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Journal: REPOST: Brandon Eich 20

Journal by squiggleslash

(One last edit. After constructive criticism of my style from JC I'm going to lead this with a quote from a part of a post I made previously that sums up why Eich was unsuitable to be CEO without all the "It's not about X", "Hate campaign", and other stuff that is totally right but makes it all TL;DR. Original post after the -----, you don't have to read it any more)

It's not about what you think, it's about how you treat other people and how you deal with being, quite legitimately, associated with a set of actions (whatever the motive) that many find offensive. We would not be here today had Eich not, two years ago, thought this was a good thing to write:

Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: no.

about people who might possibly think he has animosity about gays because he donated, twice, totalling $1,000, after it became obvious what the nature of the campaign was, to an organization that repeatedly ran TV ads claiming married homosexuals were a danger to children.

That was a particularly dumb thing to write. It's something most of us feel sometimes when we're under attack, but that's kinda why the job of CEO doesn't go to just about anyone. There are so many useful positions Eich could have gone to, why-oh-why did they make him CEO?

-----

(Just three additional notes: First, I've reposted this because the original was open to everyone, and it turned out the same illiterate idiots who've insisted that questioning Eich's handling of revelations of his donations to an active hate campaign is the same thing as wanting him fired for his opinion are now trolling my journal. So, regretfully, I'm deleting the old JE. Second: this was originally written before Eich resigned. Some minor updates since this was originally published: additional line about "what Slashdotters believe", and removal of comment about other Mozilla board members resigning as this appears to have been misrepresented by media. Finally: actually the situation is worse than described below. In the below I presumed Eich hadn't known exactly what he donated to, thinking it was a generic pro-Prop 8 campaign. It turns out Eich knew it was a hate campaign before he made his donations. This significantly changes the relevence of "Strike 2" below.)

Let's get a few things out of the way first.

There is no issue with Eich's private views, and to a certain extent even his opposition to "gay marriage", however backward and unreasonable such a position might be. It is not about whether he supported Prop 8, whether his name appeared on any petitions in favor of it, or whether he voted for it - again, however unreasonable and backward and pathetic such a position might be.

The problem is this.

I remember the pro-Prop 8 campaigns. Those campaigning for Prop 8 did not focus exclusively on a small set of arguments focussed entirely on some kind of practical, or even religious, argument in favor of Prop 8.

The campaigns themselves were, objectively, homophobic and bigoted. They smeared. They lied. Dog whistles about "protecting our children" (couched with plausable deniability type justifications along the lines of "If it doesn't pass, children will think gay marriages are normal" - uh, right..) were common, as one obvious example.

And Eich donated money to that.

And having basically co-funded a campaign whipping up hate against 5-10% of Mozilla's workforce, he's now in charge of them.

That's strike one.

Strike two is that he's never acknowledged that this was ever a problem. My reading, both of his 2012 "explanation" (which lacks any justifications, it's more a "Don't call me a bigot, you're a bigot" type piece of crap we usually hear from right wing nuts caught with their heads in white hoods) and his current "Let bygones by bygones, of course I'll be nice to the gheys that's Mozilla policy!" comments) is that he's pointedly refused to distance himself from the campaigning he co-funded. No "I never had any problems with gay people and I was disappointed to see how the funds I donated were used", let alone support for groups combatting homophobia.

So... what happens next?

Firefox is Firefox. It's the world's best browser, albeit one that has suffered many knocks over the last few years both with its well documented issues with memory and reliability, and the user interface changes that continue to blur the line between it and its competitors. People aren't switching from Firefox to Chrome because they want Chrome for the most part, they're just switching because Firefox is becoming Chrome anyway, leaving no compelling reason to stick with it during the periods Firefox is especially unstable.

A political boycott of the browser is unfortunate and I'm not entirely sure it would be effective. At the same time, there's a feeling of powerlessness one has a result of this.

Moreover, there is an education problem within the community that's obvious from reading and engaging in the discussions on the subject. The same points come up over and over again:

- The equation of Eich's personal views with his public actions, as if all public actions have a shield if they're rooted somewhere in a personal view somewhere, no matter how slimy or despicable.
- The assumption that criticism of generic support for Prop. 8 is the same as criticism of specific campaigns for Prop. 8 that were objectively hate campaigns, with many refusing to believe any of the campaigns that were pro-Prop 8 contained hate propaganda.
- The failure to recognize that necessary and required qualifications for leadership include a requirement that mutual respect should exist between leader and lead.
- A failure to recognize the special role of a CEO within an organization
- An obsession with supporting those accused of homophobic actions because of some perceived disagreement with "Political Correctness", regardless of context.

I have a gut feeling that if Eich had donated $1,000 to a campaign calling for the re-enslavement of blacks, a campaign which used dog-whistles like "Welfare" et al, we'd still be having this conversation. Really. I do.

Eich is, objectively, not qualified for the Mozilla CEO job. I know some people say "Well, look at all his other qualities", and I'm sure they're right and great and all, but a blind man can know the rules of the road and the layout of New York City like the back of his hand but I still wouldn't want him driving a bus there. It is difficult to get good people some times, but you have to be patient. Good CEOs need to be good figureheads, they need to be respected inside and outside the organization. Eich isn't. Maybe one day he will be.

User Journal

Journal: Brandon Eich knew he was funding a hate campaign. He did it anyway. 1

Journal by squiggleslash

I had sympathy for Eich, despite wanting him to exit the Mozilla CEO position. We're a community of people with no social graces and the idea that someone might end up having their career choices limited beause their lack of human interaction skills - or so I thought - seemed depressing and obvious. To recap, Eich's stone-age views on equality weren't what bothered me so much as his failure to adequately handle the consequences of $1,000 in donations to an actual hate campaign.

That evaporated today. Eich knew exactly what he had donated to before he made the donation. Here's the link. And here's the money quote:

This is the campaign to which Eich contributed. It's proper to note that his two donations of $500 each came on Oct. 25 and 28, days before the Nov. 4 vote and well after the style of the TV campaign was established.

Quoting Eich, defending himself in his "I'm not a bigot, you're a bigot, so there, I win" post of 2012: (My bolding)

Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: âoenoâ.

If deliberately, intentionally, funding a campaign that calls gays and gay marriage a danger to children isn't evidence of animosity against gays, what the hell is?

It had been my previous position that Eich had simply mishandled the situation. He'd obviously made some donations, but I'd assumed he was telling the truth in claiming there was no animosity or homophobia on his part. I reconciled the two by assuming he didn't know that the funds he donated would be used in the way they were. I criticized him for not distancing himself from the campaign he donated to after it became apparent it was a hate campaign, not simply a pro-Prop 8 campaign. I said this was evidence of poor judgement.

This appears to have been a mistake on my part. The truth appears to be uglier.

User Journal

Journal: Depressing 4

Journal by squiggleslash

So you argue X. You make it clear your view is X, and not Y. You explicitly and repeatedly distance yourself from position Y as it's not what you believe. You explain X in clear detail and how X works.

ALL the responses to you start with the position that you're arguing Y. I'm modded through the floor long before I can get responses out pointing out that they're arguing against strawmen.

I'm losing faith but I don't know what in. Is it me, is it them? Part of me thinks "Well, I must be not explaining this well enough", but...

Genuinely asked for help here. Got kinda an answer, but it only semiexplains the whole thing. Getting the impression people read one phrase in my comments and once they've read it they completely switch off and ignore everything before and after it, including the explanation of why I'm using that phrase.

This may or may not be true, but if you can't call a spade a spade because people think you're talking about coffee grounds (OK, it's early in the morning and I'm tired), then how the hell do you proceed and explain that the problem starts with an actual fucking spade, not vaguely related pile of coffee grounds?

User Journal

Journal: Usability issues with Android, also trying to work around them 3

Journal by squiggleslash

While for the most part, I'm liking Android as a tablet system, I'm increasingly frustrated with it as a phone. By that, I mean I want to be able to use my phone as, well, a phone. Hindering this are several issues:

- My Galaxy Nexus really doesn't understand the necessity of prioritizing voice quality over data availability when I'm on a call. As a basic example, it recently switched, mid-call, from a 2GSM tower with five bar coverage to a UMTS tower with no bars (yes, no bars, which is one above no signal), with the result that my wife couldn't hear a thing I said, and I could only hear "Hello? Hello? Are you still there?" That's an example, the reality is it pulls this shit all the time, and the only way to actually make it reliable is to, well, switch it to 2G-only mode...
- Voice dialing has gone from merely "attrocious" to "what the f--- are they thinking?" over the last few years. Here's a brief history:

1. Google's first attempts actually involved listening to you say who you wanted to call, and then presenting a list of possible interpretations on the screen, requiring you to select, by viewing the screen and using your finger, which one you wanted. Pointless.
2. They semi fixed it, though it was far from reliable, and went in the wrong direction, going ahead with a call without any chance to confirm or easily cancel the operation.
3. At various times they tweaked it, usually breaking something in the process. At various times we've had confirmations. At other, none.
4. They then added Google's patented "You don't want few relevent results, you want as many irrelevent results as possible" feature that has made their search engine such a joy to use in recent years - not. Result, if I call my wife by her nickname, which is how she's listed in my phonebook, it'll translate the nickname into a full name (ie "Trish => Patricia", "Art => Arthur", etc) and then list everyone with that first name asking me who I wanted to call. And then, to add insult to injury, it doesn't recognize my answer ever and ends the session, requiring I go through the entire process again, and again, until I give up. To date, I have not successfully placed a call using the voice calling feature since it was implemented.

Stage 4 is so bad that I actually did something dramatic, I disabled the Google Search app (which is the only way to disable voice dialing) on my phone. Why? Because I didn't want the risk I'd be tempted to use it when driving. Being frustrated by something that isn't road related when you're driving is dangerous.

So... thinking of switching to a tablet/feature phone combination. To do this, the tablet needs T-Mobile data capabilities or else the phone needs some kind of Wifi or similar tethering. I suspect the latter is going to be tremendously inconvenient though, and I'm not sure there are any phones out there with that support.

The tablet needs to be pocketable, making 7" the very largest I can go for. Ideally it needs a front camera and microphone, as I assume the feature phone will have a decent camera for day to day use. GPS is also a must. Operating system? I'm not sure. I like Android but I'm not wedded to it. That said, if it were Windows 8 (are there any 7" W8 tablets?) or something like Ubuntu, I'd want things like an ix86 compatible CPU, expandable storage, and HDMI-out/USB-in ports, and I'm about 99% sure there are no tablets out there that meet that specification - not 7" anyway. To make it clear what I'm after it can be either of:

1. Android tablet, 7", decent modern ARM CPU, 16Gb storage+, front camera, microphone, GPS, T-Mobile compatible 3G or 4G

or

2. Win 8/Ubuntu tablet, 7", Intel Atom or equivalent, expandable storage, HDMI, USB-in, front camera, microphone, GPS, T-Mobile compatible 3G or 4G

So that's where my brain is at. A decent but portable tablet with a dedicated feature phone, rather than a jack of all trades that manages to suck as an actual phone.

Any thoughts?

User Journal

Journal: Could this be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto? 1

Journal by squiggleslash

It's a quiet evening in my office at the respected media empire of "Fair and biased, inc". My editor and I are discussing ideas for a great story. "You know", says the respected journalist of 96 years, "I'm hearing a lot about Bitcoin these days, it's some new currency or whatnot. Why don't you see if you can interview the creator, Satoshi Nakamoto?"

Seems simple enough, but the editor leaves and I get to work, and after many seconds of research, I discover a problem. Nakamoto is a man who is very difficult to reach. Extensive seconds of searching using the latest technology (Bing) brings me to an online encyclopedia writen by the Internet's most reknowned experts. And their conclusion, their consensus, is that Satoshi Nakamoto is probably not the real name of the inventor of this groundbreaking currency. Nobody has knowingly met Mr Nakamoto in person. Attempts to search for people with this name have proven fruitless.

It becomes apparent that I am looking for an enigma. If Bitcoin's creator is not called Nakamoto, then any details we think we know of him may also be untrue. Some have speculated that he is, in fact, a group of people. Nakamoto may not even be Japanese. Conspiracy theorists posit that the name may refer to an unseen life force existing on a parallel dimension. And some even think, however far fetched, that the creator may be a woman.

Determining who the real Nakamoto is will take some thought. I pour over email after email supposedly written by the mathematical genius. I examine the language used, the non-pertinant views expressed, and I attempt to build a psychological profile of this man. Perhaps, by examining the clues, I can determine who this person is.

I stumble upon a collegue's work for the esteemed "Newsweek" magazine. She identifies a Californian who might be Nakamoto. She concludes that her subject may be Nakamoto based upon the fact he has some kind of connection to Japan, is a libertarian, or at least is distrustful of government, and is a nerd. This is groundbreaking work, and I am inspired to build upon it.

What we are looking for, I tell myself, is a nerd. A nerd who uses pseudonyms. And that itself tells me an enormous amount about our subject, about the real face behind Nakamoto. For someone to remain pseudonymous, successfully, they must be able to distance that pseudonym from themselves, and an expert in cryptography like Nakamoto would know this. Insofar as we would be able to tell who that person is, it would be through personality slips, not through hard information that Nakamoto would leak. Nakamoto might, for example, deliberately mislead a reader about the color of his skin, but he would have more difficulty disguising a fact that might pin-point his location, such as the colour of a common plant in the area of the world he lives.

To this end, we can assume that Nakamoto would lie about everything he uses to represent himself. He would claim he lives in a country he does not, he would claim a name that places him in a population centre he has no links to, he would even suggest that his political views center around issues he has no interest in. And likewise, in his other life, his real life, realising that he must distance himself from the invented personality online, he would take steps to disguise views he really does share with Nakamoto. The "real world" side of Nakamoto's creator would criticize Bitcoins publically and forcefully.

I reread the Newsweek piece looking for clues I've missed. Newsweek reports that Nakamoto frequently switches between British and American spellings, and as this is unlikely to be deliberate, I take this as evidence of the real Nakamoto, a clue that, to me, suggests a person who might once have lived in Britain but now lives in the US.

A nerd. Who once lived in Britain, but now lives in the US. Whose public persona must distance himself from Nakamoto, perhaps someone who rubbishes Bitcoin in public.

I drop my coffee cup. Coffee spills on the carpet below, brown goo staining the once pristine rug as a shoc(GET ON WITH IT, ED) I am surprised, and shocked, and baffled. I know who Nakamoto is.

Nakamoto must be, has to be, me, squiggleslash.

This makes no sense. I have no recollection of ever inventing such a thing. In fact, I think Bitcoin is stupid. But then I start to look through the evidence. I look for anything that might show an unintentional leak of information, and I look for hard facts that Nakamoto or squiggleslash have obviously intended people to believe about themselves, that must be taken as opposite to what they are trying to say.

Nakamoto clearly attempts to imply, though his name, that he is Japanese. This means Nakamoto is not Japanese, and squiggleslash is not Japanese.

squiggleslash clearly wants people to believe he is a critic of Bitcoin, through numerous posts. This means the real face behind the two obviously supports Bitcoin, and Nakamoto not only supports Bitcoin, but invented it.

Nakamoto says little about his politics, but occasionally drops hints he supports libertarian views of the world. This means that Nakamoto is probably the exact opposite, perhaps a socialist liberal commie. And that's exactly what many people claim squiggleslash is when he says things like "I think war is bad and it would be nice if we had universal healthcare."

And the unintentional leaks of information just pile up. An ex-Brit living in the US, and one who posts regularly about Bitcoin on Slashdot and Twitter suggesting an interest in the concept. And they're both nerds. The choice of a Japanese name suggests an interest in Japan, and squiggleslash has a Toshiba HD DVD player - an exotic media display device invented in Japan.

I am forced to look at myself in the mirror. There I see the face of a man every Bitcoin enthusiast has wanted to thank since the creation of their favored currency.

"Hello Satoshi" I say.

The face in the mirror looks back at me, and with a puzzled expression replies: "What? I'm squiggleslash you idiot."

Correction

In our story of March 14th, 2014 entitled "Could this be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto?", it was claimed that squiggleslash is Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. In fact, squiggleslash is not Satoshi Nakamoto.

User Journal

Journal: The greatest trick 3

Journal by squiggleslash

Hunter S. Woodward stood in the corner of his windowless office, tapping his pencil against his lip. In 25 years as a journalist for the AP, Hunter had never come across a situation like this before. This was a story, but one of disappointment. Newsweek had identified the man sitting in the chair behind him as Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. And the real story, the story Woodward had wasted a pizza on, was that Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto, the man actually sitting in that chair, was nothing of the kind. An engineer who barely spoke English, and beyond a few circumstantial coincidences, had nothing in common with Bitcoin's creator.

"OK, Dorian, I... thank you very much again, and I have one more favor to ask, would you mind just confirming the details one more time, just so I know my notes are correct?", Hunter said, "You've already been the victim of one bad story, I want to make sure I, at least, get it right so you can get some peace."

"Of course", said Dorian. "Go ahead."

The veteran reporter strolled idly across the room, past the bulletin board, to lean on his safe. The safe was open of course, the need to keep it full of paper files of confidential material was another thing lost to new digital era that the real Nakamoto was a part of, and was empty save for the gym bag Woodward kept there.

"So... you came to this country in 1970 when E. E. Hunt corporation recruited you and sponsored your visa, you liked the sciences so you got a degree in Physics from Yale..."

"Yes, yes, physicals, yale, yes"

"...but you never liked the mathematics part. You had never heard of Bitcoins until you were first told about them two weeks ago by a friend called Ryder Shia..."

"Good friend Ryder", smiled Dorian. "Very nice man. Environmentalist, always saving the planet. Knows about Bitcoins, good with money."

"...whose birthday you were celebrating."

"...surprise Brithday", said Dorian. "Told me after he went on celebratory vacation. My English... not so good", continued Dorian, wearily, "But... yes yes, you say, uh, correctly?"

"Well thank you Dorian, and again, I'm so sorry. I hope at least you enjoyed the pizza!"

"Of course", said Dorian, "Glad to help. I go?"

"Of course", said Hunter. "I'll call you a cab."

Dorian staggered up, and with a wave left the office. Hunter examined his notes again, fingering the lock on his safe. The manufacturer's name, Yale, seemed oddly suspicious for some reason. And yet.

Hunter took his coffee mug from the desk, and took a sip. As he did so, the journalist's face froze, and the mug fell from his hands.

"I got degree, Physicals from Yale"

Hunter's gym bag, his physical training equipment, sat in his Yale safe, in clear view. Dorian couldn't have known it was a gym bag, surely? It was open, but only the fabric of some clothes, and his deoderant were visible. Degree brand deoderant. Coincidence. It must be. But.

The journalist's eyes switched to the bulletin board. A large poster dominated the board, "Ride Shares", it said, "Save the planet and some money!"

"Good friend Ryder. Very nice man. Environmentalist, always saving the planet. Knows about Bitcoins, good with money."

Beside the Ride Shares poster was another advertising an Easter Egg Hunt, and beside that, almost as prominant, was one announcing "Ssh! Birthday surprise!", reporting on a party being prepared for a coworker for the day they returned from vacation.

"Surprise Brithday. Told me after he went on celebratory vacation"

Paniced, Hunter picked up the phone. "Has Nakamoto left the building yet?", asked Hunter. The voice on the other end was non-commital. "I think I just saw him... hold on... no, I can't see him."

Hunter dropped the phone and ran out of the building.

Nakamoto had left quietly. "This way to leave please?" he'd asked the security guard at the door of the AP building. "Have nice day good", he said as he stepped out. He walked to the waiting taxi, and got in. His voice changed, he muttered "Get me to LAX airport, my good man. There's a Bitcoin in it for you if you can get there in fifteen minutes."

User Journal

Journal: Ignore this JE, unless you work for Slashdot 4

Journal by squiggleslash

You haven't (I think?) open sourced the new Slashcode, so consider this my contribution.

Executive summary

  • This is something to aid functionality testing.
  • There is formatting involved. This line, for example, is part of a unordered list (ul)
  • This document is both a test case (and has been posted twice, once as a journal entry, and once as a comment) and a functionality checklist.
  • There should be four bulleted list items here, a blank line above the first bulleted line, and "Executive summary" written in bold above that. Then another blank line and so on, but you get the picture. Underneath "What we, the users, are looking for" (which is in bold too) is a numbered list (ol). Take a gander at the source if you need to.

What we, the users, are looking for

  1. We should be able to read the discussions, nested, with some way to filter by moderation level
  2. Comments below our moderation level (or blocked for any other reason) should not appear, and neither should subthreads of those comments. We should be notified if such comments exist.
  3. Comments should be correctly formatted
  4. It should be easy to add a comment to a discussion starting a new subthread, or respond to an existing comment
  5. It should be immediately obvious how to format the comments we're writing.
  6. We should be able to easy visit a user's profile or our own profile
  7. We should be able to see what we've (or any user has) written (paged if necessary/desirable), with recent activity being prominent, and know what activity (moderation and number of replies) have centered around each contribution
  8. We should be able to visit a comment in isolation and see and interact with the discussion of that comment.
  9. We should be able to see journal entries written by a particular user, in order latest to earliest (paged if necessary/desirable), seeing the full content of each
  10. We should be able to post a journal entry from a button clearly visible on the front page and on pages relating to journals or ourselves
  11. We should be able to see all journal entries written by our friends (or by some equivalent means whereby we can build a list of users whose journal entries we're interested in) in order latest to earliest.
  12. We should be able to open any journal entry and, if discussion is ongoing, contribute to the discussion in the same way we do front page articles
  13. We should be able to add users to our friends list, or our foes list, or equivalent functionality
  14. We should have some way of using our friends and foes list to change what comments we see in a discussion at each moderation level. Alternatively we should have some other means by which to identify users whose journals we want to read, users whose comments we always want to see, and users whose comments we never want to see.

Nice to haves

In the words of every Slashdot user ever:

What's taking so long with the unicode support, man?

Also most websites let you edit comments, even if only for a window of time immediately after they were posted. And isn't it rediculous we don't have a spell checker? (Answer - not really, Firefox has that, but I thought I'd mention it because it's a common complaint.)

This line should stand on its own and have blank lines above and below it.

This line and the next one should be paired. There should be a blank line above this one but not below it.
This line and the previous one are paired. There should be a blank line below this one but not above it.

Also everything above should be in the same font. Just saying.

User Journal

Journal: Beta, the boycott, and discussion quality 3

Journal by squiggleslash

It does appear, with the "boycott" of Slashdot in full swing, that discussion quality on Slashdot is markably improved, not simply better than when it was when the betoddlers were throwing their rattles out of the high chair, but improved compared to how it is usually. This is, of course, my perception, and it's possible that I'm seeing what I want to see. Still, I'm seeing mostly on-topic material, and strangely I haven't commented as much as I did pre-boycott because I usually find someone else has said either what I wanted to say, or something that addressed my thoughts so entirely I don't need to say it.

Some thoughts:

Obviously beta isn't in place yet, and quite honestly, it needs work - the concept is great, but it needs lots of features implemented that aren't yet. So it's unlikely that people using beta are improving the place. On the other hand, it could be argued that people who liked D2 and stuck around after its implementation were the wrong type of contributor. People who remained despite D2 ensured some level of quality was maintained, but for the most part the decision by many to leave caused Slashdot a severe amount of damage.

What we have, with Slashdot sans betoddlers, is a mix of hangers on, new people who weren't attracted especially by D2, and people who never cared that strongly and still don't.

To that end, while I'm sure Dice is reconsidering whether it's worth going ahead with the redesign given the fit many have thrown, I think it would be worth their while accelerating the process and getting Beta "finished" and feature complete. I think Slashdot will benefit from a refresh, I think Beta is going in the right direction - even if the process of testing it was, maybe, perhaps, just stupid, and I think the people most upset about the changes are, with a few exceptions (because there always are) not the people who actually make Slashdot a good place to be.

One thing I would suggest is Dice open source the new Slashcode (if they haven't already, I haven't seen anything to suggest they have). It'd help us contribute improvements, show good faith, and be entirely in keeping with the history of this website which has always been free software.

User Journal

Journal: The redesign 4

Journal by squiggleslash

Getting tired of every thread being hijacked by whiny children.

I've tried the beta. It's nice. It's obviously not finished yet (to give an example: are we expected to believe that the final version will have a prominent way to show journals, but not submit them, or have access to a friends/foes interface to view journals of friends?) but it's clean, it ends the absurdity of D2 with CmdrTaco's absurd experiment with sliders, and very readable. I would, in addition to restoring critical functionality like that just mentioned, also lose the sidebar on articles.

Has Dice made any serious mistakes? Well, the only major one I'd argue they've done is to release it way too early and to do so in a way that made people feel like it was foisted upon them.

I'm tired of seeing every thread hijacked by the people who don't like it. And here's the thing: D2 was also a clusterfuck. To this day things like the user info page is virtually useless with information about moderation and replies being located on an entirely different page to information about what you posted. D2 made Slashdot horrible, that's when the system really jumped the shark and you saw a mass exodus to other websites.

Condemning Dice for trying to fix that is worse than unhelpful.

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: Continuation on education 13

Journal by jd

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal: Yeah, about that ...

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

Okay, so there's this quote that never seems to die. It's often attributed to Morgan Freeman, although I believe it actually comes from Henry Rollins; in any case, it doesn't much matter who said it. It just gets posted and reposted as a bit of snarky wisdom. Snarky it certainly is, but wise it's not.

First, the quote: "I hate the word homophobia. It's not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole." There it is. Read it, enjoy it, revel in the snark.

Now, here's what's wrong with it. First, "phobia" is widely understood to mean "aversion" as well as "fear." Spare me the etymological arguments, please. Language evolves, and this is one of the ways in which it's evolved.

Second, yes, homophobes are afraid. Pretty much any time one large group of people hates another large group of people, fear is at the root of it. They're afraid, in some ill-defined but vehement way, that if gay people are allowed to be gay the way straight people are allowed to be straight, everything will fall apart. The foundations of their world will crack. The earth itself will turn to quicksand beneath their feet. Things Will Not Be As They Have Been, And Should Always Be. In the case of male homophobes who have a particular aversion to male homosexuality, they're afraid--in the words of another meme that is both snarky and wise--that gay men will treat them the way they treat women. And they're afraid, in a startlingly large number of cases, of the way they just can't ... stop ... thinking ... about ... gay ... sex ... and ... how ... terrible ... it ... is ... can't ... stop ...

Third, and perhaps most important, homophobes themselves deny they're afraid, and run away from the word "homophobia" at every opportunity. Try it: identify a homophobe as such, and there's a good bet you'll get an invective-laced tirade about how it's not about fear but about the disgust that every decent person should feel when thinking about such acts (... can't ... stop ...) and how it is the patriotic duty of every red-blooded patriot who knows right from wrong to stand up against the Gay Agenda ... etc. This is particularly acute, again, when male homophobes who have a particular aversion to male homosexuality (sorry, I can't come up with a good acronym here) are confronted with their homophobia, because, you see, fear is for girls. And fags, who might as well be girls. Because girls are icky. Not like us big, strong, healthy, muscular men with our strong arms and bulging pecs and ... can't ... stop ... where was I? Oh, right. Fear is unmanly.

So yeah. No one hates (and fears!) the word "homophobia" more than homophobes do, and for that reason if no other, it needs to stay in the language. Never stop shaming them. Never stop reminding them what cowards they are. Know their fears and exploit them mercilessly, crush them and see them driven before you, chase them back under their rocks where they belong.

User Journal

Journal: "America needs a white Republican President." 3

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

Opposition to Obama has nothing to do with race. ÂNope, nothing at all.

</sarcasm>

Okay, Republicans. ÂLook, I believe that most of you are not racist. ÂYou oppose Obama because you disagree with his policies, not his skin color. ÂYou'd rather have a Republican President because you're Republicans, and you're Republicans because you largely agree with Republican Party policies rather than out of a sense of tribal identity (I extend you that courtesy; please do the same) and you don't care what color this hypothetical Republican President, with whom you would agree far more than you do with Obama, might be.

I believe that, not least because the alternative -- that a majority of members of a political party that represents about a third of the American electorate is actively, maliciously racist -- is too grotesque to contemplate.

But there is, at the least, a substantial minority of your party that is actively, maliciously racist, that puts its racism on display as proudly as ever did the KKK wing of the Democratic Party of old. ÂFrom where I'm sitting, and where many Democrats are sitting, it looks an awful lot like this minority (I have to keep believing that) is steering the agenda of your entire party. ÂYou have to deal with these people. ÂYou have to exile them, shame them, chase them back under their rocks where they belong. ÂWe can't do it. ÂThey won't listen to us. ÂThey're your people, and that makes them your problem.

Or we can all keep going down the path we're on. ÂBecause, you know, that's working so well.

User Journal

Journal: DeviantArt thinks this is spam 2

Journal by squiggleslash

[Just saving this here in case I need to point to it. Long story short - never try. Someone posted a question. I wrote an answer. Then wasted five minutes signing up because DA pretends you can comment when you don't have an account then hits you with the sign in barrier. So you sign up, enter lots of crap, open Yahoo mail to retreive the confirmation email, confirm, then you're landed me on an unrelated page. So I had to back out until I found the comment form in my history. Fortunately the comment was still there. Then I resubmitted it. "DeviantArt can't post this message because we think it is spam." Uh, what? So I cut the comment, reloaded the page - in case there were expired magic tokens or some other never-works-in-practice anti-spam crap, repasted, and got the same message.

So.... then I said "Screw it", and tried to cancel the account. Which it refused to do, because it had forgotten my password. I knew my password, but no, DeviantArt thought I didn't. (OK, perhaps I made a typo when setting it up, but just curious DA assholes: you prompted me twice for my email address, which I can read, and which you're going to send me a confirmation email to anyway, but only once for the password which I can't read because each letter's replaced by a black circle. Does this make sense to you? No? Me neither.)

But, of course, DeviantArt didn't need my password anyway, it jsut insisted on it. You see (1) I'm already logged in and (2) DA's going to send a confirmation email to that email address I had to enter twice. But, fuck, OK, send me my password reset thingie. What's that? You can't? Not until I log out? Oh. My. Fucking God.

Last action on my part while still logged in is to send a nastygram to the person who wanted help. OK, it was polite actually, but I was seething.I actually signed up to DeviantArt to show you. Unfortunately DA says my comment is "spam". There are no links, it's just a list of instructions. To add insult to injury I can't now cancel the account as it reports the password - the one I set five minutes ago - is incorrect.

So, anywho, log out, remind password, open Yahoo mail, click on link, reset password, log in, close account, yes I'm sure, re-enter password, open Yahoo mail, click on link, YES, I already said YES SEVERAL SODDING TIMES you DICK. Why? You're asking me WHY? You call me a fucking spammer because I try to help someone? Reason entered. Yes. OK. Closed.

No good deed goes unpunished.]

It's not pretty, but I found you can get by by using unity-2d-panel.

1. Make sure you have Cinnamon set up to only show a bottom panel.
2. Open a terminal and run "gnome-session-properties"
3. Click "Add", and in the dialog box that comes up enter "unity-2d-panels" in both the Name and Command field. Save and close.
4. Restart your Cinnamon session.

This, obviously, only works if you're running Ubuntu. It may not work in very recent Ubuntus - I recall reading somewhere Unity 2D is not supported in more recent versions (I'm running 12.04) - if in doubt, before doing any of this type "which unity-2d-panel" at the command line and see if it can find that application or gives you an error message.

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

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