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Nature Publisher Requires Authors To Waive "Moral Rights" To Works

Trepidity Re:There are many journals (82 comments)

Not with quite the same profile, though. For just the "academic game" part there are indeed plenty of alternatives, journals with high impact factors and other such metrics, well-respected within a field. What Nature and Science mainly have going for them is a bunch of media and science-popularizer attention as well, which is useful for people who want to build up a high profile for themselves. If you get your paper on evolutionary robotics into a robotics journal, you can get prestige, but if you get it into Nature you can be on CNN talking about our future robot overlords.

about two weeks ago
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IRS: Bitcoin Is Property, Not Currency

Trepidity Re:This makes perfect sense (273 comments)

Either way would make it inconvenient for those wanting to follow the rules, but if they had treated it like a foreign currency at least the $200 gain exemption would have taken the burden of keeping records off of many purchases.

True, though it would've made it worse for people with large amounts. With this ruling, gains realized after >1 yr of holding bitcoin are taxed at capital-gains rates, while with the alternative ruling that bitcoin is currency, large gains would've been taxed at ordinary income rates (like forex-trading gains are).

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Trepidity Re:Other way around (466 comments)

To complicate things more, it looks like it might depend on whether you're calling from a mobile or landline. If you call from a landline, I think calling mobiles is still (much) more expensive. You can see that in the Skype rates, for example, because Skype originates its calls from landlines: Calling Finnish landlines from Skype is 0.04 EUR/min, while calling Finnish mobiles from Skype is 0.19 EUR/min (!).

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Trepidity Re:It's not arrogant, it's correct. (466 comments)

On U.S. mobiles phones, interestingly, both sides pay.

On European mobile phones, on the other hand, only the caller pays, but they pay a non-neutral rate, which varies depending on the type of device the recipient has: calling mobile phones is more expensive (in some countries, much more expensive) than calling landlines.

about three weeks ago
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Computer Spots Fakers Better Than People Do

Trepidity Re:It wasn't the computer (62 comments)

I'd say the computer is pretty intelligent. For one, it's better at recognizing facial expressions than people are! ;-)

I mean, if you hired a textile worker, nobody would object if you talked about the worker being "good" or "bad" at sewing, even though they didn't design the sewing machinery and aren't exhibiting any particular creativity, but rather are just following instructions.

about a month ago
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Computer Spots Fakers Better Than People Do

Trepidity Re:It wasn't the computer (62 comments)

I'd say it's a mixture of the two. The computer can't discriminate these facial features without people to program it, but the people can't discriminate these facial features on their own, either, because we aren't good at applying this kind of analysis ourselves (even if we can come up with what it ought to be). The existence of a computer isn't enough, and the existence of the people is also insufficient, to carry out the task. So I'd call it a collaborative activity.

about a month ago
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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

Trepidity Re:What he's really saying (281 comments)

I'm not looking at highest overall pay, but highest incremental pay, vs. if you self-taught that field. CS degrees pay a lot, but their incremental value is not nearly as high, b/c self-taught programmers also get good salaries. Therefore, if you are going to do CS, the incremental value of getting a degree in it vs. just self-teaching is not that high.

Now compare people with liberal-arts degrees to people who are looking for liberal-arts jobs without having a degree. Now here you see a big differential: people looking for liberal arts jobs with no college degree don't have many offers coming.

about a month ago
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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

Trepidity Re:Mark and Bill (281 comments)

Bill Gates himself even says that he's a dumb example of a college dropout. Not only because the odds of following his trajectory are small, but because he was basically at the point of graduating when Microsoft blew up. Had Microsoft gotten its big break 6 months later, he would've graduated, but it got big and he ran with it. He didn't drop out and then roll the dice.

about a month ago
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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

Trepidity Re:What he's really saying (281 comments)

I seem to recall some numbers that the differential value of a college degree is actually highest outside of STEM. Can't seem to find them again, but would be interesting to look at.

It makes sense if you think of it from the "negative" side: how do you fare looking for a job without a degree? If you are looking for tech jobs, a degree is valuable but you can still get a good job without one: CS degrees are not required for all tech jobs, not even all six-figure tech jobs. The incremental value of being a programmer vs. being a programmer with a degree is positive but modest.

But if you are looking for non-tech jobs without even having a liberal-arts degree, then you are effectively hosed. All those mid-five-figure white-collar administrative jobs in a typical Fortune 500 company are filled by people with liberal-arts degrees. Why? Because companies find it a useful filter. Not perfect, but better than nothing: if you want to select for "likely to be a decent employee, show up on time, follow directions, write English sentences coherently", and you have 50 applicants with degrees and 50 without, you just pick someone out of the 50 who have a degree.

about a month ago
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What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

Trepidity Re:Don't they have to fly that thing around? (330 comments)

"The Beast" exists mostly because of Kennedy and various other attempts on American presidents

That's true, but there's some middle ground between riding completely open-air in a convertible, and riding around in a quasi-tank. All you need to stop JFK-style attacks is an enclosed vehicle that can stop bullets, like the Popemobile.

about a month ago
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Facebook Wants Drones To Connect the Developing World

Trepidity typical proprietary hacks (48 comments)

The solution is pretty clear: just implement RFC 1149 and RFC 2460 and connectivity will be fine in even remote areas.

about a month and a half ago
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U.S. Students/Grads Carrying Over $1 Trillion In Debt

Trepidity Re:Easily available loans (538 comments)

Mixture of things:

1. In many states, the community-college system is still heavily subsidized, while the flagship schools have been moving towards a "user-pays" model. For example, the state of California has cut its per-student subsidy to the University of California system by about 60% in real terms over the past 30 years, but has cut their per-student subsidy to the community-college system by only about 20%.

2. Community colleges typically are looser in who they'll hire to teach classes: no PhD required, can teach part-time, no research expectations, etc. Like with any field, if you have lower requirements, you can get staff for lower salaries, e.g. hiring C++ programmers vs. web designers.

3. Prestigious universities have suffered more administrative bloat, I guess because it's where the prestige is, so attracts empire-builders. Community colleges don't pay their President $500k/yr, or have an army of Assistant Vice Chancellors.

4. To be a "top school" there are higher expectations of the other resources provided besides the actual classes. A community college typically has a small or no library, while UC Berkeley is expected to have a full-coverage research library. UC Berkeley is also expected to provide good laboratory and computing facilities, dorms, security and healthcare for an on-campus resident population, etc.

about a month and a half ago
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'Obnoxious' RSA Protests, RSA Remains Mum

Trepidity Re:Bad inference (99 comments)

Also, the pained facial expressions might be related to the lack of tacos and/or tequila drinks.

about 2 months ago
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How Mobile Apps Are Reinventing the Worst of the Software Industry

Trepidity Re:Free market (333 comments)

Let's not be unfair now: Comrade Dice has clearly indicated that the people's wishes are being fully consulted, and the New Slashdot will only be rolled out in such a manner as to benefit us all.

about 2 months ago
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How Mobile Apps Are Reinventing the Worst of the Software Industry

Trepidity Re:What can be done? (333 comments)

Often it is done in HTML5 too, by the same people. I've uninstalled several websites' apps because the apps were actually less featureful, slower, and buggier than just using the website in a mobile browser. A common organizational reason for this is when the mobile app was contracted out to a third party dev shop as a one-off. When it first came out, it might've been on par or better than the mobile site. But then it never gets updated, because it was just an outside contract job, while the website is actually maintained and quickly surpasses the bitrotting mobile app.

about 2 months ago
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Study Shows Agent Orange Still Taints Aging C-123s

Trepidity Re:Serving in the Military (166 comments)

There's always the idea the U.S. Founding Fathers had: citizens should join a defensive militia, but not a standing army.

about 2 months ago
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French, German Leaders: Keep European Email Off US Servers

Trepidity Re:You, uh... Know... (115 comments)

If they want to use other services, then they can damned well build their own.

That seems to be kind of what Angela Merkel is proposing? The whole proposal is: Europe should build their own online services and stop using America's.

about 2 months ago
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French, German Leaders: Keep European Email Off US Servers

Trepidity Re:You, uh... Know... (115 comments)

They do actually have the cables and backbone. Despite the weird wording she doesn't seem to be talking about an actual European network, since that already exists: if you ping from Sweden to Italy it goes through Germany, Austria, etc., like you'd expect. The problem is that many of the successful hosted services are in the USA, so while the ping stays within Europe, when you email from Sweden to Italy, it probably hits up Gmail in the USA.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Political Pressure Pushes NASA Technical Reports Offline

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  1 year,28 days

Trepidity writes "The extensive NASA Technical Report Archive was just taken offline, following pressure from members of U.S. Congress, worried that Chinese researchers could be reading the reports. U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) demanded that "NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review", and NASA appears to have complied. Although all reports are in the public domain, there doesn't appear to be a third-party mirror available (some university libraries do have subsets on microfiche)."
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AI Systems Designing Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about a year ago

Trepidity writes "AI systems can (sort of) paint and compose classical music, but can they design games? Slashdot looked at the question a few years ago, and several research groups now have experimental systems that design board games and platformers with varying levels of success. I've put together a survey of the AI game designers I know of, to round up what they can do so far (and what they can't). Are there any others out there?"
Link to Original Source
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US Navy Admiral Questions Expensive Stealth Platforms

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Trepidity writes "United States Navy Admiral and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert stirred a controversy by questioning much of the thinking underlying current U.S. defense technology. He argues that stealth technology is unlikely to retain its usefulness much into the future, and so focus should switch towards standoff weapons. In addition, he criticizes the focus on expensive all-in-one platforms such as the F-35 fighter, arguing for a payload-centric, flexible approach he compares to trucks rather than luxury cars."
Link to Original Source
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Appeals Court rules TOS violations aren't criminal

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a decision today (pdf), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act "does not extend to violations of use restrictions", and therefore violating terms of service and corporate use policies is not a federal crime. Law profesor Orin Kerr cheered the decision, but since three other Courts of Appeals have reached opposite decisions, it might be heading to the Supreme Court."
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MP3Tunes wins victory for cloud music storage

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case being closely watched by companies like Amazon and Google, for the implications it could have for their own cloud-based "music locker" services, a judge ruled in the case of MP3Tunes that the way such services operate is generally legal. In particular, they are eligible for DMCA safe-harbor protections, and de-duplication of identical files uploaded by different users does not create a "master copy" that would make the company liable for public-performance royalties. Furthermore, if a fingerprint finds an exact match with an already-uploaded file, the company can legally skip the actual uploading step, rather than only de-duplicating after upload. While this is good news for many other such services, MP3Tunes itself partially lost, because they hadn't properly responded to DMCA takedown notices, and the company's founder had made the bone-headed move of personally distributing public links to some of the "privately" stored copyrighted music. Full decision here (PDF)."
Link to Original Source
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Gamification roundup

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "Controversy continues over the seemingly unstoppable trend of "gamification" (something Slashdot's covered previously). The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business held a Gamification Symposium entitled "For The Win" this week, indicating apparent academic respectability. But in the opening panel debating definitions of "gamification", one participant, game scholar Ian Bogost, defined it as "bullshit". Elsewhere, Jon Radoff responds that it may not be bullshit, but is too focused on superficial behaviorism rather than deeper gameplay. For my part, I wonder if by claiming gamification is a completely new thing, rather than just a new word, we're missing out on important past lessons, like the very strange history of Soviet gamification."
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Places with the most Wikipedia articles

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Trepidity writes "Wikipedia has been making an effort to mark up articles with latitude-longitude coordinates when they refer to a specific location. It's now done so for over a million articles (across all languages). I was curious which parts of the world have gotten the most coverage. The answer is: Florence, Italy has the most articles within a 1-km-diameter circle; and London tops both the 10-km and 100-km lists. Here are the full results."
Link to Original Source
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Cow Clicker tackles world hunger

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Trepidity writes "Cow Clicker distilled Facebook games down to their essence: clicking on cows. Since then, though, social games have upped their sights, focusing on lofty goals like solving hunger, disease, and poverty. Not wanting to miss this utopian gaming trend, Cow Clicktivism turns clicks on cows into real cows, via Oxfam America. Even better, anyone with a revolutionary idea for how clicking on cows can fix the world can now implement it, using the Cow Clicker API."
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Cow Clicker: The Essence of Facebook Games

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mjn writes "Game designer and academic Ian Bogost announces Cow Clicker, a Facebook game implementing the mechanics of the Facebook-games genre stripped to their core. You get a cow, which you can click on every six hours. You earn additional clicks if your friends in your pasture also click. You can buy premium cows with 'mooney', and also use your mooney to buy more clicks. You can buy mooney with real dollars, or earn some free bonus mooney if you spam up your feed with Cow Clicker activity. A satire of Facebook games, but actually as genuine a game as the non-satirical games are. And people actually play it, perhaps confirming Bogost's view that the genre of games is largely just "brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money", which continue to work even when the users are openly told what's going on."
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Facebook retroactively makes more user data public

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mjn writes "In yet another backtrack from their privacy policy, Facebook has decided to retroactively move more information into the public, indexable part of profiles. The new profile parts made public are: a list of things users have become "fans" of (now renamed to "likes"), their education and work histories, and what they list under "interests". Apparently there is neither any opt-out nor even notice to users, despite the fact that some of this information was entered by users at a time when Facebook's privacy policy explicitly promised that it wouldn't be part of the public profile."
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Library of Congress to Archive All Tweets

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  about 4 years ago

mjn writes "Continuing their recent push to archive more digital content, the U.S. Library of Congress announced a deal with Twitter to archive all public tweets, dating back to Twitter's inception in March 2006. More details at their blog. No word yet on precisely what will be done with the collection, but besides entering your friends' important updates on the quality of breakfast into the permanent archival record, the deal may improve access for researchers wanting to analyze and mine Twitter's giant database."
Link to Original Source
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Prison bans D&D for mimicking gang structure

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "In a case that has been winding its way through the courts for a bit, a Wisconsin prison banned inmates from playing Dungeons & Dragons, using the justification that 'one player is denoted the Dungeon Master... [who] is tasked with giving directions to other players ... [which] mimics the organization of a gang'. The prison also cited some sparse evidence that a handful of non-inmate D&D players once committed some crimes that allegedly were related to their D&D playing. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld [pdf] the regulation Monday against challenges from inmates. The court appeared skeptical of the ban, sarcastically referring to it as the 'war on D&D', but nonetheless upheld it as having a 'rational basis'. Law prof. Ilya Somin suggests that the court may have had no choice, given how deferential rational-basis review usually is."
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The Murky Origins of Zork's Name

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term "zorch" from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed "work" on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations, that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."
Link to Original Source
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Supreme Court skeptical of business method patents

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "The U.S. Supreme Court held oral argument Monday in Bilski , a business-methods patent case that might also have important implications for software patents (Slashdot's previously covered the case several times). The tone of the argument appears to be good news, as the justices were very skeptical of the broad patentability claims. They even brought up a parade of absurd hypothetical patents quite similar to the ones Slashdotters tend to mention in these kinds of debates. Roberts surmised that "buy low, sell high" might be a patentable business method, Sotomayor wondered if speed-dating could be patentable, Breyer questioned whether a professor could patent a lesson plan that kept his students from falling asleep, and Scalia brought up the old-time radio soap opera Lorenzo Jones , featuring a hare-brained inventor with delusions of getting rich."
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Lori Drew case cyberbullying case dismissed

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trepidity writes "About 7 weeks after the judge tentative overturned Lori Drew's guilty verdict for "cyberbullying" following her online harassment of a teenager that was linked to the teenager's suicide, the case was finally officially dismissed. In a 32-page opinion [PDF], the court avoided a minefield of possible follow-on effects that civil-liberties groups had warned of by holding that merely violating a website's Terms of Service cannot constitute "unauthorized access" for the purposes of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. 1030)."
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Computing education on a treadmill?

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Mark J. Nelson writes "A recent op-ed discusses some educators co-opting cell phones to be used for educational purposes: "Among the exercises, students measured the area of a school hallway, recorded the geologic stages of the rock cycle and found mean, median, mode and range from a group of numbers. They sketched and even animated on the phones." While this might be a useful strategy, Prof. Mark Guzdial wonders if computers in education are on something of a fashion treadmill. Previously, students used graphing calculators for all these things; now we're reinventing the same thing on cell phones. In other areas, the "Hello World" of yore, having grown stale, has been replaced with playing a sound or displaying some graphics. Is progress in CS education really just a process of constantly updating the same fundamental stuff with a fresh look?"
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Harmful Effects of SPEC Storage Benchmarks

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Sun engineer Bryan Cantrill, probably best known as one of the designers of DTrace and now working on storage servers, wrote an interesting thorough dismantling of the SPEC storage server benchmarks, accusing them of driving worse performance and especially worse performance-per-price for most workloads. In particular, they seem to be based on workload assumptions from 1986 with little revision (ironically, largely from 1986-era Sun documents), and have particularly egregious requirements for large, randomly accessed working sets that effectively make caching architectures useless, instead rewarding architectures that just throw a bunch of really fast, expensive drives into a box. Coincidentally, that's what the ultra-expensive products from entrenched market leader NetApp do. Cantrill isn't a neutral observer, of course: his current work is on cache-heavy storage architectures based around SSDs and ZFS. But his criticisms still seem pretty solid."
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Airport-Security Game iPhone Approval Woes

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "G4TV has a segment on the iPhone App Store approval process of JetSet, a game parodying airport security policies. While you might think Apple objected to the concept itself, they rejected it instead for "inappropriate sexual content", apparently because of the inclusion of items like underwire bras (which are notorious for setting off metal detectors). Worse, they initially didn't say what parts of the game they objected to, leading to a months-long guessing process to get the game eventually approved."
Link to Original Source
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Atari 2600 Book Released

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "AtariAge reports that 'Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System' was just published by MIT Press. It seems to be the first book-length retrospective on the Atari VCS (2600), covering its hardware, programming, business rise and fall, culture, aesthetics, and how all those interrelated to produce one of the most influential gaming platforms. Authors Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort chose six cartridges for particularly in-depth study: Combat, Adventure, Pac-Man, Yars' Revenge, Pitfall!, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. (The title is a reference to the line-by-line video output required by the 2600's lack of a framebuffer.)"
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MIPS/Linux hacker Thiemo Seufer dies

Trepidity Trepidity writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Trepidity writes "Longtime Linux-MIPS hacker Thiemo Seufer died in a car accident on December 26. Among other things, he was a major contributor to the Linux kernel's MIPS port, served as the MIPS maintainer/co-maintainer for binutils for 5 years, was the main supporter of the Debian MIPS port, and produced thousands of patches to free-software packages ranging from SBCL to QEMU to get them working (or working better) on or with the MIPS platform."
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