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Submission + - Microsoft Bing uses Wikipedia (globally editable) data

RockDoctor writes: Though they're trying to minimise it, the recent relocation of Melbourne Australia to the ocean east of Japan in Microsoft's flagship mapping application is blamed on someone having flipped a sign in the latitude given for the city's Wikipedia page. Which may or may not be true. But the simple stupidity of using a globally-editable data source for feeding a mapping and navigation system is ... "awesome" is (for once) an appropriate word.

Well, it''s Bing, so at least no-one was actually using it.

Comment Re: Including this one? (Score 1) 337

but would it kill Microsoft to change the default behaviour to something more sensible (this can hadly be the only use case where this is an issue)

Science users with thousands of rows of data are a negligible market compared to beancounter-wannabes with a dozen (or maybe even up to 5 dozen) rows of data. So, to answer your question, yes it would kill Microsoft to change the default from behaviour that covers up common wannabe-beancounters errors.

Oh, the fuck-wittery of working round Excel v5 bugs like this to deal with combining hundreds of thousands of lines of data throughout the 1990s. And 2000s. And 2010s. And you an guess what I anticipate fucking with in the 2020s.

Comment Re:Light years (Score 1) 214

Why do astronomers use irregular units like "light years" and "parsecs"

I can't remember the last time I read an astronomy paper (NB : paper, not regurgitated shit in the popular press) which didn't use parsecs and/or AU as the primary description of astronomical distance (with , M-Earth and M-Sol in the mix). For parsecs, the reason is simple : what you measure when establishing distances is parallax, in seconds of arc. Hence PAR-SEC. No?

If converting to metres, then you need to factor in your estimate for the AU, but you only do that conversion when editing the final draft of the paper and the press release You do your working in parsecs. And if the estimate for the length of the AU in metres changes between your observatory time and publication date, then only that derived figure in metres (miles, Egyptian cubits, or whatever) changes NONE of your working or your experimental data changes.

Similar arguments apply to the masses and the AU. You can directly observe e.g. the timing of events in an eclipsing binary (in seconds or days after the start of your epoch of observation), and if you work in units of AU, M-Sol and M-Earth then you get your orbital parameters from those raw observations and Kepler's laws with no conversion factors. You only do the conversions for the proof copy of the paper - possibly not even for the initial copy to go to peer review.

Comment Re:Light years (Score 1) 214

Not an "arbitrary substance", but (1) the most common "substance" in the universe by volume, and (2) probably the simplest "substance" in the universe.

(1) and (2) are probably related, but that's way above my pay grade.

It's also quite a hard substance to get access to without space flight.

Comment Cart and Horse in spatial misalignment (Score 1) 143

Patel argues that when we grow reliant on self-driving cars, things will get far more complicated and futile if we don't make our maps and navigation services better.

No, Mr Patel, a significant number of your potential market/ audience will not become reliant on your product until after map and navigation services are better.

And incidentally, some of us are used to spending time where you don't have electrical power or any mobile phone/ data signal (Iridium excepted, all 9600 bps of it) , and the magnetic field is sufficiently variable that your compass is decidedly dodgy. We carry multiple different location-determining technologies that won't be disabled by simply running out of battery life. Because, that like kills people, you know?

Comment Re:Man up, NASA. (Score 1) 107

so if you just went with the slashdot summary and quote

Haven't people learned to not fucking well do that by now? I mean the site has been going for what - nearly 20 years. There are account holders out there who're legally able to buy booze - drugs in some countries - and who were born after the site was set up. And still there are people fucking stupid enough to only read half TFS and none of TFA.

People wonder why many western nations have problems getting appropriate technical staff, and then they behave in such a stupid mannner. And don't see the connection?

As for the recovery procedures - well with a low-6-digit UID, you were probably around when they recovered SOHO from a similar orientation-power problem. Which doesn't make it any easier (space craft are different; locations are different ; latencies are different ; command sets are different), but it is a task that has been done before. And we've seen it (as have the mission managers at NASA).

Comment Re:I read the version with the photos (Score 1) 4

Yes, it was. I had the maid show me how to work the coffeemaker later. I'd have known if I'd bothered to read the coffee packet.

Some of the blur may have been because I was so shaky after hiking outside with all those books and falling down. That last photo is bad because there wasn't much light,

Comment Re:I read the version with the photos (Score 1) 4

The blurry pics are from Patty's new Samsung. I reduced resolution as well, because when I run out of hosting space at where the photos actually are (they won't fit in the's 10 megs) it will cost a lot more. The Sith is cropped way down, he was across the room.

That first picture, the worldcon logo, came from Google. The covers to "Random Scribblings" are GIMPed photos I took with the same phone I took to Worldcon.

I would have probably made a fool of myself if I'd gone to the first Midamericon in 1969 in St. Louis, but I was seventeen.

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