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Comment: Re:Android sells one and Half Billion every day (Score 4, Funny) 114

by nine-times (#47969061) Attached to: Apple Sells More Than 10 Million New iPhones In First 3 Days

We're what, 9 billion people on this Earth and closest part of space and you want us to belive that 1 billion Android devices are sold every day?

Actually it's more like 7 billion (I think 6.9?) people on Earth, and he's saying that 1.5 billion Android phones are sold every day. I had no idea, but that's pretty impressive.

Comment: Re:You can debate without taking a side (Score 1) 104

by nine-times (#47968441) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

Unless what you are interested in is something other than the sides of the debate, in which case, you may be neutral to the sides of the debate

And to repeat, "Ah, I see, you're thinking of some kind of high-school debate format..." Which is nice and all, but not terrifically helpful. Debates and arguments in the real world aren't so easily broken down into two sides. Like if I said, "Let's debate the following idea: America should go to war with other countries. Either you're in favor of this idea, meaning you want America to always go to war with all countries, or you're against, and believe that America should never go to war with any other country under any circumstances." That's a great little nice dumb false dichotomy.

Now you probably don't agree with either side, but you probably also aren't actually neutral. You have an opinion. You have a position. If opinion doesn't fall neatly into the false dichotomy as presented, that doesn't mean you're neutral.

I think what's unimaginative is, you seem to think that opinions fall on a neat, nice little spectrum, and being "neutral" is falling dead in the center between two endpoints on the spectrum. The reality is that, if you're involved in the debate and you care about the income, then you've got something at stake. All kinds of people have different things at stake. Not everyone in favor of net neutrality have the same interests, and neither do all those who oppose it. People will be in-favor or against for different reasons and to different degrees, with different degrees of passion. There will be those who are undecided, or people who are in favor of some other solution, some "middle road" solution. They may be passionately in favor of a "middle road solution", or even passionately "undecided", feeling that there are just too many complex factors to make a real decision right now. Those passionate positions are not "neutral".

What's more, you could be arguing in favor or against, not because you genuinely believe in either side, but because you want to sound smart, or because you have some other agenda you're interested in pushing. Those people aren't neutral, but the people who refuse to alignment themselves with one side or the other, for those same reasons, are equally not-neutral. They've taken position in the argument, and may be just as hard to sway from their position.

If it helps, how about a metaphor: Each of the two "sides" of the argument are like a team playing tug-of-war. One side pulls in one direction, one side pulls in another. You're saying that their are "neutral" people in between, because they're sitting in the middle, holding onto the rope, but not pulling in either direction. My point is, if they're holding on tightly, then they're not neutral. They're still having an effect on the game by adding inertia to the system, making it harder for either side to win. The only way to be truly neutral would be to let go of the rope.

Comment: Re:You can debate without taking a side (Score 1) 104

by nine-times (#47966769) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

Ah, I see, you're thinking of some kind of high-school debate format, where I take the pro- position and you take the against- position, and we have a formal silly little discussion that gets graded by an English teacher, or some nonsense. That's not what I'm talking about. In fact, my point in my original post was partially to point out how silly it is to approach an argument/debate that way.

There's no such thing as being truly neutral without being indifferent and disinterested. If you are not disinterested, then you must have some aspect of the debate which interests you and which you care about. Everyone who cares is going to have specific points of the debate that they care about, and reasons why they care about those things. That doesn't necessarily mean that they have a strong binary position on the issue that's being discussed, either 'yes' or 'no'. The fact that someone has some kind of interest in the debate is not a good reason to dismiss their arguments as biased, since if they had no interest, they wouldn't participate.

A position in an argument may be subtle, complex, conflicted, ambivalent, and altruistic. That's still a position.

Comment: Re:Yes you can be neutral (Score 1) 104

by nine-times (#47966639) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

To give a rather silly example I genuinely do not care one way or the other about the relative merits of emacs versus vi. I understand the arguments and can articulate them if someone seems to misunderstand something but I genuinely do not care about either side of that debate

So then you won't participate in a debate, because you don't care at all.

Like ask me whether I think the best college football team is, and I'll tell you, I don't care. I just don't. If you say it's the University of Alabama, I'll say, "Yeah, sure. Whatever." I don't care. If I engage, it's because I care and have some kind of position.

(Actually my opinion is something along the lines of "a pox on both your houses")

Ok, so that's still a position. If there's a debate between emacs and vi, and I say, "I don't like either," that's a definite position, even if it's neither pro-vi nor pro-emacs. If I bother to argue that position, then it must mean that I have some interest, I have something at stake in the argument, even if it's not really about emacs or vi. In fact, when people argue about things, it's very common for them to not-really be arguing about the thing that they're officially arguing about.

Comment: Re:The article is more extreme than the summary (Score 1) 602

by nine-times (#47966191) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Absolutely not. Science is indeed in pursuit of Truth.

It's not. It's a process for developing improved models our material world. "Truth" is a much broader field.

This is completely incorrect. A core goal of science is to understand the cause of things by developing abstracted understandings of them (i.e. theories).

Not necessarily the "ultimate cause", though, depending on what you mean by that. I mean, I don't necessarily know what the original author means, but I could make some guesses. At least one of those guesses would basically amount to "God". But regardless of that question of "what exactly does he mean?" it's true that science inquires into some kinds of causes, but perhaps not others. Just to give a completely weird example, proper science wouldn't begin to tell us why Brutus participated in the assassination of Caesar. You could use science to try to model psychology to determine reasons why people betray their friends, but there's no scientific experiment to determine a historical or fictional character's motivation.

All this just to say, there are different kinds of causes.

Comment: Re:I've been saying the same thing for a while now (Score 1) 602

by nine-times (#47966037) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

I agree with you somewhat, but on the other hand, there's a real problem with "basing words on usage" without clarifying what each usage is, and which one you're using. People confuse concepts quite a lot because they use the same word for multiple concepts, without ever understanding that's what they were doing.

So if you want to say, the word "science" has multiple definitions, including these 4 (listed above), I have no problem with that. But keep them straight. When you use the word, be clear about which meaning you're using. Because according to those definitions, I could say any of the following: I think science is the most important development of the past few hundred years. I think science is often quite stupid. Science constantly brings people to incorrect conclusions. Science is unreliable. Science is in terrible shape these days, and doesn't really work. Science is essentially a religion to most people.

I can say all of those things honestly, and you don't actually know what I mean well enough to argue. Which sense of "science" do I mean, and what do I then mean by each statement? The result of such muddled language is that people go around either thinking that science (in all 4 senses you list) is either stupid and unreliable, or completely infallible-- so much so that I'm probably going to get flamed for a lot of those statements, even though the people responding won't understand what they mean.

So sure, we can go with words having a bunch of unclear definitions that nobody knows what they mean. I keep trying to clarify the situation, but I know there are a lot of people who will resent that effort for a lot of different reasons.

Comment: Re:You can debate without taking a side (Score 1) 104

by nine-times (#47965861) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

Usually I do this to point out that there is another side to an argument that has some validity that the person I'm debating is not acknowledging.

So you're not neutral. You're picking a side that you feel is under-represented, and you're taking that position. You're doing so... probably either to educate, or because you have some feeling that the under-represented side is important somehow.

I'm not saying that, in order to debate, you need to be biased and serving selfish ulterior motives. It's just that, on some level, you need to be interested, and you need to have some kind of agenda-- even if that agenda is just "entertainment at flexing my intellectual capacity".

Comment: Re:The article isn't any better. (Score 1) 602

by nine-times (#47964839) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Engineering and science are linked, at least. Science could be described as a sort of "engineering of our understanding". It's improved through a lot of trial and error, and we pick a solution that "works" in providing predictive results.

Also, engineering is generally performed with some level of scientific understanding. The first airplane may have been a bit stumbled-upon, built without understanding exactly all of how it worked. However, the Wright brothers were working within a certain level of scientific understanding. Also, once the airplane existed, it was studied, and an understanding of the forces at work were refined using the scientific method. New designs were proposed based on those new understandings.

So he's not wrong, there. An engineer working on a new vaccine will be making use of the scientific process, and making use of prior scientific knowledge.

Comment: I've been saying the same thing for a while now (Score 1) 602

by nine-times (#47964743) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

I'm not going to go on a full rant, because this is something that people here on Slashdot have gotten very angry with me for in the past, but I very much agree with the author of this article.

I would say it this way: People make the mistake of talking about "science" as "a body of knowledge that is certain, due to having passed through a set of processes." But science is not the body of knowledge, "science" is the process. It's actually not the whole process even-- the processes of peer review and developing consensus within the community are not scientific. They're social/political processes that we've developed to help us judge whether someone else's scientific process was valid.

And science does not provide all kinds of knowledge. It doesn't deal with "truth", or even really "fact". It doesn't deal in particulars. Science can't tell us what happened in a particular historical instance, but only helps us develop general causal interpretations of material processes. For example, medical science's aim is not to tell you that your granfather developed cancer because of smoking. The aim is to develop the general idea that "smoking causes cancer" into a theory that provides improved predictive capabilities.

And science does not provide certain knowledge. It just provides (hopefully) improved interpretations. Hopefully the interpretations will continue to improve, but science doesn't have the capability to tell you that an interpretation is "correct", even if there is such a thing.

I would not, however, agree with this:

Aristotelian "science" was a major setback for all of human civilization. For Aristotle, science started with empirical investigation and then used theoretical speculation to decide what things are caused by. What we now know as the "scientific revolution" was a repudiation of Aristotle...

That's a pretty poor understanding of what happened. It's pretty clear from reading Aristotle that he in fact did perform experiments of various kinds, but his focus was broad enough to include topics that we would now split between "scientific" and "philosophic" realms. A lot of our heritage of science and logic can be traced back to Aristotle. The problem was that, for a few hundred years, scholars were inclined to take Aristotle's writings dogmatically, as though they were religious texts.

For example, Aristotle does say that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects-- which is, to some extent, true. Drop a rock, and drop a sheet of paper, and the rock may very well hit the ground first. So Aristotle accepts this without testing extensively, but there's no real evidence he intended that to be the be-all-and-end-all explanation. I don't recall any passages saying, "don't study things for yourself, just take my word for it all" It was just the best understanding that he could offer, as an individual man studying almost every subject rather than focusing on one or two intensely.

People took that understanding as authoritative. They didn't study it for themselves. And then after several hundred years, due to social changes that enabled greater scientific investigation, people started finding that not everything Aristotle said was true. When they suggested Aristotle might not be correct, they were met with a stubborn refusal to entertain new theories, which lead to a backlash against Aristotle.

So yes, there was a backlash against Aristotle during the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Some scholars/authors (e.g. Bacon) talk about how stupid they think Aristotle is, but if you pay attention to their thinking, it's also very clear that they're informed by Aristotle. Rather than dismissing Aristotle and starting from scratch, as they claim, they're taking Aristotelian ideas and methods as a starting point, and expanding/refining/fixing/improving them.

Saying that Aristotle is "a major setback for all of human civilization" is a bit like saying that, "Shakespeare was a huge setback for the English language. I find his writing impossible to understand. Thank god no modern writers follow his example."

Comment: Everyone has an interest (Score 1) 104

by nine-times (#47964325) Attached to: Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

Whenever you enter into a debate on any issue, no one debating is neutral. If they're neutral, they wouldn't debate. They need to have some level of interest, and some set of concerns about the outcome of the debate. You can't expect people to be neutral, but you should know what their interests are and let that information inform your understanding of their argument.

Me, for example. I have an interest in the net neutrality debate. I'd like to have a good/fast internet connection that is not filtered/throttled based on business interests that don't align with my personal interests. I'd like to have access to things like Netflix. I also work in IT, and I don't want to have to deal with, fix, or work around any random/stupid restrictions that I might face due to Verizon deciding that some kinds of traffic don't suit their profit targets for this quarter. Beyond that, I also believe that free and unfettered access to the Internet has become a 'free speech' issue, to some extent. I'm in favor of net neutrality because I'd like to live in a free and well-functioning society.

So those are my interests. What are the interests of some of the people who oppose net neutrality?

Comment: Re:Contribute for fun; accept the risk (Score 1) 175

by nine-times (#47964155) Attached to: Kickstarter Lays Down New Rules For When a Project Fails


Even if they have a great idea and the best of intentions, the people running the project may not be successful. Running a business is more difficult than most people imagine, and it may be even harder to run a business with discipline after receiving millions of dollars in free money, donated with no strings attached.

When you donate to Kickstarter, you are neither making a purchase nor investing in the business. You're making a donation.

Comment: Re:Some criticism (Score 1) 182

by nine-times (#47964005) Attached to: KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity

Above you said you never come across one. Maybe you're now being honest

Oh, you got me, I was lying before to serve my personal interests of keeping Linux off of the desktop in order to preserve my job.</sarcasm>

Or maybe that's not quite what I said. I don't think I've ever met one who makes things harder for himself for the sake of job security. I've met one or two who try to obscure what they're actually doing in order to maintain job security. And in those instances, it hasn't worked.

Also, I'll note that if these statements had been contradictory, I said in the earlier post that I didn't *think* I'd met one who made things difficult. It might have simply been that someone telling stories of an inept IT person jogged my memory of a similar person. However, I stand by my statements. I can't recall a single one that would intentionally create work for themselves, or one that would fail to eliminate problems if they could, for the sake of job security. I can think of at least one who was completely full of shit and would hide a lot of things for the sake of job security. I can think of a few outsourced/consulting companies who became uncooperative and unhelpful towards attempts to replace them or render them unnecessary. Those things generally didn't work either.

Isn't that everyone?

Sort of, maybe...? It's not always clear that's a bad thing, either. I think ultimately, we all have to pick our battles.

Comment: Re:Some criticism (Score 1) 182

by nine-times (#47963747) Attached to: KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity

Your post makes the mistake of conflating professional IT Department staffers with Geek Squad. IT people maintaining corporate infrastructure

Well first, I would respond by pointing out that my post was in a response to someone talking about "sysadmins". It's quite clear from the context that we're not talking about the Geek Squad.

Second, I would argue that if you think switching to Linux would significantly lower the need for IT support for personal individuals, then you probably haven't had much exposure to that market. It might slightly diminish the number of calls for malware infestation, but an awful lot of malware comes from people running/installing things themselves. If Linux became the dominant OS, the malicious executable would just need to be for Linux instead of Windows, but if your user is running any attachment they receive without regard to whether it might be malicious, then they're still going to get infected.

Aside from all that, a lot of personal IT comes down to really dumb stuff. I never worked for the Geek Squad, but I've done similar work and also worked for businesses that provide similar services. A lot of the calls end up being for things like, "I got a new printer. Can you come set it up for me?" So you unbox it, plug it in, and *maybe* install drivers. It's my understanding that Geek Squad doesn't even attempt to clean malware, but they'll just back up your documents, wipe your system, and have you start fresh. None of this is rocket science. It's just that there are a lot of people out there who need help for even basic computing tasks.

Really, there might be some IT people who love the stupid little problems that people have for the sake of "job security", but it's silly to think that IT people in general are holding back a mass exodus to Linux for the sake of "job security". As though the Linux desktop experience is so trouble- and confusion-free that we'd all just be out of a job, and we're scared that the general population might find out. I'd say it's more common that I meet IT people who would prefer that we all use Linux for ideological reasons, but who are disappointed that they can't figure out a way to make the migration feasible.

Comment: Re:They want it but don't understand it. (Score 1) 387

by nine-times (#47956147) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

Then he says we're going to do that by hiring an undergrad design major part time from a local college once we finish our mechanical and board designs. He will polish it up and make it great.

In fairness, that implies that you currently don't have anyone with design experience looking at your product designs. Maybe getting some input from a designer, even a student, could be helpful? Admittedly, a student might make things worse by trying to push silly ideas.

Especially in the context of this (which I agree with):

This is especially true for engineers (of which I am one) who tend think to since it's not technically hard to do, it must mean that designers don't bring much to the table. "I can bevel that edge", "That rounded corner isn't hard to do", etc etc. We also tend to think that function is most important and that form is an afterthought... even though we don't actually say that.

The sort of design that Apple does is not just about beveling the edge. Because first, you need someone capable of understanding whether the beveled edge will make it more or less attractive than a nice, clean, straight edge. Will it look dumb? Will it feel cheap? But then also, because you need someone who can look at the whole package and evaluate what effect that beveled edge will have on the usability of the device. Not just bare function, i.e. it successfully performs [function X], but usability, i.e. it performs [function X] in a way that's intuitive, easy, understandable, and pleasant. It's not easy to balance form, function, and usability.

"If there isn't a population problem, why is the government putting cancer in the cigarettes?" -- the elder Steptoe, c. 1970