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Now we're into week 27 of the "Top Question" of Super User in the Super User blog. Please post and vote for your favorite question for this week.

Please post any question that you feel is of worth and the reason why. Try not to promote your own questions or answers for publicity's sake. We are looking for questions that are of similar par to those selected in the Super User Contest. If you like a posted question then vote it up. Each week we'll to try to post about a question and its contents.

When submitting a QotW, please indicate if you would be interested in writing about it for the blog. This is a factor which we take into consideration when selecting what to blog about - we need a post we can actually say something interesting about; it shouldn't be something we've written about too much before, and it helps to have somebody interested in writing the article.

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What are some options for transfering large files without using the Internet?

My employer's Internet connection is extremely slow. It's a $6,000 a month, 9 Mb, bonded T1, shared by over 150 users. It's not untypical to see regular file transfer speeds of 20-100 KBps. [...]

When I need to download a large file (which is frequently), I drive 40 miles back home[...]

I am seriously contemplating raising carrier pigeons to fly back and forth between my home and office to transfer the files. Assuming a pigeon is carrying a 16 GB MicroSD card [...] Given the price of gas where I live and wear and tear on the car, that would probably be the cheapest option too.

What are some good, viable, alternative methods of transferring large files, rather than using my employer's Internet connection?

The problem of transferring large files is clearly important (billions of dollars are spent to solve it), and routinely affects many people's line of work. This question shows that the problem is still relevant, and is likely to yield several different useful answers. Besides, it's funny and well-written.

  • Mechanical snail, would you be interested in writing about this? Your answer was quite interesting, I'd be interested to read more about long-rage data transfer. – nhinkle Aug 8 '11 at 18:56
  • @nhinkle: I'm actually not an expert on the topic. Perhaps ask some people signed up for the proposed ham radio site? – Mechanical snail Aug 8 '11 at 21:19
  • I'll take a look, but you don't have to be an expert to contribute to the blog - all we need is a quick summary of the question and answers. You're always welcome to include some more info, but it's certainly not required. – nhinkle Aug 8 '11 at 21:53
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I found that quite interesting:

How do I hit the CTRL key without straining my pinky?

When I'm using Chrome, Powerpoint, Notepad++, etc. I take a lot of advantage of the keyboard shortcuts in those programs. However, this gets a bit tedious and straining, having my pinky stretch down to the CTRL key every time I need to save, for example. [...]

Maybe we could write a post about keyboard ergonomics, or more generally, workplace ergonomics? How to avoid finger strain, back problems, dry eyes, et cetera.

After all, we nerds sit in front of a computer all the time, and without taking proper care, we're really damaging our bodies in the long run.

I probably don't have the time to write about this though!

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is a good one to mention, and I know a few general office ergonomic tips. Also, this post reminds me of the good 'ol Lenovo trick of switching the Ctrl and Fn keys. They build a damn good product, but I always end up hitting the Fn key instead of Ctrl, so I will never buy one. – Breakthrough Aug 2 '11 at 21:56
  • Keep your back straight, the top of your screen should be at eye-level when looking directly forward, never bend your wrists upwards (allow them to "droop" down if you can), and always keep your wrists straight. – Breakthrough Aug 2 '11 at 21:58
  • @Breakthrough Hey, this is what's supposed to be in the blog post! Would you like to write about it? – slhck Aug 2 '11 at 21:59
  • I can provide some general guidelines, do you know how long the submission has to be (and where it needs to be submitted)? I can't promise anything spectacular, but I just took an office ergonomics course and can paraphrase some of the material I learned. – Breakthrough Aug 2 '11 at 22:03
  • It doesn't need to be that long, just take a look at our previous QotW posts. Nathan is the editor for the QotW, you can read about the submission process here. But basically, just write the post, send it to Nathan and when it's reviewed it'll get published. You can also drop in at the Blog Editor chat room, any of the editors will be glad to help you. @bre – slhck Aug 2 '11 at 22:07
  • @Breakthrough if you'd be interested in writing about this, by all means let me know. Posts aren't usually too long, though you're welcome to go into as much detail as you want. As slhck said, check out previous weeks' posts to get a sense for the sort of thing we do. – nhinkle Aug 3 '11 at 6:10
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    Also as you may or may not know, write 3 good articles, and you win a free SU T-shirt ;) – nhinkle Aug 3 '11 at 6:10
  • +1. Some people swap the Ctrl and Caps Lock keys for this reason. – Mechanical snail Aug 4 '11 at 0:29
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Why does the expression exp(i*pi) return the wrong result in GNU Octave?

I started to learn GNU Octave today, and tried the first expression given in the manual:

exp(i*pi)

The result is:

ans = -1.0000e+000 + 1.2246e-016i

And it seems GNU Scientific Library gives similar results too. So is this a Octave bug, or general problems of numeric analysis software (symbolic\ evaluation software will definitely give an answer of exact one)?

We could write a post about issues with numerical analysis in computing (mostly due to precision errors), the speed-vs-precision tradeoff, and the problems with symbolic analysis via a machine.

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