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Comment Re:I'm confused... (Score 1) 335

And that's precisely what happens with android apps, for the most part (see other messages in this thread for known bugs with older APIs). An android application is bundled with a manifest file that provides all sorts of information about the package. The developer of an app must specify in the manifest file what permissions it is requesting for the various activities and applications provided by the package.

When a user installs the android app from the market, they are presented with a list of the operations the app may need permission to do. In initial versions of the API, the permissions list was pretty coarse, but later APIs have added much finer grained control.

So, as a user, if a desktop background application tells me that it needs read/write access to my contacts, the ability to access the internet, read/write access to my SD card storage, GPS device access, then my first question is: why does it need access to my contacts and to my GPS? It doesn't seem reasonable, so I don't install it.

This system doesn't 100% protect users from a malicious application sending personal data back to a database somewhere, but it does allow them to know what an application is capable of and make semi-informed decisions.

Comment Re:To think that this is the company..... (Score 2, Insightful) 588

And after years of using that Microsoft Borg logo we really need an Apple Borg logo as well.

I think an Apple Lemming logo would be more appropriate. The Borg assimilated people by force - people didn't really want to become borg. Many people don't really want to use microsoft products, but must due to various factors, such as work.

On the other hand, people who use Apple products generally do so because they want to use Apple products, even if they're slowly assimilating into a computing culture that they would have abhorred had it come from Microsoft.

There's some broad brushing going on here, but I think my point is relatively clear.

Comment Re:Math skills are becoming more important (Score 1) 609

Skill in statistics is essential. CS curriculums tend to have heavy Calc, Discrete Math, and Logic components. Statistics is usually relegated to a small component of the math requirements, poorly taught, and poorly understood. If I had my way, Statistics would be weighted as much as calculus in terms of importance.

Comment Re:As a source of sources, it is invaluable (Score 1) 170

I use it for two purposes mainly. (1) To refresh my memory on a subject I've not touched in a while, (2) As a jump off point for an area of research I'm unfamiliar with. As long as you realize that you need to cross-check the wikipedia article, you should be fine.

11 years ago, when I started doing research, breaking into a new field was a bit more work. Instead of being able to look up high-level overviews via wikipedia, I'd spend a lot of time trawling publications looking for possibly relevant articles. I'd read the articles - often not having a clue what was going on because I lacked sufficient background knowledge - grab a few more seemingly relevant references, and repeat. Occasionally, I'd hit upon a survey paper, and would be able to find all the seminal works in the bibliography, but survey papers are not constantly coming out, and much of the time it was hunt and peck. Building up a good overview of the particular field could take a long time. Wikipedia has made the process much faster.

I recently needed to look up some information about some different performance measures. I was unfamiliar with what would be applicable to my problem, so I did some poking around on wikipedia, found the overviews, and then went to the library to look up the primary sources. I spent a bit of time verifying that the wikipedia article was accurate and gaining deeper insight into the measures, and went along my merry way.

I would never, on the other hand, cite wikipedia in my research papers - it's not a primary source and it can be edited by everyone.

Comment Re:And yet they do nothing to discourage the car (Score 1) 776

"First, I agree with you in spirit... I fully believe that the US having such poor pedestrian and cycling accommodations largely ties in with the current obesity epidemic (though I would point out that the latter doesn't exist solely as a US phenomenon).

That said, you have to understand that American cyclists, for the most part, ride like complete assholes."

Sorry, this is true no matter what form of transportation is being used. I've commuted to work by walking, biking, public transportation, and car. And the mode of transportation rarely matters - people do not pay attention to what they're doing and they cause headaches for those of us who do. If they're walking, they're blocking traffic, crossing roads when the light is red, or when there is not cross walk. If they're biking, they're running red lights, speeding down side walks (I had one blow around a corner at 15 miles per hour and crash into me when I was jogging), or going the wrong way down the few bike paths that are available. If you're on public transportation, then folks block the doors, shove people into the train, and don't allow people to exit. And if they're driving, they don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, don't use their turn signals, don't merge until the last minute, go 45 in a 65 zone, tailgate at 80mph, all while talking on their cell phone.

Your last statement is more accurate as, "That said, you have to understand the American commuters, for the most part, travel like complete assholes."

Comment Re:can anyone coroberate this from a seperate sour (Score 4, Informative) 470

How about going to Amazon (they have a website) and looking for yourself? Andrew Sullivan's book, Virtually Normal, which is NOT erotica or adult themed has no ranking.

Same for Same-sex Marriage: A Pro and Con Reader. Which is, as the title suggests, a book concerning the arguments for and against gay marriage.
Same for Love Undetectable.

But his book The Conservative Soul: Fundamentalism, Freedom, and the Future of the Righ has a ranking, so the delisting is not targeting specific authors, but almost any title that isn't openly hostile to gays has been delisted.


101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality. No sales rank.
What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. No sales rank.
Homosexuality and Civilization. No sales rank.
When Homosexuality Hits Home: What to Do When a Loved One Says They're Gay. No sales rank.

Some more well-known books:
Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military. No sales rank. This is one of the definitive histories of gays and lesbians in the US military.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military. No sales rank.
Major Conflict: One Gay Man's Life in the Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell Military. No sales rank.
Dont: A Readers Guide to the Militarys Anti-Gay Policy. No sales rank.

NONE of these have adult themes.

But it's not universal... for example:

A book such as A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Has a sales rank.
Can Homosexuality be Healed?. Has a sales rank.
You Don't Have to be Gay. Has a sales rank.

Now, perhaps there is a perfectly rational explanation, but looking at the evidence, I smell something funny.

Comment Re:Oh, that's all right then (Score 1) 409

Nothing he said contradicts the new TOS and his post generally boils down to:
"trust us not to enforce the plain language of the TOS."

That's how I read it too.

What I do not understand is, if that is truly the position of the company, why they don't write it into the TOS? There's all sorts of language in there detailing the precise ways in which Facebook plans to give their users a swift rogering, why not spell out what facebook will not do as well?

The only explanation that would make sense is that doing so ties their hands for using your data... unless they decide to arbitrarily force everyone to agree to a new TOS again.

Comment Re:Please explain it to me (Score 1) 904

So why does it seem, to me, that these nursing mothers feel they have a right to change facebook's policies? This isn't a public venue where the debate is an interesting one. This is facebook's business policies -- so isn't it over-stepping the bounds to insist on such a change? Are these nursing mothers even share-holders?

They don't have a right to change facebook's policies, but they do have a right to protest those policies in an effort to get them to change their policies. Facebook can can choose to ignore these protests at the risk of losing a chunk of business (nursing moms and those who support them enough to delete their account). Or they can change their TOS and risk losing another chunk of business (people offended by nursing moms).

My opinion is that facebook should loosen up, but they've drawn their line in the sand.

Now, the question is if public or consumer pressure will cause Facebook to change their policy.

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