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Comment Re:Mod parent up. (Score 1) 134

Yeah, they will probably be confused by the extensive use of facts and stats in an orderly manner.

That's possible. So?

Moderation has been very strange lately. My earlier post wasn't meant to be funny. I was more trying to point out that anyone who believes that a computer-generated list of stats and figures can take the place of a human sports writer has probably never picked up an issue of Sports Illustrated.

People don't read sports writing to find out who won the game. It takes half a second to know who won the game. People read sports writing for other reasons. You don't have to be some kind of hyper-intellectual to enjoy reading about something.

Comment Not for human consumption (Score 0, Flamebait) 134

Wired occasionally carries good stories, but this ain't one of them. It sounds portentous and should play well to all the anti-journalism reactionaries and self-styled media pundits, but really this is just flying cars and robot butlers.

It's important to note here that NewsScope isn't a news service like Reuters; rather, it's a targeted data stream for the finance industry. Its output is not meant to replace the work of human journalists. Its output is not even meant to be read by humans.

But leave it to Wired to come up with an angle like "NewsScope has started carrying stories written by machines." A writer less enamored with breathless futurism might instead say that NewsScope parses corporate financial statements and extracts relevant data points, which it then summarizes in a machine-readable format, stripping out all the excess verbiage and historical statements that aren't useful to automated trading software. It's somewhat analogous to a search spider, one that builds an index of finance news as it crosses the wire, making the data easier for third-party software to query.

This isn't the Master Control AI writing news stories, people. It's a product -- and probably a pretty valuable one if you're in that industry.

Similarly, TFA says the program that generates news stories based on stats was "rigged up" by some college students. Is it useful? Potentially. Is its output capable of replacing human sports journalists? Is it even publishable? There's no evidence that anybody even suggested that. How many of your college projects changed the world?

TFA goes on to talk about how reporters have been forced to pick through information by hand -- for example, reading volumes of PDFs -- and how much nicer it would be to have machine-readable data to query. Well, no kidding! You're not alone there, brother; I like Google, too.

And then, like so many breathless Wired article, this one evaporates:

Further out toward the horizon lies the prospect of intelligent systems that filter vast quantities of unstructured content, drawing inferences that can be formatted according to journalistic norms.

Uh-huh. Where can we find that horizon, precisely? And "formatted according to journalistic norms" -- what does that even mean? And then:

Along the way, of course, intelligent systems will need to start coping with the complexities of human language have so far confounded them, including idiom, metaphor and sarcasm.

"Of course," indeed. As Han Solo once said, "Well that's the real trick, isn't it?"

Comment Re:mother nature (Score 2, Insightful) 260

washing your hands with (regular) soap and hot water was almost no different than washing your hands with anti-bacterial soap in terms of killing bacteria.

So you could look at it another way, then. If washing your hands gets rid of more bacteria than the supposed antimicrobial agent, then all the people complaining about the supposed evils of antimicrobial soaps are falling for a red herring. If antimicrobial agents aren't really what's getting rid of the bacteria, then antimicrobial agents can't be creating this race of super-bacteria that people suppose they are (or whatever the fear is about). Rather, they're just a marketing gimmick designed to sell soap. Ignore them and buy the soap that you think smells the best on your hands, or that lathers the best, or whatever other property of soap you desire. The antimicrobial agents may not be helping anything, but they're not really hurting anything, either.

Comment Re:Easy solution (Score 0, Troll) 260

If your immune system was up to snuff, getting some fecal matter and germs on you, in normal concentrations, would not bother you at all, OCD Boy.

Given that the fecal-oral route is a main method of transmission of everything from influenza to e. coli, hepatitis A, cholera, shigella, giardia, clostridium, cryptosporidium, typhoid, and various parasites, just for starters -- and many of these wouldn't exist if they couldn't complete their lifecycles by getting into your mouth via fecal contamination -- I'd say most infectious disease specialists would disagree with you. Some of these agents can get you very sick; a travel doctor once told me that you almost always recover from hepatitis A, but while you're ill you'll feel so awful you'll wish you were never born. Maybe it's just my OCD, but I went ahead and got the vaccine.

Then again, the nature of your statement leads me to wonder: Just what do you consider to be "normal concentrations" of feces on your hands?

Wash your hands, people, with soap. Don't worry about what kind of soap it is. The act of rubbing your hands together with a surfactant does more to remove germs from the surface of your skin than antimicrobial chemicals in soap do anyway.

Comment Same here (Score 1) 888

I flew from Phoenix to San Francisco this morning and I didn't notice anything either. Nobody made reference to the incident in question. Nobody asked us to do anything out of the ordinary. On the plane, passengers used the lavatory when they needed to. This seems like a non-story to me (except, perhaps, for Air Canada passengers).

Comment Re:I hate to say it, (Score 1) 102

I am using a cut-down build of Windows 7 Professional on the Eee PC. I had to vLite it because the flash-based Eee PC's boot drive is only 4GB (no matter which configuration you buy). Is the OLPC's smaller than that?

Yes, swap is disabled. It didn't seem to confer any advantage, and there's not really any space on the flash drive for it, so off it goes.

I really do use it as my carry laptop, though. It does what I need it to do (which is MS Office, e-mail, and Web, pretty much).

Comment Re:I hate to say it, (Score 1) 102

BTW as someone who has used every version of every MSFT OS, including WinFlip and XP Embedded, putting MSFT anything on a flash based device is suicide because MSFT never made an OS that don't hit swap like there is no tomorrow

I have Windows 7 installed on my Eee PC 901. All solid-state drives. Runs fine. It's a little sluggish at times, but perfectly usable. In other words, the cyanide isn't working.

Comment Re:Donate (Score 0, Flamebait) 332

I find it amazing how bureaucracy has reached such levels that the costs of employing the bureaucratic machine are much, much higher than the costs of corruption that it's supposed to prevent.

Then it seems to me you picked an odd choice of userid.

Comment Re:uh, what? (Score 4, Funny) 378

Your post made me go back and read the article. And it's true -- this is one of the worst-written articles I have ever seen. Every paragraph is a mish-mosh of subject/verb confusion, mixed metaphors, redundant wording, run-ons, and just about every other mistake you could make. You cherry-picked the best example of the lot, but among other howlers we have:

    1. The world was looking for the joiner of Novell's time-honored and rock-solid NetWare network operating system to be joined fully to Linux.
    1. Technically, it arrived late in the 1990's, but its inclusion here is to remember the pain of the name.
    1. The love/hate relationship becomes anchored with deep emotions about the merits/detractions of the devices they use-- through the lenses of operating systems.
    1. Even a leopard can change its spots, sometimes as scar tissue.
    1. A natively 'jailbroken' open phone will test carrier promises to just deliver wireless pipe.

Taken as a whole, TFA becomes a kind of demented poetry. Kudos to whatever maniac got it published.

Comment Re:My heart goes out to him... (Score 1) 139

The demonization of opioids and the stigmas attached to them make it extremely difficult for one to seek adequate pain management. This is even more troubling because when one is in pain, it is already difficult to muster up the strength to perform basic daily tasks, let alone go through the process of interviewing doctors and advocating for yourself to find someone who will treat you properly. It seems that O'Bannon was well acquainted with this, based on the fact that, according to the article, he was working on a screenplay called "The Pain Clinic".

There was an article in the New York Times magazine about this -- link here. If you have personal experience, maybe you're already familiar with it; I only mention it because I read it recently and thought it raised really important and interesting issues. Maybe it could be useful for people who are struggling with this problem.


First MySQL 5.5 Beta Released 95

joabj writes "While MySQL is the subject of much high-profile wrangling between the EU and Oracle (and the MySQL creator himself), the MySQL developers have been quietly moving the widely-used database software forward. The new beta version of MySQL, the first publicly available, features such improvements as near-asynchronous replication and more options for partitioning. A new release model has been enacted as well, bequeathing this version the title of 'MySQL Server 5.5.0-m2.' Downloads here."

Comment Re:Wait... (Score 1) 386

I think the main point is that their fall-back plan was a DRM-free acetate film strip.

True, but it did offer a degraded experience (no 3-D; for some reason, these new 3-D processes require digital projection). It would have been more impressive if they called James Cameron and said, "Hey Jim, DRM is preventing our audiences from beholding the spectacle as your revolutionary 3-D movie re-invents cinema for all time," and Cameron said, "Damn it, screw the DRM then! Let it roll!"

Comment Re:not surprising (Score 2, Interesting) 386

Indeed. What was "surprising" to me was that this story appeared on Slashdot now. I have a friend who manages a movie theater that recently upgraded to digital projection, and believe me, this kind of glitch happens all the time. Often the digital delivery systems work flawlessly, but when they don't, it really pisses a lot of people off -- often because it costs them a lot of money in lost ticket sales. At least once or twice, my friend has had to get in his car and drive to the nearest studio distribution center to pick up a film copy of a movie that was supposed to be projected digitally -- because the old ways, at least, still work fine.

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