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Professor: Young People Are "Lost Generation" Who Can No Longer Fix Gadgets 840

Posted by samzenpus
from the beyond-fixing dept.
antdude points out this story about one of the problems with our ever increasingly disposable world. "Young people in Britain have become a lost generation who can no longer mend gadgets and appliances because they have grown up in a disposable world, the professor giving this year's Royal Institution Christmas lectures has warned. Danielle George, Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering, at the University of Manchester, claims that the under 40s expect everything to 'just work' and have no idea what to do when things go wrong. Unlike previous generations who would ‘make do and mend’ now young people will just chuck out their faulty appliances and buy new ones. But Prof George claims that many broken or outdated gadgets could be fixed or repurposed with only a brief knowledge of engineering and electronics. "

+ - Fake GSM Towers Used to Spy on Norwegian Government

Submitted by Novus
Novus (182265) writes "Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has uncovered fake GSM base stations in central Oslo capable of eavesdropping on calls, collecting information on phones and even installing spyware in an area containing several important Norwegian state institutions, including Stortinget (the Norwegian parliament), the Prime Minister's office and the Ministry of Defence. It is still unclear who has set up the IMSI catchers that were found, but the cost and limited availability of the equipment involved suggests a major intelligence operation."

Comment: Re:Botched understanding of science? (Score 1) 795

by Novus (#47968545) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Considering the sheer amount of statistics being thrown around in what passes for Science, it might be more accurate to say that Science is the way we find things are likely to be true and likely to be untrue.

That said, I'm having trouble defining a representative sample of Science...

Comment: Re:Not much info (Score 5, Informative) 202

by Novus (#45198205) Attached to: Finnish Team Makes Diabetes Vaccine Breakthrough

That's almost certainly a translation error. The University of Tampere press release states that "these studies clearly show that members of the group B coxsackieviruses are associated with the risk of type 1 diabetes", and the offending sentence in the Yle article would be the same in Finnish irrespective of whether the virus found is the only one or not (e.g. "löytänyt viruksen" would be "discovered a/the virus"). Finnish grammar doesn't have the concept of definiteness, meaning that a translator working from a Finnish source text would in many cases have to guess the intended meaning or look it up elsewhere. For similar reasons, many Finns have problems figuring out whether to use a definite or indefinite article when writing in English.

Comment: Re:Bah. Doesn't go far enough. (Score 1) 258

by Novus (#44198373) Attached to: Man Campaigns For Addition of 'Th' Key To Keyboard

I like your idea, but I find your vowel mapping very confusing. I think diphthongs should be spelt as their component vowels. Using the IPA for English summary on Wikipedia to enumerate the necessary combinations and noting that many vowels in English only come in short or long versions (and blatantly recycling the apostrophe), I'd suggest:

"a" as in "trap", "aa" as in "palm" or "start", "ai" as in "price", "au" as in "mouth"
"e" as in "dress" or "error", "ei" as in "face"
"i" as in "kit", "ii" as in "fleece"
"o" as in "lot", "oi" as in choice, "oo" as in "thought", "ou" as in "goat"
"u" as in "foot", "uu" as in "goose"
"'" as in "a" or "comma", "''" as in "strut", "nurse" or "hurry"

Consonants are mostly straightforward. "b", "d", "f", "h", "k", "l", "m", "n", "p", "r", "s", "t", "v", "w" and "z" all have obvious values. "g" is needed for "guy", so we use "j" as in "pleasure" (hence "dj" for "jam"). "y" is as in "yes". This allows us to reuse "c" for "th" as in "father", "q" for "th" as in "thigh", "x" for "sh" (and hence "tx" for "ch"). I'm not quite happy about having to use a digraph for "ng", but that should not be much of a problem for English.

Nau, yuu mei fiil cis luks sili, and aim x''r meni wud 'grii. Cat sed, geting juusd tu taiping laik cis is not ool cat haard. Sam mait aargjuu cat cis iz not inglix eni mo'r, b't ai qingk piipl xud 'dj''st priti kwikli.

Comment: Switching keyboard layouts (Score 2) 258

by Novus (#44197517) Attached to: Man Campaigns For Addition of 'Th' Key To Keyboard

Being able to type symbols like []/\;= with single key presses is a distinct advantage of the US layout over many European layouts when programming. I actually spent a few years programming with a US layout (switching back to Finnish when typing something in e.g. Finnish), but the difference is small enough that I felt that switching back and forth is not worth the trouble. Besides, the Finnish multilingual layout works for pretty much any European language with a Latin-based alphabet.

Many people don't seem to realise that the labels on PC keyboards' key tops are purely cosmetic; in most operating systems you can switch between layouts quite easily. As long as you don't need to look at the keyboard to know which key is which, you can easily use a different layout. In other words, switching a keyboard to a more familiar layout than the one it is labelled in works quite well.

If you work with several different languages with different alphabets, you are more or less forced to switch layouts as required by the current task. For example, a Greek programmer will almost certainly spend much of their time typing program code, commands or suchlike with a US layout (or similar) and switch to their local layout to type in their own language.

Comment: Re:Drop the confusing pictures (Score 1) 713

by Novus (#39985555) Attached to: Icons That Don't Make Sense Anymore

"320x240 displays were the norm for Windows 3.1"

VGA was the minimum for Windows 3.1 and it was 640x480 with 16 colors.

The previous standard was EGA and it was 640x350.

Actually, Windows 3.1 runs fine on EGA; the installation disks come with EGA drivers (640x350, 16 colours). In fact, CGA works at 640x200 with 2 colours (with the Windows 3.0 driver, which is not included in Windows 3.1). Windows 3.11 seems to have dropped EGA support and requires VGA.

Comment: Re:Gamemaker (Score 1) 53

OpenJDK is pretty much GPL 2 (with exceptions to allow applications to have other licenses), so Java should be OK as long as you don't use any Oracle-specific stuff. The blog clarifies that open source OpenGL implementations exist and may be used. Lots of game programming libraries can be found in most Linux distributions (e.g. SDL, ClanLib, PyGame); as far as I can tell they should all be OK.

Comment: Re:Will Googorola sue them? (Score 1) 249

by Novus (#39421011) Attached to: Mozilla To Support H.264

VLC is mostly run from France, where computer programs explicitly cannot be patented. Since the VLC developers apparently have no presence in the United States, US software patents are irrelevant for them. Hence, they can distribute H.264 decoders. Mozilla Foundation is based in California, making it hard for them to ignore US patents.

Comment: Re:Same for everyone with recordings of their voic (Score 1) 146

by Novus (#38671770) Attached to: Glimpse of Stephen Hawking's Computer

I'd say you lose nerd points not just for not bothering to look it up, but for failing to recognise that the "English" term you mention is, essentially, Latin, and therefore very likely to occur in languages related to Latin.

Getting slightly more on-topic, I've found that being multi-lingual means you end up thinking about things in the language you normally use to communicate about them in. So, for example, I end up thinking about university administration in Finnish, the upcoming presidential election in Swedish and computer science in English. In part, this is simply to avoid making the effort to translate (for example, the admin staff at our university is predominantly Finnish-speaking), but also because some of the terminology may be unfamiliar in some languages (the more esoteric a subject is, the more likely it is that everything I read about it is in English) or simply not standardised.

Comment: Re:Same for everyone with recordings of their voic (Score 1) 146

by Novus (#38655722) Attached to: Glimpse of Stephen Hawking's Computer

Like if they were primarily Spanish speaking, but also fluent in English, and they were thinking of the phrase "To be thrown out of a window" in Spanish (I am not even going to bother figuring out what it really is in Spanish, I could Google Translate, but then again, so could you), it would just be easier to use the English word "Defenestrate".

The Spanish word is "defenestrar". I suspect a better example would be something specific to a certain culture, e.g. "vihta" in Finnish.

System going down at 5 this afternoon to install scheduler bug.

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