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Comments

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Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change?

Samantha Wright Re:One word... (76 comments)

Well, here's the tl;dr of TFA: Social media is the starting point. Hence the Arab Spring—you use Facebook or Twitter or whatever to spread your message and/or propaganda, and then accrue those with personal willingness to march and coordinate action through the net. Five dictators have been overthrown in the Middle East since December 2010 (as well as uprisings and protests in more than a dozen other countries) following social media germination, so clearly it's viable for that. Unfortunately this means it's also a single point of failure, as shown in Egypt when they depeered from the rest of the network in early 2011, easy to infiltrate and possible to manipulate.

5 days ago
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Study: People That Think Social Media Helps Their Work Are Probably Wrong

Samantha Wright Re:Job (40 comments)

I take it you didn't RTFA, then, which is a summary of the real paper, in which they show that doesn't really work. (And abuse factor analysis.)

about a week ago
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Raspberry Pi Compute Module Release

Samantha Wright Re:Different use case than standard RPI (51 comments)

TFA:

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and as with everything we make here, all profits are pushed straight back into educating kids in computing.

...so it's a little less direct, but no great loss.

about two weeks ago
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Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Samantha Wright Re:Because you think Google is any better? (218 comments)

I was actually thinking of large platform developers such as Zynga. The fee and labour cost is potentially significantly higher, which makes it only attractive to a smaller number of companies prepared to do the work of scraping information itself, but the opportunity for information transfer still exists, doesn't it?

I believe you when you say the company's trying to improve its image in this regard, but, well, when you have a history of putting things like "Facebook does not screen or approve Platform Developers and cannot control how such Platform Developers use any personal information" in your privacy policy, that sours users' perception of your brand. It shouldn't really come as a surprise that people assume such things continue.

about two weeks ago
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Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Samantha Wright Re:Because you think Google is any better? (218 comments)

I've gotten quite a few random spam messages from Chinese industry, despite being a software engineer at an academic institution with absolutely nothing to do with any product development or manufacturing whatsoever. I've gotten offers for piping, ceramics, and a wide variety of plastics. At this very moment, I am reading a spam message from Kevin, who informs me he represents "one of the best digital images retouching/editing professionals located in China."

They seem like very good deals, and I'm almost saddened that I can't take them up on what appear to be very genuine, heartfelt attempts at mass mailing in an age where most unsolicited e-mail is about "your urgent Cooperation in transferring the sum of $11.3million immediately to your private account" and unauthorized activity notifications from Bl1zzard Entertanmnt on my several hundred Batt1e.net accounts.

If you ever figure out what kind of plastic it was, let me know, and I'll check to see if I got the same e-mail!

about two weeks ago
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Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Samantha Wright Re:Because you think Google is any better? (218 comments)

Facebook's position on providing large amounts of user data to its business partners has been the subject of scrutiny a few times. It remains unclear exactly how much stuff developers like Zynga have been able to access. There was also a series of events a couple of years ago where privacy controls were updated and set to overly permissive defaults—which is either spectacularly bad management (given how much bad PR it generated each and every time) or a bribed enablement of data-scraping.

As for sending email to a Gmail user, that's what I meant by "passive" use of Google's services, although I should note that if your e-mail never gets read, it cannot make Google money, just like a site with Google ads on it that never gets visited. You're really only an incidental bystander in that situation.

about two weeks ago
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Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Samantha Wright Re:Because you think Google is any better? (218 comments)

Well, there's at least one sentence that's essentially different: "even when you die, Facebook can still make money off you."

Google doesn't (as far as I know) sell user information to advertisers. They exclusively use their own analytics; all an advertiser can do is submit their target demographics and keywords, and let Google do the math. While they're both huge storehouses of personal information, the big G is monolithic and generally non-porous—unless you're a malignant security agency, at least. If you're not using their services (at least passively), you're definitely not making them money.

This doesn't make them Totally Cool Groovy Guys You Should Trust With Anything, but it does make them naive ideologues surfing along the edge of a slippery slope rather than the outright thuggery of Facebook and other traditional advertisers—FB is more like a spam subscription; once you get signed up, you can be certain that your private information will propagate across the cosmos for eternity.

about two weeks ago
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Ancient Virus DNA Discovery Could Be a Breakthrough In How Diseases Are Treated

Samantha Wright Re:Not "thousands" (53 comments)

Oh, don't worry, I double-checked Wikipedia too. :) If those were truly multicellular (and the evidence is inconclusive as to whether or not some of them were even cells) then it's very likely they developed it independently. Continuing to quote Wikipedia:

Multicellularity has evolved independently at least 46 times,

...and that's without discussing pluripotency, which is the ability to differentiate various kinds of cells. It's very unlikely that Metazoa separated from Protozoa more than a billion years ago.

(Better luck next round, hero.)

about two weeks ago
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Ancient Virus DNA Discovery Could Be a Breakthrough In How Diseases Are Treated

Samantha Wright Re:Not "thousands" (53 comments)

The oldest known animals only go back 665 million years. It's relatively unlikely that our cell differentiation mechanisms are much older than that, so "billions" is a bit overambitious.

about two weeks ago
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UK To Finally Legalize Ripping CDs and DVDs

Samantha Wright Re:Grrr... (92 comments)

...wouldn't those all be out of copyright by now, regardless of country?

about three weeks ago
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Kim Dotcom Launches Political Party In New Zealand

Samantha Wright Re:still (133 comments)

He's apparently just a WW2 geek, RTFAing suggests:

He explained that he was a collector, and also owned items that had belonged to Churchill and Stalin.

about three weeks ago
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Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

Samantha Wright Re:Um no (224 comments)

I don't think they're very concerned with easily-divisible numbers—4*7-day months and 13-month years! At least the crazy Soviet calendar reform from the thirties prioritized getting rid of 7-day weeks.

about three weeks ago
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Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

Samantha Wright Re:Human Calendar? (224 comments)

After the humans rejected it, they had to rebrand to reach a wider audience.

about three weeks ago
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Diablo 3 Expansion Reaper of Souls Launches

Samantha Wright Re:Too Little Too Late (166 comments)

It's not about whether the game is fixed or not, it's about the business's management decisions. Lots of people won't buy EA games, for example, regardless of the quality of the title itself, because of the business's conduct in the past. The simple act of shipping a fixed game doesn't equate to the necessary cultural shift from the developer that would merit returning to the game. It's not as if they've gotten rid of Bobby Kotick as the head of Activision Blizzard, or said they'd commit to a long-term fan-driven model across their titles. It's essentially a boycott.

On top of that, we're talking about rewarding them with more money for what is, at its heart, an old product with some refreshes. Expansion packs and other forms of non-free DLC are only really effective at drawing in consumers when the base product has something the player wants to continue. Many people (myself included) got sick of the repetitive, imbalanced structure of the game a year and a half ago, when it first came out, and we have no desire to relive those memories or anything tightly associated with them. D3 had a breathtakingly uncompelling story; the adventure RPG equivalent of a cookie-cutter save-the-cat blockbuster, only without any character development whatsoever. (Unless you can think of a game with a lamer ending cutscene?) Even without the auction house, crazy elite monsters, terrible loot rates, failure to learn from competitors and clones like the Torchlight and Dungeon Siege series, the total lack of character personalization, and the extensive balance issues, I think the exploitative, sequelitis-infested anti-plot would be enough to keep people away from any continuation of the franchise.

about three weeks ago
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Diablo 3 Expansion Reaper of Souls Launches

Samantha Wright Re:Too Little Too Late (166 comments)

I believe the obvious message is "the bridges are burnt," not "we want more crappy games." Publishers may be incredibly, unbelievably stupid, but they are stateful enough to know when they've killed brand trust. It is one of the few things they are indoctrinated in, since they are little more than marketers run amok.

about three weeks ago
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Pine Tree Has Largest Genome Ever Sequenced

Samantha Wright Re:I call BS (71 comments)

(Sure, but PacBio in particular is quite new on the market still. Three years ago they were borderline vaporware!)

And, yeah, most serious sequencing projects I've seen do use a mixture of methods, particularly 454 stuff. But I'm sure they'll switch to IonTorrent and PacBio as opportunities allow.

about a month ago
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Pine Tree Has Largest Genome Ever Sequenced

Samantha Wright Re:I'm Inferior To A Tree (71 comments)

You're right, it's not an entirely ubiquitous phenomenon. But amongst the plants that do have large, repetitive genomes, fine-grained epigenetics and averaged-out mutations tend to be the primary benefits, IIRC.

about a month ago
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Pine Tree Has Largest Genome Ever Sequenced

Samantha Wright Re:I call BS (71 comments)

The hardware platform of choice is a matter of availability. Here is a map of where most/all of the NGS platforms are in the world; Illumina sequencers are the most common amongst the newer systems.

about a month ago
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Pine Tree Has Largest Genome Ever Sequenced

Samantha Wright Re:I call BS (71 comments)

63x total coverage with from Illumina hardware using a mixture of paired-end libraries, ranging from 200 bp to a whopping 40 Kbp. I'm pretty sure that's sufficient information to estimate the number of large-scale repetitions. Sequencing projects of species for which there is no good relative to scaffold against are typically much more rigorous than what you'd see in cancer research.

about a month ago
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Pine Tree Has Largest Genome Ever Sequenced

Samantha Wright Re:I'm Inferior To A Tree (71 comments)

...perhaps your hatred towards trees has something to do with these auditory hallucinations?

about a month ago

Submissions

Samantha Wright hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Biology Help Desk: Volume 2^3

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  about 6 months ago

The drill! You may know it from my last journals. Ask questions and I'll be happy to help. Feel free to answer any questions you have ideas about yourself, too.

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Biology Help Desk: Volume Seven

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Hey, remember these? I do. Vaguely. But vaguely isn't good enough, so here's another one. Since I've discovered that the secret to understanding machine learning problems well enough to implement them is mostly a matter of strategically procrastinating, it seems only fair that I should run one of these. So before cross-entropy actually starts making sense to me, what would you like to know?

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Biology Help Desk: Volume 6

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  about 2 years ago

It's probably a bad idea to run one of these while I'm slogging through the project bulge of my last semester of undergrad, but let's take a stab at it anyway. Have at it! Clever trolls welcome!

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Biology Help Desk: Volume 2n+1, n=2

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I've gotten a couple of requests now for another one of these, so here one is. Please, bring to me your curiosities and questions about the strange and mysterious biological sciences. I can probably answer (or research answers to) most questions. (Also, if you keep missing these, I've decided I'm going to vaguely hint at them in mysterious ways on Twitter (@rhet0rica) from now on. I guess even Twitter has to have some utility.)

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Biology Help Desk: Volume 4

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Bring me your curiosity! As before, if this expires and you want to ask a question, just slip me a comment (or an e-mail) and I'll put up another one of these. No question is too trivial; no thinly-veiled troll too transparent! (I'm going to regret saying that, I'm sure.)

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Biology Help Desk: Volume 3

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I've received another request for one of these, so I figured that I would put it up. Since they only last about two weeks, please feel free to track me down and ask for a new one if you ever have a question!

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Biology Help Desk Again

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I'm really not sure how long these last as comment-on-able, so here's another one. I'll try to be a little more vigilant in making sure there's always a journal open for asking questions.

A little more elucidation: I'm in the fourth year of a combined bioinformatics/medical informatics degree. Most of my semester is from the CS curriculum, but I have gotten through biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, and organic chemistry courses. (Mostly in the presence of pre-med students.) I've also taken genomics-specific courses and worked in a molecular biology lab studying C. elegans, and a medical lab studying Autism.

So ask away!

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Biology Help Desk

Samantha Wright Samantha Wright writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Thanks to the power of my silly sig, I've been getting a lot of biology questions lately. Most of these are fun to answer, but occasionally they pop up in totally inappropriate threads just out of the blue. Since Slashdot supports commenting on journal posts, it seemed like the best thing to do would be to make one and encourage people to ask here instead. So do that!

And I really will phrase things as car and computer analogies when possible. Although computer analogies are way more common.

For clarification, I've taken physiology and genetics courses, and can answer most geeky things about the human body and fundamental biology. I don't know much about pharmacology or ecology (because it is very, very, dry), and I am not a doctor. But I'll try to answer those questions, too.

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