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Google To Require As Many As 20 of Its Apps Preinstalled On Android Devices

Xtifr Re:It's sad (413 comments)

Remember when simply bundling IE was a monopoly abuse?

Saying that MS "simply bundled IE" is like saying that John Dillinger "simply withdrew money from a bank".

Google is behaving in exactly the same way

Only in the sense that I'm behaving in exactly the same way as John Dillinger when I withdraw money from my bank. :)

(The difference, in case it's not obvious, is that when I withdraw money from my bank, I don't do it in a way that violates any laws.)

2 days ago
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NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

Xtifr Re: Out of the frying pan... (189 comments)

For older cards, the OSS driver might end up being better than crapalyst.

Actually, it's the newer cards that are reported to have better performance with the latest OSS drivers.

This is a pretty recent development, though. A little over a year ago, everything I'd heard was in line with what you're saying. But when I heard about all the improvements in the recent OSS drivers, I took a chance and bought a box with ATI, just a couple of months ago, and I must say that it's been absolutely smooth, effortless, and 100% hassle free. With a 3.12 kernel (now upgraded to 3.14). And no catalyst.

If your experience is older than that, then I think your information may be out of date.

Not that I'm saying you should switch or anything. No skin off my nose. Just saying your data may be out of date.

2 days ago
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NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

Xtifr Re: Out of the frying pan... (189 comments)

The 3d stuff does work, just not for the latest cards.

Are you sure? You may need a more up-to-date kernel than your favorite distro provides to support the latest cards, but I certainly had the impression that AMD is actively pushing code into the mainstream kernel. Southern Island and Sea Island chipsets are both supported in 3.16 (and possibly earlier).

3D performance on many ATI/AMD cards is actually better with the open source kernel drivers than with the proprietary drivers if you have a recent enough kernel, according to some reports I've heard.

3 days ago
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My toy collection is ...

Xtifr How about... (206 comments)

Small and moderately important. Almost none of it would qualify as "great sentimental value", but I can't say they're not important to me at all. Especially my penguin collection. I got a couple of plushy Tuxes from trade shows many years back, and several of people in my family became convinced that I was collecting penguins, so they started giving me any penguins they found. I wasn't, and am not, collecting penguins, but it turned into a nifty little collection despite my lack of effort, and I'd miss it if it disappeared.

The Star Trek DS9 action figures were given to me as a joke. Which is all that needs to be said about that. :)

The Bruce Campbell action figure is rather a treasure. Even if it's (or perhaps especially because it's) Autolycus, King of Thieves, rather than Ash.

The rest is just doo-dads, but fun doo-dads.

3 days ago
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It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

Xtifr Why should I pick one? (404 comments)

* Brave New World: an underrated classic, full of terrifying ideas, many of which are far beyond Orwell's worst nightmares, but at the same time, well-written and engaging. Very much worth reading. A personal favorite.
* Farenheit 451: a critique of television that also works as a critique of censorship in general. Lacks the scope of BNW or 1984, but still well worth reading.
* 1984: slightly overrated classic. Very timely warnings when it was written (1948), full of obvious and still-current threats, but without the grand scope of BNW, and also a bit of a slog to read. Orwell had great ideas, but lacked Huxley's literary flair and his grand vision. Worth reading as an icon of the genre if nothing else, though.
* His Dark Materials: a YA pop fantasy series mostly famous because of the author's dislike for organized religion. Narnia for atheists. Fun if you're into that sort of thing, but popcorn.
* A Clockwork Orange: If it weren't for the movie, I'm not sure this would be famous. The movie is good. The book is so-so.
* The Handmaid's Tale: haven't read.

about a week ago
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US Patent Office Seeking Consultant That Can Stamp Out Fraud By Patent Examiners

Xtifr The real problem (124 comments)

Yeah, blame it all on the examiners--don't pay any attention to the management which requires them to process and pass as many patents as they can in as little time as possible, because that brings in the most money. It's all the fault of those "lazy" employees who basically do what they're told! :p ;)

If you really want to change things, don't measure performance by how many patents are granted! Because there's no surer way of guaranteeing that bad patents will be passed than that!

about two weeks ago
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DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Xtifr More options! (228 comments)

Geeze, these options lack vision! How about...

Coffee plants that can grow in different climates--underwater might be good, since that may be where many of us will be living soon. :)

Self-brewing coffee plants that you can just drink directly from.

Giant coffee plants that can be used in construction, so your house smells like fresh-brewed coffee at all times.

Super-intelligent mobile coffee plants that can be used as soldiers in my plans to take over the world!

about three weeks ago
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Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

Xtifr Re:Odor of Corruption (115 comments)

Indeed, which is why, when I talk to kids about math in school, one of the things I like to point out is that while statistics are, in general, rather boring, it's really important to learn enough to have at least a chance of recognizing when they're being used to lie to you. This argument gets through to a suprising number of them.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

Xtifr Re:Gravity isn't SF (180 comments)

Heh, depending on how you define "fantasy elements", sure, but then the same thing can be said of mainstream fiction, detective novels, and the movie Gravity. :)

In the context of science fiction and fantasy, the term "fantasy elements" generally refers to pure magic and other impossible things; since OP claimed that Gravity lacked fantasy elements, that seemed like a more plausible interpretation of what he meant.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

Xtifr Re:So, what controversy? (180 comments)

I've read some of what he's written on his blog, and I am more than satisfied that he's a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit who completely deserves all the opprobrium he receives. What's worse, he's one of those crazy religious fanatics who twists the bible into excuses to hate people, like the Westborough folks. As a human, I find him utterly contemptible.

Nevertheless, if I'd been voting on the Hugos this year, I would have judged his work on its own merit. I still find Orson Scott Card an outstanding writer, despite my (milder) contempt for the man himself. Fortunately, I have many friends who were Hugo voters this year, who are also capable of separating their opinion of the artist from their opinion of the art, and they have uniformly told me that the work didn't deserve a nomination, let alone a win. Maybe it wasn't bad enough to end up below no-award--maybe that happened because of Day's vile on-line persona--but the fact that it didn't win seems to me to be fully justified.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

Xtifr Re:Gravity isn't SF (180 comments)

Gravity isn't science fiction. We actually do send people into space, and that kind of disaster could sort of happen.

"Could happen"--but hasn't. That's what makes it science fiction. "Speculative science" is absolutely not a requirement of SF, and "predictions of the future" is basically what it was. It was at least as plausible a prediction as something like Heinlein's "...If This Goes On". And "fantasy elements", in a lot of people's opinions, loosely including mine, are never an element of actual science fiction.

Space exploration and research still falls basically in the domain of science these days, even though it's a lot more of an everyday activity than it once was. Once tickets to space become affordable to the average person, then maybe we can say that a movie like Gravity is no more SFnal than something like The Fast and the Furious. But until then, I think it qualifies, and a whole lot of people seem to agree with me.

about a month ago
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How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

Xtifr no longer seems worth it (391 comments)

I used to build my own, because that was the best way to get the specs I wanted at a good price. Especially since I run Linux. But I'm a software guy, and have always considered futzing with the hardware to be a necessary evil, rather than a goal on its own. Once I was able to get off-the-shelf machines that met my needs, I happily stopped building my own.

I voted 6-8 years ago, because the machine I bought about eight years ago needed some additions and improvements. It wasn't a full DIY, so I'm not sure it counts, but it was the last machine I had that was even partly DIY. Since then, it's seemed like machines that meet my specs are actually cheaper than buying their component parts, and that's before you factor in build time.

about 2 months ago
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What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Xtifr Re:Tricky (152 comments)

We're talking about streaming media

Who's "we"? Looking throught the comments, I see a lot of people expressing confusion about the point.

Oh, and I'd say that a web-page counts as streaming text. And a lot of people might consider Project Gutenberg's offerings (for example) as more-or-less streaming, if you read them online.

about 2 months ago
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What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Xtifr Re:Not sure... (152 comments)

Thanks. Hadn't thought of that, since it's way, way down on my list of priorities, but that makes a lot of sense. I can't actually moderate, since I've already commented, but please accept this virtual +1 interesting. :)

Still, the fact that there are relatively simple workarounds doesn't mean there aren't region restrictions.

about 2 months ago
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What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Xtifr Re:Not sure... (152 comments)

I watch a fair amount of YouTube stuff (and appreciate the complete lack of stupid regional restrictions).

It's not actually a complete lack. I haven't been able to watch the last couple of seasons of QI, because the BBC allows them on YouTube only with regional restrictions, and I'm not in the UK, and the BBC hasn't arranged for any other form of distribution of the show in the US. But in general, yeah, it's better than a lot of the alteratives.

(I could probably snag them off some torrent site somewhere, but I don't do that sort of thing in general.)

about 2 months ago
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What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Xtifr Re:Tricky (152 comments)

How about minutes of media? Text doesn't count, as it isn't media.

Text isn't media? You've got a really bizarre definition of media! Even accepting that the word now has a separate meaning aside from its meaning as the plural of medium, the phrases "mass media" or "mainstream media" have always included newspapers and books. Which are, generally, text.

about 2 months ago
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What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Xtifr Tricky (152 comments)

Most of my video, but almost none of my music. But I'm not sure how those two compare percentage-wise. And what about books? Do those count as media? I certainly don't stream even e-books. (Except, arguably, through O'Reilly's Safari program, which might count.) But then there's news media, which is almost entirely streamed. If you count visiting web-pages as streaming.

Honestly, I'm really not sure. Depending on how I measure, I might be able to come up with a number anywhere from 20 to 80.

about 2 months ago
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Chimpanzee Intelligence Largely Determined By Genetics

Xtifr The actual study has somewhat different conclusion (157 comments)

Some meta-analysis of the actual study, along with some examination of how the media has generally thoroughly misrepresented the study, is available at Language Log.

Thus Component 1 (23.6% of test variance) was significantly heritable — h2 = 0.538. The symbol h2 is used to denote "narrow-sense heritability", which is the ratio between the variance due to average effects of alleles, and the phenotypic variance as a whole:

$$h^2 = \frac{Var(A)}{Var(P)}$$

In other words, about half of the variance in a PCA component accounting for about a quarter of the variance in test results was accounted for by genetic variation.

Component 3 (10.8% of test variance) was also significantly heritable, with h2 = 0.335. Thus about a third of the variance in a PCA component accounting for about a tenth of the variance in test results was accounted for by genetic variation.

The genetic relationships of components 2 (11.7 of test-score variance) and 4 (8.2% of test-score variance) were not statistically significant.

A quarter plus a tenth of the test results were shown to be related at all (not in whole, but at all) to heritable traits. The grand total overall was just under 16% (a half of a quarter, plus a third of a tenth).

Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't describe 16% as "largely". I'd describe 16% as "partly", or "mildly", or "somewhat". But of course, reporters for Nat'l Geo and The Independent and the like aren't big on math.

It's still an interesting and intriguing study, of course, but so grossly misreported that it boggles the mind. We need a better grade of chimpanzee writing science articles for the general public! :D

about 3 months ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Xtifr Re:another language shoved down your throat (415 comments)

I always break up code into reasonable sized functions

That's nice if you're working alone, and never have to deal with other people's code, and don't have to fight management tooth-and-nail for any change larger than the bare minimum required to fix a specific problem.

about 3 months ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Xtifr Re:another language shoved down your throat (415 comments)

In your non-Python language of choice, how do you tell the difference between an error in indentation and an error in marking the beginning and ending of blocks?

Difference? There is no difference! I don't indent! I mark the beginning and end of blocks, and the code is automatically indented to match. I can, with some difficulty, defeat this mechanism, but I can't think of any reason why I'd want to.

about 3 months ago

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