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Jobs Bill Funds Safety Network With Spectrum Sale

nickruiz Re:Don't need more spectrum (147 comments)

I'm an EMT, there are 5 radios in my ambulance. I don't need more ways to talk to people. I need policies, documentation, good equipment, and most of all consistent interoperability training between multiple departments and jurisdictions. I really don't think the fix is more spectrum.

So, what you're really saying is that spectrum is the cowbell of medical response systems. (Oblig. SNL reference)

about 3 years ago

Evangelical Scientists Debate Creation Story

nickruiz Incorrect summary (1014 comments)

Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century and say it's time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence.

This summary is incorrect. At least, according to the articles, Venema doesn't deny the idea of original sin. That was John Schneider, who taught theology at Calvin College. The summary is lumping all of these Christian scholars into the exact same theology.

about 3 years ago

Stack Exchange Website Profiler Now Open Source

nickruiz Stock Exchange? (56 comments)

Too bad I read the title as "Stock Exchange Website Profiler" and thought that someone had open sourced years of mining and forecasting stock information for the public to collaborate on.

Back on topic, this is quite interesting as well.

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Other People's Email?

nickruiz Re:Same problem here (619 comments)

I had a similar problem from a person who registered an Xbox Live account under my email address. I couldn't find a way to contact the person, so after several months of getting his Xbox ads, I decided to log into his account and contact his friends to tell him to change his email address. (Probably not a smart idea.) That didn't work. After over a year, I finally got frustrated enough that on April Fools' Day (2011), I logged into his account and changed his avatar from a "lolz im so cool look at ma slipknot shrt n shades" to "elf fairy toddler wearing flower bell-bottoms". You would have thought that he would have got the hint after having to reset his avatar 3 times in the middle of his game, but he still didn't change his info.

In the end, I just set a filter to trash his messages. Moral of the story, it's not worth tracking down 95% of these problems.

more than 3 years ago

Silverlight Developers Rally Against Windows 8

nickruiz Re:I am a Silverlight Developer (580 comments)

Now, you may think that's insane, but what we wanted to deliver was a very rich user experience over the web that was cross platform.

Moonlight is far from Silverlight in terms of compatibility. About half of the webpages I visit (for example Ryanair's route map, which used to be cross-platform) nag me to install the Silverlight (aka Moonlight) plugin. Even after installing the plugin and restarting the entire system, the Silverlight control still nags me to install Silverlight.

I have worked with Silverlight before, so I can say that it has some neat features, but its cross-platform compatibility is sad. If Microsoft really wanted to push such a tool, they would have invested more in the Moonlight to ensure that the versions of Silverlight and Moonlight matched in capability. However, any further involvement would probably have undermined their current business direction at the time.

more than 3 years ago

Text Messages To Replace Stamps In Sweden

nickruiz Re:Fraud (249 comments)

Coding the stamp to the addresses requires the user to key in the addresses, killing much of the convenience.

This is less of an inconvenience as more people are using smart phones with more functional address books. The right app could just export the address into an SMS or an encoding of the address that's understandable by the postal service. Alternately, a user could enter a postal code (and possibly a contact name) to isolate the range of the address. In the US, that could be a Zip+4, but Sweden does a similar thing with their 5 digit codes.

more than 3 years ago

Text Messages To Replace Stamps In Sweden

nickruiz Re:Wow, that gives me lots ideas! (249 comments)

* Powertools will get your stone axe sharper, quicker! * Put your horse and carriage on a freight-train for greater speed! * Sending my telegrams would be so much quicker if I could just order them from my iPhone!

Until e-Cards become popular for birthdays (fat chance) and contracts are completely digitized, snail mail isn't going anywhere and thus this isn't a bad idea.

more than 3 years ago

Text Messages To Replace Stamps In Sweden

nickruiz Re:Fraud (249 comments)

Just wait until a postman copies the code to a package of his own, and just destroys the original package.

If I were designing such as system, I would encode the string with information about the end address, the timestamp of the text message, the identity of the sender (based on text messaging registration and phone number), and the ID of the transaction. If the "stamp" is unique to the transaction and sender/recipient, then I think that it would be fairly difficult to spoof (unless you had the person's SIM card).

Overall, I think it's an interesting alternative to stamps.

more than 3 years ago

Device Addresses Healthcare Language Barrier

nickruiz Re:Just Use Google Translate or something (159 comments)

My wife is a surgical resident. While she speaks a number of languages such that she has not had a language barrier problem, one of her coworkers only knows English. He has something on his iPhone (IIRC, one of the Google apps + the ability to have the iPhone read things out loud + the iPhone's voice recognition) that he uses. Apparently it works quite well. He speaks into it in English, it translates to Spanish, and the iPhone speaks the Spanish. His patient can speak Spanish into it, translate to English, and so on.

For simple things like "where does it hurt?" or "have you had any diarrhea?" it is reported to work well for him.

I am doing research in this kind of machine translation. Unfortunately, it is not ready for widespread use in medical offices at this point in time and can invite lawsuits. Usually translation systems need to be trained to a specific domain (medical, business, etc), because there are many ambiguities in translation. The typical (and state-of-the-art) approach is statistical machine translation, but it still suffers some flaws, because decoding has a running time in NP. There are many heuristics that are used now to speed up translation, but they don't guarantee a perfect (or correct) translation. While MT has made a lot of progress over the past few years, it's going to take some time to prove its accuracy before it is used in a place where a misdiagnosis (or a misinterpreted diagnosis) can invite a lawsuit.

more than 3 years ago

Is Attending a CS Conference Worth the Time?

nickruiz Re:Depends... (244 comments)

Unless you want to go (you don't sound like it), tell your prof you can't afford it. If s/he really wants you to go, let them find the money for it.

Agreed. Universities are usually willing to sponsor students who submit their work to conferences if the work is of exceptional value because they improve the reputation of the university in the research world. So if you can get a free (or cheap) way to go to Utah and represent your university, you'll also get the chance to network with companies or research institutions that could benefit your career. It never hurts to have a publication on your CV -- even in the business world.

more than 3 years ago

Device Addresses Healthcare Language Barrier

nickruiz Not just telling symptoms (159 comments)

But if you move to a country, then you should speak enough of a language to at least tell your symptoms to a doctor. If you don't, you deserve what you get, plain and simple

Telling your symptoms is probably the easiest part of communicating with a doctor in a foreign language. The hard part is understanding their reply. Machine translation in the medical field is intended to handle the more difficult parts of translation, such as explaining to the patient what's wrong. No "tourist" can be expected to know the names of all of the viruses or sicknesses they could possibly get when they go to another country. Additionally, patients need to know what their treatment options are without ambiguity so that they can make an informed decision. As an American researcher who has been studying in other countries, I know how difficult it could be when my wife had to go to the hospital.

Why would I, as an intelligent, educated technical person want Spanish as a second language (admittedly I am somewhat fluent, but I live in Texas - it's hard not to pick up some)? Why not Cantonese, Nipponese, or another language that would enable me to deal with citizens of another technologically advanced country that does a fair amount of international business? Wouldn't that serve me much better if I want to learn a foreign language?

Generally, you should learn languages that are most useful in regular day-to-day multicultural interaction. Seeing that you don't plan to lave the USA, perhaps it's not necessary for you to learn other languages. But I'm constantly impressed by Europeans I meet that speak 3-4 languages with ease and don't complain about my beginner's Italian or Dutch level.

While I think that this product is still a far cry away from what it needs to be (and far too expensive), this is a move in the right direction.

more than 3 years ago

Single-Player Game Model 'Finished,' Says EA Exec

nickruiz Re:Pub, social, dollars (439 comments)

If I want to socialize I'll go to the pub or the park. I suspect Mr Exec is more interested in the endless monthly fees they can gouge from players. These guys arent gamers, they are business zombies who contantly moan like the undead itself.


more than 3 years ago

Google To Translate European Patents

nickruiz Why not host a shared task instead? (53 comments)

There are plenty of machine translation conferences/shared tasks going on that are targeting patent translation (e.g. PatentMT - Instead of just handing this patent task to Google, why didn't the European Commission host an MT shared task and give a prize to the winner? There are a lot of decent systems being designed by universities and research laboratories, especially in Europe. Oh, well, at least the European Commission is starting to adopt machine translation.

more than 3 years ago

GNU/Linux and Enlightenment Running On a Fridge

nickruiz Re:Much as I love Linux .... (222 comments)

A fridge IMO is one of the white goods in which the KISS principal definitely should apply.

But what if your fridge could eventually adjust its temperature, based on the contents inside? Assuming that the fridge could have regulated compartments, you would no longer have to worry about your vegetables freezing while you're trying to keep your beer cold. Or, alternatively, maybe your beer doesn't have to be so cold when you're on vacation. One more way to help the average consumer save on energy costs.

more than 3 years ago

UK-Developed 'DNA Spray' Marks Dutch Thieves With Trackable Water

nickruiz Not just Rotterdam (191 comments)

The spray is also used in several other big cities in the Netherlands, including Amsterdam. I saw several locations near Museumplein that had similar spray warnings when I was there this summer.

more than 3 years ago

GameStop Pulls Medal of Honor From Military Bases

nickruiz Re:I call PC BS (362 comments)

What the HELL is wrong with a factually depicted game? Telling an accurate story is very respectful of those who served.

The question is: how do we know that the story told in this Medal of Honor release is accurate and not over-sensationalized? The allure of the previous Medal of Honor releases is that it takes a historical event of the past and enables the player to enter the story with a perspective of what it might have been like. In the case of the newest title, at best they only have a small picture of what has happened in the "War on Terror". Has the military released their classified documents on war strategies and their outcomes? What about war crimes?

A title like this comes at a time where we're dealing with wikileaks divulging information about the war. Also, what effects does a title like this have on public opinion about the war? Are people going to take sides or frame their perspective on the perspective of this video game? The advantage of the previous titles was that there was no possibility of the games being used as propaganda to affect people's opinions on a present event. A title like this certainly couldn't be taking a neutral stance.

Finally, I'm not a huge proponent of censorship, but is it the best idea for soldiers in the war to be playing games on their free time where they are killing their enemy? Yes, our soldiers are responsible people, but will such a game desensitize soldiers and civilians to the severity of this war?

about 4 years ago

Man Takes Up Internal Farming

nickruiz Plants vs. Zombies 2 (136 comments)

Just when you thought you could trust the plants....

more than 4 years ago

Arizona Trialing System That Lets Utility System Control Home A/Cs

nickruiz It's not as dramatic as you think. (393 comments)

I worked for an IT organization that supported the IT functions of many energy suppliers in deregulated markets. While some people might complain about these programs, they are typically opt-in programs, and if you're a savvy energy customer, you will understand how these programs can save you money in the long run. While many people might be concerned that the utility will turn off their electricity, in reality, it is much more likely that the utility will just turn up your thermostat a couple of degrees. Chances are, they will probably first target the thermostats of the households whose thermostat readings deviate from some average temperature. Many people would not find a degree or two warmer as big of a problem, if they understand that they will be saving a lot of money on their bill. The idea is to reduce the on-peak demand on the utility's infrastructure, to prevent brown-outs or power failures.

That being said, the customer deserves to know on their bill when the utility has adjusted their thermostats. The customer should be able to review their usage each month and make decisions either to change their usage habits, or change their pricing plan to better meet their needs. Time of usage interval billing is a good strategy to save a customer money -- but only if they are willing to take the time to understand their usage patterns and it allows suppliers to avoid purchasing/generating more electricity than their territory needs. In a given month, an energy supplier has to supply as much electricity as the highest demand at a given time. This is an oversimplification, but it basically means that the supplier could end up generating energy that nobody needs. Since they generally can't store the energy somewhere, it will go to waste.

Also, in many places, customers are allowed to shop around and go with an energy supplier that gives them a lower rate. I'm not certain about Arizona's legislation, but places like Texas and areas in the Northeast allow competition and the suppliers generally try to create pricing plans that factor in time-of-use billing to reduce their costs and save certain types of customers money. Though, most competition targets the Commercial and Industrial sector, since that's where the money is generally made.

more than 4 years ago

US Gamers Spend $3.8 Billion On MMOs Yearly

nickruiz Re:I don't think the poll is that accurate (177 comments)

I still think they amplified the results.

Agreed. They don't seem to have a link on their website that describes their research methodology. Displaying a bunch of graphs proves nothing.

more than 4 years ago

The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Car Starter

nickruiz Bluetooth or similar alternative? (454 comments)

Granted, bluetooth is limited in range, but would it be possible (and secure) to try designing a remote starter using bluetooth? Most devices are limited to a 10m range, which would be disappointing for a car starter, but it seems like an interesting idea, nevertheless.

more than 4 years ago


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