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Comment Re:Obligatory Dijkstra (Score 2) 467

I giggled like a schoolchild when I've read the next paragraph from that lecture:

And now we have the multimedia/communication hype: the best bits are those that just arrived from far away, and if you are not "on line", "on the Net", you just don't count, you are not of this world (which is virtual anyhow...). Apart from a change in vocabulary, it is the same hype, the same snake oil over and over again, and you can do me a favour by not getting excited by all the time you are supposed to save by switching to "home banking".

Sometimes very smart people can be mostly insightful, but very spectacularly wrong on some points.

Comment Re:No, you gave it away (Score 1) 222

I would love to subscribe to Google, if they would promise not to track me or mandate UI constraints for me in return.

Google makes a fairly low amount of revenue per user, almost everyone on the internet would have no trouble paying it, if the micropayment and subscriber infrastructure were in place for that to happen.

Comment We need to stop being the product (Score 1) 222

It's not only a problem from the privacy standpoint, but also in terms of what kind of behaviour it encourages, from online services to journalism.

The paywalled model is utterly ridiculous for the internet and the ad/privacy supported model is utterly destructive. What we need is a honors system like paying for deadtree newspapers (except with user selectable amounts). It does not eliminate ads, but generates enough revenue to act as a counterweight, that makes it easier for the business owner to care about the readers / users of it's product.

The honors system needs to consist of fine grained enough micropayments so that different aspects of a service / product can be rewarded, I want to click a button on the page of a Guardian / Economist article if I thought it was any good, to create an incentive to write further good articles.

There are some micropayment providers that accomplish something similar already, but not nearly in a wide enough scope yet. One that I'm using (and won't name apart from this link) allows micropayments to almost any url, github projects, twitter users, individual tweets and other stuff, that is a good first step. It is still in infancy, but I'm using it because I want to vote with my wallet.

"If you're not paying for something, you're the product" is the mantra, but the often forgotten corollary to this statement is that whoever pays has the influence. I want to actively push the worldview of an open, honors system based internet so that we can have good content and freedom at the same time.

Comment The real problem (Score 2) 130

The real problem is that common applications request almost all of the permissions from the phone when the user installs them, to provide full functionality (importing contacts, etc.). The user's choice is between not installing the app and giving it those permissions.

What should be happening instead is: make the permissions user selectable, to be able to install the facebook app, but to prevent it from accessing anything I don't want. The app store / market rules should mandate that applications cope with the degradation of priviledges gracefully. The OS/app should display a popup when the user tries to do something that requires priviledges the app doesn't have, along the lines of "do you want to grant permission x to this application? [just this once] / [yes] / [no] / [don't ask again]"

Comment Re:Another politician with half a brain? (Score 1) 253

Not true. Appointment to the EP uses a system of degressive proportionality, under which seats are roughly proportional to the number of voters, but less so the smaller the country is. However, even in the extreme case of Luxembourg, the weight of the voter compared to the european average is 10.86x (last election), not over a thousand votes as you state. This is due to the fact that there is a minimum of 6 seats per country, probably a good idea to fairly represent the political differences in parties of a specific country.

Comment Re:Galaxy S i9000 Got Two Full OS updates (Score 1) 333

Where did I hear that before?

Roslin: It tells people things like where the restroom is, and-

Adama: It's an integrated computer network, and I will not have it aboard this ship.

Roslin: I heard you're one of those people. You're actually afraid of computers.

Adama: No, there are many computers on this ship. But they're not networked.

Roslin: A computerized network would simply make it faster and easier for the teachers to be able to teach-

Adama: Let me explain something to you. Many good men and women lost their lives aboard this ship because someone wanted a faster computer to make life easier. I'm sorry that I'm inconveniencing you or the teachers, but I will not allow a networked computerized system to be placed on this ship while I'm in command. Is that clear?

Comment Re:indolent (Score 2) 253

But what's the alternative? Just wait until someone's sick enough to warrant a cancer screening?

Absolutely! If the statistics show that we're better off without early screening in terms of health outcomes, by all means! We should be doing something else with our time and money than to spend them on ineffective screening.

Comment Re:Seen this article everywhere now. (Score 4, Informative) 253

No, this is not the case. The problem is that we're still far away from evidence based medicine.

When evaluating what works and what doesn't, you have to tread very carefully. Sure, most people^Wgeeks know about double blind studies, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The second edition of Testing Treatments came out recently (available as a free pdf on the website, although I bought it to support the authors) that explains the problems in an understandable language while not dumbing down the issues. The book comes with the recommendation of well known epidemiologists like Ben Goldacre, of Bad Science.net fame.

To talk about the specifics of screening, check out Chapter 4. To recap the main points there, for screening to be worthwhile you have to look at several factors:
  • The condition to be screened for has to be important - either because of it's deadliness and/or because it affects a lot of people
  • There has to be a detectable early stage of the condition which to screen against
  • There exists an effective and acceptable treatment for the condition
  • There is a reliable screening test to detect the condition with

The problem with lots of screening is that on the level of the population it can lead to more harm than good overall for a lot of different diseases, because of false positives, because of our psychological makeup that we'd prefer surgery for even harmless varieties of lumps in our bodies, etc. (see detailed examples in the book). In a lot of cases it happened that screening was introduced before the effectiveness of screening was established in a trial, then later trials showed that the screening was ineffective in reducing deaths or harm.

The bottom line is that well designed trials should be conducted and based on the systemic review of those trials it should be decided whether to conduct screening or not, based on whether it's improving health outcomes or not. A lot of trials don't improve outcomes.

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