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Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

RyoShin Re:fight it out in court (474 comments)

So, the suggestion is that we should allow the police to illegally stop and search us until we can be in a safer environment to tell them they're doing something illegal?

Because telling them in an unsafe environment will stop the cop? "Oh, I didn't know I was in violation of the 4th Amendment, you have a good day sir." More likely they'll just make the interaction worse for you since you were "backtalking", perhaps find some more things to fine/charge you with. While telling the cop he's wrong is noble and courageous and all, it will have no positive effect and may make fighting them in the court even harder.

They just do whatever they want because they have the guns and badges.

Exactly, and the only thing we have to stop them in the long run is a gun or a gavel. I don't know about you, but I know it wouldn't end well for me if I tried to use the gun method.

I propose something else: all police wear cameras and audio recording 100% of the time, and a zero tolerance for police who do not adhere to the law, and dismissal/criminal charges are the outcome. Any police officer who turned off his recording stuff is presumed to be lying.

I support the idea, but this also requires the gavel. Unless we can set up some uncorruptable, citizen-run group that monitors every police feed in real time and sends out a Cop Block if they see one doing stuff they shouldn't, the cameras can only help citizens after the fact.

2 days ago

The Schizophrenic Programmer Who Built an OS To Talk To God

RyoShin Sure, why not? (438 comments)

If a bunch of dudes 2000+ years ago could talk directly to the Abrahamic God, and one in particular through a burning bush, why not some dude in the modern days through a computer?

If Terry Davis isn't a real prophet today, then why can't we call the prophets in the Bible schizophrenic?

2 days ago

LinkedIn Study: US Attracting Fewer Educated, Highly Skilled Migrants

RyoShin Re:Perspective (322 comments)

the USA isn't geared for looking after people, it's geared towards profit-making

FTFY. The Dollar is our holy god in America (which is why we have "In God We Trust" on it, so we could pay lip service to religion while worshiping it). Controlling people is just the easiest way for the government to ensure that profit in a selection of private industries, namely military contractors.

We have a history of being "cowboys" (even if the stereotype only largely existed in movies) and still hold to our rugged individualism and the notion that everyone who has "made it" did so on their own laurels. It doesn't matter that such cases are the rare exception rather than the status quo, the general American public will look to those and say "see, they didn't need help from the government, so no one should." And the elite (both rich and elected officials) will happily maintain this illusion, as it allows them to consolidate their own power. They've tricked much of the American public into fighting against higher taxes for the rich (even if those high taxes only affect, say, income after the first $1M) by making Joe Sixpack think that they're just one or two good events away from being in that tax bracket, and how would Joe feel if he had to pay these onerous taxes on his current salary?

Our country may be controlled by a small number of moneyed interests, but it's the American people who handed them the reigns.

2 days ago

Greenwald Advises Market-Based Solution To Mass Surveillance

RyoShin Re:One step at a time. (157 comments)

He could also be concerned about tracking via the cellphone, a reason to get rid of it entirely.

But even outside of that, some people just seem addicted to their devices (in metaphor if not in the literal sense), and the only way to break that is to get rid of it entirely. You wouldn't expect an alcoholic to keep beer around in case his friends want a cold one when they visit, so to me it's quite reasonable to toss the phone entirely.

2 days ago

The Nintendo DS Turns 10

RyoShin Funny Timing (61 comments)

After a few weeks of thought I just today came to the conclusion that I am completely over the Pokemon series, which I was in love when it first released in 1998 at 13. Black, for the DS, was the last version I purchased. Maybe if they ever give it a huge overhaul or MMO...

Anyway, more on topic, I would have thought that Nintendo would learn from the DSi. Not that it's a bad system, but the camera features went mostly unused because there was no guarantee that players had a camera-equipped system. Only a few games made heavy use of it, and a few more than that had some incorporation that could be ignored if you weren't on a DSI (or DSi XL).

So here we are with the 3DS and now Nintendo is releasing their "New 3DS" (what a horrible name) that has some nice features that will also probably not be used. The big selling points are the "nub" (why couldn't we just have a second, if smaller, stick?), two extra shoulder buttons, and, most importantly, added horsepower. They've already announced Xenoblade Chronicles 3DS, which will require the New model as it will need the better specs, and the already-released Smash Bros. 3DS will not allow you to use many system tools you could normally use while running a game because of its requirements on the 3DS, but you can on the New 3DS. This will wind up with the same thing as the DSi, with so much fractioning of the base that developers will have to program with the assumption of the Old model; at best we'll get more games that will use more of the Old processing power, like Smash Bros., but otherwise it will play out the same. Some games will have support for the extra controls, a scant few (likely those that need the New hardware) will require the controls, and most games will ignore them completely.

And US/EU will get it at some point in the near future... maybe. Nintendo kinda shot themselves in the foot by announcing it, and giving it to only Japan and Australia this year (though it's cool that our kangaroo friends are seeing some love after usually being the last to get stuff). Sales for the existing models of the 3DS in America and Europe are likely going to flatline this holiday season, purchased only by parents for their kids who don't keep up with gaming news (or are too little to do so.) Anyone else who had been considering the system is now going to sit on that cash, because why would you buy the old model now when the new hotness could come in a few months?

After the poor reception of the Wii U, I'd hoped that Nintendo would look at their failures and learn from them. Instead, it seems like they're only doubling-down...

about a week ago

How Facebook Is Influencing Who Will Win the Next Election

RyoShin Re:Not surprising (71 comments)

Jobs, college debt, and personal liberty are extremely important issues to this generation.

Then why in the name of all that is noodly would they vote Republican? If young voters did swing from Democrat to Republican, I bet they did so for one of two reasons:
1) blindly believing candidate rhetoric (which both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of spewing), or
2) they were upset with "their guy" and mistakenly thought the "other guy" would do better.

Considering that the voter turnout was only 36.4% for the 2014 midterms (lowest since WWII), and low turnout favors Republicans (who are more likely to vote, it seems), I would guess the Republican victory isn't due to Millenials switching parties but far less Democrat Millenials turning out, if it's due to Millenials at all. Your own article supports this:

Though the GOP is closing the gap on Democrats in relation to young voters, a push away from the left may not guarantee a win for the right among the politically apathetic voting demographic.
Among those who said they “definitely will be voting” in next week’s midterm elections, 51 percent of young adults said they would prefer a GOP-controlled Congress. That's up from 43 percent during the 2010 midterms.

When the question is broadened to include all young adults, including those admitting they are less than certain they will vote on Tuesday, 50 percent said they would favor a Democratic Congress, compared to just 43 percent preferring the GOP.

“A lot of it, frankly, comes down to turnout. It seems that young Republicans are significantly more likely to turn out and participate next week,” said John Della Volpe, the institute's polling director. “It’s less about young people becoming more Republican, they’re just a little bit less Democratic than we’ve seen through the Obama years from 2008 to 2012.”
But bad news for Obama does not necessarily mean good news for the GOP, especially considering Obama maintains a significantly higher approval rating than Congress does among young adults. Only 23 percent of the demographic approves of the job Republicans are doing in Congress, compared to 35 percent approving of Democrats.

A reported 33 percent of young people surveyed identified as Democrats, compared to 22 percent siding with the GOP and about 42 percent of young adults identified themselves as independents.

about a week ago

Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

RyoShin Re:Bill Rejected with Bi-Partisan agreeemnt (440 comments)

On Slashdice, an "Insightful" vote is used to say "this aligns with my worldview and so I approve of it even if it is logically inconsistent/fallacious or based on demonstrably false data or notions"

about a week ago

The Software Big Oil's PR Firm Uses To "Convert Average Citizens"

RyoShin Weird reversal (106 comments)

I recall reading something a few years back (but I can't find a link, so take this with a grain of salt) where Amazon was reported to have or at least claimed to have very high employee satisfaction and/or safety. However, the only reason they do so is because the vast majority of their warehouses are staffed and managed by third parties, who work their employees quite hard for low wages. Because it's the third parties that do the hiring and management, technically they aren't Amazon employees, and so aren't included in metrics (internal or external.)

I'm sure other companies have spouted the truthy line of "We do not astroturf" (because we hire third party marketing companies, tell them simply to "improve our image", and they astroturf for us.) This seems like another type of that shell game, where they say "We do not astroturf (the software we buy from companies to improve our image astroturfs for us.)"

How long until they start hiring botnets to generate pseudo-random favorable posts? "We do not astroturf (the hackers we found on craigslist get the internet to astroturf for us.)"

about a week ago

Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

RyoShin Re:Buyer Beware (473 comments)

I'd say that Kickstarter is more like a Pledge. You "donate" a certain amount, and there are levels where you get various rewards, most of which include the end product (and that is the ultimate goal for being part of a Kickstarter, after all), but the end product is a wobbly thing subject to all sorts of potentially issues no matter how much the group running it promises.

Consider things like PBS or NPR. Their pledge drives do talk about specific programs, and depending on how much you pledge you might get a nice item, and might be pledging for a specific part of their programming, but in the end the pledge is only just for the overall idea, which could have programming added or removed over time. And, unlike an investment, you don't get any "return" aside from what is ultimately produced.

So it's something of a mix between a Pledge and an Investment.

about a week ago

Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

RyoShin Re:Real investments come with guidance (473 comments)

Then setup a server and charge monthly fees

It's not about the complexity of single player (which is probably as complex as multiplayer, just a different kind of complexity), it's exactly what you mention. Multiplayer can be a constant source of revenue, whereas single player is a single source that quickly dwindles (and the game can, rightly, be resold, at least for physical copies.) Depending on what kind of crowd they're looking for, they can do monthly or micro-transactions (which, when you're charging $10 for a digital hat, isn't so micro anymore.)

So if their goal is about profit rather than putting out a solid experience, they're going to focus on multiplayer as much as possible. I'm surprised that games like Call of Duty and Battlefield even bother with single-player anymore, as the campaigns are usually incredibly short (six hours for one of the more recent iterations, so I've heard) and most people buy them for multiplayer anyway.

about a week ago

Uber Threatens To Do 'Opposition Research' On Journalists

RyoShin Re:There's not a lot to say, this is scummy (299 comments)

What I don't understand is why they're even bothering to dig up dirt. They don't need to: all they have to do is plant some child pornography, even drawn pictures not based on any actual child or even remotely realistic for a human child, on any computer device owned by the target. Then drop an anonymous tip to any number of law enforcement and/or private anti-child-porn groups and let them handle the rest. If they don't want to plant, they can someone of moderate credibility make claims as such to the point of having just a single detective investigate for just five minutes. The culture in America guarantees that if someone is publicly accused of having child porn, they will be shunned at every possible turn even if charges are never filed. The top elected leaders of both parties could hold hands on national television and proclaim the guy's innocence and the majority of America would still view the guy as a pariah. If the CEO doesn't understand this, he really is stupid.

(If the target is female, this might not work because people are more likely to question it. In that case, just suggest the woman is a "slut" or prostitute over many different interviews and get the same result.)

Thus, this is probably an indirect warning. "Hey, nice life you have there, be a shame if something were to happen to it..."

(Before someone tries to hang me, please note: I am not saying that child porn is good, but that America's absolute frothing over it makes it a modern-day witch hunt, where it doesn't matter whether or not someone actually has CP so long as enough people claim they do.)

about a week ago

Big Talk About Small Samples

RyoShin Re:Bigger sample size in comments section (245 comments)

I haven't seen any push from Slashdice about Beta recently, so since that fervor has died down perhaps the campaign should change from "Fuck Beta" to "Fuck Bennett"?

about a week ago

Ubisoft Points Finger At AMD For Assassin's Creed Unity Poor Performance

RyoShin Re:Ok, even giving them the benefit of the doubt (262 comments)

For action oriented games on a console, a locked 60 fps rate is the "gold standard" and is becoming almost mandatory for twitch-shooters, precision driving games and other genres that rely on rapid response times.

This might explain their recent comments:

Guérin had backup from the 30FPS camp, with Assassin's Creed Unity's Creative Director, Alex Amancio chiming in, saying: "30 was our goal, it feels more cinematic. 60 is really good for a shooter, action adventure not so much. It actually feels better for people when it's at that 30fps. It also lets us push the limits of everything to the maximum. It's like when people start asking about resolution. Is it the number of the quality of the pixels that you want? If the game looks gorgeous, who cares about the number?".

Of course, then they have trouble even hitting that 30fps, even after trying to lower people's expectations...

about two weeks ago

Window Washing a Skyscraper Is Beyond a Robot's Reach

RyoShin Re:A cost equation (203 comments)

Huh, neat. According to this, the building was completed in 1955. A comment further down says the windows were switched out because the inflatable rubber molding that held them in place eventually deteriorated and they were replaced in '97-98.

With half a century of materials and engineering improvements since then, I should think that that kind of problem could be fixed or an alternative created. My thought when making my post was clamps that would either pull back or swing away.

about two weeks ago

Window Washing a Skyscraper Is Beyond a Robot's Reach

RyoShin Re:A cost equation (203 comments)

Could the window's frame just rotate on its axis (probably y)? This comes with its own problems, of course, but over time might be for the best. I'm thinking a system where the frame will lock in place, perhaps using pressure in order to avoid a hit in heating or A/C efficiency.

- # of injuries/deaths from washing windows drops to 0 (= cheaper insurance)
- Cheaper workers because they don't need specialized knowledge/training
- Window can be automatic so they rotate at night on a schedule, one at a time
- Replacing a window should be easier (rotate frame half way, take off a side, slide existing pane out and new one in)

- Making sure there's clearance for the window to rotate
- If one gets stuck it can be a hazard as well as letting air through
- Have to retrofit existing windows

Up front cost would be more, but over time the savings in pay would probably make such a system pay for itself.

about two weeks ago

Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

RyoShin Re:The Technical conundrum.... (204 comments)

Instead, why not continue to give this employee raises?

There seems to be a rough idea, at least in America, that the higher you are on the org chart the greater your income should be; not just greater in general, but it also has to be greater than anyone who is below you on the chart. The only regular exceptions seem to be AAA rockstars of whatever it is they do (Hollywood being an example of this, where actors seem to make more money than producers or studio execs) or contract positions.

I'm with you on this: Someone's income should be related to the relative value they bring to the company, not the position they hold. A good manager is a good thing, but it's the manager's team that actually creates the product/value and there should be nothing wrong with any number of them making more money than the manager. The manager may be a guiding and protective force, but he can't replace his team (and may not even be able to replace a single person on his team, which isn't a problem IMO), and so they should

But, if this were taken up by the general public, the income of CEOs would plummet, so that won't happen. For some reason our capitalistic society says that money must flow to the top. It's odd, like having a maintenance team for a large suspension bridge who spends the vast majority of their time maintaining the warning lights at the top. Yes, those are certainly important, but while you're polishing those light fixtures the bridge will crumble from the bottom up.

about two weeks ago

Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

RyoShin Re:Are you trying to get (350 comments)

[tinfoil]Bennett Hassleton is a Dice plant with the goal of driving away old/serious users, leaving only those who post dreck, are easily trolled, like to troll, or astroturfers. These kind of people care far, far less about user interface, moderation, and layout changes than your typical /. user from a decade ago.

Once they see enough accounts become inactive for more than a month they'll just force Beta into place, and the culled community will make very little noise about it (they might even get compliments!) It will then be filled with ads, and the acquisition will be complete.[/tinfoil]

about two weeks ago

Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

RyoShin Re:An interesting article by Bennett (350 comments)

So he should start a blog, post his results to that blog, then submit a synopsis and link for Slashdot editors to consider/users to firehose. Just like everyone else.

At this point it doesn't matter if he actually posts good content or not, he's been using /. as his personal blog for months (which timothy is happy to oblige, apparently) and it's completely grated the community because all of his stuff has been crap. Maybe if he could actually started his own blog, or even used the blog he gets with his Slashdot account, and give a summary up front with a link people might give him a chance despite his reputation.

Personally, I think he's just clickbait, one that I indulge in because I get an odd sense of amusement from seeing all the +5s complaining about him and his posts.

about two weeks ago

Assassin's Creed: Unity Launch Debacle Pulls Spotlight Onto Game Review Embargos

RyoShin SEGA and Sonic Boom (474 comments)

SEGA did something similar with Sonic Boom: Rise of the Lyric for Wii U, except that they just plain didn't send out preview copies at all:

IGN, for example, says that SEGA opted not to provide the gaming website with a review copy for either version of the game. And they’re not alone, with reviews missing from every notable site—even though both games launched today.

...and they did so for pretty much the same reason:

This is backed up by a number of game-breaking bugs discovered in the Wii U version so far. One bug sends Sonic falling through a level, forcing players to reset the game. Another bug respawns players outside an enclosed battle area, preventing Sonic and his team from returning to the fight. These both seem to be bugs that would have been found in simple gameplay testing.

I've seen just as many videos in the past three days of game-breaking, horrible bugs in Assassin's Creed Unity as I have Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.

Both games were hyped a lot by their respective companies, both games had no reviews available before they were released. I'm not trying to say that Ubisoft is somehow off the hook for Unity or diminish how bad the game's quality is, just that their game is not alone in these kind of shenanigans.

about two weeks ago

Assassin's Creed: Unity Launch Debacle Pulls Spotlight Onto Game Review Embargos

RyoShin Re:Quit buying games on day one (474 comments)

I've started following this advice (not that I was buying a whole lot of games on release day in the first place), but I do make an exception for Nintendo first-/second-party games. While they're not completely free of problems, the bugs are far more rare and (usually) have far less impact on gameplay than, say, falling through the ground.

about two weeks ago



Ask Slashdot: Best software for charity/animal shelters?

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

RyoShin writes "I volunteer for a no-kill cat rescue shelter. After learning my background in software development, they've asked me to come up with a solution that will make it easier for them to keep a database of the felines currently in their care (including things like vaccinations, background (if any), etc.) as well as donors and potential donors. They've dropped hints that I should roll my own, but I'd rather get them something tried and tested and preferably with support; however, I have no knowledge of this area, so I turn to Slashdot users. What are good pieces of software for use by charities, especially animal shelters? An all-in-one would be great, but I will consider multiple programs. And, as always, free or open source is highly preferred (they are a small shelter), but I also want to research paid-for options and present those if they are high quality, easy to use, and can be afforded."

Telling Kids They're Smart is Stupid

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

RyoShin writes "A recent Scientific American article entitled "The Secret to Raising Smart Kids" (print version) looks at research on motivating kids in school. From the article: "Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent--and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed--leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn. [...] Teaching people to have a 'growth mind-set,' which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life." Another finding is that "a belief in fixed intelligence also makes people less willing to admit to errors or to confront and remedy their deficiencies in school, at work and in their social relationships." So don't go telling your kid he or she a genius, but rather a studious, hard worker."
Link to Original Source

Do Zebra Stripes actually help?

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RyoShin (610051) writes "A List Apart, an excellent resource for web development and related aesthetics, has put together an article based on original research by Jessica Enders into "zebra striping". From the article: "Zebra striping [, coloring alternate rows,] is used when data is presented in an essentially tabular form. The user of that table will be looking for one or more data points. Their aim is to get the right points and get them as quickly as possible. Therefore, if we set a task that uses a table, and zebra striping does make things easier, then we would expect to see improvements in two things: accuracy and speed." The conclusion of the peer reviewed paper? It's a wash. Striped tables offered only a slight increase in accuracy and speed overall. The article notes a few other benefits to using Zebra striping, so it's all up to the individual."
Link to Original Source

Up or Out: Solving the IT Turnover Crisis

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RyoShin (610051) writes "Alex Papadimoulis, head of TheDailyWTF, has put together an interesting article about turnover in the IT industry and why quitting is okay (and employers should like it). Using ideas like the "Cravath system", why good people quit while slackers stay behind, and how ex-employees can be a good thing, Papadimoulis offers some interesting ideas for both employers and employees. "In short: embrace turnover, encourage separation, and don't even think about saying 'careers, not jobs.' Oh yes, it's Employment 2.0.""
Link to Original Source

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RyoShin writes "Even after the conservative members lost control of the old Kansas school board, evolution still remains a large issue for the Board of Education in Kansas. Well, in video games. Specifically, one video game: Pokemon. On Monday, the Kansas Board of Education approved a measure to ban most content related to Pokemon, including the games themselves and trading cards "because of the franchise's blatant promotion of evolution". Furthermore, they instructed teachers to "search their students at the beginning of the school day to make sure that they aren't carrying any copies of the game". The article is sparse on further details, but states that the ACLU will challenge the decision."

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RyoShin writes "Signs of the apocalypse: seven-headed beasts, cats hanging out with dogs, and a video game that combines two previous rivals. Well, according to USAToday, we're one-third of the way there. From the article: "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, due in stores this holiday season for Nintendo's Wii console and DS handheld system (prices not yet set), will also include other popular characters such as Luigi and Yoshi (from Nintendo's Mario games), as well as Knuckles and Tails (from the Sonic games), all competing in such summer Olympic events as running, swimming and table tennis." Furthermore, Shigeru Miyamoto is giving oversight to the project. Could this be a sign that Sonic might appear in Super Smash Brothers Brawl?"



How to StumbleUpon StumbleOver and StumbleOn

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Like many on the internet, including other /. members, I am a user of StumbleUpon. For those who don't know what StumbleUpon is, the short and simple is that it is a gateway to the internet at large. It's great for lazy afternoons when you just want to find new webpages. You set some preferences, some content filters, and boom, you're off. It covers topics from architecture to zoology, and most everything in between. A great way to read new and interesting scientific discoveries or watch sleeping cats fall off of whatever shelf they happen to be sleeping on. Or both, if that's your thing. But not at the same time.

However, StumbleUpon reveals one of the larger annoyances of the internet: data redundancy. Site after site, blog after blog will host the same content (usually video or pictures, but it can even be word-for-word text), meaning that you'll wind up Stumbling Upon it time and again- and it really gets grating after you see the eighteenth LOLcat collection. To my knowledge, SU has no way to deal with this. You can rate things up or down and perhaps have less of a chance of seeing them, but that's not always the case.

To this end, I feel that StumbleUpon would do well to introduce two new features: StumbleOn and StumbleOver. Both features would be user preferences. You could choose to StumbleOn, StumbleOver, both, or neither (seeing the internet in a pure, unadultered form).

StumbleOn is a feature that would reference all citing pages to the main page or site that the citing pages talk about. This is the harder of the two features to implement. The idea is that instead of stumbling upon a page that is either a rehash or just a quick blog entry about another page (usually done for ad hits), you would instead be redirected to (or On) the original page. Slashdot will see things like this- a summary for an article will contain a link to a blog that contains a link to the actual article. StumbleOn would cut out the blog entry, giving focus where it is rightly due: the original authors.

As stated, this is harder to do. Some things see circulation for so long that pinpointing the "original" is tedious (assuming it still exists). Then there are sites that jump up simultaneously, such as the smattering of lolcat sites that appeared within a few days/weeks of each other. Content can give some help. For instance, if a blog entry directly links to the original, you know you can StumbleOn to that original. Perhaps the video being shown lists a URL to use; failing that, you could StumbleOn to where it's hosted on Youtube/MediaCafe/whatever.

Part of the problem here is ballot stuffing. Someone might get a bunch of friends/paid hacks to all say that that person's site is the "original", though it would clearly be just a lame blog entry for ad hits. But, as with most systems like this, it can be overcome with other user adjustments. Then there's the risk that a blog entry that is actually useful, like dissecting a video or giving further insights, gets marked as StumbleOn. A second level might be introduced for these, but that would start making this very complex.

StumbleOver is likely easier to implement, and, in my opinion, far more useful of the two. In the case of StumbleOver, you don't care what the original site is. You only know that you've seen it before and, even if you liked it, don't want to see it again from another site. Whereas StumbleOn would be pictorially represented as a tree, with one main site (the "root" site) being lead to from many others, StumbleOver would be seen as a nice, round circle. By seeing one part of the circle you've seen them all, so you don't need to see them again. This would lead to a lot less repetitiveness in your stumbles.

However, this is not without it's own problems- how specific should content be measured? Most would agree that a word-for-word copy, a single image or set group of images, or a video would all be easy to StumbleOver. But what about a blog entry that restates the original text in the user's own words? Is one lolcat page with 10 images the same as another with 15? (This case can be kind of solved with StumbleOn, using something like icanhaschezburger as the main source) What if someone has a higher quality version of another's video (quite unlikely, but possible)?

These aren't perfect ideas, and I have no idea how to submit them to StumbleUpon, but I think they would make great strides in making StumbleUpon a better product and the internet easier to browse.


Facebook Phone Number Folly

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I, along with most of the Slashdot community, know much about social networking sites. I, probably unlike much of Slashdot, am a member of a few. One of these sites, Facebook, came under fire about a year ago for their News Feed feature, which allowed users to see updates made by their friends in one convenient form. This resulted in a massive and seemingly unexpected backlash by the Facebook crowd, which caused Facebook to lock it down only a few days later.

So users of Facebook are not ignorant of the privacy hazards that sharing information like that can lead to. However, it seems that some haven't learned their lesson. Through my own News Feed, I learned that one of my friends had recently joined a group. However, the group had a very odd title, almost like it was a personal journal entry. Curiosity got the best of me, and I clicked through to find out.

To my utter surprise and slight discomfort, I found that it was a group set up for someone that lost their phone. He had set up the phone for the express purpose of retrieving the phone numbers he had lost in the old one. This can seem like a mis-guided attempt with only one example, as doing this may be an easy way to notify all of your friends. Facebook does allow for closed groups- close the group, and only the friends you've invited can see your new phone number or post their own. Perhaps this poor fellow merely misunderstood how the process worked.

With this in mind, I decided to plug "phone lost" into Facebook's search engine. The result is so many groups that it stops counting at 500. Yet not all is lost; once again, this could be a matter of convenience, and other users had closed their group. I decided the best way to test this theory was to do a sample of the first three pages of results and compile some (simple) stats. (Note that all numbers are assumed unique, which may skew the results in favor of panic.)

Total Groups: 27 (Facebook returned the same group a few times)
Open Groups: 81%
Total Members: 523
Phone Numbers (with Area Code): 184
Phone Numbers (no area code): 14

Percentage of Group Members with posted numbers: 37%

Average Membership per Group: 19
Potential Amount of Numbers available (with 500 groups): 3515

Sadly, I was very wrong. The number of users willing to post their phone numbers in an open location such as that is worrisome. While Facebook does have the option to enter your number in your profile, it can be restricted only to friends. Furthermore, by default profiles are locked to friends-only. The combination of these two elements may have set a false sense of privacy within the users who did post their numbers.

A few users had the fore-thought to at least withhold their area code. Even so, Facebook provides their primary network (area, college, or high school), which could be used to figure out the area code in relatively short time. One group owner did ask for numbers to be e-mailed rather than posted, citing the desire not to broadcast them to Facebook. He was ignored by nine people.

While I hate the "Protect the Children" argument, I believe it has some merit in this case, and extends beyond that. These numbers are readily available for anyone on Facebook to use for their own malicious pleasure. Even if all they can do is leave psychotic voice messages at odd hours, it can still be enough to emotionally scar a person, as happened to another friend of mine earlier this year.

Still, it is no surprise that many in this generation, especially high schooler students, don't understand the potential ramifications for posting such personal information online. I do plan to contact Facebook and ask them to attempt to send out a notice to these users or Facebook in general, but even that may go ignored.


Practicing Practices

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

So much for that idea.

Working as a lowly intern for an internal programming department of a Fortune 500 company, it's amazing the quality of the code I read. Despite being a department just for one of the local facilities, you would think big money == big talent, right?

The apparent answer is no. I am in charge of maintaining over four dozen small internal web applications, written mainly in ASP and Coldfusion. (Not even .NET and MX - ug.) I've read through and fixed up code done by a dozen other "programmers", some of them interns such as myself, some of them full-time "specialists", and rarely do I look at a page and not think "WTF?".

Part of the problem could be the "rigorous standards" put in place here- and by that, I mean there are none. Very few of the applications are used by more than 20 people in the entire building, so the general process of new program creation goes like this:

  1. Program request goes to manager
  2. Manager approves/denies program
  3. Program is assigned to one of the available programmers
  4. Programmer works as quickly as possible to finish project
  5. Project is tested for approx. two hours
  6. Manager makes sure that project looks good to requestor
  7. Project is booted out door, and any bugs are fixed as they come up

Since none of the programs are large scale (even the few used by more than 20 people), this doesn't work too bad, though it doesn't have anything useful like code review.

The other problem, one more glaring even in those programs that did have a better quality control (such as those where the programmer took the time to write out a scope and get it approved), is the large absense of proper programming practices. Repeated If-Thens where Switch-Cases should be used, code copied and pasted instead of put into a function/method, the same header code repeated on every page instead of put in a file to include, horrible naming schemes, bad use of whitespace, etc. Granted, programming styles will vary from person to person, but some of the things done within these are ludicrous.

Thanks to sites like TheDailyWTF (an excellent time waster, which is also beneficial for programmers to see what not to do), I believe that this is not a local problem, but one that affects many of those who get into this because they're looking for big bucks, especially when they start using languages like Coldfusion and Visual Basic (easy to write, and therefore easy to mess up). In my courses as a Computer Science major, I have yet to see anything that deals with proper programming practices. I realize that Computer Science is intended to go beyond programming itself, but even in the classes dedicated to programming it is not touched on much.

I would almost say that an entire course could be devoted to it, but I think that would be too much time. The various practices I'm thinking of are fairly simple; a week or two at most would be needed to go over them and make sure people understand them. Potential points would include:

  • Whitespace indentation
  • Descriptive Naming practices (I prefer lowerCamelCase, myself)
  • Programming for efficiency (redundant IF checks, using SWITCH-CASE instead of IF, proper loops, code reuseability)
  • Function creation (as well as some talk about recursion)
  • Truth logic (using such things as truth tables)
  • Database setups (my college actually has an entire class for Databases, but this would be useful for those who aren't CS majors)

I'm sure others have more things that should be added to the list (feel free to comment), but if colleges would put heavier emphasis on covering these kinds of things, maintaining programs would be easier for the rest of us.


The Road to Inlightenment is Paved with Gummy Bears

RyoShin RyoShin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Cause they're tasty.

I've decided to use my Slashdot journal as a sort of "blog". Whereas I have a LiveJournal to rant about my personal life and day, this "blog" will deal more with issues that affect everyone, and not necessarily only topics that Slashdot as a site is concerned with (but I still get to rant).

Some entries will be long, some will be short, some will have no point. Regardless, this blog will be open to the public and comments will be on, though I will never "Publicize" any entry, unless I find it relevant to Slashdot somehow, as well as being well written and containing references. This will be one of those "choose two" things.

Ideally, I update every weekday. Gives me a good side-thing to do at work when I get bored. If I do it at work, I doubt I'll have much in the way of references- internet use is fairly restricted. If I save it and complete it at home, then I can include helpful links.

So, if you ever visit my profile, get ready for more stuff to ignore.

Here's looking to tomorrow.

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