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Comment: Re:The review ecosystem is good and truly broken.. (Score 2) 238

by JanneM (#47963597) Attached to: Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War

Why? Maybe I simply only review things I like. Why would that devalue my reviews?

This. One reason really low and really high reviews are much more common than they ought to be is that people only bother voicing an opinion if they feel strongly (positive or negative) about something. Another is that once they do, they'll tend to exaggerate their evaluation to really drive home how they feel.

My suspicion is that the only stable scale is a simple "really liked it/really disliked it" up/down system. Then somehow weigh that according to the proportion of customers or buyers that actually bother to review. That depends of having a decently good estimate of that proportion though. The likes of Amazon have that for their products; for restaurants it'd be hard to impossible,

Comment: Take the long view (Score 5, Insightful) 491

by JanneM (#47926185) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

Charlie Stross recently posted a very good take on this: This is a permanent change. Whatever happens during the first few years is basically irrelevant, compared to the long-term results. Did Norway separating from Sweden cause short-term economic upheaval? Does that matter at all a century later?

This is a long-term change, not a short.term one. Any voter should consider the probable situation twenty or fourty years from now, not whatever happens in a year or two.

Comment: Re:MOOC is designed like a physical classroom (Score 1) 182

by JanneM (#47896993) Attached to: The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

"Also some of the science and tech courses are very demanding but the teachers don't simplify it leading to many whooshing sounds for the student throughout the courses. Such courses could benefit from a simplified overview of the course material."

How many employers would like to hire people that can't understand the actual content and need "simplified overview" to get a grade? If you really don't grasp it to the point where you can actually apply the math for new, novel problems, then you don't actually know it, do you?

MOOCs have a serious credibility problem already. The very last thing they need is to dumb things down. If it becomes common knowledge that, say, an engineering MOOC graduate can't even handle a system of differential equations in an intelligent manner, or don't understand the implication of Green's function, then the credits will become truly worthless.

Comment: Re:If you think medical funding is bad (Score 1) 348

by JanneM (#47876003) Attached to: When Scientists Give Up

It does depend on the size of the field as well, though, as well as the funding. I can well imagine astronomy having major problems; everybody has heard of astronomy, and lots of people dream of being astronomers.

A friend of mine is working in paleogeology. As you might imagine there's not a huge amount of money in the field. On the other hand, few people have heard of it either, and there aren't that many people dreaming of working there. There's no movies starring daring paleogeogists with hat and bullwhip in hand ducking poison arrows and swinging across pits of snakes in order to determine the local sea bed temperature during the cambrian. The end result is that funding is pretty stable and dependable. People that are qualified and willing find funding. I bet there's a fair amount of other obscure fields in a similar situation.

Comment: Re:Holy shit! (Score 2) 198

by JanneM (#47870507) Attached to: UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

You could write an open source application in C++ rather than the much less mainstream R language and you'd have lots of people ready skilled to maintain it.

You may be right in general. But R is not a general-purpose language. It's a programmable tool for statistical computing; you'd have to spend a lot of time to reimplement a set of high-quality statistical libraries to do the same. Doing that correctly is very non-trivial and not quick. Very similar to saying you can replace Matlab with your own C++ code.
 

Comment: Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (Score 4, Insightful) 127

by JanneM (#47682897) Attached to: Switching Game Engines Halfway Through Development

One function of special vocabulary is for specialists to easily communicate. But another, important, social function is as a badge of in-group membership. If you use the words correctly (from the point of view of the group) you show that you belong, and that you probably know and understand all the other explicit and implicit rules of the group. If the word use spreads too far it loses this function and the group needs to find new words and expressions instead.

You dislike "gelling". You dislike "paradigm shifts". It would probably be a fairly risk-free bet on what you think of expressions like "optics" (as in "the optics of this decision is good") and the like. You dislike these words and refuse to use them. Which signals to management people that you are not management and should not be treated as part of their in-group. "gelling" works exactly as intended, in other words.

Asking for words to not be used like this is futile. It would be like asking people to no longer care about fashion (another in-group signal) or to not form groups of like-minded people at all.

Comment: Re:What are they complaining about? (Score 1) 341

by JanneM (#47676017) Attached to: Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

Not many other countries intentionally bankrupt accident victims the way the US does.

I don't live in the US, and I agree. But, if you're found liable for an accident you will tend to pay a lot of money in any country; the accident victims likely have life or accident insurance and their insurance company will want to get reimbursed.

So good, comprehensive accident insurance is a very good idea no matter where you live. Usually we have that as part of our home insurance or other thing like that, and if you own a car you have mandatory insurance for that.

But in a case like this you may well be completely uncovered. The vehicle insurance is likely not valid for commercial traffic, and your home insurance may well not be valid either. As I said, I would never, ever get into a car like this without first being absolutely sure that the liability situation is crystal clear.

Comment: Re:What are they complaining about? (Score 1) 341

by JanneM (#47675527) Attached to: Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

What they do need however is a license to operate a taxi, and that's determined locally, with a criminal background/medical/eyes check, and a very stringent but outdated local geography test that has been rendered completely useless by mobile applications such as Google Maps Navigation and Waze.

So require that the drivers have it, outdated or not. It's required by all commercial passenger traffic so it's not as f it discriminates against Uber after all. If they really don't like it, they're free to lobby and argue for a change to the relevant laws. Just arguing that "but we don't wanna follow the law!" gets tired really fast.

In the US, Uber covers you for up to one million dollars.

That's a pretty pathetic sum for traffic insurance. Remember, you may potentially be economically liable for several injured, permanently disabled or killed people, property damage and other costs. And again, as the one that commissions and pays for the trip, you just might find yourself shouldering part of the criminal liability too, if you didn't check that the guy you hired had a valid license for commercial traffic.

Comment: What are they complaining about? (Score 5, Insightful) 341

by JanneM (#47675177) Attached to: Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

I don't know why Uber is complaining. All they need to do, after all, is to recruit drivers with a commercial license; require the vehicles to comply to commercial safety standards; and provide the needed insurance. It's not as if the deck is stacked against them - the other services they compete against all follow the same rules.

For my part as a potential user, liability is the real issue. I would never risk taking a car service where I'm not fully covered in the case of an accident. It's not just medical and other costs for myself; if the driver is not licensed you, as the one paying for the ride, may be regarded as co-responsible if your driver caused the accident in the first place. You want to risk hundreds of thousands of Euro in damages to save a few bucks on a taxi ride?

Comment: The basic problem is (Score 1) 249

by JanneM (#47673917) Attached to: Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

The basic complaint of the poster seems to be that in a store of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of titles, only a very small number ever get discovered and successful. Huge numbers of very worthy apps never get a chance.

That problem can't be solved by any reasonable reorganization. We users (I use the Play store, but the same situation applies) have only so many minutes of time to spend looking for and using new stuff. However you make new apps visible to users, you're punishing apps that would have been visible otherwise. Competing for user attention time is a zero-sum game.

The Play store "people you know" ratings are surprisingly helpful. Unlike general user ratings this is not easy to game by the developers. But of course, those people may only have tested that one app because it was already more popular already.

I guess the only way to really fix it is to show each user only a random 0.1% subset of all apps. That would give every app a good chance of being seen and tried. But it would rather annoy all those people looking for irritated avians and not finding them.

Comment: Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 144

by JanneM (#47673821) Attached to: Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

Of course. I don't suggest my experience is typical. But I hear the same thing from other places. My wife is a freelancer, so we have a fax machine at home, but again, it is almost never used any longer. She only has it in case some client still want to use it over email. I suspect - and this is of course just my own supposition, nothing else - that people now buy fax machines only to be covered for the rare case of doing business with a technical laggard, not as a daily office tool.

Comment: Re:Makes sense (Score 4, Informative) 144

by JanneM (#47669935) Attached to: Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

Stamping documents is seen as a way to say "I have checked this" or "I endorse this", and because you can't stamp an email or text message they print, stamp and fax documents.

I'm working in Japan, and while I almost never get or send a fax any more (it must be years now), it's decently common to send and receive PDF scans over email. In fact, sometimes you need to print out the scan, add your stamp, re-scan and send it back. I do - want to print a reference copy for myself anyhow - but I suspect some people simply add their stamp graphic to the document directly.

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum." --Arthur C. Clarke

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