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Comment Re:What's the solution? (Score 1) 502

Huh? Who is arguing against publicizing the case? Please leave your strawman arguments home.

Sorry, I certainly did not intend to use any strawman arguments. I was only referring to this line in the article which suggests a possible solution:

Perhaps the story should not have been covered at all, or anywhere near as much as it was.

I didn't mean to suggest that you thought it was a good idea. I was just tossing it out there as an example of a solution, because I don't really see any viable solution. I can see how this looks like a strawman argument. I guess not publishing the names would be a good idea, but I wonder how long that would last with blogs, facebook, etc.

What I'm saying is: I don't think the verdict is dangerous to depressed kids, but assuming that you're correct that it is, I'm not sure that that should have any significant impact on our future decision making anyway.

Comment What's the solution? (Score 1) 502

Well, either that or the bullied kid would have to be ignorant of the details of the case, and just know that the person who screwed with [Megan's] head went to jail, and got her name dragged through the mud in the national press.

Okay, so let's assume the bullied kid misunderstands the case. Are we then going to say: "Don't publicize far-reaching cases that might influence an unstable person who misunderstands the facts to act in a way that harms themselves?"

That seems like a fairly big trade-off to me. There's been a legal precedent set that could affect countless Americans, but we shouldn't warn them about this because someone might misunderstand the facts and act irrationally?

Comment You assume Megan knew 'Kyle' was an alias (Score 4, Insightful) 502

The thrust of the argument here seems to be that the MySpace Verdict creates incentive for bullied kids to "get back" at bullies by harming themselves, thus subjecting the bullies to the force of the law. But, as I understand it, the MySpace Verdict only says that you can't break a website's Terms of Service in order to harass someone. In other words, had the 'Kyle' alias been real, there wouldn't have been a case. Now, for your argument to work the bullied kid would have to know that the bully wasn't real because otherwise there would have been no case.

I'd like to suggest that:
  1. Such cases are far less plausible than people being bullied by real people, at least insofar as it escalates up to the point of, "Well I'll show them, I'll just kill myself!"
  2. It would be difficult to prove the case against the bully, because presumably if the bullied kid knew they weren't real, it would be more difficult to argue that the bully was the cause of death. The bullied kid would have to hide their knowledge, which would take a pretty devious kid.

I'm not saying it's a good verdict; it's not. I'm just saying your particular concern about creating incentive for bullied kids to harm themselves seems a little exaggerated when you consider that they would have to know the bully was violating the terms of service before harming themselves in order to bring punishment on the bully.

Comment Why does it go to a server, anyway? (Score 3, Interesting) 85

When I first heard of this trick, I thought it was pretty damn clever. But the way I'd imagined it from the headline was that it would use the mailto: pseudo-protocol to paste to Mail, and would use HTML5 client-side database or a cookie of some sort to store it in the browser. My idea was basically three bookmarklets:
  1. Copy: Stores selected text in client-side database or cookie
  2. Paste: Pastes into text field in browser
  3. Paste to Mail: Opens a URL to$clipboardContents

Obviously this wouldn't work for copying from Mail to Safari, but I was kind of confused as to when that would come in handy anyway. The trade-off for security would be worth it, and if you really wanted to, you could still do a trip to a server for Mail-to-Safari copying.

I haven't delved into the bookmarklets yet, so maybe it's not possible for some reason, but does anyone know why they would choose to have it make a trip to the server when it seems like it could be pretty easily avoided?

Comment Re:RTFP (Score 1) 277

I do declare this as a stupid waste of time. If people can sign up for a service, then they can check-mark which sex they are

And if they don't enter their gender? Then most people will make an assumption based on what they know about the user (e.g. their name). But most people won't know all the rules about naming from all the different cultures, so their assumptions might be incorrect. If the computer can be programmed to make better guesses than most users, why shouldn't we use such a system?

It reminds me of grammar check: sure, there's no real substitute for knowing the rules of grammar yourself, but if the computer can do a better job than most people, it might be useful to have such a feature available.

Comment It's to help you guess others' genders (Score 1) 277

Yeah, sorry, this sounds like it's utterly useless, you've taken what once was a simple question of "Are you male or female?", and turned it into "Based on your name our software thinks you're X, is this correct?".

I don't think it tries to guess your gender, I think it tries to guess the gender of the user you're talking to. So instead of you thinking, "I wonder if this person is male or female?" it suggests: "Kyle is from North America and this is usually a boy's name." Of course, "Kyle" is a bad example because you probably already know that. But if the other user were from a different culture, you might not be familiar with the naming conventions, or you might erroneously assume they coincide with your culture's naming conventions.

I think the idea is that people are going to make these assumptions anyway, so maybe a computer can help them be more accurate. This is why the invention is useful.

Comment RTFP (Score 3, Informative) 277

The whole point of the patent is that it's for cross-cultural communication, not just for English names only. It's not a totally unreasonable idea. It sounds like it looks the user's gender up based on where they are from and what their name is. Odd spellings would likely be classified as unisex, unless there were a general rule for naming conventions (e.g. In North America, names ending in 'i' are likely to be female.) Furthermore, you could build up your 'odd spelling' database by recording the gender people select for themselves.

The example ozamosi posted below would be covered fairly well by this patent: Robins in North America would be classified as female, but Robins from Sweden would be classified as male.

My criticism of the invention's effectiveness is that it's not completely fool-proof, and would inevitably assign the wrong gender for people with the spelling typically adopted by the opposite gender. It might be a worse "faux pas" to address a male as female (or vice versa), than to leave assumptions of their gender out of the picture. Of course this might vary from culture to culture, and I really don't know about that. It might be more effective to just force the user to input their gender, but this would have to be done on every client, which could be problematic.

Of course, I'm not sure whether we should be assisting the enforcement of "societal conventions" based on differences in gender, but that's a different topic from the invention's effectiveness.

By the way, here's the relevant part:

an expansive list of names compiled from those used in many different cultures catalogued according to gender (that is, male, female, or unisex), a list of rules for associating a username not included in the list of names with a particular culture, and a list of rules derived from naming conventions that are employed in many different cultures catalogued culturally, linguistically, nationally, regionally, and/or according to other relevant anthroponomastic criteria.

NES (Games)

Miyamoto Scrutinizes Mario, Zelda, Hails Portal 145

eldavojohn writes "Nintendo icon Shigeru Miyamoto stated in an interview that 'What I've been saying to our development teams recently is that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was not a bad game, by any means. But, still, it felt like there was something missing. And while, personally, I feel like Super Mario Galaxy was able to do some things that were very unique, at the same time, from another perspective, certain elements of it do feel somewhat conservative. This is something I've been talking to both of those teams about ... hopefully [the next Mario and Zelda] will feel newer and fresher than their most recent versions.' MTV Multiplayer also commented on Portal's mechanics and gameplay, to which Miyamoto responded, 'I think Portal was an amazing game, too.' GameSetWatch has a related article criticizing Nintendo for relying on the Wii's input devices to develop game franchises rather than improving actual gameplay."

The Snoop Next Door Is Posting to YouTube 244

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Your most trivial missteps are increasingly ripe for exposure online, reports the Wall Street Journal, thanks to cheap cameras and entrepreneurs hoping to profit from websites devoted to the exposure. From the article: 'The most trivial missteps by ordinary folks are increasingly ripe for exposure as well. There is a proliferation of new sites dedicated to condemning offenses ranging from bad parking and leering to littering and general bad behavior. One site documents locations where people have failed to pick up after their dogs. Capturing newspaper-stealing neighbors on video is also an emerging genre. Helping drive the exposés are a crop of entrepreneurs who hope to sell advertising and subscriptions.' But other factors are at work, including a return to shame as a check on social behavior, says an MIT professor."

Toyota Creating In-Vehicle Alcohol Detection System 507

srizah writes "Toyota is developing an Alcohol Detection System that can detect drunken drivers and would immobilize the car when it detects excessive alcohol consumption. From the article: 'Cars fitted with the detection system will not start if sweat sensors in the driving wheel detect high levels of alcohol in the driver's bloodstream, according to a report carried by the mass-circulation daily, Asahi Shimbun. The system could also kick in if the sensors detect abnormal steering, or if a special camera shows that the driver's pupils are not in focus. The car is then slowed to a halt, the report said.'"

How Encrypted Binaries Work In Mac OS X 365

An anonymous reader writes "By now we know that OS X uses encrypted binaries for some critical apps like Dock, Finder and LoginWindow. Amit Singh explains the implementation of this protection scheme which makes use of the AES crypto algorithm and a special memory pager in Mach. The so called Do Not Steal Mac OS X (DSMOS) kernel extension helps along the way by decrypting things for the special pager when apps get executed. A funny thing is that if you print the pointer at address 0xFFFF1600 in your own app you get as output Apple's karma poem for crackers! According to the article there are 8 protected binaries in OSX including Rosetta and Spotlight meta data demon. Interestingly Apple's window server is NOT one of those."

A Recap of the iPod's Life 236

BDPrime writes "Here's a good look at the iPod's five-year existence and how, it can be argued, the device saved Apple from rotting away. From the story: 'It's hard to overstate the impact of the iPod on the computer, consumer electronics and music industries since it was introduced in 2001. The iPod, arguably, is the first crossover product from a computer company that genuinely caught on with music and video buffs. It's shown how a computer can be an integral part of a home entertainment system, and it's led pop stars from U2's Bono to Madonna to trade quips with Apple's own rock star, CEO Steve Jobs.'" Just to give a little bit of the other side of the story, not everyone loves the iPod. An anonymous reader wrote in with a link to research on unhealthy iPod listening levels at New Scientist. Additionally, Achromatic1978 writes to mention that the iPod has won a Shonky award from the Australians. I don't know what Shonky means, but I think that's bad.

Google Launches Website Optimizer 66

Rockgod writes "Google Analytics Senior Manager Brett Crosby unveiled the tool, called Google Website Optimizer, this morning at the eMetrics summit in Washington D.C. If you find web site traffic heat maps like CrazyEgg, ClickDensity or Google Analytics' own heat map interesting, this looks like the next generation of that kind of tool. If Google's Website Optimizer can score high on usability, I expect it to be a big hit with small and medium size website publishers."

World's Smallest Robotic Hand 81

BuzzSkyline writes "The world's smallest robotic hand has been built by Yen-Wen Lu and Chang-Jin "CJ" Kim at UCLA's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. The microhand can make a fist that can grasp objects smaller than a millimeter across. Check out the freaky video on the researchers' website of the microhand grabbing a blob that looks like a fish egg. The tiny hand is made of inert materials, making it ideal for handling gooey biological samples. Lu and Kim describe their microhand in a paper published October 16 in the journal Applied Physics Letters."

I'm always looking for a new idea that will be more productive than its cost. -- David Rockefeller