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Comment Re:Give me a raise (Score 1) 128

>Somebody has to be in charge.
>Somebody has to be the final authority when tough decisions need to be made.
>Otherwise, you've just got chaos.

A perfect statement of the authoritarian belief system. I say "belief system" not to be insulting but to point out that such statements are often phrased, as here, to have no exceptions, there's no "usually" qualifiers anywhere. So a single counter-example proves them to be incorrect statements. As there are many counterexamples, its a belief system, not a fact.

Decisions can be made by voting, or consensus, for instance. The workability is highly dependent on the group size, the problem, and particularly on whether the group contains a lot of people with authoritarian belief systems. Such people rarely want to contribute unselfishly to a group dynamic, they're constantly looking for "angles" to improve their own personal situation at group expense and the group dynamic quickly breaks down.

But if you can pull a group together where such people are absent or muzzled, they are frequently far more productive that groups lashed to a boss under an authoritarian system. They often have "leaders" - sometimes a number of them, each a Leader at a different type of problem - that other people follow happily because you get results if you follow them - but not bosses that compel obedience.

Comment I hate to sound callous... (Score 2) 172

...but the coal industry in the States kills about 24,000 people per year - and that's just the respiratory stuff, it doesn't even attempt to find out what all the mercury that winds up in the fish is doing to people.

So sorry if it sounds callous to say, "actually, it doesn't matter whether you're arguing over zero deaths, one, ten or a hundred"...but as long as every single article about nuclear issues doesn't start and end with that 24,000 deaths per year (hundreds of thousands worldwide, though China is the really staggering toll), then all of those articles are callous.

Honestly, if 65 people per day were dying of a disease, would it be callous to say "look, the cure only kills about a hundred people in a whole year, fuck those people, deploy the cure". Maybe it would, but with a good:bad ratio of 240:1, it's the kind of callousness we all sign off on when it comes to anything else.

It's actually funny (black humour) to read those super-long posts attempting to prove this or that about the ultimate death toll...but the numbers don't even rise to the 1600 at issue for the evacuation, much less the respiratory deaths from fossil alternatives, much less the whole atmospheric chemistry issue. It's like the bar being set for nuclear is that it must be perfect..."way, way better" is not good enough...

Comment The Right-Click menu? (Score 3, Insightful) 354

This may (also) have been stolen from some other OS, but Win95 was this Great Leap Forward in usability for one innovation alone, the right-click menu. I think it was the first time that "object-oriented" really showed up at the user level. Whatever object you clicked on - file, device, folder, data-object inside an application - you got the list of methods associated with the object, what you could do with the thing. Instead of applications having menus for their various functions, *data* objects had a menu appropriate to that data-item.
If Microsoft invented that, they have to be given some props. Certainly all the larger Linux distros paid them the homage of stealing the idea.

Oh, and minor point by comparison, but still, props: I remember everybody giving rave reviews to their workaround for storing long filenames while remaining backwards compatible with 8.3 names. Not exactly a leap forward, but it countered the Great Leap Backward that 8.3 was and made the transition away from them almost painless.

Comment Re: Lovely summary. (Score 1) 1044

Sorry, just left me at the bakery. The only thing I know about this squabble is what I just read, (and I have no intention of reading megabytes of angry argument-posts from dozens or hundreds of people I don't know) and it seems everybody agrees (1) the 2015 nominees were basically picked by these "puppy" groups; and
(2) that in a wide-open election, their preferences were rejected.

The latter doesn't prove a "clique" because it was the wide-open election, and the former doesn't prove a clique, it proves a group banded together under the belief that there was a clique. To prove that point, they would have to show somehow that the nominees for previous awards were not representative or fair, that an attempt to nominate their preferences was gamed into failure.

Just re-reading your note to be sure this critique is fair. Your "and thus" seems to be saying that a current effort to change voting procedures is what proves the existence of this clique. I can't see what's wrong (or tendentious) about the prevention of small numbers of voters from effectively controlling the nominations - surely it could also be used by another fan-group to nominate only 5-nominee blocks of gay liberals or whatever - and that too should be prevented.

Comment Re:Based in parts on "Mars Direct" (Score 1) 60

Thanks for the link. I've been telling people that was my favourite scene in Apollo 13 this whole time.

Frankly, the people posting hate on this book (I'm on the last chapter and have been reading it almost bouncing in my chair the whole time, all week) fill me with laughter and pity.

Guys, you are very, very literally-minded people with dull imaginations and badly need to get laid or otherwise loosen up. Novels are not instruction manuals on how to set up your BBQ. Novels are mostly metaphors. Not just the "moon was a ghostly galleon" kind of direct metaphors you find in a sentence, the whole problem and setting and plot are a larger metaphor. It's like you're critiquing a "Tale of Two Cities" as unbelievable because no two unrelated guys were ever that much of a pair of twins that close associates would be fooled.

The author has created a pulse-pounding drama by having it be One Man Against Nature, a really classic trope, read your Jack London. Yes, he cut a bunch of corners to make it possible for one guy to do just way, way more than the equipment and energy and available potatoes could really do, so that the story could be one man, forseeable tech, near future. The reality is that we'll have all those kinds of difficulties, need all that ingenuity, have all those close shaves, exploring space and Mars...but it'll be spread over many people and many missions and the specific problems will be different (and they'll totally obey every law of nature). The novel distills all that future adventure into one guy in one year, like distilling beer down into Scotch.

No one real-life action hero has 22 life-threatening adventures in one year; no one detective catches dozens of wily, smart, prepared serial killers in one career, (hell, no one town has that many). But by concentrating the adventures of a zillion cops and lawyers into one cast, stories are created that *people will watch* whereas real-life stories may be found on obscure cable channels Sunday afternoons.

The best story about making of Interstellar was the director telling Kip Thorne he needed the black hole to warp time by many years to the hour...long walk on the beach or whatever, and Thorne comes back with "well, barely possible, if it was spinning at an insane rate", and, well, that became the kind of black hole it had to be. [ And of course, that's after the magic FTL wormhole was already sucked up by the scientists. ]

The point of Interstellar was not to compete with Cosmos, it was to wake up the audience to just how amazing and complex space-time really can be in extreme locations; people got to marvel at the human meaning that time-rate-compression would have, what a black hole would look like, how a wormhole entrance would be a sphere, a 3D portal through 4D. All that was AWESOME and if you let your literal-mindedness close these stories off from your enjoyment of it, your other hobbies must include throwing cold water on your pants while clicking through Chive hotbodies, because "in reality" you are never going to meet those hot people.

Comment Re:Open source is not always the best option (Score 3, Interesting) 316

Since I was just posting about how Libre's higher-end stuff is poor compared to Excel, I should be joining you on this. But "PowerPivot" is high-end even for me. Only introduced for Excel2010 (my office doesn't have it yet), and restricted to certain versions of 2013, I have to wonder how big the user base is.

I wrote my own VBA utility that lets me type an SQL statement and that sucks the results straight out of Oracle into a pivot table, plus has a bunch of buttons for doing stuff to the pivot table that take multiple menu moves without my add-in. (You can do this with menus, my addin just saves several steps - steps that most engineers around me would never learn in the first place).

Fooling around on menus, I couldn't find any way in LibreOffice to bring the result of an SQL query directly into a pivot table; that's pretty bad right there. Once you're spending time on workarounds, you quickly overcome any cost advantage of the free software. For me. Now if only 1% of users need these differences between Excel and Calc to save dozens of hours per year, we could easily be outvoted by the folks who just need to manage a few tables of numbers and formulas.

Comment Re:It should have been sooner... (Score 2) 316

On the one hand, I have to agree: I use Libre at home and love my Excel VBA at work, and when it comes to interaction with databases, charting, the programming environment, I'd have to pick Excel for my job if they gave me the option, so I'd have to pick it for the corporation (8000 seats) too.

On the other: this wasn't the complaint. They were complaining about simple document tweaks like pagination. That makes it a bullshit complaint they just made up. My "corp" is a large city, but a city with 500 employees grand total isn't doing a lot of its engineering like we do, they're just cutting contracts to hire it out...and repaginating Word documents the contractors send them.

It's exactly with the "small office environments" that aren't slinging 30,000 rows of database into an excel spreadsheet with a touch of a button calling VBA that can do fine with Libre. It's the big places that are bound to be doing a number of complicated things that are out on the edge of what Office apps can do at all.

Comment They lost me at... (Score 3, Interesting) 316

...300 people @ 15 minutes a day, after it was 500 employees total in the organization. It's utter bullshit that 60% of the staff are involved in document production every day, much less so much that just the tweaking was 15 minutes.
It's the exact smell of the bullshit I've seen for 25 years every time an IT department had already made a decision and made up numbers to justify it. Generally, they come up with the money number by working backwards and hope that nobody knows the internal workflows well enough to critique it. But this one fails when we only have one other number to work with, it's so over-the-top.
Then I remembered that Italy is the place that proves Donald Trump really could win: Berlusconi is Trump mixed with Rupert Murdoch and won election. It's the second most corrupt country in western Europe after Greece.
This switch was probably just bought and paid for.

Another megabytes the dust.