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Comment You're doing too much work! (Score 1) 845

Finally time for the correction to my not knowing my 47 times table. I knocked off 3*3 to give me the easy 150, so just need to take the 9 off to give the 141.

On multiple choice tests, always read the answers first, and identify the key differences. Here, the options are:


And it should immediately jump out that one of these is an order of magnitude lower than the others. So, you know right away that either you can throw this one out or it's the right answer. As soon as you reduce he problem to 47 times 3, you know it has to be that one. Mark A and move on to a harder question. (You can check your work later if you have time.)

If the answer had a higher order of magnitude, the next thing to consider would be whether the answer is likely to be the nice, round 47 times 100 -- another easy-to-identify possibility.

Comment Bits of identifiable information (Score 5, Interesting) 80

"18.8" doesn't sound like a big number, until you consider what it stands for. Each bit of information halves your uniqueness. That means that you can be picked out of a crowd of 2^18.8 people -- 456,419. With an estimated two billion people on the internet today, that means you're down to being one in 4500. That's about the same as saying "My name is Matthew Miller and I live in the United States." Not particularly private!

Another way to think of it is this: those two billion people represent 31 bits of uniqueness. Every bit of information revealed knocks off some of that. When you're down to one, you're positively identified. Your web browser is giving up at least 18.8 of those thirty for nothing, leaving you with just about 12.

Comment Point about Twitter is foolish and shortsighted (Score 5, Insightful) 256

The summary here seems to focus on a minor (page 3) point in the article, but, man, what a bad point it is:

And the Times appears to be making a big mistake by letting people get unlimited access to its content if they come from Twitter and other feeds, apparently to not turn of the young-adult population. All that will do is perpetuate the free-loader culture and simply shift users to those conduits, turning them from grazers to firehose-feeders -- and undermining the whole notion of paying for frequent content usage.

Silly. This isn't a "big mistake". It's quite canny — they're paying people (with access to content) for providing word-of-mouth advertising. The cost (an article read for free) is very low and the benefit (lots of visitors come by without being annoyed) is high. It's a good move.

Comment Bill Gates and the CD-ROM revolution (Score 2) 183

Bill Gates's book "The Road Ahead", is, in its first 1995 edition, focused on how the CD-ROM was going to change everything about computers. Remember Encarta? They were really focused on that -- multimedia on discs, that was going to be the future.

But then, for the 1996 printing, the whole thing was re-written and suddenly CD-ROMs weren't the hot thing. It was all about the Internet.

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