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Comment: Re: No, no. Let's not go there. Please. (Score 1) 698

by TheRaven64 (#47902613) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk
I recall reading some years ago that there are two kinds of atheists:
  • Those that disbelieve all religions.
  • Those that disbelieve all except one religion.

For some reason, people in the second category describe themselves as 'religious'. And yet you'll be hard-pressed to find, for example, a Christian who requires the same standards of evidence for the non-existence of the Norse, Egyptian, Greek or Hindu gods as he requires that an atheist from the first category provides for the non-existence of the Abrahamic god.

Comment: Re:I just want the new Nexus. (Score 1) 216

There are three professions where being untruthful is the key to success: Lawyers, salespeople, and marketing. All three are hired to portray their client in the most favorable light possible, and the very best ones lie through their teeth. The worst of these three are the marketers because they have legions of psychologists and scientists trying to figure out the best way to lie to people.

Yes! You're both presenting a perfectly defensible argument against marketing and reinforcing my original point! Because geeks tend to abhor marketing, we dismiss its significance, and are perennially gobsmacked as to why an intrinsically emotional, manipulatable species is so susceptible to emotional manipulation.

So long as humanity is what it is, reason will only ever get you so far. You either need to blow the doors off with a staggeringly amazing thing, or come to terms with the fact that every single entity who might care about your thing has feelings, and bending those feelings in your favor can work wonders.

It's not all bad, though; emotional manipulation works under much the same constraints. Unless you're a Level 80 Snake Oil Salesman with a hat full of luck, you're going to have a very hard time making your thing last if it doesn't live up to the hype--and your reputation will suffer for it.

Comment: Re:I just want the new Nexus. (Score 5, Insightful) 216

The only real feature of note was Apple Pay, which might finally make NFC payments take off in the US. It's been a technology that should have hit it big a couple of years ago, but has never seen much consumer buy-in for some reason.

It's pretty straightforward, to my mind. With the exception of all but the most staggering technological advancements, widespread adoption of new technology typically requires:

  1. a sound implementation,
  2. a robust support infrastructure, and
  3. an effective marketing campaign.

Geeks, for a variety of reasons, tend to respect the first, grok the second, and abhor the third. I personally believe it's what drives our perpetual cycle of incredulity on this subject--because we so detest the last part of this equation, we refuse to see its importance in getting all those squishy, distracted, emotional bags of water to adopt cool new stuff.

NFC has never had the effective marketing campaign in the US, and only kinda had the support infrastructure. The iPhone has incredible inertia on the marketing front, and Apple have clearly done the legwork on building a good starting lineup of financial institutions and retailers for Apple Pay. It remains to be seen whether this'll be sufficient to make NFC catch on, but it's easily the closest we've come to covering all three of the bases above.

Comment: Re:When can we stop selling party balloons (Score 1) 294

by Rei (#47883153) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Helium exists in the atmosphere not because of the helium reserve, but because the planet constantly outgasses it. It's a product of the radioactive decay chains within the planet.

And if it costs $7 a liter, you better believe people will consume it a *lot* slower. Mainly recapture, but also less frivolous usage.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 522

by Rei (#47880779) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

It's an important difference.

Fox News is a right-wing punditry operation. They spin everything that happens in a light that promotes the viewpoints of US right-wing policy. If right-wingers are in power, they spin to the government's favor, and otherwise spin against the government.

RT is a literal government propaganda outlet. They have a story of what they want to tell people happened (regardless of whether it did or not), and tell people that it happened, to the point of routinely hiring actors as interview subjects. (side note: the Russia media really needs to get a larger acting pool, though... it's funny but sad when the same actor claims to be several different people for different stations in the same week).

If you see something inflamatory claimed on Fox, it's almost certainly spun. Possibly outright false, but unlikely - generally just highly spun. If you see something inflammatory claimed on RT, it's almost certainly false. Possibly just heavily spun, but generally willfully outright false.

Example: Fox News will pick random true stories from around the country, overplay them, and tell you that there's a War on Christmas. RT will hire a woman to play a refugee from Slavyansk to weepingly tell you that the Ukranian army is crucifying children in the town square to torture their mothers before killing them.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 522

by Rei (#47880593) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

Well, I have to say, I've noticed something about Russia, and also about most (but not all) of the other former USSR states: the exact same sort of thing has kept happening under capitalism. Things like injecting a mother of a dead soldier with a tranquilizer on-camera when she spoke up during a press conference on the Kursk disaster, assassinating dissidents with polonium, arresting and outright assassinating journalists, sham trials to sieze assets either for the state or for Putin allies, heavy media censorship and the requirement for all major blogs to register as media outlets, elections so rigged that Chechnya went 99.59% for "The Butcher of Grozny", and on and on. It's no different today.

So, basically, the presence of these things says nothing about communism; it says that Russia has a history of strongmen leaders who confiscate peoples' belongings, outlaw dissent, condemn people without fair trials, and so forth. And when you look at these third world communist states, you usually find that their third world capitalist brethren rarely behave any better.

I think that communism, at least in its pure form, is terrible as economic policy. But one can easily run the risk of over-conflating.

Comment: Re:When can we stop selling party balloons (Score 4, Interesting) 294

by Rei (#47868519) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Helium balloons are a minor part of the overall picture. The overwhelming majority of uses are industrial, such as cryogenics. The problem is that they don't recover it. If you want to make a big impact on the helium consumption rate, hard drives is pretty much one of the least effective places you could focus - focus on industrial recovery.

Note that humans will never "run out" of helium. Even if we assume that space-based resource extraction becomes realistic, one can always refrigerate it out of the atmosphere. Or more accurately, refrigerate everything else out and leave the helium behind. There's only a tiny bit in the atmosphere, but for important uses it'll remain a possibility. I saw page that says that neon is $2 per liter. If you're refrigerating neon out of the atmosphere, pretty much all that's left is helium, so you're co-producing it, at a ratio of 3.5 to 1. If we assume that helium demand vastly outpaces neon demand, then the helium cost would be $7 per liter. And maybe less in mass production.

That's not really an absurd price for many uses - such as hard drives. On the other hand, it's dramatically more than today's prices at about $0.005 per liter! You're not going to be making helium blimps at $7 per liter. But if industry learns how to recapture and reuse, they should manage.

(Of course, humans probably wouldn't have to resort to helium extraction from the atmosphere for centuries, pretty much any gas coming out of the ground will be richer in helium than the air)

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1) 108

by Rei (#47853175) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

I'm not lying, that's the actual size, something like 420k. It may have been a bit shorter playtime, perhaps 20 seconds (I didn't time it), but still, it was quite small.

Nobody said videos on Facebook are Blu-Ray quality. But you seem to have weird concepts about how big videos need to be to be good enough quality for a web page. Just as a test, I took an original high quality full-motion video of a concert, reencoded it with ffmpeg, audio codec aac, vbr audio quality 0.5, video codec x264, preset veryslow, cf 33, resolution 512x288 (half original size), 20 seconds. File size? 420k. Of course the video from facebook was darker and quieter, so one would expect it to compress better. If we give my sample concert clip an allowable size of, say, 550k, then I can up audio quality to 0.7 and cf down to 30. Either way, the resultant clip was fine, the sort of thing you'd expect to see on a Facebook wall.

Anyway, the key point is, Facebook feeds aren't loading you down with 50 meg videos, they're little couple-hundred-k clips, the same size as animated gifs. And while I haven't measured it, they don't appear to start streaming until you scroll down to them, and look to stop after you scroll away.

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1) 108

by Rei (#47849965) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

1) I just went and pulled the first anim-gif I saw off 9-gag, a fairly simple thing of Ralph Wiggum with little motion, so it should compress quite well for an animated gif. Size: just over 400k. I then pulled the first video that showed up on my Facebook feed, a 30 second full motion clip, and downloaded the entire thing (including the audio stream, full quality). Size: just over 400k.

So....?

2) Are you actually sure that it is downloading the audio stream when it does muted autoplay? Not saying that it oes or doesn't, but do you actually have evidence either way?

3) See the reply below.

There's really no argument. If you're going to allow animated gifs, you should allow autoplay videos. So that we can finally put the nail in the coffin of the awfulness that is gif by removing the last common use of it.

And FYI, 400k is not that much. Slashdot is a pretty simplistic website compared to most, and I just measured how much data is downloaded just to read the front page: 1.4M.

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1, Interesting) 108

by Rei (#47848645) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

Why is it any more evil than animated GIFs? Both play automatically, neither happen with sound, and compression on x264 is *way* better than with animated gifs.

I was initially opposed to autoplay on FB, but after thinking about it, I changed my mind. We already see tons of animated stuff on web pages, and the videos from people who show up on my page about are usually things I'd find interesting (if the user posting them didn't usually post interesting things, I'd have stopped following them). There's no unexpected sounds to bug me, and the quality to size ratio versus animated gifs is, what, two orders of magnitude better?

Comment: Re:Shortest version (Score 1) 326

by TheRaven64 (#47847237) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx
Talking about open-source businesses is missing the point entirely. Most businesses that are successful as a result of open source (or Free Software, for the RMS-style folks) or that contribute significantly to open source are not 'open-source businesses' any more than companies that use Windows and Office are 'closed-source businesses. The difference is that one category of businesses realises that writing software is expensive and copying software is trivial, so spends its investment on the software parts of its infrastructure paying people to write software (typically customising and improving existing projects), whereas the other pays someone for copies of software and hopes that that will give them an incentive to produce software that's more like they want.

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