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Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 213

by hey! (#49498541) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, keeping you out of the public eye is an appropriate punishment when you're convicted of a political crime. But we shouldn't recognize political crimes.

If people want to pay attention to what this guy has to say because he gyrocoptered in restricted airspace, that's their business. Even though it's a pretty stupid reason, it shouldn't be a judge's role to sit in judgment of that.

THere's an important flip side to freedom of speech that is often overlooked: freedom of listening. As a citizen you should be able to hear what the government doesn't want you to hear, unless the government has a compelling reason, and even then the restrictions should be narrowly tailored. "That guy just pulled a stupid stunt," is not a compelling reason to intervene in what people choose to listen to.

Comment: There is the small issue of academic freedom. (Score 1) 147

by hey! (#49498337) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

You can't fire a faculty member because outside the scope of his duties he expresses an opinion you don't like -- even if it's a clearly crackpot opinion. If you could, Stanford would have kicked Linus Pauling out when he became a Vitamin C crackpot.

The difference, though, is that Pauling was a sincere crackpot -- brilliant people are often susceptible to crackpottery because they're so used to being more right than their neighbors. Dr. Oz is a snake-oil salesman; when he's faced with people who are educated -- not necessarily scientists but critical thinkers -- in a forum he doesn't control, he speaks in a much more equivocal fashion. That shows he knows the language he uses on his show and in his magazine is irresponsible.

So selling snake-oil isn't crackpottery, it's misconduct. But somebody's got to find, chapter and verse, the specific institutional rules of conduct Dr. Oz's misconduct violates. There will have to be due process, particularly if he's a tenured professor, which will probably require lesser disciplinary measures than dismissal be tried first.

Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 172

by swillden (#49497259) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

There really aren't any good ways to measure those other effects. If you knew how your experiment was biased, you'd try and fix it.

Randomized sampling goes a long way, but only if you have a large enough population. This is one of the problems of social sciences. A randomized 10% subsample from 100 subjects ain't gonna cut it. A randomized subsample from 10,000,000 people isn't going to get funded.

Why wouldn't a randomized subsample from 10M people get funded? The required sample size doesn't grow as the population does.

Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 4, Insightful) 172

by swillden (#49495247) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

Actually, p-values are about CORRELATION. Maybe *you* aren't well-positioned to be denigrating others as not statistical experts.

I may be responding to a troll here, but, no, the GP is correct. P-values are about probability. They're often used in the context of evaluating a correlation, but they needn't be. Specifically, p-values specify the probability that the observed statistical result (which may be a correlation) could be a result of random selection of a particularly bad sample. Good sampling techniques can't eliminate the possibility that your random sample just happens to be non-representative, and the p value measures the probability that this has happened. A p value of 0.05 means that there's a 5% chance that your results are bogus in this particular way.

The problem with p values is that they only describe one way that the experiment could have gone wrong, but people interpret them to mean overall confidence -- or, even worse -- significance of the result, when they really only describe confidence that the sample wasn't biased due to bad luck in random sampling. It could have been biased because the sampling methodology wasn't good. I could have been meaningless because it finds an effect which is real, but negligibly small. It be meaningless because the experiment was just badly constructed and didn't measure what it thought it was measuring. There could be lots and lots of other problems.

There's nothing inherently wrong with p values, but people tend to believe they mean far more than they do.

Comment: Because girls just can not hack it with boys. (Score 1) 554

Gee I guess this is so girls don't have to face the pressure of competing with boys. We all know that girls need special help.

I just do not know that this is really needed. I know lots of very smart women in STEM that are very bit as talented as any male. The issues of fair pay and frankly pop culture need to be fixed.

Comment: Re:This sh*t again? (Score 1) 245

by LWATCDR (#49492389) Attached to: EU To Hit Google With Antitrust Charges

"e Shopping, by promoting sites on its own Google Shopping platform over other sites, and doing so without indicating to the consumer that Google has an interest in those sites."

I googled iPhone.
On the right hand side, outside of search results, I see "Shop for iPhone on Google" and it has a sponsored marker on it! Did I mention that it was in a box on the right hand side as well?
Really? Just how is that not indicating to the consumer?

Comment: Re:Does it report seller's location and ID? (Score 2) 139

by swillden (#49490627) Attached to: Google Helps Homeless Street Vendors Get Paid By Cashless Consumers

The phone then reports this seller's ID to some central server. Does it also report geolocation data?

I seriously doubt it. I don't see how location reporting for a payment transaction in which location data is irrelevant could possibly pass Google's privacy policy review process. Collection of data not relevant to the transaction is not generally allowed[*], and if the data in question is personally identifiable (mappable to some specific individual), then a really compelling reason for collection is required, as well as tight internal controls on how the data is managed and who has access. I don't see what could possibly justify it in this case, and I can see a lot of risk in collecting it.

FYI, Google product teams have to develop privacy design docs for all new products, and the designs have to be reviewed by the privacy team (or their delegates) and pass the privacy review before they can be launched. Although Google set these processes up before the FTC settlement, I believe they became part of the consent decree and are now mandated by the FTC and validated in regular audits, so Google can't skip or violate them without potentially-significant consequences.

Disclaimer: I'm not a Google spokesperson and this is not an official statement. It is my personal perspective on the process and requirements. However, I'm a Google engineer who's been involved in launching privacy-sensitive products, so I think my perspective is accurate. I also do security reviews of Google projects, which sometimes touches on privacy issues (though privacy review is separate from security review, as it should be).

[*] Just to head off a likely riposte: No, StreetView Wifi collection and the Safari do-not-track workaround are not counterexamples. They predated the privacy review processes and, as I understand it, were part of the motivation for establishing the processes.

Comment: Re:Not fully junk (Score 1) 305

In fact, by decapitating this girl and digging her brain out of her skull, they've guaranteed she is forever dead.

As opposed to what? Cremation? Burial in a box at temperatures well above freezing? You can't seriously argue that this approach makes it less likely that she could be repaired and restarted at some point in the future than typical corpse disposal methods.

Comment: Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score 1) 319

by hey! (#49490245) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

That's speculation. Feasibility is no guarantee of performance.

I read the attached article, and there were two specific complaints cited. The first was security, which is a non-functional requirement; that could well be a failure of the customer to do his homework on requirements but presumably a competent and honest vendor could have done a better job on security. It's often the vendor's job to anticipate customer needs, particularly in projects of the type customers don't necessarily have experience with.

The other complaint is that the curriculum wasn't completely implemented. If the vendor failed to deliver something it agreed to, that's purely the vendor's fault.

Sometimes bad vendors happen to good customers. Bad vendors happen more often to bad customers, but every project involves taking a calculated risk.

Comment: Re:Sign off. (Score 3, Insightful) 319

by hey! (#49490193) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Well, until the details of how the contract was awarded and how the vendor failed have been thoroughly investigated, it's premature to fire anyone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for accountability and decisiveness, but picking someone plausible and throwing them under the bus isn't accountability. In fact that may actually shield whoever was responsible.

Comment: Re:This sh*t again? (Score 1) 245

by LWATCDR (#49487811) Attached to: EU To Hit Google With Antitrust Charges

You did say this.
"No, but Google needs to be forced to not abuse its position of dominance."

If google is not abusing it does not need to be forced to do anything.
I am a big fan of antitrust but frankly It does not seem to be used with real monopolies very often.

I am questioning if Google is abusing or is in a position of dominance. A large market share is not a monopoly position.
The questions on the use of Android are really silly since IOS, WP, and others are more locked down.

Comment: Re:Deflection (Score 5, Insightful) 319

by LWATCDR (#49487715) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Wait I have a solution to this problem.
1. Run a test.. You could call it a pilot program in one school.
2. The company that wants the contract pays for the pilot or at least half of it.
When it fails you do not have a missive program fail and it costs a lot less.
This is brilliant. I wonder why no one thought of this before.

Behind every great computer sits a skinny little geek.