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Comment Re:Literally (Score 1) 307

"Literally" does not mean "very much like".

Actually*, "very", or "verily" (from Middle English "verray" = true, real) does (literally) mean "literally".

* And for that matter, so does "actually". In fact, it seems that almost every word ever invented that means "truly" or "actually" or "literally" or "completely" gets degraded though overuse of hypberbole to eventually mean "quite a lot".**

** Including "quite".

Comment Games don't age (Score 1) 102

Games don't get worse as they age. Don't hundreds of years of chess and poker teach us that? How about Scrabble or Monopoly? Is Tetris no longer fun? Prettier graphics aside, if games are outdated after a few years, they're either poor games to begin with, or the game was deliberately designed to be obsolete and no longer fun after you "solved" it, or it's a completely illusory perception encouraged by game makers who want to sell you more stuff.

Submission + - Issue tracker for non-engineers?

purplie writes: My non-technical spouse is an analyst in a small county government department, a handful of people plus some contractors for projects. Their project/task management is mouth-to-mouth, sticky notes, and emails, and it's driving them crazy.

I want to suggest something like an issue tracker. It would have to work for tasks both large (year-long investigations) and small (arranging catering for a meeting).

The issue trackers I'm familiar with with are too software-development-oriented, or make too many assumptions about your "agile" religion. Are there any good options for non-engineers?

They use mainly Windows and have iPads. I don't like web-based tools, but that might work better for them because they don't have administrative privs on their machines. Something that also incorporates a wiki might be nice. There will be resistance if it's not really easy to use.

Comment "expected value", really? (Score 1) 480

People usually point to the "expected value" as an argument that it's a bad bargain.

But it seems to me that the expected value is meaningless unless the experiment is performed often enough for the Law of Large Numbers to even out the results.

So, if a person plans to buy daily a ticket at 1/100 odds, you can make an expected-value argument. But if they plan to buy daily a ticket at 1/175000000 odds ... well, yes it's inadvisable, but it's hard to make an expected-value argument.

Comment Unfair and unconstitutional (in U.S.), seriously (Score 1) 256

While offenders may deserve shame, it is:
  1. 1. Not fair that some offenders get shamed and some don't (on top of paying the normal penalty), depending on the whims of the police; in the U.S. this would be a violation of the Equal Protection clause;
  2. 2. Illegal that the police are effectively adding their own punishment, without any legal basis, on top of the punishment put into law by elected lawmakers --- if lawmakers had wanted public shaming to be part of the punishment, they could have made it so;
  3. 3. Unconstitutional that the punishment will apparently be put on accused rather than convicted people.

Comment Dr Who novel [SPOILER] (Score 2) 165

There was a Doctor Who novel, I think this one, The Murder Game by Steve Lyons, where there was an "Assassination program"... a sophisticated malware package that just required to be configured with the victim's name, and it would search out means to physically kill them via computer-controlled objects.

I'm no expert, but even today it sounds almost possible. You need: (1) a way of tying victims to physical objects and locations (DMV records, toy purchases, planning permission applications, ... ), (2) hacks for physical objects (cars, street lights, Mindstorm Legos, home automation systems, ...), (3) a worm/virus base to spread the code to computer systems physically near the objects.

If that sounds like an implausible engineering effort, remember that malware packages are incrementally improved on and made more powerful over time... it would start out with some simple and unlikely-to-succeed algorithms, and evolve into something with a huge array of killing options.

(Maybe at that point people would start taking privacy seriously.)

Comment Re:Great Strategy (Score 1) 112

But for an example of when this is a bad idea, look at Netflix. Their decision to become a content provider puts them in direct competition with those with whom they're trying to negotiate streaming contracts. They lost track of their original raison d'être --- to be a place to watch whatever you want --- and have been doing a poor job of expanding their rental/streaming catalog.

Submission + - Does touchscreen spoil your e-reading?

purplie writes: Amazon's new Kindle lineup now includes touchscreen models only. Even the low-end "basic" model has a touchscreen.

Am I the only reader who feared this? I enjoy holding my reader casually, carelessly, not having to worry about accidentally triggering a page turn, highlight, or dictionary lookup by just "holding it wrong". With a touchscreen, the necessity of holding it carefully is a distraction.

Wouldn't it make sense to include a software option to disable the touchscreen when it's not wanted?

The Evolution of Diet 281

An anonymous reader writes Here's a story from National Geographic that looks at the historical diets of people from around the world and what that diet might look like in the future. From the article: "So far studies of foragers like the Tsimane, Arctic Inuit, and Hadza have found that these peoples traditionally didn't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease. 'A lot of people believe there is a discordance between what we eat today and what our ancestors evolved to eat,' says paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar of the University of Arkansas. The notion that we're trapped in Stone Age bodies in a fast-food world is driving the current craze for Paleolithic diets. The popularity of these so-called caveman or Stone Age diets is based on the idea that modern humans evolved to eat the way hunter-gatherers did during the Paleolithic—the period from about 2.6 million years ago to the start of the agricultural revolution—and that our genes haven't had enough time to adapt to farmed foods."

It's not hard to admit errors that are [only] cosmetically wrong. -- J.K. Galbraith