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Comment At Last (Score 1) 291

After being sick for 8 years with an unknown condition and going to doctor after doctor, I can say with absolute certainty that doctors are terrible diagnosticians. Each specialist will consider the top three conditions people come in for, and if you don't have them, then it's no longer worth their time to diagnose. After about 60 seconds of listening to you, their eyes glaze over and they've heard enough. I have long wanted to write a program to diagnose issues and eventually replace most doctors altogether. It would serve us all better.

Consider the huge amount of possible causes - viruses, bacteria, fungal infections, environmental contaminants, parasites, biological weapons, genetic abnormalities leading to enzymatic and neurological imbalances.. There is an incredible breadth of possibility. What doctor could possibly consider all the options? He'll only be able to call upon the most common answers, or just throw popular antibiotics or drugs at the problem.

Now throw a diagnostic AI into the mix, who has all of your personal information - where you've traveled and lived, your age, your genetic profile, your symptoms, a blood sample, the past success or failure of drugs, and perhaps in a moment it could come up with a list of 40 possibilities. It could then ask pointed questions to narrow it down and then request and analyze blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, CTs, until it had an answer. What doctor could or would do that? I haven't met one that even comes close. If you're unlucky enough like me to have something rare, be prepared to spend a decade trying to get a diagnosis.

Comment Re:Depends (Score 1) 417

That happens all the time on The Personality Forge (personalityforge.com). It's been quite an art customizing the chat bots to deal with all kinds of trolls. And then you get the smug satisfaction that they will never get a rise out of a chat bot and will eventually give up due to the bot's eternal patience.

Comment Backlash (Score 1) 69

If a government wanted me out of the streets, they'd keep the internet ON.

Take away my online gaming, email, chat, facebook, online shopping, and all my regular sites and I don't care what the protest is about - I'll march out and join it.

Comment Re:Proton Pack (Score 1) 810

There's nothing scientific about the a priori belief that everything spiritual is not real. It's a deep bias in science that comes from its origins. In its early days, in order to exist beside the church, it had to define itself as separate from the church, and focus on the physical world. To the church, the spiritual. To science, the physical. It carved out its place and while very few know the origin of this built-in belief, it's still almost universally accepted.

Ghosts are real. They have been measured. Sounds, voices, pictures, conversations back and forth with the living. To automatically ascribe these things to alternate sources shows the bias at work, the built-in unshakable belief that they do NOT exist. Someone truly neutral would see the evidence and if he was unable to find a different way to explain it, would settle on the idea that they are real.

The best tool for detecting ghosts is the human body, which can feel their energy. But that's not easily measured. Direct methods include EVP, photography, video (infrared, heat, wide-spectrum), and the "spirit box". Indirect methods include measuring EM spikes, measuring the room's temperature fluctuations, though these don't say much on their own. I've thought the visual equivalent of EVP could probably catch something - have a TV with static lighting the room, and a camera filming the room, and maybe the static as well. The Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures seems to be the real thing. You can see much of this at work there.

You will have trouble proving that your specific house ISNT haunted. Ghosts are not ever-present, and don't come on command. Interacting with the physical world by taking form or producing voices takes a lot of energy, and it often takes very specific conditions for this to happen. Ghosts can drain batteries and use ambient energy sources (light, sound, electrical power) to manifest, so providing this could help a manifestation happen.

Comment Re:In the wake of Thursday... (Score 1) 402

I'm not too worried about this. The internet is designed to route around damage. If any oppressive organization were to try to control it, a shadow internet would instantly spring up and be beyond their control. And I'd immediately sign onto that and leave the censored one behind. I'm not talking different sites, but different protocols, routes, P2P DNS, etc. - whatever it takes. I bet it be up within days.

Comment Pedobear in Atlanta (Score 1) 324

Pedobear appeared at Dragon Con in Atlanta a few weeks ago, too. It was a different costume than the one shown. He had a "free hugs" sign and when a grown-up would hug him, he'd flip the sign over to say "too old". Here's a picture, about 1/3 of the way down: http://www.epbot.com/2010/09/dragoncon-costume-gallery-3.html

Comment Re:trying to imagine... (Score 1) 833

This is a long-needed attempt to control the incessant immature infantile troll-fest that is the WoW forums. One can't ask a simple question on there without a chorus of howling idiots attacking you and each other. I long since saw the futility of looking for help there. It's literally one of the worst corners of the internet. If you want to lose all faith in humanity - spend some time there. Honestly.

This will help. It's a low-attention way to try to shame people into behaving better. It's not the best solution, but it takes the least effort and expense on Blizzard's part, and I understand why they'd do this rather than hire a hundred people to police the forums and then hire a hundred counselors to prevent those first hundred from plunging forks into their eyes or throwing themselves off of cliffs at the end of each work day.

Comment Re:Lucid dreaming? (Score 1) 308

Great post.

The light-switch trick is a great test, as the ambient lighting in any given dream is a reflection of the location in the dream world (AKA state of mind) you are in, and can't be changed by flicking a switch.

I wanted to mention that there are also degrees of lucidity. It's a full spectrum, from acting out of sheer habit, completely unaware that you are dreaming, to acting as you usually do in the dream world to being aware that it is a dream, aware of your waking self, and controlling everything - including waking yourself up at the end to write it all down.

And lucidity can come and go as well - you can become lucid for a couple minutes and then lose it by becoming distracted by something. Distraction is the enemy of lucidity. My dream self knows this. I was once lucid and someone else in my dream was trying to show me a picture in a magazine. I resisted looking at it, because I knew I'd become interested in the picture and go into it (what I call a gateway) - at which point I would lose my lucidity. My dream self knew all that, and only upon waking myself up and remembering it did my waking self come to know it.

Comment Video Game Dreams (Score 1) 308

As a long-time lucid dream seeker and gamer, I've found that playing games before bed often results in what I consider "stupid" dreams of gaming. The context of the dream is the game, and you're running around playing it. It's a mix between waking physical reality and the game reality. There's usually not a lot of value to these dreams, I've found.

On the other hand, my dream self has become quite aware of himself as an personality in the dream world, with a continuing story from night to night, and has an understanding of the laws of the dream world and how to attain and maintain lucidity. I wonder if my love of games contributes to my ability to project myself into a new dream world or context or if it's the converse - my ability to project myself into the world of dreams contributes to my ability to enjoy video games.

There's no doubt dreams influence video games. The creator of Mario is a dreamer of some degree of lucidity. My first experiences flying in dreams came from taking progressively larger leaps into the air that led to flight. Fastforward a couple decades and Mario is doing the same thing in Super Mario 64.

Comment Re:For a price of course (Score 1) 240

There's an app for that. It's called Beejive. Last I checked it was $10, and if you and someone else had it, you could text each other as much as you want for free. When a text message comes in, an alert pops up on the phone and there's a sound or buzz. Then you jump into a IM chat screen and chat like that. I think I read that you can send text messages to phone numbers of people who don't have Beejive, but I'm not quite sure how that works.

That said, it leaves a LOT to be desired. You need to be logged into a chat network such as Jabber, and you get automatically logged out every few days. It's also horribly slow on the iPhone 3g, oversensitive to flipping, jumps to the middle of an ongoing chat when it flips, and has been somewhat buggy in the past. But my wife and I text on it daily for free, while her SMS bill for texting with her sister is $30/month.

Comment Re:Hypochondria? (Score 1) 368

I couldn't agree more.

Seven years ago I began a slow decline in health that completely ruined my quality of life. I suffered endless migraines, fatigue, abdominal pain, weakness, difficulty focusing, depression, loss of feeling, and social withdrawal. I went to doctor after doctor, and each gave me approximately 5 minutes of their time and couldn't figure out what it was. Very little came up in the standard blood tests.

I had several doctors accuse me of making it up, or saying it's all in my head. Most of the rest just shrugged and sent me on my way. If I had complete trust in medicine I'd have given up and had to live with this forever.

But that's not the kind of person I am. When I felt well enough to, I researched online - examining symptoms, reading up on scholarly articles from PubMed, reading patient cases, bulletin boards. I investigated everything. And 80% of the progress I've made on my condition over the years has been due to my research. I found doctors sorely uninformed on research done in the last ten years - as if after graduating they stopped picking up anything new.

Sure there are hypochondriacs out there. But modern medicine leaves a LOT to be desired, and I'm glad as hell that I have a resource like the internet that allows me to give my condition the attention it deserves.

Comment Re:Why bother with manuals? (Score 1) 400

I agree, and Final Fantasy XIII is a good example. Square Enix always does something unique with each game in this franchise, and the fighting system takes some getting used to. This specific game feels like it's in tutorial mode for the first 12 hours or so, and I've had the manual out the entire time, looking for information, getting tips, figuring out how everything works.

I recently bought Torchlight from Steam and if there was a manual I could access, I didn't see it anywhere. So I looked it up on Google and found the full manual in PDF format on http://www.scribd.com/. I'm not sure if that's authorized or not, but something like that works just fine since it's a PC game, because I'm at the PC playing it. If it were a console game, this would really only be convenient if I had an iPad or laptop nearby, so I wouldn't have to run back and forth from TV to computer to look things up.

There is a certain art and value to well-produced game manuals that I would miss.

Has anyone noticed how industries have taken "green" to mean "give you less for the same price?"
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How To Find Bad Programmers 359

AmberShah writes "The job post is your potential programmer's first impression of your company, so make it count with these offputting features. There are plenty of articles about recruiting great developers, but what if you are only interested in the crappy ones?" I think much of the industry is already following these guidelines.

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