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Comment Noise (Score 1) 203

Noise isn't a problem. It's unpredictable noise or unwanted noise that's a problem. Or noise that cannot be controlled.

In IT, working in a deathly silent office is bugging. I need the background of fans spinning to "feel right", but I don't think it needs to be loud, or even immediately audible. And anything beeping will drive me to distraction as my brain is tuned to find that beeping thing and fix whatever the problem is.

But a tap dripping? Or headphones tizzing? Or someone tapping their foot or banging a door? Even a mouse clicking? That drives me mad. That's why the background hum is good - it washes them all out.

I work in an office with a technician. He's young, keen, not used to workplaces with lots of other young people.

We have a "swear jar" of sorts. It's for when he hums, whistles or breaks into song. Playing music, I've told him, is right out. Like others, I've worked in places with fed-in music and it drives me insane. I spent a year in an IT office with a badly-tuned radio locked to BBC Radio 1 and it drove me mad.

I work in schools, so some weeks/months of the year there is nobody around. All my speaker-sets go missing as the office and teaching staff use them to take advantage of the empty offices by having their music up louder than they'd ever be allowed while others are around.

Run an after-school event and all the kids want to plug themselves in while they work. I'm sure that's good for them but the noise leakage from their tiny in-ear things is immensely annoying and often means it's banned even through headphones (not just by me). Even on the school PC's, no apps, games or anything else that makes a sound and internal speakers are switched off - when you have 20 PCs in a room, that's just a cacophony of nightmares.

It's a matter of courtesy. Even if you NEED sound to concentrate, you need to understand that others NEED silence. If you can find a way to have your sound without interfering with their silence, they won't have a problem with you. But blanking out sound is immensely harder than drowning out silence. and there's a fascination with having music so loud that everyone can hear, even out of sound-insulating headphones. That's just unnecessary and rude.

And when you get into singing along, humming, drumming, tapping or anything else, I will break your fingers and shove them down your oesophagus. That's not necessary at all and does nothing but inflict your sounds on others that have already chosen not to listen to your music.

I own a couple of sets of headphones. At a reasonable price, set to a reasonable volume, you literally can't hear a thing from outside them. And I couldn't hear a thing outside when wearing them. So it's not impossible to cater for such tastes. But people don't do it. The problem is that there's no earplug or set of headphones that can provide silence in such a situation. The closest you get is bassy tinnitus coupled with heartbeat, blood-rush, swim-ear sounds, with the background slightly muted in the background.

So when you're on your own, out of earshot, do what you like. When there are others around who don't like sound you need to get a decent set of headphones and keep it to yourself. I know that means restraint in your personal tastes, but you also have to stop picking your nose, scratching your feet, farting, undressing, and all the other distasteful habits at that point too.

I will make one exception: With babies around, you should not be asked to be silent for them to sleep. All you're doing is breeding people like me who can't relax in silence by doing that. And a baby will sleep through ANYTHING. Babies will fall asleep outside in a noisy shopping centre, at a party, with a movie blaring, etc. *Sudden* noise might wake them but that's only more sudden and scary against the silent background than if you just all talked normally over the sleeping child and someone sneezed or whatever.

And if a baby wakes, it wakes. Nobody INTENDS to wake them. That's my one exception - talk normally around babies and even sleeping children. You're subconsciously teaching them to be able to cope with a noisy environment without actually disturbing them at all.

But otherwise? Shut the hell up or isolate your noise from me.

Comment Re: Hmm (Score 1) 895

I wasn't aware Hillary Clinton had been accused of sex crimes, do tell. And apparently some of the women Trump thought loved him grabbing their genitals weren't quite so impressed.

As to the Bush-Gore issues, there were actual physical problems with the Florida ballots, in other words, there was reason for Gore to seek clarification. It wasn't simply because Gore lost.

And this whole "MSM are part of the lizard conspiracy" is getting tiring. The only reason Trump is even where he is is because the press has given him so much oxygen, and he's risen to the challenge at every occasion. Every single time something appears that might damage Clinton, Trump, who seems neurologically incapable of not having the headline, says something idiotic or outrageous.

Nobody ever thought he had a chance. That he's doing as well as he is is quite phenomenal, and does suggest that if Republicans had picked a real candidate, instead of a reality TV star, they'd probably be sailing to victory right now, and wouldn't be facing not just another four years outside the Oval Office, but the potential of losing the Senate (and possibly a weakened position in the House). Quit blaming Clinton, quit blaming the press, start blaming everyone who picked a man so unsuitable for this job (or, from what I can tell, for any job).

Comment Re: great (Score 2) 147

The current research I've read seems to suggest that the first HIV infections probably happened 70 or 80 years ago. One would also imagine that the virus, not really evolved fine tuning for humans, might have exhibited more muted symptoms (or conversely, it might have been much more lethal, like some other viruses are, and burn themselves out by killing hosts too quickly). In developing countries a lot of things can kill a person before they die of an HIV infection, so it probably simply wasn't noticed until it had found its way to a country where life expectancy and general health was much higher.

Comment Re:We can date the jump into the U.S. in about 197 (Score 3, Interesting) 147

It's not suddenly, in 1979, tens of millions of gay men suddenly started showing signs of immunological deficiency. Because HIV infections take some time to develop into full blown AIDS (and that can be highly dependent on the individual), it would have taken a long time before there would be confirmation that there was something infecting gay men. And once you've established that there is some sort of sexually transmitted disease that leads to AIDS, you now have to literally pour through all sorts of tissue samples, blood samples, lymphatic samples, and so on and so on looking for the needle in the haystack. You'll probably end up going down a few false roads because many of these individuals probably had other STD infections, so you have to also be thinking "could this be some sort of mutated syphilis or hepatitis infection?"

It is largely because of diseases like AIDS and the technology developed to isolate infectious agents that we are so much better today than we were thirty or forty years ago. To judge the medical community of the early 1980s by the standards of the 21st century is absurd.

Comment Re:I don't get it (Score 1, Insightful) 147

Lots of people have had unprotected sex through the ages. HIV infections certainly are one of the nastier STDs around, but diseases like hepatitis, herpes, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea have been infecting humans for thousands of years. The problem for any sexually active group in the 1960 and 1970s was that most bacterial STD infections were readily treated with penicillin, so if you got the clap, you got a prescription, cleaned yourself up and away you went. The only thing that singled gay men out more than other populations at the time were the greater risks from anal intercourse.

While there had been rumors floating around about the "gay disease" in the 1970s, it took some for doctors to isolate a probable infectious agent, so without at least some strong hint as to whether it was an STD or some other illness, what exactly could anyone told any sexually active person in the heterosexual or homosexual communities? Patient 0 and his partners would have had no idea that they were carrying an incurable viral infection, so assigning blame seems utterly idiotic. Yes, once there was strong evidence that there was a virus that was causing AIDS, the medical community was able to inform homosexual men, intravenous drug users and other vulnerable groups that they were at high risk, and could provide information on how to prevent the spread of the disease. But the "Patient 0" generation sadly did not even really know they could be infected, and in turn, infect their sexual partners.

Comment Re:Conspiracy Theories (Score 3, Interesting) 147

According to this article, the family of viruses HIV belongs to have been infecting primates for millions of years. As to HIV-1 and HIV-2, it has this to say about probable origins:

The HIV-2 strain is widely accepted to have been passed from sooty mangabeys in west Africa to humans, probably bushmeat hunters or those keeping the primates as pets, or both. Scientists believe HIV-1 was passed from chimpanzees to humans.

So what we likely have is a couple of events, unlikely in and of themselves, but where there is enough interspecies contact, as keeping infected pets or eating infected bushmeat, that the these two related viruses managed to cross-infect. After that, the viruses would have quickly have evolved to their new hosts (which really are pretty damned closely related to the old hosts).

Comment Re:Grid Scale Batteries (Score 2, Insightful) 67

Solyndra was a bet that silicon prices would remain high. It was a way to get more power out of less silicon. The bet was wrong. With the drop in price in silicon, their death was inevitable. They also had a weird design decision, going for the concentrator. It made sense (in the economics of the time) to go for either concentrators or CIGS, but not both.

That said, the government took way too much flak - politically motivated - over Solyndra. With any diverse profile of startup investments, you expect some to fail. Economists analyzing the ARRA post-facto have been by and large given it quite positive evaluations for its effects on the economy. The loans program office had already wiped out the Solyndra loss just two years later.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 895

That's indeed the kind of ideas that is now floating around. I rank it in the category of Iraq coming to kill us all, with the same combination of inflating the threat and at the same time regarding the opponent as a pushover. I think Colin Powell has made some sensible comments on that. Russia is paranoid about us, about NATO. We scare them. They are a small power, we're a big one that is surrounding them more and more, and then sabre rattling is a sensible response.

That doesn't explain why they weren't rattling their sabers a few years ago. The Economist has a recent article that does offer an explanation that covers that as well The thesis is basically that domestic troubles caused by a weak economy have motivated Putin to seek ways to distract his people from domestic concerns. Specifically, he's tried to recapture the superpower position of the Soviet Union. He can't, really, because Russia isn't the Soviet Union. Without the central planning structure to force the massive overproduction of military resources, the Soviet Union wouldn't have been the Soviet Union, either.

But his people don't really realize this and, frankly, the rest of the world tends not to realize it much, either. So Putin can rattle his rusted and broken saber and the rest of the world reacts as though he was the mighty Soviet Union. Except... there is one area in which is military isn't so rusted or broken: nuclear weapons. Oh, his nuclear armament is aging and dilapidated, but it's still very real and Russia has the technological wherewithal to build highly functional nukes and missiles to carry them. Russia can't afford to build very many of them, but it doesn't really take all that many.

So, as it becomes more and more apparent that Putin doesn't really have the conventional forces to make the world treat Russia with the fear and respect that the Soviet Union got, he's almost certainly going to be making more and more use of the nuclear threat that the world can't ignore. And that will help to keep his people feeling like they're a major world power again, which will keep him in power.

Is this true? I don't know. Makes sense to me.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 140

Hangouts used to have seamless SMS/Hangouts.

No, it was never seamless in the sense that iMessage is. The seams were harder to see, and that was exactly the problem that motivated the clear separation; the failure modes of the combined messaging were subtle, hard to understand and opaque to users. The upshot is that the combination made Hangouts messaging appear to be unreliable.

Actually, iMessage isn't really seamless either. It breaks badly if iMessage thinks the destination device is an iPhone but it isn't. It's very good in a pure-Apple world, though.

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