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Comment: Re:Technical People (Score 1) 194

by Cludge (#47677881) Attached to: The Billion-Dollar Website
This is a nice way of saying that the governing bodies of many large organizations are staffed by idiots. I recently did technical work in Asia, as a contractor for a well-known company with a global presence. They've been in business for more than 100 years. They have a beautiful website, filled with inspiring photos and pages and pages of uplifting copy, talking about their important altruistic mission. So I naively thought they would be experts at their core work. What I discovered was a company run by greed-driven overlords at the top, and clueless staff at almost every other level. Technical proficiency was clearly not an valued commodity -- it was all about maintaining the facade of being the good guys, saving the world. I was shocked by how much they relied on boiler plate to write nearly every document, and the serious lack of technical skills necessary to do their job. The few technically competent people were marginalized, while the loud, pushy "A" types in charge of daily operations mainly worked at protecting their own status in the company. What was truly sad to see: how the recent graduates, hired to do the core tasks, had their enthusiasm and can-do attitudes suck out of them by the continuous stream of obfuscation, redirection, and soul crushing obliviousness. I guess some things never change.

+ - Big Bang actors to earn $1M per episode->

Submitted by Cludge
Cludge (981852) writes "And rich they will be: With The Big Bang Theory commissioned until 2017, the show's three biggest names, Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard) and Kaley Cuoco (Penny) are guaranteed to earn $72m (£42.6m) each over the next three seasons. Unsurprisingly, the cost of producing the sitcom has spiraled. I wonder what that works out per line?"
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+ - Accidental discrimination through analytics? 1

Submitted by Cludge
Cludge (981852) writes "Describing concerns about the potential for big data methods to inadvertently classify people by race, religion, income or other forms of discrimination, the White House announced it will release a report next week that reviews the adequacy of existing privacy laws and regulations in the era of online data collection. The review, led by Obama's senior counselor, John Podesta, will outline concerns about whether methods used for commercial applications may be inherently vulnerable to inadvertent discrimination.

"He described a program called "Street Bump" in Boston that detected pot-holes using sensors in smartphones of citizens who had downloaded an app. The program inadvertently directed repair crews to wealthier neighborhoods, where people were more likely to carry smartphones and download the app."

"It's easy to imagine how big data technology, if used to cross legal lines we have been careful to set, could end up reinforcing existing inequities in housing, credit, employment, health and education," he said."

Comment: NoteTaker: it's like a digital 3-ring binder (Score 1) 170

by Cludge (#46801945) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?

I learned to keep detailed, highly organized notes while working as a field biologist as a young man. In those days, if you were lucky enough to be museum trained, you used "The Grinnell System", which was a binder-based system that specified everything from the kind of ink to use (high carbon, black india ink), the paper (acid free high cotton bond), and layout elements, such as the locations of margin lines, dates, and page numbers. Tabbed sections were used to organize notes by activity. We used 8 1/2 inch binders because the smaller size was easier to use in the field. I spent many a long rainy night, usually in a tent or the front seat of a truck, completing my notes of the day's observations. My notes are now deposited in a museum, where they can be accessed by researchers working in the regions I used to haunt.

These days, as a statistician, I still take copious notes. But the ink and binders are gone (and so are the ticks and mosquitoes!). Organization is key: I need to record the entire data analysis process, from data formatting and cleaning, to graphical analysis, coding for models and processing scripts, and finally construction of figures suitable for publication. I looked long and hard for a digital note taking system before finally settling on NoteTaker by Aquaminds. I think it's binder-like system appealed to me, after so many years using binders in the field. I've been using NoteTaker now for at least 7 years.

NoteTaker is not completely free-form like some systems: note books mimic lab books in style and format, with digital pages in a digital binder. You add discrete entries, which are organized consecutively like an outline (entries can be moved around in the hierarchy). There is a table of contents for each book, and tabs are used to organize books into sections, much as a physical binder. Content can include everything from text to jpegs to sound files and video and everything can be time-stamped. Auto-indexing is a useful feature, though of course there is a built-in search utility, too. Notebooks can be ported to PDF, and there is a free reader for sharing notebooks with people who haven't purchased NoteTaker.

I've used NoteTaker for many academic and professional projects over the years. I've grown to rely on it as my main method now for keeping track of projects. It's not the Grinnell System, but for people trained on a binders, it feels like a natural replacement.

Comment: NoteTaker: electronic lab book (not free) (Score 1) 133

by Cludge (#45833719) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life Organization With Free Software?

If you're willing to consider alternatives to freeware, I recommend taking a look at NoteTaker ($24.99). I've been using it for about five years and I find it meets my note keeping needs. NoteTaker's design is essentially a lab book, but being electronic, it permits a wider range of media in addition to text, including jpegs, pdfs, audio, and video. And of course it's searchable.

Each 'book' can be organized into sections and subsections, and there are tabs for easy access to each section. You enter notes as snippets ('entries') which can be one-liners or multiple lines with a figure, etc. You can customize fonts, colors, and some aspects of layout. Also, you can export books to PDF.

Aquaminds offers a free notebook reader (NoteShare), so you can share your notebooks without forcing others to pay for the software. And there's a 30-day free trial version.

I know I may get modded down for suggesting payware, but given the positive comments about lab books, I decided to throw it out there. And it's not expensive. I use NoteTaker to keep track of academic research projects and work I'm doing for clients (I'm a bio-statistician). I'm pretty satisfied with it, so I hope the company doesn't disappear any time soon! But if it does I can convert my existing notebooks to PDFs, which makes me feel less vulnerable.

Comment: It depends on your professional track... (Score 3, Informative) 228

by Cludge (#43099395) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice For Summer Before Ph.D. Program?
If plan to work in industry (private sector) or a national lab, then by all means, go ahead and blow off some steam before the slog. But if your plans include an tenure track position in academe, you've got no time for such frivolity. Competition for academic positions in the biological sciences has reached the highest levels ever. Expect between 150 and 250 competitors for each position you will apply for. With that kind of competition, only the shining stars become assistant professors. And current expectations have risen to ridiculous levels of productivity and achievement. So if it's a tenure track position you're after, better use your last summer to get started on a grant proposal and submit your first few manuscripts. That's what it takes these days to succeed in academia.
Security

+ - Spammers Target Dropbox Users: Another Data Breach?->

Submitted by Cludge
Cludge (981852) writes "Brian Krebs is reporting that, beginning Tuesday (July 17), European users of Dropbox were inundated with "casino" spam sent to addresses linked to the service. There are also reports that the service was intermittently off line today: "At around 3 p.m. ET, the company’s service went down in a rare outage, blocking users from logging into and accessing their files and displaying an error message on dropbox.com." Dropbox issued a statement late Tuesday that they are investigating the problem."
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Science

+ - Older = Wiser? Positive effects of aging on memory-> 1

Submitted by Cludge
Cludge (981852) writes "The news service of the University of Toronto reports a study on changes in memory skills that occur with age. Apparently, older brains have a weakened ability to filter out irrelevant information. But this may actually give aging adults a memory advantage over their younger counterparts. In computer-based memory tasks, in which words were paired with pictures, "The older adults showed a 30 per cent advantage over younger adults in their memory" for the paired words and pictures. "As this type of knowledge is thought to play a critical role in real world decision- making, older adults may be the wiser decision-makers compared to younger adults...""
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Security

+ - OS X iBotnet: Zombie Macs Launch DOS Attack

Submitted by
Cludge
Cludge writes "ZDNet has a story (and several related articles) about how Symantec has discovered evidence of an all-Mac based botnet that is actively involved in a DOS attack. Apparently, security on the exploited Macs (call them iBots?) was compromised when unwary users bit-torrented pirated copies of iWork 09 and Photoshop CS4 that contained malware. From the article: "They describe this as the "first real attempt to create a Mac botnet" and notes that the zombie Macs are already being used for nefarious purposes." Read the story here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=3157"
Security

+ - Mac Trojan prowls porn sites->

Submitted by
Cludge
Cludge writes "As evidence that malware writers are taking more interest in Macs, a new Trojan has been spotted on porn sites. The trojan changes the Mac's DNS (Domain Name System) settings to redirect users to alternate or spoofed sites. From the article:

"The whole Trojan is relatively simple and works almost exactly the same as its brother for Windows," said Bojan Zdrnja, an analyst at Internet Storm Center (ISC) in a warning posted early Thursday. The DNSChanger exploit is well-known to Windows Trojan watchers. The bad guys are taking Mac seriously now," Zdrnja added. "This is a professional attempt at attacking Mac systems, and they could have been much more damaging.""

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