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Interview: Ask Eric Raymond What You Will

zedrdave Re:Slashdot Beta (126 comments)

All right then. I'll be out. See you and thanks for everything, Slashdot!

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?

zedrdave Re:My guess (631 comments)

While entertaining, this hypothesis makes absolutely no sense...

In what world would it be easier to exchange glorified magic beans for a loan? (a loan that would have to be in real, solid cash, as that's pretty much the only thing your staff and building manager will take)

I don't even see how a "company" like MtGox (essentially, one basement-dwelling PHP coder and the couple people he eventually hired) could run into any serious "shortfall" in revenues. But even assuming they did: living in a country where interest rates are actually in the negative, would make it pretty easy to get a cheap loan, without offloading a commodity that, by design is guaranteed to appreciate in value (until it pops for good, in which case your business would also be in trouble, for other reasons).

That MtGox guy is clearly an incompetent morons (as are the people foolish enough to trust him), but probably not that much of an idiot.

about 10 months ago
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Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

zedrdave Re:Vive le Galt! (695 comments)

Way ahead of you there

(Spoiler alert: Japanese government responded by "huh, what? yea, whatever...")

about 10 months ago
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Weak Statistical Standards Implicated In Scientific Irreproducibility

zedrdave And has been so for, oh, 50 years? (182 comments)

"innovative methods"??? I do not know of a single serious scientist who hasn't been lectured on the ills of weak testing (and told not to use 0.05 as some sort of magical threshold below which everything magically works).

Back when I was a wee researchling, this is literally one of the first paper I was told to read and internalise (published 20 years ago, and not even particularly breakthrough at the time).

There is absolutely no need for new evidence or further discussion of the limitations of statistical testing thresholds: anybody who cares is keenly aware of them. People who don't (particularly in some areas of social science), are just looking for a way to get their next paper out the door by any means possible.

about a year ago
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Japan Refused To Help NSA Tap Asia's Internet

zedrdave Re:WTF (375 comments)

A country that gives a shit about its constitution? Surely some mistake...

Err. I wouldn't move to Japan just yet if I were you:

Through redistricting (or lack thereof), the Japanese electoral map disproportionately favours rural voters over urban residents (up to 5:1), reaching a limit explicitly forbidden by the Japanese constitution.

Because they couldn't come to a redistricting agreement that pleased them (and because that imbalance heavily favoured them), the party in power did call a new Diet election anyway, which was unambiguously called unconstitutional by all parties involved: members of the Japanese SC testified to it, nobody tried to argue otherwise. The election went ahead, the elected MPs have taken their seats and the current prime minister's legitimacy is not in any way questioned by anybody outside of some very limited constitutional scholar circles.

Oh yea: 6 month later, the Supreme Court is finally due to give out an official decision on the matter (not so much on whether the election was unconstitutional, as to what should be done about it), with legal commentators generally agreeing that whatever they decide, probably won't be enforced anyway.

about a year ago
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Two Years In Prison For Using Infrared Contact Lenses To Cheat At Poker

zedrdave Summary factually wrong... (320 comments)

Both sources make it abundantly clear that the lawyer had nothing to do with catching the card shark, but merely released the statement indicating that casino security had spotted the scam.

Beside the failure at basic written English comprehension that could lead to that sort of error, I personally wonder how the editor could write that and not stop two seconds to wonder why a lawyer would be on a casino floor looking out for card cheats.

I've come to the conclusion that Slashdot editors do not really know what the word "lawyer" mean either, which explains a lot...

about a year ago
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EU Proposes To Fit Cars With Speed Limiters

zedrdave Ah, these dastardly European Bureaucrats! (732 comments)

Even without the oh-so-typical use of imperial units, it took me all of 2 lines into this bit of "news" to know exactly which newspaper it came from.

Lo and behold, it is indeed nothing more than the semi-regular bit of foaming at the mouth by the Telegraph: a notoriously europhobic rag whose sole raison d'être seems to be lamenting the glory of ole Britannia and play into the fears and pet hates of their readership (in no particular order: immigrants, the youfth of today, loud music, feminists, the EU, anybody who dares criticising the Royal Family etc).

As usual, the article is full of weasel words and rightful indignation, with little evidence to back up the claim that any such plan exists, as more than the inconsequential suggestion of some external consultant, somewhere, somehow (the closest I have found to a non Telegraph/Daily Mail-related source about that story, is this page on an official EU's website, which clearly states that its content does not reflect the opinion of the commission, let alone anywhere near the stage of an official EU proposal).

But at least the "editors" of Slashdot and a couple other lazy online websites get a nice click-whoring controversy out of this, the usual crowds can rush in and start pointing out why this is a horrible idea so typical of the EU, the Telegraph gets some extra publicity and their readers get their weekly dose of EU paranoia (and must feel really powerful, when none of these scary directives ever make it into law). Everybody's happy.

about a year ago
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Inside OS X Mavericks

zedrdave If by "looking good", you mean "looking like iOS". (362 comments)

From the article:

> He concluded by mentioning that he hoped Mavericks would serve as the bridge between OS X and iOS, allowing his company to make Mac versions of its iOS titles.

So basically this guy is happy that OS X is bridging closer to iOS (because his business stands to gain from this).

How exactly is that supposed to warm my heart as a user who already thoroughly loath the very idea of the "Natural Scrolling(tm)" option on previous updates?

Is it too much to ask for them simply not to break anything and leave me with the halfway-decent UI to a powerful *nix that I am happily using?

about a year ago
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Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected

zedrdave Re:War! (259 comments)

You are absolutely and unequivocally right.

That leaves only one possibility: Hunting for sport!

about a year and a half ago
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FBI Paid Informant Inside WikiLeaks

zedrdave Re:Cheap (458 comments)

> Actually the US has tried to keep its intelligence operations secret, as do practically all nations.

There's a fine line between keeping the details of your intelligence operations under wrap, something all countries aspire to (and the US, possibly by virtue of being in everyone's crosshair, is not particularly good at), and denying the legality, or even the will, to conduct such operations. Time and again, US judicial authorities, all the way up to SCOTUS, have upheld that the protections afforded by the Constitution do not apply to foreigners (with some very tiny exceptions) and that the US are free to do whatever they want in that regard (not adhering to many other international treaties that may put them at odds with international laws).

"World opinion" is a completely unmeasurable concept (and ridiculously narrow-minded: as if "Rest of the World" was just a comparable entity to "US"), and at any rate, this type of "opinion poll" is laughably pointless in how easily it can be biased in whatever direction the pollster wants ("Do you think the organisation headed by alleged rapist Julian Assange is doing the work of God" vs. "Should the US be allowed to send a drone strike after an Australian citizen residing in Europe?")... But it is plain obvious that non-US citizens only care about US national interest in a very tangential way (and considerably less so, in our days where there is no clear opposite block to be afraid of), and therefore are much more likely to be, at worst, neutral toward the release of US diplomatic secrets (and the people doing the release).


Most importantly, your original point apparently failed to realise that the informant is a citizen of Iceland, where popular opinion does not favour the US gvt against Wikileaks, to say the least.

about a year and a half ago
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FBI Paid Informant Inside WikiLeaks

zedrdave Re:Cheap (458 comments)

> I think you significantly overstate the support for Assange and his activities. Living in a bubble with do that to you
> [...]
> Poll: Americans say WikiLeaks harmed public interest; most want Assange arrested

I think you significantly overstate the extent to which the rest of the world is part of the United States of America.

Assange is far from universally loved outside of the US, but I would say his side enjoys considerably greater support than the side of US' spying on everybody else's communications at their fancy. Something that they make absolutely no secret of, since it is indeed in no way against US laws.

about a year and a half ago
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Mayan Pyramid In Belize Leveled By Construction Crew

zedrdave Re:Gratuitous link to inaccurate content (276 comments)

The point was: it looks nothing like the picture posted by that joke of an article (which looks more like some stock "mayan pyramid" picture). The size alone should be a dead giveaway.

And unlike some of the less dodgy sites out there that make a point to include a pointless picture in all their SEO articles, this one did not bother including a clarifying description ("Example of a Mayan temple"), instead going the flat-out-lie road.

about a year and a half ago
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Mayan Pyramid In Belize Leveled By Construction Crew

zedrdave Gratuitous link to inaccurate content (276 comments)

So tell me again, why is the first link for that story a bulshitty post on a New Zealand rightwing blog, with a blatantly misidentified picture? (this is what the actual temple looks like)

For chrissake, the blog post starts with "Reports are coming in", as if it was written by some international news channel, not some guy in his underwear sitting on the opposite side of the world.

about a year and a half ago
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Texas Company's Antique Computers Are For Production, Not Display

zedrdave Re:Debugging that... (289 comments)

It just means that it takes a few generations for a culture that was smacked down to rise back up

Pro tip: if you have to assure your readership that you are not racist, not once, not twice, but three times in the course of your post, that's generally not a good sign.

about a year and a half ago
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Geeks On a Plane Proposed To Solve Global Tech Skills Crisis

zedrdave "Welcome to Big Talk" (303 comments)

I know single-video comment is bad form, but I cannot think of anything more fitting than this.

about a year and a half ago
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ICANN's Trademark Clearinghouse Launching Today

zedrdave A not-so-subtle scam, you say? WHY!? I NEVER! (49 comments)

For an extra $100, ICANN will send you your TLD VIP package that includes instructions on how to get on the faster VIP internets and make your domain load up spontaneously on people's browser when they utter your brand's name.

about a year and a half ago
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Facebook Knows If You're Gay, Use Drugs, Or Are a Republican

zedrdave And...? (473 comments)

"I had not selected any political orientation, yet these researchers were able to predict my Democrat leanings, merely based on my 'like' of Barack Obama's page. What witchcraft science is that!?"

From all I could read of these (repeated) stories, this is so basic it barely even count as data mining. Also, I'd really like to see the the type I and II errors in that thing: sure, the guys who 'liked' a dozen pages for disney musicals might have higher chances of turning out to be gay, but what about the handful who just really like musicals? Same for the hetero guys who support gay friends and will like gay rights pages. And better hope that absolutely nobody out there practices sarcastic liking (but we're safe, because really: who is ever sarcastic online these days).

Wake me up when we are talking actual science and real data-mining, not two-bit hacking and obvious results.

about 2 years ago
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US CompSci Enrollment Leaps For 5th Straight Year

zedrdave Re:Lazy (176 comments)

Right. It's a well-known fact that the burden of proof is on the reader, not the poster of unsourced claims (claims that even superficial research would tend to disprove). We all know that this is the way good debates are made. Hell, I wonder why Wikipedia does not have a '[find your own goddamn citation]' tag: it would make things so much easier.

Then again, instead of trying to engage and present whatever evidence you may have, you'd rather successively engage in passing anecdotes for universal truth and ad hominem. I particularly like your assertion that my wrong-headedness is beyond saving and not worthy of your research time, when I went extra lengths to point out that I had absolutely no love for Walmart and their documented repeated abuse of employees' rights. At the end of the day, questioning your loose claims and methods has to make me some jackbooted thug out to get the little man.

We might be on the overall same side of this debate, I still think we'd be a lot better off without self-righteous, "my guts tell me so", quick-off-the-handle people like you: you only make it easier for fox news-fed morons on the other side to point at your obvious reasoning flaws and claim it a draw.

about 2 years ago
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Developers Begin Hunt For a Killer App For Google Glass

zedrdave Re:Programmer's App? (155 comments)

Right... Because 'video capture' -> 'OCR' -> 'syntax parsing' (without language context) -> 'syntax correction' -> 'overlay video rendering'... would make so much more sense than a language-sensitive syntax-highlighting plugin in your text editor of choice.

about 2 years ago

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