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Comment: Re:"What I find interesting is how..." (Score 1) 1573

by rockmuelle (#46768521) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

Literal, out of context interpretations of sacred documents by the masses has been great for science.

There is a middle ground in citizen scholarship, between taking a document at its most literal and complete deference to the the high priests. An educated populace should understand the nuances that led to a document being written in the first place and applying critical thought to determine if those reasons are still valid today or if the document should be evolved.


Comment: Re:Overvalued (Score 1) 240

by rockmuelle (#46686131) Attached to: Ends Free Dynamic DNS

With all the comments about moving to other free services or using this as an opportunity to start a new business, what is the value for most people? If there are enough people that value it at a certain price such that the costs of running the business are covered, there's a business to be made. Otherwise, it's just charity on the service's part. Sure, everyone likes getting stuff for free, but even free stuff costs money for someone.


Comment: Plot to end all ads... (Score 1) 303

by rockmuelle (#46649551) Attached to: Ad Tracking: Is Anything Being Done?

(and maybe the internet as we know it)

Here's a crowd-based experiment I've always wanted to initiate: For one day, everyone follows ads and stays on the ad site for a non-trivial amount of time.

If everyone clicks on ads (or even a small percentage of people), monthly ad budgets will be very quickly drained. The companies will have received no value from their ad spend (if they do at all as it is). Google, et al. will get a one day windfall from the ad revenues. It might take a few coordinated "denial-of-ad-attacks", but eventually vendors will start to question the value of their internet advertising budgets and find better ways to spend their money connecting with customers.

Of course, a side effect of this might be killing the goose that laid the golden egg. If Google and Facebook suddenly lose their primary source of revenue, they will have to look for other ways to monetize their services (maybe just asking users to pay? if Facebook's numbers are real (haha), $5/month/user would be ~$5B/month ,which is not bad).

A more devious alternative would be to have ad blockers silently follow the ads and "fake" a user session...

Comment: US Intel Said this on Day 1 (Score 4, Interesting) 491

by rockmuelle (#46565573) Attached to: How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

What's most interesting is that the anonymous reports from the US intelligence community the day after the plane disappeared said that the plane was on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. These claims seemed a little odd at the time since there was no supporting evidence at all and rescuers were still looking for debris on the original flight path. But, it's looking like they were spot on.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the only real conspiracy in this whole affair is the US govt's cover up of the initial leak. The plane itself likely just suffered a catastrophic failure and lumbered on until it ran out of fuel. But, the US govt also likely tracked it the entire time. That's why someone was able to make a confident pronouncement so quickly. They knew exactly where the plane was, if not exactly what happened. But, this intelligence capability (tracking all flying objects all the time) is probably highly classified. Rather than give it up for a civilian SAR effort, they decided to keep it under wraps, knowing that eventually the plane would be found and the capability is far more useful if no one knows it exists.

Comment: Re:Backward compatibility is expensive (Score 3, Interesting) 199

by rockmuelle (#46516705) Attached to: A Call For Rollbacks To Previous Versions of Software

This. Software is expensive to maintain. For every old, supported version that a customer can rollback to, the company must maintain development and support infrastructure. This is likely a full time QA person whose job it is to ensure the rollbacks work, at least a part time developer to fix things that break the rollbacks, the team that supports the packaging and distribution of the rollback versions, and the front line support staff to answer calls when something goes wrong with the rollback. Already, that's at least 3 FTEs and likely 5 or more. Just to support rollback functionality. To put a price on it, it's at least $300k/year in direct costs, and more in opportunity and indirect costs.

For free apps, or apps that only cost a few dollars, there's absolutely no way a company can justify the cost and effort to do this.

Now, if users were willing to pay $50 for an app, then there would likely be resources available to support this. Of course, with those prices, the dev processes could be more robust and the need to rollback would be greatly diminished.

tl;dr: you get what you pay for.


Comment: Re:Startups Aren't Really Job-Creators In Practice (Score 1) 303

by rockmuelle (#46446681) Attached to: Google Chairman on WhatsApp: $19 Bn For 50 People? Good For Them!

I think you nailed it in calling out that Eric Schmidt realizes this was a very bad move for Facebook and shows that Facebook is not really competition. "Good for them" is simply a way of saying that these guys made out like bandits at someone else's expense.

Facebook can only pull off a few more of these big deals before their cash is gone and their stock is worthless. If they have to do this every time a new startup starts to take users away (which seems to be what really happened with WhatsApp - losing everyone but the US to another messaging platform couldn't have been good for FB), they'll be out of money and equity quicker than you can launch a startup at SXSW.

Eric Schmidt knows this and hance can easily laugh it off. I'm sure Eric also knows what Facebook's actual user base is (hint: there's no way it's anywhere near 1B people, some simple top-down modeling should be enough to convince anyone that there is no way 1/7 of the world's population is actively using FB, kinda like when the Oscars used to claim 1B viewers). WhatsApp was probably just the confirmation he needed to write off Facebook as a competitor.

Ok... hopefully that's all the DST-sleep-deprivation ranting I'll do today...


Comment: Data Scientists are this bubble's Web Masters (Score 2, Interesting) 139

by rockmuelle (#46410175) Attached to: 'Data Science' Is Dead

I've been working with big data since before it was a term and currently run a scientific software company that touches on many aspects of "data science". Many of my colleagues also work in the field. I've seen many fads come and go. Data Science as a profession is one of those.

Most people who call themselves data scientists are really just doing "big data" processing using tools such as Hadoop. They are delivering results to managers who have jumped on the big data band wagon and, not knowing any better, have asked for these skills. In 99% of the cases, the processing is simply haphazardly looking for patterns or running basic statistics on data that really isn't that big. However, there is a lot of low hanging fruit in data that hasn't been analyzed before and most practitioners who've suddenly become data analysis experts are rewarded for trivial findings. A tiny bit of statistics, programming, and data presentation skills go a long way.

Compare this to the Web Masters of the late 1990s. The Web was new and managers knew that they needed Web sites. HTML and CGI were techie things but also fairly easy to learn. A group of people quickly figured out that they could be very important to a company by doing very little work and created the position of Web Master. A tiny bit of programming, sys admin, and design skills went a long way.

Web Masters disappeared when IT departments realized that you actually needed real software developers, real designers, and real sys admins to run a corporate Web site. Sure, the bar is still low, but expertise beyond a 'For Dummies' book is still needed. And, few people can be experts in each area, hence the need for teams.

Real data science has actually been around for a long time. Statisticians and data analysts have been performing this role for decades and have built up a lot of rigor around it. It a tough skill set to develop, but a very useful one to have. "Big Data" distracted people a bit and let the current generation of data scientists jump in and pretend everything was new and we could throw out the old methods. As the field evolves, data science will necessarily transition back to the experts (statisticians) and become a team effort that includes people skilled in programming, IT, and the target domain (analysts).

That said, there's good money to be made right now, so if you have Web Master on your resume, you might as well be a data scientist while you can. ;)


Comment: Re:Classic Slashdot (Score 1) 463

by rockmuelle (#46169963) Attached to: Fire Destroys Iron Mountain Data Warehouse, Argentina's Bank Records Lost

Just sent this to ... please everyone do the same with your comments. Spam them into compliance with our demands! ;)

I have been reading and participating in discussions on Slashdot since 1996.* Over the years, there have been few times when I have gone more than a few days without reading /. /. is my connection to the broader geek community and the discussions on the site have been influential in shaping me as a geek. As an older geek, /. gives me a chance to share what I’ve learned and also keep up with how people are thinking about new technologies.

I have yet to find a site that is as comprehensive in its community and coverage as /. Let me restate that: there is no other place on the internet as essential to the geek community as /. Nothing comes close. /. works because of its community. The community values /. because it’s given us a place to discuss a broad range of topics in a civilized manner. Without the community, /. will simply be another discussion board on a news site, with loud voices screaming their opinions and very little civilized discourse.

If you haven’t noticed by the comments on many of the stories recently, the community will disperse if the beta is rolled out. I won’t go into the reasons why (there are thousands of great comments explaining the shortcomings of the new site) other than to say that the new format discourages discourse and community and encourages quick comments with little context.

Deep, threaded, moderated discussions that are easy read and inviting to participate in are what makes the current site work. The conventions for discourse that have evolved over the last 17 or so years, many enabled by the design of the site, are what allows the community to function. Change it too much, and the community will disperse and go their separate ways - off to Reddit and 4chan and the comment sections of Ars, Wired, Toms, and other tech sites.

The managers in charge of this redesign are facing probably the biggest decision of their career. By going forward with the beta, they will surely meet their quarterly goals. But, in doing so, they will be directly responsible for the destruction of one of the most important communities on the internet.

Please make the right decision and don’t go forward with the beta as it currently exists. (and note: redesigns are fine, just understand why your site works and don’t destroy its soul in the process)

-Chris aka rockmuelle

*My 6 digit ID is only due to the fact that I valued privacy in the early days of the internet and was reluctant to sign up for accounts anywhere.

Comment: Re:Ya pretty much (Score 2) 299

by rockmuelle (#46091087) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: An Open Source PC Music Studio?

More to the point, as a professional programmer and musician, as much as I'd love to write music software, I use my free time writing music. The commercial tools are really good and the parent is correct in saying that it will take a lot of effort to catch up.

Fwiw, I use Ableton for recording and production and hardware synths for sounds. Of you love hacking and music, check out the latest generation of affordable analog synths (Korg volca/monotribe, Artutia microbrute, etc). Desiging sounds from scratch is highly satisfying.

Comment: Re:Data Scientist for mass mail company says... (Score 1) 124

by rockmuelle (#46008951) Attached to: A Data Scientist Visits The Magic Kingdom, Sans Privacy

I've argued that it's more like "web master" from the 90s. A tendy job that will soon be replaced by actual experts.

For data scientist, the experts are the traditional analysts and staticisians that were already doing these jobs before Hadoop experience became the only job requirement.


Comment: Re:Okay, I'll say it. (Score 1) 45

by rockmuelle (#45837829) Attached to: Google's Comical New Social Networking Patent

The rectangle with rounded edges was a design patent ( not a utlitity patent, which the Google patent is.

I'm not saying the Google patent isn't bad, especially given the clear prior art with MS Comic Chat, but just that it's important to distinguish the types of patents when pointing out the inanity of the system. Design patents are a little easier to accept since they're closer to copyright on physical objects.


Comment: Spending investors money vs. their own (Score 2) 229

It will be interesting to see if they keep this up when they're spending customer's money rather than investor's. A blank business with a set amount of money to spend is easy to model this way. Once you start to find the real value in your offering and determine how revenue is actually made, things get trickier. One or two stellar salespeople or engineers can be responsible for an outsize portion of the business. They need to be compensated appropriately.


Comment: Re:You need to know some numerical analysis (Score 5, Insightful) 226

by rockmuelle (#45486803) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Reproducible Is Arithmetic In the Cloud?


Reproducibility (what we strive for in science) is not the same as repeatability (what the poster is actually trying to achieve). Results that are not robust on different platforms aren't really scientific results.

I wish more scientists understood this.


Contemptuous lights flashed flashed across the computer's console. -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy