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Microsoft Seeks Patent For "Search By Sketch"

garthsundem Fuzzy Users (104 comments)

Hopefully sketchers will be more accurate than hummers or whistlers -- a la Midomi.com. But I doubt it -- can't wait to see if this survives beta.

more than 2 years ago
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Faulty Cable To Blame For Superluminal Neutrino Results

garthsundem Ragnarok (414 comments)

Oh, is THAT why we haven't yet coalesced into a tiny ball of infinitely dense matter awaiting the next bang! Did you hear they're planning the next faster-than-light experiment for December 21, 2012?

more than 2 years ago
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Novel ways to teach computer science to children

garthsundem What about Turtles? (1 comments)

Hi Lazarus -- what about Logo? I loved it as a kid and it's likely the easiest programming language (right?). From there to Basic and then the world is your oyster! With an especially motivated group, you could maybe even recreate a rw walking turtle a la MIT. Good luck!

more than 2 years ago
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Researchers Break Video CAPTCHAs

garthsundem Chat with reCaptcha Creator (109 comments)

I got to chat with Luis von Ahn, co-creator of the Captcha and reCaptcha, and it turns out he's a surprisingly idealistic guy. Taking inspiration from people in gyms pedaling and going nowhere, he hoped to actually *do* something with the brainpower needed to solve a reCaptcha (he said something along the lines of, "actually your brain is doing a pretty amazing thing -- translating an image to text.") Maybe digitizing the archives of the New York Times and ancient manuscripts isn't world hunger or world peace, but it's pretty damn cool. And as you probably know, that's what you're helping to do every time you translate a word in a reCaptcha box.

more than 2 years ago
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Tetris In 140 Bytes

garthsundem Math and Sporks (215 comments)

Wow, that's actually kind of beautiful -- with the same beauty as a good mathematical proof or Man's most efficient invention: the spork.

more than 2 years ago
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Human Rights Groups Push To Save Condemned Programmer In Iran

garthsundem Mistake! (244 comments)

Sorry all, I meant to leave this comment on the 140 byte Tetris post. Please disregard. Atrocities to Iran programmers have very little to do with sporks.

more than 2 years ago
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Human Rights Groups Push To Save Condemned Programmer In Iran

garthsundem Math and Sporks (244 comments)

Wow, that's actually kind of beautiful -- with the same beauty as a good mathematical proof or Man's most efficient invention: the spork.

more than 2 years ago
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New Technique For Mass-Producing Microbots Inspired By Origami

garthsundem MIT Origami (28 comments)

Has everyone seen MacArthur winner and MIT prof Erik Demaine's origami? Really, a collection of some of the most brilliant things I've ever seen.

more than 2 years ago
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Scientists Study How Little Exercise You Need

garthsundem Good for cardiac patients, not for all? (437 comments)

It looks as if this study shows HIT can take someone with a current grade D and bring them up to a C or C+. I wonder if the same benefits will hold for people already at a B- hoping to make it to B+? Specifically, I wonder if 20 minutes of HIT is best turned into 25 minutes of HIT, or if at a certain base fitness level the paradigm flips back to needing longer, more endurance-based exercise? Hmm...

more than 2 years ago
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Twisted Metal Designer Rails Against Storytelling Games

garthsundem Study: Fantasy Play with Storylines Raises Kid IQ (313 comments)

This seminal study in 1977 showed that kids who immerse themselves in the storylines of fantasy play outperform kids who play "real" games (like house or firefighters), kids who read and discuss fantasy, and kids who read and discuss "real" stories. I just talked to one of the co-authors, David Dixon, who now teaches at Missouri State, and he guessed that his study's results had something to do with helping kids both stretch their narrative imaginations and to disentangle the concepts "thought" from "action" (In young kids, thinking IS doing). So what I wonder is this: do video games WITHOUT storylines encourage kids to formulate their own? Or do games without storylines lose this narrative aspect altogether?

more than 2 years ago
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FDA Unveils Biosimilars Guidance

garthsundem Stark reality of drug economics (30 comments)

I got to interview the Salk Institute's Ronald Evans about exercise, training, and fitness -- he's a cell biologist and looks at how drugs might mimic the *signals* of exercise without a person actually exercising. In fact, there's a good candidate: the drug AICAR does just this, making cells believe they've exercised without all the, you know, sweating and such. The body ramps up its burn rate and you lose weight and gain muscle. Unfortunately, Evans says not to look for AICAR anytime soon -- it's generic and injectible. Any company that puts $100m into development would face immediate market competition. And the market doesn't want to inject. It's a great drug -- but we'll never see it.

more than 2 years ago
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Looking For Love; Finding Privacy Violations

garthsundem Capturing your Brain (112 comments)

Similarly, sites web-based brain-training services like Lumosity are capturing and keeping data that describes your cognitive function. First, this is very cool: it may provide the data points researchers need to discover once and for all whether training IQ is, in fact, possible (and if so, how to do it). And second, this is very scary: Woe be unto the users if the databse is hacked, opened, or otherwise sprung. You think carrying a height/weight ratio with you from a dating site is disturbing? What about carrying your IQ or ability to learn? Simply: yikes.

more than 2 years ago
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Boiling Down the Meaning of Life

garthsundem Like the 237 Reasons for Sex (218 comments)

This is spectacular. And it reminds me of researchers Cindy Meston and David Buss' 237 reasons for sex. They similarly tried to semantically define why people have sex and along those lines interviewed thousands of undergrads. The results? The stereotype that men have sex for pleasure while women have sex for love is unfounded. Also, some great answers like one woman saying, "I'd rather spend five minutes having sex with him than spend five days listening to him whine about how horny he is." Good stuff.

more than 2 years ago
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Hacked Emails Reveal Russian Astroturfing Program

garthsundem Job Posting: Corporate Communications (153 comments)

A country recently named a 2012 Top Cock-Blocker of Middle Eastern Democracy, is seeking a Public Relations Specialist to communicate to its internal, external, and exiled audiences. The position will be responsible for connecting with our 141,750,000+ domestic "employees", introducing new employees and interns to our country's unique culture, expanding its social networking reach, maintaining the corporate website, event planning, cultivating community relationships, responding to media inquiries, writing and disseminating press releases, coaching our subsidiaries on their individual PR needs, crushing dissent, and mentoring an intern. The ideal candidate is self-directed and self-motivated, resourceful, tactful, and enjoys kicking puppies. You must be a persuasive writer and speaker. Your success will be measured by your creativity and your ability to ruin the lives of dissenters and their extended families with little to no supervision. A college degree plus five years or more experience in a corporate PR or Spanish Inquisitional environment is required. Please submit a brief writing sample with your resume and your soul to PR@Putin.com. Salary commensurate with experience.

more than 2 years ago
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Three Unexpected Data Points Describe Elementary School Quality

garthsundem Author's Note: just found out no open enrollment.. (343 comments)

With Swiss-watch timing, I just got an email from the Boulder, CO school district informing me that we didn't lottery into any of our three open-enrollment choices. Certainly there has to be a better way? That said, I really can't think of one. Other than homogenizing school quality -- meaning no school would be any "better" or "worse" than another, is there a fair way to allocate kids among schools?
I guess one way would be to further "theme" elementary schools -- one would prioritize art, another math, another sports, etc. so that parents would choose schools according to their very personal definitions of "good" and "bad", thus perhaps getting more kids placed in schools their parents see as good? There have got to be better ideas than that half-brained brainstorm, right?
Now, all I can say is...yikes!

more than 2 years ago
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Three Unexpected Data Points Describe Elementary School Quality

garthsundem Re:S/T Ratio DOES matter (343 comments)

You're probably right that S/T ratio matters on a classroom-to-classroom comparison basis -- look, for example, at the ability to pull a kid aside for extra help while others are working independently. But are SCHOOLS with overall low S/T ratios necessarily better? I wonder if there aren't possible negative reasons for low S/T ratios (for example, an especially high percentage of kids requiring resource room work), that could in some cases make low S/T ratio a predictor of a less-good school?

more than 2 years ago
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Three Unexpected Data Points Describe Elementary School Quality

garthsundem Re:The Obvious Answer (343 comments)

This is something I wonder about almost every day: are kids REALLY better off when parents help with homework? It's certainly my bent, but then I wonder if my kids wouldn't be better off figuring their work out on their own. I don't know the answer -- anyone? I do the same thing with Legos -- we just built the Millennium Falcon and I know Leif wouldn't have been able to do it on his own. But would he have been better off in the long run doing a less complex kid, independently, and then building toward the Falcon?

more than 2 years ago
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Three Unexpected Data Points Describe Elementary School Quality

garthsundem Re:The Obvious Answer (343 comments)

I would agree completely if it weren't for this: despite the fact that I write about the science of education and my wife is a former spectacular teacher, our kids learn better from teachers other than us. For example, we started skiing this year -- my wife and I had our 5yo in a ski harness. Two lessons later with the "Eldorables" program and he's snowplowing independently like a bowling ball on stilts. The same is true of writing -- my wife and I would set up spectacularly fun writing and drawing projects that wouldn't go anywhere -- then in kindergarten, Leif loves the basic assignments they give. Of course we love reading and playing card games with the kids, but in terms of education, I think the culture of school promotes learning in a way we can't mimic at home.

more than 2 years ago
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Three Unexpected Data Points Describe Elementary School Quality

garthsundem Re:The Obvious Answer (343 comments)

Okay, so if I'm being honest, school quality is only one factor among many in our school choice conundrum. In addition, we're weighing the desire to seat our kids in the community of our neighborhood school along with the kids we see in our 'burb everyday. And then there's the commute. And potential tuition at privates. And much, much more. With, like 1000 true variables in addition to education quality, how oh how can parent's make a rational choice? Er....

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Sex-Deprived Fruit Flies Turn to Alcohol

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "The article writes, "In the study, male fruit flies that had mated repeatedly for several days showed no preference for alcohol-spiked food. On the other hand, spurned males and those denied access to females strongly preferred food mixed with 15 percent alcohol. The researchers believed the alcohol may have satisfied the flies' desire for physical reward."
The finding is similar to this study, which found that monkeys lower in the social hierarchy binge eat their way to the good feeling that monkeys higher in the social hierarchy get naturally.
And so it seems, from fruit flies, to monkeys (to humans?), we need X amount of good feeling in the course of existence...and we can get it beneficial or detrimental ways."

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Teaching Robot Learners to Ask Good Questions

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "I disagree with this article's opening line: "Within a decade, personal robots could become as common in U.S. homes as any other major appliance." Haven't we been promised this since the 50s?
But I'm fascinated by the rest — how do you teach humans to teach robots? Or, more precisely, how can you teach robots to teach humans to teach robots? The idea that designers can put a flexible platform in a robot, that allows users to determine functionality is...more than pretty cool."

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Berkeley Studies Show Rich People Lie, Cheat, Steal

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "A series of studies at Berkeley show that, "relative to the lower class, upper-class individuals are more likely to break the law while driving, more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, more likely to take valued goods from others, more likely to lie in a negotiation, more likely to cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize and more likely to endorse unethical behavior at work."
Authors cite "positive attitudes toward greed and the pursuit of self-interest" as causes."

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Kinect Beats Wii and Move in Baylor U. Study of Motion-Sensing Games

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "First, Baylor researchers pitted motion-sensing games against stick- and gamepad-controlled games — the motion-sensing games were consistently rated "more enjoyable". Then researchers turned motion-sensing games on each other — Kinect, Wii and Move to be precise. 88 undergrads randomly assigned to play a 3D boxing game on one of the three systems chose Kinect over the other two. Researchers said, "perceptions of naturalness are key to enjoyment.""
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The (Real) Science of Mindpunking a Perfect First Date

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "Northwestern scientists Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick aid the needy with the science of "smooth operating"; David Givens outs the secrets of body language — from our history as lizards; Gordon Gallup talks sexy — and shows how a gender-specific sexy voice increases the perception of attractiveness. We may not have innate suaveness...but we have science on our side."
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Computer Programmers Only 5th Most Sleep Deprived Profession

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "As described in the New York Times Economix blog, the mattress chain Sleepy's analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey to find the ten most sleep deprived professions. In order, they are Home Health Aides, Lawyer, Police Officers, Doctors/Paramedics, Tie: (Economists, Social Workers, Computer Programmers), Financial Analysts, Plant Operators (undefined, but we assume "factory" and not "Audrey II"), and Secretaries. ."
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Help With Homework, Hurt Your Child

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "Experts and studies agree: the best thing we can do as parents to help our kids' learning at home is to "support autonomy." In fact, playing the role of teacher while helping with homework is almost universally associated with decreased achievement.
This article at Wired represents the rabbit hole of experts I dove down after fabricating my son's kindergarten invention fair project, a powered K'nex conveyor belt designed to transport a picture of our aging Labrador, Gus, through a diorama of our living room.
The gist of this expert advice: explain the directions, carve out time, and then get the heck out of the room."

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Formula Picks the Best Oscar Films for Men

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "I wrote this equation for Esquire, ranking the BEST Best Pictures for guys. The top five: Godfather, Gladiator, Forrest Gump, Patton, Gandhi (all five titled after the iconic male lead). The bottom five: Oliver, Gigi, Broadway Melody, American in Paris and...The Sound of Music. (Though it didn't win, I ran the numbers for Star Wars IV, which would've come in third...) Driving factor is Rotten Tomatoes audience plus critics score...multiplied the how much MORE the audience liked it than the critics (guys tend to prefer movies the critics dislike). Also important is quotability (via IMDB and Wikiquotes) and Oscar nominations for the male lead. Thoughts on the list?"
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$523k for Batman, $3.5m for Attic Comic Books

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "At auction today, Detective Comics #27 featuring the debut of Batman sold for $523k. The 345-book collection also included Batman #1 and Action Comics #1, and sold in whole for a whopping $3.5m. The collection was found in an attic after the owner's widow passed away."
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RFID Keeps Track of Briefcase Contents

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "Dubai researchers recently published the details of their iPurse — an RFID system built on a mobile platform that uses mini tags to keep track of the contents of a bag. Tag your keys, wallet, smartphone, work ID, laptop and headphones and get an alert is one's missing. Science Daily also points out you could uses iPurse to discover if someone boosts your diary or a pack of cigarettes from your bag."
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Open Source vs. Academic Journal Publishing

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "Academic publisher Elsevier is the target of a growing boycott over high fees charged to scientific researchers/authors who pay Elsevier and others to print their findings. Does this ensure quality control or does it ball-gag the dissemination of knowledge? Is there a better way? Here's the CBC news headline: About 6,000 medical and science researchers have boycotted one of the world's largest academic publishers over its fees and its alleged push against open access to published research."
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Texting Hurts Ability to Decode New Words

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "Does text messaging make texters more accepting of non-traditional language? Actually, the reverse is true. According to this University of Calgary study, texters lose the ability to infer meaning from words they haven't seen before. (Okay, it's a Masters thesis — but it's still pretty compelling.) In contrast, when presented with unfamiliar words, consumers of traditional media applied more sophisticated strategies to "decode" meaning. The study attributes this to more frequently coming across creative, unfamiliar words in traditional media. In contrast, texters stick to their sad little lexicons — and refuse to accept anything else."
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Experts Explain How to Choose a School by the Numbers

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem (1702946) writes "I wrote a post that got Slashdotted last week, suggesting three somewhat half-baked metrics that parents can use to pick and elementary school (the first two were solid!). Due to the ensuing comment war, I thought it best to call around and get the REAL take on education statistics. Wired just pubbed the result, and here's the scoop from the Journal of Ed Stats and the Dept of Ed Stats.

First, be wary of "high performing" schools — the best schools will show a nice, linear gain in test scores from year to year. A 10-20 percent jump should make you question scores' validity.

Second, classrooms increasingly include a mix of student abilities — a concerned parent might do well to look for a classroom with a more restricted range. (Warning: massively controversial.)

Finally and most importantly, my Ed Stats sources point to a Harvard/Columbia study of teachers' value added. A good teacher is HUGELY important, but currently no metrics exist to *predict* teacher quality — you can only see it in hindsight.

The best thing a parent can do: until an objective measure of teacher quality crawls from the Petri dish, gather *subjective* information about your child's potential teachers."

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Study: on V-Day the Thought Actually IS what counts

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "A Northwestern University study just published in Personality an Social Psychology Bulletin found that couples who appreciate their partners' ability for positive change actually see more of this change. The implication (according to the study): have faith in a partner's attempts to improve the relationship, even if an attempt happens to fall on Valentine's Day."
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"Goldilocks Ratio" Solves Da Vinci Ponytail Problem

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "If you shake your head at this news, Cambridge scientists can now predict the path of your ponytail swing. Really: the "Rapunzel Number" helps mathematicians calculate the effect of gravity relative to hair length, and in combination with other factors like the coefficient of human hair curviness, helps researchers predict the shape of any ponytail. "Our findings extend some central paradigms in statistical physics," one of the researchers is quoted saying. Bravo."
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Three unexpected data points describe elementary school quality

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "According to Wired, test scores and student/teacher ratio are nearly meaningless. But three new numbers DO describe school quality:
1. (Test Scores/Parent Education): How do scores outpace expectations?.
2. Test Score Growth: Any single score can be socioeconomics, but *growth* is due to the school.
3. (Teacher Salary*%Highly Qualified/Teacher Age): The best teachers will become highly qualified early, and will gravitate toward the best paying jobs."
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Study: Online Dating Makes People "Picky" and "Unrealistic"

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "A newly published meta-analysis of over 400 studies of online dating shows both it's popularity (second only to meeting through friends) and it's impact. More online daters report seeking a "soulmate" online, and do so by searching through the wealth of available profiles. Unfortunately soul-searchers focus on faults, both in viewing profiles and then also once dating in person, leading to quick exits when relationships inevitably get complicated."
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Smartphone reads mood, suggests activities

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "A new smartphone by researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine "harnesses all the sensor data within the phone to interpret a person's location, activity level (via an accelerometer), social context and mood."

The phone learns your usual patterns of calls and text messages, and then if it senses you are isolated, it will send you a suggestion to call or see friends. In a pilot study, the technology reduced symptoms of depression."

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Sand dune patterns predict climate change tipping point

garthsundem garthsundem writes  |  more than 2 years ago

garthsundem writes "A study of dune patterns in the White Sands National Monument in NM pinpoints the climate change tipping point that can make range lands go from grass to desert. Especially cool is modeling how a boomerang-shaped dune "inverts" as plants grow on the wind-protected sides of the boomerang's tips, thus anchoring these tips and allowing the center of the boomerang to blow through. If plant growth outpaces wind-driven dune shift, grasslands develop. If not, desert wins."
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