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High Speed Evolution

JaredOfEuropa Re:20 generations (203 comments)

If you kill the shortest third of all humans, the average height goes up immediately within the current generation.

6 hours ago
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

JaredOfEuropa Re:Right along side flying cars (658 comments)

I love self-checkout. I've tried it in a few places: Ikea, AH (a Dutch supermarket chain), and Leclerc (a French supermarket). Ikea and Leclerc basically have an unmanned checkout lane: you scan all your items there, pay, and leave with/without a random spot check. The French one was confusing (and it didn't like my credit card), but the Ikea one works well; I never see many people struggling with it.

And the AH system is one where you pick up a handheld scanner as you enter the store, scan your purchases as you go along, and deposit the scanner in a rack at the end after which you pay and leave. It's a popular system, I've never seen anyone struggle with it other than an elderly person asking a store clerk how to remove an item from the list. And it saves time: no need to pack everything from a cart or basket onto a conveyor belt and into a bag; I scan and bag as I go along, pay and leave. My local AH has no scanners and I've stopped going there, I now frequent one a bit further away just for the convenience.

yesterday
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We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

JaredOfEuropa Re:Tedious story already OBE (256 comments)

Diaspora needed more than a bit of polish, and that may have contributed to its lack of uptake. If you want to convince people to switch from FB to your network, you better have an amazing user experience. For the inexperienced user who isn't interested in setting up a server themselves, it needs to have the same ease of use as a centralized social network. And with those users now at least somewhat aware of privacy-related issues, you had better be able to offer them some assurances as to the safety of their data; most of them would still entrust their data to FB sooner than to some random guy or weird group of hacktivists. And if you give those assurances, keep in mind that they will not understand anything about encryption schemes.

The GUI part is relatively easy to address with a lot of hard work. The trust part is a lot harder... until you do convince enough people to come over and invite their friends in turn.

2 days ago
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Machine Learning Expert Michael Jordan On the Delusions of Big Data

JaredOfEuropa Re:Cloud (145 comments)

There's plenty of reasons I can think of why I'd prefer image recognition on my phone rather than the cloud. Privacy, for one. If you let FB tag your photos with the names of the people in it (after teaching it those names), what do you think happens to that data? You might not even want to share the photo or video stream with anyone... Another reason is that we still do not live in a world with ubiquitous and cheap mobile data. Travel abroad, and you'll find out quickly why cloud-based services like Waze aren't always a viable option.

2 days ago
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Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

JaredOfEuropa Re:I've come up with lots of good ideas (148 comments)

Looking at stuff and trying to apply it to the world isn't that obvious.
I remember a story my dad told about when he got to play with one of the first microprocessors: a (relatively) big, fragile and expensive piece of kit. The question most people would ask about this new technology is: "What can we use this for?". And most of them would try and answer that in terms of the situation they are presented with: i.e. they come up with applications for that processor that take its properties (big, fragile and expensive) into consideration. When my dad and his friend speculated about these processors being used in cars and washing machines, their professor famously told them "that'll never happen". It's one of those "I foresee a world market of perhaps 5 computers" remarks; the result of thinking in the context at hand.

A common trick of innovators is to try to think creatively, think outside the box by "moving the box", by thinking about what's in front of them in a new context. The best way of doing that is to ask the right questions, often ones that start with "why" or "what if". In case of the processor, good questions to ask would have been "Why can't we combine the processor and peripheral circuits into a single chip?", or simply "What if this could be had for $0.50?". Another common creative question "What if everybody had one of these?".

3 days ago
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Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

JaredOfEuropa Re:He, Him, His (148 comments)

Back then, people generally wrote "his", "he" etc when writing about people, male and female, in general. They did not need to qualify every single reference to a person with (m/f), or write his/her instead of his, the way we do these days, verbally bending over backwards to avoid the dreaded accusation of misogyny.

3 days ago
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3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

JaredOfEuropa Re:good (329 comments)

Give it time. Materials and printers are improving as is the design of printed guns. In a few years I expect to see a practical, single use printed revolver (6 shots), firing .22 rounds. Practical meaning that the gun will be fairly reliable if handled carefully, that the gun is safe to use, that it can be printed on the kind of hardware accessible to hobbyists, and can be assembled and finished by pretty much anyone. The last part is the most significant: it's possible to make better zip guns from pipe, wood and common parts, but they still require some skills to assemble. 3d printing will give anyone easy access to a gun.

Of course to actually use it you'll still need to get your hands on some ammo, which is the tricky part in countries with strict gun control.

4 days ago
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3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

JaredOfEuropa Re:In Japan (329 comments)

A guy has a few beers and hits a pedestrian, and the police call it the results of DUI, yet sober people hit pedestrians all the time. Low levels of alcohol do not increase your chances much of causing an accident; they do more to decrease your chances of avoiding one, i.e. reacting adequately to an unusual situation. Not that I'm advocating drinking and driving here, but saying that even 1 drink is bad is silly. Our bureau for traffic safety stated (against popular political opinion, surprisingly) that lowering the current limit of 0.05 BAC (2 drinks or so) would do very little to directly reduce the accident rates. A lower legal limit may help in an indirect way, by emphasizing the negative effects of alcohol on driving abilities, and the idea that it's easier to say no to the first drink than it is to the third. (Which is why the legal limit for young drivers was in fact lowered to 0.02).

Oddly, Magic Mushrooms are legal in Japan...but for "appreciation purposes" only. So you can buy them but you're only supposed to look at them, I suppose.

4 days ago
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Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

JaredOfEuropa Re: Moral Imperialism (472 comments)

Similar laws exist in much of Europe. By the way, why do you call this case a false positive? The law exists explicitly to address cases like this one. So that politicians can appear to be tough on pedophiles as you pointed out. They'd turn it into a thoughtcrime if they could look inside our heads, too.

4 days ago
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Snapchat Will Introduce Ads, Attempt To Keep Them Other Than Creepy

JaredOfEuropa Re:Nope. (131 comments)

Indeed. When were online ads ever "fun and informative?"

about a week ago
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Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

JaredOfEuropa Re:Bad idea (251 comments)

The phone may be powerful enough but you need an OS to match. In that sense, MS perhaps had the right idea to converge their mobile and desktop OS, even if they did it in a horrible way. At some point we'll see devices that work in 2 modes: a non-multitasking one (or with limited multitasking), geared towards small screens and touch input when running on the portable device, and a multitasking mode geared towards large screens and separate input devices, for when the phone is docked on the desktop. Merely adding a keyboard and mouse to an iPhone / iPad is going to be crap.

about a week ago
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India Successfully Launches Region-Specific Navigation Satellite

JaredOfEuropa Re:Good job, India! (86 comments)

And thanks to better processors, a little proliferation doesn't matter that much to consumers either. Modern GPS chips already support both GPS and Glonass, and will support Galileo as well when that goes up.

about a week ago
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Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem

JaredOfEuropa Re:Engineers have no future. (148 comments)

That's what is being taught in business school. Actually, it's a few things. "It's bad to have your company depending on a single person", which is true. "Standardizing jobs / positions makes it easier to shift people around, making you less dependent on any one of them, and makes recruitment and organizing the work easier if you do this in line with the rest of your industry", which is also true to a degree. Never mind the many negative effects of standardizing jobs; the message to take away from this is not that people are drop in replaceable parts. If you did all this correctly, it'll be easier to replace a leaver, but it doesn't mean that replacing one person doesn't come at a high cost, and doesn't mean that adding or replacing many people at once is still extremely hard to do without messing up the works.

Sadly I see my share of managers who do get the idea that people can be swapped in and out at no cost. Needless to say their teams are not the high performers.

about a week ago
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As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

JaredOfEuropa Re:great news. (407 comments)

The declaration is issued to you, not directly to your employer. If they give a negative recommendation, there are procedures for appeal and they will have to give a valid reason there, i.e. an actual criminal record that is relevant to the job or permit you are after. So no, they cannot blacklist you for no reason.

about a week ago
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As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

JaredOfEuropa Re:great news. (407 comments)

I've wondered about that: to what extent should a criminal past continue to haunt you, or in other words: should prospective employers (or even the public) have the right to look into your background? If an employer happens to know that you did something wrong in the past, I think they ought to be free to not hire you, but that's not the same as making such information freely available to employers.

Here in the Netherlands, employers can't directly check your criminal records (they are not even allowed to ask in job interviews), but they can request that you submit a so-called "statement of conduct" (in some professions like child care, having such a statement is mandatory by law). Such statements are issued by the police on request, and the nice thing about them is that it doesn't detail your criminal past, but instead answers a specific question about the job or license you are applying for: "does anything in this person's record indicate that they shouldn't get a job in a day care center / get a gun license / hold a job with a lot of financial responsibilities?" So a child molester is not barred from a job as CFO, an embezzler can still get a gun license, and a burglar can work in day care, because the statement of conduct in each of these cases will come back as "no objection". To me this seems like a much more reasonable balance between the rights of employers wanting to know whom they are dealing with, and those of criminals who have served their time.

Even better of course would be for the US to drop the stupid "war on drugs". Interestingly, it looks like the USA is now leading on legalizing soft drugs, whereas the Netherlands (known for its liberal attitude towards drugs) is actually cracking down. (remember: soft drugs were never legal here, merely tolerated).

about a week ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

JaredOfEuropa Overrated... (838 comments)

Piketty did little to advance the debate on income equality; that debate was already alive and well before he published his book. The only thing it did was to supply some intellectual ammunition to those in favour of greater equality, but there are very few (if any) new arguments brought forth. I read his book and I agree with some of the ideas within, but as a whole this book is vastly overrated.

about two weeks ago
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Anonabox Accused of Lying About Its Product Being Open-Source On Kickstarter

JaredOfEuropa Re:Yawn (72 comments)

I've mostly backed stuff that looked like it would not get created by regular companies. Most of this was in the area of Home Automation; a niche market, which means that even for great products the economics may simply not work out. Start-ups as well as existing companies can take some of the gamble out of that equation through crowdsourcing. I've backed 7 projects thus far:
3 delivered more or less on time
1 is on track for timely delivery
1 ran into technical and organisational issues, but they've turned those around and it looks like they will deliver the product after all, if a bit late. Their campaign was overfunded so they didn't run out of cash.
1 underestimated organisational difficulties (such as obtaining product certification in different regions) and ran out of money. A good many backers did receive their goods and they still think they can fulfil all pledges, but I'm not holding my breath.
1 I've given up on.
Not too bad a track record. Of course it's easy enough to let others fund these kickstarter projects and let them take the risk, but where's the fun in that? As long as you understand the risk, I don't see why one shouldn't fund these projects that might otherwise not see the light of day.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too

JaredOfEuropa Re:Fundamentals (213 comments)

Those fundamentals are important, sure, and the ability to code in itself may not be that important later in life (unless you want to work with code for a living). But coding teaches and trains some important skills: troubleshooting, problem solving, analytical thinking. Those are very useful skills in jobs that require any amount of thought, and I can't think of many other activities that train these as well as coding does. One question: can we teach a meaningful percentage of all kids to code at a level where these skills actually come into play? I'm not enough to a pedagogue to answer that.

about two weeks ago
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Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

JaredOfEuropa Re:TLDR (240 comments)

I am rather saddened that "TLDR" is a thing, and a big one these days...

about two weeks ago

Submissions

JaredOfEuropa hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Packaging, the scourge of the 21st century

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 5 years ago Packaging, in the broadest sense of the word, is starting to really piss me off.

Let's start with physical packaging. Whatever happened to the days when a fish would be packaged in yesterday's paper, small parts (screws and bolts) came in a little cardboard box or paper bag, and some stuff wouldn't be packaged at all? These days, some packaging (most notably the so called blister packaging) can be deathly dangerous to open. I'd like to propose one single, simple rule for packaging: one should be able to open it by hand. I'll make two exceptions: stuff that is notoriously easy to steal can go into blister packs, and it's acceptable to require a knife, key or any old sharp implement to cut packing tape.

Then there's labelling and pricing. Another simple rule: either provide a label or price tag that comes off clean, or don't label at all. When I buy a present for someone, a book, a DVD, a bit of wood that I intend to finish properly, a glass ornament, whatever, I would very much like the object in question to look nice. So why is it that shops insist on using labels that will tear when removed, and will leave a nasty gooey residy that won't come off no matter what? I can kind of understand putting such labels on packaging or on paperbacks... but not on expensive gifts.

And finally, there's the matter of "packaging" software. Some more rules:
- I DO NOT WANT software that I run only "on demand" to install some resident "helper" software to check for updates or whatever. You can check for updates when I start your program. Are you listening, Apple?
- I DO NOT WANT to answer the same questions over and over again whenever I install an update of your software. An update should be just that: replace the software that is already there with no questions asked; do not treat it as a more or less fresh reinstall. Are you listening, Zone Labs / Checkpoint?

Major issues to be sure... Come to think of it, if this is what I worry about, I suppose I have a pretty good life.

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Cat pictures!

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 10 years ago *sigh* No words of wisdom or idle banter to write in the journal today. Nevertheless, the question on my last journal entry has been answered, so time to push it off the top.

Today, I offer the bored reader who aimlessly wandered into here: cat pictures of Dolly and Mickey

These two little furballs are my cats. Enjoy!

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Hmm, stupidity

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 10 years ago "Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain". If only I could remember who uttered this particular wisdom.

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Suspicious white dot in Slashdot

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago So... what is this funny little white dot that appears on the slashdot pages just under the banner ad? *pokes the dot* I don't trust you.

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JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago As someone pointed out, it should be

find ~your -name '*base*' | xargs chown us

instead of

chown -R us ~your/*base*
as my sig currently reads. I'll change it later, I suppose...

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Redundant posts...

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago From now on, these will automatically be metamoderated 'unfair'. Don't waste your moderator points on insightful posts that happen to be dupes. Mod some other insightfull stuff up, or mod the fluff down. That is all

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Most hated words and terms

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago Boredom sets in once again, work is slow today. Anyways... There's a few annoying words that have wriggled their way into everyday idiom, at least in some circles. My personal top 3 of most hated ones.

3) Cracker. The rest of the world calls such a person a hacker, and will continue to use this word, no matter how much you try and drill the hacker/cracker distinction into them. Give it up already.

2) Wardriving. A term that fails in so many ways to convey what it actually means, and makes most people think of something having to do with Osama bin Laden.

1) Blog. An odd way to abbreviate the word 'weblog', and one that sounds like sicking up at that. Blog. Blogging. Yeck. Someone please come up with a better and nicer-sounding word.

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Slashdot oddities...

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago Who the hell is Saskboy (id 600063) and what is he doing on my "preferences" page?

Also... one begins to wonder where my moderator points are after over a year of being at this place. What gives? (and yes, I did check the "want to moderate" box).

Oh well, time for another bottle of wine

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