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Comment: Silly expectations (Score 2) 211

by NitWit005 (#48209157) Attached to: Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

The expectation of this article is that Google will somehow shortly produce a car which will completely replace drivers in all circumstances. Clearly, that's the eventual goal, but that's not needed to produce something useful. Car companies are already churning out various incomplete solutions that help with highway driving or parking.

I expect their initial product to be something that works as a taxi in semi-controlled circumstances, or something that makes driving more convenient, but which requires intervention some of the time. Either of which would be a viable product.

Early cell phones were overpriced bricks, but they were still useful to some people. It took a huge investment from many companies and quite a bit of time to get to the point where people considered dropping their land lines. Replacing the old generation of technology is not usually a sudden process, but involves a lot of gradual improvement.

Comment: Low threshold for success (Score 1) 249

by NitWit005 (#48089057) Attached to: Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

People run businesses where the *only* source of new customers are those targeted ads that apparently "don't work". Clearly, they work well enough, for some people.

If you look at engagement rings, the internet will be filled with engagement ring ads for a week. Obviously, you'll ignore most of them (unless you buy a thousand rings?), but those companies would have gone broke if it wasn't working. They're spending a lot of cash. The thing is, those ads might cost something like $5 per thousand "impressions". If the average sale nets you $300, it's worth your while if the ad works at a rate better than once per 60,000 views. A lot of these companies carefully tweak their bid prices, and sometimes make no sales for long periods because they've been outbid in the areas they're targeting.

Would it be worth running those ads with no targeting? Probably not. People don't buy that many engagement rings in their life. Jewelry companies have always carefully placed ads so that they'd be seen by people who were likely to actually buy jewelry.

Comment: Google is pretty good here (Score 3, Insightful) 42

by NitWit005 (#48017607) Attached to: EU Gives Google Privacy Policy Suggestions About Data Protection

Read Google's privacy policy: http://www.google.com/policies.... It seems fairly readable to me. A list per-service might be theoretically useful, but I doubt a normal human would read through each of them.

But take a moment and look at what Google offers here. Google lets you see most of your data on your account dashboard, view and edit your search history, view and edit what ad categories are targeted at you, sign up for account activity reports, and has fairly readable multi-lingual help pages. That's better than almost anyone else.

Maybe Google's advertising practices or monopoly power are issues, but on the issue of data transparency, I think they passed the "good enough" level quite some time ago. The real issue appears to be that even if a company provides good information, no one will bother to look at it.

Comment: Remember the support costs (Score 1) 159

by NitWit005 (#48017511) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?

Everyone who self serves by using your bug website is saving you money, if it causes a support call to be avoided. That's not always going to happen, but it's probably avoided hundreds or thousands of avoided support calls.

A lot of people suggested making it only open to customers. That's fine, but recognize there is a cost there. Have you ever tried to get login info for a vendor website at a big company? It's often impossible. Some guy wrote it down on a notepad 7 years ago. What happens is you end up calling or emailing the company directly, possibly spending time confirming your identity, and thus wasting their money. Some companies have tried to mitigate that cost by allowing anyone with an email at a customer domain access, but that only works if they have such a domain.

You should be able to estimate these costs by talking to support and looking at the page view information and customer queries. Just present the information and let management decide. Whatever the outcome, you'll look good if you present the site (and thus you) as having been saving money all this time.

Comment: Re:After working missile defense for years... (Score 1) 470

by NitWit005 (#48017415) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles
Yes, but remember that you can detect the missile you're trying to intercept because it's relatively close, and because it's giving off light/heat/smoke/etc due to its method of acceleration. In space the closeness goes away, and you're going to be extremely difficult to find. Giving a hint to your location by burning a bunch of fuel is going to be undesirable. Stealthy tactics, including a lot of boring drifting, will probably dominate.

Comment: Re:Iron Dome is clearly a conspiracy! (Score 1) 454

by NitWit005 (#47505843) Attached to: MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures
The problem is, history would suggest that you might be wrong, despite your firsthand experience. During the Gulf War, people were extremely confident that the American patriot missiles were shooting down Iraqi missiles, and they pointed to the clear rocket flying into the sky followed by a nice pop. It turned out that was often the operators detonating them after a miss to be safe. It's still not clear how many were shot down, but it's definitely not what was perceived (or claimed) at the time.

Comment: Re:Is this all that surprising? (Score 3, Informative) 105

by NitWit005 (#46925517) Attached to: Computer Game Reveals 'Space-Time' Neurons In the Eye
Even just reading from that quote, the information did actually reach the brain first. It just didn't reach what the authors define as the "higher brain centers". You're not contradiction him. I'm not sure how the electromagnetic field strength of the heart was supposed to be relevant either.

Comment: Cost and opportunities (Score 2) 306

by NitWit005 (#46812505) Attached to: Our Education System Is Failing IT
He asks the question: "So why do we tolerate IT pros who don't understand the basics of how a computer or network works?".

If someone is skilled at IT, deeply understands computers and networking, and has critical thinking skills, they can get a better job. There are few people like that anywhere. Why would they be sitting around in IT? They should be designing a router.

And frankly speaking, they don't need to know the deep depths of how everything works. It would be silly for a hospital to demand that every staff member have the highest level of education. It's a waste of resources. The vast majority of work can be done by less skilled people. Just like in a hospital, if a diagnosis seems difficult, you can bring in the expert. You don't need a building full of experts. Sure, it would be nice, but the waste would be staggering.

Comment: No, the liberal arts are too easy (Score 1) 580

Every major field that's taught in university has vastly more information than can be taught to students. The STEM fields are hardly unique that way.

What's odd is that the science and technology majors make an effort to push students as hard as possible, and the other majors choose not to. Look back on the standards at schools 100 years ago and you'll often see that the liberal arts curium seems way more difficult and thorough than it is today.

Comment: Assuming they use cookies (Score 1) 177

by NitWit005 (#44197769) Attached to: Student Project Could Kill Digital Ad Targeting
A lot of ad platforms already have a non-cookie mechanism working. Storing hashes of user agent and IP address is common. You have to go through a proxy or otherwise change IP address for that not to work. It's easy to find services advertising this as a feature: http://www.ipfingerprint.com/we_dont_use_cookies.aspx The truth is that cookies aren't that great for tracking. People want to know your activity across browsers and devices. That requires using additional information like phone unique identifier (sent by apps), website logins, billing address fields, coupon usage, and so on. That information can be tied together to track you. You're not going to be able to prevent that kind of tracking by messing with cookies.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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