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Comment The science is pretty basic (Score 1) 108

The science is well established and the numbers are well known. Outside very narrow set of outliers it is well understood how many calories "go in" from which foods and how many "go out" through what activities.

As someone who was able to lose 65lbs of extra weight (from 200 to 135 lbs) using just those calorie counts, I can tell you that not only did the counts make sense in general, but they did correspond quite closely to the predicted weight loss per every unit of time (down to a single week).

The "calories" are no more broken than any other measure. The problem is - most people are not very good at counting, math, reading labels, and self control that is required to consistently manage intake and consistently engage in exercise to use excess energy. I know because I was one of those overweight (obese really) people who for years found it easier to blame "invalid science".

Comment Ah yes, 2 months of Indian hell for me (Score 4, Interesting) 92

Yep, I noticed that. I am running an ad for my (very small, independent) software product. It's essentially a hobby - sales are barely break-even with related hosting, and AdWords bring about half. I don't have much time to deal with AdWords so ads are mostly fixed. Occasionally (about once a year) I shuffle a few words in the text. Sometime early this year I did that again - and suddenly my ads were blocked "due to policy violation". Automated email requires you to review policy and edit ads for compliance - but there is no policy as such (at least nothing is clearly explained in writing). So I did my best guessing what they may want, edited ads again and resubmitted - same result. I re-edited the ads to original text, resubmitted - and at that point my ads were blocked again and then my entire AdWords account was blocked for "repeated violations"
Through that time I attempted to contact AdWords support through online form (they don't expose direct email). I received several pointless replies - none of which directly answered my questions. Once account was blocked - I started calling. Most calls end up in the Indian call center, where reps seem to have neither desire nor ability to help, nor do they know what the actual rules are. I've been given several (perhaps 6?) different versions of what needs to be changed in the ad, on the web site and in the product itself. Examples include - "put EULA directly on the download page", "provide product removal instructions on the download page" (mind you, product removal instructions are - "drag application into the trash folder", quite literally). My favorite was a demand to "provide direct email for users to email my support on the download page", this is from AdWords that go to great lengths to hide their own email and allow only un-trackable contact through the web site. For comparison, I run a proper support ticket system - but there was no convincing them.

As far as I could tell, Indian associates had no authority to deal with issues whatsoever and themselves had to contact a 3rd party (with unknown degree of authority) for answers or clarifications. Even when I made required changes, and resubmitted account for review (as they suggested) - either nothing happened at all or an automated message would come a few days later restating account and/or ad blocking for "policy violations". The cycle of response was running at 1 week per question.

In parallel, to provide at least some visibility, I had to put ads on Bing. That's a whole another story, but suffice it to say - Bing payment vs. click rates did not make sense and I had to stop in about a month.

The final demand was to put the name of actual software package into the ad. Back 8 years ago when I started, I picked a fairly long name for a product - it seemed fun at the time. Putting that name into character-limited ad would leave no space to say anything useful about the software. I suggested that software name could be placed in the URL (which normally references company name, they are similar but not the same). Customer reps. stated that this is not going to help - the name must be in the text. Nevertheless, I decided to try. I registered a new domain that matched software name and resubmitted the ad. As soon as I did - ad was approved and remains so.

I suspect that through the entire process there was no connection at all between the (likely automated) review of ads and customer service. Ads marked as "bad" are probably left in that state forever, regardless of advertisers actions. By the time I changed the url either the giant push to "remove bad ads" was over or something's changed in automated rating, so the "new" ad passed. Curiously, ads for competing products (same industry, same type of software) ran unimpeded throughout the entire period, even though they do not comply with any of the requirements that were given to me. Perhaps they were smart enough to make no changes to ads during that time :)

In conclusion - I am sure a V-level manager at Google reported great results and someone's got a bonus out of it, while thousands of low-pay outsourced phone reps were copy-pasting automated replies. But the process was both arbitrary and, ultimately, pointless - as anyone can clearly witness by the fact that "bad ads" run on Google at all times.

To me this was yet another proof that Google became too big for what it is, and on an individual level dealing with Google is harder and less pleasant than dealing with a cable company.

Comment Should be much easier in China (Score 4, Funny) 37

Keep in mind that in China drivers have unquestionable priority over pedestrians. The latter have to duck and weave around traffic when crossing. So - autonomous vehicle would not need to take them into account.
Also - expensive vehicles have de-facto priority, something that drivers of less expensive cars tend to voluntarily acquiesce to. Making autonomous vehicle a BMW surely helps. In fact, were they to choose a Bentley, the driving software would only need to follow the GPS line without any additional traffic and obstacle related logic.

Comment And where does "velocity" come from? (Score 1) 131

GPS is a position determination technology. GPS-based "velocity" is calculated by GPS device based on change in position (distance) and time. It is subject to exactly the same error as the position itself.

Apropos, in the GPS navigation software I work on, tracking uses adaptive smoothing precisely for the purpose of reducing the distance error.

Comment Good idea - on one condition (Score 0) 1291

Guaranteed income is a good idea as long as it's predicated on mandatory sterilization for recipients.

Not to be "mean". Part of the original issue is increased efficiency of production together with population growth. We can provide all of the people with labor from a small portion. We need to restore balance to the production vs. consumption and part of the equation is reasonable population level.

Comment Macbook Pro (Score 4, Insightful) 558

Macbook Pro, 15", Mid 2012 (I buy them refurbished from Apple for best price/specs). Whatever they come with (except for the Samsung 1Tb SSD, 840 EVO with all the recent fun that it implies).

In fact, this is not only my primary, but the only computer. I find that software is more important, and having just one computer makes it easier to keep track of things, back up etc. I do have several VMWare virtual machines with several version Windows, Linux and FreeBSD, all within this one, used for their respective development purposes. I'd hate to deal with that many physical boxes, though.

Comment Good study, bad hack (Score 1) 260

As a matter of fact, the study itself seems to provide a positive result that, ironically, authors have used to discredit similar studies :)

That said, from personal experience (as someone who lost 60 lbs by making changes to my diet) chocolate does have beneficial effect on weight loss, in that at a very least consuming smaller amounts of chocolate (in terms of calories) satisfies craving for sweets better than consuming much larger (in terms of calories) amount of other sweet foods (such as pastries). Just this benefit alone is sufficient to recommend (prudent) use of chocolate in a calorie-controlled diet.

As far as "bitter chocolate tasting bad" - well, tastes differ and some people find caviar or foie gras to be disgusting, but by an large they are smart enough to keep those opinions out of research papers. Me - I'll take my 90% dark any day (but don't shy away from milk chocolate, as long as it's not Hershey's anyway)

Comment I think we all know "how it works" (Score 3, Insightful) 94

There technology behind these intercepts is not particularly complex, so I don't think there is a significant need to explain "how it works". The fact that they are trying to "share" information that is already quite clear to all interested parties, suggests that this is a PR effort for the public, rather than an attempt to modify law enforcement practices in earnest.

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