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The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Deep Esophagus Re:This is worse than mythology. (349 comments)

Even allowing for the sake of argument the possibility that these SF authors masquerading as scientists are right, the existence of these superhuman robot overlords begs the question of what intelligent entity created them in the first place.


Skype Unveils Preview of Live English-To-Spanish Translator

Deep Esophagus Re:Yeah right. (99 comments)

My hovercraft is full of eels.

4 days ago

2014 Geek Gift Guide

Deep Esophagus Re:The best gift? (113 comments)

I thought this article might be somewhat useful, since I've never heard of Haselton and my daughter and I are both geeks, but... I have to admit that is a lot of text to wade through. I think much of the hostility is still overreaction, but... yeah, poorly written and (as others have noted) poorly researched.

And even if the article were reasonable and well formatted and provided useful information... who on the planet is waiting until the last minute to get their Christmas shopping done? I could have used this information two months ago, not now!

about a week ago

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: The Science of Misheard Song Lyrics

Deep Esophagus Re:Like in the Family Guy theme? (244 comments)

The Censors it is Laugh and Cry.
To the listeners it is F'ing Cry

Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall's.

sigh I know, only people over 50 will get that one. The rest of you, get off my lawn.

about two weeks ago

Google Hopes To One Day Replace Gmail With Inbox

Deep Esophagus Re:"Ultimately, our users will decide" (239 comments)

Yeah, I'll also be switching to a new service if they force me into some app that looks more like twitter than conventional email. Consider this garbage (from the Wikipedia entry):

Google scans the email account for important and similar information. It then presents what it considers the most important parts of the email first and groups similar emails as "Bundles" that are named by type (e.g., "Travel" or "Updates"). It also converts physical addresses into Google Maps links and airline confirmation numbers into a flight status update.[2] Users can make custom Bundles as they would make Gmail filters, and can specify the time of day to show the Bundle.

I don't want bundles. I don't want them timed. I don't want Google to decide what is and isn't the "most important parts". I just want to see my email in the same format it was created.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?

Deep Esophagus Re: Yes (376 comments)

I don't do marathon coding sessions or any of the ridiculous self sacrificing stuff that some seem to think is the norm

This. That's how you stay in the business for more than a few years: do something well and keep doing it and getting better and learning new techniques rather than burn brightly and briefly. I started around age 25; now I'm 52 and in my second decade with the same company. Hotshots who can code circles around me come and go, but I'm dependable and I can maintain 20-year-old code as well as develop new code, and I won't disappear when it gets boring or a headhunter dangles something shiny in front of me.

Best of all, because I balanced work life and personal life, I still love what I do and had time to raise a family while I was doing it.

about three weeks ago

Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

Deep Esophagus Environmental impact (116 comments)

I did a little googling (har) and didn't find much in the way of environmental impact studies. How will all this affect air traffic? Bird migrations? The atmosphere, when releasing helium (or whatever) during a descent? Who is going to clean up the mess when, not if, the balloons get caught up in a storm and go down in the middle of the Pacific, or get strewn across the Himalayas?

about a month ago

"Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon

Deep Esophagus Re:From Experience (561 comments)

If that's how you (and judging from your +5 Insightful rating, at least 5 others here) view the role of business analyst, my company must be using the term wrong. Where I work, BAs are an indispensable part of the design process; they don't get into that job until they know not only the product but the business needs of our users extremely well. A developer who changes a UI, report format, or so much as a calculation without first consulting with a BA doesn't last long. The BAs know every single one of the five bazillion federal regulations and industry standards so we developers don't have to worry our pretty little heads about it. We just write our code so it does all the number-crunchy things they tell us it needs to do.

Accounting is hard. Let's go shopping!

about a month ago

Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

Deep Esophagus Re:Huh (249 comments)

I use flashblock and noscript to protect against aggressive ads that take over my browsing experience, but I accept that TANSTAAFL and my payment for free content is the presentation of ads within that free content -- just as it was with radio and TV (don't get me started how the main selling point for cable TV in the early days was that paying for it meant you were no longer going to suffer through all those ads).

So... no, I don't use ad blocker per se, and won't until I am paying for that content.

about 2 months ago

Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

Deep Esophagus Re:they fundamentally don't get it. (249 comments)

But even if they use "smart" (yes, those are sarcastic quotes) keyword matching to anticipate something they think will interest you, they completely fail on the context comprehension because most spoken languages have common words with multiple meanings, not to mention metaphorical use of words.

For a particularly annoying example, when I first set up a Facebook account I filled in some of the interests in order to let folks find me who were searching for others with the same interests. I sing in a barbershop quartet, and frequently mentioned barbershop music in my posts. As a result, *every single day* at least one sidebar ad promoted accounting services to maximize income for my salon.

And when I mentioned that I was starting a diet to lose weight... I might as well have issued a personal invitation to every snake oil merchant on the planet. Yeah, pal, I got yer "one weird trick doctors don't want you to know" right here.

about 2 months ago

The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

Deep Esophagus Re:NSA probably already has this technology (120 comments)

I'd be very surprised if the false positive rate were as low as 1%. Lip reading is NOT an exact science. It depends on context, clear line-of-sight, and how well the speaker enunciates. You'd be amazed how many phonemes sound different to our ears but look identical on the lips.

But hey, I'll let these guys explain it much better. Bad Lip Reading

Hilarious stuff, but the point is relevant: Without *any editing at all* of the actors' lips, they are able to perfectly match ridiculous words to those mouth movements. Why would automated software pick the "real" words over the BLR version?

about 3 months ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

Deep Esophagus Re:Seriously? (533 comments)

I would be absolutely thrilled if I could expect 4Mbps consistently. I'm on a rural ISP, about 15 miles outside Cheyenne Wyoming where our only choices are DSL over ancient POTS, overpriced and unreliable satellite service, or the one we use -- a local operation that uses cell towers to transmit over the wireless band. None of those services will offer more than 5Mbps down, and I have never seen any of them (having tried all three) actually meet more than 4.5Mbps, and then only very briefly and very rarely. Don't even get me started about the significant drop between 18:00-22:00 when everybody gets home from work and starts streaming... whatever it is ranchers stream when they get home from work.

On any given day, our service might fluctuate between 0.12Mbps to 3.5, with an average across the day of maybe 1.5. At our peak of ~4, I can do high-bandwidth MMORPGs, stream to my roku, watch some videos on Youtube, and download large files from my office 1100 miles away in Dallas without any of those tasks showing any noticeable delays. You folks in the city with your highfalutin' double-digit bandwidth on cable may say otherwise, but for us out in the boondocks 4Mbps would be a significant upgrade from our current services.

So... yeah, I would call 4Mbps not only "broadband", but "good enough for the average consumer" no matter how much I'd like to stick it to Big Internet and hold them to a higher standard. As my wife frequently tells me when I point out how seriously depleted our pizza and ice cream supply is, "there is a difference between 'need' and 'want'".

about 3 months ago

Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

Deep Esophagus Re:Defeats the purpose (232 comments)

Sorry, but no. You are trying to pawn your responsibilities off on someone else and since you are the one making the request/initiating contact, it is your responsibility. Also, by the time that person returns, some or all of the email that was sent may not even be relevant any more and they should not have to waste time sorting through all of the spam you sent their way.

Stop trying to make others do your job for you.

You're making a tremendous amount of assumptions there. How do you know the email I sent was trying to get the other person to do my job for me? How do you know that person doesn't want to be in the loop on events that took place while he or she was gone?

As numerous others have pointed out, sometimes it's just a courtesy to the recipient so that person will not be totally in the dark about problems or progress that occurred during the time off. If any individual would rather not have that, I have no problem with that individual making a personal decision to bulk delete all incoming email. My beef here is having it enforced as corporate policy. I know for myself, I would rather come back to a hundred messages saying "This can wait until you are back from vacation, but when you get a chance please look at Widget X and see if you can figure out why it's broken" or "We had a meeting while you were gone and unanimously voted to put you in charge of Widget Production" or whatever, than come back to an empty inbox and not the slightest clue what the status is of my projects.

What I find works well is to either do a search and bulk delete when I get back, or previously set up an automatic filter, to find and delete all emails that have either a TO or CC of some ridiculously large group not directly affecting me. For example, I'm on the development team of a particular feature set; mail that is TO:"all QA" or CC:"all QA" never EVER relates to my project, my team, or my responsibilities. Deleting those immediately trims my inbox to less than 10% of the original unread message count.

Total time wasted this morning after a 10-day vacation: 5 minutes. The remaining 10+ messages let me quickly get back up to speed on the progress of my team's projects and issues that customers are waiting for me to resolve (they were informed that I was on vacation, so they knew it would be some time this week before I can get to them).

about 4 months ago

The Man Responsible For Pop-Up Ads On Building a Better Web

Deep Esophagus Re:Paving to the road to hell (135 comments)

Advertising and the subscriber's or reader's looking at it has been a way to pay for "free" newspapers for well over a hundred years.

My kingdom for mod points.

I don't install AdBlock Plus, for exactly that reason. I accept the implied contract that I am getting "free" content in exchange for being willing to at least be aware that there are ads trying to get my attention.

Now having said that, pop-up ads and their ilk get blocked by NoScript and FlashBlock. I accept ads in the margins of online content, just as I accept ads in the margins of printed content; I accept (somewhat less cheerfully) inline ads that interrupt content just as I accept full-page ads and blow-in cards in the middle of magazine articles. I even accept 30-second ads before streaming content (although any longer than 15 seconds, I'll hit the "skip ad" button quickly). But anything that directly impedes my viewing experience; anything that wrests control of my computer from me... I will put a stop to that REAL fast.

So... it's all about balance between the content provider's need to buy groceries and our need to maintain control over our own computing environment. Block the intrusive ads, but allow the passive ones through -- or give up on having free content.

about 4 months ago

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Deep Esophagus Re:Schools need to improve first (421 comments)

Year round in a high security school where firearms are confiscated and teachers try to stay alive rather than teach: NO Year round don't you dare take your child out of school or we'll throw you in prison: NO Year round schooling where creativity and rational logical thought is taught: YES

And that pretty much sums up why we homeschooled our two, who ended up with full scholarships to the state U for their efforts. Did we make them sit at a desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year? Of course not. We took vacations whenever the heck we wanted, we let them stop whenever they had demonstrated understanding of the day's lesson (average time: 2 hours a day doing schoolwork), and we shut down just about the entire month of December to accomodate visiting relatives, Christmas parties and other activities, and playing in the snow.

Of course, the subtitle of the TFS ("from the home-schooling-never-stops dept.") is exactly right. For (good) homeschoolers, EVERYTHING is a learning opportunity. For the little 'uns, sounding out words in the grocery store or learning to identify different animals. For the older students, anything from existentialism to comparitive religion to politics on any level to physics to algebra to constitutional law to history to classic literature to an assortment of foreign languages, theater, music history... you never know what may come up in the course of a day while we go about our lives.

about 4 months ago

Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier

Deep Esophagus Re:and linux aswell (267 comments)

Are you still using Skype this week? It was just in the last two days that they stopped allowing older versions to connect. As another post in this reply chain mentioned, 4.3's requirement of pulseaudio kept me on 4.2 up until yesterday, too. Now I've had to move to 4.3 so I can get text messaging from my contacts, but I'm SOL on audio -- not just voice, but even audio alerts when new messages come in, because it all gets funneled through the nonfunctional pulseaudio driver.

Which brings us to a much earlier response, asking

Why would we go all out "Microsoft is evil" on this one?

Because this is old-school, full-on "Microsoft is evil" behavior. This is classic "embrace and extend", where they buy out a perfectly good program, then gradually mangle it so it is no longer functional unless you ride the Microsoft train all the way to hell. The real gall of it is the way they keep repeating, in the face of countless other Linux users who have been screwed over, that they're doing this in order to improve our Skype experience and give us the best they have to offer.

I have really scaled back on the anti-Microsoft hate over the past few years. I don't automatically take delight in their failures, I don't spit on the ground and make the sign to ward off the evil eye whenever I or anyone around me mention their name, I even concede when they provide a tool that is more effective and easier to use than the FOSS alternatives. But this... this atrocity rekindles a loathing I had put behind me. It's like they WANT Skype to fail, so they can trot out some new closed-source replacement.

Microsoft, you had me fooled for a while. But I'm on guard now. {spits on the ground}

about 4 months ago

How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

Deep Esophagus Re:so, I'm in the more than 8 yrs ago camp (391 comments)

I'll bet most people today are interpreting this as simply connecting computer peripherals.

Quite right. Back in the day, it was idiot-simple -- my 10-year-old daughter could take a stray motherboard, any old case, a power supply, a hard drive, a CDROM drive, and any random SVGA card, plug them all together, and have a working computer in less than an hour. Every part was interchangeable with every other part, so we could cannibalize old computers and reuse parts as needed.

Now, not so much. First there was the pain of going from AT to ATX: I couldn't afford to replace all components at once, but anything I bought new was ATX and wouldn't work in my AT box. Then you couldn't count on every type of SIMM going in every style of motherboard, as DIMMs took over. And processors... wow. Time was, I could put any x86 chip into the socket on the motherboard and boot right up. The last time I tried that CPUs had just started running dangerously hot. Previously my assembly sequence included plugging the monitor and keyboard in and going into CMOS to make sure that memory and CPU were being recognized. I had myself a new motherboard and a new CPU (bought separately from a different company) and went through my usual routine -- popped the CPU into the socket, inserted a couple of SIMMs and the SVGA card, attached monitor and keyboard, and powered on. I got into CMOS all right... for about 10 seconds, and then that's when smoke and sparks started shooting out of the motherboard. The $150 CPU had totally melted and took the $65 motherboard with it.

For the past 5+ years, I go straight barebones. Get the CPU, RAM, mobo, and power supply all bundled together and pretested, then separately buy video adapter (if onboard isn't fast enough for me), drives, and whatever other trinkets I need to pimp out the hardware. No more explosions, rarely any more blood sacrifices. I miss the days of DIY, but I'm getting too old for that kind of excitement.

about 4 months ago

Gmail Recognizes Addresses Containing Non-Latin Characters

Deep Esophagus Re:Metal umlaut! (149 comments)

Finally I can get motörhead@gmail.com!

This is exactly what is going to happen, and I don't mean that in a good way. I already see it in other chat environments, like Second Life, where the full power of Unicode allows any and all characters in usernames. It's bad enough that they substitute Latin letters with superficially similar characters from other languages so we end up with names like ££¥ and , but miles of decorative symbols drawn from Braille and mathematics... and don't even get me started about the entire upside-down alphabet. These typographic idiots don't realize or care that they are making their names (and often text) completely unreadable, as long as it looks cool.

Thanks for stripping the illustrative part of my post out, Slashdot. The first name should have shown a Greek Beta, an i with a little circle over it (1F34), then the Pound and Yen symbols for "Billy". The next example, "Sarah", should have shown an Arabic Kaf, a Greek A with a bunch of curlicues (1F8C), the Cyrillic Ya (backwards R), another A, and a Cyrillic N (looks like H) with more curlicues (04A2).

Anyhow, you get the idea.

about 4 months ago

Comparison: Linux Text Editors

Deep Esophagus Re:Have you seen Gedit lately? (402 comments)

I have loved GEdit for years, and it's been my primary development editor because it's fast, simple, and supports language extensions. With a recent system overhaul that upgraded me to the latest'n'greatest... not so much.

The File menu no longer exists. As the gp mentioned years of vi muscle memory, so too have I always been in the habit of hitting alt-F, S to bring up the file menu and save my work every few seconds to avoid losing that work in the event of a crash. The great thing about alt-F, S is that it's almost universal -- that same combination will save my files in most Windows-based and Linux-based environments. Since alt-F no longer maps to a File menu, the end result is that my code gets littered with "s" at the end of every other line. What on earth where the Gnomists thinking of to remove core functionality from the interface?

Definitely going to give Kate a look.

about 5 months ago

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

Deep Esophagus Re:call them (354 comments)

The difference here is that very very few people will care. We're talking about mailing in a DVD on Friday, and getting the next on Tuesday instead of Monday.

My solution to this is, don't make Saturday a day when you expect Netflix to be doing anything. My watching days (barring postal holidays) are Tuesday and Friday. I watch the new movie Friday evening, get it to the mailbox before Saturday morning pickup. That leaves Saturday in the hands of the US Postal Service; Netflix gets it on Monday and sends out a new one that I get Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday-Saturday also works -- they send it out Friday, you get it Saturday (with the added bonus of having Sunday to watch it if you don't have time Saturday), put it in the Monday morning mail to go back, they get it Tuesday, and you get your next one Wednesday.

Either way, as long as you're not expecting Netflix to be moving discs along on Saturday you can still watch two a week.

about 5 months ago


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