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Comment: Re:Schools need to be reformed. (Score 1) 484

by demi (#35147158) Attached to: 61.9% of Undergraduates Cybercheat

I wanted to say something similar, and you said it better, but I also wanted to point out that the particulars in each of the GP's list are also different: namely, it's not generally permissible in business to pass others' work off as your own, and in fact in "business" there are often legal protections against doing just that, depending on the situation (rather than violating some kind of academic code of conduct, you may be committing fraud or violating a patent or license). Obviously it varies, but for me the more equivalent situation is when you base a survey or analysis on other sources, which you properly interpret and cite; this is more or less what you might do in "business" as well.

Also, "Cheating - adjusting grades == Business - Creative accounting." Only someone who totally does not understand accounting, and whose understanding of the field is based on punditry and headline-skimming could possibly think this. There are a very large number of rules about what constitutes proper accounting, rules which, in many cases, can't be broken without violating the law--again, a much more serious infraction than "cheating". Are all criminals caught? All incompetent CPAs delicensed or sued? Of course not. But to think that because some criminals get away with crime we should encourage or tolerate some kind of corresponding behavior among students is an attitude that boggles the mind.

To be honest, I'm a little disappointed at how little emphasis is placed on rote learning these days. Analysis and "teaching people to think" is well and good, but without a solid foundation of factual knowledge--not a list of Google results, but actual interrelated nuggets of knowledge that reside in ones' mind--the quality of analysis, induction and insight is poor. Also, while we have obviously made many strides in our ability to gather information, and can use technology to gain same, do you really think the quality of thinking has gone up since the 19th century? That's a genuine question.

Comment: Why Watson will win (Score 1) 220

by demi (#34870852) Attached to: <em>Jeopardy</em>-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans

The reason Watson will win, even though it's probably not a better player than either Jennings or Rutter, is that Jennings and Rutter are playing against each other as well as Watson. I'm basing this gut evaluation on the scores for the practice game and the Watson "demo" that you can play online. In a game like Jeopardy with its three-player dynamics, it's harder to say that one player is better than another, based on a single game, than in a game like chess.

Comment: Re:No force? (Score 1) 589

by demi (#33922838) Attached to: Oracle Asks OpenOffice Community Members To Leave

Well, I'm reading you wrong, perhaps, or we have different understandings of what "back room" means. In any case, the TDF members ignored any substantive questions put to them, in particular the perfectly straightforward:

(21:33:59) Andreas_UX: ... you guys even have [your] own agenda for conferences now. what will you promote there?
(21:34:12) Andreas_UX: OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice?

Well, which is it? Why can't the question be answered? From the perspective of the body under discussion, the answer would have to be OO.o. And if there's reason to think the answer would be otherwise, then there is indeed a conflict of interest.

Comment: Re:Not so awesome as you might think (Score 1) 259

by demi (#33204150) Attached to: The Brain's Secret For Sleeping Like a Log

Thanks, I wanted to point out to the GP that what he describes is not "sleeping like a log." I'm not sure what it is, but, like the person who's signing up for credit cards "in their sleep", then it's not sound sleeping, it's some variation on sleepwalking or something. Not being able to wake up and deal with things like falling out of bed, wetting oneself, emergencies, and that kind of thing--that's a pathology, if genuine. Not relevant to the subject of the article.

Comment: Re:Info sec, trust, access control. (Score 1) 578

by demi (#33199852) Attached to: Human Rights Groups Join Criticism of WikiLeaks

That's the same line of thinking that says "Well you didn't shovel your walk -- so it's YOUR fault I slipped and fell.". Nobody made Assange post the documents. His actions are his own responsibility; no matter what fingers are pointed or what excuses are given, he is the one that published them.

Sure, and by the same token, you obviously agree that any negative consequence of the publishing of the documents are the sole responsibility of the actors involved, and not Wikileaks or Assange--if some tribal leader is dragged from his home and murdered in retaliation for secret cooperation with the U.S., for example.

Communications

Telcos Waking Up To the Value of Your Location 178

Posted by kdawson
from the cdrs-from-your-cars dept.
holy_calamity writes "Cell phone networks represent probably the most effective data collectors of all time: almost everyone's movements and communications are logged in some way by these firms thanks to the ubiquity of cell phones. Now they're beginning to wake up to the value of that data, as researchers mine call records to study travel and social patterns at previously unimaginable scales. Not surprisingly, some are thinking about how to monetize that data, too."

Comment: Re:I do not get it... (Score 1) 415

by demi (#31923068) Attached to: The iPad As In-Car Entertainment System Killer

Some of us on here are even parents, believe it or not. I just finished a 8200-mile, five-week cross-country road trip with my six-year-old. He had loads of toys in the backseat, there were two parents, and he did have a portable DVD player as well as a Leapster (that's like a "semi-educational" portable game thing).

The DVD player stopped working in the first week and he never really showed much interest in the Leapster. Most of the toys he brought didn't appeal much in the car and for the parent who wasn't driving, keeping up a constant show of entertainment wasn't an option. What really made the difference is that he's just really well-adjusted on road trips, which we have been taking him on since he was very young. Probably the most effective "entertainments" were the same silly road games we all remember playing: eye spy, twenty questions, categories, car-counting games and, of course, just having conversations about what we were seeing and doing.

There's no moral stand here, all kids are different and need different things in a car. An in-car DVD system would have been better than what we had because it wouldn't have been as fragile and wouldn't have been another item of clutter in an enormously packed car; but I don't think we would have used it that much more. We got the DVD player working again, basically, about halfway through, but he only watched another couple of movies out of the many many hours of driving.

For those people who think absolute attention is a necessity for safe driving: Ideally, maybe; but only race car drivers actually drive that way. For normal driving, one's attention is constantly divided. Even when alone, you're thinking about things other than driving, such as where you're going, what you're doing that day and whether to make a side stop. Part of being a safe driver is being able to carry out normal activities compatible with safe driving, such as having a conversation or making plans about where you're going.

Comment: Re:Bwahahaha! (Score 1) 409

by demi (#31170940) Attached to: Aussie Attorney General Says Gamers Are Scarier Than Biker Gangs

If you trap and kill the cats, the remaining feral fertile cats mate with each other, producing a new generation of kittens.

If you trap and sterilize the cats, and release them back into the wild population, the remaining feral fertile cats mate with them (at least sometimes), and fewer kittens result.

Earth

"Green" Ice Resurfacing Machines Fail In Vancouver 356

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-wish-we-had-a-zamboni-section dept.
lurking_giant writes "The Seattle Times is reporting that the Men's 500 meter speed-skating competition was delayed more than an hour Monday evening by the breakdown of the two ice grooming machines at the skating oval. The real story is that the machines that failed were the latest state-of-the-art 'Resurfice Fume-Free Electric Groomers' leased to the Olympics committee. An old, propane-powered Zamboni had to be brought out to fix the ice. This makes two nights in a row with ice resurfacing machine failures. If you're going to spend twice as much on electric devices to replace non-green designs, at least test the things first."

Comment: Re:Peanut Hysteria is more of a psychological issu (Score 5, Insightful) 643

by demi (#30702456) Attached to: Air Canada Ordered To Provide Nut-Free Zone

I'm sorry, and I mean no offense, but that's not evidence. The problem with parents who tell these tales about how peanuts are like kryptonite to their kids or they're allergic to X in food is also he reason why we shouldn't base public policy on anecdotal evidence (there's another comment below about someone "who knows a family with a son who...")--so please don't take this as if I'm targeting you specifically or questioning he veracity of what you're relating; I'm just pointing that this is isn't how we gather evidence on public health issues and the stories told by parents shouldn't form the basis of public health policies.

The thing is, in the scenarios you're describing, you have a son who is quite allergic to nuts, I'm going to guess because he had something with peanuts actually in it at some point, or came into contact with the oil, and after that happened a couple of times with an allergic reaction, you figured out he was allergic. And people at the school and around him basically know this, too.

So now, when your son doesn't feel well, on a field trip, or at school, everyone looks around for the nuts. And lo and behold, you're next to a peanut farm. Or a kid at the table is having a PB&J. Or you find out his playmate had peanut butter pancakes that morning, or a snack made in a facility processing pine nuts. Or whatever. And you have your "explanation."

Except that you don't actually know how frequently your son is exposed to "peanut dust" or "contaminated surfaces" or whatever, and doesn't have a reaction. Maybe he's allergic to something else, or maybe not. Or maybe it goes down exactly as you suspect. The problem is that in the absence of a controlled study, we just can't tell. And while it makes sense (maybe) for you to just be on the safe side with regard to nuts, it doesn't make sense to make rules, regulations and laws with significant costs for others without that peer-reviewed, study-based justification.

Anyway, I hope people take this as the call for more information and for better study of the public health implications of allergies that it is, and not as an attack on a dad and his son, which it certainly isn't intended to be.

Comment: Re:The question is about labeling? (Score 1) 820

by demi (#30276290) Attached to: Scientists Create Artificial Meat

Regarding #2: livestock is expensive to raise, but the costs aren't necessarily borne by the producers. Livestock may be raised on public lands, fed subsidized feed from companies profiting by corporate welfare, or not held liable for various consequences of consuming their product: all of these are externalities to the producer and may not be reflected in the retail price of the product. I'm not making an argument for any of these items specifically but I could see an artificial meat process that cost less overall than livestock raising, slaughter and processing; yet resulted in a higher market price.

With respect to labeling, an interesting question will be what kinds of marketing will be viable for artificial meat producers. For example, livestock producers would probably object to advertising claims that their animals suffer or that there's anything wrong with meat production. If artificial meat producers are unable to make this claim and don't have very low prices on their side, then this cedes an important competitive advantage, and it will be interesting to see the result.

I'm reminded of the "Better Cheese comes from Happy Cows" and "Happy Cows come from California" marketing campaigns (the cartoonish idea in the ads was that warm California was a more happening place than cold Wisconsin, another cheese-producing state), which were challenged by some group (PETA, possibly) on the grounds that the cheese producers were not actually making cheese from milk produced by happy cows. Talk radio pundits and the like laughed about the excessive silliness of PETA (or whoever) in bringing the challenge to the campaign. But the problem I have with it is this: if we establish that any claim of relative happiness among livestock must be comic, and can be made by anyone without regard to the treatment of their livestock, then that removes from the marketplace a potential competitive advantage that a theoretical milk producer who did try to use a higher ethical standard might try to take advantage of. In short, while I hardly agree with a lot of PETA says or does, and I don't necessarily think the decision in this case should have gone their way, I don't think the idea that some livestock could be happier than others is laughable, nor the idea that claiming that your cows are happier than the competitions' is a marketing claim that needs to be supported with evidence.

Comment: Re:Tasteless (Score 2, Interesting) 820

by demi (#30276050) Attached to: Scientists Create Artificial Meat

Not just the fat, but the connective tissue and to a lesser extent dermal layers and blood vessels and the way that muscle near the bone is different--in short, all the various anatomy to a cut of meat that would be lacking in the most naïvely-produced artificial meat.

However, eating a roast, chop or steak is an acid test that artificial meat doesn't really need to pass for many uses. People eat a huge amount of processed meat in nugget, sausage and additive form. Artificial meat can start there while coming up with generations of improved matrixes and structures that allow it to come closer to fine animal-sourced meat.

Comment: Re:He Isn't Entitled To A Jury of His Peers (Score 1) 571

by demi (#30243460) Attached to: Hacker McKinnon To Be Extradited To US

That's an interesting link, but it doesn't point to more information about Leipold's paper. I don't disagree with the conclusion, necessarily, but it's hard to see how comparing jury and judge trials could result in useful information, because there's no reason to think that those populations of cases are of equal merit (superficially, to rule out, for example, the possibility that guilty defendants demand jury trials and innocent ones don't). There's no way to "objectively" establish guilt or innocence, so... it's hard to see how you could even conduct a useful study with that premise.

When I look at the satisfaction people seem to take in making life miserable for others, the conclusion doesn't surprise me at all, though.

Comment: Re:Virtualization is not bunk. (Score 1) 483

by demi (#29957532) Attached to: IT Snake Oil &mdash; Six Tech Cure-Alls That Went Bunk

A lot of what I see virtualization used for has to do with failures of software engineering, in the sense of being able to keep instances separate. Due to the overhead issues you mention, it would be better to support different software environments and applications on one host OS. For example, you have four physical web servers and want to replace it with one physical server. Why not just run one OS instance and four instances of your webserver? Almost every OS has features that allow you to pin process groups to processors or limit memory or do whatever other resource management you're using virtualization for, while avoiding having to lose capacity to OS instances and preallocations.

The reason, often, is that the application is engineered poorly to work this way. Innumerable little details like fixed port numbers, hardcoded configuration file locations, a robust way of logicalizing ("logicalizing"--I like that as an alternative to "virtualizing") the way a piece of software sees its environment--these all make it "hard" to have a bunch of software instances running together.

Another thing that virtualization "helps" with is deployment--the idea that instead of deploying an application package, you deploy a (probably partly) preconfigured full OS image that matches what you built, QAed and demonstrated. But again, this is a kind of workaround that sidesteps the issue that you're not packaging your software well--repeatedly, reliably, stably.

Virtualization has its place, but these are the uses to which I'm actually seeing it put (I work at a large IT outsourcing company). And it makes me a bit sad because it's failures of software engineering that make it needed.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.

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