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Comment selective content presentation (Score 1) 84

Weird. Yesterday there was a story about Google pulling ads for payday loan operations and today, this. The comments about the Google story ended up being mostly about the relative merits of the payday loan industry with a few about how this was Google suppressing its competition, although I don't know of any Google or Alphabet (I guess?) forays into consumer finance. The arguments that this is Microsoft protecting its business interests are more compelling here, because MS sells software and support services.

I wonder if this isn't all part of a larger game. Facebook is facing heat for using editorial discretion to alter what content it showed to its users. Suddenly Google and Microsoft announce initiatives to do (in some ways) the same thing. Effectively, the company is showing you stuff that you might reasonably believe to be selected by an agenda-free algorithm, but in fact the companies are modifying the results to align with some (not necessarily public) agenda. Are these new ad-suppression campaigns actually maneuvering to support the right of content/information providers to select the information that they show their users?

Comment Re:Anonymous Coward is legion, there (Score 1) 515

I think of myself as a real person, and I don't think I'm an idiot. I'd been running Windows 7 (fully legit copy), and every time it offered to upgrade itself to 10, I either closed the window or took the option that approximated "no." Now, maybe I am an idiot because I didn't go looking for any settings to prevent the upgrade. I planned to upgrade eventually, and clicking "no" every now and then until I was ready isn't that big of a problem for me.

The other night I was playing a fullscreen game in Windows 7, and the screen briefly flickered like some window was trying to get my attention, but the fullscreen game immediately resumed control of the screen and I didn't see what the window was. I figured I'd check it out when I was done playing. Maybe 10 minutes later, my computer reboots (with no confirmation, countdown, or warning) and starts installing Windows 10.

I was pretty irritated. I eventually had to agree to the EULA, and I guess I could have backed out at that point, but accepting Windows 10 seemed better than potentially having to reinstall Windows 7.

Comment Re:Where's the false advertising (Score 3, Interesting) 70

from TFA:

The order also imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission.

To me that suggests that, 24 Mil in revenue in 2012 notwithstanding, $2 million is already enough to ruin the company.

Comment Re:Politics aside for a moment. (Score 2) 538


and so, if you go by silicon valley populations, the stereotypical 'white guy' almost does not exist anymore. walk the bay area streets and you find mostly asians, and they don't have the same feeling about what made america great compared to someone who was born and raised here.


One of the main assumptions underlying this whole post is distilled in these couple of sentences. I submit it isn't possible to know the feelings of someone from just looking at them. Moreover, the silicon valley and surrounding areas have been racially and culturally diverse for many generations, so neither can you tell from looking at someone where they were born and raised.

Blaming the complacency of the voting public on immigrants is pretty silly, in my opinion. I'd say your 'average' person (white guy or otherwise) is disengaged from politics. When I look at how politics go in the US, I'm certainly discouraged from being engaged by the undue influence of money, our goofball first-past-the-post elections, and blatant gerrymandering. I don't think we can blame any of those things on immigrants from Asia.

Comment Re:America is a RINO (Score 1) 588

To answer your question about how to gerrymander large cities out into other parts of the state, just look at the congressional districts for blue cities in red states (and presumably red cities in blue states, if those exist). You can see a nice zoomable map here:
Congressional district map

For examples, see Austin, TX and Durhan, NC.

The basic plan is to take a tiny slice of the city and extend that out into a huge swath of lightly-populated land.

Comment Re:Income inequality is bad because ... (Score 1) 839

I have yet to see someone actually explain why income inequality by itself is a bad thing.

I'm not talking about situations where there is corruption, like certain African-region dictators with gold plated limos while their people die on the streets from starvation, or more common, politicians being bought off by companies and individuals.


Someone explain this harm to me, because from where I'm standing in a first world country, it seems to be just so much complaining over sour grapes.

The answer to your question lies in your second sentence. When income inequality becomes so great that the rich are easily able to use their money to do evil things to the non-rich, then income inequality has become a bad thing. So no, inequality isn't bad in itself, but in a context in which unequal wealth permits the rich to do things they really wouldn't be able to get away with were they not rich, then something is wrong. I guess I'm assuming we agree that rich people doing evil things to poor people is a bad thing. Reasonable people might disagree about what exactly is evil and who exactly is rich, but it seems pretty safe to speak in generalities here.

In your thought experiment with Bill's future, the problem is if the rich control all of the robots and only use them to take care of rich peoples' needs. I think that would be very bad for the paupers, and bad for society overall. If the rich guy has 100 robots and the pauper has 10 (and 10 is enough to take care of actual needs), then there isn't really a problem, or if the rich use their army of robots to take care of the poor, then we're probably okay.

Anyway, that's my opinion. I think there are a lot of opinions on this topic that have merit. I'd recommend against assuming that the only people who care about inequality are whiners and communists.

Comment watches are pretty great (Score 2) 471

I have a pebble, and I don't really use any apps on it at all. But I love it. I pretty much never miss a call or text because my watch vibrates when that happens. Before the pebble, I would rarely notice if my phone was vibrating. Also, I find that glancing at my watch is less obtrusive than pulling out my phone, whether I'm checking who a text/call is from or just checking the time.

Comment Re:It's more than just global warming gas (Score 1) 572

There's a very good, highly readable article about ocean acidification from 2007 in Science. If you have access to a subscription, you can see the article here.

If you don't have access to a subscription, you can find lots of research about ocean acidification in the freely-accessible pubmed central database. this article looks like it gives a good overview of ocean acidification.

The short answer is that the pH of the ocean has changed measurably since the industrial revolution, and the current pH is far outside the values that have been historically observed. Even based on conservative estimates of future CO2 emissions, it looks like hydrogen ion concentrations in the ocean (remember pH is a log scale) will more than double by 2100. Ocean acidification has a number of impacts on the marine environment, but most notably it increases dissolution of the CaCO3 deposits that make up coral reefs and decreases the rate at which new shells and reefs can be formed.

Comment Document cameras (Score 1) 258

Build some document cameras for your teachers. Get some goosenecks with sturdy bases and mount the cameras on them pointing down. Put together software that can mirror the image (some scripts + vlc will work). If any of your teachers regularly use a computer to project e.g. documents or slide shows, this can supplement what they are already doing. It's easier and tidier than a transparency, but more intuitive, familiar, and interactive than a slide show. It brings the added bonus of producing a paper archive of what was projected.

You can get some more information here: bootleg elmo

I realize this suggestion is maybe not in line with the idea of using a bunch of cameras for one project, but if your teachers don't already have something like this, they will love you for it.

Comment Re:oven (Score 1) 1016

... How's this for an idea... Take it to your nearest hospital. Sneak into the room where they keep the MRI, and leave the hard drives in the bottom. Wait for them to turn on the MRI and BAM!!! ...

You were obviously making a funny, but here's some serious information: The static magnetic field in an MRI is always on. Turning off the static magnetic field is a potentially dangerous and always a time-consuming and expensive proposition. You'd get to a few feet from the magnet bore and all the drives would be yanked to the center of the magnet. That would be bad for you if you had them in, for example, a backpack.

Check out some of the photos and the video at Flying Objects

Comment Re:err, 'reported feeling' (Score 2) 82

Looking over the abstracts of some of Dr. Whitbourne's recently published works, it looks like Dr. Whitbourne's group is developing the hypothesis that how a person feels about aging has an impact on their psychological well-being. This might seem obvious, but put in plain language, do old people get depressed because aging causes depression, or do old people get depressed because they have a negative attitude about aging? It's actually not an obvious question. With that in mind, knowing how older adults feel about their cognitive abilities after playing games is of value.

TFA mentions the study is ongoing. A different article about the study indicates the researchers will also have participants take objective tests of cognitive abilities, so the research isn't only looking at subjective self-report.

Comment Requires surgery (Score 1) 92

Nature news itself covers this story a little better here.

You might be interested to know that the volunteers for this study were patients with severe epilepsy, and the neural recordings were from electrodes actually inserted into the patients' brains. Similar work has been done recording from the brains of e.g., monkeys in order to control a robotic arm (rather than control a video display). This involves invasive surgery that wouldn't be done unless there was also a medical necessity for it.

Comment Re:Honda Fit (Score 1) 1141

When I last checked (which was 2008), fit and fit sport have identical engines.

There are trivial differences in the body shape which I suppose could change aerodynamics. The wheels are different. I don't think the upgraded sound system is going to make a difference. I think both can be either manual or automatic, which will make a difference.

Of course, how you drive has a huge impact on mileage. Also, of course, different cars with similar names will get different gas mileage.

In my Honda Fit Sport, I am lucky to get 30 mpg driving around Los Angeles, but when I'm elsewhere I can usually surpass 35.

Comment Re:Ah, better to crack'em down. (Score 1) 394

This 'Cyber-warrior gap' discussion echoes a similar discussion about the 'Science gap'. One perspective is that not enough smart people are going for a particular career. Another perspective is that actually the smart people consider that career, and decide pursuing that career is for chumps.

If you want to attract smart people, you need to make the career look good. In the science gap, the career is unappealing because the effort/reward ratio is unfavorable (get a Ph.D., do some post-docs, then hope a search committee picks you out of the hundreds or thousands of other applicants for one of the three jobs opening up this year in which you might eventually be offered a permanent job). It sounds like for "cyberwarriors" the situation is similar: spend your time doing stuff that might get you arrested or that nobody cares about and then hope the government suddenly decides to actually start hiring.

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