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Comment I wish they'd work on monitoring pain (Score 1) 58

Physical pain is biology's way of telling us something is wrong, yet it's one thing doctors have no objective way of measuring.

The amount of pain a person is *really* experiencing, and its location and nature, are in many cases the only information a doctor has to go on for both diagnosing and treating injuries and illnesses. If they could measure that pain the way they can measure temperature and blood pressure - their ability to treat us effectively would be increased as dramatically as it has by the existence of thermometers and blood pressure cuffs.

Heck, even if you could only determine vaguely how much general physical pain a person was experiencing - that would still be a staggering improvement over what we have now. If we can determine something as relatively vague as fatigue from brain waves, the ability to determine pain levels is certainly within reach.

Comment I'd feel better about this if hunters were calmer (Score 1) 544

In theory it makes sense, accept the impact the decision to eat meat makes, don't suppress the natural instinct to hunt and kill into a video game habit or bad personality ... but in practice I'm having trouble of thinking of any hunters who I'd want people to be *more* like. People who hunt, or say they hunt to bond with people who actually do, more often than not strike me as the opposite direction I'd like to see us go as a species.

Comment What I miss most is the way computers used to (Score 1) 662

somehow be set up so that I could program on them for three days straight. Back when I was on my trusty Texas Instruments TI 99/4A, why I could sit in front of my 13" inch TV screen for hours on end, stopping only to nap on the carpet for the 2 to the 3 hours it took to successfully save my work to cassette.

But with this new fangled Macbook Pro... man, after just five or six hours my *back* starts to hurt. And even these new 24" LCD screens that are supposed to be such a big improvement? Well I don't know what it is, but they sure don't seem as sharp and focused as my old VDT did. I can barely make out the text unless I wear these special "reading" glasses. How is that progress?

Comment I got my free id theft protection offer today (Score 1) 157

They said all I had to provide was my PSN login ID, full name, address, phone number, credit card number, credit expiration date, credit card security code, mother's maiden name, social security number, router WEP2 password, bank account number, recent photo graph, times when I would not be home, locations of my valuables, and high res photograph of my house key.

Comment Re:I looked at it this way (Score 1) 488

Well, "smart" can be a vague term, but I think I agree with you that anyone can develop a functional knowledge of any subject given:
1. An explanation of the subject that is put in terms they can understand (it has to build on what they know)
2. Sufficient interest in the subject to follow that explanation.
3. Sufficient memory to hold all the necessary pieces in their head at the same time.

The extent a person has a functional knowledge on enough different subjects would probably translate roughly to how "smart" they are judged by others. The only internal limit I see on a person's ability to learn something is the memory capacity. Though memory can be improved, I imagine that people do have limits on that in the same way they have physical limits.

And I'm not sure how this whole formula would apply to someone with learning disability, where there were certain concepts that were very unnatural for them, or a need for so much explanation that time would be a limiting factor; either in terms of sustaining enthusiasm for the subject or simply having enough free hours to devote to it.

Maybe that's why I love computer programming so much. We know memory won't be a limiting factor for computers, and the concept of motivation doesn't even apply. All they await is a sufficient explanation from us, or the barest capacity to provide one for themselves.

Comment Re:I looked at it this way (Score 1) 488

You're assuming that IQ tests are accurate, that they correlate to intelligence, that my mum didn't lie to boost my ego, and that respect your opinion on this.

Also, while I am very good at my job, if I'm one "the most intelligent people in the world"... we're all in very serious trouble my friend. Why? Because I smoke cigarettes - which is just about the dumbest thing a person can do (long term). And I decided to start smoking well after everyone knew smoking was dumb, and well before I began to start chipping away at whatever my IQ might have been with booze and drugs.

So, as long as you don't literally pay for the privilege of being poisoned several times a day - congrats, you're far more intelligent than I am. Do you feel better now?

Comment I looked at it this way (Score 1) 488

IQ was *kind* of a presence in my early life, as I got the impression it was a big deal to the adults. After having me take the test again a few weeks after the first, they wanted to put me in a special school; something that hadn't happened to my five older siblings. My mum turned it down saying she thought it was better I live a normal life - but I still was constantly hounded about the not living up to my potential... though no one ever bothered to explain how my potential was apparently restricted to school work.

Eventually I got the idea that your IQ was just how fast you learned compared to others your age. Our mum wouldn't tell us our exact IQ scores of course, the closest she came was telling me mine had been over 200. Which to teachers meant I should learn twice as much, but to me seemed better suited to learning the same amount in half the time - as I had no use for anything being taught beyond its ability to placate adults. Later I tried variations on that, like paying half as much attention, or being twice as high.

Intelligence is still just a convenience, like upper body strength or good eyesight. Anyone who's read the news for longer than a week (let alone a history book) can see that people are embarrassingly slow learners. Being a pretty smart human is like being a pretty fast tractor. I mean, human intelligence is great for solving the types of technical puzzles that lend themselves to that skill - but don't expect it to spare you from making most of the really dumb mistakes in the course of your life that you would have anyway.

Comment Don't assume that teaching = learning in America (Score 1) 735

The American school system seems to have the unique ability to make anything it teaches horribly uninteresting. None of us worry that they're the mathematics they're teaching are false, or basic geography or history; yet Americans who've been through those lessons generally demonstrate a lesser degree of knowledge of those subjects than people educated in other industrialized nations.

In theory, it's wrong to teach children bad science; but in practice - at least in America - it's probably the fastest way to sour them on religion for the rest of their natural lives. Personally, I think things would be much improved if in the future, Americans spent as much time on religion as they currently do on calculus or classical literature.

Comment The "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" factor (Score 1) 716

A major appeal of Apple's products is their track record with customers. Most people have used PC's at work, which did help PC's be a first choice for home usage when that became appealing; but in all that time those people have been burned by PC's at one time or another. Most people's first introduction to Apple products on the other hand was either comparatively simple products like the iPod, or iMacs for casual home use when the price of entry level Apple computers was not large enough to be a major drawback. It's pretty hard to crash an iPod, and it's pretty hard to crash iMac doing little more with it than email and internet usage.

So I don't think the "cult" like follow Apple gets is based so much on the love for their products, but on the absence of really bad experiences on them. Which isn't terribly surprising considering that people are far more motivated by fear than by love.

But it's Apple's game to lose now. With more customers, more products, and more ambition - the odds getting associated with poor experiences in the public's mind grows ever greater. The most important thing Apple has done for its brand wasn't the creation of the iPad - but the way it handled the poor reception on its iPhone by successfully pining the blame for that on AT&T.

Comment Would this be a better approach? (Score 1) 539

The most profitable model I've ever heard of for music was the jukebox. 25 cents to listen to a song, whether or not you owned it, regardless of how many times you've played it - and all without the guarantee that it would even play before you left the establishment. And I don't remember anyone complaining about the cost.

So what if there was a service which functioned as a jukebox, but with a monthly service fee instead of a per song fee. Now, there's nothing revolutionary about that of course, plenty of attempts have been made at doing just that. The problem with those models is that they didn't have enough content to automatically entice users to discover (and hence pay to listen to) enough new music to make it profitable.

But if you had a large enough library that you could create various types of iTunes-type genius playlists based on things like:
2nd favourite songs of people who listed the same favourite song as you
Songs/albums manually suggested by the actual artist of the song you're listening to

It would take both a tremendous amount of content to generate truly successful recommendations, as well as way of uploading records of your preferences/familiarity from various music programs such as iTunes xml.

In addition to that, there would be ample upselling opportunities - a section displaying available live concerts from the artist playing, a section for merchandise from the artist, maybe even sections for music learning products such as video lessons which included the song being played, or learning materials created by the artist. With enough users, and the ubiquitous face book links, sections could be created where people could join others wishing to carpool a local concert (and or chaperons for minors wishing to attend).

Again, I'm aware that all the capabilities exist in spades across all the various balkanized music services; but none of them have every gotten enough cooperation from music publishers to achieve the critical mass necessary to add sufficient value to make people comfortable paying a monthly fee to possibly do little more than listen to what might be in their own library with greater ease of use.

As for the licensing fees for the music, the monthly fee's net profit could easily be proportioned to actually publishers of the music that was heard.

Full disclosure: a big part of the motivation for wanting to see a service like this succeed, is to finally drive music profits to the artists creating the music people listen to. Right now, the artists making money are the ones that are popular among people who don't know how to get music for free; not the artists that are popular among people who are actually listening to music. This would also have the effect of driving home the value of albums or songs that people keep listening to years after their release, hopefully nudging the music industry into investing more in artists that have more going for them than nice tits and a copy of Antares auto-tune.

Comment 2 ways to "prevent costly hospitalizations" (Score 1) 341

1. Provide preventative care to address a health problem before it becomes worse.
2. Provide preventative safeguards to address a customer's financial liability to their insurers before they become unprofitable customers.

See if you can guess which approach a health insurance company will take with such an algorithm.
(Hint: Health Insurance companies provide insurance, not health care.)

Comment Would it help if we named that meteor God? (Score 2) 199

Then scientists and creationists would at least *sound* like they agreed.

Of course, it would make life tough for Muslim cartoonists... not being able to draw rocks anymore. But hey, even if they did and we're sentenced to stoning - as soon as someone picked up a rock to throw they could just point and yell "Forbidden Idol!!!", and nonchalantly amble away in the ensuing confusion.

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