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Comment: Re:Academic wankery at its finest (Score 1) 154

I think the development of fire might be one of our defining moments but it may not be measurable in rocks an eon later. The invention/discovery of agriculture 10,000 years ago has been the common starting point and I think those changes would be measurable in rocks by paleontologists of the future.

Comment: Evolution Discovered!!! (Score 1) 180

by minstrelmike (#48716739) Attached to: 65% of Cancers Caused by Bad Luck, Not Genetics or Environment
They essentially rediscovered evolution--how random mutations result in "luck" against survival in the current environment.
The most telling point in the article was when they said the rate of colon cancer was 4 times the rate of small intestine cancer, and that exactly matches their differing rates of stem cell divisions overall. They did note that certain cancers such as lung cancer and skin cancer had environmental effects and that there were also general inheritance effects from your genes (who'da thunk?).

Cancer is evolution in action (just like every other biological process, whether at the individual cell level, the level of the individual, the level of species, and it also acts against the processes that build biological products such as beaver dams, beehives, and human civilization).

Comment: Re:How is it a mistake? (Score 1) 386

by minstrelmike (#48697823) Attached to: The One Mistake Google Keeps Making
I think their main problem is that they aren't looking for problems non-techie individuals have, therefore they are never going to hit to big market again.
However, the strategy of building a shitload of products and seeing what sticks is probably as good as focusing on actual problems real people have.

Perhaps instead of having the ubergeeks at google spend 20% of their time working on stuff that interests them, google would be better off having 20% of their workforce be regular, average (and below-average) joes, and janes, talking about their every day problems. Android didn't solve a problem; it's just free which is 1) why it is on 80% of phones world-wide and 2) why Apple makes 80% of the mobile app money. Android solved a problem for nerds; Apple solved a problem for consumers.

Comment: Re:They said that about cell phones (Score 4, Interesting) 386

by minstrelmike (#48697675) Attached to: The One Mistake Google Keeps Making
I think a big difference with the iPhone is that Steve Jobs, regardless of personal faults, was trying to solve a problem that bothered _him_.
Same with the folks that built the first search engines, including googol.
Now the company is trying to solve social problems, not personal ones, by using engineering techniques, not political or marketing ones.
Society works according to certain principles, all socio-biological, not engineering-mechanical. Whether it should work that way or not is useless philosophizing. We got where we are today by using those processes and those same processes are going to get us to tomorrow. Or not. The results are optional; the process is not.

Newsflash. Entertainment is bigger than intellectualism. The problem Jobs addressed was how to listen to more music. The problem Google first addressed was how to find web sites, because the searchers were highly interested in finding them.The National Enquirer outsells the New York Times. Not because of the quality of the news; it is because of the quality of the citizenry.

Comment: Re:You forgot something... (Score 1) 275

by minstrelmike (#48647761) Attached to: Dish Pulls Fox News, Fox Business Network As Talks Break Down

I didn't realize that 11.3% of the US workforce hardly exists.

A lot of people don't realize that. Have you heard about the Ferguson protests? Blacks make up 13% of the US population yet they are treated as an insignificant minority. In America the Black population doesn't count for that much and it is larger than the population of union workers. Draw your own conclusions or analogies using this additional point of view.

Comment: Re:One of these things is not like the other. (Score 1) 121

by minstrelmike (#48641501) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games?

It's interesting, the asker asks for information about making games and the posters almost universally reply with information about making code. You guys do know these are two completely different activities? (And that computer games are only a small slice of the total gaming universe?)

He asked about game-making on a computer-oriented site. Sorry if we offended you by focusing on the computer aspect only (did you actually read any of the posts about design with cardboard and the usefulness of Dungeons and Dragons?).

Comment: Re:It isn't what you think it is. (Score 1) 121

by minstrelmike (#48641479) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games?

Most people want to write software, or play the guitar, or build a house.

That is, until they see it requires years of learning and practice to do it well.

That's only half of the story.
Creative or energetic or curious people try lots of things and stick with what turns them on.
Most of the people who take up guitar or any other hobby whatsoever don't stick with it. So what?
Try it and stick with the one(s) that keep your interest over time.

For the OP, the posts on game design with cardboard and rules are accurate but if the kid ain't into them, then they are useless. I'd suggest it along with one of the game dev packages (Unity3d is my pref) and see what sticks. When my son was 11, he and a friend filled several notebooks with rules for an open world game they were going to write. It was far too big for them (but I didn't say that to them). The exercise was excellent, they loved doing it, and they're the ones who eventually figured out just how complicated it all is.
Now my son is in college and just released his first game on the iApp store. It's got a single mechanic, touch the screen or release it.

Comment: Re:Boy who cried wolf (Score 3, Informative) 163

by minstrelmike (#48530857) Attached to: New Virus Means Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible

It's not that the reports are "alarmist". It's (1) you're not understanding the actual risk, and (2) you're pretending that the reports are predicting the end of the world.

Yup. that applies to most of the comments.
Viruses mutate and flus occur regularly. Occasionally, one is deadly.
To get in front of evolution and have 50 million vaccines ready for distribution, you need to make educated guesses.
This year we guessed wrong. That's the gist of the article.

Comment: Re:Let's do the math (Score 1) 307

by minstrelmike (#48453503) Attached to: Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies
There appears to be an infinity of possible things that could happen evolutionarily.
But if you look merely at the number of stars in the entire universe, approximately 300 billion billion, that's essentially 10 to the 20th power. That means in order for life to be unique in the universe, all we need are 20 one out of ten possibilities in a row.

Comment: Re:Device is not relevant but OS version is. (Score 2) 52

by minstrelmike (#48379869) Attached to: Popular Smartphones Hacked At Mobile Pwn2Own 2014

If the hack results in a jailbreak, I'm sure there will be a patch or a workaround on Cydia. I remember this happening with a SSL issue a few years ago.

Absolutely true. If the hack causes users to trash their old phone and buy a new one, well there's an incentive for the company to NOT fix the hack.
OTOH, if the hack causes jailbreaking and the carrier loses money, now we're talking about terrorists trying to destroy the entire capitalist system.
Incentives are very powerful.

Comment: Re:BlackBerry Z30 (Score 1) 52

by minstrelmike (#48379837) Attached to: Popular Smartphones Hacked At Mobile Pwn2Own 2014

Every carrier (this wasn't about the phone but the network) in India provides a back door to the Indian government.

Lucky for all of us in America that we have the Department of Homeland Security "protecting" our private data.
(That's called sarcasm for those of you who are poorly socialized.)

"The algorithm to do that is extremely nasty. You might want to mug someone with it." -- M. Devine, Computer Science 340