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Comment: Re:Easy (Score 1) 1091

by goatpunch (#29164409) Attached to: How To Prove Someone Is Female?

Doctors often coerce parents to choose one sex over the other, in the name of profit. Peforming those "corrective" surgeries on infants is profitable

Thankyou for the very interesting post. Just one point I'd like to comment on: doctors still perform these surgeries in countries (such as the UK) where the healthcare system is nationalised and they have long waiting lists of more than enough work to keep them employed for life - so some (perhaps not all) doctors are performing these surgeries not for 'profit' but because they believe that they are helpful (I'm not sure if they are right or wrong to believe this).

Comment: Re:The UK plug is the nanny state gone wild (Score 1) 711

by goatpunch (#28905707) Attached to: Favorite type of electical wall socket?

The UK did used to specify 240V (+/- some tolerance) in the past, but to standardise with the rest of Europe they adopted 230V +10% -6%, i.e. between about 216V and 253V.

I didn't say that US plugs wouldn't work with 220V, they will of course, I said that there was a valid reason for having a 'safer' plug and socket- 220V (or 240V etc.) will give you a much nastier shock. People in many Asian countries ride motorbikes without helmets- it is of course possible to do this, just not advisable.

One other negative of UK plugs is the pain if you tread on an upturned one- at least with US plugs the pins tend to lie parallel to the floor.

Comment: Re:The UK plug is the nanny state gone wild (Score 1) 711

by goatpunch (#28859549) Attached to: Favorite type of electical wall socket?

I'll give you the size advantage of US plugs. I realise that part of the reason for the UK plug being over-engineered is the increased danger that comes with a 220 volt supply: a 110v shock just isn't as much of a big deal.

One thing that happens regularly with US plugs is that they can often cause a visible and audible arc when plugging in or out a device that is under load (such as a kettle with no power switch). Seeing the flash from this spark is quite scary for some people: my Mum wouldn't go near the kettle in my first apartment here after the plug arced the first time she went to plug it in.

It also feels pretty sketchy to me when I find that a US plug won't fit, and I have to give the pins a quick bend to get them back into a shape that will go into the socket.

One of the least safe designs of all is actually the older style UK ones that came in two halves with a screw to hold them together: http://www.soil-net.com/album/Equipment/slides/13%20amp%20plug%20UK%2001.jpg If the central screw came loose, or the threads were stripped, the thing could split in half while still plugged in, exposing the live internals.

Comment: Re:High Quality (Score 4, Interesting) 711

by goatpunch (#28857331) Attached to: Favorite type of electical wall socket?

I moved to Canada from the UK 13 years ago, and I still find it hard to use the crappy bendable-pin plugs that they have here. They don't look like they will work at all with power tools. And the fact that the bare metal is exposed while it's still live!? And the fact that the live terminals are exposed (UK sockets have little plastic doors that are opened by the longer earth pin). And the lack of on/off switches on the sockets. And no fuse in the plug to protect your device from wiring problems in the wall, and to allow it to be fused at a current lower than that of the whole circuit.

Remember the days when devices would arrive without power plugs though, just a bare wire? You'd have none spare and have to recycle one from a lamp that didn't get used much or something...

Comment: Re:Use 3G instead (Score 1) 153

by goatpunch (#28587139) Attached to: Free Wi-Fi For the Residents of Venice, Italy

I was very amused when Hotel Tenuta di Ricavo in Chianti charged 'extra' for an espresso with breakfast, only filter coffee was included. Avoid Ricavo (and Chianti in general for that matter).

Interestingly McDonalds adapted well to the Italian breakfast and coffee- we stopped in next to Fiumicino Airport in Rome and the espresso bar was 4 people deep, all knocking back shots and taking the odd pastry.

Comment: Re:Weird... (Score 1) 310

by goatpunch (#28175755) Attached to: Microsoft Bing Search Launches Early Preview

Google doesn't recognise "1+1=?" but "5kg = ?g" does work. I didn't notice this as I've always used "5kg in g" for unit conversions on Google.

Bing understands "5 kg in lb" but is picky about missing out the space after the number and so fails with: "5kg in lb" (Google worked with both). Bing also doesn't like "5 kg in g", but understands OK if you use the whole word: "5 kg in grams".

These sort of little things make it hard to switch from Google, it just tends to work the way I except it to.

Comment: Re:Swing and a miss... (Score 1) 312

by goatpunch (#27849717) Attached to: Amazon Kindle DX Details Revealed

I love that mat, wish I could buy one. I did misunderstand, I thought you meant that the $15/month subscription was a locked-in contract for the wireless access or something.

Your $200 + $15/month newspaper subscription idea for the Kindle doesn't quite make sense, however. Amazon isn't taking $15 clear profit from a newspaper subscription, they are giving a significant chunk of that $15 (probably at least $10) to the newspaper.

So if Amazon is making $5/month subscription profit, then they would need you to subscribe for 5 years to make that $500 total. Longer if you take into account the reduced value of the future cash flows.

Amazon would have also significantly reduced their cash flows from customers who were willing to pay $500 up front + $15/month.

Amazon isn't going for the average customer yet, I doubt that they can produce the device cheaply enough yet- give them a few years and they probably will try for these customers.

I shouldn't have said that you couldn't afford the media, what I meant was that Amazon is trying to get the Kindle into the hands of people who are willing to pay for the media. People who currently subscribe to newspapers and buy a ton of books think that this new device is superb, being able to buy a new paperback every week instantly without wasting time going to the store to find that it has sold. Friend tells you about a cool book they read... and 60 seconds later you're reading it. If you (or I) don't care about these features then we are not in the target market.

The best business plan isn't always "get the product into the hands of as many customers as possible". I won't be buying a Kindle, but I think that they're a cool device for the purpose that they serve and I can see why other people would want them.

Comment: Re:Swing and a miss... (Score 1) 312

by goatpunch (#27849089) Attached to: Amazon Kindle DX Details Revealed

So take out a loan for the other $300. How does paying a bank $15 every month differ from paying Amazon $15 every month?

The price seems pretty good to me, for the largest commercial e-ink screen produced so far. I wouldn't buy one myself because I'd rather have my laptop if I'm going to lug anything around at all. My laptop was four times the price of the Kindle however (the world of high performance light weight laptops does not intersect with the crappy $500 shiny screen ones you see at Best Buy). If I didn't need the features of my laptop, or was often away from power sockets, or didn't like the weight of the laptop, the Kindle DX would look like a pretty awesome purchase to me.

You are clearly not Amazon's target market, they are trying to sell Kindles to people who want to buy e-books and subscribe to newspapers. You can't afford either the reader or the media, so why should Amazon adjust their pricing model to make sure that they can get one into your hands for you to play around with?

Comment: Re:Actually, there is an iTunes for movies (Score 1) 474

by goatpunch (#27645087) Attached to: Why There's No iTunes For Movies

The problem is that the movie studios wouldn't like having their content streamed under an open protocol.

Apple streams movies at two price-points, a 24-hour (or something) rental price and a play as many times as you like price. This 'Linux interface' could easily implement a 'Save Stream' function which would allow the rental movies to be saved permanently. These movies would then show up on bittorrent very quickly.

If Apple doesn't show the studios that it is making enough of an effort to protect their content, then they won't be allowed to sell that content, simple as that.

Comment: Re:TI-85 (Score 1) 776

by goatpunch (#27124019) Attached to: Favorite on-screen calculator?

The advantage is that all the numbers on the stack are intermediate values. For example instead of keying in the algorithmic:

(3+4)*(6+2)*(3+5)=

you key in (where 'E' is 'Enter') the RPN:

3E4+6E2+3E5+**

Before you hit "**" you see the results of the three sub-expressions on the stack. If you're using a handheld RPN calculator you saw them after every time you pressed "+".

At this point you can verify that the values make sense, and write them down (as intermediate working, if you're in an exam, for example).

If I'm at a computer, I would generally do this kind of thing in Excel, as I like seing those intermediate values, and I really like the ability to go back and review my working later, as well as tweak input values and see how the result is affected:

=3+4
=6+2
=3+5
=A1*A2*A3

(of course, the example I used is trivial, the stuff I'm doing generally involves statistical and financial functions)

Comment: Re:TI-85 (Score 1) 776

by goatpunch (#27123877) Attached to: Favorite on-screen calculator?

I thought that about RPN for a long time too, but if you have to perform a long sequence of calculations the clarity of thought that it gives you is awesome.

My calculator (HP-12C) comes with a 'roll' key that lets your roll the stack around to examine its contents, and an X>Y key which swaps the top two items of the stack around- both very handy and avoid using memory locations. The newer (Platinum) models allow you to switch between algorithmic (ALG) and RPN modes.

The way that RPN really wins though, is when you have a value on-screen and you want to perform several more arithmetic operations on it, seeing the intermediate value each time. Just key in the number and hit the operator. After that pressing '=' just seems awkward and unnecessary.

RPN is not really _that_ different from algorithmic, so it's not like you're completely lost on a regular calculator (as soon as you can't find the ENTER key you realise "oh yeah- algo".)

Dvorak, however, is not worth the effort- it may not even be an improvement, and you'll feel like an idiot when you go to someone's computer and try to use their QWERTY keyboard.

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