16 posts • joined Monday 10th May 2010 16:46 GMT
All well and good, except...
The problem is that companies, inevitably, will do there darndest to find ways to slither past the spirit of the law. Take MMOs (such as, e.g., World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2) - where the various terms and conditions and EULAs routinely purport to deny the user the right to sell their game *account*. Sure, you can sell your copy of the game *software*, but the game software alone won't let someone else play the game. To do that you need to a registered account on the game servers (which is created, for example, using the unique key that came with a hard copy of the game, and which, once registered, won't be accepted again). If the game supplier refuses to recognise your right to transfer your *account*, you effectively can't transfer ownership of your copy of the game. I strongly suspect that this, too, is in breach of EU law - but until someone takes it to court and gets a decision in their favour (and some sort of order to enforce it) all the power remains in the hands of the big guys over the little ones. Don't be surprised if Microsoft do something very similar, therefore.
Looking at this the wrong way.
It's a given that every project includes risks, and therefore also a given that, occasionally, a project will fail - that's a fact of IT life. And, viewed dispassionately, pulling a failed project is far better use of public money than burying your head in the sand, pretending the problem isn't there and throwing more good money after bad. As an (uninformed) first reaction basis, my thoughts were "Kudos to whoever finally had the balls to say ' Enough is enough'." Yes, it's massively embarrassing that money of such astronomical proportions was spent on this before it was pulled; questions are clearly in order, and heads probably need to roll. But they have to be the right heads - because the sort of witch-hunt mentality that won't tolerate failure isn't in anyone's interest.
Re: It's Pronounced Pittsburra, Pennsylvania
You can decide, but you're very lucky if anyone takes any notice. Mostly the larger community ignores you and forms its own consensus through usage and repetition. If the result doesn't happen to match what you wanted - tough.
I'm afraid that's how language works, Mr Wilhite - if the world says "ghif", "ghif" it is. Your opinion simply doesn't count.
Every experiment, ever, in this area takes the form
1- entangle A and B
2a- observe A
2b- observe B
3- compare the results and observe that the observations match
Step 4 is invariably to presume a cause-and-effect relationship between the results at 2a and 2b, and draw conclusions. But correlation, as we all know, does not imply causation. If, for example, measurement were in some hokey SciFi way to entangle the measuring equipment with the particle being measured, it seems reasonable to assume that the results at each end would entangle in matching ways, and the compared results would also then match. Always. Irrespective of detailed experimental technique, and without any "signal" passing. Probably not what's happening (and even if it were, "the experiment will never fail" isn't the most useful prediction in the world). But the fact that the prevailing explanation (in the case of this experiment) demands the exchange of signals at way over the speed of light, with no observed limit as yet (raising the spectre of restoring Simultaneity, which would be about as big a breach of SR as it's possible to think of), and in others has seemed to suggest that the signals can equally travel back in time, ought in my opinion to be setting off deafening alarm bells in the heads of every physicist working in this area, that something is seriously wrong about their fundamental underlying assumptions. Far more likely is that something else is going on, and the "cause and effect" story we've been telling for getting on for a century now simply isn't the correct one.
Mug, definitely. But not just any mug! Oh, and infuser
This will sound like heresy to some, but.
The best drinking vessel for my tea BY FAR that I've ever had is a 12oz (350ml) "Easygrip" insulated PLASTIC mug from Aladdin. Bought for me (as a joke, mind you) by my wife one Christmas. Best "joke" ever - with the spill-free lid removed, it is incredible. The lip shape is, in some indefinable way, absolutely perfect to drink from, whilst the tea is still beautifully hot and delicious when the contents of any ceramic container would long be stone cold (a property I can't praise or stress too highly). And whatever the plastic may be, it's as odourless and discrete to the tastebuds as any bone china.
It was so good, in fact, that when my first one finally became a bit awkward to use after several years sterling service (wear, tear and general abuse to the softer plastic covering the handle) I attempted a dozen ceramic alternatives, looking for that indefinable "something", before realising just what a gem I'd lost. Fortunately, after a search on line (and after wondering whether Aladdin really now only made them in garish picnic blue), I found the self-same mug on line in a more discrete colour (and bought two to be on the safe side; one of them is sitting on my desk beside me as I type). I heartily recommend the product to anyone brave enough to throw propriety and convention to the winds and it a try.
Preparation? By preference, loose leaf, in a single-cup stainless-steel permanent infuser (one of the big, open-topped beaker-shaped ones I can spoon the tea directly into, with plenty of space for the water to get at the leaves - not a nasty, cramped ball).
Tea? Well - when the wife's making for both of us, it's PG Tips (because she finds it easier just going to chuck a couple of bags in a pot, whatever I may think about the matter, and I find it still makes a decent cuppa in the incredibly hard water around here). The merest dash of milk (if any), but again I find it tends to arrive by default (ah, well). If I'm making it myself, it's Oolong for its subtle, rounded flavour, or Gen Mai Cha (Japanese brown rice tea - aka "popcorn tea") when I fancy a more in-your-face treat. The basic Gen Mai Cha from "Char" in Winchester is excellent. (Not to be confused with their Gen Mai Cha Supreme, which some people clearly like, but I'm not so keen on. Oh, and their Earl Grey Supreme is pretty good, too.)
(Lapsang Souchong?!? No thanks. A drink for people who only have one working taste bud left. If I wanted a mouth full of the taste of wood smoke, I'd go swig Barbecue Sauce.)
I have seen literally thousands of pieces of jewellery in the past shaped as leaves; I am sure that just about any jewellery shop rf stand that you care to pick will have multiple examples. Does Apple seriously think people are going to stop such items if this goes through (or that it will prevail in court if it tries to enforce such a trademark)?
Re: She may be right...
Indeed. Her argument is nothing more than specious, despicable emotional blackmail. The police will ALWAYS be able to do more with greater powers, no matter HOW draconian the state may become. That in itself is a VERY good reason why every such proposal must be treated with the very gravest of suspicion, and resisted unless plainly in the interests of freedom and democracy.
Re: Not exactly a shock
"Yes --- when you propagate the 5% difference through the whole species. But, unless it's a super-power, it means f-all for an individual."
It means that, ON AVERAGE, such individuals will have more offspring than other individuals of the same species with which they're competing locally (which is what matters). And that many of those offspring will inherit that 5% advantage, and ON AVERAGE will again get to reproduce more than their less-fortunate peers. If the dice roll right, a few generations down the line that 5% HAS propagated across the local population. If not, so what? Genetic damage and mutation means that every population is constantly trying out HUGE numbers of minor variations; some WILL be advantageous, and some of those WILL have the luck and permeate the local reproductive population. The vast scale of the numbers involved absolutely guarantees that.
Flight itself could have started from display behaviour
Species of birds the world today over have display behaviour involving jumping; it's highly implausible that some of their remote ancestors, at least, wouldn't have had something similar. So, consider a species with purely decorative display proto-feathers, with males indulging in jumping displays. In such populations, any traits allowing the displaying animal to jump higher or stay off the ground longer - such as proto-feathers providing just a little bit of lift, say - could easily become a selective breeding advantage, driving the development of a reasonably functional feather over quite a short period of time.
Yes, it would be a long way from that to true flight - but it seems to me that it's one possible, reasonably plausible reason for development to to start down that road.
Great, but what about us four-eyes?
Please - just once would be possible to see a headset review that at least thinks about whether or not the set in question is likely to be comfortable for an extended period for someone wearing glasses?
I need to wear glasses all the time at the computer - contacts aren't an option - and I'm not exactly in a hurry to shell out on a fine-sounding top-end set, only to find that the back of my ears gets sore as heck after a couple of hours in game. There're quite a few of us out here, so why not spare us a thought, next time, guys?
Re: IBM Redundancies and No Payrises
Hey, let's not forget "Operation Waltz" back in 2009, either. Several hundred of IBM UK's longest-serving, most experienced employees (of whom I was one) forced out of the company by closing the final salaries pension schemes with not even the pretence of an attempt to cushion the blow or compensate for the loss - if you want to keep your pension, work 6-7 more years to regain what you'll lose, or go now. All that against a background of (never acknowledged but known to all) annual quotas of staff separation via "Personal Improvement Plans" in which the company was judge and jury. Many, many of us decided we had no genuine choice, took our pensions and left. Precisely how many, was something the company wouldn't talk about; mid-2009 was, strangely enough, also notable for being the point at which IBM dropped any pretence at transparency, and decided to stop sharing its employee demographics with the world - so the numbers couldn't even be deduced that way. Honest estimates at the time, though, were that IBM UK shed 450+ of its most experienced people (more than 200 of whom felt sufficiently betrayed and misused by the shameful way they'd been treated to promptly file an action, still to be heard, for constructive dismissal and age discrimination).
Personally, it's hard to put into words just how relieved I now am to be out (especially when I meet and talk to people I know who are still working there). I have no idea how long IBM will be able to keep up the facade, before its customer base finally grows wise to just how far and how badly the company has actually corroded its skill base in the last decade (how little it actually now spends on training for its service people, for example). I'm almost amazed it's lasted as long as it has, even. Sadly, I suspect it's going to take a major, high profile customer disaster to finally wake people up.
Pardon me, but your prejudices are showing...
What on earth is people's problem with the House of Lords not being elected? The House of Lords has been for the last century, a revising chamber rather than a legislative one. Its role is to look at the politically-motivated, knee-jerk stuff that comes out of the Commons, trim off the worst excesses and try to turn it into something akin to decent, acceptable law. When the two houses strongly disagree, the Commons always prevails. It's not elected, the members who do the work do so because they're genuinely interested in doing it, and it's (mostly) not appointed by whatever shower is currently in power, either. Blair and crowd did their damndest to stack it with enough of their cronies to let them push anything that they wanted, but not withstanding that, it's still a check on the worst excesses of the Commons. As such, it's the LAST body that ought to be looking over its shoulders at what the electors will say in two years time.
Re "I have better things to do..." - No you don't.
Funny how some people seem to think that physical competition (such as cycling) is somehow "grown up", yet more sedentary competition (such as computer and other games) isn't. Unless the game is, say, chess or bridge, when it suddenly becomes magically grown up and acceptable again...
I also started playing computer games in the 70's (along with board and role-play - all social activities, in case you hadn't noticed, and just as valid IMO as, say, hoofing a soccer ball around a pitch once or twice a week). The difference is that I never stopped (in fact, I've a Warcraft session running full screen on the other, 24" monitor of my PC as I type - and let's see someone do *that* with a tablet any time soon....). It didn't stop me playing multiple sports, coaching rugby, learning to juggle, having a career and a social life, being happily married and raising four kids, and generally getting on with a host of other, unrelated things along the way. You wrote a book? Bully for you. That you did so had precious little to do with your not playing games. I've found time to write plenty along the way myself (although I realized quite quickly that I'm far too florid in my style to be commercial, and far too anal about consistency of detail to ever finish anything to my own satisfaction anyway). But I didn't "not grow up" - I just never learned to be embarrassed about doing things I enjoy, simply because people whose opinions I couldn't care less about don't understand them. I try things that take my fancy, and I don't give a toss what other people think about them (I've been trying to learn some basic Poi for the last few weeks - finally got the hang of a simple move called the three-beat weave about four hours ago, to my intense elation). My advice to anyone who feels differently is to lighten up, and enjoy life while you still have it - you'll be as dead as me in a couple of hundred years (and unless you're another Shakespeare, just as forgotten, too).
Back on topic, though - IBM didn't understand what they had when they brought the PC to market, or they'd never have let Microsoft have the OS - and they were thoroughly focused on the tech, back then. Why anyone should think any of them know any better now, when all that counts is squeezing a few extra bucks out of the bottom line any way that they can, is beyond me. Other people have said it - the PC hashigh-end roles that simply aren't going to be met any time soon by the supposedly "competing" tech.
(Oh - that career I mentioned? Pushing four decades as a techie inside IBM...)
A good deal for the Beeb? Yeah, right...
"Highlights" for every other race? Funny - I remember when the Beeb got a vaguely similar deal for England RU internationals; it pretty much marked the end of my interest in the 6 Nations. Because someone else's opinion of what all the "interesting" bits were, shown in predigested form hours after the event, is of no use to me; waiting in real time, live, to see what, if anything, will happen is a vital part of the pleasure.
Right now my wife and I watch every race of the season; I can guarantee that we won't be bothering to watch mere highlights, though - and that means we probably won't bother to watch the live races either; what's the point? (Oh, and, no, I'm not forking out for a Sky subscription again, just for the privilege of getting back what until now has been free to air - I've been there, and I'm not going back.)
I wait with interest to see how F1 viewing figures go - I suspect that the drop will be near-precipitous.
There's legal and there's legal
Will someone explain to me how a device designed and marketed with the overt purpose of causing a public nuisance can somehow be deemed acceptable just because not everyone can hear it (or, to be more exact, because the only people who can hear it are young, and presumably therefore perceived as "antisocial")? I'd suggest anyone so inconvenienced should register a complaint under the Noise Abatement act. Were I remotely young enough to stand any chance of actually hearing one of these things in action, I know that I certainly would.
He's wrong, pure and simple.
"Liquid is, of course, drawn up the shorter limb of the siphon by the weight of that in the longer downward one: thus the operating force is gravity."
That's an even bigger howler than the stock explanation, and the sort of thing you get if you only look at the maths, without thinking about the physics. Liquid isn't "drawn up" (as can be proved, as lots of people have pointed out, by raising the shorter limb above the column height that can be supported by atmospheric pressure - the flow stops, and a vacuum forms above the two limbs). For any flow to occur, liquid has to be *pushed* to the top of the shorter limb by atmospheric pressure. No pressure, no column of liquid; no column, no flow.
So. Air pressure is pushing the liquid up in both limbs; the weight of the column of liquid in each limb is opposing that pressure. The column of liquid in the longer limb is greater than that in the shorter limb, so its weight cancels out more of the force due to air pressure at that limb, resulting in a net force (and resultant flow) from short limb to long.
Atmospheric pressure at both ends is the same, so the *size* of the resultant force is, indeed, directly down to the difference in weight of the two columns of water. But. Without atmospheric pressure at the shorter limb, no column of water - and hence no siphon effect - is possible. Gravity does not *cause* the flow - it works on both sides to *oppose* it (and fails more badly at the shorter limb). The operating *force* is the unbalanced component of atmospheric pressure at the short limb.
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