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Comment Automotive analogy... (Score 2) 439

I suggest general computing may go the way the auto industry did. There was a time when my father was a young man (the 1950s) when you could build and modify cars any way you wanted (I am in Australia, your experience may be different). You had to have it approved to drive on the roads but it was relatively easy to do and lots of men had the skills and interest to do it. The last remnants of these skills are seen in the small number of people who build hotrods or modify 4x4's. Government regulations since the 1980s have made this increasingly difficult. Auto repairers are no longer allowed to use second-hand parts for repairs to cars and entire panels must be replaced rather than filled, sanded and repainted. All modifications must have a private automotive engineer inspect work done and certify the quality. This is also expensive. Increasing safety regulations in new cars has made then more expensive and heavier. I apologise for the automotive analogy, but computing may go the same way. 99% of people will just buy cheap off the shelf consumer devices to watch YouTube clips and use FaceBook. They will have no interest in using computers for anything else. People who want to "build" their own computers and modify or write custom software will go the way of back yard mechanics - they will be regarded with suspicion and seen as dangerous to the interests of society. They will be considered as subversives, or worse, libertarians ;) And to tie back to cars again, governments will eventually mandate tracking devices in cars for charging a per kilometer/mile tax and mandate automated speed limiting will be enforced. Police (or the TSA in the US) will push for remote kill switches to be compulsory on the grounds that high speed chases are too dangerous. Remote door locking by the police to prevent escape will be included. Safety proponents will also lobby for fully automated cars that will not be allowed to be controlled by human drivers while on major roads and freeways/toll roads. Drivers who hack their cars to circumvent these controls will be criminals. Today those who agitate against laws like SOPA are seen by governments as potential terrorists. Imagine the crazy laws against home-brew computer enthusiasts that will be proposed by the big content entities and bureaucrats pushing for the SOPA twenty years from now. Twenty years ago no one imagined the Patriot Act could have existed, but it does and is unlikely to ever be revoked. Governments have no interest in having computer technology empowering society. Again, sorry for diverging from the primary topic.

Comment Australian comparison (Score 1) 216

I just opened my power bill as I was reading this. For my power I pay the US equivalent of 26c per kWh or an average of $8.60 per day ($3140 p.a.) I have an insulated suburban home made of brick of @ 2600 square feet (converted that for the metrically challenged) with one LED/LCD TV and two newish desktop computers. We have been using CF bulbs for 15 years. There are four of us, two adults and two teenage children. We use an 8kW refrigerated air-conditioner in summer (similar to Phoenix, AZ heat) and use a combination gas heating and an open wood fire in winter. This would seem to be at least double that of US slashdotters.

Comment Re:Lumix LX-5 (Score 1) 569

Good suggestion. The camera doesn't really matter that much. I am a professional photographer and I get asked this question a couple of times a year by friends. I started on film 35 years ago and switched to Nikon digital 10 years ago. My iPhone 4s takes better images than my first Nikon DSLR. If you are starting out with a small budget you only need a basic camera. You are the most important part of the process. Your challenge is to use a basic tool to create great images. I strongly recommend you do a lot of reading, both online and books. Try and learn how to look at and think about the subject before you even get a camera out of your bag. Photography is obviously about trying to frame a subject into a great composition but just as importantly it is about light. Look at the subject and think "how can I move the subject or the camera to make the most of the lighting" If you cannot move the subject (such as a mountain) can you move the camera. If you cannot move the camera can you choose a better time of day (eg dawn or sunset). If the subject is a person is the light on them flattering? Is the subject a pretty girl or weathered old man? How would that difference influence the lighting style you should use. Modern cameras let you take hundreds of shots and then delete 90%. This is not actually helpful. As a useful exercise when learning pretend you are shooting rare and expensive film and only have 5-10 shots available each day. Only shoot each exposure when you have really thought about the composition and lighting and are sure you cannot improve on that. This imposed limitation will completely change your way of thinking about the creative process. Photography is a huge topic and there has never been a better range of affordable, high quality equipment available. In a couple of years you will have learned some basics and will be ready to migrate to a DSLR. When you do that remember to spend more on a few really good lenses rather than an expensive body with lots of cheaper lenses. Have fun.

Comment Re:swingers? (Score 1) 569

Here in Australia, since 2007, the series of three injections are given to all teen females at High School (unless permission is refused by parents) by nurses for FREE. There are currently discussions about doing the same for male students. I think it is also available free for women aged up to 26 from their GP. You may find this interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Frazer

Comment Re:about freaking time! (Score 1) 212

I asked them to tell me which version of Windows I was using (I use a Mac) and then I would give them the access they wanted. They couldn't of course, but I did manage to keep them on the phone for nearly an hour. They said they would tell me the version as soon as I gave them remote access. I got moved up a level to a supervision who continued to stay "on script". I offered to transfer $1000 into his personal bank account immediately if he could correctly tell me the OS version. This offer got them VERY excited but they eventually gave up after the first guess was made. It still amazes me anyone could fall for this crap.

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department