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Comment Re:Most streetlights are wasteful (Score 1) 304

I see street lights as a waste of money.

Not just a waste of money. Most of them are a waste of fuel, ... emissions ... We could eliminate vast numbers of street lights in all likelihood with no adverse effect at all while saving a lot of money and reducing pollution.

I don't disagree with your points, however I've heard that power plants have to run at a rate that generates excess power over night (can't be shut off and restarted at dawn), therefore street lights use power that has to be off-loaded regardless.

The use of power during the overnight hours is discounted to municipalities, in some instances, as I understand it.

Hence I am not certain that they create much excess air pollution, nor cost as much to operate as one might to expect.

I could be wrong and don't have time at the moment to do much searching on the topic.

Comment Re:Exactly as many black holes as we thought! (Score 1) 92

The summary title directly contradicts the summary text. They predicted ones that they hadn't seen yet. Then they found a way to see them, and it matched up with predictions. How is that "more than we thought" at all?

C'mon, editors...

Indeed, from TFA:

The scientists pointed NuSTAR at nine candidate hidden supermassive black holes that were thought to be extremely active at the centre of galaxies, but where the full extent of this activity was potentially obscured from view.

If we simply assume that there's a super-massive black hole at the centre of each galaxy, then they have increased the expected quantity by zero if I understand correctly.

Obviously that requires an assumption, but otherwise aren't we assuming that there are not super-massive black holes at the centre of galaxies until we find each and every one?

I prefer the former assumption myself, in this particular case.

Comment Re:I gave up on some Google Apps (Score 1) 62

I have limited access to Hangouts, but is there a way to insert a carriage return into a message?

There's a little button for smileys. If you hit shift, the smiley button becomes a carriage return.

Also, how to remove the stupid fucking smilie face icon from the keyboard?

The keyboard isn't really part of Hangouts itself, and you can use an alternate keyboard. There are at least dozens of options available, and probably more. Swiftkey is fairly popular, I believe, but it has the same smiley icon (although it *does* show a carriage return as the long-press action for that button). I don't have any other keyboards installed at the moment to compare.

Thank you!

Tested it tonight. Switched from Pinyin to Google keyboard, and shift key turns smilie face into carriage return.

That solves that problem, since it's not my phone and I rarely use it.

On the other hand, on my device, doesn't seem to work. But I just don't use Hangouts, problem solved.

Comment Re:I gave up on some Google Apps (Score 1) 62

I have limited access to Hangouts, but is there a way to insert a carriage return into a message?

Seems pressing what should be "Enter" sends the message - not at all what I want!

Also, how to remove the stupid fucking smilie face icon from the keyboard?

Those two things prevent me from ever using Hangouts myself, and IMHO do a lot to dumb down communications -- as if that weren't already enough of a problem.

Comment Re:im not sure what to make of this (Score 1) 126

When race drivers go for a drive to get exercise, I'd consider driving a sport (despite the motor-sport moniker).

I'm not saying the drivers aren't fit, just that they use sports to get fit so they can drive competitively.

Which differs for other sports like soccer in which way exactly?

Playing soccer is exercise in and of itself, that's how. Of course, elite players work out so they can play soccer (etc) better, but the game itself is excellent exercise, hence it's a sport.

I think you don't understand the physical fitness required. I might understand that hopping on a F1 is not feasible, but hopping on a competitive 2-stroke 125cc go-kart is. Most newcomers last a couple of laps before they are completely exhausted.

While I don't necessarily disagree, I still don't think many (anyone?) goes for a drive for exercise, and if they do, then I'm pretty sure a coach of some sort would tell them "You're doing it wrong. Drive for practise; play sports for exercise, stamina, cardio, strength..."

Comment Re:im not sure what to make of this (Score 1) 126

"To further make the point, are bowling, golf, darts, billiards, or auto racing sports? None of them require much in the way of athleticism"

Formula 1 drivers are subjected to quite high forces, and require excellent physical condition to avoid injuries / unsafe situations.

When race drivers go for a drive to get exercise, I'd consider driving a sport (despite the motor-sport moniker).

I'm not saying the drivers aren't fit, just that they use sports to get fit so they can drive competitively.

IMHO, etc.

Comment Re:How it's done in this neighbourhood (Score 1) 105


One neighbour, behind us, had their garage door sliced open on one occassion, and on another had the car in their car port broken into.

The thief was a particularly nasty prick, as they used a pry bar to pry the driver's door open, using the roof as a fulcrum.

The door was bent enough to reach inside and the roof was dented.

When all the thieving bastard had to do was break glass. Thousands of dollars damage instead of low hundreds.


Another neighbour, two doors up from them, had their door sliced and the freezer full of food in there was emptied. Frozen food!

I had my catalytic converter stolen...

I hate thieves.

Comment How it's done in this neighbourhood (Score 1) 105

Thieves just take some type of sharp blade, cut a "V" shape into the garage door, reach in (likely with a hooked tool), pull the manual T-shaped handle that's connected with a rope to the locking latch mechanism, tug it, door's unlocked.

I counted about 10 such damage marks between 49th and 54th Ave in one laneway.

Comment Re:UAT (Score 1) 366

A lot of this type of process is SOP for pretty much any safety-critical real-time embedded software. The companies that design flight software for airplanes around the world follow a process that is not entirely unlike NASA's process. Because lives are at stake there too. Similar standards are applied to medical equipment as well, for much the same reason.

I have heard otherwise about some classes of medical devices. I think of the embedded type.

There was a story recently where a device or class of devices listened on Telnet ports, but I can't seem to find a link.

Of course, there's the famous case(s) of the radiation overdoses from faulty UI implementations, etc.

What type of medical devices are you referring to?

Comment Re:Until Google closes it... (Score 1) 175

Calm down dear, it's just the 'code' setting in User->Accounts->Post. (Having grown up with text mode, I kind of have a nostalgic attachment to monospaced text -- you might guess that from my /. UID)

Well, I for one thank you for posting without the <code> tag in your post this time, and hope it's a permanent change.

Having one poster's comments show as monospaced font in contrast to everyone else's is visually disruptive and rather annoying. Unless one is posting actual code snippets.

Comment Re:Abbott is a moron (Score 1) 306

Personally I don't know how you guys have managed to remain as sovereign and independent as you have been considering the proximity of the USA.

I'd answer, "With limited success."

We used to be able to watch the worst excesses of American culture and, upon reflection, say to ourselves, "Let's not do that, m'kay?"

Now our PM sees the worst of American political culture and thinks, "That would work here." And, sadly, it does.

As far as Harper is concerned, do the majority of Canadians hold similar views to your own? Or are they too blind to see what is going on?

He was elected with ~40% of votes cast in last election, so I would humbly suggest that my views are not too out of line with the norm.

There was a split on the left / centre votes (NDP & Liberals) with a Liberal party leader that was not terribly charismatic and who was savaged repeatedly, ad nauseam (literally) by vicious (and hypocritical) attack ads for ~2 years prior to the election.

He taught Canadian Studies at Harvard (going from memory here) and was labelled as a traitor / foreigner who was "just visiting" to win as PM. Of course, the right wing loves highly talented people who can write their own ticket to work in any jurisdiction that can afford them, except when it's in their own interests to slander such people (Michael Ignatief was the man).

Oh, can I mention that the previous Harper government was a minority who insisted on ruling as a majority, despite basic democratic principles. They were finally found in Contempt of Parliament. The first time in the history of the British Parliamentary system that it's ever happened.

Canadians rewarded the traitor with a majority government. I'm not happy with my fellow citizens, even though election fraud was rampantly used to sway the outcome and they only got 40-ish% of the vote -- that's far, far too much.

It's all quite sickening and I'm not sure the Harper Regime will finally fall in the next election. Honestly, sick-making.

Tony Abbott's staggering incompetence would be a huge relief.

Apologies for the lengthy, ranty reply.

Comment Re:UAT (Score 2) 366

I'll never understand how groups (Especially NASA) can spend millions, or even BILLIONS on projects like these and not even complete the sorts of rudimentary testing that those of us in the professional software fields have to do every day.

This is not a NASA project, so you've made a stunningly basic error in your first sentence. Not looking too good for attention to detail for someone "in the professional software field".

Regardless, if you want to see how NASA does software, or for anyone even remotely interested in how the best practices for true mission-critical software gets written, you can't find a more interesting story on the creation of space shuttle software:

The right stuff kicks in at T-minus 31 seconds.

As the 120-ton space shuttle sits surrounded by almost 4 million pounds of rocket fuel, exhaling noxious fumes, visibly impatient to defy gravity, its on-board computers take command. Four identical machines, running identical software, pull information from thousands of sensors, make hundreds of milli-second decisions, vote on every decision, check with each other 250 times a second. A fifth computer, with different software, stands by to take control should the other four malfunction.

But how much work the software does is not what makes it remarkable. What makes it remarkable is how well the software works. This software never crashes. It never needs to be re-booted. This software is bug-free. It is perfect, as perfect as human beings have achieved. Consider these stats : the last three versions of the program — each 420,000 lines long-had just one error each. The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors. Commercial programs of equivalent complexity would have 5,000 errors.

This software is the work of 260 women and men based in an anonymous office building across the street from the Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake, Texas, southeast of Houston. They work for the "on-board shuttle group," a branch of Lockheed Martin Corps space mission systems division, and their prowess is world renowned: the shuttle software group is one of just four outfits in the world to win the coveted Level 5 ranking of the federal governments Software Engineering Institute (SEI) a measure of the sophistication and reliability of the way they do their work. In fact, the SEI based it [sic] standards in part from watching the on-board shuttle group do its work.

The group writes software this good because that's how good it has to be. Every time it fires up the shuttle, their software is controlling a $4 billion piece of equipment, the lives of a half-dozen astronauts, and the dreams of the nation. Even the smallest error in space can have enormous consequences: the orbiting space shuttle travels at 17,500 miles per hour; a bug that causes a timing problem of just two-thirds of a second puts the space shuttle three miles off course.

Some of my favourite parts begin with the following quote:

The process can be reduced to four simple propositions:

1. The product is only as good as the plan for the product. At the on-board shuttle group, about one-third of the process of writing software happens before anyone writes a line of code. NASA and the Lockheed Martin group agree in the most minute detail about everything the new code is supposed to do — and they commit that understanding to paper, with the kind of specificity and precision usually found in blueprints. Nothing in the specs is changed without agreement and understanding from both sides. And no coder changes a single line of code without specs carefully outlining the change. Take the upgrade of the software to permit the shuttle to navigate with Global Positioning Satellites, a change that involves just 1.5% of the program, or 6,366 lines of code. The specs for that one change run 2,500 pages, a volume thicker than a phone book. The specs for the current program fill 30 volumes and run 40,000 pages.

That is how one writes software. NASA cannot be beaten when lives matter.

Comment Re:Abbott is a moron (Score 1) 306

He is an idiot. Total numbskull. He's a great leader since everything he says can be guaranteed to be stupid. You know where you are with Abbott and so does the rest of the world. No worries Tony. You can be titular head of whatever you want to be, just ignore all the stuff going around you and everything will be ok.

And this is why I'd trade Abbott for Stephen Harper in Canada.

Both are within the same political spectrum, but Abbott seems too stupid to accomplish much and is easily challenged and mocked.

Harper, on the other hand, is highly effective in implementing his regime's policies through being an effective liar, at stifling opposition, at muzzling the media, at avoiding parliamentary traditions, avoiding transparency; at viewing laws as mere obstacles, and is someone that disrespects every basic tenet of democracy.

Basically at ruining everything the country is known for.

If one must have a PM that is beholden to the fossil fuel industry, uses the military as props in photo ops, and wishes to veer the country hard to the right of politics, it's best if that PM is an utter buffoon who cannot really implement those goals.

And for those reasons, I'd rather have Abbott (or even Rob Ford) as PM than Harper.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer