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Comment: The Shearing Economy (Score 1) 120

by epine (#49334721) Attached to: Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data

Ugh. All your base R belong to us.

Avec optional appositional phrase:

means that Uber can, and is, on its way to becoming a Big Data company

Sans optional appositional phrase:

means that Uber can on its way to becoming a Big Data company

With proper parallelism:

means that Uber can become, and is on its way to becoming, a Big Data company

With more visual help to pair the distal commas:

means that Uber can become—and is on its way to becoming—a Big Data company

As it happens, I listened to an EconTalk episode last night dating back to July 2014, which is mainly about Uber.

Michael Munger on the Sharing Economy

This happens to be the audience-favourite EconTalk episode from 2014.

I've never been as much of a Mike Munger fan as many listeners of the show, but I actually thought this episode was well done. It's about 59m30s longer than what fits in an SMS message, so that makes it fairly clear that this episode is not preaching to the Uber choir. It's for those of us north of 30, whose lives are so dismal we sit around and listen to other people converse about how old and dismal we've all become.

Comment: the Lumia mosaic (Score 1) 213

by epine (#49318483) Attached to: Finland's Education System Supersedes "Subjects" With "Topics"

Recently I was reading The Seven Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler on my day off. There's a chapter or so devoted to the Lumiar School he founded, which runs on a Mosaic curriculum—a curriculum which discards the traditional subject orientation for learning experiences. Here's an article written about it shortly after the school opened: Learn what you want.

What we need to change to go along with this (if we keep them) are the standardized tests (by subject). I think there need to be many questions offered, from which the student can choose, and the final score needs to be more like tower diving, where your score on what you attempt is presented alongside with the average difficulty rating. Brownose U. could prefer to admit students with a 100% score at the high-school senior difficulty level, while Speed College could prefer to admit students with an 80% score at the level of a third-year undergraduate (in their chosen major)—tailoring their environment appropriately. Survival of the fittest lacks vitality unless there's real diversity in the methods employed.

Once upon a time, the problem with taking this approach is that having some of your brightest students going deep into difficult sub-topics (such as a bright high school math student who takes a shine to number theory), was that too many students would get too far ahead of the teachers, because few high school math teachers (for example) would be able to ace the entire panoply of twenty offered questions.

With the technology of social networking, it's a solvable problem to hook bright students up with teachers with expertise in the subject area, no matter how deep and narrow. If there are ten high-school math prodigies in all of Brazil who take a shine to number theory, you just need one math teacher (available online) who is good at number theory to help shepherd their studies in a productive direction.

No matter what the child wants to learn, find the teacher who can teach it. In a system as large as Brazil (to continue with my Lumiar example) it can't be that hard to have a least one teacher who can keep up with a bright child no matter how unusual the learning passion (excepting all things Narnia, like astrology and phrenology and intelligent design).

We have far less excuse to funnel every child down the same subject-matter cattle chute than ever before.

Comment: Re:Absolutley (Score 3, Interesting) 572

by epine (#49311411) Attached to: Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic

If that strike is destroying monuments thousands of years old and causing irreparable damage to a very fragile desert ecosystem - yes, absolutely I would be strongly against ANY entity that did that, but more importantly didn't even consider it to be a problem.

I take it then that you'll be pretty negative toward the American administration who oversaw the destruction or loss of a substantial slice of cultural artifacts held in trust on behalf of the entire Iraqi civilization.

"The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over and over and over. And it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase. And you see it 20 times. And you think, my goodness, were there that many vases?" Rumsfeld told reporters. "Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?"

This from the man who likely repeated the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" times beyond measure. My goodness, is it possible that there were any WMD in the whole country?

the true figure was around 15,000 items, including 5,000 extremely valuable cylinder seals

Perhaps Rumsfeld hates all museums with the same uniform, searing passion, but I suspect he might have summarized the matter differently if 15,000 items walked out of the Smithsonian, including personal artifacts brought over to American on the Mayflower that were already so venerable they predated Constantine.

Now to deal with the article at hand:

If this trend continued, the carbon dioxide level would have become too low to support life on Earth.

If he thinks this trend could have continued deep into the extirpation of the chlorophyllosphere, he's badly in need of that new ultrasound treatment used to cure Alzheimer's disease in the mice model.

Epic fail. Crank dismissed.

Comment: Thanks for the info (Score 1) 247

You can do something similar with aluminum refining, which uses high power electrolysis. If we look around, I'm sure that other processes can be reorganized to make use of varying supply of electricity.

Thanks for the info. I'll add this and "water desalinization" (from a post further down) to my mental list of solutions.

I had *thought* that aluminum refining required the melting of bauxite, which would make it inherently difficult to start and stop, but another poster points out that Alcoa tailors their production in this manner. I'm guessing that a "charge" of ore can be processed in a short amount of time, and that a refinery has a large number of small furnaces which can be individually shut down as needed.

Comment: Run on sentences (Score 0) 109

by Okian Warrior (#49304591) Attached to: The Stolen Credit For What Makes Up the Sun

Sure, it's easy today to look at the Sun and know it's a ball of (mostly) hydrogen, generating energy by combining those protons in a chain into helium through the process of nuclear fusion.

Sure, it's easy to today to look at slashdot and know that it's all (mostly) clickbait, generating revenue for Dice by tricking viewers into visiting websites who think that they can make money by spraying advertizing onto eyeballs in a vain attempt to...

Damn! I never realized how hard it is to make convoluted run-on sentences. So much for my attempt at sarcastic humor.

I have newly-found respect for the Slashdot editors.

Comment: Re:Pointing out the stark, bleeding obvious... (Score 4, Interesting) 247

So the plan is to install enough batteries to power the world all night long, and then for a week or two when the weather is bad?

Or is it to put solar all over the Earth and have a massive world wide power grid to move power to where it is needed?

I suppose either is technically possible, I just don't think either is likely to happen.

How about we build nitrogen fixation factories near the baseload generation, keep the baseload on all the time, and make fertilizer during the times when the energy is otherwise not needed? Nitrogen fixation can be quickly started up and shut down without damage to the system, and requires an enormous amount of worldwide energy.

How about we build a smart grid, which incorporates electric vehicles on home charging systems? Charge the car during the day, then give back some of the stored energy at night when the car's in the garage.

How about we take recycled batteries from aging electric vehicles - batteries that can hold 80% of their original charge, but which are no longer good enough for electric vehicle operation - and stack them in warehouses to store and release energy as needed? Do batteries lose capacity at an exponential rate? If so, those 80% batteries should last a long time.

How about we mount the solar panels with a gap above the rooftops, so that the panels keep sunlight off of the roof, reducing [somewhat] the *need* for energy to be spent on air conditioning?

How about we look for solutions rather than assume that everything will be exactly like it is now, except with problems that cannot be solved?

Comment: Re:Ridiculous (Score 5, Insightful) 112

by Okian Warrior (#49288523) Attached to: How To Make Moonshots

You learn no more from failure than you learn from success. There are many ways to fail and few ways to succeed, thus it is better to learn what to do than what not to do.

This is a rational argument applied to the real world, and it doesn't hold true. Rational arguments are almost *never* true when applied to the real world, unless they start from a fundamental model and build up. (And in that case you can make testable predictions.)

Eighty percent of first businesses fail, but only 20% of *second* businesses fail, and it's not because people don't try to do it right the first time.

Both Thomas Edison and [head of IBM] Thomas J. Watson have extensive experience in this, and both have written positions on the subject. When someone approached Watson and asked "how can I increase my success rate", he responded "double your failure rate". When someone asked Edison how he could continue researching the electric light bulb after failing 5,000 times, he replied "I haven't failed 5,000 times, I know 5,000 ways that won't work" (source).

The rational argument fails when it's applied to the risk/reward formulation. Each time you fail you lose 1x the value of the experiment, but each time you succeed you regain 50x the value of the experiment in profit.

The mantra in the IT world is "fail fast, fail often", which reflects the risk-reward equation very well. It takes almost nothing to set up a website showing your idea to the world, and almost nothing to shutter it 6 months later.

But once in awhile, that idea becomes popular and profitable and you can recoup your investment many times over. That's why people should fail; or rather, not be afraid of failure.

Not because of any rationalization, but because it's historically the route to success.

Comment: Google glass choices (Score 2) 112

by Okian Warrior (#49288403) Attached to: How To Make Moonshots

Google glass failed, but I suspect that they allowed it to fail due to lack of persistent development.

The way most people work is that they try something, it doesn't work, and they give up. I've heard lots of things like "I can't learn to whistle, I've tried" and "I tried that, but it didn't work". Mostly it's amateurs building stuff and giving up on the first try: "I put the circuit together and it didn't work", or "I tried to build a spice rack for Marge, but it turned out awful".

If you really want to make something, you have to be prepared to throw the first one out and start over. If the circuit doesn't work, find out *why* it didn't work and fix it. If your spice rack is awful, spend some time on YouTube looking at proper technique, then spend some time using the router (or table saw, or whatnot) with pieces of scrap until you get the hang of it. Then start the project over.

Google glass could have been popular if they noted the feedback and piloted the project into more popular waters. For example:

1) A flip-down cover for the camera, so you can interact with people and they know you aren't recording them
2) A less restrictive interface, so that developers can show anything instead of storyboard images like a viewmaster. IOW, a direct graphical interface.
3) a less expensive device (costs $150 to make, $1500 to buy). (Note: Cell phones have largely the same functionality and don't cost $1500)

Rather than fix the problems, they decided to just let it die. Maybe they did market analysis and thought that it would never sell in any form, but I really doubt they went that far.

Comment: Re:I think computer scientists already knew this.. (Score 1) 274

by epine (#49286509) Attached to: Speaking a Second Language May Change How You See the World

I formally divorced TRS-80 Level II BASIC by writing something along the lines of the following code snippet:

for i = 1 to 5
    gosub basic_sucks
    if (i==4) return;


I'm not going to wrack my brains to make this into a working example of obfuscated code, but it definitely was possible to mis-nest the loop and call stacks in this way, without the code generating any run-time notifications.

BASIC did me no damage at all, because I consciously filed formal divorced papers, rather than letting my further education accomplish the same by slow attrition.

One can do the same with English without actually learning German or Chinese. One's native state of mind has a lot to do with it.


Hertz Puts Cameras In Its Rental Cars, Says It Has No Plans To Use Them 188

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
schwit1 writes Hertz has added a camera to many of its newer cars that uses the "NeverLost" navigational device. So why is Hertz creeping out customers with cameras it's not using? "Hertz added the camera as a feature of the NeverLost 6 in the event it was decided, in the future, to activate live agent connectivity to customers by video. In that plan the customer would have needed to turn on the camera by pushing a button (while stationary)," Hertz spokesperson Evelin Imperatrice explained. "The camera feature has not been launched, cannot be operated and we have no current plans to do so."

Comment: salt and freshly ground black people (Score 3, Funny) 667

by epine (#49264899) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

As a coda to my post, consider this howler:

World's Worst Typo Leaves Publisher Reeling

An Australian publisher is reprinting 7,000 cookbooks over a recipe for pasta with "salt and freshly ground black people." ... The reprint will cost Penguin 20,000 Australian dollars ($18,500) ...

This incident was mentioned in a book I read not long ago about the fine art of editing to a high standard.

It appears that tiny slip cost some poor sod real money. If the writer is sloppy or inconsistent in his/her usage standard, the proof-reading job becomes ten times harder. The writer probably accepted the wrong spell-checker suggestion when he/she was bleary with late-night fatigue.

If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.