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Comment Re:Words, Not Communication (Score 1) 225

Parrots and other birds are trained very poorly via Pavlovian conditioning. That isn't the only type of training, and Model-Rival training works much more effectively on birds (which isn't to say anything about how it works on other animals).

I agree - and, although Alex was trained with Model Rival techniques, I prefer operant conditioning with my Macaws and Greys because of speed, each of our guys seem to get the idea faster with a target and click. Considering that I seem to be able to teach the physical behaviors better than verbal ones, I have to admit that I'm missing part of the puzzle.

Comment Re:Words, Not Communication (Score 1) 225

Alex was a special case. He had received decades of organized schooling from scientists, who I'd like to think make better teachers than birds.

You can be sure that the birds in this article are just mimicking sounds.

Alex was not a special case, excepting that he was the first to demonstrate that what we were wrong in what we thought the limits were. Dismissing Alex because he got years of education that other birds didn't get avoids the reality of what he represents. That education produces better results in communication and thinking skills isn't really all that surprising, in humans. What Alex demonstrated was that the abilities of non-humans can reach significantly higher levels than we ever thought was possible. Dr. Pepperburg is still working with Alexs flock mates, and produces similar results from them without the "decades" of training. This is not unlike humans, there is certainly a variation in what each individual is ultimately capable of, but if you don't know that a human is capable of math, you don't try to teach them, once know that the bar is higher then you strive for it, and, like human education, as you understand how to communicate with the student more, you can educate them faster. The systematic approach to teaching Parrots, particularly Greys, produces faster results, I'm sure, but that doesn't mean that the birds don't teach each other, they most assuredly do.

Comment Re:Most people don't travel or do business so glob (Score 1) 990

...but if you want to buy a single drink, it's easier to say "a pint" or even "a 12-ounce cup" rather than "400 milliliters."

What's wrong with saying 4 deciliters?

Because people, as a whole, gravitate to simplicity. They want "a cup", "A pint" or some other simple group label when they do something repeatedly (like order a beer).. and if the simple thing doesn't exist, one will, inevitably evolve. and thus, the reference to "Folk" volumes appearing alongside the rigid measurements.


Submission + - Security consultants warn about PROTECT-IP Act (nationaljournal.com)

epee1221 writes: Several security professionals released a paper (PDF) raising objections to the DNS filtering mandated by the proposed PROTECT-IP Act. The measure allows courts to require Internet service providers to redirect or block queries for a domain deemed to be infringing on IP laws. ISPs will not be able to improve DNS security using DNSSEC, a system for cryptographically signing DNS records to ensure their authenticity, as the sort of manipulation mandated by PROTECT-IP is the type of interference DNSSEC is meant to prevent. The paper notes that a DNS server which has been compromised by a cracker would be indistinguishable from one operating under a court order to alter its DNS responses. The measure also points to a possible fragmenting of the DNS system, effectively making domain names non-universal, and the DNS manipulation may lead to collateral damage (i.e. filtering an infringing domain may block access to non-infringing content). It is also pointed out that DNS filtering does not actually keep determined users from accessing content, as they can still access non-filtered DNS servers or directly enter the blocked site's IP address if it is known.

A statement by the MPAA disputes these claims, arguing that typical users lack the expertise to select a different DNS server and that the Internet must not be allowed to "decay into a lawless Wild West."

Paul Vixie, a coauthor of the paper, elaborates in his blog.

Comment Re:Are we assuming (Score 1) 492

I actually didn't even think about that. I just automatically assumed that she in fact is a history geek. I have no idea what that says about me.

It says you are a fan of at least one Kevin Costner movie..... "Who would claim to be that?" Here endeth the lesson... heh

Comment Re:Aside from hype, Apple's real policy... (Score 1) 601

50 MPH zone transitioning into a short 35 MPH zone on a straight and level consistently wide road, is for no reason other than to allow the creation of a speed trap so that the town where that 35 MPH zone resides can stick it to people.

I see you've driven our famous Highway 301 in North and Central Florida. Most of those little towns actually fund the Police force with speeding tickets.

Comment Re:...and develop iOS on their iPads? (Score 2) 577

Barnes and Noble's / Amazon's reader apps already do this ebook syncing. Firefox does bookmark syncing. Google account syncs your phonebook/email.

you are right, of course, there is nothing new with yesterdays announcements. Except.... You just listed three separate syncing services with different configurations and Fumblings to get it all to work. Apples announcement yesterday is, essentially, sync it all for free (or an extra $25.00 a year, for the songs you didn't buy from iTunes) and the configuration required is a single username and password entered on each device to sync them all.... (there is a LOTR joke in there somewhere). That's what has made Apple so popular - the idea that all this geeky stuff can be easy to set up and relatively hassle free to maintain. No question they will gain market share with this - if nothing else the talking points are huge, and that sells devices.

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"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)