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Comment: Re:One connector to rule them all. (Score 5, Insightful) 130

Not everyone needs more than one.

Whenever you post to /., remember that YOU'RE the weird one. You've got more rigorous demands than most people. There are lots and lots of people that don't need more than one port, and will be delighted that they don't have to even think about what sort of connector they'll need for whatever peripheral they have. Everything will come with USB-C, they've only got one port and nothing to sort out.

For those of us that need more, there are plenty of options, but man, I have lots of people in my life that need ZERO ports on their laptop.

Comment: Re:Learn to read, learn basic math (Score 1) 306

The two statements you made are kind of at odds with one another.

Coders ARE too often one-trick ponies, I agree. But at least they learned some other subjects while they were at school. Literature, biology, chemistry. Even if they don't use them, they know a few things here and there.

The biologists, chemists and writers of the future will now know a little bit of coding. They won't remember much, probably, but they'll know a little. Nobody's trying to teach these kids to be experts any more than school is trying to teach kids to be materials scientists before they get to University. A little exposure can go a long way.

You don't get well-rounded individuals by teaching FEWER subjects.

Comment: Re:Another useless subject - yay! (Score 1) 306

I went to University and concentrated on computing science classes. I've been a professional programmer for 15 years.

But while I was at University, I also took courses in comparative literature, invertebrate paleontology, geology, meteorology, atmospheric fluid- and thermo- dynamics, and philosophy. You know what? It turns out that I'm really interested in those 'useless' subjects that I didn't really need, but was forced to take. As I look into the future, I'm thinking of leaving the software industry and getting a degree in biology or ecology, and using all the things I know from all the subjects that I've taken.

Education isn't just about utility, it's also about opportunity. Teaching children how to code isn't about making sure they use that skill later in life, it's just so that they know how big the world is and that they can do a lot of different things. At the time I did my degree, I did more than my fair share of grumbling at those optional courses, but 15 years on, they feel like some of the most valuable parts of my education. If nothing else, I think I have a lot more interesting conversations than I would've if I'd fixated on just one subject.

Comment: Failure should be celebrated (Score 4, Interesting) 417

by Dixie_Flatline (#49774447) Attached to: Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed?

I think part of the problem is that nobody wants to publish a paper where the experiment failed--but they should.

Failures are useful; they're not wasted time. You've almost certainly learned something from a failed experiment. Maybe you learned that the setup wasn't rigorous enough, or maybe you just learned that a certain avenue of research wasn't viable for one reason or another. I get that journals are looking for breakthroughs, but it would be so useful to read a paper in your field and find out that someone already tried the thing you're attempting, and now you don't have to fail in exactly the same way.

But that requires a much more collaborative system, and one where the community is interested in finding answers, not glory.

Comment: Re: Is a reduction (Score 1) 89

by Dixie_Flatline (#49773509) Attached to: Bats' White-Nose Syndrome May Be Cured

Unfortunately, those wind turbines also kill bats (a friend of mine is just finishing her PhD on that work). The good news is that the folks that operate wind farms aren't in it to destroy wildlife, so they're amenable to doing things that help reduce the number of bat deaths.

(Bat deaths due to wind farms are especially painful, since they often kill bats that are migratory which wouldn't be affected by white nose syndrome.)

Comment: Re:All the time (Score 2) 742

That's not really true. Rotating debt isn't the same as a giant monolithic debt. Paying a debt and then adding a new debt is still paying off a debt, even if you're borrowing from the same person.

But I understand what you're getting at and I definitely agree that we have (and should have) different expectations for debt when it comes to countries than when it comes to corporations, say. Debt isn't the same sort of liability for a country--I really hate it when politicians say that we should run countries 'more like companies'. It just speaks to how little they understand about countries (and probably companies).

Comment: Re:How does one tell the difference? (Score 1) 103

It can be difficult to tell the difference between rocks that have been modified by people and rocks that have been shaped by natural processes. That being said, there are things to look for.

First is material. From the photographs in the linked article, it appears that the purported tool is made from some kind of fine-grained silicious material (high in silicon, rather than magnesium and iron, as evidenced by the color), whereas the surrounding rock appears to be basalt (mafic, therefor darker in color). If you work in an area, you get to know the geology of the region, and where rocks come from. Seeing rocks far from their sources often indicates human curation. That being said, it seems unlikely to me that anyone would bother to curate a general tool like the ones photographed, so that probably isn't going to be a huge factor in this case.

Second, after seeing hundreds or thousands of stone tools, you get good at identifying them. It is kind of like chicken sexing---it may be difficult to quantify *exactly* why something is a tool, but people get really good at it, none the less. Again, this isn't the whole story, but it gives you an idea about why one might pick up a rock in the field. People who have a lot of experience and training are more likely to recognize potential tools.

Third, there are morphological indications of human modification. Rocks that fall and break naturally tend to have random patterns of flaking, whereas intentionally modified rocks will show flaking that is concentrated in a particular place. This isn't foolproof (indeed, there were purported pre-Clovis tools found in California a few decades ago that, upon closer examination, turned out to be naturally formed), but, again, it is an indication.

Fourth, it is often possible to tell a tool from other contextual clues: is it near a hearth? a pile of animal bones? other easily identified tools? Again, given the age, this is unlikely to be useful in this context, but you asked a more general question, so this is part of a more general answer.

Finally, there are lab tests that can help. One can check for residue (i.e. blood or plant reside that might indicate use in preparing food), or microflaking that might indicate use, for example. These are things that you can't see in the field, and almost certainly can't see in a photograph that was taken in the field.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 1) 837

by Dixie_Flatline (#49739115) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Yeah, no. Damage increases by the fourth power of axle weight.

It doesn't really matter what the tyres are inflated to, unless they're so large as to distribute the weight across an enormous surface area. But if that were the case, you wouldn't be able to get past a large truck--its wheels would take up the whole road.

Comment: Re:It's not limited to the US (Score 4, Insightful) 220

Australia uses the neonics differently, as I recall. Something about the way they spread the pesticide makes it less likely to interfere with bees.

That said, it's an insecticide. It's meant to kill insects, and they're generally pretty indiscriminate. It's also fairly likely that even if it's a sub-lethal dose for bees, it's a lethal dose for different beneficial insects.

I think there are multiple causes--varroa mites have been around for decades without causing such widespread colony collapse. We've got a changing climate and agricultural monocultures, as well as stress from neonics (which it turns out honeybees may prefer over non-treated nectar).

Looking for single causes is usually hopeless. But we can control our use of pesticides, so it's one of the things on the chopping block. One way or another, we have to bring this problem under control.

Comment: False premise, false dichotomy (Score 1) 244

This article is bad and the author should feel bad.

1) The conversion rate doesn't need to be even close to 1:1. Spotify makes 87-91% of its revenue from the customers that subscribe (depending on what report you read). This is despite the percentage of people paying is around or less than 25%. I've read that Spotify would be profitable if it could just get freemium users to pay $1/3 months.

2) Psy was rich before he was available in North America. The article makes it sound like exposure to the west MADE him. That's exceptional cultural egocentrism.

3) Consumers don't DESERVE free music.

A lot of people on here (rightly) say that nobody DESERVES to make a living being a musician, and that's fair enough. But nobody DESERVES free music, either. But it DOES take work and money and time to make music, so if you're going to listen to it, you should pay for it, one way or another. The thing I can't stand is people listening to music with no intention of giving back. If an artist makes music and nobody listens to it because the music isn't good, or they didn't do a good job spreading the word, well, fair enough. They don't deserve money for that. But I'd be pissed if my company decided to use my work without paying me, and it's understandable that artists (and to a more limited extent, labels) want to be paid for what you're consuming.

If you don't listen, you don't pay for it. Fine. But if you're streaming someone's music, *you should pay for it*. It's not free to make. If you don't want to pay, YOU DON'T GET TO LISTEN. That's the way it works for everything else in your life. Don't want to pay for an Apple Watch? You don't get an Apple Watch. Don't want to pay for a car? Walk. You're not entitled to music just because it's easy to obtain.

Comment: Re:You are quoting losers, so yeah. (Score 1) 950

The common link in all your failed relationships is you. (This isn't a dig at the parent post, it's agreement.)

If you keep dating people that are bad for you, it's because you're picking the wrong people, or putting yourself in situations where you're only meeting the wrong people. And maybe if everyone you end up with--regardless of where you look--is toxic to you, you should sit down and figure out if it's you and not them.

The minimum requirement for being in a relationship with someone is being in good working order, emotionally. If you can't sit down and know that that's true, you should probably work that bit out first.

Comment: Re:Stop calling it AI. (Score 1) 78

by Dixie_Flatline (#49615291) Attached to: AI Experts In High Demand

If you show a very young child (less than a year old, I think) something 'impossible' happening, they will pay attention to it for longer and find it more interesting. So if you hold a ball in the air and let go, but it doesn't fall, or you throw a ball and it goes through a wall, a baby can recognise that those are weird events, and will stare at them for a long time.

If you then give the baby a choice of toys, amongst which is the ball that did an impossible thing, they will spend more time playing with it, rather than equally spreading their attention around. Moreover, they will conduct small experiments that are related to the impossible thing they saw. They will pick up the ball and drop it repeatedly to make sure gravity works. They will hold the ball and bang it on a surface to make sure that the ball does not arbitrarily pass through things.

The brain has a lot of stuff built into it. There are whole sections of the brain devoted to image processing, or understanding smells and taste. These are not inconsequential starting points.

Comment: Re:Struggle (Score 1) 403

by Dixie_Flatline (#49594219) Attached to: Tattoos Found To Interfere With Apple Watch Sensors

You've been marked as a troll, but I don't really think that's fair. Not everyone wants a tattoo or understands the tattoos that other people get.

I know these things are going to be on my arms for the rest of my life. And when I wake up in the morning and look at them, I think, "these are the arms I should've been born with".

First of all, you have to understand that not all tattoos are created equal. I paid $150/hr for mine. I looked for a long time for an artist whose style I liked, and when we sat down and did them, it took a really long time. All tattoos fade and bleed a bit, but good artists will know how to handle that a little. But hey, when I'm 80, I'm gonna be a little faded and fuzzy around the edges too.

My sleeves are thematic--I was born in the year of the Snake, in a fire cycle. I already had the words for 'fire' and 'snake' tattooed each on one wrist. My right arm is a red and black snake wrapped around bamboo with clouds, and my left arm is a blue, slick snake on a backdrop of flames and smoke. (Their mouths are closed, and they look quite happy--I firmly believe you need to be able to talk or fight your way out of any tattoo you have, and I dislike aggressive snakes for myself, because I'm not going to want to fight my way out of anything.)

Anyway, my tattoos are just a way for me to feel closer to part of my culture. They're a pretty bit of art that I get to carry around with me. They look good with the clothes I wear, like any accessory. That's what I wanted out of them, and that's what I got.

Other people have other reasons, but those are mine. :)

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell