Slashdot: News for Nerds


Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

SimonInOz Later in life (532 comments)

Laser surgery gives, in general, very good fixed correction. It is excellent for people under 45 with vision that needs correction. There are occasional failures, yes, but they are quite rare.

But what about later in life (hello, 50) when your lens hardens and you can't focus it any more? Laser surgery will achieve nothing. You are still stuck with reading glasses.

Well, I had -7 vision and was mightily sick of being blind without glasses, found contacts a drag, and it's all damned expensive. My vision with my (very expensive) glasses was excellent, with contacts acceptable, but it was all annoying.

So I got lens replacement surgery. It's the same operation as for cataracts, but voluntary. And expensive (AUD 10,000). The replacement lenses are not focusable, so I got lenses with three focus points - close (reading), medium (screen, and distance. A Zeiss trifocal implantable lens.
The operation was quick, but unpleasant (you are almost, but not quite unconscious - not nice). Recovery involved many, many drops for a few weeks gradually diminishing to none.

Result - daytime vision is excellent, both near and far. I can read, compute, play sports.
Night-time vision is not so good, you get some haloing and other artefacts. I can drive ok, but stargazing is not so great.

These lenses will not harden further so my vision should stay the same for the rest of my life, which is nice.

On the whole I am pleased. It's certainly a joy to go swimming without concern, see in the rain, and even water ski. Amazing after a life of really, really poor vision.

I researched the surgeons, checked the research, and balanced the results against the side effects and risks. In fact, the risk of actual permanent damage - ie blindness - are very low indeed. After all, they do these operations by the thousand in Africa (look up Fred Hollows) in what must be poorer conditions.

Laser surgery was not for me - that would indeed have corrected my main vision problem, shortsightedness, but I would have been unable to read or compute without reading glasses - and where's the fun in that?

It's amazing to wake up in the morning ... and be able to see.

3 days ago

Study: Why the Moon's Far Side Looks So Different

SimonInOz Rotation (79 comments)

The moon became tidally locked within a few million years after its formation (around 4.5 billion years ago), so it's been tidally locked for over 4 billion years.

But really, did the earth stay hot enough for "a few million years" - hot enough to affect the locked side of the moon more than the other?

The moon would have cooled somewhat faster, being smaller, but this theory requires the earth to stay hot enough to affect the "earth side" of the for a very long time after the moon has cooled enough to solidify.

about three weeks ago

New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel

SimonInOz Re:Now I'm confused ... (380 comments)

Two reasons:
* storage - ammonia is a liquid at fairly low pressure (150psi/1000kPa). [Unlike hydrogen, which requires very high pressure (10,000psi/70,000kPa), and generally cooling. And the damned stuff seeps though anything (dem H2 molecules are kinda small)]
* energy density - as a liquid, ammonia has about half the energy of petrol (gasoline). Not bad - certainly better than the average battery. Vastly better (7x) better than hydrogen

It's not delightful stuff to handle, but beats the heck out of a highly flammable liquid .. like petrol (gasoline)! It's not very flammable at all, actually, though you can burn it in combination with other things.

Also, if it escapes, it turns into gas - which is easier to get rid of than a liquid.

about a month ago

Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms

SimonInOz Sensors - for quakes? (90 comments)

There are quite a lot of sensors, and processing power in a Nest gadget. It includes a motion sensor, and that data could be extracted to a database, giving us an absolute plethora of sensors spread across homes (ok, mainly rich homes, and certainly a lot in California).
Such a wealth of data would surely be brilliant for earthquake monitoring.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

SimonInOz Re:Caravan (310 comments)

Pah. It was my boat all right, but it was relatively cheap - and I did get paid pretty well. Or at least it felt that way - no family, no mortgage ... those were the days.

The card readers were pretty expensive, and I did not think they'd survive the salt. I stored programs on little plug in memory modules which worked well. Great little gadget.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

SimonInOz Re:Submarine (310 comments)

Hah. Nuclear sub. Nice and stable, well lit - easy.
And you even had power!
My little boat rocked about a lot, all power came from a small solar panel, it was rather damp.

Mind you, I didn't have to salute anyone or wear a uniform (or wear anything, come to that). And the view was pretty extensive.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

SimonInOz Re:Caravan (310 comments)

Yup. It was separate. I didn't have one - too expensive.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

SimonInOz Re:Caravan (310 comments)

The inside of a small yacht, crossing the Atlantic.
I was sailing (an Iroquois 30' cat, in case anyone's interested), and found sight reduction (yes, a sextant was involved) rather tedious. So I wrote a program for my HP calculator to do the calculations.

Those HP41C calculators were really neat.

about 2 months ago

Earthquake Warning Issued For Central Oklahoma

SimonInOz Re:Earthquakes competency (127 comments)

>> There have been more earthquakes in Oklahoma (per mile)
What the heck does that even mean? Do they mean per square mile? Cubic mile? (And OMG, when will USA finally give up on miles ... geez)

about 3 months ago

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

SimonInOz eight hours isn't very long (187 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?

about 3 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 5 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 6 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 9 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 9 months ago


SimonInOz hasn't submitted any stories.


SimonInOz has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account