774 posts • joined Monday 28th June 2010 14:47 GMT
Visit every star
@maccy "it would only take 1 million years for these probes to visit every star".
Which means one hypothetical probe somewhere in a solar system. All we have to do is find it - if we don't, we're alone.
I think this is where we came in. There might be a million of the things already in our solar system, and we still wouldn't necessarily find them.
I seem to recall that a rod is the same length as a perch or a pole.
Why are we paying?
The original story says that BAA and the airlines were complaining about the queues at immigration. The implication is there are queues because there are insufficient passport officers, and the head-count can't be increased because of public spending constraints.
I should have thought there is a simple answer that will eliminate the queues at no cost to the taxpayer. Tell BAA and the airlines to pay for passport checks. They can then have as many immigration officers as they want.
Since the transport business makes money from dumping large numbers of travellers at entry ports, why should the taxpayer cover the cost of screening out the undesirables?
I can think of nothing worse
...than being stuck in a cramped RyanAir cabin along with a load of fanbois w4nking with their fondleslabs.
Seriously, if iPad pr0n is what gets you off, I would have thought you'd have your own collection. Also, if RyanAir's actresses are to normal pr0n stars as their flights are to normal airlines', I imagine the movies would appeal to, er, specialist tastes only (see icon).
@Mondo the Magnificent
>>Often enough by time we get it, it's well over a week old, but ironically still sits on a supermarket shelf titled "Fresh Meat".
A good butcher will age beef for anything up to a month. If you prefer to buy "Fresh Meat" that's under a week old, it's not surprising that the taste is disappointing.
Properties vs Accessors
Yes, the get/set method syntax is a bit burdensome. But the alternative has its problems, too.
When coding in C# I found myself forced into silly naming conventions to prevent conflict and ambiguity between member field names and property methods. (Made ten times worse by a ridiculous Style Nazi add-on to Visual Studio that used to bitch about naming conventions - probably written by the jerk who did the grammar warnings in MS Word.)
The problem rarely arises when using the public interface to a class. Few experienced coders expose fields these days. But it needs to be clear in member methods whether we're accessing the field or the property.
Given the choice between get/set and having to call fields things like "mName", I think I prefer the former. It's mainly because "getName", "setName" and "name" have a relationship that's clear from reading them, but also because, in my heade at least, "mName" sounds like a cross between "M'Lud" and "My Computer".
How does this work?
I go into Carphone Warehouse (actually, I don't, but let's assume I do). I see a phone I like, and I tap a code into my phone. Then I pick up the phone and walk out? And nobody stops me?
Of course all the phones on display are dummies, and they're tied down to prevent theft by other dummies, so that's not going to work.
But substitute merchandise that's actually available to carry away, and I still don't get it.
"Excuse me, Sir, have you paid for that?"
"Yes, I tapped a magic number into my phone."
"That's OK then."
What's all this I keep reading about Steve Jobs and design?
For a man obsessed with design, he sold some pretty mundane products. The Iphone looks much the same as most other mobile phones. The computers looks much like all computers (except for the ones that have a square mouse with a button missing). From a technical perspective they seem to be nothing special.
I think what Jobs had was a kings-new-clothes ability to convince people that superficial gloss is good design.
It's easy to lose a BlackBerry...
as long as you're not the person who had to pay for it.
What I want to know is how they apparently lost non-portable computers (presumably workstations, let's hope it's not servers). You need a pretty big sofa to fit one of those down the back.
Big Brother needs to watch more carefully.
All the smartypants posting "look out of the window" messages should re-read the article. They are gathering information about whether it's raining elsewhere.
But I have to agree that it seems like a pretty fatuous piece of "research".
Back in 19th-century America, some prurient halfwit decided that "titbit" had something to do with tits, and that it should be spelled "tidbit" to avoid triggering a collapse of the nation's morals. (He or she was probably an ancestor of the person who objected to the use of the word "niggardly".)
In Britain, where some of us actually understand the language we speak, the word is "titbit".
It's not height that matters...
I believe the traditional distinction is that a code operates at a semantic level (i.e. words and phrases), while a cipher operates at a character level.
... or so I thought until I read the phrase "the data importing wizards resolutely point you at Access".
Anything worthwhile would resolutely point you at Control Panel->Add/Remove Programs->Access.
What is a "Mental Act"?
Do you have to be able to perform the computation in your head without paper and pencil? Are you allowed to mutter?
Who has to be able to perform it? Everybody? Me? Stephen Hawking? Would he be excluded because he needs a computer to speak?
You're all wrong
The film isn't about Enigma or Bletchley Park.
It's going to be called "Computable Numbers", and they're currently trying to cast the Entscheidungsproblem. The favourite is Anne Hathaway doing her famous Yorkshire accent.
What's wrong with disliking change in a user interface? A UI that doesn't change much is mature. A development team that yearns to change such a UI is immature.
Even supposing that a redesigned UI improves efficiency, you have to ask whether the improvement will ever pay for the time wasted and mistakes made as a result of the change.
We can now extend the old joke: if Microsoft made cars, you'd kill yourself when you bought a new car because they'd decided to move all the pedals around and replace the steering wheel with a touch screen. The car is an example of a mature UI - although the designers of in-car computers are doing their best to change that.
GWT == Java
Re-read the post.
It's at least 20 years since I was first involved with this question.
BI tools have come a long way (in some respects, in others they seem curiously to have regressed). But I suspect that the answer to the question is still "Probably Not". The way corporate data is stored is usually the problem.
What tends to happen is that somebody in an office becomes a BI super-user and either helps everybody else with their reporting problems or supplied them with canned reports. It's still BI as a specialist function, but the specialist isn't part of the IT department.
What the FAT???
You'd think $444m would be enough to fund some kind of clean-room re-engineering of the components in question.
I've never actually written a filesystem, so I could be wrong, but I don't imagine FAT would be too hard to emulate. It is, after all, about a quarter of a century old, and it wasn't exactly bleeding-edge when it was new.
The Great Vowel Shift
If it's "leeber-office", why is the "r" before the "e"?
Dunno about "the common European pronunciation". I'm a European myself, but I struggle to imagine a set of pronunciation rules that apply all the way from the west of Ireland to the Dardanelles.
All camel-case product names are a bit stupid. But the main problem with LibreOffice is how to pronounce it.
"office" is English, but "libre" could be any one of several other languages.
"leebruh-office" or "leebray-office" seem likely pronunciations, but in both cases the vowel-vowel transition in the middle is awkward - to an English speaker, at least. Some languages elide the final vowel to avoid the awkward transition, so should it be "leebroffice"? And it's not clear how the first syllable sounds "lib" or "leeb"?
None of this is really very important, but manufacturers of retail goods usually go to great lengths to avoid ambiguous and hard-to-pronounce names. LibreOffice is free, so the case is slightly different, but they still want to be popular.
"Universal Credit needs real-time data on the earnings of every adult".
How exactly does anybody, let alone a group of IT incompetents from the public sector, expect to gather real-time earnings data? It might theoretically be possible with, say, taxi drivers, where there's a real-time earnings meter in the cab, but most people's earnings data is emphatically batch-mode.
Could it be that they just mean "up-to-date", but they think "real-time" sounds more technical and wizz-o?
"the procurement process within government can be a bit like asking for a beef sandwich and then being given a cow"
No. Asking for a beef sandwich, being given a dish of spaghetti, and paying for a herd of cows.
That would be the place that's only open while you're at work, closed on Sundays and Saturday afternoons. Run by the organisation that closes more of its outlets every year. No thanks.
Supermarkets sound like a good location, especially those that are open 24 hours.
How do they know who it is?
With the possible, highly dodgy, exception of the Turin shroud, there are no pictures of Jesus. So how do the offended Christians and the ASA know it's meant to be their imaginary Jewish friend?
If you conclude that an offensive image looks just like Jesus, then you're the one who's insulting him by saying he looks like an offensive image, since you have no idea at all what he really looked like.
But "didn't spend less" is not the same as "spent more", is it? Quite likely the majority spent the same, and were switching to get a better phone.
If you're really a Professor you should know these things.
Even the most conscientious developer is unlikely to have more than 10% comment/code ratio.
So T-Mobile is removing maybe 5kb from a typical site. Big deal!
**The authors of the JS compression tools seem to have managed to do what T-Mobile has failed at.
Winding up Android users is like shooting fish in a barrel
If the fish are in a barrel, what sort of moron uses a rod and line?
Is there an app for killing fish in a barrel?
I live in a village about 10 miles from the centre of Cambridge. Ten years ago, when we asked BT about broadband connection, the response was "it will never be possible - you are too far from the exchange". (Annoyingly, the next-door garden contains a small brick building labelled "Telephone Exchange", but it appears the real exchange has been moved further away.)
Because wired broadband was "impossible", a local company set up to provide wireless broadband to villages. I signed up and I allowed them to put an antenna on my chimney. It all looked very promising, as the wireless connection would be faster than a wired one.
As soon as the competition appeared, BT decided that "impossible" was possible and that "never" meant "now". The wireless company consequently went bust, leaving me with a large antenna to remove from the roof. And everybody got a crap connection over 3+ miles of copper.
If the white space companies can give us decent rural broadband, I'll be immensely grateful. But they'd better expect BT to suddenly discover that the area's ideal for fibre.
I thought one of the principles of the DPA was to prevent organisations from hoarding data for its own sake. Most of the companies where I've worked had to implement fairly complicated methods for eliminating expired 3rd-party data by one-way scrambling.
Why should it be legitimate for a school to behave like a data pack-rat?
Not entirely Excel's fault
Imagine that you're writing a CSV importer (disregard the fact it would be sensible to use one of the many robust, tested solutions to this particular problem).
Your importer is processing a field that is expected to contain a date string. It finds something surrounded by quotes. Do you:
(a) Strip off the quotes and any spaces to see if what they contain is a date string, because quoted fields are a common feature of CSV?
(b) Report an error and reject the row (or the entire file)?
(c) Use an arbitrary date value (today's date...your birthday...14 Oct 1066) and carry on?
I can't think of any situation in which (c) might be the right answer.
If you're wondering why CP/M-86 didn't make it, take note of the fact that the first file in the screenshot is PIP.CMD.
On the original CP/M, nearly every command was PIP (short for Peripheral Interchange Program, I believe). For some reason Gary Kildall never seemed to grasp that users might like to use words like "copy". I seem to recall that the arguments were in geeky order, too, so "copy a:foo.bar b:" was "pip b:=a:foo.bar".
There was a similar universal PIP command on the DEC operating system RSTS/E - a grown-up o/s that should have been capable of better.
Satisfied with what?
It's not clear whether the mobile users were expressing satisfaction with the quality of the comms, or the quality of the customer service, i.e. the excuses they get when the comms are rubbish.
My experience with Orange (aka Nothing Anywhere) is that it usually takes several attempts to make a call, calls often drop out, and lots of incoming calls are routed to voicemail even when my phone isn't busy. The data connection varies between slow and non-existent. All these problems occur despite the fact that the phone is showing a strong signal, from which I infer that it's the network that's rubbish.
Perhaps the low Orange dissatisfaction score reflects the fact that the pollsters couldn't make contact with many Orange customers.
...and that's why I dropped them, too
It seems their system used to make a tiny charge on the card as part of its verification procedure.
The security people at Visa told me that's also one of the things card fraudsters tend to do. The result was that every order I placed with Dabs was blocked by "card problems", so delivery times were extended to several weeks while I tried to communicate with them.
Like The Dark Lord, I told Dabs what the problem was, but they weren't interested. Fortunately, the world is not short of online electronics retailers.
Successful, secure apps are not Java applets?
Tell that to Thomson Reuters, who have several successful (i.e. popular and profitable), secure applications for trading FX and other instruments, all delivered as Java applets and Java Web Start. The users are tier 3 institutions, rather than full-time traders, because the Internet introduces latencies that are unacceptable for the latter, but they still trade billions of dollars.
Before working on these applications I too thought applets were just annoying gadgets embedded in web pages. To my surprise I discovered that an applet can be a good way to deliver a large, complex application to the desktop. No need for distribution media or download instructions. No requirement to get authorisation for a desktop installation - in companies that have outsourced their IT infrastructure this can take months.
This is something I wish I'd known before I spent a year rewriting a Java Swing program as a web application.