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Comment Re:Not a custom app (Score 3, Insightful) 58

Totally agree. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that most mobile apps are unnecessary and evil.

I've just extended the battery life on my Nexus phone by at least 30% by deleting a bunch of scarcely used mobile apps that insisted on running background processes (turning off push synchronization on Exchange added another 50%, btw). I'm now back to the once-per-day charge that I remember enjoying when the phone was new.

My phone is now faster, cooler, quieter, less cluttered and gives me fewer irritating notifications. Die, apps, die!

Comment Re: It's like Venezuela but without all the gun c (Score 3, Insightful) 431

You're quite right that the first two bailouts primarily rescued Greece's creditors, but Greece already owed that money to someone. The losers in those transactions weren't the Greeks - the big losers European taxpayers who adopted the Greek government's debts.

But you're very mistaken if you think that the biggest buyers of government debt are the banks. Pension funds, investment funds and insurance companies have far more cash to splash.

You're also pretty ignorant if you claim that institutions perform no credit assessment of their investments. For traded bonds like government IOUs, that assessment is essentially outsourced to three credit reference agencies, Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch. Those agencies are supposedly licenced and regulated but utterly failed to identify the risk with Greek debt ahead of the downturn. If you're looking for a scapegoat on the creditor side, they're a much better scapegoat than the banks.

Blaming the banks is a lazy knee-jerk reaction that's not really grounded in fact. P.S. I'm not a banker.

Comment Re: It's like Venezuela but without all the gun c (Score 2) 431

The Federal Reserve doesn't work like that. The USA can maintain its government deficit because enough people are willing to buy US government bonds. If, one day, people no longer trust it to repay its debts, there will be a financial meltdown the like of which the world has never yet seen.

Comment Re: It's like Venezuela but without all the gun cr (Score 5, Insightful) 431

Seriously! Have you made any attempt to understand this problem?

Former Greek governments borrowed the money, not bankers. Most of the money wasn't lent by bankers. The troika comprises the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank - mostly politicians, not bankers.

The current problem facing Greece is that no-one will lend them any more money. Even if 100% of their past debts were written off, current tax receipts are insufficient to meet current expenditure. Without more money from the people you mistakenly call bankers, austerity in Greece will become much worse.

Put the blame where it really lies. Not with bankers, but with dishonest politicians and a delusional electorate who always believed someone else would pay their bills.

Comment Re:Makes sense. (Score 5, Insightful) 278

You are implying that ones political stance is an indicator of their intelligence?

That is the clear intention of the article summary, because it highlights only those issues where Democrats are more likely to agree with scientists than Republicans. A more honest summary would have also brought attention to the subjects where Democrats differ from scientists: nuclear power, pesticide use in foods and animal research, for example.

Comment Re:Paywall (Score 2) 154

I'm sure IT would be happy to allow and support R if management would commit to providing training, staff time for support and budget to handle the related costs. That won't happen though so basically you're trying to make your job easier at the cost of making their job harder.

I'm not sure how you're so sure that you know what happens in companies with which you have no connection. When I suggested to a senior member of our IT team that resources could be made available to support R, he told me (this is a direct quote), "I and my team have no interest in learning or supporting R."

I'm a director of the business; my offer of resources was serious and within my power to grant. They don't want to engage, so we will support our analytics environment outwith the IT department.

Comment Re:Paywall (Score 4, Interesting) 154

Many of those large spreadsheets would be much better off as a database and a little bit of scripting language like Python. But most of these business analysts have only ever had exposure to Excel and VBA, and they would have been much better served with some technical training in the right tool for the job.

I agree with you, but, in my experience, the biggest single obstacle to deploying better tools is the IT department.

I'm an accountant, not a programmer (although my degree was a Computer Science joint honours 25 years ago) and I find that while Excel is great for some things, I prefer to us R for most data and financial analysis. But my IT department gets jumpy about R: We don't understand it! We can't support it! We don't understand its dependencies! If it stops working one day, we won't be able to help! Where will we find skilled resources if you leave the business?

"Fine," I say. "Give me C# or Python; I'll use those instead." But then I'm told I'm not allowed those tools because they're too dangerous and restricted to IT staff to maintain proper control. This hasn't just happened in one company - it's the normal response in my experience.

Comment Re:Paywall (Score 1) 154

"The idea of programming as a semiskilled task, practiced by people with a few months' training, is dangerous.

Maybe. But, commercially, it's even more dangerous to deny ordinary workers the opportunity to 'program' after a fashion.

Excel is essentially a functional programming language, and advanced Excel users are essentially analyst/programmers. End user computing and analysis tools constructed in Excel undoubtedly present many risks relating to quality control, key staff dependencies, change management, data integrity, confidentiality and the like. That's why IT staff sneer, snigger and upvote slashdot posts that criticise Excel. But, for all the sneering, if you ripped Excel out of many businesses, the commercial consequences would be so great that there would be no cash left to pay the 'real' programmers.

Comment Re:Unhealthy food is tasty. Healthy food is boring (Score 2) 244

Healthy food is tasty as hell once your palette has had a chance to get used to it again

No, when your palette gets used to it again, it becomes bearable ("as hell" is quite an apt a metaphor, actually) — but not especially tasty. Ice-cream or chocolate will still trump "healthy" and an ongoing effort of will is required to stick to broccoli.

Speak for yourself: tasty vs bearable is learned behaviour. I travel a fair bit, and the USA is a major outlier in what's regarded as tasty. To many (maybe most) Europeans, typical mainstream US food is pretty unpleasant - too much salt, too sweet, too over-seasoned, too thick, too bright, too colourful, too large, too in-your-face. That's why many products like soft drinks are formulated differently for European markets to match local tastes.

Personally, I'll take a light lunch in an Italian trattoria, a French bistro, a Greek Taverna or a Spanish tapas bar ahead of your ice-cream or chocolate any day, thank you very much. I could happily live the rest of my life without chocolate, but the thought of a tomato-free existence would destroy my soul.

Comment Re:Unhealthy food is tasty. Healthy food is boring (Score 1) 244

And I use a bread maker. It takes 2-3 minutes to load it up with ingredients before I go to bed, much quicker than walking to the local shop to pick up a loaf. I wake up in the morning to delicious, fresh, healthy, low GI wholemeal bread that tastes a million times better than anything sold in the supermarket.

Comment Re:Shipping trash to China is not recycling (Score 1) 371

What a surprise! Shipping trash to China is *not* "recycling". If those trash were actually worth recycling, then do it within your borders.

If China recycles the shipped trash, surely it is recycling? If China is reluctant to allow unsorted recycling through its ports, presumably some other nation will step in, do the sorting and ship the sorted materials to China. Their workers will benefit from gainful employment, and, if that pushes up China's manufacturing costs, US based manufacturers may have an opportunity to purchase cheap raw materials and gain a competitive advantage. That's how markets work.

Comment Re: question (Score 1) 163

...The only people that are rabidly opposed to it are the natural food religious zealots. They don't really give a shit if science has found it safe, they just hate seeing chemical names on their food labels and assume that because it doesn't sound like the name of a plant or a vitamin, why then without a doubt it must be bad for you because it's not as gaia intended...

I very rarely choose to buy food with colourings, flavourings or preservatives, either artificial or natural. My rationale is terribly simple and bears no resemblance to your suppositions.

Almost all food tastes and looks pretty good when it's first harvested or slaughtered. If it's been processed to the point where the colour and taste need to be enhanced in some way, or if it's going to hang around in a warehouse for long enough to need preservatives, I figure that there's a pretty good chance that a load of invisible nutrients have degraded as badly as the visible and olfactory components. I'm sure I'm not always right, but I'm happy with that assumption as a rule of thumb.

Comment Re:What I need to switch back to Firefox (Score 1) 240

I abandoned Firefox for Chrome when Mozilla decided that its CEO had to hold political views that matched the organisation's culture and values. I found their action to be pretty unpleasant so I voted with my keyboard.

I retained Firefox for a while because Chrome wouldn't work with the Pipelight nonsense that Linux users used to need for Netflix. Now Chrome works perfectly and natively with Netflix on Ubuntu, so Firefox is history for me.

I know that my attitude runs counter to the prevailing wisdom on /. but, before hitting the downvote button, you might want to ask yourself whether it's better to shove your fingers in your ears or to know what the other half is thinking.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.