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Comment Re:Why is this a problem? (Score 3, Informative) 376

Gender IS in preferences. You can choose between male, female and unspecified. This is to customise UI on the site so it has the appropriate pronouns. You can do this all over the place, like this:

{{gender:Jimbo Wales|man|woman|person}}

(replacing Jimbo Wales with your WP username (or a template that substitutes the current user's name) and the words man, woman and person with wikitext that you want returned)

This is used quite a bit for Userboxes so that they can make it text in the userbox switch dynamically between "This user lives in London and [they like/he likes/she likes] travelling on the Underground" or whatever.

The problem with the preferences route is unspecified may be because you haven't set it or it may be because you don't want to set it (or you don't fall into male/female because you are transgendered or whatever).

There have been polls and studies done though. You can read about them on or

Comment Re:Silly idea! (Score 1) 257

But the point is that it is reducing Google's costs. They fund development of MySQL and PostgreSQL because they use it. The Xbox comparison isn't a good one: Microsoft has started making a profit on Xbox, but Google are never going to make a profit in the same way from Linux or MySQL/Postgres, but making those products better reduces a cost center for Google. That's a pretty good primary reason that should pass muster with the regulators.

That it means little guys like me working for a tiny European company can run Linux and Postgres and Apache on our servers rather than paying Microsoft for a Windows/MS SQL/IIS/.NET solution is a nice secondary effect. It sure would be nice to think that Google are putting all this investment into FOSS to keep me from having to be a Microsoft customer. To argue that, I'd have to see some evidence that Google are funding FOSS development for stuff they have no direct business use for.

Comment Re:Thank God.... (Score 2) 265

I went to a machine the other day and found the user's password on a post-it note.

That's common enough, right?

Except he was in /etc/sudoers. Not any more.

I'm instituting a new security policy: if you leave your password on a post-it note, you lose sudo. If I find your password on a post-it note again, I get to hit you on the head with a hammer. Eventually it will stop.

Comment Re:Not really important if somewhat proficient (Score 1) 545

I heard about a job advert that a large multinational in London's Square Mile put out. They needed a receptionist/secretary. They needed to be able to type and use MS Office. The typing requirements? 40 WPM. They had to reduce it down to 40 WPM to actually get applicants for a secretarial position. That tripped my "WTF? Something is wrong here." detector.

I don't understand why touch typing is not part of every school curriculum in every Western nation. They spend enough time teaching people Word and Excel these days, why not teach touch typing? In a society where a huge chunk of people will end up in an office in front of a computer all day, it seems like a basic component of literacy. If you are writing things, there's a pretty high chance those things will be written in some electronic form.

I can touch type pretty fast (90+ WPM) but that's because my mother (who had been to secretarial college and worked as a legal secretary) taught me how to touch type on a manual typewriter.

Comment Re:Their own bottom line... (Score 1) 196

If you can put latest and greatest Android on an end-of-lifed handset they haven't gotten money for in two years, they get nothing.

If they successfully lock things down so that you need to buy a *new* handset to get the snazzy new features. If most of the reason people get new things is for software, then the hardware vendor has their own interests in making sure their stuff comes along for the ride.

I can install Windows (XP at least) or Linux on my old PC.

Ergo, I have no reason to buy a new PC.

Except, you know, to make my software run better...

Comment Re:Developer's Choice (Score 1) 196

UK, MiFi: 1Gb a month costs 10 GBP == 11.77 EUR.

And a pay-as-you-go phone for the occasional phone call. I pretty much only use my phone to arrange lifts, book cabs etc. The legacy voice network probably costs me about 1 or 2 GBP a month in call charges on pay-as-you-go. And my legacy phone is completely unlocked.

Legacy voice phones are for calling the police if someone is in a car accident, and occasional interfacing with weird people who haven't quite grasped the whole Internet thing. For everything else, I just use TCP/IP (and often Skype), and for that 1Gb is more than enough. Anything that requires heftier bandwidth? Pop open SSH and tell my machine at home to do it.

So basically, I'm probably using the same amount of data as the smartphone users, but I can use that on any device that supports wifi. And I pay less than if I had a contract. The only downside is I have to carry a phone as well as a dongle. But I carry a bag with me everywhere.

Comment Re:Suggestion: (Score 1) 196

They cannot and it is the _SAME_ reason why the handsets will continue to be locked down.

The economic model and the expectation towards return on investment by networks is not based on data. It is based on pointless crap nobody gives a shit about where data is merely a conduit.

There, FTFY. ;-)

Comment Re:No Lines (Score 2) 464

What if you're in India and there's no line at all? Just a huge mass of people crowding against the service counter shouting for what they want, over and over till the clerk serves them.

Substitute "India" for "London" and "service counter" for "bar in a busy pub on a Saturday night" and this remains true.

Comment Re:Why is the single line perceived least efficien (Score 1) 464

That's why you need someone to open up shortcut routes during quiet periods. I believe they do this at some airports.

Also, you can do it in a slightly more subtle way by having markings on the floor and by doing sort of 'nudge'-style design that basically encourages people to form a queue even though there isn't actual physical barriers.

For instance, at some ATMs I use in London, they have big blue arrows on the ground to show people to queue. During busy periods, it nudges people into an efficient queuing protocol, but during quiet times, it doesn't force people to walk long distances.

Comment Re:You're likely not in the fastest... (Score 1) 464

Each time a customer clears the cash desk and the cashier has to wait for the next customer to arrive, time is lost.

Yes, this can be offset by having a staff member playing shepherd, but that's extra expense for the store (and wouldn't it be better to have that employee actually manning a cash register?).

You can do this electronically, by having an electronic display saying "NEXT CUSTOMER GO TO COUNTER {x: Integer}" (and an audio version for blind people). You add a button to each counter, and the staff member presses it with enough time for the customer he's currently dealing with to finish (just as he's counting the change or once the credit card has been approved, as he's bagging etc.) This basically pops a new customer off the queue, and by the time the customer arrives at the counter (i.e. the object has loaded into memory), the staff member is ready to do the next transaction. This works pretty well so long as the quantity of items the customer is buying isn't high.

(That's it: if the programming thing stops being profitable, I'm going into retail planning. Heh.)

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