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Comment: watches are pretty great (Score 2) 471

by BenVis (#47872171) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?
I have a pebble, and I don't really use any apps on it at all. But I love it. I pretty much never miss a call or text because my watch vibrates when that happens. Before the pebble, I would rarely notice if my phone was vibrating. Also, I find that glancing at my watch is less obtrusive than pulling out my phone, whether I'm checking who a text/call is from or just checking the time.

Comment: Re:It's more than just global warming gas (Score 1) 572

by BenVis (#39525347) Attached to: Climate Change To Drive Weather Disasters, Say UN Experts

There's a very good, highly readable article about ocean acidification from 2007 in Science. If you have access to a subscription, you can see the article here.

If you don't have access to a subscription, you can find lots of research about ocean acidification in the freely-accessible pubmed central database. this article looks like it gives a good overview of ocean acidification.

The short answer is that the pH of the ocean has changed measurably since the industrial revolution, and the current pH is far outside the values that have been historically observed. Even based on conservative estimates of future CO2 emissions, it looks like hydrogen ion concentrations in the ocean (remember pH is a log scale) will more than double by 2100. Ocean acidification has a number of impacts on the marine environment, but most notably it increases dissolution of the CaCO3 deposits that make up coral reefs and decreases the rate at which new shells and reefs can be formed.

Comment: Document cameras (Score 1) 258

by BenVis (#37719906) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Old Webcams?

Build some document cameras for your teachers. Get some goosenecks with sturdy bases and mount the cameras on them pointing down. Put together software that can mirror the image (some scripts + vlc will work). If any of your teachers regularly use a computer to project e.g. documents or slide shows, this can supplement what they are already doing. It's easier and tidier than a transparency, but more intuitive, familiar, and interactive than a slide show. It brings the added bonus of producing a paper archive of what was projected.

You can get some more information here: bootleg elmo

I realize this suggestion is maybe not in line with the idea of using a bunch of cameras for one project, but if your teachers don't already have something like this, they will love you for it.

Comment: Re:oven (Score 1) 1016

by BenVis (#37571724) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Destroy Hard Drives?

... How's this for an idea... Take it to your nearest hospital. Sneak into the room where they keep the MRI, and leave the hard drives in the bottom. Wait for them to turn on the MRI and BAM!!! ...

You were obviously making a funny, but here's some serious information: The static magnetic field in an MRI is always on. Turning off the static magnetic field is a potentially dangerous and always a time-consuming and expensive proposition. You'd get to a few feet from the magnet bore and all the drives would be yanked to the center of the magnet. That would be bad for you if you had them in, for example, a backpack.

Check out some of the photos and the video at Flying Objects

Comment: Re:err, 'reported feeling' (Score 2) 82

by BenVis (#37403938) Attached to: Bejeweled Yields Cognitive Benefit In Older Adults

Looking over the abstracts of some of Dr. Whitbourne's recently published works, it looks like Dr. Whitbourne's group is developing the hypothesis that how a person feels about aging has an impact on their psychological well-being. This might seem obvious, but put in plain language, do old people get depressed because aging causes depression, or do old people get depressed because they have a negative attitude about aging? It's actually not an obvious question. With that in mind, knowing how older adults feel about their cognitive abilities after playing games is of value.

TFA mentions the study is ongoing. A different article about the study indicates the researchers will also have participants take objective tests of cognitive abilities, so the research isn't only looking at subjective self-report.

Comment: Requires surgery (Score 1) 92

by BenVis (#34054232) Attached to: From Touchpad To Thought-pad

Nature news itself covers this story a little better here.

You might be interested to know that the volunteers for this study were patients with severe epilepsy, and the neural recordings were from electrodes actually inserted into the patients' brains. Similar work has been done recording from the brains of e.g., monkeys in order to control a robotic arm (rather than control a video display). This involves invasive surgery that wouldn't be done unless there was also a medical necessity for it.

Comment: Re:Honda Fit (Score 1) 1141

by BenVis (#33165736) Attached to: My Automobile Gets __ MPG

When I last checked (which was 2008), fit and fit sport have identical engines.

There are trivial differences in the body shape which I suppose could change aerodynamics. The wheels are different. I don't think the upgraded sound system is going to make a difference. I think both can be either manual or automatic, which will make a difference.

Of course, how you drive has a huge impact on mileage. Also, of course, different cars with similar names will get different gas mileage.

In my Honda Fit Sport, I am lucky to get 30 mpg driving around Los Angeles, but when I'm elsewhere I can usually surpass 35.

Comment: Re:Ah, better to crack'em down. (Score 1) 394

by BenVis (#32968892) Attached to: Cyberwarrior Shortage Threatens US Security

This 'Cyber-warrior gap' discussion echoes a similar discussion about the 'Science gap'. One perspective is that not enough smart people are going for a particular career. Another perspective is that actually the smart people consider that career, and decide pursuing that career is for chumps.

If you want to attract smart people, you need to make the career look good. In the science gap, the career is unappealing because the effort/reward ratio is unfavorable (get a Ph.D., do some post-docs, then hope a search committee picks you out of the hundreds or thousands of other applicants for one of the three jobs opening up this year in which you might eventually be offered a permanent job). It sounds like for "cyberwarriors" the situation is similar: spend your time doing stuff that might get you arrested or that nobody cares about and then hope the government suddenly decides to actually start hiring.

Comment: Re:Pretty naive (Score 2, Informative) 317

by BenVis (#31752966) Attached to: Facebook Crawler Speaks Back

Wow! I was thinking if nobody'd posted a link to Lessig's recent stuff, that I'd get an easy +5 and feel good about myself doing it. Now I see the first mention of it is currently sitting at +2 and I just feel sad. The corrupting influence of money on the US government is a crucial problem we have to solve right away, and I hope a lot of slashdot readers get that and want to help.

Maybe I'm reading too much into moderation. In fact, I hope the parent isn't highly up-moderated because everyone already knows about fix congress first.

Comment: Re:Too small a sample size (Score 3, Interesting) 260

by BenVis (#31607130) Attached to: First Anti-Cancer Nanoparticle Trial On Humans a Success

Thanks for the overview of the clinical trials procedure. You clearly know a lot about it. One thing I wanted to point out is that while placebo-controlled designs are probably the most reliable, in many contexts (including a cancer treatment) it would be unethical to give patients a placebo (i.e. a treatment expected to do nothing) rather than a treatment that might actually help them.

Basically, if there is a treatment that is known to be at least somewhat effective, that's your control rather than a placebo. It might be that the definition of placebo has shifted to include any standard non-experimental treatment, but that would be news to me.

Comment: Re:Backyard fences (Score 1) 167

by BenVis (#28810247) Attached to: California Continues To Push For Violent Game Legislation

I bet they will never push for a law against violent MOVIES, what with Hollywod present in the state. Games, however, are mostly made out-of-state, e.g. Austin TX has a lot of video game companies.

I think the general thrust of your comment is correct. The video games lobby is nowhere near the Hollywood lobby. However, I live in Los Angeles and within a few miles of my house are offices of EA, THQ and Activision. According to the ESA, California companies employ the most people, accounting for 40% of the employment in the US video game industry. Texas is also in the top 5. I think this kind of brouhaha has more to do with relative age. Movies have been around for as long as our baby boomer overlords can remember. Video games (particularly in their current form) have not. They are newer, so they're a more convenient scapegoat.

You have a tendency to feel you are superior to most computers.

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