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+ - Teething problems for UK online crime database->

Submitted by localoptimum
localoptimum (993261) writes "With a flourish, in the name of transparency the UK home office has released a database that lets you search for crime statistics by address. It's had more than a few teething problems, such as crime hotspots clustered on top of the address of the police stations that received hoax phone calls, or the stations that processed an arrest rather than the location of the arrest itself.

Another problem is that it doesn't know what Edinburgh is. In fact, it seems woefully ignorant of many towns north of the scottish border.

Overall, one feels that it's just another example of rushed-out technology without forethought. Sure, it would be nice to know an area before you bought a property. But would you report a minor crime if you knew that it would go straight onto the web and reduce the value of the houses on your street? In a few years time, you can count on it that we'll be reading the headline "crime rate drops significantly in the UK"."

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Comment: Re:Rsync? (Score 1) 305

by localoptimum (#30166048) Attached to: Synchronize Data Between Linux, OS X, and Windows?
Agreed. I have a desktop and a laptop. Company "helpdesk" blocks everything except ssh and http. Work desktop has firewire800 disk attached to it, running time machine for hourly work backups. I have two bash scripts that I use once per day: "arriveAtWork" and "goHome", containing various rsync commands over ssh. Works great.

Comment: The devil is in your question (Score 1) 599

by localoptimum (#28289791) Attached to: Why Isn't the US Government Funding Research?

"what practical research do you think the US government should embark upon to get the most return for it's citizens and the world"

That's the problem right there. The government should be funding fundamental scientific research without worrying about technological spin-off and profitability. The reason the US is in this mess, just as in the UK, is that science has become the playground from which wealthy business steals its sweets, except for the last few decades they are also the same people who lobby politicians distributing the sweets. In effect, the taxpayer ends up funding R&D for business with patents and IP slapped all over it, and business is creaming off the brightest talent whilst calling it a "partnership".


+ - ESS Site Chosen

Submitted by localoptimum
localoptimum (993261) writes "The site for the European Spallation Source, a next-generation "super microscope" that will use neutrons to study materials, has finally been chosen after years of head-nodding and hand-shaking. The selected site is close to the University town of Lund, in Sweden. This is good news for European scientists of pretty much all disciplines: neutrons are used to study microscopic structures and dynamic processes in proteins, medicines, magnets, crystals, liquids, rocks, you name it. After coming together and collaborating successfully on The Institut Laue Langevin over the last few decades, Europe has allowed the USA to seize the initiative and badly needs construction to start on a new facility like ESS to remain scientifically competitive in the decades to come. Now that the site has been chosen, the only remaining task is to tell your policitical representative to stop claiming expenses for their moats and instead put taxpayers money into the (relatively inexpensive) 1.4-billion Euro ESS project, just like USA have done with SNS. Sweden themselves are putting almost 1/3 of the cash on the table, even in these difficult times, so lets see if the rest of the E.U. leaders can put 3% of GDP where their mouths are and get the ball rolling."

Comment: Re:Only in the USA (Score 2, Informative) 393

by localoptimum (#27895455) Attached to: Time For Voice-Mail To Throw In the Towel

Well, all that you say is true, but that isn't what I meant.

The money comes from people phoning you. Voicemail is active as default and most people don't disable it.

When you ring someone else and they don't answer, the voicemail picks up and you pay for one minute of a phone call. That is a lot of money when your customers have thousands of missed calls per day. If the other network reciprocates, then the networks have a tidy income and the customers pay to listen to a robot beep at them.

Comment: Germany has it (Score 1) 242

by localoptimum (#27856951) Attached to: New Irish Internet Tax?

The Germans conveniently define an internet connection as "a new kind of radio device". Since TV and Radio devices are chargable by the GEZ then the definition means you have to grab your ankles and think of England... um... I mean Germany.

As a physicist, I tried to point out that an ADSL connection isn't a radio device, but they were more interested in tracking down all the addresses that I'd ever had and trying to charge me for as much shit as possible. They are still sending me letters now that I live in France, the bastards.

Comment: Sorry America! (Score 1) 470

by localoptimum (#27553915) Attached to: Amazon Culls "Offensive" Books From Search System

No changes on, I can see all these "unranked" books just fine in their ranking system. Not so for the site. Maybe you've hit on the old "SEX=BAD" problem. Another example of this is Grand Theft Auto (steal cars and kill people, totally illegal) being fine for older kids; but when it's found that the main character can engage in a sex game with his lady friend (not illegal for older kids and necessary for the existence of life) the game is banned and then later released x-rated. Go figure.

I blame obese conservative wankers in suits who think that sex only exists on Sunday evenings through a hole in a sheet, when absolutely necessary, and between a married man and woman in their late 30s who don't actually know each other anymore. These are the people who's lawns are identical and for whom "different" is a virtue of the satanic and godless heathen who deserves to burn in hell for eternity. Lets just boycott these obese wankers.

In the mean time, good luck with your campaign. My tip: order from the UK site. You'll have to wait a while longer for your books, but with the british pound worth less than a teaspoon full of gooseshit and falling you'll probably get a good deal :P

Comment: we've tried a few of these... (Score 3, Informative) 328

by localoptimum (#27186167) Attached to: Collaborative Academic Writing Software?

Google docs is fine until you start dealing with anything different to a Mail on Sunday article. Forget equations and figures. And if google goes down like it has the last few weeks...

Apple's new web based system is alright for footnotes and things, and for comments, but for serious collaboration with merging different versions and edits, then you can forget it. (If someone from apple reads this, please add gawdamn ODF support to pages for the love of all things sacred).

I still end up using latex to render equations and slap them into the document as a tiff file. And last time I used pages to collaborate with M$ office users it messed up the footnote marks for institute addresses and I ended up installing the mac version of office anyway :S So lets rule out apple for the time being.

Lyx didn't support the styles and bibliography for the physics journals I was writing for last summer (phys rev, elsevier). Lyx is not a bad idea, is it ready?

Microsoft word + equations = hell on earth. And having just lost 2 weeks of my life dealing with micro$oft's APIs, circular help systems and automatic updates every 3 minutes, I threw the thing straight back at IT and vowed never to go there again. Someone else might be able to tell you how good the M$ online collaboration tools are, but it won't be me! ;-)

If your collaborators are like mine, they want to see a return to fortran and VMS. My current line of thinking is to try to coerce them into using latex instead of m$ word, and volunteer to be version control. Then use something like git on your own machine to merge all the different branches as they e-mail their changes back to you. For me it's the lesser of all evils.

When you actually come to submit you'll still have to jump through hoops to please the journal editors with figure file formats and stuff ("we want 4 gigs of EPS files please author") but the process of collaborating on the authorship will be a damn sight easier.

Good article subject though. You've hit on a topic that has been in my mind for the last few months too (sorry about the long reply!)

"Life, loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it." -- Marvin the paranoid android