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Facebook Drops Bing Search Results

ortholattice Re:Facebook search is horrible (33 comments)

I find it hard to believe that the reason for Facebook's poor search is incompetence (although I won't dismiss it out of hand). Doing a decent search through a set of local records isn't rocket science. I would think it might take a programmer a couple of months, and they have thousands of developers and billions of dollars to play with. Instead, my guess is that they make the search perform poorly on purpose, to force you to scroll through pages and pages and thus view more ads.

Disclaimer: I no longer have an FB account, so I don't really keep on top of these things.

5 days ago
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Twitter Should Use Random Sample Voting For Abuse Reports

ortholattice Re:Got as far as "Bennett Haselton writes:" (132 comments)

I knew it was a Bennett Hazelton article from the title alone, and clicked on it just to confirm my guess. I mean, "Twitter should..."? Take it up with Twitter, why should we care?

about two weeks ago
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The Driverless Future: Buses, Not Taxis

ortholattice Re:Buses are already better. (257 comments)

My town (pop. 50K) has buses on 6 local routes that go around and around the town all day nearly empty. It is a serious money loser, but the town keeps voting to subsidize it because it symbolizes "green".

Only a small percentage of the population will have pickup and destination points close enough to these fixed routes to make it worthwhile for them to use, not to mention having to fit their schedules into the once-per-hour bus stops. So hardly anyone uses it.

What I have wondered about is whether these buses, combined with an Uber-type app, could simply service passengers on-demand, even driving to their houses. The software would plan optimal routes based on the current pickups and destinations, providing passengers with ETAs and so on. I'd probably start using it in that case, especially if the $2 fare was kept the same. Assuming many others would too, it might greatly reduce their losses.

about three weeks ago
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Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

ortholattice Re:Can other students sue this group? (203 comments)

Imagine, as a thought experiment, if 90% of the people who owned Exxon stock sold it all. And no one else bought it because of principle. Exxon would continue to function, exactly as it is now, except the remaining 10% would get massive dividends.

True. Moreover, if 90% of the stock was suddenly put up for sale "at market" with no significant buyers (assuming potential buyers would shun it as a matter of principle), the price would plummet to near zero, well below even the cash assets of the company. The company (having no such principles) would buy up its own stock at a pittance. The remaining stockholders would then own the entire company instead of 10% of it.

Take it to an extreme and assume that every stockholder is swept up emotionally by the stigma of owning the stock and thus disposes it at any price. Then the company could buy back all of its shares for essentially nothing and be owned by no one! The board of directors would then have no stockholders to answer to and could vote to pay themselves multi-billion dollar salaries as well as to do far more evil.

If you want to influence the direction of a company, you would want to own as much of its stock as possible, not get rid of it. If you are extremely wealthy, you can just buy all of the company's shares and have total control over its direction.

about a month ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

ortholattice Incoming port 80? (706 comments)

Does a "utility" mean that we could finally have true net neutrality and use the internet as it was designed, such as having unblocked incoming ports 80/443? I use alternate ports to route around this to access my files remotely, but strictly speaking I'm violating the ISP T&C by having a "server" at home.

However, I often want to access my home files from wifi access points such as hospitals where outgoing 80/443 are the only ports open (no outgoing ssh, etc. allowed). But my cable provider blocks incoming 80/443, so I'm completely cut off from my home files. I would rather not pay to put a TB of files on the "cloud" or pay some 3rd party service to reroute ports or whatever.

about a month ago
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Smart Meters and New IoT Devices Cause Serious Concern

ortholattice Re:Justification for privacy invading technologies (168 comments)

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

about a month and a half ago
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MPAA Bans Google Glass In Theaters

ortholattice Re:Anyone still going to the movies? (357 comments)

Waiting half an hour to buy a ticket [...]

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." - Yogi Berra

about a month and a half ago
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CERN Looking For Help Filling In the Gaps In Photo Archive

ortholattice Facial recognition (28 comments)

As a first rough pass at identifying the people in 250,000 images, they could use facial recognition against the ID photos of all past employees (assuming they saved them). That way, interested past employees would only have to look at much smaller samples to confirm and describe the images.

Oh, and I'm sure the NSA could be of assistance.

about 1 month ago
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Haier Plans To Embed Area Wireless Chargers In Home Appliances

ortholattice Re:Sounds wasteful and stupid ... (61 comments)

This reminds me of my showerhead thermometer. All I wanted was a device to tell me the shower temperature and nothing else. Instead, the only thing I could find were units with all sorts of "features" I didn't want.

The one I finally bought has a built-in clock for displaying time when not measuring temperature, a temperature alarm system for when the water is too hot, a shower timer, modes for deg-F/deg-C (maybe necessary, but I'd prefer a hidden switch inside the battery compartment to simplify everyday use), and probably other features I never bothered to learn about. So, when I want to use it I have to be very careful to press the buttons in just the right order to invoke the temperature mode (it has to be done each use since it shuts off after 5 minutes to conserve the battery), and if I make a mistake it gets stuck in some setup sequence that's almost impossible to exit from without consulting the manual. I've given up on telling guests how to use it.

I'd pay considerably more to have a unit that just displays temperature and nothing else, with a single button to turn it on, but it seems such a thing is not available.

about 2 months ago
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It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

ortholattice Re:people charge of traffic lights are engineers b (144 comments)

I once knew a traffic-light engineer who was an EE with a BS. I mentioned that I thought it was annoying not to have sensors on lights in rarely-used cross streets, since it wastes a lot of gas to have the main throughway traffic constantly stopping for no reason, not to mention wasting people's time. He said that if you put in a sensor, people will get used to the light always being green, and in the rare case it turns red they will tend not to stop and will cause more accidents. He was very strongly opposed to such sensors - arguing supposedly from experience as a professional and an expert - and our argument started to become, well, heated, so I just let it go. I really doubt what he said is supported by statistics, but his attitude was an example of the thinking of the people designing the lights.

(This was a couple of decades ago. Maybe the thinking has changed since I do see more sensors these days, but still not nearly enough. Often they seem poorly designed, such as unnecessarily waiting a full cycle before changing even if there is no cross traffic.)

about 4 months ago
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Old School Sci-fi Short Starring Keir Dullea Utilizes Classic Effects

ortholattice Re:Hulu sucks. (91 comments)

I am in the USA and tried to watch it. The commercial played beautifully. Then after the commercial, just a black screen. I waited 5 minutes and gave up. Anyone else have this experience?

about 4 months ago
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Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"

ortholattice Re:Well there is an issue with cellphones (316 comments)

Spectrum is something you only have a license to a small amount of. As such, the total bandwidth you can put out has a hard limit on it. Everyone on a tower shares that bandwidth and there's just nothing you can do to increase it. You can't "lay more fiber" or "use another laser" or anything like that which you can do on wired connections. On a given segment, there is just only so much bandwidth nature and regulations will let you have.

The solution is to add more cells (towers). That's the whole idea behind cell phones. How do you think the humongous bandwidth used by say downtown Manhattan cell phones is achieved?

about 4 months ago
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Researchers Test Developer Biometrics To Predict Buggy Code

ortholattice Re:64.99%, 84.38%, Really? (89 comments)

While I agree the extra precision is misleading, the real problem is that they don't provide confidence intervals. Even a rounded 80% could be misleading if it could fall between 60% and 90% due to sparse data.

On the other hand, if in their report details they said "84.38% with a 99% confidence interval of 72.27% to 94.49%", then the extra precision is no longer necessarily misleading (it is just the calculational result of the model used) and, although it is a little pedantic and redundant, I would have no fundamental problem with it. It might even be argued that it is infinitesimally more precise, allowing the calculations to be confirmed by an independent researcher. However, for presentation in summary form, it would be much better to say "between 72% and 94% with 99% confidence".

about 5 months ago
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A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

ortholattice Re:Subject bait (379 comments)

Why the hell are you still living there?

It's my home.

People are constantly losing their "home" for as minor a reason as losing their job and having to transfer to another city. Call me a coward, but I'd move if my city was under long-term, constant attack.

But regardless of your personal motivation, why would you want to traumatize your children by having them grow up in the midst of such fear and violence?

about 5 months ago
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A Peek Inside D-Wave's Quantum Computing Hardware

ortholattice Re:WoW! (55 comments)

Um, last time I looked, most microcontroller chips could make calculations in "mere millionths of a second".

Yes, but they can't do 2^512 (2 to the 512th power) calculations simultaneously in mere millionths of a second.

Of course, this would be for an ideal quantum computer with 512 qubits. There's still some confusion about what the D-Wave "is".

about 5 months ago
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Unicode 7.0 Released, Supporting 23 New Scripts

ortholattice Proprietary fonts (108 comments)

Over the years, I've tried to use Unicode for math symbols on various web pages and tend to revert back to GIFs or LaTeX-generating tools due to problems with symbols missing from the font used by this or that browser/OS combination, or even incorrect symbols in some cases.

IMO the biggest problem with Unicode is the lack of a public domain reference font. Instead, it is a mishmash of proprietary fonts each of which only partly implements the spec. Even the Unicode spec itself uses proprietary fonts from various sources and thus cannot be freely reproduced (it says so right in the spec), a terrible idea for a supposed "standard".

I'd love to see a plain, unadorned public-domain reference font that incorporates all defined characters - indeed, it would seem to me to be the responsibility of the Unicode Standard committee to provide such a font. Then others can use it as a basis for their own fancy proprietary font variations, and I would have a reliable font I could revert to when necessary.

about 6 months ago
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Scientists Find Method To Reliably Teleport Data

ortholattice Re:This research should receive enormous funding. (202 comments)

What you can do is use quantum teleportation to "transmit" (in a manner of speaking) a real (or complex) number, i.e. a quantum superposition, which in theory could contain infinite information, by using only a couple of classical bits. This real number can't be observed directly - you can only tell whether it's less than or greater than a specified number by appropriately designing your observation - but until you observe it, it can be further processed in its full precision as a superposition at the receiver end using quantum operations. What you can do with this internal (uncollapsed) infinite information is up to you, e.g. as part of a quantum factoring or search algorithm, until you finally collapse it and read out some yes/no answer. All in theory of course; in practice you have noise and other sources of error.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?

ortholattice Re:paper...pencil (170 comments)

I do this. Also, once every year or two, I scan all the pages and make a nice pdf file of each volume. I put bookmarks on pages that I think I may want to look up quickly (often these correspond to physical bookmarks such as little sticky notes) and also bookmark start of month or start of new project. My bookshelf, with 5 linear feet of notes over the years, fits on a thumb drive. In practice, I typically look up things in the pdfs rather than the physical notes. I intend to dispose of the physical notes someday, at least the very old ones (ego has prevented me from doing so thus far), but even if my house burns down my notes are safely stored away on a remote backup.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

ortholattice Re:Get creative (390 comments)

Corned beef AND cabbage?...

Beano works for me. However, for it to really work well, I've found you need 2-3 pills per serving of food, typically 6-9 pills per meal, which (even for the generic version) can cost more than the meal itself!

about 8 months ago

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