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Comment Re:Hi neighbour! (Score 1) 201

OK, I'll make allowances for poor English. Their web site is actually pretty cool. Still remind me a bit too much of guys who like blowing stuff up for fun, and I'm not entirely convinced by "We have no administration or technical boards to approve our work, so we move very fast from idea to construction. Everything we build is tested until we believe it will do. Then we (attempt to) fly it!"

Comment Hi neighbour! (Score 4, Insightful) 201

OK, let me get this right. Buddy wants to work with high explosives in his garage, and can't understand why the people in his neighbourhood might think that "red tape" like zoning, safety, and fire regulations might be a good thing?

I grew up on Robert Heinlein and stuff like "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel," and really, really love projects like Spaceship One, but this guy frightens me.

Comment Re:they missed a big one... (Score 1) 443

Which makes the 'I don't own a car, you insensitive clod' option an obvious omission. The poll poster must have been American (and presumably not live in New York, San Francisco, or one of several other big cities) to believe owning a car is unavoidable. I've never felt the need to do so, and here there is so much of the city that you aren't allowed to drive in (unless you're driving a bus or a taxi) that a car is slower than cycling in almost all cases and slower than walking in some. There are busses or taxis if I'm too lazy to cycle. Why would I want all of the expenses involved in owning a car?

Comment Re:Not all is inadvertent (Score 2) 83

I don't shoot anymore (it's fun for a while, but it gets boring after a bit), but I never had problems getting access to shotguns or target rifles (including some fully and semi automatic) as a teenager in the UK. Handguns became illegal around this time, although there were some exemptions, such as for black-powder revolvers that kept most hobbyists happy (they take ages to reload, but you get half a dozen shots before you need to, which lets you put some holes in a target) and many of the rest moved to air pistols or carbines.

Comment Re:Office 365 (Score 1) 337

Collaborative editing is often easier. This isn't necessarily a property intrinsic to online office systems, but offline ones are typically intended for offline editing. Even with a decent revision control system (is there one that can merge OO.o or MS Office docs? No idea), you periodically get sets of changes from other people and have to merge them. If you've got something that allows live editing by multiple people, you can see what other people are doing at the same time as you and avoid conflicts.

There's no reason that an office application couldn't support this, it just seems to be a feature they haven't implemented. You'd probably want a single server for your organisation that would track all of the changes (allowing every desktop to accept connections for peer to peer editing would give network security people nightmares, especially considering the security record of MS Office), and it would be great if the server could push change sets out to some revision control system so that they could be synchronised with other documents (maybe push live editing into a branch and then have a merge step as part of hitting save).

Comment Re:Office 365 (Score 1) 337

I don't know about you, but I consider being able to leave the office and work outside on a sunny day or in the pub on a rainy one to be a feature. I have friends who have an hour-long commute on a train or bus each way in London and Silicon Valley, and they're very happy that they can count this time towards their working day, rather than as personal time.

Comment Re:Markdown is gaining popularity again (Score 2) 204

WYSIWYG is a terrible way of writing, but it's a great way of editing. The problem is that most modern tools conflate the two. When I write, I prefer to use vim and minimise the distractions - I see the words, I focus on the words and the markup describing their meaning, and I worry about the typesetting later. For articles, actually I don't worry about the formatting at all, my publisher sorts all of that out and so there's no reason for me to bother. I don't care what it looks like - that's not my job as a writer - I care that it's coherent and fluid prose. For books, I use LaTeX, and then I typically have a few rounds of iterations at the end of each chapter when I do the tweak-recompile-check cycle. I structure my environment such that I can build each chapter independently, which speeds up the build times, but it's still painful getting the style tweaks in correctly. I'd be much happier if I could get LaTeX to do a first formatting pass and then use a visual WYSIWYG editor to tweak everything and have those changes preserved the next time I do a formatting run from the source text.

Comment Re:Markdown is gaining popularity again (Score 3, Interesting) 204

You can fix it, but I agree that it usually puts it in the worst possible place. The problem is that TeX uses an elegant dynamic programming model to determine where to break lines in a paragraph, but uses a greedy algorithm to do page layout. Why? Because the PDP-10 didn't have enough RAM for the dynamic programming tables that would be required to do elegant page layout on a typical document. On a modern computer, even if it takes 2-3MB for the tables, you most likely have a single image in the document that is bigger than that (in early TeX, images had to be added afterwards in a separate compositing phase after you sent the typeset document to the printer, because computers weren't powerful enough to handle nontrivial images).

I tried implementing the TeX linebreaking algorithm for page layout in some naive (unoptimised) Objective-C a few years ago and ran it on a 900-page book that I'd written. Even then, it took under a second to run on the laptop I had at the time. There's no reason not to do it now.

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