×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re: i knew it was Bennett (157 comments)

The full quote was "people whose opinions I respect and who are experts in math and economics." Whether or not I respect their opinions, surely you don't think everyone on Slashdot is an expert in math and economics.

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re:First look at what EFF has to say. (157 comments)

Well, what percent of sexually explicit pictures sent by text message, are still present on the recipient's phone the next day? Almost all of them.

What percent of sexually explicit pictures sent by snapchat, are still present on the recipient's phone the next day? Probably not the majority.

Snapchat is not perfect, it's just better. Seat belts don't prevent all injuries, but you wear them anyway, don't you?

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re: i knew it was Bennett (157 comments)

Slashdot isn't the only place I share these arguments with people; I also share them with people whose opinions I respect and who are experts in math and economics, and their feedback tends to be much more positive than the commenters on Slashdot. So I assume the proportion of such people among Slashdot readers, is not zero. (Occasionally, there are comments and posts from people who did get the point of the article and argue it on its own terms, those posts just get drowned out by people saying that the article was too long.)

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re:i knew it was Bennett (157 comments)

Yes, Slashdot used to be only summaries followed by links. Now it's mostly summaries followed by links, and the occasional long-form post. That's still not an argument against it.

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re:First look at what EFF has to say. (157 comments)

Good points. Addressing separately:

1) On a phone that hasn't been jailbroken or rooted, I believe Snapchat notifies the sender if the recipient takes a screen capture of their message. This doesn't prevent it from happening, but it may at least make people think twice about it. If you're having a fling with a girl, and the girl sends you an explicit Snapchat picture which is intended to disappear after you view it, and the girl gets notified that you took a screen capture of it, she might go "What the fuck?" and you might not get any more nookie from that girl; for some guys, this might not be worth the risk.

More generally, of course you're right -- some pics will get screen captured. But Snapchat doesn't have to work perfectly for this purpose, it just has to work better than what people are doing now (sending texts which stay on your phone forever). What percent of explicit pictures sent by text message get deleted right after they get sent? Probably very few. What percent of similar pictures sent via Snapchat get deleted right after they're sent? Probably most of them. It's just an improvement, not a panacea.

2) It would be better if Snapchat let users set up end-to-end encryption so even Snapchat wouldn't be able to eavesdrop on people, and we wouldn't have to "trust" them. For now, all we can say is that it's better than using text messaging.

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re:Formatting (157 comments)

You're right, that would have made it more readable, sorry.

On the mitigating side, most of the frequent commenters take great pride on not being able to read that far.

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re: i knew it was Bennett (157 comments)

Oh ok, good point. But he never made that argument either. (And the same response applies - he'd have to show why the unavoidable costs of skipping one's eyeballs two inches, are higher than the benefits.)

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re:i knew it was Bennett (157 comments)

You're very articulate. But you never made an actual argument as to why the long-form posts are bad. (More precisely, why the benefits are outweighed by the unavoidable costs -- where the benefits include giving some people an argument to think about, and the unavoidable costs are that if someone doesn't want to read the article, they can move their eyeballs two inches down the page to skip it.)

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re:I work IT in schools (157 comments)

I think this is confusing "protection and safety" in the sense used by politicians and moralists (e.g. "protecting" kids from porn) with "protection and safety" in the normal English meaning of the words (protecting a person from some kind of measurable harm). Just because workshops use language like "safety" does not mean that they're actually increasing anyone's safety in the literal sense.

Most psychologists believe -- correctly -- that teenagers are not harmed (in the correct English meaning of the word) by seeing other teenagers naked (otherwise, wouldn't they be leading the charge against teenage sex?).

If you want to argue that such workshops are there for students' "safety" then you'd have to make an argument as to why you think the behavior in question is actually dangerous.

The reasons you've given have come up many times, but they sound like the kind of reasons that people invent after the fact, in order to rationalize conclusions that they've already reached. If blocking students from getting on Facebook were really about "focus", then schools would let students get on Facebook who could demonstrate that they're already doing good work and know how to manage their time properly. If blocking students from getting on Facebook were about "managing finite resources", then they'd let students get on Facebook during non-peak hours, or when less than 50% of lab machines were in use, etc. But nobody ever even gets into these discussions, because I think deep down everybody knows these are not the real reasons.

about two weeks ago
top

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

bennetthaselton Re:First look at what EFF has to say. (157 comments)

I think that's a great reference. However, it doesn't have a column for "Are your past communications deleted by default by the client software, so that they will be unavailable even if your client machine is stolen by an adversary?", which is the feature of Snapchat that I'm focusing on here.

In fact, in a case where you want the clients to delete the messages by default, there's an argument that it's better not to have the client code and the protocol be completely "open". Because an open protocol makes it easier for third parties to write knockoff clients that speak the same protocol but that don't delete the received messages by default, thus increasing the risk to the sender. (Yes, people write third-party Snapchat knockoffs that do that anyway, but Snapchat can make it more difficult by changing their codebase and their protocol frequently.)

Technically it's "security through obscurity" to have your code be closed, but there's no real "security" here anyway, only a best effort. All you can aim for is that most of the time when you send a message, it will be deleted on the client side (and that they didn't take a picture of it first with another phone!).

about two weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

Actually that's the first time anyone asked that specific question, and the answer is: Nobody ever constructed a plan such that all the editors should have editor accounts (which, among other things, lets people filter out their stories), but my stories would be run under other people's accounts instead of my own so that there was no way to filter them out, because they were deemed "too important". Instead, I don't have an editor account because I'm not an editor, and when people suggest making me an editor so they can filter out my stories, the answer is always that we're not going to pander to people who are too lazy to just skip the stories themselves.

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

Yes. When a website used by millions of people can save each user a few dollars' worth of aggravation (and a few dollars' worth of dollars) by making a few simple changes, that's important.

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

OK it was incorrect to call it a "representative sample". What I meant is within my social circle, some people think I'm right and some people think I'm wrong, and the people who are good at math tend to be more likely to think I'm right.

That cannot be explained by (a) me only picking friends who agree with me; or (b) me intimidating people into pretending to agree with me; or (c) my personal charisma [**snort**] charming people around me into agreeing with me; because if any of those were the cause, then my non-mathlete friends would agree with me too -- and they don't, at least not as much.

Suppose you make an argument, and you've found that your argument is unpopular, and you want to know whether that's because the argument really lacks merit, or if it's because only mathematically inclined people are likely to understand the argument. I submit that the best way to tell the difference (assuming you lack the resources of a polling company) is to ask your mathematically inclined friends, and see if they like your argument better than everyone else. How else would you do it?

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

What do you think makes an article "important"?

I think an idea is important if it describes a way to achieve a huge gain at a proportionally much smaller cost. Fixing these bugs would fit that criterion, since they're bugs on a government website that is used by millions of people.

Now, you might argue that even if I'm right, the information is useless to you because you don't do a lot of mailing, and because there's nothing you can do about the situation anyway even after reading about it. But that's also true of virtually all news articles -- not practically useful to the reader, and nothing you can do to impact the events described. So back to the original question: What do you think makes an article "important"?

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

Well I already clarified to the other poster that my sample of "smart people" is based on how well they do at math and logical reasoning (real outside-the-box stuff, not just getting good math grades in school), which is objectively measurable and not subject to my biases.

So, given that, what do you think? If someone puts forth a contrarian argument X, and the argument is considered interesting by a majority of people who are above a certain threshold in math ability, but everyone else reacts negatively, what do you think is reasonable to conclude about argument X?

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

Actually, that's a good point, so let me be more precise -- the people whose opinion I seek out tend to be very good at mathematical and logical reasoning, which is an objective (albeit incomplete) measure of their intelligence, independent of any biases of mine. Generally, the better people are at math, the more they think that the arguments I raise are interesting (which is not to say they always agree).

I'm not talking about people who got good math grades in school, I'm talking about people who did well in extra-curricular math-like activities that expanded your mind beyond the default curriculum. (And if you are in fact good at math in that sense, well, good for you -- I said it was a general trend, not a universal law.)

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

What do you think is the point of journalism? To give the people what they want? I think it's to pursue the objective truth, and then present what you've found.

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey Bennett, (182 comments)

One reason is that I often run the ideas past smart people whose opinions I respect, before running an article. They often find flaws in my own reasoning -- sometimes fatal flaws that shoot down the whole idea so the article never runs -- but sometimes after refining an argument to avoid the flaws they highlight initially, they agree it's an interesting question. If a representative sampling of smart people agree that a question is interesting, but a crowd of Internet commenters keep howling that it's stupid, is it possible that the problem is with the Internet commenters?

One of the most hated articles I ever wrote was questioning the merits of the Fifth Amendment, where I asked: Why is it a good idea that we allow defendants to refuse to answer questions, but that we can force third-party witnesses to answer questions, on pain of going to jail? Before I submitted the article, some people had given me fairly thoughtful answers to this question (e.g. that a third-party witness might only come forward if they know they're allowed to refuse to answer questions about their own illicit activity), but they agreed that the inconsistency was interesting.

But when the article ran on Slashdot, most of the useful discussions in the comments got drowned out by people shouting, "Bennett, you don't get it, the Fifth Amendment protects against SELF-incrimination, that's why you can require third-party witnesses to answer!" Each time, I rolled my eyes, and sighed, and replied, "Yes, I know what it says; that's not the question. The question is: Why is that a good policy?" Nobody in my pre-Slashdot smart-person cadre had ever missed the point so completely, or given that stupid of an answer.

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Hey, dummy (182 comments)

Yes, I know that. What gave you the impression that I didn't? But I'm assuming that the thickness of the box is almost negligible, so that if you specify on the USPS website that your package is 3x4x5 inches, the website should be smart enough to know that you can use a 3x5x10 Priority Mail box, but not a 4x4x4 Priority mail box.

about three weeks ago
top

Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

bennetthaselton Re:Wait... what? (182 comments)

You're supposed to have everything packed up and ready to go before you walk in the door.

They have priority mail boxes stacked in racks on the wall, free for people to take, so I assume they intend for at least some people to box their stuff there.

In my local post office, there's a counter for boxing things, and then a line which snakes around the counter and (sometimes) out the door. I've never seen the counter anywhere close to being full -- usually only one or two people using it for boxing their stuff -- so as long as you just take a Priority Mail box off the wall, and your stuff fits into it, and you have the right shipping label, you're not imposing costs on anybody else.

Of course people are causing problems when they do the things you describe, but those are probably not the people who print their labels in advance before coming to the post office.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

bennetthaselton hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

bennetthaselton has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?