onyxleopard's recent activity

  1. Comment on Ladybird: A new cross-platform browser project in ~comp

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    One thing that would be really nice is if more websites gracefully fell back on simple HTML/CSS in case of browser incompatibility. Force site builders to make the minimum viable version as simple...

    One thing that would be really nice is if more websites gracefully fell back on simple HTML/CSS in case of browser incompatibility. Force site builders to make the minimum viable version as simple as possible first, so that every browser has a chance, then put all the other complex layers on top so that the Chrome-verse can have their fancy web apps where it’s supported.

    If only user agents could advertise their capabilities somehow so that minimum standards could be met (rather than every browser that isn’t one of the top 3 advertising a user agent string from one of those top 3).

    2 votes
  2. Comment on Breaking down how USB4 goes where no USB standard has gone before in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    I’m not a designer and I don’t need to be a designer to find flaws in current designs. I disagree that the current design is clear in its intentions. If the USB IF insists on...

    I’m not a designer and I don’t need to be a designer to find flaws in current designs. I disagree that the current design is clear in its intentions. If the USB IF insists on pictograms/iconography, I would think developing something along the lines of the way standard laundry care pictograms work would suffice? At the very least have a battery icon with an X over it for cables that don’t carry power?

  3. Comment on Breaking down how USB4 goes where no USB standard has gone before in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    If you’re referring to using disks/diskettes as iconography for “save” dialogs, then yeah, I have the same issue with that. Though, thankfully, in modern software designs, the need to manually...

    It's also why save icons are dominated by a depiction of a storage format that's been obsolete for 30 years. It communicates what it's meant to clearly, even if it's not technically correct most of the time.

    If you’re referring to using disks/diskettes as iconography for “save” dialogs, then yeah, I have the same issue with that. Though, thankfully, in modern software designs, the need to manually save data by pressing a button/clicking an icon has met the same fate as the antiquated media on which the skeuomorphic icons on which they were based. Just because something is commonplace, or has historically been commonplace, doesn’t mean it’s not still bad design nor anachronistic in the present.

    1 vote
  4. Comment on Breaking down how USB4 goes where no USB standard has gone before in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    AA and AAA batteries may still be quite common, but the intersection of devices that charge via USB type-C PD and devices that have AA/AAA batteries inside is minuscule. Not to mention, some...

    AA and AAA batteries may still be quite common, but the intersection of devices that charge via USB type-C PD and devices that have AA/AAA batteries inside is minuscule. Not to mention, some devices that will draw power over USB don’t even have batteries at all.

  5. Comment on Breaking down how USB4 goes where no USB standard has gone before in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    (edited )
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    The USB Implementers Forum does have guidelines with logos/word marks to clarify exactly these things like data transfer and power capabilities. I think this is relatively recent, though. The...

    With that said, I'd argue that the primary frustration I have with USB C is that manufacturers seem not only indifferent, but often actively opposed, to being clear and honest about what they are selling, and no one seems motivated to improve the situation or impose some sort of standards of information.

    The USB Implementers Forum does have guidelines with logos/word marks to clarify exactly these things like data transfer and power capabilities. I think this is relatively recent, though.

    The logos don't look very well-designed to me. Why are they using a skeuomorphic cylindrical battery shape (that is >100 years old) to signify power? To match this I'd half expect semaphore flags as a skeuomorphic signifier for the data transfer logo. Also, differentiating cables that can transfer only data vs. power+data seem to only make sense if you look at them together. If you see the data only cable logo, you can only discern that it doesn't carry power due to the implicit omission of the battery symbol in the logo. That is reliant on consumers having an operating understanding that power transfer is optional and that you must look for the specific capability rather than assuming all cables with USB type-C connectors transfer power. Given that most peoples' first experience with USB type-C cables will be the charging cable that comes with a phone or laptop, this is likely to set up infelicitous expectations.

    I also haven't seen any of these logos on any real products. Maybe the market will start following the guidelines and we have to wait? By the time OEMs actually get on board with this, though, I imagine the USB spec will have iterated again and it will be continuously confusing until a new connector type standard comes along and resets all this nonsense.

    1 vote
  6. Comment on Quora+ Program: A case study in ruining a perfectly functional community forum and online information resource in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    Right good point. I’d say the caveat here is that this is a business model that predates the web. While news publications tried to adapt to the web by having free offerings, I think ultimately the...

    Right good point. I’d say the caveat here is that this is a business model that predates the web. While news publications tried to adapt to the web by having free offerings, I think ultimately the quality ones are deciding (independently) it’s not sustainable. Whereas for things that originated on the web and are web-only, I think they tend to go the other way where the free version is primary and any paid versions are only expected to be adopted by a smaller, more engaged pool.

    2 votes
  7. Comment on Quora+ Program: A case study in ruining a perfectly functional community forum and online information resource in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    Capitalists don’t tend to ponder ethics too heavily, but online communities generally do. This mirrors the “information wants to be expensive/free” tension fairly well. Capitalists see value in...

    Capitalists don’t tend to ponder ethics too heavily, but online communities generally do. This mirrors the “information wants to be expensive/free” tension fairly well. Capitalists see value in something like Quora to be extracted. Quora users will see this value extraction as unethical greed. Quora users who share this mindset will leave, and the Capitalists will reap what they’ve sewn. Capitalists will argue that this is a feature of Capitalism—the so called invisible hand of the markets. The ultimate problem is if the Capitalists have complete control of the markets, eventually there may not be anywhere left to run to when users get fed up. Then the invisible hand gets bound by an invisible rope and greed doesn’t get punished commensurately.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on Quora+ Program: A case study in ruining a perfectly functional community forum and online information resource in ~tech

    onyxleopard
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    A tension older than the internet: “Information Wants to be Free”: The history of that quote (the context of that quote is often lost, so I recommend reading the full quote). It seems to me that...

    A tension older than the internet: “Information Wants to be Free”: The history of that quote (the context of that quote is often lost, so I recommend reading the full quote).

    It seems to me that the only successful way to monetize web content, at scale, that started out free, is to start running advertisements/sponsorships. Can anyone think of counterexamples where a platform managed to continue to grow after erecting a paywall? There’s nothing inherently wrong with erecting a paywall, then contracting and finding a sustainable business model that way. But for some things like Quora+, the size of the active user base is going to have a significant effect on the quality of the content. So, even if some readers are willing to pay for quality answers, if there aren’t enough active readers and answerers, people will be unlikely to look to Quora+ in the first place.

    2 votes
  9. Comment on How a Phoenix record store owner set the audiophile world on fire in ~music

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    Thank you for explaining the exclusivity of records produced through purely analog production steps. As someone who grew up when vinyl was waning and tapes and later CDs were coming into vogue (I...

    Thank you for explaining the exclusivity of records produced through purely analog production steps. As someone who grew up when vinyl was waning and tapes and later CDs were coming into vogue (I remember going to Tower Records as a kid), it never made sense to me why original releases of vinyl records were worth more other than scarcity. I had always imagined that once you had the master up and running in the press, the press would continue working until you decided to stop it. The scarcity being related to the production process not allowing for infinite copies of the same quality due to degradation makes a lot of sense now.

    2 votes
  10. Comment on Crimes with Python's Pattern Matching in ~comp

    onyxleopard
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    ABCs are really neat, but also can make your Python code totally ungrokkable to others who try to use your code at a surface level without understanding your implementation. What this post shows...

    ABCs are really neat, but also can make your Python code totally ungrokkable to others who try to use your code at a surface level without understanding your implementation.

    What this post shows is not really that Python’s new pattern matching is dark magic, but that __subclasshook__ is dark magic. You’d have no idea about this unless you look into how the new pattern matching and subclassing interact. I’d compare this to other clever uses of Python dunder methods—it’s useful and elegant when used judiciously, but it’s anything but obvious.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on What's the point of grammatical gender? in ~humanities

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    A really great example of this is Randall Munroe's Thing Explainer.

    A really great example of this is Randall Munroe's Thing Explainer.

    In Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, things are explained in the style of Up Goer Five, using only drawings and a vocabulary of the 1,000 (or "ten hundred") most common words. Explore computer buildings (datacenters), the flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), the things you use to steer a plane (airliner cockpit controls), and the little bags of water you're made of (cells).

    3 votes
  12. Comment on What's the point of grammatical gender? in ~humanities

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    I'm not aware of any natural languages with grammars that fall outside of type-0. There may be subsets of some natural languages that don't qualify as type-0. If you find any examples (or claims...

    Do you have any examples of human languages that are not type-0?

    I'm not aware of any natural languages with grammars that fall outside of type-0. There may be subsets of some natural languages that don't qualify as type-0. If you find any examples (or claims of examples) I'd be interested to hear about it.

    If all natural languages are type-0, does that mean a type-1 language would be more of a set of instructions like RegEx or a programming language?

    It's been a while since I've studied formal language theory, but IIRC, purely regular expressions can be mapped to nondeterministic finite automata (NFAs), so are unsurprisingly, type-3. However, a lot of modern regex engines include things like groups and look-{ahead,behind}s, thus modern regexes are actually context-sensitive, pushing them into type-2 or even type-1. Programming languages like Python where indentation is semantically significant are also type-1, I think.

    A good example of type-2 languages are those whose grammars can be formalized in Backus-Naur form.

    4 votes
  13. Comment on What's the point of grammatical gender? in ~humanities

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    What is the difference between a long-winded essay and a pithy one liner that say the same thing? If your claim is that there is an extra dimension of cultural information that is being carried by...

    I don't think one can separate a language's expressivity from its efficiency.

    What is the difference between a long-winded essay and a pithy one liner that say the same thing?

    To take an example from languages I'm native in: The English language can't convey the jab of a Norwegian sarcastically saying: "How hyggelig" (literally: "How cozy/nice/enjoyable/cozy"). I could write an essay trying to get at it, but the power of the jab is lost in the essay, just like a joke dies in explanation.

    If your claim is that there is an extra dimension of cultural information that is being carried by some utterances and that this dimension of the meaning in some languages is impossible to translate to others, I'd say that there may be something to that. Unfortunately, it's really hard to falsify that hypothesis. How can you be certain that there is no way to translate it? I'd argue that most natural language utterances don't fall into this culturally loaded category, though.

    These sorts of features of conciseness in conveying specific cultural references or frames are unique from language to language.

    The phenomenon of sarcasm, generally, and litotes specifically (which I think is what this Norwegian saying is?) are most definitely cross-lingual phenomena and not unique.

    Suggesting that "every language is equally capable of expressing all of human experience" forgets that some languages are more equal than others, whether we like it or not.

    I will humbly disagree.

    6 votes
  14. Comment on What's the point of grammatical gender? in ~humanities

    onyxleopard
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    This is an interesting thing to think about. As a linguist, I actually think this is highly sensical. The arguments as for why it makes sense touch on lots of ideas across fields such as...
    • Exemplary

    But a statement such as this would seem to suggest it's impossible for one language to be more expressive than another, which seems like nonsense.

    This is an interesting thing to think about. As a linguist, I actually think this is highly sensical. The arguments as for why it makes sense touch on lots of ideas across fields such as linguistics, formal language theory, information theory, and computer science, and I think it's all quite interesting.

    In terms of the Chomsky Hierarchy (yeah, that Chomsky), which classifies languages (of any kind, including artificial ones) based on their formal structure/syntax, natural languages are type-0 (i.e., recursively enumerable). At least in terms of the syntactic structures that languages license, it's important to note that all languages of the same type in Chomsky's hierarchy are equivalently expressive. And, the formal grammars of natural languages are classified as type-0, which is the most expressive type.

    Now, the overall expressivity of languages in terms of information theory—that is, how efficient are languages in expressing the same thing, is another matter. If you want to look at written language and do text analysis, one can think about the entropy of sequences of written words. This is an information theoretic approach to the question of efficiency of expressivity. For written text, this ends up being related to the idea of how compressible text in a given language is. Since the semantics of a given natural language utterance is dependent on the individual words in the utterance, as well as the word order, one might look at the difference in entropy between the grammatical order of words in text vs. randomly shuffled (ungrammatical) sequences of the same words. Researchers did just this in this study: Universal Entropy of Word Ordering Across Linguistic Families. That study concluded:

    Our results indicate that despite the differences in the structure and vocabulary of the languages analyzed, the impact of word ordering in the structure of language is a statistical linguistic universal.

    The figures show that while the absolute entropy (measured in bits) varies across languages, the absolute difference in entropy (in bits) between texts of a given language and shuffled words in that language is near constant. I take this is as strong evidence that if you more or less factor out differences in the lexicons across natural languages, they are very similarly expressive. If you accept this, then it follows that while some languages may be able to express some things more efficiently/concisely, all natural languages are essentially equally expressive, given enough words (or enough morphemes).

    I'll caveat that if you start bringing in pragmatics and devices like metonymy, I think the picture becomes fuzzier and much more difficult to study, scientifically.

    11 votes
  15. Comment on I should be able to mute America in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    But doesn’t this imply that the cries for American Twitter to be firewalled are not actually frivolous? Like, if the author actually believes that toxicity on Twitter is solely from American...

    What if Twitter's toxicity is a distinctly American byproduct?

    But doesn’t this imply that the cries for American Twitter to be firewalled are not actually frivolous?

    Like, if the author actually believes that toxicity on Twitter is solely from American sources, wouldn’t the cries actually be non-sarcastic, but serious requests to rectify this situation?

    (I don’t actually agree that Americans have a monopoly on toxicity, but if you did take that position, then interpreting the article as completely earnest and not sarcastic seems internally consistent to me.)

    4 votes
  16. Comment on I should be able to mute America in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    American and Aussie humor are certainly not strictly overlapping sets. But, if I’m to entertain that the entire episode here is frivolous, then I’d contend that this piece isn’t really worthy of...

    American and Aussie humor are certainly not strictly overlapping sets. But, if I’m to entertain that the entire episode here is frivolous, then I’d contend that this piece isn’t really worthy of being posted on Tildes to begin with. If the actual takeaway here is “Yanks don’t get it when Aussies are taking the piss”, well that’s trivial and not worth publishing 1k+ words on.

    I thought there was a larger commentary here on a reaction to American discourse being unwelcome. With some of the comments on this Tildes thread commiserating, that sentiment seems to be earnest and heartfelt. It seems incompatible that it’s both earnest and frivolous at the same time. But maybe this is my simple American brain not being “chill” enough to assume the cognitive dissonance to accept both positions.

    1 vote
  17. Comment on I should be able to mute America in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    It seems to me those rallying behind funbunger with this cry are earnestly asking for Americans to not be allowed on funbungers’ threads. Do you disagree? As a meta-level note, I feel like I have...

    No yanks on the thread! came the rallying cry, NO YANKS ON THE THREAD!

    It seems to me those rallying behind funbunger with this cry are earnestly asking for Americans to not be allowed on funbungers’ threads. Do you disagree?

    As a meta-level note, I feel like I have these interactions quite often on Tildes. I read a post critically and I take its claims in earnest. I comment from my vantage with my personal interpretation. And then someone comes along with an interpretation that only makes sense if I discard certain (sometimes central) parts of the post either because they are sarcasm or otherwise disingenuous. Maybe in this case these cries on Twitter are sarcastic or parody or otherwise frivolous. But I find it exhausting to have to try to reparse everything and shave off every possible ambiguity in order to align on an interpretation of the source that isn’t inconsistent.

    This leaves me feeling like either I’m very bad at reading, others are very bad at reading, or everyone is bad at reading and writing and critical thinking, which are all depressing prospects.

    1 vote
  18. Comment on I should be able to mute America in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    I don’t think this is true outside of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. If you want to firewall off Americans or any other tribe that you disdain, you’re free to do so on your own...

    And it has a negative effect on all discussion, it spreads like virus and other places are importing this style of rhetoric and conflict.

    I don’t think this is true outside of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. If you want to firewall off Americans or any other tribe that you disdain, you’re free to do so on your own platform. But, you can’t hop on these global platforms and demand they cater to your specific demands. That is self-centered nonsense just as much as uninformed foreigners butting into conversations without context or proper socialization.

    1 vote
  19. Comment on I should be able to mute America in ~tech

    onyxleopard
    Link Parent
    So he wants Americans to read his tweets, but not see their responses? That’s not what I took from this, but if that’s really the case it seems like a juvenile power fantasy.

    So he wants Americans to read his tweets, but not see their responses? That’s not what I took from this, but if that’s really the case it seems like a juvenile power fantasy.

    4 votes
  20. Comment on I should be able to mute America in ~tech

    onyxleopard
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    I can understand the sentiment of wanting to keep your conversations local, but I have two reactions to this. One: If you only want to communicate with locals, then maybe the web isn’t the right...

    I can understand the sentiment of wanting to keep your conversations local, but I have two reactions to this.

    One: If you only want to communicate with locals, then maybe the web isn’t the right place for your discourse? It’s called the world wide web for a reason.

    Two: Twitter is essentially an American export. If people want to make an Australia-only Twitter competitor, just do that? If there was actually a market for such a thing I’d imagine it already exists. I’m sure you can find a smaller pond like an Aussie subreddit if that’s what you want. But, people clearly want the global town square thing that Twitter offers, so complaining about an essential feature of the platform seems misguided to me.

    12 votes