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01:00 - 17:0017:00 - 21:00

5:05 PM
@RegDwight: BTW, you should hear some of the jokes orchestra members tell about conductors.
Bring'em on!
Famous one about Sir Georg Solti: "He threw his back out giving the downbeat to Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune."
Looking up "throw one's back out"...
Injured his back, pulled a muscle, etc.
And whenever the CSO would play Debussy's La Mer the musicians would call it Das Meer.
Aha. Okay. Well, now I'm looking up what was so special about Sir Georg Solti's conducting style.
5:10 PM
You're no fun.
Never mind.
I need coke.
This joke is going to be so hilarious once RegDwight has researched everything...
I sure hope so.
It better be.
Did any of you watch the first night of Watson on Jeopardy? (I don't know if they play Jeopardy in Europe.)
Well, how about a German joke? Treffen sich zwei Jäger.
5:12 PM
That's probably the shortest joke ever.
Yes, but I feel such satisfaction when I get a joke in another language that employs wordplay!
I wonder what the shortest, fully-contained joke is?
Watson is an artificial intelligence program developed by IBM designed to answer questions posed in natural language. Named after IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson, Watson is being developed as part of the DeepQA research project. The program is in the final stages of completion and will run on a POWER7 processor-based system. It is scheduled to compete on the television quiz show Jeopardy! as a test of its abilities; the competition will be aired in three Jeopardy! episodes running from February 14–16, 2011. In a set of two games, Watson will compete against Brad Rutter, the current b...
Hm. There's no joke.stackexchange yet?
I guess it is hard to make that a Q&A
Re: Watson, now I'm intrigued.
Anything on YouTube?
5:16 PM
Not sure
There are news articles about it though.
Yes, I do see some video.
Quite a few videos, actually.
I'll have a look once I have sound.
The practice matches were funny
When Watson was still working out the bugs.
I also saw a public television special about it last week.
I watched it last night. I was kind of underwhelmed, actually.
They could still rig the questions so that the computer would fail, or that humans would fail.
All they would have to do is ask questions like, "What's the second-smallest lake in Siberia?"
Watson wins, hands down.
Or they do jokes and the humans win.
This whole exercise is a publicity stunt that proves nothing.
I know what you mean, @Robusto
But I don't look at it as a way to "prove" something, but rather, just to see how far we can push things.
Isn't that "proving" something?
5:29 PM
Well, I thought you were referring to proving whether Watson was better than the humans or not.
That's the implication.
That's what they want you to think. It's John Henry vs. the steam drill.
Yes, but that's the part that I don't really care about.
I watched the PBS thing about Watson, but didn't get home in time last night to watch Jeopardy.
You can watch part 2 tonight or part 3 tomorrow.
The point is, there are things that humans can do and things that machines can do. We don't race Formula 1 cars in the Kentucky Derby. In a similar vein, computers that beat humans in chess are about the same kind of competition.
Or if this one wins in Jeopardy.
5:32 PM
One of the interesting things in the special was how Watson would sometimes get the most incredible things right (yes, jokes included), while getting simple fact-based questions wrong (because he didn't understand the category, or similar)
Or would give the same wrong answer when he rang in second.
Yeah, because he has no hearing
I think the point isn't winning or losing Jeopardy, it's the fact that they've made a program that can play Jeopardy. Competitively.
@Robusto: I think having a goal like this challenge is a nice way to see what we can do with our current technology.
Similar to going to the moon — to get there, we learned a lot
"Nice" isn't the word I would have chosen, but okay.
5:34 PM
I think they fixed the same-wrong-answer bug by having someone "tell" Watson about the other players' answers.
Well, @Martha, I am pretty sure he did one of those last night though.
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?"
Hmm. In the special, there was that category that was asking for a month, and Watson didn't get it, but then the other players got some of the other answers in the category, and then Watson answered the last one correctly.
@Martha: Ah, right. So probably he gets info on answers if they are correct, and can apply that to the category.
But he doesn't get wrong answers so that he avoids repeating them in the same question
That's what I was talking about; someone answered X and it was wrong and Watson immediately guessed X after him.
Which doesn't make sense - if they have someone inputting answers, why not input all answers, marked suitably as to correctness?
5:38 PM
My point is, Watson would never understand this:
Feb 11 at 14:56, by Robusto
Actually, that is my raisin d'etre in a nutshell.
Well, actually, within the question asking period, I don't think there is even enough time.
That's probably it.
Never is a strong word.
@Robusto: It kind of sounds like, "we can never achieve X, so why try at all?"
@Robusto, actually, he might. Or at least, if there were a Jeopardy question phrased something like that, he would have a fair chance of figuring it out.
Maybe it sounds like that. I would phrase it thus: "Let us not delude ourselves about what we are achieving here."
5:40 PM
I'm just waiting for them to adapt Watson into The Ultimate Internet Search Engine.
Me too, @Martha
Although, as with speech recognition, context is everything.
And don't make me go all Mary Shelley on your ass.
I thought Wolfram Alpha was supposed to be that.
And Cuil.
Also, AltaVista.
And once upon a time, Yahoo!
And Google.
And Bing (powered by Google!)
5:42 PM
Okay, time for lunch for me
i gotta go too
I've been so turned off by Bing marketing that I refuse to even try it out.
I suppose I ought to get some work done... nah.
That's the thing that's been bothering me lately, imagine people in 2500 dig up an old text from 2000 where everybody is talking about googling, and they won't be able to make head or tails of it.
@kiamlaluno: I don't want to downvote your answer, but I believe it's incorrect:
A: Meaning of 'be much as'

kiamlalunoThe phrase has an implicit as, and it reads I think the outcome would be as much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America. As much means the same. If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be the same as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn...

"Be much as" is short for something - probably "be much the same as" - but it means something quite different than "be as much as".
Argh. Both of the answers are half wrong and half right.
5:50 PM
@Martha: My answer actually doesn't say something much different from the accepted answer.
I didn't find any reference to phrases like "be much as", in the NOAD.
The point is that an outcome cannot be as much as something.
I would actually equate "much as" to "very similar to".
Gotta go, see you later.
1 hour later…
7:17 PM
The last meaningful message was posted longer than 1 hour ago.
You mean to imply that there have meaningful messages posted? Them's fighting words!
I don't fight with schoolteachers who carry big rulers.
You're mistaken. I carry a big ruler because I'm a scribe, not a teacher.
(Pedant, yes; teacher, no.)
Somewhere I have a button that says something like "I'm not anal, I'm a pedant. There's a difference. Let me explain it to you..."
No pedant would dare hit me with a ruler.
But I didn't hit you, I thwacked you. There's a difference. :)
7:24 PM
thwack = hit
The last meaningful message is getting older and older.
And so are we all ...
On a more cheerful note, the oldest man in the world cannot die.
Well, only in the sense of "the king is dead, long live the king".
Well, that didn't work out for quite a few monarchies.
7:28 PM
Such sexist talk, Martha.
The king is dead, long live the queen.
That's making the language sexist.
Tsk tsk.
The KönigIn is dead, long live the KönigIn.
Die Koenigin ist nur am schlafen.
7:30 PM
Ah! Wait! I have sound now, what am I doing here. So many videos to watch. Brb.
I am fairly certain that Schlafen must be capitalized there.
I didn't even know there was a badge for chatting, but I just earned it.
Als rheinische Verlaufsform oder am-Progressiv bezeichnet man eine unter anderem in rheinischen Dialekten übliche grammatikalische Variante. Diese ist auch in angrenzenden Gebieten und Dialekten bekannt und wird dort entsprechend als Ruhrpott-Verlaufsform oder westfälische Verlaufsform bezeichnet. Solche Klassifizierungen sind allerdings irreführend, da sich diese Satzkonstruktion im gesamten westdeutschen Sprachraum bis in die Schweiz nachweisen lässt. Sie besteht darin, statt zum Beispiel „Ich arbeite gerade“ eine der englischen Progressiv-Konstruktion ähnliche Form zu verwenden: „Ich bin...
I would point out that the German word for Queen doesn't have a capital "I" in it.
@Martha That's because someone has starred one of your messages.
7:32 PM
Yeah, you lucked up.
Ah, thanks for the enlightenment.
@Robusto That's not the German word for Queen. That's the German short form of König/Königin.
Ah. Interesting.
Feb 9 at 16:20, by RegDwight
But the point is, that Pilot and Fahrer worked perfectly, too, until someone decided that that's sexist, and started using PilotIn and FahrerIn etc.
@RegDwight, how do you find these quotes so quickly?
7:34 PM
I will note that even women basketball players play man-on-man defense.
Unless they are required to switch to a zone.
I try to remember a key word or two and then use the search box in the top right corner.
Argh, German keyboard strikes again.
I saw that! Stupid y/z switch.
It's not a stupid y/z switch, Martha. It's a valuable y/z switch. Sometimes it's the only thing that can shut @RegDwight down before he detonates the whole chat.
Jan 28 at 15:12, by Kosmonaut
Don't you mean "German kezboard"? :)
Haven't we gone over this with you yet?
7:36 PM
With whom? Who? Wohin?
Thankfully, there are two Hungarian keyboard layouts, and only one of them switches the y and z. So I can get my ő and ű without messing up everything else.
I'm not the one detonating chats here, it's you, kind sir.
Hey, Martha, why not throw your hat into the ring. We could use a little female moderation around here. THWACK!
Feb 11 at 15:10, by Robusto
This chat will self-destruct in 5 minutes. You have 5 minutes to get clear of the chat room.
Of course, switching to a Hungarian keyboard means I need to remember to use the numeric keypad for 0 and -, and go off by one on parentheses.
7:37 PM
That was in response to your explosive Googling.
I didn't Google explosively, I Googled just once. And then reported the results.
I'm still thinking about the moderation thing.
Whoops, gotta get back to work. See y'all later.
stares blankly at the chat logs
7:43 PM
You get here late, you miss a few psychodramas.
I tried reading further back in the logs, but it really didn't help. Possibly because they were speaking languages that I do not know.
I thought this was the "English" chat room. ;)
@RegDwight knows all the languages, and uses them at every opportunity.
Wie, bitte? Ich kann Sie nicht verstehen.
I know only German, and it's Robusto who's using it.
Except when he's talking some Hiragana Gibberish.
Gibberish isn't capitalized. Neither is hiragana.
I can occasionally make out some words in Romance languages (took Spanish in high school), but German eludes me.
7:47 PM
It is capitalized in German.
That was just a courtesy.
Aber man spricht heir kein Deutsch, nicht wahr?
waiting some more...
Actually ... Aber hier spricht man kein Deutsch, oder?
The first one was perfectly grammatical.
I am referring to heir.
Weiss ich nicht. Ich beschaeftige mich zu viel.
7:49 PM
The second one is grammatical as well, the stress is slightly different, but in speech you could use both interchangeably, I'd say.
I got it 2nd time around. Cut me some slack.
I was going to cut you some huge slack for "Wie, bitte? Ich kann Sie nicht verstehen." anyway.
I've always relied upon the kindness of strangers.
I am one of those people who would write zuviel as one word.
> Hawkins: Ah my dear sir, Giacomo is a master of many many tongues indeed. French: (mixed with vowely gibberish) Je le parle le fleur ce magnifique (throws kiss with both hands), Italian: (More vowely gibberish, clasps hands, kisses fingertips), German: Was haben Sie ausgehoebn in das Kneibinbabn? Das Schmerz . . . (angry gibberish and pointing), which means in any language, why tarry? Let us off to the castle!
7:50 PM
Ihnen. Shoulda used Ihnen ...
I think according to the new rules it can be two words, but I can't be bothered to look it up.
I always end up with the angry gibberish and pointing.
No, not Ihnen @Robusto. those two sentences are perfect. Can't touch them.
So what were you cutting me slack for?
I'm just messing with you.
Ich messe Dich nur!
7:53 PM
Mit einem Messer?
Mit einem Lineal!
I feel sorry for Michael, we're so ignoring him. And his quote is hilarious!
Ha! As soon as we start talking about rulers in German, Martha leaves the building.
I noticed that. Maybe she can't cut it, even mit einem Messer.
If someone cajoles you out of your state of tension, does that mean you've acquired an extension?
That's the second meaning. The first one has to do with female deer.
And a female deer is a tonic.
Feb 9 at 16:00, by Kosmonaut
Achtung alle lookenspeepers!
And now I have to go. See you tomorrow.
8:03 PM
@RegDwight I rarely miss an opportunity to quote The Court Jester.
@mmyers, you are in danger of falling off the first page of Users in ESU.
Yeah, I really don't have time for it anymore. That's why I'm not running for mod.
I visit the mod flags every day, but I don't read many questions that aren't flagged.
My rep graph looks strikingly similar to my SO rep graph, but there the reason was the opening of Meta.
8:22 PM
I'm flat-lining on SO because I just got bored answering the same questions over and over.
Flatlining doesn't usually look like this:
I'm flatlining on SO, not ESO.
or ESE, I mean.
Oops, didn't read carefully.
That's my SO graph
Note that I started to flatline there once I started to post here.
You can point to it.
@Kosmonaut It's a straight line, anyway.
8:32 PM
Besides, I was never really going to beat Jon Skeet, now, was I? :)
But ... I just got my yearling badge there, so I guess I should be proud.
Which reminds me, badge weighting is sooooo arbitrary.
You get a gold badge for showing up 100 days in a row, but you need 150 days exceeding rep cap to get that gold badge? Wow.
I believe Epic is the rarest silver badge on SO now that they relaxed the rules for Pundit.
Some of these are really off the charts.
Some badges should be platinum.
Why, I remember when only 7 people had Pundit. You young'uns don't know how good you have it.
Anybody with a neck can show up for 100 days in a row.
In my year on SO I never hit the rep cap one single time.
I would find it particularly galling that I would answer a question correctly, then an hour or two later someone with 80K rep would come along and give exactly the same answer and get 12 upvotes to my two.
@Robusto Or the right browser. Doesn't some browser automatically ping bookmarked sites every so often to refresh the thumbnail image?
8:40 PM
Hah. Good point.
No neck required.
Still, a neck is required to enjoy the award.
I've had a neck for as long as I can remember, so I can't really say.
I'm rather partial to mine. I would hate to part with it.
8:43 PM
I wouldn't mind losing part of mine — specifically right below the chin.
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