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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.

Comment Re:One of those "Microsoft Support" calls was biza (Score 1) 215

Slightly poor taste but....

A friend of mine got one of the calls and when they said he had a virus he cried out -- "It isn't Ebola is it? I was emailing a chap from Nigeria who's going to send me money" and continued on with calls off to an imaginary person nearby to fetch disinfectant and discuss whether it was worth replacing the whole PC or get a new keyboard.

He appeared to have worked himself up ino a right state.

Apparently he was so convincing he had the scammer seriously worried and trying to calm him down from his hysterics :-)

Comment Re:Nevermind the bollocks, here's David Cameron (Score 1) 260

But spread over many constituencies it would have no effect. See comments about the first past the post/ safe seats above.

There are several considerations at play here which may not be obvious to overseas commentators:

Cameron is trying to appeal to the "Daily Mail" readership who make up a large chunk of his support. The DM is a newspaper in the loosest sense of the world which has one aim - to make its readership scared/angry. It does this by targeting foreigners, the EU, the BBC, Muslims, the gay community, the Labour party, any number of materials that cause cancer (though some can miraculously cure it as well - e.g. coffee - the DM relies on its readers having a short attention span/memory) and anyone who doesn't fawn over royalty**. One of its current campaigns is against porn.

He's also reacting against the atrocity in Tunisia. "Something needs to be done!" "I'll do something -- sorted!!"

The UK government in general, irrespective of party, has a terrible reputation with regard to implementing IT systems. Their incompetence is one of our safeguards.

Finally this is the summer - the "silly season" when there's little news.

** How do you confuse a Daily Mail reader? Tell them that gypsies kill paedophiles.

Comment Re:Shades of Methuselah's Children (Score 4, Informative) 57

especially since donors are way more likely to have loathsome diseases transmitted via blood

This is not so much of a concern in the UK (it is the NHS in the article)

Two points:

1) All blood used in the UK is extensively screened before use

2) In the UK people are not paid for blood - it's a donation. Thus the case of desperate people selling blood for ready cash doesn't arise. There is also a long questionnaire to be filled in every time you donate (whether it's your 1st or 40th time) which is used to screen out people who have visited countries at risk, engaged in risky sexual behaviour, had injections recently, are on medication .....

Comment Re:Homeopathic Pollution (Score 1) 668

"full of diluted fish-poo"

I've always waited for someone to use this argument in a TV or radio interview -- never happened**

So... if the hyper diluted water contains a 'memory' of substance X - doesn't it also contain 'memories' of everything else that has been in it? What about the treated sewage dumped in the river several [tens of] miles upstream of the extraction point?

** I can understand why it's not on the BBC Radio 4 flagship news programme "Today" -- not the sort of thing people want to hear whilst eating breakfast !!

Comment Re:Not sure where I heard it, but it's stuck with (Score 1) 108

Sad to hear that they mean little to you -- they mean a lot to me and I wouldn't use them without meaning or sincerity.

I guess it comes down to expectations: either go through life assuming that people are (in the main) reasonable, friendly and nice) and then try to maintain this by behaving well -- or assume everyone's out to manipulate you and deprive you of your 'rightful entitlement' and 'get your retaliation in first'.

I know the approach I prefer - and the type of people I like working with; I also respect others may have a different viewpoint.

And as to the other comment (several replies above) based on my spelling of tyres implying that I live in a socialist paradise -- you really have no idea of the realities of life in the UK and the nature of our government if you truly believe that

Comment Not sure where I heard it, but it's stuck with me (Score 4, Insightful) 108

"Words like 'please' and 'thank-you' are like the air in your bicycle tyres -- they cost nothing but make your journey through life much smoother"

I recall being singled out by the leader on a training course many years ago where we had to role play asking someone to do extra work when there was no direct management chain of command -- i.e. persuasion rather than authority. In a room of about 30 people I was the only one who said 'please' during the request and 'thank-you' at the end. I don't think the others were necessarily rude or lacking civility - but that, at the time, 'macho demanding' was all the rage when it came to management.

Honestly - how hard is it to be polite?

"I never let my schooling get in the way of my education." -- Mark Twain