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Comment Same was said in Australia (Score 1) 830

There seem to be two main arguments, all of which (I'm reliably informed by my parents) were argued to death in Australia before our successful metrification starting in the 1970s.

1. Imperial is entrenched. It was in Australia as well; alas we bear the same burden you do with our British colonial heritage :). All our road signs, car dashboards, units for commerce etc were Imperial. We stuck things over signs, children were taught both systems, commerce migrated. With packaging in both units, the US is halfway there.

2. Imperial units make more sense. I can't speak personally for this, because I grew up using Metric. For the arguments that Celcius is less granular than Fahrenheit though, may I introduce the decimal point (that Americans so famously applied to their Metric currency while the Brits were still arguing over shillings). Most of these arguments appeal to familiarity, which are valid for the time, but will fade.

I'd say 2.1: All units are arbitrary. Indeed, all the more reason we all use the same ones, rather than having two systems.

Those said, I emphasise with unfamiliarity. Aussies laugh at me, but I've actually been learning Imperial measurements in my own time so I can chat with my American friends about weather, etc. If that sounds condescending I don't mean it to, it's genuinely hard. "26 degrees" means something to me, "79 degrees" is a step away from being useful. I also appreciate it's easy for me to say "move to Metric" given it's the system I use.

I'd argue though the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives though, as they did in Australia. Along with NZ, it's proof that the Metric system can be used in the unwieldy Anglosphere after all.

The Wikipedia article explains Australia's metrification (metrication?) process pretty well actually, including the myths that switching causes more road accidents, etc.

Comment Article summary misse the point (Score 1) 132

"Google's refusal to not release Honeycomb source code is kosher because the code in question is released under the Apache license. But the kernel at the heart of Android is GPL'd, which means that code must be released. Google has actually been a good citizen in this regard

Wait, hold on a minute. It's precisely the fact the Apache licence doesn't compel them to release the source that would make them "good citizens" if they did, rather than just giving it to a select few OEMs.

but many third-party Android vendors, not so much. While Asus has released their code, there are a host of companies that seem to have not done so, and Matthew Garrett is maintaining a list."

We were sold on Android being an open source and free alternative to iOS and the like, but unfortunately the reality is proving anything but. Part of this is Google going back on their stance on what constitutes open, but also that they haven't more rigorously enforced compliance of the GPL by their OEMs.

It's a shame they have to do this for companies other than Asus and Samsung (good GPL folk, IIRC), but companies have proved time and time again their misunderstanding of what their responsibilities are under the GPL at best, and knowingly ignoring them at worst.

Comment Re:BP Claims Gulf Well Has Been Stopped (Score 1) 601

I find it "distasteful" that a company knowingly cut corners on safety to raise short term gains at such a grave risk. My anger towards that can't begin to compare with what someone says on a silly Twitter account.

Not trolling, I just find it bewildering that people are willing to come to the defense of BP over such tiny things when we've read all the shenanigans they've been up to. Same goes for Transocean.

Comment Phone companies would stand to lose a lot (Score 2, Interesting) 258

I acknowledge we don't know the long term effects of any mobile phone usage because we haven't been using them long enough, but at the same time I feel uneasy. Phone companies would stand to lose so much money and have their industries labeled alongside big tobacco, so I can't help but think they're pouring as much research into studies that "prove" phone radiation is harmless. Even if they couldn't convince people, at least they'd make the water murkier.

I dunno, my opinions on the ethics of big business have hit another all time low, for some reason.

Comment The coffee shop culture in Singapore (Score 4, Informative) 241

Probably not all that relevant to this discussion, but my SG$0.02.

All the Starbucks branches here in Singapore have free WiFi provided you register first, it's part of the government's Wireless@SG initiative, which I can forgive the corny 1990s name for because it Just Works. The irony is this free internet is faster and more reliable than the ADSL I was paying a small fortune for back in Australia!

There's a huge coffee shop culture here. It's really fascinating to see Starbucks (and Coffee Bean, and Killiney etc), even at 11pm they're absolutely packed with students studying on their MacBooks and business folk frantically typing away. I asked a few local friends why, and mostly it's because apartments here are so small an overpriced cup of coffee is a small price to pay for a comfy chair, relaxing music and a place to do some work on the Internets without your siblings making noise in your ear.

Comment Really hope they kick up as much fuss as China (Score 4, Interesting) 169

This news isn't on the scale of Google redirecting mainland Chinese search results to but has more in common than Senator Conroy here in Australia would like people to think. Wait, no, that isn't even right, he's openly compared the proposed Great Firewall of Australia to the filters in China.

When Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Federal Labor won the last election and Barack Obama and the Democrats won the elections in the US, Australian newspapers reported their first meetings as being one with kindred spirits, in much of the same way as George Bush and John Howard. This filter is perhaps the first large(ish) crack in this relationship, and I'm really hoping the Americans kick up as much of a fuss about Australia's laws as China's if the filter in Australia goes through.

The problem for the voting public here is in our version of the two party system, the opposition are considered the more conservative party, and its new Christian far-right leader Tony Abbott has been fairly silent on the whole issue. One can imagine he supports it in spirit but doesn't want to seem as though he's agreeing with Labor. Either way, we're royally stuffed.

In the meantime if you're an Aussie, don't forget the Electronic Frontiers Australia is accepting donations for their Open Internet campaign.

Comment The app's BASIC really wasn't that usable anyway (Score 3, Informative) 146

I downloaded it before it got taken down the first time and had fun entering BASIC command for a couple of seconds before I lost interest. Touch screen keyboards are fine for quick SMS messages or email but I couldn't imagine being such a masochist that I'd want to enter entire programs in with one! I suppose someone with enough resolve could do some amazing stuff and create an alternative interface to the iPhone with 8bit PETSCII glory. Actually that would be kinda cool.

Anyway despite that, I kept the application and won't be upgrading, if only just to (Mr Burns voice) honk off my Apple masters :).

Comment Re:Nice to see fact moving faster than fiction (Score 2, Interesting) 266

You're absolutely right. Collective will of corporations, governments and people (land, labour, capital and enterprise for those economically inclined) towards a single goal in the past has resulted in amazing things being achieved. Alas it's just too uncommon for all three groups to be interested in the same things at the same time, because they have different priorities and perceived needs.

What I'm hoping for now is that with the shrinking of the world there is a huge opportunity for corporations, governments and people to work together regardless of their geographic location quite unlike any other period in our collective history.

Optimistically, together we can achieve so much. Realistically, I think we're still more interested in spending our land, labour, capital and enterprise resources on killing each other over differences such as religion, resource allocation and political ideology.

As a terribly politically incorrect end note though, the jet turbine engine was created as a direct result of war. Who knows, a new cold war may have people racing to other planets, comets or solar systems instead of our moon. It's interesting to think about: how much of our progress is just making sure someone else doesn't do it first?

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan