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Comment Re:lol (Score 1) 62

Unfortunately, yes - it really does segfault so often that improving the behaviour during crashing is a Big Deal.

I tried running E17 (Debian jessie packages) for about a month but I eventually got fed up with the general buginess and missing features that I consider to be important. I switched to GNOME flashback a few days ago... it has a number of really frustrating bugs but in my view it is still way more usable than E17.

Here are my thoughts on E17:

The good:

  • Great eyecandy
  • Highly tweakable

The bad:

  • I don't like the way that virtual desktops work in E17 with multi-monitor configurations (each viewport switches independently) and there's no way to change it because Rasterman has decreed that the "E17 way" is the "right way"
  • Many gadgets seem rudimentary in comparison with the GNOME/KDE equivalents and are missing specific functionality that I rely on:
    • Calendar has no way of showing calendar weeks
    • There appears to be no way to set up multiple locations in order to see the local times in other timezones with a single glance

The ugly:

  • Average time between crashes was about 2 days
  • E17 caused Xorg to suck up about 50% of one CPU at all times (i7-2760QM CPU @ 2.40GHz) and would often climb as high as 95%

Comment Re:seeing that it's 'quarter after five' is awesom (Score 1) 140

I wouldn't say that the website as a whole as a pro-Apple slant, although some of the individual writers certainly do. My biggest complaint is just the sheer volume of Apple-related pseudo-articles. They need to add some kind of filtering feature which allows articles with certain attributes (e.g. author) to be hidden, otherwise the signal-to-noise ratio is in danger of dropping too low.

Can anyone here suggest sites that are "like Ars was back when it was good"?

Comment Re:Ratings cost money (Score 4, Insightful) 371

They don't just have to pay to get the classification. They have to pay lawyers to do the paperwork, accountants to handle the financials, service and support to handle refunds and disputes, and so on (not to mention the managerial overheads). It wouldn't surprise me if these costs exceeded $1 million.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that the prices are always justified, and I'm sure that there is a big "because we can" factor as well. As an Australian, I too have been outraged on more than one occasion by the price that we have to pay for goods in comparison with the US. However, my day job (which admittedly involves hardware, not software) has given me an appreciation for the amount of actual effort required before you can start selling something in another country, and the company needs to recoup that cost somehow.

Comment Re:This isn't news... (Score 1) 1367

Water is also "stuff of life": it accounts for more than half of the chemical make-up of nearly every living thing. However, humans require a specific amount in order to live. If you try and breathe it, you will die. If you drink too much of it, you will die. If you don't drink enough of it, you will die. So there is a lower limit and an upper limit of desirable values.

The same goes for CO2: it's necessary to sustain life, but only in the right quantities. Therefore the objective is to determine what the desirable lower bound and desirable upper bound values are. We can start with the two boundary cases:
* 0% of atmosphere: Plants cannot live
* 100% of atmosphere: Animals cannot live
So our desirable range exists somewhere between these two extremes, and we need to perform research in order to narrow the range to within acceptable error margins. The best research to date seems to indicate that the range is around 2-6ppm.

Comment Re:aka Differential GPS (Score 2) 140

As NocturnHimtatagon has alluded to, data providers only tend to cover specific areas or countries. If Andoid does not provide low enough level access to the GPS hardware to do WAAS then I doubt that you'd be able to do any form of DGPS. Typical consumer-level chips will just output NMEA data, whereas you will need access to at least the raw pseudo-range data (i.e. distance from satellite to receiver) in order to be able to apply the pseudo-range correction (PRC) values. Some provides may provider Code Differential correction data in addition to/instead of PRC but you would still need access to low-level data from the GPS chip.

Comment Re:aka Differential GPS (Score 1) 140

I've worked in the DGPS industry for nearly a decade now, and I can tell you that this is not a new concept in any way. Firstly, it is true that there exist many free correction sources (e.g. WAAS in the US, EGNOS in Europe) which will allow a DGPS receiver to determine it's position to decimetre accuracy. Centimetre accuracy can be achieved with Real Time Kinematic (RTK) corrections (either from a local base station or delivered remotely by some kind of long distance connection, e.g. GPRS). Neither option is free, but subscribing to a correction provider is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying your own base station. Millimetre accuracy can be achieved using very expensive laser equipment and is very common in the surveying industry.

The concept of using local transmitters for underground applications is not new either. I am aware of a number of mine sites in Australia which have been using Pseudolites (Pseudo Satellites) for a number of years for this exact purpose.

Comment Re:Wallet != Money (Score 3, Informative) 391

I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic or not, but I can honestly say that I quite regularly use cars for non-transportation purposes. To me, a car is also a generator and a climate controlled environment. My line of work takes me to various locations which don't have any shelter or electricity, so the car becomes a mobile office for all intents and purposes.

Comment Re:What is so bad about it? (Score 1) 537

Like pretty much everything else in life, it's not a clearly black-and-white situation. Sometimes government regulation is good (whether it is telecommunications, health care, food standards, whatever) and sometimes it is bad.

Until recently, in Australia our options for ISPs have been very poor. This was essentially the result of the previous government's (whose Communication Minister for some time was Robert Alston, regularly pilloried by The Register as being "The World's Biggest Luddite") blind ideological drive to privatise the government monopoly (Telstra, nee Telecom). To preserve the value to shareholders of the newly privatised company, the company was not split into separate retail and wholesale parts (which was advocated by pretty much everyone in the industry who wasn't Telstra) but instead a private company found itself with a complete monopoly over the entire national infrastructure. The government passed some feel-good laws about minimum service obligations (e.g. see http://www.telstra.com.au/universalservice/docs/uso_smp.pdf) to prevent people in the bush from getting screwed over because they weren't economical to service, but these covered only telephony services. As a result, many people outside of the major cities (and even a substantial number inside their suburban areas) have only been able to use dial-up (and then not even at 56k) until wireless services became more widespread recently. Telstra also abused it's monopoly and illegally prevented other companies from accessing the telephone exchanges (e.g. see http://www.theage.com.au/business/telstra-cops-18m-fine-for-exchange-block-20100728-10uwx.html) which prevented any serious competition from emerging.

Thankfully, in the last few years, things have been changing - some great ISPs have finally been able to build up some infrastructure (iiNet, Internode) and offer at least some level of competition to Telstra. These guys mostly service only the cities (which includes something like 80% of our population) but it doesn't help those in rural areas. In most places there is now some level of wireless coverage available. Although this is fairly expensive (e.g. $30/month for 1GB, $150/GB for excess data with Optus) it's still much better than what they had before. The current government has started building a $40bn National Broadband Network, but it will take many years until this is finished.

TL;DR: Sometimes government regulations are good, and sometimes they are bad.

Comment Re:Before everyone freaks (Score 1) 1122

Hydroelectric has significant failure mode issues - if the dam breaks then lives can be lost. This in fact occurred at Fujinuma Dam and has led to more loss of life than Fukushima.
Here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dam_failure#List_of_major_dam_failures is a list of major dam failures but I don't hear people running around saying that we need to shut them all down.

Comment Re:Facebook: Hot Tech Company — Explain??? (Score 0) 378

Perhaps ethics may have played a part. Some engineers refuse to work for defence companies as they are not able to morally justify building machines to kill people in new and improved ways. Perhaps your top students couldn't morally justify designing new and improved ways to kill the concept of privacy.

I do agree however that your initial suggestion may have also played a significant role. The majority of web technologies simply aren't interesting, and PHP is the worst of a bad bunch.

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