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To Reduce the Health Risk of Barbecuing Meat, Just Add Beer

akozakie Re:Stupid (179 comments)

Which makes this story even more interesting. In this case you're not adding antioxidants to your body, which might protect you or harm you, evidence for both has been reported. You're adding it to the food while it's being prepared, reducing the amount of PAHs, which are doubtlessly bad for you. More antioxidants in your body - open question. Antioxidants acting on your food before you eat it, removing other dangerous chemicals - clearly a good idea.

Analogy: drinking base to reduce bad effects of ingested acid - a very bad idea that might sound good. But add the right amount to the acid you're forced to drink with a gun pointed at you before drinking - tada.wav, you're basically safe, the worst outcome is that the result will be slightly poisonous (unless you prefer acid burns to mild diarrhea).

about two weeks ago
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A Rock Paper Scissors Brainteaser

akozakie Re:Simple.... Odds are even (167 comments)

Ok, Nash equilibrium, finally the correct approach. But here's an interesting variation, seemingly very similar, but a bit harder: same probabilities, but introduce a third side with a predefined algorithm and infinite budget. The game still looks the same to you as the player: 50% rock, 50% human RPS player, but in fact suddenly the game depends on so many details...

The setting: you play RPS against a human opponent, but do not communicate with them directly - the interface is operated by the third side and only shows the choices (no chatting, etc). Your opponent is free to choose as he wishes. The operator intervenes with 50% chance (fair coin toss) by replacing your opponent's choice with rock (replacing rock with rock still counts as intervention). Of course the fact of intervention is not communicated to players.

Scoring rules: On "normal" rounds you and your opponent score against each other as in normal RPS. On "intervention" rounds you both score against the operator's budget. Your score depends on your choice vs. operator's rock. Your opponent's score depends on his original choice vs. your choice (so, yes, in this game you can both win/lose simultanously).

1. What is your best strategy in this game?
2. More interestingly: is the best strategy different if your opponent does not know about the existence of interventions (they change nothing visible on his side after all)? If you could tell him about it before the start of the game, would you?

That's my main question, but for the really bored, some more options. Consider a symmetric variant, where your choices as seen by your opponent also get replaced with rock randomly. Does the strategy depend on the operator's algorithm: option 1 - single throw decides no replacement vs. replacement in both directions, option 2 - separate throws for each direction, option 3 - always replace, single throw determines direction?

And what if your choices get replaced with something different than your opponents'? He 50% rock vs. you 50% paper, or he 50% rock vs. you 50% scissors?

And the most difficult one: review all these variants under "no ties" rule - in case of tie you replay the round, but the coin is not thrown again - if there was an intervention it will happen again, if there wasn't, it won't. This is a difficult variant - the same game might be a tie-resolving round for one player and a start of a normal round for the other, so you're never really sure whether your next round will get a throw. You will no longer see 50% rocks, the actual proportion depends on strategies of both players.

Man, coming up with such variations is fun. And details sometimes matter. Adding a side channel for communication between players also might change everything, as you can then cooperate against the operator... And from the player's point of view all these variants technically still fit within the bounds of the same simplified description: random choice of 50% rock, 50% human RPS player...

about two weeks ago
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P vs. NP Problem Linked To the Quantum Nature of the Universe

akozakie Re:Computable? Simulatable? (199 comments)

100 years? No, that's not how these problems scale. If it isn't P, then a macroscopic object (like the cat) is beyond our ability to simulate using deterministic Turing machines, period. The universe will not be habitable that long. Think about how many particles are involved, then realize that the algorithm scales exponentially. Even if our computers get a million times faster someday - so what, that's still not nearly enough. So, either we find a way to build fast and scalable nondeterministic Turing machines (we're nowhere near that goal) or the model is useless for macroscopic objects.

about two weeks ago
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Software Upgrade At 655 Million Kilometers

akozakie Re:Lauched with defects? (57 comments)

Yes, compression doesn't seem to be the likely reason, I'd look for other ones. But I'd be careful about using any publicly available comparisons of compression methods in this case, because it does not matter which one is better on average. The scientists know what to expect, how the image is likely to look, etc. They'd choose the best algorithm for this specific use case, and that might very well be a different one than for FB selfies... Not that I expect a huge difference anyway.

about three weeks ago
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Facebook's Face Identification Project Is Accurate 97.25% of the Time

akozakie Re:Some of us saw this coming (149 comments)

In other words it's time to start publishing your photos through your own account and others with false identification. Use different names. Make sure to reuse them at least often enough to make several options likely - if you use a different one every time, your own name on several photos will be enough to identify you. Use existing names, best ones would be of other people using this technique.

Build a large enough group of real people sharing their names and an even bigger pool of fake identities, automate selection of name to tag the photo. Let them sort THAT out.

Of course this is only good enough for screwing with their business data mining. For "targeted attacks", such as NSA trying to identify a person from an ananymous photo it doesn't help - they have different sources, you can't poison them all. Plus, if they can narrow it down to a short list of possible names, you're no longer facing this algorithm. After crosschecking with other, non-visual databases the most likely options will be reviewed by a living person. No, this approach is too weak to hide effectively.

about a month ago
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Mozilla Scraps Firefox For Windows 8, Citing Low Adoption of Metro

akozakie Re:It's not that it's not popular enough... (200 comments)

It's a dead platform anyway. I wonder if in 5 years we'll remember it as fondly as we currently remember Vista.

Hell no. There's no comparison between Vista and 8 flops beyond the fact of being a flop.

Vista was an unbelievably badly executed step in the right direction. Bugs, half-baked ideas, better security done wrong, etc, etc... but essentially simply a next version after XP. With sufficient patches it becomes entirely usable and Windows 7 is essentially what Vista should have been. Failed version, not a wierd experiment.

8 is a completely different case. Total redesign of the interface, new APIs, new business model, etc. Very bad ideas, but very well executed. The system itself is quite good, fast, stable and well made, certainly not worse than 7. It is simply the wrong design, a forced change of the ecosystem. That's something you can't fix with technical patches. You either accept the fact and scrap the (huge and costly) project, releasing Windows 9 as Windows 7++ (or heavily patching 8 reverting it to old design, but that's a HUGE patch, essentially making it a different product), or clench your teeth and press forward, hoping that after some "tuning" of the UI users will follow you whether they want it on not.

Two completely different types of failures. Vista was the new Windows ME(*), Win 8 is the new Microsoft Bob (**).

(*) Except ME wasn't fixed by the next version like in Vista/7 case, because MS already had something new almost ready - having worked on the NT family in the server/workstation segment for years they were ready to deploy it on desktops (as XP), so fixing ME would be a waste of time.

(**) Except Bob was just another product, not a way towards a new sustainable business model for the company (the store)...

about a month ago
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Lies Programmers Tell Themselves

akozakie Re:Hofstadter's Law (452 comments)

There's a polish idiom "pi razy oko", meaning a very rough estimate. Literally it means pi times eye (heh, pi day reference...). I find that literal meaning extremely useful for rough estimation of tasks, when not enough data is present to estimate better and/or the estimate is needed immediately.

Split the task into subtasks if possible, you'll get a better estimate. If you can't, don't - the estimate is very, very rough anyway.

Now apply the eye - using your experience give a pessimistic (important!) estimate of each subtask. Add up (allowing for parallel execution if you can allocate things to different persons). Now it's time for the "pi". Multiply the result by pi. No need to get precise, just 3 and some. What you get is the optimistic (!) estimate of time you need.

So far this failed me very rarely and not by much. The result always seems overblown to me, yet it's almost always a correct lower bound. Great tool to fight my own intuition where it tends to fail.

So.. yes, it will take longer than it seems. At least three times longer, so experience tells me.

about a month ago
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Measles Outbreak In NYC

akozakie Re:** moron (747 comments)

Same here, and it works, with a large "but".

I got most of the obligatory and recommended vaccines as a child. For some reason though... not measles. Perhaps it wasn't obligatory at the time and I missed it somehow, maybe there were other reasons... I'd have to ask my mother.

Anyway, I never had measles and wasn't vaccinated. I'm perfectly healthy now. I don't have children, but most of my colleagues do, so for the past few years I had contact with people who could be carriers several times. For a grown man this virus is a much more serious problem than for a child. So, let's get vaccinated!

Nope. I lost enough energy to stop trying. One doctor laughed at me. One wasn't sure if it is at all possible to vaccinate an adult. Others were more competent but still - no. You can't just buy it, not without prescription and who will give it to you? I don't get it. Are they afraid of liability if something goes wrong? Is it the result of the public funding limits on different procedures? Maybe that, but I tried it at a private clinic, paying for the visit. Still a no: "you don't need it, don't worry".

WTF?!?

about a month ago
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Google Flu Trends Gets It Wrong Three Years Running

akozakie Re:I dn't thin it takes into accout (64 comments)

...which hasn't stopped anyone from using it - rationality is for the weak. We're wired for "eureka" moments - the curve fits so well, it MUST be right!

OTOH, technical analysis is also not a very good model of this, because economy is not a good model of anything in the real world due to an exceptionally strong positive feedback loop between the model and the modeled. A successful technical analysis "method" (meaning it worked for someone, that's statistically probable no matter how stupid the method is) may become actively used by enough investors to change the actual process, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. A given shape may have no meaning as such, but if enough people believe it signifies a change of trend... their reaction may cause the trend to appear, at least in short term.

In case of flu the feedback, if it exists at all, will be negative - overestimation may increase popularity of the vaccine, resulting in reduced number of cases. The reverse is also true, low estimates decrese the willingness to vaccinate. That of course completely ignores the question of how effective flu vaccine really is - we have to predict which strain will dominate; a miss would weaken the feedback.

about a month ago
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A Look at the NSA's Most Powerful Internet Attack Tool

akozakie Re:Story writer didn't read own story. (154 comments)

Besides, why "on the Internet"? The assumption here is that it's somehow hard for the NSA to infiltrate an intranet - hard to believe given the wide choice of tools they have. And unencrypted MySQL on the intranet is common.

about a month ago
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New Blood Test Offers Early Warning for Alzheimer's Onset

akozakie Re:What would I do? (86 comments)

Heh... Easy question, unfortunately.

Top priority: prepare an easy and painless way out. Guns are illegal here, so it would take a bit of thinking, organizing, saving money, etc. Probably the best solution would be an international trip to a clinic that will help me, but I would need a backup plan if someone decided to stop me. Better do it early and be ready for later, with a plan simple enough to execute when the illness already has a significant effect (but before it makes me forget I have that option). Later I may not be able to do this and noone will help me. Hell, I wouldn't even ask for it, I don't want that helpful person to go to jail.

Oh, I could have other priorities, if I could achieve this just by making my wish clear. But as long as euthanasia is not legal here, I'd have to rely on myself, so waiting too long would be risky. I will not reach the final, infant-like stages if I can help it. I prefer to keep my dignity, thank you.

So, this is the most important thing. Number two is obvious too - research into current best practices and applying them (diet, activity, training, whatever). Even if it buys me just a few more months of mostly normal life, it's worth it.

Not to suggest that anyone should do the same. If your views or priorities are different, feel free to do whatever you want.

about a month ago
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Russians Suspected of Uroburos Spy Malware

akozakie Re:That's all the proof I need .. (137 comments)

Oh, the naivety... The winners are just less clearly defined now. Unless it comes to actual combat, that clears things up. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

Anyway, it seems like history will repeat again. Just like 1938. Diplomatic pressure, discussions, etc. right until the West is under attack. Oh, wow, how could that happen? Avoid war at all costs, sure, but find a good way to stop the conflict or don't be surprised later.

Oh, and focus on the facts. This is not the time to discuss whether the political shift in Ukraine was legitimate or not. Focus on the actual territorial claim. Right now Russia is trying to tear Crimea apart from the Ukraine by military means. Focus on this fact. Maybe Crimea should be part of Ukraine, maybe not, doesn't matter at all. The use of the military is the problem. Or just ignore it, fine. Just don't be surprised if it doesn't stop there.

about a month and a half ago
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The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

akozakie Re:Anti competitive (769 comments)

And why would we want it? Seriously, we have good coffee here.

I keep hearing things like "only a douchebag would take the last of the coffee without making a new pot" - seriously? You drink random drip coffee from a pot that's been heated for the last hour? I would, if I had no choice and needed some coffeine, but... come on!

My espresso machine at home is 4 years old, cheap (no auto) but good. Coffee from a nearby coffee shop, their own mix, roasted in house every second day, pure arabica of course. I grind it at home, enough for two days (yeah, I know, too much too rarely, but I'm not that much of a perfectionist). A great espresso every morning. Nowhere near as good as what I tried in Italy, but way above average here.

Let's take the cost of the machine and the one service cost when it broke last year. The cost of the grinder (a good one actually). The cost of coffee per 100g and serving size... 4 years... 4 cups daily on average (low estimate - I don't live alone)... Something like $0.43 per serving, excluding cost of electricity and water (cheap but low calcium, in large bottles, no real difference in taste from tap water, but good for the machine, doesn't require decalcification as often - my time is not free). Even with those, still under $0.5. Give me one reason to buy this.

Even at work if I need coffee it's the same coffee as at home, always fresh, made as needed, but from a drip machine. Not nearly as good, but oh, well... Two years ago we had espresso machines at work, but they were too cheap for heavy use - they slowly deteriorated and after too many problems thay were eliminated. I'm still hoping they will buy a couple of good ones. Another team bought one for themselves (legal if it stays in their kitchen), so maybe we should just do the same - except we don't have a separate kitchen, so it would have to be good enough to handle about 40 espressos per day - not the cheapest model... Maybe we could get the neighbouring teams to chip in...

I'd never buy any machine that would tie me to a single brand of coffee, because it simply is not good enough. I've searched for a good source for years and I will stick with it until I find something better. Why would I buy something that sat on the shelf, roasted and ground, for hell knows how long?

about a month and a half ago
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Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

akozakie Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (77 comments)

100% true. Because I spend most of my time on Linux playing high FPS games and doing other things in 3D. And X over network is simply an outdated concept noone needs.

Oh, wait...

Remote X is one of the things I find best in Linux. No cludges, no tricks - the UI is simply rendered remotely and one of the windows on my desktop is actually for an app running somewhere else. Nothing in the app to support this. No special tools in the system. Just basic X functionality. Cool! On the other hand 3D applications are mostly eyecandy for this platform. Something to play with while something else is doing the stuff you need.

Wayland is actually a great idea if Linux is ever going to be a serious gaming platform (and for several other use cases). As a separate project it makes a lot of sense. There are a lot of problems though:
- will distros carry both?
- will X be sufficiently supported when Wayland becomes mainstream?
- what about drivers?
- what about compatibility (both X on new hardware and old hardware and new versions of applications)?
The biggest problem is that the windowing system (not DE, the actual G in GUI) is a bit like init, system loader, package management, etc. - a bit hard to support more than one in the same distro (although it would certainly be possible). Meaning that Wayland might make X obsolete in too many eyes and... dead. Which means that all the missing functionality will be lost forever. Either that, or a painful split of the Linux ecosystem. In the second case, look for me in the dinosaur's garden. There are things in X I use that are intentionally not there in Wayland and nothing of value as tradeoff.

And Wayland support in any useful DE (I don't consider GNOME 3 one, but that's subjective) would be a Good Thing, if the fear that it will become the only supported option wasn't there.

about a month and a half ago
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How An Astronaut Nearly Drowned During a Space Walk

akozakie Re:Space Seems Surprisingly Safe (144 comments)

Safe, perhaps. However, given the risks of decompression, heating malfunction, fire, explosion and plenty of other things that can go wrong in space, seeing an entry like:

Occupation: Astronaut
Place of death: Earth orbit
Cause of death: Drowning

out of context would probably be one of the most memorable WTF moments in my life. Yes, drowning is one of the risks for an astronaut, accidents during underwater training or after a wet landing are certainly possible... But in orbit?!? That's like getting mauled by a lion in the middle of a big city in US or Europe. It can happen, but you'd never consider it a real risk, until the unlikely chain of events actually materializes.

about 1 month ago
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Google Fighting Distracted Driver Laws

akozakie Re:The law exists in every state (226 comments)

Not really. There are things which are obviously distracting and things that seem safe to too many drivers. That's what these specific laws are for: you don't get to argue in court whether what you were doing was distracting, the law says it is.

Best example: I've heard/read oh-so-many comments about how a phone call during driving does not impair reactions and situational awareness. People tend to think that it's just so easy, they can safely do it. And they do it A LOT. The funny thing is, they mostly do it without a hands-free set, which is explicitly illegal here - and they get mad when they get a ticket. Who cares if I'm on the phone, I'm still driving competently!

Except they aren't. Even my personal experience shows that. A car in the fast lane going 20km/h under limit? 80% chance of a phone in hand. Changing lanes right into my car? 5 out of 7 cases last year - phone in hand. Hard breaking in predictable situations, leading to dangerous situations and in one case a very light collision? Almost always phone in hand. Makes me glad that texting while driving is mostly frowned upon here and rare (texting as such is extremely popular), although I hear that in other countries it is a big problem. I find it stupid - in this case you don't look at the road, your common sense should tell you you're too distracted. A phone conversation is a less obvious problem.

We suck at judging our own concentration level. That's the whole point. The specific laws are supposed to close this hole in our reasoning with simple rules. Don't text. Don't talk on the phone. In this case - don't use Glass.

How dangerous Glass is - that's a different question. It can probably be used safely, but it can also be very distracting. How will you make sure that drivers only use it for safe purposes? That's why I don't consider it a real HUD. Install real HUDs in cars all you want, I'm cool with that. They will only have the functions that make sense. Let all drivers wear Glass... and I'm afraid of the dumbest 10%.

Post-preview final thought - you're right that a separate law with separate penalties is unnecessary if there is already a law about distracted driving. In this case the specific laws should simply specify that a given behavior is considered distracted driving regardless of circumstances. The rest is covered by the general law.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: E-ink Reader For Academic Papers?

akozakie Re:PocketBook e-ink readers (134 comments)

I have a PocketBook Pro 912, exactly for the use case described. Works like a charm. Large screen, A4 PDFs are easy to read. Problems are rare (under heavy use for well over a year I found just one extremely heavy PDF that basically caused the reader to hang, I couldn't even reboot it - that's it, no other problems). I don't even connect it to a computer (why waste desk space?), I just use a microSD card. My collegue has a 911 and connects it all the time, so that seems to work just as well.

Also useful during commute - e-books work very well (Adobe DRM is supported if you want it), built in sudoku is also fun, heh.

Highliting (with the highliter tool) sucks - on most PDFs it's ridiculously slow. BUT: there is another tool, pencil. That works just fine, so instead of highliting I just circle or underline the important parts - besides, it's better than highliting, because you can make handwritten notes. That's very useful. In fact, I rarely highlight anything in texts I just read, I use this while reviewing papers, theses of my students, etc. Marking corrections is very easy in this way.

In other words - a good choice in my opinion.

One important drawback though - you can't export (or print) a PDF with your markings. This really sucks. I heard you can export individual pages as bitmaps, but I haven't tried this. So, if you're going to mix using this with paper versions or with working on a computer... you have a problem. I can live with this, but if you really need this - well, I found where the notes are stored, so you could probably export them somehow, reverse engineer the format (maybe it's trivial?) and find a way to overlay it on the PDF. Maybe it's a solved problem, I didn't really look.

Anyway, if anyone found a way to do this easily, please reply, I'd love to know. Just not so much so to search for solutions. Lazeeee...

Or maybe someone knows a reader as good as this one but with this problem solved. So far I haven't found one that had an e-paper screen - and that's a showstopper. I'm not going to recharge my reader every day or even every week. (*)

(*) If you're going to connect it to a PC almost every day anyway to swap PDFs, you may want to rethink your priorities - you might not really need e-ink, just a large battery, as long as it recharges over USB. Since I rarely do this (microSD!), recharging is a separate task for me. Of course, there are other things to consider - e-ink refreshes slowly, but is better for the eyes - my eyes at least...

about 2 months ago
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Game Developers' Quest To Cross the Uncanny Valley

akozakie Re:Any actual research? (134 comments)

Wow... Just wow.

It doesn't exist because the Wikipedia page lists little research and that research is not statistically significant.

Is it just me, or is using scientific big words like "statistical significance" in an argument based solely on the contents of a Wikipedia pega is so wrong it's just funny?

Not implying that this is not true - I have no idea how much research was done on the subject. Google scholar seems to know about thousands of articles about this (about the same number as e.g. "Hawking radiation") - are any of them really good? No idea. Maybe it really is overrated.

But criticizing something as not supported by research using Wikipedia as a source? Ridiculous. Wikipedia does have its uses, but this certainly isn't one of them...

about 2 months ago
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Game Developers' Quest To Cross the Uncanny Valley

akozakie Re:Cole Phelps gently slides down the Stairs (134 comments)

Ride a dragon? That's not at all what uncanny valley is about. This is strictly about things almost perfectly resembling humans. Riding a dragon will not cause this problem. Glitches in the physics engine... Maybe, depends. Something like a not-quite-anatomical pose. Or maybe timing glitches in movement sequence (Crispin Glover's character in Alice in Wonderland - intentional application of this).

In other words, this is a very strong but purely emotional reaction. It gets stronger as you get closer to reality. "Humans" from Shrek? No problem. Aki Ross, at least in motion? Definitely a problem. When it's at its strongest, you might actually have problems pointing out the imperfections that cause it. That's because they are not spotted by conscious reason.

Why is this distinction important? Most deviations from reality in entertainment are spotted by reason and easily covered by willing suspension of disbelief. If the entertainment is good, we will tolerate almost anything, if not, the deviations from reality will add to the list of critical comments. In short: "Yeah, it's BS, but it's fun!"

However, uncanny valley is a subconscious emotional reaction and willing suspension of disbelief does not make it subside. You may consider the movie/game/whatever really fun, but you still simply feel bad looking at it.

That's why it's a big problem for creators of "realistic" games. With simple models this feeling was not there. As models get better, consciously they seem more realistic, but "the body" starts telling us that something's wrong. So, only three solutions - stay away (keep human models imperfect enough), get it perfectly right (is it possible?) or... find a way to eliminate this problem.

about 2 months ago
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Finnish Police Board Wants Justification For Wikipedia's Fundraising Campaign

akozakie Re:Appropriate reply. (252 comments)

Yes it is. It's owned by the Wikipedia Foundation which is a non-profit company registered under US law in California.

A matter of language - English is not my first. I did not know that the word "company" includes non-profit organizations - the first line of the page you linked to states exaclty "non-profit and charitable organization", not company. I just checked, yes, you're right, a non-profit is also a company. A bit strange, as most EU forms I have to deal with restrict the word to for-profit companies, using only "organization" for non-profits - oh well, you learn something every day.

On the other hand, the same page - which, believe it or not, I have thoroughly read before writing the previous post - in the part about chapters states "They support the foundation (...) by collecting donations (...)". My laziness is limited to verifying the organization of the current fundraiser. It's not clearly stated anywhere in the notice or direct links in either English or my local language version, I don't know about Suomi. If it's handled entirely by the Wikimedia Foundation, you might be right (although the court should decide - the local language version of the notice may be enough to consider it aimed at Finnland, so the law applies and the matter becomes dependent on international law - I know nothing about agreements between the US and Finnland that might apply). If local chapters act as intermediaries, Wikimedia Suomi @#$%ed up and is definitely in trouble, as a 100% Finnish organization, registered in Helsinki. I guess the Finnish police might have the same sort of questions as me.

Your inability to spend 10 seconds googling something isn't an argument, it's a statement about your own ignorance and laziness.

10 seconds? More like 20 minutes before previous post and 10 now. Sorry, I'm not in a habit of jumping to binding conclusions based on a glance at the first google hit like you, especially in legal matters.

Grand mystery? No, and probably very easy to solve given the right documents. But definitely not clear to me yet.

about 2 months ago

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