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Comment: Re:Piracy squeezes the middle hardest (Score 1) 438

by wjc_25 (#33078602) Attached to: Sometimes It's OK To Steal My Games
Indie titles aren't popular enough to attract piracy? Read the comments below the linked article--see how many people confess to pirating his games? Fewer people pirate indie games, but that's relative to the overall lower sales. The indies can be (not necessarily saying they are) hit just as hard by piracy.

Comment: Re:Choices, choices (Score 1) 546

by wjc_25 (#32419518) Attached to: GCC Moving To Use C++ Instead of C
The first example (which is shorter if you have "using namespace std," of course) of cout seems pretty reasonable to me. I can look at that code and, with my fairly basic knowledge of iostream, immediately see what's going on. For the second it's far less clear.
People will always disagree on whether clarity or concision is preferable; I don't think this is a "one right answer" sort of problem.

Comment: Re:Rather a Poor Metric (Score 1) 659

by wjc_25 (#32400790) Attached to: Students Show a Dramatic Drop In Empathy
Exactly! The implicit assumption of the survey is that everyone has a completely accurate view of themselves, and that it is possible to answer these questions objectively and accurately. It's not, of course. No one has the ability to judge themselves objectively, or to judge others objectively; bias is inherent in the observer.

If anything, these results show that students see themselves more negatively today. Is that a good or a bad thing? When it comes to these types of things, self-opinion doesn't indicate things accurately. The people with the worst tin ears never realize they're tone deaf; the humblest people never think of themselves as humble.

Full disclosure: I got around dead center in the survey. As for whether I'm actually empathetic or not? Depends who you ask.

Comment: Re:Metaphor (Score 1) 170

by wjc_25 (#32064760) Attached to: "Lost" and the Emergence of Hypertext Storytelling
This is a good point; the problem is that the hypertext metaphor is a poor one. Academics are fixated on hypertext lately. I remember one Medieval Lit lecture I attended last semester where the speaker compared hypertext to, of all things, the marginalia of Middle English manuscripts. There's this tendency to use hypertext as a stand-in for all the various innovations in information presentation that have occurred over the last couple decades; it's a worn metaphor, and a boring one.

That aside, there's nothing particularly innovative in Lost's storytelling. People's tastes in art are so conservative that people forget that most of these "new" ideas date back decades if not longer. You can look back to the 1960s and the work of Ballard to find novels told in a form far more experimental than any television series has absorbed.

Comment: The real story, for me... (Score 0, Troll) 428

by wjc_25 (#31765514) Attached to: Son Sues Mother Over Facebook Posts
...is the wording of Arkansas's "harassment" offense law: "A person commits the offense if with purpose to harass, annoy or alarm another person without good cause, he engages in conduct or repeatedly commits acts that alarm or seriously annoy another person." (from the article)

It's unnerving to think that it's possible to take legal action against someone for such a vaguely defined offense. Think back to your childhood--or high school even, or college: how often did you "annoy or alarm another person without good cause"? Cripes sake, who hasn't? Suddenly this enormous, near-universal category of human interaction, namely anything that annoys or frightens one person "for no good reason," is legally actionable. Terrifying.

Comment: Re:Witless stenographers? (Score 2, Informative) 664

by wjc_25 (#31426806) Attached to: Professors Banning Laptops In the Lecture Hall
I don't know about the other universities mentioned, but speaking as a student at the University of Virginia, I can tell you that in cases where there are disabilities the students talk to the teachers and have an exception made. One of my classmates has a sight impairment and has to use his laptop, and professors of course allow him to use his laptop.

It's not as if every class disallows laptops - all my CS professors so far have allowed laptops, for example. In math and lit classes, not so much. It's entirely up to the individual teacher; I can think of several classes I've taken where the teacher required attendance and allowed laptops, and for that reason everyone was up on Facebook for every lecture. I can think of other classes where laptops were allowed but the class was challenging and people only used them for note-taking.

Comment: Re:Too much time on their hands (Score 1) 502

by wjc_25 (#31268456) Attached to: Triumph of the Cyborg Composer
Exactly! It's not surprising that a machine can absorb Mozart's prodigious output and spit out something similar--or that the result is emotionally compelling. Because it wasn't the computer that produced the emotionally compelling element: The element was borrowed from the past compositions. One could argue that humans do the same thing. And they do, all the time. Most musicians are unoriginal. Speaking as a long-time amateur musician, nothing that I've ever made has been truly original. But there are flashes of genius where something truly new is made or synthesized. We can see this logically; if human art was only imitative, there wouldn't be such a wide variety of it. Mozart is truly different from Bach; Beethoven from Mozart; Stravinsky, Debussy, and Bartok different from all of them. That a computer can imitate an imitative human being is nothing. Once the humans begin imitating the computers is when I'll be worried.

Comment: Re:Why not? (Score 1) 439

by wjc_25 (#31128828) Attached to: Yale Switching To Gmail, Not Without Opposition
I'm assuming they meant ivy-leagues, but yeah, U.Va has this, and it's very convenient. It's also helpful having the whole student body (or nearly the whole student body; I know a few people who pick the MS option) on Gmail since it gives you access to Gchat with whoever you're working with on homeworks, projects, etc.

Comment: Re:Meh (Score 1) 449

by wjc_25 (#31122468) Attached to: Is Plagiarism In Literature Just Sampling?
This is a good point. I'm surprised no one has brought up T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"--it was controversial when it came out decades back for the same reason. Eliot lifted lines not only from well-known authors like Dante and Shakespeare but also lines from more obscure authors and the like. He provided footnotes to the work that mentioned some of the borrowings, but the work was so dense that even those footnotes covered only a fraction of the quotes. I think it's important to find a middle ground. You can't expect an author to cite every brief quotation or allusion--that would be oppressively difficult for many types of works--but "remixing" or borrowing large sections wholesale should require permission or, at the very least, clear acknowledgment of the borrowing. When a musician remixes a song it is typically at the request of the artist or label that released the original composition; if we're following the standards of remixing, this author is still in the wrong.

Comment: Re:So AI Experts think AI is going to take off? (Score 2, Insightful) 979

by wjc_25 (#31094386) Attached to: When Will AI Surpass Human Intelligence?
I would argue that their bias is a little more subtle. Yes, they want grant money - who can blame them? - but on a deeper, perhaps unconscious level, they want to be important. Everyone does. And what makes an AI expert important? The idea that AI is going to take over the world, cause a huge impact, etc. So we have this idea that AI will be the equal of the human brain some time soon even though the neuroscientists (for all their talk, which has similar motivation) still don't understand quite how the brain works.

It's all well and good to say the brain is a finite object that can be emulated. But a fruit fly is also a finite object, and one that's a hell of a lot smaller than a brain, and we're far from emulating one of those.

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