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First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

SimonInOz eight hours isn't very long (182 comments)

I used to live in the Netherlands, and I can confirm winters are cold and dark. Days are not very bright either. So an eight hour life (yes, I RTFA) for these very cool glowing roads is not going to cut it - nights comprise 16 hours of darkness in midwinter.
It should work well in the summer, when days are brighter and nights shorter.

But I think a backup is required, destroying the whole point.

But it does look very cool, doesn't it?

3 days ago

How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

SimonInOz Re:Slashdot unusable at work (101 comments)

Yup, that works nicely, thanks.

But - more to the point - Slashdot should not be doing this in the first place!

Bring back CmdrTaco!

about two weeks ago

How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

SimonInOz Slashdot unusable at work (101 comments)

If you start putting stupid autoplay on stories, they cannot be read at work. And Slashdot will die.

What the heck is wrong with you guys?

about two weeks ago

Prototype Volvo Flywheel Tech Uses Car's Wasted Brake Energy

SimonInOz Re:energy from BRAKING - best for stop-and-go (262 comments)

I'm really worried about your breaks braking. Are you sure you didn't mean brakes breaking?

I guess that depends on your brakes, lucky or otherwise.

Gosh, such pun.

I'll be here all weak.

about three weeks ago

Scientists Develop Solar Cell That Can Also Emit Light

SimonInOz Solar panels that emit light (79 comments)

So we could have a torch (sorry, flashlight) that only works in sunlight ... ? I'm not sure I'd buy one of those.

about three weeks ago

Electric 'Thinking Cap' Controls Learning Speed

SimonInOz Re:risk aversion (112 comments)

>> refactor the law, its bloated, confusing and unmaintainable ... what? ...

Or did you mean

refactor the law, it's bloated, confusing and unmaintainable.

Or possible

Refactor the law, it's bloated, confusing and unmaintainable.

Dammit, you're supposed to be a geek. Learn the grammar.

And you are right, I haven't had my coffee yet.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Can an Old Programmer Learn New Tricks?

SimonInOz Re:I've been learning new things for 30 years (306 comments)

I wrote my first bit of code in 1970, in FORTRAN, and now, at 59, I still like coding. It's not where the money is, so I mainly do architecture, but coding is much more fun.

Is it hard to learn the new stuff? Yeah, it is. Definitely harder. The new frameworks tend to be pretty huge, and rely on lots of fairly random assumptions - "convention over configuration". You need to pick up a big heap of conventions, which is painful.

On the other hand, the basic structures still shine out. Async here, sync there, message there, update there, abstract everywhere ... It's easy to miss the fact that years of programming have nailed the basics - probably when you write code in a language you are familiar with, it tends to work. Usually fist time.

But yes, learning by doing is the best way. Try it, you'll like it.

Bat damn, there are a lot of frameworks these days.

about a month ago

Rolls Royce Developing Drone Cargo Ships

SimonInOz Re:Worst. Idea. Ever. (216 comments)

Er yeah, well maybe. I used to do a fair bit of cruising. I admit the idea of an unmanned cargo ship barrelling down on my unsuspecting sailing boat is a bit scary. But on the other hand, do they ever keep watch in the open ocean anyway? ... I confess I doubt it. Might be an improvement.

about 2 months ago

Office Space: TV Documentary Looks At the Dreadful Open Office

SimonInOz Re:I like the open plan (314 comments)

Ha - our multimillionaire bosses definitely do not sit amongst the cube farms in the bank where I work.
No, and they have made it far worse - try "Activity Based Working". You are supposed to change locations depending on your activity. Sounds ok, but this is what actually happens:
You come in and get your laptop from your tiny locker. Then you search for a desk. There aren't enough desks, so if you are late, you will search for a long, long time.
Ok, you've found a desk. You plug in your laptop - with luck it'll connect to the screen , network and keyboard. You try and do some work amidst the clamour.
And now it's time to talk to Jack ... but where IS Jack. You don't know. So you spend half the day wandering about trying to find people, and advising other wandering lost souls where someone might be. (No, we don't have a mapping system. I proposed and developed one 2 years ago, but they won't install it ... I don't understand).
If you have to leave your desk for a while you are encouraged to vacate it, but you don't because then you won't find a desk at all.

I don't know who dreams up this stuff - obviously extroverts, but apart from that - are they sadists? What is the point? Could anybody in their right mind believe this would be an improvement on the miserable previous cube farm.

about 3 months ago

Critics Reassess Starship Troopers As a Misunderstood Masterpiece

SimonInOz Re:Wrong side (726 comments)

You know it's funny the way the USA considers itself a) great, b) rich, and c) free.

Some people are rich. Most are not. Many countries are richer, especially at median wealth.
Most people struggle from day to day, desperately trying to stay employed - and keep their health benefits. Too scared to move jobs and actually give that flexibility so much desired by the right wing ... er, what?
And free? Really? A country that imprisons more of its citizens than anywhere else, starts more wars than anyone else, and bullies other countries in a most unpleasant fashion (FATCA, anyone?). Not mention the institutionalised bribery that seems the only reason for the existence of Washington.

So, so far away from the high ideals in that brilliant document, the US Constitution. ... The "Patriot" Act .. OMG. Washington must be spinning in his grave.
It seems to be a country controlled by fear, with an ever more oppressive set of laws, and a growing (but small) group of mega rich who have little concern for the average Joe.

So sad. I'm glad I don't live there.

So come on Americans - stop living in fear. Stop pushing the world about, start educating your people, start keeping them healthy and educated.
And deliver on those great ideals you started with.

about 5 months ago

Is Google Building a Floating Data Center In San Francisco Bay?

SimonInOz Re:San Francisco? (115 comments)

I don't recall seeing this when I was at the centre of the Bermuda Triangle some time back. Maybe it was hidden in the mysterious mist that is supposed to arise there.

about 6 months ago

IsoHunt Settles With MPAA, Will Shut Down And Pay Up to $110 Million

SimonInOz Imaginary money (245 comments)

Pay them in iDollars.

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Secure DropBox Alternative For a Small Business?

SimonInOz Re:I call bull (274 comments)

Maybe it's a nuclear weapons developer, they are pretty good at clouds.
Too bloody good if you ask me. And where's my free electricity - "too cheap to meter" indeed.

about 9 months ago

Windows NT Turns 20

SimonInOz Re:Here's to Kernels (213 comments)

Legal drinking age is 18 in Finland (and much of the civilised world, actually. USA is kinda weird. Mind you, allowing driving and drinking at the same time, does that sound like a good idea? Maybe they are right. No, surely not).

No, wait, Linux first release was 1991, that makes it, um, 22. What the heck is wrong with your arithmetic? What do they teach at school these days? Bah. Get off my lawn. (And yes, I did program PDP 11s back in the day. Why do you ask?)

about 9 months ago

Alan Turing Likely To Be Given Posthumous Pardon

SimonInOz Re:Screw them (210 comments)

So, one down 48,999 to go. If they are going to do it one bill at a time, this could take a while.

about 9 months ago

Computer Failure Disrupts British Air Traffic Control Systems

SimonInOz I hope it wasn't my fault (35 comments)

I was involved in writing part of that radar system, back in 1978. I hope they aren't still running my code. There was a lot of drinking back then.
Mind you, maybe they should, it worked then, didn't it?

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What To Do When Another Dev Steals Your Work and Adds Their Name?

SimonInOz Been there, been done by that ... (480 comments)

This is probably common. I have had a similar thing happen - I wrote a system for a major bank in Java/JSP, and they ran it for a bit. Then they copied it (line for line, I saw the code) into C#/ASP and did some minor updates. They then claimed it as their own, and stopped paying the support fee.

Given they were the biggest customer of the company I worked for, there was nothing to be done. Oh joy.

I share your pain.

about 10 months ago

TSA Decides Against Allowing Small Knives On Aircraft

SimonInOz Re:There goes another Swiss Army knife (298 comments)

In the terminal at Zurich (yes, that's the capital of Switzerland for the geographically impaired), you can buy the entire range of Swiss Army knives. I checked (May 2013), and they told me this was fine unless I was flying to USA.
So I bought two.
And it was indeed fine.

about 10 months ago

China Leads in "Clean" Energy Investment

SimonInOz Re:Long term vs. short term (313 comments)

To find out about them google "shanghai electric scooter" - that's what I did!

An interesting link is

They really do look most impressive - and in the flesh, as it were, just as good. And they whine along quietly in a most satisfactory way.

Just for your interest, Shanghai scooter riders never wear helmets, never turn their lights on, and hoot a lot. I suspect they have a lot of accidents - but such crashing light vehicles at relatively low speeds must be far less damaging, physically and financially, than crashing cars [especially into pedestrians], especially those horrible SUVs beloved of Americans and [not as much] Australians.

about a year ago

China Leads in "Clean" Energy Investment

SimonInOz Re:Long term vs. short term (313 comments)

I just came back from China - Shanghai, actually. It's a city of 23 million people (more than Australia's entire population). It has many roads, full of - wait for it - electric scooters. Not those boring little ones, no these are full-on Vespa-like, two person carrying scooters. I would guess they carry half the city's traffic, in people-kms.
They have 400 watts, a top speed around 40kmh, and a range of about 40km. And they are pretty cheap. From 2400 YMB (=$400) these are real bargains. And they look pretty good.

So a Chinese city has moved half its transport to electricity. And nobody has said a word. Amazing.

These scooters looked pretty good to me - I'd buy one without question at that price. But they are banned here (Australia), and many other places. You are allowed up to 250 watts. Above that the regulations get all nasty. Registration, helmets, licenses, etc. So much so that you cannot buy such a thing, just a few rather expensive electric bikes.

For sure they are charged from the mains, sourced from coal fired generating plants - but that is surely far, far more efficient than the nasty engines normal scooters have, and use far less energy. I imagine they are way ahead, carbon-wise.

Maybe we should take a few lessons from the Chinese.

about a year ago


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