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Comment: Re:Can the writings be read? (Score 1) 431

by olau (#46747573) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

But I don't think we can simplify our languages any more without actually losing our ability to express clearly what we want to convey.

Of course we can. For instance, in English you still conjugate a few verbs, and you conjugate third person. And spelling is often pretty far away from pronounciation.

Contracts today are already way more wordy than they should need to be, simply because our language IS already at the point where it is no longer absolutely unambiguous.

It would nice to see some proof that it ever has been.

Contracts are getting simpler too, in least in my part of the world, because law makers and lawyers are beginning to understand that meaning is more important than long complicated sentences. IANAL but it seems to me that courts often have a de facto idea of what's a sensible default expectation of different agreements, which also helps.

Comment: Re:Work on the basics (Score 4, Insightful) 387

by olau (#46034355) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: It's 2014 -- Which New Technologies Should I Learn?

Python is a really nice language. For a Python backend, you could start with the Django tutorial. Go through that and a Python tutorial, and try to remember not to program Python as you would C, and you'll have a good start.

For the front end, you'll need to spend some time with HTML, and learn a bit of Javascript/jQuery for any dynamic parts. And if you want it to look any good (and you should care about this because people on the web are generally less forgiving of not caring about the looks), you'll also need to figure out how to mimic a graphical style from a designer with CSS. For hobby stuff, you can just mimic some existing designs, if you're doing it as a business you'd probably want to pay someone to come up with the design, or buy a pre-existing one.

It sounds like a lot of work, but Python + Django is actually lots of fun because you can get a lot done in little time (there's a video of someone doing a wiki site in 20 minutes), and the whole front-end thing is also quite fun because a browser is an interactive beast so you can quickly change things around and see things happen graphically.

Comment: Lundbeck (Score 4, Informative) 1038

by olau (#45992525) Attached to: Controversial Execution In Ohio Uses New Lethal Drug Combination

Here in Denmark, Lundbeck has been under fire for their drug being used to kill people. They've tried to defend themselves in various ways, e.g. by casting it as misuse as their drug. But in the end in Denmark the American executions are viewed upon in the same light as the stories you hear of amputations and stoning people to death in the middle east. So the reaction has been as if a company sold convenient stones to be used for said stonings.

It is sad to see that the outcome is more suffering.

Comment: Re:Studying art is not for me (Score 1) 384

by olau (#45959359) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can I Improve My Memory For Study?

But you would never have the voice of Mariah Carey or Luciano Pavarotti or any of a number of naturally gifted people who also worked very hard.

True, but luckily, in many cases you don't actually need to be a world master. You just need to figure out if you can reach a level where people will pay for what you can do, in one way or another.

My piano teacher once told me that really talented students sometimes had a tendency to not make it, because at some point a natural gift just doesn't suffice compared to less-gifted people who had to work hard from the beginning.

Comment: Re:And how will they impose this tax? (Score 2) 59

by olau (#45956525) Attached to: Japan To Tax Online Sales Of Foreign-Made Content

The way it works in Denmark, and I imagine other EU countries, is that companies with a revenue from Danish customers above a certain threshold (250,000 EUR/year I think) must register with the Danish tax authorities and collect the 25% VAT from Danish consumers in the same way as Danish companies do (the VAT threshold for Danish companies is about 6700 EUR/year). So it's the responsibility of the company to do the tracking and taxation.

If you fail to do that as a company, I'm not sure exactly what happens, but I guess you will get a taste of the rough end of the Danish legal stick. I think it's unlikely a company the size of Apple could get away with not collecting the VAT, although I'm sure some of the small fish get through.

Comment: Base load is not actually needed (Score 1) 226

by olau (#45931451) Attached to: Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe

Base load is a limited way of thinking about things.

Really, a more generic model is that you need to follow the power usage curve. That's the only thing that matters. If you think about it that way, nuclear and big coal plants aren't too great either because it tends to be uneconomical to ramp the production up and down. For nuclear, you need to be operating as close to 24x7 you can get to recoup the capital costs.

This more generic way of thinking about things also allows us to see that even in base load scenarios, you will have gaps where the base load plants are offline, e.g nuclear plants go offline for refueling and service.

The job of a good power system is to make sure you have capacity that can relatively quickly ramp up production to fill in the gaps, e.g. hydro power or gas plants, or perhaps in the future some sort of grid-level storage. Wind power is compatible with this model. That's why it, despite your remark, actually works just fine in practice.

Comment: Biology and physics (Score 1) 796

by olau (#45840627) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

What level are we talking about? If you really want to learn about the world, the world of fiction is not enough IMHO.

My sister graduated with a Master's in biology a decade ago, and I've recently started borrowing some of her books. They assume a basic understanding of chemistry, but otherwise target high-school student knowledge so aren't too hard to get into. Really recommended. For instance, you could pick up a college-level general introduction book on zoology or animal physiology and learn more about the world around you and your own body than you'd learn in a lifetime.

That, and a book about physics, but I actually think those are bit harder for the uninitiated because they tend to spend a lot of time on the math, which is fine if you're into it (like me) or actually need to figure out something in practice, but probably boring if you're just after the knowledge.

I remain sceptical of the idea of classics when it comes to fiction. You need to figure out what kind of stuff you like and go from there.

PS: now you mention communist book-burning - if you're up for an ideological challenge, I would suggest you try getting your hands on a short intro book on the economic ideas of Marx (basically a take on an analysis of the capitalistic system). I found that pretty interesting, because, well, that's the way our societies still work (the framing is of course a little dated).

That and his ideas on historical materialism - in the words of Wikipedia: "It is a theory of socioeconomic development according to which changes in material conditions (technology and productive capacity) are the primary influence on how society and the economy are organised."

This is opposed to most of the history I was taught in primary school which focused on individuals to a large degree - king B took power from king A and then did X. When he died, king C did Y. When you think about it, that level of focus is just absurd. Societies are shaped by the masses. E.g. the primary driver behind the French revolution wasn't intellectual ideas - people were hungry and the system collapsed.

Comment: Re:Bogus from the beginning (Score 2) 228

by olau (#45823807) Attached to: US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

Regarding code reviews: why do you think they are about finding bugs? While you can probably discover some problems through code reviews, a far more important goal is making sure that people are not turning out shitty code that will blow up the first time someone has to do any maintenance on it. You really want to make sure that people write understandable code.

Comment: Re:So this is the thing killing portability (Score 4, Insightful) 341

by olau (#45813557) Attached to: Kernel DBus Now Boots With Systemd On Fedora

You, sir, are a confused person. The protocol is open and free for any other OS to implement, and will remain so.

If the BSDs are left in the dust, it's because they're lacking the manpower to do the things a new GUI needs. This was not a big problem for GNOME 2, which is architecturally more than a decade old. But things have changed.

I can understand if people disagree with the path the GNOME developers have chosen because it does not fit with their ideals - but you have to understand that these developers are not your serfs you can command. There are still plenty of GUI environments with modest requirements of the OS, and while they may not do the same things you can choose from any of them as you wish. So quit the whining.

Comment: Re:Price comparison to wind (Score 1) 210

by olau (#45685905) Attached to: NuScale Power Awarded $226 Million To Deploy Small Nuclear Reactor Design

You are taking a pessimistic view on the wind power side here.

In Denmark, we just completed a 400 MW offshore site which gets a non-inflation-adjusted strike price at 0.19 USD/kWh for the first 10-12 years. After that it operates on market terms. The capacity factor is expected to be around 45-55% as far as I know (other offshore sites have similar factors - the numbers are publicly available in an open catalogue of all Danish turbines). Modern turbines have much improved capacity factors compared to the old smaller ones.

Now in Denmark, 0.19 USD/kWh was considered a far too high price. The bidding round was hastened through so we only got one bidder. An earlier site received less than half of that in strike price. The latter one would be around £59 per MWh.

I don't know why you are paying so big subsidies in England, but it seems fishy.

While it is true that offshore turbines have a harsh environment, it's also true that the industry has learned from some of its early mistakes. Even if you don't believe that, you need to take into account that the foundation is the most expensive part of an offshore turbine, so even if you have to replace the generator and blades, it's going to be a lot cheaper than building a new farm.

PS: I don't think it really makes sense to quote EPR costs from China. The costs of things in China just aren't comparable to the costs in a Western country.

Comment: On nazis and democracy (Score 1) 311

by olau (#45619933) Attached to: Nelson Mandela Dead At 95

The Nazis were democratically elected into power. If you supported democracy, you had to support the Nazis in 1939 (prior to their invasion of Poland in September).

I just have to comment this as I see it repeated often: I am sorry, but that's not really true. It's true they got a (big) foot in the door (about 1/3 of the votes in a background of a crisis), but that's about where democracy stopped and Hitler took over. If you're interested, I suggest you read a history book on the Germany and the Weimar Republic. Here's a couple of quick links with more info:

http://www.lobelog.com/no-hitler-did-not-come-to-power-democratically/
http://history.stackexchange.com/questions/1150/is-the-claim-that-hitler-came-to-power-democratically-justified

Even if you can perhaps argue about the 1933 election, there's no doubt that by 1939 Germany was not a democracy. In 1939 you had to be a fool to think otherwise, the nazis weren't exactly quiet about their authoritarian philosophy. I live in a neighbouring country, and by 1939 a lot of people here were certainly reading the signs, nervously.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas

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