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    1. What should a layperson know about AI?

      Asking for a friend. 😉 In all seriousness, the question was inspired by the news out of Google and specifically @Whom's comment here. What should non-technical laypeople know about AI? The info...

      Asking for a friend. 😉

      In all seriousness, the question was inspired by the news out of Google and specifically @Whom's comment here.

      What should non-technical laypeople know about AI?

      The info doesn't have to be limited to just this particular news item either. What information would you want included in an AI 101 rundown? What is it currently used for? What will it do in the future? What are its limitations? What are its potentials?

      And, of course, how should people interpret stuff like today's big news item?

      15 votes
    2. Can someone explain the systemd controversy to a nontechnical user?

      A project I'm working on requires me to cover a bit of comedy targeting Lennart Poettering as it's tangentially related, and I'd like to have more context even though it's not strictly necessary....

      A project I'm working on requires me to cover a bit of comedy targeting Lennart Poettering as it's tangentially related, and I'd like to have more context even though it's not strictly necessary. I'm a nontechnical Linux user who used the OS before systemd came around, but really the only impact on my life it's had is that I occasionally use systemctl to control services.

      Though I wasn't paying as much attention to the community around the time major distributions switched, I've been casually exposed to criticism of it ever since I came back, and I'd like to make sense of it all and form an opinion beyond "I like Fedora and GNOME and it seems to go hand-in-hand with those". I've read The Biggest Myths, the Wikipedia article, some stuff on freedesktop.org, and of course absorbed the venom slung back and forth over systemd in every FOSS community, but it's hard to get a full picture. And a picture from 2022, for that matter, as a lot of this information comes from its early days. Help me out?

      24 votes
    3. What's the big deal with Electron?

      I thought about asking this over here but didn't want to potentially derail the thread. As a lay user, I honestly don't know what Electron is and couldn't tell you whether or not a particular...

      I thought about asking this over here but didn't want to potentially derail the thread.

      As a lay user, I honestly don't know what Electron is and couldn't tell you whether or not a particular app/program uses it. However, hanging out in techy spaces has helped me understand that people have some very strong opinions on it, often viscerally negative ones.

      Think of this like an r/ELI5 thread: what is Electron, and why is it so polarizing? Many companies seem to be choosing it, so it seems like there's some major benefit to it, but many well-informed people, including lots of people in software development, seem to absolutely hate it. What's going on there?

      30 votes
    4. Why have web pages dropped the www?

      I don't know where to put this question, if here or in ~tech, but I chose here due to I want a response for someone who doesn't know all about internet. So my question is: why there is a trend of...

      I don't know where to put this question, if here or in ~tech, but I chose here due to I want a response for someone who doesn't know all about internet.

      So my question is: why there is a trend of removing the www of every web address? why it was standard in the first place and not now?

      There are a handful of popular web pages that don't use a triple w in their link and they have replaced it or removed it. Tildes, for example, doesn't need triple w. Why?

      17 votes
    5. Why do computers running Windows get progressively slower over time?

      I promise this is a genuine question and not a Windows hit piece. Every Windows computer I've ever had has slowly gotten laggier over time until my impatience has forced me to reinstall the OS to...

      I promise this is a genuine question and not a Windows hit piece.

      Every Windows computer I've ever had has slowly gotten laggier over time until my impatience has forced me to reinstall the OS to get the speed boost that comes with a fresh copy. In the schools I've worked in, computer labs and carts full of Windows machines have slowly sunsetted, becoming wholly unusable over time. I think Chromebooks have taken over education in part because they have a snappiness to them that sticks around for a long time, unlike the decay demonstrated by Windows computers.

      In my current job, I was issued a Windows computer and a Chromebook at the same time, when I was hired. The Chromebook is still chugging along just fine, but the once fresh and quick Windows computer is now ramping down. I know it's not because of startup or background programs latching on over time because I don't have admin rights and thus can't install anything! I'm not a power user either. I really only ever run a browser with minimal tabs, along with the very occasional instance of office software and/or PDF reader. That's it. And what used to be instant and quick is now like... trudging... through... sludge...

      Is there some fundamental design flaw in Windows? Am I finding a pattern where none exists? Do I not have enough experience with other OSes to know that this is true for them too? I'd love someone's insight on this topic.

      26 votes
    6. reCAPTCHA: Is there method in monotony?

      What started out as a little facetious in my own head leads me now to a serious question. Is there some meaningful reason why Google has to use a subsection of images for reCAPTCHA? I really...

      What started out as a little facetious in my own head leads me now to a serious question. Is there some meaningful reason why Google has to use a subsection of images for reCAPTCHA? I really dislike having to do this and at the very least would appreciate some variation.

      • Traffic Lights
      • Buses
      • Bicycles
      • Cars
      • Crosswalks

      Is there something special about these things in this context? Is the visual noise they're usually associated with what makes them good candidates? Are Google just really into urban planning? Who knows...I'm hoping some Tilder smarter than I can help me out.

      10 votes
    7. How do you turn a smart TV into a dumb TV?

      I've been lamenting the death of the dumb TV for years now, but I'm finally in the market for a new set and trying to plan my next purchase carefully. I've come to grips with the fact that any...

      I've been lamenting the death of the dumb TV for years now, but I'm finally in the market for a new set and trying to plan my next purchase carefully.

      I've come to grips with the fact that any late-model TV I buy is going to feature some or all of the following:

      • Internet connectivity
      • Slow, janky menu screens with awful UIs
      • Pre-installed apps (all of which I consider bloatware)
      • Ads incorporated into the built-in menus or overlaid on my content
      • Alexa / Google Home integration
      • Automatic content recognition and/or other data collection techniques
      • Microphones or cameras, purportedly for voice/gesture control

      My goal is to take a stock smart TV and completely neuter all of the above, resulting in an otherwise fully functional dumb TV. All of my content will be delivered over HDMI from external devices.

      As I understand it, basically all modern TVs are running one of five operating systems: Android TV, webOS, Tizen, Roku TV, or SmartCast. Not knowing anything about these platforms, where should I begin? Which are most susceptible to rooting? Are there any good custom ROMs I could install that would achieve what I'm looking for? Surely others have asked these same questions before me, but I can't find the answers online.

      Yes, this is a companion post to my other home theater question earlier today.

      37 votes
    8. Is it possible to moderate a group chat on Facebook?

      Long story, but I've ended up becoming the admin of a group on Facebook (the previous admin stepped down in a rush, and added me as he left). And the group has an existing group chat associated...

      Long story, but I've ended up becoming the admin of a group on Facebook (the previous admin stepped down in a rush, and added me as he left). And the group has an existing group chat associated with it.

      Is it possible to "moderate" this group chat? Specifically, as an admin of the group, can I remove unsavoury/unwanted messages from the chat associated with the group? It looks like I can't.

      Can even the creator of a group chat do this? If I close the group chat and create a new one, will I (as its creator) be able to remove unsavoury/unwanted messages from that new chat?

      I've done some searching via Google, and I'm not finding anything to indicate that this is possible. If someone posts something unsavoury in a group chat, it looks like the only option is to remove the person from the chat - but the unsavoury messages can't be deleted.

      Please tell me that's wrong!

      6 votes
    9. #DataScience Hive mind: I’m writing an article about the career path for job-changers who want to get into data science fields. I’d love your input.

      It’s no secret that data science is a good career path. The jobs are in demand, the salaries are compelling, and the work is interesting. So how does someone break in? In particular, I’m...

      It’s no secret that data science is a good career path. The jobs are in demand, the salaries are compelling, and the work is interesting. So how does someone break in?

      In particular, I’m interested in how an experienced IT professional can move into data science. What advice would you give to someone with, say, five years of computing experience, who wants to break into the field? Tell me about the skills required, where you’d tell your friend to go to acquire them, and how to get a job without a specialized degree. What would make you say, “I want to hire this person, even if the individual lacks the relevant schooling”?

      6 votes
    10. Is there a proxy/vpn setup that can compress data in situ?

      I've been wondering about this for a while whenever I'm on a metered connection or a capped one. It'd be cool if I could use my vps to help save data in exchange for latency. Having it download...

      I've been wondering about this for a while whenever I'm on a metered connection or a capped one.

      It'd be cool if I could use my vps to help save data in exchange for latency. Having it download and compress any compressible materials before serving them would be a godsend, but it sounds very edge case-y given how places like youtube deliver videos in bite size peices

      Does something like this sound at all possible, or should I just assume it's too niché and look for other data saving ways?

      7 votes
    11. How does the USA have jurisdiction over Huawei's alleged sales to Iran?

      It took a while for this to sink in, since the arrest of Huawei's Chief Financial Controller a few days ago, but... How does the USA have jurisdiction over Huawei's alleged sales to Iran? Huawei...

      It took a while for this to sink in, since the arrest of Huawei's Chief Financial Controller a few days ago, but...

      How does the USA have jurisdiction over Huawei's alleged sales to Iran?

      Huawei is a Chinese company, not an American company. Sure, the USA has imposed sanctions on trading with Iran - but surely those sanctions would apply only to American companies. How does the U.S. government have jurisdiction over what a Chinese company does?

      11 votes
    12. Which setting on router should be used to secure home network?

      Like millions of people, I have a router at home, with WiFi and admin passwords set up. If an attacker request comes in, there are no port forwarding rules set, and the router should say "hey...

      Like millions of people, I have a router at home, with WiFi and admin passwords set up.

      If an attacker request comes in, there are no port forwarding rules set, and the router should say "hey request from the internet, I don't know to which device you want to go, sorry I'll drop you then", and I'm secure. But I don't think it's that simple. If a packet from the outer network can attack my LAN without using port forwarding, how?

      Which router settings should I be really looking for to make home LAN more secure? Or what are the keywords of network security to start with?

      11 votes
    13. What does big data look like when cross-referenced?

      Google knows a lot about its users. Facebook knows a lot about its users. FitBit knows a lot about its users. And so on. But what happens when these companies all sell their data sets to one...

      Google knows a lot about its users. Facebook knows a lot about its users. FitBit knows a lot about its users. And so on.

      But what happens when these companies all sell their data sets to one another? It'd be pretty trivial to link even anonymized users from set to set by looking for specific features. If I went for a run, Google tracked my location, FitBit tracked my heart rate, and Facebook tracked my status about my new best mile time, for example. Thus, Google can narrow down who I am in the other sets using pre-existing information that coincides with theirs. With enough overlap they can figure out exactly who I am fairly easily. Furthermore, each additional layer of data makes this discovery process from new data sets even easier, as it gives more opportunities to confirm or rule out concurrent info. So then when, say, Credit Karma, Comcast, and Amazon's data enter the fray, my online identity stops looking like an individual egg in each different basket but a whole lot of eggs in all in one. And they can do this across millions/billions of users--not just me!

      I don't know for certain that this is a thing that happens, but... I have to assume it definitely is happening, right? How could it not? With how valuable data is and how loose protections are, this seems like a logical and potentially very lucrative step.

      Right now, is there an aggregate version of "me" that exists in a data store somewhere that is a more comprehensive and accurate picture than my own self-image? After all, my memory and perception are imperfect and biased, but data stores aren't.

      6 votes
    14. Does a trustworthy VPN provide privacy? If so, how do you know if a VPN is trustworthy?

      It's hard to get a straight answer on this because there are allegations of shilling everywhere when it comes to VPNs (particularly when you discuss specific providers). There's also this post...

      It's hard to get a straight answer on this because there are allegations of shilling everywhere when it comes to VPNs (particularly when you discuss specific providers). There's also this post which gets linked pretty frequently and which seems to throw a wrench in the whole idea.

      For context, I ask because I have two main concerns:

      1. I have been the subject of a mild internet stalking/doxing, and I have no wish to relive that experience.
      2. I live in the United States and, if I am understanding things correctly, my ISP now has the right to sell my browsing data without my consent.

      I have no love for my ISP and am all about the idea of blocking them from gathering data about me, but it seems the only other option is to hand all of my data over to another company who simply promises not to do anything with it. While I'm sure some of them are legitimate, how can you tell the difference between a genuine privacy tool and a honeypot?

      23 votes
    15. Why is there just 3 main PC operation systems? Is there room to market a platform that isn't as intrusive as Windows 10, but more user friendly than Linux based ones?

      After trying windows 10 a few years ago and disabling all the marketing stuff and disabling other features that hinder performance, I've been curious why my only other real choice is linux, or...

      After trying windows 10 a few years ago and disabling all the marketing stuff and disabling other features that hinder performance, I've been curious why my only other real choice is linux, or reverting back to windows 7.

      34 votes