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Comment Re:too cool for google (Score 1) 182

Meh. I'm sure they use some kind of machine learning algorithm, and especially given the relatively small number of examples they have available to train such an algorithm, it's probably not terribly accurate so that they only let through the people whose queries are matched very strongly. After all, for privacy (and practicality) reasons they can't very well have a person actually look at the queries.

tl;dr: The algorithm probably misses lots of people who Google would otherwise consider good candidates.

Comment Re:Comparison? (Score 1) 254

Probably pretty similar. The problem is the proliferation of small, low-quality studies, and using a low bar for claiming statistical significance (usually 2-sigma, or 95% confidence).

I remember back when I was a grad student studying physics ~10 years ago, it seemed that the norm was such low-quality studies. Which makes sense, considering that low-quality studies are far faster and cheaper. For the most part, such studies were either ignored or considered no more than tantalizing hints. But yes, the hard sciences like physics also suffer from a problem of some low-quality studies sometimes becoming accepted, and much later turning out to be false.

The more sensational or sexy the result, the more likely it is to be completely false.

Comment No. The impact is negligible. (Score 1) 299

Methane may be a powerful greenhouse gas, but it doesn't last very long in the atmosphere. Within 10 years most of the methane emitted is gone (typically due to chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere). Carbon dioxide emissions, on the other hand, elevate atmospheric CO2 concentrations for hundreds of years.

So reduce the methane emissions permanently and you reduce the total greenhouse gas levels by a tiny amount: in 30 years, the effect will be the same as it will be in 5-10 years. Reduce CO2 emissions permanently, on the other hand, and the impact is cumulative: in 30 years the impact of the reduction will still be growing. In the long run, CO2 always wins out over methane as a greenhouse gas. The only way around this would be if there was a sudden large increase in methane emissions that triggered a positive feedback loop (this may occur from methane outgassing as the permafrost thaws in Siberia, but it won't occur due to cattle).

Comment Re:Not acupuncture (Score 3, Informative) 159

Passing electrical currents through living tissue has real biological effects. Sticking needles in people at random locations around the body does not (aside from the possibility of infection and other complications).

Real therapies that use electricity are Electroconvulsive Therapy and Electric Muscle Stimulation. There's no need to puncture the skin. These quacks are just adding some risk of infection to what would otherwise be an almost perfectly safe therapy.

Comment Re:Absolutely (Score 1) 351

One idea would be to have a tax on ISP services that is paid out to websites in proportion to how much people use them. Presumably hours of engagement would be a decent metric.

But then, how can you be sure you're measuring what you think you're measuring? If I open up 10 tabs on my browser, do I get recorded as being active on all ten websites despite only paying attention to one of them? This would be a very difficult problem to solve. You could simply go by the number of packets transmitted, as that is much easier to measure, but then that would weight even more heavily towards video (YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu would take up most of the Internet's money), and then what would you do about peer-to-peer services?

Comment Re:Absolutely (Score 1) 351

Advertising is only important because of the way we've structured our economy. Yes, we need advertising for things like most of the Internet to exist. But that's only because we don't have an alternative model to pay for services designed for public consumption.

Also, advertising really doesn't have as strong a check as you imagine here. If a company advertises a product and makes it really really cool, despite the fact that it's pretty crappy, then many people may still buy it because they buy into the hype. Some of the worst examples here are medical advertisements: medicine is notoriously difficult for the person taking it to know how it effects them. Lots and lots of drugs on the market really don't have all that much benefit (industry studies tend to overestimate benefits), or no more benefit than much cheaper drugs. But if people are convinced by an ad that the drug is that much better, then they may be able to get their doctor to pay for it (note: in this case the even worse travesty is the fact that pharmaceutical companies essentially bribe doctors to prescribe their medications).

Comment Good! Those laws just misinform consumers anyway. (Score 4, Insightful) 446

Labeling laws like this convey no real information to the consumer. They just add a word to the food item that many people interpret as frightening, a word that has literally zero impact on the safety or sustainability of the food item. This is definitely a win for people everywhere in the US.

Comment Sometimes (Score 1) 654

I do have free access to public transportation (my employer covers the cost). I sometimes use this because parking at work is horrendous at the moment. But it takes something like twice as long to get to work, so I often feel it isn't worth it. To really make public transportation worth it, it has to be much more convenient. The subways in NYC are like that (at least in Manhattan). I really wish we had more investment in public transportation around the US, so that we had more public transportation systems that were convenient to use.

Comment Re:The Struggle (Score 2) 410

This is because the refusal to bake the cake was of minimal consequence to the size of the judgment. The size of the judgment was primarily about the harassment that the Kleins subjected the couple to after they lodged a discrimination complaint (the refusal to serve a couple because of their sexual orientation is illegal in Oregon).

See more here.

The article includes the following quote from the ruling:

The Agency's theory of liability is that since Respondents brought the case to the media's attention and kept it there by repeatedly appearing in public to make statements deriding Complainants, it was foreseeable that this attention would negatively impact Complainants, making Respondents liable for any resultant emotional suffering experienced by Complainants. The Agency also argues that Respondents are liable for negative third party social media directed at Complainants because it was a foreseeable consequence of media attention.

Just because he's dead is no reason to lay off work.