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Comment: It proves the conspiracy theorists right (sort of) (Score 4, Insightful) 209

by jfengel (#47968261) Attached to: Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light

To me, the real lede is buried pretty deeply in the article. The light on that particular photo IS anomalous. It sounds as if the conspiracy theorists were right about that, and that's kind of astute.

What's interesting is the resolution of the anomaly: it's light reflected off Neil Armstrong himself. Or rather, his large, bright-white suit. The NVidia guys showed that it reflects enough light to account for the lighting in the picture. If you don't include it, the lighting is off. I think that's pretty cool.

This doesn't, of course, settle anything for the conspiracy nuts, and I fully expect this to prove only that the NASA guys were wily bastards. And that sucks, because it sounds as if the brain power they're applying might well have turned up something more interesting if it weren't fixated on achieving a delusional result.

Comment: Re:I went (Score 1) 177

by jfengel (#47966881) Attached to: Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out For People's Climate March In New York City

Thank you for caring. Seriously.

I've made my peace with future generations about my apathy. In part that's because I have no children, and don't want them; in fact, a (tiny) part of the reason I have none is that I don't want the burden of the fact that I don't believe I can contribute to a fix to this problem.

I am sorry, future generations, but the enemy was too big to move. Most of the world understood, but crucial people in crucial positions were happy to leave you a worse world, and let you deal with it. They found an awful lot of common cause with a large group of self-centered, gullible people who were easily led to believe anything that meant that they could live any way they wanted with no repercussions. No reasoning could dislodge them from that, and emotional appeals were met with contempt. It was clear that I couldn't win, and that by the time it became obvious that something had to be done, it would be much too late. It is, I suspect, already too late.

I really appreciate that you're not taking the coward's way out, as I am. Maybe you can do something I should be doing. But I simply can't justify anything but apathy. I've tried.

Comment: Re:The review ecosystem is good and truly broken.. (Score 1) 236

by jfengel (#47966711) Attached to: Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War

I completely agree... and yet there is one prominent counterexample: Wikipedia. When Wikipedia came out I was absolutely certain it would not work. And yet, somehow, it does. There are trolls, and controversial pages have to be locked down, but overall the site does astonishingly well. It's the go-to source for general information on the Internet, at least as good (and in many ways better) than expensive curated sources.

I don't completely understand what it is that makes Wikipedia work. I'm sure it's a lot of things, and at least some of the things also contribute to dysfunction (like deletionist moderators). I don't know if that can be adapted to review sites, which are at core about opinion, while Wikipedia's guiding principle of objectivity gives it a touchstone that all non-trolls more or less agree on.

The trolls don't, of course, but somehow the fact that the non-trolls outnumber the trolls makes them relatively easy to spot and manage, though there are still problems. Especially in out-of-the-way places, which is the other difficulty with review: most places will get relatively few reviews and won't have millions of eyeballs on the lookout for trolling.

Still... the reason I brought this up is that somehow, Wikipedia works, and I would have sworn it wouldn't. So maybe, just maybe, there's some hope for review sites as collaborations. It won't be as simple as reverting the many different kinds of bad reviews (from outright trolling to "I hate spicy food so you shouldn't go to this Mexican restaurant"), but I'm uncharacteristically optimistic that there might be a route forward. (I'm certain, though, that Yelp hasn't found it.)

Comment: Re:Small setup (Score 1) 283

by Archtech (#47943985) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

Isn't it simply a question of what your house is made of? I have seen houses in the USA that seem to be built almost wholly from wood; no problem there. My house has external brick walls, but the internal walls are breezeblock, presumably with some steel reinforcement. Result: wireless works OK vertically (through the light wooden ceilings and floors) but often not at all horizontally or diagonally. I'm sitting here participating in this thread with wireless, but I have purchased a good (Diavolo) powerline networking system so I can always plug in wired Ethernet through the nearest mains socket.

Comment: Re:When doing anything involving the ocean (Score 1) 195

by jfengel (#47931477) Attached to: Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise

Yep. Still sufficient reason to reduce the amount of plastic that gets into the oceans, but unfortunately, it seems really hard to get people to take any positive environmental steps unless you exaggerate it into ugly, apocalyptic terms. And even then, for every person you convince by it, there will be one who heard that it was exaggerated and concluded that therefore nothing needs to be done at all.

Comment: Re:And the speculation was completely off (Score 1) 187

by jfengel (#47928353) Attached to: NASA's Manned Rocket Contract: $4.2 Billion To Boeing, $2.6 Billion To SpaceX

I didn't follow the speculation, but perhaps you'd know: did they realize that splitting was an option? Did Boeing and SpaceX each get half a loaf, or did NASA somehow manage to "grow the pie"?

If so, where will they dig up additional billions in funding? If not, will either SpaceX or Boeing be able to accomplish a large fraction of the work for a fraction of the funding they'd hoped to get?

I'm ecstatic to see them say "Why not both?", since if the government is going to be spending tax dollars, I'd rather see it go to a good scientific cause than... well, to a lot of other things that the government is prone to spending money on. But It's a fair bit of money, even in government terms, and I hope it's being spent wisely rather than having a Solomonic decision that gives us two halves of a baby.

Comment: Re:it's means it is (Score 1) 132

by jfengel (#47905945) Attached to: 3D-Printed Car Takes Its First Test Drive

If the headline was "Man lands on the moon", would you complain that he used a rocket ship instead of jumping?

The way this headline is written, it's as if they'd written "Armstrong jumps to moon", and neglected to mention in TFS that he was jumping from the ladder of the lander to the surface. TFS says "managed to 3D print, and assemble an entire automobile", and that's misleading to the point of lying.

It's a cool, impressive, incremental achievement, but they haven't landed on the moon here. And tech reporting, and tech in general, would be better served by accurate reporting of it.

Comment: Re:Fundamental issues (Score 1) 182

by jfengel (#47898785) Attached to: The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

Yep. MOOCs don't serve the important part of the teacher's job. Teaching is best as a dialogue. A videotaped lecture is little different from a book, in that the information is fixed; worse, unlike a book, you don't even get to read at your own pace. It's not without value, since some things adapt well to that and different modes work for different people, but it's still missing the two-way communication that a real teacher provides.

People have pushed MOOCs largely for the learn-a-bunch-of-facts classes, such as science and tech. Technique is also a "fact"; it's stuff that can easily be tested and graded. The things that are missing are the parts that make us consider a student well-rounded: history, literature, sociology, art. These sound trivial to nerds but they're about innovation and communication. They, too, have to be practiced, and it's not something that can be memorized. Even the STEMmest jobs are ultimately about people: seeing what people want, finding ways to tell them your ideas, building up a story together. And that's something that a real teacher can help with, and a videotaped teacher can't. (Nor can a videotaped teacher answer questions or ascertain just why a student isn't "getting it". Even a "great teacher" is little more than an actor when on video.)

Teaching is too often undervalued as if they were just handed a book. It's a skill of its own. We STEM nerds often undervalue that skill because it's not easily graded on a multiple-choice test.

Comment: OS less significant (Score 2) 249

by HangingChad (#47897651) Attached to: City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros

I remember when the Redmond faithful used to go on about needing Windows to get "real work" done. My work must not be real because I can do it on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS. I find myself using my Android tablet more and more for work and all my social media promotions.

The operating system is becoming less relevant every day. People are choosing devices, not operating systems.

Comment: Re:What about other devices? (Score 1) 421

by Archtech (#47893587) Attached to: Windows Tax Shot Down In Italy

"Then she doesn't need a PC, she needs an iPad or a Surface RT".

Good luck buying one of those with a 24-inch screen, so she can see her pictures in full glorious detail. And read her messages in 24-point, because her eyes aren't so good any more.

But at least it'll fit in her purse. (And probably stay there, when she forgets about it).

Comment: Re:Try Kickstarting A Novel (Score 1) 215

by jfengel (#47892729) Attached to: Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

Good for you, man. I'm glad to see it happening. I don't like having publishers as arbiters of public taste any more than you do. I just think it's important to recognize that the vast majority of self-published ebooks aren't very successful, and it's not just the bad ones.

"I'm a mean green mother from outer space" -- Audrey II, The Little Shop of Horrors