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Comment: Re:And many, many more (Score 1) 782

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48040355) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

I think maybe you read more into my post than was really there. For example, I never suggested we supply all drinks in pints, only milk and beer, because those are what most people are familiar with. Obviously we could sell, say, a half-litre of milk instead of a pint, but what benefit would that actually bring? Every child in the UK grows up knowing how much a pint of milk is, and every shop sells milk in pints, so changing units (and, realistically, slightly changing the familiar volumes as well) seems like a solution in search of a problem to me.

Comment: Re:And many, many more (Score 1) 782

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48040245) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Except that in this country, almost literally everyone uses that system, and what the metricists are arguing for is the "standard" that almost literally no-one uses.

Losing the Mars mission was very unfortunate, but not nearly as unfortunate as seeing, say, an extra hundred people dying on the roads the year after speed limits changed.

I wonder, do you think we self-absorbed holdouts should drive on the right as well?

Comment: Re:And many, many more (Score 1) 782

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48036847) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

use random units depending on what we are used to.

But that's exactly the point: we are used to ordering a 1/4lb burger or an 8oz steak, so everyone knows what they're getting, so there is no problem. Rather like programming, using the same style as everyone else for what you're looking at right now is more practically useful than trying to enforce universal consistency for all plausibly related things everywhere.

Comment: Re:And many, many more (Score 1) 782

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48036811) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Isn't it impractical to have different set of units for day-to-day life and for everything scientific, technical, or international?

On the evidence so far: No, not really. That's basically my point.

The important thing with units is standardisation so everyone understands the same quantity to have the same meaning. It turns out that engineers are quite capable of using high-precision SI-denominated measurements at work and still going for a pint with their colleagues at the end of the day.

Comment: Re:FP? (Score 1) 782

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48036737) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Apparently looking down at a different set of numbers on a guage in front of the driver (or pressing a button to convert a digital readout) is far too much work and effort.

It's not about work and effort. There have been fatal air accidents as a result of two readings with plausibly similar numbers but very different meanings being shown interchangeably in the same place on aircraft flight controls. If highly trained professional pilots can make that mistake under pressure, then for sure an average driver can.

Moreover, given that there is always pressure to increase speed limits here to 80mph, while on some major roads there is currently a 50mph (approximately 80kph) limit today, there is at least one obvious case where this could go horribly wrong in practice.

Comment: Re:And many, many more (Score 2) 782

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48035663) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

Do you really think changing to metric means we'll stop using d/m/y dates?

Of course not. I'm just demonstrating the hypocrisy of the argument. A lot of people in this discussion aren't really arguing that we should all use SI/metric units across the board, they're just saying they want everyone else to use them when they do.

And for liquids, I've been buying 2L bottles for decades now, and you don't order "0.28L," you order (in Germany/Åustria) "kleine" (0.3L) or "grosse" (0.5L).

So do we, when we buy soft drinks. But in my country, we order beer as a half-pint or a pint, and everyone knows what they're getting. Are you suggesting not only that we should change our units to fit your preference but also that every drinking establishment in the country should buy a complete new set of glassware that will hold different volumes that are more convenient in the new units as well and presumably that everyone's prices should slightly change to match?

Comment: And many, many more (Score 2, Interesting) 782

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#48035161) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

So, we've got:

1. Speeds (mph) and fuel (mpg in an X gallon tank)

2. Lumber (2x4)

Let's add a few more:

3. Milk (pints)

4. Beer (pints)

5. Ingredients in menus (pounds and ounces)

6. Human weight (stone, pounds and ounces)

7. Human height (feet and inches)

8. Vehicle heights for bridge clearances etc. (feet and inches)

9. Time (hours, minutes and seconds)

10. Date (days, months, years)

And that was just stream of consciousness, without a pause to think of other examples.

Seriously, standards are great. They help us to communicate unambiguously. And we have standards in the UK, and they are what I just listed. No-one here goes to the supermarket to buy 227g of cheese and 1.14L of milk. No-one goes to a car showroom and asks whether the fuel economy around town is better than 7.84L/100km, and most people's instinct would be that a higher number was better even if they had that reference point. A few people might describe their height in metres, but most people would say something like "five foot nine".

For projects where international collaboration is required, sure, agree a standard up-front, and it might as well be SI. Likewise for scientific and engineering applications, everyone is a professional and can agree to use SI. But for day to day life? You'd better hope someone going to a supermarket or a pub knows the same units as everyone else, because asking for 0.28L of beer at a crowded bar isn't going to make you any friends.

Comment: Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (Score 1) 261

I have LibreOffice installed on one of my systems, and it has always been unhelpful about how it works with the task bar on Windows 7. I don't know what they're doing wrong, but nothing works quite right with either the task bar or jump lists.

LibreOffice is, however, the only one of 20+ pinned applications on the system that has this problem. I don't know whether OpenOffice has the same problem, but if so, I'd say it's an anomaly.

Comment: Re:Fork less! Patch More! Now is the time to MERGE (Score 1) 261

I don't have a strong opinion on the management and practicalities of Linux itself; clearly Linux is already stable enough to run useful software on it, because servers all over the world are doing it today. But any operating system, no matter how good, has little value unless there is software to run on it. Right now, you simply can't buy a lot of serious professional software to run on Linux, and the open source equivalents to things like Excel and Photoshop don't cut it.

Comment: Nadella seems like a hype-driven choice for CEO (Score 4, Interesting) 261

They appointed Cloud Guy to run the show, at a time when Cloud was a buzzword. No big surprise there from a trendy board/investor point of view, but to anyone with technical chops that move went against basically every major strength Microsoft had left and played straight to their weaknesses.

Based on historical trends, I suspect MS get 2-3 disasters with Nadella at the top before he gets forced out. The difference this time is that now Microsoft itself can probably only survive 2-3 more disasters on the Vista/Win8 scale before it ceases to be a major player in the industry at all.

The worrying thing is that there is no clear successor, with neither Linux nor OS X having the application base to be comprehensive competitors to desktop Windows yet, while the average web app is still a child's toy in comparison to serious software (and often a child's toy with serious security and privacy concerns). It is possible that the 2010s will be remembered as the decade when progress in software development reversed and the industry became dominated by cheap, "good enough" software that left professional/power users out in the cold, though I have some hope that OS X and the relatively polished, diverse and sometimes disruptive applications running on it will take over before all is lost.

Comment: Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (Score 1) 261

It is not a good habit to pin apps to the task bar.

Why? I have a large screen and have literally every application I use on a regular basis pinned, as well as Explorer with the directories I most often want to open. For me, the task bar and jump lists were the two UI developments that made Windows 7 a significant win over XP. Most days I don't even open the Start menu except, ironically, to shut Windows down at the end of the day.

Comment: Re:Gobernator (Score 1) 108

Single-issue voters deserve all the bad things that happen to them because of their narrow-minded, short-sighted choices.

If you have any electoral system where

(a) voters get one chance every few years to vote,

(b) the choice of candidates is small, and

(c) there is no effective power of recall or override allowing the electorate to express binding opinions between elections

then everyone is reduced to little more than a single-issue voter.

If you're lucky, you have a candidate available whose policies match your preferences on a range of issues, but that is not guaranteed. If there's no-one you broadly agree with then in reality some issue that matters to you is probably going to determine who gets your vote. Worse, the successful candidate has no way to know why they got your vote, and will typically treat it as a mandate for all of their policies whether you agree with them all or not.

In any case, such elections are only ever decided on a handful of major issues, meaning candidates can have essentially any policy they want on the millions of smaller issues that still affect many people's daily lives.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter