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Comment Causation doesn't mean correlation! (Score 1) 223

I've tried to recently start throwing out "Causation doesn't always mean correlation" whenever I can find situations that it makes sense.

E.g. a recent Wired article talked about statistical analysis "proving" that the idea of a football team gaining "momentum" after an interception is a myth.

I think it's a fair assumption that sometimes a team gets momentum from an interception... but other times the team who lost the ball gets fired up in response. And lots of other times there is no clear advantage one way or the other. But the overall statistics being a wash doesn't mean there aren't specific affects going on at a finer scale that have been missed by big picture statistics.

Submission + - Musical About Hacking At MIT (

Flaggday writes: Hack, Punt, Tool is a musical about life and “hacking” at MIT. In MIT slang, hacking includes both the exploration of unusual spaces and the creation of interesting technological pranks.

Hack, Punt, Tool was written and is being produced by the MIT Musical Theatre Guild, a group consisting of MIT students, alums, and community members. MTG’s last original productions were two popular versions of Star Wars: Musical Edition in 2003 and 2005.

Comment Re:Force? (Score 1) 206

Pascals, not Newtons, of course.

The "slug" is a unit of mass, but I don't know of anywhere that it's used.

I each of the examples ("tons of displacement, "tons of explosive energy"), the unit of force (pounds or tons) is being used as a stand in for mass with the implicit assumption that we're talking about the mass that relates to a given force in earth gravity.

Comment Re:Force? (Score 1) 206

A ton is 2000 pounds.

Pound is a unit of force. Weight is a force. It translates exactly to a unit of mass as long as gravity stays the same (i.e. we're on Earth).

The metric system uses grams as a unit of mass, and pascals as a unit of force. If I go from Earth to Mars, my weight changes, but my mass stays the same.

When talking about tons of displacement for ships, that's saying that the ship displaces X tons of water (muddling weight vs. mass in there too).

When talking about explosives, tons is referring to the amount of energy equivalent to an explosion of X tons of TNT (again muddling weight vs. mass).

Comment Plans come in chunk much greater than 15 seconds (Score 4, Insightful) 383

Maybe my perception is wrong, but aren't the majority of U.S. cell phone users on a plan that they're paying for in terms of 100s of minutes at least? 15 seconds is annoying, and I agree with his preference for these things going away, but who doesn't just have a monthly plan that dwarfs their actual usage to start with? Pogue's back-of-the-envelope calculations seems to completely ignore this.

Comment Re:The next number to fight over: Dynamic Range (Score 1) 596

Absolutely right! *Not* just bit-depth, not just low light performance, but actual dynamic range. Video, photography, microscopy... all these recording media have dynamic range that is *tiny* compared to what humans perceive naturally. In part because electronic display media have dynamic range that's equally limited. The same is true in audio recording. In all these cases, human ears and eyes are cheating- my eyes mostly adjust fast enough when I move them that I don't realize that I can't see dim things inside and the bright things outside my window at the same time. It only becomes noticeable when I turn on a light in the night or step outdoors away from a building at night that it takes time for my eyes to adjust, but they're doing the same thing constantly. But this is no excuse- technology should be working to match what we actually perceive, and this doesn't seem to even be on the radar. Perhaps this is a case where there's no obvious easy avenue for improvement, so researchers and manufacturers just ignore it.

Comment Re:Compression (Score 5, Informative) 596

e.g. when I went from a 4 mega pixel camera to an 8 mega pixel camera my file sizes became 4 times larger.

This is normal. When you double the resolution, you double it in 2 dimensions. (Height and Width) This results in a four-fold increase in data size.

But 4 megapixels to 8 megapixels isn't doubling the image size, it's doubling the number of pixels. So it is reasonable to expect the file size to double, not quadruple.

Comment Re:of course (Score 1) 884

In America maybe, but not in Europe.

Fair point, especially considering TFA's topic. All my observations come with the "in the US" caveat.

In Spain the only person I know who had an iPhone was a coworker, who complained it was a fancy looking piece of junk.

Are iPods common but not iPhones? Or are iPods a rarity also?

Comment Re:of course (Score 1) 884

Where have you seen an iPod dock connector on a device that doesn't plug into an Apple product?

Never. I'm just saying that iPods are *everywhere*, whether they're perfect or not.

My Nokia phone unfortunately does have its own weird charging connector, but standarization should take care of that in a few years.

Standardization on mini-B? Or micro-B? Or the thing that's on most LG's right now? Or the thing that's on most Motorola's right now? I'm just saying that, if I wanted to bet on availability of a given cable in any random place, I'd bet on being able to find the thing that plugs into the ubiquitous iPod.

Comment Re:of course (Score 1) 884

But you don't jam your phone directly into the PC, laptop, TV, or DVD player, do you? You use a cable to connect the two, and both ends matter- saying there are more full size USB A things to plug into doesn't say anything about what's on the other end of that cable, and the debate is about whether that other end is a USB mini-B, a micro-B, a dock connector, or anything else.

Comment Re:of course (Score 1) 884

I have no clue by what you mean "check backpacks" either. My backpack has a USB mini-B cable in it and a short length of Cat5e.

I think a survey of backpacks, shoulder bags, etc., in just about any demographic in the United States is likely to turn up more dock connectors than mini-B. Doesn't mean that's the best choice, just that saying the iPhone uses a non-standard connector is misleading.

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