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Comment: Re:US Metric System (Score 1) 1387

(...continued; I accidentally hit post while previewing to check the formatting.)

The question is does it really suck for the average housewife? So what if 10 times something is uncommon for a housewife? The only way other differences (such as 2 or 4 times) can be accommodated any better is by using a different base for counting altogether.

When you go to the grocery store, is everything packaged in even Liter increments?

That depends what you're buying. For example, large drinks bottles are 2 litres, while the smaller ones are 500 mL (or 1/2 litre if you prefer) and small cans are 330 mL (close as makes no difference to 1/3 litre), and 250 mL cars are also available (although not common).

Most dry things of sufficient size are sold in multiples of 1 kg, while smaller ones are usually multiples of 100g or 50g. Smaller than that and things are usually in multiples of 5g.

Really, the only exceptions to this are alcohol, and occasionally milk, which are still sold in pints (well, 576 mL) for legacy reasons. I believe this is a peculiarity of the UK though (in mainland Europe its all 1 L/500 mL I think)

I'll bet calculating cost/gram or cost/liter is as much of a challenge in Metric countries as cost/ounce is in the US.

Not so much. Anything that is over a certain mass or volume will be in multiples of 1 kg (say, washing powder or breakfast cereal) or 1 L (drinks, cleaning liquids etc), or at worst 0.5 kg/L, so easily divide into price per unit. Nothing is sold to consumers by the cubic metre etc, so there's no problem there (I dare say there isn't much sold in cubic feet either). Smaller things are more of a problem since different items are practical at different volumes/masses. That problem would exist regardless of the units used though.

So, is metric perfect? No, but it's the best we've got and it's unlikely there will ever be a better alternative for all situations. However, metric is pretty much the best we're going to get using a base 10 counting system.

Comment: Re:US Metric System (Score 1) 1387

So, how many cubic meters in a liter (in your head, please, and quickly)?

1 Litre = 1 cubic decimetre or 1,000 cubic centimetres/millilitres or 1 million cubic millimetres = 1 thousandth of a cubic metre. Being all powers of ten, it's really isn't that hard to work out as long as you know how cubing works.

How many grams of water in a cubic meter of water?

1 gram(me) = 1/1,000 kilogram(me). 1 litre = 1 kilogram(me). 1 cubic metre = 1,000 litres. Thus 1 cubic metre = 1 million gram(me)s. The thing is, it's pretty rare to need to measure liquids in cubic metres, or in terms of mass, so even if the conversion weren't trivial it really wouldn't matter that much. By the way, how easy is it to convert fluid ounces to cubic yards, or cubic yards to dry ounces? (This is a legitimate question - I have no idea how many imperial anythings are in anything else other than (I assume) 1 fluid ounce = 1 ounce (weight).)

why aren't either of these 1?

Because the metric system was devised to replace existing systems, specifically those of pre-revolution France. The litre replaced the litron, which is about 0.79 litres. The mass unit grave (which eventually became the kilogram(me)) was equal to a litre of water, while the gram (which eventually gave us the kilogram(me)) was 1 thousandth of a grave. The metre on the other hand replaced the pied du roi (French equivalent of the foot) and the toise (~2 yards/metres). As such, that is what the magnitude is based on. Had they based it on the pounce (~1 inch) then the base unit would probably have been what we now call a centimetre.

Comment: Re:A tad longer than that (Score 1) 565

by Alphathon (#40268427) Attached to: Where Are All the High-Resolution Desktop Displays?

Are you by any chance using a laptop screen? If so the reason 1080p looks fine without anti-aliasing is probably the pixel density. On my 24" display at its native resolution of 1920×1200 (i.e. 1080p with an additional 120 vertical pixels), anti-aliasing is a must on non-2D games. The pixels are about 0.3 mm to a side, or ~95 dpi, which makes them easily visible. On a 17" 1080p laptop screen however, each pixel is about 0.2 mm to a side (~130 dpi) and thus needs less AA to appear equally as "smooth" at the same viewing distance. To get a roughly equivalent pixel density (and thus equivalent "smoothness" and "sharpness") on a 24" 16:10 monitor, a resolution of about WQXGA (2560×1600) is required.

If however you are using a >=24" 1080p display at ~50 cm/1-2 ft then that may be more indicative of your visual acuity than anything else; not everyone's eyes are created equal. An individual with 20/20 vision should be able to distinguish individual pixels when they are above around 0.15 mm/side (~170dpi) at ~50cm, and be able to detect aliasing even beyond that.

With regard to the "sharpness" point, sharpness is determined by how small the smallest details are, so the higher the resolution the sharper an image will be; its that simple. Anti-aliasing has no affect on how sharp and image is, it is designed to make edges smoother (i.e. remove aliasing (jaggies), not add detail).

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 166

by Alphathon (#39134423) Attached to: Almost a Million UK Homes Will Suffer 4G TV interference
While I'm not sure I agree about it being government money, your comment about internet access opens another option beyond the standard DVB systems - the internet. We already have BBC iPlayer, ITV/UTV/STV player, 4oD and demand Five, as well as services such as tvcatchup.com (more info here), so upgrading users' internet (and possibly proving a low-end HTPC for access) may well be the most financially viable solution.

Comment: Re:Extreme means CABLE does not work (Score 5, Informative) 166

by Alphathon (#39134229) Attached to: Almost a Million UK Homes Will Suffer 4G TV interference

As far as I am aware the only "cable company" over here is Virgin Media, who only service a limited area of the country (apparently it's available to 65% of households), most of which is confined to cities (and often there are areas of those cities where it is unavailable too). (Map of coverage) It's not even available in every city; I'm pretty sure that its not available anywhere in Aberdeen, which is the 27th most populous city in the UK (population ~200k), and I doubt its alone. Being in a sparely populated area and next to a motorway (the closest thing we have to freeways) is certainly not the only reason for not having cable access.

Satellite coverage on the other hand is pretty much 100%, line-of-sight issues notwithstanding. Trees aren't the only issues though. If someone lives in rented accommodation they may not be allowed to put up a dish, and even if they own it they may not have a south-east-facing area to mount a dish.

Certainly, I doubt there will be (m)any households that can't get satellite signals because of the LTE transmission, since satellite is transmitted at ~10-12 GHz while LTE is transmitted at 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz in Europe. Sure, the signal sent through the coax cable is within that range at ~970 MHz - 2 GHz, but if the LTE is strong enough to interfere with the cabling, fibre-optic connections are available and would likely be cheaper than getting fibre-optic cable TV installed in any of the non-covered areas.

Comment: Re:So says the religious guy. (Score 1) 1237

by Alphathon (#39120663) Attached to: Santorum Calls Democrats 'Anti-Science'
Well, since you said "God" (presumably referring to some form of Yahweh) rather than "a god", then it is possible to prove the negative. Assuming it is the biblical version that you are referring to, the Bible makes claims about "God", which can in turn be proven or disproven (if it is another version of "God" then the same applies to the holy book in which it is described, or at least all of the ones I have come across). As such a belief that God (i.e. the deity as described in the book) does not exist (rather than just a non-specific deity) is perfectly justified scientifically, and in fact required (evidence suggests that trait A is false, therefore being with trait A does not exist). Active belief that a non-specific deity does not exist is, as you said, unscientific, but once you start adding testable traits or attributing acts to them or whatever, disbelief becomes necessary once one of those attributes is shown to be false/logically inconsistent with other assigned traits. This of course does not preclude the possibility that the entity exists but has been misrepresented, to which the scientific stance should remain "show me some evidence that it exists", but that's more or less the same position as taken towards totally non-specific deities anyway (since that's what it'd be).

Comment: Re:Bismarck Copyright Term Extension Act (Score 1) 128

by Alphathon (#38935413) Attached to: Finding Lost Recording From the 1880s
I assume you are referring to English history education - Scotland has a totally separate curriculum and set of qualifications from England, so I don't think that statement applies. I'm not sure how things differ in Wales and N.I. (I think Wales generally falls in line with England with regard to education). Certainly, prior to Standard Grade level (equivalent of GCSE) we learn about things like the Scottish wars of independence (which seems to fall into the same patriotism category that you mentioned, but with regard to Scotland) and the Victorians certainly popped up quite a bit (certainly things like the suffragettes were covered too, although that may have crossed over into Modern Studies). At Standard Grade level (which I didn't do, opting instead for Geography, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt) the World Wars are discussed, but along with those come the reunification of Germany and Weimar Germany, since they are kinda important topics to understand if you are to have any context for the wars.

Comment: Re:I am not worried about it (Score 1) 1367

by Alphathon (#38857865) Attached to: Don't Worry About Global Warming, Say 16 Scientists in the WSJ

Sure, the boiling point of water has little bearing on air temperature, weather etc, but the freezing point absolutely does. So what if you don't wear you gloves or zip up your jacket at 0C/32F. Being the freezing point of water, temps around 0C are good indicators of things such as "will the roads be slippery" or "will it snow". Regardless of that though, "human comfort levels" are entirely subjective and vary from person to person, so are not a good basis for a temp scale. Even if they didn't vary, the scale that is used to measure it is largely irrelevant as long as the person using it is familiar enough with it to judge things from it. On a personal note, I can't really stand temperatures much above 25C, and currently my room is 15C and I'm quite comfortable.

You also seem to be assuming that (other than for scientists, engineers etc) temperature scales are only used for judging the weather/air temperature. They are not. Cookery is a fine example; using a scale based on "human comfort" makes little sense for cooking, and I'd argue it makes significantly less sense than using water's boiling/freezing point to judge weather/air temperature.

Comment: Re:Rephrase: Politicians should never make laws (Score 4, Insightful) 214

by Alphathon (#38579556) Attached to: Why Politicians Should Never Make Laws About Technology

Apples and Oranges. Net neutrality is about regulation of those that deliver the internet (i.e. ISPs) so as to prevent them from, for example, blocking or throttling sites/content from particular providers or that use particular protocols as it suits them. SOPA is about regulating what goes on ON the internet which is entirely separate. Net neutrality is about competition, while SOPA is about content control.

Comment: Re:Great (Score 2) 291

by Alphathon (#38574432) Attached to: Chile Forbids Carriers From Selling Network-Locked Phones

I'm not sure what you consider mainstream, but I'm fairly sure Carphone Warehouse only sell unlocked phones (i.e. they don't sell any that are locked).* Certainly it's the norm for phones to be locked when bought on contract from the networks (carriers), but unlocked phones aren't as uncommon/difficult to get hold of as one might think.

*I may be mixing it up with Phones 4 U, not that it really matters, the point still stands regardless of which it is - I'd consider both to be fairly mainstream retailers.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_

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