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Comment Re:Political/Moral (Score 4, Informative) 305

No one cares how much students in the UK protest, because they don't vote. Students are a demographic with one of the worst turnouts in elections. For allegedly intelligent people, it's surprising how few seem to realise the correlation between this and getting shafted by their elected officials. Go back to the '60s, and they had a lot more influence because they were much more likely to vote.

Comment Re:A popular laptop OS? (Score 1) 133

Only if you've got a really old printer. Remember, DOS predates abstraction layers and clean printer APIs. You print from DOS by opening the serial or parallel port and sending some data over it. If you've got a DOS program that can print to PostScript printers, then you're better off printing to a file from DOSBox and then printing the result from the host OS.

That said, there's little reason to use most DOS business applications these days. There are typically open source alternatives that are far better as they aren't written with such tight resource constraints in mind and can reuse GUI toolkits and so on (again, remember that DOS programs had to come with their own embedded GUI system and for most of them 4MB of RAM was a lot - a modern program can use more than that for the window buffer). I still occasionally fire up the Psion Series 3A emulator in DOSBox (if you tweak it a bit, it will run at 640x480) and use the spreadsheet though, because I've not found another one that's as easy to use with just a keyboard and constantly moving my hand from keyboard to mouse becomes annoying.

Comment Re:Can I play Descent on it? (Score 2) 133

EA released Command and Conquer Gold as a free download a few years ago. That's the Windows 95 version using the Red Alert engine (so high-resolution 640x480 graphics!), but with the same game as the original. It ran quite nicely in WINE when I tried it (a long time go now, may need an old version as WINE doesn't monotonically improve, but according to the apps db it works fine and is rated 'gold', which seems appropriate...).

Comment Re:Best DOS game... (Score 1) 133

As a game? I vaguely recall enjoying Doom on release more than Quake on release. I enjoyed Duke Nukem 3D a lot more than either. The thing that made Quake special wasn't the game, it was that it was an off-the-shelf game engine with a free SDK. All of the game-specific behaviour (including things like the flight paths of projectiles) was contained in a bytecode file that had the source and compiler provided. For a while, I had about 500MB of mods for Quake installed (the game itself was around 50MB). Doom had all of the game behaviour hard coded, so all that mods could do was change the visual appearance. People wrote rally games and flight simulators in the Quake engine as mods. There was nothing like QTank, AirQuake, Quake Horrorshow, or Quake Rally for Doom. There definitely wasn't anything like Team Fortress, which accounted for the majority of the time I spent playing Quake.

Comment Re:Good? (Score 1) 273

I tried taking a shuttle to the Minneapolis Hilton on my last trip to the US. I was told it would be there in 20 minutes and would take 25 minutes. For a tenth the price, there's a light rail service that runs every 15 minutes, takes about 25 minutes, and stops 5 minutes walk (or, for the exceptionally lazy, a short free bus ride) away from the hotel. I arrived at the hotel at about the same time as the shuttle. Given the price of the flight and the room, I'd have been happy to spend the money for the shuttle if it had got me there faster, but paying ten times as much for no time saving (and to sit in a more cramped form of transport - the light rail had loads of space, the shuttle was packed) didn't appeal.

Comment Re:But I thought it was already dead? (Score 2) 71

Part of the reason for Orkut's decline in the US was that it was overrun by Portuguese speakers (mostly Brazilian) who posted (in Portuguese) in every English-language discussion, making the system unusable by anyone who didn't speak Portuguese. For the same reason, it remained popular where Portuguese was the national language or commonly spoken.

Anyway, you've got to love the message from Google: Use social networks, you're giving a third party the ability to kill your online presence and the identity that you use for communicating with your friends on a whim!

Comment Re:A/B-Testing (Score 1) 219

First, no it's not, nice try.

At the very least, the majority of advertising is aiming to make people buy things that they don't need. Beyond that, it's often stuff that's unhealthy or inferior to alternatives available at a lower price.

Second, people are aware that it is marketing/advertising

No they're not. For example, count the number of adverts that you're aware of in a film some time. Then look up how many careful product placements there are. See also, paid product reviews, social network endorsements, and so on. Most people are aware of a small fraction of the marketing targeted at them.

Comment Re:California also legalized using polished turds (Score 1) 162

That depends on the volatility. If the price of bitcoin today is $600, but judging by previous trends, might swing to $200 tomorrow, then I'd probably just take the money. If it were a really sound choice, then my friend would be an idiot to offer it: he'd just sell the bitcoin, give me the $400, and pocket the $200. Volatility in a market is generally related to the ratio of speculators (people who just buy and sell the commodity but neither produce nor consume it) to producers and consumers. You need some speculators to provide liquidity (when you produce something, it's good if you can find a buyer now, even if no one wants it yet and it's someone who's just buying it in the hope that they can sell it later), but if their trades start to dominate the market then you get lots of volatility.

The volatility of bitcoin has dropped off a bit recently, but it wasn't long ago that it was considered stable if it only had 25% swings in the value over the course of a day. That is the last thing that you want form a currency. If someone pays me a token in exchange for some work, then I hope to be able to exchange that token for something of approximately equal value when I need to. A small amount of inflation is fine (you don't want people hoarding the tokens, you want an incentive for people with spare capital to invest it in real things), but it should be predictable.

Comment Re:Sounds about right... (Score 4, Interesting) 441

It's also possible with smartgrid things to tweak the demand curve a bit. For example, a fridge or freezer needs to keep the contents in a temperature range with a little bit of leeway. It will typically let things warm until they're near the top of the range, then run the compressor until they're close to the bottom of the range. If your freezer knows about the spot price of electricity, then you may set it to an economy mode, where it will start the compressor early if power is sufficiently cheap, so by the time the price goes up (i.e. supply drops) you're effectively storing energy by having the entire contents of the freezer at the bottom end of its temperature range. The same is true for electric cars - if you're using one to commute and the battery will last a few days, then the amount that you're willing to pay for electricity varies based on how low the battery charge is. If it doesn't have enough for tomorrow's commute, then you'll pay more. If it does, then you'd happily top-up the charge cheaply when there's some surplus supply.

Comment Re:Sounds about right... (Score 4, Informative) 441

Transmission losses matter a lot less when generation doesn't cost you anything. If you have a coal power plant and demand drops, you burn less coal and lower your costs. When demand increases, you burn more coal and make more money. With a wind power plant, if the wind is blowing but demand drops then your choice is either 100% loss by just wasting the power, or something less than 100% loss by transmitting it. For very long distances, the same transmission mechanisms that we use for fossil fuels are applicable: store it in chemical form and put it in trucks / trains / boats. Whether the chemical form is hydrogen, diesel, aluminium, or something else is up to you.

Comment Re:California also legalized using polished turds (Score 1) 162

Little discs of metal and rectangles of paper / fabric / plastic are also quite lacking in use. There's nothing wrong with Bitcoin (aside from the tracking aspects) if you think of it as a digital coin. The problem is thinking that just because you can stamp out a load of coins that you now have a lot of wealth. The US dollar has a value because the Federal Government will enforce your ability to use it to settle debts held by US citizens and will accept it as payment in taxes. Cryptocurrencies are a good way of exchanging tokens, but just being able to exchange tokens doesn't mean that you've exchanged something of value.

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