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Comment Isn't the lesson here... (Score 1) 116

First up, link to the actual study in Nature's Molecular Psychology:

Impact of video games on plasticity of the hippocampus

The study was mostly on the effects of different navigation mechanisms (the "control group" did 3d platforming) - so isn't the lesson here, if you spend lots of time gaming, don't only play one kind of game?

Also, where was the non-videogaming control? Isn't there a general loss of grey matter over time regardless? I'd think tablet/GPS users using virtually NO navigational skills would also see a reduction in hippocampus grey matter over time - and most archived studies wouldn't have taken into account newer commonly used technologies reducing general navigation.

Nice data point - as the paper states and strongly implies, more study is needed, and the conclusions that can be drawn here are quite limited.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Islam was once the shining star of the world. (Score -1, Offtopic) 151

Many of our most important shared concepts for mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy came from the open and free encouragement from Islamic cultures in their golden age.

See Neil deGrasse Tyson discuss it's glory and its unfortunate downfall

Just like with Christianity, rampant greed in the name of 'protecting' the religion ends up carving smaller and smaller slices of belief - making for a smaller and smaller god each time it happens, each time a mind is closed off to the outside.

This is how even the most dominant religions die, by 'protecting' them to death.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Re:No... (Score 1) 330

To me, all this says NOT that we should take away the cell phones, but that we should be offering these kids more opportunities like their parents had for meaningful contact with others. The adults are working more, earning less, and making do with cheaper entertainment overall - so they have less time and resources to offer anything to their kids.

That's why the kids in statistical terms will fall back on facebook and videos to fill time, and see little meaning in driving places - there's relatively little out there worth anything for them.

The kids are making the best of what they have - and good for them on that.

Want them to have a better outlook? Give them and their parents free college, a basic income, so they can turn even small opportunities into a good life. Without a stable path like previous generations had, it's not surprising that few see room in their life for kids and the like. Right now, the only ones we're encouraging are the highly wealthy, and it's hard for many of the rest of us to make plans for life.

Ryan Fenton

Comment No... (Score 5, Insightful) 330

Better question: Will any generation not insist their children are going to inevitable ruin for the technology they adopt?

Happens every generation

Modern phones objectively allow folks to do things on the go, that they haven't ever been able to do before. Folks are still learning what NOT to do, but for the most part, they're safe, and much less dangerous than other similar disruptive technologies.

Flamebait article.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Why not both? (Score 3, Insightful) 171

In windows, I've always taken advantage of the 'feature' from Windows 16-bit days, where if you double-click on a program icon (on the left), it closes the window, so whenever I want to close a window, I just find the closest upper corner, and double/single click it.

You could do the same kind of thing simpler, just by having an X-mark box on the right, program icon at the left, and whenever you bring your mouse near the program icon, have it shift over and reveal a minimize/maximize/close button - and the same on the right, just slide out a minimize/maximize option. Of course, add the option to disable animations, and you're good to go - no visual clutter, but can use it wherever the window is.

Just an idea.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Trends! Trends! TRENDS! (Score 4, Informative) 74

Voice-to-text wrappers are a nice touch - but they really shouldn't be a 'browser' feature - but a system feature that can be used in ANY application, so you don't have to tweak it separately for every tool you use.

Note taking is also an occasionally neat thing - but not something you want constrained to the browser developers controlling. Browser developers shouldn't have an interest in getting a piece of that pie, or shaping that 'market', even between open source options.

And file sharing tools? That's an odd technology to push into - not too removed from HTTP/FTP (filezilla) logic at times, but very fiddly even for companies that devote their full focus on it. That said, I'd love it if the 'default' tools could smoothly resume arbitrary download after an interruption, integrate multiple downloads from identically hashed sources, and so on... but companies that take such tools on as secondary interests tend to let such tools fall to dust shortly after trumpeting their first launch. Also, something better done through an official plugin, rather than integrating directly.

Honestly though, these should all be officially supported PLUGINS ("add-ons"), not integrated components. Oh, and they should focus on NEVER BREAKING PLUGINS - they've basically killed half the plugins I've liked about their browser over time, due to their allergy to backwards compatibility options.

Want to know what makes for a good base product over time? Become a platform that bigger hits work with smoothly. Support that platform, and make a brand out of the efficiency, stability and reliability of that platform. Don't try and redefine yourself every two weeks. Let the plugins redefine what can be DONE with your platforms instead - best of both worlds.

Don't just slap a new forced coat of paint or end-user feature on, and pretend that you're trendy - you're not a public traded company, you shouldn't have to play that game.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Re:How much would it cost... (Score 1) 175

---
>>It's a bit dangerous to create a reliance on large institutions that can easily be turned into the purveyors of fake news themselves.
---

    Life is filled with reliance on others - that's not a conflict, but it means that we do owe it to ourselves to put reliable information ahead of commercial interests sometimes. Often, actually.

---
>>You can look at it with only good in mind, perhaps like the BBC and think that they're more good than bad, but you can just as easily get something like RT (Russia Today)...
---

But that's the thing - journalism isn't some unsolvable problem. It's a job that's just been handed to an almost purely commercial market in the US. We see with the BBC that it is POSSIBLE to create a space where actual journalism can be done beyond the scope of what is possible in the commercial space, without being propaganda.

Same story with healthcare - you can compare nations, and the outcomes change based on how they handle things, and sometimes you discover that the marketplace is not a very good place engage in things like medical care or a large portion of journalistic investigation. Sometimes you need to do real work on the basis of what works best, and costs society the least, not on what is profitable at every second.

Education is also important, along with other institutions - but without something standing outside of government to provide objective information, a healthy 'fourth estate', the whole system is much more vulnerable.

Oh, and for folks who insist that education is going down the drain, the Flynn Effect is still in full effect. Google it. The kids in general are still doing fine and are objectively doing better all the time, it's the 'adults' that are unable to manage things.

Ryan Fenton

Comment How much would it cost... (Score 3, Insightful) 175

...To fund proper investigative journalistic institutions, non-commercial like the BBC, that could identify, shame, and counter such efforts?

The journalistic system we have today is basically a self-standing set of dominoes - basically competing to generate attention-getting emotions - looking for any excuse to re-trigger their sequence. It isn't new - yellow journalism has an amazing and lengthy history, but increasingly tabloid coverage is the only news for most folks.

It's not a moralistic thing that's the problem here - it's informational vulnerability. Like folks growing up in a 'company town' or a cult, it becomes statistically likely that without a path to a wider source of information, that folks will be unable to break out of objectively wrong information and will become willing victims to pure exploitation.

Even here, lots of folks have given up on the idea of pursuing truth as a societal good. Down that path lies a deep stagnation and victimhood.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Re:The thing that gets me about electing Trump... (Score 2, Insightful) 709

Yes - but the point here is that he made it his purpose to portray a legitimately evil person, at least in the classic role-playing definition of evil - where he was actively willing to harm people for his own benefit constantly and with cruelty... and he stuck to that personality the entire time.

And THAT is what the people elected. Which is especially odd, given the supposedly Christian notion the nation has for itself. Jesus' perspective on the rich, and on selfishness is basically most of the new testament.

Comment You can do that anyway... (Score 4, Interesting) 438

I was that kind of nerd in class that would read the whole book at the start of the semester, then just sort of enjoy asking leading questions during the year, perhaps once or twice per class period. As long as it was a fair exploration of the topic, ~90% of teachers enjoyed the light challenge - especially the history teachers. I enjoyed finding out where I was wrong, or some detail that connected the subjects we were covering in some larger way.

There were also more religiously reactive students who would play the special-pleading game, trying to weaponize their belief lest others learn to believe in any other way. The answer there is usually increasing degrees of "you might very well be correct, and if you can find an international standards body recognized completely outside of your religious organization in [insert field], I'd suggest you contact [organization who sets school policy], and get the curriculus updated. Until then, this is what's going to be on the test."

I can't see that changing much, and if students decide to raise a stink, it would be fair for a teacher to offer to let the student test out of the class immediately, giving them the remaining homework/tests in one lump, and saving everyone a bit of time, since the student is unwilling to learn directly from the teacher.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Friends don't let friends... (Score 2) 151

Friends don't let friends install Microsoft Office.

Seriously - once you've got someone to open anything in MS Office, the scripting allowed in those formats means that few vulnerabilities are a very large surprise. That, and if you've ever had to work for a client that demands a large degree of Office interop or automation, you become acutely aware of how messy those formats have become over the years.

Don't get me wrong, in 'friendly' settings, it's got a nice set of features, and there's a reason that many folks allow their careers to be tied into it - but it's not a tool you want anything internet-related to connect to in any way, if you can help it. You're potentially handing over the keys to your computer when you open any of those formats from a potentially unfriendly source.

At least lock it behind a virtual system if you're going to open anything from the random internet.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Historically? LexisNexis... (Score 1) 119

When news organizations have needed to see what coverage existed on a subject in past decades at least, they'd find the guy who had access to LexisNexis and get some results from that.

At least that's what always comes up in inside-baseball discussions on news gathering stuff I've seen.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Crazy idea! (Score 4, Insightful) 185

How about they start pitching a version of cable, stripped down to a few channels, each actually meaningful and with varied programming, with NO COMMERCIALS in exchange for the subscription costs... you know, like it all started out?

Hey, I said it was a crazy idea. But why is it crazy? I mean, they're mostly internet companies now anyway, so any television income could be small, and they'd be fine, as long as they cut back enough for expenses to be below income.

That proposal would be crazy, because of stockholders. The demand for increased return, increased promises, increased control, guaranteed income with increasing percentage numbers. It's what makes all US publicly traded companies turn to crap over time.

It's basically the wisdom of mutual fund managers that demand cable, and other companies act like they do. And the giant pile of investment money behind them, looking for safe, guaranteed returns, and pushing everything to serve that, and only that.

It's also why commercials suck so much too, and why so many folks like me stopped watching/subscribing to cable years ago. It really is dumbfounding to visit folks watching commercials, and see those messages celebrating the happiness of paying rent to those companies paying for airtime.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Isn't that circuits? (Score 1) 264

All higher level logic ends up having side effects, just in order to be convenient, and relevant the way we use analogies/language.

You'd end up with even bigger problems with flow charts, because the labels you'd add would end up confounding your expectations as you build more and more.

The only way to avoid that is using very simple concepts in your flow chart. At that points, you're just creating circuits, which are not just below regular code, but below even assembly code in terms of the layers of abstraction you have to mentally juggle in order to build any complex logical relationships.

You could follow this same path by saying "couldn't we just ask a series of yes/no questions and create programs with that?" ... and eventually, you'd find you're just coding in a difficult kind of binary.

And yeah, with development, you could make rather sophisticated programs easier with either method mentioned - but to build a culture around such methodologies, you'd not only have to spend far more resources, but also ignore the very reasoning that lead us to bypass these approaches when they've come up before. And also, you ignore why those approaches always seem to lose out to building on modifications of what works most flexibly, rather than what you'd imagine is most natural.

Ryan Fenton

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