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Comment the whole point (Score 1) 126

In the future, page rankings will be mostly crowd-sourced. The +1 button is just the beginning.

The financial stakes of a high ranking are large enough for SEO experts to make search results increasingly meaningless by propelling their irrelevant page high up into the ranks by whatever means they can possibly think of. It is an arms race and I'm sure Google must have a lot of resources devoted to keep this problem under control.

For me it was immediately obvious that improving the ranking algorithm was the whole point of the +1 button.

Comment Everything is relative (Score 1) 358

#1. The universe has no edge, no center, i.e., that no matter where in the universe you are, it stretches out in all directions as if you were at the center.

That's it. That's all insight you need to understand the theories. Everything else follows from it.

From #1 follows:
#2. The position of any object in the universe can only be defined in terms of other objects in the universe. For example, the position of the earth is generally defined relative to the position of the sun. "Absolute" positions (i.e., not defined in terms of other objects) do not exist.

#3. Since the position of objects can only be defined in terms of positions of other objects, this automatically also holds true for velocity. The speed of an object can only be defined in terms of speeds of other objects. For example, the speed of the sun in our solar system is (close to) zero (by definition), but generally non-zero relative to other stars. Any non-accelerating object may equally well be viewed as being stationary. There are no "absolute" velocities in the universe, since measuring an absolute velocity would require a stationary object holding a fixed absolute position in space, but we said absolute positions do not exist (#2).

#4. The speed of light traveling through space is constant.

Now imagine a non-relativistic universe. Then, #4 would contradict #3 (and therefore #2 and #1). Since if the speed of light is constant, an observer standing on some rock in space could measure its absolute velocity in the universe by measuring up how fast photons pass it by. If the observer finds that the speed of photons coming from some direction is 99% of c, then the observer would rightfully conclude that his rock was moving at 1% of c in that same direction.

Einstein understood that "position is relative" and "speed of light is constant" were both true. But that means that it must be impossible for an observer to measure his speed relative to the speed of light:

Imagine an observer in a spaceship who wants to establish its absolute speed in the universe. He switches off all engines and measures the speed of light in all directions and finds it to be exactly c. Not knowing the universe is relativistic, he concludes he is exactly stationary. Next, he speeds to 10% of c in some direction, switches off his engines and again measures the speed of c. To his surprise, he again finds the speed of light is c in all directions!

No matter how fast the observer moves (relative to its original speed), he always measures the speed of light to be c in all directions. The observer always sees photons pass him at a speed of c. Even when travelling at 99.9999% of the speed of light relative to a photon source, he still sees these photons passing him by at the speed of c.

The observer establishes the velocity of a photon by is measuring how much time it took the photon to travel from A to B. If the speed of c is constant, and at the same time the observer always measures c regardless of his own velocity, this must mean that clocks and dimensions of his spaceship must vary.

For instance, when moving away from a planet at 99% of c, photons coming from that planet are still being measured to have a speed of c. The time a photon coming from the planet takes to travel some fixed distance is constant regardless of the speed of the spaceship relative to the planet. This means that clocks on board of the spaceship must be moving slower than clocks on that planet, and such that the time the photon takes to travel a fixed distance, is fixed and c for the observer.

See also

Comment Submitter FAIL (Score 1) 398

type inference which should save quite a few people from RSI
Because surely, the hard work of writing code is in all that typing.

and make refactoring code a bit less obnoxious
Because yeah, refactoring is all about continuously retyping your variables.

I haven't heavily used C++ in years
... and never coded anything beyond a two-dice simulation.

Comment Patent system broken (Score 2) 83

The patent system is broken. Lodsys however can not be held accountable for that.

Big companies sueing the snot out of each other with patents: accepted.
Big companies sueing the snot out of smaller companies treading on their lawn: accepted.
Small companies sueing big companies: surely, now we have a problem?

Sure, it's the business model of Lodsys to hoard patents and sue. But the regulatory framework around patents facilitated its business model. Lodsys plays by the rules. The only really significant difference being, this time around it's a small company sueing the big boys and now suddenly there is a problem.

Lodsys nicely shows the brokenness of the patent system. We should be more thankful.

Comment My voting machine design (Score 1) 261

I would design a voting machine as follows.


- The machine should be such that it proofs to voter that his vote has been registered correctly.
- The machine should produce a tangible ballot for each vote casted.
- It should be impossible for anyone to find out how someone voted.

The desire of up-to-the-minute results is understandable but should be secondary to the principles above. Yet, I don't think the demands are mutually exclusive.

I can imagine a design where the voter can see his ballot, for instance behind a sheet of glass. The voter votes by pressing a button which causes a physical hole to be punched in the ballot. It should be clear to the voter how he voted from the position of the hole in the ballot. Then, the ballot should be visibly dropped in a sealed box. The voter should not be able to physically access the ballot.

The ballots are machine-countable since the holes were punched in mechanically. More importantly, the ballots can also be recounted manually if required.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Ars Technica Review Slams Duke Nukem Forever 462

Kethinov writes "Ars Technica writes one of their most negative reviews of a game in a long time, referring to Duke Nukem Forever as 'barely playable' and 'one of the worst games from a major studio in quite some time. The jokes border on hateful. The graphics are a blurry mess. The shooting is unsatisfying.' Their verdict? Skip this one."

Comment wifi setup? (Score 1) 143

I can imagine a setup where for instance every couple of rows has its own wifi-network on its own channel. This way, bandwidth can be increased to levels which enable streaming video to more than just a few passengers simultaneously.

This would require multiple wifi hotspots in the plane, so some wiring is obviously still required.

Comment Re:Usability maters (Score 1) 716

Yes. The tablet game is about usability, not specs. Usability means long battery life, responsive touch screen, responsive software, a good UI, and tons of good apps. The tablet game is also about image, lifestyle. The product has to be perceived as being cool, so a good design is a must-have, as is marketing that acknowledges the importance of being cool.

Just forget about GB, megapixel, GHz, number of cores, pixels per inch. Although not totally irrelevant, the specs don't make the difference in the tablet arena. Tablets have come into the realm of techno-dummies that don't give a shit about specs. They will ask things like "can I read a book on it", "can I download music", "can I surf the internet". Weird, I know. And whether Flash is supported... believe me, most buyers don't even know what the hell that is, let alone go ask for it.

Comment Social ranking to replace pigeons (Score 1) 218

Google knows that no matter how smart your page rank system is, it will be gamed to the level it becomes unusable. Obviously, the +1 button will also be gamed, but at least it is going to be a bit harder. Expect botnets to take care of this, though.

Clearly, social ranking is going to be more important than algorithmic ranking. Googles pigeons have their best times behind them.

Submission + - Google is introducing the +1 button (

An anonymous reader writes: It seems that Google refuses to give up and is trying to push once again its way into the social space, by introducing a new feature called “+1 that it will basically have the same functionality as the Facebook “Like” button does (share recommended content with other people). And yes, even though Facebook has...

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