Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:More eugenics propaganda? (Score 4, Insightful) 183

by Frobnicator (#48024673) Attached to: New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise


My interpretation of the article: You can't teach height, but tall untrained basketball players can be beaten by shorter experts. To be the "world's best" you need both.

There is a difference between "expert" and "world's best".

When it comes to expert, guided practice and training is generally enough. Even if you are short I can still teach you to be an expert at basketball. Others can still teach you how to block, how to dribble, how to pass, how to shoot, how to referee, how to coach, and how to be an expert.

When it comes to world's best, sure, there is often a genetic component. Most people, no matter how much you train them, will never become the world's best. They can be expert and still judge and teach and work the field, being expert is not the same as being world's best. Similarly, some people, no matter how much they try to work with numbers, struggle to handle them intuitively. Given enough effort they can be taught all the way through college math and become experts, but that doesn't mean they'll become the world's expert on mathematics. Just because someone is tall doesn't make them a world-class basketball player, training is still needed. Just because someone has a pretty voice doesn't make them an automatic world's best vocalist, just because someone has a more intuitive grasp of spatial representations doesn't make them a world renown mathematician, training is still needed.

You can become expert with guided practice, even without much natural ability. To become world's best you need both guided practice AND a genetic predisposition.

Comment: Re:Tesla is worth 60% of GM ! (Score 1) 262

by Frobnicator (#48022433) Attached to: Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

That's exactly the trouble.

If you buy today and the stock goes down, people like those in TFA will continue to say it was overpriced and you are a bad investor.

If you buy today and the stock keeps going up, then you become praised as an early adopter.

Unfortunately my crystal ball is broken so I cannot tell which direction the investment will go. I'm either making a bad investment or becoming an early adopter, only time will tell which.

Comment: Re:Police?? (Score 2) 297

You are right that they are operating outside their area, and they ought to be going after things inside their area.

But if they are going to go after infringement, let's have them start going after corporations that are engaged in wholesale copyright violations, not just individuals involved in it.

Sites like Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and other clickbait sites that take images from the little guys, use the images in their clickbaiting business, and profit from the copyright infringement. Just take a moment to search for the assorted sites, " stolen images". Buzzfeed and HuffPo are currently fighting many such lawsuits, yet they continue to use random images found online without permission and without compensation to the photographers.

It would be nice if the City of London police started by black holing those sites, too.

Comment: Re:4-8 LITERS?! (Score 2) 89

by Frobnicator (#48020589) Attached to: Blood For Extra Credit Points Offer Raises Eyebrows In Test-Mad China

So those medieval barber-surgeons were right, and blood-letting has health benefits after all?

Simply: Yes.

Regular donations help (causal relationship) with iron balance since you cannot donate if iron is low and it reduces your iron if it is high, can (causally) help slightly with weight loss as you lose a glob of body material without kidney filtering plus it works to replace it, is associated with (correlation) reduced risk of certain cancers, associated with (correlation) reduced risk of heart attacks, and is associated with (correlation) a slightly longer, higher-quality life. There are also short-term benefits for issues like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other metabolic problems.

Comment: Re:They will never learn (Score 1) 103

by Frobnicator (#47980493) Attached to: Compromised To Serve Malware

My firewall is whitelist-based. This means if a site uses stuff hosted off-site (jquery, googleapis) it probably isn't going to load. The net affect is that while I can browse such storefronts, I have to do work to buy from them. So I buy elsewhere. They might learn, eventually.

They won't notice or care. Why would they? You aren't doing anything to trip any kinds of alarms or alerts with them.

If you want them to do something, call their help desk and act like an incompetent computer user. "My kids set up this newfangled computer and I can't buy from you..." If enough people did that it might make a blip on their stats that "JavaScript All The Things!" menatlity will cost them in support calls and possibly lost business.

Comment: Re:Just make it classic, not-beta and you get more (Score 1) 178

I'm gonna go build my own slashdot, with blackjack and hookers!

... I think the bar should be much higher..

Wait... old slashdot, blackjack, hookers, AND a bar designed for tall people? Shut up and take my money.


On a more serious note, I'm one of many that would be willing to a pay a small amount for an ad-free Facebook experience. Remove the ads and the buzzfeeds, the link-spam, and remove everything with more than 10 'shares' or reposts. Show me only my actual friend updates and comments and photos. In fact, that was in the news last year. Social Fixer is good for a workaround, but the company could make people the customer instead of the product if they wanted.

Comment: Re:How about (Score 1) 210

by Frobnicator (#47890281) Attached to: Turning the Tables On "Phone Tech Support" Scammers

I managed over an hour and a half the other day.

I learned a fun one from a particularly annoying call.

Get them to repeat the messages. They rattle off the instructions, wait ten seconds, then ask them to repeat it. Alternatively, wait until they have rattled of the entire instruction, then slowly repeat the exact words from the beginning "first.. press.. the.. start.. button.. and.. type.. in.. "

Tell them you need to write it down first to make sure you do it correctly. Since you as the 'victim' don't want the infection to be worse you obviously should write it down to make sure you do it exactly right.

Naturally you can use the time for more productive things, like looking up ways to best take up the time of the scammer.

Comment: Re:I don't see how MS can comply (Score 2) 123

by Frobnicator (#47874431) Attached to: Microsoft Agrees To Contempt Order So It Can Appeal Email Privacy Case

It is actually illegal. You can't deliberate engage in activities to make it more expensive or complex for law enforcement to search subpoenaed records. That's contempt of court.

Emphasis in your quote.

As gets mentioned every time this story appears on slashdot, this is a warrant not a subpoena. The two are different tools. Both are used to find things but one is clean and neat, the other broad and aggressive. As a parallel, a subpoena is a scalpel and a warrant is a chainsaw.

A subpoena says 'We know you have this specific information, provide it to us within a time frame'. They get subpoenas of this type all the time. There is no dispute a subpoena would get the document no matter where in the world Microsoft held it.

A warrant says 'We will search for and take anything even remotely related to this, search it ourselves on our own terms.' When they demanded dumps of servers and copies of databases they were told the servers were in another nation and were not subject to a US warrant.

As was discussed in the previous incarnations of this story, the warrants are rather broad demanding they turn over everything related to the email address and user in question even if it isn't related to a criminal investigation. They want it all, everything the user ever touched or potentially touched, everything sent to the user, everything related to the user. While government investigators can usually get that through a broad warrant, they cannot get that with a subpoena. A subpoena would give them the specific emails related to the crime under investigation, but it is quite likely they already have the specific documents they could ask for.

Comment: Re:Stupid design, appalling (Score 1) 131

by Frobnicator (#47825765) Attached to: Facebook Blamed For Driving Up Cellphone Bills, But It's Not Alone

Facebook has provided this. Just hit settings and turn off autoplay videos and you get a lovely little play icon.

This article is another big whine on behalf of users who don't bother to actually hit a settings button or Google a problem.

That's news to me. Thanks for telling me. Default setting adjusted.

Also relevant to your "everybody already knows" attitude, there's an XKCD for that. No, everybody does not know about it.

Comment: One bad apple spoils the barrel (Score 5, Insightful) 1134

by Frobnicator (#47825433) Attached to: Combating Recent, Ugly Incidents of Misogyny In Gamer Culture

It doesn't seem to be pervasive. We've all seen the recent stats on similar stories. Over half of all gamers are female. Less than 1/5 are under the age 18. The stereotypical teenage boy gamer is a small component of the "gamer" culture.

I doubt this is "Misogyny In Gamer Culture". I think instead this is just a few vocal idiots.

Comment: Re:Why can't taxpayers decide for themselves? (Score 5, Informative) 111

by Frobnicator (#47786399) Attached to: How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

So you don't think the government should step in if the big guys are abusing their monopoly? You don't think the voters in a municipality should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want the government to establish broadband services for their own use? I know it's a popular meme to presume that governments are nothing but incompetent but the reality is that sometimes the government is the best way to get something done. If the existing ISPs find it not worthwhile to serve a population I see no credible argument why the local government couldn't fill that role if the taxpayers want them to. Might not be economically ideal but sometimes perfect is the enemy of good enough.

My region (the 2M people metro area) is going through municipal broadband fights. They started the fights back in 2002.

The group got an initial rollout in a few of the smaller cities, roughly 11,000 people got hooked up. Then the entrenched monopolies kicked in. Some highlights:

* Lawsuits from both the incumbent megacorps on cable-based and phone-based Internet on the claim that it was unlawful and anti-competitive for a state agency to compete with an established business. The lawsuits took several years and cost millions. The judges and the appeals court found that government is allowed to provide services, similar to how they provide municipal trash services and still businesses compete; nothing prevents the cable and phone companies from competing if they want.

* Every year state legislators keep introducing new bills prohibiting government agencies from competing with existing businesses, or requiring that governments cannot provide information services to the public without high fees and those fees should go to education, or that any group providing Internet services have so many billions in assets to mitigate risk of disaster, and other variations. Invariably a little research shows the legislators get money from the phone and cable companies, and the company lobbyists vocally support them. The municipal fiber groups have needed to spend several million dollars to fight these as well.

* In a few cities installation was unexpectedly stopped again when some of the smaller cities discovered their own contracts with the megacorps demanded that they couldn't build their own systems until after a multi-year vetting process with the megacorps plus giving them another multi-year opportunity for megacorps to adjust prices and to improve their infrastructure. Basically the smaller city and town governments signed deals for their own cheap Internet that block municipal fiber within their limits for a decade or more. Since then the FCC and other groups have urged cities to be more careful in the contracts they sign.

* Incumbents even got the federal government to drop contracts. In one case they had a contract with the federal government for a $66M under the RUS. After the municipal system had invested and contracted based on that contract it was unexpectedly cancelled. Investigation showed the federal contract was cancelled because the federal RUS system was threatened by the megacorps. A chain of 'smoking gun' emails were discovered where Comcast and CenturyLink demanded the RUS cancel the contract or the two megacorps would act against it; a lawsuit on tortious interference is ongoing, but the cost will be several more million before any ruling will follow, in the mean time the municipal system is out the $66M plus all the interest they need to pay on the emergency loan they had to take out to avoid defaulting on the expenses.

* Because the megacorps have forced the municipal fiber system to spend hundreds of millions on lawsuits and illegally-broken contracts, and because the redirected money has resulted in higher interest rates and longer-term loans costing over $500M to date, they are leveraging it and constantly sponsoring print ads, billboards, and TV ads (on their own cable networks) making nonspecific claims about how the municipal fiber has collected so many millions but only invested a limited amount and how so few people are currently hooked up. The city is covered with signs paid for by the megacorps with things like "$500,000,000 Wasted!", "Municipal Fiber Failed!", "Demand (city) Stops Internet Tax!" They all say things like "sponsored by Citizens for Fair Taxation and Representation", which in turn are run by and sponsored by the megacorps. They fail to mention that they're the ones who induced the huge expenses.

* The few people who are hooked up try to convince everyone just how good it is. Just $20/month for a hundred megabit (both ways) Internet connection on a fiber-to-the-home connection. Business pay a just little more and are seeing into the gigabit speeds. They are immediately drowned out by people making claims that is only cheap because the entire region is subsidizing only a few thousand connections and that nobody will ever see that when everything is hooked up and that we should all by Comcast because it is only $45 for the first year plus taxes and fees and installation. They are also accompanied with ads are along the lines of "Right now you are paying the city $20 every month for high speed Internet that you can't use. Get high speed Internet from Comcast starting at just $45 per month for the first year."

So while it is nice to think the governments could do that kind of transformation, know that the incumbents see this as a death threat. The cable and phone monopolies are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars fighting municipal broadband because they see it as a threat to their very existence. It is very much a case of adapt or die, but they fail to see the adapt part.

Comment: Re:The world we live in. (Score 3, Insightful) 595

by Frobnicator (#47749131) Attached to: New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs


Looking over the USDOJ stats, it seems Rohypnol is a regional problem with relatively low use count. In many places it is listed as "the least accessible date-rape drug", in other regions it is a suspected factor in hundreds of rape cases. The numbers show it going from about 1000 suspected cases nationally in 1997 to it's modern level of being suspected use in 1.5% of rape cases, a few thousand cases per year. Consider: how many hundreds of thousands of dates where a drink is consumed are there every year? Millions of drinks? Hundreds of millions of drinks? On a per-drink basis the number of uses is a very small percentage. Since it is small as a percentage that suggests going after bigger percentages for the bigger reductions.

While any number bigger than 0 is a problem, as a statistic these two drugs are not used in a high percentage of rapes, and date rapes themselves are relatively rare. I'm not trying to trivialize it. As the parent post suggests, a very rare problem does not lend itself to a TSA-like drug test where millions of drinks are tested for something detectable only a few thousand times annually at a maximum. My rough estimate is around 100M drinks across the nation over the course of a year, roughly 3000 testable contaminated drinks, so 0.0003% of date drinks, or one in every 30,000. That's a lot of useless fingernail-dips.

I suppose if you do go that route, of the new products this one that continuously monitors your drink by the cup and straw changing color seems much better than nail polish you need to dip frequently. It is both passive and continuous. Someone could slip the drug in after you dunk your fingernail, but the sensor on the container or the straw is 'always on'.

Comment: Re:No no (Score 4, Interesting) 243

by Frobnicator (#47740487) Attached to: It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

If you only ever praise effort instead of achievement you will wind up with a generation of morons that think they're great just for trying even when they never get anything done.

Let's try again...

rewarding the effort and the completion of tasks rather than rewarding the natural state.

Trying to reward "being smart" is ineffectual at best. Similarly it is ineffectual to reward basketball players just for being tall, or reward a junior player simply for being young, or reward a senior player simply for being senior.

Rewarding effort and completion are effective at teaching students that those (rather than the grades or being first place) are important. If being first place is the only thing that matters then means are unimportant: break the opponent's equipment, or even put your opponent in the hospital, to reach the goal of being first. If grades are more important than learning, cheat from your neighbor or hack the grade book so you can get the rewarded grade.

When the rewards focus only on the final scores you get children who value the wrong things. Once their life of cheating in school is done, it transitions to the real world into lying, cheating, and stealing to get other outcomes without putting in effort or completing work. Or, if they use those patterns in management to try to encourage others they will be confused about why those same patterns fail to produce positive results.

Real world example:

At one place I worked several years ago there was a team of 6 salespeople. Management wanted to get the most sales out of them, so they created a reward. They made a big poster and charted sales, the highest sales would get a paid trip to a fabulous resort plus some spending money. Most of the salesfolk instantly gave up. In the first week there was a clear leader: The senior salesperson was about quadruple everyone else. By the end of the first month the senior person polished off another deal; they were at over $200K three were between $50K and $20K, and the two intern-type grunts were around $5k each. The reason was obvious to several of us, the senior salesperson worked with management to build and sign the corporate contracts, the three medium-tier people had a collection of established regular customers, and the entry level noobs were stuck with cold calls. After three months the senior salesperson acted all thankful and grateful for the challenge, the attitude of 'better luck next time' to those who obviously never had a chance. When I talked with the mangers about it they were confused about why the interns were upset and why the more experienced workers weren't putting in an effort to win. They couldn't understand it because their own value system only valued the end goal and competition rather than effort, cooperation, and completion. Their challenge rewarded tenure rather than growth. Sales were down significantly over those months. The end result was less money for the business, reduced morale, and one of the salesfolk quitting over it.

A far better system would have been to set an ambitious combined sales goal, and all those who helped cross some boundaries get the reward. The tenured staff then has an incentive to help the beginners succeed, and everyone has an incentive to increase total sales. Instead of rewarding the natural and immutable situation of tenure, they could have rewarded effort and completion of sales. Everyone whose efforts contribute to the completion of the goal gets the rewards. These systems tend to work well as incentives. For example, "If we meet X we'll have a team party", or "everyone who meets goal X will get two days off." Those who have crossed the threshold typically then help their peers to also cross the threshold.

Rewarding "You sure are smart", or "You sure are tall", or "you sure have tenure" is just plain stupid. It might feel good to the person giving the reward and the person getting the reward, but to outsiders it is usually painfully obvious that the system is broken.

If you think the system is working, ask someone who's waiting for a prompt.