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Comment Re:Two simple suggestions. (Score 3, Funny) 1822

Trolls have always been an integral part of slashdot, and part of the "uncensored" appeal of the site. "First they came for the trolls ..."

Yeah; one of the things I've been trying for: I've gotten troll+insightful, troll+informative, troll+funny, and funny+insightful+informative mods over the years, but I've never managed to get a troll+funny+(insightful|informative), no matter how hard I try. Part of it is starting off at level 2, so I have to get exactly 1 of each to succeed. Evicting trolls would totally end this (admittedly pointless) goal. OTOH, if the max rating were raised above 5, I'd stand a better chance of success. I've seen others manage it, so I know it's possible.

(I think I've figured out how to write "insightful" and "informative" messages that get me a "troll" mod from the overly serious or doctrinaire. But I haven't really figured out how to offend the humor-impaired while getting the humor across while talking seriously. It's sorta like trying to juggle one too many balls. ;-)

Comment Re:There's no doubt that... (Score 3, Interesting) 1822

Personally, what I see i: 2. The comments. Every single thread devolves into many, many political bullshit rants. Democrat idiots, Republican assholes, liberal, conservative, Socialist, Communist, Fundies blah blah...... #1 you can maybe fix #2 not so much

One of the aspects of this that I've actually seen some partial results for: The current thread layout tends to make it difficult to get beyond the first or sometimes second reply's threads, which fill up many screens, and it's hard to wade through it all to find the non-BS sections of the message trees. It could be a lot more useful if the Nth top-level replies were easier to find, and then also look at the 2nd-level replies to each. I don't think I've seen any really great solutions to this, though I've seen a few that seem to work a bit better than what /. does. Anyway, the problem can be seen in a lot of discussions by starting at the bottom, and noting that most of the messages there have few ratings or replies, meaning that hardly anyone has read them.

Of course, it's possible that something like this is available in the New! Improved! /. UI, and I just haven't recognized it. If so, maybe some more documentation is in order. It's also possible that just adding several more selectable numbers in addition to rating, depth, karma, etc., and provide some easily-accessible config settings so we can tweak them all until we each find a setting combo that we like.

Comment Re:You must be new here (Score 4, Interesting) 1822

I don't want to toot the site's horn too much, but have you looked at other communities on the internet lately? Slashdot might not be objectively good, but compared to plenty of other places it may as well be the pinnacle of internet civilization. If there were honestly something better in a general sense, there would be far fewer people here.

Heh. Remind me of the comments I've seen in assorted places, to the effect that the intelligence of any group of humans is an inverse function of the number of members.

There's dispute about just what the inverse function is. This might be settled, in a sense, by the easy observation that the large body of internet groups show wide variation in visible intelligence, and it's fairly easy to show that this variation is very poorly correlated with a group's size. The conclusion is that there's not just one inverse function between population size and intelligence, there are many such functions.

This opens up what could be an interesting research proposal: Can we collect enough detailed data on populations, including not just their sizes and apparent intelligences, but various other quanitites that might be measurable (and which the groups' leaders will tell us)? If so, maybe we can infer useful information about why some online groups have the intelligence levels that they do.

Or maybe it's all just a hopeless mess. The value of the current IQ tests gives us little hope. But we do have something they don't: many petabytes of comments on all topics by billions of humans, most of it backed up so that repeated access is possible.

OK; it probably really is a hopeless mess. But think of how useful it could be if we could give discussion leaders useful guidelines for improving the intelligence of discussion groups. OK, with things like politics and religion, they'd just use it to drive the level down, but for most other subject, it could lead to an improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio.

Comment Re:What is my case? (Score 1) 111

Sounds to me like his employer should have provided him with some shelving. ;-)

I've seen this problem in several workplaces, where some employees' jobs involved collecting and often analyzing/summarizing/whatever numerous paper trails, but the managers didn't want to bother (or spend money on) the proper shelving to prevent that sort of stacking. Often, the victims of this sort of treatment eventually found another job elsewhere. Sometimes, they just made the best of a (literally) messy situation.

Comment Re:2414 names? Meh, try people.nasa.gov (Score 3, Interesting) 133

names, email and phone numbers of all NASA employees are public, and on the web at people.nasa.gov. tens of thousands of em, free for the taking. There's also an x.500 directory.

Perhaps, but the US "security" system doesn't consider the fact that info is openly published to be a reason not to classify the info as "secret".

There was a fun report some time back, about the US Dept of Defense funding a couple of academic researchers to study what could be learned about US military forces solely from publicly-available published sources. They spent some months collecting publications, wrote up their report, sent it to the DoD -- and within a couple of days it had a Secret classification. ;-)

Everyone who read the story got a good laugh, of course, but it does serve as an example of the logic behind the security classification system. It's also a useful counter-example of the old "If you've done nothing illegal, you have nothing to fear" mantra. In the US, it certainly can be illegal to be in possession of information that a government agency has published openly. It can even be illegal to know that it's illegal to have some information. (Google "FISA warrant" for some examples. ;-)

Comment Re: Nonsense (Score 1) 137

Yup; and that's certainly 'leet perl; it looks like line noise. ;-)

But we might dispute the comment that it'd take 300 lines of C. 300 lines of readable, well-formatted C, perhaps, but C can be made nearly as cryptic and compact as perl. It's mainly things like pattern matching and table manipulation and such where C requires the use of libraries to be so succinct. For basic bit/number crunching, perl isn't really much more compact than C.

I wonder if the Obscure C folks have tackled this problem. Maybe I should google it ...

Comment Re:Badges? (Score 1) 204

AFAIK, in US English, the punctuation should be inside the quotation marks, while in British English (and Norwegian, yay) the punctuation should be outside.

Also, all programming languages would put such commas outside the quotes, unless you want each quoted string to contain the comma as its final character, but then you'd need another comma after the quotes to have the correct syntax for a list of quoted strings that each end in commas.

Of course, programming languages are required to follow sensible and logical rules, unlike English, where the rules are just made up on the fly by anyone with access to a pen or keyboard (or touch screen, for the last couple of decades).

Even back in the 70s, the idea that commas belonged inside quotations always seemed a bit bizarre to me. Except, of course, when the speaker actually did an end-of-clause pause at that point, in which case the comma would be the printed representation of what was actually said.

But even then, I understood that there's no logic or reason behind most of the English syntax rules that people make up and try to enforce.

Comment Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 137

pgp encryption was classified as munitions so that they could limit its export

Hey, I've still got my t-shirt with the 3-line perl implementation of pgp, and the explanation on the back that it's legally a "munition". I still wear it once or twice a year to some inappropriate event where I know there'll be lots of them furriner types. ;-)

(So far I've never been arrested for wearing it to public events, and none of my acquaintances who also have one have been arrested either. I've been disappointed to not be able to follow the fun that would follow if they actually tried to punish someone for wearing such dangerous t-shirts.)

Comment Are symmetries left our because of superko? (Score 2) 117

Looking into the paper, we see that with L(2,2)=81-16-8=57 various positions that are symmetric transforms of each other are considered distinct. For example, on sees this in the upper right and lower left corners of Figure 1. Now, it's true that superko will break some of that symmetry, but not all of it. How much complexity disappears with more accounting for symmetry?

Comment Re:Intellectual sleight of hand. (Score 1) 298

See what you just did there?

"a PROPER marketplace with a PROPER government is NOT..."

No, no, I have it all wrong, you say.

"government...is involved in the marketplace to assure the soundness of the transactions...enforce contract law, stamp-out fraud, squash involuntary transactions...make sure the marketplace is essentially 'safe' and fair..."

Gosh, then you restate exactly what I said. Markets exist because governments create the conditions for their existence. You list a few conditions that you believe are essentially right for markets, but these are not natural laws, they are your value statements about what makes a "good" market, presumably one likely to benefit you. Even the values have to be defined and are culturally bound. Sound transactions. Enforcement of laws. Fraud. Involuntary transactions. Safe. Fair.

These, too, are social quantities, socially defined. What do you think governing bodies do all day as they debate? They argue about what these things mean and how they ought to be encoded as policy. And however they're encoded, someone is getting their way and someone else is not.

By the time you have a market, governments (read: societies) have already picked winners.

"Safe" is not a natural quantity that can be measured. Neither is "fair." All are matters of social deliberation and social construction. All are arguments won (or lost) by someone. All are winners already picked.

Claiming that your own preferences are somehow objective and right doesn't make it so. Nature doesn't make markets. People do.

Comment Ideological sleight of hand. (Score 2) 298

The market is not a natural entity, it exists because government creates and enforces the conditions to enable it to exist.

Picking a market is *still* the government picking winners and losers. It is picking whomever does well when the market does well under the market conditions that the government preserves.

Governments pick. That's what they do. What's why they were created in the first place. The only question is who gets picked.

Comment Lacking objective quality metric (Score 1) 84

To quantify the degree of obfuscation, they have precise computational metrics based on their stylometric algorithms. But to judge the quality of the obfuscation, there is no objective metrics. Instead

To measure soundness and properness, obfuscations will be sampled and handed out to participants for peer-review.

which seems to me to make the contest rather less meaningful. Why not just peer review the quality of all obfuscations exceeding some minimum standard?

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