* Posts by Starlite Lemming

6 posts • joined 3 Feb 2011

So, was it really the Commies that caused the early 20th Century inequality collapse?

Starlite Lemming

Tech acceleration during WW2

While the 1930s did see many technological advances, as noted, WW2 itself did accelerate certain technologies (radar and communications, in particular) beyond where they might have reached without the war (over the same time period). Once the war was over, that technological expertise naturally sought out peace-time applications, in my example leading to a sudden explosion in radioastronomy, but also in more consumer-applicable communications fields. I would be surprised if this development in select, narrow fields did not give other, related areas a boost -- dragging them forward at an increased pace, so to speak.

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Stop forcing benefits down my throat and give me hard cash, dammit

Starlite Lemming

No paid leave = no leave at all

It feels to me that you're writing this from a privileged position that most people do not share. While you may be able to negotiate a contract you're happy with, most of us are at the mercy of the employer who wants to squeeze every last cent out of us.

In Australia, we get exactly 4 weeks of paid annual leave (not including a smattering of public holidays). If that were not standard, employers would be handing new employees contracts with just one week of leave over Christmas, and expecting it to be rubber-stamped because "we use the same contract for everyone." In fact, this already happens when smaller companies force employees to take half their annual leave over Christmas.

Those Americans you mention as having less leave than Europeans because of lower tax rates? That's baloney. No one gets the option for more leave until they get seniority.

In short, minimum, broad-based, statutory employment conditions are a way of guaranteeing a modicum of sanity that employers would, as a group, love to see whittled away. Just ask Murdoch.

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The Reg's desert XP-ocalypse aversion plan revealed

Starlite Lemming

Alcohol 52%

I would suggest including Alcohol 52% (freeware CD imager and emulator). Shame about the name, I suppose.

Also Irfanview (*the* image viewer) and FreeCommander (a file manager).

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Boffins boggled by ORB-shaped electrons

Starlite Lemming

cm for the metrically-challenged

I've been reading Brian Green's "The Elegant Universe" and noticed that he, too, uses cm-based units instead of metre-based. It may be a practice limited to the particle physics community, but I wouldn't be surprised if most US scientists do the same thing. My theory is that they know they should be using metric units in science but they don't have much grasp of how they work in practice, so they end up using cm in similar circumstances to inches, and metres for feet. Of course, as we all know, they should be using pico-Moon's orbits...

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Say it with pictures

Starlite Lemming

Hard to do, harder to learn

Good visualisation has a *huge* effect on how *quickly* and *effectively* information can be conveyed, whether it be using shading and borders in tables or more sophisticated devices.

While Visio is enormously capable, it takes a very long time to learn. I've used it on occasion, and always wondered if I was really using the right part of the program and the right templates. There's just no guidance, since Microsoft assumes (as always) that everyone knows what it decides to call things (eg: types of diagrams). This is a huge obstacle to widespread use.

Visualisation is also really hard to do well. Not many people have the knack -- think of all the atrocious PowerPoint presentations you've seen.

Finally, the real aim of visualisation is, I think, to provide additional data (sometimes in the form of visual context) much more quickly than can be achieved otherwise. My favourite example is the run-rate charts used during the cricket coverage. In order to properly interpret the data, it's necessary for the viewer to first look at the scale on each axis, as it changes during the match. If they locked it in, so all 50 overs were always shown, and horizontally, there were heavy rules every 6 runs (per over) and light rules every 3 runs (per over), within two or three viewings, we could interpret the entire graph at a glance without reading a single word!

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'Air laser' tech could sniff bombs, probe atmos from afar

Starlite Lemming
Black Helicopters

Holograms, anyone?

I love this idea!

I wonder if this could be developed into Star Wars-like holograms...

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