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Comment Re:Law of unintended consequences (Score 3, Interesting) 281


Someone expects the government to diagnose and correctly prescribe treatment for AGW? Where have these people been the last 40 years? Unless you're a basement dweller who has cut off all communication with the outside world, you have to know that "unintended consequences" is the touchstone of modern government action of any kind. We're talking about the same group of brilliant idiots who can't agree on which direction the sun rises and who believe that the solution to the debt crisis is more spending. Hello McFly!

It practically writes itself as a disaster movie script: In a world where the greenhouse gas problem has become too bad to ignore...

Comment Re:I agree (Score 1) 596

It would be interesting to know if they could so easily skew the results of a legitimate search, but nonsense searches aren't going to have much of any data to go on.

If you'd read the original article, this is exactly what twigged Google to the fact that this was happening. Google didn't just suddenly decide "Hey, lets see what Bing is doing" at random--they noticed that Bing was using Google's results for a misspelled search term, that showed the same top result as Google's but without displaying the corrected spelling. This lead Google engineers to wonder how Bing got that result and thus to set up their experiment.

The skewing of results is minor (click-stream info from Google searches is only one of Bing's inputs and apparently not heavily weighted) which is why the Google engineers used nonsense terms--it was easiest to see the results where few or no results were returned.

Comment Re:Response from Another VP (Score 1) 596

And you (like others in this thread) seem to be implying that it doesn't matter what data Microsoft got, but it does. If Bing were collecting click-stream data to track what Websites I visited and clicked around on and then used that to tweak their results, that would be one thing. In fact, I wish result rankings could give weight to "back button" clicks to move results down from the top--if I go to somedomain.com from a search and immediately go back to the search results, you can guess that somedomain.com shouldn't be a top result for that search term.

In any event, no matter how much you want to defend Microsoft in this case, tracking Google search results via click-stream data is, for all practical purposes, using Google search results to tweak Bing. It's not illegal, but I'd agree that it comes across as a bit dodgy.

(For the record, I don't particularly like Google Search or Bing, or Google Inc, or Microsoft)

Comment Re:Response from Another VP (Score 1) 596

You're splitting hairs. The click-stream information is Google search results. Pretending that because _users_ submitted this information to Microsoft it somehow isn't Bing using Google search results to tweak its rankings is silly.

That said, this isn't as straightforward an issue as either Microsoft or Google wants the public to believe. On the one hand, MS is collecting information on results returned by Google and using them to tweak Bing. On the other hand, it's not collecting this information without consent. On the gripping hand, the consent is buried in vague language in a click-through screen.

This definitely isn't illegal. And since the Google results information is clearly only one of the signals that Bing is using, I'm not even I'd argue it's "cheating"--but it isn't the sort of thing that's likely to win Microsoft any friends, especially as they're refusing to own up to what they're really doing (though that is likely in part because it's hard to explain to a non-technical audience)

Comment Re:not fair (Score 1) 717

Bah. I drive a 1931 Model A Ford. I wish you Jeep drivers would slow down to a reasonable speed--I've got purely mechanical brakes (not even hydraulic--they're lever/rod actuated, my foot->pedal->brake rod->brake drum) and steering (no power assist, just a pitman arm to move the drag link) and you guys make me nervous.

Comment Re:Kill your TV (Score 2) 385

I haven't had T.V. in almost 12 years--during which time I've spent my free time on reading, hobbies, and playing with my kids.

Think about how much TV you watch each day--or better yet, use a stop watch and actually time it. I suspect you'll be surprised at how much time you actually spend: the average American watches a staggering 5 hours PER DAY of television. Now, think about the value of your time, the value of what you're watching, and then think of all the other uses you could put 35 hours a week to. You could easily read several books, learn to play a musical instrument, take up a hobby, AND spend time interacting with friends and family in that 35 hours.

Aside from the time you're spending watching TV that might be more pleasurably spent doing something else, think about what TV is doing to you. Some people don't think that TV influences how they think, what they buy, and who they vote for: the 500 billion dollar advertising says that they're wrong.

I find it interesting how all my oldest daughter's classmates (she's 4 and in preschool) are already programmed to be good little consumers. There's hardly one who doesn't have the obligatory Disney character backpack, clothes from the trendy place at the mall, and a "brand-name" toy to share on Wednesdays.

In the 80's when I was in the Army and stationed in Italy, I used to walk around the base at night and see the "blue glow" coming from the on-base housing. At the time I thought that it was as if everyone came home at the end of their day and sat down in front of the TV to be "programmed" for the next day.

The current state of our society and politics has done nothing to disabuse my of this idea.

Comment Re:New blacktop for the road to hell (Score 1) 168

Your answer (legislate) to the problem (accessibility) is amusingly contrary to your anecdote. No one forced the "nice" store to comply with some arcane requirement (which would undoubtedly require a huge bureaucracy to administer and hundreds of lawyers to sue non-compliant businesses), but they did what they thought was best.

If "the blind" are really such a wealthy group of consumers, why is it necessary for government to intrude on their behalf? Surely it's reasonable that businesses who think the benefit worth the cost should address their needs while others who do not, can go without their business. At this rate, the government will soon be telling retail web sites what order their navigation links must be in to "level the playing field"

This is what gets me about the current atmosphere in this country: why does everything always seem come down to "this is what I want, and I want the government to make things that way"? I guess when your position is illogical and you can't make any headway in the marketplace of ideas, that's the only recourse?

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