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Topics - arthwollipot

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Forum Administration and Rules / Really annoying YouTube bug
« on: November 26, 2019, 07:10:11 pm »
The forum software has a plug-in where it will automatically display a YouTube video if you just paste the link. That's great, but it also does that when you enclose the link inside url tags. Sometimes I don't want the video to display in the post, I just want to post a link to it. That is currently impossible. The weird thing is that it is not substituted until it is actually posted. It displays as a link in the Preview so I often try to do this and forget, and have to go back and edit the post to remove the link.

Is there any chance that this could be changed?

Tech Talk / The Story Of Mel
« on: October 23, 2019, 10:46:55 pm »
I know there are some programmers here who would appreciate this, but it's just as good if you are, like me, not. It's a great read.

The Story of Mel dates from 1983, and it's quite long so there's the link (don't worry it's not that long, just too long to quote in full), but it starts like this:

A recent article devoted to the macho side of programming
made the bald and unvarnished statement:

    Real Programmers write in FORTRAN.

Maybe they do now,
in this decadent era of
Lite beer, hand calculators, and “user-friendly” software
but back in the Good Old Days,
when the term “software” sounded funny
and Real Computers were made out of drums and vacuum tubes,
Real Programmers wrote in machine code.
Not FORTRAN.  Not RATFOR.  Not, even, assembly language.
Machine Code.
Raw, unadorned, inscrutable hexadecimal numbers.

Lest a whole new generation of programmers
grow up in ignorance of this glorious past,
I feel duty-bound to describe,
as best I can through the generation gap,
how a Real Programmer wrote code.
I'll call him Mel,
because that was his name.

General Discussion / Compulsory Voting - the Australian model
« on: October 02, 2019, 12:09:24 am »
Personally I feel that voting in elections is a civic duty - a responsibility of every citizen of a country, and that even if you don't live in a country (like Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, or any one of eight other countries where compulsory voting is enforced) you should take an interest and vote in your elections.

Australia has had compulsory voting since 1924 for non-indigenous citizens and for everybody since 1984, and the minimum age requirement has been 18 since 1974.

Let me be clear - I'm not suggesting Australia has a perfect electoral system. It doesn't. There are a lot of ways in which it can be improved. But I think our system does solve certain issues that other countries' elections have, and I'm specifically referring to America here since that's the one I know most about. Voter suppression, for example, is impossible. You can't make it more difficult for certain segments of the population to vote when every citizen is required by law to vote. Compulsory voting is not a panacea - the gerrymander for example is still a problem (the Queensland government of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen in the 70s and 80s gerrymandered pretty hard.

To anticipate some questions:

What happens if you don't vote?

There is a fine for not voting. However, I will clarify and say that there is a fine for not showing up at a polling booth and getting your name marked off. What you do once you have been noted as attending the booth is entirely up to you. You could turn in your ballot paper blank, or write a densely-packed conspiracy rant all over it. This is known as voting informally, but as it turns out most people actually do submit formal votes. I think the rate of informal votes in the last federal election was less than 5%, but I might have to look that up to be more precise.

What if you just don't care?

Then you can vote informally. Or, and there are indeed some people who do this, you can choose to pay the fine. It's not a large fine - as I mentioned in the other thread I think it's about AU$25, but I've never paid it so again I'd have to look it up to be sure. But in my experience, one of the consequences of compulsory voting is to make people more engaged with the process, not less.

How difficult is the process of actually voting?

It's deliberately made very easy. There are polling places everywhere - mine is within walking distance of my home. They're usually in school halls. There are staff from the Australian Electoral Commission (aka the AEC - a non-partisan body whose function is to organise and run elections) to help if you need it. Most if not all polling places are wheelchair accessible. Elections are always held on a Saturday. The whole system is set up to streamline the process and make it easy for everyone.

At our last election, I walked to my polling place, queued for about five minutes, had my name marked off the electoral roll (no ID was required) and was given my ballot papers - one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives. And here we get to one of the issues with our system, though it is minor. The Senate ballot paper is huge. It's about a metre long and in my electorate there were about 96 candidates. I don't remember the exact number.

Australia uses a form of proportional representation, specifically a Single Transferable Vote, in the Senate. This means that you rank candidates in order by writing numbers in the boxes. Although there are alternatives, I prefer to number every candidate - all 96 of them. If I trusted the political parties to distribute their preferences in a way that I agreed with, I could vote "above the line", but I don't. So I number every candidate and party. If you want to know more about proportional representation, here's Dennis the Election Koala to explain it.

That took a few minutes, and filling out the House of Reps ballot paper is a lot simpler so it took less than a minute. And then I put each paper in the appropriate ballot box, said thanks to the nice volunteers from the AEC, and headed outside for my Democracy Sausage. Then I walked home. In all, it took about half an hour.

I could write more, but this OP is already pretty long, so I'll open the floor to questions. :D

General Discussion / Why do you like Halloween?
« on: September 30, 2019, 09:24:55 pm »
Thread started because Captain Video didn't want me to talk about it in his decorations thread.

Why do you like Halloween? What do you get out of it? Go there for the setup. Continue the discussion here.

Games / Subnautica - Spoilers Ahoy!
« on: April 04, 2019, 09:11:01 pm »
This is a continuation of the discussion in the What Games thread. Spoilers will not be tagged!

Okay. I'm pretty sure I've thoroughly searched all the wrecks above 300m, but I've still clearly missed the one that contains the second fragment of the Power Cell Charger. I've found and activated the gate that connects the two islands, but the quarantine facility on the mountain island has a second gate that clearly needs to be activated from the other end. I've also found another deep cave south of the starting area which is guarded by a bunch of bone sharks and has a field over the entrance to keep water out. It has a bunch of alien robots and another inactive gate, but nothing else as far as I can tell.

I'm pretty sure my next step is going to have to be really deep. I could take the Seamoth down since it's fully upgraded to max depth, but that's only 900m and I'm pretty certain I'll need the prawn suit to get deeper, but I can't build that yet since I don't have aerogel. Also, I really want the Cyclops for its ability to be a mobile base so that I can get food and water when I need to.

I've done a bit of reading online, and I'm pretty sure my next step is going to be to take the Cyclops into the Lost River, which is where I'll find the Disease Research Facility. But it's fucking terrifying down there.

My habitat is currently at the edge of the northeast mushroom forest. But I'm also contemplating setting up a second habitat south of the starting area with another scan room, to see if I've missed any wrecks.

Skepticism / Science Talk / Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
« on: November 14, 2018, 06:30:02 pm »
China's 'artificial sun' reaches 100 million degrees Celsius marking milestone for nuclear fusion

Chinese nuclear scientists have reached an important milestone in the global quest to harness energy from nuclear fusion, a process that occurs naturally in the sun.

The team of scientists from China's Institute of Plasma Physics announced this week that plasma in their Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) — dubbed the 'artificial sun' — reached a whopping 100 million degrees Celsius, temperature required to maintain a fusion reaction that produces more power than it takes to run.


The Chinese research team said they were able to achieve the record temperature through the use of various new techniques in heating and controlling the plasma, but could only maintain the state for around 10 seconds.

Ten seconds is a pretty long time for 100 million degrees. If this pans out, it is a significant step towards stable power generation.

General Discussion / Left or right handed?
« on: July 06, 2018, 04:28:52 am »
Are you left or right handed? Or ambidextrous? In my experience many people who claim to be ambidexrous do different tasks with different hands. Very few of them can do the same task equally well with both hands.

I'm very right handed. But damned if I can form guitar chords with my right hand - that's a left-hand thing. But I can use a computer mouse almost as well with my left hand as with my right. I learned that after I started suffering repetetive strain in my right wrist as a result of mouse use.

Most people, I think, are clearly one handed or the other, despite the occasional task they can do with the other hand. Which are you? Left, or right? Tell us what other-handed things you can do in the thread. If you are genuinely ambidextrous, choose that option.

General Discussion / Nature is amazing
« on: July 02, 2018, 06:33:04 pm »
Feel free to post your amazing-nature links here. I'll get started.

Spider web spectacle enthrals early morning walkers in nature reserve

Alert for arachnophobes - there are pictures of spiderwebs in this article, but no clear images of the spiders themselves.

A mass colony of tent spiders have created a mesmerising display in a nature reserve on Australia's east coast, capturing the imagination of locals.

The intricately-formed spider webs have been described as resembling masses of floating jellyfish or tiny suspended spaceships which glow in the early morning light.

During regular daylight hours, they are almost impossible to see.

But at dawn and in the late afternoon, the webs reflect rays of sunlight and appear almost iridescent.

Volunteer Dave Comish helps to maintain the Kooloonbung Creek Nature Reserve at Port Macquarie in New South Wales, where the spiders have set up residence.

Mr Comish said when he first saw the astounding, shining display, he thought the mid-north coast town had been experiencing unseasonal weather.

"On a heavy dew in the mornings, it looks like it's been snowing.

"They are a beautiful looking thing," he said.

General Discussion / Pronunciation
« on: February 17, 2018, 10:16:14 pm »
How do you pronounce the word cache?

"Caysh", "cash" or "ca-shay"?

I have always said "caysh". "Ca-shay" seems to be more of an American thing.

Forum Games / The Three-Word Story
« on: August 05, 2017, 08:40:19 am »
This is a game that has been running forever at some other forum which I won't mention. Each post must be exactly three words, and must contribute to the ongoing story (no non-sequiturs!). I'll start:

Once upon a

Tech Talk / Cryptocurrency
« on: May 21, 2017, 10:34:04 pm »
Does anyone here know a lot about cryptocurrency? A couple of friends and I are starting up an Ethereum mining operation, but the learning curve is pretty steep.

Anyone done any mining before? Have any simple tutorials they can share? Thoughts, opinions?

General Discussion / Who's manufacturing outrage now?
« on: April 20, 2017, 09:55:13 pm »
Headlines gone mad: how coverage of ANU's Eagle Rock controversy fed the outrage industry

Essentially, some women were sexually harassed at an event at the Australian National University while dancing to Daddy Cool's song Eagle Rock. Subsequently, the residential college at the university issued a statement saying that the song would no longer be played at official events.

The Fairfax media turned this into a scare headline, saying that the ANU had banned the song, citing it as a case of "political correctness gone mad".

Upon writing the articles, I was well aware that simply banning a song would do nothing to address the undercurrents of sexism and misogyny that oppress women in university colleges. My intention was not to have the song banned but instead to draw attention to the normalisation of pervasive sexist culture in universities; a culture that often robs women of their capacity to give consent. My other motive was simply to ensure that no other female would have the same experience as me.

However, when Fairfax publicised these events in their own articles, they did so using the sensationalist headline “ANU college bans song to stop male students dropping their pants”. Instantly, the experiences of myself, along with so many other women who have experienced sexual harassment at ANU, had been trivialised, reduced to no more than another example of the so-called nanny state and “political correctness gone mad”. This led to a bombardment of ridicule on social media, as well as by public figures, with both Miranda Devine and Mark Latham claiming that banning the song made ANU “like the Taliban”.

Sadly, using such misleading and incendiary headlines to create political correctness controversies is all too common in mainstream media.

Now, my question is this:

Is it really the political left that is manufacturing outrage?

Member Creations / My Fantasy Novel
« on: March 31, 2017, 05:10:47 am »
So I'm writing a fantasy novel. I'm putting chapters up on Patreon - one per week, for free (patrons get access to my blog posts and occasional additional stuff). Here's a link to the first chapter:

His First War

It'd be great if a few people could go over there and help out with ideas and so forth.

Member Creations / My Trashy Fantasy Novel
« on: March 10, 2017, 02:11:02 am »
I've set up a Patreon for my writing. The first chapter of my novel is up, and a blog post describing some of my inspiration and motivation for those folks who choose to contribute a little to my upkeep. I'll be putting up a chapter a week. It'd be great if you would go check it out. I've made it as easy as possible to find so that I don't have to put commercial links on places that might not be okay with that sort of thing.

I don't think this is one of those places, so here it is:

Member Creations / Using Patreon as a content creator
« on: March 05, 2017, 04:36:51 am »
Has anyone here used Patreon as a content creator?

I'd like to start using it to distribute the trashy fantasy novel I've been writing, but I have some questions.

I initially figured I'd be able to distribute chapters, and patrons could pay $1-2 per chapter. I'd publish a chapter a week, each paid, and then for higher-paying patrons I could do additional things - scans of my notebooks, periodic Q&As, etc. However, looking at the Patreon help files it seems that the done thing is to publish basic content for free, and only charge for additional content.

I've never used Patreon before, either as a creator or as a patron, so I don't know what "the done thing" is. Is it reasonable to ask for payment for each chapter of my novel? I was going to give away the first chapter for free, like as a teaser, anyway. But I just have no experience with the system and the culture.

Any thoughts?

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