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The JavaScript Juggernaut Rolls On

SnowZero Re:Replusive (505 comments)

Perhaps a better approach is Google's NaCl, where intermediate code is translated more directly to native code, while putting security guarantees in place. But here, of course, cross-platform support is an issue.

You might find Portable Native Client interesting, which is built out of LLVM+NaCl.

I'm hoping that eventually browsers, mobile phones, and cloud hosting will just become sandboxed LLVM targets. Then people could use whatever language they like, wherever they want.

about a year ago

Protesters Show Up At the Doorstep of Google Self-driving Car Engineer

SnowZero Re:The problem with Google Bus (692 comments)

I live near Google and also work there. The bus stops are not anywhere near campus, as they are only intended for people with long commutes where pooling makes sense. I live 7 miles from my building, which is bikable and drivable, so no bus stop or bus for me. What you see around campus is empty buses during the day because they need somewhere to hang out between the morning and evening rush. I think you might be misinterpreting this as how they always look.

They are not driving them empty up and down the peninsula all day. Sometimes during rush hour there is one direction that'll be almost empty, but in those cases there are a *lot* of people the other way.

Many-to-one transportation systems (like corporate shuttles) are much easier to run efficiently than many-to-many systems (like most city buses). This is why systems use hubs -- even though they take you well out of your way, they are cheaper for the carrier. But in the case of a shuttle, the hub *is* where you want to go, so there is no loss of efficiency.

1 year,2 days

Google Fiber Launches In Provo — and Here's What It Feels Like

SnowZero Re:Until you experience the speed ... (338 comments)

Manhattan has 1.6M people at an average density of 70,500 per sq mile. I don't know of any 1 Gbps service for $25 there.

1 year,2 days

FSF's Richard Stallman Calls LLVM a 'Terrible Setback'

SnowZero Re:...but if you want free software to improve... (1098 comments)

How about where a company sinks several person-years of effort into a library or software suite, then decides to open source it? If an external developer spends a few days fixing a bug, it would be nice if the company that footed most of the development cost could use that fix in their internal deployments. Only fair, right?

Now hopefully it makes sense why companies release mostly BSD software (Clang being a good example). It is also why developers BSD things that they want companies to embrace (basic components where wide use helps like zlib, or things where you'd like a company to foot the long-term cost).

I've released both GPLv2 and MIT-licensed libraries. My current employer allows me to open source some work, but strongly encourages Apache licensing. I follow that, because they paid me to write it and it seems unfair to limit their future use.

1 year,2 days

Could an Erasable Internet Kill Google?

SnowZero Re:No, it would improve Google searches (210 comments)

Use quotes around words, or enable "verbatim results" in the options. The + thing was misunderstood and misused by most users, and they figured experts could RTFM.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Build a Morse Code Audio Library For Machine Learning?

SnowZero Try HMMs (79 comments)

The thesis you are basing your work is from 1977; while no doubt current when it was written, there is has been a lot of work on human signal decoding since then.

I'd strongly suggest looking at Hidden Markov Models:
While some recent methods have gone beyond HMMs for speech recognition, that's been the baseline "good" solution for the past decade.

Since this is a binary signal problem another approach to consider would be Markov Random Fields (MRFs) which could be used as an initial de-noising pass or even as a full decoder if you set the cost functions right.

Your idea of user adaptation is pretty reasonable, but my guess is the primary thing that matters would be an overall speed scaling. IOW for good decoding you probably just need to normalize the average letter rate between users.

Good luck.

about a year ago

Protesters Block Apple and Google Buses In California

SnowZero Re:What about 'public transit stop' do you not und (653 comments)

For public stop usage the SFMTA was aware of and already working toward a solution since late 2011:
It's all laid out pretty reasonably without having to get into a ticketing war or protests. These protesters are late to this issue, yet will probably claim credit when the mutli-year regulation update goes in place next year.

Of course, this is just a side issue for the bus protesters, it is more about the evictions. There are a lot of things driving that from zoning regulations to economics, so they pick a visible if somewhat poorly representative target.

In your case, it does seems like quite a traffic growth problem, but replacing the each bus with 30+ cars doesn't seem like a good solution.

about a year ago

Google's Plan To Kill the Corporate Network

SnowZero Re:Goobuntu (308 comments)

The Goobuntu part is incorrect. Both my laptop and desktop have GCC 4.6.3 installed right now.

about a year ago

Bursting the Filter Bubble

SnowZero Re:its more than just political sensitivity (136 comments)

It is exceedingly unlikely that the results don't overlap after the first few, but if you can produce a copy of the two sets of results, I will forward them to someone on the Google Search team for debugging.

People hugely overestimate the effect of personalization -- it is a ranking tweak not a complete change to the search engine. It does not make economic sense to have personalized whole-web indexes.

Btw, if you don't like personalization ever, it is pretty easy to turn off:
Just remove web history and uncheck private results.

about a year ago

A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

SnowZero Re:Why subsidize? (1030 comments)

Decisions must be made based upon vigorous consideration of real world conditions and forces not abstract philosophy.

This is a very good argument against government intervention. A government made of lawyers is not a good substitute for scientists and economists.

about a year ago

Google Patents Fooling Friends With Snooping, Chatbots

SnowZero Mod parent up (128 comments)

This seems to be the most accurate post on the topic, yet carries the lowest score. This is about making suggestions, not auto-sending messages.

Typing on a phone is annoying, so if I can say "on my way home" with fewer clicks, instead of having to retype the message all the time, I would be happy to do so. Of course, I could set up some kind of macro, but an automatic system is far easier for normal folks to use.

Of course, whether this should be patentable is an entirely different matter, but the feature is an entirely reasonable thing to try.

about a year ago

Google: Our Robot Cars Are Better Drivers Than You

SnowZero Re:At what speed? (722 comments)

If you assume a linear traction-limited model[1], information only needs to be sent backwards. Specifically:
(a) current velocity
(b) current acceleration/deceleration.
(c) maximum deceleration.

The immediately following car just needs to measure the distance[2], and know its own state and parameters. Then it can calculate how much space it needs to stop if the car in front immediately starts breaking at the maximum rate. You can incorporate communication & reaction delays easily too, as well as any bounded noise on the state variables. This would work for an arbitrarily long chain of cars, with each car just needing to monitor the one in front of it. It even works for autonomous cars following human-driven cars[3].

I used to be a robotics researcher, with a focus on high performance navigation. The lane-free full 2D generalization of the problem above was a chapter in my thesis (from 2007).

[1] or just make sure your actual model fits within a conservative linear envelope.
[2] obviously you can estimate a&b, but it potentially introduces additional delay to get the noise down, in particular for acceleration since that is second order.
[3] this is an ideal case *IF* that driver is paying attention, since the human driver has a better perception system.

about a year ago

Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

SnowZero Re:You don't understand Google (274 comments)

(I work at Google, but not on search)

I'm afraid the idea, often expressed in this discussion, of "that's what most people want" sells us short. The whole point of a smart search engine is to give me what I want. What I want is not what most want.

When Google tries to do this, the same people start complaining about filter bubbles[1] and either turn off personalization in their search settings, or turn to DDG, where a primary selling point is that they don't personalize. You really can't have it both ways, although Google comes very close with a simple toggle button for personalized results[2].

So as a monopoly it has started to ignore its users. It has even wound back features that were previously useful. Most of us could quickly list 10 things it could do to improve its service.

I don't believe you appreciate the difficulty of search given the current state of advanced [black hat] SEO; things that worked in the past (such as plain pagerank) would not work at all today. All search engines must run to keep in place. Also, economics plays a role -- can those 10 things be implemented in a practical way that scales and is cost effective.

I can 10 things on my car that I'd like, such as better fuel economy, more horsepower, better crash safety, better visibility, more convenience features, and a lower price. Unfortunately many of those things conflict, so in a practical sense it is likely that the car company had to strike a balance. From my armchair I am unlikely to know all of the things that went into those trade-offs.

[1] "filter bubbles" don't really apply to multi-answer ranking problems or are trivially broken with standard techniques from reinforcement learning to manage the "explore-vs-exploit" tradeoff. As far as I've been able to determine, the person who coined the bubble term has no formal background in statistics (in particular ranking problems) or machine learning (in particular reinforcement learning).

[2] An oberservation from a long-time logged-in user: In my search results, personalization hardly ever effects more than two results out of the first 10. In search at least, filter bubbles do not exist for me, and I've taken no steps to avoid them. They do happen when I listen to a music service for a while (where unlike search, only one song can be chosen as the next to play).

about a year ago

Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

SnowZero Re:Sick of 'smart' searches (274 comments)

Maybe I'm a curmudgeon, but I would rather tweak the search to narrow down crap results than try to outsmart the 'smartness' any day of the week. I understand that this isn't necessarily what John Q. Internetuser is looking for in search, but at least having the option there would be a big help.

There already is such an option, called "verbatim":

about a year ago

Tesla Model S Catches Fire: Is This Tesla's 'Toyota' Moment?

SnowZero Re:vs gasoline cars (388 comments)

... crash ... thunk ....

about a year ago

Google's Scanning of Gmail To Deliver Ads May Violate Federal Wiretap Laws

SnowZero Re:Virus scanning is a service (325 comments)

I work at Google. You can read (and edit) your own profile right here:

It's really not that private stuff; here's four categories from my profile:
Business & Industrial
Business News
Computer & Video Games
Computer Components

The idea of a super-detailed profile is something with no original source, it has just been copied around the internet long enough that everyone accepts it as true. Of course you can claim that I'm not trustworthy, so below is an argument using only economics and public information.

There is no economic justification for a hyper-detailed profile. Here is why:

(1) Advertisers don't write ads for demographics so specific that there are only one or a few people in it. It is only in your interest to show to categories where many people apply, otherwise you are wasting your effort for no gain. Thus the worth of a profile is only in generalities.
(2) Specific keywords can be handled when the query is made or the page/email is shown. Just about all internet advertising is just-in-time like this, since anything else involves lots of serving-accessible storage which costs money. Even then, if the keyword only applies to a few people, the advertiser is wasting time as per #1.
(3) Every computation costs money. In advertising, if the cost to compute > incremental profit, you don't do it. The worth of a profile is only in its generalities as per #1, so that's the only thing worth computing, storing, and retrieving.
(4) If having a detailed profile on everyone was the holy grail of advertising, facebook would be making a lot more money per page view.

about a year ago

Using Pulsars As GPS For Starships

SnowZero Re:The past called.. (103 comments)

Go back and read the section titled Relative position of the Sun to the center of the Galaxy and 14 pulsars, which has this sentence in particular:

If the plaque is found, only some of the pulsars may be visible from the location of its discovery. Showing the location with as many as 14 pulsars provides redundancy so that the location of the origin can be triangulated even if only some of the pulsars are recognized.

Given the distance of the pulsars, it is a pretty good bet that at least 4 would be visible by a hypothetical finder of the plaque.

For a moving spacecraft, you could easily seed it with these 14 pulsars, and run a SLAM[1] algorithm to add new ones and fix their position as you move. Localization with an initially unknown set of point beacons is well studied.

Now, there might indeed be new stuff on top of this in the paper, but the slashdot summary certainly isn't revealing it.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simultaneous_localization_and_mapping

about a year and a half ago

Concern Mounts Over Self-Driving Cars Taking Away Freedom

SnowZero Re:As soon as the smart car counts as the driver (662 comments)

The system is not aware of what is happening around it.

Here's a video from two years ago, linked to the location in the talk about pedestrian, car, cyclist, and traffic light detection:
Around 9 minutes it shows how it all comes together to make a left turn at an intersection with many cars and pedestrians.

That was all two years ago. You're right that there's a long way to go, but describing it as an "auto-braking system" is extremely inaccurate.

about a year and a half ago

Whistleblowing IT Director Fired By FL State Attorney

SnowZero Re:No, you grow up (569 comments)

ask your employers and coworkers how you can improve.

I doubt they'd admit that they'd want me to be a worse programmer, so as not to draw attention to their own laziness/incompetence and (statistically) lack of engagement at work.

A software engineering job is between 25% and 50% programming / programming ability. First, there are design and specifications to meet client requirements. If you want any but the lowest-paying programming jobs you need to be a part of that specification process. Same goes with milestone setting, scheduling, and assignment of developer resources. Yes, various parts of management will do a lot of that, but they cannot do that in a vacuum -- guidance from technical jobs is needed to keep things realistic. Finally, as part of designing, planning, implementing, and documenting, you'll need to communicate with peers so that they can understand and make use or your work, and work with management to understand the need and importance of each part.

For the past six years I've worked at a company that does yearly peer reviews, which I've found quite helpful. In none of those reviews has someone stated that I need to program better or more skillfully. Yet in all of those reviews I've gotten constructive feedback -- on how to improve in the *other* skills that a more senior software engineer will need.

I hope you are able to find the stable job you seek. While I can't claim to understand the details, a small change in attitude toward supporting skills may be what is needed to get you closer to your goal.

about a year and a half ago

Apple Powering Nevada Datacenter With Solar Farm

SnowZero Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (104 comments)

137 acre plant != 137 acres of solar panels
Large solar setups need roads to access the panels, and if they are tilted it'll need space between panels to avoid wasted panel area from shadows.

Here's a similar but older plant:
    14 MW, 140 acres, 30 GW*h/year, built in 2007
Note in the photos how much sun hits the dirt (i.e. not on panels within the 140 acre plant).

So it's the right ballpark for a newer plant of the same size (but with better solar panels or packing) to be 18MW in 137 acres. I think you are right that it isn't optimistic, 43 GW*h/year sounds perfectly reasonable for a plant built 6 years later.

about a year and a half ago


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