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Book Review: Spam Nation

MikeTheGreat Re:Clarify this sentence, please? (82 comments)

Exactly! There's no 'quandary' here - the price difference is entirely intentional. In order for there to be a quandary there needs to be some uncertainty on someone's part.

(The book review author doesn't really spell out what the quandary is - the companies may not know exactly what they're going to do but if that's the quandary then it needs to be spelled out, rather than left to the reader to guess at)

about two weeks ago
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Book Review: Spam Nation

MikeTheGreat Clarify this sentence, please? (82 comments)

Should the reality be that the unauthorized pharmaceuticals are effective, then the pharmaceutical industry would be placed in a quandary.

What quandary would that be? That they'd face (illegal) competition?

A quandary is a situation where you're confused about what to do. Facing cheaper competition doesn't seem like it would be confusing. Difficult or challenging, yes. Terrifying, possibly. But not so much confusing.

If the pharmaceutical industry had the choice of either selling lots and lots of drugs (through the spammers) at a discount that might put them in a quandary. Should they risk being found out (and potentially have everyone buy the cheap stuff (thus reducing their overall revenue and profit)) or should they NOT sell their product through the black market, thus passing on the money they could get from that. That's a situation where it's not really clear what the best thing to do is.

Interesting book, sounds like. And thank you for the review - I've got it on hold at my local public library now!

about two weeks ago
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'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City

MikeTheGreat Re:Chronic offenders without a record? (218 comments)

So the idea is that there are records in the system about them, but the phrase "criminal record" means specifically that they've been arrested, tried, and found guilty?

That makes sense, but seems like it could/should be phrased better. Maybe something like 9,000 chronic offenders (PDF), virtually all of whom have criminal conviction records.

There's a house in our neighborhood that kinda goes in this category. The residents are low-level ne'er-do-well types. They run a bicycle theft ring but haven't been caught (they're very good about filing ID numbers off bikes, for example), they dabbled in cooking meth, they've hosted a squatter encampment in their backyard, etc, etc. Part of the reason they're such a problem is that they never *quite* get arrested so they're chronically causing more problems.

The main thing that's relevant to this thread is that the article made it sound like they were using lots of 'Big Data' to figure out what to do, but then threw in stuff like "uncooperative witnesses" or "record-free chronic offenders" which both sounded a lot like "people we put on the list just because". I'm glad that the problem was in my understanding, not that they really were doing arbitrary stuff.

about three weeks ago
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'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City

MikeTheGreat Chronic offenders without a record? (218 comments)

9,000 chronic offenders (PDF), virtually all of whom have criminal records

How can you be a chronic offender and NOT have a record?

about three weeks ago
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Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

MikeTheGreat Re:This is quite different from existing systems. (110 comments)

This system ([...]) has fascinating challenges all of it's own, mainly related to traffic control, safety, and where to put the shelves after you are done. (A fixed location is very inefficient, but neither do you want to stick the shelf in the first available space.)

Without actually stopping to look up any details I'm going to say the following: It seems like the memory-management algorithms that operating systems use ought to at least shed some light on this problem. It seems like a lot of the same problems are present in both situations: you can move 'pages' of product into and out of the processing units (i.e., people in the factory, CPUs/cores in a computer), you want to keep frequently-used shelves/pages nearby (as opposed to out in the slower-than-cache RAM), etc, etc.

I guess the major difference is that the factory can arbitrarily re-order the sequence in which it accesses the shelves in order to ensure high efficiency. (Obviously there are limits so that you make your delivery deadlines, but if you wanted to put off packing a particular box for several hours it's probably fine).

(I wonder if the 'longest-common-substring' algorithms are useful here - "For the 15 minutes we're going to pack just boxes that have a Frozen DVD, Barbie , GI Joe Tank as a 'common core' that people then add an item or two on to)" )

about three weeks ago
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Amazon's Echo Chamber

MikeTheGreat 100K people - breakdown? (112 comments)

Would you have a breakdown of where those 100K people are, what they do and (roughly) how much the get paid?

I'm curious because paying 30,000 people to do minimum-wage, seasonal work for 3 months before Christmas in their shipping center isn't the same as 30,000 programmers earning 6 figures each on annual contracts.

(Also - didn't Amazon try and claim that since they ship a lot of things they should get credit for keeping UPS/FedEx/etc drivers employed? I'd like to know if that's included in the 'indirect' employees or not (and if so, how many) ).

about a month and a half ago
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How To Find the Right Open Source Project To Get Involved With

MikeTheGreat Re:try SLASH (57 comments)

No worries on the search - I embedded the link to the slashdot stories AND quoted it above :)

I agree that the 24 bit counter was incomprehensible. Apparently it's a standard choice in MySQL, though, which explains why it's an issue - one can just pick 'mediumint' and bam - 24 bit integer.

I'm mystified as to why one would want to do that - does MySQL actually pack the integers in such a way as to use those extra 8 bits for something else? On a 32 bit machine you're going to need to either ignore (zero-pack) those extra 8 bits or else extract whatever you put there before every operation (addition, comparison, etc) that you do.

Anyways - those were good times :)

about 3 months ago
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How To Find the Right Open Source Project To Get Involved With

MikeTheGreat Re:try SLASH (57 comments)

16 bits? Dude, that's ridiculous.

Ok, just so everyone else on slashdot will stop laughing at us I looked it up:

http://slashdot.org/story/06/1...

From TFS:

Last night we crossed over 16,777,216 comments in the database. The wise amongst you might note that this number is 2^24, or in MySQLese an unsigned mediumint. Unfortunately, like 5 years ago we changed our primary keys in the comment table to unsigned int (32 bits, or 4.1 billion) but neglected to change the index that handles parents. We're awesome! Fixing is a simple ALTER TABLE statement... but on a table that is 16 million rows long, our system will take 3+ hours to do it, during which time there can be no posting. So today, we're disabling threading and will enable it again later tonight. Sorry for the inconvenience. We shall flog ourselves appropriately. Update: 11/10 12:52 GMT by J : It's fixed.

There we go - a 24 bit index caused the crash :)

about 3 months ago
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How To Find the Right Open Source Project To Get Involved With

MikeTheGreat Re:try SLASH (57 comments)

Wasn't it a 24 bit field, not a 32 bit field?

I remember thinking "24 bits? Really? What were they saving those last 8 bits for - the alpha value?" :)

about 3 months ago
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Why the Z-80's Data Pins Are Scrambled

MikeTheGreat Definitely News For Nerds (167 comments)

It's always refreshing to see stuff like this waft across the front page of /. every now and then - I wish there was a way to re-apply the "News For Nerds... Stuff That Matters" logo to top of the page only on stories like this.

(Pro-Tip: Please mod this "+1 Nostalgic" :) )

about 3 months ago
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New Watson-Style AI Called Viv Seeks To Be the First 'Global Brain'

MikeTheGreat Re:Watson is not AI (161 comments)

Back in college I had a professor who said that he was glad he didn't work in AI. Asked to explain further, he said that the definition of "intelligent" is pretty much "a machine can't do it", so as soon as you've got a program that can do something everyone else immediately says "Huh! I always thought that needed intelligence. I guess not!" He then illustrated his opinion by saying that it had previously been thought that you needed intelligence to take the derivative of something, until someone wrote a program to do it.

Obviously, it was an informal, off-the-cuff, and mostly tongue-in-cheek comment, but there's definitely some truth there too.

about 4 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

MikeTheGreat Re:No, school should not be year-round. (421 comments)

Mod parent up. Especially with the de facto salary freeze that's been in effect since our lastlatest recession started in 2007, being able to find a second job is critical to being able to afford to teach

about 4 months ago
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Synolocker 0-Day Ransomware Puts NAS Files At Risk

MikeTheGreat Oh! NAS files, not NSA files (150 comments)

I misread this as

Synolocker 0-Day Ransomware Puts NSA Files At Risk

That would have been a much more interesting article to read, methinks :)

about 5 months ago
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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

MikeTheGreat Re:NO, all candy bar (544 comments)

Nice! Thanks!

about 5 months ago
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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

MikeTheGreat Re:NO, all candy bar (544 comments)

How did you do this?

(I think the most useful thing to share would be the magic Google search phrase that'll let us search for into about this feature. This is really useful,but I've got no idea what it would be called :) )

about 5 months ago
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Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

MikeTheGreat Re:I'll enjoy this.... (530 comments)

Oh! Factor like in math. For some reason I assume factor like refactoring code.

Nice!!!!!!

about 5 months ago
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Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

MikeTheGreat Re:I'll enjoy this.... (530 comments)

What do you mean by 'factor it'?

I did recognize the tr command, and then plugged it into Cygwin's bash to see what it did.

about 5 months ago
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Is Montana the Next Big Data Hub?

MikeTheGreat Why Slashvertisments always hit Betteridge's law? (164 comments)

Whenever someone Slashvertises something on /. with a post whose title is a question then (at least) one of us always brings up Betteridge's Law Of Headlines. If not directly, then indirectly (like this).

So why do they keep doing it? I gotta believe that if someone's paying for it that at least one customer would follow up with the results at least one time (and send feedback to whichever company/-ies slashvertise for them)

(Yes, my subject should be "Why do Slashvertisements...", but I ran out of characters :) )

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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SlashcAliister: How HP and open source can save We

MikeTheGreat MikeTheGreat writes  |  about 3 years ago

MikeTheGreat (34142) writes "Ian McCallister has another insightful article (print version here), this time discussing how HP has announced their intention to open source the ill-fated WebOS tablet operating system. He brings up some good points about whether HP is simply trying to "offload the cost of developing and maintaining" WebOS, and how committed HP is to ensuring the success of an open source WebOS."
Link to Original Source
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Using SlashCode in education?

MikeTheGreat MikeTheGreat writes  |  more than 4 years ago

MikeTheGreat (34142) writes "A recent posting to Slashdot got me thinking about technology in the classroom, and reminded me of a question that I've wanted to ask for a while: is anyone using the Slashdot code base (called Slashcode) in an educational setting?
I can see an unmodified local instance being used in much the way that Slashdot is (to publicize & discuss topics, typically news articles), but I'd be even more interested in finding out about people using the underlying technologies (like meta-moderation) with a front-end set up to better allow for discussions of topics that need to be persistent throughout the term.
So — is anyone using Slashcode in education?"

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