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Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source

jonnyj Re:Math (32 comments)

More maths: Scotland has a population density of 67 per sq km; England has 407.

It's easy to rely on renewables when you have loads of land.

6 minutes ago
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As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

jonnyj Re:I bet Amazon would love to hire more women. (495 comments)

I bet Amazon has a lot of computer-programmer hires, and would love to hire more women and to pay them computer-programmer salaries to program computers...

I like to think that Amazon couldn't care whether its programmers are female, male, black, white, straight, gay, Democrat or Republican: in any sensible world, a company simply hires the best it can find. If few women are applying, or if women are discouraged by interviews with no opportunity for a bathroom break, that's only a problem for Amazon if it's struggling to fill positions.

The original article fails to pick up on the real risk to Seattle, though, which is economic. History suggests that individual businesses rarely flourish for decades. Some time in the future, Amazon will hit on hard times; when that happens, Seattle will have a crisis. The risk is that by 2030 Seattle becomes like Detroit, the former coal mining communities in South Wales or the old mill towns in northern England.

It's not good to put all your eggs in one basket.

about a week ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

jonnyj Re: Lies, damned lies, statistics (551 comments)

I think the terms might have different resonances on the two sides of the Atlantic. When I mentioned a libertarian bias, I'd assumed the term would broadly also include the Democrats. I guess I misunderstood something!

My point about reading and engaging widely outside your own group still stands, though.

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

jonnyj Re:Lies, damned lies, statistics (551 comments)

You didn't really think this poll would have an outcome anywhere near the result of the real elections?

And therein lies a major problem with internet discussion sites like this one. Birds of an ideological feather often flock together in one happy internet roost, and very easily lose complete sight of any world view other than their own. Much as I enjoy reading the debate here and on sites that appear to reflect a similar demographic like arstechnica, I definitely feel the need to temper the libertarian bias I see here by also going to places that are more likely to articulate the importance of business, finance, politicians, the establishment and religion to national life.

It's not healthy to only read things that you agree with. If you're from the USA and you're not one of the tiny minority who hit the Republican button, I hope that you broaden your mind by also looking elsewhere for comment and debate from a right wing perspective.

about three weeks ago
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Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

jonnyj Re:Diseconomies (610 comments)

Externalities are for your enemies.

If liberals really cared about externalities, they'd count the external cost of sexual liberation and promiscuity - sexually transmitted diseases, fractured relationships, unwanted pregnancy and the like - and they'd promote government policies that sought to return to traditional morality. But they don't.

If environmentalists cared about externalities, they'd include the increased cost of housing for poor people next time they evaluated the need to preserve a nature reserve full of rare newts. But they don't.

If conservatives cared about externalities, they count the cost of pollution associated with fossil fuels. But they don't

We all have our blind spots.

about a month and a half ago
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Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

jonnyj Re:Article ignores variability (610 comments)

The article discusses wind power vs. coal and other types of power purely on the basis of cost, with absolutely no discussion of reliability.

IOW the "baseload power" chestnut. Nevermind that energy demand is the highest on hot sunny days and cold, windy ones.

Let me guess... you don't live in Europe, right?

This is a European report. We're a temperate continent with cool summers and chilly winters. Energy demand in Europe is at its highest when a winter anticyclone sits over the populous northern part of the continent. The sun comes out; the temperature plummets; everyone turns up the central heating... and there's absolutely no wind!

Air conditioning in most of Europe is uncommon in the home: we simply don't need it. Summer power usage is far lower than winter usage.

about a month and a half ago
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Outsourced Tech Jobs Are Increasingly Being Automated

jonnyj Re:That was (and is) a politically-driven departur (236 comments)

...The finishing blow came when the opposition encouraged non-assimilating immigrants to flood in...What Thatcher (and the financial interests she enabled) couldn't kill, the opposition managed to finish off through importation of non-assimilating individuals from the Third World.

Am I confused or are you? How did a "flood" of "non-assimilating individuals" kill heavy industry in 1980s Britain? I don't believe that many of the UK's mines, steel works, car factories and or ship yards employed many immigrants, but non-unionised manufacturing (which did actually employ significant numbers of immigrants) saw dramatic growth throughout Thatcher's tenure. I'm afraid that it was the indigenous, working class, lifetime union jobsworths that killed their own future.

If you fancy indulging in a little xenophobia, please do it intelligently. You might also find it helpful to ground your statements in facts rather than random conjecture and mindless prejudice, too.

about a month and a half ago
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Outsourced Tech Jobs Are Increasingly Being Automated

jonnyj Re: Monitoring software (236 comments)

So you're proud of eliminating 1/3 of the jobs at your company?

That's the real problem. Humans doing this stuff to each other. We already know how this is going to turn out as long as we continue to alow MBAs to be in charge of things.

That's the mind-set that drove the heavily unionised nationalised industries in the UK in the 1970s. As a result, we have no indigenous car industry, steel industry, mining industry or shipbuilding industry. All the jobs disappeared overseas, and only industries protected from international competition survived: rail, post, telecommunications.

Is it better to eliminate 1/3 of the jobs now, or to see all of the jobs disappear shortly after? My only issue is this: rather than trying to do more with less, companies would be better to learn to do much more with a little more.

about a month and a half ago
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GNOME 3 Winning Back Users

jonnyj Re:I'll take another look at it. (267 comments)

Gnome's reduction of customizability began in the early millennium when it partnered with some large companies who had carried out formal UI studies and found that for the vast majority of users, options only confuse them. Yes, power users like being able to tweak everything, but there are already a number of *nix graphical interfaces for nerds, and why shouldn't ordinary people get a desktop for them too?

Quite. I really don't get why folk need to hate on someone else's user interface. If it's not for you, move on: the diversity of Linux is a strength, not something to get angry about.

It might be an unpopular view, but I really, really like Unity, for example. It fits in with my workflow and I forget it's there - just what should happen with a desktop environment. It also works well for my mother-in-law, my father and my wife: none of them are computer literate and they enjoy its simplicity.

I've been looking again at Gnome 3 and I also can see its appeal. The way it handles multiple desktops is great, for example, and some of the default apps superficially appear to be excellent. It might not be for everyone, but it has its niche. I might yet be persuaded.

Similarly, I can see the appeal of XFCE, KDE and LWM. They're not for me, but I can understand why people like them. Sometimes you need customisability (KDE) or something that doesn't need loads of RAM or hardware-enabled graphics acceleration (XFCE/LWM). If they work for you, then great.

Why the negativity? I know what I don't like, and I have very little interest in hearing what you don't like; what interests me is the chance of discovering the good stuff out there that I don't yet know about.

about a month and a half ago
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Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School

jonnyj Just what any parent knows (154 comments)

It's reassuring to see a study that so closely reflects what any parent knows. Given the same home and school environments, some kids do much better than others, or excel at different tasks. My own kids appear to have broadly similar abilities in IQ-style tests, but they are very different in their responses to failure, willingness to perform repetitive tasks, level of curiosity or preference for strategic vs detailed thinking. Each child has an area of academic strength that matches his character rather than his intelligence.

about 2 months ago
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Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School

jonnyj Re:The high heritability of educational achievemen (154 comments)

...Did they factor in the socio-economic background of the parents, as in children of rich-folk get better education than children of poor-parents, and therefore do better, and are expected to do better, in exams.

Yes they did.

Did you bother to read the article, or did you expect someone to read it for you?

about 2 months ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

jonnyj Re:If yes then what ? (389 comments)

No, there is still only one answer; the current system.

I'm not from the US, but is there really only one system? Doesn't each institution get to choose for itself which students it chooses to recruit, subject to a few legal safeguards to prevent discrimination or the misuse of public funds?

The professor who wrote the original article would do well to ask himself why an entire industry - made up of many thousands of intelligent admissions tutors, each of whom is trying to make the best possible choices - gets its decision making process completely wrong while he is the sole proponent of the Better Path. I'm all in favour of challenging consensus, but, at first sight, this seems a little rich for my taste.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

about 2 months ago
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End of an Era: After a 30 Year Run, IBM Drops Support For Lotus 1-2-3

jonnyj Re: The decline started with OS/2 (156 comments)

There are many use cases where a calculator (as we call adding machines in the UK) requires fewer key presses than performing the equivalent task on a spreadsheet or any piece of computer software.

about 2 months ago
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End of an Era: After a 30 Year Run, IBM Drops Support For Lotus 1-2-3

jonnyj Re: The decline started with OS/2 (156 comments)

As a finance guy, I well remember the sudden switch from 123 to Excel. Excel started to gain traction by having a WIMP version that followed the emerging Windows HIG standards long before 123, but most accountants were happy with what they knew and saw no reason to shift.

Then Microsoft Office arrived, and Lotus responded with Smartsuite. The problem was that the other parts of Smartsuite completely lacked credibility. Word was already a standard piece of software, and AmiPro lacked essential features. PowerPoint was much better than any alternative, and the Microsoft software was much better integrated with consistent menus and the ability to link and embed spreadsheets within documents and vice versa.

Although 123 remained arguably the best spreadsheet for some time, it was impossible to justify the extra cost of buying a standalone package. IIRC, 123 cost around £350, a huge amount of cash in the early 90s.

So, in my somewhat anecdotal experience, 123 didn't fall out of favour because Lotus/IBM preferred OS/2. It disappeared because it was too expensive and lacked a wider software ecosystem.

about 2 months ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

jonnyj Re:Yawn... (534 comments)

What "theologians" think has very little to do with what the rank-and-file religious think...

I'd add another rider that: what US-based fundamentalist evangelicals think has very little to do with what evangelicals think in the rest of the world.

As a British evangelical, I don't recognise the author's representation of evangelical Christianity. Most Christians that I know regard intelligent life elsewhere in the universe as a very distinct possibility that presents few, if any, theological issues. Unlike our American counterparts, many (maybe most) British evangelicals have little difficulty accepting that the earth is billions of years old or that evolution presents the most plausible explanation for the origin of life. Accepting the possibility of alien life therefore tends to follow naturally.

about 2 months ago
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Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

jonnyj Re:Depends on the specs. (253 comments)

At the high end, processor, RAM and GPU specs no longer matter for most people: fast enough is fast enough. Some specs still matter, though, even at the high end: battery life, camera quality, built quality, water resistance (or lack thereof). At the lower and middle end, specs still matter. Too many cheaper phones can't run current versions of important software, grind to a halt if many apps are run together or have screens that are, frankly, poor.

In maybe 3-4 years, even low-end phones will be good enough on all objective measures. Style and build quality are expensive, though; they will become the primary differentiators between price points.

We've seen this in many markets over the years. It happened to the Swiss when cheap, super-accurate quartz watches appeared. It happened in the car market when low-end cars became able to reliably convey their occupants in comfort over thousands of miles. It happened in the PC market, the range-cooker market, the sofa market, the handbag markets, too. But people still buy from Breitling, BMW, Apple, Aga, Heals, Gucci.

I suspect that many tech manufacturers and professional product reviewers will find the transition from substance to style to be an uncomfortable one.

about 2 months ago
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Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

jonnyj Re:By design (but not the way you think)? (408 comments)

Quite. Apple doesn't have a monopoly on good design (although its hardware is typically very good), and your response confirms that design is an important consideration for some consumers. At the time I bought my laptop, Apple's design was, in my view, the best.

The complex manufacturing details in the original article are there to keep people like you and me happy and not, as suggested above, part of some conspiracy to drive all competitors into bankruptcy.

about 2 months ago
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Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

jonnyj Re:By design (but not the way you think)? (408 comments)

We're all different. For people like me (who are fortunate enough to have sufficient cash to pay for the privilege), design is as important as function. Good design sells stuff.

For 'some people' there's a phrase to describe what you're talking about, by the way: 'Conspicuous consumption', or more rudely put, 'F.U. money'. :-)

Conspicuous consumption? 99% of the time I use my laptop at home. It's only conspicuous to me. Maybe you define yourself in terms of how others view you; I don't.

about 2 months ago
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Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

jonnyj Re:By design (but not the way you think)? (408 comments)

Is it possible that Apple does things like this not so much to be unique and high-end, but to drive would-be competitors into bankruptcy?

That can only work if customers actually want the features that competitors can't afford to offer. Based on sales figures, the evidence seems to be that they do.

I'm typing this on an Apple laptop. A large part of the reason that I bought it was because the hardware is exceptionally beautiful. I compared it with offerings from people like Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Toshiba, and the difference in the quality of the design detail was extraordinary. To people like me, these details matter. I wanted to run Linux on the machine, so I'm no fanbois, btw.

We're all different. For people like me (who are fortunate enough to have sufficient cash to pay for the privilege), design is as important as function. Good design sells stuff.

about 2 months ago

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