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Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War

EmperorOfCanada This can only work a little bit... (115 comments)

This can work once or maybe in one or two places per region, but the reality is that many people will use services like yelp to narrow down their new eateries by a simple sort-by-rating.

Also this somewhat depends on people being connected to local media to be informed about this reversal. Most of my technology friends have zero interaction with local media. That is they don't listen to local radio, watch local TV, read local publications; thus they are more likely to read about this place far far away than to read about a similar even locally.

But this all raises a much larger issue and that is we almost need a yelp to rate the rating services. Especially as time goes by these crowd sourced rating services will either begin to alter their ratings for pay or they will be largely gamed by various unethical players who usually have financial motives to game the system.

For instance in my town most restaurants don't have more than a few dozen ratings at best. Thus it would not take a competitor much effort to set up a series of shill accounts and trash their overall average. "I was served beef that had 2 cooked worms and the salad had a maggot in it, the owner laughed when I pointed this out and said that he has paid off the health inspectors so go ahead an call."

Not to mention that there are professional services that will do this sort of shill voting for you. As an example when certain companies are brought up on slashdot there is an instant onslaught of comments that basically are talking points written in a style that only a PR company would use. "Those spurious allegations were never proven in court, with all court actions dropped, and the publications that conjured up that story don't even rate as tabloids. This civic minded company has given over $2,000,000 to women's shelters in the local area alone."

But as more and more companies come to realize that crowd sourced rating or communication systems can be gamed for profit then they will put more and more sophisticated efforts into gaming the system. I love the slashdot system of quazi randomly assigning moderator points but very simply if you have 1,000 slashdot accounts run by a group of interns then a huge number of points and comments could be brought to bare on any issue that is desired.

If you want to run a simple experiment. Go onto reddit, go into the appropriate area and trash talk a fortune 50 company using a classically known wrongdoing from recent history. In most cases your topic will not only be voted into oblivion it will have many comments that are the above mentioned talking points. Some issues are so powerful that it can overwhelm the mathematical capability of their PR firms if they don't get onto the issue fast enough or if reddit happens to have nullified one of their voting cadres recently.

So unless someone comes up with a mathematically sound system of voting/rating that is invulnerable to manipulation these systems will only remain viable for as long as the people running them are able to maintain their ethics and outsmart the professional and financially motivated manipulators.

4 hours ago

Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

EmperorOfCanada Culture (231 comments)

100% of companies that I consulted with had their cultures defined by upper management regardless of what upper management intended. One company that I did work for was all about sports competition. The entire management turned everything into a sport with points, rules, and Winners and Losers. They played tennis, golf, swimming, running, biking, and a variety of high risk sports intended to get people to chicken out. This behavior then carried on with how they dealt with regulators, competitors, suppliers, etc. Needless to say then drove the company into the ground and a few ended up in jail.

Another company had a bit of an absent minded leader who was great at starting things but not really caring how they went. This created much confusion among the ranks who discovered that starting exciting projects was a great way to get praise. Oddly enough this company did fairly well.

But my favourite was a company run by a few stodgy types who had been there and done that. This company cooked along being boring and profitable. Then the main leader got sick and was replaced by a total douchebag who was all about the testicle joke. About a year later the company cratered, but they had a fratboy good time doing it.

The companies that drive me around the bend are technology companies run by boomers though. I have been to at least a dozen engineering companies where all the senior people are in the ballpark of 60 and man-o-man they have their heads solidly planted in 1950's style engineering. Computers at best can be viewed as drafting tables with electrons. I am not only talking about the 60 year olds but even the 25 year old new engineers. They want to do things that are innovative solutions and are shot down and have solutions that a WWII engineer would barely admire implemented. This results in 40 year old engineers who work at these firms not even using tools like autocad in any thing more than a pencils and rulers on a screen sort of way. Magical.

One last company is has a leader who is all about the next big deal. This company has a bunch of employees who take themselves way too seriously.

4 days ago

Indian Mars Mission Has Completed 95% of Its Journey Without a Hitch

EmperorOfCanada Sounds good but... (116 comments)

This is like saying that an airplane has flown 95% of its journey without a hitch when it is takeoffs and landings that get most airplanes. Only a small percentage have issues while trucking along.

This is the same with interplanetary missions. They rarely go wrong as they drift along in them middle of nowhere.

But the coolest fact so far with this mission is that it apparently cost less than the making of the movie Gravity. That really makes you think that if the defence budget was cut in two and the cuts transferred to NASA then where would the space program be?

about a week ago

The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

EmperorOfCanada disappointing course completion numbers BS!!! (182 comments)

This whole line about "disappointing course completion numbers" is total BS. Online courses are a whole different beast than bricks and mortar ivy building courses. If I pay $1000+ to be in a course, I am going to plan my life around it and damn well show up and try hard. But if I see some free and interesting course online that has exactly zero consequences for withdrawal then I am going to sign up on the slightest of whims and figure out if I have time when the course starts. Also if the course annoys me in the slightest, then I will have probably signed up for 6 other interesting courses that I could try on for size. Also other factors can impose. For instance I was recently taking a really cool mathematical thinking course and lost my internet connection shortly before I finished an assignment. I would have aced the assignment and thus was really ticked off. With that huge honkin' zero on my score it burned my inner perfectionist who then decided that I would just take the course again in the future.

I could come up with 20 more reasons as to why I might sign up for yet not complete a course. But none of the above reasons diminish that these are great courses and those that I have completed have vastly improved those areas of my knowledge. Then there are courses such as those offered by MIT and Stanford which I didn't "complete" in that there was nothing to submit or be tested on. I watched the videos and did the recommended work. Again great knowledge was gained. Also depending upon the tracking they do, they may have seen me dip my toes into the first video or two of many courses. It is less that I didn't complete them then I really didn't take them.

Also as I take more and more of these courses I can see that they are starting to really get into a groove. The pacing of the material is becoming more even the associated work is in sync with the lectures, and the group forum stuff is becoming usable.

Really what I have been waiting for is that some major institution will (for a reasonable fee) actually give credit to the students who take a course (not just a whole program). This truly will be the leap that makes these courses a substantive part of modern education.

Where I originally thought(and still do) this leap would take place in an area aimed at highschool students who want to leap into University level material while still in highschool. The idea would be that a smattering of first year courses would be offered and that highschool students who are presently attending third rate institutions would have the opportunity to grow beyond the rats' nest of an education they were being offered and show major institutions that they have the will and the ability to go beyond the crap school that they attend.

The second group that I thought were perfect for online educations were those adults who for whatever reason were not able to attend university or other higher education and want to achieve some real certificate that would allow them to better their employment. An interesting example that occurred to me would be a twist on a degree. The idea is that the vast majority of the degree would be online at low cost and done at whatever speed the student could make time for. But that interspersed would be those real courses (at a normal cost) that require physical attendance. I see this applying to many degrees including an engineering degree.

This last could also apply to trade schools where a student would master the theoretical and then attend whatever physical classes that are required. For many adults stuck with a poorer education than their bright minds could otherwise handle 10 year degree programs would still be very attractive.

So the goal should not necessarily be some potentially unneeded replacement of existing higher education but a reaching out to make a higher education available to anyone who wants it for whatever reason. This would be a truly lofty goal and achieving it would not rate well by traditional metrics.

about a week ago

Windows Tax Shot Down In Italy

EmperorOfCanada Re:Apple? (421 comments)

They might have a better defence as the OS is free. If anything where it might get interesting is that effectively you are buying the OS and it comes with a machine. Thus there might be a way to convince a judge that where Apple is going legally wrong is to insist that you use their machine.

about two weeks ago

Windows Tax Shot Down In Italy

EmperorOfCanada Need more than a legal precedent (421 comments)

More than a legal precedent this needs solid regulations with teeth. I suspect that if you walk into whatever the Italian equivalent of Best Buy waving this judgement around and demanding a refund that they will just have security escort you out. But if refusal to even offer a Windows free machine was worthy of a fine, let alone not removing it, then windows free machines would be widely available.

Also the removal of Windows should have to be free and done in a timely manner (under an hour).

about two weeks ago

Microsoft Paid NFL $400 Million To Use Surface, But Announcers Call Them iPads

EmperorOfCanada If they had to pay that much... (405 comments)

I think that people finding out that MS had to pay $400 million for people to use that crap product just emphasizes how crappy they must be. But the people who should really be angry should be the share holders of MSFT. That is nearly half a billion dollars, and for what? What percentage of other football coaches dumped their laptop or iPad for a surface because of this? Even if it were all of them I doubt that it would end up making up for the $400,000,000.00 spent.

This also emphasizes that the NFL is willing to not let the best man win when someone is willing to pay them off.

about two weeks ago

When Scientists Give Up

EmperorOfCanada It's sort of funny but... (348 comments)

I have always laughed when I see someone doing fundamental research and saying that it could help defeat bombs, or something else that DHS would love. The mental twists and turns that somehow connect something fundamental to something very practical although worthless.

So I have a simple idea, half the DHS budget and hand it to fundamental research. Also play a random game where projects are ordered by what seems to be some sort of worthiness. Then use that as a weighted order to select random projects. This would generally avoid the scummiest of fraudulent projects but then occasionally find the gem in the rough that goes against conventional thinking.

about two weeks ago

US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

EmperorOfCanada Re:What about green fracking? (191 comments)

I was thinking of the more NIMBY problems involved in fracking. In my province they basically just banned fracking but that was pretty much all about groundwater, waste issues, and other very local problems. Seeing that restarting the coal mines would locally be considered a huge political win I don't think that the local ban took global warming into much consideration.

So when I was talking about green fracking, it was greening those issues directly around the fracking area.

about two weeks ago

US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

EmperorOfCanada What about green fracking? (191 comments)

Can there be a such thing as green fracking for natural gas? Is there a way to avoid the witch's brew of nasty that they inject? From what I gather the primary technology behind fracking is that you hammer something down into the shale along with sand, the shale cracks, and the sand slips into the cracks and holds them open. Then the gas leaks out.

One of the huge complaints is that all that crap can contaminate water supplies; this would include the fracking fluid itself coming back up to the surface.

So my humble question is: Is there a different way to get the sand into the cracks without making such as mess?

Now my personal experience is that I grew up in a shale rich area and know two other things about shale, one is that it is very chemically interesting, in that friends and I would regularly break it open to marvel at the interesting colours between the layers. Those colours would then fade very quickly returning the shale to the dull dark grey that it usually was. I don't know if this was a thin layer of hydrocarbons evaporating or some sort of mineral that quickly oxidized. But whatever it was the rock was the only rock in my area that "did" anything. Secondly my experience was that you didn't want the shale near plants that you liked. If you lined your garden with it or put a shale walkway near trees they either died or largely stopped growing.

So shale appears to be an active rock that you generally want to leave alone. But again can shale be treated after the gas has been removed? Sprinkle a little something down the drill hole to return the rock to its previous inert(ish) state.

Mining is almost always messy, but many mines if properly managed can be not only fairly innocuous but can be sort of cool, as is the case that some rock quarries make for interestingly shaped lakes while others turn into stagnant cesspools.

The real way that this can be dealt with is to look at any mess the fracking people make as a subsidy that they are asking for. The simple question then is to place a value on that subsidy and make sure that they return to the local economy something extra that matches the subsidy. Not the usual baloney that they are providing jobs to the area(as they would do that anyway) but a concession that directly matches the value of what they are getting. So if the water in the area might be polluted and it will cost $200 million to run a clean water supply into the area then they should run a $200 million dollar water supply in to the area and maintain it for as long as the water remains altered. This would then either make the project unprofitable, or it would cause them to seek alternatives such as greening up the process.

about two weeks ago

Ontario Government Wants To Regulate the Internet

EmperorOfCanada CBC online (184 comments)

We already have a great example of this being a bag of crap. CBC created an online music service that has been a financial disaster. So let's look at a Canadian Netflix. It would be endless drivel from Mary Walsh, Rick Mercer, Cathy Jones, All year Anne Murray Christmas specials, and over acted Gordon Pinsent nostalga crap. Who the hell would pay for that crap? Oh and I forgot about the minorities. They would then send a huge amount of that money to add content by aboriginals with everything having an injection from whatever Toronto minorities have the most influence. So as programs were made they would insist that the full rainbow of Canadian multiculturalism be on display in order to get some funding, low levels of funding so the lighting would look florescent and the sound would be hollow and everything would look like it was filmed on 1980s Betamax.

Basically what this twerp is thinking is that he could somehow bend reality and make us choke down the same crap that we were force fed in the 70s; a time when we basically had no choice. But don't think that Canadians will take the Beach Combers for 1 second when we have tasted Netflix.

But the most ironic joke is that let's say that he managed to force Netflix to add a bunch of third rate Can-Con excrement; the Netflix algorithms would realize that nobody wanted it and automatically stop recommending it to us. A few things might actually not sink like a turd like maybe old episodes of Kids in the Hall. But I don't think that the Littlest Hobo would ever show up in the "Popular on Netflix" column.

So what this really boils down to is that this asswipe is going for a cash grab so that he can wield some power as he dribbles out some money to those who kiss his ass and finance his party to his satisfaction.

about two weeks ago

Ontario Government Wants To Regulate the Internet

EmperorOfCanada AKA turning the internet into crap for Canadians (184 comments)

I would simply VPN my router through a server/service I set up in some other country and forget that this regulation even existed.

Next week he will introduce measures to support the VHS tape industry.

At least he will now be remembered as one of the stupidest politicians of his generation. It is good to be remembered for something.

about two weeks ago

Surprise! More Than Twice As Much Mercury In Environment As Thought

EmperorOfCanada Re:Were the latex paint people jealous (173 comments)

I second this, Lead and mercury really screw up people (especially children) at pretty much any level; and it isn't just the home owner who gets to make the decision but he would then be deciding for future owners and unknowing tradesmen who are either applying the product or later sanding and drilling where it was applied. The rule is the less the better as opposed to some level being fine. For instance with arsenic they are finding that a tiny tiny amount is probably good for you. But I have never heard of this with Lead or Mercury.

about two weeks ago

Surprise! More Than Twice As Much Mercury In Environment As Thought

EmperorOfCanada Were the latex paint people jealous (173 comments)

Were the latex paint people jealous of the oil based lead paint people and all the attention they were getting? Lead and mercury have been known to be hazardous for decades prior to the 70s. Why in a million years would they think that it was a good idea. Minimally with the late 60s and 70s being a huge eco movement time any company would think twice before potentially attracting the attention of a combination of the health authorities, the eco crowd, and shows like 60 minutes.

I wonder if the huge crime spikes of the 60's and 70's had this mercury as another contributing factor?

about two weeks ago

Silicon Valley Fights Order To Pay Bigger Settlement In Tech Talent Hiring Case

EmperorOfCanada The math on this one is basically simple (200 comments)

They could look where companies didn't participate in this crime. Look at the top salaries(over the time period), subtract the salaries that people affected did get, multiply that by 60,000, multiply that by some punitive number, tag on a hefty percentage to make up for the lawyer's fees, and Bob's your uncle.

So let's say the top competitive salaries were $150,000 and that people got $100,000 (probably a much larger spread), and that this all went on for an average of 5 years. So:

5*50,000*1.5*1.3*60,000 which works out to around 29,250,000,000 or basically 30 billion dollars.

Considering the amount of money these companies make from each employee this is actually a fairly reasonable number. Considering that this is 60,000 top tech people who then often lived in very expensive parts of the US their losses from these illegal actions were not insubstantial.

My above numbers also assume a $50,000 dollar gap. Often with stocks and bonuses companies that weren't part of this cartel paid much higher, I know one top tier school math grad who is earning solidly in the $300,000 plus lots of perks and bonuses right out of school working for a large SF tech company.

To put the $324.5 in perspective, a top employee who comes up with a cool feature or new product line could easily have generated that much profit for any one of the larger tech companies. An interesting example of this was in the history of GTA (which I recently read) where the original game had you playing the cops. It was apparently boring as hell. But some enterprising employee swapped it around and it was instant fun. That one guy effectively put the company on the map. The other game might have sent the company into the dusty shelves of mediocre game history.

It is not that all 60,000 of the people in the lawsuit would generate that much money but that I suspect at least one of them did.

about two weeks ago

Why Munich Will Stick With Linux

EmperorOfCanada Re:There is actually one problem with opensource (185 comments)

I actually wasn't suggesting bypassing IT being the problem, as I agree IT departments are often terribly run and often sclerotic. It would more bypassing management. The president, the CFO, etc. More like going to the board of directors and having them suddenly suggest strongly to management that by not following "Best practices" that they are jeopardizing the company. Or going to the marketing department of the company and arranging a juicy sale that is contingent upon the company switching to some product. This creates bizarre incentives where you might have one of your own marketing people politicking for a $10,000,000 software solution to be implemented so that he can get a $5,000 commission on the juicy sale they have been offered. And the last thing you want is your own marketing department trying to sell an outside product within your own company.

But back to the IT; often these vendors will do their damnedest to end-run any technical people CTO included as they know the guy will point to their existing solution and say, "It works better." or the guy will say, "If we are willing to spend that kind of money there are a many better solutions that would be far better use of that money."

A great example of that was a client we had mid project absolutely insisted that we switch the core technology that we were developing to a major software vendor. We told them that it would provide no value and cost quite a bit and that they should get a quote from the vendor before we went ahead. A few days later they said that all was good and that we should go ahead with the switch. We were comfortable with that particular software solution so we made the switch and were done a few months later. Then a few days before deployment they got the quote as to how much the software licence was going to be. They basically lost their minds, it was more than they were paying us (a lot) by nearly double. So they begged us to switch to the original technology (open source and better) as fast as we could.

We never figured out how that software vendor was able to convince them to make the switch in that how did they even know the project was happening. Our client was a mega company in its own right.

about two weeks ago

Why Munich Will Stick With Linux

EmperorOfCanada Re:There is actually one problem with opensource (185 comments)

My 1% was referring to the individual's commission. I worked for a consulting company that hired me out to be a technical consultant for one of the mega software companies. The ironic thing was that they they (unknowingly) brought me along on a sales call to my brother's company. This way I got to see the whole show from both sides. They were 100% certain that their product was a terrible fit, yet they put together a whole bunch of very slick presentations and tried a few very interesting angles to see if they could weasel their way past the main IT people who knew their product was BS.

My brother thought it would be interesting to just watch and see how a vendor like this actually functioned with zero intent of making a purchase. Basically they found their weak point and were an inch from a sale when I passed this along before a contract could be signed by someone who shouldn't have been signing contracts let alone one for an IT product.

The mega company sales people were royally pissed that they had come so close only to be "somehow" found out. Again they knew that their entire pitch was BS, the person they were dealing with was incompetent and that the contract was laden with landmines and gotchas that would have been horrible.

Years later I was running my own business and talking to a client who complained that the sales people from that particular mega company were some of the sleaziest sales people around. So yes, a directive saying that if you talk to them that you are fired is actually quite reasonable.

I am singling out this unnamed company but every large software company that I ever dealt with must have drawn their sales people from the ranks of used car salesmen who were fired for having lousy ethics.

about two weeks ago

Why Munich Will Stick With Linux

EmperorOfCanada Re:There is actually one problem with opensource (185 comments)

I am not saying that some individual can't go out and buy a copy of whatever they were looking for but that nobody can talk to a major vendor. It is not Best Buy that needs to be worried about but the guy in the $2,000 suit.

about two weeks ago

Why Munich Will Stick With Linux

EmperorOfCanada There is actually one problem with opensource (185 comments)

There is actually one problem with opensource and that is that your organization will be attacked by proprietary companies that are freaking out. But this problem can be turned into an asset. The idea is to identify the ways that the proprietary companies manage to insinuate themselves and eliminate those paths. So if an organization suddenly finds a few of their IT people cheerleading some company like Microsoft, then there should be a thorough investigation as to how they have been turned, was it "free" training? Was it some new head of IT who needs to be removed?

Then these tactics need to be published so that other organizations can watch for these fifth column attempts and whatnot.

Often with these situations the company will have salesmen who have commissions well in excess of 1%. So if they can lie, cheat, bribe, or blackmail their way into a organization-wide sale then they could be looking at commissions well into the millions.

And this is where Open Source generally has a huge weakness; no sleazy salesmen. But that is also where it is very attractive. Most heads of organizations hate how much time they have to waste fending off sleazy salesmen doing underhanded attempts to end run them. Either through the ground floor (converting some IT people) or going over their heads through a board of directors. And never mind those situations where one company will insist that in order to do business with them that they are a "Microsoft Shop" only. So they will do something like insist on work orders be placed through an outlook only system or some stupid sharepoint crap.

If I were in charge of something like the city of Munich I would put out a memo that says, "If you talk to a large software vendor then your continued employment is unlikely."

about two weeks ago



Japanese can build their own radiation detectors

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "Here is a DIY radiation detector For those Japanese wondering if radiation levels have gone up that can be made with household supplies: any clear sided container with a flat metal(preferably) lid, some black paint, rubbing alcohol, a can of keyboard air duster, and a flashlight . This won't give an absolute measurement but it will tell you if you are in a hot zone. The radiation leaves trails in the mist and looks very cool. Can't beat a home made Geiger counter in 10 minutes and for less than $20 US."
Link to Original Source

Cheap cloud diffusion chamber with air duster

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "A 15 year old girl has invented a very cheap and easy way to build your own cloud diffusion chamber; which is a neat way to see various radiation particles leave trails. Radiation such as cosmic rays, background radiation, and any handy radiation sources such as a disassembled smoke detector.

Link to Original Source

Avoiding eVoting fraud

EmperorOfCanada EmperorOfCanada writes  |  more than 5 years ago

EmperorOfCanada writes "I am looking for suggestions on how to prevent the use of eVoting in an upcoming election (Mid Oct.) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The city is going to allow people to vote both online and by telephone. As a security aware software developer I am frightened of the number of ways that an electronic portion of an election can go wrong. For well over a year I have been in contact with a senior city official over this issue supplying her with dozens of examples of eVoting going wrong in the many ways it tends to do so. Obviously security theater has won the day and here we are staring down the barrel of an election with votes recorded at the whim of the company running the evoting. How can this be prevented? Does anyone have any good examples of grassroots efforts that succeeded in preventing the use of electronic voting? Is there any way to force an audit of the code / machines / security / raw data that are involved in this craziness? Minimally can people comment expertly on just how stupid an idea it is to allow voting via the internet and by telephone? Thanks, A very concerned citizen."


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