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How the USPS Killed Digital Mail

pkalkul this is not an accurate history (338 comments)

I do not know anything about the Outbox startup other than what is presented in the linked article, but I do know that this is not an accurate representation of the approach of the Post Office to electronic mail. They considered a system almost exactly like this in the late 1970s. It was called E-Com, and it allowed users to send letters electronically from office to office. The letters were then printed out and delivered.

The Post Office might have its flaws, but from the 1792 Post Office Act to the present, it has actually been an important contributor to the information infrastructure of the United States. This article reads like a press release from the start-up in question.

about 7 months ago
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Are Brain Teasers Good Hiring Criteria?

pkalkul Chess-players, puzzle-solvers, and programmers (672 comments)

There is apparently a long history of the use of aptitude tests in the selection of programmers. From a 1965 article in Datamation on programmer recruitment: "Creativity is a major attribute of technically oriented people," suggested one representative profile. "Look for those who like intellectual challenge rather than interpersonal relations or managerial decision-making. Look for the chess player, the solver of mathematical puzzles." There is a little piece from the "computer boys" history site above has some funny images from this period.

more than 2 years ago
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On Social Networks, You Are Who You Know

pkalkul Project Gaydar (171 comments)

A lot of replies to this seem to be dismissing it as irrelevant. Yes, social networks are not private. But determining aspects of your identity that you yourself do not choose to post can have serious implications. Project Gaydar at MIT showed that it was possible to determine sexual orientation via social networks. In many parts of the world, including the US, this matters. As might information about what preexisting medical conditions you might have...

more than 4 years ago
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Bethesda Announces New Fallout Game For 2010

pkalkul Re:The Older You Get (254 comments)

The older you get, the more everything starts looking the same...

There are only so many plots:
Man vs Man
Man vs Nature
Man vs Self

You forgot Man vs. Civil War Era Cyborgs

more than 5 years ago
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The Deceptive Perfection of Auto-Tune

pkalkul From 1959: "How no-talent singers get 'talent'" (437 comments)

From a 1959 article describing "How no-talent singers get 'talent'":

"Recording techniques have become so ingenious that almost anyone can seem to be a singer. A small, flat voice can be souped up by emphasizing the low frequencies and piping the result through an echo chamber. A slight speeding up a the recording tape can bring a brighter, happier sound to a naturally drab singer or clean the weariness out of a tired voice. Wrong notes can be snipped out of the tape and replaced by notes taken from other parts of the tape. Almost every pop recording made today , even by well established talents, carries some evidence of he use of echo chambers, tape reverberation, over-dubbing, or splicing"

Same old, same old...

more than 5 years ago
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An Inside Look at the Great Firewall of China

pkalkul Re:Incredible (165 comments)

In their recent book, Who Controls the Internet, law professors Timothy Wu and Jack Goldsmith have a nice section on China. Their argument is that effective control does not require total control. Yes, it is possible for internet users in China to circumvent government controls, but as long as these controls work well enough for the average user -- who as other commentators have noted, have other concerns and priorities -- then the Chinese government has effective control. An educated Western user who has certain expectations for the internet, and who has the technical resources necessary to access proxies, can perhaps (relatively) easily bypass government controls. But that does not mean that these controls, combined with logging and fear of reprisals, are not very effective.

And, of course, China is a large market for many firms, and therefore the Chinese government has leverage to exert their influence over a set of intermediaries -- Yahoo and Google, for example -- to make their control effective (again, not perfect).

more than 6 years ago

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