~5 hours of sleep). Very cool.

Did I miss anything significant in the past couple days?

We've been surfing off a neighbor's unsecured WAP (there's 3 nearby), but our DSL was installed yesterday and I got ours up this morning. No TV service yet -- turns out we don't have line of sight for DirecTV, and the one cable company that services this area (Charter) I hate with a burning passion. We'll see.

Back to unpacking boxes...

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News Comments > Into the Black
12. New house Aug 29, 2006, 21:40 Zathrus
Just in case anyone cares...

Closing went off fine, although our buyer was ~40 mins late because she hadn't gotten her certified check yet (come on people... it's not like you didn't know!). Buying our new house was completely without incident.

And then I spent the afternoon/early evening painting our toddler's room-to-be.

Exhausted, but moving is tomorrow and we've got a lot to do yet.

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News Comments > Morning Consolidation
5. Re: NO! (Battlestar Galactica) Aug 29, 2006, 21:33 Zathrus
I really wanted this in HD on the 360

Too bad. I told you it wasn't going to happen, and I told you why.

Still no HD Battlestar Galactic unless I go buy the friggin DVD's.

And those aren't HD either! Gee. Funny that.

Comcast needs SciFi in HD.

Again, SciFi doesn't broadcast in HD on any network.

Could you please at least have a passing relationship with reality?

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News Comments > Out of the Blue
46. Re: The Truth and new house Aug 28, 2006, 23:28 Zathrus
What am I missing, folks? Any ideas? It's cheap and easy to do now compared to later....


Running the cable is great, but go ahead and run conduit (pref. with the cables inside it). It's just more PVC, but it'll make running new cable or re-running old cable a helluva lot easier.

I'm going to have a helluva time running cable/phone/ethernet around our new house. The basement is very nicely finished, with smooth drywall ceilings, trey ceilings, etc.... but there's no access panels anywhere. Not even for the water shutoff valves. Sigh.

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News Comments > Morning Tech Bits
3. Re: No subject Aug 28, 2006, 12:37 Zathrus
Great for stupid youtube videos, terrible for news.

Pretty much. There is some use for news, like when you have some actual interesting on-the-spot footage to show (which falls into the category you previously explained). But just to watch a talking head say something that I could read far, far faster?

No thanks.

When CNN made their video free they did the same crap -- if they had a video on the story then you could either watch it or... go somewhere else. Because they wouldn't make the transcript available.


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News Comments > Out of the Blue
9. Re: DirecTV Aug 28, 2006, 12:25 Zathrus
I never really understood why people living in a cable area would go with DirectTV

Here are the common reasons:

  • Better quality picture (Dish/DirecTV are all digital, as opposed to some digital, some analog; I've always seen massive amounts of crap on the cable analog stations)

  • lower price

  • more channels (making the lower price even better)

  • better customer service (not that I think DirecTV is exceptional here; but it's not very difficult to beat the cable companies)

  • And for us, one major advantage:
  • Serial set-top box control from our TiVos, no more IR blaster

  • We're sticking w/ DirecTV for now; we actually have competition for cable in our area now, and at least one of the choices (Comcast) doesn't completely and utterly suck (Charter), but prices/selection still favors DirecTV slightly. DirecTV should be adding a gazillion HD channels (including locals in HD) shortly, but will do so w/ MPEG4 compression instead of MPEG2. And the current DirecTV HD TiVo won't be able to handle those channels. In a year things should've settled down, and we'll decide then if we want to switch back to cable.

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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    2. DirecTV Aug 28, 2006, 11:40 Zathrus
    Non-DirecTV owners often ask what impact the weather has on my service, and the answer is always very little

    Honestly, I think we lose DirecTV signal about as often as we would lose cable in heavy storms. Rain often knocked out our cable back when we had it.

    I can't say that the impact here is "very little" -- if there's 100+ miles of fairly heavy rain to our SW then decent odds that we'll lose signal. Although it could also be due to trees whipping through the signal path -- at our current house there's very little leeway between trees.

    I think the new house will have a much better line of sight -- there's only one tree that could possibly be an issue. The rest would need to grow 40+ feet (the yard slopes downward in that direction).

    Spent the entire weekend packing. Closings are tomorrow, back to back, at the same law firm. Then I'll go to the new house, paint our eldest's new room, and try and get some other stuff done. Moving is wednesday.

    The good news is that one of my sisters has offered to drive down and help us unpack/watch the kids for a day and a halfish. At this point any help is welcome.

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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    1. Early bedtime? Aug 25, 2006, 10:48 Zathrus
    Blue, isn't it a wee bit early for Into the Black today?

    Or is it just that darn dark out with the rain?

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    News Comments > Into the Black
    12. Re: Dammit Aug 25, 2006, 10:44 Zathrus
    The "fresh" rechargables I'd purchased this evening at Walmart were not charged enough to last more than one picture

    Uh, they never are. Unless they're LiIon rechargables then they discharge pretty significantly while sitting -- NiMH will discharge something like 50% in a month, and be practically flat after about 3 months.

    So always charge newly purchased rechargables. If you need batteries immediately either buy LiIon or regular old alkaline.

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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    88. Re: No subject Aug 25, 2006, 10:08 Zathrus
    It is not uncommon to get 500MB browsers.

    With the early versions of 1.5, you are correct. If you're running the latest version with the latest extensions then that shouldn't be occurring anymore.

    I'm fairly sure that this instance of FF has been running for ~2 weeks, with multiple windows having multiple tabs (probably ~20 tabs overall, on average) and I'm at a bit under 170 MB.

    Is that a bit heavy? Yeah, I think so. Is it utterly absurd? Not anymore. Particularly since FF caches forward/back pages for each tab. Memory usage is also heavily dependant on how many images are loaded in each tab.

    Just let it sit! It grows!!!!!!!!! WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING!

    I already went over this, but lets try again...

    If it truely wasn't doing anything then it wouldn't grow in memory. But there's a lot of pages out there that autorefresh behind your back (like GMail, or news pages, and lots of other stuff). Some of them do things that cause FF to leak (GMail was a big problem in earlier 1.5 builds; now it's just a small problem since the FF guys fixed some leaks). And no, it's not the websites' fault -- it's FF's. And they're addressing the issue.

    As Enahs mentioned, your comparison between IE and FF memory usage is bogus. Add in all the DLLs and other crap that's part of the "OS" and you'll certainly exceed FF's memory usage. And for a vastly inferior browser in all other respects.

    And yes, IE leaks as well. In fact, it leaks on a lot of the same stuff that FF (used to) leak on -- and often far worse. So much worse that web designers don't use those methods when they detect IE, and instead use slower and inferior hacks to accomplish the same thing.

    Again, Firefox 1.5's memory usage is definitely a problem. But it's been getting better, slowly. Asa and the other devs were far too slow to address the problem though.

    And, finally, here's the definitive info on FF memory leaks:

    Note that all of the stuff listed under "Fixed on Gecko 1.8 Branch" will be in Firefox 2.0.

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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    81. Re: No subject Aug 24, 2006, 22:14 Zathrus
    One thing I can say about is a PIG!

    1.0.x and earlier weren't pigs, but 1.5 had some huge memory leaks. The current version ( has fixed a lot of the bigger leaks, and 2.0 should fix nearly all of the others (and promptly introduce new ones, of course).

    It was really obvious if you had a bunch of extensions and kept GMail or a few other sites open 24/7 for several days in a row; I recall 400 MB FF processes.

    It still leaks some, but I think the biggest I've seen it after running for a week or so is ~200 MB. Both FF and extensions have cleaned things up.

    Right now, I'm at ~60 MB w/ 13 extensions and 2 current tabs (GMail and Blue's).

    Edit: Oh yeah, good find Warpig!
    This comment was edited on Aug 24, 22:14.
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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    35. Re: No subject Aug 24, 2006, 15:09 Zathrus
    I'm wondering if there's another extension i'm using that's blocking this.

    I've had issues with Flashblock and GM scripts. I stopped using FB awhile back -- AdblockPlus takes care of the annoying flash ads.

    Remove whatever Punk buster user script you have now, restart firefox, then install Camaro76's latest one. Again, you must be reading comments to set punks.

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    News Comments > Into the Black
    23. Re: RIP SG1 Aug 23, 2006, 10:43 Zathrus
    Farscape, Firefly, now SG-1?

    Farscape was cancelled basically so they could buy SG-1. They didn't have money for both at the time.

    Firefly, as many have pointed out, had nothing whatsoever to do with Sci-Fi. I suspect that if they could produce new eps, they would. They can't.

    And SG-1 needed to die long ago... it's about damn time for it to be taken off the air.

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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    19. Re: Yes! Thank you! Aug 21, 2006, 16:30 Zathrus
    I dislike Elmo with a passion

    You have no kids and yet you've been watching Sesame Street recently?

    At least I have an excuse.

    I agree with all the points stated in that article - op/ed piece

    And I think the author is remembering the Sesame Street in the 70s with rose colored glasses that have nothing at all to do with reality. Heck, they even play some of those old bits on the current show (and even more so on "Play With Me Sesame", which is a 1/2 hour show on Sprout/PBS Kids) and they're not substantially different from the current episodes.

    Frankly, I didn't like Elmo before kids. But he's a pretty decent character for a kid's show.

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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    100. Re: No subject Aug 21, 2006, 13:22 Zathrus
    No, but the point is, it's not less safe with them, either

    No, the point is that the comparison is completely invalid. The demographics, population density, and laws regarding guns are completely and utterly different.

    IIRC, Freakanomics also tackles this one... along with largely debunking the "it's for the children!" argument that is used by the pro-gun control lobby -- a backyard swimming pool is vastly more dangerous to children than guns are, but you don't see people trying to ban swimming pools.

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    News Comments > Out of the Blue
    2. Re: Shadow Illusion Aug 21, 2006, 10:51 Zathrus
    Now they've exceeded CPU quota.

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    News Comments > Sunday Consolidation
    23. Re: New Wii Info Aug 21, 2006, 10:02 Zathrus
    Uh, check back with that statement at the end of '07.

    You honestly think it's going to be figured out by then? Are you serious?

    It took years for VHS and Betamax to sift out. DVD-Audio and SACD are still both in the marketplace (and failing equally).

    And there's enough of a backlash against both technologies and their DRM, even in the videophile community, that there's a decent chance both will fail.

    As for the Wii -- it's not about the controller. It's about the games. And right now the Wii has a lot more intriguing games than the other two do. Not to mention a huge price advantage.

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    News Comments > Into the Black
    28. Re: No subject Aug 18, 2006, 14:32 Zathrus
    it might not be a bad idea to have a 10 foot folding ladder anyway

    I have a 7 foot step ladder; the issue is that if I need to remove the ball joint at the top then it's not long enough -- I would need a ~14 foot ladder for safety.

    And I probably need to rest the new motor housing on the top of the ladder while installing it, so I also need a ~12 foot ladder.

    I need to take a look at what the state of the wiring is; it may be that I don't need to remove the pipe (and thus access the ball joint) and I can make do with the 7' ladder I have. Or rent a moderate size step ladder.

    And yes nin, they're called step ladders. Although I currently have my next door neighbor's 14'-ish extension ladder as well. And if I was utterly f'ing insane I could use it indoors and hope that the exposed ceiling truss is more than just ornamental; and when I discover that it's held in by penny nails (like the ones in my sister's house were) then I could write my next post from the hospital!

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    News Comments > Into the Black
    24. Re: No subject Aug 18, 2006, 13:48 Zathrus
    t has been fairly standard practice to secure the electrical wires to the fan on really tight (for many reasons, including falling)

    Yeah, it ripped right off the wirenuts.

    AFAIK the fan was original to the house, so it's 24 years old now. Or it was replaced at some point in the past by one of the prior owners -- and some of the stuff I've found while living here indicates to me that more than one of them has no right going anywhere near a hammer or screwdriver. Not that the original builder was much better.

    In replacing the kitchen vent fan, I discovered that the duct had a 6" airgap in the middle. Yes, there was ducting coming up from the kitchen. And there was a proper covered vent w/ ducting coming down from the roof. The two were not connected, nor had they ever been connected.

    Ah, the joys of home ownership...

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