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Comment: Re:Still useful research (Score 1) 224

by ortholattice (#48743183) Attached to: Beware Headlines Saying Chocolate Is Good For You
Mars sells a supplement, called CocoaVia, that contains the cocoa flavinols used by the study. This was a good reason for them to fund it. It is rather expensive at around $30 for 60 capsules with 125mg of the flavinols. Since you need to take 7-8 capsules per day to get the 900mg amount used in the study, that's about an 8-day supply.

Comment: Re:Facebook search is horrible (Score 1) 33

by ortholattice (#48593917) Attached to: Facebook Drops Bing Search Results

I find it hard to believe that the reason for Facebook's poor search is incompetence (although I won't dismiss it out of hand). Doing a decent search through a set of local records isn't rocket science. I would think it might take a programmer a couple of months, and they have thousands of developers and billions of dollars to play with. Instead, my guess is that they make the search perform poorly on purpose, to force you to scroll through pages and pages and thus view more ads.

Disclaimer: I no longer have an FB account, so I don't really keep on top of these things.

Comment: Re:Buses are already better. (Score 1) 257

by ortholattice (#48490873) Attached to: The Driverless Future: Buses, Not Taxis

My town (pop. 50K) has buses on 6 local routes that go around and around the town all day nearly empty. It is a serious money loser, but the town keeps voting to subsidize it because it symbolizes "green".

Only a small percentage of the population will have pickup and destination points close enough to these fixed routes to make it worthwhile for them to use, not to mention having to fit their schedules into the once-per-hour bus stops. So hardly anyone uses it.

What I have wondered about is whether these buses, combined with an Uber-type app, could simply service passengers on-demand, even driving to their houses. The software would plan optimal routes based on the current pickups and destinations, providing passengers with ETAs and so on. I'd probably start using it in that case, especially if the $2 fare was kept the same. Assuming many others would too, it might greatly reduce their losses.

Comment: Re:Can other students sue this group? (Score 1) 203

by ortholattice (#48432207) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

Imagine, as a thought experiment, if 90% of the people who owned Exxon stock sold it all. And no one else bought it because of principle. Exxon would continue to function, exactly as it is now, except the remaining 10% would get massive dividends.

True. Moreover, if 90% of the stock was suddenly put up for sale "at market" with no significant buyers (assuming potential buyers would shun it as a matter of principle), the price would plummet to near zero, well below even the cash assets of the company. The company (having no such principles) would buy up its own stock at a pittance. The remaining stockholders would then own the entire company instead of 10% of it.

Take it to an extreme and assume that every stockholder is swept up emotionally by the stigma of owning the stock and thus disposes it at any price. Then the company could buy back all of its shares for essentially nothing and be owned by no one! The board of directors would then have no stockholders to answer to and could vote to pay themselves multi-billion dollar salaries as well as to do far more evil.

If you want to influence the direction of a company, you would want to own as much of its stock as possible, not get rid of it. If you are extremely wealthy, you can just buy all of the company's shares and have total control over its direction.

Comment: Incoming port 80? (Score 2) 706

by ortholattice (#48351201) Attached to: President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

Does a "utility" mean that we could finally have true net neutrality and use the internet as it was designed, such as having unblocked incoming ports 80/443? I use alternate ports to route around this to access my files remotely, but strictly speaking I'm violating the ISP T&C by having a "server" at home.

However, I often want to access my home files from wifi access points such as hospitals where outgoing 80/443 are the only ports open (no outgoing ssh, etc. allowed). But my cable provider blocks incoming 80/443, so I'm completely cut off from my home files. I would rather not pay to put a TB of files on the "cloud" or pay some 3rd party service to reroute ports or whatever.

Comment: Facial recognition (Score 0) 28

by ortholattice (#48266293) Attached to: CERN Looking For Help Filling In the Gaps In Photo Archive

As a first rough pass at identifying the people in 250,000 images, they could use facial recognition against the ID photos of all past employees (assuming they saved them). That way, interested past employees would only have to look at much smaller samples to confirm and describe the images.

Oh, and I'm sure the NSA could be of assistance.

Comment: Re:Sounds wasteful and stupid ... (Score 1) 61

by ortholattice (#48242495) Attached to: Haier Plans To Embed Area Wireless Chargers In Home Appliances

This reminds me of my showerhead thermometer. All I wanted was a device to tell me the shower temperature and nothing else. Instead, the only thing I could find were units with all sorts of "features" I didn't want.

The one I finally bought has a built-in clock for displaying time when not measuring temperature, a temperature alarm system for when the water is too hot, a shower timer, modes for deg-F/deg-C (maybe necessary, but I'd prefer a hidden switch inside the battery compartment to simplify everyday use), and probably other features I never bothered to learn about. So, when I want to use it I have to be very careful to press the buttons in just the right order to invoke the temperature mode (it has to be done each use since it shuts off after 5 minutes to conserve the battery), and if I make a mistake it gets stuck in some setup sequence that's almost impossible to exit from without consulting the manual. I've given up on telling guests how to use it.

I'd pay considerably more to have a unit that just displays temperature and nothing else, with a single button to turn it on, but it seems such a thing is not available.

Comment: Re:people charge of traffic lights are engineers b (Score 1) 144

by ortholattice (#47730017) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

I once knew a traffic-light engineer who was an EE with a BS. I mentioned that I thought it was annoying not to have sensors on lights in rarely-used cross streets, since it wastes a lot of gas to have the main throughway traffic constantly stopping for no reason, not to mention wasting people's time. He said that if you put in a sensor, people will get used to the light always being green, and in the rare case it turns red they will tend not to stop and will cause more accidents. He was very strongly opposed to such sensors - arguing supposedly from experience as a professional and an expert - and our argument started to become, well, heated, so I just let it go. I really doubt what he said is supported by statistics, but his attitude was an example of the thinking of the people designing the lights.

(This was a couple of decades ago. Maybe the thinking has changed since I do see more sensors these days, but still not nearly enough. Often they seem poorly designed, such as unnecessarily waiting a full cycle before changing even if there is no cross traffic.)

Comment: Re:Well there is an issue with cellphones (Score 1) 316

by ortholattice (#47611705) Attached to: Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"

Spectrum is something you only have a license to a small amount of. As such, the total bandwidth you can put out has a hard limit on it. Everyone on a tower shares that bandwidth and there's just nothing you can do to increase it. You can't "lay more fiber" or "use another laser" or anything like that which you can do on wired connections. On a given segment, there is just only so much bandwidth nature and regulations will let you have.

The solution is to add more cells (towers). That's the whole idea behind cell phones. How do you think the humongous bandwidth used by say downtown Manhattan cell phones is achieved?

Comment: Re:64.99%, 84.38%, Really? (Score 1) 89

by ortholattice (#47510467) Attached to: Researchers Test Developer Biometrics To Predict Buggy Code

While I agree the extra precision is misleading, the real problem is that they don't provide confidence intervals. Even a rounded 80% could be misleading if it could fall between 60% and 90% due to sparse data.

On the other hand, if in their report details they said "84.38% with a 99% confidence interval of 72.27% to 94.49%", then the extra precision is no longer necessarily misleading (it is just the calculational result of the model used) and, although it is a little pedantic and redundant, I would have no fundamental problem with it. It might even be argued that it is infinitesimally more precise, allowing the calculations to be confirmed by an independent researcher. However, for presentation in summary form, it would be much better to say "between 72% and 94% with 99% confidence".

The herd instinct among economists makes sheep look like independent thinkers.