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Comment: Re:Seriously? (Score 2) 116

by MacTO (#47815907) Attached to: E-Books On a $20 Cell Phone

Reading on a 3.2" screen isn't all that bad, but I wouldn't present that as a solution for children. Books for the youngest are illustrated, and present part of the story as part of those illustrations. Early chapter books use larger text, presumably because the audience is still learning the shape of letters. Even later chapter books have illustrations that would be difficult to enjoy on a small screen.

Yet the real problem with closing libraries in favor of elending is the lack of availability of ebooks for lending. (That, and libraries offer much more than books.)

Comment: Re: yet if we did it (Score 1) 463

by MacTO (#47800673) Attached to: Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

I wouldn't be so sure of that. I've heard of plenty of motorist-cyclist and motorists pedestrian collisions where the motorist was at fault, yet the penalty was negligible: a fine, points against their license, the inconvenience of enduring an investigation, and putting up with the public outcry (where the actual motorist is usually anonymous anyhow).

The sad fact is, you're a third class citizen unless you are behind the wheel of a vehicle at the time of the incident. (Not that I think that stiff penalties will change things. While these are incidents, rather than accidents, they involve behaviors that people don't put much thought into at the moment of the crime.)

Comment: Don't see what Valve's problem is ... (Score 1) 139

by MacTO (#47782881) Attached to: Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

There appear to be a bunch of exemptions that prevent people from purchasing and frivolously returning a product. In effect, the only way that a consumer can legitimately return a product is if it doesn't reflect advertised claims or if they did not make the system requirements clear (i.e. it didn't work properly on a consumer's system because Valve did not list or listed misleading system requirements).

On top of that, anything sold through Steam with DRM cannot be returned fraudulently (e.g. the consumer can't buy then return a product while maintaining a functional copy for themselves, at least not without jumping through hoops).

So exactly why does their illegal-in-Australia policy exist in Australia? An unwillingness to learn the laws of a country that they sell to? A desire to reduce the support costs of managing software returns (e.g. validating that the reason for return is legitimate probably involves costly human interaction)?

Comment: The chart is cool to look at ... (Score 2) 465

by MacTO (#47725811) Attached to: Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic

It clearly shows a relationship between atmospheric temperature, energy stored in the ocean, and salinity. Whether you agree or disagree with the interpretation of the data in terms of global warming, at least they have provided us with a nice visual demonstrating the relationship between the ocean and the atmosphere.

Comment: If statistically significant, why? (Score 1) 105

by MacTO (#47717121) Attached to: Do Readers Absorb Less On Kindles Than On Paper? Not Necessarily

If you are comparing a dedicated ereader to a printed book, I would be wondering why retention would be better with the print version. That is particularly true when you are looking at a short text, where things like pages read is less relevant.

Now if you're talking about real reading situations, I can understand there being a difference. I would imagine that people are more likely to pickup and drop the book at different intervals (the benefit of portability). I would imagine that people are also more prone to jumping between books (the benefit of large memories). For general purpose devices, I would imagine that people are more prone to responding to notifications (the benefit of integrated and connected devices). But that's not what the study is examining.

Comment: Your cynicism sir ... (Score 1) 108

by MacTO (#47713455) Attached to: World's First 3D Printed Estate Coming To New York

... would have ended the computer revolution before it even began. Keep in mind that computers, automobiles, air planes, etc. were all incredibly primitive in their days. At best they provided an incremental step forwards in some applications while being a huge step backwards in most other applications. Yet people plugged away at the technology and created something that was truly amazing in the long run.

Remember those first computers. They were unreliable number crunchers that could barely be programmed and certainly weren't programmable in the way we think of programming today. There were applications to be sure: in domains like ballistics and finance, but even then only a limited subset of problems. If a particular problem wasn't big enough, it was faster and cheaper to use traditional techniques. Now they enable complex global communications networks and are cheap enough to turn sophisticated simulations into entertainment.

And that is just one example.

Comment: Re:Call anything 3D printing (Score 1) 108

by MacTO (#47713357) Attached to: World's First 3D Printed Estate Coming To New York

Yeap, but the big difference appears to be automation here. You may be "pouring concrete", but you are doing so without the manual labour of building the mould and without the manual labour of pouring the concrete. Yes, you may have to assemble the printer on site and it may not be able to accomplish as much at the moment. Yet give it a decade and you may be transporting the equipment to the site and may have more fine-grained capabilities to ensure quality and develop new designs.

Comment: Re:GPS and laser guidance systems for centuries? (Score 1) 133

by MacTO (#47705213) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

Even as an outsider, I heard about many of the advancements cited in the article. However, I wonder if the project's intent is to reduce the cost of automation in agriculture. While that may not be a huge issue in developed nations, where food is already relatively inexpensive, surely it is an issue in developing nations.

Comment: Re:Surprise? (Score 1) 579

by MacTO (#47705097) Attached to: Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

My point was that you can find issues with every OS if you lean upon anecdotal evidence, so it's probably best to avoid assessing an OS based upon such evidence.

Clearly you can assess based upon your needs based upon your experiences. Yet your comments seem to generalize the issues for other issues based upon limited evidence. That isn't the greatest idea. To give you an example of what I mean: I've had issues with the stability of KDE across multiple versions and on multiple systems, so I don't use it personally. Yet I do not go around declaring how unstable KDE is because I am one data point. That data point may be useful when in assessing KDE in conjunction with other user experiences, but it is useless when considered on its own. Overall though, I trust that KDE is stable for enough users to sustain it for nearly two decades.

Comment: Why the ridicule? (Score 5, Interesting) 131

by MacTO (#47691349) Attached to: Facebook Tests "Satire" Tag To Avoid Confusion On News Feed

Sometimes satire is obvious, sometimes it isn't. In the latter cases, you have to be familiar with the source or familiar with background information. When you are talking about a medium that supports a profound number of sources, it can be difficult to judge whether a source that you are not familiar with is satirical. When you are talking about a medium that can deliver news from all parts of the world from varying perspectives, it can be difficult to have the necessary background information to judge whether a portrayal is satirical. Sites like Facebook only compound that problem because it is not a news site in the traditional sense, nor is it a news aggregator. It is simply a site where people post links, links that may be informative or may be whimsical based upon their mood. Making matters worse, a lot of people don't even know their Facebook "friends" particularly well, which makes it means that you can't even use the source of the link as a guage.

While I do have deep concerns about how Facebook would go about vetting links, I can understand why some people would see this as a valuable feature.

Comment: My main concern ... (Score 2) 304

by MacTO (#47678955) Attached to: Humans Need Not Apply: a Video About the Robot Revolution and Jobs

At the end of the day, it is humans that control the bots. So unlike the cited example of horses, we are not going to be replaced. All of our jobs may be replaced, and a great many jobs have already been replaced. That is my main concern.

Now this isn't a concern about people having a place in society. We can do that without defining ourselves by our work. Rather my concern is about what we do.

A great many people will find constructive things to do. Think of our hobbies. Many will find neutral things to do. Think of passive consumption. Yet there will also be people who find destructive things to do. There always have been, and always will be, that type of person. The problem is that the bots will free up time for those destructive self-indulgers. How are we going to control that? Then again, maybe that's a job for robocop.

Comment: A long time ago in a land not so far away ... (Score 3, Interesting) 81

by MacTO (#47678407) Attached to: Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

I recall reading an article in a university rag about 10 years back that was discussing how their campus was designed around telepresence for instruction many decades prior. Unfortunately things didn't go that way because it proved to be ineffective and not what the students wanted. But never fear, it was a great boon in our modern age because TV studios could easily be repurposed to server rooms and the buildings could easily be rewired for computer networks for the age of online learning.

While they were right about it being easy to repurpose that old infrastructure, they also missed the point: people want to learn on campuses and they learn more effectively on campuses. (At least that seems to be the case for programs of study. Learning particular skills is likely a different matter.) In otherwords, university administrators were forgot the lessons of the 60's and 70's while choosing to believe in some technology utopia.

That isn't to say that education should be devoid of technology. Computers and networks are clearly valuable learning tools. They have applications ranging from research to simulation, and from content delivery to content creation. The thing is that they're just a tool in the process, and not the core of the process itself.

Think of it this way: would we go around praising the merits of pencil based learning? Or, to choose something less absurd, textbook based learning? Of course we wouldn't. So why are we going crazy over computer based learning?

If you hype something and it succeeds, you're a genius -- it wasn't a hype. If you hype it and it fails, then it was just a hype. -- Neil Bogart

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