Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

dentin Re:How about collective health sensemaking? (186 comments)

Stuff like this can help, but keep in mind that nutrition is, in the long run, a dead end. Even the best of nutrition and exercise will see you very lucky indeed to reach one hundred years old; for an indefinite lifespan, we will need actual repair and maintenance techniques. http://sens.org has more information on what will be necessary, and areas where research is (at the moment) particularly weak.

about a month ago
top

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

dentin Re:Ridiculous fear factor (186 comments)

It's not at all that I don't care. It's that I care more about the hundred thousand people per day dying terrible deaths in pain and fear due to completely preventable and repairable biochemical failure. Taken in isolation, yeah, I'd prefer privacy - but when weighed against that level of suffering and death, it's not even a contest.

about a month ago
top

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

dentin Ridiculous fear factor (186 comments)

I'm actually shocked by the shortsightedness of the slashdot crowd on this one. I expected at least -some- positive responses to be moderated up. Instead, I see a lot of misconceptions and ignorance of the actual problem Page, like Aubrey Degray, is trying to address.

We have a hundred thousand people worldwide dying due to various medical problems and the diseases of old age. These medical problems and diseases are complicated. They consist of tens of thousands of interlocking subproblems, so many that we often take several thousand specific issues and lump them together to call them something like 'cancer'. Fixing these problems - all of them - isn't something that a single drug company, or a single nation is going to do.

It's going to take everybody, everywhere. And in order to fix all these things - cancers, diseases of old age, genetic problems, and more - is going to take research, time, and data. Lots of data.

Lots and lots of data.

People whine about privacy, oh no the bad guys are going to steal my information, ignoring the fact that a hundred thousand people a day die and that thier information could help. All of these medical problems are tractable, all of them are soluble, but they'd be a hell of a lot easier to solve if researchers weren't hamstrung by ridiculous information privacy restrictions.

I don't want immortality in good health just for me, I want it for everyone, and this idiotic fear of having information released is standing in the way of that. A hundred thousand people a day dead, because we fear someone might discover an abnormally BPH score, HIV, or a genetic propensity for Alzheimers. What a steaming load of shortsighted crap.

about a month ago
top

Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

dentin Re:Higher paid? Why? (519 comments)

My point still stands.

about a month and a half ago
top

Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

dentin Re:Higher paid? Why? (519 comments)

Frankly if teachers are only contributing 1-14% to test scores then I have to wonder why we employ them at all. That's an abysmal number. We could replace them with scarecrows or hobos and still get those numbers.

Also, as I said before, I'd much rather have guesses based on data that is "fraught with error, inaccurate, and unstable" than guesses based on nothing. And right now, we have nothing.

about a month and a half ago
top

Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

dentin Re:You make it... (519 comments)

For all intents and purposes, yes, the car salesman can be fired for it. Regardless, the salesman loses the commission: no loan = no sale = no commission. This is why salesmen are good at sniffing out people with money and people without.

The real difference between the salesman and the teacher is that if the salesman can't make his numbers, he doesn't eat, wheras the teacher is just disappointed.

about a month and a half ago
top

Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

dentin Re:You make it... (519 comments)

When collecting and analyzing data is difficult, the solution is not to stop collecting data. It's to collect more data, and try harder. Further, I'd much rather have guesses based on some data, than guesses based on nothing. And lastly, if teachers only account for 1-14% of test results, that tells me that we need some dramatic improvement in teacher quality.

about a month and a half ago
top

Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

dentin Re:You make it... (519 comments)

While I can at some level understand refusing dropouts, refusing GED graduates is stupid. The GED is basically the outer 'catch' block of the primary school system, and without it, there's no legitimate way to get a diploma if you have unusual circumstances. The fact that some kids use it to 'escape' primary school should tell you that there's either a problem with primary schooling, or that the GED process isn't sufficiently strong - but in both cases, the solution to the problem is NOT to make the GED worthless.

about a month and a half ago
top

Patent Troll Ordered To Pay For the Costs of Fighting a Bad Patent

dentin Re:given enough eyeballs, all claims are hollow (191 comments)

I really like the idea of a two stage mechanism, where the patent has to pass an initial review to be issued, and has to pass a more thorough publicly visible review when the first lawsuit involving the patent reaches some particular stage. The number of single-patent suits is actually fairly low and even a comprehensive review wouldn't add a lot of workload to the patent office, while the number of suits and patent applications would drop off due to the increased uncertainty of success.

about 2 months ago
top

Fusion Power By 2020? Researchers Say Yes and Turn To Crowdfunding.

dentin Re:Crowdfunding? (280 comments)

Don't be a troll. As I said, the evidence for global warming is unambiguous.

about 2 months ago
top

Fusion Power By 2020? Researchers Say Yes and Turn To Crowdfunding.

dentin Re:Crowdfunding? (280 comments)

> The problem is, by the time you start seeing serious climate problems it will be far too late to prevent things getting much worse.

I have a really, really hard time thinking that climate engineering won't be possible in a hundred years, and climate change doesn't happen fast enough to wipe out humanity in that time frame. IMHO we'll be able to put the climate wherever we want it.

> And what would the next most important concern be? Maybe the horrible pollution and environmental destruction being wreaked by our quest for more fossil fuels - fracking, strip-mining of pristine wilderness for tar sands, etc?

Nope. These are extremely low priority to me.

> Or maybe reducing the threat of global violence inherent in having our economies dependent on relatively rare fuel deposits while our need for energy to adapt to a changing world steadily increases?

This is also extremely low priority for me, as it's already happening anyway, and while some part of global violence is related to oil money, there's plenty of other reasons for people to blow each other up. Subsaharan africa and north korea are cases in point.

> This century is going to see a *lot* of geopolitical stresses as agriculture becomes far less reliable due to the already inevitable climate destabilization.

Agriculture has always been extremely unreliable, and yearly swings in weather dominate it, not climate change. Climate change is far more gradual than the time needed for agriculture to change.

> And perhaps most importantly - even if we had fusion mastered today, it would still likely take several decades to migrate the infrastructure.

Why is this any different from getting any other alternative energy source going? If anything, I'd expect continuous fusion plants to integrate just fine as they're similar to fission nukes, and ICF fusion plants to integrate just fine, as they're similar to gas turbine generators. Compared to what's needed for wind and solar, it's nothing.

Regarding population growth, most of the growth is in poor countries, where life extension will be less available, and where other dangers still cause a lot of death. While life extension does raise the projected plateau, how far it's raised depends on how fast it hits, how cheap it is, and how stable we're able to make the rest of the world. I'd bet 50/50 odds that the population in 2050 doesn't exceeed ten billion.

> assuming that neither you nor anyone you know would get the chance of being immortal, what arguments would you offer in it's favor? What rational reason do we have to extend the length of our lives?

Let me pose the same question to you, with a couple modifications:

- Assume that neither you nor any you know is dying of cancer. What arguments would you offer in favor of researching a cure? What arguments would you offer against such research?

- Assume that neither you nor anyone you know has alzheimers disease. What arguments would you offer in favor of researching a cure? What arguments would you offer against such research?

- Assume that neither you nor anyone you know lives in poor africa, where the average lifespan is barely above 40 years old. What arguments would you offer in favor of trying to help the people in this region? What arguments would you offer against it?

Aging is a horrible thing, something which frankly should not be tolerated in polite society, any more than cancer, alzheimers, and ebola. To simple take it 'off the table' as though it were uncurable and shouldn't be cured is reprehensible.

about 2 months ago
top

Fusion Power By 2020? Researchers Say Yes and Turn To Crowdfunding.

dentin Re:Crowdfunding? (280 comments)

I am extremely certain that 1) global warming exists, and 2) global warming is mostly caused by mankind over the last few hundred years. As far as I'm concerned, the evidence there is more than sufficient, and deniers are nutjobs.

However, I don't really see much ecological damage that I care about at the moment, and that includes 'global warming' ecological damage. It's not that I don't see ecological change, it's simply that I don't care about most of it. It's also slow enough that mankind will be able to easily adapt going forward - easily compared to the other stuff we do day to day over the course of a century.

As for SENS, I'm not saying 'cure death'. I'm saying 'delay indefinitely death due to old age'. Why would you think we can't do that? It's a hard problem, but it's not unsolvable. At its core, life is just chemistry.

As for a ballooning population, current population estimates put a peak at under ten billion around the year 2050. There's every reason to believe that the population can be held finite.

about 2 months ago
top

Fusion Power By 2020? Researchers Say Yes and Turn To Crowdfunding.

dentin Re:Crowdfunding? (280 comments)

I want to know how exactly changing out the electrode material type is supposed to get a 10k multiplier on plasma focus density. The web site and what I could find were remarkably short on detail, and I'm inclined to believe that while the beryllium electrodes are important, there's some serious confusion about what is being funded and the problems that funding is supposed to solve.

Either way, I'd much rather the money be donated to the SENS project instead. We don't currently have a power crisis, so to speak - however, we do have a hundred thousand people dying per day of age related diseases, and that seems a smidgen more important to me than dropping the cost of electricity.

about 2 months ago
top

Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

dentin Re:Hmm (533 comments)

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, easy, and wrong. Bootstrap/init is a complex problem, and systemd covers more of that complexity than previous solutions.

As for the three digit UUID observation, that's because those people where there at the beginning. If they're still active today, of course they would have strong opinions - they have a lot of experience to draw on.

about 3 months ago
top

NASA, France Skeptical of SpaceX Reusable Rocket Project

dentin Re:Just because... (333 comments)

5% is huge for a lower stage. The rocket equation is exponential, and the 5% applies to the exponent - a 5% change in the exponent may result in a 50% change in the final payload to orbit, or 50% reduction in starting weight.

about 3 months ago
top

NASA, France Skeptical of SpaceX Reusable Rocket Project

dentin Re:Just because... (333 comments)

It's really good to hear that someone is considering methane/LOX. It's a really good combination and IMHO it's unfortunate it never caught on.

about 3 months ago
top

The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

dentin Re:Not a programmer's problem, a managerial one (183 comments)

I have been programming for 30 years, 20 of them professionally. I've never been fired or laid off, and I've objected to things like this no less than a half dozen times (admittedly most of it at one specific company.) I suspect you either got unlucky with who you were pushing against, or you didn't social engineer it well enough.

Either way, one doesn't get 'forced' into early retirement - you take early retirement because you don't care enough to keep doing engineering. There's countless opportunities in the technology fields, it just takes effort to find and do something with them.

about 3 months ago
top

The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

dentin Re:Content protection (183 comments)

Heh, thanks. Artful negotiation is very important, and not given nearly enough face time in situations like this. You have to show that you're objecting not to be a jerk, that it's not because you want to cause problems for someone else in the company; you have to show that this is just something you won't be a part of, and that there's a cost to the company in proceeding with it. It's nothing personal - that's just the way it is, and you want to make sure everyone understands that before a final decision is made.

about 3 months ago
top

The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

dentin Re:Not a programmer's problem, a managerial one (183 comments)

You declare that you'll start working on it immediately and will put in overtime, but even so it won't be ready by the ship date. State that you won't sign off on it or release it until you feel it's ready, because if someone gets hurt, you could be responsible. Shrug your shoulders and wait for a response.

- If you're ordered to do it anyway, state that you can't be paid enough to cover the legal liability and you won't be party to it.

- If they take you off the project, say OK and walk out. You can effectively do nothing more.

- If you're asked to find solutions, do your best, but refuse to cheese it.

- If they threaten to fire you, try to leave a social 'line of retreat' for them to back down without losing face. Something along the lines of 'firing me won't help get it done any faster, but at least it won't be my ass on the line. If that's really what you think will get this project done on time, then I'll show myself out'.

A lot of people will complain about this, saying things like 'I can't afford to be without a job' or 'I don't want to have to find a new job' or 'I don't want to move'. To those people I say: the threat of firing is only effective on an employee who is afraid of being fired. If you want power in the employee-employer relationship, you'll have to accept this as a simple cost of doing business.

about 3 months ago
top

The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

dentin Content protection (183 comments)

I've seen many requests for objectional software in the years I've been working, but some of the worst have been in the guise of 'content protection'. One of the most heinous was DTCP for automotive use, with intent to lock everyone completely out of the sensor network and on-board electronics. My standard response for this one eventually became:

1) I will quit before I allow myself to work on DTCP;
2) I will not support any engineer in the company who works on DTCP projects;
3) I will not support any project or library that a DTCP project depends on, or makes use of;
4) I would rather see the company close due to lack of work than have it pursue projects of this sort.

I've never been told to shut up and go back to work; granted, I had a long history with the company and was worth substantially more to them as an employee than a few paltry one-shot crypto projects.

I recognize that most people don't feel like they have the job security to make demands of this sort; however, I do, and I fully intend to make use of my tiny bully pulpit when situations arise that demand it.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

top

Games: Balancing a Gold Economy

dentin dentin writes  |  about 5 years ago

dentin writes "This article on gold economy balancing in MMOs talks about the various systems in place that serve to balance the economy of the MUD Alter Aeon. The systems are scalable to much larger environments, and hopefully will be useful to other game developers. [Disclaimer: I wrote the article in question.]

From the article: "All too often, articles talking about gold balance or economies do little more than state that 'most MMOs have problems with their economy'. Instead, I'll describe a successful example of a gold economy, and give some details on what it took to get there.""

Link to Original Source

Journals

dentin has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...