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Seattle Bookstores Embrace Amazon.com

Kwyj1b0 Re:Big company moves into town, sales soar... (83 comments)

Whether it's Amazon or not is irrelevant. In any large company, there's going to be a percentage who like the dead tree copies of the book. Got to a restaurant when the staff are on a break, you'll find some folks eating Mackers/KFC/their own sandwiches.

This. The greater the population, the more people will wander into your store - even if it is just to get out of the rain. Sudden showers also drive traffic to your store. Is rainfall your new ally?

OTOH, I find it silly that people talk about Amazon being the enemy of your company. The true enemy of your organization was that you were relying on physical constraints to force customers to your store due to a lack of choice - especially now that Amazon is charging tax in many states. If you provide a service to your customers that Amazon cannot duplicate (being non-physical) then there will be a sizeable segment of the population that will flock to you. I visit my public library and stores because they offer a benefit that Starbucks and BitTorrent do not - a special of the day, an illusion (and sometimes real) friendliness, and an update on local events that I don't get from a vending machine. If you claim Starbucks is driving you out of business, you would have gone out of business by a bunch of vending machines.

Yes, amazon can run at a loss much longer than my local bookstore owner can - which is why she is friendly, holds book reading events, and takes an effort to ensure her customers leave the store happy. She doesn't compete with Amazon on price - she does it on service. When my Kindle DX malfunctioned long after the warranty expired, Amazon customer service replaced it without hesitation. Best Buy would charge me a restocking fee if I changed my mind five seconds after I paid.

about 3 months ago
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VPN Encryption Vulnerability On Android

Kwyj1b0 Actively run the exploit... (77 comments)

TFA says that you need to run a malicious app that intentionally exploits that system. They tested multiple android devices (and I'm assuming different versions of the OS). Also, does this work with every VPN service (like Cisco AnyConnect), or only the native system?

Would it be possible to test if any existing Play store app accidentally/intentionally triggers this exploit? I (like many Android users) don't pirate apps (even though my phone is rooted), but if the popular Play store apps are compromised, that would be a big deal for me.

about 6 months ago
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Prince of Persia Level Editor 'Apoplexy' Reaches 2.0

Kwyj1b0 Re:Future Generations (44 comments)

Yeah, and never fight the shadow prince - he was also in level 6 (a really short level, kill one fat guy) making sure you didn't get stuck. I never understood what the shadow prince was about.

about 7 months ago
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Rough Roving: Curiosity's Wheel Damage 'Accelerated'

Kwyj1b0 Re:Really? (157 comments)

I know weight is important and all, but .75mm of aluminium? Really? Maybe they should have less scientists over there at NASA and more people with common sense who can raise their eyebrows.

Yes, every time something goes wrong, let us point out how "stoopid" those scientists are in hindsight and claim that the "common sense" solution would have worked. Of course, it couldn't be that the people there did a lot of simulations, analysis, and decided that 0.75mm was a reasonable (not perfect - nothing is black and white) thickness and the disadvantage of thicker wheels was outweighed by the advantages of thinner wheels.

Yes, the designers took a risk - that is their job. To clearly assess the tradeoffs and come up with a good design that trades off risk and performance at an acceptable level. Something doesn't work out as you expect? Use that knowledge in the next iteration. At one extreme you have a lot of equipment with no wheels, and the other extreme you have just wheels, no equipment. You want to do the designer's job? Go ahead, show me what your "common-sense" analysis of the tradeoffs are - what equipment would you cut for thicker wheels, and back it up with a detailed discussion on how the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

about 7 months ago
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NSA Says It Foiled Plot To Destroy US Economy Through Malware

Kwyj1b0 Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (698 comments)

When you have plenty of other things you can pick from ("The IRS didn't pick on certain political groups" or "It wasn't Al Queda, it was random people on the street upset about a YouTube video!" or "You can keep your health insurance, period"), why trot out this one?

True, but the impact of the lies are not all equivalent. The OP went for the most dramatic (and slashdot leaning) approach. But the lie about WMDs (and yes, misleading people with the truth is still a lie in my book - might not be technically a lie, but it sure is a scumbag move) resulted in far worse damages than the IRS "scandal" or stupid statements made by clueless politicians.

about 7 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Kwyj1b0 Re:I'm an atheist. (674 comments)

Do you constantly reexamine the existence of Santa?

Yes, as a matter of fact. My parents claim they were the ones who brought those gifts. However, I never actually saw them doing so. Therefore, I cannot rule out that they were in fact brought by Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy, etc.

I notice you left out the pedo-bear... repressed memories?

about 7 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Kwyj1b0 Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (674 comments)

And how many Muslims do you know?

In the thousands ?

And I am not kidding.

Of the people that I know many of them are Muslims.

Many of them are very bright, except for one thing - you just can NOT discuss religion (or faith) thing with them.

Unlike the Buddhists or Christians or Jews where you can have civil discussion, or even debates on matter pertaining to whether if there is a "God" or matter such as "If the different religion worship the same God" or the very act of suicide bombing killing the innocent can be call "a service to God" ... you just can't have such discussion with the Muslims.

Fair enough. I do not have this experience (as I rarely discuss religion with anyone - people tend to treat agnostics as easier to convert than atheists). However, I wonder how much that has to do with the questions. Suicide bombings (while vile) tend to put people on the defensive - I certainly know people get touchy when you take the worst examples of their history and hold it up for criticism, especially if you do not show in depth knowledge of their religion (especially Muslims in US might be more sensitive, because of a perceived bias against them)

When you said they don't know when to "use" religion, I didn't know how to interpret it (and I still don't) - most religious people I meet never "use" their religion in any way, apart from going to a temple/church/mosque, and observing a few traditions - and that isn't really a "use", more like a habit. As a result, I took (from the tone of your post) the term "use" to mean justification of an action, especially unpleasant ones.

OTOH, I totally feel Dawkins has gone overboard (as has Bill Maher, etc). Look, we get it - they don't like religious people (and maybe with good reason). But have they really converted anyone who was a practicing religious person? Not in the sense of "Meh, I go to church once in a while" type of person, but a devout believer? What are they trying to prove by bashing religions and getting people defensive? Any time they want to work on practical stuff (overturning bad legislation, for example), I'll support them. But forgive me if I don't just want to get into a religious person's face and try to make them feel live morons.

about 7 months ago
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Kwyj1b0 Re:If they are SO REALLY CONCERN about religion .. (674 comments)

most Christians and Buddhists that I know understand the role of religion (and when to NOT use religion).

Not so for the Muslims.

And how many Muslims do you know? Most Muslims also know when NOT to use religion. There are more than a billion of them - if half a billion of them did not know when to use it, I think we might have a tad bigger problem that we currently do.

Remember, the kooks you see on TV are like the kooks you see for other religions as well - they are the minority. Hell, the way faith is involved in politics in the US and informs policy decision (veiled as some other excuse) has done far more harm to the LGBT community than most other religions.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Easy Wi-Fi-Enabled Tablet For My Dad?

Kwyj1b0 Re:Kindle Fire (370 comments)

Since I don't have mod points, I'll second (and add to) this comment.

My scenario was almost identical - elderly parent, not tech savvy. I got a Kindle Fire HD five months ago, and have had no tech support calls. I added the most common apps to favorites (like Skype, E-mail, Browser), and configured them (disabled in-app purchasing, added e-mail accounts), and handed it over.

The carousel is one of the best features for this use case - my dad doesn't want to pin 20 widgets to the home screen; the carousel easily allows him to browse the most recent apps (the four or five he uses) and books and videos without having to shift home screens, navigate to an app drawer, or any of that. In fact, he might have forgotten all about the favorites since everything he needs is on the home screen (well, except the prime videos, and he discovered that on his own).

While it wasn't on the Fire HD, the new mayday functionality might be useful as well. And the audio and screen are really good (especially the audio - better than all my other tablets, and even my laptop speakers). He likes the swype feature - a huge drawback to the iOS devices (apart from the complexity - seriously, until you see how simple the Fire is, you won't understand how much the multiple home screen nonsense, hidden settings, etc. obfuscate a system for someone who doesn't want to learn about tech).

The drawbacks are the google apps are missing - especially Youtube. You can root it easily enough, but I'd recommend not going overboard - make underlying system changes, but don't change the UI. I feel the carousel is best for the usage scenario you have in mind. KISS principle.

about 7 months ago
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Excite Kids To Code By Focusing Less On Coding

Kwyj1b0 Difference with other STEM? (207 comments)

What is the difference with other STEM subjects? For example, I liked learning calculus (ok, I didn't really learn calculus in the mathematics theory sense - measure theory and stuff - till grad school) in high school, though mainly I liked the use of calculus to physics (projectile motion, mechanics, electrostatics). Now, you might consider physics a "cool" application, but it really isn't - it is just as cool as say, building Pascal's triangle. If anything, I can see the results of programming almost instantaneously. I hated actually doing experiments with my hands (like proving Newton's laws using a block of wood and a weight).

So why is there this perceived need to make "coding" fun? It is as fun as any other subject in STEM, no more, no less (blowing things up in the chemistry lab is different; now that was cool. I thought - rightly or wrongly - that I had no aptitude for it because I couldn't figure out (at a high school level) what might happen on paper before doing the experiment for most things, like flame colors or what might give the best explosion).

about 7 months ago
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Facebook Patents Inferring Income of Users

Kwyj1b0 Mixing issues (129 comments)

If algorithms can be patented, then sure. If FB is using a unique algorithm to infer income, it might be granted (that I think patenting mathematics is absurd is irrelevant - if you believe your algorithm is so great, keep it a secret. Application of mathematics to one area shouldn't be patentable). I'd be surprised if Amazon doesn't look at your shopping history and suggest products in your price range. If I never bought anything over $25, why should they show me a product costing over $10,000?

On the other hand, what does this have to do with redlining? My outrage that statistics is being patented has nothing to do with the fact that FB should be allowed to show whatever ads to whomever they please. They are not a government organization (and haven't taken taxpayer money) that shouldn't be allowed to discriminate between consumers.

about 8 months ago
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Physicist Peter Higgs: No University Would Employ Me Today

Kwyj1b0 Who does the research? (308 comments)

The system isn't designed to support outliers - no one in the auto industry complains that they are having Ph.Ds design cars using CFD simulations and a lot of technical know-how. Would Ford have been able to start an automotive company and be challenging today? These moments of individual brilliance changing a field are few and far between. The entire system is geared towards improving the average, rather than gambling on the outliers.

Another differences is that the nature of research has changed as well (at least in the engineering side). Even a brilliant researcher requires massive computational facilities, expensive equipment, and a lot of programming. So they hire grad students and supervise them, which needs grant money. To convince your sponsors that they are getting their moneys worth, you need a lot of publications. If the sponsorship mentality is - "see what you can do, we aren't going to be looking at publication count", things would be quite different. But can you imagine the outrage if an academic gets a one million dollar grant and turns out one paper on the effect of honey-bees on rainfall or some such topic? The NSF is being held up as a political punching bag. Everyone is in a CYA mentality. Not the "try your best, and if it doesn't work we will still stand behind you because we want to cultivate an environment of innovation." mode.

about 8 months ago
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Two Million Passwords Compromised By Keylogger Virus

Kwyj1b0 Re:Wrong problem? (174 comments)

I thought of that, and I'm not sure how much of an impact that has in reality. The password 0 doesn't occur in this list. However, someone with a password of 0 is extremely insecure.

But from a practical standpoint, these companies might want a six or more character password with multiple cases, etc. To try and brute force a lot of passwords is extremely impractical. On the other hand, just trying the most common password again and again is much faster, and I can still own a significant number of accounts.

There is no data here on bad password habits (like using a name, year of birth, or other such habits). If a significant portion of users did that, it is important to consider those as well. But on the whole, there are more systemic flaws, which was my point. This whole blame users for poor habits is counter-productive. If you don't realize that the system is flawed, you blame 'lusers' and have no incentive to fix the system (which should be the goal of anyone designing a consumer-friendly yet secure system).

about 8 months ago
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Two Million Passwords Compromised By Keylogger Virus

Kwyj1b0 Wrong problem? (174 comments)

The data says that the 10th password in the list was used by 1000 users out of two million. The top ten, combined, accounts for 36,000 (eyeballed) of the two million passwords. That doesn't seem like an epidemic to me. A bit less than 2% - that is actually, IMO, quite good. Two percent of internet users are bad at understanding security? Wow.

The keylogger is a bigger problem - so long as I type in my passwords, the keylogger can always find out what I am doing! I could have a 20 character really secure password, to no effect. Hell, things in real life are much worse. My pin is 4 digits long, banks identify me by the last four digits of my SSN (which, quite helpfully, they send out in the mail they send me). Maybe it is time to stop bashing people for choosing insecure passwords, and try to fix the systemic problems?

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: DIY Computational Neuroscience?

Kwyj1b0 Subscription to resources (90 comments)

Kudos on your dedication to be self taught, but the questions you raised are one of the things that a university is great for. To make a meaningful contribution in mathematically-oriented fields (such as computational neuroscience), you need to have the following:
1) Access to latest journals and papers: This should help answer question (1), (2), and (3) - use the tools others are using. If you find an open-source tool, that is great. But often, people in the field will expect you to use a standard framework that has been vetted by lots of other researchers.
2) Access to latest data and tools: Matlab costs quite a bit (esp. with all the toolboxes that you might require). Most universities give you the license for free.
3) Like minded individuals are (for better or worse) almost all at universities and research labs and the main interactions come from conferences. Journals are good for non-interactive peer review, but if you want collaborators, you need to head to conferences. This is also where the university name (and financial backing) can help - "Oh, you work with $BigName? I'd love to collaborate with you!"

You don't have to spend a lot of money either. You can take non-degree enrollment (so you can work at your own pace) while still having a lot of access to the tools, data, and collaborators. In addition, you haven't mentioned your background. So you might find it harder or make trivial mistakes that betray your inexperience or out-of-field characteristics. Most graduate (including Ph.D.) students take a lot of classes on basics (at the start) so that they know the vocabulary and concepts necessary to read and understand the cutting edge research. Without that, you are likely too dependent on the tool. I have known lots of people in industry who swear by Matlab (for example), while not realizing how poor it is compared to more sophisticated optimization tools, especially when you get into large data-sets (which I assume you will be involved with).

about 8 months ago
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Encrypted Social Network Vies For Disgruntled Facebook Users

Kwyj1b0 Who keeps the keys? (162 comments)

I read the article, and all I could see is that when you join a group, you get the decryption key for that group - but from whom? If it is automatically done (i.e. Syme holds the key), then it is no more secure to snooping from agencies than any other service (well, except for the fact that it is based in Canada - ah, who am I kidding). What you would need is the group/thread creator send the decryption key directly to the collaborators - which basically means they already need a secure communication medium (sending it over unsecure email is just stupid). Which would then bring me to ask why not just use that medium?

about 8 months ago
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Free Software Foundation Announces 2013 Holiday Giving Guide

Kwyj1b0 Re:Make a decent list (104 comments)

Nope, it is a USB camera - Intel CS110. A quaint old camera; I was shocked that it worked with Windows 8 actually. My primary camera got busted, and I dug this out of my garage. Oddly enough, it works with Skype in Desktop mode, but the turd that is Metro Skype refuses to believe I have a camera.

about 8 months ago
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Free Software Foundation Announces 2013 Holiday Giving Guide

Kwyj1b0 Make a decent list (104 comments)

Seriously - why on earth are you suggesting half those products? While I respect and am aligned with the goals of the FSF, half those "products" are going to change nothing (at best), or backfire (at worst). If you gave a list of decent products, that would be different - I can feel good about giving gifts that people (who don't care about FSF) can appreciate. This just seems like a set of gifts that make me feel good, while my non-techie friends spend hours trying to return the gift for refunds. And what is the point about "free, secure" software, when my family is just going to log on to Facebook and give up their details voluntarily?

Seriously, if this is the best FSF can do, it illustrates the problem: Non-techies really don't care about privacy. Instead, maybe an educational book could be offered? I'd pay for that. These gifts are going to either increase my tech support work or be ignored - the problem is, I want my family and friends to want to use these products; without education, that won't happen. A good reference for the dangers and fixes of proprietary stuff would be useful.

Breakdown of what the page offers:
Trisquel: Modifiable is a selling point? No one in my (or most) family are going to modify the OS in any (significant) way - changing desktop background doesn't count. And I have a intel web-cam from early 2000s that is supported in Windows, but I couldn't find out how to get it to work on my Linux box.
3D printer: Can't comment, so I'm not sure what the free vs. proprietary debate on the printer is about - is it the 3D print file format? Or is it just because the company is evil (hint: my friends don't care, so long as it works. They shop in Walmart and Amazon)
Gift card: This doesn't seem to be a gift card - 20% discount on other merchandise using the membership card? Why not give an apples-to-apples comparison and offer a gift card instead?
Laptop: Well, this is a fair enough. If my friends could use Linux, I might just save the Windows/Mac tax and give them a PC with Linux.
E-book: Again, a fair enough point. But I can give them an Amazon card that will allow my family to get books directly from Amazon and read it on their Kindles. I will not gift them a Kindle, but if they have one, they already don't care. And how do I get Gutenberg books onto a Kindle without having access to their device?
Phone: This is a shot at Apple. Seems like the Android will still tie them to Google's store.
Online storage: Hmm... Can't find any phone app or client application (hint, most non-techies aren't going to use SSH/SFTP - they want something like dropbox or SkyDrive mount).
Media hosting: Most people I know use XBMC, which is open source.

about 8 months ago
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The Best Way To Blow the Whistle

Kwyj1b0 Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (141 comments)

It's like being with someone who most of the time is perfectly reasonable, but at unpredictable moments flies into wild irrational rages, screaming about demons seen only by them...

Ahh.. I see you've met my ex

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Top Black Friday Tech Picks?

Kwyj1b0 Re:I guess I'm just a bad consumer (189 comments)

I have a good stereo set, a decent flat screen TV, about 6 computers or so, a car I'm happy with, a boat that I'm happy with and I'm pretty much satisfied with my life. Now and then I take a trip to the local "technology store" (Fry's) and I take a look at newegg and tigerdirect to see if I'm missing out on anything. I'm not. I'm a bad consumer. I'm happy with what I have.

Actually, you are quite a good consumer by most reasonable standards. Not to start a flame-war, but the "must-have-latest-iThing" mentality is in the minority of the people I've met. You have made a lot of purchases, many of them with long lifetimes, so it isn't surprising that you don't get more now.

On the other hand, do you rent/buy movies? Or music? Or games? The first three things you mentioned are largely dead-end devices in themselves. A stereo without music is like a really expensive paperweight.

The only real consumption that I feel forced to take part in is the phone - my last phone was bought in early 2012 (no contract) - but it is getting to a point where planned obsolescence and poor battery life makes me feel compelled to buy one.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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"We the People" API to be released

Kwyj1b0 Kwyj1b0 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) writes "The Whitehouse plans to open up the APIs to its "We the People" initiative. The first set of Read APIs (allowing anyone to read data on petitions) will be released in March 2013. In addition, selected people will be invited to attend the White House Open Data Day Hackathon on February 22nd. Write APIs will follow, allowing people to extend petition capabilities to their own sites.
Privacy, of course, should be an important concern that needs to be addressed."

Link to Original Source
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Unlocking your own phone now illegal in U.S.A

Kwyj1b0 Kwyj1b0 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) writes "Starting Saturday (1/26/2013), mobile phones purchased cannot be legally unlocked by U.S customers to work on different networks. Unlocking phones is no longer granted an exception to the DMCA by the U.S. copyright office (originally granted in 2006). While individuals were not sued by carriers prior to the exception, they now have no reason to unlock customer phones for their customers (even after contract expiration). A Whitehouse petition to except mobile-phone unlocking can be found here."
Link to Original Source
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OEMs: Slow Windows 8 sales not our fault

Kwyj1b0 Kwyj1b0 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) writes "Despite Microsoft publicly touting the great Windows 8 figures, it appears that the weather at Redmond is gloomy. Microsoft is said to be unhappy with sales of Windows 8 devices, and blames the OEMs. However, executives at Sony, Toshiba, and Dell claim that Microsoft was overly ambitious with their projections. Windows 8 sales account for only 58% of device sales compared to 83% of Windows 7 at a similar period. However, Sony and Toshiba still claim to be committed to the platform."
Link to Original Source
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Humans evolving faster than ever

Kwyj1b0 Kwyj1b0 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) writes "In a massive study on genetic variation among humans, researchers found that most changes occurred in the last 200 generations, too fast for natural selection to catch up. Recent papers show that rare genetic variations have a more drastic effect than previously believed. Another result shows that "we carry a much larger load of deleterious variants" (as well as positive variants) than our ancestors 200 generations ago."
Link to Original Source
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Copyright extended to newspaper excerpts

Kwyj1b0 Kwyj1b0 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) writes "German, Italian, and French newspapers want Google to pay for publishing excerpts from their articles using copyright protection. While they claim that giving away the headline and first sentence makes readers less likely to click through to the newspaper website, Google claims to have directed 4 billion clicks to websites every month (and a simple tag would prevent their articles from appearing on Google News). Is there any chance this bill would pass? And would the rest of the world's media conglomerates follow this path? When Murdoch labeled search engines as "content kleptomaniacs", it seems inevitable that something like this would happen."
Link to Original Source
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Non-Profit Worldreader distributes E-books in Africa

Kwyj1b0 Kwyj1b0 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) writes "Along the lines of OLPC, Worldreader is an organization to distribute Kindles and E-books in Africa. With several big-name publishers backing the project, including two from Africa itself, is there reason to suspect that this would work any better than prior programs? Or is it better to support the cheaper alternatives? And if the program does succeed, should we be concerned about proprietary technology being used?"
Link to Original Source
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Watson Goes to Medical School

Kwyj1b0 Kwyj1b0 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) writes "I.B.M's Watson is headed to the Cleavland Clinic for training. Clinicians and students answer and correct Watson, in an attempt to crowdsource its education. One possible benefit is to help doctors keep up to date with incoming research."
Link to Original Source

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