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Getting a Literature Ph.D. Will Make You Into a Horrible Person

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Outcomes vary (489 comments)

From personal anecdote, well two points.

(1) I know quite a number of literature Ph.D.s who have good and happy lives, some as professors, other doing other things.

(2) I myself have a doctorate in post-structuralist political philosophy. Not really a field better suited to actually getting an academic job than literature is, if you look at it. It's true, for a number of years I had a somewhat distorted notion of my odds of getting a tenure track position doing that. I didn't. And now I get paid quite a lot as a consultant to a computational biology lab that has built the world's fastest supercomputer (at least fastest, by orders of magnitude, for doing molecular dynamics). I'm happy... and specifically, I think doing my humanities doctorate was absolutely delightful, and some of the most fun I've had in my life.

FWIW, I don't have 'Ph.D.' next to my name out of a financial motive. Quite possibly, if I had spent an extra decade slinging code, I might have more money saved (I'm old too, by slashdot standards, late 40s). On the other hand, I probably wouldn't be making more as an actual rate, and specifically those little letters--even when they are in an unrelated field--actually do help my resume/CV float to the top next to ones that lack them. But indeed, money isn't the question for my life--I've done things that are fascinating and rewarding to me instead, and am pleased with the outcomes so far.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I De-Dupe a System With 4.2 Million Files?

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:CRC (440 comments)

Other commenters have observed your big-O inefficiency here. I had the same initial approach in my script http://gnosis.cx/bin/find-duplicate-contents (that I've mentioned in another post), but changed it when I realized it took hundreds of times as long to run as the correct hash-and-sort approach.

The problem is that if you have many files of the same size, you need to do a pairwise comparison of every pair from among them. This multiplies the operations enormously in what I found to be typical cases on my filesystem. For example, if you have 50 files that all are *exactly* 1GB in size, you need to do "50 choose 2" comparisons, i.e. 1225 of them. If the files wind up differing in the first few bytes (few meaning even first few megabytes), that's still possibly cheaper than hashing the whole files. However, if genuine duplicates exist in many of those cases--which is more typical--you wind up having to read through the entire identical content many times.

In contrast, if when you find same-sized files you commit to making exactly one read of each of them (but indeed, the entirety of them), you can store an MD5 or other hash of the whole thing, and then just compare those short MD5 sums. In actual testing and refinement, I have found this to be a hell of a lot cheaper (as in tens or hundreds of times cheaper in my actual test cases). Of course, the actual answer depends on what files of what sizes you actually have, and it is easy to construct artificial cases in which my approach (I didn't invent it, of course) loses. But not in my real-life experience.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I De-Dupe a System With 4.2 Million Files?

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea My own script (feel free to change) (440 comments)

My home-rolled solution to exactly this problem is: http://gnosis.cx/bin/find-duplicate-contents.

This script is efficient algorithmically and has a variety of options to work incrementally and to optimize common cases. It's not excessively user-friendly, possibly, but the --help screen gives reasonable guidance. And the whole thing is short and readable Python code (which doesn't matter for speed, since the expensive steps like MD5 are callouts to fast C code in the standard library).

about 2 years ago
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BitTorrent Usage Increases In Europe, Following the Pirate Bay Blockade

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:CUZ MOTHERFUCKERS WILL STEAL NO MATTER WHAT !! (272 comments)

This comment by cptdondo is actually quite good. But the weird reference to "Grandma Moses" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandma_Moses) is just plain weird, I notice. I suspect that s/he heard the name somewhere without knowing who it was, and took it as a generic rhetorical figure rather than the name of a specific American artist... unless I'm missing something subtle about Anna Mary Robertson Moses' views on copyright. :-).

more than 2 years ago
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Kaspersky Says Lack of Digital Voting Will Be Democracy's Downfall

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:Ho ho ho, that's rich. (388 comments)

Estonia is a shining example of likely large scale fraud and hacking in internet voting. The online system was used by around 30% of voters, and the online vote was in favor of the ruling party at a far higher rate than in the ballots cast and counted on paper. This is pretty damn strong evidence that fraud occurred, and for any country of over 1.5 million people, the scale and likelihood of fraud would be even more motivated, even greater scale, and even more likely. There is hardly a clearer example of why online voting is a HORRIBLE idea that compromises democracy.

more than 2 years ago
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Researchers Say Flame and Stuxnet Share Common Authors

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea The really scary thing (114 comments)

I'm not actually much concerned about Iran's nuclear program. Deterrence and MAD actually worked pretty well during the Cold War, and if Iran had nukes (which there isn't any evidence they are actually developing, but there's just enough of a hint of that to have some possible deterrent effect) the chance of Israel launching a war of aggression would be less.

But it scares the shit out of me to think that Iran is running WINDOWS on sensitive installations, for Uranium processing (even for reactors it is not exactly *safe* material) or other important security/safety functions. If this stupidity exists elsewhere in the world, we live in a VERY SCARY world (like most of the people in the world, probably, I don't live that many miles from a nuclear plant).

more than 2 years ago
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Hybrid Car Owners Not Likely To Buy Another Hybrid

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Base rate fallacy (998 comments)

It seems good to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_rate_fallacy (or other articles on the topic). If the article is correct that 2.4% of new cars sold are hybrids (which sounds reasonable) then the base rate expectation for a "random person" buying a hybrid is low. If the probability of a previous owner of a hybrid buying one next time is 35%, that's still around 14 times the base rate expectation.

Now clearly, car buying habits are hardly monte carlo style distributions. There is a considerably greater "loyalty" to specific cars than just the random assignment of an available vehicle to a driver. Most of that is probably pretty closely tied with income and socio-economic status. Also, obviously occupational effects matter; and also regional ones do. But consistency in brand or style in repeated car purchases is most certainly far lower than 100%.

It is not at all clear from the evidence given whether hybrid-loyalty is greater or less than other types. For example, I *just* bought a Honda Insight (which seems a lot less common than Toyota Prius, despite what seem to be even more favorable reviews; name recognition does seem big here). Like literally days ago, so I'm probably not good evidence in any direction about next vehicle purchase. But prior to that (and still), my partner and I own an Audi A4--a brand that probably sells no more than 2.4% of cars in the US (i.e. the brand as a whole, not the specific model which must be lower still). Even if a hybrid were out of consideration and I could only consider a conventional gasoline engine, I think there's much less than 35% chance I'd choose an Audi for my next car. Not because I have any particular criticism of Audi, but just because there are lots of other choices, even given similar driving patterns and socio-economic status. I could buy a Saab, or Volvo, or Acura, or maybe on a bit pricier side a BMW, Mercedes, Lexis, or slightly downscale a Buick or Lincoln, or a VW which comes from the same factory even. All of these are pretty comparable, and brand loyalty might lean my decision slightly, but there's a long way to go between the base rate--even of only "semi-luxury sedans"--to get to 35% brand retention.

more than 2 years ago
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Many Early Adopters of the Amazon Fire Are Unhappy

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:More paid disinformation from Apple? (463 comments)

It *is* true that I find a few faults with the Kindle Fire in my early use of it. Most of these could indeed be fixed with software updates, and I think at least some of them *will* be. In part this is just that the Amazon Marketplace has much less than the Android Marketplace... I confess I have not tried side-loading applications, and am not sure how hard that would/will be.

* I'd really like a native GMail app like I have on my Android phone. The mobile website is kind of OK, but it completely depends on Wifi access, unlike the phone app which caches the latest emails.
* Possibly a really native Facebook app would be nicer than the webpage too, although the latest update to my Android phone FB app looks ever more similar to the web page anyway.
* Multi-user would definitely be nice, but I think this is unlikely to happen.
* I think the Words-to-Go app is really nice as a PDF reader (Acrobat is OK, but I don't like it as well in the Kindle/Android version). However, in a slightly annoying inconsistency in user interface, the latest Books/Documents/Apps/Webpage/Music/etc. all appear on the "top shelf" but getting to a PDF document (or the various other formats, mostly MS-Office related) requires the different (more desktop-like) process of launch-application/open-recent-file. The logical thing would be to let the documents read by applications like this get "top shelf" icons too. Possibly the same is true of the latest picture/video/whatever that I viewed in Gallery (which is also a launch-then-run procedure like a desktop).

I think I might prefer an external volume rocker like some users have said, and I'm not in love with the placement of the on/sleep/off button. But those are minor issues, and I don't *hate* either choice.

more than 2 years ago
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Many Early Adopters of the Amazon Fire Are Unhappy

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea More paid disinformation from Apple? (463 comments)

I am extremely happy with my Kindle Fire, far more than I would be with an iPad if someone had given me one for free. The form factor is right for the airplane and for reading in bed, much more useful for what I want it for than a 10" tablet would be.

It's true that exactly like the iPad, the iPhone, every Android phone, every other Android tablet, HP's ill fated WebOS tablet, most default OSX, Linux, and Windows installation with auto-login enabled, etc. that there is no privacy protection. It's a single user device, and anyone who sees the device can pretty easily determine what its user was doing on it recently (and in general). That is indeed perhaps a weakness, and I wouldn't mind having Android devices (especially tablets, but perhaps phones also) be multiuser (likewise for the iWhatever stuff).

During my most recent plane trip with my Kindle Fire, which unlike an iPad fits in my pocket, I:

* Read a variety of documents sent to the device from web pages using the Firefox Readability plugin
* Read some PDF documents
* Read (part of) some books that I purchased from Amazon
* Watched a video that I downloaded directly onto the device from a 3rd party website (in anticipation of flight)
* Listened to some music I had put locally onto the device
* Played a few moves of Words with Friends before takeoff
* Played Plants vs. Zombies while in flight
* Checked GMail and Facebook and Google+ quickly before takeoff (using Wifi connection to hotspot)

In every respect that I can see, not least including price, but even more so including Freedom, the Kindle Fire is a far better device than the iPad is.

more than 2 years ago
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Many Early Adopters of the Amazon Fire Are Unhappy

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea More paid disinformation from Apple? (463 comments)

I am extremely happy with my Kindle Fire, far more than I would be with an iPad if someone had given me one for free. The form factor is right for the airplane and for reading in bed, much more useful for what I want it for than a 10" tablet would be.

It's true that exactly like the iPad, the iPhone, every Android phone, every other Android tablet, HP's ill fated WebOS tablet, most default OSX, Linux, and Windows installation with auto-login enabled, etc. that there is no privacy protection. It's a single user device, and anyone who sees the device can pretty easily determine what its user was doing on it recently (and in general). That is indeed perhaps a weakness, and I wouldn't mind having Android devices (especially tablets, but perhaps phones also) be multiuser (likewise for the iWhatever stuff).

During my most recent plane trip with my Kindle Fire, which unlike an iPad fits in my pocket, I:

* Read a variety of documents sent to the device from web pages using the Firefox Readability plugin
* Read some PDF documents
* Read (part of) some books that I purchased from Amazon
* Watched a video that I downloaded directly onto the device from a 3rd party website (in anticipation of flight)
* Listened to some music I had put locally onto the device
* Played a few moves of Words with Friends before takeoff
* Played Plants vs. Zombies while in flight
* Checked GMail and Facebook and Google+ quickly before takeoff (using Wifi connection to hotspot)

In every respect that I can see, not least including price, but even more so including Freedom, the Kindle Fire is a far better device than the iPad is.

more than 2 years ago
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Judge Makes Divorcing Couple Swap Facebook Passwords

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Technical incompetence of parties (332 comments)

I can actually see a reasonable discovery purpose in looking at the contents of FB pages, and that is mentioned in the article. For example, if the parties have made comments about how responsible they might be in a custodial role (something suggested in article), that could be germane.

But FB isn't really a walled garden anymore. Now there is a quite good "export my data" functionality within it. A reasonable judge's order would simply be for exchange of that downloaded data, which will contain all the relevant background that might exist with past posts. Obviously, this is contingent on parties not deleting old posts first, but other posters have already noted how doing that would be spoilation of evidence (and if parties would do that, they could equally do so with a live account after passwords were shared).

I do recognize that the article mentioned "dating sites" too. Those sites may still be walled gardens, and may well not provide easy data export capabilities. For those, the only way to look at relevant posts/emails/profiles/etc. might indeed be password sharing. Of course, who knows what general data policies those sites have--i.e. are messages automatically deleted after N days, and archives inaccessible to users? Access to password may or may not reveal the full history of site usage.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Unity/Gnome 3/Win8/iOS — Do We Really Hate All New GUIs?

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:Not necessarily. (1040 comments)

I would put it in exactly the opposite way. A GUI is an efficient way of doing a small number of specialized tasks. For more general requirements, a (good) CLI always wins... and wins by many orders of magnitude. That said, editing graphics and videos is absolutely one area where a GUI often wins. That's mostly because our interaction and understanding of those data formats is inherently visual, and most work with them is interactive. There's usually no systematic or programmatic way to describe what we want done... and in fact, what we want emerges out of interactions with the data.

On the other hand, for things that can be systematized--even on an ad hoc basis--a CLI might be hundreds or thousands of times easier. I preview pictures like everyone. I also often, for example, look for data and patterns in files. To do that, I can do things like (off the cuff):

        % find /home -name *.csv | grep "Date: 2011-1[01]" | cut -d, -f1,6 > interesting.data

If I happen to have a thousand files in various directories that match the name pattern, and many of them have records for dates in Oct-Nov 2011 with a field I care about, what exactly might I do in a GUI?! Spend hours and hours hunting for the files, opening each, copying the data, etc? I could, but that would suck. Or I could also certainly write a *program* in some language other than bash to walk the directories, open the files, etc. But that's much less interactive and more clumsy than just doing it with one command (albeit, some other programming languages let you express something similar with little more text than the bash line... however, those are still matters of typing the write text, not of clicking on icons and dragging a mouse around).

Now clearly for some frequently repeated tasks, makers of applications and operating systems add in special menus and toolbars to do complex tasks like the above line. But those menus, dialogs, etc. always wind up being less flexible than the command-line and missing future uses that are easy to express with commonplace command-line simple tools (like find, grep, cut, etc).

more than 2 years ago
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Analyzing StackOverflow Users' Programming Language Leanings

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Simpler explanation (185 comments)

Most of the comments below--and to a large degree the source article--seem to implicitly assume that all discussion of programming languages happens on Stack Overflow. There probably is some difference in the average experience level of programmer of various languages. But it's also almost certainly the case that OTHER websites also discuss programming languages. For example, someone interested in finding a solution to Python puzzle might well go to the Python Cookbook (http://code.activestate.com/recipes/langs/python/) rather than Stack Overflow. Similarly, to varying degrees, for all the other languages mentioned (with various sites appropriate to each). All this really amounts to is that "Stack Overflow is a good place to find info on languages X, Y, Z; but not so good for A, B, C" ... and this effect is somewhat self-reinforcing, as users of the "underrepresented languages" look elsewhere for help.

The mere distribution of specialization on various websites says nothing at all about the quality, difficulty, breadth of use, or much anything else about the languages themselves.

more than 2 years ago
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Apache Harmony Moves To Apache Attic

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:Harmony what now? (120 comments)

Aaaghh!

Python is, of course, a STRONGLY typed language (not untyped). It is also DYNAMICALLY typed rather than STATICALLY. But these issues are orthogonal, and languages exist in every quadrant of the type system grid implied.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Learn New Programming Languages?

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Too old and/or too stupid? (772 comments)

Well... at 46 yo, I've learned probably about a dozen new programming languages since I was a spry 40 yo. OK, a number of those I've "learned" relatively superficially... I wish I had more opportunities to get my hands dirtier on a daily basis with all the languages I've only played with a little in the last few years, but I get paid quite a bit to do relatively few things.

Actually, over the last few years, I've *written* at least two languages. Not quite programming languages, but one markup language and one, well "annotated grammar description" I guess you'd call it. Yes, I know that NIH syndrome is a bad thing, but there's a reason why I wrote what I did (trust me). On the shelves near me I have books on about a dozen PLs that I either haven't worked with at all, or have touched passingly; it wouldn't be true to say I'm actively reading all of those books, but I certainly glance at them.

about 3 years ago
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Galaxy Tab 10.1 Judged 'No Match For iPad'

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Faux News?! (302 comments)

Seriously? WTF?

I'm not sure any review really merits the front page, but surely if one must appear it could be from an actual news site.... perhaps even from a technology-oriented site.

more than 3 years ago
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School District Hit With New Mac Spying Lawsuit

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:The webcam light... (330 comments)

Have you tried non-transparent tape?

more than 3 years ago
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Amazon and Barnes & Noble Jostle Over Battery Life Figures for Nook, Kindle

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:Half hour a day? (160 comments)

I can't speak to what Amazon measured as "50%" nor what PhrostyMcByte measured at "6%" ... they both sound like strange attempts to connote more than measure. However, I WILL note that I happened to buy my partner a Kindle 2 shortly before the Kindle 3 launch, and used the device enough to find it "pretty good, but I sure wish the contrast was better." This is subjective, but definitely what I found in the conditions in which I normally read (she used it more than I did, but I read enough on it to get a sense). Then that Kindle 2 had a hardware problem not related to the screen, and the helpful Amazon rep basically told her "get the Kindle 3 instead" ... and that change actually wound up costing a negative amount, since we went to Wifi only and returned the Kindle 2 within warranty for full refund. Anyway, with the Kindle 3, my subjective sense is "contrast is not an issue I need to think about."

So I don't know what quantitative percentage difference that is, nor exactly what a percentage would measure. But as a threshold thing, it went from noticeably lacking to nothing to worry about. I assume that the improvements to other brands of e-ink readers have crossed a similar threshold by now, and my guess is that they have all reached "good enough" (there are other things I would wish better: I have software freeze-ups on my Kindle DX that really suck; I wish the flicker on page turn was much less [and it could be with a smarter algorithm for pixels to change]; the interface could be improved; etc. ... but e-ink itself seems to have reached maturity).

more than 3 years ago
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Sprint Pushes FPS NOVA With Firmware — and Users Can't Remove It

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:Root and Flash, Root and Flash. (182 comments)

And some people still wonder why many phone owners want to root their phone or flash a custom ROM?

I can uninstall or install anything on my G2. Sprint is acting like Sony.

Bad, Sprint! Bad!

@TrentTheTheif: Do you mean that you can uninstall everything because you've already rooted? On my T-Mobile G2--while generally an excellent phone--I am stuck with several irritating and stupid unremovable apps that T-Mobile stuck on there. I probably should get around to rooting to get rid of them, but I certainly can't do so in stock configuration.

more than 3 years ago
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Imagining the CLI For the Modern Machine

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea Re:Information density (317 comments)

Oops... my case is actually FAR stronger than I wrote. The actual number of distinguishable states of my terminal isn't 256*4320. It is 256**4320. Which is to say, around 4e10405. That is also VASTLY more than the number of particles in the universe, which is a measly 1e84 or something.

more than 3 years ago

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