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Comments

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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

fermion Re:Exactly who wants critical thinking skills? (479 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.

yesterday
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An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

fermion Queue theory in an profit driven world (341 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.

4 days 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 a week 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 two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?

fermion false positives (261 comments)

An aggressive spam filter, like what might be in place in a corporate server, is going to prevent a lot of legitimate email. The mail at my work is so aggressive that I do no have anything sent to it. The Apple Mail.app client, is also aggressive. So aggressive that I just have it mark spam because it will mark perfectly innocent mail as spam. Google has the additional problem is that it is advertiser funded. It cannot just mark all advertisement as spam, which is what most of us want, and still remain in business.

about two weeks ago
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Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States

fermion Re:The brightest people don't go into CS anymore, (144 comments)

I would be pretty to think that kids think that way. If that were the case, we would see more people taking classes like that. One of the purposes of the AP Exam is to get kids exposure in high school, possible credit for college, so they can go on and do what they really want to do. So someone taking an AP Literature exam is looking to get credit for the class and either take a more advanced core credit or maybe complete all the English core. Computer Science, as opposed to secretarial skills, are going to become increasingly important to any field. Anyone who wants to be a lawyer, a field that is going to be largely gone, at least at the high pay, in 30 years, would be well advised to take such a course, and really all hard science courses, if they want to pass the entrance exam. Speaking of that, there are efforts in the way to get kids at least into a two year college, but most are likeley to need remedial course, so they spend their first year paying for non-credit non-scholarship qualified classes. it is a problem. AP CS reteaches a lot of the math and application that were not learned in other classes.

And this is my problem. There is nothing in AP CS that I would need for my time in engineering programming computers to solve problems. I think that the class is somewhat irrelevant to someone who want to pursue CS because most hopefully already have the basic skills taught in the class by the time they are a senior.

One real issue is people who can teach is class. It was only 35 years ago that I was sat down on a computer and taught to write basic programming. It will take time for the pipeline to fill with qualified teachers. One hopeful sign is that we have a lot more introductory engineering classes than when I was high school, made possible because we have been cranking out engineers in this country since the end of WWII. So in another 20 years, we might have CS teachers.

about two weeks ago
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More Details On The 3rd-Party Apps That Led to Snapchat Leaks

fermion The rules are the problem (101 comments)

Collecting personal information on users is the status quo. All backends, be it google, apple, ms, collect information on users. It is how they make money and 'improve the product'. So instead of being in a position where everyone can agree that private information is private, we live in a world where we have to really work to understand what information is private, and what isn't. We see this with law enforcement and text messages. Most would say they are private, but law enforcement says they are public information. It is a small jump from text messages to photo sent to another person. If information collection were not the norm for everyone, then perhaps we could be upset that private information is being collected. But the web site provides a service, and of course it is going to take it's cut, in the forms of saving photos, for providing that service.

This is the way the web works. Service in exchange for private information. If it were 2000 it might be surprising. But it is not. And most everyone who is using snapchat has grown up in a world where such is standard mode of operation.

about two weeks ago
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Where Intel Processors Fail At Math (Again)

fermion Re:Inaccurate headline (239 comments)

The headline is accurate. For instance, if you have a student calculate a value and they give you 10 decimal places, and only four decimal places are correct, then that student has failed at math. The most fundamental error one can make when reporting values in math is reporting more accuracy than is justified by the computational method. The Intel manual says the all digits reported, except for the last, is accurate. Since this is not the case, Intel has failed at math. Even with the change in the manual, if the chip continues to report inaccurate digits, Intel is still failing at math. The only difference now is that Intel admits that it is failing, which is one step forward. To use you analogy, the NFL is not guaranteeing that the actual ten yards have been met. All they are saying is the displacement is sufficient to justify the nominal requirements for a first down. The do not , for instance, say that a play needs 3 yards, 1 foot, 6 inches, and 13 mils to reach a first down. But Intel does pretend it know the down to that level of accuracy.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

fermion Re:Read speed limit signs (283 comments)

If a car is self driving, then having some knowledge of the speed limit is good. If not, having the car limit travel based on speed limit is a very bad idea. For instance, those signs that read and display speed of oncoming cars in real time have some uses, but also have significant negative effects. They tend to encourage drivers to travel at maximum speed, which creates a jumble of cars and can at times encourage unsafe speeds. There used to be a lot of more of these around, but now I notice they are gone except in a few places. On the freeway, of course, one has to travel at prevalent speeds, and it is often necessary to get out of situations where there are dangerous vehicles.I can see myself getting kill because I not allowed to breifly accelerate to high speeds to get away from a oil truck.

about two weeks ago
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Outsourced Tech Jobs Are Increasingly Being Automated

fermion cheap labor (236 comments)

When I was growing up, my relatives had a washer and dryer, but when they broke they went back to having the in house staff wash clothes on the outdoor basin and hang out to dry. It was simply cheaper to do that. Other relatives simply had the people next door wash by hand because it was way cheaper than using a machine. Now labor is more expensive, and machines are cheaper, so most people have machines do the washing. Mostly it is because machines are cheap and a new generation thinks that using machines is cooler than paying someone.

It reminds me of this poster. If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

about two weeks ago
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Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

fermion scale up an ant farm (315 comments)

One imagine that in one took an ant colony, scaled it up to many colonies, and harnassed it's power output, it might be able to get a gigawatt more cheaply than a coal fired plant.

I see three problems here. First, this is a press release, so it has all the validity of any press release, in other words nothing. Second, nothing has been built, at least nothing approaching a gigawatt, and no way to know if the design will really scale to a gigawatt. Third, they are comparing the real cost of building a coal fired plant to the imaginary cost of building this device. That said, given that an advance coal fired plant is more in the range of 3 billion, the real cost of both might be comparable, and cheaper than the $40 billion for a conventional nuclear plant.

But really, the costs and all that is really besides the point. No fusion reactor has been able to produce significantly more power than it has consumed.

about two weeks ago
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Samsung Paid Microsoft $1 Billion Last Year In Android Royalties

fermion MS losing money? (93 comments)

I have often suspected that part of the reason that MS continues to make a phone is so it won't be accused of being a patent troll. If it is making phones, then it is not just trying to monetized a portfolio by attacking others who are doing the real work. I suspect the Surface is the same issue, and the the two might actually be breaking even given royalties.

I also think that this has nothing to do with MS or the royalties to MS. I think it has to do with Apple. Samsung, for some reason, gave MS a sweetheart deal on the thinnest of evidence. Samsung did not go to court, wait for google, but just paid MS a reletively large amount of cash for every handset sold. This tells me that there was so backroom negotiations going on, possible lawfully questionable negotiations. This, probably, is negatively effecting the Apple situation because if they were so eager to give MS money, why are they fighting Apple on claims that are at least as good? Which means that whatever possible underhanded deal Samsung made with MS is no longer paying off.

about three weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

fermion Re:In Business for the Wrong Reasons (185 comments)

This seems like good advice, but it does not necessarily lead to the idea of a suicides because a business failed. Suicide, especially at a young age, I think is either a mental issue or lack of experience with failure. It is not failed bussiness tactics, or losing respect among your peer group, or being made fun of on twitter, because, really, what does a person care about what some strangers think(unless you are a 13 year old adolescent). When we look at some suicides, these kids have had their life propped up, been protected from failure, ridicule, and hard work,. When they are then subject to a public failure, it is simply too much for them. I am in no way saying it is their fault or anyone's fault. I am simply saying even if you do everything right, even if you have all the support in the world, bad luck or a single bad decisions can still make the enterprise fall. A lack of experience of how to deal with such failures can lead to a person taking the quick way out.

about three weeks ago
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When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

fermion So? (175 comments)

A good hammer, a good manual drill, a good screwdriver, will last a lifetime. Many people, however, invest in pneumatic hammers, electric drills, and bit sets even though they know it will break. There is myth of how we own records, but I am old enough to own LPs and CDs, and let me tell you that the lifetime was limited, and they were difficult for mobile devices. Transferring them to tape was a significant loss of quality.

Comparing a phone to a plunger is silly, and makes me question the cognitive abilities of the person making the analogy.

Everything is a trade off. My car is so complex I can't begin to figure out how to fix it, but I do have a diagnostic tool on my iPad that I could not possible afford 10 years ago. My watch, and iPod Mini, is obsolete but it still tells me the time. As long as that is all I want it do it is fine. I used my 3GS over the summer as a roaming phone. Slip a sim card in it and I was good to go. As long as I wanted it as a phone, I was good to go.

Yes, you can't take stuff apart. OTOH I was one of the few people I knew that actually soldered computers to repair them, rather than just plug and play with a new board. Yes, some phones are not upgradable to current software, but many consumers seen to happy to make that choice to have a cheaper phone or a phone with other features. I can even see the current situation where you pay per page for ink is an option that many people would prefer.

Certainly there is a loss when we do not have a choice, but I think in many cases we still have a choice, it is just that we do not want to pay the real or opportunity costs for that choice.

about a month ago
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State of Iowa Tells Tesla To Cancel Its Scheduled Test Drives

fermion Re:The "old boys' club" (335 comments)

Tesla is part of the old boys club and they are playing it perfectly. First they create an exclusive product to sell to a privalidged few. Then they say they are going to create a product for anyone, any day now, and start crying how the states are oppressing them and keeping them for helping the impoverished masses. Then they play the old game of hustling states and end up with a deal that will result in the siphoning of 1.3 billion dollars of taxpayer money directly into Tesla's pocket, even if they never reach the targets of employment or sales. The only part of the old boys club they don't respect is that it fraud is a two way street. you can't take, you also have to give. Dealerships were one way for the car companies to spread the wealth back to the friendly politicians in the states. Tesla is saying it is all theirs, and they are not going to share.

Again, nothing against Tesla or electric cars, just saying they are not a knight in shining armor that is going to save us from the politicians and climate change. They are just another company trying to maximize profit and take whatever welfare they can get.

about a month ago
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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

fermion mostly the grid (517 comments)

To be sure, like most legacy industry, there is likely no ability to innovate. Think of american cars in the 70's. Energy generation is still powered by coal, coal plants are still being built, and we are still fighting over emissions. I don't know if a report saying that the industry needs to innovate will do any good. Making coal fired plants too expensive to build by requiring them to be clean might have an effect, and force the industry to innovate.

In any case, the incumbents are clearly show massive inefficiencies. In locations where electricity is sold competitively, prices can vary by 25% or more. This indicates that there is quite a bit of wiggle room in pricing. However, what we are really talking about here is volume. Without volume the incumbents firms that sell power, not produce it, are going to get squeezed out. Producers will shut down plants, and that may have long term effects in energy security.

What is really an issue is the grid. There is at some point going to have to be a charge for hooking up to the grid. Already people on low cost plans that do not use enough electricity pay an extra fee for administrative and grid costs. This is where legislation will come in. Are we going to require a house that is self sufficient to be connected to the grid? Are we going to allow houses in more expensive locations, be it rural or more prone to damage, to be charged more to be connected to the grid?

about a month ago
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Physicist Claims Black Holes Mathematically Don't Exist

fermion Re:Black holes are real, we observe them all the t (356 comments)

Black holes are mathematical constructs that allow us to explain certain phenomena. We make certain observations the are consistent with the mathematical construct and say it is a black hole. This is not far removed than saying wood has fire in it because fire comes out of wood. For a certain cases, that is a reasonable explanation and a reasonable way to look at the situation. However there are issues if one is going to talk about more objective science. The same issue occurs with dark matter, which is a critical part of explaining the observable universe, but also has issues.

I don't think we can just assume something is fact because it fits with what we know right now. Modern physics was built on quashing the assumptions that infinities and infinitesimals exist. We cannot go arbitrarily fast, and we cannot chop things up infinitesimally small, or measure to an arbitrary accuracy. These ideas were built in to classical mechanics as deeply as black holes.

To be clear I am not saying that black holes do not exist and what we observe and call black holes are not black holes. Just that when we are dealing with artifacts of mathematical models, time could identify them more as artifacts of the model rather than the most useful representation of the observable universe.

about a month ago
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It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

fermion Re:Every book we read in school (410 comments)

All banned books means is that the someone was offended by the book. Not to be glib, but I agree this definition is way to broad. We should be looking at books that were really banned, not just subject to some letter writing campaign by wimpy jerks that don't make any real contributions to society.

For instance, in high school the parts of the Canterbury Tales that could be taught were in fact limited. I might consider this a banned book situation, but my teacher was free to suggest we read all of the tales, even if we could not discuss them in class. OTOH, Ulysses was banned at the US federal level. Now there is a banned book.

The week still serves a useful purpose by tricking kids into thinking they are going to read some naughty bits. The one book that this is valid, and also banned on the US federal level, is Lady Chatterly's Lover. "Some very useful tips; Oh, gardening tips. Mellors was a game keeper. Very good at hedge control; I thought the sex was jolly good fun as well!"

about a month ago
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Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

fermion One real prediction in science fiction (139 comments)

Heinlein is generally credited with providing a pretty good description of the modern waterbed. I was not that far of a prediction, but it was real. He probably provided the best prediction of the internet.

Then there is the rise of very small dwelling, basically just beds, which are becoming popular in some parts, as predicted by the cyberpunk novels.

The real problem with most prediction in science fiction is that is misses a critical development aspect of the technology, or more often the limitation of the applications of the technology. For instance, at this time everyone expected housecleaning to be done by robots, but astronavigation to still be done by hand.

about a month ago
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New Long-Range RFID Technology Helps Robots Find Household Objects

fermion i can see the procedural now (38 comments)

Person is dead, with a big hole in his stomach. No one around who could have done it, the prime suspect has an alibi, having been no where near the place in months. The only suspicious items are a half eaten box of cookies that came in the mail, and a missing robot.

about a month 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 a year and a half 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?"
Link to Original Source
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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."
Link to Original Source
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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."
Link to Original Source
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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.

 "

Link to Original Source
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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."
Link to Original Source
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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."
Link to Original Source
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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'."
Link to Original Source
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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."
Link to Original Source
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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  |  more than 5 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  |  about 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  |  more than 11 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  |  more than 11 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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