I find that for 95% of my document needs Google Docs has everything I need (and mysteriously it seems to come pre-installed on every computer I use). The other 5% I write in Google Docs anyway and get somebody else to do the fancy formatting afterwards.
i) Books are all very well, but in this day and age aren't there other web-based resources that might be a good supplement? Does any know of any universities making material at this level available online for free?
ii) On the "learning the maths" vs. "getting an intuitive understanding of the geometry" argument, I think some people are putting the cart before the horse. Doing the mathematical donkey work comes first. The intuitive understanding only comes after a long period of sweating over the formalism.
This is a really poor argument for several reasons:
i) telescope time is a scarce resource. If I need an image of a galaxy X I might have to wait years to get telescope time for it. If galaxy X has already been observed once and the data stored then I can do my new research (e.g. datamining) on the existing data. Nobody knows in
advance which data is going to be interesting to future researchers so triage is almost impossible.
ii) telescopes have finite lifetimes. Once the telescope/instrument ceases to exist the data cannot be reproduced.
iii) Most of the interesting things in the universe are dynamic. You need to be able to compare observations of stuff over time.
The issue of costs has not yet been decided. Remember the BCA didn't lose; they withdrew their case. Singh himself has stated that he expects to be very substantially out of pocket even after costs have been sorted out.