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Comment: Re:But the good news is (Score 1) 130

by SimonInOz (#47805663) Attached to: Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

I put a software system into a nuclear plant in, oh, 1978. It was a pair of PDP-11 machines, had graphic colour monitors, multiple terminals, and a host of monitoring software, mostly written in FORTRAN, if I remember correctly.
It went in more or less on time, and seemingly behaved well.
This was in Holland - and the plant was the cleanest place I have ever seen (a lot cleaner than the hot strip steel mill I worked in some years later).
The project lasted about 6 months.

Why are they taking so long? The reactors are pretty much the same, the software is much more sophisticated, and the people are just the same.

Comment: Re:Land of insanity (Score 1) 421

by SimonInOz (#47740611) Attached to: South Carolina Student Arrested For "Killing Pet Dinosaur"

And in Australia ...
A while ago, my daughter, aged approx 14, wrote a rather scary essay all about grooming of girls for sex. It was a creepy story - about creepy people.
The school was shocked, called her in for counselling, and called me. After a while they settled down, came to the conclusion she was not writing about real life, and let the story stand.

No police, no arrests, sensible consultation. I think they did a much better job.

Scary essay though. Where did she get it all from?

Comment: Re:Agile can fuck off. (Score 1) 239

by SimonInOz (#47725107) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Oh yeah. Agile is institutionalised micromanagement.
It's horrible. Nobody ever gets the opportunity to actually think, there is no global view, there are no innovations.
But big piles (I use the word advisedly) of code get written - and tested.

And "sprints" ... has any actual sprinter tried to keep doing "sprints"? Get a bit tired and inefficient, did they? Paint me surprised.

Comment: Re:Major application vendor headaches... (Score 1) 209

True, they are in it for the money. It looks great to management - they think they can outsource risk! And so they can at first, but at considerable cost, especially later, and they end up with all the IP of their company known, and held, by external parties.

And they will be held to ransom.

And I have to say, I'd never put Oracle very high on my list of good value suppliers. Big, certainly, capable even, rapacious, sure, but good value, never. And their idea of integration is not mine. Not even close.

On the other hand, Oracle did sponsor - and win - the most impressive America's Cup series seen to date. That has to count for something, right? (Yup, Oracle's team of Aussies just managed to beat New Zealand's team of Aussies. Strange world we live in).

(Yes, I've been into into sailing and computing for forty years - and can be a bit boring on either).

Comment: Later in life (Score 1) 550

by SimonInOz (#47526821) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

Laser surgery gives, in general, very good fixed correction. It is excellent for people under 45 with vision that needs correction. There are occasional failures, yes, but they are quite rare.

But what about later in life (hello, 50) when your lens hardens and you can't focus it any more? Laser surgery will achieve nothing. You are still stuck with reading glasses.

Well, I had -7 vision and was mightily sick of being blind without glasses, found contacts a drag, and it's all damned expensive. My vision with my (very expensive) glasses was excellent, with contacts acceptable, but it was all annoying.

So I got lens replacement surgery. It's the same operation as for cataracts, but voluntary. And expensive (AUD 10,000). The replacement lenses are not focusable, so I got lenses with three focus points - close (reading), medium (screen, and distance. A Zeiss trifocal implantable lens.
The operation was quick, but unpleasant (you are almost, but not quite unconscious - not nice). Recovery involved many, many drops for a few weeks gradually diminishing to none.

Result - daytime vision is excellent, both near and far. I can read, compute, play sports.
Night-time vision is not so good, you get some haloing and other artefacts. I can drive ok, but stargazing is not so great.

These lenses will not harden further so my vision should stay the same for the rest of my life, which is nice.

On the whole I am pleased. It's certainly a joy to go swimming without concern, see in the rain, and even water ski. Amazing after a life of really, really poor vision.

I researched the surgeons, checked the research, and balanced the results against the side effects and risks. In fact, the risk of actual permanent damage - ie blindness - are very low indeed. After all, they do these operations by the thousand in Africa (look up Fred Hollows) in what must be poorer conditions.

Laser surgery was not for me - that would indeed have corrected my main vision problem, shortsightedness, but I would have been unable to read or compute without reading glasses - and where's the fun in that?

It's amazing to wake up in the morning ... and be able to see.

Comment: Rotation (Score 4, Interesting) 79

by SimonInOz (#47420877) Attached to: Study: Why the Moon's Far Side Looks So Different

The moon became tidally locked within a few million years after its formation (around 4.5 billion years ago), so it's been tidally locked for over 4 billion years.

But really, did the earth stay hot enough for "a few million years" - hot enough to affect the locked side of the moon more than the other?

The moon would have cooled somewhat faster, being smaller, but this theory requires the earth to stay hot enough to affect the "earth side" of the for a very long time after the moon has cooled enough to solidify.

Comment: Re:Now I'm confused ... (Score 2) 380

by SimonInOz (#47329141) Attached to: New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel

Two reasons:
* storage - ammonia is a liquid at fairly low pressure (150psi/1000kPa). [Unlike hydrogen, which requires very high pressure (10,000psi/70,000kPa), and generally cooling. And the damned stuff seeps though anything (dem H2 molecules are kinda small)]
* energy density - as a liquid, ammonia has about half the energy of petrol (gasoline). Not bad - certainly better than the average battery. Vastly better (7x) better than hydrogen

It's not delightful stuff to handle, but beats the heck out of a highly flammable liquid .. like petrol (gasoline)! It's not very flammable at all, actually, though you can burn it in combination with other things.

Also, if it escapes, it turns into gas - which is easier to get rid of than a liquid.

Comment: Sensors - for quakes? (Score 1) 90

by SimonInOz (#47258839) Attached to: Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms

There are quite a lot of sensors, and processing power in a Nest gadget. It includes a motion sensor, and that data could be extracted to a database, giving us an absolute plethora of sensors spread across homes (ok, mainly rich homes, and certainly a lot in California).
Such a wealth of data would surely be brilliant for earthquake monitoring.

Comment: Re:Caravan (Score 1) 310

Pah. It was my boat all right, but it was relatively cheap - and I did get paid pretty well. Or at least it felt that way - no family, no mortgage ... those were the days.

The card readers were pretty expensive, and I did not think they'd survive the salt. I stored programs on little plug in memory modules which worked well. Great little gadget.

Comment: Re:Submarine (Score 1) 310

Hah. Nuclear sub. Nice and stable, well lit - easy.
And you even had power!
My little boat rocked about a lot, all power came from a small solar panel, it was rather damp.

Mind you, I didn't have to salute anyone or wear a uniform (or wear anything, come to that). And the view was pretty extensive.

Comment: Re:Caravan (Score 4, Interesting) 310

The inside of a small yacht, crossing the Atlantic.
I was sailing (an Iroquois 30' cat, in case anyone's interested), and found sight reduction (yes, a sextant was involved) rather tedious. So I wrote a program for my HP calculator to do the calculations.

Those HP41C calculators were really neat.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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