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Comment: Improving efficiency (Score 1) 182

by afgam28 (#49101535) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

One of the big problems with the legal system is how inefficient and time consuming it is. We live in a world where just threatening legal action can put a big question mark over someone's financial future. To do anything, you need to pay for the services of expensive lawyers and paralegals. So this naturally puts the wealthy, big corporations and big government agencies at an advantage.

You can see how inefficient the judicial system is just by looking at how much paper they produce. They literally have to wheel boxes of documents into court with carts. Armies of paralegals have to manually sift through the documents by hand. It's really one of the most conservative and backwards industries out there.

The most obvious way that technology can help is by increasing efficiency and leveling the playing field. The ideas are not new (e.g. http://www.amazon.com/dp/01995...) and I think eventually law firms and courts will learn to leverage technology and make their services more accessible. Making information more accessible will also help shoot down abusers of the legal system (e.g. in invaliding bad patents - http://www.joelonsoftware.com/...).

Comment: Software has been replacing coders for decades (Score 5, Insightful) 264

by afgam28 (#49099137) Attached to: The Robots That Will Put Coders Out of Work

Imagine how many more programmers would be needed if we didn't have compilers. Or automatic code generators. And the whole point of machine learning is that you write software that teaches itself how to do something, rather than program it directly.

Software developers have been quite good at moving up into higher levels of abstraction each time we multiply our productivity. There's so much work to do that I doubt our tools will ever "displace" us.

Comment: Recent but obsolete software (Score 2) 790

by afgam28 (#48784621) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

For example:

The Windows 95 startup sound - https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

The ICQ uh-oh sound - https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

RIngtones, notification sounds and alarms from old phones that we no longer use. I've found that I can still instantly recognize sounds from handsets that I haven't used in years, even old versions of Android (e.g. the default alarm clock from my Nexus S running Gingerbread).

Comment: Re:The main issue is (Score 1) 400

by afgam28 (#48718239) Attached to: Box Office 2014: Moviegoing Hits Two-Decade Low

Hollywood does take risks, the problem is that the movie-going public doesn't! There were plenty of good movies last year but 11 of the 15 top movies in 2014 were remakes or sequels or superhero movies. Sadly the previous list has no correlation to the movies that audiences and critics actually enjoyed.

The problem is that people choose movies to go and see by optimizing for the size of its marketing campaign, or opening weekend gross. So they go and participate in a feedback loop that encourages Hollywood to make more and more low-risk superhero sequels. A much better way to avoid disappointment is to choose a movie that other people who have seen the movie (i.e. reviewers) actually liked, and avoid the ones that reviewers have told you are going to be shit. It sounds obvious but people don't do this.

Even here on Slashdot where we were warned that The Hobbit would be shit. But I see other posts where Slashdotters still went and watched it and are posting here that it was shit. As if that was a surprise, and it's all Hollywood's fault!

A few people here have already mentioned Rotten Tomatoes. If you're not already using it or something similar, you should. Otherwise you're probably part of the problem.

Comment: Re:Hooray Cyberpunk! (Score 1) 96

by afgam28 (#48709043) Attached to: FBI Monitoring Hacking Targets For Retaliation

Most DDoS attacks are launched from zombie botnets, so there's a lot of collateral damage when someone does a "retaliatory" or "self-defensive" attack. It usually misses the true perpetrator's computer.

Anyway I'm not saying that DDoS is "not really that bad". My point was more that bad analogies lead to bad conclusions. It looks to me like a disgruntled employee hacked into SPE and hurt the feelings of a few celebrities who made some shitty movie, and somehow this has resulted in two nation-states getting involved. All because our leaders, the media and society don't really understand what's happening, so they've shoehorned this into a flawed mental model that they do understand: war.

Comment: Re:Hooray Cyberpunk! (Score 2) 96

by afgam28 (#48705791) Attached to: FBI Monitoring Hacking Targets For Retaliation

Does anyone else feel that using the term "cyberwar" to describe this is an insult to anyone who has ever been through a real war? Insofar as there is a conflict between two or more parties, it is like a war. But that's the furthest that the analogy can be taken without it falling apart. Let's get some things straight: computers aren't people, DDoS attacks cause orders of magnitude less suffering than real war, and using a hyperbolic analogy leads to massive escalations of a conflict (e.g. Obama getting involved and taking an entire country offline).

I propose we replace this with a car analogy :). A bunch of people, possibly North Korean, possibly not, have gone and stolen a lot of cars and parked them in JP Morgan's car park. Now all the bankers, and their customers, can't find parking and can't get into the office. Banking and financial services have been denied. Then some guy at JP Morgan realizes that those cars all have New Jersey plates - that's where the attacks are coming from! So they go steal a bunch of other cars, drive them across the Hudson River, and use them to gridlock all the streets in Jersey City. Problem solved - there's now ample parking for Jamie Dimon's Maserati!

Except that because cars were stolen and transported interstate, the FBI now has to get involved.

Comment: Another (Score 1) 178

by afgam28 (#48569551) Attached to: LA Mayor Proposes Earthquake Retrofits On Thousands of Buildings

There seems to be this idea that rather than regulate something, you just need to inform consumers of the risks, and then the free market will sort everything out. It sounds great in theory but doesn't seem to work well in practice. How many times have you seen a sign saying that something "contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm"? Most Californians ignore it and most people would probably ignore this list of "unsafe" buildings too.

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