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NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

alvinrod Re:As with all space missions: (198 comments)

The notion that people believed the world was flat is a myth. The Greeks had worked out the earth was spherical almost two thousand years prior to Columbus's voyage. Globes had been made be various different groups of people for hundreds of years prior to Columbus's voyage as well.

What Columbus argued was that the circumference of the world was much smaller than had been estimated (he was wrong about this) and therefore the distance to India would be much shorter than most speculated. The reason the islands he landed on are referred to as the West Indies is because Columbus initially thought that he had made it to India.

His voyage wasn't pointless, but it was based on some bad assumptions. He certainly discovered something new (one could argue that the Vikings or other groups found it first, but apparently they didn't disseminate that information very widely) but it was more of a happy accident than anything else.

4 days ago
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Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

alvinrod Re:Does the job still get done? (659 comments)

It's not necessarily a problem. If you only need some small percentage of the actual human labor, you could simply reduce any one individuals work in order to allow for more people to share the burden. For example, if we drop the work week to 30 hours, suddenly you can employ 33% more people in order to accomplish the same amount of work. This of course assumes that there are others capable of doing that work and that's questionable to some degree.

If we do reach a point where it's possible for most people to lead a comfortable life without needing to work, that's hardly a bad thing. As long as the system incentivizes people who are able to work to produce something and add value to society, there isn't a huge problem. It's the shift from the current system to such a future that makes the road a lot more rocky. Perhaps in the interim there will be a heavy service economy where people act as maids, butlers, etc. and the people who can do the remaining 10% of the work pay the remaining 90% to do all of the menial tasks that they'd rather not do.

We might also greatly increase the number of educators. If we have surplus labor, we could focus on adding more teachers so that the next generation can build even better contraptions to make life even easier for everyone. If we ever get the point where we have AI so good it can replace educators in a one-on-one role we've probably reached the point where no one actually needs to work.

4 days ago
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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

alvinrod Re:Win hearts and minds (295 comments)

But why draw more attention to yourself if it's only going to make people think worse of you?

There are ways to approach this that can open a dialogue and help society come to terms with the issue in a way that's reasonable for all parties involved. This approach is not the way towards achieving those goals.

about a week ago
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Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

alvinrod Re:They're a resource, not a "problem". (307 comments)

Most of the studies on pair programming that I've read have suggested that this is a bad idea. The person who knows what they're doing might not have the patience for someone who doesn't and the person who doesn't know what they're doing might just go along for the ride. A lot of the early studies (Laurie Williams and Charlie McDowell) found that it's better to pair people of similar ability levels, the idea being that two individuals who are less skillful will be able to struggle and grow together rather than having one person dominate everything.

Unless you can match up people who have the patience to work with a novice with those who want to learn rather than just get a grade, it's a bit of a recipe for disaster.

about a week ago
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"Fat-Burning Pill" Inches Closer To Reality

alvinrod Re:Magic Pill - Self Discipline (153 comments)

Anyone can eat what they want and maintain a reasonable weight. Either limit the portion or actually do enough physical exercise to burn off the excess calories consumed.

about two weeks ago
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Fraud Bots Cost Advertisers $6 Billion

alvinrod Re:How do the criminals make moeny? (190 comments)

Basically they host a website and sign up with Google or some other company to display ads. Google shares some of their revenue that they receive from the companies that pay to have their ads displayed. The people committing the fraud use scripts, bots, or some other automated program to fake visits to the site and clicks on the ads, which increases the amount of money the person running the site receives.

Imagine it as if were a company that would pay you if you filled out a survey about your interests and you handed them hundreds of fake surveys in order to get more money.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

alvinrod Re:is the claim they're triggering a fake reset ne (250 comments)

The problem in this case is that Real is trying to get their reverse engineered version of Apple's FairPlay DRM to work. The reason their music files can't be added through iTunes is because iTunes closed the loopholes that Real used in order to essentially clone the functionality of Apple's DRM-scheme. If the music files in question were DRM-free, this issue wouldn't exist. However, because they sold a bunch of music and Apple didn't want to use Real's DRM scheme, Real tried to reverse engineer FairPlay, which worked for a while until Apple fixed the loopholes and suddenly Real was left back at square one, trying to sell DRM-encumbered music that couldn't be played on most devices.

Real is just trying to sue to get some money because they're just a slowly dying company at this point. They've just slowly been bleeding money and eventually will end up declaring bankruptcy or selling their brand name, though I'm not really sure whey anyone would want it.

about two weeks ago
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Woz Downplays the Significance of Apple's Startup Garage

alvinrod Re: Apple cult (77 comments)

What's done it for me were the damned ads that make noise. I used to leave advertising on, even though I could disable it so that they could get some revenue from my traffic. I understand that hosting isn't free. But now that a lot of the ads make noise, I've had to turn it off. That kind of behavior is annoying. How can a tech site be so out of touch with its user base that they'd ever permit something so obnoxious. Keep the ads quiet and tasteful and I don't have a problem with them and I'll gladly leave them on so that the site can make a little bit of money.

about two weeks ago
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Pizza Hut Tests New "Subconscious Menu" That Reads Your Mind

alvinrod Re:I wont read TFS (186 comments)

Which is ideally why you'd conduct an experiment where you have the algorithm give a certain amount of people a pizza that they are unlikely to enjoy or perhaps just something that's randomly chosen in order to see what percentage of people still say they love the pizza simply because they think the computer picked something that they would enjoy.

It's not exactly a difficult problem to overcome, but I can see why they might not care. If it makes 98% of people happy, either the algorithm is good enough for most cases or it says more about how the human mind operates more than anything else.

about three weeks ago
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First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

alvinrod Re:TIE-Fighters flying in Atmosphere?!?!?!?! (390 comments)

After what he did with the Star Trek franchise are you really surprised?

He's all about his big set-piece moments, internal logic or universe consistency be damned. He thinks that it looks cool so who cares if it doesn't make any sense.

about three weeks ago
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Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

alvinrod Re:PR works well? Where? (413 comments)

Then stop trying to form coalitions and just let groups or individuals vote how they want to vote rather than cutting deal. If you can't get at least half to agree that something is a good idea, it obviously needs more refinement.

The only thing that a government would need to agree on at some point is a budget. If they can't pass a new one, just use the the previous one adjusted for inflation and dissolve the current government and elect a new one.

about three weeks ago
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Ubisoft Apologizes For Assassin's Creed

alvinrod Re:Follow the money... (171 comments)

There is certainly to be some expectation that the game won't be a bug-filled mess or that it will be capable of working. It would be one thing if Ubisoft made fully aware that the game would not work with certain GPUs, or that the frame rate would be crap (even on consoles) but they didn't. One could even point to the advertisements that don't seem to indicate these problems and suggest that they were being deceptive. If someone wanted a refund, that's pretty understandable. You might not have a right to be entertained (hell, some games are more entertaining simply because they are so badly broken) but you do have a right to a functional product that works as advertised.

about three weeks ago
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Interviews: The Hampton Creek Team Answers Your Questions

alvinrod Re:Cholesterol (47 comments)

There's even some evidence to suggest that there are other substances in eggs that reduce the body's uptake of cholesterol from eggs. Study: http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/131/9/2358.full.

It would have been more interesting to have more of the responses from the scientists that work there rather than some droid in the marketing department. You can almost picture the person trying to pull out scarfs from a sleeve while trying to change the question.

about three weeks ago
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UK Announces Hybrid Work/Study Undergraduate Program To Fill Digital Gap

alvinrod Hardly surprising (110 comments)

A lot of college instructors are far more interested in doing research, either because it's their passion or because they need to keep cranking out publications and getting grant money in order to get tenure. There are some who genuinely do care and want to do a good job, but they've been out of industry for so long that they're out of touch with modern practices.

There are also some students who will cheat their way through, which is as much of an indictment of any system that can't catch them doing it. It's a computer science major. You would think that they would just run a script against some version control system to check if any of the submissions are too similar. It won't catch everyone, but it would at least catch the kids who can't even bother to cheat intelligently.

about three weeks ago
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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

alvinrod Re:Just wondering (1128 comments)

Because anyone in media knows that this will be a shitstorm of attention and /. wants the ad revenue as much as CNN/Fox/MSNBC and the rest of the usual suspects.

about a month ago
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Nuclear Weapons Create Their Own Security Codes With Radiation

alvinrod Re: Right mind? (106 comments)

This assumes that people will decide to act accordingly.

If your solution were actually possible there would be no schoolyard bullies because all it would take is asking if they wanted to be friends. I'll let you tell me how well you think something like that would work. Meanwhile, I'll tell the kid getting picked on to take a course in self-defense.

about a month ago
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Apple To Donate Profit Portion From Black Friday For AIDS Fight

alvinrod Re:"For every $900 iPad, we'll donate $5 to charit (102 comments)

Well that's nice if someone would rather donate the full $$$ towards AIDS research, but most people want the iDevice or whatever product they're buying. Having $ or maybe even $$ donated to AIDS research by Apple for each sale is more than you could expect to get if you took all of the people who donated instead of buying something instead.

Is this completely good-will on Apple's part? I don't think so as they're essentially using it to get free press/advertising and they realize that even if they won't phrase it in that manner. I don't even think it will increase sales all that much, but if it suckers some idiot into buying an iDevice, that they otherwise wouldn't have, so that they can feel good about themselves it's money in the bank as far as Apple is concerned.

It's a decent gesture on the part of the company even if they're not doing it for the purest of reasons.

about a month ago
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Apple To Donate Profit Portion From Black Friday For AIDS Fight

alvinrod Re:A good deed will never go unpunished (102 comments)

It's the internet. There's always going to be some small amount of trolling a crap posts. If Ubuntu started a project to donate to animal shelters someone would post about how cats are worthless and someone should just snap all of their necks. I'm surprised there wasn't another GNAA (or whatever the derivative spam post actually is now) posted to the thread as it seems to have been cropping up a lot.

about a month ago
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Apple To Donate Profit Portion From Black Friday For AIDS Fight

alvinrod Re:Oh great, the Master of the iFlop blowing more (102 comments)

I don't think Jobs cared too much. If you look at his life, he comes off as a bit of a sociopath. However, like so many other good businessmen he realized the importance of having a good public image and a small bit of charitable giving that amounts to an alternative form of advertising is never a bad thing.

about a month ago
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Apple To Donate Profit Portion From Black Friday For AIDS Fight

alvinrod Re:"For every $900 iPad, we'll donate $5 to charit (102 comments)

I dislike this defeatist attitude of it's obviously not everything so why bother. By that same logic, don't bother donating any difference yourself because that $50 - $100 probably isn't enough either. In fact, unless you're fully capable of handing them a cure to AIDS yourself, best to not even get involved.

Never mind that any company that tried donating more than a token amount would quickly find itself being sued by the shareholders who are going to be wondering why all of the profits are being spent on some charity that the shareholder's themselves likely had no choice in choosing.

about a month ago

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