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User Journal

Journal: Continuation on education 13

Journal by jd

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal: Letter frequencies in URLs

Journal by arth1

Doing some maintenance on a few squid cache servers, I decided to look into the letter frequency distributions for URLs, and how it matches normal written text.
Four caches were scanned for the URLs of currently cached content only, constituting around 1.5 million URLs.

In short, the results have some of the same characteristics as normal text, but with notable exceptions. You don't get an etaoin shrdlu; there are a lot of h, t, p, colons and slashes in URLs which skew the results. I'm also surprised that w scored so low, given all the URLs that start with www.

If anyone else finds a use for this, here is the data. Each character in the URL is followed by the number of times it was used in each cache, plus the total for all four caches.

/: 83198 130244 3028097 2929538 6171077
t: 73026 99729 2727455 2641930 5542140
e: 52801 95537 1746624 1753865 3648827
.: 35317 60175 1478231 1467006 3040729
o: 40941 86873 1423124 1448453 2999391
a: 43075 72450 1408451 1384211 2908187
c: 36078 64921 1308435 1295986 2705420
s: 41946 76684 1251987 1278493 2649110
p: 28248 44907 1214805 1190698 2478658
m: 29609 45768 1168769 1195505 2439651
h: 22543 41992 1029463 1019494 2113492
i: 37846 58586 974977 994693 2066102
n: 30006 51596 815477 795344 1692423
r: 26958 53239 801514 774606 1656317
g: 23689 57734 666533 790131 1538087
d: 23304 36637 746244 697523 1503708
:: 15442 27059 639115 649013 1330629
w: 25563 41061 622672 629215 1318511
1: 9697 12580 577523 561429 1161229
l: 21855 32824 560110 542960 1157749
2: 9890 13516 492565 514385 1030356
u: 11878 15246 440808 431176 899108
0: 10333 13106 404229 445998 873666
v: 7450 8415 328991 292590 637446
b: 9980 26743 280533 285767 603023
3: 6296 6905 299391 272352 584944
f: 9866 25830 265685 266037 567418
4: 4738 5931 273161 244104 527934
k: 4202 5641 235501 230456 475800
5: 5957 6920 212941 235172 460990
7: 6497 7333 230677 200956 445463
9: 4327 5215 206613 195295 411450
8: 5363 6697 210689 178565 401314
6: 5761 6487 209092 175203 396543
x: 3853 5755 168401 144265 322274
-: 3516 11325 124398 133481 272720
y: 4348 5272 114803 96971 221394
_: 2301 2683 87749 80901 173634
j: 4436 5058 89043 72567 171104
=: 1555 1437 37342 35214 75548
q: 1494 1538 32910 37861 73803
z: 741 907 29563 30037 61248
,: 3282 2848 21099 14688 41917
&: 493 413 12558 9222 22686
%: 220 460 9640 11420 21740
;: 2878 2254 8281 8281 21694
?: 322 294 4796 9264 14676
+: 45 35 1333 1758 3171
~: 31 7 996 735 1769
$: 0 0 425 670 1095
^: 6 0 420 228 654
*: 27 10 187 188 412
!: 0 2 282 122 406
[: 0 0 292 23 315
]: 0 0 272 23 295
|: 8 8 77 167 260
@: 10 0 113 38 161
(: 0 0 75 55 130
): 0 0 69 55 124
{: 0 0 75 0 75
\: 0 0 6 4 10
': 0 0 1 1 2

Does it have any practical use?
Perhaps. In proxy.pac files, a common method of load balancing based on URLs, known as the Sharp Superproxy script, is to sum the ASCII values of the cache entries, and mod it by the number of servers, to pick a server to use. .pac files are javascript, and javascript does not have an easy method to return the ascii value for a character. So what's generally used is a function like:

function atoi(charstring) {
    if (charstring=="a") return 0x61; if (charstring=="b") return 0x62;
    if (charstring=="c") return 0x63; if (charstring=="d") return 0x64;

This can be speeded up by ordering the list in the order of frequency, starting with "/", "t", "e", ".", "o", "a" - just moving those few to the front, reduces the latency of the script significantly.

Also, hashing in URL history handling can be sped up if the most prevalent buckets are created. This could also be useful for other URL collections, like AV software URL matching. I am unaware of any that work directly with character based lookups, but it is certainly one way to do it.

Other uses?
In pen testing, having a frequency table like this can greatly aid in URL discovery speed.

But all in all, it was a fun exercise. Note that the variations may be great, especially for the bottom half of the list. Also note that the low count for the letter 'x' in the URLs might not match your users.

User Journal

Journal: Aphelion SciFi Fantasy Horror Poetry Webzine in 2013!

Journal by TaoPhoenix

Okay, here we go!

I shall post a promotional piece for the Science Fiction - Fantasy - Horror - Poetry webzine Aphelion.

It's been around since 1997. However we gradually lost the "regular" posters through attrition and we haven't undertaken much marketing at all. This post is "semi-unauthorized" aka ad-hoc.

This campaign:
You're one of two crews I would like to encourage to join and post a note about at least a couple of stories! They do have a focus on newer and developing writers, so go REAL EASY on the comments - if you see something that a writer could have improved, PLEASE work REAL HARD to soft-ball it!

As part of a bit of backstory that we don't need to visit here, in this somewhat fragile year it's important to get a couple of really nice newcomers, because there is a potential bit of culture clash. They do not have the Anonymous Coward theme with all that entails, nor are they in tune with our top 10 "inside jokes" such as Frosty Ps0t, You Insensitive Clod, In Soviet Russia, and many types of posts that dance around the Funny-Flamebait line here. Also be very careful with the FTFY and Grammar posts. It's true Mechanics do have a place in writing, but the usage tone culture here of those posts is generally too aggressive for Aphelion.

But y'all have modded me up a bunch of times, so I must have been interesting a few times at least, so let's really get all you geniuses to go give them the best ya got, 'cause you're all smarter than me!

This is the only High Volume promo web post I am doing right now, because it's one of only a few sites I have followed for all these years (somewhere about 8!), so I don't feel it's much to ask one Journal post to grab some of you who have been feeding me Chocolate Donut +1 upmods all these years.

I would love to get _____ number of really enthused new visitors who plan to stay for at least a few months. For a site the size of Slashdot, we'll get a decent few at a minimum, and if we have the cure for the Woes when y'all don't like This Hour's Story, we might get a lot! Let's go all KickStarter-y with some fun milestones.
17 - Just because I like the number 17, and the lowest non-insulting goal.
25 - Round Number
32 - How could we not include this one!?
50 - Round Number
64 - Another obvious one
75 - Round Number
But then it gets a bit scarce, until ...
100 - Round Number
128 - The Comp Numbers will get a bit thin in a min
200 - Round Number
256 - QuarterFinal Compy number
500 - Stretch Goal Round Number
512 - Stretch Goal Compy
1000 - Last Round Number
1024 - Last Compy number

I have no right to expect more than that so I'll start to reign all this in soon!

For you login-metrics fans, they put in an aggressive anti-spam measure in this year, but please don't go all Gamey on me and try to break it! It's meant for 4th rate twerps who went all CopyPasta at the Ragu Factory. Just play nice. But do holler to me if it causes any of you actual trouble getting in, and I'll give you a Secret Decoder ByteCoin. Signed by the Retired Lieutenant Taco Vendor from down the street. Or something.

The Lead intro page: - typically a graphic that changes for each issue
They do a "Flip" where the current month issue is on a "hardlocked" set of links by story/item category such as Short Stories. So if you get busy, and want to go back next month, they'll be gone (temporarily!) and replaced by the new issue. There's a big topic in Archives, but that's another day.

The intro Editorial by the senior editor:

Short Stories:


"Features:" - most usually an instructional article on writing but a few other things sometimes

I would appreciate it if interested people would drop a note here too, just to close the loop so I both know who is headed over there, but also for the data check of that signup-test.

On the first two posts over there (because any single one might vanish from visibility because I am turbo posting this week!) to mention that me, Tao sent you from Slashdot. Plus it's an excuse to Cross Brand and all those other fun business terms! Go Slashdot! (Hi Dice!)

Watch the horde of smart people show up and impress the hell out of them!


Obligatory disclosures etc.
I am the Archives Editor over there, a position which involves fluidly evolving things generally oriented around fiddling with info about the magazine issues, rather than actually writing stories for them.

I apologize for the "soft links" because I don't know how to make them Clickable. But then I told ya y'all were smarter than I am!

User Journal

Journal: Why I pirate

Journal by SmallFurryCreature
On 9 October 2012, the game XCOM: Enemy launched... launched in the US. Unknown to me, the EU launch date was to several days layer, 12 October 2012. Maybe. Yet, 9 October 2012, I received an SMS from a dutch gaming retailer chain, that my copy was ready to be picked up. So I left work early that day to arrive 17:54 in front of the store. Doors pulled almost shut, store had already closed and refused to serve me. Very well, I thought there are other stores in the world, so I bought it the next day at Free Record Shop in Amsterdam. Then when I came home, I tried to install. First I had to install steam, which crashed, crashed and crashed some more but finally I got it working and had to create an account. Then activate my email. Then I installed the game and was told it was not released. What? If the game was not released, what was I holding in my hand? Note the error message mentioned nothing about a region or what would be the release date. Just not released. By google came to my aid and I found that throughout Europe, the game was available for sale but not yet ready for install. I read this from angry users posts. Not a single forum had an official answer yet. Not yet and counting. Even the official release date was less then clear. But I know my Internet, if Steam, Dutch retailing, 2kgames/firaxis couldn't/wouldn't help me, maybe some pirates would? thepiratebay itself is of course famously blocked in holland but there plenty of mirrors around. So I checked and yes, full downloads were available in various flavours for a total cost of ZERO bucks! And if you had issues, then the supplies answered your question in minutes. Not like the hours, days and counting before getting a reply from people I had payed money too. Many a reply to a piracy story has had comments similar to my story, so what is so special about it? Nothing. Just that after years of downloading, I have with MMO's gotten used again to paying and I didn't have any issue with paying for this game, if it had worked. But I do have an issue with paying 50 euro's for a game that can't be played and that now that I have read the forums I have seen is filled with bugs. Bugs the official forums have no answers for but that are fixed on piracy forums. To repeat myself, for this game the people that wanted me to pay did:
  • Act as if my giving them money is a favor they are doing me and only when they feel like it, opening hours be damned.
  • Not reply in a timely manner (or at all) to complaints
  • Treat Europeans as second rate customers for no reason (what are they afraid of, that a world-wide release will overload the servers)
  • Break consumer laws by selling a product not fit for its purpose (a game that can't even be installed is obviously not a fit product)

Meanwhile, the pirates offer:

  • Early access
  • No charge
  • Free, fast useful support by computer experts.
  • Service available any day of the week at any hour.

Sometimes the anti-piracy people complain the content industry can't compete with free. But come ON! I had PAYED already and the companies just said "no". Meanwhile the group that doesn't want money, said "yes". This is like paying a hooker to have an headache while your wife is stuffing your wallet full of money and begging for sex. Something ain't right!

And this is why I pirate. Because how else can I send the signal that I am not a sheep who will just keep turning the other cheek? Sure, there are sheep who advocate just that, just wait 3 days, it is not the developers fault etc etc. FUCK THAT! Nothing is every anybodies fault and I as a consumer should just take it all and keep quiet.

NO! And that is my reason why I post about being a pirate. Because just downloading alone isn't enough. Consumer boycotts don't work, there are to many sheep drowning out the silent protest of people like me who just see no other option but to not pay to make it clear I expect more service for my cash.

Because I see no other option. Mails go unanwered, forum posts get ignored, I can get my money back from the store and the sales clerk don't care, not his problem. How can I HURT that manager who thought it was a good idea to do a staggered release, hurt that Steam admin who didn't just flip a switch to prevent customers getting angry. How can I even get the companies involved to acknowledge my existence?

I can't. But I can keep my money in my pocket. That doesn't solve anything but it is a lot more fun having impotent nerd rage with cash then without.

Anyone want a beer over the backs of game developers who haven't learned that if they want an income, they need to tell their managers to not upset their customers?


Journal: History books can be fun (but usually aren't and this is a Bad Thing) 2

Journal by jd

Most people have read "1066 and all that: a memorable history of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 good things, 5 bad kings and 2 genuine dates" (one of the longest book titles I have ever encountered) and some may have encountered "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody", but these are the exceptions and not the rule. What interesting - but accurateish - takes on history have other Slashdotters encountered?

User Journal

Journal: The Pussification of Slashdot 9

Journal by Ethanol-fueled
In the past, I have served as a resident anthropologist who sought to identify the professional trolls of Slashdot and enumerate their behavior. This journal entry is about many a type of cancerous and particularly obnoxious participants who have some form of legitimacy, as well as the techniques they use to maintain their legitimacy. They cannot be considered true trolls because they have no desire to (at least on the surface) deliberately provoke others. This lack of self-awareness makes them rather dangerous(and, unlike real trolls, wasteful and unfunny), and so I am compelled to identify these users by category rather than by individual. But individuals will also be named and shamed, so we get the best of both worlds.

The first obnoxious category is the Philosophy 100 Kid - These larval bedwetters may have prematurely ejaculated egos because they were able to get into the college of their choice, especially if its a community college. They don't know shit, but they will go out of their way to show you that they do - after all, they are armed with the knowledge of the 9 or 10 logical fallacies they learned from Far Side cartoons their professor had to show them at age nineteen because they were too stupid to understand those cartoons when they should have been reading them at age eight.

The Philosophy 100 Kid will look for posts of arbitrary complexity, scan them for the handful of logical fallacies in their puny mental database, squealing and wetting themselves when they find a match. They will immediately respond, pointing out the fallacy by name. They may not even be accurate, or they may miss and ignore the rest of a well-reasoned post, or they're just too damn dumb to do anything except regurgitate what they're taught in class. But that's it. They offer no alternative ideas, no real challenge, not even a "haha dumbfuck" response that some may consider worth reading.

The second obnoxious category is the...shit, the first is all I have for now. Maybe more later.
User Journal

Journal: Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week a Flop 5

Journal by mandelbr0t

October 2nd to 8th is Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week. It doesn't seem to be making much of an impact though. Calgarians are more worried about the fact that some bike lanes on a busy thoroughfare to downtown are making them late for work. Typical, self-absorbed middle class suburbanites, ignoring the fact that people who slip through the cracks ultimately end up being jailed or living on the street. Do these people not have children of their own? What would happen if mental health issues affected someone they knew? I think they'd stop worrying about finding a different route into downtown, and start worrying about the fact that the province of Alberta provides absolutely no funding outside of acute care. By that time, it is too late.

User Journal

Journal: Alison Redford is Alberta's New Premier

Journal by mandelbr0t

Alison Redford won a surprise victory in Alberta's leadership race. She is now the first female premier of Alberta. Her platform is quite moderate, and includes overhauling the Tory caucus, increasing education and social services spending, and working to keep quality health care available to all Albertans. Redford has shown true grit, dealing with the death of her mother during the campaign. I wish her the best of luck in her new leadership role, and hope that she succeeds in changing the Tory "old-boys club" image.

User Journal

Journal: Canada signs ACTA

Journal by mandelbr0t

Canada ratified ACTA this weekend. The majority Tory government will pass Bill C-32 soon as well, and Canada will have a DMCA-like law. All that remains is to see if C-32 is constitutional. Law professors such as Michael Geist have put forth arguments that granting a device a right that the device's owner does not have is not constitutional. However, someone is going to have to get arrested under the new law before the Supreme Court will hear any such challenge. Others have put forth arguments about the expense and difficulty of enforcement. I can only hope that the new law is enforced in a reasonable manner -- it is written in such a way that abuses that have been seen in the US are possible here as well.

User Journal

Journal: The Fall lineup is here...and so are the MAFIAA

Journal by mandelbr0t

The CBS fall lineup is in full swing, beginning last night with the season premiere of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Once again, CBS is resorting to dirty tactics to ensure that they maintain absolute distribution control (bwhahahaha). Never mind that Netflix was popular and a good platform to make some money. I guess we all now rely on forward thinkers like EZTV and Icefilms to provide what the commercial services will not. Netflix and all of the television studios can rot in hell. I'm willing to pay for my television like anyone else, but these huge outfits with tons of money would rather spend it forcing people to use their distribution channels instead of providing what people want and increasing their market share. FUCK THE MAFIAA.

User Journal

Journal: Canadian Web Surveillance Plan Under Scrutiny

Journal by mandelbr0t

The Conservative party is proposing legislation to increase government Internet surveillance in Canada. This legislation has been rolled up with a number of other crime bills that failed during Harper's minority government, including providing funds to build new jails. Specifically, the surveillance would no longer require a warrant, and all Internet providers would be forced to identify the owner of an IP address or device on its network simply for the asking. It would also require all network providers to allow for real time surveillance of all users of an ISP's service. In addition to probably passing the costs of these ridiculous measures onto the consumer, this legislation fails on many counts.

First, the network surveillance components have not even been discussed in Parliament yet. Stephen Harper clearly wants to pass this legislation without anybody finding out. Second, this legislation is unconsitutional, denying people their right to due diligence. If the courts do not review requests for surveillance, then we are trusting increasingly corrupt Canadian police forces to have sound judgement in when to invoke their right to "lawful access". Finally, the proposed legislation is ineffective. It is based on fearmongering rather than improved ability to track down anonymous cyber-criminals who are skilled at hiding their tracks and utilizing the network resources of others.

Harper's majority government represents the beginning of the end of civil freedom in Canada. This crime bill is only the tip of the iceberg.

User Journal

Journal: Sony Breaches Show Weaknesses at Executive Levels

Journal by mandelbr0t

1999 is calling. They want their "we don't need no steekin' security" Internet back. At what point do people realize that the people who manage large computer networks need to be competent? Let me put this in the simplest possible terms: it is a bad state of affairs when the bulk of technical ability and know-how is lost in the ether. Bad things happen, and huge numbers of people are affected. This "hire-a-scapegoat" IT industry crap has to stop. The real people to blame are the CxOs who pull down the huge salaries and lobby politicians to change laws to allow for more government snooping.

User Journal

Journal: Harper Wins Majority Government

Journal by mandelbr0t

I didn't get the government I wanted. It looks like most people are willing to look past the ethical issues of Canadian conservatism. I am feeling old, tired and despondent. The next time they need a body for Tyburn, it might be mine.

User Journal

Journal: Osama bin Laden killed by American troops

Journal by mandelbr0t

Nearly a decade after "9/11", US troops located and killed Osama bin Laden last night, May 1st. US President Barack Obama said that this killing shows that America will get justice, no matter what the cost. Others say that this is a lesson to crazies out there that they won't get away with terrorism. At any rate, I don't think that anyone could argue that America has symbolically won the "War on Terror".

So let's add up the cost. American dollar now worth less than Canadian dollar. American debt nearly at its Congressional decided ceiling of US$14.3T. 50% of people make less than $8.83/hr. (and probably don't work full-time). And thousands upon thousands dead, the civilian casualties unknown.

To me, what this says is that America will seek revenge no matter the cost to its own people. Perhaps American people were willing to bear the cost. I don't know. All I know is that war is not the solution to any global problem. Nor torture or murder. If we truly wish to destroy Osama bin Laden, we must also be better than him or we will become monsters as we claim he was.

I hope that bin Laden's death brings peace to Americans, and sates their appetite for revenge. I also hope every American looks into his heart and asks himself if there was a better way, a way to be an example the world can be proud of. I have no doubt that killing bin Laden was a solution, but it is not an example I am in any hurry to follow.

If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.