Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Comments

top

3D-Printed Car Takes Its First Test Drive

jfengel Re:it's means it is (130 comments)

If the headline was "Man lands on the moon", would you complain that he used a rocket ship instead of jumping?

The way this headline is written, it's as if they'd written "Armstrong jumps to moon", and neglected to mention in TFS that he was jumping from the ladder of the lander to the surface. TFS says "managed to 3D print, and assemble an entire automobile", and that's misleading to the point of lying.

It's a cool, impressive, incremental achievement, but they haven't landed on the moon here. And tech reporting, and tech in general, would be better served by accurate reporting of it.

2 days ago
top

The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

jfengel Re:Fundamental issues (182 comments)

Yep. MOOCs don't serve the important part of the teacher's job. Teaching is best as a dialogue. A videotaped lecture is little different from a book, in that the information is fixed; worse, unlike a book, you don't even get to read at your own pace. It's not without value, since some things adapt well to that and different modes work for different people, but it's still missing the two-way communication that a real teacher provides.

People have pushed MOOCs largely for the learn-a-bunch-of-facts classes, such as science and tech. Technique is also a "fact"; it's stuff that can easily be tested and graded. The things that are missing are the parts that make us consider a student well-rounded: history, literature, sociology, art. These sound trivial to nerds but they're about innovation and communication. They, too, have to be practiced, and it's not something that can be memorized. Even the STEMmest jobs are ultimately about people: seeing what people want, finding ways to tell them your ideas, building up a story together. And that's something that a real teacher can help with, and a videotaped teacher can't. (Nor can a videotaped teacher answer questions or ascertain just why a student isn't "getting it". Even a "great teacher" is little more than an actor when on video.)

Teaching is too often undervalued as if they were just handed a book. It's a skill of its own. We STEM nerds often undervalue that skill because it's not easily graded on a multiple-choice test.

3 days ago
top

The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

jfengel "Expectations"? (195 comments)

TFS is written primarily in the present tense, which is kind of odd seeing as Lem has been dead for nearly a decade. We are already living in Lem's future, and the future for Lem himself is pretty much a steady-state.

3 days ago
top

Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

jfengel Re:Try Kickstarting A Novel (211 comments)

Good for you, man. I'm glad to see it happening. I don't like having publishers as arbiters of public taste any more than you do. I just think it's important to recognize that the vast majority of self-published ebooks aren't very successful, and it's not just the bad ones.

4 days ago
top

Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

jfengel Re:Try Kickstarting A Novel (211 comments)

Taking into account, of course, the fact that you have to do all of your own marketing. You have to make your novel stand out among zillions of other indie ebooks, all of which have the same low barrier to entry.

Just having a major publisher's name on it is pretty substantial marketing. Even more so if they go to the expense to print out a physical book, which is a large sunk cost up front. That tells readers that somebody believes in the book, to the tune of a few tens of thousands of dollars. And that publisher will generally get it into meatspace bookstores, where your book has to stand out only among a far, far smaller crowd of other physical books on the shelf.

It's not impossible to do very, very well with an ebook. But much of the time that additional 45% you get to keep is 45% of a much smaller pot. (And generally the margin is much wider than that, in fact. Going rate is usually in the 10-13% range, in my experience.)

The way I see it... if you can get a publisher interested, you probably should, at least until you have a large fan base of your own. It's the easiest way to that fan base. Building it up yourself is difficult. Not impossible, and possibly no harder than getting a publisher to take an interest in you. But if I had a publisher on the hook, I'd keep it.

4 days ago
top

Direct Sales OK Baked Into Nevada's $1.3 Billion Incentive Deal With Tesla

jfengel Re:Why is this legal in the U.S.? (149 comments)

There is a certain amount of lock-in to the film incentives, especially for TV series. Shooting a film requires a substantial amount of infrastructure, both personnel and equipment, which doesn't exist everywhere. These people are often not employed by the studio directly, but form local service companies. And where those companies exist, it's easier for more film projects to move in.

Even if Walking Dead were to pack up and move, Georgia may still have accomplished its goals with the subsidies. I know that Maryland is similarly pushing this. They developed a lot of that infrastructure a while back during the filming of Homicide in Baltimore, and there have been a lot of follow-on projects. They're now trying to boost that with House of Cards, which is an enormous undertaking that employs many hundreds of people (at least part time). The resources of material and knowledge built up in the local economy attract other film projects that can do the job faster and better because it's already here, rather than building it up from scratch.

Of course, producers know that, and will drive up the price as far as they can. Maryland nearly lost House of Cards in a kind of game of chicken; neither side wanted the production to move but each wanted to get a better deal. In the end, House of Cards largely won, and people in the local film industry are extremely happy about that. I don't know if it's really a good deal for the state in the end, but at least for the moment it's employing a lot of people, and since it's a series they'll go on having work to do for a while.

4 days ago
top

The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada

jfengel Re:Who would have thought (193 comments)

Interstates are the perfect place for it: relatively few surprises and extremely boring for drivers. They're all "limited access highways", so you don't have to worry about pedestrian crossings or children running into the street.

If they just left it at that, I'd consider it an enormous advance over the present state of things.

5 days ago
top

Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

jfengel Re:Wynken, Blynken, and Nod .. (127 comments)

I don't know why, but to me it comes out oddly comforting when Slashdot reformats it as prose.

5 days ago
top

Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

jfengel Re:So what exactly is the market here. (729 comments)

That's kind of an interesting thought: a new market for storing your phone close enough to your device to work but not necessarily accessible.

My first thought was a kind of belt; I use something like that to hold my phone when I run. But that would ruin the line of most dresses.

Next thought... a garter? It wouldn't fit under close-fitting pants but it would fit under a dress. It could even be a kind of fashion accessory, in a "Oops, I showed you my phone, how naughty" kind of way: make it frilly or colorful. Getting it tight enough to hold a heavy phone securely without cutting off circulation would be a challenge. I never did figure out how it was supposed to work on the upper arm, but people make it work.

about a week ago
top

Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

jfengel Re:Trust us with your payments (729 comments)

Seconds ago I just had to type credit card information in six times before I managed to get every single thing just right. I'm usually not that fumble-fingered (it's a new card and I don't have the digits memorized yet), but I gotta say that it would have been nice to have had it read for me.

about a week ago
top

How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

jfengel Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (765 comments)

I'd gotten the impression that it was a bit larger than that, though I really can't say why. The film version of the Quidditch World Cup showed tens of thousands of people. One can assume that it's practically everybody, so perhaps your guess is low by an order of magnitude, but it's still roughly in the ballpark. A few other numbers I ran also put it roughly in that area.

The thing with Snape's potions research is that he never showed his work. He scribbled notes about improvements, but never seemed to establish any kind of theoretical basis for it. That seemed on par with the rest of wizarding practice.

That kind of makes sense for her notion of a pre-scientific world that shut itself from society about the time of the Enlightenment, due to oppression. But they never really seemed to feel the loss, and I think that they were missing something important. The Wizarding and Muggle worlds had a lot to offer each other.

about a week ago
top

How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

jfengel Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (765 comments)

The graph includes the cite, so you can check up on their methodology. The sample size is 5,000, which is actually pretty good for a sample like this. (1,000 is more common, with a 3% margin of error, though since they're breaking it down into three roughly equal subgroups they'd need a larger sample.)

about a week ago
top

The Five Nigerian Gangs Behind Most Craigslist Buyer Scams

jfengel Re:One way to avoid (160 comments)

In this case, these are bank checks. They happen to be fake, but it takes a while to determine that, and most sellers don't realize that.

about a week ago
top

How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

jfengel Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (765 comments)

We wouldn't care about science if it weren't "useful" in the sense of providing value. It would be just another random bit of epistemology.

Which isn't to say that all science has to provide value immediately. We never know what's going to come in handy. Some sciences can go centuries without ever turning over anything of interest to the layman. Many are "useful" only in the sense of giving us some sort of feeling of understanding.

But that feeling of understanding is fake if you never actually apply tests to it. The evo psych stuff is a good example of that. It propagates as myth rather than as science: poorly-performed tests result in poorly-stated and overgeneralized rules that mislead rather than inform. There is, at core, something to that science, but the popular conception of it (as, sadly, with many sciences) is more wrong than right.

about a week ago
top

Tesla Plans To Power Its Gigafactory With Renewables Alone

jfengel Re:WIl they use my tax money? (260 comments)

They don't need it. They want it. Every dollar they save in taxes is a dollar that their shareholders (including Musk) get to pocket. And the state gives it to them willingly, in the hopes that it brings jobs to the area. Tesla really is a "jobs creator", unlike a lot of other self-proclaimed masters of the universe, and so the tax breaks really are win-win. It's not zero-sum because value is being added: raw materials come in and batteries go out.

That's what business looks like when it's working, and states compete to be in on it. Nevada won, this time, and one can hope that they're not being ripped off in the process. A lot of other companies have been lured with tax breaks in return for promises of economic value that they fail to provide. Often, it was obvious that they'd fail to provide it, but legislatures and governors can be pretty gullible when it comes to "jobs jobs jobs". I've got high hopes for Tesla, since Musk actually is interested in making money by making stuff, but we won't know until it's underway.

about a week ago
top

The Five Nigerian Gangs Behind Most Craigslist Buyer Scams

jfengel Re:One way to avoid (160 comments)

The scam in this case involves more expensive items, in the $1,500 range. (The limit is $1,000 rather than $100; I assume that's just a typo, but it's still above that range.)

And apparently the scammers are also on that: they're starting to work up fake money orders as well. I gather that's used more on stores than on Craigslist buyers, where the store can't validate the money order before they hand over the merchandise, but I assume it'll develop.

about a week ago
top

How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

jfengel Re:Pseudoscience (765 comments)

Yeah, like that's gonna help. If they had the faintest bit of intellectual curiosity they would have found it themselves. They're just going to continue to believe what Fox News tells them. I don't really know how they live with the cognitive dissonance, but apparently they manage it very well. Every piece of data that contradicts them is somehow tainted, so they can live in their own perfectly smooth ball, untouched by any outside information.

That "you can't see the data" lie has been going around for years, and it's so trivially refuted with even the slightest effort. I applaud you for tilting at that windmill, but it is still a windmill.

about a week ago
top

How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

jfengel Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (765 comments)

Unfortunately, it was a very poor kind of science, and that's one of the things that really irked me about the series. The potions (chemistry) class was especially bad. They were taught things by rote, and they learned only that if they didn't follow the procedure then they'd get bad results. Often, interestingly bad, but they thought of them as simply "the wrong thing" to be discarded rather than investigated.

The wizards looked down on "muggles", but they had an awful lot to learn from them. Applying muggle science would have made them vastly better wizards than they were. And they could have done a lot of good for the muggle world as well: people suffered and died needlessly.

I know, it's just a kid's book, and I'm putting too much on it. For drama, Rowling separated the magical and non-magical worlds in a rather unlikely way, and you were supposed to just chalk it up to suspension of disbelief. But I had kinda hoped that the series would go in a direction that realized this. I think it would have made better drama.

about a week ago
top

How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

jfengel Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (765 comments)

The problem, as I see it, is with the uselessness of such studies.

The whole point of falsifiability is that for a scientific finding to be "useful", it has to have the potential to be wrong. You have to be able to say, "If this theory isn't true, then this thing that I want to do will fail." If it couldn't fail, then nothing you do would change whether it were true or not. It's only the possibility of failure that makes success meaningful.

So when I read that these studies aren't repeated, what I hear is that the studies aren't useful. If they were useful, then people would have built on them to make more elaborate structures, and when those structures failed, we'd know that one of the underlying theories was wrong.

Evo psych is rife with conclusions that are popularly held but not actually useful. The myths persist, but never feed into more science. Unfortunately, an awful lot of people who are nominally scientists buy into them, which means that it could be argued that they just plain aren't practicing science.

about a week ago

Submissions

top

Executive order makes government data open by default

jfengel jfengel writes  |  about a year ago

jfengel (409917) writes "Last week, President Obama issued an executive order titled "Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information".

Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable.

It relies heavily on a paper from the CIO, "Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People.", issued in February."

top

Former Senator claims US government suppressing UFO evidence

jfengel jfengel writes  |  about a year ago

jfengel (409917) writes "Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) says the White House has helped keep the truth about the “extraterrestrial influence that is investigating our planet” from the public. He was joined by five former Representatives. Paradigm Research paid each $20k to appear at a press conference, at which Gravel said:

“It goes right to the White House, and of course, once the White House takes a position, ‘well there's nothing going on’...it just goes down the chain of command, everyone stands toe. ... The smoking gun of the whole issue, which is when they saw hovering space craft in Wyoming and South Dakota over the ICBM missile silos that the missiles couldn't work.”"

Link to Original Source

Journals

top

Theater

jfengel jfengel writes  |  more than 10 years ago Just on the off chance somebody comes to find out who I am, I'll stick in a plug for my theater group, The Rude Mechanicals. We put on really, really good Shakespeare in Laurel, MD. Half the cast reads Slashdot, and you've never seen Shakespeare until you've seen it performed by computer nerds. The other half are English majors. This is serious amateur theater.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>