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Comment Re:correlation (Score 2) 1121

Large samples? 1 non-branded and 9 branded articles went missing. That's not a huge number of cases to examine.

Actually, it's plenty. The number of lost parcels should be, roughly speaking, a Poisson distributed statistic. If we assume a fixed rate of parcel loss, the number of parcels lost from any given batch of shipments should come in at that rate, plus or minus some noise. For this type of statistical distribution, the standard deviation from batch to batch is approximately the square root of the expectation value.

For 178 parcels (89 under each condition) the observed losses were 1 parcel (1.1%) for non-atheist packages, and 9 parcels (10%) for atheist packages. If we suppose that the actual loss rate is between those two extremes, we get a loss rate of about 5.5%, and an expected loss of 5 parcels per batch of 89 parcels.

The standard deviation for that batch size is the square root of 5, or about 2.2; the two observations that we have are both about two standard deviations away from the expectation value. The likelihood of pulling a random value this far from the expectation value by chance is about 5%; the likelihood of it happening twice is 5% squared: about 0.03%.

Feel free to twiddle with different expectation values and expected loss rates; you'll find the odds are strongly against these values coming up by chance.

The "3 days longer" statistic seems to be massively skewed by a single non-representative parcel that took 37 days later than its counterpart.

Roughly 80 parcels and roughly 40 days' delay means that the mean was increased by about half a day. Discarding that one outlying datum, the atheist packages still would have averaged 2.5 days longer for delivery. Among the ones that were delivered at all....

Comment Score another point for Betteridge (Score 1) 156

Betteridge's law of headlines.


So, 11% of ideas were so bad (either inherently, or the execution of their campaigns) that they didn't get a single pledge. You mean Kickstarter isn't just a faucet for the infinite pile of money stored in the magic cloud?

Taking the briefest of looks at the article, I see roughly 38,000 projects funded so far, and a shade under 50,000 not (or not yet) funded. That's a success rate of better than forty percent. (If you drop all of the egregiously dumb ideas, joke build-the-Death-Star campaigns, and other totally unfundable crap, that means that something like half of all the projects having any merit whatsoever are managing to get all of the money that they were looking for.) I had no idea that Kickstarter actually worked so well. Is this 'article' actually some sort of guerilla marketing move?

Comment Re:Obligatory car analogy (Score 3, Insightful) 284

It demonstrates that car industry has failed.

I would say that the car industry had failed if listening to the wrong radio station - tuning 92.3 instead of 92.5, say - allowed a malicious broadcaster to arbitrarily incinerate the contents of my trunk or assume remote control of my vehicle.

Comment Re:Obligatory car analogy (Score 5, Insightful) 284

You really, really, really don't know who Bruce Schneier is, do you?

Moreover, you really couldn't even be bothered to do a simple Google search before you shot your mouth off, could you?

In a way, you're actually making Schneier's point. Posting a snarky Slashdot comment is easy and instantly gratifying; doing the least bit of research is a little bit harder and doesn't pay off immediately -- so you can see which happens more often.

Comment Re:They are not evading any laws (Score 2) 582

They are simply doing what the law allows them to do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

As an aside, I'll note that something doesn't have to be illegal for it to be ethically questionable. "Not forbidden by law" and "not wrong" are categories that generally have some mutual overlap, but should not be conflated. From a technical standpoint, I believe sociologists and psychologists refer to individuals who define their personal morality solely by what is or is not illegal as "assholes".

Comment Re:Obvious - best seller before it is printed - du (Score 1) 110

It is pretty obvious that a printer cannot know that a book will be on a best seller list before it is printed and there is no way to print covers retroactively.

[citation needed], please. I assume that you can actually show some real examples of first-edition hardcovers with preprinted "bestseller" covers, right?

A common formulation I see on covers is "By the bestselling author..." or "By the bestselling author of Foo...", both of which can be true before the book is printed.

Another option is to print a "bestseller" dust jacket for the second print run. (In principle, the dust jackets on the original first editions could even be replaced with the "bestseller" jackets, but I doubt that anyone goes to the trouble.)

Another variation is to affix a "bestseller" sticker to the cover of the first edition, after the book makes the bestseller list.

Yet another possibility is that the hardcover made its bestseller list, allowing the first print run of the trade paperback or mass-market paperback editions to bear the "bestseller" tag.

Comment Re:Letterbox drop: 'how to secure your wireless' (Score 1) 884

Consider writing up a simple letter (starting with: Just a note from a neighbor), detail that someone in the area has been breaking into wireless networks and may be pirating stuff/doing illegal things which could lead to difficulties for the actual owner of the OP. Then, provide a basic summary of what to do to avoid it (e.g. disable WPS, etc etc) and maybe even provide URLs for the major router manufacturers.

This is a cute idea, but I suspect it would be doomed to failure unless one is living in, say, a dorm at MIT or Caltech. Such a letter is going to at best confuse, and at worst scare the hell out of, any of your older, less technology-savvy, or limited-English-speaking neighbors.

And honestly, one wonders how many poorly-secured access points there really are in the neighborhood, if the criminal is willing to go to so much effort to steal wifi from the Slashdot poster posing this question.

Comment Ship-of-Theseus/Repairing-a-Fiat solution (Score 5, Interesting) 464

The obvious answer is the Ship of Theseus solution.

In Adam Turner's article (on which the blog post linked in the Slashdot summary is based) Microsoft declares that " If the customer has a system crash, they are allowed to reinstall Office on that same computer..." but with the caveat, "No, the customer cannot transfer the license from one PC to another PC." Sounds like I'm allowed to upgrade my computer, and I'm allowed to replace broken parts...I just can't "transfer" the license between PCs.

Who knows the way to fix an old Fiat?

Step 1: Raise hood.
Step 2: Turn the radiator cap counterclockwise until fully loosed.
Step 3: Lift radiator cap straight up, at least six inches.
Step 4: Remove old Fiat from under radiator cap. Replace with new Fiat.
Step 5: Screw radiator cap back in place.
Step 6: Close hood.

Clearly, the solution in this situation is similar. Disconnect your mouse. Replace the computer underneath. Plug in a new computer. The license, obviously, transferred with the Theseus-mouse.

Comment Credit where it is due (Score 5, Informative) 464

It looks like the real legwork for this story was done by Adam Turner, from The Age. See "Does your copy of Office 2013 die with your computer?", from 11 Feb 2013.

The story linked from the Slashdot article mostly just summarizes Turner's already-concise (but still more-detailed) article, and wraps it in a different set of ads.

Comment Re:Almost right..... (Score 1) 172

To let someone completely modify it and not even attribute it back to them is near professional suicide

Almost almost right... In the article at the top of this discussion, the least restrictive (that is, the most permissive) license choice given was CC-BY. It - and indeed, all three licenses listed - require that attribution be preserved as a condition of reuse. That said, I'm on board with most of the rest of your comment. If we look at how most scientists expect and hope their published papers to be used, then even the no-derivative-works, non-commercial-only CC-BY-NC-ND license works just fine.

The need for appropriate attribution of others' work and ideas is already very deeply rooted in the sciences. In writing a paper for publication, one very seldom needs or wants to directly copy more than a few words from another author's work. Such limited, clearly-attributed, de minimus copying is already considered permissible, desirable fair use even when drawn from entirely non-free works.

Further, copyright doesn't cover ideas, but only their specific form of expresssion, so paraphrasing of descriptive material in non-free works is generally non-infringing of copyright--but still requires proper attribution for the purposes of academic publishing. Similarly, copyright doesn't protect simple facts (the mass of the proton was measured as such-and-such) but again academic publishers will expect such claims to be properly attributed.

A professor giving a lecture, or a scientist giving a talk at a conference, may lift figures wholesale from other authors' non-free work, as long as appropriate attribution is given; this sort of 'remixing' into a derivative work is taken to be fair use in an educational setting. (About the only place this bumps up against copyright issues is where this sort of material gets bundled into courseware packs that are sold by a university or other publisher.)

The writer of a review article may occasionally seek permission from another author to reprint a figure, but generally such material is included by reference to the original work, rather than by direct copying. Partly this is for the prosaic and increasingly-less-relevant purpose of limiting the length of printed papers, and partly this is for the entirely noble and worthy purpose of encouraging a reader to review a figure in its full context.

In truth, the expectations of the academic and scientific publishing communities regarding proper attribution and avoiding plagiarism already impose more stringent (but still generally reasonable) restrictions on most reuse of published papers than any license. For the purposes of disseminating and reusing scientific knowledge, it is far more constructive for papers to be gratis than libre.

Comment Re:walled gardens don't work (Score 1) 217

When they spend all that money on a TV, they expect it to do cool stuff, out of the box. If you tell them they need to buy something else, they're going to think you're trying to screw them over.

That's right. That's why televisions with integrated cable boxes, VHS, DVD, and CD players have always been such big sellers. Wait...

Comment Re:What's the point? (Score 5, Insightful) 909

After all, Imperial (in the US flavor) is better for computing than metric since it's at least partially base 2.

Which would, potentially, be helpful and useful if the humans who program, enter data into, and use information from, those computers were also in the habit of working in base 2.

And I'm sorry, as long as there are 5280 feet in a mile - that's 2^5 * 3 * 5 * 11(!?) - I'm going to call bullshit on the computing usefulness of a "partially" base 2 system.

Comment Re:Ask him (Score 1) 219

The simple solution here is to have the senior manager in the room WHILE he's interviewing the candidate if that was the case.

I don't see why you've jumped to the conclusion that a senior manager won't be in the room for some or even all of the process, or why you continue to suspect that senior management wouldn't make or be involved in the hiring decision. I get the impression that you haven't been involved in a lot of hiring or interviewing at this level.

That said, there are a lot of reasons why a senior manager wouldn't necessarily want or need to sit in on the entire interview. Depending on the size of the company and the responsibilities of the people involved, a senior manager might not have time to sit through an extended, specialized discussion. Some companies have an interview process that extends over several hours, and may even be spread over multiple rounds on separate days. Management may also want to get a sense of how the candidate performs in one-on-one situations, instead of when faced with an interrogation by the senior manager, the senior manager's assistant, the HR rep, and the technical subordinate all at once. For that matter, the senior manager may not want to make the subordinate nervous.

Comment Re:Ask him (Score 1) 219

Let's think about this, if you're good enough to hire your own boss, you're good enough to be that guy, well betas excluded.

Let's think about this. The original question didn't say anything about hiring, just about interviewing.

I strongly suspect that the final hiring decision will come from a senior manager higher up the chain, based ultimately on that senior manager's own judgement. That decision will, however, be informed - in part - by the input he receives from the underlings who participated in the interview process.

And that's a Good Thing, for everyone involved. Senior management needs to know if prospective management candidates will be able to interact effectively with their technical and non-technical subordinates. One of the ways to assess this is to put them in a room together.

It's also possible that senior management recognizes their own limitations, and want to have someone who is able to assess or test the candidate's claims about his own technical abilities. It's not unusual for a company, when hiring, to carry out several rounds of interviews testing (explicitly or not) different aspects of the candidate's skills and knowledge, and introducing them to different parts of the company's structure and personnel, with each.

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