* Posts by Starlite Lemming

12 posts • joined 3 Feb 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Star Wars Special Editions

Starlite Lemming

Fixed ... but not fixed

There's surprisingly few things I didn't like in the Special Editions. I love the extra graphics -- that scene of the Jawa Sandcrawler against a spectacular sunset -- and the extra scenes do add to the universe (even meeting Jabba in Star Wars).

I certainly can't tolerate a couple: Han shot first because he was *that good* -- a central part of his character; Haydn Christensen looks dumb enough in the movies he was paid for, why on Earth would we want to see him again?!

But what really baffles me is the bits they *didn't* fix:

Why is Luke's lightsaber white on the Falcon in Star Wars? Everyone knows it should be blue.

And why does most of the battle with the Emperor in Jedi look like it's been pulled off a VHS tape?

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EU reforms could pave way for smells and noises to be trade-mark protected – expert

Starlite Lemming

One man's smell...

Whenever I walk past a Subway, I smell melted plastic. I'm not the only person sensitive to whatever chemical I'm smelling, but we are in a small minority.

I can't wait for Subway to trademark the smell of their "bread" ... only to have it challenged in court by a plastics manufacturer claiming it's "new car smell." :)

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T'was the night before Christmas, and an industrial control system needed an upgrade

Starlite Lemming

Re: But the loop had no test in it.

Loving some of the comments.

My first home computer was a Commodore 128.

Wrote my first programme in BASIC 7.0 (it had graphics commands!).

Wrote my second programme in the Machine Language Monitor -- think Assembler without labels (= variable names). My grandpa was actually able to supply me with a specially-printed pad of assembly programming paper. Made it a lot easier to precalculate jump addresses (which were predominantly relative in 6502 assembler).

But my favourite thing about the Commodore 64 (there was a lot more material published for the 64, so I inevitably found myself in C-64 mode), was that you could load an entire screen of graphics into a blank bit of memory, then display it on the screen in the blink of an eye by simply changing the memory address of where the graphics chip looked for screen memory. I think there may have been as many as 16 different locations (4 bit flag -- seems likely), so you could have that many completely different screens at your fingertips.

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Starlite Lemming

Re: “A less than really sharp manager agreed,”

@Anonymous Custard: I think someone forgot to tell the rest of the world about that second part (surrounding the incompetent with the clever).

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Starlite Lemming

I hope that "less than really sharp manager" was disciplined.

The prevailing attitude -- that, if it works, there was never a problem -- only breeds problems (and incompetence) down the track.

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Microsoft steps up Windows 10 nagging

Starlite Lemming

Bring on the law suits!

I'm eagerly awaiting the first law suit, when the forced upgrade results in expensive data loss.

If you don't give someone the option, you implicitly assume the responsibility.

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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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