onyxleopard's recent activity

  1. Comment on What are some earworms whose catchiness hasn't worn off for you over time? in ~music

  2. Comment on How search-engine optimization ruined the Internet in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    It fell short because it couldn’t compete with Google (and Lycos, Yahoo!, ...). It makes total sense. It’s just less convenient.

    It stopped making sense to find websites by category then alphabetical listing when you could simply ask for what you wanted.

    It fell short because it couldn’t compete with Google (and Lycos, Yahoo!, ...). It makes total sense. It’s just less convenient.

  3. Comment on How search-engine optimization ruined the Internet in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    Sure, but noise to me may not be noise to you, and giving a central entity the power to make that determination is problematic (this is one reason not to like Google’s monopoly on search). There...

    There is tons of noise on the web.

    Sure, but noise to me may not be noise to you, and giving a central entity the power to make that determination is problematic (this is one reason not to like Google’s monopoly on search). There have been attempts to try to do this in a decentralized way like DMOZ and WOT etc. They all fell short because they were largely manually curated and couldn’t scale.

  4. Comment on How search-engine optimization ruined the Internet in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    I’d think that their index would be so small as to be useless. The whole utility of a search engine is that it searches the whole web (or at least the non-dark-web that allows itself to be...

    I’d think that their index would be so small as to be useless. The whole utility of a search engine is that it searches the whole web (or at least the non-dark-web that allows itself to be indexed). The web is decentralized by design—no authority is supposed to decide who is "listed" and who isn’t.

  5. Comment on Apple has acquired the Dark Sky weather app - Android version and website will shut down on July 1, API active through end of 2021 in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    This is kind of the same justification for Apple to want to own their own weather data service. Historically Apple’s Weather app on iOS has sourced data from The Weather Channel and from Yahoo!...

    This is kind of the same justification for Apple to want to own their own weather data service. Historically Apple’s Weather app on iOS has sourced data from The Weather Channel and from Yahoo! Weather at different times. Similar scenario with the Stocks and Maps apps. Apple’s tack here has been consistently heading toward owning the data pipelines that power their data-dependent default apps so they don’t have to take any risk on external dependencies.

    14 votes
  6. Comment on Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    I don’t know, but I don’t trust fast.ai to get it right. I will prefer to listen to the WHO, or other reputable sources. If experts change their tune and fast.ai is vindicated here, so be it. I...

    What is the right policy?

    I don’t know, but I don’t trust fast.ai to get it right. I will prefer to listen to the WHO, or other reputable sources. If experts change their tune and fast.ai is vindicated here, so be it. I don’t think we need nor should encourage lay activists to propose nor advocate for policies they don’t understand the justification for.

    1 vote
  7. Comment on Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    Dropping what you’re doing and emitting noise into spheres you have no business in is not helpful, IMO, esp. in a crisis. It’s potentially harmful as you may drown out signals from sources that...

    Dropping what you’re doing and emitting noise into spheres you have no business in is not helpful, IMO, esp. in a crisis. It’s potentially harmful as you may drown out signals from sources that have real expertise and important information to share.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    Right. That link is to a public Google Doc that I referred to as their meta-analysis. They didn’t explain their methodology about how they gathered the papers they analyzed. I assumed, since...

    The "34 scientific papers" claim links here. There's a list and some brief notes on the papers.

    Right. That link is to a public Google Doc that I referred to as their meta-analysis. They didn’t explain their methodology about how they gathered the papers they analyzed. I assumed, since fast.ai is an AI company, they used their technology to conduct their meta-analysis. I suppose I could be wrong and this guy asked his employees who are also non-experts to go manually search through the literature, but that would be even more ridiculous.

    Besides that, they did not explain their methods, and they threw things in a Google Doc instead of making a pre-print manuscript for a journal article. It all reeks of opportunism and gives me no confidence that Howard or his outfit are worth listening to as scientists. This is a far cry from how peer-reviewed science works for glaringly obvious reasons.

    However, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with what fast.ai normally does.

    That’s the whole reason to be suspicious.

    2 votes
  9. Comment on Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    It is implicit in this: This is saying that their “research” is better than recommendations from the WHO. Why should we believe Howard about claims in a domain in which he is not an expert? How...

    It is implicit in this:

    My data-focused research institute, fast.ai, has found 34 scientific papers indicating basic masks can be effective in reducing virus transmission in public — and not a single paper that shows clear evidence that they cannot.

    This is saying that their “research” is better than recommendations from the WHO. Why should we believe Howard about claims in a domain in which he is not an expert? How many scientific papers did they look at in total? The onus is on Howard to convince us that he did not pick a position and cherry pick evidence to support that position. I don’t believe that onus has been met. If his meta analysis is really valid, he should submit it for review in a reputable journal. Instead he publishes in the Washington Post to drum up hype for his company.

    1 vote
  10. Comment on Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    Have you read comments by someone you know is bullshitting because they are talking about something in your field? If you have, hopefully you can see why delving into something you don’t know...

    Have you read comments by someone you know is bullshitting because they are talking about something in your field? If you have, hopefully you can see why delving into something you don’t know about is equally unhelpful.

    Anyone who is claiming that AI, today, can replace human epidemiologists is a bullshitter. If they’re offering software tools to help biomedical researchers and practitioners, that is one thing. If they are claiming that software can replace domain expertise, I believe they are being intellectually dishonest and should be called out.

    1 vote
  11. Comment on Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    If you are not actively working in a particular scientific domain like biomedicine, it’s really difficult to read serious papers and fully understand them. I’d wager that biomedicine is actually...

    Lots of people are able to read research papers and summarize them, though, and by paying attention to them you can get a better understanding of what the scientists are up to, if you choose to look into it deeper.

    If you are not actively working in a particular scientific domain like biomedicine, it’s really difficult to read serious papers and fully understand them. I’d wager that biomedicine is actually even worse given the number of domain specific terms they use, and the ambiguity and use of initialisms or gene/protein shorthand. Yes, you can learn to get a grasp on the field, but if you have a full time job in a different domain, are you really perusing PubMed in your free time?

    1 vote
  12. Comment on Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    The purpose of a declaration is to be informative. The WHO has its own definitions of what qualifies as a pandemic. Unfortunately, pandemic is a word. And in a scientific or clinical context, it...

    They didn't declare a pandemic until March 11. What good did that do?

    The purpose of a declaration is to be informative. The WHO has its own definitions of what qualifies as a pandemic. Unfortunately, pandemic is a word. And in a scientific or clinical context, it may have special meanings that are distinct from the vernacular. Historically the terms epidemic and pandemic have been used descriptively by epidemiologists to describe geographic distribution of diseases, and often in comparison to relevant baselines, which laypeople are unlikely to be familiar with. Historically this distinction has had nothing to do with severity. (See, for instance, this piece arguing for better definitions and communications for more in depth discussion.).

    The WHO was taking this disease seriously before their classification of a global pandemic, as they do with all potentially serious diseases. They declared COVID-19 to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on January 30, 2020. That designation has to do with severity, not with the geographic distribution of cases. They also started offering testing kits early on.

    Personally, I’d take domain experts’ opinions over that of someone who just happens to trend on Hacker News, esp. when Hacker News is not likely to be frequented by domain experts.

    9 votes
  13. Comment on Have you ever watched a zeitgeisty show a long time after it finished? What did you think? in ~tv

    onyxleopard
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    I watched Twin Peaks this past summer. It was a real trip. Thoroughly enjoyed it while watching, but in retrospect I’m not sure I enjoyed the ending. The person who turned me on to the show...

    I watched Twin Peaks this past summer. It was a real trip. Thoroughly enjoyed it while watching, but in retrospect I’m not sure I enjoyed the ending. The person who turned me on to the show explained that the last two episodes of the final season may have more impact if you play them back in parallel. I’ve been meaning to try this, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. If you like surrealist or campy stuff, there’s something for you. If you like horror there’s a little something for you. In short, if you like David Lynch stuff, you’ve probably already seen it, but if you haven’t, you’ll love it.

    7 votes
  14. Comment on Experts don't know how bad the outbreak is gonna be either in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    “I don’t know” is not a cop-out here. It is an intellectually honest response. The experts surveyed here are answering the questions in the survey along with their confidence based on the data...

    “I don’t know” is not a cop-out here. It is an intellectually honest response. The experts surveyed here are answering the questions in the survey along with their confidence based on the data they have access to. Due to the realities of the situation, data is not pristine, and is always out of date. So, “knowing” the current state of the world is impossible.

    6 votes
  15. Comment on Why does all() return True if the iterable is empty? in ~comp

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    That comment is very sneaky. They say that they aren’t going into predicate logic (ignoring spelling out universal quantification), but understanding the analogy of addition to logical and is a...

    That comment is very sneaky. They say that they aren’t going into predicate logic (ignoring spelling out universal quantification), but understanding the analogy of addition to logical and is a pretty fundamental insight you learn from predicate logic.

    The real difficulty here is natural language. When we have built-ins in Python (or other programming languages) that try to be too much like English, I think we get tricked into trying to read them like natural language (or at least this is a pitfall that beginners can fall into easily). all and any are logical quantifiers, and they behave differently than “all” and “any” in English.

    1 vote
  16. Comment on 'Bernie bros' and the debate about how to deal with the "dirtbag left" explained in ~misc

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    I think it’s more subtle than that. There are the provocateurs who are being outrageous, but also concern trolls feigning outrage. I agree that Russia is playing all sides of all threads that...

    Surely that's one of the many rules of the internet that "someone is always outraged", like Poe's Law, right?

    I think it’s more subtle than that. There are the provocateurs who are being outrageous, but also concern trolls feigning outrage. I agree that Russia is playing all sides of all threads that expose cracks in democratic social order.

    2 votes
  17. Comment on The most surprising Unix programs in ~comp

    onyxleopard
    Link
    This is really neat, but feels like a tease without links. I’d love to have links to source code of many of these. Some of these like egrep are standard *nix utilities. Others are nonstandard, and...

    This is really neat, but feels like a tease without links. I’d love to have links to source code of many of these. Some of these like egrep are standard *nix utilities. Others are nonstandard, and I’ve never encountered before, and I’m not seeing most of them listed in package managers.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on 'Bernie bros' and the debate about how to deal with the "dirtbag left" explained in ~misc

    onyxleopard
    Link
    I strongly suspect that the dirtbag left movement is in large part encouraged and amplified by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA). There may be legitimate leftist ideology backing some of the...

    I strongly suspect that the dirtbag left movement is in large part encouraged and amplified by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA). There may be legitimate leftist ideology backing some of the members of this group, but I think they are being marshaled by Russian influencers just as the alt right was and continues to be. The rhetoric and methodologies of the dirtbag left resemble that of the Gamergate movement and 8Chan: flagrant misogyny, personal attacks, doxxing, and ironic use of vulgarity.

    In writing this comment, I’ve been briefly trying to research analysis connecting Gamergate directly to Russia, but the search results I get are so polluted with bullshit and misinformation, and I’m not finding anything authoritative. E.g., this NBC piece says:

    2014 was “a dry run” in which Russia mapped the social media landscape and saw how it could be manipulated.

    But, it’s totally unclear to me where that "dry run" quote comes from. I can’t find who the source is here.

    Like the NBC piece, many sources trying to connect Russia and Gamergate cite FBI agent Clint Watts, who gave congressional testimony in 2016 about Russian influence campaigns and interference in democratic countries around the world. But, his prepared statement, and his testimony don’t call out Gamergate by name.

    The Mueller Report describes Russia’s IRA influence campaigns and their "information warfare", but that commentary is (understandably) related to the 2016 presidential election.

    9 votes
  19. Comment on What's the coronavirus like where you are? in ~health.coronavirus

    onyxleopard
    Link
    I live in Massachusetts in the northeastern US. The state’s website has a lot of information about COVID-19, including a monitoring page that lists a number of helpful statistics and is updated...

    I live in Massachusetts in the northeastern US. The state’s website has a lot of information about COVID-19, including a monitoring page that lists a number of helpful statistics and is updated daily. There is also a page about the State of Emergency declared by the governor on March 10th.

    Many schools and universities have closed for two weeks, or for the semester, and many businesses are asking employees to work from home. Still, I feel very confident that Massachusetts is acting responsibly and effectively to the situation. We have some of the best hospitals in the world here, and despite the large population in the Boston metropolitan area, I think given our strong local economy and communities, that we’ll weather this pretty well. I have much more faith in the MA state government at this point than the Federal Government, so I consider myself lucky to be where I am.

    9 votes
  20. Comment on Why are we so slow today? in ~enviro

    onyxleopard
    Link
    God forbid we think about things before doing them! There are also obviously entire other dimensions that are not mentioned in this piece, such as safety regulations for the workers who build...

    God forbid we think about things before doing them!

    There are also obviously entire other dimensions that are not mentioned in this piece, such as safety regulations for the workers who build things. Stuff like OSHA (formed in 1971). It is physically possible to build things very rapidly, but the building process won’t be safe for the workers, and the work product won’t be safe to use (esp. structures like dams or bridges). Before safety regulations were widely adopted, large infrastructure projects used to be much more dangerous (they’re still dangerous now, but not as bad).

    In terms of the Project Management Triangle, you have to be deranged to choose big scope, short timeline, and high cost, only to get a low quality result. Unfortunately, there are a lot of deranged people out there. Many of them somehow end up in project management.

    3 votes