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No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

alvinrod Thanks (121 comments)

Thanks for actually looking into this. Reporting in general seems (or perhaps it's always been this way, but I just wasn't as aware of it.) to have gotten a lot more lazy recently, especially with the explosion of news blogs and other internet only news sources. There's such a rush to be the first to break a story and get the massive number of clicks and associated ad revenue that reporters have lost focus on digging deep and getting to the bottom of a story. After that everyone just links to the original without bothering to verify the information and the facts gets buried under a combination of half-truths and/or agenda-driven opinion.

yesterday
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Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

alvinrod Re:What? (487 comments)

That's to be expected, but it doesn't account for the fact that we're digging up or tapping into massive reserves of scrubbers from millions of years ago and burning them as fuel. The reason we can support an increase in plant growth is that we've added a lot of food for them into the atmosphere. Even though we have more plants, and therefore are capable of absorbing more CO2, it's not compensating for the amount that we're releasing. If we took some amount of the plants we were growing and buried them underground to prevent the carbon from being recycled into the atmosphere at some point, it would eventually balance out, but we're not doing that, so we'll still have a growing amount of CO2.

2 days ago
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Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

alvinrod Re:How long until every stream links to Amazon? (58 comments)

That's one angle, but rather unlikely considering how a lot of the games are set up. The most popular games are typically free to play with micro-transactions, which cuts Amazon out of the loop.

One of the controversies surrounding the YouTube acquisition was that recordings that contained copyright music would be muted, which pissed off everyone since most of the people who stream do so while playing music. If Amazon were smart they would find some way to identify the music and display links to purchase it from their online music store.

The other big angle is that Amazon now has a platform to sell ads on and compete against the likes of Google and Facebook. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of the ads start containing links to buy the product off of Amazon. Amazon can also look to tie in the data that they have about you to serve more targeted ads.

There are probably plenty of other business opportunities for them to explore, but focusing on game sales seems to pale in comparison to the other opportunities that they have.

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

alvinrod Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

It's also really good cardio as well. It's basically like weight lifting for your heart.

You might be interested in this /. article posted a while ago that lends a lot of credence to what you're saying. Don't just work out hard. Work out smart.

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

alvinrod Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

While that's definitely important, it's not important when you have someone who's eating close to 5,000 calories per day while being largely sedentary. The sheer amount of consumption minimizes the effects of what they're eating. For a lot of people who are seriously obese, an extra ~150 calories will barely put a dent in their intake.

3 days ago
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New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

alvinrod Re:The world we live in. (583 comments)

Perhaps they could develop a type that goes on clear and only changes color if it reacts to a substance.

4 days ago
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ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

alvinrod Re:why can the world (329 comments)

We don't have to care, but much like any other observable phenomenon it piques our curiosity. Perhaps knowing the reasoning behind the result will not be something that we can change, but at least we'll know. It's probably not as important as knowing how to cure cancer or solving a myriad of other problems facing the world, but it's still something to learn and more likely than not an interesting question for someone who's willing to search for an answer.

5 days ago
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It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

alvinrod Re:They always told me I was so smart... (243 comments)

To some degree there's a difference between ability and capability. If you absolutely needed to learn how to be an excellent cook, would you have the capacity to do so? Being a good cook takes work, much like anything else, and I believe it extends beyond simply being able to follow a recipe that perhaps only a genuine passion for cooking can engender. However there are a lot of people who struggle to program and often it goes beyond coding ability and has more to do with fundamental problem solving skills.

Another aspect of your feelings may be related to knowing enough to know your limitations. At least for me personally, the more I've learned, the more I've realized that there's so much more to learn and that all of it comes with an opportunity cost. Sure, I could learn how to repair my own car and fix any of the problems it might have, but I'd much rather just know enough to take care of the basics and leave the rest to someone else who's more interested in that line of work while I stick to computers. Meanwhile both my mechanic and I are enabling someone else who's really interested in curing cancer to devout more of their time to those pursuits.

In the modern world it doesn't really matter if you're terrible at 99% of things if that 1% of things that your good at is valuable to everyone else. Most people are smart in some regard and likely choose to specialize in it. Sure there might be people who are more capable than others in terms of acquiring degrees of proficiency in arbitrary areas, but more than likely they'll end up specializing in a particular field and have a few hobbies on the side. If you can add value, does it really matter what percentiles you fall into?

about a week ago
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Google Announces a New Processor For Project Ara

alvinrod Re:What is it good for? (36 comments)

I think it might help. There are a lot of people who end up with a broken screen, the battery going bad, or some other single-component issue that invariably end up getting a new phone simply because they can get a new phone with a contract extension. Being able to easily replace any of those single components easily, and I mean easily for the kind of people who are afraid to use a screwdriver and follow a simple guide online, is a big deal. Even when something doesn't break, a lot of times over half of the components in the phone are still perfectly fine for a user. Perhaps they're satisfied with the screen and CPU, but want a better camera and more storage.

I don't think this is going to be a popular platform with the carriers, simply because it does allow the option of continual incremental upgrades based on what the user needs rather than buying a subsidized device attached to an expensive contract.

It also evokes the idea of the ship of Theseus. If it takes 5 years for a person to replace every module or component of their phone that they originally started with at what point did they get a a new phone? If the cost of doing that is less than the typical 24-month subsidized upgrade cycle that the major carriers offer, I can see this finding at least a market niche where it will thrive.

about a week ago
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Hemp Fibers Make Better Supercapacitors Than Graphene

alvinrod Re:Potheads assemble! (178 comments)

You wouldn't want to though. Your marijuana plants would end up getting cross-pollinated and the quality would go to hell. No one would want to buy the crap. That and cultivating the plants indoors in a more controlled environment is going to provide a much better yield.

about two weeks ago
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The ESports Athletes Who Tried To Switch Games

alvinrod Re:eSports aren't like regular Sports (146 comments)

To be fair, most of the games being played now are at most five years old, whereas many traditional sports have been around for the better part of half a century or more. In another 100 years, these games (or whatever comes after them) may have just as much of a viewer base.

Interestingly enough, in South Korea they're about as big as traditional sports. Back in the day they even had TV channels that would broadcast professional Starcraft matches. I expect that in time, the rest of the world will grow to be more like Korea in that respect and that eventually there will be an ESPN channel dedicated to e-sports.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

alvinrod Re:Beards and suspenders. (637 comments)

They still have all of that stuff, or at least did when I got my CS degree, but the problem is that there aren't a lot of jobs where you'll need to use that kind of stuff. A lot of the jobs are using Java, Python, C#, or other languages that deal with those many of the low-level things for a person. Sure there are still jobs out there that require C and a good knowledge of memory management, etc. but they're in the minority. The field of computer science has grown extensively over the last several decades and four years isn't enough time to teach all of it, especially if the school requires arts and humanities classes. We've already seen some branching with separate degrees for Computer Science, Software Engineering, Information Systems, and other computer-related fields.

Students still take those classes, but they rarely find that they need to put the specific skills into practice. I learned a lot from my assembly class, but I'll likely never need to touch any assembly code or worry about optimizing a small piece of code. Someone else has written tools and languages that spare me the trouble. Looking at the industry today it seems like there are certainly plenty of problems, but I'm not sure if this is one of them. Would having developers skilled in all of the aspects you mentioned have solved the problems that lead to the disastrous launch of the HealthCare.gov system?

I think the world will always need some bit-twiddlers who aren't scared to pop open the hood and reassemble the entire engine, but it needs a lot of other people who understand how to write good unit tests, develop requirements appropriately, and a long list of other skills that are necessary for the large software projects that companies and governments are undertake with growing frequency. Just because the code is extremely optimized and it doesn't have memory leaks or other weird bugs doesn't mean that it won't be a terrible pile of crap that makes its users miserable.

about three weeks ago
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Do Apple and Google Sabotage Older Phones? What the Graphs Don't Show

alvinrod Re:Graph is search results, not speed measurements (281 comments)

Even a perceived slowdown isn't a good metric as it's terribly subjective. I have an older computer that still runs just as well as when I purchased it, but it feels a lot slower since my new computer has an SSD and once you experience that, you can't go back without feeling like everything is painfully slow, never mind the extra cores and additional RAM. It was the same with dial-up internet back in the day. It didn't get any slower, but once you had used a cable or T1 connection, loading webpages on a 56k connection felt like a small eternity.

If someone were actually interested in evaluating this, they should buy some new phones and benchmark them for several different tasks and then wait a few years to compare the results after a few operating system upgrades. There are probably a few people who have never upgraded their devices, so even today a comparison could be made.

about a month ago
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Amputee Is German Long Jump Champion

alvinrod Re:Body integrity identity disorder (175 comments)

That is quite possibly the worst interpretation of scripture that I've seen in a while. Even people who don't buy into it are quite capable of realizing that what you're suggesting the passage means has nothing to do with what it was intended to mean.

I'm not sure if this is just ignorance, a failed attempt to be funny, or a troll. If it's the latter, bravo to you as it appears as though it's worked rather well.

about a month ago
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Apple Acquires "Pandora For Books" Booklamp For $15 Million

alvinrod Re:forever payments (26 comments)

Considering that most of the e-books sold (at least from the companies that are or might be selling monthly subscriptions for a buffet style approach) contain DRM, you don't really own it even if you make a lump sum payment either.

about a month ago
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Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs

alvinrod Re:What? (200 comments)

So what if we can't get perfect a la carte options, I'll take the ability to select media company bundles over the terrible packages that the cable companies bundle together. Right now I have to get all the ESPN channels, all the network channels, all manner of other crap channels (E!, Hallmark channel, etc.), and a bunch of other stuff I don't want. I'd be glad to have the option of picking just the ESPN channels and HBO. A lot of people are stuck with an all or nothing option and at that point it's no longer solely the fault of the media conglomerates.

about a month ago
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Giant Crater Appears In Northern Siberia

alvinrod Re:nothing new (122 comments)

But those holes were rather small. This one is reported to by 80 meters wide, which coincidentally is rather similar to the dimensions of the (Royal) Albert Hall which is oval-shaped with a length and width of 83 and 72 meters according to Wikipedia.

about a month and a half ago
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Chimpanzee Intelligence Largely Determined By Genetics

alvinrod Re:Intelligence isn't always advantageous (157 comments)

This assumes that chimps aren't on their way there. However, without understanding how intelligence first arose in humans or what in our genes is responsible for it, there's no good way to determine what it would take chimps to get there other than enough time.

Also, what makes you think that stupidity has advantages? That humans exist on every continent on Earth and will probably have moved off planet within a thousand years and likely will have a least tried to move out of our solar system in the next ten thousand would suggest that intelligence ultimately confers more of an advantage. Other creatures are limited by their ability to adapt to new environments. Humans move there and adapt their environment to suit them. The only thing that really limits us is our own lack of understanding of the universe, but we've been amassing knowledge and continually peeling away the layers of mystery. The more we add to that pile, the better we're able to adapt our world to suit us.

about a month and a half ago
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DARPA Successfully Demonstrates Self-Guiding Bullets

alvinrod Re:Alternate use for this technology (188 comments)

It's getting cheaper than ever before, not more expensive and the asymmetry is narrowing. Before we had to fire a cruise missile, now we're using drone strikes. A laser guided bullet that can be fired from almost 2 miles away that does even less collateral damage is even cheaper to use both in terms of material cost and politically when there aren't any innocent civilian casualties.

Finding the target isn't going to be any more difficult. Imagine when something like Google Glass becomes ubiquitous and the government is spying on more than just phone calls. Even without that, it's not too difficult to imagine fleets of drones being used for surveillance, maybe even themselves being capable of painting a target once they find one.

about a month and a half ago
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Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted

alvinrod Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (178 comments)

It's not a matter of failing peer review, it's a general disinterest in publishing negative results. If you find a cure for cancer it's a big deal, but if you just found one more thing that doesn't work any better than a sugar pill, none of the journals are going to care about publishing it even if it's the most well-run study in the history of the world.

If someone starts doing some novel research that's going to take five years to possibly produce results and nothing pans out, they aren't going to get anyone to publish the findings.

about a month and a half ago

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