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Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

fermion Yes, idiocy (573 comments)

We are not talking about the risk of an attack on the level of 9/11. We are talking about a risk of an attack like Newtown, or Littleton, or the Holocaust Museum, or the Knoxville church, or, to be apropos, Aurora.

We are talking a movie that has a lot of hype, but may not last past the first weekend. A lot of people were planning on seeing it, but are people going to make a statement and risk some lone gun nut coming in and killing several people

Is it commercially responsible to pay for the distribution of a film when people may be afraid of the consequences of seeing it? Might it be more commercially responsible to release it when the heat dies down. Are parents going to allow their kids to see this movie know a lone gun nut might kill them?

Again, we really don't know what is going on here. Team America already killed this guy in the movies, and made fun of him in the most racist of ways(I so ronery). But this is just a movie. It's purpose is to generate revenue for sony. It is not an 'film' so it's sole purpose is to generate revenue for Sony. It has some hype, but it also has some risk. Again, not of movie theaters being bombed, but of someone, who does not necessarily have and national backing, coming in with tactical shotguns and 100 round rifles and killing several people. This is not that hard to imagine as it happens with some regularity.

3 days ago
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How Birds Lost Their Teeth

fermion Re:So which came first (138 comments)

If dinosaurs had gizzards, then that would indicate that teeth were loss after this organ was in place.

about a week ago
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Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?

fermion good will (190 comments)

There is also a surcharge of good will in economics. When one company buys another, there is good will. When people pya $1000 for a MS license instead of much less for Google docs, some of that is good will.

The taxi service in my area has had tracking of the cabs for a while and the ability to get a cab with an app for a very long while. The wait on the phone is not long at all. I am not in an area where cabs are used a lot, but sometimes a cab is better than a bus or driving.

I specifically use cabs because of lack of surge pricing. There have been times when I have had to get home at midnight, and it good that i can just take a cab and not get gouged. If one want to show appreciation, tip better.

In some ways I see these ride buying service as Walmart. Come in, chage less to drive out others, then raise the prices and the consumer is at the mercy of an unregulated monopoly.

about a week ago
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Utilities Face Billions In Losses From Distributed Renewables

fermion Re:They have good reason to be nervous (280 comments)

it is an interesting theory, but misses a couple facts. First, the owners of the grid are protected. For instance, in disasters in the recent past the repair costs for the grid have been passed directly to rate payers even though the gird operators should have reserved cash to pay for those repairs. It is like the owner of corner grocery charging everyone a dollar extra because he was robbed the previous evening. Likewise, many people buy electricity through resellers. The producers mostly know just sell bulk, so they are not really interested in how much electricity is used, just that enough is sold to support the plants. And the solar panel is only going to allow them to reduce capacity, and increase profits. Here is how. There is such an overcapacity of overnight electricity that resellers give it away. The generators have to provide an excess during the day, and have to charge more to cover the costs. With a bunch of residential solar panels feeding electricity back into the grid during the day when people are not home, the providers can afford to supply electricity at night when they were giving it away for free before. In my a typical use case in my area, a family might spend $300 on electricity when there is a lot of sun, and $100 when there is little sun. With solar panels, such a family might see no money going to electric company, but maybe extra electricity feeding the grid at peak times when before there might have been brownouts. The only problem is this grid, which obviously is going to have to be funded separately, maybe $20 a month for a connection.

about two weeks ago
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Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

fermion Re:Nonsense (368 comments)

Absolutely. I really hope this was written by some adolescent who is fustrated because no publisher will accept the book, and not by someone anyone considers a real writer. First, the world has changed but no changed so much. For instance, my mother who was born a few years after the first war had little trouble assimilating late 20th and 21st century technology, or adapting that technology to her own uses. She owned a computer and a flat screen TV.

Second, most writers still use the novel format, which is around 400 years old in it's current format. This is different from older western forms, which tended to be more spoken word, such as Beowulf You can still buy 400 year old novels such Don Quixote. I would suspect that if one were doing something new, then moving from the novel format, or at least messing with it as Kurt Vonnegut did, would be the minimal requirement.

Third, the world has changed significantly in 500 years, but if one reads the old works we still identify the humans as humans and understand the motivation. Yes, most of us would die quickly because we did not bow down to the king, or because we helped a slave escape, or because we did not know to avoid the emptying of chamber pot, but I think the reason to read literature is to learn that we are not all that removed from our forebears.

And fourth, in this brave new world no one can make an author throw away 50 pages of work. If one thinks they through away 50 good pages, then that is a matter of one's own integrity, nothing else. Write the book you want to write, publish it, slip it into bookstore, no one is stopping you. If one is willing to give up one's artistic integrity for greed and actually sell books, then that is something different.

Science fiction helps us explore our relationship with the technology that allows us to amplify our creative abilities. It is different from fantasy that allows us to imagine a world where the rules are different. Imagining a different culture is not that useful because the world that is going to interact with the technology is our present culture. We do not live in a world that everyone, all of the sudden, is going to accept that their way of life is obsolete and immediately embrace new ideas.

about two weeks ago
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A Case Against Further Government Spectrum Auctions

fermion Re:Circular logic (66 comments)

I would say a lease, say 10 years, that would long enough for infrastructure investment, but closed ended so if that others can have a regular opportunity to bid.

I would also suggest that the spectrum has to be used and sold to the public as a competitive product. If not the lease has to be forfeited and the firm or it subsidiaries cannot big on it again for one cycle.

Given the way the Aero case went, where the public was not allowed to access the public airwaves through leased equipment, I would like to see the TV stations be subject to the same rules. Pay for the spectrum they use. If they are going to claim that the public cannot access the public spectrum without payment, then let the broadcast stations pay as well. Honestly, they no longer serve a public interest.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook Founder Presents Vision For The New Republic, Many Resign In Protest

fermion Re:Who cares... (346 comments)

It matters as this is seen as some upstart with no experience taking control away from experienced men who cannot by themselves move into the 21st century. This interpretation is right and wrong

For the past 40 years TNR has apparently been owned by a incredibly bigoted person who used the liberal credibility of the magazine to push his white supremacists ideas. Certainly these ideals are accepted in some circles, but not the target audience of the TNR. As a new generation who was not raised on overt bigotry came into being, a generation that pretty uniformly saw the assassination of MLK through history books, not newscasts, and were not raised on magazine subscriptions, the new century saw the circulation of the new republic cut in half. The white supremacy could no longer be covered with the inertia of the respect of the magazine.

In this way we see the problems of TNR firmly rooted in old ideas and the destruction of the brand by the previous owner. If the brand is to be rehabilitated it is going to require the jettison of the previous ideas that are not consistent with far left ideology, and those who think that white supremacy is consistent with anything real in the US were free to leave with the editors.

TNR is only going to be saved by re branding as an online source of liberal news and analysis. While the editors did not promote any kind of white supremacy, they were complicit in the past, and that may have been a problem in the present.

about two weeks ago
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FBI Seizes Los Angeles Schools' iPad Documents

fermion Re:Better Teachers... (229 comments)

The counterpoint here is that when someone has no choice, then one ends up with a lot of unqualified people because they are it involuntarily. The reason we don't have good teachers because teaching is a trade with skills that are only acquired with experience. For instance, if you are going to be a master plumber, there is education and then two years experience. Programs like Teach For America, on the other hand, put teachers in schools but the vast majority leave the classroom before they have the experience to become a good teacher. The financial incentives also limit the retention of good teachers. Keeping a teacher more than 10 years becomes very expensive, so there is financial pressure to let teachers go in the 5-10 years frame, just when they are becoming master teachers.

about three weeks ago
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Study: HIV Becoming Less Deadly, Less Infectious

fermion Re:Raining on the parade (172 comments)

Also, infection rates are going up, particularly young teens and early adults,particularly men. HIV may now be a less virulent disease that is chronic instead of fatal, but is still a huge short term problem. I don't know if kids think there is less risk, or parent's are more conservative and not teaching safe sex, but something is going to have to change short term if the epidemic is not going to grow.

about three weeks ago
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First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

fermion Re:I agree, except: (390 comments)

So Ford evidently got injured on the Falcon set.

Tie fighter over water was just them playing with special effects. Very gratuitous.

Guards on the light saber was definitely the silliest addition.

about three weeks ago
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What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

fermion Re:Error: They did not use LaTeX (170 comments)

Absolutely agree. I remember when I was helping put papers together how painful Word was to get to work, and how nice it was when I finally learned LaTex. I recently had to put a piece of research together, and now of course everyone uses MS Word and one has to use it. For collaboration.

That said the error might not have been prevented with LaTex. If it was a conversion error from different versions of word, in which a comment was exposed, that might have been prevented. If it was a human error, a comment accidently exposed in the editing process, that is easier to do with LaTex.

In any case this likely has little to do with the process, and much to do with the technology. A typesetter would never copy marginal notes left in the draft, or would check. Also, things like twitter makes it easy and cheap for such trivial mistakes to be amplified to 15 minutes of fame.

about a month ago
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Amazon's Echo Chamber

fermion Re:Chech back next year... (112 comments)

Amazon directly or indirectly employes around 100,000 people. The have revenue to pay those people, as well as revenue to develop other products, which are somewhat successful. The Fire line of tablets, for example, provided much more compelling competition to the iPad than the MS Surface. Bezos himself has made a lot of money. There is the question of profit, however. As a public company who wants stock value to go up, profit is important. OTOH large profits are not critical to a company that consistently has cash flow and sales. In most cases profits can manipulated to make then look larges or smaller, depending on the fiduciary priorities. This is not ta say that Amazon is not making a bunch of crappy products, only to say that many people take an extremely simplistic and gullible view of statements such as these.

about a month and a half ago
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Ken Ham's Ark Torpedoed With Charges of Religious Discrimination

fermion Re:Religion (451 comments)

The alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short circuit destroying the mind. - Ayn Rand

about 2 months ago
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We Are All Confident Idiots

fermion Re:Summary doesn't support headline (306 comments)

It called the ability to learn. Many people do not have it. There is no issue with making a bold statement, or trying something at which one is not skilled. I find the issue develops when one is confronted with factual content, or alternative perspectives on more squishy subjects, and one still believes that one's own opinion is the only reasonable opinion. A person who can learn and grow is at least able to acknowledge that they might be wrong. For some people it is just maturity, as in the case of college students. For others it is that they apparently genuinely lack what many would call advanced cognitive skills.

about 2 months ago
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Apple A8X IPad Air 2 Processor Packs Triple-Core CPU, Hefty Graphics Punch

fermion Re:I don't really see the point. (130 comments)

The layout of webpages is more complex. Unlike the Mac, there is no easy way to block animated content. My old iPad hangs on many web pages. For this reason alone, we need a fast processor. Apple is also trying to put the iPad into the laptop space. It is the affordable Apple device, at $1000 fully loaded, often cheaper than the MS Surface.

about 2 months ago
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

fermion Re:Exactly who wants critical thinking skills? (553 comments)

Exactly. Employers want workers who can take direction. As an employee it is beneficial to be able to work around complex situations because this is what keeps us from being replaced by machines. It is not really a skill that the employers wants, or wants to pay for, but just a necessary skill for a worker who wants to keep their job.

This reminds me of writing. Employers have been complaining about writing for as long as I can remember, at least 30 years. Even in engineering school we were told that we had to learn to write. In high school we did have technical writing, but how much time was spent teaching accurate context free writing college? None, even though professors would tell us that employers were demanding the universities teach writing. Everyone says they want it, but not enough to pay for it. Those with critical thinking skills and writing skills will rise, and those that don't will muddle through and probably go into management.

about 2 months ago
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An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

fermion Queue theory in an profit driven world (342 comments)

As mentioned before, this problem has largely been solved. The constraints are not just waiting time, and waiting time is often the least of anyone problems. The elevator waiting time problem can, for example, be solved more efficiently with mirrors than by building more elevators. Waiting for a telephone operator is solved more efficiently with estimating time for wait and music than adding operators. So the question becomes is the line a problem to be solved, or only an issue for the stressed out suits who visit.

First, it is arguable that at a a place like burning man which is allegedly a social event, the act of waiting in line is not in fact part of the stated purpose. I mean, where else do you get an opportunity to meet random like minded people. It is why waiting in line at whole foods is not big deal. It is really party time. Only overly introverted judgmental people get all stressed over it. If one is laid back and enjoying the groove, who cares?

Likewise it is reasonable to ask whether profits would increase with more ice. The writeup postulates that there is a fixed costs to bringing in ice and that profit increases linearly for more ice sold. If this were true, then there would be more than three distribution points. So what is probably going on here is that paying people to drive and sell the ice would cost more than the profits to sell the ice if more trucks were brought in. Probably three trucks of ice is probably what is sold, and through most of the day the wait time is not an hour. Wait time would probably be reduced more by people choosing a different time to buy ice. It would probably be beneficial to track wait times during the day and see if it would be possible to even out the flow of people. If more ice is needed than is supplied, then add another truck and increase if necessary.

Finally we have the cute idea of the volunteer. In the case of price gouging the last thing one want is an untrusted person dealing with the product. You might as well ask the drug dealers to have volunteers distribute the H. The marginal cost of a bag of ice is minimal, but the bags must be sold to cover the costs. If the situation is as dire as the poster suggests, there would be a large incentive for the volunteer to steal ice. Maybe each volunteer works an hour, and then thinks they are entitled to a couple free bags of ice. At minimum wage, the firm is not making any bargains off the situation.

I know how these festivals go, and roughing it is hard, but that is why we were given granola, and way clavier is not suitable for every occasion.

about 2 months ago
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Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers

fermion Re:Too many discrite components (158 comments)

And each solder joint is a failure waiting to happen in the vibration rich atmosphere of a car.

I am not sure what the fascination over high component count. Does that mean all we have to do is make the next music player out of a million discrete 74xx IC and we will get a write up saying how good our product is?

This to me is beyond a small product run. It is a prototype designed over a weekend.

about 2 months ago
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The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers

fermion Re:Straw Man (622 comments)

I am not blaming anyone for having something stolen. If you leave you laptop locked to a table in Starbucks, and come back from the bathroom 10 minutes later, it is not you fault that the laptop is stolen. You can report the theft to the cops, and it will be investigated. What you do not have the right to do is throw a temper tantrum and hold everyone in the coffee shop hostage until the laptop is returned and then sue the workers for allowing the laptop to be stolen. Yes, this exaggerates what is going on here, but really we all take risks and have to understand that those risks have consequences and we cannot protect everyone from the consequences of all risks.

I do not see that posting nude pictures of yourself on the cloud has equal expectation of security of walking alone at night or getting drunk at a party. If some people think that pointing out that the cloud is insecure is bashing the victim, then I suppose running educational campaigns where we tell people not to accept drinks from stangers at bars where the drink might by have date rape drugs in it is attacking the victim. It is not. All these cases must be prosecuted, but prevention and education is also important.

And this is where what some of what is going on here makes sense. Some people think they have a right to do whatever they want, even if it is illegal, as long as they don't get caught. We should talk about thing that are wrong to do, not because of a punishment, but because of right and wrong.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Back when patents had to be innovative

fermion fermion writes  |  about a year ago

fermion (181285) writes "This weeks "Who Made That" column in The New York Times concerns the built in pencil eraser. In 1858 Hymen Lipman put a rubber plug into the wood shaft of a pencil. An investor then paid about 2 million in today's dollars for the patent. This investor might have become very rich had the supreme court not ruled that all Lipmen had dome was put together two known technologies, so the patent was not valid. The question is where has this need for patents to be innovative gone? After all there is the Amazon one-click patent which, after revision, has been upheld. Microsoft Activesync technology patent seems to simply patent copying information from one place to another. In this modern day do patents promote innovation, or simply protect firms from competition?"
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Anti-Drone Clothing

fermion fermion writes  |  about 2 years ago

fermion writes "Given that the Obama Administration now has the power to Terminate Americans on Demand, it might be time to think about defending ourselves from such a near term scenario. One might think that a Stinger would be the ideal defense, but radical gun control promoted by the liberal government makes that a difficult option at best. Therefore we are forced to execute a more passive defense in the form of anti-dron apparel from Adam Harvey. I am sure this will become the new little black dress."
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Linux forcibly installed on Congressman's computer

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 2 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "I am sure most have heard about Michael Grimm, a US House of Representatives member from New York, who's campaign headquarters was vandalized. What has not been reported everywhere is that Linux was installed on one of his computer, erasing data in the process. Is this a new attack on democracy by the open source radicals, or it is just a random occurrence?"
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When Patents Attack

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "This American Life runs a story this week on Intelectual Ventures, a firm some consider the leader of the patent trolls . The story dwells into the origins of the term patent troll and the rise of the patent troll industry. Much time is spent presenting Intelectual Ventrues both as a patent troll firm and a legitimate business that allows helpless inventors to monetize patents. It is stipulated that Intellectual Ventures does not in fact sue anyone. It is also alleged that the Intellectual Ventures create many shell companies presumable to hid such activity. Intellectual Ventures is compared to a Mafia protection racket that may never actually burn down a business that does not pay the dues, does encourage such burning to occur."
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Flight 447 "Black Box" Decoded

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "An initial report has been released by the BEA concerning the details of the last minutes of Flight 447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. According the report the autopilot disengaged and stall warning engaged at 2 hours 10 minutes and 5 seconds into flight. Less than 2 minutes later the recorded speeds became invalid. At 2 hours 14 minutes and 28 seconds, the recording stopped. The final vertical speed was recorded around 10,912 ft/min."
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Gaming and Real Assassinations

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Wall Street Journal has an article detailing the gaming life of Jared Lee Loughner. While it seems to avoid explicitly blaming gaming for the murders, it does appear to allude to a link. For instance "In the 7th grade, he and a friend, Alex Montanaro, began playing the multiplayer online games Starcraft and Diablo, which featured complex virtual worlds where players assume roles and play against other people around the globe, Mr. Montanaro said in emails over the weekend and Monday." Is the fact that he played a certain game in grade 7 in any relevant to his alleged shooting of a nine year old girl in 2011? The article further details his increasingly erratic online posting, which apparently inevitably leads to assassination. What is really depressing is that Education Week seems to make a directly link between utilizing online communication and expression of violent behavior.

 "

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Safara 5 the ultimate Ad Blocker

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Regster is reporting on the Safari 5 Reader. This feature, in the form of button marked "Reader" strips all ads, all branding, as well as consolidating content spread over several web pages into a single frame. Some say this is an attack on Google and others that will compete with the new iAds. Some say this is just a way to remove distractions that keep users from enjoying web content. What is clear is that this a bold move, one that makes the attack on flash seem tame. The race no longer seems about speed. It is nowabout using the HTML tags to render content in the most user centric manner."
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America Speaking Out

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Republican House Leadership has jumped on the social media bandwagon by creating American Speaking Out. On this site anyone in the world(all one has to do is enter the universally known 90210 postal code) can posit ideas, vote them up and down, and comment. Right now the top ideas are to stop the pork, roll back, reduce the military and tax churches. While the later two are rather excellent ideas, I am not sure what 'roll back' means. Perhaps repealing all amendments to constitution after #12. As far as stopping the pork, I doubt any representative would have a job if money was not sent back home on a regular basis."
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Android Store to Stop Selling Android Phones

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In classic Monty Python style, Google has responded to the news of the imminent domination of the smartphone market by retreating. In a Google Blog post Andy Rubin writes that '[o]nce we have increased the availability of Nexus One devices in stores, we'll stop selling handsets via the web store..' He further states that the store has not met expectations and 'that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from'. As such Google wil 'offer Nexus One to consumers through existing retail channels'."
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Apple bought Intensi

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The New York Times claims that Apple has bought Intrinsity, the company allegedly behind the A4. The story is heavy on speculation, light on citations. Intrinsity may be the company that provides the technology for the A4. Intrinsity employees are changing thier Linkedin profile to list Apple as their employer. The Intrinsity website "appears to have pulled down." The only verification of the sale are the infamous "people familiar with the deal". How does this purchase, if it happened, relate to the rumored purchase of ARM?"
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Programmer cannot get a date, shoots up gym.

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The man who killed three women at a gym, and then himself, was evidently a frustrated analyst who could not get a date. The legend of the lonely geek living in the parents basement, alone, without success, without sex, is rampant on /.. Here is perhaps the more realistic example. An apparently successful person, with his own home, job, and a minimum of social skills,but not able to find another to be with. Was the lack of a sex life an excuse? As always, it is the quiet ones. A neighbor is quoted as saying ""I never saw any women over there, and he wasn't bad looking,I don't understand it. I just assumed he was gay.""
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Pre does not get US tethering either

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Register is reporting that the Pre Dev Wiki has been sent a note asking it to stop discussing tethering. Evidently Sprint is none to eager to have users tether the game changing tetherable smart phone. The development forum is evidently eager to avoid lawsuits, so has rapidly agreed. Perhaps, like the iPhone, the Pre is going have a vigorous underground. What is interesting is that the Pre, like the iPhone(allegedly), can be tethered in the non-US domain, but even those customers are being denied apparently lawful information to satisfy the US exclusive agents."
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Wolfram|Alpha and the ToS

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Growlaw has an article on how Alpha is different from Google. It seems that Wolfram reckons Alpha as an authoritative source of information and has created a special terms of service to insure that users do not violate the rights of the apparent legal entity known as Alpha. Wolfram claims that "in most cases the assemblages of data you get from Wolfram|Alpha do not come directly from any one external source. In many cases the data you are shown never existed before in exactly that way until you asked for it, so its provenance traces back both to underlying data sources and to the algorithms and knowledge built into the Wolfram|Alpha computational system" which is capable or generating unique copyrighted information. Wolfram states that lack or attribution is a violation of copyright and an act of academic plagiarism. Parents and teachers are warned that if the kiddies use the service and violate these terms the parents or teachers will be held responsible. This is not completely unreasonable, as Alpha is likely a unique creation, and deserves full legal protection. What might be a bit controversial is the attack on deep linking:"It is not permitted to use Wolfram|Alpha indirectly through another website that has created a large number of deep links to Wolfram|Alpha, or that automatically constructs links based on input that you give on that site, rather than on Wolfram|Alpha"."
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Apple Back on top.

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Forrester Research published the Customer Experience Index 2008 Snapshot: PC Manufacturers. From the summary "Apple leads and Dell lags.". The NYT blogs the finding with specific data. Apple has a rating of 80%, MS Windows PC manufacturers are in the 60's, and Dell drags in at 58%. The blog suggests that MS outsourcing OS support to the manufactures might be a mistake, and they may want to explore direct support through retailers like WalMart. If MS were to be truly agressive, they might again follow Apple by implementing plans to open company stores. In this time of rising unemployment, I am sure there are many available MCSE that would be happy to help."
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G1 not so open

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The register reported that the open-to-anyone-and-any-application Android Store has terminated the availability of a popular tethering app. The Android Store, which was supposed to be devoid of a not-so-benevolent dictator preventing such useful apps from reaching the market, evidently caved to T-Mobile's displeasure at the bandwidth sucking app. The control of the store by T-Mobile appears to be real and material, as indicated by a quote from Google: "Google enters into distribution agreements with device manufacturers and Authorized Carriers to place the Market software client application for the Market on Devices. These distribution agreements may require the involuntary removal of Products in violation of the Device manufacturer's or Authorized Carrier's terms of service". It appears, as many suspected, the the G1, and by extension the Android stack, as the Authorized Carriers deem profitable."
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Jailing Kids for Fun and Profit

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In the past students have felt especially abused when suspended from school for posting inappropriate material on facebook or sending threats through email and the like. Well imagine what Hillary Transue thought when she was put in jail for posting satirical content. In this case it turns out that the judge was paid by PA Child Care to incarcerate juveniles. PA Child Care, coincidently, ran the jails. The judges involved and have plead guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, but have not admitted to any quid pro quo. Other judges have been appointed to deal with the cases of 5000 juveniles whose sentences are now in question. One presumes that the costs of such proceedings are not going to be fully covered by the Judges or PA Child Care. This might be a reminder to teens that the law is not as cut and dry as they think, and that what they think is tolerable behavior might in fact be criminal when viewed by a judge. It can be argued that a few days suspension is an appropriate slap on the wrist to discourage such behavior. If a further reminder is needed, the system that allowed these judges to trade children's lives for profit is still intact."
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Is this the end for Jobs at Apple?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The NYT is reporting that Steve Jobs is on medical leave until the end of June The reason cited is that the health issues are more complex than originally thought and these issues are a distraction for the company and employees. This seems to be standard press released language for things are worse than we thought, but hopefully by gettting him out of the spotlight the constant publicity that negatively effects stock price will go away. By my count, this means that Jobs will be away from Apple for 5 months. My question is will he be back, or is the Apple strategy for a peaceful and smooth transition of power. In other, is his replacement in fact an interim chief executive put in place while they perform a quiet search for a permanant CEO."
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Watchman is Fox property

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "According to the NYT a judge has decided that Fox owns the copyright to Watchman, not Warner. Is this an example of copyright law becoming so complex that companies can abuse the court system to prevent competition, or just extreme incompetence by Warner. In the current business environment, either explanation is believable. Yet it is unbelievable that seasoned producers would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create a movie that they can't even release. It seems the judge didn't want to bring this to a jury, and maybe daring Warner to appeal, or Fox to settle."
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Android and the roaming scam

fermion fermion writes  |  about 6 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "If seems that Google Android and T-Mobile has not learned from the bad experience and wrath Apple incurred with roaming charges on the iPhone. It seems that application can switch to roaming and data operation without the user knowledge. Also, according to The Register, there is no way to switch off roaming. Given the backlash that Apple experienced over international roaming charges, one would think that T-Mobile would have built a phone to prevent such unexpected charges. On the other hand, while iPhone lives under the protective graces of Apple, the G1 is a much more laissez-faire business model, and perhaps has no reasonable expectations of such intervention to protect the user."

Journals

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representing numbers

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 7 years ago I notice a tag popping up around slashdot, namely hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0. The context of the tag is irrelevant to any civilized person, but I was intrigued with the prefix hex, presumably to indicate the number was base 16. I wonder if the use of the prefix, instead of the more traditional 0x, was due to the increasing distance between the technical elite and the hardware

As I am sure we all know, a digital computer represents all information by either an on or off state, which is typically represented numerically as 0 or 1, respectively. As the digital state is often implements as an analog current, there is often some firm threshhold value, above which the state is said to be on.

Therefore to represent a peice of information, such information must first be encoded in as a number, then the number encoded into a series of off or on states to represent that number. This is where binary notation comes from. Using only 0 an 1, in principle we can represent any number as easily as using the 0-9. For instance, using base 2, the number representing in decimal form as 4 would be 100. Perhaps a bit verbose, but quite adequate when one can complete thousands of operations every second.

The verbosity, however is a problem for humans. For instance, to represent the decimal number 9 requires us to write 1001. While a digital device has no problem with this, and humans working to hardwire code have no problems, as the amount of information to encode becomes greater, humans wish to have more information density.

Which is where Octal, or base 8 representation emerges. Octal notation groups three states, or bits, in one. In octal instead of only using the digits 0 and 1, we use 0-7. This means that to write the decimal number 7 instead of writing 0b111, we write 0o7, i which the 0o prefix means octal.

Octal was nice when bits were base of the computers, but soon information grew so much that we began to group bits together. The smallest traditional grouping of bits is the nibble, which contains 4 bits. This means the biggest number that can be held is 0b1111 or the decimal number 15. This lead to the idea that we might want a numbering system that can represent numbers up to decimal 15, and the hexadecimal system was used. In this system, digits go from 0-F. Therefore the decimal number 7 is written 0x7. The decimal number 15 is written 0xF, 0o17 or 0b1111. One can see that even though the computer does not care, it is easier for people.

Hexadecimal was quite used prior to the mid 80's. While programming tasks were easily handled through the alphanumeric keyboard, with minimal special keys, formatted text processing required copious use of the entry of special codes. Even in programming, it was useful to direct many function directly through the hardware using hex.

So, obviously, with the huge bit capacity, it is quite easy to see why we use hexadecimal to represent numerical values. What is not so obvious is why we represent using the longer form hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0 rather than 0x09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0.

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Beware of gifts with stange Apples?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago I love my Apple computers. I have a G4 tower in the back room. I have powerbook that I injured a while back but still serves me faithfully. I have a newton 2100 in my pack, a broken newton 2100 and another old newton in storage. I have a Mac Classic, a perfoma, and all manner of half assembled portables and desktops. I reluctantly gave up my Apple /// because of space considerations, and I regret it to this day.

It has been a strange ride over these 20 years. Shape tables on the Apple ][. A EPROM burner in another Apple ][ to program an EEPROM for use in a Z80 controller for flight. Printing WYSIWYG documents for the first time from a Mac to an imagewriter. Horrible fonts and resolution. Embarrassing. But such excitement to not have to embed the Epson codes directly into the AppleWriter document.

And then Macs that actually ran fast enough to do work. And then Macs with harddrives, separate monitors, expandable innards. Appletalk replaced with ethernet. And then SCSI gone and all my stuff had to be replaced with Firewire stuff.

But through all this time I have never felt betrayed. Until today. Yesterday I happily installed the MacOS update. I have complained a bit in the past week about the fact that they combined security and feature updates, and I hope they have learned from this experience, even though the probably have not, but i am over it. Sort of.

But today I noticed something strange. Moving advertisements on my web pages. Could it be that my preferences for images got messed up? No, checked my pref files everything as I left it. Could it be that more sites are manually changing images? Unlikely but i looked at the page source just to be sure. No, nothing there. The source for the web pages is essentially what it has been for these sites. Check for flash, try some scripts, then give up with a static images. So could it be Flash? I don't have flash on my computer. It eats up too much time. Do a search for the file, not there. Forgot where the file was stored, so i just go back to double checking preferences and the source of the web pages. Maybe I missed something. It sure looks like flash, though.

Finally get a brainstorm and go to the macromedia site. Yep, it starts playing a flash movie. I definitely have been infected by the annoyware virus. But how, and where it is? I finally find a web page with the directory location. It is in the library directory. Not the user one, but the main one. The one that needs administrator access. Find the file, check the date. It was the date and time I installed the MacOS update.

Now, i have no proof that the update came with a flash payload. I could have accidently installed it some other way. All I have is circumstantial evidence and i do not want to make false accusations. But the install time was during the time i was installing the update. I go through great pains not to install flash and avoid sites that require it.

On the other hand flash is becoming tricky, and someone may have set up a trojan that got it onto my computer. Could have been Apple could have been someone else.

And the only thing that the knowledge base lists is Safari enhancements. Which of course brings a whole separate set of problems, like what if I don't want to use Safari.

I am telling you. I am so close to getting a Intel piece of crap, installing Linux on it, and just running the command line with the occasional X for the rest of my life. It was not so bad when all we had was the command line.

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on moderation

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago "A right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen on their joint interests, whether public or private and under whatsoever laws these interests arise (to wit: of the State, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right; it is not the gift of any municipal law, either of England, or Virginia, or of Congress, but in common with all other natural rights, it is one of the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1797.

The following is some thoughts on altering the /. moderation system. I do not believe any of these ideas are novel or unique, but the application of these ideas may help with issues such as scalability and the promotion of long term discussions within an article posting. The main concepts in this modified moderation proposal are moving to labels instead of numbers for moderation, continuously variable starting moderation points based on karma, and non linear moderation scoring.

First, I believe /. should move to labels for moderation in leu of the current numbers. These labels could be 'horrible', 'unrated', 'default', 'fine', 'great', 'terrific', and 'super' , respectively corresponding to moderation of -1 to 5. The labels will need to be tweaked with the idea that labels will reflect the status of a comment. For instance, a current '1' comment would be unrated because this is the default posting for a logged in user. I do not use the karma labels to avoid confusion.

Underlying these labels would be an expanded, and scalable counter. To determine the range of the counter, one would set the increment for a category. If we select the increment to be 20, for instance, the counter would go from 0 to 101. A comment at 0 is 'bad', a comment at 101 is 'terrific', and everything else is evenly divided into groups of 20. For instance, the structure might look like
horrible 0
unrated 1-20
default 21-40
fine 41-60
great 61-80
terrif 81-100
super 101

In the discussion below I will assume that moderation counter starts at zero. I will also refer to the increment as defined above. As an aside, is feasible to make the increments nonlinear, and there are reasons to do this, but I believe the such functionally can be incorporated into the moderation procedure.

The next issue is the starting moderation based on Karma. Currently logged in users start at 1 and eventually get a point. If the user is subsequently very bad, they will lose the point. This system is effective, but imprecise. I feel it gives a new user excessive benefits, delays additional benefits until the user reaches top status, and does not quickly punish bad behavior. My suggestion is that anonymous users start at the low end of unrated, which in general is 1. All registered users would have their starting moderation calculated based on karma, as described below.

If we assume that the underlying karma count sets a neutral karma to zero and goes positive and negative with increasing and decreasing karma, we might calculate default moderation as

default_moderation=offset + karma*scale.

This equation has two variable. The first is offset, which is where we give logged in users a boost over anonymous users. For instance, if the offset is equal to the increment, a new logged in user will still start with 'unrated' comments, but a single moderation would guarantee the comment would become 'default'. The other variable is scale. To be consistent with the current system, this should cause a user with maximum karma to in the 'great' rating. This could be done by having each label change in karma add half the increment. Therefore, a karma of 'positive' and 'good' would make the moderation increasingly 'fine', while a karma of 'excellent' would have moderation in the middle of great. The application of this is that the default moderation is a continuous function based on karma, which we assume also changes continuously with user behavior.

Moderation itself should not change from the point of view of the moderator. The moderator will still choose a label and moderate. However, /. will now have fine control over the points awarded. For instance, each moderation might only award 3/4 of an increment. Or perhaps we want to encourage users to look for new good comments rather than just continue to moderated existing highly moderating comments, so we might only award 1/3 of an increment to any comment that is already 'terrific' Maybe we see that most comments posted in the first 5 minutes of an article are useless, so the moderators on those articles on get to award 1/3 of an increment until the comment reaches 'fine' status. Maybe we want to encourage moderators to look at new comments, so a moderator will only be able to award 1/4 increments to any comments that is past a certain time threshold. It may be decided that a funny comment is less valuable than an insightful comment, or an overrated tag is less valuable than a insightful tag. In summary, because moderators will still only have a certain number of moderations, regardless of the actual points awarded, the moderator can be discouraged from certain actions by making those actions less forceful.

There are several possible pitfalls in this proposal. First, the moderation of a comment will not necessarily lead to the change in moderation status for an article. This may confuse moderators. Second, communicating the variable moderation points may be prohibitively difficult. If such information is not communicated to user at the time of moderation, this proposal may not be an improvement over the current system. Third, an increased amount of computation may be necessary to display as moderation page. This increased load on the web-server may prove excessive.

A final comment on the '3 day limit' for moderation. I believe this limit is excessive and does not encourage the important activity of moderation. My suggestion is based on when the user logs into /. First, if a user does not log into /. within 24 hours of being awarded moderation points, the moderation points go back into the pool. If the user logs in within the 24 period, the user will then have 24 hours to use the points. If the points are not used in that period, they go back into the pool.

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out come the freaks

fermion fermion writes  |  about 12 years ago Dear is my friend--yet from my foe, as from my friend, comes good:
My friend shows what I can do, and my foe what I should.

--Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

I received an email recently about my sig. The email asked what was a freak. I wanted to answer that question in my journal. In addition, I also wanted to discuss why I chose to put Freaks in my sig instead of Fans.

First, what is a freak. If we look at the FAQ, we see that a freak is a person who has chosen you as a foe. This, in my opinion, is a much more significant event that another choosing you as a friend.

To get excessively philosophical, the act of choosing a foe is also an act of preparing for conflict. For some people this choice may be a petty expression of violence. However, for others it may a genuine declaration of the willingness to grow, learn and become a more complete person. As the quote above indicates, a foe can be the ideal way to discover what one should do. I hope to have the time to look at comments carefully enough to chose quality foes.

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negative moderations

fermion fermion writes  |  about 12 years ago I have been meta-moderating a lot lately. It is interesting to see how people use their moderation points, especially in modding down a post. If we look at the section of the FAQ on how moderation works, we see that we are to concentrate on modding good posting up, while reserving our negative points for for spam, true trolls, and the like.

Yet once again I saw a perfectly reasonable post marked off-topic, and I had to mark it as unfair. It was not exactly on-topic, but it was a valid and useful reply to the comment. Why a moderator would waste points marking it off-topic is beyond me. Were there not enough good comments that day? Are there some whose only mission in life is to to promote personal agendas? I do not know.

I try very hard to limit my negative moderation to truly harmful posts(goatse, etc). It seems if a post relates incorrect information, that post will invariable attract comments that correct the error, and those replies will usually get modded higher than the original comments.

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