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Editing Wikipedia Helps Professor Attain Tenure

Petrushka Re:Over 60,000? (139 comments)

Maybe this guy needs to list Editing Wikipedia as his primary job and Professor at Auburn University as his 2nd job?

Perhaps, but I suspect this story says more about Auburn University Montgomery than it says about his research profile.

I had never heard of Auburn University Montgomery before today; given the nature of this story, I don't expect ever to hear of it in any serious context again.

more than 3 years ago

Tron: Legacy — Too Much Imagination Required?

Petrushka Re:Too Much Imagination Required? (429 comments)

... anyone who knows anything about computers can easily see that it's just a thin sheen of technobabble hastily thrown on top of a standard action movie. Props to the guy they got to do the UNIX commands in the real life scenes, but other than that, the tech stuff was so out of this world ...

That gets to the heart of the difference between Legacy and Tron, and I'm surprised I haven't seen that comment made more widely. Tron's world-inside-the-computer was visually cool, but it also allowed those in the know to geek out a little over how they rendered real computer concepts. Tron had --

  • programmes as characters (of course);
  • a bit as a minor character (Disnification, sure, but it's true to the core conceit);
  • the MCP assimilating other programmes' functions;
  • a "game grid" that actually related isomorphically to what was going on in real-world game machines;
  • I/O "towers" representing the central importance of control over information.

All of these things were part of the world-inside conceit. In Legacy, by contrast, the only thing remaining is programmes-as-characters. We now get to see that they have code (but why? shouldn't they be binary blobs?), but all of the rest of it has vanished. The game grid has been retained as well, but now it's meaningless! Surely more people have noticed that ALL the computer-geek stuff is in the real world -- NONE of it is inside the machine? As a result, the world inside the machine is nothing more than a cool-looking veneer over a generic and dull fantasy setting.

Now, the game Tron 2.0 (by contrast, again) absolutely nailed the core idea. It added nifty mechanics like permissions, viruses, and code optimisation; missions that involved things like getting through a firewall, hacking servers, compiling code, escaping from a HDD format, and getting a PDA to do what you tell it by draining its battery.

Both sequels looked cool. But the sequel that really carried on the cool ideas in the original is to be forgotten, alas. Instead we've got the utterly unengaging fantasy realm as "canon". Sigh.

more than 3 years ago

Voyager 1 Beyond Solar Wind

Petrushka Re:Go Voyager 1! (245 comments)

I wish I knew what we'd be doing 100 years from today.


more than 3 years ago

Wikipedia Pages Now On Amazon — With Product Links

Petrushka Re:very disappointing, but perhaps inevitable (130 comments)

Do you know of a good alternative? I agree, the pages related to my field are horrible and at looking at the discussions, practically uncorrectable [...] I do appreciate what is there though, particularly for subjects that other resources would neglect.

Well, there's always a trade-off between expertise and general coverage. So when choosing what to devote my efforts to, I'll go for more specialised venues, basically.

For academic subjects, a partial solution in print/e-book format is specialised, ad hoc encyclopaedias with references (so NOT like the Britannica, which is a horribly awful example of an encyclopaedia in almost every way). Still better is the current trend for "companions", i.e. volumes on a specific topic with entire in-depth chapters on sub-topics written by experts. For my own use (and not just in my field), the best series are currently those published by CUP and Blackwell. Either of these avoids the danger of cliques with tyrannical power, precisely because they're smaller, more autonomous, projects.

There are online equivalents, of course; here's one project that I have a great deal of respect for, though I'm not a contributor myself, and though I think it wouldn't take much for quality control to slip badly. But I think you'll agree it's pretty damn specialised. (Even there I have found errors, but the reason I haven't signed up and corrected them yet is because I'm still working on publishing the independent research that would serve as a basis for correcting them :-)

For areas outside my speciality, you're right, resources like Wikipedia are often unavoidable. That's the trade-off I was talking about. But I get the impression that we're more talking about the question of what resources an expert should be trying to contribute to. In academic areas, I'd say the most productive thing to do is edit or contribute to companions, specialist encyclopaedias, or moderated online equivalents thereof. And, when academics are not doing research or writing it up in journal articles, this is pretty much exactly what they do spend their time doing!

more than 3 years ago

Wikipedia Pages Now On Amazon — With Product Links

Petrushka Re:very disappointing, but perhaps inevitable (130 comments)

I doubt that, Wikipedia has thousands of revisions on even less important topics and mistakes get corrected out pretty quick, of course, if you find any 'mistakes' then perhaps you should try to fix them as any expert in any field should be doing..

I can certainly vouch for the GP's sentiment in my own area of expertise. I actually use Wikipedia primarily as a tool for finding out what kinds of misinformation there are floating around in the wild; it's a useful gauge of what misinformation is popularly perceived to be "true".

Experts have much better things to do than edit Wikipedia; it's abundantly clear that all editing is controlled by people with vested interests who use opaque processes to silence dissent. Experts do have a responsibility to write popular science, targetted at educated non-specialists. However, there's absolutely no point doing so in a venue that will invariably introduce errors after it's been written.

more than 3 years ago

Heavy US Demand Delays iPad's Worldwide Release

Petrushka Re:Thank god! (314 comments)

I note that at this moment, the front page has

  • two iPhone stories
  • three iPad stories

-- all separate, i.e. five stories.

FUCK THIS SHIT, and fuck all the Apple astroturfers like Paska just below.

more than 4 years ago

Hollywood's Growing Obsession With Philip K. Dick

Petrushka Re:Looking forward to The World Jones Made (244 comments)

What was wrong with Fear and Loathing?

or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? (OK, I can see how that might not be for everyone ... but I find it hard to imagine someone liking Twelve Monkeys but not Imaginarium.)

more than 4 years ago

Do You Have a Secret Immunity To 3D Movies?

Petrushka Re:Fake 3D movies. (495 comments)

Heck I haggle on small ticket items. When I buy wine, if I find a good one I'll ask for a discount if I buy 3 or more bottles.

I bet the restaurants just loooove you.

It would be obvious to anyone with half a braincell that this is not a tactic that you employ after you've already received the product (when you get up to pay in a restaurant) or with someone who literally has no power to offer deals (the checkout operator). Trying to haggle before you eat the meal is entirely reasonable, however.

When haggling is practised in a non-brain-dead way, the GP is absolutely correct. If you're in a supermarket looking at the wine section and you talk to someone who actually has some responsibility in that section, then sure they might be willing to consider giving you a deal if you're buying a case at a time. (Getting a deal on three bottles, as the GP says ... well, good luck.) If you're in an electronics shop and you talk to someone who isn't (a) someone on their first day on the job, (b) a powerless checkout operator, or (c) an ass, of course it's OK to discuss alternative pricing options. (If the sitation is (c), it is of course best to go to a different shop.)

They might be less willing if the product you're after is already discounted, but then we're back in "Is brain operational?" territory; it's still worth a try, but don't get your hopes up.

more than 4 years ago

The Fruit Fly Drosophila Gets a New Name

Petrushka Re:Backwards compatibility (136 comments)

Syntax is not morphology: response to TaoPhoenix

TaoPhoenix's useful summary of the development of the "fruitfly" correctly points out that the summary is missing an o. However, the author incorrectly describes this as a syntax error.(1)

This is not a syntax error but a morphology error. Syntax refers to the study of observed patterns in the sequential arrangement of words or lexemes;(2) morphology refers to the study of how lexemes change their form (e.g. requiring an extra "o" or not).(3)

In addition, the author's use of the spelling "Drosophilia" is a morphology error. ("Drosophilia" would signify "the love of dew" in the abstract; "Drosophila", with the implied substantive "zoa", signifies "life-forms that love dew".)(4),(5)

(1) TaoPhoenix, Re:Backwards compatibility
(2) Wikipedia, Syntax
(3) Wikipedia, Morphology (linguistics)
(4) LSJ Greek-English Lexicon, philia
(5) LSJ Greek-English Lexicon, philos, sense II.2

more than 4 years ago

An Animal That Lives Without Oxygen

Petrushka Re:Well... (166 comments)

How do you kill that which has no life?!

That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.


more than 4 years ago

Amazon Reviewers Take on the Classics

Petrushka Re:Great Literature != good read for most (272 comments)

I think that kind of attitude to classics is a direct consequence of how classics are chosen for schooling purposes. I don't know why, but high school curricula tend to focus on the most depressing reading they can find. Given a choice between two classics, where one is fun and/or uplifting and the other is depressing and/or horrifying, they'll always opt for the latter. Compare the following two lists:

  • Madame Bovary; The Idiot; Hard Times; Jane Eyre; Heart of Darkness; Catcher in the Rye; Nineteen Eighty-Four; the Iliad

Painful, degrading; books to slit your wrists to. Even dreary in some cases. Great, maybe, but horrible. However:

  • Tom Jones; Crime and Punishment; The Pickwick Papers; Pride and Prejudice; Robinson Crusoe; Dangerous Liaisons; the Odyssey; The Three Musketeers

Terrific, human, inspiring; when they're not uplifting, they make up for it by being funny. Completely different, even though two authors and one epic tradition appear in both lists.

So why not go for the second list? Actually, I think I know the reason: it's politics. Tom Jones and Dangerous Liaisons have too much sex, Marx liked Robinson Crusoe, Pride and Prejudice sends the wrong messages about gender roles, the Odyssey sends the message that vengeance is OK (obviously it isn't; vengeance is only OK in war, like in the Iliad) and so on. I guess books that encourage suicidal depression are fine, though.

more than 4 years ago

XKCD Deploys Command Line Interface

Petrushka Re:Potty brain... (288 comments)

guest@xkcd:/$ look
You are at a computer using unixkcd.

Exits: west, south
guest@xkcd:/$ go west
Life is peaceful there.

Exits: east, west
guest@xkcd:/$ go west
In the open air.

Exits: east, west
guest@xkcd:/$ go west
Where the skies are blue.

Exits: east, west
guest@xkcd:/$ go west
This is what we're gonna do.

Exits: east, west
guest@xkcd:/$ go west
Sun in wintertime.

Exits: east, west
guest@xkcd:/$ go west
We will do just fine.

more than 4 years ago

XKCD Deploys Command Line Interface

Petrushka Re:Dear Slashdot, (288 comments)

guest@xkcd:/$ sudo -i

sudo: -i: command not found

Ah, but:

guest@xkcd:/$ sudo make me a sandwich


more than 4 years ago

NZ Draft Bill Rules Out Software Patents

Petrushka Re:Hello@! (194 comments)

First post! From Auckland

First reply! From Wellington

... wait, that's the wrong way round

more than 4 years ago

Will Australia Follow China's Google Ban?

Petrushka Read his actual words - transcript (280 comments)

What on earth are you talking about? or even think you are talking about? What is it you imagine Google has done here? Conroy was simply attacking Google to distract attention from how much everyone hates the censorship, not because Google had done or said anything at all.

Maybe a full transcript of his remarks will help. TRANSCRIPT follows. Context: the host is trying to get quick closing comments from the Minister and from Colin Jacobs, the VP of Electronic Frontiers Australia. He asks for a closing comment from the Minister first; Jacobs is not given a chance to comment. (No one has even mentioned Google, Inc.)

CONROY. And while I appreciate some people might want to elevate the internet into something special, could I just draw them back to the - this argument, and those who advocate this argument, I mean recently the founder of Google have got themselves into a little bit of trouble because, notwithstanding -


CONROY. - their alleged "Do no evil" policy, they recently created something called, ah, "Buzz", and there was a - a reaction, ah, and people said, well look, aren't you publishing private information.



HOST. We are almost out of time, by the way, Minister.

CONROY. - Mr Schmidt said, said the following: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." This is the founder of Google.


CONROY. He also said recently to Wall Street analysts, "We - love - cash." In a sentence, that was it, just "We - love - cash."

HOST. Yes, heh heh -

CONROY. So when people say, shouldn't we just leave it up to, y'know the Googles of this world - to determine - what the filtering policy should be, and make no mistake, anybody who wants to go onto Google's sites now and look up their filtering policy will actually find - they filter more material -

HOST. Minister -

CONROY. - on a broader range of topics than we are proposing to do for what -

HOST. We, we have - uh - we - heh -

CONROY. I'll back our parliament to stand fast on these issues rather than Google.

HOST. We have to wrap it.

CONROY. Thank you.

HOST. Good to talk to you. Thanks very much ... [thanks guests, end of programme]

more than 4 years ago

Will Australia Follow China's Google Ban?

Petrushka Re:I would (280 comments)

I don't know. It's still Google turning round to a country and saying "Your laws are wrong".

(a) It's called "lobbying". I realise this may shock you, but it's not actually uncommon, and it is rarely frowned on anywhere.

(b) Google has done nothing of the kind. Conroy's comments were an unprovoked attack on Google, not a response to an attack by Google.

more than 4 years ago

Decrying the Excessive Emulation of Reality In Games

Petrushka Re:It's actually extremely hard. (187 comments)

It's actually extremely hard to create such universes. No one has ever made one, as we speak. Not only there are hardware limitations (for example, a HL2 level takes almost all of 1 GB), but there are also software limitations.

I just came here after playing some Morrowind. That takes a lot less than 1 GB. Even heavily modded to make it look visually stunning it takes less than 1 GB.

Now, sure, there are serious immersion-breaking AI limitations, gameplay irritations, it's got olde-style graphics, and the art design isn't to everyone's taste. But I still find it a hell of a lot more immersive than any game published since that I can think of. No invisible walls; no unopenable doors; no unkillable NPCs; lethal parts of the world are explicably lethal; major towns are major, minor out-in-the-wop-wops towns are out-in-the-wop-wops. Any artificiality that is there doesn't come from the design, but from the limitations of gaming technology in 2001. That kind of limitation is something I can forgive; invisible walls, no.

I'm not saying it's perfect, just that what the author of TFA is asking for is not something unachievable. It has been done. It could be done even better. I look forward to that (and welcome recommendations!).

more than 4 years ago



NZ invites public submissions on ACTA

Petrushka Petrushka writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Petrushka (815171) writes "The New Zealand Minister of Commerce "is calling for submissions on a range of intellectual property proposals that may be considered during ongoing discussions around the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)", reports a parliament press release. The previous government received nineteen submissions last year, both from parties interesting in limiting ACTA such as the NZ Open Source Society, several private citizens, and Google, and also opposing views from corporations and corporate groups such as the RIANZ. Several countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, the EC, and several others are involved in ACTA negotiations, which have been surrounded by extraordinary secrecy (though there have been leaks). The new NZ government invites "further submissions from the public" on border control, civil enforcement, and criminal enforcement. A local newspaper adds that the minister "is not yet seeking submissions on the vexed issue of digital property rights". The deadline is 29 June."

Draft copyright code of practice for NZ ISPs

Petrushka Petrushka writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Petrushka (815171) writes "The New Zealand Telecommunications Carriers Forum has released a draft code of practice for ISPs to deal with copyright infringement notices, as required by the controversial section 92A of the Copyright Act, which comes into force at the end of February. Media moguls pushed for, and got, a clause that requires ISPs to disconnect users based on mere allegation; the TCF has responded with a code of practice that does not quite operate on a presumption of innocence, but is a lot less big-media-friendly than APRA wants. Some highlights: the moguls get a four-strikes policy, but strikes would only "count" if (1) the user doesn't dispute them, (2) they're less than 18 months old, and (3) the user isn't "vulnerable" (i.e. claims to actually kind of need internet access). Copyright holders would have to pay a processing fee for every infringement notice, and use a detection method approved by the ISP. Neither the ISPs nor the media companies are very impressed. Meanwhile, the government is just sitting back waiting to see what happens next. The draft is open for public comment."

IBM joins community

Petrushka Petrushka writes  |  about 7 years ago

Petrushka (815171) writes "In a press release today, with accompanying press FAQ, IBM announces a change in its relationship to the development community. The upshot is that they're making a long-term commitment to OOo; no organisation has paid off any other organisation for this; they're devoting about 35 of their developers in China to OOo; and they'll be contributing accessibility code from Lotus Notes to improve current support for assistive technologies. You may recall that an alleged shortage of assistive technologies that work with OOo has been one of the big criticisms levelled against the idea of governments standardising on the OpenDocument format, which is a file format that OOo and several other office suites support."
Link to Original Source

Petrushka Petrushka writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Petrushka (815171) writes "Following a couple of years after the BBC Philharmonic did it, Radio New Zealand is also offering free downloads of live performances by the Auckland Philharmonia. The downloads go through a monthly cycle: they began in April with Dvorak's "New World" symphony; currently they're offering Beethoven's 7th symphony. Recordings are in MP3 format at 192 kb/s, though the sample rate is a disappointing 32 kHz. What other stations are out there offering freebies like this?"

Petrushka Petrushka writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Petrushka (815171) writes "At some point in the last week Microsoft has finally started mentioning the OpenDocument file format in its Microsoft Office Online support pages. It's in a section of a FAQ under the heading, "Why is Microsoft offering a new standard, rather than simply supporting the file format for the Open Office product (sometimes called ODF)?". The FAQ insists on referring to OpenDocument as "the OpenOffice formats", and criticises the OASIS committee for not focusing "on the requirements, constraints, and experiences of Microsoft customers"."


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