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Comment Re:Two simple suggestions. (Score 3, Funny) 1825

Trolls have always been an integral part of slashdot, and part of the "uncensored" appeal of the site. "First they came for the trolls ..."

Yeah; one of the things I've been trying for: I've gotten troll+insightful, troll+informative, troll+funny, and funny+insightful+informative mods over the years, but I've never managed to get a troll+funny+(insightful|informative), no matter how hard I try. Part of it is starting off at level 2, so I have to get exactly 1 of each to succeed. Evicting trolls would totally end this (admittedly pointless) goal. OTOH, if the max rating were raised above 5, I'd stand a better chance of success. I've seen others manage it, so I know it's possible.

(I think I've figured out how to write "insightful" and "informative" messages that get me a "troll" mod from the overly serious or doctrinaire. But I haven't really figured out how to offend the humor-impaired while getting the humor across while talking seriously. It's sorta like trying to juggle one too many balls. ;-)

Comment Re:There's no doubt that... (Score 3, Interesting) 1825

Personally, what I see i: 2. The comments. Every single thread devolves into many, many political bullshit rants. Democrat idiots, Republican assholes, liberal, conservative, Socialist, Communist, Fundies blah blah...... #1 you can maybe fix #2 not so much

One of the aspects of this that I've actually seen some partial results for: The current thread layout tends to make it difficult to get beyond the first or sometimes second reply's threads, which fill up many screens, and it's hard to wade through it all to find the non-BS sections of the message trees. It could be a lot more useful if the Nth top-level replies were easier to find, and then also look at the 2nd-level replies to each. I don't think I've seen any really great solutions to this, though I've seen a few that seem to work a bit better than what /. does. Anyway, the problem can be seen in a lot of discussions by starting at the bottom, and noting that most of the messages there have few ratings or replies, meaning that hardly anyone has read them.

Of course, it's possible that something like this is available in the New! Improved! /. UI, and I just haven't recognized it. If so, maybe some more documentation is in order. It's also possible that just adding several more selectable numbers in addition to rating, depth, karma, etc., and provide some easily-accessible config settings so we can tweak them all until we each find a setting combo that we like.

Comment Re:You must be new here (Score 4, Interesting) 1825

I don't want to toot the site's horn too much, but have you looked at other communities on the internet lately? Slashdot might not be objectively good, but compared to plenty of other places it may as well be the pinnacle of internet civilization. If there were honestly something better in a general sense, there would be far fewer people here.

Heh. Remind me of the comments I've seen in assorted places, to the effect that the intelligence of any group of humans is an inverse function of the number of members.

There's dispute about just what the inverse function is. This might be settled, in a sense, by the easy observation that the large body of internet groups show wide variation in visible intelligence, and it's fairly easy to show that this variation is very poorly correlated with a group's size. The conclusion is that there's not just one inverse function between population size and intelligence, there are many such functions.

This opens up what could be an interesting research proposal: Can we collect enough detailed data on populations, including not just their sizes and apparent intelligences, but various other quanitites that might be measurable (and which the groups' leaders will tell us)? If so, maybe we can infer useful information about why some online groups have the intelligence levels that they do.

Or maybe it's all just a hopeless mess. The value of the current IQ tests gives us little hope. But we do have something they don't: many petabytes of comments on all topics by billions of humans, most of it backed up so that repeated access is possible.

OK; it probably really is a hopeless mess. But think of how useful it could be if we could give discussion leaders useful guidelines for improving the intelligence of discussion groups. OK, with things like politics and religion, they'd just use it to drive the level down, but for most other subject, it could lead to an improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio.

Comment Re:What is my case? (Score 1) 111

Sounds to me like his employer should have provided him with some shelving. ;-)

I've seen this problem in several workplaces, where some employees' jobs involved collecting and often analyzing/summarizing/whatever numerous paper trails, but the managers didn't want to bother (or spend money on) the proper shelving to prevent that sort of stacking. Often, the victims of this sort of treatment eventually found another job elsewhere. Sometimes, they just made the best of a (literally) messy situation.

Comment Re:2414 names? Meh, try people.nasa.gov (Score 3, Interesting) 133

names, email and phone numbers of all NASA employees are public, and on the web at people.nasa.gov. tens of thousands of em, free for the taking. There's also an x.500 directory.

Perhaps, but the US "security" system doesn't consider the fact that info is openly published to be a reason not to classify the info as "secret".

There was a fun report some time back, about the US Dept of Defense funding a couple of academic researchers to study what could be learned about US military forces solely from publicly-available published sources. They spent some months collecting publications, wrote up their report, sent it to the DoD -- and within a couple of days it had a Secret classification. ;-)

Everyone who read the story got a good laugh, of course, but it does serve as an example of the logic behind the security classification system. It's also a useful counter-example of the old "If you've done nothing illegal, you have nothing to fear" mantra. In the US, it certainly can be illegal to be in possession of information that a government agency has published openly. It can even be illegal to know that it's illegal to have some information. (Google "FISA warrant" for some examples. ;-)

Comment Re: Nonsense (Score 1) 137

Yup; and that's certainly 'leet perl; it looks like line noise. ;-)

But we might dispute the comment that it'd take 300 lines of C. 300 lines of readable, well-formatted C, perhaps, but C can be made nearly as cryptic and compact as perl. It's mainly things like pattern matching and table manipulation and such where C requires the use of libraries to be so succinct. For basic bit/number crunching, perl isn't really much more compact than C.

I wonder if the Obscure C folks have tackled this problem. Maybe I should google it ...

Comment Re:Badges? (Score 1) 204

AFAIK, in US English, the punctuation should be inside the quotation marks, while in British English (and Norwegian, yay) the punctuation should be outside.

Also, all programming languages would put such commas outside the quotes, unless you want each quoted string to contain the comma as its final character, but then you'd need another comma after the quotes to have the correct syntax for a list of quoted strings that each end in commas.

Of course, programming languages are required to follow sensible and logical rules, unlike English, where the rules are just made up on the fly by anyone with access to a pen or keyboard (or touch screen, for the last couple of decades).

Even back in the 70s, the idea that commas belonged inside quotations always seemed a bit bizarre to me. Except, of course, when the speaker actually did an end-of-clause pause at that point, in which case the comma would be the printed representation of what was actually said.

But even then, I understood that there's no logic or reason behind most of the English syntax rules that people make up and try to enforce.

Comment Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 137

pgp encryption was classified as munitions so that they could limit its export

Hey, I've still got my t-shirt with the 3-line perl implementation of pgp, and the explanation on the back that it's legally a "munition". I still wear it once or twice a year to some inappropriate event where I know there'll be lots of them furriner types. ;-)

(So far I've never been arrested for wearing it to public events, and none of my acquaintances who also have one have been arrested either. I've been disappointed to not be able to follow the fun that would follow if they actually tried to punish someone for wearing such dangerous t-shirts.)

Comment Re:Even CEOs of big companies are incompetent. (Score 1) 85

Many people would say that most CEOs of big companies are incompetent. This is true, of course, partly because being competent isn't part of the job description. ;-)

One of my fun corporate competence stories is about how I got a (US) 617 area code for my cell phone, which is the area including Boston and a few of its suburbs. I got it while living in Waltham, 10 miles west and in the 781 area. When I got my first cell phone, and used my then land-line phone to get help setting it up, the CS fellow I talked to couldn't find Waltham on a map. After a bit of futzing, which got us nowhere, he asked if it was near Cambridge. I said that it was; you just drive west through Watertown or Belmont, and you'll reach Waltham. So he asked if a Cambridge area code would work, and I told him it'd be fine. (Actually, it's sorta the "status" area code in the metro area, FWIW.)

Now, you'd think that a phone company's database would know about a city of 60,000 people. I guess not, and this tells you a lot about the competence of that company's DB and CS folks. I won't name the company, to avoid publicly shaming them any more than others already have. You'd recognize their name, though.

In my experience, this is about typical for lots of big corporations.

Comment Re:because MONEY (Score 2) 130

Now there's no-one else for these sites to get their mapping from

Well, there's OpenStreetMap, which all third-parties should be using since, as TFA proves, using the Google Maps API is not safe.

Indeed, and it's nice of the /. editors to send us all this reminder of the fact that you shouldn't ever build anything that depends on a "service" provided by just one company. They can and sometimes do terminate such services, often without notice, or modify them so what you're using them for no longer works. And they tend to get access to all the info about your stuff, to use as they like.

In particular, any organization that depends on a company's service is run by fools. You might be able to use services like "the Cloud" as a sort of backup, if you don't mind the company seeing the contents of all your files. But you must plan for the day when the company you're using cuts you off. The only real way to do this is to make sure that you have (and control your copies of) all the hardware and software needed to keep it running. If you don't, you can be put out of business at any time, with little or no warning.

Personally, I hope that /. keeps posting the occasional stories along this line. It's clear that a lot of people don't understand it. Reminding people of such pitfalls is a public service, and it's useful to have such stories publicised when they happen. (And maybe this will get a few more people involved with openstreetmap. They could use a few more features. ;-)

Comment Shipping luggage ahead is hardly new ... (Score 4, Insightful) 169

He's not the first to discover the uses of the commercial shipping companies like Fedex, etc. At least since the mid 90s, people have been doing just that. Part of it was in response to all the airport security that was being developed using poorly-paid, and thus unqualified examiners. The other part was the airlines' growing limits on "excess" baggage, plus their tendency to fly your luggage to some place remote from where they were flying you. People reported that handing it over to the package-shipping people to deliver to your destination did an end run around the airlines' lost luggage issue and the government's incompetent security theater. And the cost was often less than what the airlines would charge for the excess luggage. Others read those reports, tried it, found that it worked, and switched to the same process. And on arrival, they had just the one carry-on bag, didn't have to deal with the airlines' slow luggage-delivery schemes, and could just grab a ride to wherever they were headed, where their luggage, equipment, etc. would be waiting for them.

The airlines should just say the hell with it, convert the bottom of the plane to a second deck of seats, and subcontract the luggage delivery with the folks who know how to do it right. Lots of the frequent-traveller crowd does it that way already.

Comment Re:Pardon Me, but... (Score 1) 78

So he spelled it ""? ;-)

Hmmm ... Yet again, /. messes up anything not in the English alphabet. Funny things is that the editing panel shows my reply correctly, with the (classical) Greek spelling of the word between the quotes. But the Preview just shows two adjacent quotes, with the Greek characters omitted.

Sure would be nice if we could discuss "foreign" words, especially in spelling and etymology messages, and have them show up spelled correctly. ;-)

I think I'll post this with the original Greek word there, and see what appears in the edit panel after it's been through the posting process ....

Nope, while correct Greek survives the Preview process into further editing, it does seem to disappear entirely when you post it.

Comment Re:Pardon Me, but... (Score 1) 78

Issac Asimov. And he knew how to spell Eureka.

So he spelled it ""? ;-)

Hmmm ... Yet again, /. messes up anything not in the English alphabet. Funny things is that the editing panel shows my reply correctly, with the (classical) Greek spelling of the word between the quotes. But the Preview just shows two adjacent quotes, with the Greek characters omitted.

Sure would be nice if we could discuss "foreign" words, especially in spelling and etymology messages, and have them show up spelled correctly. ;-)

I think I'll post this with the original Greek word there, and see what appears in the edit panel after it's been through the posting process ....

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