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Comment Re:UK gov "sorry" = UK gov "we got caught" (Score 1) 309

Notwithstanding your comment about PPE and the Civil Service (which I agree with)...

"Ironically, one of those, Margaret Thatcher, is not a graduate of the University of Oxford."

My understanding is that the Baroness Thatcher (back then just plain Miss Margaret Roberts) achieved second class honours in the Final Honour School of Natural Sciences in 1946, and supplicated for the MA in 1950.

Do you have some information that contradicts this?

Comment I've lived there (Score 3, Informative) 309

Is your friend an undergraduate or graduate student? I'd lay a small wager that it is the former in your case.

The undergraduate degree I read over a decade ago (BA in Computation - anywhere else this would be a BSc in Computer Science) was indeed a very mediocre course (and there were only two lecturers that were any good, though most of my tutors - those who conducted tutorials consisting of two students at a time - were very good); but to be perfectly honest most undergraduate programmes in CS in existence are rather mediocre (I can't speak for other disciplines).

The key thing is the quality of research undertaken in the University - this is certainly world-class in most disciplines (which impacts those reading higher degrees by research). This probably won't impact you much if you were reading an undergraduate degree, though.

I can't agree that the "majority of students who go there are considered 'mediocre'," though. The vast majority of people I knew (which is significantly more than your one friend) were intelligent and articulate. This is what tends to happen when you have a selection system which requires applicants to hold extremely high academic grades (three A grades at UK A-level, or if you are from the US a score of 2,100/2,400 in the SAT reasoning test or an ACT score of 32/36), and then go through an interview-based selection.

Comment Re:UK gov "sorry" = UK gov "we got caught" (Score 1) 309

In the context of the University of Oxford: Philosophy, Politics and Economics (originally known as "Modern Greats"), an undergraduate degree aimed towards those wishing to enter the civil service or politics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy,_Politics_and_Economics

Comment Re:Parallel with hobby electronics (Score 1) 965

That is a good point.

Whilst I like to tinker, I don't like that everyone I know manages to screw up even the most user friendly system and then call me up day and night with stupid questions.

And whilst I have, actually, changed a set of pistons and big end shells (first car was an MG BGT) I couldn't ever imagine doing it on my Passatt. When I feel like tinkering with engines, I tinker with my 60s lawnmower. Its engine is tinker-friendly. It had to be, as it was (and is) always breaking down. Modern engines remove the ability to tinker but also the need> to tinker. The people who miss attending to 50+ grease points of a weekend still can - they just lovingly maintain old cars.

If you miss an old interface, fire up an emulator. If you want to hack an OS install Linux (in a VM parhaps?).

I think the opportunities for writing up a clever and powerful little app in your spare time is greater today than it ever was, and there are so many different ways to do it.

Comment Re:True for the iPod, yes. (Score 1) 965

The macbook and iMac will be the next machines to move to a proprietary ARM chipset away from the relatively open X86 platform.

...what on earth has the processor got to do with whether a system is open or not? ARM is supported by Linux and is used in the majority of smartphones and mobile devices - including "open" ones like Android phones and competing "pads". Don't be fooled by the "A4 Custom Chip" thing: since ARM doesn't sell chips but licenses system-on-a-chip component designs on a mix'n'match basis, all ARM implementations are "custom chips". Unless, of course, you have an inside route to Apple and know something we don't about the A4.

Apple cannot stand the fact that the cheapest computer that runs OSX is the Dell Mini 9.

Apple doesn't give a flying fuck about the odd hacker who installs OS X on their Dell Mini, as long as they don't try selling them commercially (sorry, I take it we're just trading bald assertions here, since you're not citing any evidence either).

In other news, ARM do ultra-low power mobile/embedded chips - they haven't designed high performance desktop/high-end laptop chips since some time in the 90s. ARM simply isn't an option for the top end iMacs, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros. The whole reason Apple shifted to x86 (at great expense) in the first place was that IBM/Freescale weren't producing competetive processors fast enough.

Then there's other factors such as continuing support by developes such as Microsoft and Adobe on which the Mac market relies, and the big selling point that Intel Macs can run Windows via dual-boot or virtualization if needed.

Of course, it is possible that Apple could decide to ditch the "proper" PC market and concentrate on "appliances" - but that would mean handing a large section of its customer base over to Microsoft.

You call them appliances all you want but really they are not appliances (akin to a coffee maker, microwave etc) as they are far more complex.

Apple sells shedloads of kit to consumers because Apple understands that consumers want their music players, phones and web browsers to be as easy to use as coffee makers.

Comment Universities can't keep up (Score -1) 1343

So what this demonstrates is that universities are not adapting as fast as the English language is. It makes sense in the information age that our language would be evolving at unprecedented rates. We could be like the L'academie Francaise and dictate that because it wasn't invented in an ivory tower it's not the true language; but English has historically been a living language - that is it's greatest strength. (We all know what 'cuz' means; don't TAs and Professors?)

There are uses for more formal linguistics, in the same way Latin was used well past the end of the Roman empire, to sound regal or intellectual - but it's really all for show.

Comment Re:True for the iPod, yes. (Score 2, Insightful) 965

I almost completely disagree with you. Pay $100 for the iPhone developer program and you can do whatever you want to your own iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

The only thing Apple is controlling is what you can do to other people's devices. Frankly, from my point of view having to try and defend an enterprise and friends' and families' computer from malicious software, I'm very happy about this. With the developer program you can share your work with up to 100 other people anyway, so I really don't think Mr. Pilgrim has made his point.

Comment Re:Which corporations does Le Guin mean? (Score 1) 473

They do not have to continually opt-out. The opt-out is one time, it is online and it takes less than 5 minutes to fill out. Google couldn't make this process easier.

The problem is, will this sort of 'agreement without authority' extend to other parties? That is what I mean by continual opt-out. Continually having to reaffirm to someone else that you do not want them to distribute your work on your behalf - just remaining silent should be enough.

I know what you are thinking "They shouldn't have to opt-out at all".

If the book is older and the copyright owner is unknown then there is a chance that person is dead. What now? Perhaps the heirs will claim the work, or there may not be any heirs. If not, the book is lost. The only way to find a copy of it will be to travel to a library that has a physical copy. Once that physical copy deteriorates, gets destroyed, or stolen, then it is gone forever. To me, it seems like a terrible trade-off to protect the copyrights of people who are too lazy to spend 5 minutes to protect their own works.

Well, firstly Google is digitising these works, so they have to have a physical copy to begin with - so the book is not 'lost', you just have to wait out the copyright expiration before you can distribute new copies of it.

There is nothing stopping Google from storing the physical copy until then, or even digitising the work *now* and storing both for a future date. But no, what they want to do is circumvent copyright and release the works *now*, for profit.

Comment Re:Wow, that got... (Score 3, Funny) 354

True but I think his point is that the identity of the victim can have a huge impact on motive, good and bad, and motive does have impact on the punishment of the crime.

i.e. In retrospect, killing Hitler would be considered a good thing by many and the motive justifiable.

It's an extreme, yes, but just because someone mentions Hitler it doesn't mean it's automatically reductio ad Hitlerum.

Comment Re:Slipperly Slope (Score 1) 390

You can look at a home with an IR camera and figure out other stuff -- like if they have any strange heat sources that suggest illegal grow operations

And how would you be able to determine whether or not what they were growing was illegal? I've seriously thought of growing tomatos in my basement because the ones you buy at the grocery taste like cardboard, but fear of the War On (some) Drugs keeps me from doing it.

We grow orchids in our basement under high pressure sodium lights, and have never been bothered by the police. None of the other members of our orchid society have encountered problems, either.

Exercise your rights! If you live in constant fear of the police state, they've already won.

Comment Re:Combatting Piracy (Score 1) 279

I agree with your opening statement, but ...

And, more specifically, the best way to combat piracy is to realize you're not going to succeed and instead find a new business model that works. You'll notice that the bands who are highly profitable have figured something very important out - CD sales are not the road to riches - concert tours are where you make truck loads of money. The _experience_ of music is something people are willing to spend a LOT of money on. Listening to music just entices them to spend $200 a ticket to see the live performance on stage. Once more music people figure this out - once more music people figure out that the old way of becoming rich in the industry is dead - the better off everyone will be.

This will last until people can record binocular video and binaural surround audio of their surroundings using body mounted nano- cameras and microphones that aren't easily detectable (or until "personal experience capture for digital life archiving" is protected by law so 'life recording equipment' doesn't have to be hidden), and social crowdsourcing sites allow people to combine a montage of different perspectives from everyone in attendance so equipped into a nicely edited concert video. The latter hitting torrent sites will spell the end of "live concerts" as the scarcity-du-jour guaranteed to make truck loads of money. I guess "business model technology hopscotch" is a good short term strategy, but ultimately I'd like to just see business models develop that are based on an equitable and fair exchange rather than depend on artificial scarcity. Give people a good reason to pay and give them value when they do. This may not always translate into 'truckloads of money', but it might be a way to enable more people overall to make a good sustainable living creating music, art or whatever.

Comment Re:I'm off-duty (Score 1) 945

You don't buy a computer because of its culture...

Well of course I don't, and I'd assume you don't. That doesn't change the fact that millions of people do. Unless of course you're seriously going to tell me that you think all those damn hipsters at my coffee shop really sat down and did some comparative analysis and decided that a Mac would "serve their purposes better."

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