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Comments

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Microsoft Surface Pro Reviews Arrive

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Too expensive.... (320 comments)

I hate how deficient PC laptop screens are nowadays. They've somehow managed to get worse over time, not better. I'm still using an aging Dell laptop that's six years old because it has a 1920x1200 screen and I cannot even find a replacement that is similarly specced.

The only company that gets it is Apple, but their Retina display laptops start at $1,700, which is an absurd premium, and I'm not interested in running OS X anyway.

about 2 years ago
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Andrew Auernheimer Case Uncomfortably Similar To Aaron Swartz Case

Ignorant Aardvark Responsible disclosure is dead (400 comments)

Here's what I've learned recently: If I ever discover a major security hole, do not even attempt to release it responsibly. Instead, layer up behind some proxies and Tor and leak it into a blackhat forum or IRC channel. That way the security hole will eventually get fixed, and I can't be prosecuted.

about 2 years ago
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Increasing Wireless Network Speed By 1000% By Replacing Packets With Algebra

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Just like parity files (357 comments)

Well, not so much of a joke as an inevitability, but yeah, a lot of the great inventions seem obvious in hindsight. Yet, for some reason, no one figured it out for awhile.

more than 2 years ago
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Increasing Wireless Network Speed By 1000% By Replacing Packets With Algebra

Ignorant Aardvark Just like parity files (357 comments)

If you've ever used Usenet, and you've used parity files to recover missing segments of data, then you know exactly how this technique works.

Frankly, I'm surprised it took so long for someone to apply it to lossy network environments. It seems obvious in hindsight.

more than 2 years ago
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US Air Force Buys iPads To Replace Flight Bags

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Battery (348 comments)

Was the lack of a microwave caused by fears of interference with the aircraft? If microwaves can interfere with WiFi, I imagine they could wreak havoc on an airplane's electronics systems. Just not worth the chance?

more than 2 years ago
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US Army Considers a Smartphone For Every Soldier

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Joke right? (279 comments)

> There are probably a fare number of single shot WWI and WWII era rifles we gave them to fight the Russians still floating about as well.

All standard arms of the World War I through World War II period were at least bolt-action, with some militaries issuing semi-automatics as standard (such as the US Armed Forces with the M1 Garand in WWII).

The improvement in rate of fire with a bolt-action rifle that loads from stripper clips is pretty significant over a single shot.

more than 3 years ago
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NASA Finds New Life (This Afternoon)

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Why this is important (405 comments)

Hate to bring you down, but from everything I hear, the life isn't "arsenic-based" in the same sense that we're "carbon-based". Instead, all indications are that it's "simply" arsenic replacing phosphorus in the DNA backbone.

As a biochemist, I can almost assure you that the rest of the DNA looks the same. That is, these organisms have the same A/T/C/G DNA bases. I'd guess the (deoxy)ribose sugar part of the sugar-phosphate backbone is the same. It's just the phosphorus in the phosphate has been replaced by the chemically similar arsenic. Anything more extensive would be the selling point, and arsenic would be a secondary (but still important) consideration.

Well darn. I was going off the rather incomplete information as released so far. But we'll know for sure soon enough.

more than 3 years ago
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NASA Finds New Life (This Afternoon)

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Why this is important (405 comments)

I don't know why you jump to that conclusion when it's not possible to concede that either mode of lifeforms came from abiogenesis on this Earth, or that either couldn't be extraterrestrial in origin... It's just as likely that our phosphate based life and this arsenic based life hitchhiked to this rock on other rocks.

Extraterrestrial origin is, of course, even more significant, but my main point was that even if it is homegrown, it still implies two separate abiogenesis events, which is huge. Note that extraterrestrial origin also implies two separate abiogenesis events, of course.

more than 3 years ago
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NASA Finds New Life (This Afternoon)

Ignorant Aardvark Why this is important (405 comments)

Taking the speculation in the article at face value, and thus assuming that NASA has found an arsenic-based lifeform in a shadow biosphere on Earth, here's why it's important:

All life on Earth that we know of is related. It all uses the same basic DNA/RNA mechanisms (including the same four base pairs), uses the same specific molecules that prominently feature carbon as the basic assembly blocks of the cell, etc. To use the ever-popular car analogy, cars can look quite different from each other, but they're all still essentially made out of the same things: bolts, gears, copper wiring, etc.

Well this other kind of life is completely different. It's so different that we know it cannot possibly be related to all of the other Earth life that we've known about thus far, as there is nothing in common. That means abiogenesis (the spontaneous generation of life from precursor non-living materials) happened at least TWICE on just this one planet.

So while this isn't extra-terrestrial life, it does have all sorts of potential ramifications on the potential existence of extra-terrestrial life. Before today, it was possible to speculate that one solution to Drake's Equation was simply that spontaneous generation of life was so rare that it only happened once, ever. But if we now found that it's happened multiple times just on this one planet ... then hell, it could be happening everywhere, all the time.

more than 3 years ago
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Huge Shocker — 3D TVs Not Selling

Ignorant Aardvark Re:It's just not that compelling (535 comments)

Kids don't really struggle with projecting a 3D scene onto a 2D plane. They just start drawing what they see on paper. They don't even think about vanishing points and projections. That interpretation is natural as our vision is really based on 2D sensors.

Actually, that's not true. The naive/untrained method is to draw everything from a flat 2D perspective. You can see this both in art by children (or people with no formal art training) as well as in pretty much all art from the Middle Ages and prior. The development of perspective, which is an application of mathematics/geometry to art, is why paintings from the Renaissance Era on simply look so much better and more lifelike than paintings from any earlier era. The rules of perspective (that is, mapping a 3D world to a 2D surface) are not obvious, are not simple, and learning how to draw perspective well is a skill that is hard to master.

more than 4 years ago
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Left-Handed Gamers Getting Left Behind?

Ignorant Aardvark Not a useful article at all (426 comments)

So I spent the time to read that overly long article, and the author doesn't even say why he can't play the game with his left hand? I understand he looked through the menus for an option and didn't find one, but what specifically is going on in the game that makes it impossible to play with his left hand? This seems like the central point of the whole story, and yet it is left unexplained.

more than 4 years ago
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Researchers Find Way To Zap RSA Algorithm

Ignorant Aardvark Re:"overclocking" machines vulnerable (173 comments)

Um, if they have physical access to the computer (in order to monkey with the power), why would it be considered secure?

This vulnerability is dangerous in the case when the same key is being used in many devices. Cracking one means you've cracked them all. This is a fairly common situation in consumer devices. See the HD-DVD player keys, or the TI graphing calculator signing keys.

more than 4 years ago
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Developing a Vandalism Detector For Wikipedia

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Existing (116 comments)

Which part is over-estimated? All I can speak on from experience is AntiVandalBot. I ran that on an Athlon XP 2500+ (which wasn't particularly amazing at the time). It wasn't the computation that was hard, it was the network usage of downloading the diff of every edit by a non-trusted user from the RC feed. I would not have been able to run it on any home Internet connection. Thankfully I was able to place my server on an unthrottled 100 Mbps dorm connection at the University of Maryland.

I will grant you that highspeed Internet access has become a lot more widespread since 2006 (I personally have 25/15 FIOS), but at the time, there wasn't anything available residentially that could handle it.

more than 4 years ago
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Developing a Vandalism Detector For Wikipedia

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Existing (116 comments)

The false positive rate on the anti-vandalism bots is a lot lower than you would think. The bots are written quite conservatively, take a lot of factors into account, and only pull the revert trigger when they are quite sure.

It's the type II error rate that's pretty high. Unfortunately, that's not solvable without strong AI.

more than 4 years ago
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Developing a Vandalism Detector For Wikipedia

Ignorant Aardvark Re:What? (116 comments)

In response to whether those two examples are vandalism, the answer is no, they are not.

You'd need a strong AI to be able to make those determinations, and if such a thing existed, it'd make more sense just to have the strong AI write the encyclopedia.

What we're talking about here is obvious vandalism (blanking, insertion of curse words, etc.) of the type that can be detected by an algorithmic/heuristic program.

more than 4 years ago
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Developing a Vandalism Detector For Wikipedia

Ignorant Aardvark Re:Existing (116 comments)

I'm not sure why he bragged about reversion speed. All that's really dependent on is your network connection. For one, your network connection has to be good enough to download, in real time, the diffs of all edits to Wikipedia. Most aren't.

Anyway, a decision as to whether a given diff is vandalism or not needs to be made in a small fraction of a second, as there are dozens of edits coming in every second, and if you continuously fall farther and farther behind, you lose. Given an ideal network connection, vandalism should be reverted in a couple of seconds or so.

I suppose there's some argument to be made for a large cluster of computers handling all edits on Wikipedia, each one spending up to a full second judging each individual edit, but the truth is that none of the algorithms currently in use for vandalism detection are nearly sophisticated enough to require so much computation time.

more than 4 years ago
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Developing a Vandalism Detector For Wikipedia

Ignorant Aardvark Been done? (116 comments)

Whoever posted this clearly isn't aware of the actual work being done in the field. For instance, I was running an anti-vandalism bot in 2006, and it wasn't new at the time. They've gotten gotten much more sophisticated since then.

Why are they so intent on reinventing the wheel? Do they not even realize that the wheel exists already? Why not just improve on it instead?

more than 4 years ago
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It's 2010; What's the Best E-Reader?

Ignorant Aardvark Re:your numbers don't make sense (684 comments)

You're still forgetting some things, like how the wholesale price is still much less than the retail price, that there are many other indirect employees at the publisher that need to be paid too (PR folk, secretaries, etc.); also, the cost of advertising can be very large, easily more than what the writer, editor, proofreader, and cover artist make combined.

Still, I would very much like to see a source for those numbers he provided, because I'm very interested.

more than 4 years ago
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It's 2010; What's the Best E-Reader?

Ignorant Aardvark Re:The Book. (684 comments)

Woosh indeed! It's almost like different people might have different needs than you! But that's obviously a ridiculous idea.

I will grant that others have different needs than I. However, let me offer up a supporting anecdote: I am another one of those people who typically reads only one book at a time (two is stretching it). I am pretty sure I represent the majority of people on that point. I don't particularly need access to the contents of thousands of books at all times. I'm already in front of the computer for many hours every day as it is anyway, so I would just find whatever I needed to find then.

I go to the library, I check out a bunch of books all at once, and then I read them one-by-one, carrying whichever one I happen to be reading with me whenever I go anywhere requiring waits (doctor's office, Metro, etc.). It's practically free; I've only found a couple books so far I wanted to read that the library didn't have, and I was able to purchase those used for about $5 each shipped from Amazon in hardcover. Now compare that to the starting costs of a Kindle (what is it, $200? $300?), and then an incremental cost of, what, $10 per book?

If all you need to do is be able to read one book at a time, and this is where you and I differ, the library makes the most sense by far.

more than 4 years ago
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It's 2010; What's the Best E-Reader?

Ignorant Aardvark Re:The Book. (684 comments)

Unless you are paying extra for archival paper, your books will be crumbling before my flat text files become unreadable. I don't rely on the storage medium, I rely on the format.

Sorry, but that's just not true. First of all, nearly every hardcover book you can buy these days is printed on acid-free paper. Note that that study measures the acid-free adoption rate fifteen years ago; it has gotten better since then.

But even your every day low quality non-acid-free paper is going to last a lot longer than any digital format. My dad still has hundreds of pulp scifi paperbacks from the heyday of the era that he bought used. Many are older than seven decades. They feel a little bit "old", and the paper is yellowing, but they're still perfectly readable, and they should still last for a lot longer yet.

Basically, my point is that while the format itself of an ASCII text file will probably be readable hundreds of years from now, you sure as hell aren't going to have managed to preserve your files for that length of time. You're arguing an inconsistent point; the format of "books" will be readable forever. You're making an apples-to-oranges comparisons of individual books on the one hand, which will eventually decay, versus the format of digital files on the other hand. It's not a fair comparison.

Give me a way to store an eBook that you think is going to still be readily usable a hundred years from now without any further modification or periodic maintenance transformation of formats. There isn't any. If you think there is, just tell me one way someone from 1970 could have stored digital information that would be easily readable on a computer today, and then realize we're talking about a much longer gulf of time than that. A paper book, on the other hand, will always just work.

Also, you assume that computers will exist at all many hundreds of years in the future; depending on how we manage our climate change issues, or nuclear warfare issues, that might not be true at all. If society collapses, books will still be perfectly readable; computers will be nothing more than what the ancient Mayan ruins to us.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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First video of "A Digital Video Primer For Geeks"

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Ignorant Aardvark writes "Xiph.org just released the first installment in its video series "A Digital Video Primer For Geeks", whichcovers digital audio and video fundamentals. The first video covers basic concepts of how digital audio and video are encoded, and does so in an understandable fashion. The video is hosted by Monty, the founder of Xiph.org (the people who brought you Ogg), and explains a lot of concepts (FourCC codes, YUV color space, gamma, etc.) that many watchers of digital video have long been exposed to, but don't quite understand themselves. The intent of the video series (in addition to general education) is to spur interest in digital encoding and get more free software hackers involved in digital audio/video. As Monty explains, the basic concepts aren't nearly as complicated as most people seem to assume. Give it a watch and see if you agree."
Link to Original Source
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Xiph announces the release of Theora 1.0

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  about 6 years ago

Ignorant Aardvark writes "Today, the Xiph.Org Foundation announced the 1.0 version release of the video codec Theora. Positioned as a superior standard for web video to Adobe's proprietary Flash video format, the free and open source Theora codec already has impressive support from the likes of the Wikimedia Foundation, where it is the exclusive video codec allowed on administered sites such as Wikipedia, and from the Mozilla Foundation, which will include integrated Theora support in the next major release of Firefox. Theora is released under a BSD-style license and has been enhanced substantially in recent years to compete against its proprietary competitors — though in the one area that matters to many Slashdot readers, software freedom, it cannot be beat."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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I wrote a novel in a month

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  more than 6 years ago I wrote a novel in a month for the National Novel Writing Month competition. It was a hard slog, but I pulled it off. Now I have writing fatigue, but I still need to finish my novel. It's not actually done, I just reached the 50,000 words required to win the competition.

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/. Moderation Sucks

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  more than 10 years ago A recent comment of mine got modded down to -1, Flamebait, even though it was absolutely true. My comment was something along the lines of conductors in symphonies don't matter, than I got some stupid AC's replying to me who said that wasn't true. Then I got some people posting under their real /. accounts who have played in professional symphonies for decades who said that the conductor is just for rehearsal, and doesn't really affect the music during the performance. This backed up what I was originally saying against the AC's ... but it was already too late. My comment had already been modded down to -1, and once a comment reaches that threshold of oblivion, it seems very unlikely for it to ever be modded back up.

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Messy argument with AC's

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  more than 10 years ago I've recently gotten into a nasty fight with some AC's. It started with a (lame) joke I posted to a thread, then an AC responded that it was old and rehashed, then I said he should have the balls to post under his own username, and then more ACs attacked me for my posting history and journal entries. It's not worth picking a fight with an AC - they have nothing to lose, but if you don't post anonymously you do have a lot to lose, like getting lots of people on your Freaks list.

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College now

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  more than 10 years ago I'm in college now. Full scholarship to University of Maryland College Park, computer science major, got straight A's my first semester, just in case you were wondering. Winter Break is dragging on ... and on ... and on. I just want to go back to school now and be with my friends.

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School's Out!

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  more than 11 years ago So, it's official, I've graduate high school! Yeeha! A lot awaits me in life, but I at least I am somewhat satisfied knowing I have accomplished something not everyone gets gets to. I also have a full scholarship at University of Maryland, College Park (which a lot fewer people get), but I'm not bragging, really, I'm not ...

Anyway, I like the newsgroup talk.origins. Join me as I fight off the hordes of creationist trolls. Or if you are a creationist troll yourself - please, I implore you, do not come! My newsgroup nick is "Cyde Weys". Look for it. I post a lot.

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MechWarrior Nationals

Ignorant Aardvark Ignorant Aardvark writes  |  more than 11 years ago I'll be out this whole weekend at the MechWarrior CMG Nationals in Philly, PA. It's 3 days of non-stop MechWarrior fun. It's also a big gaming convention - lots of famous people are going to be there, such as Ray Park (Darth Maul), the guy who played Boba Fett, and the dwarf who played R2-D2. It should be interesting! Maybe I'll get some cool limited edition stuff and sell it on eBay. I'll try to ask Ray Park if he's seen the Star Wars Kid :-)

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