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Comment Electronic Subsitutions Not Suitable for Industry (Score 2) 372

As a professional researcher, it's much more reliable to use the paper version of manuals and hardware documentation.

I'm all for consolidating text and tasks to a convenient gizmo for personal use, but when it comes to work, you can't be at the mercy of a power outage, dead battery, virus, etc, when you need to reference something important. We keep paper logbooks for a reason, and I'm surprised to hear the airline industry is forsaken what works flawlessly for snappy, computer interfaces.

Comment This Isn't Going to Solve the General Problem (Score 1) 336

The general problem on passenger aircraft is orders given by flight attendants over the speaker system that begin/end with " accordance with federal regulations..." are parroted and observed with no understanding of why they are in place.

Having the FAA remove the requirement that electronic devices are off does not solve the problem that commercial flying is laden with laws bearing heavy consequences that at times have no connection to common sense, like the electronic device issue.

Philip K Howard points out that the general problem goes much deeper than the FAA, but in the context of "rules on an airplane" the public is very comfortable blindly following laws seemingly without reason. If you disagree, try asking someone on board the next time you take off why you have to have the window shades up, or the seats upright, or the tray table stowed, etc.

Comment Something I Don't Know (Score 4, Informative) 259

does evolution proceed by very small, gradual steps versus larger, quantum jumps?

As a physicist, I would like to read a book on why people outside the field consistently refer to large things as quantum. It means 'the smallest discrete amount possible,' not large, composite chunks.

Regarding the article, science would be more honest about research if we emphasized what we don't know and what we're doing to learn new things in the field. Also, I might emphasize how science has changed, so students can see that the taxonomy charts they are filling out had less useful predecessors (kind of like making your C++ class learn how to type "Hello World" in Assembly or Fortran halfway through the year).

Comment Same Idea Here (Score 1) 167

I'm really happy to read this paragraph. I had the same epiphany when I began planning for a recipe website that allowed for comments without passwords (to login avoid hassle). I also worked out a similar system to the backend of an Omegle clone, essentially pairing abusive (Ctrl+V then exit, Ctrl+V then exit) users with a Cleverbot routine until they stopped spamming, sandboxing them from the greater user base.

From this thread, I learned this system is called "Hellbanning" and some of its downsides are similar to those of honeypots, e.g. you have to store useless data, bandwidth usage goes up by those who think their spam is working, etc. I think these are fair complaints, but the jusy is still out whether these downsides outweigh the benefits of hellbanning.

Hellbanning represents an entirely new way of handling user submitted content. The current norm shows the status of every post to the user who created it. "That comment is awaiting moderation" and "This has been flagged." Essentially, by giving status reports and feedback to abusers, you are grading them on their work and giving them constructive criticism. By obscuring the extent to which their content is shared, they don't know if their efforts are in vain, and they can't improve on their failing techniques if they don't know what is working what isn't.

I would enjoy hearing about anyone else's knowledge about obscurring user content in real world applications, or any theoretical concerns or loopholes someone just hearing about it can come up with.

Comment Re:Absolute Zero (Score 1) 102

To be fair, I don't think your arbitrary distinction is any better than theirs. It sound ridiculous, but in my work I consider anything warmer than 0.4 K "warm" because of how much technology and engineering you need to to best it (working on a dilution refrigerator). I'm sure there is someone working with nuclear demagnetization who balks at my standard, too.

Accepting that, I think it's perfectly fine for the public to refer to 10 K as "nearly absolute 0" because on the typical public-used temperature scale (e.g., for weather), 10 K is unfathomable.

Comment I would chime in on the whole Amarok thing but... (Score 1) 100

I used Amarok 1.*, loved it. It switched to 2.*, and I had the reaction posted all over this thread. I would be more specific, but I saw someone mention "Clementine," which I've never heard of before. A quick "sudo apt-get install clementine" and "Click here to find your music library" later I'm using the first music player I've actually enjoyed using since I was a college student in 2008! Thanks ./ and Clementine!

Comment Re:If you don't remember BASIC (Score 1) 247

This man gave the best advice I've read so far on the page. Starting with a goal in mind will make learning the steps manageable and put them in context. Learning about polymorphism and inheritance so "Dodge" can inherit "car" doesn't make the syntax stick.

Also, I've found it to be much more rewarding to pick a project and work on it until completion. Some suggestions: write a script that polls your local Craigslist once a day for specific furniture and stores it in a database/emails hits to you, make a web application that defines a room (rectangular) and furniture that fits inside (rectangles or ellipses) and lets you drag them around, virtually rearranging, etc.

That's what I love about programming: your creativity is the limit!

Comment Are the stats improving or the metric getting wors (Score 2) 78

I've noticed a lot of my recent flights arrive earlier than the airline predicts, even when we depart right on time. I've even had pilots tell me we are going to be early before we take off when we're slightly behind schedule. I guess I would like to see a graph of estimated flight times vs. time, and how often they are 'late' side by side, to see if the airlines are just erroneously padding predicted flight durations to get more people to their destinations 'on time.' These numbers just might mean JetBlue is the most honest airline.

Submission + - How to Manage make Programs in Linux 1

Arabian Nights writes: I've been using Linux since I was 16 (about a decade), and one thing I caught on to very quick was how package managers like Synaptic could undo installations of programs I installed. Now I am working at on a shared cluster where I need to use niche research programs/libraries that are only available through source code. The big turn off of ./configure, make, make install is if I don't like what I did and want to reinstall a different version, there's no obvious way to get my system back to it's original state. What do Slashdotters do to manage their programs built from source?

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You should never bet against anything in science at odds of more than about 10^12 to 1. -- Ernest Rutherford