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Comment Similar problems with Netflix and Hulu last night (Score 1) 126

I was trying to watch streaming content on Christmas Eve on Netflix and Hulu (via Apple TV) and was likewise getting 'unavailable' errors; with Netflix, it would happen at different points (from trying to bring up the Netflix main screen down to trying to start an individual episode of a TV series). I chalked it up to tens of thousands of new Netflix/Hulu customers all trying out their new TVs/home theaters/streaming boxes last night. ..bruce..

Comment Can anyone become a musician? An artist? (Score 2) 767

Short answer is: yes, in theory; in practice, though, actual results will vary. My observation is that the same is true with programming. Some people are natural talented, some people have good workman-like (workperson-like?) performance, some are pretty wretched no matter how much experience they may actually have, and some just can't grasp the basic concepts enough to really do anything. Note that I've taught computer science on a university level, and I've built software development teams from scratch, so this is based on direct personal observation. ..bruce..

Submission + - More warnings about high-frequency trading (HFT)

bfwebster writes: "From The Big Picture (a great finance/econ blog) comes a link to this New York Times article on some of the risks and problems of high-frequency trading on financial markets and a couple of "gadflies" who are pushing hard to get some changes and reforms in how Wall Street handles HFT. Key question: when is fast trading too fast?"

Submission + - iGoogle is going away in Nov 2013 (

bfwebster writes: "iGoogle is my browser home page, for all my browsers on all my computers. I use it many times a day to check mail, manage my calendar, track the weather forecast, and, yes, see the latest stories on Slashdot. So it is with a bit of puzzlement and not a little dismay that I see that iGoogle is vanishing late next year. Google's stated reasoning, "You have better options on your mobile devices" — but I don't use it on my mobile devices. I use it on my laptop and my three desktop systems, which is where I actually, you know, do work. iGoogle can't be terribly expensive to support, which suggests that Google has other motives (big shock) for killing it off."

Comment Strong AI, like fusion, is always 10-20 years away (Score 3, Informative) 242

I took (and thoroughly enjoyed) a graduate AI class while an undergrad CS student back in the 1970s; had I completed my subsequent master's degree, I almost certainly would have done a thesis on some subject in AI (as it was, I did take a graduate class in advanced pattern recognition). I still have a entire shelf of (largely outdated) AI textbooks from that era.

That said, it's hard to find another field within computer science that has been so consistently wrong in its predictions of when 'breakthroughs' will occur. Some of the AI pioneers back in the 1950s thought we were only 10-20 years away from meaningful AI. Here were are, 60 years later, and we're still 10-20 years away. The field has made tremendous strides, but they tend to be in relatively narrow domains or applications. Generalized, all-purpose, adaptable intelligence is hard. We may yet achieve it, so something close enough to it so as to be sufficient, but I don't think it's going to happen in 10 years.

Maybe the first true AI will run the first true large-scale fusion power plant. :-) ..bruce..

Comment This legal issue has been around for years... (Score 2) 124

...not specifically for video games, but for software in general and particularly for custom-developed software. I've seen this a lot because of work on "failed IT project" lawsuits -- the goods vs. services distinction brings different legal standards, requirements and remedies to bear. Generally speaking, commercial off the shelf (COTS) software is usually seen as "goods", but the more customization and original development involved, the stronger the "services" argument. And, of course, the whole movement towards "software as a service" and cloud deployment muddies the waters more. ..bruce..

Comment Reminds me of an SF short story from decades ago (Score 1) 85

Can't remember the name of the story, but (much like Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder", though in a humorous vein) it involved a time traveler going back to hunt T-Rexes. He shoots and kills one, then strides towards the T-Rex to take a trophy...only to be met by a multitude of large external parasites abandoning the T-Rex and looking for a new host. Doesn't end well for the hunter. Anyone remember the name of this story?

And, yeah, 21 mm may not sound like much, but think of dealing with a horde of inch-long fleas, and that may bring a different image to mind. ..bruce..

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