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Comment Re:angst over old tech . . . (Score 1) 231

I'm sorry, I cannot buy into the statement

"If we keep our 10 year old tech and expect it to serve our current requirements we are not optimizing our experience."

I know I'm a grumpy old man and a full time cynic but...

Over 25 years ago, I used a 286 based PC with under 1MB RAM and a word-processor loaded from floppy. I could start the wp in a few seconds and create documents.

Fast forward to today. My employers have dropped the latest MS Office on us. With a 4 core processor and 8 GB RAM it takes Word over a minute to start (I've got so bored I started timing it, mean is 73s, median 72s).

I know I'll get responses from people saying I can do so much more - but 90%+ of my work is basic paragraphs, tables and simple formatting (enterprise customers don't go in for multimedia inserts).


"It's not because the manufacturer made it unserviceable"

We can debate this in terms of the direct product construction, but the hidden expense is in the software unserviceability designed to enforce obsolescence and upgrades.

Personally, and for environmental reasons, I dislike seeing working technology thrown out (which is why I use Linux on an older PC rather than buying new every couple of years).

Comment Toilet water (Score 3, Interesting) 287

It is often claimed that mains tap water in many cities [all over the world] has already passed through 4 or 5 other people's kidneys first.

If true then this shows the tremendous value of underrated techniques in waste treatment and purification but it also poses a big challenge for homeopaths:

Surely by now there'd be no illness at all as everyone has had the benefit of sharing "water memory" of all the major diseases. If not why not?

As a corollary, how can you ensure that the 'patient' responds to the right water memory and not to fond recollections of someone else's urethra?

Comment Re:The contriversial parts in brief. (Score 4, Insightful) 115

I've been following this issue and have not yet heard the following question/argument raised.

Leaving aside all the usual privacy arguments and the slippery slope case of a reasonable regime now going bad in the future, there's still a practical question which would have less impact on privacy and costs.

"Why are you tracking all the users and generating a huge 'haystack' of noisy data when you could track the 'needle' instead?"

In other words, why track every member of the public to see if any of them view moneylaunderingterroristpaedophiles.com instead of just looking at subscribers to that site?

Focusing on a small range of IP addresses and then looking at address headers should be relatively easy.

Even the effort of maintaining a 'naughty list' of 'bad' sites must be easier than sifting through petabytes of ISP logs.

Comment Re:Other than the "liquid fuels" part... (Score 1) 163

Years ago (back in the 70s) I recall a study about harvesting energy from sunlight which compared PV cells, heating water passing down black pipes, reflecting sunlight to a focus point to heat water.... and the most efficient (though probably not scalable easily) one tried was similar to this.

1) Put some plates of wet glass in the sun** and wait
2) Scrape off the algae that forms for free, put the glass plates back
3) Ferment the algae with some yeast to make (mostly) ethanol & water
4) Use sunlight to help distil off the ethanol
5) Burn ethanol to release energy

[and since this is Slashdot 6) ??? 7) Profit ]

Now the wet glass plates were used for ease in the experiment; scraping the slime off shallow ponds may be easier (and you have the bonus of a pond to use as a heat sink). Old bottles work as well, if not better than glass sheets, as evaporation losses are lower, but scraping out the green slime is harder.

Most of the process (algal growth, fermentation....) is self sustaining and doesn't need much in the way of handling.

** doesn't need strong sunlight-- the experiment was done in the UK :-) --- just daylight will do

Comment Re:Buy a Product Because it is "Cheap"? (Score 1) 87

Spare the submitter.....

TL;DR - Cheap is not always pejorative

This is possibly a difference between English and American

Americans view cheap as implying poor quality. Something cheaply made implies cutting back and using lowest cost components.

This meaning also exists in English but it usually just means low cost. "Cheap and cheerful" means low cost but generally equivalent to higher priced items.

Comment Re:less password01? (Score 1) 148

They have this at my employers and it has always worried me.

For this to work they'll have to store the password in clear somewhere so they can make comparisons.

If they used the conventional approach of passing the given text through a few iterations of SHA then even just bit difference in given passwords would make a huge change to the encrypted one - so how could they tell if the new one was similar to the older one?

Comment Re:The three 5-star posts so far are sad (Score 2) 318

If only I had mod points right now ....

Making mistakes is part of the human development process. Punishing every action for now and evermore may lead to well disciplined drones but won't help society as a whole. Do we want 100% conformity to some sort of norm with nobody pushing boundaries -- or one where the stretching of possibilities opens up whole new opportunities?

If every activity is going to be monitored, recorded and analysed for ever more [as the current trends in online operations are going] and any misdemeanour at any age punished forever (through job blocking or society's opprobrium and ostracising) then we'll lose out on our future Mozarts, Brunels...etc.

Just to expose the hypocrisy of some of the loudest voices around, consider the recent fuss about the queen's home movies showing a nazi* salute at an early age.

Establishment leaning media [who are pushing for all sorts of censorship] are falling all over themselves with (a) excuses [she was only a child, didn't realise ...] and (b) outrage [how dare this be dragged up to embarrass her....].

Yet these very same sources hold nothing back when digging up the dirt and tearing into others.

This would be bad enough - yet it is the very same people who are pushing for these changes.

Similarly, it seems OK for employers to view activities at a young, impressionable age when we all do stupid things as set in concrete for life - yet we're asked to apply different standards for the rich and powerful (eg bankers) or those with guaranteed job security and a well paid (taxpayer funded) lifestyle.

*can I claim a vicarious Godwin ? :-)

Comment I have the exact opposite view (Score 1) 204

Certainly in work situations a part of me dies whenever I'm sent emails with documents attached - doubly so when it's an Excel 'form' to be completed and sent back (presumably to some poor soul who ends up copy/pasting multiple replies into a 'master').

Consider this exchange between the canonical pair, Alice and Bob:

Alice works for ACME

Bob works for BizCo

They work out a scheme to make trade between the two easier and more efficient.

Alice sends the details in a document attached to an e-mail to Bob.

To cover her back she also sends a copy to her manager Agnes and Alan in commercial and possibly Alberta in procurement. These could also forward it on to Alison, Agatha, Alfred...

When Bob receives it, he also wants to protect himself so sends copies to Bill, Betty and Bertha at his office; similarly Brian, Barbara.... could receive copies.

There are now at least EIGHT copies in existence.

Alice and Bob may want to make minor changes, so may Alan and Betty ....

What odds would you give that in a few weeks that all are working to the same document version ? If you believe that all will be aligned, I have a nice bridge I can sell you at a knock down price. Embedding documents in e-mails can increase data but destroy information

By having just one copy and exchanging links, the confusion can be avoided.

All that said - for personal e-mails, this is less of a worry.

Comment Re:Let me see if I have the meeting right (Score 1) 480

At one site I was advised to "get rid of the tie" immediately and, if possible, go and change at lunchtime

D'oh -- text was dropped - was OK when I hit submit

Should have said

At one site when I arrived in a suit I was advised to "get rid of the tie" immediately and, if possible, go and change into more casual clothes at lunchtime

Comment Re:Let me see if I have the meeting right (Score 1) 480

Interestingly, my company has (had?) a dress code.

On **every one of** the occasions when I have been working at a customer's site [in a number of companies and countries], side by side with key decision makers, I have been in casual clothes.

At one site I was advised to "get rid of the tie" immediately and, if possible, go and change at lunchtime -- this from a well known Fortune 500 company.

Seems there is a self fuelling circle of believing what is needed causing behaviour which sets expectations which reinforces belief.

For what it's worth, as a customer I'm more concerned about the quality of work done that the quality of tailoring on the people -- I can easily put an expensive suit on a dummy; putting a good brain into a sharp dresser is somewhat more challenging.

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux