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Comment: Re: Trolls are bad people (Score 1) 229

by EmperorOfCanada (#47970751) Attached to: Friendly Reminder: Do Not Place Your iPhone In a Microwave
How many command lines have you copied and pasted into your machine over the years?

In the early days of my Linux fumbling I am fairly certain that I would have pasted a "rm -rf /" as root if it were embedded into other lines of code.

For that matter how many libraries have you downloaded and then run? How would you like it if the latest version of OpenCV came with something that would fry your GPU? Ha ha you were too stupid to check 20 million lines of code to see if there was a GPU frying addition by some guy who managed to get his contribution added at the last second. I hope you learned your lesson? Or is the guy who added it an asshole? (I use OpenCV generically as just some minor library that might not be rigidly managed)

Comment: Re:This can only work a little bit... (Score 1) 236

by EmperorOfCanada (#47966063) Attached to: Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War
This is a very good suggestions in that it slightly filters reviewers. Except that the restaurant has a limitless supply of these codes. An alternative that I thought of was that you have to use your phone to review the restaurant while standing near it. This mostly prevents hiring shill review mills, and it somewhat limits the reviews to one per device (not terribly hard to get around but a little bit more of a barrier).

Comment: Re: Trolls are bad people (Score 4, Insightful) 229

by EmperorOfCanada (#47965979) Attached to: Friendly Reminder: Do Not Place Your iPhone In a Microwave
What if I dressed up as a doctor, had an air of gravitas, videoed from what looks like an ivy covered university and gave terrible terrible medical advice about Tylenol maximum dosages? Or if I dressed as a garage mechanic used all kinds of mechanical words and gave horrible advice such as sugar in the gas tank eliminates the squeal when you hit the brakes?

We all can't be experts in everything. Some people are really really not technical while not actually being stupid people. This sort of thing might not fool many slashdotters but which fork to use during which course during a fancy dinner with a potential investor in our tech startup might confound many of us; and end up costing us a whole lot more than a replacement phone.

Comment: Trolls are bad people (Score 2, Insightful) 229

by EmperorOfCanada (#47965595) Attached to: Friendly Reminder: Do Not Place Your iPhone In a Microwave
I think that this article is psychologically linked to the recent article about internet trolls actually being very bad people. I love a good prank but this is just wanton sadistic behaviour. My phone provides me with much joy so anyone who would take that away from me and cost me hundreds of dollars for a laugh is wired seriously wrong; I'm lucky to have enough understanding to not fall for this sort of thing but it makes it just that much meaner to prey upon those who would.

Comment: This can only work a little bit... (Score 4, Insightful) 236

by EmperorOfCanada (#47962461) Attached to: Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War
This can work once or maybe in one or two places per region, but the reality is that many people will use services like yelp to narrow down their new eateries by a simple sort-by-rating.

Also this somewhat depends on people being connected to local media to be informed about this reversal. Most of my technology friends have zero interaction with local media. That is they don't listen to local radio, watch local TV, read local publications; thus they are more likely to read about this place far far away than to read about a similar even locally.

But this all raises a much larger issue and that is we almost need a yelp to rate the rating services. Especially as time goes by these crowd sourced rating services will either begin to alter their ratings for pay or they will be largely gamed by various unethical players who usually have financial motives to game the system.

For instance in my town most restaurants don't have more than a few dozen ratings at best. Thus it would not take a competitor much effort to set up a series of shill accounts and trash their overall average. "I was served beef that had 2 cooked worms and the salad had a maggot in it, the owner laughed when I pointed this out and said that he has paid off the health inspectors so go ahead an call."

Not to mention that there are professional services that will do this sort of shill voting for you. As an example when certain companies are brought up on slashdot there is an instant onslaught of comments that basically are talking points written in a style that only a PR company would use. "Those spurious allegations were never proven in court, with all court actions dropped, and the publications that conjured up that story don't even rate as tabloids. This civic minded company has given over $2,000,000 to women's shelters in the local area alone."

But as more and more companies come to realize that crowd sourced rating or communication systems can be gamed for profit then they will put more and more sophisticated efforts into gaming the system. I love the slashdot system of quazi randomly assigning moderator points but very simply if you have 1,000 slashdot accounts run by a group of interns then a huge number of points and comments could be brought to bare on any issue that is desired.

If you want to run a simple experiment. Go onto reddit, go into the appropriate area and trash talk a fortune 50 company using a classically known wrongdoing from recent history. In most cases your topic will not only be voted into oblivion it will have many comments that are the above mentioned talking points. Some issues are so powerful that it can overwhelm the mathematical capability of their PR firms if they don't get onto the issue fast enough or if reddit happens to have nullified one of their voting cadres recently.

So unless someone comes up with a mathematically sound system of voting/rating that is invulnerable to manipulation these systems will only remain viable for as long as the people running them are able to maintain their ethics and outsmart the professional and financially motivated manipulators.

Comment: Culture (Score 1) 232

by EmperorOfCanada (#47932827) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?
100% of companies that I consulted with had their cultures defined by upper management regardless of what upper management intended. One company that I did work for was all about sports competition. The entire management turned everything into a sport with points, rules, and Winners and Losers. They played tennis, golf, swimming, running, biking, and a variety of high risk sports intended to get people to chicken out. This behavior then carried on with how they dealt with regulators, competitors, suppliers, etc. Needless to say then drove the company into the ground and a few ended up in jail.

Another company had a bit of an absent minded leader who was great at starting things but not really caring how they went. This created much confusion among the ranks who discovered that starting exciting projects was a great way to get praise. Oddly enough this company did fairly well.

But my favourite was a company run by a few stodgy types who had been there and done that. This company cooked along being boring and profitable. Then the main leader got sick and was replaced by a total douchebag who was all about the testicle joke. About a year later the company cratered, but they had a fratboy good time doing it.

The companies that drive me around the bend are technology companies run by boomers though. I have been to at least a dozen engineering companies where all the senior people are in the ballpark of 60 and man-o-man they have their heads solidly planted in 1950's style engineering. Computers at best can be viewed as drafting tables with electrons. I am not only talking about the 60 year olds but even the 25 year old new engineers. They want to do things that are innovative solutions and are shot down and have solutions that a WWII engineer would barely admire implemented. This results in 40 year old engineers who work at these firms not even using tools like autocad in any thing more than a pencils and rulers on a screen sort of way. Magical.

One last company is has a leader who is all about the next big deal. This company has a bunch of employees who take themselves way too seriously.

Comment: Sounds good but... (Score 1) 116

This is like saying that an airplane has flown 95% of its journey without a hitch when it is takeoffs and landings that get most airplanes. Only a small percentage have issues while trucking along.

This is the same with interplanetary missions. They rarely go wrong as they drift along in them middle of nowhere.

But the coolest fact so far with this mission is that it apparently cost less than the making of the movie Gravity. That really makes you think that if the defence budget was cut in two and the cuts transferred to NASA then where would the space program be?

Comment: disappointing course completion numbers BS!!! (Score 2) 182

by EmperorOfCanada (#47899423) Attached to: The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't
This whole line about "disappointing course completion numbers" is total BS. Online courses are a whole different beast than bricks and mortar ivy building courses. If I pay $1000+ to be in a course, I am going to plan my life around it and damn well show up and try hard. But if I see some free and interesting course online that has exactly zero consequences for withdrawal then I am going to sign up on the slightest of whims and figure out if I have time when the course starts. Also if the course annoys me in the slightest, then I will have probably signed up for 6 other interesting courses that I could try on for size. Also other factors can impose. For instance I was recently taking a really cool mathematical thinking course and lost my internet connection shortly before I finished an assignment. I would have aced the assignment and thus was really ticked off. With that huge honkin' zero on my score it burned my inner perfectionist who then decided that I would just take the course again in the future.

I could come up with 20 more reasons as to why I might sign up for yet not complete a course. But none of the above reasons diminish that these are great courses and those that I have completed have vastly improved those areas of my knowledge. Then there are courses such as those offered by MIT and Stanford which I didn't "complete" in that there was nothing to submit or be tested on. I watched the videos and did the recommended work. Again great knowledge was gained. Also depending upon the tracking they do, they may have seen me dip my toes into the first video or two of many courses. It is less that I didn't complete them then I really didn't take them.

Also as I take more and more of these courses I can see that they are starting to really get into a groove. The pacing of the material is becoming more even the associated work is in sync with the lectures, and the group forum stuff is becoming usable.

Really what I have been waiting for is that some major institution will (for a reasonable fee) actually give credit to the students who take a course (not just a whole program). This truly will be the leap that makes these courses a substantive part of modern education.

Where I originally thought(and still do) this leap would take place in an area aimed at highschool students who want to leap into University level material while still in highschool. The idea would be that a smattering of first year courses would be offered and that highschool students who are presently attending third rate institutions would have the opportunity to grow beyond the rats' nest of an education they were being offered and show major institutions that they have the will and the ability to go beyond the crap school that they attend.

The second group that I thought were perfect for online educations were those adults who for whatever reason were not able to attend university or other higher education and want to achieve some real certificate that would allow them to better their employment. An interesting example that occurred to me would be a twist on a degree. The idea is that the vast majority of the degree would be online at low cost and done at whatever speed the student could make time for. But that interspersed would be those real courses (at a normal cost) that require physical attendance. I see this applying to many degrees including an engineering degree.

This last could also apply to trade schools where a student would master the theoretical and then attend whatever physical classes that are required. For many adults stuck with a poorer education than their bright minds could otherwise handle 10 year degree programs would still be very attractive.

So the goal should not necessarily be some potentially unneeded replacement of existing higher education but a reaching out to make a higher education available to anyone who wants it for whatever reason. This would be a truly lofty goal and achieving it would not rate well by traditional metrics.

Comment: Need more than a legal precedent (Score 4, Interesting) 421

by EmperorOfCanada (#47889769) Attached to: Windows Tax Shot Down In Italy
More than a legal precedent this needs solid regulations with teeth. I suspect that if you walk into whatever the Italian equivalent of Best Buy waving this judgement around and demanding a refund that they will just have security escort you out. But if refusal to even offer a Windows free machine was worthy of a fine, let alone not removing it, then windows free machines would be widely available.

Also the removal of Windows should have to be free and done in a timely manner (under an hour).

Comment: If they had to pay that much... (Score 1) 405

I think that people finding out that MS had to pay $400 million for people to use that crap product just emphasizes how crappy they must be. But the people who should really be angry should be the share holders of MSFT. That is nearly half a billion dollars, and for what? What percentage of other football coaches dumped their laptop or iPad for a surface because of this? Even if it were all of them I doubt that it would end up making up for the $400,000,000.00 spent.

This also emphasizes that the NFL is willing to not let the best man win when someone is willing to pay them off.

Comment: It's sort of funny but... (Score 1) 348

by EmperorOfCanada (#47875093) Attached to: When Scientists Give Up
I have always laughed when I see someone doing fundamental research and saying that it could help defeat bombs, or something else that DHS would love. The mental twists and turns that somehow connect something fundamental to something very practical although worthless.

So I have a simple idea, half the DHS budget and hand it to fundamental research. Also play a random game where projects are ordered by what seems to be some sort of worthiness. Then use that as a weighted order to select random projects. This would generally avoid the scummiest of fraudulent projects but then occasionally find the gem in the rough that goes against conventional thinking.

Comment: Re:What about green fracking? (Score 1) 191

by EmperorOfCanada (#47865307) Attached to: US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom
I was thinking of the more NIMBY problems involved in fracking. In my province they basically just banned fracking but that was pretty much all about groundwater, waste issues, and other very local problems. Seeing that restarting the coal mines would locally be considered a huge political win I don't think that the local ban took global warming into much consideration.

So when I was talking about green fracking, it was greening those issues directly around the fracking area.

Comment: What about green fracking? (Score 1) 191

by EmperorOfCanada (#47860897) Attached to: US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom
Can there be a such thing as green fracking for natural gas? Is there a way to avoid the witch's brew of nasty that they inject? From what I gather the primary technology behind fracking is that you hammer something down into the shale along with sand, the shale cracks, and the sand slips into the cracks and holds them open. Then the gas leaks out.

One of the huge complaints is that all that crap can contaminate water supplies; this would include the fracking fluid itself coming back up to the surface.

So my humble question is: Is there a different way to get the sand into the cracks without making such as mess?

Now my personal experience is that I grew up in a shale rich area and know two other things about shale, one is that it is very chemically interesting, in that friends and I would regularly break it open to marvel at the interesting colours between the layers. Those colours would then fade very quickly returning the shale to the dull dark grey that it usually was. I don't know if this was a thin layer of hydrocarbons evaporating or some sort of mineral that quickly oxidized. But whatever it was the rock was the only rock in my area that "did" anything. Secondly my experience was that you didn't want the shale near plants that you liked. If you lined your garden with it or put a shale walkway near trees they either died or largely stopped growing.

So shale appears to be an active rock that you generally want to leave alone. But again can shale be treated after the gas has been removed? Sprinkle a little something down the drill hole to return the rock to its previous inert(ish) state.

Mining is almost always messy, but many mines if properly managed can be not only fairly innocuous but can be sort of cool, as is the case that some rock quarries make for interestingly shaped lakes while others turn into stagnant cesspools.

The real way that this can be dealt with is to look at any mess the fracking people make as a subsidy that they are asking for. The simple question then is to place a value on that subsidy and make sure that they return to the local economy something extra that matches the subsidy. Not the usual baloney that they are providing jobs to the area(as they would do that anyway) but a concession that directly matches the value of what they are getting. So if the water in the area might be polluted and it will cost $200 million to run a clean water supply into the area then they should run a $200 million dollar water supply in to the area and maintain it for as long as the water remains altered. This would then either make the project unprofitable, or it would cause them to seek alternatives such as greening up the process.

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr