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Comment: Tablets are toys (Score 1) 333

by Geof (#46902701) Attached to: Figuring Out the iPad's Place

I have an iPad Air and Zagg keyboard case for it. Toys. Both of them, toys.

I agree. Tablets are almost entirely without practical use. With one exception: reading PDFs.

I bought mine for reading role playing game PDFs as I am running out of shelf space. It is *great* for that. What I find rather stunning is how useless it is for anything else. I had thought tablets were toys, but after the success of the iPad I figured I was probably wrong. Apparently not.

(Mine is an Xperia Tablet Z. With its 16:10 screen and 224 ppi it's perhaps not as good as an iPad for PDFs, but it's not as locked down, it's light, and on sale with its SD card slot it was 33% cheaper. At least until !@#$ing Google neutered the SD card with Android 4.4, but that's another story.)

Comment: Non-JS mode is buggy: misses comments (Score 1) 2219

by Geof (#46187515) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

Comments are sometimes missing from the HTML-only view. For example, try finding comment #37499132 by user "bugnuts" in the following discussion in both the JS and HTML-only views:

http://ask.slashdot.org/commen...

Comments #37499256 by NoSig and #37500168 by pRock85 are also missing.

It appears that an entire contiguous block of comments has gone missing between pages 2 and 3 of the nested view. Some discussions are missing hundreds of comments. In general, a higher proportion of comments (sometimes hundreds) go missing in longer discussions. I have a suspicion that this may have to do with how long threads cross page boundaries. In some discussions with long threads (some with more than 100 comments in a single thread), subsequent pages would be identical or near identical. The software seems to try to start comment display on a new page at the root of the current thread. Maybe in some cases this leads to mis-counting how many new comments are being shown, and thus to gaps.

I discovered this in 2012 when analyzing older Slashdot discussions. I reported it but did not hear back. I suppose it is possible it has been fixed for newer discussions but not for old ones. Also, with the decline in commenting activity on Slashdot in recent years it should be less likely to occur.

To return to the original topic, I find the beta unusable because there is no way to display high-scoring comments with context, then expand out low-scoring comments to investigate surrounding threads. This destroys the value of Slashdot's amazing moderation system. Without it I can neither read nor moderate effectively. If it is done away with, I won't be coming back. I'm not a fan of the new look either, but unlike the integrity of the moderation system that is not critical.

Comment: Except: "little incentive to fix small leaks" (Score 1) 292

by Geof (#45988527) Attached to: Thousands of Gas Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Washington DC

From the article:

What puzzled Phillips, at first, was why the gas industry did nothing about it. In purely financial terms, the amount of gas lost nationwide had a value of more than three billion dollars. Why would they let so much money leak out of their pipes? The answer, he discovered, was that state regulators allowed the companies to pass on the cost of lost gas to ratepayers. Utilities had little incentive to fix small leaks.

If this is true (I imagine it might vary by jurisdiction), then the incentive runs the other way: companies are paid to pump gas into the pipes regardless of whether it reaches its destination. They actually get to sell more gas if some of it leaks.

In theory, there would be an optimal level of leaks that maximizes profits; from a financial point of view it would actually make sense for a company to ensure that leaks did not fall below this number. I'm certainly not suggesting companies are choosing to leak deliberately (it seems unlikely to me), but that's one hell of an incentive structure.

If the quote is accurate and representative. Journalists have been known to get things wrong. I would be curious to hear whether you know about that side of things.

Comment: Scholar of open access estimates up to 96% savings (Score 2) 63

by Geof (#45381609) Attached to: Could We "Wikify" Scholarly Canons?

If more of scholarship turned toward open access, libraries could shift money from paying for subscriptions to supporting journals or journal mirrors. They'd likely save considerable cash doing so.

Heather Morrison, a colleague of mine, researched this. She estimated savings as high as 96%. The details are in her dissertation, Freedom for scholarship in the internet age - which is, of course, open access. The cost estimates are on page 86 (the 98th page of the PDF).

Comment: Unnecessary binary forks the tool base (Score 1) 566

by Geof (#44230853) Attached to: HTTP 2.0 Will Be a Binary Protocol

I agree that it's a stupid idea, but there is almost nothing about text that makes it special. If the HTTP/2.0 standard is actually a standard, then it will be pretty easy to make an app or a plugin that translates it.

There's almost nothing about English that makes it special, but I wouldn't recommend documenting the spec in Klingon. (To be fair, you agree that binary is a bad idea.) Or hey, would could use APL for the reference implementation!

Intrinsically, you are correct: there's nothing much special about text. But the significance of text isn't intrinsic: it is extrinsic. Text is special because it's standard. We have a rich selection and history of tools, techniques, idioms and sober experience to draw on when it comes to dealing with text. With a new binary format we would have none of that. Your imagined translator has a lot of work to do before it can match up to the existing capabilities of text-oriented tools, let alone exceed them. Unnecessary binary formats effectively fork the development infrastructure.

If you ask me, it makes about as much sense as replacing the Roman alphabet with Chinese idiograms for English. Chinese characters are for more information dense: you can fit more on a page and you can read it faster. In many respects it's more efficient (it has even proven effective as a shared written form for diverse spoken dialects). That doesn't make it a good idea, regardless of the availability of translators.

We have plenty of historical examples of text protocols providing advantages over their binary equivalents. Do we have any good examples of the opposite: in which a binary protocol replaced a text protocol and proved superior by virtue of being binary?

Comment: Some of her words and his (Score 5, Informative) 666

by Geof (#44080281) Attached to: Security Researcher Attacked While At Conference

From her blog (her post is long and detailed):

I don’t want to write this. I don’t want to get caught up in anything to do with this women in infosec bit. Everyone who does get lambasted so badly at this point I’d rather avoid it entirely. You can’t say anything about sexism without getting lumped in with the creeper cards or the talk canceling at Bsides SF. . . . I’m bogged down in book edits. I’m teaching a lot of new classes this summer and fall. Needless to say, I don’t have time to process this much less write about it. Plus I’ve gotten enough pushback already. People I thought were my friends and colleagues have said things to me about this that have cut deeper than the actual assault ever could. I don’t want to deal with more of that. I don’t want to see the comments for this post. But I feel like I have to do this. I weighed my options. If I shut up and do nothing and later hear he did this to someone else, I will feel personally responsible. I have to do everything I can to make sure another speaker or attendee doesn’t get worse than I got.

This wasn’t like any of those grey areas that make anybody question the validity of any rape claim. . . . . We talk for a little bit about nothing consequential. Guy jumps on me and pins me down. . . . Perhaps I was not making myself clear, “No!” “Stop!” “I don’t want to do this!” . . . Once he had my pants down and his pants down and was completely ignoring my shouting for him to stop, it suddenly became clear to me what was about to go down. He was holding my arms down of course, so I leaned up and bit him on the arm as hard as I could, at which point he started swearing and punched me in the face. . . . I managed to lunge up towards the table and grab hold of a coffee cup. I knew I only had one shot. So I hit him with everything I had, and I got him right in the temple. And guess what, he let me go.

This is the last thing I have to say about all this. My duty is done. I don’t want to be the poster girl for infosec feminism. I want to be a researcher, and a trainer, and a speaker, and an icon.

From his blog (he wrote very little):

It was brought to my attention a recent flood of Twitter messages containing a number of accusations (ranging from "horrible", to "very horrible") against my person. The accusations were originated by someone who happened to be a speaker at the same Conference . . . and, for reasons that I didn't and don't understand, has been repeating blatant lies, every time magnifying it a bit more -- which nobody in their right mind could believe. . . . think about events that happened in the last decade based on "assumptions", or the kind of anti-humanitarian scenarios this world has experienced simply because some mentally-disordered person came up with a blatant lie that everyone followed with questioning. I will personally not contribute to the existing drama, since it someone else's game to get attention at any price.

What disturbs me here is the knee-jerk suggestion that she invented the story for some unspecified reason. Statistically, only a very small number of rape accusations turn out to be fabricated. Of course I don't know for sure what happened. I've never even heard of these people before. But based on the little evidence I have seen, I know who I believe.

+ - The MOOCs Continue, This Time in SciFi/Fantasy Writing.... 3

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Inexplicably, the MOOC era shows no signs of abating. Beginning June 3 two MOOCs in Science Fiction and Fantasy will begin. The first, coming from well known MOOC provider Coursera, will be taught by University of Michigan professor Eric Rabkin, and will focus on a historical and psychological analysis of the genre, while the second will come from the university creative writing class of NYT bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, best known for his completion of the Wheel of Time book franchise. If this trend keeps up, maybe we can cross our fingers for a MOOC on screen writing from Joss Whedon soon..."

Comment: Re:I'm not even a fan, but (Score 1) 1174

by Doc Ruby (#43103311) Attached to: Orson Scott Card's Superman Story Shelved After Homophobia Controversy

Oh, I noticed every word in your post. Saying that not all Americans are part of a tyrannical mob doesn't preclude the bigotry I pointed out. You conveniently ignore the other countries' mobs, singling out Americans as if it they're especially tyrannical, as I said. Somehow in your undeserved condescesion you missed all those words in my post, its only point.

And pointing out your fallacy and your bigotry it comes from isn't an "attack", it's the mildest reprimand of something I don't like (because it's dislikable). Then there's how you say one person criticizing the logic and spirit of your post is "tyrannical". You should look that word up. Probably look up most of them. Don't bother getting back to me until you can speak English, or some other language Google translates adequately.

Comment: Re:I'm not even a fan, but (Score 1) 1174

by Doc Ruby (#43103275) Attached to: Orson Scott Card's Superman Story Shelved After Homophobia Controversy

No, I get joy out of exposing people who are full of shit, and those who are bigots (mostly the same thing). I'm not interested in your backwards "tolerance" fallacy. I'm not tolerant of bigots, and that's not "ironic".

I didn't call you homosexual as an insult. I called you bigot, which is actually an insult, though I meant it as the plain truth - and you didn't seem to be insulted by it. You're the one who says "homosexual" is an insult, though of course you'll now deny that.

I also note you said "what if I was [homosexual]", not "what if I were". A shrink would ask why you're referring to your past homosexuality as definite, not conditional. But what gave you away already was that homophobes like you typically are repressed homosexuals, and repressed homosexuals typically try to keep homosexuals repressed. Too much temptation to bear it seems. Oh, and your choice of insult to me, "asshole", would also keep your shrink busy. You should try one. Or try some homosexuality. If you're not gay, what's the harm? If you are gay, it'll save your life (and the lives of other you help oppress).

Comment: Re:I'm not even a fan, but (Score 1) 1174

by Doc Ruby (#43102163) Attached to: Orson Scott Card's Superman Story Shelved After Homophobia Controversy

The rulings protecting gay marriage in California are precisely on Constitutional grounds.

The courts are the ultimate umpire of whether a law or an act is protected or prohibited by the Constitution, the judiciary's role in chain after the specifier of government action (legislative) and its executor (executive) have played their role.

You are a fool, a bigot and an America hater. Shut up already, Osama.

Comment: Re:I'm not even a fan, but (Score 1) 1174

by Doc Ruby (#43102155) Attached to: Orson Scott Card's Superman Story Shelved After Homophobia Controversy

The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution says "[...] nor deny to any person within [any state's] jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.". Those are the words in the Constitution to the effect that all people are equal. Sadly, it took an Amendment, a bloody Civil War, and nearly a century of constituted "liberty" before we got it in there. But we did, nearly a century and a half ago.

Sadly, we're still far from practicing it. But we're closer than ever before, and I think our approach is accelerating. I just hope it's not asymptotic.

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.

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