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Comment Don't worry, clickbait headline (Score 1) 247

The headline makes the content look far more devious than it is. There are two things you should know about price discrimination and online shopping:

1) If you get the cheapest price online, then you shouldn't worry about price discrimination.

2) Price discrimination often isn't price discrimination at all. Pay more for shoes after a certain time? Perhaps the people that shop after 7PM are more likely to take advantage of the customer service and return policies, so they are actually paying for the shoes and customer service. Price tag different if you live in the suburbs? Perhaps the people who live in the suburbs are harder to deliver to, so the delivery cost is built into the price.

Price discrimination by definition is two identical products offered at different prices. If on the other hand you can find a difference in two seemingly identical products then it isn't pure price discrimination.

And seemingly different price differences have been around long before the internet. Example: coupons for the grocery store. Airlines are just an extreme example of this.

Comment The Pernicious Influence of the Internet (Score 1) 152

The problem is that the initial effort needed to engage in the internet is often far lower than the effort required to engage in non-internet interaction, not unlike certain native populations being exposed to a processed carbohydrate-rich diet.

I have a bit of internet addiction myself, which I noticed when I was an undergrad. After moving on my own, I decided not to get the internet at home or on my phone. I noticed a vast improvement in my life, and I fear the increasingly richer content and easier access will turn us all into zombies one day.

Comment Re:Typical enviro extremism (Score 3, Insightful) 143

The article actually advocates the protection of the most ecologically rich already roadless areas, not the destruction of roads. Roads in lots of these areas wouldn't necessarily be beneficial to humankind. It's just that in many of these areas there is insufficient protection of the habitats in them.

Obviously, there can be a smarter strategy for humans than the two extremes of no farming and killing everything that you seem to outline in your post.

And, most environment researchers (or academics of any type) are definitely not rich, especially if you take into account the atrocious salary for early career researchers who make less than bus drivers.

Comment Contagiousness (Score 4, Informative) 475

Maybe people have pointed out that Ebola is not very contagious and is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids. However, the Ebola Reston strain is airborne though only dangerous to monkeys.

The current strain in Liberia and other places is Ebola Zaire, and is not airborne, but there is nothing preventing its mutation into something that is more contagious like Reston, so we should be cautious.

Comment misleading summary (Score 1) 186

The summary suggests that Ramanujan wrote down some results that were conjectures until now. He wrote down many results, few if any on his deathbed, and most of them have already been verified for years, though some were still open until recently. Apparently the actual article is about the closing of the last few ones only.

Comment Re:The summary is incorrect (Score 5, Informative) 186

The summary is actually referring to other conjectures from his notebooks and other notes, not 'the' Ramanujan conjecture as proved by Deligne, so the summary is not really incorrect, just misleading. It should be noted that these other conjectures are in fact not unusually important and certainly not even close to the Weil conjectures, but are nevertheless interesting.

Comment Re:Guy was so smart it's scary. (Score 1) 186

Actually, he was unusually gifted in mathematics and certainly much brighter than the average mathematician, at least in terms of raw power and intuition. Evidence of this can be found both in his work and in the comments on him by G.H. Hardy, the eminent English mathematician who helped Ramanujan come to England and who collaborated with Ramanujan for years.

Comment Tablets (Score 3) 319

Hi Mark! It seems based on your blog and other sources that an Ubuntu tablet is definitely planned and should be in the works at least sometime in the next year. When do you think consumers will be able to walk into any decently-sized electronic store and pick up an Ubuntu-based tablet?

Comment Terrible (Score 5, Informative) 113

The print version is available.

I don't recommend reading it. There is absolutely nothing in this article about the actual engineering problems behind scaling for this number of users and how these problems are solved. In fact, there is nothing technical at all in this article except for some vague descriptions of the "bootcamp".

Comment Re:Diaspora? (Score 1) 128

I had high hopes for Diaspora, but the problem with it is that it doesn't replicate certain features of Facebook that would be a necessary condition for people to switch to it. For example, it doesn't have an event creation and invite feature, and that is really the only reason why I would join a social network in the first place.

Diaspora shifted focus a while ago to concentrate on organising internet discussions amongst people with common interests rather than focus on interactions with real-life acquaintances. With this goal they will never overtake Facebook, which is not what they want to do any more anyway. Now they are just closer to Google+, and in my opinion not terribly appealing especially since the interface is irritating.

It is unfortunate because I'm sure the two goals could exist in a decentralised network, but it was apparent from the beginning that the Disaspora team did not have the raw coding power to create this possibility.

Comment I Use It Everywhere (Score 1) 1086

Despite my username, I am a mathematician, and I can say doing mathematics definitely affected the way I think. Of course I do math as my job, but I also think of the rest of my life in very mathematical terms.

For instance, to measure my productivity I have created a detailed spreadsheet of my progress and the hours that I work. I view my efforts as a dynamical system, and potentially I can use this to clarify and understand the periodicity in my productivity using differential equations.

I view my purchases at the grocery store as an economic system and I have often come to rational decisions about money management using decision theory.

When I drive I think of minimizing the time of my route using traffic models. I probably haven't gained much on my travel time but looking at everything mathematically has clarified my view of the world.

My point is that every problem I encounter my mind can't help but look at it from a mathematical perspective, and the act of formulating problems in a precise way with all the necessary hypotheses have helped me solve many problems, even those that don't require heavy mathematical machinery. Mathematics isn't just solving specific problems but looking at a question from all perspectives and formulating thoughts in an extremely precise manner. These are things I of course did not do before I started to study mathematics.

The effects on me are pretty apparent because I have been doing mathematics for so long but I believe even a little bit can be very useful.

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