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Comment: Re:More mealy-mouthed BS (Score 3, Insightful) 207

by Merusdraconis (#26525569) Attached to: Tech Publisher O'Reilly Slashes Jobs

Because these sorts of layoffs are cutting out dead wood, and the economy is a great excuse. The whole point is that CEOs have already learnt that being honest about why someone's being fired is a good way to have people hold an unnecessary grudge. Obviously, you can't say that, because it comes back to them and they get to find out that the company felt they were astonishingly mediocre.

People tend not to deal with evidence of their own incompetence well.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Stand-Up Comic Makes Science Funny 126

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-as-cynical-as-tom-lehrer dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The San Fransisco Chronicle is running a story about Brian Malow, a stand-up comedian who has showcased his science-centric stand-up humor for more than a decade in comedy clubs, at conventions and for corporate clients across the country. Fortunately, club patrons don't need a degree in quantum mechanics to appreciate one-liners like 'I used to be an astronomer, but I got stuck on the day shift,' 'I just started reading, "The Origin of Species." Don't tell me how it ends!' or that he 'attended a magnet school for bipolar students.' While his show is very rational and based on hard science, Malow cleverly infuses it with an abstract or surreal comic twist."

Comment: Re:Monetary Reward : Bad Idea (Score 4, Insightful) 412

by Merusdraconis (#26280675) Attached to: Wikipedia Almost Reaches $6 Million Target

The little I know of economic theory suggests that replacing intrinsic rewards - like the warm fuzzy feeling you get from contributing - with a small cash reward means that people will value contributing to Wikipedia at the price of the small cash reward. This is invariably less than the dollar amount they'd attach to an act of charity that also spreads knowledge.

tl;dr: don't offer cash rewards for people doing things for fuzzy emotional reasons. It doesn't work.

The Media

Are Newspapers Doomed? 338

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-even-say-it dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "James Surowiecki has an interesting article in the New Yorker that crystalizes the problems facing print newspapers today and explains why we may soon be seeing more major newspapers filing for bankruptcy, as the Tribune Company did last week. 'There's no mystery as to the source of all the trouble: advertising revenue has dried up,' writes Surowiecki, but the 'peculiar fact about the current crisis is that even as big papers have become less profitable they've arguably become more popular,' with the blogosphere piggybacking on traditional journalism's content. Surowiecki imagines many possible futures for newspapers, from becoming foundation-run nonprofits to relying on reader donations to deep-pocketed patrons. 'For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime — intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on — and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can't last. Soon enough, we're going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.'"

Comment: Re:If only most MUDs had the puzzle solving aspect (Score 1) 149

by Merusdraconis (#26131559) Attached to: Adventure Game Interfaces and Puzzle Theory

Part of the problem with team-based puzzles is that they're very difficult to do in a persistent world. Once they're solved, they're solved. Do you put them back? The person who knows the solution is wandering around some place, and is free to post the solution on the Internet. If you don't, then players not at the cutting edge of the game essentially play clean-up -- assuming, of course, that one *has* a cutting edge. An ARG is essentially a kind of MMO - it has a persistent world that's shared amongst all players, after all, and they assume that players are working together, and so are free to make the puzzles as tough as they can, confident that players will eventually find a way through.

To WoW's credit, most of the bosses in the dungeons in the two expansions require players to work out and execute on a strategy to defeat them. Unfortunately, the strategy is generally worked out during the beta testing, well before most players reach it, and players generally don't have the luxury of figuring out the strategy on their own.

Someone will eventually crack the way to do a persistent world with puzzles and discovery while being able to renew solutions. I expect it'll be done by designing a class of puzzle that the game can assemble hundreds of unique variations on, but players can't solve by building their own solver.

Comment: Re:Voluntary (Score 2, Interesting) 231

by Merusdraconis (#25984285) Attached to: Technical Specs Released For Aussie Net Filtering

I'm confused: as far as I can see, about the only people who want this implemented are Stephen Conroy and Family First. The Liberals don't want it, the Greens don't want it, citizens don't want it, child protection groups don't want it, and ISPs are only doing it to prove to the government that they're lying about the speed impact.

Comment: Re:Javascript (Score 1, Troll) 475

by Merusdraconis (#25844073) Attached to: Silverlight On the Way To Linux

And, of course, the ability to write a app for web deployment using C#.

Really, Slashdot, I'm disappointed. You go for the knee-jerk "fuck Microsoft" when really we're looking at Microsoft's attempt to cede the Windows monopoly and rebuild the Win32 API lock-in that delivered that monopoly across the Internet? That's a much scarier prospect, especially seeing as .Net is the only product of theirs they haven't run into the ground yet.

Of course, it's also much more unlikely, but Slashdot's record on predicting the future of technology is the stuff of legends. Only on Slashdot do you find people claiming for half a decade that Linux would finally make inroads on the desktop then turn around and claim the iPod'll never take off.

"Bureaucracy is the enemy of innovation." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments

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