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Comment: Drug companies and profit motive (Score 3, Interesting) 74

by Dimwit (#47871693) Attached to: Reanalysis of Clinical Trials Finds Misleading Results

Let's compare two companies that depend on science - IBM and GlaxoSmithKline.

Let's say IBM discovers a new method of lithography for building microchips. They publish their results, and their results are replicated. More importantly, IBM gets a new, presumably better way of making microchips.

GlaxoSmithKline makes a new drug that treats a psychological illness. To some degree, because there are no objective physical tests for most psychological illnesses, the determination of effectiveness is made subjectively.

Both companies want the science to turn out right, because it makes them money. One of them has a much easier time massaging the results of any studies.

Comment: Re:Oh it'll happen... (Score 3, Interesting) 727

by Dimwit (#47716235) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

This is a much bigger deal than people seem to think. I tried getting my father set up on Linux not that long ago.

"I need help, this says GNOME needs updating, I thought I was running Linux?"
"You are, Linux is the kernel, but GNOME is the desktop environment."
"Well, what's Debian? It says Debian needs updating."
"You're running the Debian distribution of Linux."
"I thought it was GNOME?"

Comment: Re:Big problem: Linux won (Score 1) 430

by Dimwit (#47601479) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

No, I think it's a good thing. I just think the Linux community (and the wider modern OSS community) need to realize it and write their documentation accordingly. Very few people today know how to use traditional Unix tools, so why does GNU's documentation still only document the differences?

Comment: Big problem: Linux won (Score 4, Insightful) 430

by Dimwit (#47599913) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

A huge amount of documentation for various projects like GNU groff, GNU nano, Vim, and others, have implicit assumptions that users are familiar with those tools' traditional Unix counterparts. 'man nano' for example, doesn't describe any of the keybindings for the editor, instead assuming that users already know pico. The groff documentation in places explicitly states that it only documents the difference between groff and Unix troff.

Linux has won. Most Linux users have never used a traditional Unix, and most never will.

Comment: KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (Score 1, Offtopic) 71

by Dimwit (#47361181) Attached to: Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

KDE, Canonical, and GNOME have all made this huge push into stupid design decisions lately. Canonical with Ubuntu Phone/Tablet and Mir, GNOME with GNOME 3 and treating the desktop like a tablet, Mozilla with FirefoxOS, and KDE with this sort of stuff.

You know what I want out of an open source desktop? A DESKTOP! Seriously. I need a good desktop environment for my COMPUTER where I do actual work. I can't write code on a tablet. I can't write papers on a tablet. I can't do serious design work (anywhere, because I'm not a designer, but specifically also not on a tablet).

If I want to use a tablet, I want to use it to play games and watch movies, and Ubuntu/KDE/GNOME tablets aren't going to have Civilization Revolution, Ticket to Ride, Netflix, or Amazon Instant Video any time soon, so any tablet running those operating systems is going to be just a really crippled computer and a useless tablet.

Comment: Measure blood directly (Score 1) 75

by Dimwit (#47248851) Attached to: Artificial Pancreas Shows Promise In Diabetes Test

It seems as though the big problem with this technology is that it's not measuring blood directly. What are the barriers to placing a sensor more-or-less permanantly inside the body that can test blood directly and the send, via radio or whatever, commands to an external insulin pump to dispense insulin?

I'm guessing "blood clots" is the problem here, but I don't know.

Comment: Re:This will hugely backfire... (Score 1) 422

by Dimwit (#47234673) Attached to: GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists

The Republican Party publishes an official platform. Two of the issues on the official platform are restricting access to abortion (i.e. interfering with a woman's rights to her own body) and opposing same-sex marriage (i.e. interfering with two consenting adults' rights to choose whom they marry)...

So, no, I didn't pull it out of my ass. It's right on their official website.

Comment: Durability? (Score 0) 298

by Dimwit (#47066271) Attached to: Is It Really GPS If It Doesn't Use Satellites?

Existing GPS systems can be essentially all solid-state. There are no moving parts, and the temperature tolerance can be made to handle pretty extreme tempteratures.

Existing technology isn't going to make something like this durable. I don't know enough abou laser cooling, but that might be the best bet and even it probably has a lot of fairly-easy-to-encounter failure modes.

Comment: Re:Chlorrophyll makes a big assumption (Score 4, Informative) 46

by Dimwit (#46900371) Attached to: Astronomers Calculate How To Spot Life On an Alien Earth

It's not so much a big assumption as it is a starting point. There is probably a biosphere somewhere in the Universe that uses a red or yellow pigment for photosynthesis. The problem is that detecting it at a distance is much harder, because while we might see the spectral signature we couldn't be sure that it's life.

Looking for a biosphere that is very similar to that of Earth makes it much more likely that we'll be able to detect that it is in fact "life" and not something else. While we may miss 99% of the life in the Universe with this approach, if/when we do detect it, our confidence will be much higher.

COBOL is for morons. -- E.W. Dijkstra