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Comment LED lighting that flickers (Score 1) 491

It's so easy to include the smoothing capacitor - but so many LED lights strobe at 50/60 Hz. This produces a really unpleasant effect, especially if people move about (or simply move their eyes). LEDs are far worse than tungsten here, because the LED is usually on for only a very small fraction of the duty-cycle, has no thermal inertia, and many of them only operate on one half-cycle not both. When LED lamps are dimmed, it's truly horrid. (I also hate the poor colour rendering, and the tendency to get harsh ("cool-white") or dirty-grey ("warm white") llight rather than a full spectrum.

Comment bring back full height 4:3 screens (Score 1) 491

It is frustrating to me that we now have "shortscreens" everywhere - instead of full-height screens (e.g. 20" at 1600x1200), we now have 16:9 (and no doubt 16:7 in due course). For real work, whether programming, CAD, or just reading webpages and documents, there is no substitute for screen-height. Yet a combination of the DVD-tail wagging the productivity dog, and a dishonest marketing campaign (17" widescreens have less area than 17" regular screens) means that we can't get decent screens anywhere. For desktops this is just about tolerable with the advent of very very large 16:10 screens, but for laptops, it is a nightmare.

Comment Re:Why do browsers allow websites to do this? (Score 1) 365

There are a couple of legitimate uses for sites to interfere, with select/copy in certain very restricted cases.
1. Using the no-select attribute on buttons (or text styled as buttons). Otherwise, it's very easy to accidentally select the button text when you mean to click it - and that's just a UI mistake.
2. When an image is meant not to be re-shared (e.g, a personal photo on a social or dating network), intercepting right-click with a message asking the viewer not to take a copy.

Comment TuxRacer controlled by Tux (Score 1) 258

A friend's kid aged about 3 used to love playing the game TuxRacer (controlled by arrow keys, which Dad had to work because he wasn't dextrous enough). So I got a plush Tux toy penguin, and fastened him on top of a small plastic box, in which I placed the guts of a wireless keyboard, and 4x tilt switches connected to the arrow keys. Now simply moving the penguin controls the game :-)

Comment Re:Let's hope that Plasma 4 is kept as an alternat (Score 2) 60

At least Plasma doesn't just silently crash for you - on my Ubuntu 15.04 system, it just dies and dumps me back at the login screen (and there doesn't seem to be any way to debug it, nothing in .xsession errors, and no answers on the bug report). I find it totally bewildering that KDE4 -> KDE5 should do this, after they have just about recovered reputationally and stability-wise from the KDE 3 -> 4 mess (and 4 still hasn't completely reached parity with 3 in some ways). The bump to KDE5 should have been like Linux kernel 3.x to Linux 4.x - a total non-event for the users, i.e.only the Qt library changed, and basically nothing else did.

Anyway, you can at least install the KDE 3.5 fork ( has packages) on Ubuntu 15.04, and I'm pleased to say it works pretty well. In fact, it is also significantly prettier (from the perspective of those of us who value clarity over smoothness, and are quite partial to icons that are distinct from one another, and to having nice sharp lines and contrasts to distinguish bits of the GUI from each other). The other option is to look at Mate (apt-get install mate-desktop), which is basically Gnome 2.x, continued (though they are doing the sensible thing and using the Gnome 3 project's libraries)

One good thing about Linux is that the Window Manager is distinct from the rest of the applications. So, you can mix and match window-manager, taskbar, start-button, panel, file-manager, applications. XFCE4 isn't a bad place to start (and parcellite is an alternative to klipper).

Comment Re:It would be nice if... the key leaked (Score 1) 155

What really got Lenovo into hot water was not just Superfish, but that Superfish got compromised. So, what we really need is for the NSA's stolen key to be leaked.
If that key leaks, it will finally cause the massive that will force the politicians to re-evaluate what the miscreants in GCHQ/NSA are "lawfully" doing.

Comment Re:Free Trade (Score 1) 222

What I mean is that, any country which has no democracy has no workers' rights. Therefore, Chinese workers will never effectively demand decent working conditions. This makes them more competitive than the EU/US, and our workers (who rightly expect decent treatment) will be out-competed by cheap labour from contries that abuse their workers. The result is unemployment in the West, and "slave"-labour in the East.

Comment Free Trade (Score 1) 222

If China blocks US VPNs (our exports), why isn't the US considering blocking Chinese goods in return?
If nothing else, it is our own long-term best interests to force China to become more free, as it is the only thing that will prevent them winning a race-to-the-bottom competition on wages.

Comment Re:Because it does not work (Score 1) 219

I grant that it doesn't work all the time. But let's at least stop giving "it's my faith" a free pass against criticism, and be done with the faith-schools. Politicians love to think that moderate religion is on their side; it isn't. So they work in the (imho) vain struggle to keep people from moving from position (b) to (c) rather than trying to get them to move from (b) to (a). In epidemiological terms, there are several risk factors for becoming a terrorist... including social exclusion, poverty, grievances against western policy, and religious faith. Why can't we treat faith itself (rather than "perversion of faith") as the risk factor?

Comment Re:Why not promote the Enlightenment instead (Score 1) 219

True in the US, but in Europe, we are already past tipping point: the majority of people now see organised religion as a force for harm.

In the US, the approach might be to apply sanctions to Saudi Arabia etc untill they fix their human rights record - this approach worked on South Africa wrt apartheid.

Comment Why not promote the Enlightenment instead (Score 4, Insightful) 219

Wouldn't it make much more sense to devote some effort and expense to promoting the values of the enlightenment? In particular, devoting some educational effort towards eradication of irrational beliefs. Why not actually treat Islam (and Scientology, and Christianity) as the mental equivalent of a public heath hazard, where those who believe need to be helped to overcome it?

I think we make a serious mistake in our public discourse, by considering that:
    violent minority = extremists = misinterpretation of scripture vs. peaceful majority = mainstream = correct interpretation of scripture.

whereas it would be more intellectually honest to consider:
      violent minority = literalists = correct interpretation of scripture vs. peaceful majority = reformists = those who wilfully mis-interpret their scripture.

In other words, while almost all humans (of all faith and of none) are decent, good, tolerant peaceful people, they are decent to the extent that they discard their holy books, not to the extent that they follow them. The holy books themselves are beyond redemption, and should be considered to be "on the side of the devil".

Consider the spectrum of belief: (a)Secular humanist ---- (b) "Moderate" religion ----- (c) Extremist religion.
Position (b) involves belief in gods, prophets, and veneration of "perfect" scriptures. Position (c) is a very small step beyond, namely to actually read those scriptures, already considered perfect, and interpret them the literally, as they are written. So, if we want to prevent Islamic terrorism, the most effective argument is not detailed discussion of which Koranic verse overrides which other one (an argument which the moderates can never win), but instead, to argue for the wholesale abandonment of holy books.

Education, science, secular values, and human rights are the most potent weapon we have against faith, and yet politicians refuse to deploy them! If we took the money from the security services, and put it into schools, I think it would be far more effective.

Comment Fanless is possible (Score 1) 720

I've been using fanless machines for ages. Basically, you use heatpipes to the case. are extremely helpful - I have a system with a Streacom FC9 case which is big enough for a high-end CPU, but still dead silent. Of course, if you want the ultimate in graphics cards, you may still have to put up with a fan.
Also, signals travel along cables at about 2/3 speed of light - so your mere cable length shouldn't be a problem. HTH

There is very little future in being right when your boss is wrong.