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GNOME 3.8 Released Featuring New "Classic" Mode 267

Hot on the heels of the Gtk+ 3.8 release comes GNOME 3.8. There are a few general UI improvements, but the highlight for many is the new Classic mode that replaces fallback. Instead of using code based on the old GNOME panel, Classic emulates the feel of GNOME 2 through Shell extensions (just like Linux Mint's Cinnamon interface). From the release notes: "Classic mode is a new feature for those people who prefer a more traditional desktop experience. Built entirely from GNOME 3 technologies, it adds a number of features such as an application menu, a places menu and a window switcher along the bottom of the screen. Each of these features can be used individually or in combination with other GNOME extensions."

Comment Re:Writing LaTeX directly is often unnecessary (Score 1) 99

How do you handle complicated math that require special packages in DocBook?

What do you write Docbook in? Surely not direct XML?

I find myself using LaTeX for print documents, and Sphinx for multiformat documents. But I'd be interested to find out if a Docbook based workflow is actually practical for writing mathematical documents.

Comment Re:China vs. India: English Proficiency (Score 1) 588

Actually that does not include Hong Kong. The report says Hong Kong is a moderate proficiency state, while India and China are both low proficiency nations. However the original point I was trying to make was that on average, China and India aren't too far apart in terms of English proficiency, despite what most people believe.

Of course, the report is talking about averages (I suspect the standard deviations are quite large). In terms of the number of *proficient* speakers in English in those countries, my sense is that India > Hong Kong > China.

p.s. in my experience, most Hong Kong people actually speak English poorly or not at all. The folks you met may have been from certain echelons of society that happened to have had good English instruction. The only nation with a majority Chinese population that speaks English reasonably well is Singapore, and even there, the distribution of fluency is largely skewed toward the highly educated.

Comment China vs. India: English Proficiency (Score 1) 588

Conventional wisdom has it that China lags India in English proficiency, for obvious reaons. However, this report says:

"Asia’s English proficiency scores show that reputations are not always accurate. Take for example the nearly equivalent scores of China and India. Despite its British colonial legacy and reputation as an English-speaking nation, India is today no more proficient in English than rapidly improving China."

Comment No confirmation step (Score 2) 253

What puzzles me is that there is no confirmation step required in these contactless payment systems.
When I buy stuff with my chip-based debit or credit card, I'm asked to enter a PIN. Else, I have to physically swipe the card to ensure there is no ambiguity as to whether or not I meant to pay with my card of choice.

With a contactless system, I could be wanting to pay with my credit card, but if I accidentally held my cell phone too close to the reader, it would debit the amount from my phone instead of my card. Why can't there be a screen that pops-up on the phone that says "Touch button to confirm payment"? This seems to me to be a major design flaw.

Comment Canada isn't as metric as you think (Score 1) 2288

It's frustrating for us though when you air your documentaries in Canada, and are quoting ounces, Fahrenheit, yards, etc, since I honestly have no clue what you are talking about. I think it would be a nice gesture for us if you could at least subtitle the imperial measurements in metric or use both, if you must.

Actually Canada isn't as metric as you think. Due to our proximity to the U.S. (and our historical use of Imperial units), we've adopted a kind of a schizophrenic approach to units, and we've grown comfortable with it. Yes, we measure temperature in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, but I'm sure you've noticed that produce/meat/fish are quoted in lbs (some grocery stores use kg, and a lot of people are thrown off by that). We measure distances in meters and kilometers, but colloquially, we say a person is 6"2' 180lbs (very few people know their height and weight in cm and kg). Our air conditioners are rated in Btu's rather than Watts. Canadian football fields are measured in yards. We buy 2 x 4s from Home Depot. And while our store bought beverages are in 350ml packages, at a bar we buy our beer in pints. Flat screen TVs? The Best Buy brochure says they're 52" instead of 132.08 cm.

In engineering, imperial units are still widely used. In engineering school, we spent 1/3 of a course in first year becoming familiar with both the SI and Imperial systems, and learning to convert between them (i.e. dimensional analysis... it's not as trivial as you think when you have to convert vapour and liquid compound properties, e.g. from SCFM to m3/s, you have to know what the standard conditions are). I think personally it's great that Canadian engineering graduates are trained in both systems.

The fact is, imperial units are just more natural for some things and less so for others. The same can be said of metric... especially for very small or very large quantities (e.g. Intel's 45nm process instead of 1.77165354e-6" process).

Comment Snow Melters (Score 1) 203

Most snow melters work at very high thermal efficiencies (90 - 98%). Typically, one ton of snow requires 1.5 US gallon of diesel to melt. Remember, snow is not ice -- it's far less dense.

Snow melters can melt anything from 20 to 5000 tons of snow/hour, depending on their design capacity. Airports already use this technology extensively -- it's nothing new.

Comment English Shell Code -- cup of tea, old boy? (Score 1) 291

When I read the phrase English Shell Code, the first thought that came to my mind was:

% Oh I say, can I see a list of files, old top?

-rwxrwxrwx 1 alfred staff 192 7 Mar 2008 teacosy.txt
drwxr-xr-x 37 alfred staff 1258 25 Nov 2008 cricketscores
-rwxr-xr-x 1 alfred staff 260 28 Aug 2008

% Spiffing, just spiffing. Shall we have a peek at the processes?

    380 ttys000 0:00.01 -bash

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