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Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

physicsphairy Total number of websites (610 comments)

I don't actually browse the entire internet and have no interest in guaranteeing equivalent revenue to everyone selling penis enlargements. My share of the burden is only a dozen or so websites visited regular. But since many of those are content aggregators let's go ahead and say I visit 100 x that many websites, and consider these casual visits as equal to supporting the website for an entire year.

This makes $230 / 1,036,878,123 websites (internetlivestats.com) * 1200 = 2.7*e-4 dollars to cover my website burden. And I feel I probably deserve some credit for subscribing to Netflix and Amazon prime. Obviously bandwidth is a better measure of the 'cost' I need to cover for these websites to remain hosted, but averaging over all websites does (in a difficult to quantify way) account for the fact that many of the websites out there even now are not profit-motivated.

I hope the authors of this study were also sure to deduct the cost users already pay due to web advertisements in the form of malware infections, including the compromise of bank accounts, identity, etc.

about two weeks ago
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Memo to Users: SpamCop Winding Down Webmail Service

physicsphairy Re:If they really want to help the situation... (44 comments)

You also cannot solve the problem by exposing, jailing, or murdering spammers (regardless of whether or not it makes you feel better) as it does not resolve the profit motive.

Increasing the expected cost reduces the expected profit.

Filtering only encourages spammers to craft ever-more-obfuscated spam to drive down the signal-to-noise ratio and improve the chances of their spam getting through.

Which takes resources, thus increasing costs, thus reducing the expected profit.

Spamcop and others, if they actually want to perform a valuable service, need to put their profits elsewhere. Namely, they need to start working on disrupting the flow of money to the spammers themselves.

While we're discussing profit as the be all and end all, I'm curious how Spamcop is supposed to monetize this? And does preventing people from seeing spam not "disrupt the flow of money"?

It's great to say there are other ways to go about fighting spam, but anything which makes the spammers' efforts a little bit more difficult or a little bit less effective contributes toward minimizing the industry.

about three weeks ago
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Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

physicsphairy Deadlines. . . whoosh! (327 comments)

They are experts in their fields, often with master's and doctoral degrees

As a product of academia I am professionally trained to get things done on the cusp of deadlines. I'm not joking. Both on the student and instructor side there is simply a great deal of latitude. There's no time management enforced in any form except for "deadlines," so that's when you learn to get things done.

As lovely of a thought as it is that entering the workforce will automatically instill a newfound sense of responsiblity and dedication to all a graduates (and I'm sure it does for at least a few weeks or so), I for one am not surprised that working unsupervised at home at a government job with quarterly deadlines results in people observing the same habits they have for the past 6-10 years.

Admittedly, I wouldn't want to rush a result such that it is inadequately reviewed either, and I don't know if patent clerks have projects which would actually take an entire quarter to investigate, but the first thing I would do is have them sync all of their edits/notes/research in a way to make them reviewable. It's amazing how a little bit of transparency encourages people to make regular progress.

about three weeks ago
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Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

physicsphairy Re:Don't ask me (225 comments)

The physicists are the ones asking. We better take this one to the Big Guy Himself.

"So, uh, we were wondering if you could explain why our orbital and rotational predictions for galaxies are not matching our astronomical measurements?"

"They aren't? Are you sure? Let me check the source code. Oh, that's not good. Should have caught that a few billion years ago. This is going to be a real pain to patch. Unless. . . ."

"Unless, what?"

*lightning bolt strikes questioner*

about three weeks ago
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Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company

physicsphairy Scaling usage (502 comments)

It's quite believable that technology will develop toward helping people reduce their energy costs. What's not quite so believable is that it will be enough to reduce demand.

If energy was cheap enough, maybe you would use your excess electricity to get free water instead, extracting it and/or producing it from air and hydrocarbons, or otherwise recycle your waste. Maybe you will have some of the latest computer modules chugging away simulating your entire antatomy to anticipate future medical problems. If I had free electricity right now I would be using as much of it as possible to mine bitcoins. Who would have anticipated that 20 years ago?

I don't see the end to domestic energy demand until we see the end of people wanting wealth, because technology is increasingly a way of translating energy into things of value.

about a month ago
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The Man Who Invented the 26th Dimension

physicsphairy Re:Why are they all space dimensions? (259 comments)

So the whole second half of your post was not about how we can't see and measure in temporal dimensions but we can in spatial dimensions?

Light does travel easily through the temporal dimension. It does so constantly. (In the sense of how we experience it.)

If you want to know why we can't visit the Jurassic, then also ask yourself why we can't visit Alpha Centauri. We occupy a small slither of space just as much as we do a small slither of time. If you talk on the scale of the earth or the solar system or the galaxy, we travel space in a set direction as well. Time is the same way -- we're caught up in such a current of increasing entropy that any motions made in the reverse are fairly futile. With enough energy, however, it could be done (in either case).

My point is that your distinctions between space and time are largely a matter of how you choose to interpret your experiences. We certainly can probe another temporal dimension as well as another spatial dimension. (Although we could imagine features for both which make that difficult.)

about a month ago
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The Man Who Invented the 26th Dimension

physicsphairy Re:Why are they all space dimensions? (259 comments)

I can look up/down, North/South, and East/West, but I can not look past/future. So it makes sense that I also can not look t2+/t2-.

You can't do anything except for analyze the signals of photons presently impinging on your retina. You have no direct means of experiencing the space ahead of and behind you any more than you do the time directly ahead of and behind you. But assuming those photons travelled in straight lines in space and time and have spectra which depend on the object they last interacted with, you can make some good inferences about what objects were there a short time ago. Just as you can make the inference that those objects may have also been there at an earlier time, or may continue to be there longer than that.

It's only because the speed of light is so fast that we act like we are making direct spatial observations. Slow it down enough and you might not say your eyes were very good for finding the position of things at all -- just for telling you what they were like in the past.

about a month ago
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The High-Tech Warfare Behind the Israel - Hamas Conflict

physicsphairy Re:really? So Hamas is now a tech war machine? (402 comments)

You make it sound like Israel's response to the murders was to start randomly bombing people. Israel's response to the kidnapping was to start making arrests and restricting access to Gaza as they searched for the kidnapped teenagers. Hamas started firing rockets. Israel retaliated with air strikes. By the time the bodies were found, the conflict was already in motion.

about a month ago
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How Many Members of Congress Does It Take To Pass a $400MM CS Bill?

physicsphairy Re:Bad idea (180 comments)

I generally agree, but some free access computers would have been nice to have. I was interested enough in computers as a child to read all the available books in the library, including books on DOS and C and Larry Wall's Programming Perl, but I never had the chance to compile anything. Needless to say it didn't quite stick in the sense of learning to program, although it did provide a bit of foundation for such things later on.

When we actually did use computers the instructor always seemed like the least knowledgeable person on how to use them, and the class would mostly distract themselves with the internet while the instructor struggled with the projector and offered largely obvious comments.

The most I ever learned about computers was when I managed to put Trinux on a floppy, and then Knoppix on a CD, and commandeer my teachers' computers during lunchtime. But it's impossible to play around in normal circumstances -- the teachers of course find it far simpler to forbid you to do anything interesting rather than be responsible for fixing it if something gets broken.

Are computers a necessary tool for teaching math, science, arithmetic? No, probably they are just a distraction. Are they an interesting study and means to create and explore in their own right? Yes, absolutely.

about a month ago
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If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

physicsphairy Re:partly as a result, work culture is also haphaz (135 comments)

For example, when I was a kid, we had student councils in school, from age 10, where each class has 1 or 2 representatives, who then report to the rest of the class at the weekly class meetings etc. It was also a good way to teach students about democracy.

I recall this from my elementary school (in America) -- it was structured precisely the same way. We had lots of group work and campus clubs, student senate in middle school and high school, things like mock trial, model UN, and speech and debate where you would learn Robert's Rules of Order, things like boyscouts and Boys and Girls of America to teach leadership skills, etc. And any kind of camp for sports or band would focus on teambuilding. Americans are actually very well-trained on how to work together, and they can do it amazingly well despite huge cultural and personal divides.

But that is part of what lets these pernicious managerial practices persist. Americans can often work around them, so there's not a huge pressure to punish or reform managers who get it wrong. It's also the case that while we're cultivating this cooperative culture, Americans are also cultivating a competitive, get ahead of the other guy, win at any cost culture. People who go into business administrative positions are often the fruit of the latter rather than the former.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Get (or Share) News About Open Source Projects?

physicsphairy I need a replacement for a different reason (85 comments)

Perhaps it's now hidden somewhere, but I no longer see the search function, which I wouldn't mind having even for a static archive. My typical first operation in looking for a peace of software was to go to freshmeat, do a search, and sort by popularity/vitality.

Variety in open source is wonderful, but unless I have very specific requirements, I often just want to install one of the 'community approved best' options and not worry about deciphering reviews and forum posts to find out what is featured, active, and stable. In my experience, freshmeat was always the best place for that.

sf.net and the ubuntu software center do have some decent rankings. I recently used the later to preload Ubuntu for a friend with software I thought would showcase what opensource can do for him.

What would be awfully nice, however, would be some sort of cross-platform aggregation of statistics which includes downloads from package managers.

about a month ago
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States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

physicsphairy Re:Short-Lived? (778 comments)

One would kind of hope that the states are doing their own economic analyses. The ones that found a minimum wage hike would be most productive and sustainable for their economies did so; the ones that didn't, didn't. Given how much cost of living and average income vary across the nation, it's hardly surprising that some places would want a different minimum wage than others.

about a month and a half ago
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Can the Multiverse Be Tested Scientifically?

physicsphairy Re:My favorite test (147 comments)

While the idea was developed with a mind toward the quantum multiverse, the result is effectively the same for any multiverse model which allows for infinite universes. It doesn't really matter whether they are the branching kind or the spatially separated kind.

about a month and a half ago
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Can the Multiverse Be Tested Scientifically?

physicsphairy My favorite test (147 comments)

Yes, quantum suicide. The idea is if you attempt to kill yourself, your consciousness persists only in the subset of universes where the attempt fails, and can become justifiably suspicious that, in its own experience, every effort prove ineffective.

However, I think it is a bit small minded to use this only to test the muiltiverse hypothesis. Given that it's true, why not build a huge robust death chamber which you activate based on, e.g., whether or not you win the lottery, whether or not you quantum tunnel to an alien world, whether or a friend comes by with free pizza.

I admit that cruising the multiverse in a giant suicide chamber is not quite as romantic as other science fiction. . . .

about a month and a half ago
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German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

physicsphairy Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (244 comments)

Okay, but how are you going to conceal a microphone in a room that has gone purely mechanical? A computer gives off all sorts of RF, and is complex enough that there may be other tricky ways of getting information out. Not to mention that America may be the only source of processors and other components.

I'm sure the germans are capable of producing the typewriters completely in-house. Stick them in a well-shielded, soundproofed, unelectrified room, treat any signal as a bug, and it's much harder to get access to the information contined within, especially just by being clever with some transistors.

about a month and a half ago
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Seat Detects When You're Drowsy, Can Control Your Car

physicsphairy Re:Creepy? (106 comments)

I feel this technology has the potential to make the problem worse. People will think it is a full solution to driving under imparied conditions and lose all inhibiiton to doing so. The system will doubtless rescue some of them but time will tell whether the mortality rate ultimately goes up or down.

about a month and a half ago
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Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours

physicsphairy Re:Maybe, maybe not. (749 comments)

If the company has access to them and the ability to procure them, what does the physical location of the records or their headquarters matter?

Because they are storing someone else's data. That someone else (and their locally stored property) should receive the full protection of their local laws when dealing with a local subsidiary of an international company. This is not an embassy, it is not considered a territorial extension of the United States. The server is owned and taxed as Irish property. It should require an Irish court order to forcibly extract data off of it, same as it would taking letters out of an Irish safety deposit box (even if the bank had an American presence).

Would we be comfortable with courts in China being able to subpoena any US held data from companies with a Chinese presence? "Sorry Yahoo but as part of your incorporation in China we need you to produce any emails from the personal accounts of Boeing employees held on your US owned servers."

about a month and a half ago
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Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours

physicsphairy Re:Maybe, maybe not. (749 comments)

if a country's legal system has a valid case for something, and issues a court order ordering you to turn something over, you can't just avoid a court order by saying "it's in my summer home in another country!"

That's fine. I'm perfectly okay with saying Microsoft has to produce all of their financial information, legal analysis, etc., when required, no matter where it is stored, as a provision of being legally incorporated in the United States.

Where this gets pernicious is that the data they are being required to present is *not* their data. They are a third party holding the data on someone else's behalf. Note the courts specifically say that this would not be okay if it was a physical document, their reasoning for being allowed to subpoena an electronic document is essentially that it's trivial for them to get away with it.

From the article:

The e-mail the US authorities are seeking from Microsoft concerns a drug-trafficking investigation. Microsoft often stores e-mail on servers closest to the account holder.

So presumably this data belongs to someone in Ireland. It's data which was created in Ireland. It may be data which has never left Ireland. But because they made the mistake of dealing with a US company, the data of an Irish citizen sitting in a room in Ireland where Irish law prevails is now being exported to America without Irish courts having any say in the matter.

about a month and a half ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

physicsphairy Re:Imperial Police (176 comments)

Respecting territorial sovereignty is for when other countries can do something about it. A small island nation of a few hundred thousand people need not apply.

Still, it seems a bit excessive to do an extradition raid for someone who is apparently accused of hacking into zoo and deli websites. His relation to the Russian MP is probably what has earned him the special attention, part of Obama's plan to punish Russia. The message is clear, "Invade its allies and America will spoil your vacation."

What do you suppose the probability is that after some further negotiations the MP's son and Snowden trade places?

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Automatic Translation Without Dictionaries

physicsphairy physicsphairy writes  |  about a year ago

physicsphairy (720718) writes "Tomas Mikolov and others at Google have developed a simple means of translating between languages using a large corpus of sample texts. Rather than being defined by humans, words are characterized based on their relation to other words, e.g., in any language, a word like 'cat' will have a particular relationship to words like 'small', 'furry,' 'pet', etc. The set of relationships of words in a language can be described as a vector space, and words from one language can be translated into words in another language by identifying the mapping between their two vector spaces. The technique works even for very dissimilar languages, and is presently being used to refine and identify mistakes in existing translation dictionaries."
Link to Original Source
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Tech School Implements Jedi Council

physicsphairy physicsphairy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

physicsphairy (720718) writes "The Student Association of New Mexico Tech has formed a new government, host to a Jedi Council. The change remains controversial, with an attempted overruling by the organization president, but a 4-1 upholding by the Supreme Court. According to the new constitution, the Jedi will fulfill a largely diplomatic role, participating in such activities as peer mediation and student outreach, while also stepping in as an additional check on the other branches of government. Students have a month to mull over their next move as the Senate will not reconvene until January. The constitution, while effective immediately, will also be up for ratification or censure by the general student body in late April when the Spring Elections take place. The vote will determine whether the Jedi Council remains as a permanent branch of the student government."
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physicsphairy physicsphairy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

physicsphairy writes "Perhaps in commemoration of earth day, students at New Mexico Tech placed a seventy pound toilet and pirate flag on top of a 150' clock tower. It was too high to be reached by either the school cherry pickers or the local fire department, and the school had to call a company from out of district to come remove it. No one is quite sure how they got it up there... a rumour on campus is that one of the rock climbers bear-climbed it. Yours truly has some pictures from it being taken down."

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