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Comment: Musicians travel with their instruments (Score 1) 894

Virtuoso musicians don't check their instruments as luggage. Even if their instruments are big, like a cello, they get a seat for the instrument.

...Razgui, who was not present when his bag was opened. 'I fly with them in and out all the time and this is the first time there has been a problem. This is my life.' When his baggage arrived in Boston, the instruments were gone.

If his instruments were his life and he is a virtuoso musician, he would have kept his flutes with him on the airplane.

Comment: Re:Who gives a...? (Score 1) 115

by Ellie K (#45868725) Attached to: Rap Genius Returns To Google Search Rankings
"Rap Genius" is a misleading and silly name for what, transcription software like DragonWriter? Actually, it might not even be that good (all I read about lately are Internet piecework/ sweatshops that are supposedly "social" and "democratizing"...except they aren't).

I know that Mark Andreessen funded it, but he isn't right about everything.

Comment: Re:Rap "Genius"? (Score 1) 115

by Ellie K (#45868689) Attached to: Rap Genius Returns To Google Search Rankings

And if you want bad lyrics, listen to opera.

OK, I'll bite. Treat yourself to a little "Gilbert and Sullivan"...

I really like Eminem and Kid Rock. They are sarcastic and very funny. Will they still have the same appeal after 100 years? I doubt it. Gilbert and Sullivan has endured.

I don't especially like G&S (I prefer what someone else called "traditional arias" e.g. full chorus "Ode to Joy"), yet I can completely relate to, understand why you are fond of G&S. A live G&S performance is music and art.

Comment: Re:Rap "Genius"? (Score 1) 115

by Ellie K (#45868643) Attached to: Rap Genius Returns To Google Search Rankings

...It takes a skilled linguist to write good rap as it does to write good poetry and there are good and bad examples of both.

Linguist! The professors of linguistics that write University of Pennsylvania's Language Log are skilled linguists. I don't think that has anything to do with their ability to write poetry. Or rap, although it would be fun to ask!

Rap is words, music and visuals with attitude, and usually post-production effects. Poetry is written words on a page. They aren't comparable.

+ - NSA does not deny spying on Congress 7

Submitted by MacDork
MacDork (560499) writes "In a statement released in response to Sen Bernie Sanders the NSA did not deny spying on Congress. It would appear that the Obama administration has been peeking at the playbook of the opposing party. Or does the NSA expect us to believe that members of Congress are targeted for investigation into terrorism? This comes just days after Snowden documents revealed the NSA is automatically deploying exploits and malware against visitors to blacklisted websites. Such terrorist havens include websites like and"

Comment: More detail than I expected (Score 1) 1

by Ellie K (#45868501) Attached to: The Math of Gamification
The submission emphasized how FourSquare uses honeypots to validate good users, and prevent "bad actors" from corrupting the data. The actual post is much more readable than the excerpt, no offense intended to a harried (or lazy :o) Anonymous Coward. At least he took the time to submit it! Anyway, it lays out some of the math that FourSquare uses, mostly logistic regression, and then itemizes problems and workarounds. For example, FourSquare users like integers. Don't we all! FourSquare describes how they try to deal with that, without loss of accuracy due to repeatedly rounding. So, the details are cool to read about. I don't recall seeing anything as detailed and specific written up elsewhere e.g. by Yelp or MyWOT.

Yet FourSquare is based on these premises, set forth in the very beginning of the post, about how FourSquare maintains its database of places, both geographic accuracy and being up to date:

changes are voted upon by our loyal Superusers (SUs) who vigilantly maintain a watchful eye over our data for their city or neighborhood...we assign users points or votes based on their tenure, reputation, and the actions they take. Superusers like points and gamification. It rewards diligent, hard-working SUs...

Ignoring any resemblance to Slashdot (coincidental or otherwise ;o) the phrase, diligent, hard-working SUs caught my attention. What is the motivation for Superusers to vigilantly maintain a watchful eye over FourSquare's data? Gamification for its own sake isn't going to be enough, not for long. The novelty will wear off. The honeypots are a nice idea, especially done programmatically. But it all rests on human effort, doing tedious piecework without any reward other than a badge that non-users esteem about as highly as spam. There are other things like this online, a phpBB or forum, however, the motivations are different than with FourSquare. Also, the most active participants have ownership and control of the website or forum, unlike FourSquare.

+ - Headhunters can't tell anything from Facebook profiles->

Submitted by sfcat
sfcat (872532) writes "Companies, headhunters and recruiters increasingly are using social media sites like Facebook to evaluate potential employees. Most of this is due to a 2012 paper from Northern Illinois Univ. that claimed that employee performance could be effectively evaluated from their social media profiles. Now a series of papers from other institutions reveal exactly the opposite result. “Recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles correlate essentially zero with job performance,” write the researchers, led by Chad H. Van Iddekinge of FSU. Not only did the research show the ineffectiveness of using social media in evaluating potential employees, it also showed a measurable biases of the recruiters against minorities (African-American and Latino) and against men in general."
Link to Original Source

+ - Ecuadorian Navy Rescues Bezos After Kidney Stone Attack 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Hopefully, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos splurged on a Platinum Marketplace Health Insurance Plan for 2014 or he could be looking at some serious out-of-pocket costs. While vacationing aboard a cruise ship in the Galapagos Islands, where the State Department warns the quality of medical facilities and services are 'generally well below U.S. standards', Gawker reports that Bezos was rescued by the Ecuadorian Navy so he could receive treatment for a kidney stone attack on New Year's Day. The Ecuadorian Navy confirmed Bezos' rescue, which involved taking Bezos by Navy helicopter from Academy Bay in Santa Cruz Island to his private jet stationed on Baltra Island. Hey, it should make for a great Affordable Health Care Act ad!"

+ - The Math of Gamification-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The Foursquare blog has an interesting post about some of the math they use to evaluate and verify the massive amount of user-generated data that enters their database. They need to figure out the likelihood that any given datapoint accurately represents reality, so they've worked out a complicated formula that will minimize abuse. Quoting: 'By choosing the points based on a user’s accuracy, we can intelligently accrue certainty about a proposed update and stop the voting process as soon as the math guarantees the required certainty. .. The parameters are automatically trained and can adapt to changes in the behavior of the userbase. No more long meetings debating how many points to grant to a narrow use case.
So far, we’ve taken a very user-centric view of p-sub-k (this is the accuracy of user k). But we can go well beyond that. For example, p-sub-k could be “the accuracy of user k’s vote given that they have been to the venue three times before and work nearby.” These clauses can be arbitrarily complicated and estimated from a (logistic) regression of the honeypot performance. The point is that these changes will be based on data and not subjective judgments of how many “points” a user or situation should get."

Link to Original Source

+ - Anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy now says her kid may not have had autism->

Submitted by latuZimZactly
latuZimZactly (753190) writes "This is priceless, except of course for the thousands of children who weren't vaccinated because of FUD like this.

Celebrity, and former Playboy centerfold (so I heard, I only buy it for the articles), now says oops.

For the backstory, read one of many takedowns by Phil Plait.

Maybe Phil could replace her on The View. His hair isn't as nice, but he has a great smile."

Link to Original Source

China Bans Financial Companies From Bitcoin Transactions 110

Posted by timothy
from the best-argument-yet-for-using-it dept.
quantr writes with this excerpt from Bloomberg: "China's central bank barred financial institutions from handling Bitcoin transactions, moving to regulate the virtual currency after an 89-fold jump in its value sparked a surge of investor interest in the country. Bitcoin plunged more than 20 percent to below $1,000 on the BitStamp Internet exchange after the People's Bank of China said it isn't a currency with 'real meaning' and doesn't have the same legal status. The public is free to participate in Internet transactions provided they take on the risk themselves, it said. The ban reflects concern about the risk the digital currency may pose to China's capital controls and financial stability after a surge in trading this year made the country the world's biggest trader of Bitcoin, according to exchange operator BTC China. Bitcoin's price jumped more than ninefold in the past two months alone, prompting former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to call it a 'bubble.' 'The concern is that it interferes with normal monetary policy operation,' said Hao Hong, head of China research at Bocom International Holdings Co. in Hong Kong. 'It represents an unofficial leakage to the current monetary system and trades globally. It is difficult to regulate and could be used for money laundering.'"

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus