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Comments

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Australian Bureau of Statistics Doesn't Like Direct Downloads of Census Data

Bifurcati Re:Bit torrent (136 comments)

Well, d'oh ;)

But it's actually legit - you can follow the link from the OP to get there as well.

about a year ago
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Valve Sued In Germany Over Game Ownership

Bifurcati Trade-offs (384 comments)

Having strong property rights of "things" has always been a huge part of our culture. However, in the same way that piracy is hacking away at traditional entertainment business models, perhaps there needs to be some give & take here. For the prices Steam offers, I'm actually willing to give up my right to resell the games - as long the games were truly free of all other DRM (I hate it that they're not...).

The biggest drawback, as I see it, is longer term not being able to pass the games on to family/friends to play. Perhaps an option is to have a higher tiered pricing which gives you the ability to resell the game later?

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Crowdfunding For Science — Can It Succeed?

Bifurcati Re:Rewards for contributors (153 comments)

Yes, you're right of course; not all scientific advances are useful. And many individuals will not be directly impacted by a cure for cancer, for example. Broadly speaking, though, and what I meant to get at, is that if a scientific advance is beneficial, then it provides that benefit to the broader humanity, even if only statistically speaking and perhaps not immediately.

(Even the nuclear bomb research probably helped spur nuclear power, which in turn staved off climate change. And, of course, views are divided on whether more or less lives were lost due to the bombs. So yes, I definitely meant broad generalisation rather than absolute statement :) )

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Crowdfunding For Science — Can It Succeed?

Bifurcati Rewards for contributors (153 comments)

Others have already pointed out the obvious magnitude-of-funding issues.

Another issue though is that all of humanity benefits from scientific advances. If government funding were to reduce and be replaced by fund raising drives, then (in the simplest case) those who don't contribute would be getting all the benefits (alternatives to fossil fuels, medical advances, etc) but with none of the upfront cost. Of course, we already have some fund raising for breast cancer/prostate cancer/MS/other specific disease but I would imagine this makes up a fairly small portion of their research budgets (and in some cases genuinely represents an investment in their personal future).

The obvious way around this is through a Kickstarter style reward system, where people who contribute get some specific rewards. But what would you offer? You get a share of the profits? (Well, now you're actually a corporation.) You get early access to the treatment? (That's not going to fly politically.) You get your name on the side of the particle accelerator? (That might work.)

Obviously, people are welcome to do whatever they want with their money, but I think government funding of science for the common good is the fairest scenario, and what we should be encouraging.

more than 2 years ago
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Polaroid: This Time It's Digital

Bifurcati Re:What about a film polaroid (176 comments)

Actually, that's for the PoGo (smaller 2x3" prints). I've got one, and it's excellent - perfect for travelling to remote areas of the world and leaving families with photos of their kids!

more than 2 years ago
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Ask The Bad Astronomer

Bifurcati Re:One true answer (412 comments)

Just don't ask where the genie came from, okay? :)

more than 2 years ago
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Ask The Bad Astronomer

Bifurcati Humanity in 5,000 years (412 comments)

If I held a laser blaster to your head and demanded a forecast, what do you think civilisation will look in 5,000 years?

E.g., will we have colonies on other planets? Other star systems? Will we have robots/AI/cyborgs? Will we have a high tech world? Low tech? Nox tech?

more than 2 years ago
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Ask The Bad Astronomer

Bifurcati One true answer (412 comments)

A genie appears and offers you one true yes/no answer to any question you ask (subject, perhaps, to xkcd rules). What would you ask?

more than 2 years ago
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Ask The Bad Astronomer

Bifurcati Ever faster than light? (412 comments)

Leaving aside (or not!) the recent neutrino experiment, do you think that humans will ever devise a way to travel (explicitly or implicitly) faster than light? Specifically, do you think it will be possible to travel to (say) Alpha Centauri and back in under 8 years from the reference frame of earth?

If not, what do you think this means for long term space exploration and/or colonisation?

(I say implicitly/explicitly to allow for both actually exceeding the speed of light and for using some sort of clever multi-dimensional/space bending/startrekkian technique :) )

more than 2 years ago
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Rooted Devices Blocked From Android Movie Market

Bifurcati Re:Little overlap (321 comments)

Apologies if I offended; you're right, perhaps that wasn't a fair comparison. I still think there would be a correlation - maybe not as strong, though?
More to the point, in Australia we can rent physical DVDs from $2.95 (new release) overnight. On Tuesdays, all DVDs are $1. If one of the intentions of these sort of stores is to make inroads against piracy, you'd have to be working at beating these price points, even with the convenience of home based downloads.

more than 2 years ago
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Rooted Devices Blocked From Android Movie Market

Bifurcati Little overlap (321 comments)

I would expect that the people who know how to root their phone are also unlikely to pay $3.99 to rent a movie - I can't imagine there's a lot of overlap or heartache here amongst the users.

On the other hand, these are also the most tech savvy users who might actually be swayed by a convenient and cheap (and legal) movie downloading system. Certainly I used to buy music from a certain Russian site because the cost was worth the convenience of high quality music on demand.

more than 2 years ago
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Armenia Makes Chess Compulsory In Schools

Bifurcati Re:Brilliant! (300 comments)

Replying to myself, some further googling [PDF] shows a number of studies that suggest a link between learning chess and improved performance. There does seem to be evidence that learning chess improves performance (although there also seems to be some studies that suffer from correlation/causation issues; without reviewing each study individually, I'm also suspicious that some studies might not have controlled for the fact that any intervention produces improvement, not just learning chess. But the devil is in the details, and there's a broad trend towards improvement).

Looks like chess is already being taught in the Phillipines too?

more than 2 years ago
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Armenia Makes Chess Compulsory In Schools

Bifurcati Brilliant! (300 comments)

Their president should be Knighted! :)

Seriously, though, this is an intriguing way of fostering logical/analytical/creative thinking. I wonder if there is any peer reviewed literature on the impact of chess on children?

more than 2 years ago
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Slashdot Launches Re-Design

Bifurcati Macbook at 80% CPU (2254 comments)

On my 2005 Macbook, that runs everything else perfectly, this comment thread is chewing up *80%* of my CPU (one core out of two). Really, Slashdot? This is what the top site for geeks comes up with?

And, like everyone else has said, too much white space. I don't mean this as a direct criticism - but did none of the beta testers make these observations? I'm genuinely curious.

more than 3 years ago
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Australia's National Broadband Network To Go Ahead

Bifurcati Re:What filter? (222 comments)

Actually, the ETS (at least) has a reasonably good chance of being passed in some form. Yes, Labor will need the support of the Greens MPtwo independents, but Oakeshott will probably be in favour and Windsor, although opposing the existing scheme, is generally in favour of an emissions trading scheme. The Greens opposed the scheme originally because they knew it couldn't be passed even with their support, and thought they'd gain more political mileage by being the Extreme Left voice. Now that they're actually in a position of responsibility all of those guys are likely to play ball, with the Greens in particular keen to get something through the Senate (from July next year) while Labor still has government!

more than 3 years ago
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Creating a Better Facebook

Bifurcati How to log in (295 comments)

I just love the irony that to support them you have the option of loging in via your Facebook details ;)

It's a darn tough sell, but I threw them $5 - why not? If it comes together, it would be a fantastic Wikipedia-esque next-step of social networking. On the other hand, if Buzz can't do it...

more than 3 years ago
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Dashboard Reveals What Google Knows About You

Bifurcati Re:I WANT them to collect my data! (260 comments)

Agreed - if Google were hacked, well, that's bad. But the same goes for anything I store on my personal computer. And while Google's a much more likely target than my lonely IP address, they're also a hundred times better equipped to come with those attacks than I am, despite my moderate geek status.

The concern is there, but the difference is that I acknowledge and accept it. These guys are calling for the destruction of Google, which, to me, is a disproportionate response.

more than 4 years ago
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Dashboard Reveals What Google Knows About You

Bifurcati I WANT them to collect my data! (260 comments)

Believe it or not, Google is a free service (for the most part) supported by advertising. I love the stuff that Google does, the way they handle advertising, and the way that advertising is actually (for the first time ever on the net) actually relevant. They've never done anything to earn my mistrust, far from it. So if by giving them my search histories I can improve both their overall advertising revenue and my own browsing experience, then I am more than willing to do so.

If things ever go wrong, well, then I'll suffer the consequences. But people demanding Google stop collecting this information is just crazy talk. Yes, Google is fast becoming a necessity because of its sheer usefulness, but it's by no means crossed the line and doesn't look like it will. If you're really that worried - just don't use Gmail, Gcalendar or any of those other things. Your Google searches will still be reasonably anonymous!

Honestly, it's rubbish like this that gives privacy advocates a bad name. Fight a battle worth fighting, for cryin' out loud.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Editing your friends' Facebook interests

Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Bifurcati (699683) writes "Want to mess with your friend's Facebook profiles? With the (yet again) redesigned Facebook you can now tag your friends in your interests (and other categories), and this will then appear on their profile. While it's similar to tagging them in awkward photos, it could be a significant issue if people added compromising statements to your interests — especially if you're silly enough to leave that part of your profile public."
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Google helps catch 'muggers'

Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Bifurcati writes "Two Dutch men have been arrested after a boy they allegedly mugged spotted them in Google StreetView. The 14-year-old boy was pulled off his bicycle in the town of Groningen in September and robbed of his mobile phone and about 250 dollars. He found the pictures in StreetView apparently by chance and while his attackers' faces were blurred (as per Google's rules) Google gave investigators the original unobscured pictures. The bad guys were also apparently twins...or there's some clever real life photoshopping going on!"
Link to Original Source
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Your inner crowd is just statistics

Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Bifurcati writes "A couple of days ago, we heard that the "wisdom of crowds" works for individuals — averaging multiple guesses from one person produces a better answer. I would argue, however, that the results seen in their paper can be attributed simply to statistics and don't produce any useful insights into the human brain's decision making abilities. (I, of course, can't say their conclusions are actually false, just that they're not proven by this paper.) [NB — I've got a PhD in physics, so I'm vaguely qualified to comment!]"
Link to Original Source
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MythBusters bust the "Plane on the Runway"

Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Bifurcati writes "MythBusters have finally done it — the most argued about problem of all time has been tested and busted: Can a plane on a conveyor belt that's moving the opposite way ever take off? The answer is yes! Using a 2000 foot tarp pulled backwards on the runway and an ultralight plane, they showed it really does take off. People still aren't convinced, and so using my PhD in physics I've written what I hope is a clear explanation of the physics which might finally put this problem rest."
Link to Original Source
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Australian advertising regulator targets Google

Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Bifurcati writes "The Australian competition regulator is taking action against Google in the Federal Court, alleging that the Internet search engine has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, by failing to adequately distinguish between sponsored links on its website and "organic" search results. The ACCC says it believes this is the first action of its kind against Google in the world."
Link to Original Source
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  about 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "Update: Turns out the launch failure was when "the computers detected main engine chamber pressure was less than 0.1 percent lower than the redline limit". They're currently resetting — the launch has NOT been scrubbed!"
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "Half the emails I receive have email disclaimers at the end, warning me of the dire consequences that would follow if I am the unwitting recipient of juicy details which I then divulge, or perhaps even read. IANAL, and I know most of /. aren't either, but I'm interested in knowing the legal status of such disclaimers. Slate says they're mostly useless, except perhaps for trade secrets. Surely, though, if a Coca Cola exec emails me their recipe by mistake, they have no legal protection? (Their "reasonable steps" at security are no more?) What if I discovered my friend's spouse was having an affair — would I be prohibited from informing my friend? Aside from secrets, what else can they protect against?"
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "Country singer Keith Urban has filed a lawsuit against a painter of the same name, claiming the lesser-known Keith Urban's website infringes on trademark and cyber-squatting laws. A whois suggests it's been around since 1999, and while it has apparently never explicitly denied or affirmed a connection with the more famous Keith, does it really "deceive the public into believing that the website has a connection to Plaintiff that does not exist"?"
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "Gmail has undergone a slight face lift, with a new look for messages, the extra options for responding to a message now placed inside a drop down menu, a new "Invite Friends" encouragement under Contacts."
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "Preferred preservation method?

* Transfer of consciousness to The Matrix
* Liquid nitrogen, ready for thawing
* Black hole event horizon
* Canopic jar
* Corpse case mod"
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "According to CEO of Xstrata Coal: "Coal is the only long-term viable solution to the world's energy needs". From the ABC news article:
"Renewables are important," [Peter Coates] said. "But they will always operate around the fringes or with the current technology, they'll operate around the fringes of baseload power, whether that be coal or nuclear, and climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution.
Perhaps "long term" requires further clarification? He does suggest nuclear power too, however."
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "Artificial volcanic eruptions could be used to counteract the effects of global warming, according to research published today. After volcanic eruptions, like of Mt Pinatubo, massive amounts of sulphur are spewed into the atmosphere, forming cloud cover which blocks sunlight and cools the planet. The research published in Science (subscription required) suggests that an artficial eruption every two years would counteract global warming indefinitely. Others, however, argue that even if practical, this doesn't address the real problem of greenhouse gas emissions (particualrly CO2) and if the "global shading" failed, we would be out of options."
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "The mysterious structure, particularly a large ring of stars, in the Andromeda could be explained by a smaller galaxy smashing into the Andromeda's centre (subscription req. for full article). Simulations have shown that a head on collision with M32 about 200 million years ago produces a galaxy that tallies very well with Andromeda, giving us a unique opportunity to study a galaxy collision in our own neighbourhood (at least before the possible Andromeda-Milky Way collision in 3 billion years...) Some good pictures on Space.com."
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "The 2006 Ig Nobel Prizes have been announced! Among the many useful results is a formula for the number of photos of a group that should be taken to insure everyone has their eyes open, and the groundbreaking paper that will no doubt inspire witty commentary, "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage". The official site will no doubt have more details soon."
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Bifurcati Bifurcati writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Bifurcati writes "A recent arXiv paper claims to show that ghosts don't exist, or at least they're inconsistent with the laws of physics. From zombie case histories to the effect of Newton's laws on walking through walls, they explore and debunk ghosts et al. in movies and folklore. Personally, I found their arguments weak and unconvincing, even if it was meant as a teaching exercise or humourous piece, and it may actually provide fodder for true occult believers — I've given my "rebuttals" on Illuminating Science."

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