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Comment: Re:Land costs (Score 1) 356

by VorpalRodent (#49241957) Attached to: New Solar Capacity Beats Coal and Wind, Again

Have there been any studies regarding the climate impact of solar installations themselves? Cities, with all their concrete and glass and whatnot, affect their local climate. It seems like adding a crap ton of shiny things across huge swaths of land would have a similar impact (or, when in an urban area, exacerbate the effect).

I'm neither a climate scientist nor particularly familiar with the research on the effects of urban areas, and while CO2 emissions have a global impact, I'd be interested in the tradeoff of a lessened global impact alongside a stronger local impact.

Input Devices

The Algorithm That 'Sees' Beauty In Photographic Portraits 76

Posted by timothy
from the see-truth-and-extrapolate dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But what if the beholder is a machine? Scientists from Yahoo Labs in Barcelona have trained a machine learning algorithm to pick out beautiful photographic portraits from a collection of not-so-beautiful ones. They began with a set of 10,000 portraits that have been rated by humans and then allowed the algorithm to "learn" the difference by taking into account personal factors such as the age, sex and race of the subject as well as technical factors such as the sharpness of the image, the exposure and the contrast between the face and the background and so on. The trained algorithm was then able to reliably pick out the most beautiful portraits. Curiously, the algorithm does this by ignoring personal details such as age, sex, race, eye colour and so on and instead focuses only on technical details such as sharpness, exposure and contrast. The team say this suggests that any subject can be part of a stunning portrait regardless of their looks. It also suggests that "perfect portrait" algorithms could be built in to the next generation of cameras, rather like the smile-capturing algorithms of today."

+ - What Are the Rational Pros and Cons of Homeschooling 1

Submitted by VorpalRodent
VorpalRodent writes: I went to a private school for about 6 years, then completed my education at the local public school, going on to get a couple undergraduate degrees and a postgraduate degree. My wife dropped out of high school and got her equivalency many years later. Now, she wants to homeschool our son.

There is a significant body of literature which indicates that homeschoolers outperform their traditionally schooled counterparts academically, regardless of the level of education of the parent, and she certainly cares more now that she's older. I don't like anecdotes, but I certainly haven't seen the research borne out in any of the people that I know who were homeschooled, and more importantly, it seems like the only reason my wife wants to homeschool is because she doesn't want to let go.

Our son would be going into Kindergarten this coming year. I'm interested in some rational discussion on this, since it seems like the only viewpoints I've ever seen on the matter are "Better academics" vs. "Social interaction", both of which are gross oversimplifications. It doesn't help that I can't find any statistical information on post-schooling outcomes.

Comment: Re:soo.... (Score 2) 327

by VorpalRodent (#48514797) Attached to: You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South
This may not be what you intended, but I really like the idea of a modular solar farm. I pay up front for one or more solar panels to be installed in a desert somewhere, managed by a third party, then get dividends from the power that is produced and sold. I'm not directly affecting my local power bill, but I'm contributing to a solution and offsetting my bill from the power generated. It would work a whole lot better than trying to capture sunlight during my 6 months of winter (or fighting the neighborhood covenant that believes all solar power is an eyesore).
Math

Big Talk About Small Samples 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: My last article garnered some objections from readers saying that the sample sizes were too small to draw meaningful conclusions. (36 out of 47 survey-takers, or 77%, said that a picture of a black woman breast-feeding was inappropriate; while in a different group, 38 out of 54 survey-takers, or 70%, said that a picture of a white woman breast-feeding was inappropriate in the same context.) My conclusion was that, even on the basis of a relatively small sample, the evidence was strongly against a "huge" gap in the rates at which the surveyed population would consider the two pictures to be inappropriate. I stand by that, but it's worth presenting the math to support that conclusion, because I think the surveys are valuable tools when you understand what you can and cannot demonstrate with a small sample. (Basically, a small sample can present only weak evidence as to what the population average is, but you can confidently demonstrate what it is not.) Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

Chairman of the Bored.

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