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Comment Off in the weeds in two sentences... (Score 1) 57

Rosette: Good evening. My name is Rosette. What is your name?
You: None of your business.
Rosette: OK. We will remain formal.
You: You're damn straight we will.
Rosette: I like card games, but never for money.
You: You only play strip poker, eh?
Rosette: I like board games, and played a lot as a child. I haven't that much time these days.

Alternately - and here's a hint, chatbot devs - my favorite test for chatbots is to simply echo back whatever they say to me. Rosette takes a while to start to get the nonsensical sentences going, but that's because almost every sentence in the DB seems to be pre-formed. Eliza is still the best when this technique is used, incidentally. ;)

Any chatbot worth its salt should get annoyed really quickly and terminate the conversation when this situation is detected if it's to be believable, not ramble on into gibberish or simply spout random lines from its DB.

Comment Re:Artificial Brains? (Score 1) 320

From the "soul" vs "mechanical consciousness" standpoint, what you'll probably want to use for the discussion is the notion of a "Philosophical Zombie". There's a lot of existing philosophical arguments about this sort of conundrum, but to whet the collective appetite, the short version is this:

Imagine a ( memristor brain | android | doppleganger ) which has no soul *or* consciousness, but which reacts to all stimuli exactly the same as a real human. Kick it in the shin, it hops about cursing at the pain even though it can't "feel" anything. Show it a scary movie, it complains about nightmares the next day. Ask it if it has a consciousness, and it'll say 'yes', even though it only does so because it is ( programmed | emergently behaving | magically enchanted ) to do so in response to that stimulus. I'm sure you get the idea. Such an object we'll call a philosophical zombie for the sake of discussion.

Now, given one of these "p-zombies", how should you treat it? Does it have the same rights as a human, even though it isn't one? If you injure it or cause it to cease functioning, should you be treated as though you maimed or killed a human? If everything about you and your memories were transitioned into one of these as the basis for its behavior, does it become you, your twin, or just an overgrown Teddy Ruxpin?

Have fun hashing it out in the /. comments, or just wikiwalking your way through the associated corpus of literature!

Comment Re:As a film editor (Score 0) 295

Don't know why, but at first, I misread:

...and that hurts the film just as much as if someone threw in a fury of cuts just to make it exciting.


...and that hurts the film just as much as if someone threw in a fury of cats just to make it exciting.

I thought "that's strange... I've never seen a film do that before," but upon reflection I'm now convinced that this is a technique which should be used in more films.

Comment Re:Missing some key information, I think (Score 5, Insightful) 386

That's exactly my point. One specific example I remember from a while back had to do with telling a list view to redraw itself. For most devices, it would work without difficulty. On a certain set of devices, the exact same call would happily return without actually updating the listview, because the handset manufacturer and/or carrier thought they knew better and tinkered with the underlying functionality of the OS and subsequently broke something.

That sort of fragmentation - a million tiny undocumented forks - can't be gracefully handled by abstractions, capability querying, or API versioning. And the only way to discover that this sort of problem will occur is to actually run the software on the afflicted devices to see what breaks. *That* sort of problem is what TweetDeck is referring to when they say "more than a hundred different versions of Android", and is the sort of problem that causes people to complain about Android fragmentation.

Comment Missing some key information, I think (Score 5, Insightful) 386

Many of the highly modded posts right now seem to be missing some key information about exactly how Android is fragmented. It's not just the hardware - that can usually, but not always, be worked around in the ways they suggest. But it's also the software - every carrier and handset manufacturer likes to put their own little spin on the underlying software, and this causes more problems than one might expect.

You get scenarios where some functionality is partially implemented or simply broken on some devices but not others, so you can't rely on simply querying to see if that functionality is available. The OS will happily tell you it's working, but it won't, so you have to find ways to work around it and/or implement long lists of special cases in the code. On some devices, the way that some input elements are displayed will have forced styling that's inconsistent with the rest of the platform, which you won't learn about until you've actually tried it on that device and seen your layout get destroyed. The autocomplete functionality or keyboard input method can vary substantially from device to device, potentially impacting how one's UI flows work. The list goes on.

Limiting supported major OS versions and querying for hardware only solves part of the fragmentation problem. The fact that most every device has its own little fork of Android is more what causes the QA challenge. Since - generally speaking - one doesn't have these kinds of problems for mainstream desktop OS's, that's why people keep bringing up fragmentation of the Android platform as a major sticking point.

Comment Actually Answering the Question? (Score 1) 417

I think my favorite thing about asking parenting questions on the internet is the number of "holier than thou" answers you'll get in response. Actually, scratch that - if you ask a straightforward, scope-limited parenting question specific to your needs and situation anywhere in the world and you'll get an answer that basically boils down to "you're doing it wrong." It's all part of the experience, so I've learned to chuckle at the cognitive disconnect that comes from asking about the right age to introduce popcorn and getting a lecture on the best way to wring out dirty rags in return.

Anyway, to actually answer your question, I believe you're looking for this:

As for software, I've found that creating a password-protected guest account on the machine with a limited number of pre-screened options to be best. Individual hyperlinks to YouTube videos on subjects your child enjoys (for us, it's Pocoyo videos, parrots, and babies laughing) on the desktop largely do the trick, along with links to kid-friendly sites ( , being two examples, depending on your tolerance for advertising ). Others have mentioned games like minesweeper, solitaire (even if they don't grasp the actual game itself), or even Portal. These are all good choices. I'm sure you'll know of some more options based on what your child enjoys.

Best of luck!

Comment Art of SQL (Score 1) 291

This one was reviewed by /. some time back ( ), and I've found it to be an invaluable tool for tackling precisely the sort of problems you're describing. It's a book on how to think about SQL, with a lot of good insight into how the DB engine will be doing it (so you can plan accordingly for the shortcomings). After reading this book, I felt much better prepared to tackle schema and query design, including all the big questions that come with large tables and projects such as "Should I denormalize this?" or "Should I add more indexes to this already heavily indexed table?" I found the writing to be quite accessible, and recommend it highly to others.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Newsweek Easter Egg Reports Zombie Invasion 93

danielkennedy74 writes " becomes the latest in a long list of sites that will reveal an Easter egg if you enter the Konami code correctly (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, enter). This is a cheat code that appeared in many of Konami's video games, starting around 1986 — my favorite places to use it were Contra and Life Force, 30 lives FTW. The Easter egg was probably included by a developer unbeknownst to the Newsweek powers that be. It's reminiscent of an incident that happened at ESPN last year, involving unicorns."

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