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"Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

chad_r Re:Sigh. (102 comments)

That sums up my impression of the state of airports that have adopted the machines wholesale. The machines are just scattered around, and there is no clear "line" to either check your bags or speak to a human. You just need to trace the ropes to find a gap, and hope that the line you started is the place where the lone counter person is looking for the next person to serve. If it's especially busy, there may be two people at the counter, but anyone else on staff will be wandering around to help people with machines (basically just pushing the buttons for them) or actively discouraging people from waiting on line instead of starting with the machines.

But the machines aren't flawless. I've never been able to get through the check-in for an international flight with an entire family. I make it through the initial steps of identifying myself and the flight, but when it comes to scanning the passports it will randomly reject one of them. It's likely because one of the family has a foreign passport. If that's the issue, why can't they just tell those cases to go directly to the counter? Three attempts at this is 10 minutes wasted (including for the staff watching over my shoulder telling me to try it again) that I could have spent waiting in line.

The problem isn't with the software, it's with a lack of care for the customer experience. It's as if the airline management never use an airport to realize ways in which the system is inefficient, confusing, or unpleasant. That's what think is the real reason for designing an avatar kiosk: throw money at software developers to magically solve the problem instead of understanding or addressing the real issues.

3 days ago
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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

chad_r Re:Is it possible? (212 comments)

How is it possible to be a psychopath in a game? This and other research are based on the premise that video games contain real violence. No game has ever contained true violence in this sense, which is why violent video gaming behavior doesn't lead to the harm that real psychopaths cause in society.

The only way to act psychopathic--doing actual harm to another human being with true apathy--in a video game would seem to be through communications between players inside the game, where feelings could be hurt. It would be hard of course to separate psychopathic communicative behavior from other common factors like immaturity, inebriation, gaming cultures, etc. That should probably be the real focus of these kinds of studies. Another interesting study might be to study actual psychopaths, pulled from corporate environments or the like, and seeing if/how they play games differently from non-psychos.

This is why murder in games as a measure of sociopathy is a red herring. The real crazies are the griefers, the ones who gain enjoyment, with no other tangible benefit, from knowing they are doing harm to real people in the form of wasted time or belittling. It's hardly limited to gaming. Look at Wikipedia. Sometimes people vandalize because they have a petty axe to grind, but other vandalism is just totally pointless, like replacing entire paragraphs with the word "penis". I would even consider some graffiti, like the Chinese teenager writing "Ding Jinhao was here" at the Luxor Temple, to be sociopathic.

about 2 months ago
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Should Newsweek Have Outed Satoshi Nakamoto's Personal Details?

chad_r Re:But He Isn't (276 comments)

Or pick the name of someone who was involved in secret IT contracts with the US government, who changed his name, and who is now paranoid about privacy.

about 5 months ago
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How One Photographer Is Hacking the Concept of Time

chad_r Re:$50...if your time is worth nothing (124 comments)

I didn't care for the photos but 42nd street was rather amazing. I love how it captures fast motion (moving lock of hair, hoisting a knapsack up).

I found the last clip on the page, with the two girls running, was a powerful piece of art on a visceral level.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Protect Your Passwords From Amnesia?

chad_r KeePass + will (381 comments)

I would probably give a master password and a copy of my password safe to my lawyer, along with my will and other legal paperwork that she should have just in case something should happen to me.

I was in the midst of posting something similar. I hadn't thought of encryption, but that would be a good idea.

  • 1) Stored all my passwords in KeePass Password Safe, and protected the database with a single password
  • 2) Attached the password for it, along with other important instructions (like a local password for the computer with the database), with my will. I also added a list of important contacts and bank accounts my family might not know about
  • 3) Sealed the documents in an envelope, and let my family know about the documents (or left it with them, before an overseas trip)
  • 4) Upon my timely death or loss of memory, my family will have all it needs to delete my embarrassing online photos

about 6 months ago
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Counterpoint: Why Edward Snowden May Not Deserve Clemency

chad_r Re:Clemency?! (573 comments)

Snowden chose to take part in a war...
part of it is cold (against Russia and/or China - no shooting takes place on those fronts but there is some real struggle about shifting the power balance this or that way...
(winning is impossible anyway)...
if Snowden is let free, I will not shed any tears when the long arm of youknowwho reaches him...

Please tell me this a subtle satire in the style of 1984 and Dr. Strangelove, and that you truly don't see the World in such black and white terms. We are in a cold war with China? Really? Over "balance of power"? Is that a war you expect one side to win, or do you think "we will always be at war"?

about 7 months ago
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Memo To Parents and Society: Teen Social Media "Addiction" Is Your Fault

chad_r Re:Yes, because nothing is ever your fault (271 comments)

We are all the product of our environment.

No, no, no! Remember the scene the "Life of Brian" where he tells the crowd "you are all individuals", and they respond in unison "we are all individuals!"

Oh, but you missed the best part. After everyone shouts "we are all individuals", a lone meek voice says "I'm not!".

about 7 months ago
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Ted Nelson's Passionate Eulogy for Douglas Engelbart

chad_r Re:In the minds of the curren tech industry (110 comments)

The internet existed in 1984. Some of us old timers still remember when AOL opened a gate and let their users into the readnews internet community, everything started going downhill about then. :-)

Could you be misremembering the Eternal September of 1993? The name AOL didn't event exist until 1989. Usenet did exist in 1984, but it was over UUCP, and there were less than 1000 hosts.

about 7 months ago
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Multivitamin Researchers Say 'Case Is Closed' As Studies Find No Health Benefits

chad_r Re:supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults (554 comments)

Parent is already at +5, so I'll just say that it's spot on. But to make one point,

Also just like /. tends to do, the linked news article headline is sensationalized and exists just to get people to read the story.

Sadly, this is one case where every reporting of this research is just as bad as Slashdot's. The headline has cropped up in many different forms on health-related newsfeeds, and all are basically: Vitamins don't cure cancer or stop heart attacks, therefore they are worthless, The parent comment above is the first time I've read that the researchers actually admitted some benefit.

There is something very strange about Health and Science reporting, where reporters shut off their brains so they can create the most scandalous headline to draw readers. Remember two months ago when everyone was reporting the Oreos are as addictive as cocaine? It turns out that rats prefer junk food over rice (just like drugs!), and Oreos are just what they happened to use. That was the day after the government shutdown ended, and everyone needed a break from shrill political news in favor of some mindless crap news.

about 7 months ago
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Exponential Algorithm In Windows Update Slowing XP Machines

chad_r MS Filght Sim (413 comments)

This brings back memories of an old version of MS Flight Simulator (2000?). Whenever you would choose an item from a main list (maybe it was US state), the secondary drop-down list of airports within that category was oddly slow, and exponentially related to the number of items in the list. I just chalked it up to a programming WTF, and something Microsoft never noticed during QA because they were testing on high end machines.

about 7 months ago
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Judge: No Privacy Expectations For Data On P2P Networks

chad_r Re:"Available for public download" - AT&T and (230 comments)

I think the notion that CP somehow extinguishes a fire in a pedo, preventing harm, is groundless. It goes against common sense and 60+ years of pr0n research. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. my claim is reasonable and rooted in the common human experience. it is prima facae true.

I foresee a future in politics for you. You certainly have their understanding of logic and the scientific method.

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Do You Use Markdown and Pandoc?

chad_r Love it (204 comments)

I use it for blog postings, with the tables and footnotes plugins. I also use it when converting simple text files into e-books with Calibre, which has a built-in markdown converter. I have nothing against html, but typing an open and close tag for everything gets to be tedious when you just want to write something simple, especially for tables.

I've had to edit other people's book-length Word documents before. These tend to be a mess, because many people don't know how to use styles, so the formatting is a big mess. I copied the text in Markdown, formatted the headings as H1 and H2, wrote some simple html for the embedded images, converted the document to HTML, and imported it back into Word. It sounds like a lot of steps, but I was able to do this faster than clicking on 200 pages of the Word document to fix all the inconsistencies. It goes without saying that the person got the document back, and then messed up the formatting again, because they didn't think Word styles were a real thing.

As I recall, Cory Doctorow at a book signing mentioned he used Markdown or something similar in his writings, and then kept the documents under a version control system to be able to see the changes. This is something Markdown should excel at, much better than a wysiwyg editor.

about 9 months ago
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California Outlaws 'Revenge Porn'

chad_r Re:How about (528 comments)

In addition to the copyright issues (which I think the parent is correct about), what about the 2257 Regulations issues? The laws in the US are pretty strict about full records being kept of the models in pornographic videos by the producers. It would seem these revenge sites are sitting ducks for child porn smackdowns.

about 10 months ago
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Computer-Designed Proteins Recognize and Bind Small Molecules

chad_r Re:Recognize? (70 comments)

Really, proteins can recognize small biological molecules? Here I thought that proteins, like other molecules would react with other molecules in a bio-chemical reaction, but to find out that they can actually recognize other molecules is really amazing!

What a pointless, unfunny comment. I don't know what a "bio-chemical reaction" is. If you mean a chemical reaction, then no, proteins do not react that way. The composition of the protein does not change, in the way that two reacting chemicals would change their bonding or electron counts. In general, the protein is simply shaped in a way that fits the molecule better than other molecules (i.e., it recognizes the molecule), holding it in place so that other reactions can happen more favorably. Metalloenzymes come closer to your notion of a chemical reaction with a protein, but the protein part of the enzyme is still there just to position the reactant close to the catalytic center.

about a year ago
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Angry Customer Buys Promoted Tweets To Bash British Airways

chad_r Re:Incoming (286 comments)

Traveling from New York to Hungary, I have had baggage delayed twice. American Airlines had a special car drive the bags 2 hours to my location the next day, and gave a $100 reimbursement for emergency replacement of items for that missing day.

British Airways is another story. The bags hadn't arrived in Vienna when we arrived. The whereabouts were unknown, but the next day they showed up at the airport. We couldn't communicate with the airport baggage handlers directly to give them our address; we needed to fill out a form with BA and they would telex -- TELEX -- the information to the airport. Then, we would need to wait for a phone call between working hours to give them directions how to reach our address. Every day, when the phone call never arrived, we would call BA back, and discover that the information was garbled--that an address in Hungary isn't a local phone number, that it needs an international country code, that we are not at our origin since we left it via airplane so there is no point in calling it. After 3 days, the information was allegedly straightened out. From that point, there was no longer a reason for them not to call us. Since there was still no way to contact the airport, we had no choice but to call BA every few hours and plead with them to get the airport to call us. All they did was tell us they sent these pleas via telex, and it was a one-way communication so there was no way to receive a direct response. They could not or would not give us a phone number directly to the people they were sending the telexes to. We sent messages to BA customer service headquarters, since the BA staff in Vienna were not helping. Their customer service never responded, not even with an automated message.

After a week of no clothing, our own deodorant, or toothbrushes, we looked up the address of the airport on the web and tracked down a working phone number for the baggage handlers. They delivered the bag the next day, though with reluctance over the distance and the country border. We never did hear from BA customer service, and we never got a cent for the inconvenience, because we needed receipts for our items in order to get any money.

Just fuck them. I understand that the company was at the mercy of Austria's sadistic concept of customer service, but the organization should still be held responsible for those it hires or contracts. For contrast, I once complained to AA when the TV in my seat wasn't working on an international flight, and I got a $100 voucher (which I never used). No airline is perfect, but there is an expectation on customer service in fixing problems that is lacking with BA.

about a year ago
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Experiences and Realities of an Homesourced IT Worker

chad_r A home office is hard to pull offf (114 comments)

The article is rather light on the cons of working at home. I have been self-employed for 7 years consulting for my ex-employer. Over the years I've come across various pitfalls of being paid hourly, such as:

  • - Sitting in a regular chair instead of an office chair, resulting in a year of back problems before I figured it out
  • - Your coworkers think you're rich because you make a good hourly amount, without considering they get paid vacation, health care, 401k and many other benefits
  • - For any errands or chores that have to be done during work hours, you're expected to do it since your family can't leave work to do it
  • - You can't work after hours because you're expected to be with the family
  • - You can't work after hours because there is way too much noise and interruption, and no door is thick enough to block it out
  • - It's difficult to leave the house, knowing how much it's effectively costing you
  • - With no place to walk to, you could go a whole day and not walk more than 200 steps
  • - Less than ideal lighting and air movement
  • - Time goes much slower with nobody around, and 6 hours feels like a full day
  • - Vacation is unpaid, so you're less likely to take one
  • - Being at home 24 fucking hours a day for weeks on end

My goal was 6 hours a day of work, and it was difficult most days to fill this amount. I got crazy after 6 years, and am now renting an inexpensive office space. It's a much better environment for many reasons, and the additional hours I can put in per month makes it pay for itself within a day. I have an office mate, and even though he works in a different field, it makes a difference having someone else around. It has been great being able to work in a real office environment, and I'm a more cheerful person as a result. Lessons learned the hard way.

about a year ago
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Pro Bono Lawyer Fights C&D With Humor

chad_r Risky last paragraph (144 comments)

I think he was doing great until the last P.P.S., when he casually suggested that he could buy westorange.gov, and then sell or license it to the city for over $28,000. If the city ever decided to go through ICANN arbitration, the impression of domain squatting specifically for commercial profit with no evidence of personal use isn't looked on favorably. Considering that the rest of the letter was satire, surely this paragraph is too. But it would be easier not to have to convince an arbitration judge of that fact.

about a year ago
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Help the OED Find a Lost Book

chad_r Re:Translation of the Latin phrase (91 comments)

Someone had an interesting comment in the New Yorker article:

I see that you refer to "Philomena" in your comment rather than the "Philomela" of the text. St. Philomena was a virgin martyr whose times and story are roughly contemporaneous to the composition of the book. Possibly there is some connection to the "revirginization" quotes within the lost text. In addition, the tears may refer to the liquid reputed to have sprung from Philomena's statue in Italy in the 19th century...

Also, there is more than one reference on the net. There is a Flickr image from a Sotheby's auction in 1854, which was just uploaded yesterday.

about a year ago
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Oracle Fixes 42 Security Vulnerabilities In Java

chad_r Re:still with the java? (211 comments)

The only reason why Java is being exploited and making headlines so much recently is because Java is so widely adopted now that it makes a big target.

But there's nothing wrong with examining whether Java in the browser should be widely adopted. After the last merry-go-round of critical updates I deleted the Java plugin and haven't noticed a difference. The only site I encountered since then that used any embedded Java was the Taiwan Ministry of Education using it for some unimportant news ticker (which sums up browser applets in general: a distant reminder of Geocities and Livejournal). Even before then, Firefox intermittently would disable Java plugins as being insecure, so Java applets haven't been a seamless experience for a while.

I still have the JRE around on my work machine for some development tools that need it. But the usage is all local, so there is no urgent need to update. Plus, the update process has been broken in Windows 7. The update check and nag warning comes up for all users, but the installation can only be done by an admin account. Even as an admin, the update fails because it's expecting to download to a temp directory that doesn't exist. I deleted Java completely from my family computers, because I got tired of reassuring everyone that the constant update warnings weren't serious. Nobody has missed it.

about a year ago

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