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Uber CEO: We'll Run Your Errands

BorisSkratchunkov Re:Consumer feedback removes need for certificatio (139 comments)

Uber is showing, how the consumer feedback, that's easy to provide and is immediately available to anyone with a smart phone,

Right- anyone. That's exactly the problem. All you need to do to game the system as an Uber driver is put together a network of colluders to give you good reviews after you give them "rides". In the past, you only needed to find a few bad actors within the government- now literally anyone can help you with your racket.

5 days ago

The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

BorisSkratchunkov Silicon Valley Rebrands Correspondence Courses (182 comments)

Attitudes towards correspondence courses don't change. News at 5.

For the record, correspondence courses have been around since 1892. But somehow MOOCs are "disruptive" (have classrooms and disruption ever gone well together?). Here's a quotation from Wikipedia to add context:

In the United States William Rainey Harper, first president of the University of Chicago, developed the concept of extended education, whereby the research university had satellite colleges of education in the wider community. In 1892 he also encouraged the concept of correspondence school courses to further promote education, an idea that was put into practice by Columbia University.[12][13] Enrollment in the largest private for-profit school based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the International Correspondence Schools grew explosively in the 1890s. Originally founded in 1888 to provide training for immigrant coal miners aiming to become state mine inspectors or foremen, it enrolled 2500 new students in 1894 and matriculated 72,000 new students in 1895. By 1906 total enrollments reached 900,000. The growth was due to sending out complete textbooks instead of single lessons, and the use of 1200 aggressive in-person salesmen.[14][15] There was a stark contrast in pedagogy:

The regular technical school or college aims to educate a man broadly; our aim, on the contrary, is to educate him only along some particular line. The college demands that a student shall have certain educational qualifications to enter it, and that all students study for approximately the same length of time, and when they have finished their courses they are supposed to be qualified to enter any one of a number of branches in some particular profession. We, on the contrary, are aiming to make our courses fit the particular needs of the student who takes them

about a week ago

Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

BorisSkratchunkov Statistics has always had difficulty with usurpers (115 comments)

Most notably psychology, economics, mathematics and beer brewing. In fact, most of the developments in stats have come about as a result of a need arising in a different discipline. Stats is inherently an applied discipline, so this is not unusual.

What is concerning is how many statistical tools, each with their own set of assumptions, have blossomed up within the past few decades. There are so many stats now that stats can no longer be an ancillary to other disciplines- it needs to be given its own space and statisticians need to be given respect for their unique expertise. There is simply too much knowledge in that domain for those in more theory-driven fields to be able to claim both expertise in the conceptual models of their fields and statistics.

about three weeks ago

Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

BorisSkratchunkov Re:As a statisticians (115 comments)

Considering how small the population size for machine learning researchers in academia can be, it is very likely that anecdotes can constitute a satisfactory sample.

about three weeks ago

How Many Members of Congress Does It Take To Pass a $400MM CS Bill?

BorisSkratchunkov Re:Sorry, but... why? (180 comments)

One of the most important things you can possibly learn is how to tell when your source is wrong, (optionally) call them out on it, and find another source. If you can't do that, you'll forever rely on others to tell you what should be important to you and spoon-feed you "facts" about those things.

So what you're saying is that if I don't like the bullshit this idiot is spoonfeeding me, I should start listening to the bullshit some other idiot wants to spoonfeed me. Your position is logically inconsistent from my perspective- you're always going to rely on others to tell you what's important and give you information (unless you're a solipsist). I find it interesting too that you think that information sources are either categorically wrong or right- it's really way more fuzzy than that, and ultimately one's ability to determine the signal-to-noise ratio of a source is what allows one to glean the juicy bits.

about a month and a half ago

MIT Bitcoin Project To Create Cryptocurrency Ecosystem, Give $100 Per Student

BorisSkratchunkov Re:Usage (107 comments)

Many colleges have on-campus currencies- usually dollars are attached to a student ID card via Blackboard or a similar piece of software. I don't use campus currency from my alma mater in my present day-to-day life. How would this be any different?

about 5 months ago

Interviews: Ask Bre Pettis About Making Things

BorisSkratchunkov Feasibility of Printing Massive Domes (69 comments)

I heard that you lived in Ithaca at one point in your life. As you might know then, it can be quite snowy in Ithaca. Do you have reason to believe that superstructures (in the style of Buckminster Fuller) could be built using 3D printing in the future, or are the technical challenges too great? Could a dome be printed? Is there any hope for keeping out at least some of the snow (perhaps not all of it as it is sometimes quite nice)?

about 5 months ago

Austin Has Highest Salaries For Tech Workers, After Factoring In Cost of Living

BorisSkratchunkov Re:CS about to grad college, should I move to aust (285 comments)

If you're asking Slashdot to make major life decisions for you, you have bigger issues. That said, why the hell not.

about 6 months ago

Should Everybody Learn To Code?

BorisSkratchunkov Re:The herding impulse (387 comments)

Wow. What was I thinking this morning? These opinions are crap.

about 8 months ago

Should Everybody Learn To Code?

BorisSkratchunkov Re:The herding impulse (387 comments)

On second thought, I just made a pretty good argument for more training in domain-specific languages. I still don't think that just plunging in like a mid-90s cowboy coder generalist will work anymore though. Those days are definitely gone.

about 8 months ago

Should Everybody Learn To Code?

BorisSkratchunkov Re:The herding impulse (387 comments)

I think that you're making the mistake of perceiving a mindless code monkey to be tantamount to someone who is a seasoned computer scientist with a solid grasp of theory and a fair understanding of software engineering principles/design patterns (or a super competent software engineer with a fair understanding of theory). Code monkeys will not make real discoveries or do real work- like it or not, for better or worse, only the super-talented will (yeah, reality's a bitch). We've also reached a bit of a ceiling effect in science and tech more generally in my eyes- all the low-hanging fruit has already been picked, so the discoveries that remain to be made require much more effort and interdisciplinary teamwork than ever before. Getting more people trained to code won't change that.

The other point is that most programming languages these days are becoming more expressive anyways, which lowers the entry barrier to coding significantly so that most people will be able to figure it out at one point or another anyways- you don't need to be in the IQ > 120 club anymore because you don't need to really understand pointers or assembly code or any of that mess. Domain-specific languages are becoming mature enough that a statistician won't necessarily need to learn C and can most of his or her work done with R; ditto for the scientist who wants to use Julia or SciPy (without delving into any of the non-SciPy libraries available in Python). Syntactic sugar has been added to web languages like such as Javascript (e.g., Coffeescript) and even HTML/CSS (although goodness knows why these needed syntactic sugar). Perhaps I'm just coming from a privileged standpoint where I already find it simple so I can't see how other people will continue to find it hard, but I really really don't think that the simpler aspects of programming are going to be out of reach for the masses that much longer.

One last point is that a lot of the progress I've noticed in the tech world right now seems to be in the world of DevOps, which is what I believe is being referred to in point 2; a minimal number of systems administrators and developers are needed now to due to advances in deployment and debugging automation. Case in point: Google's servers broke and fixed themselves. Do we still need workers to do these tasks now? Definitely. 10 years from now? Not so sure, and flooding the job market with a bunch of "coders" certainly won't make matters better.

about 8 months ago

Should Everybody Learn To Code?

BorisSkratchunkov No (387 comments)


about 8 months ago

Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use

BorisSkratchunkov Re:Data Science (312 comments)

not amenable to analysis using classical methods.

Care to explain how this is true? I think I have an idea, but using "a healthy combination of certain areas of comp-sci (databases, machine learning, NLP, AI), statistical methods, and, quite often, improvisation" seems to be an even more obtuse approach than going about it the old-fashioned way. I'd much rather hear that people are using what we already know or (still better, but probably not as plausible) the latest mathematical advances regarding nonlinear systems rather than just ad-hoc'ing methods because... computers! I believe that this is at least partiallly Nassim Taleb's objection to the entire field of data science as well. How many 'results' coming from data science are the product of sound and rigorous methodologies, and how many are just due to chance/data dredging?

about 8 months ago

Elsevier Going After Authors Sharing Their Own Papers

BorisSkratchunkov Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (259 comments)

Correction: Science is not an Elsevier publication. Seems like I'm slightly naive as well...

about 9 months ago

Elsevier Going After Authors Sharing Their Own Papers

BorisSkratchunkov Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (259 comments)

Nature was established in 1869. Science in 1880. To state that it "would take a while" to beat that prestige comes off as slightly naive (I offer a litotes to your understatement).

about 9 months ago

France Moves To Protect Independent Booksellers From Amazon

BorisSkratchunkov Re:Free Market Economics (264 comments)

But what Amazon is doing is not free market economics- they are using their previously accumulated profits to artificially distort the market by selling at a loss and not taking a profit. This doesn't encourage competition, it stifles it. The French government is essentially reacting to ensure that some semblance of a well-regulated free market is preserved by compensating for Amazon's chicanery.

about a year ago



ReactOS hopes to advance development via 'Community Edition'

BorisSkratchunkov BorisSkratchunkov writes  |  about 5 months ago

BorisSkratchunkov (642046) writes "The ReactOS project has announced a more community-driven development approach with the launch of an IndieGoGo campaign in which contributors can push for support for specific hardware and apps. Furthermore, they have announced the impending release of ReactOS 0.4, which contains (among other improvements) USB support for the first time ever, as well as a new explorer. With the recent retirement of Windows XP and the foibles of Windows 8, it is encouraging to see that the Windows platform might not be entirely dependent on Microsoft in the future."
Link to Original Source



Fun With Gamepads

BorisSkratchunkov BorisSkratchunkov writes  |  more than 10 years ago You know, I just realized that I haven't written in this journal for a really, really long time. Therefore, I feel compelled to write this following entry:

Recently, I bought a super-old generic gamepad at a tag-sale for $1. I hooked it up to my linux-box, /MrCher/Duronas (don't ask about how it came to be called that), and found that my kernel (the one used by Mandrake Linux 9.2) couldn't detect any devices plugged into the joystick port, which this specific gamepad used. Sadly, I rebooted the computer and chose to boot FreeDOS on LILO. When I did this, I attempted to play Wolf3d with my new gamepad. Immediately, upon starting a new game with the gamepad enabled, I started turning around in circles, without pressing any buttons whatsoever.


I can't help but laugh at this, eventually it worked when I attempted to reconfigure the gamepad from within DOS, but it still was partially antagonizing.

Hopefully with a couple of kernel upgrades and some tinkering, I can get the good old /dev/js1 working. But, as of now, my generic gamepad sits idle....

...maybe I'll just buy a USB Gamepad instead.

Update: I ended up dishing out the cash and buying a USB gamepad. Mandrake 9.2 detects it, but the kernel doesn't making a proper device file for it. It is now in my best interests to just recompile my kernel and start from scratch. This should be difficult for me, considering that I'm only a linux hobbyist and a complete neophyte with kernel upgrades and such. Oh well, there isn't anything incredibly important on my linux partition that I don't have a back up of.


Creating (S)VCDs

BorisSkratchunkov BorisSkratchunkov writes  |  about 11 years ago Today, after virtually a month or so of searching, I have found a way to create an (S)VCD. Why create an (S)VCD, you ask? Well, for one, conventional CDs are much cheaper than DVDs these days, and often burn faster. Besides, an (S)VCD is capable of about a half-hour of video, which is really all you need for things like concerts and stuff. DVDs on the other hand, give you hours and hours of time for video, which you'll probably never use. Also, (S)VCDs can be played on a variety of standard DVD Players.

Anyhoo, the software I found to do this is GNU VCDImager, an open-source terminal-tool for creating (S)VCDs. It appears to be pretty high quality, however I personally would use something like VCDtoolsX for a more user-friendly interface with a GUI. So....I may finally make a VCD of Don't Copy That Floppy. Yeah....


Fun With User Agents on Mozilla

BorisSkratchunkov BorisSkratchunkov writes  |  more than 11 years ago I decided to have some fun with the Mozilla PrefBar tonight and played around with the user agents a bit to see which "browser" would load fastest. First, I went with Mozilla 1.0 on Windows 98. It simply would not load. Netscape 4.7 loaded perfectly although some of the graphics on the home site were missing. With Netscape 6 on Linux it loaded a tad slower, but was perfect except for the same graphics. Hmmm... Same with IE 5 for Mac. When I changed the user agent to IE6/WinXP, it asked me if I would like to participate in a survey to see how people used "Internet Explorer" and the Microsoft homepage, which, due its extreme humorous nature, I accepted . This time, I noted, the "missing graphics" loaded. Maybe, Microsoft is trying to brainwash people into believing that the current browser being used is inferior, by making it so that only certain content loads? Hmmm... I wonder why a worldwide monopoly that wants everybody to use only their products would do such a thing? It makes me wonder. (snicker, snicker) Please note that all of this experimentation was done on the same computer with the same browser (Mozilla), and no reboots were necessary. Again, I only manipulated the user agents.

Simply hilarious, is it not?



BorisSkratchunkov BorisSkratchunkov writes  |  more than 11 years ago

After preparing for a long weekend, I decided to play BreakOut. Eventually, I got bored (obviously), so I decided to design a couple of levels to play with a similar theme: extreme impossibility. At first it went well, but soon I became weary. Wait a minute!?!? Why have I nothing better to do than play BreakOut? Oh yeah, the computer I was playing it on was a newly made PC and I hadn't gotten around to networking it yet, and I was just plain bored. Anyhoo, after getting frustrated a bit, I retired to the couch for Star Trek. The first episode I didn't quite recognize, but I felt like I had seen the second episode before, like deja-vu, but not quite. Also, I began to devise excuses for not getting done with various projects I'm supposed to get done with this weekend like, "I was attacked by a bunch of rabid leprachauns who came out of the tile!!!"

Somehow, however, I feel that this excuse will not work, and neither will the one about old ladies with guns and a hostage situation..... ....or even the excuse that an ancient Belgian spirit entrapped me in a bottle.

--Boris Skratchunkov the III

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