11 posts • joined 3 May 2011
Funding schools by raiding university funding
From the Sci/Tech point of view there are some good bits (e.g. $135.3M over 5 years for Australian Research Council Future Fellowships, $185.9M over 2 years for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme) and the extra school funding is of course very welcome but it's a bit overshadowed by the $3.3B of cuts over 4 years to university funding. If Australia wants to be in the top five countries in the world for education it will need to properly fund education above the age of 18 as well as below it.
It's nice to see some actual numbers on this but it was already blindingly obvious that the higher prices of technology products sold in Australia had nothing to do with shipping costs. The fact that you can buy something that has been made in Asia, shipped to the warehouses of online retailers in Europe or the USA and then individually airmailed to you in Australia for much less than the cost of the same item that has been shipped directly to Australia makes that pretty clear.
Re: boffins with brains the size of planets
Astronomers generally reserve the 'imaginative' names for the scientific instruments attached to the telescopes, rather than the telescopes themselves, though there are a few exceptions. Acronyms are popular, there's a list of some of the worst here: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~gpetitpas/Links/Astroacro.html
Re: Met graph
They have apparently worked out a way to do it as it's already been done once. I don't know what reflectivity they got it up to following the wash but I did see the mirror surface recently and it looked pretty good.
Re: Met graph
Unfortunately realuminising is not possible because the mirror elevator upgrade hadn't happened yet and it's considered unsafe to use the elevator for removal/reinstallation of the primary mirror until it has. We'll just have to make do with washing it again for now.
The news coming from the observatory this morning now that people have been able to return to the site is that that all of the telescope buildings are intact, as are most of the other structures, however the Lodge (on site accommodation for visiting astronomers and other staff on night shifts), the AAO Director's Cottage, a small storage shed and two homes on the mountain have been destroyed. The mains power lines are down and the site is now on generator power. Soot and debris have entered a number of telescope buildings and it's possible some of the smaller ones may have heat damage. A lot to clean up is required but at the moment it is thought that the observatory will be back in business in about two weeks.
The damage could have been a lot worse and the main reason it wasn't is that the people running the observatory are not, in fact, stupid (regardless of what WatAWorld thinks). The observatory does ensure no tress or shrubs grow close to any building and performs regular controlled Hazard Reduction burns in the run up to summer every year. The buildings themselves are fire hardened to various degrees, e.g. ember screens fitted to windows. Lessons were learnt from the complete destruction of the Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra in bush fires in 2003, the fact that a major bush fire was able to pass through the Siding Spring Observatory without a single telescope burning down is testament to that.
The NSW Rural Fire Service also deserve credit for their tireless efforts fighting this and the other 170 odd fires currently burning in the state. They've posted photos of the aftermath of the fire at the observatory on their Facebook page, here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151382336805552.525957.213250965551&type=1
There also a story with good photos and video from the ABC here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-14/homes-destroyed-in-nsw-bushfire/4463136
Re: Hosting companies
Er, DMCA is (fortunately) an American law only. This is an article about the legal situation in Australia. I'm sure that Big Content would love to impose the DMCA on the rest of the world but it hasn't managed it yet, so it's not really relevant to this discussion.
Politics appears to be swaying the decision here...
as it usually does with projects of this scale.
Splitting the SKA across both sites only makes sense from the political angle. The SKA's own Science and Engineering Committee concluded that a split site would reduce the scientific capability of the SKA. From the technical point of view building two major facilities on two continents instead of one (really) major one on one continent is obviously going to present more logistical challenges, which will either increase the costs (by hundreds of millions of dollars in extra infrastructure alone) or force a descope.
Non-exclusive broadcast rights?
There would be no problem here if it weren't for the insistence on exclusive rights or nothing. I understand that exclusive rights are significantly more valuable than non-exclusive but the all or nothing attitude of both the broadcasters and the rights holders leaves a load of consumer demand unmet, as evidenced by the widespread illegal streaming of various sports. By offering a diverse range of viewing options I'm sure the rights holders could actually make more money overall due to the increase in the size of the audience.
I'd love to see IPTV take off in Australia but the anti-siphoning laws are an important safeguard and unless IPTV is more readily available than cable TV then it's quite right for it to put in the same class for this purpose. By more readily available I mean either ad supported, reasonably priced pay per view or casual single 'channel' subscriptions as opposed to the massively bundled long term subscriptions offered by Foxtel.
Personally, as a Brit living in Oz, I'd love to be able to watch England play Test cricket and I'm prepared to pay for the privilege. I am not prepared to pay for an enormous bundle of crappy Foxtel channels just to get that though and there are currently no (legal) alternatives. IPTV has the potential flexibility to allow people to buy the content they actually want but only if the rights holders switch to non-exclusive rights contracts.
Stupid, yet again
Another example of the all too common stupidity of companies trying to discourage mobile phone hacking. Naturally the last thing a company would want to encourage is fans of their devices spending their spare time making said devices work better, for free, and making the improved software available to other enthusiasts. Clearly a nightmare scenario, that...
Google Talk/Google Voice
@Dapprman, you seem to be (understandably) confused between Google Talk and Google Voice. It's Google Voice that is US only, it's the VoIP service with call out to US phone lines. Google Talk is the IM functionality bundled into GMail, it has video calling capabilities and is available to all GMail users. There's a Google Talk app for Android already, but only for the text chat aspect.
Personally I'm looking forward to this, I've been wanting a video calling solution to enable connections between Android and a cross platform desktop client and had been surprised to discover that there wasn't anything that quite fit the bill already. Overdue but welcome.
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