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Comment Nothing New Under The Sun (Score 2) 234

Those who do not pay attention to the world around them, are doomed to reinvent the wheel (or in this case, balls covering water).

Thirty years ago, I was living in Sweden, where it was already nothing new that you cover an outdoor swimming pool with ping-pong balls to prevent heat losses and related evaporation. How come this was news, and a great stroke of genius, in California?

As an aside, they don't interfere with the use of the pool at all. You can dive in through them.

Comment Riddle me this... (Score 1) 142

Why does anybody, anyone at all, still believe in this "cloud" thing? Any person or company that stores anything personal/private/confidential/valuable in "cloud space" is Just Asking For It.

I speak as a person with 50 years experience in IT. The lesson of those years is - You cannot, must not, trust Other People with your precious jewels. The human race does not just have malicious individuals; it is 80% composed of lazy incompetents who don't pay attention and can't keep promises.

Comment Re:1 year may have been enough (Score 3, Informative) 137

Yes, but UK gov does not have any of those "smart as on Slashdot" IT pros. The UK gov outsourced all its IT to Big-Name-and-Big-Billing suppliers, and got rid of its own IT-literate employees. Now that the BNaBB suppliers have got UK gov over a barrel, the charges they invoice are extortionate. Remember the scandal over the lost CDs containing the entire Dept of Work and Pensions database (IIRC)? That was caused by the relevant dept being unable to write a simple SQL SELECT, and the supplier wanting £5000 for 20 minutes work.

Comment "made from aircraft-grade aluminum" (Score 1) 128

Has anyone told him what sea water does to aluminium? Or mentioned that's why almost nobody operates flying boats commercially any longer? The constant corrosion? The constant leaks? The constant repairs?

Reminds me of those clowns who set out to cross the oceans in a small boat without no radio or nav equipment, and only a school atlas. Other people have to risk their lives to rescue them.

Let's hope the USCG makes him post a bond big enough to cover the cost of the rescue before he departs. That should slow him down a bit.

Comment Re:Obvious Usefulness (Score 1) 157

Are the pulsars and quasars distributed in any useful way? Maybe in a sparse but heavily-trafficked area you might want add a beacon or two? Second, the quasars are red-shifted - does that not mean their light gets preferentially absorbed by dust/gas etc, which makes them useful only at quite short ranges? (Short is of course a relative term for a starship navigator).

Then, of course, there are those captains that can't bothered follow the rules or even keep a lookout.

Comment Obvious Usefulness (Score 1) 157

When you do a hyperspace jump of any worthwhile length, the navigational inaccuracies accumulate, and you come out somewhere that you don't know exactly where you are. How long will it take you to work out where you are and get a position accurate enough for the next jump? Could be days if you are looking around for stars, trying to match their absorption spectra against a database, observing long enough to determine their real motion, etc etc.

What you need is a lighthouse. Preferably two-three so you can triangulate. Get a position in minutes.

We humans, setting out to use the trackless seas of our planet, with crap navigational instruments - one of the first nav aids we built were lighthouses, for instance the Pharos at Alexandria, more than 2,000 years ago.

I wonder if this star is anywhere near a hazard? That would confirm it in my mind.

Comment Bugs in Win 7 UI (Score 5, Informative) 516

"after releasing Windows 7"

So the bugs in Win 7 UI were actually created by Microsoft people?

1. In Win 7, open Windows Explorer
2. Get a list of files up.
3. Delete a file
4. Whoa, the file is STILL THERE in the list
5. Delete it again
6. Whoa, ERROR MESSAGE "file not found" - if so, why is it listed?

That's a fundamental breach of the user paradigm. No previous Windows has ever done anything so mindlessly wrong.

This shit is why I decided to stay with XP till the end, and then moved to Linux Mint Cinnamon. Which was an excellent move - it runs lighter and faster on my hardware than XP ever did, and looks and feels a lot more like the UI that I already knew than Win 7, Win 8, Win 8.1 does.

Comment Re:Realistic (Score 4, Informative) 374

There is a solution already in use round the world. It's called "pumped storage". Dinorwic and Ben Cruachan are just two out of the many examples worldwide.

Base load from generators that aren't easy to start and stop (say nuclear) is used during low usage times to pump water up to height. When peak power is required, a flick of a switch sends the water through turbines that spin up extremely rapidly. Dinorwic can go from 0 to 1320 MW in 12 seconds.

This setup is excellent for using/storing solar power.

Comment Same old, same old.... (Score 1) 191

Microsoft has tried at least three times during my career to sell rental contracts for Office. The rental approach has never worked on any of those occasions. If they can't get it to work for Office, it'll never work for Windows.

On one of those occasions, I was deeply involved with an effort by a major international company to set up Office on rental licences, as part of their portfolio to offer to business customers. I helped set up and run a trial, we got some trial customers in, and tried to get Microsoft to do their bit to make it work. We met with a total blank indifference from the local Microsoft people, and a total refusal to move even an inch to be helpful to the trial customers.

There were constant problems (with updates, with licence management, with bugs), and Microsoft was massively unhelpful whenever we phoned the global assistance helpline (which we were paying through the nose for). I don't think we got a satisfactory answer to any of the problems we reported (alll probs that could not be fixed at either local or country level)

In the end we gave up, bought the trial customers full-price retail licences and boxed sets with manuals, just to be able to get out of the trial.

Comment Re:Why a human in the IKEA challenge? (Score 1) 129

What's difficult for a human in assembling IKEA furniture is PAYING ATTENTION to the instructions. I have been assemblling IKEA furniture for 40 years (since there were only two IKEA stores in the whole world) and I have never had instructions that were not right. When humans screw up an IKEA assembly, it's because of choosing the wrong piece, or not rotating the piece to the correct orientation, or not using the correct screw/bolt/doohickey for the currrent stage.

Frankly, the "IKEA test" identifies creatures who claim to be human, but aren't.

Our OS who art in CPU, UNIX be thy name. Thy programs run, thy syscalls done, In kernel as it is in user!