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What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Xtifr Tricky (26 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.

7 hours ago

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 two weeks ago

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 two weeks ago

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 two weeks ago

Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

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

You're free to dislike the way Python handles blocks and white space.

Thank you. Not that I needed your permission, but I shall indeed continue to consider it an idiotic design.

But if it actually substantially affects your productivity, you're simply not a very good programmer, because it's not a big deal in practice.

Agreed. However the fact that it doesn't noticably harm my productivity doesn't mean it's a good feature.

In any case, we're discussing its potential use as a teaching language here, and people who are just starting to learn to program are, pretty much by definition, not good programers. So its impact on not-good-programmers is still very relevant.

about two weeks ago

The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

Xtifr Re:Well out running the police ... (443 comments)

Except there are people who survived crashes at much higher speeds.

There are people who have survived jumping out of "perfectly good" airplanes without a functioning parachute. Doesn't mean you should take up skydiving-without-a-parachute as a hobby. :)

There's a reason cases like you mention make the news: surviving a crash at those speeds is an impressive and newsworthy feat. (The reason this case made the news was not the fact that the driver died, but the fact that a Tesla was involved. Otherwise, it seems like a pretty unremarkable story.)

Richard Hammond of Top Gear UK fame survived a crash at 288 mph

And I bet he was buckled in. Remaining in the vehicle during a high-speed crash greatly increases your chances of survival. Exiting a vehicle at 100+ mph is generally contraindicated! (Tip for future reference.) ;)

about two weeks ago

Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

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

Have you ever been fooled by incorrect indentation that didn't compile the way it looked?

Nope. My editor takes care of indentation for me, in every common language except Python, and when I have to deal with a batch of code written by someone else, I run it through indent(1) first. So, in fact, it's just the opposite: when the indentation doesn't match what I expect, I know there's an actual problem in the code!

With Python, on the other hand, I'm actually more likely to have an error in the indenting, because there's no easy way to see how many blocks I'm terminating when I outdent by an arbitrary amount. Which is a real PITA when you're refactoring.

Of course, things may be different if you're using crappy tools. But professionals shouldn't be using crappy tools.

Brackets, begin..end, and semicolons are crutches for compiler writers not programmers.

No, they're tools to make my job easier. Whatever the historical reason for them may be, they benefit the programmer! They make me more productive.

Now, I'll grant that Python is a remarkably good language despite its horrible flaw of relying on indentation. And many of its good features also make me more productive. But that doesn't mean that relying on the indentation isn't a horrible flaw.

about two weeks ago

Moon Swirls May Inspire Revolution In the Science of Deflector Shields

Xtifr Re:Next up: We need a centrifuge in orbit! (76 comments)

If the answer is humans need a full gee, then we might as well just resign ourselves to limiting our trips into the solar system to quick jaunts and robotic explorers.

Disagree. Large-scale habitats/SPS/O'Neill Colonies have always been the best option. No huge gravity wells to deal with, since rotation provides your G's, and, while they are extraordinarily expensive, they cost nothing compared to a full-scale terraforming effort, and can provide a shirt-sleeve environment in basically no time flat. The one remaining big knock on them was the issue of radiation shielding, and now, that may be solved.

about a month and a half ago

Who controls the HVAC at work?

Xtifr None of the options fit, exactly (216 comments)

I do know, but nobody's complaining. I only know because one time, when a guy changed desks, he complained that it was too cold at his new location, and the building maintenance guy came up and tweaked his vent, which fixed the problem, and since then, nobody else has complained.

Which doesn't really leave me with anything to chose on this poll, but oh well. Par for the course. :)

about 2 months ago

US Military Drones Migrating To Linux

Xtifr Re:time for a new public licence (197 comments)

free to use unless you intend to kill people.

Would violate clause six of the Open Source Definition (and the Debian Free Software Guidelines): No discrimination against fields of endeavor.

about 3 months ago

Linus Torvalds Receives IEEE Computer Pioneer Award

Xtifr Re:Git can be seen as his more important contribut (141 comments)

non-distributed version control systems seem so much simpler

I find quite the opposite. The simplest case is one user, and a "distributed" VCS is clearly the easiest option in that case--no central repository needed, no environment variables to set, or separate paths to worry about. Just say "init", and you're off and running. (At least with Mercurial or Git, the two DVCSes I have experience with.)

With more than one user, it's slightly more complicated, but not enough to worry about. It all boils down to the distinction between "save this change" and "share my changes with my co-workers". Having those as separate commands really isn't that confusing, and once you're used to it (which should not take long), you'll have a hard time remembering how you lived without it! And that really is the entire difference, fundamentally, between distributed and non-distributed VCSes.

(Most of the things that are great about Git are unrelated to the distributed/non-distributed aspect, or at best tangential to it. For me, the big wins of either Git or Mercurial over, say, Subversion, are how much better/faster/easier/more powerful branching is, which doesn't really have to do with being distributed or not, and how much faster the whole thing is, overall, without all those network round-trips, which does.)

I started out somewhat skeptical, like you, but after my first pilot project, using Mercurial, I was a complete convert! YMMV but it Works For Me(tm)! :)

about 3 months ago

VHS-Era Privacy Law Still Causing Headaches For Streaming Video

Xtifr Re:What kind of idiot? (62 comments)

That's because TFS is the usual slashdot idiocy, and TFA is simply bad reporting. This report tells quite a different story:

"As Judge Beeler explains, companies can choose not only whether to include the Like button in the first place, but also to specify what information the button should relay to Facebook through cookies. In the case of Hulu, the presence of the button conveyed not only basic browser information, but also details about the user’s “watch page” — a personal page that every Hulu user has."


"The judge noted that the information transfer was not restricted to occasions when a Hulu user “Liked” a video, but rather every time a user watched a video."

So yeah, I'd say it sounds like a lot more than I'd expect was being shared.

about 3 months ago

VHS-Era Privacy Law Still Causing Headaches For Streaming Video

Xtifr Re:Um. (62 comments)

A Facebook "like" button is different than a local-to-the-site "like" button. It only works if you have a FB account, and uses the clearly recognizable FB logo. Anyone who uses FB recognizes the button, and expects it to work the same on all sorts of different sites.

The apparent problem here (according to what I've heard) is that the FB "like" button on Hulu didn't just share your like of the movie with your FB friends; it shared your entire viewing history! If that's actually true, then I definitely have to side with the plaintiff on this one. That's not what anyone would normally expect. But if it just shared the fact that he like that movie, then it's exactly what he should have expected, and he should lose the case big time!

about 3 months ago

OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

Xtifr Re:Rights and Wrongs of good code. (304 comments)

Your friend is ignorant. Goto is a powerful-but-dangerous tool that should be used with extreme caution, if at all. However, to say that it's the mark of a bad programmer is insanely ignorant. It is often the mark of a bad programmer, but it can also be the mark of an exceptionally good one. The key is in knowing when you use it and when not to.

If your friend thinks he's a better programmer than Donald Knuth, then he's almost certainly suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. If he hasn't read Knuth's "Structured Programming with Gotos" (a direct response to Wirth's original "Goto Considered Harmful" paper), then he's not qualified to opine on the subject.

That said, probably 90% of the time (if not more), your friend will be correct. In the last over-a-decade, I've used goto once. And that lone case was after nearly a dozen attempts to find a way to around it that wasn't worse. I don't like gotos, and feel a little dirty that I ended up using it even that once. (If I'd been working in C++ or Java or Python, I would have used an exception, but I was writing in C.) A goto usually makes your code more difficult to read, and more fragile, and you should never use one unless you can prove the alternatives are worse. Which probably takes a lot more expertise than it sounds like you currently have, so avoiding them completely is probably the best plan for now. For you.

about 3 months ago

LHCb Confirms Existence of Exotic Hadrons

Xtifr Re:Changes in current knowledge (99 comments)

what is the consequence of this discovery?

Some idle speculation has finally been confirmed.

Will existing theories be changed (or validated)?

Not really. There was no particular reason to think this was impossible. We just didn't have any evidence it was possible.

Any complications to other theories?

Not to any useful theories. Theories like the Electric Universe have one more thing added to the list of things they can't explain, but that's no surprise. :)

about 3 months ago

Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

Xtifr Re:Bu the wasn't fired (1116 comments)

That's a fair point, and if he really wanted to sue Mozilla, I'd expect that would be his most plausible angle to try to exploit. However, A) I don't think he wants to sue Mozilla, which makes the whole question somewhat moot, and B) he's still primarily a techy, not a professional CEO, which might well have made a more tech-oriented position attractive to him if the issue had actually come up before he resigned.

about 3 months ago

Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

Xtifr Re:The Re-Hate Campaign (1116 comments)

If you support trying to hurt (a set of) people, you shouldn't be surprised if those people (and their friends) start to dislike you and act accordingly.

What alternative do you offer? Forcing people to buy bread from the bigotted baker at gunpoint? Or forcing people to keep using Mozilla even though it's represented by a man who tried to take away their rights?

It would be nice if the world could be broken down into nice, neat piles of black and white, good and evil, but the real world is inevitably more complicated than that, and pretending otherwise is not useful or productive.

I notice you carefully avoided answering my original question, though. Is that because you didn't understand it, or because you couldn't?

about 4 months ago

Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

Xtifr Re:Bu the wasn't fired (1116 comments)

If it was a serious offer, and the company could show that was the position he was best suited for, then no. Otherwise, it would clearly be a ruse to try to force him out, and the law actually takes such things into account. (Which makes your suggestion a straw man.)

A serious offer, for a job that would suit his skills would easily defeat any claims of unlawful termination. A insult obviously intended to pressure him into quitting might not. If you can't figure out the difference between the two, then I recommend you stay away from any job that involves interactions with the law, or the public.

about 4 months ago


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