First Study of the Evolution of Memes On Facebook
Like many /. summaries, this one strikes me as attempting to grab eyeballs by digging up unjustified connotations. The "Yule Process" is little more than the well-known idea that the "rich get richer", though there's a particular formula associated with it. So it would be easier to understand and far more precise to say simply "popular memes tend to get more popular". So while the summary says meme evolution "follows the same mathematical evolution that genes follow", it would be more informative but less headline-friendly to say "memes multiply like rabbits" or "memes compete like bacteria growing in a dish", and then we wouldn't be snickering about creationism again. Yes, the researchers studied mutation too--but the "Yule Process" has nothing to do with mutation or evolution (except in the sense that population growth is "evolution" of the population size).
It isn't news that macroscopic processes sometimes resemble microscopic ones. Electrons orbit atoms--just like planets orbit the sun! Photons bounce off mirrors--just like basketballs bounce off floors! Memes mutate--just like genes, but, er, with differences! Question: so what?
Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?
The mathematics of bitcoin are sound enough. The issue I have with it is the possibility of hacks.
We all know that most computer systems are insecure. In the past, cracking a computer could only yield things like names, addresses, passwords (hashed and salted, one hopes), confidential files... in short, information. But with Bitcoin, crackers now enjoy the tantalizing possibility of stealing money! That makes Bitcoin exchanges (and, if bitcoin becomes popular, all ordinary PCs with bitcoin wallets) highly attractive hacking targets. So how can we be sure that an exchange won't be hacked? How can we be sure that our PCs won't be hacked? This issue--my inability to know that my coins are secure--has made me reluctant to buy them in the past.
Also, what regulations exist to ensure exchanges are secure? What incentives exist to encourage exchanges to be bulletproof against against hacks (or scams / social engineering)? And finally, how can we know that the exchange itself is entirely legitimate?
And by the way, I'm sure conventional large banks and financial institutions occasionally have hacks too, which reminds me of another difference between bitcoin and traditional money management. The difference is that you can mostly trust traditional institutions to compensate customers for any funds stolen from customer accounts (as long as it wasn't blatantly the customer's fault). To what extent is this assurance available in the bitcoin world?
Linux x32 ABI Not Catching Wind
Some people don't see the ABI as being worthwhile when it still requires 64-bit processors
There's your answer. If I'm writing a program that won't need over 2GB, the decision is obvious: target x86. How many developers even know about x32? Of those, how many need what it offers? That little fraction will be the number of users.
CBS 60 Minutes: NSA Speaks Out On Snowden, Spying
foreign nations would know what the US does and doesn't know, and how to exploit it.
How does it help "foreign nations" to know how much the U.S. is or is not spying on its own citizens? How can foreign nations "exploit" a lack of domestic spying? How can foreign nations even "exploit" knowledge about international spying by the U.S. government?
What a backwards comment. Ed Snowden didn't release this information to harm the U.S., he did it to inform U.S. citizens about what their tax dollars were buying without their knowledge. This is stuff citizens should have a right to know.
If World War III were going on, you might have a point about keeping spying ops secret. But in peacetime (and this is peacetime, notwithstanding a couple of US-lead skirmishes), there should be less spying and much more transparency.
Come Try Out Slashdot's New Design (In Beta)
Yuck! Most articles used to fit entirely on the front page. In fact whenever I was about to go on vacation, I would download a couple of pages of Slashdot to read offline. With half of each (already condensed) article hidden, I can no longer do that. I will not put up with having to click-through to read every article.
It's hard to evaluate the comment section as it's clearly messed up in my Chrome browser. This is a test: is Unicode is still not úppórtèd?
Raspberry Pi, Smart Highways Win World's Biggest Design Prize
It says here that 40 sheets cost $25 (62 cents). At that price, I don't think folks that can't afford refrigeration will be eager to buy it.
I was curious how it can keep food fresh without actually touching the food, so I looked at their web site. Here's what it says under "How it works":
- Take out one sheet of FreshPaper
- Toss in fridge drawer or anywhere you keep produce (fruit bowl, carton, bag)
- Enjoy fresh produce for 2-4 times longer!
Thanks for nothing, web site! Well, their FAQ says this:
How does FreshPaper work?
FreshPaper is infused with organic spices that inhibit bacterial & fungal growth, as well as enzymes that cause over-ripening. FreshPaper is a safe, remarkably effective, organic solution to spoilage.
Ask Slashdot: How To Get Open Source Projects To Take Our Money?
Wouldn't it be legit if you ask the open-source projects to do something for you? Select some feature(s) or bug fix(es) you'd like in a future version, and pay the lead developers to do it for you. Or, some open source projects have lousy manuals--pay them to improve their documentation.
It's not illegal to pay in advance, is it? Just write the contract in advance.
China Plans To Stop Harvesting Organs From Executed Prisoners
For more information about the organ-harvesting program, watch this.
[Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D, Director of Medical Ethics, NYU Langone Medical Center:] If you're going to go to China and you're going to get a liver transplant during the three weeks you are there, then that means someone is going to go schedule an execution, blood type and tissue type the potential executee, and have them ready to go before you need to leave.
[Damon Noto, MD, Spokesman, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting:] Starting at the end of 1999 the number of transplants taking place just exploded.
China carries out more organ transplant surgeries than any country besides the United States. But unlike other countries, China has no effective organ donation program. That is because culturally, Chinese people believe the body must stay intact even after death.
China's Deputy Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu has suggested that there are 7,000 transplants every year from the deceased. And that more than 90% come from executed prisoners.The number of criminal executions in China is classified as a state secret, but Amnesty International's estimate is about 1,700.
[Damon Noto, MD, Spokesman, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting] The numbers just didn't add up. It's just too large of a discrepancy there.
With only 1,700 executed criminals and no effective donation system, where do the rest of the organs come from?
Bradley Manning Says He's Sorry
Bradley Manning didn't dump everything. His most famous leak, the 250,000 diplomatic cables, were not simply released. According to Wikipedia, at first Wikileaks itself released just a couple of cables. Next, it partnered with some news outlets to select specific cables to leak (with redactions to prevent harm to individuals). They released 220 cables at first, and a few thousand more later. Granted, the whole set of 250,000 were fully accessible to specific journalists, but it's not at all the same as a "data dump".
Some months later, a boneheaded journalist published the actual password for decrypting the original cables; later, a backup of the encrypted cables somehow became available as a torrent, so the full set of cables could be decrypted. But this was unintentional and of course, neither of these mistakes was made by Manning himself.
I myself question the wisdom of Manning's release of these cables (I respect him mainly for leaking the Collateral Murder video) but the idea that he "dumped everything" is plainly false.
Gladwell's Culture & Air Crashes Analysis Badly Flawed
After reading TFA, my faith in Gladwell was shaken. But after reading this and some of the articles that the S.H.A.M.E. page links to...
In 1999, Gladwell wrote a New Yorker article defending the explosion of ADHD amphetamine prescriptions to children against criticism from media and public figures. Gladwell's response: "...are too many children taking the drug--or too few?"
Later that same year, Gladwell published a New Yorker piece that blamed skyrocketing prescription drug prices on users of prescription drugs, not on pharmaceutical companies. New Yorker readers responded angrily, tipping off Slate.com columnist Jack Schafer that Gladwell took "speaking fees from corporations and trade associations" that he covered in print, forcing Gladwell to publicly admit that he had had indeed taken money from the pharmaceutical industry: "Have I given paid speeches to companies or industries mentioned or affected by that article? Yes I have."
By ignoring the slander and actually following the links (including Gladwell's article about drug prices), I find myself admiring Gladwell almost as much as I did before reading TFA. Okay, so he makes some mistakes sometimes, but a corporate shill? No.
Big Advance In Hydrogen Production Could Change Alternative Energy Landscape
TFA says "Even more appealing, this reaction occurs at low temperatures, generating hydrogen energy that is greater than the chemical energy stored in xylose and the polyphosphate. This results in an energy efficiency of more than 100 percent â" a net energy gain." Truly we will have to reexamine the laws of thermodynamics in light of this discovery!
Ask Slashdot: Typing Advice For a Guinness World Record Attempt?
While Dvorak is better than Qwerty, it is not the optimal keyboard layout (e.g. R is a common letter but is not on home row) and Colemak is easier to learn for those that already use Qwerty. I tried learning Dvorak and it was fairly frustrating (it didn't help that punctuation and common keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+X/C/V had moved); you'll learn Colemak faster because it has some similarity to Qwerty. Asset is even more similar to Qwerty, but it isn't designed to be quite as fast so you probably shouldn't choose it for a world record attempt.
Of course, switching to any other layout will "reset" your speed to almost zero at first, and it could take quite a long time to reach the same speed you had with Qwerty.
30 Days Is Too Long: Animated Rant About Windows 8
In 4 years when everything has been converted is touch, you'll wonder how you ever managed with a simple "read only" display.
The sad thing is that MS could have made Win8 touch-friendly without changing everything and ignoring all known usability research; all the touch-friendly stuff could easily been added to the traditional UI. Think about it: they could add bigger buttons, swipe up/down for kinetic scrolling, tap and hold for right-click or tooltips, a resizer-blob in the lower-right corner, some multitouch gestures for quickly organizing windows and so forth (bonus points if two users could use different apps on different windows at the same time).
Instead we have... two totally different UIs, one of which is no more touch-friendly than it was before. Plus, to slow down development they told developers "oh hey, we're gonna make you learn a totally newï set of APIs too."
A Gentle Rant About Software Development and Installers
When I saw that the user had "several 2-gigabyte zip files downloaded separately to make it more manageable", the problem seemed pretty clear already. This software might have been over 20 GB unzipped, which is larger than the plain text of Wikipedia; how many parallel versions of how many software stacks is this? (Only games can reasonably be this large--because their size comes from media files, which are easy to manage.)
Dependencies are bad unless you have a really good way of managing them, and sheer size is bad because it makes testing very slow and difficult--and installers themselves are already difficult to get right (I therefore avoid writing software that needs any kind of installation but, obviously, large enterprise software can't avoid it.)
Any company that makes a product this large is surely drowning in technical debt. They will have to spend a lot quality time eliminating unnecessary dependencies and brittle old code. In the meantime, users will be unhappy and new customers will be few.
The World Falls Back In Love With Coal
The 13,000 is CATF's estimate of deaths from *all* power plants in the U.S., not just coal plants.
More directly relevant is that coal plants cause 4000 deaths for every one death caused by nuclear power.
Barack Obama Retains US Presidency
Obviously it makes a difference in general who is president. The point being argued is that the particular two candidates we got aren't likely to be that much different.
Back in 2008 I certainly thought and hoped Obama would be a big change from Bush, but it seemed like nothing changed. He continued or expanded Bush's policies of warrantless wiretapping, the Bush tax cuts, increasing executive powers (in often-unconstitutional ways, such as the war in Libya remaining unauthorized by congress), continuing the war on drugs, etc. The Wall Street "reform" bill was the smallest imaginable response to the horrendous behavior of the financial firms. Troop deployments were not immediately decreased but merely shifted around. There was that new "insurance care" bill, but if Romney had won his presidential bid in 2008, isn't it possible, even likely, that we would have ended up with something similar from him?
You mention Iraq--we hope neither candidate would start another war the way Bush did, but do we really know they wouldn't? And Obama didn't really bring peace to Iraq, did he?
Barack Obama Retains US Presidency
Oooh, they finally managed to kill one man half way around the world from me! I feel so much safer now that Bin Laden is gone... the chance of dying from a terrorist attack may have been well below 0.00001% before but... I bet it's down to, like, half of that now!
Say... how much did it cost to wage the war that killed this one man?
Third Party Debates Moderated by Larry King: Discuss
The people you would approve of aren't running for office? Well gee, don't you think that could have something to do with our voting system?
First-past-the-post favors a two-party system and incumbents in particular. Right now, most rational independents wouldn't consider running for office, knowing they can't really win. That means that the independents that actually do run for office are few in number and either (1) know they can't win and just want a bit of spotlight for themselves or their message, or (2) are insane. It's no great surprise if you don't approve of any of them.
Mind you, all these single-seat election systems are very flawed: they always reject (N-1)/N of the candidates running, which means everyone that runs (apart from the forerunner) must be willing to burn lots of cash with low chances of success, which tends to favor rich people (and a few others who have either strong stomachs for failure, or delusions that they have a shot).
The other flaw with FPTP, IRV, Approval and so forth is that they assume that I want to vote for someone local. Where I live has nothing to do with who I want in the federal government! Why can't I choose among candidates across the country, or at least across the state? Give me Direct Representation! (not to be confused with direct democracy.)
US Military Designates Julian Assange an "Enemy of State"
Technically espionage is just obtaining secret information in an illegal manner. Whistleblowing occasionally meets that definition, too. But the connotation of espionage is "state spying on potential or actual enemies primarily for military purposes" (from Wikipedia) whereas the goal of Wikileaks is to show us secret evils that are hidden from us, i.e. its goal is whistleblowing.
Now, I'm inclined to think that WikiLeaks' release of so many diplomatic cables was irresponsible, but WikiLeaks never did what they were commonly accused of, they never simply leaked 250,000 cables--they provided access to the cables to several news organizations in an encrypted archive, and IIRC less than 1000 of the cables were actually published or summarized by these news organizations.
Some time later, one of the news organizations foolishly made the password to decrypt the archive public in a book, but by that time the falsehood that "250,000 cables were published" was a popular belief.
US Military Designates Julian Assange an "Enemy of State"
You may be correct that the legal papers in the case and the extradition are all legit, with dotted Is and crossed Ts, but how likely is it that international extradition proceedings would be started against a man for having consensual sex that was turned out to be a little too agressive, or without a condom? To be sure it sounds like Assange was irresponsible, but it's hard to imagine that these proceedings would have started without political motives. Have you seen Naomi Wolf's take on it?
You're right that the "enemy of state" thing is overstated and hyperbolic (an eyeball grabber - "made you look!") but there is no doubt that some U.S. mucky-mucks are extremely pissed at WikiLeaks. I bet some of them would be happy to punish Assange by any means necessary, to discourage anyone else from ever leaking classified information. Collateral murder is not the kind of thing you want to be public.
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