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Comment: Primary sources used to be preferred (Score 3, Informative) 333

by Distan (#41275305) Attached to: When a Primary Source Isn't Good Enough: Wikipedia

I'm ancient by the standards of both Slashdot and Wikipedia.

One thing that is pretty much forgotten on Wikipedia is that Primary Sources used to be preferred for references. There were a series of edits over time to the reliable sources policy, each one appeared mostly grammatical at the time, and nobody really picked up on the fact that Primary Sources had been demoted in priority and Secondary Sources had been promoted in priority. There was basically zero discussion at the time that a fundamental sourcing policy had been radically changed.

Those changes went unchallenged, newbies joined the project and were taught that Secondary Sources were preferred, and eventually most people forgot that the policy used to be effectively the reverse and that the change had been made accidentally without significant review.

Comment: This doesn't address the problem (Score 2) 179

by Distan (#34480734) Attached to: Microsoft Adds 'Do Not Track' Option For IE9

This proposal seems to be all about cookies. This doesn't address the real problems of computer fingerprinting and flash objects.

Ideally, it would be impossible for a web server to leave any persistent data on your machine, and impossible to determine anything about your machine other than your IP address and possibly your browser version.

Comment: Re:Don't do it (Score 5, Informative) 606

by Distan (#33927910) Attached to: Generic PCs For Corporate Use?

I agree with everyone saying "don't do it".

I used to work as an engineer for one of the top US computer makers. Most people have no idea how much testing the big computer makes put into integrating their systems.

Say we wanted to support shipping 3 different sizes memory sticks from 2 different vendors. We would test every possible permutation of size and vendor in loading the memory slots. The test systems were run in an environmental chamber where we ramped the temperature from the minimum to the maximum operating ranges. We also ramped the power supply from -10% to +10% of specification.

Say one of the disk drive vendors wanted us to qualify a new capacity disk drive. That too took a similar amount of testing; racks full of computers reading and writing to the disks while in the environmental chamber.

This testing *did* uncover problems frequently. We would discover that (for example) we couldn't use a certain Hitachi memory stick with a certain Samsung memory stick if the temperature rose past a certain point. We would find that a specific Western Digital drive had errors under certain conditions with a LSI controller but no problems with an Adaptec controller.

The point of all this is that there is just no way that a small shop is going to have the resources that a major computer maker does to test their integration. There is more to successful system integration then just grabbing a bunch of off-the-shelf components.

Comment: Nvidia Ion (Score 1) 516

by Distan (#33460530) Attached to: Video Appliance For a Large Library On a Network?

Since you are happy with XBMC, you just need a smaller box to run it on.

Buy an Acer Revo, Asus EEEBox, Zotac Zbox, or something similar. Pretty much anything built on the Intel Aton/Nividia Ion combination is going to be able to play full 1080 content with XBMC.

Or you could go for a Popcorn Time box, or even a boxee box.

I'd still recommend XMBC on an Ion.

Comment: Re:Ignorance of the Masses (Score 1) 267

by Distan (#32241450) Attached to: Wikimedia Confusion Swirls In Wake of Porn Charges

"...not the '''technical''' ability (because even here in English Wikipedia, I voluntarily foregoe it) - but I still have the unquestioned right to ban people from English Wikipedia if there is good cause.-- Jimbo Wales 19:49, 15 May 2010 (UTC)"

Not only does he think that he has the "right", but he believes it is an "unquestioned right".

The foundation needs to act to sever Mr. Wales from the project. He is a loose canon.

IMHO, as a long time wikipedian, everything good about Wikipedia culture can be traced back to ideals that Sanger put into place. Everything toxic about Wikipedia culture can be traced back to bad examples set by Jimbo and his fetish for power.

Comment: Attack targeted perforce repositories? (Score 2, Insightful) 79

by Distan (#30844814) Attached to: Microsoft To Issue Emergency IE Patch

Reat that the attack targeted Perforce repositories. Haven't heard if any other source control systems were targeted.

Pretty clever way to gather intellectual property; I'd never considered it before, but for many companies if you can download their repository data then you have their crown jewels.

Comment: It just isn't worth the fight anymore. (Score 5, Insightful) 632

by Distan (#30228288) Attached to: Contributors Leaving Wikipedia In Record Numbers

I was an old-timer on Wikipedia who began contributing in 2002.

I've witnessed layers and layers of bureaucracy be added to Wikipedia all under the benevolent dictatorship of Jimbo. I've witnessed what used to be a culture where all editors were considered equal become one where there are definite castes and hierarchies (and cabals).

It just isn't worth the effort to edit anymore.

Case in point: from 2002 to 2006 I was one of the primary editors of a set of articles that had to do with a subject that definitely has politics surrounding it. All the editors involved and I did our best to present both sides of the topic and to try to keep the articles fair and balanced. The number of editors was sparse and it was relatively easy to keep the articles on track.

A couple of years ago a new user started editing these articles. He was extremely contentious but a skilled at wikilawyering. Every edit he didn't agree with would be dragged by him down a rathole of WP:V, WP:NOR, WP:POV, WP:PSTS, and so and and so on ad infinitum. It doesn't matter how well *your* edits are sourced from quality peer-reviewed sources. If he didn't agree with your edits he would find something to complain about; the journal you are citing isn't respected enough, the author you are quoting has an obvious bias, your summary of the published literature doesn't agree with how he would summarize the published literature, etc, etc, etc. Similarly, any objection you had to his edits (or to the overall effect his edits in aggregate were having on the article) would also be dragged down a similar path of his gaming the system.

Editing the articles involved simply became too painful to continue. If you wanted to make any change that this user would disagree with then you had to prepare yourself of days of arguing with him before he would leave you alone. Similarly, one became hesitant to "correct" any of his articles because of the time-sink that you knew arguing with him was going to become.

The existing editors tried many times to work within the system to make this user stop. There were multiple attempts at mediation and arbitration. But over time all of the "old" editors simply gave up. It just wasn't worth the effort anymore.

When I visit these articles today I am ashamed at what they have become. What was once a fair attempt to present all sides of an issue has become extremely one-sided and quite misleading to a reader not familiar with the subject. The "problem user" has become in effect the only editor of these articles, tolerating only a handful of other editors who primarily make grammatical and punctuation changes.

The only hope for the articles in question is that this user eventually gets tired and quits. He has won in his attempt to take over these articles, everyone with an established interest has been driven away, and I don't think any new user is going to be able to mount a challenge as he will simply tie them down in wikilawyering forever.


Dashboard Reveals What Google Knows About You 260

Posted by timothy
from the born-4th-nov-8lbs-20-inches-smart dept.
CWmike writes "Ever wonder exactly what Google knows about you? Google took a step today to answer that question with the unveiling of Google Dashboard, which is designed to let users see and control the copious amounts of data that Google has stored in its servers about them. 'Over the past 11 years, Google has focused on building innovative products for our users. Today, with hundreds of millions of people using those products around the world, we are very aware of the trust that you have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect your privacy and data,' Google said in a blog post today. 'In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their own data, we've built the Google Dashboard.' Dashboard is set up so that users can control the personal settings in each Google product that they use. Google said the tool supports more than 20 products, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts and Google Latitude. Consumer Watchdog said in a statement today that it applauds Google for giving users a single place to go to manage their data. But at the same tine, the group also came down hard on Google, contending that it needs to give users a vehicle for stopping the company from collecting any personal data."

Comment: Re:Of course you can get it labeled (Score 1) 427

by Distan (#29521499) Attached to: Judge Rejects Approval of Engineered Sugar Beets

Once again, there has never been any commercial product that used a terminator gene. Never.

Regarding your "heirloom crop" scenario; there is nothing new here, and nothing GMO specific here. Heirloom crop producers already have to deal with gene flow from neighboring crops. Adding GM to the mix does nothing at all to change that problem. And as has been pointed out here by me and others, Monsanto does not sue farmers over accidental introduction of Monsanto genes into their crops.

Comment: Re:Forget the Beets! (Score 1) 427

by Distan (#29521351) Attached to: Judge Rejects Approval of Engineered Sugar Beets

The "terminator corn" is a myth. The terminator gene has never been used any commercial product. It wasn't "removed from the market", it was never on the market.

Further; Monsanto was not even one of the key players in the development of the terminator gene technology (although they did later acquire one of the developers, years after the terminator gene was no longer an issue).

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"