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[Tech News] Interesting technology

Solar storms may lead to aurora visible from NZ http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6310695/Aurora-to-light-up-New-Zealand-skies
Not getting up at 3am to look though!
Ubuntu HUD - global menu concept ... hmm, like on Amiga, just improved 
by adding search :-) http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/939
They've reinvented the command line :)
like on Amiga

 - there are many of these on OSX as well. if there is an API for 
 every single action that could be exposed in this menu, beyond what 
 you already have in the existing menus, that would be quite powerful.
(and form a basis for macros)
Ladislav, you seem to be measuring for positives, not for negatives, 
false negatives, or even false positives.  One of our former AltME 
members here was a Wikipedia "editor".  all he did was fix blatant 
mistakes, sabotaged data, etc.

I would send him errors I found every month.

I would simply argue that the accuracy of the data is the same as 
any academic paper, and a “function” of the number of eyes that notice 
Ladislav, you seem to be measuring for positives, not for negatives, 
false negatives, or even false positives.
- no, I just mentioned one example
...and that example was not just "positive", it made the corresponding 
paragraph in the other encyclopedia incorrect exactly because it 
was supposed to be a complete list of available alternatives
However, I do not want to pretend that I use any measuring methodology; 
neither the statement "With deeper questions, I feel, it become more 
and more unreliable" did, though.
For me the Wikipedia has undoubtedly proven its usefulness in a big 
I think we agree it is "useful".  But, for example, I would never 
take ANY fact offered on Wikipedia and assume it is "true" without 
my own separate confirmation.  Nor would i use Wikipedia + some other 
source "together" to equal truth.  In other words, I would use Wikipedia 
to learn "about" a fact, and then judge a seprate source on its own.
(also, I was not attacking you, or speaking to YOUR past, perhaps 
a better way for me to say what I said before was to modify your 
statement to "The Wikipedia is surprisingly reliable even when deep 
knowledge is looked up.........often.")
I suspect it varies on the domain you are looking into.  Stuff like 
science should be okay.  Where opinions come into it ... there you 
might find disagreement with the published "facts".
But, for example, I would never take ANY fact offered on Wikipedia 
and assume it is 

true" without my own separate confirmation." - maybe there is a difference 
between domains, as Graham pointed out.

For example, I found it funny that Randall Holmes not just put a 
fact into a WP article, but he also wrote a (mathematical) proof 
in it, while some (poor thinker, IMO) marked the fact (which was 
mathematically correctly proven at the place) as doubtful, since 
there was no reference to some published article (LOL).
Nor would i use Wikipedia + some other source 

together" to equal truth." - well, I learned better from my experience. 
I was suggested the Standford encyclopedia as a reliable source on 
the problem I wanted to solve and found out that WP was corrected 
one point I wanted to find.
I meant "WP has corrected" one point which I had problem to believe 
in Stanford.
'In other words, I would use Wikipedia to learn "about" a fact, and 
then judge a seprate source on its own' - well, on the other hand, 
this is usually what you should do with any encyclopedia; find the 
pointers to sources where you can learn more, which is what Wikipedia 
does well enough for me
Both your example you gave of the "poor thinker" and Stanford would 
be examples of  other states like I mentioned as false negatives/positives. 
But these are all still anecdotal of course.  The question is not 
how many successes you can come up with, but how many failures anyone 
can find vs. a control (even “Stanford”).

So we are speaking to “trust” + domain.  For me, my trust is low, 
regardless of domain, with some domains being really poor.
hence John's "I [feel], it become more and more unreliable."
I too [feel] (and have a lot of examples) of it not be releable for 
The question is not how many successes you can come up with...

 - interesting! However, my point is totally different. For me, an 
 encyclopedia is useful if I can learn about a fact something new 
 and find also pointers to relevant sources. When this holds for every 
 subject I look up (which it does for *my* usage of the WP), then 
 I do not need anything more.
And, when I judge also whether the recent (new) informations are 
mentioned, the WP is almost unbeatable
Yes, I agree.  My point is simply how much we “each” trust this all. 
 I simply have a low level of trust, as does John it seems.  But 
I don't deny you anything for trusting it more.  I think WP is a 
great (best) place to start.
Certainly, there are many cases when I looked up an article, found 
the information I needed, and as a "thank you" I corrected something 
in the article (a typo, missing reference to a source, or even a 
correction of a formulation, etc...)
'My point is simply how much we “each” trust this all.' - I do not 
worry. For example in mathematics you do not need to trust anything. 
You can look up the proof and if you find it correct you are done. 
If you find it wrong you can:

- trust the theorem anyway trying to correct the proof
- distrust the theorem trying to find a counterexample
I know that there are domains where this approach cannot be used, 
Curiously, even in mathematics there are things I "do not trust", 
which are proven. That does not bother me either since the such an 
"untrustworthy" result usually depends on some axioms I find "untrustworthy" 
as well...
.......indeed, and agreed.  There is a lot of "opinion" on WP, and 
also levels of vagueness that allows people to create subterfuge, 
and misdirection, and force their opinion on people through this.
Yes, agreed about the subterfuge... But, usually, such things are 
corrected sooner or later
'There is a lot of "opinion"...' - as an example, I recently tried 
to discuss whether events with probability 0 are possible, i.e., 
if they can actually happen. While the opinion that such events *can* 
happen seems to prevail, I think that the opposite POV is defendable. 
(what do you think, BTW?)
Wow, when you get to zero, we jump into philosphy, and questions 
of "what is matter' etc.  i therefore, truly, have zero opinion.
However, it is even possible to have an unorthodox POV when some 
events with probability 1 are considered. For example, the "orthodox 
probability" states that when picking up a random number from the 
[0;1] interval you obtain an irrational number with probability 1. 
Once again I find it defendable to disagree.
I suspect it varies on the domain you are looking into.  Stuff like 
science should be okay.

When I took courses at the university some 5 years ago, WikiPedia 
was becoming still more popular, and the students used it to get 
information about science. The professors warned us about WikiPedia, 
about it's being unreliable, and said it shouldn't be used for scientific 
facts. Over the years, I find it ok with many banal facts, but not 
much more than that. I try to remember to tell myself to have my 
critical glasses on, when I read WikiPedia.
I like Wikipeia - for me, it is kind of psychological. I was e.g. 
looking at ARM gfx chip options. I orientiated myself thanks to Wikipedia, 
learning about PowerVR, Adreno, Mali, , their history, list of companies 
using those chips, etc. When I want white papers, I can visit target 
company websites, but Wikipedia provided me quickly with the interconnecte/related 
info, so I got my overview of the situation rather quickly. And that' 
it - it would be much harder imo to just search for a bits of info 
here or there ...
It looks reliable to me about technical stuff, like network protocols 
etc. It may not reliable about history or science because there are 
subjective ideas or uncertain facts..
I agree, Pekr. I use Wikipedia a lot the same way. To get a quick 
overview, and as Reichart say, to be able to begin to ask the right 

I also often use the external links and references at the bottom 
of most pages.

They should do an HP!
Regarding Wikipedia, I just finished this interesting podcast, where 
Dan Benjamin and John Siracusa discuss Wikipedia and why they think 
it's built on the wrong foundation. Siracusa was misquoted on an 
article that he wrote for ArsTechnica, but was unable to change it 
incorrect citation in Wikipedia (it has since the podcast aired been 


Starts at 72 minutes and 30 seconds.
Speaking of VLC, VLC2.0 was just released, with an entirely new UI 
(at least in the Mac version):

Yeah, the old UI was horrible... this one is... well... what is the 
word for "worse than horrible"?
Abominable? ;-)
OSNews "tweeted" about the new language for web development - Opa 
- http://opalang.org/
Some usefull UI concepts, which might be forgotten with the decline 
of WebOS ... unfortunately WebOS is going under the Apache open-source 
wings, so hopefully some good ideas are going to be reused elsewhere 
- http://ignorethecode.net/blog/2012/02/21/steal_webos_features/