30 posts • joined 16 Jun 2010
Cost of living
Excellent article, thanks.
Did it the opposite way round and bailed from the UK to Oz 6 years ago.
Figuring out relative cost-of-living is REALLY hard, actually. One thing not mentioned is that while cars may be more expensive, petrol is still much cheaper here than in the UK. It's not quite pound-for-dollar, but it's not far off.
Mainstream vs SF
"Traditionally, sci-fi books tend to just throw details at you and expect you to catch up with jargon, scientific concepts and an entirely different world as you go along. In this book, everything is painstakingly spelled out "
It isn't just bad writers that do this - good non-genre writers tend to do this when they write SF. Jo Walton perceptively nailed this in one of her blog posts, about the difference between "mainstream" and SF:
She picks on Doris Lessing, but there are plenty of other offenders. Excellent writers, but they feel the need to SPELL IT OUT for us, rather than letting us interpolate from the clues.
Dumb Hollywood SF does the same - Basil Exposition always appears at some stage to insult your intelligence and fill in the popcorn-munchers on what's going on.
Aeropress for when you're far, far away from a barista
What SuccessCase said. An Aeropress will cost you buggerall and make an excellent cup of coffee in less than 3mins, even when you're camping. You do have to clean the damn thing between cups, though. It doesn't do a great big pot for all your mates, so it's no good for dinner parties.
And the disposable paper filters can be replaced with a stainless steel mesh one if you want to save the environment.
Re: Early adopters only please
Agree with this post pretty much 100%. I've had my Pebble Steel for a couple of months, and it is a useful and handsome smartwatch. Being able to tell when my phone's ringing in a stupidly noisy pub is brilliant. Maybe I have insensitive thighs (fnarr), but I never seem to feel the damn phone vibrating in my pocket.
I have a niche use not mentioned yet - I work in a research lab where you are required to wear gloves at all times. If my phone rings, I need to leave the lab area, deglove and take my phone out of my pocket. Being able to shoot the cuff of my lab coat and check the watch is a godsend. Is it a double-glazing salesman? Ignore. Is it the school office? Bugger, best leave the lab and answer that.
I have absolutely no doubt that Pebbles will go the way of my beloved Handspring - rendered utterly obsolete in 5yrs time by Apple, Samsung et al. But right now it's a sweet piece of kit. The new smartwatches will come on leaps and bounds I am sure. But.... 1 day battery life? Seriously??
No, hang on - ye canna defy the laws o' physics, Captain!
"In the system affectionately and tongue-twistingly known as SDSS J150243.09+111557.3, the closest black holes are so near to each other, researchers originally the pair of them were one hole."
How can one black hole split into two? Nothing can escape the event horizon (yes, I know apart from Hawking radiation and cheating via quantum tunneling). So how can a whopping supermassive black hole "escape" from another black hole?
Laptops have book value, TSOs don't
My perhaps naive impression from academia is that it's a lot easier to get money for infrastructure and equipment than for salaries to pay people to look after and run the equipment properly.
$750K for a new microscope? Sure.
$50Kp.a. for 5 years to pay the very necessary technician? Hard.
I've concluded that buying lots of equipment (e.g. a ton of laptops for a school) leaves an asset on the books with capital value, albeit depreciating. So university or DoE beancounters can say "we own $500M worth of laptops". But money spent on salaries is evanescent (except to the poor TSOs) so holds no tangible book value.
Re: Macrium Reflect
Another vote for Macrium Reflect. Acronis True Image has got significantly worse over the last couple of years, and the USB boot disk doesn't even bloody work at all on my Asus Zenbook.
Free version of Reflect works fine.
Re: Did you forget the <irony> tag?
"THe Snakes are struggling, but apparently the Spiders are fighting back.
Thanks for the link. It gives me some hope that the slimy little f*ckers won't lay waste to the entire continent. Unlike the excellent, funny, but rather bleak doco "Cane Toads: The Invasion" which seemed to offer little hope.....
Looks like lots of australian species are discovering their love of poisonous toad (well, we're known for our fusion cuisine after all). I particularly liked this one:
"the Australian crow (Corvus orru), which has adapted by eating them from the underbelly to avoid the venom"
A previous El Reg thread on a similar topic led me to this - Xprivacy and Xposed. It's a faff to install, and you do need to be rooted, but it's worth it. Oh yes.....
Every time an app gets updated, Xprivacy encourages me to re-check all the permissions, and gives me granular control over what it can and cannot access.
@vahid Two good, thoughtful posts, thanks. It is nasty, serious shit, no question. But.....
As far as I can tell from the article, and from what you've gleaned, NSA scarfs up the profiles from Angry Birds via Millenial's scumbag ad app. But this has to be seriously crappy, low-grade metadata. I mean I had Angry Birds on my Android phone for months, and never once clicked on any of the crappy ads (except that one with the donkey and the blonde Danish girl, and that was a mistake, Your Honour). What does Rovio or Millennial now know about my habits and lifestyle, other than I marginally prefer Angry Birds Star Wars to their other games, and that I have the attention span of an 8-yr-old on Red Bull?
Or am I missing something? Does the Millenial adware hook into your browser and hoover up all those late-night pr0n-browsing sessions?
As for location and Google Maps, meh.
1) Does anyone seriously doubt that activating "track my Location" tells the entire WORLD precisely where you are? Christ, if Facebook knows it, the NSA knows it
2) Everybody knows that LEOs can triangulate your whereabouts from a handset. I suppose this does make it easier for the agencies to track your movements back in time for a good long period.
There's a market, I'll tell you that
Interesting. I live in Tas, and am fortunate enough to be close enough to an ADSL2+ exchange to get reasonable broadband. But if you are unlucky enough to live just a few km outside a major conurbation, you are SOL. Many parts of Tas are still very rural indeed, even surprisingly close to town.
Re: Thanks, Google!
Thanks for that - XPrivacy is exactly what I came into these comments looking for. Little bit of to-ing and fro-ing to get it installed, but seems to work well, and offers granular control over many areas one might wish to restrict.
The previous app mentioned (LBE Pivacy) hasn't been updated in over a year, and has crash reports for Jelly Bean devices (endless boot loop).
Having grown up in the UK, I felt pretty immune to arachnophobia. Until I moved to Oz and met a Huntsman in the bog.
<Mick Dundee> "heh heh, that's not a spider. THIS is a spider...."
The missus called me in to deal with a spider, and I duly trotted in with my little glass and a piece of cardboard. "We're going to need a bigger tumbler....."
Excellent article, thank you. Would love to hear of something similar on how the Forbidden Planet soundtrack was made, back in 1956.
The subject may demand it, but please don't be tempted to write another whole article on the various theme tunes through the years. Note to BBC - STOP PISSING ABOUT WITH IT. Revert to a classic earlier version (my vote would be Pertwee years), then leave it alone, and stop trying to make it more exciting and "with it", daddio.
Re: Why all the exitement?
Delighted to see the Wildfire S in the hall of shame in the article. Mine still runs Gingerbread, and its pitiful amount of RAM and parasite burden of shit apps from HTC and Telstra made my life miserable for a long time. (Isn't it just super when gmail stops working with less than 12Mb of RAM is available on a Wildfire S?)
I also didn't have much luck with CyanogenMod and a couple of other non-stock ROMS for this ancient phone. However, even if you don't have ICS, there is hope! If you root the bastard, make a special partition on your SD card and then install LinkSD, you can move almost any app to the SD card, and you can "freeze" non-essential stock apps from ever being loaded (yeah, that's right, Facebook, I'm looking at you) hence freeing up valuable RAM.
It's been working like a charm for over a year now with almost 50Mb free, but I notice with some trepidation that the Google Play updates are getting bigger....and bigger....
Re: Noise pollution
Doesn't necessarily mean you're an Aspie. Have a look at CAPD - central auditory processing disorder ("dyslexia for the ears"). There are areas of overlap between CAPD, ADHD, autism and Aspergers of course.
Minecraft DOES require Java, but does not require it to be installed in your browser. I have the Java plugin for Firefox disabled and Minecraft runs quite happily outside under the 64-bit JVM. The plugin only gets enabled on the rare occasions I run browser-based Java apps (for molecular biology).
Bijou macaroni cheese
That steak deserves a thumbs-up, but what's with the tiny portion of mac+cheese? Is that what makes it a "swanky" steakhouse? The pasta side-dish comes in a wee ramekin, instead of piled high in a bowl? Because I woudn't normally associate mac+cheese with swanky......
Wasn't Steam supposed to do this right?
A timely thread. Some twat of a contractor chopped a fibre optic at our local exchange last week. 4 days with no landline and hence no ADSL.
First I sighed, because I would be unable to mark all those exam papers online this weekend.
Then I slapped myself hard and realised I could devote more time to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, yay!! (I know, I know, woefully late to the party.). Steam will work offline, I told myself.
Nope. Steam told me that my login credentials were not stored locally on my computer, and I could just piss off.
I need my online connection to fix Steam, so I can play in Offline mode. Grrrrrrrr.......
But will it remove all the previous patches?
I have multi-Gb of patches in Winsxs filling up my SSD from two years worth of updates. Will SP1 remove all these, as it inserts its 1050Mb of goodness (plus a further 1050Mb of backup goodness) into my system?
I'd really like that.
Re: The real challenge now...
"...is to come up with a candidate that none of the previous 421 commentards (at time of writing) have mentioned. For the first half-hour of comment-wading I thought I was onto a winner with "The Man In The White Suit", but someone eventually cited it."
Dammit. The gauntlet has been thrown down now. I'm going to play the "made for TV" card and cite "Brave New World", made as a miniseries in 1980.
It's a bit heavy-handed, I know, but it ticks the "serious SF" boxes, and I remember being quite moved by it at the time.
Now Equilibrium, on the other hand, drew deeply from the well of Aldous Huxley, and is a crappy action movie which I deeply love. Guilty Pleasure.
*sigh* The commentard that pointed out that SF geeks will read through 409 comments hit the nail on the head. That's an hour of my life I won't get back, but I was delighted to find a few surprises in the comments - movies I didn't know about that don't look like they are complete crap!
@spoonsinger: "No Millennium' love? (not the TV series but the weird airplane disaster investigation time travelley film with Kris Kristofferson)"
I loved it - a glorious mess. I'm just bitterly disappointed that it's the only John Varley ever to grace the silver screen, despite the fact that he was supposed to be off working for Hollywood instead of writing SF in the 80s+90s. His body of work deserves better cinematic treatment (and yes, I know there have been a few cheapo made-for-TV versions of short stories).
Millenium reminds me about "The Twonky" (1953).
It's a bit dated now, but - y'know - Henry Kuttner and CL Moore!
+1 for Flowers for Algernon - made me blub like a little gurlie too, just like Silent Running (damn you, Joan Baez for cheap heartstring tugging). Although I saw the 2000 version with Matthew Modine.
Haven't seen mentioned so far:
Paprika - quite "Lathe of Heaven" in concept, with some genuinely mind-expanding imagery. Not your average anime.
WALL-E - if we're having Silent Running, I'm having WALL-E. Ludicrous premise, profoundly moving execution and characterisation.
Simone AKA S1m0ne - quite topical this one, with Al Pacino's virtual movie star getting out of hand (shades of Idoru)
CJ7 - from the director of Kung Fu Hustle, small boy finds an interesting alien toy.
Mirrormask - Drifting into fantasy rather than SF, but I prefer to lump it with SF (Somehow it Fits) to avoid being tainted with elves, dwarves and sodding dragons.
And no true SF nerd gets by without some love for the trashier end of the spectrum:
Split Second (1992). Not Rutger Hauer's finest hour, but worth it for the scenery-chewing by both him and his nerdy sidekick (dude from Taggart)
"We need to get bigger guns. BIG FUCKING GUNS!"
I really struggle to get my head around how the Microdrive infinite tape loop actually WORKED. So Alan Firminger's post above was fascinating. I still haven't quite grasped how the inside of the tape loop lets you draw the tape out without friction. Anyone got a link to a nice diagram?
Mine was pretty damn reliable (and I too remember the joy of having Elite load in 7s without sodding Lenslok). So perhaps I had a v2 also.
You need JRE to play Minecraft. Don't sneer - my 8-year-old son would be devastated if I had to kill Minecraft because Java is so woefully insecure.
But I guess you can disable the browser plugin and still run the standalone Minecraft with JRE active??
Definitely worth the side-trip to Tas if you happen to be in Australia
I've been to MONA twice now (fortunate enough to live locally), and it is an exceptional space to view art in. Not all of the art will be to your taste, or even David Walsh's taste! The iPod thingy gives you some notes and thoughts from Walsh on some of the pieces, and even where he disagrees with his curator.
Some of the pieces are deeply pretentious, and these may have the joyous "Artwank" entries on the iPod.
And finally - and I admit to being deeply partisan here - Walsh commissioned Damian Cowell (ex-TISM Australian wordsmith par excellence) to write an albums-worth of songs for works that caught his fancy. So certain pieces you can listen to a song about them while you ponder the art. (The DC3 - 2011 - Vs Art) This item is not available in the shops, as part of the deal was that performing rights reside with MONA. You get the CD free with a copy of the (costly!) MONA catalogue.
Netbooks are awesome. I keep looking at tablets, doing the research and then thinking "Nope. But I wish my netbook performed better"
Since there are lots of netbook gurus in this thread, maybe someone can advise:
I've got an Asus 1005PE with 2Gb RAM and Win7 starter. It's a beautiful piece of engineering, quick to boot and awake from sleep, 10hrs+ battery life, nice screen+keyboard. Really liked the little Splashtop OS with the alternative power button, back when it actually bloody worked, that is.
BUT....... in Windows it is very unresponsive at times. When opening apps, or new web pages, especially ones with lots of ads and trackers (yeah, that's right, Grauniad, I'm looking at you) it will just hang for 5-10s. No mouse or keyboard response, nothing. It's got to the point where I was ready to spend $$$ and get an ultrabook.
I assumed this unresponsiveness was because the netbook runs an Atom, but is it possible that this is entirely the fault of Windows 7 Starter? I don't have a problem with Starter, it does everything I need for this netbook, and I assumed that it was cut-down enough to run OK on this hardware (with my 2Gb RAM upgrade, note). Upgrading to a full-fat version of Win7 sounded like it would be playing Buckaroo with my limited hardware platform.
It's well out of warranty, so I'm happy to reformat and throw on Linux. Except I do use this machine to play Powerpoint presentations when I give talks. How does LibreOffice handle Powerpoint 2010? I don't need to edit them, just play them.
Entirely agree with the first comment. When I realised they'd ditched all the little fiddly useful parts, I was thoroughly pissed off, as JayCar is a long drive away. Ebay just isn't the same.
The other thing that irked me intensely about Dick Smith in recent years was that they charged premium prices for their own-brand cables - 25 bucks for a bog-standard USB extension cable, 20 bucks for a metre of Cat6! And then they started to only sell Belkin A/V cables, presumably because Woolies had signed a pact with Belkin.
Buy British!! (erm, shurely shome mishtake?) - Sugru was invented by an Irish woman working in London. It's bloody awesome, but as the article points out, it has a very short shelflife - bizarre, considering it comes in tiny little sealed packets.
Polymorph looks good, and much cheaper than Sugru. I particularly enjoyed the warning on the website NOT to mould it around any body-part, as it might harden and be difficult to remove. *smirk*
Eric Pickles is clearly channelling Rowan Atkinson's splendidly oily Conservative minister from a few years back:
"A lot of immigrants are Indians and Pakistanis, for instance, and I like curry. I do.
But now that we've got the recipe...
Is there really any need for them to stay?"
* Props to the poster on CiF over at the Guardian who recalled this prescient gem of a sketch.
Am I missing something here?
Does an iPad have a keyboard? No? Well, bollocks to that, then. I use a netbook to take notes and type docs when I'm away at meetings. I can't watch the presenter and tap on a Fondle Slab touchscreen at the same time, unless I want my notes to get all fuc7djhuyel;tm sfupid bl8ody iPsd.......
I'm sure iPad will munch a fair chunk of the market, but the rumours of netbook death have been greatly exaggerated.
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