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Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

olau Re:36 million gallons? (217 comments)

Are you sure you got the calculations right? You seem to be a factor ten off. According to Google, 36 million gallons are about 136,000 m^3, which with a typical (Danish) household annual water usage is around 1000 households.

13 hours ago

Russia Writes Off 90 Percent of North Korea Debt

olau Re:I'm liking how Russia is standing up these days (218 comments)

... and ultimately foreign policy is based on military power. Nobody takes us seriously.

I wonder why. Do you respect the father who beats his child?

2 days ago

Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

olau Re:Can the writings be read? (431 comments)

But I don't think we can simplify our languages any more without actually losing our ability to express clearly what we want to convey.

Of course we can. For instance, in English you still conjugate a few verbs, and you conjugate third person. And spelling is often pretty far away from pronounciation.

Contracts today are already way more wordy than they should need to be, simply because our language IS already at the point where it is no longer absolutely unambiguous.

It would nice to see some proof that it ever has been.

Contracts are getting simpler too, in least in my part of the world, because law makers and lawyers are beginning to understand that meaning is more important than long complicated sentences. IANAL but it seems to me that courts often have a de facto idea of what's a sensible default expectation of different agreements, which also helps.

about a week ago

Ask Slashdot: It's 2014 -- Which New Technologies Should I Learn?

olau Re:Work on the basics (387 comments)

Python is a really nice language. For a Python backend, you could start with the Django tutorial. Go through that and a Python tutorial, and try to remember not to program Python as you would C, and you'll have a good start.

For the front end, you'll need to spend some time with HTML, and learn a bit of Javascript/jQuery for any dynamic parts. And if you want it to look any good (and you should care about this because people on the web are generally less forgiving of not caring about the looks), you'll also need to figure out how to mimic a graphical style from a designer with CSS. For hobby stuff, you can just mimic some existing designs, if you're doing it as a business you'd probably want to pay someone to come up with the design, or buy a pre-existing one.

It sounds like a lot of work, but Python + Django is actually lots of fun because you can get a lot done in little time (there's a video of someone doing a wiki site in 20 minutes), and the whole front-end thing is also quite fun because a browser is an interactive beast so you can quickly change things around and see things happen graphically.

about 3 months ago

Controversial Execution In Ohio Uses New Lethal Drug Combination

olau Lundbeck (1038 comments)

Here in Denmark, Lundbeck has been under fire for their drug being used to kill people. They've tried to defend themselves in various ways, e.g. by casting it as misuse as their drug. But in the end in Denmark the American executions are viewed upon in the same light as the stories you hear of amputations and stoning people to death in the middle east. So the reaction has been as if a company sold convenient stones to be used for said stonings.

It is sad to see that the outcome is more suffering.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Improve My Memory For Study?

olau Re:Studying art is not for me (384 comments)

But you would never have the voice of Mariah Carey or Luciano Pavarotti or any of a number of naturally gifted people who also worked very hard.

True, but luckily, in many cases you don't actually need to be a world master. You just need to figure out if you can reach a level where people will pay for what you can do, in one way or another.

My piano teacher once told me that really talented students sometimes had a tendency to not make it, because at some point a natural gift just doesn't suffice compared to less-gifted people who had to work hard from the beginning.

about 3 months ago

Japan To Tax Online Sales Of Foreign-Made Content

olau Re:And how will they impose this tax? (59 comments)

The way it works in Denmark, and I imagine other EU countries, is that companies with a revenue from Danish customers above a certain threshold (250,000 EUR/year I think) must register with the Danish tax authorities and collect the 25% VAT from Danish consumers in the same way as Danish companies do (the VAT threshold for Danish companies is about 6700 EUR/year). So it's the responsibility of the company to do the tracking and taxation.

If you fail to do that as a company, I'm not sure exactly what happens, but I guess you will get a taste of the rough end of the Danish legal stick. I think it's unlikely a company the size of Apple could get away with not collecting the VAT, although I'm sure some of the small fish get through.

about 3 months ago

Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe

olau Base load is not actually needed (226 comments)

Base load is a limited way of thinking about things.

Really, a more generic model is that you need to follow the power usage curve. That's the only thing that matters. If you think about it that way, nuclear and big coal plants aren't too great either because it tends to be uneconomical to ramp the production up and down. For nuclear, you need to be operating as close to 24x7 you can get to recoup the capital costs.

This more generic way of thinking about things also allows us to see that even in base load scenarios, you will have gaps where the base load plants are offline, e.g nuclear plants go offline for refueling and service.

The job of a good power system is to make sure you have capacity that can relatively quickly ramp up production to fill in the gaps, e.g. hydro power or gas plants, or perhaps in the future some sort of grid-level storage. Wind power is compatible with this model. That's why it, despite your remark, actually works just fine in practice.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

olau Biology and physics (796 comments)

What level are we talking about? If you really want to learn about the world, the world of fiction is not enough IMHO.

My sister graduated with a Master's in biology a decade ago, and I've recently started borrowing some of her books. They assume a basic understanding of chemistry, but otherwise target high-school student knowledge so aren't too hard to get into. Really recommended. For instance, you could pick up a college-level general introduction book on zoology or animal physiology and learn more about the world around you and your own body than you'd learn in a lifetime.

That, and a book about physics, but I actually think those are bit harder for the uninitiated because they tend to spend a lot of time on the math, which is fine if you're into it (like me) or actually need to figure out something in practice, but probably boring if you're just after the knowledge.

I remain sceptical of the idea of classics when it comes to fiction. You need to figure out what kind of stuff you like and go from there.

PS: now you mention communist book-burning - if you're up for an ideological challenge, I would suggest you try getting your hands on a short intro book on the economic ideas of Marx (basically a take on an analysis of the capitalistic system). I found that pretty interesting, because, well, that's the way our societies still work (the framing is of course a little dated).

That and his ideas on historical materialism - in the words of Wikipedia: "It is a theory of socioeconomic development according to which changes in material conditions (technology and productive capacity) are the primary influence on how society and the economy are organised."

This is opposed to most of the history I was taught in primary school which focused on individuals to a large degree - king B took power from king A and then did X. When he died, king C did Y. When you think about it, that level of focus is just absurd. Societies are shaped by the masses. E.g. the primary driver behind the French revolution wasn't intellectual ideas - people were hungry and the system collapsed.

about 4 months ago

US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

olau Re:Bogus from the beginning (228 comments)

Regarding code reviews: why do you think they are about finding bugs? While you can probably discover some problems through code reviews, a far more important goal is making sure that people are not turning out shitty code that will blow up the first time someone has to do any maintenance on it. You really want to make sure that people write understandable code.

about 4 months ago

Kernel DBus Now Boots With Systemd On Fedora

olau Re:So this is the thing killing portability (341 comments)

You, sir, are a confused person. The protocol is open and free for any other OS to implement, and will remain so.

If the BSDs are left in the dust, it's because they're lacking the manpower to do the things a new GUI needs. This was not a big problem for GNOME 2, which is architecturally more than a decade old. But things have changed.

I can understand if people disagree with the path the GNOME developers have chosen because it does not fit with their ideals - but you have to understand that these developers are not your serfs you can command. There are still plenty of GUI environments with modest requirements of the OS, and while they may not do the same things you can choose from any of them as you wish. So quit the whining.

about 4 months ago

NuScale Power Awarded $226 Million To Deploy Small Nuclear Reactor Design

olau Re:Price comparison to wind (210 comments)

You are taking a pessimistic view on the wind power side here.

In Denmark, we just completed a 400 MW offshore site which gets a non-inflation-adjusted strike price at 0.19 USD/kWh for the first 10-12 years. After that it operates on market terms. The capacity factor is expected to be around 45-55% as far as I know (other offshore sites have similar factors - the numbers are publicly available in an open catalogue of all Danish turbines). Modern turbines have much improved capacity factors compared to the old smaller ones.

Now in Denmark, 0.19 USD/kWh was considered a far too high price. The bidding round was hastened through so we only got one bidder. An earlier site received less than half of that in strike price. The latter one would be around £59 per MWh.

I don't know why you are paying so big subsidies in England, but it seems fishy.

While it is true that offshore turbines have a harsh environment, it's also true that the industry has learned from some of its early mistakes. Even if you don't believe that, you need to take into account that the foundation is the most expensive part of an offshore turbine, so even if you have to replace the generator and blades, it's going to be a lot cheaper than building a new farm.

PS: I don't think it really makes sense to quote EPR costs from China. The costs of things in China just aren't comparable to the costs in a Western country.

about 4 months ago

NuScale Power Awarded $226 Million To Deploy Small Nuclear Reactor Design

olau Re:Price comparison to wind (210 comments)

No. They are lower. At least for modern wind farms.

about 4 months ago

Nelson Mandela Dead At 95

olau On nazis and democracy (311 comments)

The Nazis were democratically elected into power. If you supported democracy, you had to support the Nazis in 1939 (prior to their invasion of Poland in September).

I just have to comment this as I see it repeated often: I am sorry, but that's not really true. It's true they got a (big) foot in the door (about 1/3 of the votes in a background of a crisis), but that's about where democracy stopped and Hitler took over. If you're interested, I suggest you read a history book on the Germany and the Weimar Republic. Here's a couple of quick links with more info:


Even if you can perhaps argue about the 1933 election, there's no doubt that by 1939 Germany was not a democracy. In 1939 you had to be a fool to think otherwise, the nazis weren't exactly quiet about their authoritarian philosophy. I live in a neighbouring country, and by 1939 a lot of people here were certainly reading the signs, nervously.

about 4 months ago

Harvesting Power When Freshwater Meets Salty

olau Re:Continuous Flow (151 comments)

Sure, but that's not really what you want. Far from it. You want output that follows the consumption. Many existing hydro plants can do this by virtue of the storage in the dam.

On a related note, cost/kWh figures can be deceptive. For instance, say the cost is 0,20 USD/kWh 24/7. That's great - except at night consumption is low so you may not be able to sell the energy, or will have to sell at a much reduced price; you can still do that if the marginal costs of keeping the plan running are lower than competitors. But in reality, you may only have say 12 hours/day to really turn a profit, not 24 hours.

about 5 months ago

62% of 16 To 24-Year-Olds Prefer Printed Books Over eBooks

olau Re:Im older but... (331 comments)

Or perhaps you could just do what any long section of text does on the web - structure things in a hierarchy so you start off by seeing the hierarchy, then visit the first node, then go back to the hierarchy, then visit the second, etc. (or see part of the hierarchy as you traverse the leaf nodes, or whatever). And color code links to stuff you've already visited.

Really, navigation should be a solved problem by now if you think just a little bit beyond the limitations of paper books.

about 5 months ago

John Carmack Leaves id Software

olau Re:The end of an era. (154 comments)

Watch the QuakeCon talks he gave this year and in 2012. He's been involved in the development of the Rift from the beginning one way or another.

about 5 months ago

MATE To Make It Into Debian Repositories

olau Re:Living on Debian Time (152 comments)

The problem in this instance is that MATE is basically a fork of GNOME which was already in the repository. It's my understanding that a lot of stuff had to be sorted out to prevent clashes and to ensure that Debian doesn't end up with a bunch of garbage packages that will have to be maintained for the next Debian release.

about 4 months ago

Software Patent Reform Stalls Thanks To IBM and Microsoft Lobbying

olau Re:Money again... (239 comments)

His idea is obvious in hindsight, but nobody had thought of it in the 50+ years they'd been using electric fans for ventilation. It's like learning something new in school - once you'd seen it work and gotten your mind past the assumption that the blades in a fan need to be fixed, it's dirt easy to understand and replicate even if you've never seen any internal schematics. Because of poor patent protection in Asia, there were Chinese knockoffs being sold within a year.

It seems to me there are two schools of thought. One is that people have an inherent right to ideas they invent. That's the American dream - to rise from poverty and get rich.

The other is that patents are there to help society, period. In this case, it seems that without patent protection, society was better off with these Chinese knockoffs you mention - let the most competitive production facility win. If he had spent ten years and lots of development resources researching how to build this, there may be a point that society is better off granting him a patent so others aren't discouraged from investing in R&D. However, this argument only holds water in so far that this R&D wouldn't have happened anyway.

The problem with the first school of thought is that it appears the patent system in practice is actually rigged against individuals and small companies.

I personally know one inventor who was basically had no output for 10 years in order to pay off debt he'd accrued because he went out and patented a really good idea for a household appliance - and then never got anything out of it because the manufacturers found another way to build the appliance. Lawyers seem to me to be the only real winners in this game.

about 5 months ago



The Linux Desktop and ISVs/OEMs

olau olau writes  |  about a year and a half ago

olau (314197) writes "Michael Meeks who's worked on GNOME and LibreOffice integration for many years, now for SuSE, has some really interesting thoughts on the recent Linux desktop debacle and suggestions for possible strategies. He points out that regarding ISVs, the real issue isn't actually the quality of the tools but the size and attractiveness of the market, and perhaps that a solution could be lower barriers for paying or donating. Regarding OEMs selling hardware with software preinstalled, he points out that while free OS + software sounds good for consumers, it's actually a problem for OEMs on razor thin margins since they lose the cut they get from the preinstallations. A possible countermove could be nailing robustness and hardware diagnostics for good, lowering OEM support costs."
Link to Original Source

The True Challenges of Desktop Linux

olau olau writes  |  about a year and a half ago

olau (314197) writes "Hot on the heels on the opinion piece on how Mac OS X killed Linux on the desktop is a more levelheaded analysis by another GNOME old-timer Christian Schaller who doesn't think Mac OS X killed anything. In fact, in spite of the hype surrounding Mac OS X, it seems to barely have made a dent in the overall market, he argues. Instead he points to a much longer list of thorny issues that Linux historically has faced as a contender to Microsoft's double-monopoly on the OS and the Office suite."
Link to Original Source


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