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Comment What support channels are recommended for noobs? (Score 3, Interesting) 58

I have been using Linux since the good old days of the late 90's. I was using Debian until Ubuntu came around in 2004 and switched. Ubuntu was amazing in terms of how it made Linux more usable. However, as time went along Ubuntu was no longer so cutting edge and no longer resonated with me, so I have switched back to Debian. Anyway, all this time as a Linux user it's been a rough ride, every laptop I have purchased (I haven't had a desktop for 15 years) has had issues with Linux. Most common issues for me are that wi-fi drivers don't work and graphics card drivers are unstable. I choose Laptops that are going to give me the least problems by researching them thoroughly beforehand. The most recent laptop (HP ProBook) came with the option of having SUSE Linux installed by default, I thought this would be perfect, but the wi-fi did not work unless you had the correct version of SUSE installed. I am experienced at debugging and resolving issues, a new user would require a lot of patience, technical no-how just to get Linux functioning before they can use their PC. Although you can use Linux without the console, it is difficult to never have to go to the console. The console requires a paradigm shift for many users. In a nutshell the first hurdle for Linux is a massive jump, and only few are brave/curious enough to take it.

So my question is: What support channels would you recommend for new Linux users?

Comment Weka Mooc (Score 1) 123

About a year ago I completed the Weka Mooc ( Weka is an opensource machine learning / data mining tool that has many different machine learning tools and algorithms.

The mooc part is the course. It was free at the time I did it, but I don't know if it still is. The mooc is run by an experienced machine learning professor. Weka is also maintained and developed in the same department as his.

I highly recommend this course, it was informative, gave me a grasp of machine learning, as well as experience of a popular tool (weka). I was also able to complete it in my own time while working full time and having a family.

Comment This is helping drill for oil (Score 4, Interesting) 37

This is not about discovering the oceans and what lives there or the geology of the depths. This about helping Shell (the sponsor) create cheaper technogolies such that they can drill for oil. The requirements they have laid out are weak, for example "depth of up to 4,000 meters". The ocean deepest point is almost 11,000 meters. The drilling technology in the future will be reaching 4,000 meters.

I usually envisage Xprizes as advancing the worlds technologies on a shoestring budget in areas that we have limited knowledge, such as sending a rocket to the moon and taking a photo of the surface and beaming it back to Earth.

Comment Kind of like a business analyst (Score 3, Informative) 87

It sounds like the start-up is in need of a business analyst (BA). And this could well be the role of your accountant friend. I am an experienced business analyst with a technical background, although I know many business analysts who have little or no technical background. The role of the business analyst is to work with the stakeholders (e.g. developers, users, management, etc) to design solutions (technical or not). The business analyst creates documentation (user stories, business requirements, business logic flow diagrams, etc) by working with the stakeholders. The developers and testers then use this documentation to develop the solution. There are many business analysis books out there, one of the most popular is the BABOK (Business Analyst Body of Knowledge), see It has many tools that a BA requires. But I don't recommend your friend becomes a full blown BA, but it may help to learn some tools and techniques described in the BABOK.

I always see the Business Analyst as an interpreter or go-between, between the business and the developers. And the Business Analyst uses tools (i.e. methods of documentation) to formally describe what the customers want.

Comment Re:The whole infrastructure needs to support this (Score 1) 654

I don't know where you get your figures from, but this well referenced wikipedia page has different stats:

Yes, the train journey did take twice as long (when there is no traffic) for my specific commute. But the train was always more reliable (since I did not have to deal with traffic), more comfortable (I could walk around and stretch my legs), less stressful and I could read a book or do work, or even sleep on the trains. In fact I could work in the train such that I could reduce my hours in the office. Often, between major cities it is much faster taking the train, between Bern and Zurich it takes 1 h 34 min by car (without traffic), by train it's always 55 minutes. It's great for business meetings, you prepare on the way there, and relax on the way back.

Comment The whole infrastructure needs to support this (Score 1) 654

I lived in Switzerland for many years. We did not have a car, but relied on public transport. But the public transport system there is fantastic, it was fast and efficient. I could purchase a pass to cover almost all the trains, buses, boats, cable cars, etc in the country. This pass was valid for a year and was not cheap, but cheaper than a car. It's the infrastructure that made this possible as well as the social situation. With one ticket/pass you are able to travel on all public transport providers, even if they are operated by different companies. It was possible to rent cars on an hourly basis (see, and these cars are available at all main stations and within 5 minutes walk from our house we had around 10 different cars available for rent. All public transport is clean and safe and it runs to time.

Not only does the infrastructure support this, many people use it. In fact the country is proud of it's public transport system. I found that when I took a bus in Los Angeles, it tended to be poorer people taking buses, it was delayed and dirty. In Switzerland all people use the public transport. If you want a bit more space, you can opt for 1st class and pay twice the price, 1st class tends to be devoid of families and tends to be quiter.

Comment Business problem != technology problem (Score 5, Insightful) 343

I agree it's a business problem. MS Office has some pretty good versioning support built into it and multiple people can edit a document at the same time, if you know how to set it up. There should a technical person in your wife's company that understands how MS Office and other tools work. They should train the staff on the capabilities and the staff should come up with a process that works for everyone.

With SharePoint you can have MS Office documents versioned, it is basic versioning, not like git where you can have branches and things like that. For other types of documents, it's a matter of defining a process and naming convention on how to keep a track of items.

Comment AMD support more recent versions of OpenC (Score 2) 110

Have a look at this talk, namely 8 min 30 seconds into the talk:

The talk was given at the recent Linux Conf Australia (in New Zealand). It shows that AMD supports OpenCL 2.0, while Nvidia only support version 1.1 (released in 2010). I spoke to the speaker after his talk and he said Nvidia are basically dragging their heals with regard to supporting more recent versions. Nvidia also request unconvential features be put into the spec, and then never implement those features. Obvisouly Nvidia are doing well with their own CUDA language and seem to be trying to create a walled garden. It sounds like if you are going for openness and not for speed, then you could look at Intel or AMD (both support version 2.0).

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