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Comment: Re:Waiting... (Score 2) 144

by nathan s (#48455407) Attached to: Here's What Your Car Could Look Like In 2030

The last photo of all the cubicle-cars in a warehouse is pretty amusing. If you install a toilet and a bed in these things, you can just put food in and get work out - no need to let your workers "go home" or anything else that could compromise productivity - just keep them locked in their transparent cells and put them wherever you need them. Seriously, how can he look at his design and not think of prisons?

Comment: Re:Social media is awful and dangerous. (Score 1) 418

by nathan s (#43893749) Attached to: Turkish PM: "To Me, Social Media Is the Worst Menace To Society."

And its awful because everyone else that ever see's it, those billions of people online around the world never, I mean ever question the material. They read some stupid post and see some pictures and automatically assume it is 100% fact.

Social media is a very dangerous thing.

I wasn't going to post on this thread, but this is different from mainstream media how? I don't see a difference. You could say the exact same thing about your local or national news.

Comment: Re:deterministic (Score 3, Insightful) 248

by nathan s (#43690335) Attached to: How Should the Law Think About Robots?

I was hoping someone would make this comment - I fully agree. It seems pretty arrogant to presume that just because we are so ignorant of our own internal mechanisms that we don't understand the connection between stimuli and behavior that there is no connection, but I understand that a lot of people like to feel that we are qualitatively "different" and invoke free will and all of these things to maintain a sense that we have a moral right to consider ourselves superior to other forms of life, whatever their basis.

Having RTFA, or scanned it, it seems like the authors are primarily concerned about issues of liability - i.e., if we anthropomorphize these intelligent machines and they hurt someone, we can't sue the manufacturer if their actions aren't firmly planted in the realm of the deterministic and thus ultimately some failure on the part of the designer/creator to prevent these things from being dangerous. Sort of stupid; I'm agnostic (more atheist, really), but this sort of thinking would have us make laws to allow us to sue $deity if somebody got hurt by anything in nature, by analogy, if they could. Pretty typical, though, of the modern climate of "omg think of the children" risk aversion and general need to punish _someone_ for every little thing that happens.

Comment: No. (Score 1) 307

by nathan s (#43191013) Attached to: Should We Be Afraid of Google Glass?

This kneejerk fear that you are "being recorded" in public places is irrational and stupid, and only a matter of decades away from being shoved in your face by advances in technology that you are probably not aware of (see http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/09/22/brain-movies/ for something thought-provoking). We forget or dismiss that we already are recorded, in a manner of speaking, by the human eye and the human brain whenever anyone else sees us, which is pretty much analogous to cameras and digital memory and is exactly what Glass does. I already refrain from acting in ways I don't want to be remembered by other people when I'm around people (or think I might be around people), and in my opinion this is no different. Personally I hate the idea of stationary hidden surveillance cameras or drones with cameras far more than I'm bothered by the notion that someone who looks at me can remember me tangibly or mentally, since in the long run I have no assurance that someone who's seen me can't someday have their brain imaged while remembering what they saw, and with hidden stationary cameras or drones I simply have no way of knowing that I've been seen in the first place.

I realize people will argue that memory is more fallible (then again, digital imagery can be manipulated) and currently can't be shared with other people (see prior paragraph) and somehow that's more comforting, but we will end up facing this issue as a species one way or another and as a result, Glass doesn't bother me in the least. If you don't want to be recorded, then disguise yourself or stay away from people you don't completely trust, because laws and feelings ultimately cannot -- and never could -- prevent people from remembering you or surreptitiously recording your image in the first place.

Comment: Re:Brain bandwidth (Score 1) 878

by nathan s (#40599285) Attached to: Does Grammar Matter Anymore?

Posting late, but...

Slashdot doesn't give me mod points anymore, but if it did, I would mod this up in a heartbeat. I have lost track of the number of times I've skipped out on some popular video because there are no transcripts and I'm forced to watch a 30 minute talk that I can read in five minutes. It's incredibly painful, especially since with text, it's much easier to tell within a few seconds if the time is worth spending than it is with video, where a speaker will have barely said a sentence or two. The compression writing provides is incredible, and so important.

What I have hopes for is that speech recognition tools will improve to the point that we don't really have to choose/worry about this, because things will be auto-transcribed and if they make more sense to read than watch, we'll have the choice. This seems increasingly likely, so I'm not too worried about some "post-literate" world where we're stuck in a nightmare of having to watch people drag out every damn word while our brains are off doing something else in the meantime.:P

Comment: Re:Did I miss something? (Score 3, Insightful) 914

by nathan s (#40310991) Attached to: Analyzing the New MacBook Pro

Slightly off-topic, but if you've ever tried to get a writing job for a tech blog/article site, they are running a business and will tell you straight up that what they want are articles that drive eyeballs to the site so that they can sell advertising and get paid. Your take is far too objective to be attention-grabbing.:)

(I briefly looked into writing for some of these types of sites and decided that this type -- more copywriting than analysis -- is not for me. Some people don't mind using screaming hyperbole and writing endless "List of N things..." articles, but it makes my skin crawl as a reader, so I can't bring myself to write it.)

Comment: "Artistic Integrity" is bullshit. (Score 2) 235

by nathan s (#39603217) Attached to: BioWare Announces Free DLC To Add More To the Mass Effect 3 Endings

Everyone who is going on trying to defend the ending and BioWare's laziness is missing the point. If I go to an art gallery, I want artistic integrity. If I buy a game, I want entertainment. It's not that the two can't overlap, it's that the place to express your inner postmodernist isn't at the end of a mainstream entertainment product where you promise the players (and they are players, not participants in your interactive art project) that their choices matter only to say "haha, I lied" at the end and swat them away like annoying little philistines while you gleefully burn their world down. I don't see how anyone who played the first two games (especially having played other games from the same studio in the past) could have predicted that this would be the sort of ending they'd get in the game. It's not that the end was sad or dark that bothers me. It was lazy, incomplete, and a ripoff of the Matrix's Architect mixed with the endings of a typical Deus Ex game.

This is on top of the fact that there is a fair amount of evidence (if only by repeated anecdote/rumor) that the ending was rushed and that it was literally a case of Casey Hudson and the lead writer writing the ending without requesting any feedback from the rest of the writing team with whom they'd collaborated up to that point. It certainly appears to have been written by someone who did not play and love the series as a game and saw it as a chance to be controversial for its own sake.

A real letdown. This was one of my favorite series by a studio I previously would buy titles from without a second thought, but the utter, utter laziness at the end of this game combined with the painful rush job that was Dragon Age 2 means I'll probably never buy another BioWare title new. I'd rather pirate them and decide first if it's actually a fun game or if it's yet another case of some "artist" jerking off.


Comment: Re:Why does an e-book need a publisher? (Score 5, Insightful) 352

by nathan s (#39291695) Attached to: Publishers Warned On Ebook Prices

This. The writing and editing parts are trivial in comparison with getting people to know your books exist. I can see the appeal of a publisher if you're writing in hopes of actually being read -- not because the publisher does any work for you, but because the fact that your book is associated with a publisher means that more people are willing to risk reading it. If you self-publish, and even if you paid to have your book edited, you're still going to have huge amounts of trouble attracting the first tiny bit of an audience unless you are writing some obscure non-fictional stuff that can be judged at a glance as useful or not, and maybe even then you'll still have trouble. I only have experience with self-publishing fiction, so I can't really say for sure on the latter.

That said, people severely underestimate the gatekeeper effect that these traditional publishers play, not just for books but for music as well. It's not that I think that publishers are actually _good_ arbiters of taste or quality, but I can't deny that people would prefer to take a chance on a crappy song that is getting radio play after being pushed by labels than they are to waste 5 minutes listening to random MP3s on some guy's website. Truthfully, it's hard to blame them. I'm a writer and I make electronica, and I still find myself hesitant to waste time on random stuff I find online, simply because of a few bad early experiences doing that. So I'm sure that I'm missing great content in the same way that some people would probably really enjoy the things I create but skip it rather than take the risk.

The short of it is, human nature is to blame here. People usually (and fairly rationally, I think) prefer the guaranteed payout in entertainment that they expect from a curated source, one that they are familiar with, to the real risk of wasting their time listening to or reading horribly flawed creations that they randomly stumble across online. The only way around this, from a creator's point of view, is to either delegate the marketing jobs to a publisher or to spend a lot of time doing it yourself. For the average writer/artist/programmer/musician/etc, I think that's something that is not really much fun when you'd rather just be making more stuff.

Comment: I know what you're trying to say, but... (Score 4, Insightful) 128

by nathan s (#38683148) Attached to: Google Launches Style Guide For Android Developers

...speaking as someone who has formally studied design, it's not even close to sufficient to just train designers "to look at history to look at beautiful manuscripts and books" [argh, the run-ons...]. You need to understand design theory, your target audience, and have a bit of a magic touch (one that I personally, sadly, seem to lack) for figuring out where things go. Just looking at a few pictures isn't going to help. They provide inspiration and you can draw commonalities from them, but really you have to practice design and learn from your mistakes if you want to be any good at it -- like just about anything else.

As for iOS vs Android, I agree that iOS has more polish but I think you're mistaken about it carrying on. I suspect now that Steve Jobs is not micromanaging every design decision, we'll see slippage in Apple's design output. The key difference between Apple and Android is that Apple had every design aspect of its products micromanaged by ONE MAN for years. If you have everything designed by one talented designer or a team of designers who have worked together for years, you get something much more consistent and beautiful than when the result is a "good enough" effort by the designer or design team of the year. I think it's a natural consequence of the fact that a group of people can't really "share" any design goal since they all have slightly different mental images of what the end result should be (unless they have worked together for years and have learned to understand what the effect of each member of their team is on the final result). So unless Apple has some new superstar designer who can crack the whip of conformity and beat down dissenters across its product line going forward, I expect to see it slipping in the future.

Comment: Re:Seklild Rderaes (Score 1) 420

by nathan s (#38065808) Attached to: Skilled Readers Recognize Words By Shape

What's interesting is that when you take those words out of context, as you just did, I could no longer easily recognize them, which implies that the shape-matching has a contextual aspect to it, at least for me. It seems my mind predicts what words are likely to come next, which makes the letter-jumble less important.

Comment: Re:Thanks for the list of artists to boycott (Score 1) 123

by nathan s (#37919702) Attached to: 1st Strikes Issued Under New Zealand Anti-Piracy Laws

Only addressing this AC to mention an extra point - even negative reviews directly on a book would be more helpful than none. Something your friends should keep in mind if they are interested in helping you succeed.:)

[To directly address the AC "criticism," what mistakes there are in spelling or grammar in any of my books/stories (you don't say which one you're referring to) are intentional. The most interesting real criticism I've gotten from a couple dozen actual readers (I did say I've been doing this for years, and my lack of success on the Kindle front is not really relevant here) is that my Fourwar story contained too much profanity for their tastes and could I please remove it so they could pass it to person X or Y.:P Which says to me that there are two primary problems with my story - one, the audience is not that big to begin with compared to, say, a romance novel, and two, the existing audience is slashed because of moral issues like the profanity. Something else for would-be writers to keep in mind, and again, these are more marketing issues than they are technical.]

Comment: Re:Thanks for the list of artists to boycott (Score 2) 123

by nathan s (#37916546) Attached to: 1st Strikes Issued Under New Zealand Anti-Piracy Laws

And the signal-to-noise ratio is extremely high.

I'm by no means defending the status quo, but having produced music and books which have been freely available for years, I've learned one thing. Marketing is a major hurdle that any independent content producer will have to learn to do effectively in order to make money. The barriers to entry have been lowered, and that has introduced a flood of competition, so that it's extremely difficult to find an audience even at a price of "free" without resorting to tactics that I personally find objectionable (spamming your products all over every available form with a "submit" button that you can find seems to be the best way to be successful as far as I can tell, apart from having already high-profile friends to do word-of-mouth/reviews for you -- that and writing books that explain "how to get rich quick by selling books on the internet." ;) ). Anecdotally, I've had one of my novels on Kindle for months now at various price points, and I've sold a grand total of two copies, both in the first week to people I know, and I've gone the usual Twitter/Goodreads/etc. promotional routes without any "success." I suspect that, discounting luck, it would require me to physically go promote it at various conventions/stores/etc. in order to make much more headway.

So while I agree with you that you certainly can make money online, just the fact that the barriers have been lowered isn't sufficient. Be prepared to throw in a lot of time trying to figure out ways to attract even a bit of attention for your work - if you aren't a good marketer, then it's down to luck, and relying on luck is a good way to stay broke.:) The positive thing is, it seems like if you aren't an A-list novelist anyway, this would be the expected course of action even through a traditional publishing route, since I hear that they only bother actually promoting the ones that have an already-quantifiable ROI. I don't think you (or I) are losing anything at all by pursuing the self-publishing route.:)

Comment: Re:Competition (Score 1) 342

by nathan s (#37652222) Attached to: Should Book Authors Pursue a Patronage Model?

As someone who has written a couple of novels and has them available both on Amazon and as free downloads...you're absolutely correct.

I get a certain amount of downloads of the free copies of my novel every month; I can't say for certain that real people are downloading them as opposed to search engines or bots, since my stats-tracking software (awstats) isn't really that specific and I'm too busy to bother poring through apache logs, but I'm guessing it's the latter. I've had one of my novels available on Amazon since late July, and I've sold a total of 2 copies, both to people I know. I've tried three different price points, and followed all of the "recommended" advice in terms of twitter, Goodreads, blogging, etc., and this has had zero impact on sales.

The short of it is, as an unknown author, people simply won't take the "risk" of spending the time on my novels even at a price of "free." And to be honest, I don't really blame them. I'd have a hard time justifying reading something from an unknown author myself, without some body of reviews or high-profile recommendations to fall back on. This is, of course, a giant catch-22: you can't really get non-purchasers or non-readers to review books they haven't read, it's hard to find reviewers willing to review your work if you are unknown, and readers won't buy your unreviewed novel (or even bother to read it for free), much less contribute their own reviews. I think it also doesn't help that I write stories in genres (primarily SFF) that are not thrillers or romance; the readership in those genres seems to be a bit less selective and more willing to take chances (or perhaps have more time to risk, I'm not entirely sure), if anecdotes from authors like John Locke and Amanda Hocking are any indication.

That said, I still don't feel any desire to cave and go the traditional publishing route. From all the information I can gather, you're just as unlikely to succeed there, and luck (and your own unassisted self-promotion) will play just as big a part in your results as if you just bypass the existing publishing industry completely.

Side note: for readers who don't know, Amazon uses a tiered royalty system where you can only get 70% royalties if your book is priced no lower than $2.99 USD. If you price it at $0.99 USD, you will get approximately $0.35 for each copy you sell, minus a bandwidth charge dependent on the size of your book. The price point seems to be irrelevant in your book's success, as far as I can tell; I've sold no copies at $0.99, $2.99, or $4.99 other than the two copies I initially sold to a couple of people in my immediate social network.

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