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Comment: interesting, somehow I didn't even know this (Score 1) 62

by Trepidity (#47579483) Attached to: Was America's Top Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI Thought So

Malina is pretty well known in some corners of CS for his work on kinetic sculpture and generative art, and for founding the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, along with its associated journal Leonardo . But I didn't know he did rockets earlier in his career.

Comment: Re:so, I'm in the more than 8 yrs ago camp (Score 1) 203

by Trepidity (#47567693) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

Well mostly I want a good starting point written by someone who's looked into it (like the DJB ones above). That involves: 1) parts that work together and have been successfully used together, preferably under Linux, by someone other than me; and 2) parts that fit at a good point on the price/performance curve.

Sure, I could dive into separate reviews of every individual component and piece them together myself, but that's more research than I want to do. :)

Comment: so, I'm in the more than 8 yrs ago camp (Score 1) 203

by Trepidity (#47566795) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

But I'm thinking of building one again. How exactly does one go about it nowadays? DJB's computer building guides used to be a nice starting point, but he stopped updating them in 2009. Is there something like that, but with current-gen hardware?

(Fwiw, I'm interested more in workstation usage, not a gaming machine.)

Comment: Re: I call BS (Score 1) 174

by Trepidity (#47566557) Attached to: An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

When contributors have to invest their credibility in their entries, entries are less likely to be wild untruths.

I'm not sure that's true. There is a lot of total shit in the academic literature, and it's getting worse. And part of the problem is precisely that people's names are attached, so they now have an incentive to game the system. People get promoted based on publications and citation counts. This leads to huge pressure to manufacture them, by any means necessary. There are citation rings out there, people reviewing friends' papers, people falsifying or misconstruing results, etc. Some of them are uncovered, but many aren't. And there are lot more low-level gray-area things going on that are less likely to be uncovered.

Comment: Re:it's not that hard to use Wikipedia (Score 1) 174

by Trepidity (#47566491) Attached to: An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

Yeah, that's definitely true. A particularly common pattern is that a journalist just cribs something from Wikipedia without researching it, and then Wikipedia cites the news article as if it were an independent source, when in reality it isn't. I'd personally be in favor of tackling this by strongly discouraging the use of news articles as sources, because they typically have extremely poor standards of research. However that leads to other problems, because for contemporary events there is often no other source available, and pushing this too far then runs into the opposite criticism of Wikipedia, that it's too "deletionist". Tricky balance, I think: Wikipedia should cover as much as possible, but should also be as reliable as possible, which are two goals often in conflict.

Comment: it's not that hard to use Wikipedia (Score 5, Insightful) 174

by Trepidity (#47565833) Attached to: An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

Especially if you are a professor you should know better. Wikipedia articles cite sources. Well, some of them do. If they don't, you should raise an eyebrow.

If you see a statement in a Wikipedia article that you are thinking of repeating or relying on for something, look first to see: does it cite a source? In this case it did not. In that case, stop here, you should probably not trust the statement. At least not if it's something that matters at all. If it does cite a source, then things are better, but there is still one more step before you should rely on it for anything more than barroom trivia (like, say, publishing an academic paper): you should probably take a glance at that source and see if it really says that.

Incidentally, this will help you use other reference works as well. There are a lot of errors in printed books as well, especially more popular books (those "Who's Who In the Roman World" type books are riddled with incorrect facts). The way to avoid being tripped up by them is to look for references first, and check references second. (How thoroughly to do so of course depends on what you're using the information for.)

Comment: Re:interesting split developing (Score 1) 24

Another one in that regard are the museums that feel they have kind of an "advocacy" role. Like a museum dedicated to the heritage of $ethnicgroup, or to a specific only-slightly-famous painter. They often have a big desire to make their topic more well known, so are more likely to go for the maximum-dissemination route.

Comment: interesting split developing (Score 4, Interesting) 24

I see at least three common approaches museums are taking to images of their collections:

1. Maximum lockdown: no photos of the collection on the internet, or at most some very low-res ones on the museum's website. The physical museum itself will typically have anti-photography policies to try to enforce this. The goal is to de facto exercise exclusive rights to reproductions of the work (even where the copyright on the work itself has expired), as a revenue source, through e.g. high-quality art books, licensing of images, etc.

2. Disseminate through museum-owned channels. The museum digitizes its works and makes them available to the general public free of charge, via its own website, in at least fairly high-resolution images, a "virtual collection" that anyone can visit. Third-party dissemination may be possible in certain jurisdictions, but the museum either doesn't encourage or actively discourages it. The goal is to fulfill its public mission of dissemination/education, but while maintaining some control/stewardship of the work even online.

3. Maximum dissemination. The museum digitizes its works and makes them available in as many places as possible under a permissive license: its own website, archival repositories run by nonprofits and state institutions, Wikimedia,, news agency file-photo catalogues, etc. The goal is to fulfill its public mission of dissemination/education as widely as possible, and perhaps also achieve some advertising for the museum's collections and the works/artists it conserves, by ensuring that its works are the ones most likely to be used as illustrative examples in Wikipedia articles, books, newspaper/magazine articles, etc.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.