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Nick Alcock
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Nick Alcock

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It's common for things to be described as 'exclusive' which just aren't, but this one takes the cake. The most excellent +Scientific American just sent me a renewal notice in which they said that 'as a member of our exclusive Automatic Renewal Program' I would get a subscription renewal.

One wonders just what that means. I think it must mean that nobody else operates a program precisely like this. Since almost every periodical on the face of the Earth operates an automatic credit-card-based renewal program this seems to be false on its face, but I think I need to be even more pedantic: no-one but Scientific American can automatically take money from my credit card in exchange for, uh, a Scientific American subscription.

This is completely unsurprising -- indeed anything else would be a titanic security hole -- and seems to leave the word 'exclusive' meaning nothing useful at all.

#pedantry  
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Xah Lee
 
i really liked to like Scientific American, since in college in 1991. Read quite a lot of it in 1990s. But, i don't think i ever liked any articles from it, except some math creation columns. As much as i love science and technical writing about it, for some reason the writing style of SA i never found clear or enjoyable.
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So the polling percentages were almost exactly what people thought they would be before the Scottish referendum campaign entered its final weeks.

Again and again we see this -- not-close races which mysteriously transform into close ones through error of polling just when it would sell more newspapers, then transform back. I wonder what the cause is? I'm unwilling to blame conspiracy -- it seems more likely to be a convenient coincidence of factors which recurs again and again, and is to the benefit of everyone with power to change it so it is never changed.
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Nate Silver would have you believe polls are pretty accurate, especially toward the point of voting.

Ben Goldacre would have you believe journalists are out to sell human-interest/drama stories rather than publish factual research.

Take your pick...
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The latest Yatse update has entirely broken function on Android 4.0 tablets -- or at least it has on mine. (I'd report this on yatse.leetzone.org, but registration doesn't seem to work and there is no visible way to email the author: hence this last-ditch attempt to report it. I hate the modern Internet.)

Touching the yatse widget drops straight back out to the desktop and flips state to 'XBMC Not Available" after sending a couple of RPC requests to xbmc.

The logcat shows that dalvik is segfaulting. Very partial Java backtrace because I'm typing this in by hand:
org.leetzone.android.yatsewidget.MenuManager.<init>(MenuManager.java:-1)
org.leetzone.android.yatsewidget.ui.BaseFragmentActivity.onCreate(BaseFragmentActivity.java:287)

This did not happen in the last release, which worked perfectly well for me.
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Dug a crash and tombstone off: email sent. Sorry about this. (I wonder what's special about my configuration... probably the no-name vendor broke Android in some horrible obscure fashion. Of course there are no updates to its OS, there have never been any updates, throw the hardware over the wall and be done with it, they say...)
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Nick Alcock

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So +Xah Lee asked us for shots of our Emacsen in use in anger so he could see what colour scheme we used. Here's mine (displaying parts of <https://oss.oracle.com/git/?p=linux-uek3-3.8.git;a=blob;f=scripts/dwarf2ctf/dwarf2ctf.c;hb=HEAD>: this bit happens to be unmodified so you can't see the git-gutter-fringe, but it's there nonetheless). I've used pretty much this colour scheme for roughly eighteen years now, and if you go back to the Borland IDEs it's vaguely inspired by, for more like a quarter of a century.

As you can see I like window splits. If anything the thing is split into fewer windows than usual (that big blank section in the middle cries out MOAR WINDOWS to me: I have a command that tries to fit the vertical split to the displayed code, but I forgot to use it before taking this screenshot). There's a second monitor containing another Emacs frame full of more code, not shown here, and a whole second Emacs in a different virtual desktop, running as a different user with my Gnus and things like that in it.
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+Michael Lockhart f.lux works on Mac and Linux too. You can get away for free by using llama to automate lux on android. (Although f.lux is being ported to android as we speak) 
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Nick Alcock

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WTF of the day. YouTube is "a place for meaningful human interaction"? Has Philipp Pfeiffenberger seen YouTube comment threads? They're a sewer.

The reason for this post is, of course, that they're fighting YouTube clickspam because it directly harms their advertisers. Nobody else actually cares to any great extent about the count of views a video gets.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 10:38 AM. Posted by Philipp Pfeiffenberger, Software Engineer YouTube isn't just a place for videos, it's a place for meaningful human interaction. Whether it's views, likes, or comments, these interactions both represent and inform how creators connect with their ...
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Seen any sign of it? ... no, me neither.

Once a toxic culture is locked in like that, it takes shutting the whole site down and restarting it under a new name to fix it. (See also: USENET.)
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Nick Alcock

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Spending £15 million on a grotesque mausoleum for one Prime Minister while defunding and closing many other museums seems an appalling use of public funds.
 
Petition: No taxpayer funding for 'Margaret Thatcher Memorial Museum & Library'. Please sign and spread.
The National Media Museum in Bradford, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the National Railway Museum in York have all been cited for potential closure or reduction, due to the drive for cost-cutting and economic stability. These museums are all, in each their own way, edifices of collective history, and centres of education for our children. They have proved their worth over many years, and all have combined education a...
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A €15M graffiti target.
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Nick Alcock

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So... inside "Communities" you can't turn off multicolumn view.

Sigh. So much for Communities, I can't use them any more until this is fixed :(
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+Phil Tubb, you can also turn it off by telling the settings pane that you're using a screen reader (!)
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Nick Alcock

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I am deeply unsurprised that rats can do well in the stock market. They probably think more deeply about what they're doing than a significant percentage of bond traders, and they have more immediate and more reasonable remuneration too.
 
Via +Andrew Oplinger, an experiment in training rats as bond traders. From the lab notebook:

The next step was the rats' training. I produced about 800 different ticker tracks of different market situations. Since I did not want to render the whole story too complicated, I only used the USD/EUR future to turn the rats into experts in this specific market segment: other rats though may be educated in other markets as well. The training took about three months. I started with 80 Sprague Dawley laboratory rats, 40 males and 40 females, with the intention to cross the best of them to genetically create the best traders through select breeding. The training environment was a so called Skinner Box, widely used in experiments and industry for behavioral experiments with animals. The rats were separately trained for five hours daily (thanks to Anna, Gerda, and Dirk who did a great job in the past months).

Every day the rats were confronted with 100 different ticker tracks; the goal was making them seek out sound-patterns that humans are not able to recognize and predicting the next market move after the last sound heard. ( I am currently working on a website enlisting human training programs as well).  Each time after listening to a sound, the rat had to choose between pressing either a green or a red button, green for "long" (if the prices were expected to move up), red  for "short" (if they predicted a decline in prices). When they were right they received a small amount of food (the good rats became fat very fast); when they took the wrong button, they received a minor electric shock. Very soon it showed that some rats were doing outstandingly well: they developed a good ability to remember the patterns they were listening to; we needed them to react to real time data.
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My first block. Udenyi Patrick: not just a crackpot but a boring crackpot.
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Nick Alcock

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Seen on my most recent dental appointment card:

"Under NHS Regulations your dentist has the discretion to refuse to offer NHS treatment if".

So I'd better make sure I don't do that then.

(Note: this is probably meant to talk about missing appointments or something. It just... doesn't. Perhaps it really says "if you are not telepathic".)
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+Di Cleverly, I'm used to colds. This is my second this year, which is so wonderful compared to my rate when I was commuting of about two a month.
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Nick Alcock

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Today, kingjamesprogramming brings us one of the hidden sacred rites of the Church of the Lambda Calculus.
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Until thy stack overfloweth, Amen
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Nick Alcock

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I have never used Blackboard. I'm not even entirely sure what it is -- some sort of testing software, I think -- but anything that can trigger a rant like this must be worth avoiding.
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+Rob Shinn, yep! Or perhaps anti-Godwinned. :)
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Nick Alcock

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I need hardly say that Eben Moglen is always worth listening to.

But the series that starts here is just amazing, and disturbing, and makes several points that I have heard nobody make about the whole Snowden affair before now. (Among other things, the problem with the mass spying is not that the NSA was breaking the law by spying inside the US as well. What it was doing would be just as corrosive even if it was 'only' spying on everyone else in the world. Even non-Americans have the right not to be under the thumb of a totalitarian state, and certainly the right not to have the US help put them there. Isn't that what the West spent much of the last century fighting for?)

It should be very widely publicized, but clearly that's not happening: the only place I've heard of it is in a comp.risks posting, which will only be read by the sort of people who don't need telling what Moglen has to say.
Part I: Westward the Course of Empire. Video: (WebM) (mp4). Audio: (mp3) (ogg) (spx). Print: (pdf). A talk given by Eben Moglen at Columbia Law School on October 9th, 2013. Good afternoon. There is no introduction. After 26 years in this place it feels ridiculous to me to pretend that anyone is ...
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I learned that the Ebola patient in Texas had passed away from an article in the Guardian. Control of communication has been happening for many decades in the US. thanks for sharing the link.
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