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Comments

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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

DeathToBill Re:Overseas comment (382 comments)

Well, as I said, you can do that calculation, and if they haven't got it right you can file a tax return. If you held two jobs in a year then you might well want to do that.

We have another good taxation innovation in the UK: donations to charities are tax exempt, but the money (usually) goes to the charity, not to the taxpayer. So if you've given £1000 to charity, the exchequer will give the charity another £250, so long as you sign a simple statement to go with the donation saying you're a taxpayer and have/will pay at least that much tax in the current year.

2 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

DeathToBill Overseas comment (382 comments)

I like the UK system - if you're an employee and you're happy with the tax your employer has withheld on your behalf, you don't have to do anything. You get a statement at the end of the year telling you how much you've been paid and how much tax has been withheld - if you think they've got it wrong, or you want to claim deductions, you file a tax return saying so.

2 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

DeathToBill Hmmm (307 comments)

If you really want to use this method to calculate pi, here's how to actually go about it. What you need is a hundred yards or so of string, four stakes, a stick and something that's a reasonable approximation to a right-angle (perhaps a piece of a cardboard box salvaged from the apocalypse). If you're really stuck for a right angle you can construct one with three stakes and a piece of string by putting two stakes in the ground and using the string to mark a straight line between them, then tying one end of the string to one of the stakes and tying the third stake to the string, so that length of string between them is a bit over half the distance between the stakes in the ground. Mark out a circle using this. Then mark out a second circle with the other stake in the ground as the centre. These two circles will intersect at two places - use the string to mark a straight line between them. The two straight lines you have marked will be at right angles.

Now put two stakes in the ground, about 20 yards apart. Stretch string between them. Put your right-angled thing with one side against the string and the right-angle corner at one of the stakes. Measure another piece of string to be the same length as the piece stretched between the two stakes. Tie it to a third stake and stretch it out so that it runs along the other side of the right-angled thing. You've now marked out two sides of a square with string. Repeat to form the other two sides.

Take your stick and break it down to about a foot long. Use it to mark out on the ground equally-spaced marks along each side of the square. Get two people to hold each end of a fifth piece of string across the square so that you can mark straight lines on the ground, dividing the square into a grid.

Cut your fifth piece of string to be the same length as one side of the square. Tie one end to one of the stakes. Now use the other end to mark out an arc from one corner of the square to the opposite corner.

Count the number of squares that are inside the arc and the total number of squares. Take the ratio of these two numbers and multiply it by 4. Here is your approximation to pi.

This method has many advantages over the one proposed: With the dimensions given above, it gives a considerably better answer, correct to four significant figures (3.141). It is easy to scale for better accuracy - make the square 100 yards and the stick four inches and you get six correct digits (3.141590123). You don't need to correct for uneven shot pattern. And, crucially I'd say in an apocalypse, you don't need a shotgun or ammunition and, if you do happen to have them, you can use them for useful things like fending off the zombies or hunting.

3 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

DeathToBill Re:Ask an old person? (307 comments)

I thought the engineer's answer was, "More than three and probably less than twenty."

Oh, no, wait, that's the answer to "What's 2+2?"

3 days ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

DeathToBill Re:Only in America... (307 comments)

Last time I checked, actually, it is. It's just not in the USA.

3 days ago
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New French Law Prohibits After-Hours Work Emails

DeathToBill Re:La Douce Vie (477 comments)

A staggering number of people commenting here appear not to understand English, let alone French or Italian.

about a week ago
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New French Law Prohibits After-Hours Work Emails

DeathToBill Re:Might look like less of a (477 comments)

Well colour me puzzled. Surely the expression "whatever the French call la dolce vita" demonstrates that, whatever the French do call it, they don't call it la dolce vita? So he knows it's not a French expression, he just doesn't know what the equivalent expression in French is.

Well done for supplying the French equivalent.

about a week ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

DeathToBill Re:That depends (256 comments)

Yes and no. In the UK the price has roughly quadrupled in that time, but the real increase (ie increase over RPI) is only 33%[1]. Assuming that overall rate continues (very unlikely, but there you go) it takes over 70 years for the price to double.

[1]http://www.speedlimit.org.uk/petrolprices.html

about a week ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

DeathToBill Re:That depends (256 comments)

Well, yes, but the vast majority of the difference is in tax, not in production costs; $3/gal supplied to the US Navy is probably something like £9 per litre in Crawley.

about a week ago
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Cuba: US Using New Weapon Against Us -- Spam

DeathToBill The sheer volume! (137 comments)

300,000 in five hours? God forbid!

about a week ago
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Navy Creates Fuel From Seawater

DeathToBill That depends (256 comments)

Depends on where in the supply chain that $3/gal is. $3/gal supplied to the US Navy is probably more like $7 or $8 at the pump for putting in your car - not so viable.

about a week ago
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Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

DeathToBill Sort of (227 comments)

Once electric cars become prevalent, the charging time doesn't really matter for the supply and HV distribution side of the grid - each car sucks either 10.2MW for 30s or 10.2kW for a bit over eight hours (30,000s). Once there are enough that the spikes in charging smooth out, the demand increase is the same whichever charging rate you use. The only problem really comes at the edge of the grid, with the connection to individual houses currently being sized about three orders of magnitude wrong for this use. At this point, it's probably not too unreasonable to ask homeowners to pay to have their grid connection upgraded to give them the privilege of a 30-second charge for their car.

about two weeks ago
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Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

DeathToBill Charge in 30 seconds? (227 comments)

Let's see, a 4,700mAh 5V battery has a capacity of 23.5 VAh or 84.6kJ. To charge that in 30s, you'll need a 2.82kW charger output. So whether it's feasible or not probably depends on what jurisdiction you're in - a British 240V 13A socket will give you 3.12kW, so as long as your losses are below 10% you'll just get it. An Australian 240V 10A socket will give you 2.4kW, so allowing for 90% efficiency of the charger you'll get about 40s to charge. A US 110V 15A socket will give you 1.65kW, requiring about 57s at 90% efficiency to deliver a full charge.

about two weeks ago
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Judge (Tech) Advice By Results

DeathToBill Re:Fuck Bennett (162 comments)

Of course, I'm sure now I'll be buried in crap telling me either a) how crap Wordpress is and how much better blogging-platform-XYZ is or b) how useless the advice is because Bennett will never follow it and how my metrics for assessing the advice I give out is all wrong.

Seriously, Bennett? You don't think maybe researchers who devote their lives to figuring out good advice on health, diet and exercise know just a teeny bit more about experimental design than you? Sorry, I forgot, teenagers know everything.

about two weeks ago
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Judge (Tech) Advice By Results

DeathToBill Re:Fuck Bennett (162 comments)

Uh huh. Can someone tell Bennett about Wordpress so he can go get a real blog, please?

about two weeks ago
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Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory

DeathToBill Re:Good.... (518 comments)

In Soviet Russia, dash cams are compulsory!

Hmmm, that didn't quite work out like I wanted.

about two weeks ago
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More Troubles For Authors of Controversial Acid-Bath Stem Cell Articles

DeathToBill "Could this get any stranger?" (99 comments)

I dunno; put it in an acid bath and see what happens.

about a month ago
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NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse

DeathToBill Re: Government is your friend (347 comments)

Seems to have missed out on recent election results, that man.

about 2 months ago
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NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse

DeathToBill FUCK BETA (347 comments)

Shill.

about 2 months ago
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With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android

DeathToBill Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (241 comments)

You've not understood the situation. Locking them out of the Google Play store doesn't prevent them starting their own app store and installing that as the default app store on their Android phones. It'd then be up to each app developer whether to sell their apps through that new store. For the average developer, why not? It's minimal extra effort for extra sales. And it would make sense for Microsoft to do it; after all, the most-often-cited problem with Windows Phone is that it doesn't have the range of apps that other platforms have.

Google, on the other hand, would have to decide if it was worth their while to not sell their apps (maps, now, search, play movies, play music etc) through the Microsoft store. Actually they might well decide it was worth it for the advertising revenue, just as they sell some of those apps for iOS.

Selling a platform that supports Android apps is well worth it, even if it doesn't get access to Google Play; just look at Blackberry.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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USB Implementers Forum Will Not Play Nice With Open Hardware

DeathToBill DeathToBill writes  |  about 6 months ago

DeathToBill (601486) writes "Hack A Day reports on the attempts of open hardware hackers to obtain a vendor and product ID for their devices to be able to sell them as USB compliant: "A not for profit foundation [in this case Arachnid Labs] could buy a VID, give PIDs away to foundation members making open source hardware, and we would all live in a magical world of homebrew devices that are certified as USB compliant." The USB Implementers Forum, which controls the sale of PIDs, has lawyered up, responding to the effort with a cease and desist notice, requiring Arachnid Labs to stop "raising funds to purchase a unique USB VID" and "delete all references to the USB-IF, VIDs and PIDs for transfer, resale or sublicense from your website and other marketing materials." A slight over-reaction? Or dark conspiracy against open hardware? You decide!"
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Steve Ballmer to Retire

DeathToBill DeathToBill writes  |  about 8 months ago

DeathToBill (601486) writes "Has he pushed shareholders one step too far? The BBC is reporting that Steve Ballmer will retire as Microsoft CEO within the next 12 months. "The world's biggest software company has created a special committee to find a replacement. This committee includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates. In pre-market trading on Wall Street, Microsoft shares surged 8%." I've got my application in..."
Link to Original Source
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XBox One DRM-Free: A Defeat for Gamers?

DeathToBill DeathToBill writes  |  about 10 months ago

DeathToBill (601486) writes "Over at Gizmodo, Kyle Wagner argues that Microsoft's u-turn on DRM is bad for gamers. "Cheaper games. Easier sharing. The end of discs. The Xbox One would have been just fine despite the chorus of haters, would have been a better system for ignoring them. Microsoft losing its nerve on this isn't just disappointing for the features we lose. It's unfortunate because it shows just how heavy an anchor we can be." Of course, whether that 'always on' system would have stayed on when XBox Two arrived isn't specified. But, really, I can't imagine Microsoft doing that..."
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EA Pisses of Players. Again.

DeathToBill DeathToBill writes  |  about 10 months ago

DeathToBill (601486) writes "EA has done it again, the BBC reports. After EA took over operation of the online Scrabble brand, it introduced a "new and improved" version. Improvements include requiring manual refreshes to see other players' turns, irretrievably wiping players' game history and a switch to the Collins dictionary that has proved deeply unpopular with Scrabble fanatics. "EA was unavailable for comment.""
Link to Original Source
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Home-Brew Brain Computer Interface?

DeathToBill DeathToBill writes  |  more than 5 years ago

DeathToBill (601486) writes "There have been a few articles here recently about some up-and-coming research on brain-computer interfaces. There are even some consumer-level products out such as the Neural Impulse Actuator (£80). For the average geek who wants to mess with this stuff, they all have problems, though; either they are closed-source, with Windows-only drivers and no API documentation, like the NIA, or they don't even quote prices on their webpage, assuming that if you have to ask then you can't afford it (like the g.USBamp). Or they are aimed at people who have 10+ years research experience in BCI (which I don't have). Do Slashdot readers know of any projects out there that bring brain-computer interfaces within reach of the geek-experimenter?"

Journals

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DeathToBill DeathToBill writes  |  more than 9 years ago I have a journal? Wow. I guess it's probably against my terms of employment to post in it...

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