Rolls Royce Developing Drone Cargo Ships
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.
Office Space: TV Documentary Looks At the Dreadful Open Office
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.
Critics Reassess Starship Troopers As a Misunderstood Masterpiece
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.
Is Google Building a Floating Data Center In San Francisco Bay?
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.
IsoHunt Settles With MPAA, Will Shut Down And Pay Up to $110 Million
Pay them in iDollars.
Ask Slashdot: Secure DropBox Alternative For a Small Business?
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.
Windows NT Turns 20
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?)
Alan Turing Likely To Be Given Posthumous Pardon
So, one down 48,999 to go. If they are going to do it one bill at a time, this could take a while.
Computer Failure Disrupts British Air Traffic Control Systems
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?
Ask Slashdot: What To Do When Another Dev Steals Your Work and Adds Their Name?
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.
TSA Decides Against Allowing Small Knives On Aircraft
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.
China Leads in "Clean" Energy Investment
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.
China Leads in "Clean" Energy Investment
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.
Ask Slashdot: Inexpensive SOHO Crime Deterrence and Monitoring?
Obvious solution - get a dog.
Ask Slashdot: How To Stay Fit In the Office?
It's not that hard.
I do the following:
walk to work (30 mins each way)
go to a one hour gym session twice a week
skate for about 5 hours each week
sail a bit
ski in season (season is a bit short in Australia)
don't eat too much
don't drink too much
And guess what - I'm fit.
Oh, and I'm 58 next month. Want to arm wrestle? Or try a coding comp with me? Chess, maybe?
(And yes, I do have a wife and family as well. Scheduling can have challenges, I admit, but you have to get to a state where exercise is the default activity for that time in your week).
30 Days Is Too Long: Animated Rant About Windows 8
I installed Win 8 on a couple of home machines. It was an easy way to upgrade to 64 bit, and upgrade a crapware-ridden Visa laptop. I tried the Win8 Metro interface for while and eventually gave up. (I didn't dare impose Metro on the rest of my family).
I installed Classic Menu and it is now fine - no big deal. Very fast boot, decent shutdown. Managed to put an SSD on my main machine and it's great.
I agree with many of the points made in the video - Microsoft is nuts. To attempt to combine the two interface is beyond stupid. Who, indeed, signed off on this?
We complained bitterly when Microsoft tried to put a desktop interface on a phone - now they are trying to put a phone interface on a desktop. Doesn't work. Apple doesn't do it - Microsoft should have taken the hint.
A major problem the chap had was related to the difference between a touch interface and a mouse interface, and his points are well made. One is relative, one absolute. Very different. Not compatible.
I don't see how this is the death knell for Microsoft, but honestly, what have they done right under Ballmer's watch? Vista - no. Win 7 - yes, Win 8 - no. Was he responsible for the ribbon - not sure. And the Windows/Nokia merge is going oh so well, don't you think?
I never thought I'd say this - but I miss Bill Gates.
100km/h Sailboat Sets Speed Record
All high speed sailboats such as skiffs avoid sailing directly downwind. They 'tack' downwind, first one way, then the other. (Technically a gybe, but what the heck).
Even on my relatively slow cat, dead downwind is not the way to go.
Ask Slashdot: Extreme Cable Management?
Hmm, reusable cable ties.
Sounds kinda like ... string?
China's Stealth Fighter Flight Test Successful
Hang on a moment - they tested a stealth plane - and we saw it?
Um - I rate that a fail.
Making Driverless Cars Safer
Really - tens of thousands per year? - I though that exaggeration, but apparently 33,808 died in the US from car accidents in the last year. Wow.
8.5 deaths per billion car kilometres. (Mind you, don't try driving in the United Arab Emirates - most dangerous roads with 310 deaths per billion km - 36 times as dangerous ... and many places don't record the distances, so could be even worse. Maybe try Iceland, at 3.5?).
Yes, clearly humans in control = carnage.
Looking at our society, it is scary how dramatic the change has been to accommodate cars. It's amazing. Especially for kids.
We don't allow them to roam the streets because of the dangerous cars; the kids become totally dependant on their parents for transport (which both sides hate), it goes on. Old and disabled people are similarly disadvantaged. We have rebuilt our cities in obeisance to the mighty motor car.
Dang - and here we are looking to run a bit low on oil, and we've burnt so much of said oil that we have messed with the climate.
Hmm - and does it get us to work on time? No, everyone sits in queues of - oh yes, cars.
I'm not sure we have this quite right ...
Will driverless cars improve things? Some yes (kids don't need parents to drive them), some no (we'll have cars consuming road space & energy with no passengers at all). On the whole I see it as probably worse for energy and probably pollution, but probably better for social stuff - and definitely safer.
And maybe our kids can wander about freely again, safe in the knowledge that cars will see them and stop in time.