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Interviews: Ask Dr. Andy Chun About Artificial Intelligence

JoeMerchant Current progress (68 comments)

Dr Chun,

What area of AI development is currently making the most progress? In other words, where are the next big advances most likely to come from?

5 days ago
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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

JoeMerchant Re:Really? (255 comments)

Too lazy to RTFA, I take the meaning of the summary this way:

Like a society can be judged by how it treats its elderly, infirm, and more fragile members, a coding project (open source or privately funded) can be judged by how it treats its least well regarded developer.

Are you Nazi Germany, do you show people the door based on the color of their eyes/hair, how tall they are, their GRE scores, or how they perform on some arbitrary admission test before you give a 15 minute in-person interview?

Are you Genghis Khan's Mongolia, do you abuse and then fire anyone who isn't running at the front of the pack? Rank and yank does not generally improve morale.

Are you the European Middle Ages, do you just ignore your weaker team members and let them be consumed by plague rats / drown in their own stinking code while you isolate the shipping product in the ivory tower?

Are you a more modern quasi-socialist society where you educate your weaker team members as best you can and enable them to contribute as they are capable?

There are cases to be made for the advantages and efficiencies of all approaches, but, generally, you need to be a strong development team to carry and build up the weaker team members - if everybody is too focused on product and producing to care about helping their fellow team members to improve, your team is overtaxed (too weak for the job at hand) and probably not able to perform well (provide a reliable living wage for the developers while producing and maintaining the product) in the long term.

about 1 month ago
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German Court Rules That You Can't Keep Compromising Photos After a Break-Up

JoeMerchant Re:Ridiculous (334 comments)

But people get off on unenforceable judgements. The real force of the judgement is that if the photos ever become public after the ruling, then the photographer can be found in contempt - which is a whole other golden opportunity for the ex to leak the photos and make additional hell for the guy....

about 2 months ago
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7.1 Billion People, 7.1 Billion Mobile Phone Accounts Activated

JoeMerchant Re:Sanity check (197 comments)

We have 3 mobile phones in our house, and only 2 adults, though, if we didn't also have 2 kids, we might not feel the need for a "backup" phone.

about 2 months ago
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Eavesdropping With a Smart TV

JoeMerchant Re:1984 v 2014 (93 comments)

If you study the eastern philosophies, you will find that hot pizza is more important to happiness than whether or not someone else knows what you are doing.

It would be the height of conceit to believe that what you do in your living room is interesting enough for anyone important or in-power to care about. I worked at a company that had "listening bug" phones on every desk in every office - we still talked openly in front of the phones, openly disparaging the leadership, their policies, their personal habits, etc. and, somehow, when the layoffs came around, we, the brazen flaunters of the surveilance state, were not the ones let go. It's not because we were too valuable or otherwise endeared to the leadership, it was because they simply didn't care enough to listen - even though they had the capability.

If you really have something to hide, then hide it, and know that your fancy new television _could_ spy on you. If you live an unremarkable life - as most of us do, nobody will ever bother to activate the bug in your television, or set up an IR laser reflection listening device on your windows, or tap your phone line, or any of the other hundreds of methods that exist - and mostly have existed for centuries - to find out what you are up to. Conspiracy comes down to who you communicate with, and most acts of terror come down to collection and assembly of dangerous materials / devices. You don't need a smart TV to figure this out.

about 2 months ago
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Eavesdropping With a Smart TV

JoeMerchant Re:Don't connect them to the Internet (93 comments)

As to embedded 3G antennae, I can barely get a signal out on my cell phone through a metal roof, seems like a tinfoil hat would be quite effective here.

about 2 months ago
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Eavesdropping With a Smart TV

JoeMerchant Re:Don't connect them to the Internet (93 comments)

How putting black tape over a camera lens won't work is a little beyond me. I can see how audio mics might get past simple muffling techniques, but the camera?

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:pointless? (201 comments)

Absolutely true, I was on the internet in 1988, downloading a patch for a CAD system via Kermit - and, no, Monster.com wasn't out yet.

So, because the internet isn't accessible or useful in Africa today (Nigerian princes, who sent paper letter scams long before the internet, would argue otherwise), we should continue to ignore it and push over aid that patches today's problems? Sounds like air-dropping food to the starving to me.

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:OS on a stick is not novel (201 comments)

That, in itself, is an educational exercise - learning how to raise funds.

If you set your mind to it, you can raise more money for even less worthy schemes - perfectly legally, and even have happy donors when it's over, if you're good at it.

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:OS on a stick is not novel (201 comments)

Well, this is a way to leverage a satellite link and make it more accessible to a larger number of people, not to mention allowing them to store their personally obtained information and carry it with them, and even access it later when at a location or time when sat link isn't available.

I don't think this will bring about world peace or end starvation and suffering, but it does strike me as a damn practical thing to try with $40K, something different than another missionary program to go dig a well and hand out bibles.

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:pointless? (201 comments)

The terminals could be networked, or not, as local infrastructure supports... This isn't a panacea, but $40K is a trivial amount of money to get hung up on how it is spent - if these Indegogo funders want to do this, it's a hell of a lot better than an art project to put pink bands around the islands in Biscayne Bay.

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:pointless? (201 comments)

I had world-class telephone access back in 1988 when I was looking for work also... the internet is better.

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:Completely Pointless (201 comments)

Ah, but you only need a single banjo playing dog to entertain thousands of people...

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:pointless? (201 comments)

Access to the internet allowed me to file for unemployment benefits while on holidays visiting my family, yes, my employer laid off the entire company essentially the day before Christmas holidays. My grandmother is 96, and I did not feel like cancelling our Christmas visit just because my ex-boss couldn't make payroll nor bring himself to give advance notice of the true nature of the impending problem. In a non-computer-access world, I, sole income for a family of four, would have missed a couple of weeks of benefits, or missed visiting my Grandmother. The same kind of access allowed me to find a new company to work for in just a few weeks, instead of reading want-ads in the paper on a week to week cycle.

So, I could see access to networked information in Africa potentially informing the people of where food and work is available more efficiently than the present systems in a similar manner.

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:OS on a stick is not novel (201 comments)

There's different ways of measuring the success or "waste percentage" of a program like this. Just putting two boots on the ground costs more than hundreds of these USB sticks, so, if you can air-drop a thousand of them and only 10 find actual use, you're still doing better, efficiency wise, than hand delivering them and successfully personally training 10 people how to use them.

If a village has a solar powered "computer center" with a satellite internet link and 3 ten year old PCs that these sticks can work in, all people within walking distance of that computer center have potential access to a miracle greater than the mythical Oracle at Delphi. Yes, people will have to learn a western language to access most information, yes it would be slicker if they had a satellite linked laptop with a urine powered battery that they could carry with them, but with $40K in funding, this project has the potential to positively impact a few thousand lives, figuring 10 people benefiting from every one that gains useful information from the internet.

Maybe it catches on as a fad and thousands upon thousands start to access computers and the internet this way, probably not, but for the same investment level as a project to put a drinking well into a couple of villages, this project can have a different positive impact on a larger number of people - who might learn how to dig their own wells, among other things.

about 2 months ago
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$7 USB Stick Aims To Bring Thousands of Poor People Online

JoeMerchant Re:How is Burying Africa Under PCs Going to Help? (201 comments)

A lot of the demand for safety, clean water, healthcare, etc. comes from constant, believable exposure to the concept that it is a human right that people should expect. This is why communist countries wanted to control the media and prevent exposure to decadent western cultures. Getting people in Africa "online" and otherwise educated in how the rest of the world really functions, day in and day out, will go a long way to motivating the oppressed into doing something about their condition for themselves.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Does Your Job Need To Exist?

JoeMerchant Ever hear of burnout? (343 comments)

If I paid attention 40 hours a week, I'd be braindead within a month.

I actually tried working 6.5 days a week when I first started my "real" software development career job - going into the 3rd week it became painfully obvious to me that I was making less real progress (mistakes, rewrites) though the overtime pay was nice...

about 2 months ago
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China May Build an Undersea Train To America

JoeMerchant Re:Rail+ ferry (348 comments)

Most displacement hull ships have a "hull speed" that does get higher with longer waterline - so the big cargo ships have that going for them, but, you're right, it's either linear or quadratic, up to a point, and then you hit the hull speed where turbulence makes it just about impossible to go much faster. Try it in a rowboat (small, low hull speed, easily attained with oars...)

about 2 months ago
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China May Build an Undersea Train To America

JoeMerchant Re:Rail+ ferry (348 comments)

How fast do you want it? Do you want to displace water, or air while you travel at that speed? If you're willing to cruise at lower speed, the oceangoing ships get more efficient, but I don't believe they run that way - they more or less go as fast as their engines are practically capable of, because that's what the customers are paying for - speed of delivery.

about 2 months ago
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Physician Operates On Server, Costs His Hospital $4.8 Million

JoeMerchant Re:Typcial (143 comments)

Malpractice insurance mentality....

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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CryptoCat - an encrypted web-based chat

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  about 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Twenty-one-year-old college student Nadim Kobeissi is from Canada, Lebanon and the internet.

Cryptocat is an encrypted web-based chat. It’s the first chat client in the browser to allow anyone to use end-to-end encryption to communicate without the problems of SSL, the standard way browsers do crypto, or mucking about with downloading and installing other software. For Kobeissi, that means non-technical people anywhere in the world can talk without fear of online snooping from corporations, criminals or governments.

“The fact that you don’t have to install anything, the fact that it works instantly, this increases security,” he explained, sitting down with Wired at HOPE 9 to talk about Cryptocat, activism and getting through American airports."

Link to Original Source
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Amazon Android App Store - Mandatory One Click Ordering

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  about 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "So, it has finally arrived... since 2003ish I have been on the lookout for a decent, affordable (sub $100) web browsing device — and it came in the shape of 7" capacitive multitouch Android tablets from cheap off-brand manufacturers. But, this isn't a hardware review. This is a cautionary tale about the importance of choice in app-store compatibility. At least one of these devices is built with a strong preference for the Amazon App Store, yes, some apps can be side-loaded, but Google Play is specifically thwarted by the built-in Android image, making Amazon the "obvious" choice.

So, what's so bad about the Amazon App Store? Well, I personally don't mind that it runs continuously in the background as a kind of license server, though some people complain that it's hard on battery life (while others disagree)... my real beef with the Amazon App Store is its always active one-click: no password, app ordering, always available. The only way I have found to deactivate one-click app ordering is to uninstall the store, which deactivates ALL the apps that use it for license checking, which includes about 18 of the 20 apps I have tested.

You can say that Amazon's customer service is excellent and that they will refund any accidental purchases, you can say that they notify you of every app purchase immediately in e-mail; free and paid app purchase notifications look identical in every way until you click on each individual transaction to open it, and it is the same in Amazon's account review. This feels like a return to the old Record/DVD Club days where you get a bunch of cool stuff you want, very conveniently, for a reasonably good deal, but then have to fight to turn the thing off and eventually get charged for something you don't want, especially if you ever hand your tablet over to an elementary school aged child to play with unsupervised for any length of time.

After getting sucked in on the Free Apps, I finally purchased a couple of paid apps and was fairly shocked that, unlike the iPad, I didn't have to put in any kind of password. It's much less the 2x0.99 that bothers me than all the time and effort spent setting up two tablets, just to find out later that if I don't want to leave my credit card fully exposed for app purchases, I'll lose use of all the apps I have installed from their store. So, suck the customer in and after they have invested maybe 20 hours into your ecosystem, finally give them a clue that there's no way to turn off purchases, the parental controls options only apply to in-app purchases, not to app purchases themselves — and if your kids are smart enough to get into the master app listing, they can always launch the app store.

Response from Amazon Customer Service:

It was a pleasure to speak with you today! I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you spending some of it with Amazon Appstore support. Thanks for suggesting we add parental control for App purchases to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our products and provide better service to our customers. I've passed your suggestion to the Appstore team for consideration as we make future improvements. Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Kind words, I really doubt the absence of password entry was any kind of oversight or accident."
Link to Original Source

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Apps for Apes

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Orangutans across the world may soon join the ranks of millions of humans as proud owners of new iPads. As strange as that may sound, a conservation group is testing out its "Apps for Apes" program, allowing orangutans to communicate with each other remotely via the iPad's video chat technology.

There has got to be an observation in there somewhere about the change this will bring in the average Apple user's intelligence levels..."

Link to Original Source
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Will Apple's iPad trademark prevail in China?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Chinese officials face a choice in Apple's dispute with a local company over the iPad trademark — side with a struggling entity that a court says owns the name or with a global brand that has created thousands of jobs in China. Experts say that means Beijing's political priorities rather than the courts will settle the dispute if it escalates.

What are the odds that, of 1.3 billion Chinese, one of them has a stronger legal claim to the name "iPad" than Apple?"

Link to Original Source
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Hacking Yogurt to make Prozac with Open Source DNA

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "While most people think biotechnology is complex, expensive and exclusively practiced in fancy lab settings, designer Tuur van Balen argues it is actually quite accessible. He demonstrates his vision on DIY biotechnology by creating an ‘anti-depressant yoghurt,’ using open source DNA on stage in a 7.5 minute video. Smakelijk!"
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Is it wrong to want opt-in?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "I have had a Yahoo account since before the turn of the Century, and one of my biggest complaints about it was being required to download the Yahoo Messenger desktop software just to access the account management setting to block "Friend Requests" from every random spammer on the planet.

My Google account, by comparison, was relatively quiet and Friend-Spam-Free, until just recently — although the "quality" of Google friend spam is higher than Yahoo (most of the random people asking to "Friend" me actually have some kind of common interest listed in their profiles), it's still random Friend request spam from people who don't even know people I know. Now, I suppose I'm going to have to "pay" for some peace and quiet in my Google account by taking the time to decipher their settings process to turn these people off.

I know that both these services are provided free of monetary charge, and that I am "free" to walk away at any time, but I do feel like the victim of a submarine attack after they provide a good service for 10+ years and then, without even a "would you like to opt-in" dialog, start flooding me with daily friend requests from essentially random people.

Is there a similar "homepage" service out there that respects its user's privacy and doesn't demand their time and effort to adjust it to do so?"

Link to Original Source
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Learn Coding Online

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Online services like CodeCademy and Treehouse are making a business of teaching programming online. Despite the fact colleges are churning out more programmers, many fast-growing Silicon Valley companies say they still can't find enough of them.

Do you think that the online schools will add anything to traditional self-teaching of programming skills?"

Link to Original Source
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Ask Slashdot: What will you do with 128Gb/s RAM ba

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Whiel manufacturers have been murmuring about 3D memory chips for years. Intel unveiled a Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) at IDF, which promises seven times the energy efficiency of today's DDR3, and now IBM and Micron have shown their hand too. The pair just struck up a partnership to produce cubes using layers of DRAM connected by vertical conduits known as through-silicon vias (TSVs). These pillars allow a 90 percent reduction in a memory chip's physical footprint, a 70 percent cut in its appetite for energy, and a radical increase in bandwidth: HMC prototypes have already scored 128Gb/s. It certainly sounds like a game-changer."
Link to Original Source
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Floating home for tech start-ups

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Max Marty, founder of Blueseed, believes that US immigration laws are stifling entrepreneurs from other countries, so he plans to buy a ship and anchor it in international waters off the coast of California. He hopes that up to a thousand developers could live and work just 20 kilometres offshore, commuting via regular ferries to the mainland for meetings with clients and investors.

Ship residents will pay around $1200 per month for basic accommodation, which Marty says compares favourably with typical rents in San Francisco."

Link to Original Source
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Programming in Cell OS

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "An international team of synthetic biologists, led by professor of computer science Natalio Krasnogor at the University of Nottingham, hopes to change hopes to revolutionize synthetic biology with what they call Cell OS, a "bottom-up approach to cellular computing, in which computational chemical processes are encapsulated within liposomes." The team refers to this as "liposome logic" or "vesicle computing," which sounds analogous to the logic based off of the field-effect transistor, and it may be a part of the nascent "CellOS". The bold project is aptly named AUdACiOuS."
Link to Original Source
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Remote-Controlled Borg Beetle

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "A giant Borg beetle with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back can be wirelessly controlled, according to research presented this week. Overlords at the University of California hivemind developed a tiny rig that receives control signals from the collective. Electrical signals delivered via the electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight. The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could one day be used for assimilation on a planetary scale.

Obligatory: Resistance is Futile ."

Link to Original Source
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Robotic radical hysterectomy has advantages

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Robotic-assisted surgery has become an appealing tool for gynecologic oncology surgeons. However, to date, there is little data to confirm the benefits of this technology. Patients who underwent RRH had less blood loss and shorter hospital stays. "This robotic-assisted approach deserves further exploration to evaluate the full potential and application of RRH."

I for one...."

Link to Original Source

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