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Comment: Re:The review ecosystem is good and truly broken.. (Score 1) 227

by dgatwood (#47968287) Attached to: Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War

The closest anyone has come up with is the "was this review helpful?" but that gets abused easily.

The big problem with the helpful/not helpful dichotomy as a means for rating reviewers is that it fails to take into account why the reviewer didn't find it helpful. What the system needs, IMO, is to ask a second question at that point:

Did you find the review not helpful because (check all that apply):

  • It mainly covered things that I don't care about.
  • I disagree with the opinion.
  • It contains facts that are incorrect.
  • It had nothing to do with the product/service (spam and other abuse)

A review marked with the fourth one will get flagged for review by a human, and if verified to be crap, will lower the reviewer's reputation for everyone, and will be removed.

A review marked with the third one (factually incorrect) will just lower the reviewer's reputation, but at least initially by a smaller amount than a "Helpful" vote increases it. The more reviews this occurs in, the more negatively each negative impacts that person's score, so if a person consistently lies, the negatives count more and more, until they greatly outweigh the positives. However, that balance should only tip when those negatives come from unique users (so that one user can't just mark every review by a particular reviewer as unhelpful and have a bigger impact than marking a single review that way), and those ratings should be cancelled out by a sufficient number of positive reviews, ensuring that a small number of people can't attack a reviewer by each reporting one of his or her reviews as factually incorrect.

A review marked with the first two options ("not interested" and "I disagree") will lower the reviewer's reputation, but only for that reviewer and other people whose "not interested" and "I disagree" ratings on other goods and services are statistically similar to those of the reviewer. This allows users to get better, more individualized reviews that are more likely to match their interests and concerns, without adversely penalizing other people who might be interested in and concerned about the same things as the reviewer in question. To that end, instead of "44 out of 50 people found this helpful", it would say "44 out of 50 people whose tastes match yours found this helpful", such that other users of the site might well see completely different numbers.

And users who frequently give "not helpful" ratings with more than two boxes checked, but rarely give "helpful" ratings, should have progressively smaller impact on the overall helpfulness rating for the reviews that they rate, until at some point their helpful/not helpful ratings end up getting thrown away entirely (except in their own view).

Comment: Where's the red button? (Score 0) 54

by fyngyrz (#47967929) Attached to: "Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust

Educated stupid scientists never understand 4 sided universal timecube.

I was just asking Tess about her act, and all she would tell me was that the show was big -- bigger on the inside than the outside. So I guess there was a lot of seating. A bunch of folderol, if you ask me. But at least we had box seats.

Comment: Re:TFS BS detector alert (Score 1) 549

by fyngyrz (#47967855) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Science works without even the existance of ultimate causes and absolute truth.

Yes, it does, but that doesn't in any way disqualify it in reaching for fundamental answers, or in working with those ideas so that we have handles on them that are consensually experiential, testable, and repeatable. Superstition provides no tools whatsoever for resolving such questions. Or questions of far lesser import, for that matter.

My long-term general confidence in discovering more and more, deeper and deeper about reality, which is very high, lies entirely with science -- and with technology, science's prolific assistant / toolbox.

Comment: Re:Good. IndieGoGo should do it too (Score 1) 170

by dgatwood (#47967599) Attached to: Kickstarter Lays Down New Rules For When a Project Fails

Of course, if it's a minor road, you might be able to save a lot of power by not showing the lines unless there's somebody actually on the road (at least during the day, when cars cast shadows). Then again, I don't suppose you would typically need movable lines on a minor road, so... never mind.

Another approach might be something more passive, where the line areas become reflective when an electrical charge causes them to line up in a certain way, so that the sun provides all the light, and where the line areas change to be transparent when you polarize them the other way, thus showing the relatively dark surface of the solar cells. Then, you could use the LEDs only at night, when the light requirements are much lower, or come up with a means of tweaking the polarity so that the lines reflect the headlights.

Comment: Re:Trolling? Or just crap? (Score 1) 549

by dgatwood (#47967057) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

He's wrong. The problem is that the concept of "God" is un-falsifiable. So you can always tack "because God wanted it that way" onto anything.

Which is relevant how? This is what makes religious belief not a science, but that has zero bearing on whether science makes religion irrelevant, except in the minds of people who already believe it to be.

This bizarre misunderstanding of science yields the paradox that even as we expect the impossible from science ("Please, Mr Economist, peer into your crystal ball and tell us what will happen if Obama raises/cuts taxes"), we also have a very anti-scientific mindset in many areas.

He thinks that Economics is a science. That's how wrong he is.

I think you seriously misread that bit. What he said was that people who don't understand science believe that it can explain things like what would happen if the President raises or lowers taxes. In other words, he's saying that economics is not a science.

And in that regard, he is wrong, and so are you (unless that was a typo). At its core, economics is about making hypotheses about how a complex system will react to an event, then observing how it actually reacts and falsifying those hypotheses. Or at least that's what economics is supposed to be about, Reagonomics notwithstanding.

Comment: Re:The whole article is just trolling (Score 1) 549

by dgatwood (#47966949) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

When you ask "why is the universe here" the first thing to notice is you are giving human intent to something that has no intent. It is like asking "why does my shirt want to be blue?"

No, it is like asking, "Why does this shirt exist." It isn't anthropomorphizing the shirt; it is merely assuming that there is a reason for the shirt to exist. In that case, the answer is obvious: because someone created it. Asking the same question about a plant gets you the answer, "because the seed fell on fertile soil and grew." It may or may not have been planted by a human; if it was, then the answer is interesting. If it merely blew in, then the answer is also interesting, but for different reasons.

Asking why the universe exists is a reasonable question. It is a question that may or may not be impossible to answer with science in any useful fashion, if only because science occurs within the universe, and thus probably cannot answer questions about anything that occurs outside that universe.

Religion is one approach to answering the questions that science cannot feasibly answer. It is not the only approach, certainly, but that makes it no less useful than philosophy or any other nonscientific field that concerns the contents of the hearts of man. Where religion strays into problem territory is when it attempts to answer questions that science can answer. Those bounds are constantly shifting as science improves, hence the perceived conflict between the two. However, that conflict is illusory. After all, we can explain religion, or at least the evolutionary path that led us to have religion, scientifically. Therefore, religion is at its core a natural phenomenon that is no less a part of every human being than the desire for knowledge itself.

Comment: Re:In lost the will to live ... (Score 2) 549

by dgatwood (#47966689) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Ultimately, there are really only three approaches to safety: treat others like you wish to be treated and hope that they reciprocate, wall yourself in and protect yourself from any situation where you would have to put trust in others, or kill everybody else before they kill you. The second approach might work, but isolation is a horrible experience for most people. The third approach, when viewed rationally, leads to ever-escalating violence. This leaves you with only one sensible option.

Comment: TFS BS detector alert (Score 1) 549

by fyngyrz (#47966469) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

religion concerns the ultimate causes of things and, again, by definition, science cannot tell you about them.

Religion concerns mythology -- things people make up out of whole cloth. Faith, belief, credulous acceptance without backing facts, consensually demonstrable evidence, or testability -- not knowledge.

Science does indeed concern itself with the ultimate cause(s) of things; what TFS fails to understand is that just because there is no answer *yet*, that doesn't mean that there won't be, or that there can't be. We've really only been seriously at this with more than stone knives and bearskins for a hundred years or so. Directly because of science, we already know a great deal more than religion ever managed to determine in thousands of years over thousands of varieties of made-up ideas and almost unimaginable depths and expressions of faith.

The penultimate cause of things is indeed 100% in science's domain and, if indeed there is an answer that can be expressed in the physics humans can understand, the odds are at least decent that we'll figure it out. Using science. Not religion.

There's very little point, or sense, in giving religion credit it has not earned, nor in ceding to it whole chunks of reality it has shown absolutely no ability to pull back the curtains from.

Comment: Re:So-called Mainstream Media (Score 1) 101

by dgatwood (#47966393) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

This. You pretty much have to explain things in an anvilicious way for them to "get" the basic concepts, from what I've seen. They're just like the American public when it comes to technology; most know how to turn on a computer, open "the Internet" (Internet Explorer or, if you're really lucky, Safari), and "go to" Facebook. If you want them to understand, you have to explain it to them like you'd explain it to someone in the 1800s, except with the assumption that they know the names (and little more than the names) of websites.

For example:

The purpose of net neutrality is to prevent cable/Internet companies like Comcast from artificially limiting the speed (and thus quality) of movies on Netflix to pressure you to rent more expensive movies through Comcast On Demand instead, and to prevent them from extorting extra fees from Netflix in exchange for not limiting them in this way.

That's the minimum level of anviliciousness required. Not only does it have to be simple, but it has to be incredibly obvious why every random person who doesn't understand computers should care. When you word it like I worded it above, they get the point. When you don't, their eyes glaze over.

If you get a really highly educated journalist, you might be able to go on from there to say that every time a new technology comes out, it uses more bandwidth than what came before it. And every time, the ISPs have fought to restrict it to keep costs down. The only thing that has enabled the Internet to become as amazing as it is is that customers have fought back and demanded that their service get fast enough to handle the traffic. But ISPs are now fighting against that by pressuring companies like Netflix to pay them money to keep the service to their customers fast. And the goal of net neutrality is to stop that anticompetitive extortion.

But this requires you to get someone who didn't sleep through high school economics, so don't count on it.

Comment: Re:"Stakeholders" (Score 1) 101

by dgatwood (#47966183) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

Right. The correct solution is to break up the monopolies, requiring the company that owns the physical infrastructure to be a nonprofit that non-prejudicially leases access to that infrastructure to any other company that wants to use it. Such a design gives the wire provider the natural advantages of a monopoly without them being able to capitalize on it for profit (in part because they are limited to providing point-to-point fibers, and are forbidden from ever providing Internet service), and ensures that multiple ISPs can easily compete in any area without having to buy their way past the high barrier to entry.

And those wire providers should be common carriers, complete with the requirement for universal access within the areas they serve, and the state should build out infrastructure as needed to make it truly universal, spawning off nonprofits as it does so.

Comment: Re: only manual lenses? (Score 1) 50

by dgatwood (#47962725) Attached to: Video Released, Crowdfunding Underway For Axiom Open Source Cinema Camera

BTW, 720p is just shy of a megapixel, not a third of one. You're probably thinking of the old 720x480 format used for widescreen standard def content. :-) Not that a megapixel is all that amazing, either, mind you.

Let me correct myself further. 720p is just shy of a million full-color pixels. On a Foveon sensor, depending on how you count megapixels, that might be the same number. On a Bayer-filtered sensor, it's more in the neighborhood of 3 MP, because each color channel has about a third the spatial resolution of the sensor as a whole.

Comment: Re: only manual lenses? (Score 1) 50

by dgatwood (#47962675) Attached to: Video Released, Crowdfunding Underway For Axiom Open Source Cinema Camera

It will indeed be interesting to see if that happens. If I was to bet on it I would say that it's not going to happen in cinematography. Indeed moving focus through the scene is one of the tool that a cinematographer uses to achieve the desired artistic effect. It is hard to imagine that a computer algorithm would be able to predict how fast or slowly we want to bring objects in/out of focus and how much smoothness we want in these transitions.

That's an interesting question, and you're right that for that particular effect, you're probably better off doing it manually—preferably with a long-throw manual lens and a reasonably long stick attached. But that's likely to be an occasional thing, with either static focusing or traditional subject-following focusing used for probably 99% of your shots; if you're using focus to move from one subject to another for 99% of your shots, the viewers are likely to get nauseated rather quickly. :-D

Can autofocus beat the precision of a measuring tape?

Depends on how narrow the depth of field is. At large f-stops (e.g. the Zeiss 50 f/0.7 lens that Kubrick used), it can be done by hand, sure, but if you blow that up to where you can see pixels at 4K resolution, you're almost certainly going to notice the softness compared with what modern electronics could achieve, particularly if the subject is close to the lens and he or she decides to move a fraction of an inch. Mind you, that's a rather extreme case. :-) At more sane stops, it's not quite that bad. It's still a lot of work, though—work that's largely unnecessary with a decent, modern, subject-tracking AF mechanism (even without eye tracking to set the starting point). It's not that focus pulling can't be good enough, so much as that the extra work to make it good enough is significant, and it makes little sense to bother with that when a simple circuit can do at least as good a job (if not better) without all that effort. :-)

Lastly focus depth even though sometimes shallow isn't nil in most circumstances so small focusing errors might not have an adverse negative effect on the result.

That's true. With that said, the higher the resolution, the more visible that small effect becomes. At some point, you start to swear because the soft focus limits your effective resolution, and all those extra pixels are just taking up more space on disk without any real benefit. I'm not quite sure where that magic point is for manually focused movies—you'd have to ask somebody who regularly does film scanning and media ingestion for their take on it. Obviously it would depend on the f-stop, the distance to the subject, the film format, the focal length, and the skills of the person doing it. :-)

Chances are you've got the experience here while I certainly don't. However my impression so far was that what you're saying is true but not to such an extreme extent. People do use old lenses including those which are much older than a decade on modern still cameras and the results they're getting certainly don't look like they were shot with resolution of about 1/3 mega pixel provided by 720p video. I think the truth must be somewhere in between and the old glass must still be a valuable tool. After all if that glass was indeed that bad why wouldn't the prices not be nil today? Some of these lenses still command amounts of money which one on a budget would think twice before spending.

I'm probably being a bit on the cynical side; I'm sure there are some older lenses that are usable at 4K. The point I was trying to make was that the newer lenses are breathtakingly better at high resolutions—maybe not at 4K, but long before you get to 8K. And their handling of bad lighting conditions (lens flare, for example) is just amazing compared with the older lenses. Unless, of course, you're into that whole lens flare thing. (Yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. Abrams.)

BTW, 720p is just shy of a megapixel, not a third of one. You're probably thinking of the old 720x480 format used for widescreen standard def content. :-) Not that a megapixel is all that amazing, either, mind you.

People are always available for work in the past tense.