smores's recent activity

  1. Comment on I broke my MacBook user profile by deleting a single folder in ~tech

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    This is devastatingly unsatisfying. I want to understand what the heck happened so badly!

    This is devastatingly unsatisfying. I want to understand what the heck happened so badly!

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

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    Maybe, but is it necessarily worse than corporations profiting off of answers provided by volunteers without compensating them? My understanding is that part of this program is also compensating...

    Isn't it very unethical of them to use these free resources, openness of Internet and geek culture to grow into a corporation and now trying to gatekeep others of the same resources?

    Maybe, but is it necessarily worse than corporations profiting off of answers provided by volunteers without compensating them? My understanding is that part of this program is also compensating answerers with some of the excess revenue they expect to raise.

    I’m not totally convinced that asking for money in exchange for information is inherently unethical, either; such feelings don’t (in my experience, at least) seem to apply to books or newspapers.

    Re: using open source software to build a closed/paid product, I don’t know if that’s unethical, either. If it is, you’d have to be willing to make the argument that all paid software products using an open source language (that is, quite a huge fraction of them ) are unethical, and that doesn’t quite pass the smell test for me. And what about open, non-software technologies? Is it unethical to require payment for a book that you write, because some of the information you used in that book was learned at a public library?

    I suppose the answer to these questions could be “yes”, actually, if fundamentally your argument is “I don’t agree with the ethics of capitalism,” which… me neither. Seriously, I don’t agree with the ethics of capitalism. But a paywall on Quora doesn’t feel like a particularly worse flavor of capitalist ethics than an ad-supported free Quora that doesn’t compensate its content producers, to me, at least.

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

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    Several newsmedia companies (maybe most notably The New York Times) introduced paywalls after several years of providing ad-funded content free for readers. The Times launched its website in… I...

    Can anyone think of counterexamples where a platform managed to continue to grow after erecting a paywall?

    Several newsmedia companies (maybe most notably The New York Times) introduced paywalls after several years of providing ad-funded content free for readers. The Times launched its website in… I want to say 1996? And didn’t add a paywall until 2011.

    Newspapers definitely don’t need to rely on a sizable user base to actually produce content, but perhaps unsurprisingly, it was still crucial when these paywalls were created that the amount of overall traffic continue to increase. Part of the way that the Times did this was initially launching with fairly lax rules (here’s an article from their initial launch that describes the original metering rules). Even now, the Times only has a “soft” paywall, and just launched an AI system to try to bring even more nuance to the metering system.

    You could imagine a version of this for Quora that would maybe feel less gross. Some number of free questions per month, and an increase to that number if you answered a question (or even asked one), or something. Basically encouraging participation.

    6 votes
  4. Comment on Looking for some long book series recommendations in ~books

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    I’m currently reading through the books after watching the show. I think this is a good call. The show plots barely deviate from the books (it’s honestly very impressive), which is making books 5...

    I’m currently reading through the books after watching the show. I think this is a good call. The show plots barely deviate from the books (it’s honestly very impressive), which is making books 5 and 6 a bit of a slog (no aliens!). I am excited to finally get to read books 7-9, but it did feel like a bit of a chore working through parts of the books that I remembered very well from the show.

    4 votes
  5. Comment on Looking for some long book series recommendations in ~books

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    Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere series? There are several multi-book series, a few standalone novels, and some short stories. They’re all quite good, and he releases new books at...

    Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere series? There are several multi-book series, a few standalone novels, and some short stories. They’re all quite good, and he releases new books at a truly astonishing pace. The series are only lightly interrelated; you can certainly read each one without having read any of the others, but there are some characters that cross over and the lore is deepened across the series. Some of them are finished, some are not, but, again, he’s remarkably dependable as an author in terms of release schedule.

    Current series in the Cosmere:

    Mistborn (3 novels, complete): The series expands in scope pretty dramatically over the course of the novels. The world building and magic systems are, in my opinion, excellent. The characters are a little less interesting than some of Sanderson’s later works, but it’s still a great read.

    Wax & Wayne (4 books, last book comes out this year): In the same world as Mistborn, but several centuries later. Feels a lot tighter than Mistborn, and very fun. Has a Western genre feel to it, but still solidly a fantasy series, and the magic system is even cooler and more fun than Mistborn.

    The Stormlight Archives (10 books, 5th book comes out next year): This is very much not complete, though my understanding is that the fifth book next year will sort of close one “chapter” the the Stormlight Archives. These books are huge (over 1000 pages, audiobooks 45 hours long), and awesome. Excellent character development, very fun and mysterious fantasy plot, and very fun magic system.

    Standalone novels in the Cosmere:

    Elantris: This is a pretty good book. It’s (I’m pretty sure?) the book that kicks off the Cosmere, and it definitely isn’t as strong as some of his more recent stuff, but personally I enjoyed the main characters and thought the magic system was cool and the plot was enjoyable.

    Warbreaker: In my opinion, this book has some of Sanderson’s worst character writing (amusingly, the same characters show up in later series and are much more interesting), but the plot is interesting, and the magic system is very cool. There’s potentially an upcoming sequel for Warbreaker that I’m fairly excited about, though it won’t be released for quite a while.

    There’s also Arcanum Unbounded, a collection of short stories that take place in the Cosmere. Some are addendums to the above novels and series, and some take place in locations or with characters that are otherwise not discussed.

    6 votes
  6. Comment on What are you battling with right now? in ~talk

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    For what it’s worth, I am a pretty big runner and rock climber, and very low body fat. I exercise most days of the week. I absolutely cannot do 100 pushups in a row. That’s… awesome. That’s so...

    For what it’s worth, I am a pretty big runner and rock climber, and very low body fat. I exercise most days of the week.

    I absolutely cannot do 100 pushups in a row. That’s… awesome. That’s so many fucking pushups.

    If I take two weeks off of rock climbing, even though my body doesn’t change shape essentially at all, my neurological conditioning deteriorates (this is normal!) and it feels like I’ve lost a year of progress. Which is I guess to say: your weight might have changed, but that’s not necessarily why you feel worse! You’ve probably lost some of your neurological conditioning you had when you were playing sports more actively. If I were you, I might focus on getting more active for its own sake. It probably won’t take long to rebuild that neurological conditioning, and start to feel much better, whether or not it results in weight change!

    7 votes
  7. Comment on Interlinear Books: Learn between the lines (Subtitled books) in ~books

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    I have the sense that I’m only preaching to the choir here, but it goes even farther than what you’ve said here. When you’re a young child, nearly every proficient language speaker you interact...

    I have the sense that I’m only preaching to the choir here, but it goes even farther than what you’ve said here. When you’re a young child, nearly every proficient language speaker you interact with is CONSTANTLY giving you feedback on your speaking. Adults repeat what children say back to them as one of the primary forms of interaction, and they do so with corrections. Through this process, children get near instant feedback on grammar and pronunciation the vast majority of their waking hours, of the nature adults often only get in a formal academic setting.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on Contra Wirecutter on the IKEA air purifier in ~health

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    Hi! I uhhh work at the company that owns Wirecutter! I guess I don’t have any proof of this, but I personally know several Wirecutter writers. They… do not make recommendation decisions based on...

    Hi! I uhhh work at the company that owns Wirecutter! I guess I don’t have any proof of this, but I personally know several Wirecutter writers. They… do not make recommendation decisions based on affiliate revenue, full stop. They go through a ton of work to pull initial lists of options, whittle that down to a testable set, and then do fairly rigorous testing to make their choices. Obviously sometimes this process is not perfect. Regardless, affiliate links come last, after recommendations are made!

    Just adding to weight to what you were already saying!

    6 votes
  9. Comment on Language learning thread #1 - Share your progress, tips and questions in ~humanities

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    I just started doing this; it's doing two things for me, I think. Firstly, it's encouraging me to think about Hebrew a lot more, which is valuable on its own for keeping me invested/on track....

    I just started doing this; it's doing two things for me, I think. Firstly, it's encouraging me to think about Hebrew a lot more, which is valuable on its own for keeping me invested/on track. Secondly, it's teaching me about some colloquialisms that I haven't been exposed to yet, like using letters of the alpha bet as a shorthand for writing days of the week.

    e.g. Wednesday

    יום רביעי (fourth day)

    יום ד (day "Dalet", or fourth day)

    2 votes
  10. Comment on Language learning thread #1 - Share your progress, tips and questions in ~humanities

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    I haven’t heard of Tandem, but I’ll check it out! I’m going to try to find some Hebrew TV shows to watch, too (or maybe just any shows with Hebrew dubs, which… might not be so common but we’ll see!)

    I haven’t heard of Tandem, but I’ll check it out! I’m going to try to find some Hebrew TV shows to watch, too (or maybe just any shows with Hebrew dubs, which… might not be so common but we’ll see!)

    1 vote
  11. Comment on Language learning thread #1 - Share your progress, tips and questions in ~humanities

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    I have seen folks do this before! I have a question: Is there a level of familiarity/fluency you get to before doing this, or is this one of the first steps you take? I’m trying to decide whether...

    All my devices are now in the target language

    I have seen folks do this before! I have a question: Is there a level of familiarity/fluency you get to before doing this, or is this one of the first steps you take? I’m trying to decide whether or not to do this (I just tried it on my iPad, everything is now right-to-left which is fun). One of the challenges I find myself facing with Hebrew is that, because written Hebrew doesn’t contain any vowel sounds, you can’t actually “sound out” Hebrew words. You can make educated guesses once you have more comfort than I currently have, but you more or less need to hear a word spoken in order to know how to pronounce it. I’m worried about guessing about pronunciations while mucking around on my devices and having to unlearn my incorrect guesses later on (but maybe this is true of all languages to some extent and I just shouldn’t worry about it?)

    1 vote
  12. Comment on Language learning thread #1 - Share your progress, tips and questions in ~humanities

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    This is so interesting to me. It seems to be a not uncommon experience for folks that learn English as a second language (I understand this to be partly because English is such a common second...

    Then we got cable, and I was exposed to English speaking every day. One day I disabled the subtitles on CNN, and was surprised to see that I understood quite a bit.

    This is so interesting to me. It seems to be a not uncommon experience for folks that learn English as a second language (I understand this to be partly because English is such a common second language and partly because there’s so much popular English-language media). What I’m always curious about is: To what extent (if at all) were you trying to learn English when you were watching Friends and Seinfield? Were you intentionally trying to match sounds to captions as you watched, or is it just something your brain turned out to be tracking in the background?

    2 votes
  13. Comment on Language learning thread #1 - Share your progress, tips and questions in ~humanities

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    This is great, thank you @Adys! I’ve been working on Hebrew fairly regularly for the past few weeks. This is attempt number two for me (if you don’t count Hebrew school as a kid, which… I don’t),...

    This is great, thank you @Adys!

    I’ve been working on Hebrew fairly regularly for the past few weeks. This is attempt number two for me (if you don’t count Hebrew school as a kid, which… I don’t), but the fact that my fiancée has also started it up gives me some more confidence that we’ll be able to stick to it.

    Currently, I just use Rosetta Stone for about 30 minutes every day. Sometimes I push it to more like an hour. Rosetta Stone has been really great; from what I’ve seen some of you all say about Olly’s Story method, I think there are some similarities. I really like Rosetta Stone: it interleaves several variations on the basic model of associating words and phrases directly with images, and the phrases and sentences ramped up in complexity fairly quickly, but still feel manageable. There are also periodic milestones with mock spoken conversations, and there’s an emphasis on speaking and pronunciation that I really appreciate.

    I’m definitely at a little bit of a head start here because I am already very familiar with the Hebrew alphabet, but I never really learned any proper pronunciation, and the Hebrew “ר” sound (IPA: [ʀ]) is proving to be super challenging. It’s also very satisfying to hear myself improving over time, though!!

    EDIT: Apparently, standardized modern Hebrew mostly uses [ʁ̞], not [ʀ]! Rosetta Stone speakers are split on the pronunciation. This is making me realize the value of @Adys’s practice of consuming large amounts of target-language spoken media; it would be helpful to understand better how modern Hebrew is pronounced by a variation of actual speakers!

    .. I’ll probably still keep practicing the uvular trill, though. I really enjoy being able to do it :D

    1 vote
  14. Comment on The six villains of language learning in ~humanities

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    My fiancée and I are learning Hebrew with Rosetta stone; I would happily join in on a weekly language learning thread!

    My fiancée and I are learning Hebrew with Rosetta stone; I would happily join in on a weekly language learning thread!

    2 votes
  15. Comment on Judge blocks Texas investigating families of trans youth in ~lgbt

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    Yeah, I feel you. I think, for me, in addition to the practical trade-offs (it would be expensive, my particular career pays better in the US than pretty much anywhere else in the world, it would...

    Yeah, I feel you. I think, for me, in addition to the practical trade-offs (it would be expensive, my particular career pays better in the US than pretty much anywhere else in the world, it would suddenly become very challenging to see my friends and family), there are definitely several moral/ethical challenges that I struggle with.

    Like you said, it feels like giving up. A democracy functions through participation; we, at least nominally, make progress through collective action and education. Just up and leaving is very much the opposite of that. It feels like admitting defeat.

    Relatedly, part of the reason that admitting defeat is so devastating is that I, like you, am fairly privileged to even be considering this route. I’m also privileged in several other ways, all of which contribute to my being in a position to actively consider this choice. As you say, most people in America do not have this privilege. That means admitting defeat isn’t just saying “damn, I guess it won’t get better”, it’s condemning all of those less fortunate than me to suffer through this defeat, and to do it without my support.

    I don’t know what to do with that. Surely I have (and feel) an obligation to my neighbors, my community, and my country to support them and give back. But… I also know that in the not-so-distant future, I plan to have a family, and where I have that family matters! I have more power over the conditions that my children are raised in than I have over the conditions my neighbors live in; does that mean that I should wield that power to put my immediate family in a better position to live life happily and freely, even at the potential expense of removing myself from my community’s (and country’s) system of support, permanently? Do I even have a positive impact on my community now? How would I evaluate such a thing? Does it even make sense to consider this move more than the one I made last summer from a different town in a different state to our home now?

    I feel like I basically can not possibly answer any of these questions. I’m also starting to think more about how I might be using them to avoid a more fundamental conversation (and thank you @spctrvl for your post, which helped solidify this for me): I’m really just afraid. What I see happening around me is people with whom I have fundamental philosophical differences coming into more and more power, and I am frightened of what they are doing with that power now, and what it suggests they might do with it in the future. And I feel a strong temptation to act from that place of fear, and I think that I might be trying to use these questions as a way of avoiding confronting that fear.

    Unfortunately I still don’t really know what to do, right now, but… thank you anyway to everyone who’s participated in this conversation. Happy to keep talking about this more, too, if people are interested.

    6 votes
  16. Comment on Judge blocks Texas investigating families of trans youth in ~lgbt

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    Yeah, absolutely. I am lucky enough to have a straightforward path to citizenship in another country, and even so, the hurdles seem pretty tremendous. I definitely didn’t mean to imply that there...

    emigration to a country of similar or better standard of living than the US is almost only on the table for people already wealthy enough to insulate themselves from the effects of our ongoing social collapse.

    Yeah, absolutely. I am lucky enough to have a straightforward path to citizenship in another country, and even so, the hurdles seem pretty tremendous. I definitely didn’t mean to imply that there was a threshold at which anyone should leave their country, either, I’m mostly trying to understand how other folks are doing this calculus (if anyone else even is). It’s not a solution of any kind in any real sense, at least not for those most at risk.

    Also for trans people specifically, to my knowledge there is at time of writing almost nowhere on Earth better to live in (pertaining to trans issues) than US blue states.

    I’m glad you mentioned this. I’ll do some more research, but I’m willing to believe this is true. My state continues to make progress on many social issues; it’s what I see in other (sometimes neighboring!) states that has me most frightened/shaken/angry/etc. The decline isn’t uniform.

    4 votes
  17. Comment on Judge blocks Texas investigating families of trans youth in ~lgbt

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    Alright, I have a question for Americans here (would love to hear from American ex-pats, too): What’s your threshold for social regression before you actually leave the country? I don’t live in...

    Alright, I have a question for Americans here (would love to hear from American ex-pats, too):

    What’s your threshold for social regression before you actually leave the country?

    I don’t live in Texas, or in a remotely red state, but state-run witch-hunts for families of transgender children genuinely makes my blood run cold. Enacting laws that allow prosecutors to charge women who had abortions (or, let’s be honest, miscarriages even, most likely) with murder is genuinely terrifying. The list of regressions happening now or staged for the near future is… long. And awful.

    My fiancée is an Irish citizen. When we get married, I’ll be able to become one, too. We’d be able to move anywhere in the EU (honestly, Ireland is near the top of the list). But… all of our family and friends live here. We just bought a house we love. We have jobs we love. There’s so much we’d be giving up, and I just don’t know how to weigh the options.

    4 votes
  18. Comment on What programming/technical projects have you been working on? in ~comp

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    For the past few months, I’ve been implementing an open source command line tool that supports the Visual Studio Code “devcontainer” specification. I use the Remote - Containers extension for all...

    For the past few months, I’ve been implementing an open source command line tool that supports the Visual Studio Code “devcontainer” specification. I use the Remote - Containers extension for all software development, and have for a while now, and I truly love it. I haven’t had to think about managing different compiler/interpreter versions across projects in months.

    Several of my coworkers don’t use VS Code, though, and I wanted to make something so that people could use dev containers without VS Code, if they wanted to. Hence, the Open Devcontainer project (odc). It’s also been a great opportunity for me to learn Go, which I’d never used before but has proven to be an excellent choice for CLI development, and to get more familiar with Docker internals.

    I finally got it to a point where I am now able to consistently use it for my own development needs. I even added an option to install code-server, an open source VS Code fork, within odc containers, which means I can develop on my iPad connected to dev containers running on my home server, which I’ve been doing for the past week!

    3 votes
  19. Comment on You should compile your Python and here’s why in ~comp

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    So I quite liked this post, but I think its conclusion is a little odd. The post makes several very strong claims about algorithmic optimization of Python, the value of Mypyc, and readability,...

    So I quite liked this post, but I think its conclusion is a little odd. The post makes several very strong claims about algorithmic optimization of Python, the value of Mypyc, and readability, but… the example it chooses at the end doesn’t really seem to back up those claims? As far as I can see, Mypyc only had moderate improvements on the naïve Python implementation’s performance (don’t get me wrong, I agree with the author; 25% speedup for free is very convincing!); the most significant performance improvement by far was due to optimizing the Python code by hand. I would argue that the result of this hand tuning is Python code that’s significantly less readable than the equivalent C code, by the way.

    It’s still very cool how much Mypyc can give you for free! Especially for server-side applications, where you have control over the runtime environment, this seems like a very, very low-cost source of performance improvements!

    4 votes
  20. Comment on Fitness Weekly Discussion in ~health

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    After almost a year of working back up, I think I’m finally back at my strongest rock climbing form. I haven’t felt this good since… 2019? Yesterday I onsighted a 5.11b on lead (sorry, that’s a...

    After almost a year of working back up, I think I’m finally back at my strongest rock climbing form. I haven’t felt this good since… 2019? Yesterday I onsighted a 5.11b on lead (sorry, that’s a lot of jargon, happy to explain if anyone’s curious) in the gym, and it felt incredible.

    Also, next week is the last week in my 6-month break from running to attempt to recover from my IT Band Syndrome, which totally knocked me out last spring. I’m really, really hoping I’ll be able to run again this summer.

    3 votes