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Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

e**(i pi)-1 deja vue? (745 comments)

Hmm. A Deja vue. A glitch in the matrix? Seriously,such ideas are already a cliche. It had already been subject to fascinating contemplations in Hofstadters book of 1981. And progress in virtual reality and computer games since then have only amplified that the idea of a simulation would be hard to detect.

about 5 months ago
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For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad

e**(i pi)-1 reason why calculators still exist (340 comments)

Of course, calculators are technically long obsolete. It is exactly their limitations is the reason why they are still around because they produce controlled limits on what the device could do, for example not access the web. With smartphone or tablet already, there is less control for the teacher. There are now apps like "myscript calculator" where one can handwrite formulas onto the screen and it evaluates it. The article still has a point. With calculators, one could still experiment. I had hacked my TI 59 so that it featured a joy stick and use it to control the lights of my room. Also not well known was that it was possible to reprogram the basic functions on the calculator like allocate the sin button to something else. Presumabely this made it cheaper for TI to sell specialized versions of their calculators but the backdoor key combination to allow such mods had not been documented anywhere. (here are pictures of my highschool machine: http://www.math.harvard.edu/~knill/various/ti59/index.html)

about 10 months ago
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Finland's Upper Secondary School Exams Going All-Linux

e**(i pi)-1 BYOD is doomed for tests (55 comments)

I believe, BYOD is doomed from the beginning, thats why graphing calculators (dinosaurs in comparison with modern smart phones) are still around: because of their limitations they can still be used for tests. Many questions for systems running on students hardware? How is the live system booted: DVD, memorystick? How does that work on a tablet? The biggest weakness is that the system is booted in a subsystem of an other OS. If the system interacts with a server, how do you prevent other internet access? How do you prevent other programs to be run? One major weakness for math testing systems accessed from a browser is that students can "google" or "alpha" the answer. Many system run the clock on the students system so that if the student runs a virtual machine and stops it, the clock stops. For testing systems with BYOD, there is always also the danger that the test leaks. Even with a completely locked down system, it is difficult to prevent that a student boots the OS in a virtual machine and have free range and post the test on the web. It needs only one student to do so. A test examinator can not see the difference (without considerable effort) whether the machine has booted up in a virtual machine or not. Ie only safe way to make a safe and accountable testing system is to make it on paper.

about a year ago
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Cryptography 'Becoming Less Important,' Adi Shamir Says

e**(i pi)-1 relative (250 comments)

The quote was clearly understood "relative to other measures". Besides that one has to keep in mind that the top experts are often wrong. Look at some quotes:

  • Everything that can be invented has been invented
  • Who wants to hear actors talk?
  • There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
  • The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.

about a year and a half ago
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Ubuntu Tablets: Less Jarring Than Windows 8?

e**(i pi)-1 we need a tablet emulator (179 comments)

Certainly good to add more variety. For me a tablet is like a monitor. It just has to work and not do more what it is asked for, like user tracking or information collecting or content change or adaptation. What would be nice is to have an emulator application on a desktop which looks and behaves from the outside like a tablet. In a time, when news outlets or search engines more and more also adapt their pages to the medium (never mind the look and feel, the disturbing part is also change of content), it would be good to have a tool, which allows to catch possible leaks and see what is done when a "tablet" is recognized. Changing the user agent in the browser can not do that yet.

about a year and a half ago
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GNU Hurd To Develop SATA, USB, Audio Support

e**(i pi)-1 use (274 comments)

Why does anything always have to do with practicality or use. Tinkering with new or old operating systems can be compared with learning and messing with new or old math or physics. I guess that when developing some USB drivers for hurd, you learn more than improving a given drivers for linux. The later is like reading and understanding and improving on a paper which is "well known", the former like breaking new grounds.

about a year and a half ago
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Russian Search Engine Yandex Beats Bing

e**(i pi)-1 complementary engine (88 comments)

yandex is a nice complementary alternative. Google and Bing often lead to the same first entries. yandex seems not to update frequently their index so that it refers more to established sites and less to news sites. And it also does not put you into the search bubble.

about a year and a half ago
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Perl's Glory Days Are Behind It, But It Isn't Going Anywhere

e**(i pi)-1 Re:Wait, what? (379 comments)

Second that. Perl is great exactly because it is stable, reliable and because of the prospect that it will remain so. Like the Unix shell, Latex or plain old C. Its maybe as close as one can get to mathematical tools, which by default never change. A language has to earn the status of being archane. Thats when it can be used also within larger projects without worry that basic functionality is depreciated. Its not an exclusive or. The world needs both, new languages which are exciting but change often and old languages which have a track record of being robust.

about a year and a half ago
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US Looks For Input On "The Next Big Things"

e**(i pi)-1 Re:There people are really, really stupid (309 comments)

But any attempt to plan and direct breakthroughs will only serve to prevent them.
What about nuclear energy or getting to the moon? These were planned and heavily directed breakthroughs.
Breakthroughs cannot be planned
Is this really true? Modern industry is full of examples where breakthroughs have been planned.
You can put a whole lot of smart people to work, give them everything they want, and maybe you will get lucky.
Isn't this also a form of planning? Maybe we should say that breakthroughs can not be micromanaged.

about 2 years ago
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Flatlining User Base May Spell End of RIM

e**(i pi)-1 stagnation due to saturation (180 comments)

since when is stagnation the beginning of the end? We have saturation and the mobile market become more and more an upgrade game.

about 2 years ago
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Converting RSS Feeds To a Dynamic 3D Scene In 120 Lines of Code

e**(i pi)-1 actually running the 120 lines is not free (73 comments)

the 120 lines of code under review actually need a pay version of Tao. The free evaluation version does not work with the example code TFA shows. [Nice although that a linux version is available.]

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop?

e**(i pi)-1 flexibility (1154 comments)

First of all, for myself there is no linux desktop problem. I always have used a lightwight desktop manager (blackbox) which has everything I even need. What would be nice for the general public is a desktop manager which is flexible enough so that it can be tuned so that it behaves exactly like OSX or be tune so that it emulates exactly windows. Such a desktop might also not be vulnerable to patent claims because it is essentially the user who tunes the parameters. There just happen to be parameter files around which make the desktop look and feel like other operating systems. Somebody might even build a parameter set so that it looks like unity.

about 2 years ago
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Patent Granted on Mandatory Digital Keys to Prevent Textbook Piracy

e**(i pi)-1 example from an MIT course (168 comments)

Anant Agarwal recently reported that at the course MIT 6.002 where textbooks are freely available for students, the textbook sales have gone through the roof. Publishers currently learn from such cases. This patent is complete nonsense. No teacher would make financial payments linked to grades.

more than 2 years ago
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Certain 'Personality Genes' Correlate With Longevity, Says Study

e**(i pi)-1 hardly a surprise (72 comments)

These correlations are hardly a surprise If you are healthy, wealthy you are more likely to live longer. And its easier to have a good sense of humor and optimisitic you are settled well. It is also more likely that you have a larger social network then. The correlation between healthy and living longer is trivial. The correlation between wealthy and living longer is no secret since health systems are already selective. If you are padded well you more likely will get an experienced surgeon for example or get a vital organ faster.

more than 2 years ago
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Depressed People Surf the Web Differently

e**(i pi)-1 selection of students (278 comments)

the study is rather limited since 216 students is a small sample. And how did they get the students? If it was voluntarily, then the sample was already biased from the beginning. They could not have monitored the internet use of a random sample without their consent without violating basic guidelines for using human subjects in research. The later rather severe in academic setups. It must have been rather difficult to get these students also because who would agree to have all their online activities monitored and analyzed.

more than 2 years ago
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Golden Age of Silicon Valley Is Over With Facebook IPO

e**(i pi)-1 real value (222 comments)

It will not only be important to estimate what "value" really is but how robust it is. If you make a technological leap which needs a lot of research investment and which is difficult to copy, then this is value which is robust. Real resources like oil or level of education are such robust values. FB has generated a lot of robust value in building up all the infrastructure and code. But the value of FB includes also networks of people which is also value but is fragile because it is based also on reputation and coolness. If you sit on a real goldmine, you do not have to be cool. You will make money. If you sit on a virtual goldmine like FB, you have to remain popular to please investors and make money. This makes me side more with Steve Blank in the economist opening statement. However, facebook now also has the power to grab and crush smaller competitors and harvaest their talent. The fact that they get the best in the industry might mean that they will start entering more robust markets like entertaining, news etc. This makes me believe also Ben Horowitz. We will have to wait and see.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Secure My Life-In-A-Briefcase?

e**(i pi)-1 crucial question (241 comments)

this is the main reason, why I do not have important things only on the laptop, nor use cloud services. Both are vulnerable. The former since a laptop can so easily disappear, the later because the company could go belly up or lose the data. Backing up on hard drives and store regularly encrypted versions in a safe place looks still like the best option. My personal backup has not changed since decades: sync regularly (via cron scripts) between multiple desktop machines at multiple locations, retire old harddrives regularly and have physical harddrive backups at multiple locations too which are not overwrritten. (Adding a mac desktop in the sync loop allows to use time machine also when primarily working in linux). I also work more and more on a laptop but always sync before and after using it for some work. Yes, it is a bit expensive but the financial pain pales when comparing to the agony to lose old work.

more than 2 years ago
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Microsoft: Macs 'Not Safe From Malware, Attacks Will Increase'

e**(i pi)-1 what matters is how vulnerabilities are handled (290 comments)

First of all, it must be said that the word "mac fan boy" is one of the most ingenious PR actions against apple. The statement of Microsoft that "macs are not safe" is a too obvious PR spin along the same lines. Any operating system is vulnerable as long as users can modify operating systems. This is not for discussion. What matters is how fast these vulnerabilities are handled and communicated and corrected. Apple as well as Linux distributions have handled vulnerabilities in the past pretty well and I feel quite safe both using a mac or using linux boxes.

more than 2 years ago

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