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Comment Re:I am very skeptical. (Score 1) 44

Unless, of course, the report assumes that anything running Lollipop or older is not recently patched, which seems like a reasonable assumption.

According to Google, 65.9% of users are on Lollipop or older. That means 29% of up-to-date Androids would have to come from 34.1% of users, or that 85% of Marshmallow and Nougat users are fully patched. I'm skeptical.

Also, nearly half of Android users are using an OS at least 2.5 years old. :-/ Compare with 79% of iOS users on a 6 month old OS, and 95% of iOS users on an OS less than 1.5 years old.

Comment Re:I am very skeptical. (Score 2) 44

I highly doubt that 29% of Androids are up to date.

Keep in mind that the security patch level field was added in Android Marshmallow (IIRC), and I expect that's what they're using to determine patch date. If so, KitKat and Lollipop devices aren't counted, and this really says that 29% of Android devices that are new enough to have Marshmallow or Nougat are up to date. That's not surprising, though it's obviously still far too low.

Unless, of course, the report assumes that anything running Lollipop or older is not recently patched, which seems like a reasonable assumption.

Comment Re:Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proo (Score 1) 244

Seems that the fix for that would be to ban intent as a criteria to set damages. I.e make all infringements attract the same penalty which should fall between the two extremes.

No, that wouldn't be good. Normal damages for unintentional infringement shouldn't be much higher than licensing fees, otherwise you impose an additional cost on innovation -- requiring people to scour the database searching for any patent that might possibly apply. Equally, it's important that intentional infringement receive higher damages, else there's no reason ever to bother with licensing.

What we really need is fewer, better patents, written in a more useable way. What gums up the works is all of the patents on obvious inventions that are highly likely to be independently reinvented by anyone competent who looks at the a given problem.


The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death (newyorker.com) 360

Writing for The New Yorker, Jia Tolentino documents stories of several people -- a nine-month pregnant Lyft driver, for instance -- who contribute to companies that work on the model of gig economy. Through these tales, Tolentino underscores an increasingly growing pattern in the Silicon Valley (and elsewhere) where companies offer hard-labor contracts to people, pay them peanuts (with little liabilities), and yet find a reason to celebrate their business and encourage more to come onboard. From the article: Fiverr, which had raised a hundred and ten million dollars in venture capital by November, 2015, has more about the "In Doers We Trust" campaign on its Web site. In one video, a peppy female voice-over urges "doers" to "always be available," to think about beating "the trust-fund kids," and to pitch themselves to everyone they see, including their dentist. A Fiverr press release about "In Doers We Trust" states, "The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today's emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding." This is the jargon through which the essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an aesthetic. No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of sleep deprivation -- or answer a call from a client while having sex, as recommended in the video. It's a stretch to feel cheerful at all about the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book cover for five dollars. I'd guess that plenty of the people who advertise services on Fiverr would accept some "whiteboarding" in exchange for employer-sponsored health insurance. At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy's rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 249

This gets down to something that used to be a common UI design principle before software became so feature-ful it became impractical: manifest interface.

The idea of a manifest interface (which also is a principle in language and API design) is that if the software has a capability you should be able to see it. You shouldn't have to root around to stumble upon it. Tabs follow this principle; there's enough visual and behavioral cues to suggest that you need to click on a tab. The little "x" in the tab also follows this principle.

But context menus you access by right-clicking break this rule, which means that there may be millions of people laboriously clicking on "x" after "x", unaware that they can make all the extraneous tabs in their browser disappear with just two clicks.

This, by the way, is why Macintoshes were designed with one button on the mouse. But even Mac UI designers couldn't get by with just single and double-click, so you have option-click too, bit by in large you could operate most programs without it.

Anyhow, to make sure people know about this kind of feature, your program is going to have to watch their behavior and suggest they try right clicking. But that way lies Clippy...

Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 1) 249

Assuming that those options aren't problems from the code maintenance or security points of view

All options are problems from a code maintenance and testing point of view. Every feature has an ongoing cost. If the cost exceeds the benefit, which is almost certainly the case if the feature is very little-used and there are other more often-used and roughly equally-convenient/effective ways to accomplish the same thing, then the feature should be removed.

That said, I use close-to-right all the time and hope it doesn't get axed. OTOH, another poster pointed out that it's also possible to multi-select then use Ctrl-W to close the selected tabs, which is almost as convenient when close-to-right is what I want, and also handles other cases where I want to batch close but close-to-right isn't what I want, so I won't be too annoyed if close-to-right is removed.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 249

I'm sure the real reasoning behind this is to pad their usage stats. Chrome users spend 25% more time on your website and spend $fake_dollars more!

Padding usage stats in this way would be a bad idea for Google, because it would appear to sites that Chrome users spend more time on their sites... but spend less per unit of time (because no one buys from an idle background tab), making the Chrome user base appear to be less desirable than the user base of other browsers.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 249

It's fucking stupid. It's rarely needed function that is rarely used. IT'S STILL NEEDED.

I use "close tabs to right" all the time[1], myself, so I hope this doesn't go away. That said, I disagree with your idea that if something is rarely used it should be kept. Your other example (clearing cookies) is a bad one because there is no other way to do that, but in this case tabs can be -- and generally are -- closed one at a time, and in fact Chrome is careful to move the tabs around so that the close button for the next tab is under your cursor when you close one. This means that "close to the right" can also be done by moving your mouse to the "x" on the first tab to remove, then tapping the mouse button rapidly until all of them are gone. Unless you have more than the 20-30 tabs that I typically have open, that's really not so terrible. Plus, as others in this thread have pointed out, you can multi-select tabs then batch close them that way. There are other reasonably-good ways to achieve the goal, so if this is one is rarely used, there's no way to argue that it's actually necessary.

As for why to remove it... features cost. Every feature you keep in a product is a feature that has to be maintained and tested. Development and testing resources are not infinite -- not even at Google -- and the accumulated burden of lots of old and rarely-used features gradually slows progress on new features, security fixes, etc. It makes a great deal of sense to remove features that aren't used much and which have more often-used alternatives.

[1] My normal browsing style is to open every link in a new tab, and to use Ctrl-W to go "back". So my tab bar ends up being a breadcrumb trail of my path through a web site, and when I'm done with something I close the "site" with "close tabs to right". I also keep a couple of pinned tabs (email and calendar, in that order), so when I want to close "everything" I've been doing, I "close tabs to right" on the calendar tab.

Comment Re:The objection ignores Bostrom's basic argument (Score 1) 394

The objection in question ignores Bostrom's basic argument.

Irrelevant. The objection is orthogonal to Bostrom's argument, but could absolutely refute it, if valid (which I don't believe, more below).

Bostrom argues that if simulation is possible, it must eventually be done which means there probably are a large number of simulated universes and only one non-simulated one (I'm simplifying here, but that's the core of it). If a counterargument demonstrates that there is some reason our observed physics is incompatible with any possible simulated physics then Bostrom's argument becomes irrelevant, because we have proof that our universe is not simulated, regardless of whether simulation is possible or whether it has been done. Or, if the weaker counterargument that our observed physics is incompatible with any reasonable simulated physics, then Bostrom's argument becomes weaker, though it's not refuted because one could postulate that the creator of the simulation chose to create an unreasonable simulated physics in order to fool any intelligences that arose within the simulation and looked (note that this latter argument also works against any proofs of the non-existence of any form of god who has some reason to demand faith -- you can always say "Yeah, but god made it that way so that we'd have to take his existence on faith.")

However, I think Hossenfelder's argument is flawed because she's making a crucial and unjustifiable assumption: that any simulation must necessarily simulate every detail of the simulated universe, i.e that the simulation in question must be a finite element model. Not only is there no reason to make this assumption, there's every reason to assume its opposite, because it's clearly more efficient to simulate at a higher level of abstraction. In that view, the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics actually supports the simulation theory, because we can surmise that the simulation does not in fact model elementary particles but only their aggregate behavior and what we're actually seeing when we try to look very closely is a predictable result of this incompletely-detailed simulation.

Note that I'm not saying I think we live in a simulated universe. I think it's probably impossible to know, but to the extent that we think we might be able to search for artifacts of the simulation, QM's very weirdness is probably the best artifact we have to support the notion, not a refutation.

Comment They are still ads (Score 4, Insightful) 49

"We don't want to start putting in commercial opportunities that we think users don't want to interact with,"

You know what people call "commercial opportunities that users do want to interact with"? They call them ads.

And I have no problem with ads like this in the proper context "Alexa, I need toilet paper." "Ok, you can buy the same brand you bought the last time, but Charmin is on sale today and is $2.37 less expensive"

That's the kind of ad I'm happy to have, but I don't want to hear "Today's weather is sunny and 63 degrees. Today is clean-your-butt day and we have Charmin on sale!"

Comment Re:Making NASA Great Again (Score 5, Informative) 292

Actually the Wikipedia article on the National Aeronautics and Space Act has an interesting list of the legislation's priorities, starting with priority #1:

The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

Historically speaking the act, which was signed into law in July of 1958, was a reaction to the "Sputnik Crisis" created by the Soviet launch of an artificial satellite eight months earlier in October of 1957 -- an act which filled Americans with awe and a little dread, knowing that a Soviet device was passing overhead every 96 minutes.

So arguably NASA was founded to achieve preeminence in Earth orbit, not necessarily manned space exploration, which isn't mentioned at all in the legislation. Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight was still three years in the future, and JFKs Rice Moon Speech followed a year and a half after that. That speech is well worth watching, by the way, if all you've ever seen is the "We choose to go to the moon" line.

Manned exploration of the outer solar system wasn't really what the founding of NASA was all about; in fact manned spaceflight has only a single mention in the unamended 1958 text:

... the term "aeronautical and space vehicles" means aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other space vehicles, manned and unmanned, together with related equipment, devices, components, and parts.

The main focus of NASA at its founding was to provide a single agency to coordinate space and spaced-based research, which at the time would have been largely (although not exclusively) Earth-focused.

Comment Good news! The grays do not want to eat us! (Score 3, Funny) 292

Have always been surprised at Trump's support of NASA, whether as magnanimously as he would like us think or not. At least it is not a 30% or more cut like some other agencies. He rejects science, except when it comes to expanding real estate...

I guess the good news here is that we can conclude that the Grays - whom I assume are in total control of every President - do NOT want to eat us! They do not seem to care about our health.

Of course, that doesn't mean that they don't want to turn us into some powdered industrial product. But at least they do not want to eat us!

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