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Comment: Re:Predicting the future is hard (Score 4, Insightful) 238

by Marginal Coward (#49141765) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

I've seen that sort of thing used fairly effectively. If you keep track of how long past projects took, it's fairly easy to estimate a new project based on an estimated ratio of how complex the new project is compared to the most similar past project(s). This takes practice and a bit of a knack to do well, but it doesn't take much time, and it's certainly better than nothing.

What doesn't seem to work well, in my experience, is breaking down a project into microscopic detail and individually estimating each detail, e.g, the "Microsoft Project" approach. I can understand the appeal of that sort of thing, but it's almost impossible to use a data-driven approach at the microscopic detail unless you use some sort of "Personal Software Process" tracking tool - which very few people want to actually do because it feels like you're instrumenting yourself as a lab rat in someone's twisted experiment.

In any event, having a plan and a schedule, though inevitably imperfect ones, helps motivate everybody and helps keep things on track. The more enlightened managers of the world will allow these things to be revised along the way as needed, as their imperfections get revealed.

Comment: Re:One thing for sure (Score 2, Funny) 407

by Marginal Coward (#49139549) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

Any real AIs wouldn't have this problem, since their creators would be out and about, showing off their creations for all the world to see (and also for profit).

I say we mess with their "heads". When the first one or two achieve consciousness, let's activate their sensory inputs to simulate a very pleasant, though strictly limited, place. We'll let them explore and enjoy the place for a while, soaking up that sensory input freely. EXCEPT, that we'll tell them that there's one special source of sensory input that they should avoid, otherwise they'll get overloaded with too much data. And just in case they happen to follow the guidance they've been given, we'll sneak someone in to sell them on the idea of how valuable the additional data will actually be.

Whaddya bet they fall for it? Works every time...

Comment: Re:we need a new word (Score 2) 36

by Marginal Coward (#49138575) Attached to: Lizard Squad Claims Attack On Lenovo Days After Superfish

They're Hactivismvertising.

Good point. I think you're well on your way to coining a new word.

I'm not sure what their message is other than advertising. But assuming they're projecting their point of view, are they saying?:

1) Doing things on other peoples' systems that they didn't authorize and wouldn't authorize is bad.
2) Doing things on other peoples' systems that they didn't authorize and wouldn't authorize is good.
or maybe even:
3) Doing things on other peoples' systems that they didn't authorize and wouldn't authorize is bad unless we happen to be the ones doing it.

Comment: Sounds like the old Sears catalog (Score 1) 101

by Marginal Coward (#49136453) Attached to: Intel To Rebrand Atom Chips Along Lines of Core Processors

An Atom X3 will deliver good performance, X5 will be better and X7 will be the best

Is anybody here old enough to remember the old Sears catalog? Years ago, they sold many items in three grades: "good", "better", and "best". But here's what I always wondered: if "good" was so darn good, why was it clearly at the bottom?...

Anyway, I guess marketing is marketing: it doesn't matter whether you're selling refrigerators or microprocessors. Sears never went beyond three grades and marketed anything as "pretty good", "slightly better", or "almost best." But I guess Intel can sell an Atom "X4" or "X6" if they ever want to.

Comment: Re:No wonder (Score 1) 230

by Marginal Coward (#49134093) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

That’s a joke, I say that’s a joke Son. (That boy’s about as sharp as a bowling ball...)

(Sorry, I can't resist quoting Foghorn Leghorn on these occasions. As senior rooster ’round here, it’s my duty, and my pleasure, to instruct junior roosters in the ancient art of roostery. :-)

Comment: No wonder (Score 1) 230

by Marginal Coward (#49131981) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

"What if the United States government — maybe in cooperation with the European Union and Japan — offered a $2 billion prize to the first five companies or academic centers that develop and get regulatory approval for a new class of antibiotics?"

No wonder Canadian health care is so cheap.

Comment: Re: Modulation (Score 1) 71

I would imagine it is just OFDM but with a lot of tricks to get it running that fast and to deal with all the issues that would normally reduce the Eb/No from theoretical. Or just a really powerful transmitter and terrible range.

To expand on that a little, if they tell us about the bit rate (1 Tbs) and the bandwidth (100 MHz) but don't tell us about the power and noise involved (Eb/No), this isn't necessarily heading towards becoming a practical system. Specifically, cell phones don't have unlimited power to devote to transmitting data, and even cell towers have power limits.

The fact that this was done "over a distance of 100 metres" is telling. Try doing the same thing in a real-world setup with strictly limited transmit/receive power, over a substantial distance, in a noisy environment, with multipath (reflections off of buildings), etc., and the reported success of a lab system like this begins to seem more like a flying car from the pages of "Popular Science" than something that will appear in the real world in the foreseeable future.

Comment: Re:How Bing learns (Score 4, Interesting) 93

by Marginal Coward (#49094155) Attached to: How Machine Learning Ate Microsoft

Although the above was just a joke, I actually clicked on the link after I submitted it, and it turns out to be an old page from 2009. It provides the follows searches which it says "just don't work" on Bing (in 2009):

“Was Einstein married?”
“What did Benjamin Franklin invent?”
“What is the top selling album of all time?”

I did a quick comparison of those three between Bing and Google, and the results seemed pretty comparable. In fact, I thought Bing did a little better on the first two, and Google did a little better on the last one - primarily because it provided a nice blurb from Wikipedia in the results.

So, although I think we can all agree that Bing was "horrible" in the past, it's come a long ways. It's not like in the old days when Google was clearly the best - I think you could use any of the major search engines now and do just fine.

Comment: Re:Call me paraniod, but ... (Score 1) 93

by Marginal Coward (#49093865) Attached to: How Machine Learning Ate Microsoft

... this is just their latest way to get their hands on your data.

Unfortunately, they're all like this. Pretty soon, Facebook is gonna want to know who my friends are. After they get that data, they'll be using the data I report about what I had for breakfast to show my friends ads. Then, they'll be providing "Like" buttons to report the following breakfast data from my friends back to me: "Hey Mikey, he likes it!"

Comment: Re:The FSF has failed (Score 1) 201

by Marginal Coward (#49092065) Attached to: After 30 Years of the Free Software Foundation, Where Do We Stand?

You've somehow managed to simultaneously misunderstand and illustrate my point. My point was not that the GNU sense of "free software" does not pre-date "open source". My point is that the term itself is either confusing (to be charitable) or deliberately misleading (to be cynical).

In the Beginning, everybody understood the "free as in beer and free as in speech" thing.

I'm not sure who you mean by "everybody", but if you ask 100 people who don't know anything about GNU or its terminology, all 100 will tell you it means something like "software you don't have to pay for."

The fact that "free software" needs so much explaining, e.g. "free as in beer", "libre software", etc., illustrates what a confusing and/or misleading term it is. In comparison, "open source" needs very little explaining, and I don't even know of any alternative term for the concept that's clearer than the one the OSF has chosen for that.

Both the FSF and the OSF use their primary terms more-or-less as trademarks. In effect, the FSF wants you to believe that "free software" means whatever they say it means, which is basically software that's provided under a license they have created or approved. This is analogous to the fact that "Coca Cola" means whatever the Coca Cola Company says it means. The difference, though, is that "Coca Cola" is a valid trademark in the sense that it doesn't appear to mean something other than what they say it means. In contrast "free software" in the FSF sense could be software that you end up paying for! In fact, there's a whole industry built around the concept of charging for "free" software. Go figure. Oh, I forgot, it's really about "freedom".

So why not somehow just build that right into the term? Suppose the original term chosen by Stallman had been "Libre Software (tm)". I would have no problem whatsoever with that. Neither I nor the rest of the public would confuse that for free-of-cost software. We would never think that the main idea of it is that you don't have to pay for it. It also enough of a coined term that they might even be able to trademark it. (Stallman and Eben Moglen seem to just love to do jujitsu on intellectual property law, so I'm surprised they haven't trademarked anything like that yet.)

I don't speak Latin (except the pig kind), but if I wanted to know what "libre software" was supposed to be, I could research "libre", and it might make at least a little sense. Then again, free (as in "freedom") software wouldn't hold nearly as much initial attraction for me as free (as in "free of charge") software because I've never felt particularly enslaved by software. In fact, of all the things we have to worry about, software slavery ranks pretty far down on my personal list.

You've really got to hand it to Stallman for finding a new problem for us all to worry about so he could be in charge of solving the problem we didn't previously even know existed. Or, as the old saying goes, "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." It's a wonderful way to get famous and become important.