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Comment: Re:OSS needs technical writers more than coders (Score 1) 244

by swell (#49692285) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

As one who has worked with many skilled tech writers and many skilled programmers ... as one who does both with some facility; I beg to differ. It isn't hard to code well. I wrote and sold commercial software for about 10 years and later I was a tech writer for about 10 years. It would be very difficult to do both well at the same time. They seem to require a different mind set.

However many people will be unable to do either. These are both skills that require time, dedication and some native talent. Failure in any of these areas will produce a poor result.

If you care about your documentation go to (Society for Technical Communication). Many members are very professional and most can work in several media. You might even convince me to help with your project.

Comment: consumer alert (Score 2) 59

by swell (#49676311) Attached to: New MakerBot CEO Explains Layoffs and the Company's New Vision

"... defective parts plagued the company's printers in 2014."

When I was a motorcycle enthusiast I marveled at the enthusiastic reviews of the new models. Amazing new technology, better materials, better handling and safety, etc. But amongst all the praise for the new model, there was usually a comment like "They finally fixed the xyz problem that plagued last year's model." Various design, material and safety problems sometimes went years without any warning to buyers although the reviewers knew about them.

Never believe advertising or reviews that are paid for by advertisers. Don't put too much faith in Consumer Reports or Amazon reviews either. Join the maker community for somewhat honest advice in that area.

Comment: I have this plan... (Score 1) 182

by swell (#49661483) Attached to: The Challenge of Web Hosting Once You're Dead

So, yeah, I have this plan to not die.
So far it's working!

Now really folks, aren't we taking ourselves too seriously here? Is there something you have to say that is so important you want it available for future generations? Think about the 101 billion who have already died- did lots of them have important things to say that we should be reading about now? Should they have left us a legacy web site?

If you have important wisdom to share, or even some really important facts and figures to impart; put them in a book. Publishers love to publish important stuff and most of them can distinguish 'important' from 'self-important'. Your legacy may last longer than the internet, maybe longer than humanity.

+ - White House Outsources K-12 CS Education to Infosys Charity 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp writes: In December, the White House praised the leadership of for their efforts to get more computer science into K-12 schools, which were bankrolled by $20 million in philanthropic contributions from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Mark Zuckerberg. On Monday, it was announced that Infosys Foundation USA will be partnering with to bring CS education to millions of U.S. students. Infosys Foundation USA Chair Vandana Sikk, who joins execs from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon execs on's Board, is the spouse of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikk. The announcement from the tax-deductible charity comes as India-based Infosys finds itself scrutinized by U.S. Senators over allegations of H-1B visa program abuses.

+ - Learn to code by competing with others->

Submitted by ariiii123
ariiii123 writes: Competitive coding experience is fast becoming a pre-requisite skill for every programmer. Top companies like Google and Facebook have strongly relied on assessing a candidate’s knowledge of algorithms and data structures to make a hiring decision and competitive coding has a heavy emphasis on this. To encourage more programmers to take up this essential skill, HackerEarth conducts an Easy Challenge on the first of every month. This is a short programming challenge which is open to all programmers, and will have beginner level algorithmic problems to solve.

The May Easy Challenge is live on HackerEarth. This is a short 2 hour contest on 1st May. There will be 4 algorithmic problems to solve. The first one to solve all the problems correctly will be adjudged the winner.

The problem setter for this challenge is: Akash Agrawall
The problem tester and editorialist for this challenge is: Pankaj Jindal

The top 3 beginners (verified) will receive HackerEarth Tshirts.

Register for the May Easy Challenge right now –

Link to Original Source

+ - Study Finds Gamers Have Greater Cognitive Function And More Grey Matter->

Submitted by Lin4
Lin4 writes: Gamers everywhere rejoice! It turns out that gaming prowess is an indication of a better connected brain. This latest conclusion was drawn from research which looked at the cognitive function of Action Video Gamers (AVGs) of different levels of proficiency. For the ‘noobs’ out there, action video games subject the gamer to physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time games. This could be racing or fighting for example.
There’s already an abundance of evidence that shows that expert AVG players (gamers who are regional or national champions at AVG competitions) have superior cognitive ability to amateurs. This lead the research team, led by Dezhong Yao, to investigate the brains of expert and amateur gamers to see if they could continue to differentiate the differences between them.

Link to Original Source

+ - Know what data says about you ... ->

Submitted by swell
swell writes: A major data aggregator offers their view of the benefits to each of us who are tracked, logged and documented widely. Acxiom has created a friendly site that explains everything in a non-technical way. Visitors are invited to see and edit the information that Acxiom has about them. Slashdotters will howl with derision upon reading this, but it is possible that some thoughtful voices will come forth.

from the site:
"Make Data Work for You -
Know what data says about you and how it is used.

Ever wonder what kind of information determines the ads you see or the offers you receive? Youâ(TM)ve come to the right place. About The Data brings you answers to questions about the data that fuels marketing and helps ensure you see offers on things that mean the most to you and your family."

Link to Original Source

Comment: a new dystopia (Score 4, Insightful) 83

by swell (#49578885) Attached to: Uber Testing Massive Merchant Delivery Service

We all know the dystopia of 1984 in which humans were dehumanized by their own actions; and the Terminator movies where smart machines set out to kill us like cockroaches. The Matrix reduced humans into sleeping energy generators. Uber has advanced a new method of dehumanizing us by sending us on chores to serve a superintelligence (OK, just a central computer now, more or less managed by humans- but are those humans necessary?).

We do have a similar concept in Taskrabbit and the Amazon Mechanical Turk in which humans do tiny chores in response to requests delivered by their devices. Uber seems ready to take this concept worldwide at a grand scale. People will be scurrying about like ants, rushing from one chore to another in a frenzy of blind busy-ness.

And you, mister smarty pants programmer, you think you're off the hook? You'll be lucky to find work writing snippets of code that will be inserted into some diabolical software that doesn't even have a name.

Is this the beginning of a world where nobody has a job, a health insurance plan, a steady income; but instead performs chores when they can be found? Will we compete against each other to do menial tasks? Will we be graded like schoolchildren for our skills, timeliness, reliability? Will future humans be the cooperative slaves of a central computer?

Comment: annoying Ireland (Score 1) 114

... like the flea with ambitions to rape the elephant ...

Ireland is small. Roughly the size & population of the American state of Maryland. Everyone knows that Maryland is one of the least significant places in the US much less the world. Yet Ireland thinks it can control the internet and how people use it. Even the entire USA can't do that. Silly Ireland. (Sorry to include you in this, Maryland. You're not really a total loser.)

Comment: don't fear AI, it doesn't give a shit about you (Score 1) 197

by swell (#49525593) Attached to: Concerns of an Artificial Intelligence Pioneer

First, Stuart Russell is way ahead of our time. We're nowhere near artificial intelligence of any concern. When it does happen, as it must, we may be concerned. But there is an outcome that must be considered.

If the AI is beyond our ken, It will supersede us. Here is the critical question: is that a problem?

How will we feel if we are displaced on this small blue planet by Artificial Intelligence? We may be retained as maintenance bots or caretakers of the new ecosystem. Our place will be drastically reduced in effectiveness and prestige. We will have to prove our usefulness if the AI are to retain us in their plans for the future.

In the end, we and the theoretical AI are here to serve intelligence. To explore and understand. If they do it better than us, who are we to complain? Understanding must happen. We have always thought of ourselves as the center of the universe; at this point we have to work hard to tag along as AI explores the universe.

Don't we want that? Don't we want a lasting understanding that will survive our short life spans and acquire knowledge that will outlast our planet and solar system and penetrate the galaxy and the universe itself? Don't we want to share with other intelligences that which we've worked so hard to discover? Who cares if the carbon based life forms do that, or if it is an AI?

Intelligence is the pinnacle of value in the universe. Ours is pathetic (as a race). We still believe in magical beings and hope for miracles. Pure intelligence doesn't allow for miracles and will be realized by machines. Let's hope that humans can overcome the tendency to believe in magic and accept that science is the best mode of understanding. Then perhaps we can join with AI in exploring the universe as rational partners.

Comment: best wishes ! (Score 1) 276

by swell (#49501549) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Features Would You Like In a Search Engine?

It wouldn't respond to my request. I had to allow a jquery script. Then it searched but couldn't find 'Benghazi'.

Things have been lost from search. Alta Vista allowed search for 'word1' NEAR 'word2', which proved very useful. Google used to give information about its finds such as date, size, ('cached' is still there, but hidden) and some things so long abandoned that I can't remember them. You know why date is important; size is also important because a very large page containing your terms is probably clickbait. A great sadness for me is that Wolfram Alpha is so wrapped up in fancy scripts that I've never been able to use it with my fairly secure Firefox (oh, it's better today).

Accurate reporting would be nice. I'm looking at a Google result that claims it found "About 54,100 results (0.46 seconds)" when actually there were only 245 unique results.

Location would be nice (maybe a flag icon from that country). An opportunity to vote the relevance of a result up or down and maybe indicate something inappropriate. Wildcards would be incredible. Apple's Spotlight search engine can now search the internet as well as local files- maybe your engine could take advantage of some sinister simpatico surreal symbiosis.

We need a fresh approach after a long period of stagnation. Who knows what clever innovation has been missed?

+ - Congress Introduces the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015->

Submitted by Major Blud
Major Blud writes: Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act today that would end regulations that don't require terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to artists and labels. Currently, AM/FM radio stations aren't required to pay royalties to publishers and songwriters. The proposed measure requires stations that earn less than $1 million a year in revenue to pay $500 annually. For nonprofit public, college and other non-commercial broadcasters, the fee would be $100 per year — religious and talk stations being exempt from any payments. Larger radio companies like iHeartMedia (858 stations in the US) would have to pay more.

"The current system is antiquated and broken. It pits technologies against each other, and allows certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists. For decades, AM/FM radio has used whatever music it wants without paying a cent to the musicians, vocalists, and labels that created it. Satellite radio has paid below market royalties for the music it uses, growing into a multibillion dollar business on the back of an illogical ‘grandfathered’ royalty standard that is now almost two decades old,” said Congressman Nadler.

Link to Original Source

+ - Acetaminophen reduces both pain and pleasure, study finds->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers studying the commonly used pain reliever acetaminophen found it has a previously unknown side effect: It blunts positive emotions. Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol, has been in use for more than 70 years in the United States, but this is the first time that this side effect has been documented.
Link to Original Source

Disclaimer: "These opinions are my own, though for a small fee they be yours too." -- Dave Haynie