Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
User Journal

Journal: These are the things in my head at night 7

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

Then-PFC, now-SGT Bergdahl may in fact have deserted his post. There are certainly credible accusations to that effect, and if so, then he should be tried and convicted for the crime. But it's a whole lot easier to investigate those charges with him here, and we don't let the Taliban mete out justice for us.

The military idea of "taking care of your own" has a lot of different aspects. Holding the line and leaving no one behind are obvious; less obvious, perhaps, is that our people are ours. Loon or no, deserter or no, even traitor or no, whatever else Bowe Bergdahl may be he is someone who raised his right hand and took the oath, and that means that whatever reward or punishment he receives is ours and ours alone to give.

It astonishes me sometimes, having at this point been out of the service several more years than I was in it, how strong and pure those ideas still are in my head: how much "us" the profession of arms still is to me, and I suppose always will be. I'm a civilian and happy to be one now, but both the infantryman and the medic are still very close to the surface. The latter is concerned mainly with bringing back the wounded--and the former is ready, willing, and perhaps even eager to kill anyone who stands in the way of that mission.

Whatever else we did, whatever else we may do, we had to bring him home.

User Journal

Journal: 2+ port router+asterisk server? 14

Journal by drinkypoo

I need a new system on which to run asterisk, bonus points if I don't have to configure it from scratch. I'd like to spend less than $200 (ideally I'd pick up something used if necessary for $100) but I have storage devices available, whether CF, SD, USB, or what have you. It can have wireless, but it doesn't have to because I have a routerboard for that. I have found my pogoplugs to be unreliable at best.

User Journal

Journal: Time to grow up and put slashdot behind me 2

Journal by Billly Gates

I am tired of the trolls here and I have made quite some enemies over the years. I feel like this is now a 35 year old version of highschool where it is popular to say certain things complete with squeaky cheerleaders girls rather than a place of intellectual thought.

Arstechnica.com serves this much better.

I got modded down 0 troll for putting IOS in development requirements because it wasn't an official real language by self righteous asshats who feel threatened by their own unique C/unix way regardless of market demand which was my point. I do not belong here anymore. I am not a linux fanboy anymore as I feel it is not longer keeping up with the times and I refuse to be brainwashed into an idea and never change and grow old and set in my ways. I change with the times and adjust accordingly. I want a place where I can do this. Most importantly spend less time here and go better myself like a good middle aged person is supposed to do.

So goodbye!

User Journal

Journal: Lies, damned lies, and ... oh no, you're going there. 1

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

[cranky rant warning]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." It's coming up again with depressing frequency, being used as an argument instead of a snide observation.

Okay, here's the thing. Can you lie with statistics? Sure. Statistics is a branch of mathematics*, and math is a language; you can lie in that language as easily as in any other. Does this mean all statistics are lies? No more than all statements in any language are lies--and if you believe that, you've gone so far down the rabbit hole of anti-intellectual mysticism that you'll probably never find your way out.

Meanwhile, in the real world, and in the ever-expanding torrent of data we have about that world, statistics as a discipline is pretty much the only hope we have of understanding anything. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The equations we learn in Physics 101 are as valid as they ever were, but they're not nearly enough. No matter how certain you think you are, no matter how many times you repeat your experiment and get the same result, if you don't do the statistical tests you don't actually know whatever it is you think you know. And if you do the tests--well, you may still be wrong, but you can at least quantify your uncertainty. And you have to do that, because you can always be wrong.

None of this is meant to defend the misuse of statistics, any more than as a writer I'd defend the misuse of natural language. People can and do wilfully misinterpret statistics, or cherry-pick them, or just outright make them up, and those are bad things. Guess what? They do that with every other kind of statement too. At least half of statisticians' job is fact-checking, and it's a charge we gladly accept.

So the next time you're tempted to say "lies, damned lies, and statistics," or "figures don't lie but liars figure," or "correlation does not imply causation" or any of its variants, or post the umpteen-thousandth link to "How To Lie With Statistics," and think you're being clever--please, just stop. Because one thing I am so sure of that I don't even need to put a p-value on it is that if you feel the need to resort to any of those lazy, thought-free responses, you don't know enough about the issue at hand to have an informed opinion, and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and everyone else is to keep quiet.

*Opinions vary on this issue, but if statistics isn't exactly a branch of mathematics, we can at least say that math is the language in which it's written.

User Journal

Journal: The Trolls 81

Journal by Tom

Wow, it's been 15 years but I've finally got my own personal troll! :-)

I must apologize to everyone I've ever called a troll now that I've seen a real one. Yeah, there are trollish comments, but this... it's a different league. If you ever wondered who these brain-damaged morons were who set up geocities homepages with blinking purple text on blue background with red dots in Comic Sans - that kind of different league.

Now it does make me wonder about trolls in general. Has there been a study on this? I really wonder if psychologists have tackled this because quite honestly, you cannot be mentally stable and post in this and this content at the same time. So I do wonder if trolls on the Internet (the real trolls, not the people occasionally posting something stupid) do have a mental problem. It definitely looks like it. Probably insecurity issues, definitely an exaggerated need for attention, might be related to borderline syndrome or schizoprenia.

And, of course, the Internet provides:

As someone who has had to deal with family members suffering from mental illness, let me tell you that it's not funny. So despite the fact that they are, in fact, obnoxious, aggravating assholes, these sad little fucks also need help and their miserable little existence is not something you'd want to trade for yours, no matter how much you think your life sucks. Trust me, with a mental illness on top, it'll suck more.

Obviously, we can't offer therapy to people who usually comment anonymously and will often go to great lengths to avoid being tracked down. What we can do, however, is get a better understanding for how they act this way (they can't help it, mental illness is stronger than your conscious mind) and that the best thing we can do for them is to not continue the feedback loop. "Don't feed the trolls" - old wisdom there.

The last link in that list contains a few more ideas.

Now that I'm at the end, I kind of regret the smiley face at the top. But I'm leaving it in because this journal entry is a bit of a journey, even if it is short. Thanks to some Internet resources, a bit of research and connecting the dots, I've come a short way, changing my mind a little on this particular sub-sub-sub-part of life.

-----

A short additional statement on how to treat trolling. From what I've gathered from the resources above, a few comments (both here and in the various spammed threads) and my own life experience:

First, don't feed the trolls. Most of them seek attention, so if you stop giving it to them, they become frustrated and go away. Notice that they seek attention, not validation. A rebuke or an angry rant or even a shootout of personal insults satisfies them as much as anything else. Much like the old PR saying "there is no negative publicity", it is all about the attention itself, not about its content.

Second, stand your ground. Do not leave the site or stop commenting just because you're being trolled. It takes a bit to do that, yes. Trolls consider it a "victory" if they shut you up, either by simple flooding or by frustrating you enough to disappear. In their twisted minds, it gives them validation and somehow proves that they were right.

Third, if you see someone else being trolled, give them support. Doesn't take much - a single sentence is more than enough. Someone under attack by a real troll is being flooded. The troll will commonly post under multiple aliases or otherwise attempt to appear as more than one person. Psychological experiments such as Solomon Asch's show how we humans as social animals experience conformance pressure. So give that other person support by showing him that the flood he's getting is no the only opinion around. It doesn't matter if he consciously knows it's just one troll, the pressure is subconscious.

-----

I'd like to have comments disabled on this journal entry, for obvious reasons, but you can't publish a journal entry with comments disabled, so... 1000:1 bet that he's stalking the journal as well and will add his drivel below?

Also, if the formatting looks atrocious, turn off beta and revert to classic. Seriously.

User Journal

Journal: God, I'm old and cranky today 4

Journal by rk

So, there's this article here, and some of the comments by, shall we say, users of higher than normal userid value are really grating today. Between the one dipshit who won't use Google to figure out what a CRT is and has to ask (I know they're quickly headed towards obsolescence, and good riddance, but you've got no excuse for not knowing the term if you're 15 or older) and the other dipshit who is ignorant of historical truth and assumes Google's dictionary is the all-knowing, all-seeing Oracle I just kind of lost it and went on a mod-bombing campaign with them. I'm not proud of it, but it sure felt good.

There's a new breed of "techie" who comes here now, and they've got their profiles linked up with their Facebook, G+, and Twitter. I'm not anti these services, I have accounts with all three, but they ain't linked here because my "online presence" isn't about "marketing my unified digital voice" or whatever sewage the tech-hipsters are shoveling out today. They slam together two websites with a javascript library and confer themselves the titles of "wizard", "savant", or "genius". Maybe I come from a different time, but calling yourself that was the mark of a complete prat where I come from. Even self-referring as a "hacker" was a mark of hubris. These titles could only be conferred by others, and when they were, they were terms of respect and perhaps some awe, heartfelt and honest when given and touching and glorious when received.

Rant off, now get off my lawn you damn know-nothing kids, or hang out and have a picnic... say something. It's all good. :-)

User Journal

Journal: Fuck Beta

Journal by TubeSteak

MOVIN' ON UP. You are on Slashdot Classic. We are starting to move into new digs in February by automatically redirecting greater numbers of you. The new site is a work in progress so Classic Slashdot will be available from the footer for several more months. As we migrate our audience, we want to hear from you to make sure that the redesigned page has all the features you expect. Find out more.

No thanks. And since when did the journal lose its classic /. layout?

User Journal

Journal: beta beta beta 2

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

To whom it may concern:

A while back, I was invited to take a look at the Slashdot beta. I looked at it and quickly decided that it was too painful to use, and hoped (vainly, I knew) that it would die a quiet death. Today, when logging into Slashdot, I was greeted with this cheery message:

MOVIN' ON UP. You are on Slashdot Classic. We are starting to move into new digs in February by automatically redirecting greater numbers of you. The new site is a work in progress so Classic Slashdot will be available from the footer for several more months. As we migrate our audience, we want to hear from you to make sure that the redesigned page has all the features you expect. Find out more.

In other words, we have here all the signs of a corporate "beta" site that will be rolled out regardless of user reaction. Let me be quite clear: "all the features I expect" are already on Slashdot (what you're adorably calling "Classic"). It works. It's not broken. Don't try to "fix" it, because the proposed "fix" irrevocably breaks the entire Slashdot look and feel.

When the beta becomes the only option (and I know it's almost certainly "when" at this point, not "if") Slashdot will become a ghost town. You will have killed what was once one of the most lively, interesting, and important sites on the web. I've loved this site for fifteen years now, but I'm not going to make myself suffer for the zombie wreck of something that used to be great.

Sincerely,
Daniel Dvorkin
UID 106857

User Journal

Journal: beta beta beta 4

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

To whom it may concern:

A while back, I was invited to take a look at the Slashdot beta. I looked at it and quickly decided that it was too painful to use, and hoped (vainly, I knew) that it would die a quiet death. Today, when logging into Slashdot, I was greeted with this cheery message:

MOVIN' ON UP. You are on Slashdot Classic. We are starting to move into new digs in February by automatically redirecting greater numbers of you. The new site is a work in progress so Classic Slashdot will be available from the footer for several more months. As we migrate our audience, we want to hear from you to make sure that the redesigned page has all the features you expect. Find out more.

In other words, we have here all the signs of a corporate "beta" site that will be rolled out regardless of user reaction. Let me be quite clear: "all the features I expect" are already on Slashdot (what you're adorably calling "Classic"). It works. It's not broken. Don't try to "fix" it, because the proposed "fix" irrevocably breaks the entire Slashdot look and feel.

When the beta becomes the only option (and I know it's almost certainly "when" at this point, not "if") Slashdot will become a ghost town. You will have killed what was once one of the most lively, interesting, and important sites on the web. I've loved this site for fifteen years now, but I'm not going to make myself suffer for the zombie wreck of something that used to be great.

Sincerely,
Daniel Dvorkin
UID 106857

User Journal

Journal: From the archives: or, LOL John Dvorak 3

Journal by rk

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2212850,00.asp

This article made me laugh 6 years ago, and just shows why nobody who knows anything takes John Dvorak seriously, with the possible exception of sticking an inverter gate in front of his output first. Granted, I'm keeping him in business by linking to him because he makes his living as a professional troll: say outrageously stupid things and get the money from ad impressions.

The Gphone is DOOMED!

User Journal

Journal: On Defining a "Fair Reward" for IP

Journal by VernonNemitz
Innovation, Patents, Copyrights and Fair Rewards vs. Time, Population, Communications and Fair Use

While the fundamental rationale for the existence of Patents and Copyrights has not changed since their inception, there is today a widespread perception that "the System is broken". Innovators are claiming to be harmed as much as helped by that System, for example. In this Essay an attempt is made to show that the major causes of that problem are population growth and communications speed, and a remedy is proposed.

(Part I) A Tale of Two Eras
A look at a history of Patent Law reveals that the idea may have existed since the days of ancient Greece. And Copyright Law is basically a derivation of Patent Law, a direct result of the innovation of the printing press, which made it easy to copy documents. One thing to note is that the Term of a Patent or Copyright has varied considerably in different times and places. Regardless of the details, it is well known that the overall Goal of a Patent or Copyright Term is to provide the innovator with the opportunity to earn a Fair Reward for the effort of creating the innovation (regardless of whether it was a gadget or a story).

Let us now examine some details regarding how that Fair Reward typically was obtained. Then as now, an innovator needed to produce copies of the innovation for sale, and also find a way to let people know it existed, so that they might decide to buy one (or more). Now take a look at the graph on this page, regarding the overall population growth of the human species. It is obvious that for a long long time population grew quite slowly. Next, take a look at the history of communications --it is just as true that for most of that same long long time, ideas could not spread much faster than a horse could run.

The Logical Conclusion is that it was worth granting a Patent or Copyright for a number of years, simply because it could easily take that long for an innovator to receive a Fair Reward, the result of slow communications and low population.

The next aspect of the overall "System is broken" problem relates in a different way to population and communications. It is well known that the majority of innovations build upon something (or some things) that had previously been invented. One of the most famous ways of expressing that fact was penned by Isaac Newton. So, the first relevant point is that even a genius of Newton's caliber needed access to previous discoveries/innovations. The second relevant point is the fact that several decades passed after those discoveries were made, and before Newton began to build upon them. What if some other genius had come along before Newton, and had encountered the same discoveries from which Newton had derived his innovations?

That Question brings up the relevant factor of population --not everyone is a genius, and especially not everyone is a genius of Isaac Newton's caliber. We may now switch from the specific case just mentioned, to the more general case of a more ordinary innovation, because even ordinary innovators do not make up a large fraction of the population. Logically, therefore, when the population is small (and the total number of innovators is low) and communications are slow, it can take considerable time before Innovation A --or some portion of it-- becomes incorporated as a part of Innovation B. Thus we might see little conflict in the notion of granting Patent or Copyright protection for several years, simply because of the low probability that someone would immediately derive Innovation B from Innovation A.

On the other hand, due to various random factors, it might only take a few days for Innovation B to be imagined. This is where the doctrine of Fair Use becomes relevant (more-so for Copyrights than for Patents). The most important fact is that Ideas are not protected so much as Implementations of those Ideas. Therefore, because it might be impossible to copy an Idea without also copying some of its Protected Implementation, the Law allows a minimal amount of copying (the exact amount of which, of course, frequently becomes the subject of a legal dispute).

Fast-forward to today's Era.

One of the most important and gaining-ground technologies is called "3D Printing" or "additive manufacturing". This technology is going to force a merging of Patent Law with Copyright Law, because the plans that get fed into such a Printer might be covered by Copyright Law, but the thing that gets Printed could well be covered by Patent Law --and the two Laws have very different Protection Durations, which can only lead to confusion and more legal problems, in the absence of merging the Laws.

Next, today's population and communication situation is such that it is possible for hundreds of millions of people to learn about an innovation within hours or days of its announcement. Since such a population quite naturally includes a great many more innovators than in the earlier Era, Innovations B, C, D, and others can quite quickly be derived from Innovation A. While this is the simplest and most obvious explanation for the rate of today's technological progress, it also explains why many of today's innovators think "the System is broken" --they want to be able to sell their Innovations B, C, D, ..., almost before the ink or paint has dried on Innovation A, and they can't do it easily because the Patent and Copyright Laws, protecting Innovation A, were designed for a low-population-and-slow-communications Era.

(Part II) Toward A Modest Proposal
It may now make sense to think again about that earlier Era, and ask a Question: "How should the Fair Reward be measured?" If an Innovation Protection Term length was, for example, 20 years, that did not actually equate to money earned --it was merely an opportunity to earn money without competition for that length of time. Well, how much could actually have been earned in that Era, for 20 years???

A number of factors must be included in any attempt to Answer that Question, of which "production cost" and "sales price" are probably the most important. Those things not only directly relate to profits/earnings, the sales-price alone directly affects the Popular Demand for the innovation. If you invent an earth-moving machine and must sell it for twenty times an average person's annual wage, you will have fewer customers than if you sold a child's-toy version of the device, for an equivalently small price.

Another factor is Economic Inflation, because prices might not stay fixed for the duration of an Innovation Protection Term. Inflation basically makes it worthless to talk about fixed monetary amounts of earnings. On the other hand, the modern Era has given us plenty of experience with Inflation, and there are known/accepted ways of dealing with it, such as automatic price adjustments, indexed to the Inflation rate. And there are other ways of describing an income that don't reference monetary amounts at all. The description "life-style" can imply anything from "impoverished" to "super-rich" --and the phrase "maintaining a life-style" manages to convey the concept of "earning enough money to do that" without being specific as to quantity.

So, suppose we re-considered the Fair Reward for an Innovation in terms of "maintaining a life-style". In that earlier Era, and assuming a particular Innovation sold to moderate degree, with zero Inflation, how many years might the Innovator be able to support a modest life-style from the total Protected-Term proceeds of the Innovation? (In other words, gather up all the sales data for the Protection Term, figure the profits, and then see how many years of life-style could those profits support.)

For the purposes of this Essay a numerical value is now needed, but we can use the Rules of Algebra to call it "X years", and a great deal of historical data should be processed in order to arrive at the actual appropriate value of "X". Keep in mind that there could be considerable Debate regarding the known fact that something like 90% of all Innovations fail to earn a dime --should they be included in the historical calculations of a maintaining-a-modest-life-style Fair Reward?

The result of the preceding gives us an easy way to re-phrase a Patent or Copyright Protection Term. An example of such a re-phrasing might be this: "The Protection Term ends when you have earned enough to maintain a modest life-style for X years." Economic Inflation is almost automatically include-able in the figurings. And if the word "you" is taken to reference either Singular or Plural, then if an Innovation Team created the Innovation, the Fair Reward would apply to all the members of the Team, not just one person. "You" might even refer to everyone in an entire corporation, but care must be taken to ensure that nothing like Hollywood Accounting is employed to cheat.

The best part of this Proposal is that it applies equally well to both the low-population-and-slow-communications Era and the high-population-and-fast-communications Era. In today's Era a newly-released Innovation might only have a Protection Term of 3 days, if so many items were sold in that time such that the profits could meet the "maintain-a-modest-life-style-for-X-years" condition. Please keep in mind that the Original Goal was to provide a Fair Reward for Innovation , not for Greed.... In what way does this Proposal fail to offer a Fair Reward for Actual Innovation?

In closing, we can now re-consider Innovations B, C, D, ..., derived from Innovation A. If the Protection Term for Innovation A really-in-practice often is able to shrink from years to weeks or even days, because of the rate-of-sales associable with today's large population and fast communications, then it becomes quite easy for the later Innovators to wait for their own Fair Rewards, instead of feeling that "the System is broken".
User Journal

Journal: I am a masochist 5

Journal by gmhowell

I'm a masochist. No, not of the sexual variety. Of the slashdot variety. For some reason, not only do I still continue to read this site, I click on links to stories about cars and phones. The raging stupidity and arrogance is amazing.

And yet I come back.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken

Working...