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Japanese Ice Wall To Stop Reactor Leaks

Flavio Re:This needs to be taken out of their hands (225 comments)

possibly prevent people from moving back in to a small city for a while - all effects localized in a single country.

A lot of this water is escaping into the ocean, making this a global problem. At this point, we have the tragedy of the commons.

about a year ago

Google Gets Consumer Service Ultimatum From German Consumer Groups

Flavio Re:I like this idea. (351 comments)

Google never had customer service for non-paying users. And they've been a privacy nightmare for as long as I remember. Do you think a company that hires so many PhDs hasn't thought through the implications of their decisions? The "don't be evil" ship sailed a long time ago.

about 2 years ago

PayPal Preparing To Address Frozen Funds Policy

Flavio Re:WAAAAAAAAAY too little, too late. (175 comments)

I agree with him. Paypal has a terrible track record, and if a moderately successful fundraiser can cause them to seize funds. Since the shelter isn't a business with a track record of sales, it could take significant effort to get access to those funds. And since Paypal isn't a regulated bank, there's no recourse other than taking them to court.

Paypal is convenient, and is only worth the risk if you can afford to lose the transaction.

about 2 years ago

Florida Thinks Their Students Are Too Stupid To Know the Right Answers

Flavio Re:"Choose the best answer" (663 comments)

To understand many policies related to education, you have to think like a lawyer. A huge number of decisions don't take under consideration what's best for the students or society, but what reduces their liability.

Many questions are poorly designed, since they're the work of mediocre professionals. The bureaucrats know and expect this. Thus, they require the test-taker to choose the "best" answer (often a subjective concept), thus relieving themselves from having to cancel questions or admit the existence of flaws in exams.

more than 2 years ago

You're Driving All Wrong, Says NHTSA

Flavio Re:Wrong - Slam the ABS Brakes (756 comments)

Modern ABS responds fantastically fast. (...) Slam on the brakes and steer. That's what ABS are for. They almost always lead to shorter stopping distances than cars without ABS, and you can avoid the deer on the road.

Not true.

I was once driving a 2010 Dodge Avenger (rental) in moderate rain, and decided to turn right into a gas station. I saw there was no one behind me and hit the brakes harder than usual, under the illusion that the ABS would react properly. Note that I was not turning at this point. That car simply refused to properly actuate the brakes until I did what the OP called threshold braking. This came to me as second nature, because my car back home doesn't have ABS brakes. But I was surprised at the absolutely horrible braking performance on the 2010 Avenger. For a while, it felt like the brakes had malfunctioned and I was not braking at all. If I actually had to stop suddenly, I would've been screwed.

So in effect, it doesn't matter if your ABS firmware is modern or not. Performance is very dependent on the make and model.

more than 2 years ago

Kim Dotcom's Assets Seizure Order Ruled "Null and Void"

Flavio Re:probably won't help (139 comments)

Once you say "well it's OK if you violate someone's rights, as long as it was an honest mistake", it opens a huge barn door to abuse.

And this is why politicians consistently play dumb and ignorant. People can be incarcerated for being corrupt, but not for being unintelligent.

more than 2 years ago

TVShack Creator's US Extradition Approved

Flavio Re:Where's the media? (253 comments)

The Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

more than 2 years ago

Sensor Networks In San Francisco Finds Parking Spots

Flavio Re:Parking tickets (209 comments)

Like we have nowadays with people who can't buy gas with credit because the pumps are now putting holds of $200 or more.

Except that the process of parking takes hours, and the machine can incrementally bill someone. The ticket can be applied if and only if the person doesn't pay for whatever reason.

more than 2 years ago

Nokia CEO Blames Salesmen For Windows Phone Struggles

Flavio The N9 is absolutely fantastic (435 comments)

I bought one for myself, another as a gift and I'm thinking of buying two for my parents.

It has seamless Skype and SIP integration, so you can type in a number and choose which service to use from a drop-down box, all from the standard interface. Messaging is all integrated, with SMS, Google Talk, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The UI looks great and is very smooth. The phone runs Linux on a 1 GHz processor, with 1 GB of RAM, so you can do a lot with it, with true multitasking and a lot of features. Application development is really nice, since it's all based on Qt. And you can imagine how neat it is to run Linux on a phone, and use apt-get to install stuff.

I have no problem with Nokia making Windows phones. It's nice OS, even if it's lacking apps (in particular, no Skype and no SIP stack). But cancelling Meego was madness from a business perspective. Elop killed an amazing product, and what is in my opinion the best mobile OS out there, for both consumers and developers.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Which Ph.D For Work In Applied Statistics / C.S.?

Flavio It depends who you know and where you're applying (173 comments)

1) Is a Ph.D in Biological Sciences frowned upon by technology companies, or is it out-weighed by the Ivy League tag?

If you're applying for a job at a company where you don't know anyone, your CV will end up in the hands on an HR person. I'm not in your field, but I think there's a considerable chance this person won't be able to see how a PhD in biological sciences connects to a CS/applied math job. The Ivy League tag will (on average) give you an edge, I suspect that to the uninformed eye, it might still look like you're applying for a job out of your field. Note that this doesn't make things impossible. They just make things more complicated, and you'll have to do some explaining on your cover letter.

If you use your connections to refer you to a hiring manager, then you'll skip HR and things will be easier in every respect. This is what you should always try to do, even if you get a PhD in CS.

2) How big of a role does the type of Ph.D play in the hiring process in the U.S., compared to what you actually did (thesis focus, publication record, software)?"

For a pure research position, your publication record is what matters (and people publish more in the US than in Europe). For an industry job, your work experience weighs in and people want to know what you can do (your publication record is important to show you can produce innovative ideas, but the industry generally requires a strong component of practical, hands-on experience).

more than 3 years ago

Faster Algorithm for Sphere Packing Discovered

Flavio Re:Had to be asked. (134 comments)

Mercy me the Slashdot audience is getting dumber.

While the Slashdot audience isn't as geeky as it was 10 years ago, this is a perfectly legitimate question that everyone (even you, the Great Ball Packer) has asked upon first seeing this problem.

Also, while fast sphere packing algorithms are of practical interest, I think your involvement with this problem makes you overestimate their importance.

more than 3 years ago

Ron Paul Suggests Axing 5 U.S. Federal Departments (and Budgets)

Flavio Re:In other words, we should give up. (2247 comments)

The Department of Education was created in 1979. Are you seriously suggesting that we wouldn't have public education anymore if it were removed?

Most people refuse to think quantitatively. The general population doesn't even realise that Ron Paul's "radical" $1 trillion in budget cuts are actually insufficient.

more than 3 years ago

World Cup Prediction Failures

Flavio Look at the numbers first (312 comments)

Goldman Sachs gave Brazil (the "favorite") only a 13% chance of winning the world cup.

The fact that Brazil was eliminated is not at odds with the reports.

more than 4 years ago

Obama Sends Nuclear Experts To Tackle BP Oil Spill

Flavio Nuclear physicists? (389 comments)

Has the oil industry become so corrupted that the only way to get a useful opinion is to recruit a team from a completely different field?

more than 4 years ago

iPad Is Destroying Netbook Sales

Flavio Re:Americans have a lot of discretionary income (911 comments)

Now you might say that such a device is still a toy and you might convince me that your right. But that also means that my new HDTV is really nothing but a toy ( a more expensive, less versatile toy at that!).

Indeed, your HDTV is also a toy. In my mind, if it's designed for entertainment, then it's essentially a toy.

I might buy that... but then a whole lot of people are buying these toys. Maybe we shouldn't use 'toy' as a pejorative term.

I completely agree. I have no problem with Apple selling iPads, or with the people who buy them.

more than 4 years ago

iPad Is Destroying Netbook Sales

Flavio Americans have a lot of discretionary income (911 comments)

Desktop computers and laptops are designed to be workstations. The iPad was designed to be a toy, and that's how most people use it. That's how Apple markets it, and that's why people buy it.

What Apple and Steve Jobs realised very early in the game is that Americans have a lot of money to spend on toys that look good. Even though most Americans spend their day using computers for work or entertainment, that doesn't make them geeks. They don't need significant computing power, create very little content and only use a very small set of hardware and software resources that are available to them.

The remarkable thing is that most Americans are wealthy enough to spend $500 to buy an iPad. And even though most people could save that money and use it to buy something more useful later, they will spend it on discretionary purchases if the product is considered fashionable enough.

more than 4 years ago

MATLAB Can't Manipulate 64-Bit Integers

Flavio Re:It's not that big of deal (334 comments)

You can always use the c interface (which itself is weird, considering matlab's roots in fortran...)

The reason the C interface is weird is because MATLAB stores multidimensional arrays in column-major order, like Fortran. C, on the other hand, uses row-major order. However, if you work with linear algebra, then you'll appreciate the column-major layout, because it coincides with the order returned by the vec operator (which is used all the time in computational linear algebra, and stacks the columns of a matrix).

but then you'd have to learn c. Matlab is a tool for physicists and engineers, not computer scientists. They don't necessarily want to take the time to learn c, or they'd have done that. Some do, anyway, of course, but usually what they produce will be one off functions for a specific goal, not entire libraries suitable for sharing.

I work with digital signal processing and use MATLAB almost on a daily basis. The reason DSP engineers use MATLAB is not because they don't know or don't want to know C. In fact, a good DSP engineer must be very competent at writing clear and efficient C code, because that's what he needs to actually implement algorithms on hardware. Modern high performance DSPs are so complex that coding things in assembly is completely out of the question.

The reason MATLAB is so valuable is that it allows one to prototype things extremely fast with minimal performance loss (if you know what you're doing). Of course you won't have a MATLAB environment running on a DSP, so you'll eventually have to write the C code. But since most of my time is spent developing algorithms instead of actually implementing them, MATLAB lets me be much more productive.

more than 4 years ago

Microsoft Signs Android Patent Deal With HTC

Flavio Re:Too weird (174 comments)

Other OEMs that don't make similar deals may get sued by MS for using Android.

I believe this is pure speculation on your part, because MS made no indication that it intends to sue hardware manufacturers because of software patents (Android related or not!). My understanding is that Microsoft is not a patent troll. Microsoft completely understands that software patents are a minefield, and use their large portfolio for protective purposes against companies like Apple.

In my opinion, Microsoft's move has the following intent:

1) It ensures that HTC can manufacture Windows Phone 7 phones (or whatever they will be called). HTC is not only Microsoft's largest partner in mobile phones, but they make handsets with the fastest hardware (which WP7 will probably need to run Office smoothly). It would be a disaster for Microsoft if HTC was forced to remove features from their products because of Apple's lawsuit, especially with WP7 being so close to being launched.

2) It practically guarantees that Apple will not be successful with its patent trolling against HTC (Nokia is on their own, but their portfolio is already huge). If Apple had even some degree of success, they would've been encouraged to pursue further legal action using software patents.

3) MS capitalizes on Android's success.

I believe the motivation for OEMs to license patents from Microsoft actually comes from Apple, and not from Microsoft. So from my perspective, it looks like Apple's attempts at intimidation have backfired.

more than 4 years ago

Vatican Chooses Open FITS Image Format

Flavio Re:DjVu? (223 comments)

DjVu is a format intended specifically for document distribution which uses lossy compression to obtain small files. It's not nearly as flexible as FITS, so you can't use it to represent hyperspectral images, metadata, etc.

Since the Vatican wants a format for data archival, they probably want to preserve as much information as possible for a wide variety of documents, so they can keep the originals in a vault and not touch them for the next 100 years.

more than 4 years ago

Terry Childs Found Guilty

Flavio Re:Soooo (982 comments)

Back in the day, Slashdot's readership was much nerdier than it is today. Rob Malda and Jeff Bates were undergrads, as were a lot of the visitors. I was in high school when Slashdot started. Linus Torvalds wasn't even 30 years old at the time, Linux was by no means mainstream, but everyone on Slashdot knew about it and was quite knowledgeable about operating systems and computer languages. These technology enthusiasts had 10 years to finish college, improve their skills and on average should now be working in IT, science or engineering.

Slashdot's readership is much more diverse now. When I'm not moderating, I threshold comments at +3 and hide everything with a Funny mod, because very often you find threads about science and technology that have nothing but offtopic rants and stupid jokes. For example, today's story about NASA's call for proposals was filled with garbage. This would not have happened 10 years ago.

The average reader's spelling skills is significantly better, though.

more than 4 years ago



Flavio Flavio writes  |  about 8 years ago

Flavio Ribeiro writes "On September 2006 I ordered $300 worth of books from Barnes & Noble. I've been ordering books online regularly for about 10 years, but this was my first order from B&N. I'm a grad student on a budget, so I payed for the cheapest shipping. Since I'm overseas and I've had packages take almost 3 months to arrive, I waited diligently. When nothing arrived, I e-mailed B&N. This is the response I got:
The package has not been returned to our warehouse as undeliverable to the shipping address you provided. (...) When no delivery confirmation is available, we will refund a lost package up to sixty (60) days after the expected delivery date. As it is now beyond sixty days, kindly contact your credit card issuer to dispute the charge.
My second attempt to contact B&N was answered with the same pre-written message, which I find quite insulting. My credit card issuer (Credicard Citi) refuses to dispute the charge, as is their policy with all charges. The fact I payed with Paypal also complicates matters. Additionally, Paypal automatically deferred and closed the claim I filed with them. The way I see this, B&N failed to deliver the purchased items, and refuses to take any action. They set an arbitrary short deadline that exempts them from further responsibility, which lets them bully international customers. This practice would never work out if B&N were a local company, since I'd be able to file claims at the local equivalent of the BBB.

I need your advice. What can I do to get a refund?"


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