13 Jul

Freedom to Tinker – New Research Result: Bubble Forms Not So Anonymous

If bubble marking patterns were completely random, a classifier could do no better than randomly guessing a test set’s creator, with an expected accuracy of 1/92 ≈ 1%. Our classifier achieves over 51% accuracy. The classifier is rarely far off: the correct answer falls in the classifier’s top three guesses 75% of the time (vs. 3% for random guessing) and its top ten guesses more than 92% of the time (vs. 11% for random guessing). We conducted a number of additional experiments exploring the information available from marked bubbles and potential uses of that information. See our paper for details.

via Freedom to Tinker – New Research Result: Bubble Forms Not So Anonymous. Even something as simple and low tech as bubble forms can’t be totally anonymous.

18 Jun

The Faster Times – AOL Hell: An AOL Content Slave Speaks Out

You’d think it’d be fun, wouldn’t you? Writing about “The Simpsons” and such for money. It’s every slacker’s dream job. And I was making $35,000! I remember that I crossed a certain threshold, soon after I got my new job: I stopped buying “Sensor” brand razor blades, and upgraded to “Schick Quattro” brand razor blades. This was exciting. The “Quattro” had four blades instead of the measly two blades of the “Sensor,” plus a sideburn trimmer on the back, plus it vibrated to supposedly aid the shaving process. This was the big time.

Some people struggle to write for their whole lives, and only dream of ever getting paid for it. And here was I was, Mr. Big-Shot-Razor-Blade-Man, getting paid a real salary. I could sit at home and write in my pajamas while eating take-out food; and that’s what I did. I was so grateful.

But this was part of the problem. We — by which I mean me and my fellow employees — were all so grateful. Which allowed us to ignore — or willfully overlook — certain problems. Such as the fact that AOL editors forced us to work relentless hours. Or the fact that we were paid to lie, actually instructed to lie by our bosses.

via The Faster Times – AOL Hell: An AOL Content Slave Speaks Out. Highly depressing read, both into the writing practiced at AOL and what this business considers important (just generating stupid trivial trash to generate pageviews).

10 Sep

Google Labs – Google Scribe

Google Scribe provides text completion service. Using information from what you have already typed in a document, Google Scribe provides related word or phrase completion suggestions. In addition to saving keystrokes, Google Scribe’s suggestions indicate correct or popular phrases to use.

via Google Labs – Google Scribe. Every day Google gets better at knowing us and making predictions.

23 Jan

Boogie Board writing tablet costs $30, features ‘no power LCD technology’ – CrunchGear

Going completely paperless just got a bit easier with an LCD tablet that – wait for it – actually seems to be an affordable and useful way to replace paper pads.

via Boogie Board writing tablet costs $30, features ‘no power LCD technology’. I almost want to buy one of these puppies, but I want to feel it first.

03 Aug

Do Words Actually Matter?

The question is almost stupid to answer because on certain level they must matter or else I wouldn’t publish my thoughts. So words must matter to you because well you are reading this and you most likely communicate with society. There is a very good reason that being deaf and/or mute is an impediment to having a normal life. Communication is the lifeblood of society, at some level we all need to communicate for a host of reasons.

So words matter to the extent that one needs them to communicate with others in society, but on a deeper level do words really matter?

Hmmm, okay, well I am trying to convince you of certain position, so I must feel that words matter in the sense that the meaning of the words strung together can form a hopefully coherent argument that sways you to accept part or all of my position. But again we aren’t quite at the heart of the matter of do words matter.

Well let me first clarify the question a little bit, by do words matter, I mean do the words that we speak do they make a difference on our lives. In other words if someone insults you, does that hurt your feelings?

It’s an interesting problem, mainly because we all know that words matter because we use them all the time to communicate, to debate, to show emotion, a host of things only happen because of words.

Imagine trying to tell someone that you love them, without being able to talk to them. Just try to see how to express that emotion without the words to go along with it. Sure you can buy them gifts, give them your time, make love to them, but does any of that really truly express your feelings over this person? I doubt it.

Now that I have danced around the issue enough, let me just answer the question. Words don’t matter it’s the intent and the feeling behind the words that really matter.

Words themselves I believe have no power in and of themselves, it’s the emotion and purpose behind the words that give words power. Words are just that words, abstract concepts strung together in a meaningful manner to describe something. Imagine a beautiful poem, but being read in a monotone voice:

A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING.
by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“Now his breath goes,” and some say, “No.”

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

Now reread the poem, but this time give it emotion. It makes all the difference in the world. Words themselves are basically worthless, but words with emotion and feeling are indeed very powerful.

* Just on a side note, I absolutely love this poem, hence I used it.