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Twin Probes Crash Into the Moon

automag Obligatory... (79 comments)

That's no moon. It's a space station.

about 2 years ago
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Facebook Billionaire Gives Money To Legalize Marijuana

automag No Irony Here... (527 comments)

An irony here is that about a month ago, Facebook refused to take FireDogLake's 'Just Say Now' pro-cannabis law reform ads."

OP needs to find himself a dictionary, or hit up Wikipedia. There is nothing even remotely ironic about this. A guy supports a position and his employer does not support that position. Where's the irony in that?

more than 4 years ago
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Facebook Retroactively Makes More User Data Public

automag Bah, Douchebags! (287 comments)

Queue the litany of moronic douchebag Slashdot users whose only contribution to the thread will be a variant of "I don't use Facebook, and people who do are dumb." That may be true, but you're still a douchebag that didn't add anything to the conversation except to boost your own flagging self-esteem with a not-so-subtle "I told you so, and look how smart I am... I'm SO much better than people who use Facebook" statement. Do you feel better about yourself now? Thanks for adding nothing to the dialogue.

more than 4 years ago
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Seattle Hacker Catches Cops Who Hid Arrest Tapes

automag Douchebag (597 comments)

I went to High School with Eric. I thought he was a douchebag then, and I'm sure he's still a douchebag now. Don't read that as support of the police, 'cause it ain't. Just saying that sometimes only a douchebag has enough of a "F**k the World" spirit to get the job done...

more than 3 years ago
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Squatters Abusing iPhone App Store

automag Doesn't Meet the Criteria for Squatting... (121 comments)

"They're worse than domain name squatters though, because you can't even enter into negotiation with them. You don't know who they are, or where they are."

Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price. (Wikipedia)

Since according to the TFA there can beno profit motive to the act of registering multiple app names it s not really squatting. It may be annoying. It may need to be fixed. But it's not squatting.

more than 5 years ago
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In Trial, Kindles Disappointing University Users

automag In other news, water is wet. (247 comments)

Kindle DX isn't making the grade with students? Well hell, I said that it wouldn't fly back in May: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1227901&cid=27890519&art_pos=8 To the Kindle team: there are three things you need to change if you want to be successful with students... Color display, a touch screen, and an appropriate UI to let students interact, highlight, and take notes with their textbooks in a more natural fashion.

more than 5 years ago
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Facebook App Exposes Abject Insecurity

automag Re:Really? (205 comments)

It's a fair point... People join Social Networking sites because they want to be social. I think you're probably right that the 'solution' has more to do with the developers than the users.

more than 5 years ago
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Facebook App Exposes Abject Insecurity

automag Re:Really? (205 comments)

You're assuming that all these people only have 'friends' they actually know and trust.

If you put it up for others to see it, others will see it. It's that simple.

No, actually whether a user has friends they 'know and trust' is completely moot. On Facebook someone can have their information handed over to a 3rd party developer by anyone in their network, whether they're someone trusted or not. "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

more than 5 years ago
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Facebook App Exposes Abject Insecurity

automag Re:Really? (205 comments)

The problem isn't so much that public information is public, it's that Facebook represents itself as secure and private to its users and then leaves the barn door open for developers, betraying that trust. Should Facebook users be more cautious? Absolutely. But most Facebook users are sheep-le who won't give a second thought to this kind of thing. If someone wants to leave their own information open and public that's one thing, but when they leave their entire network of 'Facebook friends' information public by proxy (even if their friend has done everything 'right' in terms of securing their information) that's where the real problem lies.

more than 5 years ago
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Palm Kills Community Before It Begins

automag Where's the News Here? (247 comments)

Palm sabotages itself by making stupid and shortsighted decisions that are likely to cost them in the long-run? Where's the news here? This has been Palm's m.o. since the mid-90s... Is it any wonder that they continue to be an 'also-ran' in a market which they used to dominate? Next.

more than 4 years ago
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Is a $72.5m Opening Weekend Enough For Star Trek?

automag Star Trek is already in the black... (820 comments)

Hmmm... OK, let's maybe have an on-topic post about this, eh? :-)

"Den of Geek sounds a note of caution" Riiiight. Like some random SciFi site with a name like 'Den of Geek' carries any sort of real authority or credibility on the inner workings of the business of Hollywood. The truth is that in all likelihood Star Trek is already in the black and the flick hasn't even been released in 2 of the biggest overseas markets yet: China (5.15) and japan (5.29)... This doesn't even take into consideration downline profits like pay cable, basic cable, broadcast rights, DVD sales, etc.

As someone who makes his living 'in the business' one of the things I've learned over the years is that marketing departments regularly inflate budgets on mainstream films and deflate them on indie films. In my career I've been privy to the actual budgets (including marketing spend) for more than a dozen mainstream movies and in every case the real budget was between 30% and 50% lower than what the marketing department was claiming the budget to be. The more 'effects driven' the movie, the more inflated the budget typically is.

The reason for this actually makes some sense... When part of the sell is the spectacle, inflating the budget is one of the cheapest ways the marketing department can hint to moviegoers that the special effects are going to be "so kick-ass your mind will literally be blown out the back of your skull all over the movie-goer behind you" without actually saying it. Since every entertainment venue from ET to IMDb picks this stuff up and runs with it, it lends a "breathless" sort of credibility to the whole affair... And it doesn't cost an extra dime of the marketing budget to do.

Worry not, everybody involved in this (and every other movie you're likely to see this year) will make their money back plus a healthy profit. The "risks" involved in making movies are- to a large degree- all Hollywood smoke and mirrors, as usual...

more than 5 years ago
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Time For Voice-Mail To Throw In the Towel

automag Rumors of VM's Death... (393 comments)

...have been greatly exaggerated by this D-Bag Slate guy. As with many sub-par authors, he's chosen to assume that his personal situation and preferences must mirror societies situation and preferences as a whole. Sure, pal. I've got one word for you: pagers.

People have been decrying the death of pagers for nearly 15 years now, but you know what? I personally know ~20 professionals in the medical field who swear by theirs, and use them daily. A quick unscientific poll of 4 of those friends turned up estimates of between 30 and 50 additional people that they personally know who use pagers regularly.

Just like 'landline' telephones, pagers, Amiga computers, and... yes... Radio Shack answering machines, voice mail is not going to be going away anytime soon. Why? Because in some contexts, and/or for some people, voice mail works as well as they will ever need it to, so there is no need to upgrade to something else.

Personally, I predict we won't be seeing VM going completely away for a long time. Did I mention that I think the author of the original article is a giant D-bag. I did? Well now I've done it twice.

more than 5 years ago
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Princeton Boasts Its Kindle Project Is Noblest

automag Re:Kindle Not Ready for Textbooks... (116 comments)

Well look at that... Indeed they are! I stand corrected. Thanks!

Of course there's still the problem of the location numbers not matching the numbers in an actual textbook (I'll grant that this may be an 'obsolete' issue with the better .pdf support- only time will tell). What I can say with certainty is that if this is not addressed in the DX, then it will provide difficulties in 'compatibility' between those reading traditional books, and those on a Kindle. I've already run into this problem on several occasions when trying to reference the same material on the page and on a Kindle at the same time.

With the K2 there is no numbering aside from the locations, so if I want to tell my buddy to refer to a page in the book we're both referencing, the best I can do is offer him the chapter I'm reading, a guesstimate on the page the passage would be on, and the text I'm reading as a guidepost. Kludgy and slow at best. Never mind the problem of correctly citing something from a book being read in a Kindle in any sort of way that a non-Kindle user can use to find the same passage.

Admittedly (as with my points 2 and 3 as well), Amazon may still be working on different ways to make the processes more intuitive, so YMMV with the DX, but as of today I think my main point still stands... These issues make the Kindle a difficult device to use effectively for any sort of serious study beyond simply reading text.

more than 5 years ago
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Princeton Boasts Its Kindle Project Is Noblest

automag Kindle Not Ready for Textbooks... (116 comments)

People who say the DX will be great for textbooks have clearly never used a Kindle. I am an owner of both the K1 and the K2 and there are many things that it does exceedingly well. Unfortunately the things that it does NOT do well are exactly the things that students need to work both quickly and efficiently. What things? Well for starters:

1. Page numbers. The Kindle doesn't have page numbers like a traditional book... Instead it uses page numbering system that is fluid based upon font size. Using the smallest font you might be at location 3642, while using the largest font may mean (though you're at the exact same spot in the book) you could be at location 5681. Confusing? You bet. There is currently NO WAY to specify an absolute page number for the Kindle and no way to sync pages to a paper-based book. This is annoying, but manageable when using the Kindle to read a novel (or even a non-fiction book), but with a textbook the minute a professor asks the class to refer to page 542, the Kindle user is screwed.

2. Index and Table of Contents. With a 'real' textbook if you need to flip to the ToC or index to find something it may take a few seconds initially, but you stick a finger in the page and flipping back and forth is easy. Find yourself flipping to a section or the ToC often? Stick a post-it, or even a pencil in there and you can flip back and forth what amounts to instantly. With the Kindle it takes a second to reset the page every single time you change pages. Flip to the ToC = 1 second. Flip back = another second. Don't know quite what you're looking for, or have a lot of different pages to check through? Those seconds really start to add up. God forbid you have to navigate to a link in the middle of a page, 'cause the 5-way pointer works, but not quickly.

3. Highlights and note taking. Both highlighting and note taking on the Kindle are rudimentary at best. Highlighting in a real book = grabbing a pen and swiping. You can even use different colors to mean different things- instant metaprocessing! Can't do that with a Kindle.

Highlighting with a Kindle = opening the main menu and selecting 'highlight.' Then navigate to the first word of the section you want to highlight and click the 5-way-switch. Then navigate to the last word of the section you want to highlight and click the 5-way-switch. 'Just like that,' you've highlighted something. It's the same procedure to make a note, with the added 'bonus' that you now get to use... the keyboard. Yay. Imagine taking notes on your cellphone... 'Cause that's what writing a note on the Kindle is like. And forget about math or hard sciences... You'll never write that new equation the prof just scrawled on the board in your Kindle. Donâ(TM)t even bother trying. Finally, if you ever want to later review a note, you need to navigate to a little supertext number on the section you highlighted in order to even see what you wrote. Forget about scanning the margins for something you wrote during a study session...

Paradigm shifting devices are great when the paradigm being shifted to makes things easier and/or better. The Kindle is a positive paradigm shift for those of us who read a lot and want a more seamless (and cheaper) way to make purchases from Amazon.com. On the other hand, I don't see a positive shift for students who want to use the Kindle with their textbooks... itâ(TM)s just too cumbersome and slow. Fail.

more than 5 years ago
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Competition Seeks Best Approaches To Detecting Plagiarism

automag Term Papers Suck as a Learning Metric Anyway... (289 comments)

It seems like one of the major relevant questions that is overlooked when considering the topic of plagiarism is whether the writing of a 'traditional' paper is the proper vehicle for testing a students absorption of the topic at hand. In reflecting about my time as an undergrad, I can't think of a single paper I wrote that didn't boil down to busy-work. Complicated and time consuming sure, but busy-work none-the-less.

The reason is actually pretty simple... until a student is at a level where they are being asked to produce original thought on a topic (masters or Ph.D. level work, depending on the discipline being studied, or for many majors a student will never be asked to produce original thought on a topic) a large amount of the work will amount to creative regurgitation of existing thought anyway.

At that point one has to ask if the professor isn't just employing the wrong testing technique to ensure that learning is taking place (which is, usually, the ultimate goal anyway)... For example, I had several professors who skipped term papers entirely and simply made a large chunk of their 'live' tests essay based.

It would be relatively difficult to plagiarize much of anything when a student is being forced to write about the topic at length and off-the-cuff. At that point you either know what you're talking about (you learned what you were supposed to learn), or your answers suck and it becomes pretty obvious that you haven't learned the material.

Obviously for every rule there will be exceptions, but I'd be willing to bet that a very high majority of papers that are being written in any given university really amount to wasted effort for both the student and the professor anyway...

more than 5 years ago
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Slashdot Launches User Achievements

automag Obligatory: I for one... (1582 comments)

...welcome our new achievement... Awww, screw it. You know the joke.

more than 5 years ago
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Ethical Killing Machines

automag Bad Idea, guys... (785 comments)

I don't know if this is such a good idea, really. Seriously, did any of you see that documentary series about the robots that come from the future to kill the leader of the human resistance? Or that other documentary series about the robot slaves who achieve self-awareness and then destroy their former masters' home planet forcing them to go wandering around the universe looking for someplace else to settle? Scary stuff...

about 6 years ago

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