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Submission + - How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love ( 2

anavictoriasaavedra writes: McKinlay, a lanky 35-year-old with tousled hair, was one of about 40 million Americans looking for romance through websites like, J-Date, and e-Harmony, and he’d been searching in vain since his last breakup nine months earlier. He’d sent dozens of cutesy introductory messages to women touted as potential matches by OkCupid’s algorithms. Most were ignored; he’d gone on a total of six first dates... in June 2012, it dawned on him that he was doing it wrong. He’d been approaching online matchmaking like any other user. Instead, he realized, he should be dating like a mathematician.

Comment Re:The H was awesome (Score 1) 94

What ever happened to micropayments?

It's been almost 20 years now and the banks STILL refuse to get out of the way.

With Flattr, that problem has mostly been solved. You transfer a relatively large sum to them (compared to the value of each donation), use it to reward a bunch of recipients over time, and the recipients pull money out of the system once enough has accumulated.

By doing it like this, the bank transaction fees do not apply to the individual microdonations, only to getting money into and out of the system. Of course they charge their own 10% fee, but imo that's tolerable and no longer the prohibitive overhead that used to haunt microdonations.


Submission + - Really Short Time Wasters

rueger writes: At various times during the day I need a quick break from serious work. Browsing the 'net is not a good choice because it invariably winds up consuming an hour on places like Slashdot, so right now that means that my break is a game of Solitaire. Loads in seconds, takes maybe a minute to play, then back to stuff that matters. I'm wondering what other goodies could fill that role — maybe games, maybe something that actually leads to knowledge, skills, or a measurable output? Think of it as on on-screen micro-hobby. Ideas?

Comment Re:Nothing weird (Score 1) 295

Unity ====

Cinnamon =======

Look at the pictures. One comes with a menu panel...the other a full screen of applications icons similar to a smartphone.

It's only a full screen if your screen is really small. The Wikipedia screenshot is pretty misleading in that regard - this would probably more representative for normal display sizes.

But more importantly, the similarity with smartphones is mostly visual - the icons are larger than Cinnamon's and placed above rather than next to the program name, which makes it look loosely like a touchscreen interface or a Windows desktop with application links. However, the Unity start menu (aka "Dash") is actually keyboard centric. It prominently features a search bar which also has focus when you open the Dash and is the most efficient method of using it. In that regard, it has more to do with program launchers like Launchy or the search field in the Windows 7 start menu than with smartphones.

The traditional hierarchical menu is indeed superior in one use case: Accessing rarely used applications using only the mouse or a touchscreen (no keyboard). But at least for me, it turns out that I'm almost never doing that anyway. ymmv.

In fact so many people prefer cinnamon over unity mint has become the most popular download on distrowatch.

That doesn't actually tell us how many people use a distribution, though - the Distrowatch numbers are based on a relatively small subset of Linux users that is probably not representative. For example, a user who is happy with their distribution and does not intend to switch to anything else would be less likely to even visit a distribution comparison site.

It could be interesting to look at the traffic of major websites instead. Unfortunately, most of them do not differentiate between distributions. One exception I know of is the Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report, where Ubuntu clearly accounts for the largest share of traffic among Linux distributions except Android. As we know, statistics like that have their own set of problems, and in this case there is also a huge number of "Other" in there that could easily skew the results. However, it still seems like a better approach for measuring actual usage. (Do browsers on Mint usually include the distribution in the user agent string?)

Comment Re:And THIS, Ladies and Gentlemen... (Score 2) 229

Is why I will never install Ubuntu again, and why this distribution is doomed to irrelevance. [...]

Don't misunderstand me: Ubuntu is fine if you are an absolute Linux beginner. For the rest of us, frankly, this is just one more nail in its coffin, as far as I am concerned, Ubuntu is fast becoming the Mandrake of the 20xx.

Ubuntu isn't just for "Linux beginners". It's for an audience that isn't able or doesn't want to spend time choosing, configuring and optimizing their operating system. These are also users who like an easy to use system that offers similar paradigms and visuals as other contemporary graphical interfaces, and will generally pay the price for that (e.g. not being able to use it comfortably on old hardware).

Your use of the term "Linux beginner" in this context only makes sense if you assume that Linux users with limited technical knowledge and interest are necessarily those who have recently started to use it - those who have just begun their journey towards more technical knowledge and will soon graduate to more hardcore distributions. But it doesn't account for people who have only basic computer skills, and are fine with that.

Ubuntu is built around the idea to make Linux accessible to mainstream users. In my opinion, this gives it a very important role at a time where competitors such as Windows 8 are moving to walled garden models for their closed-source software: It is the most credible offer for non-technical users who prefer a free-as-in-freedom operating system.

Comment Re:Apple killed Open Street Map in the process (Score 5, Informative) 561

Your conspiracy theory wouldn't be convincing even if your facts were correct, but few of them are.

both Apple decision to source OSM and the license change happened in 2010

I've been an OpenStreetMap contributor since 2008, and the license change discussions had already been started back then. You can find evidence of the process throughout the project's documentation and mailing lists, but for an obvious example look at the revision history of the OpenStreetMap wiki page for "Open Database License" (OSM's new license) and notice that the first version is from February 2008 and already describes the characteristics that define this license today.

loosing roughly 30% of map data in the process

This is a massive exaggeration of the effects of the license change, as the actual numbers for data loss are in the low one-digit figures.

Details depend on how you count, and unfortunately some areas - particularly Australia and Poland - were hit disproportionately hard. But even though this is indeed a setback for those regions, thanks to the continuing growth the current version of the database already contains more content than we had before the deletions (go to OSMstats and switch to the yearly graph; the dent in summer 2012 is from the license change). Even though this does not mean that all the damage has already been repaired, it makes me confident that the OSM community is up to the task.

took an Open Source map (OSM) and gave gave it to himself, without an obligation to share back the updates.

This misrepresents the purpose of the Open Database License. The ODbL has an exception for produced works such as image tiles or prints, but is otherwise a share alike license. So under the ODbL Apple would indeed be able to use OSM and keep the artistic components of their products, i.e. their pretty map designs, to themselves, but updates to the underlying factual data (and derivative databases such as routing graphs) would have to be open sourced.

But the most important fact that you are missing: Apple is not actually using much, if any OpenStreetMap data under the new license! The situation is somewhat confusing, though:

  • Apple have been using OSM as their primary data source for iPhoto background maps since March. This was widely published and also acknowledged by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. To everyone's astonishment, though, they decided to use a two year old dump of the OpenStreetMap database for that application ... which also means this data is not affected by the license change at all.
  • Apple list OSM as one of many sources for their recently released iOS maps here. They fail to mention the license (which incidentally is an, albeit minor, violation of the requirements of both the old and new license). As a result, it is hard to tell whether they have used post-license change data this time.
  • Even though some traces of OSM data in iOS maps have been spotted, this is only the case in a few remote areas (Islamabad is one of the more convincing examples). Early assumptions that OSM data might be responsible for some prominent errors e.g. in Japan have turned out to be incorrect. In fact, many of those errors would have been avoided had Apple actually used OSM data there.

So if Apple indeed set up an elaborate conspiracy to have OSM release their data under ODbL, why aren't they using it?

TL;DR: There is neither a plausible connection between Apple and the OpenStreetMap license change, nor has the event damaged OpenStreetMap even remotely to the extent suggested by the parent's factually incorrect description.

Comment Re:What about non-web? (Score 1) 34

I still don't see any map libraries for non-web applications. A few months ago I developed a mobile in QT, and haven't found any library to easily show a map in on screen.

I haven't found one for QT for desktop either, or any of the other common widget libraries.

Have you checked KDE Marble? They advertise the possibility to use their widget for displaying maps in other applications, see the developer section on the Marble website.

There are also various libraries for use with OpenStreetMap in particular listed in the OpenStreetMap wiki's "Frameworks" page, though I cannot tell for sure which of these smaller projects are good or even still alive.

Comment Re:Why would it need studies? (Score 1) 345

I have added some POIs myself but I found it a bit limited. I found no way to add a phone number to a POI or a website which seems a bit silly.

Actually, adding phone numbers and website links is relatively straightforward. A search in the OpenStreetMap documentation wiki gives you:

If you are using Potlatch, the Flash editor embedded directly on the OpenStreetMap website, adding arbitrary attributes such as these is supported by the "advanced" view. Other available editors make this even more obvious.

I assume that you were thrown off the track by the "simple" view of the Flash editor, which only lists a selection of frequently-used attributes and for some reason does not include pre-defined fields for phone and website data.

Comment Re:We're better because we do the same thing! (Score 1) 345

If someone were to mess up I-495's directions or name or something, yea, I think that would be nailed pretty quick, but if someone sabatoged some road in central Oklahoma or a rural area of France or something, how quick do you think anyone would notice?

Depends on whether central Oklahoma or that rural area of France have an active local community. There are tools for mappers to watch changes in areas they are interested in. The most straightforward option is using the "history" tab on the OpenStreetMap website, but other tools exist that allow for more fine-grained observation. More experienced mappers often start using these tools to check edits in their area for errors, and revert them if necessary.

Seems like a better idea would be for there to be a list of "suggested changes" that anyone could browse and approve-- but ordering would be random so it would be very difficult to approve your own changes. Possibly even mark the roads as "tentative" until they were vetted.

I don't think that would be a good idea, at least at this stage of the project. There are still many areas with insufficient coverage, so growing the community is still a very important goal.

Adding barriers to new contributions might negatively affect that growth, especially because the review process would be particularly slow and unreliable in those parts of the world where active contributors are needed most: those where there aren't any yet, and where therefore is nobody around to review your changes. (You cannot meaningfully review edits on the other side of the globe except for the most blatant cases of vandalism.)

Comment Ideologically motivated switch (Score 2) 166

I think this is more of an ideological move. Google Maps is not free content like Wikipedia itself.

You are probably right about this. Unlike the previous examples of major Google Maps users switching to OpenStreetMap that were triggered by Google's pricing changes, this particular case is primarily based on the compatible ideals of OSM and Wikipedia. On the Wikipedia blog post announcing OSM support for the app, they even explicitly state: "This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications."

It's not just a recent development either. Wikipedia has been using OpenStreetMap on some of its websites for years - the German and French editions as well as several smaller languages have built-in OSM maps in each article with a coordinate (e.g. see the documentation for the feature in the German Wikipedia here). There are also several projects for linking and collaboration between the two projects.

Comment Re:hahaha (Score 2) 218

You misunderstood his comment. From his perspective as a German, the attention to detail in OSM is lacking. I mean, in that example, there is no mention of where the nearest trash can is or where the stop signs are located.

I'd like to point out that the Berlin map beelsebob picked as an example does include locations of trash cans. It's just that the default map style on omits trash cans to avoid cluttering the map. They are, however, available in the database for anyone who needs them.

There are also several groups of recycling containers such as this one nearby, which indeed appear in the default map style.

So even as a German, I don't see a reason to complain about the level of attention to detail displayed by Berlin's mappers. ;)

Comment Re:Google maps / mouse scroll wheel annoyance (Score 1) 294

Dear Google, please stop using the scroll wheel to zoom in/out in Google Maps. It drives me nuts every time I use it.

Using the scroll wheel to zoom is a widely known standard with online maps, not just Google-based ones, but also with open source alternatives like OpenLayers (used on and for many other OSM based maps) or Khtmlib. The wheel is also used for zooming by other applications where zooming is a major component of user interaction, such as Blender.

And I actually think it makes sense: The most common actions with online maps are Move (-> Drag), Zoom (-> Wheel) and Activate (-> Click). All of them should be available on the mouse. And while the double-click also usually zooms in, there is no equivalent for zooming back out.

User interface elements such as zoom sliders can also be an alternative, but they are somewhat inferior: You need to move the cursor there first, and they always zoom to the center of the currently displayed section of the map. With the wheel, you can zoom towards an off-center point, too, and don't need to move the cursor back towards your focus of interest when you want to click on it.

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