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Comment: Re:disclosure (Score 1) 445

by Idarubicin (#49105021) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

Yes, but they get millions to conduct research. I doubt he took that $1.2 million home.

Hard to say, actually. My understanding is that his appointment was a "soft money" position, which means that he would have been entirely dependent on outside grants for all of his funding--including the salaries for himself and any staff or trainees. I wouldn't be surprised if $120K per year, less administrative overhead, doesn't even fully cover his own salary.

Comment: Re:Yes, it's a conflict of interest. (Score 5, Informative) 445

by Idarubicin (#49103621) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

Dr. Soon may even truly believe his science is valid, but the funding he receives creates a lopsided megaphone which unfairly skews the perception of the debate.

Having a conflict of interest is understandable; hiding a conflict of interest is problematic.

By the same token, all scientists who receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry or groups they influence, should be barred from publishing papers on vaccine safety.

Scientists who receive funding from, for example, the pharmaceutical industry are expected to fully and explicitly disclose potentially conflicting interests--and by golly, they do. It's taken quite seriously, actually. If you look at any article in a respectable medical journal today, you'll find a section of the manuscript that's explicitly headed with Conflicting interests: or something synonymous. It will appear on every article, even on the ones where it's followed by "None declared" or the like, just so that it's clear that the journal asked for and got an on-the-record response from the article's authors. It doesn't remove the potential bias associated with outside funding, but it at least makes the potential for bias transparent.

Lying about competing interests - even through omission - is looked on very poorly by serious, credible medical researchers. Interestingly, one of the many, many types of misconduct engaged in by Andrew Wakefield was his failure to disclose significant financial interests when he published his (now-retracted and thoroughly discredited) Lancet paper suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. (Wakefield wasn't receiving pharmaceutical money, of course; he collected almost half a million pounds from lawyers involved in an anti-MMR lawsuit.)

And while the practice of mandatory disclosure started with the medical journals, the expectation has gradually bled across into other fields as well, particularly among top-tier journals.

Comment: Re:Why did he tape off his light switches? (Score 1) 248

by Idarubicin (#49051181) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

If he's such a handy guy, he could've just wirenutted the wires in the boxes and put blank plates over them. simple and neat looking!

Well, "handy" is in the eye of the beholder. He's really just "software handy", which is a different thing, for people who don't like to manipulate physical objects. It's kind of like the difference between a real engineer and a "software engineer".

To be fair, it was probably intended to be a very temporary installation and test. (Though it wasn't fair for him to complain about problems caused by his own shortcuts, I suppose.) And he did try to install a switch replacement at one point, with unfortunate results that weren't exclusively his fault.

Comment: Re:A tax on stupidity (Score 2) 480

by Idarubicin (#49035499) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

Maybe, but... I'm trying to think of the things I could buy (or do) with $500 million that I couldn't also buy (or do) with "only" $40 million. I'm not coming up with a whole lot. Moon base, maybe?

I fear you may be grossly underestimating the cost of a Moon base. I mean, the Chinese Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter mission cost around $150 million; I can't find a price tag for their unmanned Chang'e 3 rover, but I can't imagine it would be cheaper. Forget putting a man on the Moon--either to live, or especially if you're concerned about getting him back again....

Back in the mid-2000s when you could buy a seat on a Soyuz launch for a week or two on the International Space Station, the quoted prices were between $20 and $40 million. So I guess you could do that with your $40 million win, but only if you were comfortable with (a) going by yourself, and (b) not having much left over afterward. With $500 million, you could afford to live very comfortably and make a return visit to the ISS every few years, just on the investment income.

Comment: Re:Different market segments (Score 2) 422

by Idarubicin (#48994117) Attached to: What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014?

Quite true. But keep in mind that this might not be free of cost (or effects) for those of us at the middle-to-high end. There's probably a bunch of "infrastructure" and overhead-type costs that are currently shared across different market segments.

For instance, Canon uses the same DIGIC signal and image processing chips across a bunch of different models: professional and consumer DSLRs as well as whole lines of point-and-shoots. If big pieces of the point-and-shoot market evaporate, then the cost of developing those chips and sustaining shorter production runs for them has to be carried by the DSLR market alone.

Aside from the direct economies of scale, there are going to be some more subtle business and technical reasons why losing a market segment will hurt the whole company. The fruits of R&D investment typically show up first at the high-end SLR market, and then trickle down through the prosumer and consumer SLRs, then make their way from the high to the low end of the point-and-shoot cameras. A smaller market overall means either less R&D or more expensive SLRs.

Heck, just having a wider product line means fewer boom-and-bust cycles when the company is between new models (with the accompanying bursts of new sales and marketing buzz.)

Comment: Re:Last 2 planes? (Score 1) 293

by Idarubicin (#48937175) Attached to: US Air Force Selects Boeing 747-8 To Replace Air Force One

The oldest flying 747 is also the fifth 747 produced. It was delivered in August 1970 and is still flying today.

This is true. As the linked article notes, a remarkable number of early 747s are still in service in Iran, either with the Iranian Air Force or as part of the fleet of Iran Air. These airframes date to before the 1979 Iranian Revolution. I didn't really want to open that can of worms, though--given the diplomatic situation between Iran and the United States, one wonders at the level of support that Boeing would feel it had to provide (or even would be allowed to provide, as a U.S. company).

I would wonder if there were any parallels to the situation in, say, Cuba, with its large population of Batista-era (pre-Castro, pre-Communist revolution) U.S.-built "classic" automobiles. Though you'll still see them on the roads of Havana, I wouldn't expect Ford to still have parts for, say, the 1957 Fairlane.

Comment: Re:Last 2 planes? (Score 4, Informative) 293

by Idarubicin (#48934689) Attached to: US Air Force Selects Boeing 747-8 To Replace Air Force One

So...$1.65 billion to buy the planes from Boeing, and how many millions per year to have Boeing keep a tooling line up for spare parts?

Since airlines were still ordering new 747-8s (the platform on which the new Air Force One(s) would be built) in 2014 - and might still continue to do so - this isn't exactly an obsolete aircraft. I mean, the first 747-8s weren't delivered to customers until 2011. There are still-flying 747-variant fuselages in commercial (passenger and freight) service that have been in the air since the late 1970s and early 1980s. Based on that history, it seems likely that Boeing will need to support its commercial customers through to at least 2045 or so.

Comment: Re:Of course you can take things too far... (Score 1) 79

by Idarubicin (#48752059) Attached to: The Downside of Connected Healthcare: Cyberchondria

but I've always thought it was strange that people will spend days learning about, debugging, and fixing their car or computer...

Who are these "people"? Sure, there are some who will do this - and this being Slashdot, we've probably got a population enriched in them - but if you take a random person with a car or computer problem, they will just ask (respectively) their local mechanic or teenager--in exactly the same way that many people approach their doctors.

Yes, there exist people who will try to troubleshoot their cars, computers, or their own bodies. And there exist subsets within those groups who can are capable of doing so in a way that makes things better rather than worse. Most people aren't comfortable going beyond the most basic diagnostic steps in any of those three spheres, however. Putting gas in the car is their limit; checking the oil and topping up the washer fluid is something that happens at the dealership, and borrowing an OBD-II reader to interpret a Check Engine light is in the realm of black magic.

Worse, there are also people who spend good money on magic grounding straps for their cars, insist on clicking on VIRUS WARNING links in spam emails, and who actually believe stuff that homeopathic practitioners tell them.

Comment: Re:Are emails copyrighted ? (Score 2) 138

by Idarubicin (#48711009) Attached to: Sony Sends DMCA Notices Against Users Spreading Leaked Emails

No that is not true. If I create some software I can license it or effectively give it away...

The fact that you - automatically - hold the copyright for the works you create doesn't prevent you from doing either of those things. Indeed, copyright is necessary for you to be able to license the work.

Comment: Not "ballistic" weapons (Score 1) 290

by Idarubicin (#48704619) Attached to: War Tech the US, Russia, China and India All Want: Hypersonic Weapons

Hypersonic weapons — or ballistic weapons that can hit a target flying many times faster than the speed of sound...

The summary is flat wrong in its terminology. A key point about hypersonic weapons, from a tactical and strategic standpoint, is that they aren't ballistic. They're potentially faster and sneakier.

Aside from acceleration during boost and (generally limited) manoeuvering during descent, ballistic weapons are - by definition - coasting unpowered for most of their flight time. Ballistic missiles put their warheads into an elliptical orbit that happens to intersect the surface of the earth (typically somewhere around Moscow) and let gravity do most of the work.

Hypersonic weapons, in stark contrast, are in powered flight for most or all of their journey. Instead of being lobbed up and coming back down, they can go straight to their target (modulo the curvature of the earth). They can travel a path and a velocity that is limited by their own engineering rather than by orbital mechanics. From a strategic standpoint, they would allow delivery of warheads (particularly nuclear warheads) in shorter times by less-detectable and less-interceptable courses, with all the attendant consequences for the calculus of nuclear war, first strikes, and mutually assured destruction.

Comment: Re:What the fuck is this pretentious bullshit? (Score 5, Funny) 190

by Idarubicin (#48684227) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

Mechanical switches are just like analog vinyl. Because the action is analog it isn't just on or off but has a slight curve between the states.

This. Exactly this. Inexperienced typists just don't get it.

To convey proper nuance in text, I don't always want exactly 1 letter "A" when I press the "A" key. Using uniform whole letters can seem jarring and mechanical, particularly when writing personal email. Sometimes a message composer only wants, say, 0.95 "A", just to soften the letter out. Other times, it's nice to smooth the letter out a bit, letting it fade out genty across the length of the word instead of being uncomfortably square.

These mechanical keyboards are usually tuned to be "warmer", as well--when you press that "A" key, it has overtones and harmonics from other vowels. A little bit of "E" goes a long way, but true "golden fingers" agree that plenty of "O" adds mellowness and roundness.

The adoption of these digital, non-mechanical keyboards is also one of the major reasons why emotion and subtext - especially related to humor - are so often lost in text-based messaging.

Comment: Re:Move to a gated community (Score 1) 611

by Idarubicin (#48606945) Attached to: Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

...all of these can be achieved by adding enough lanes to your freeways. Enough many be quite high number, butt hat's fine: building robust infrastructure to make life better is what my taxes are for.

"Robust infrastructure" is good. "Adding lanes to freeways" isn't the only way to reach that goal--and it isn't necessarily the most cost-effective use of those tax dollars. Just laying down roadbed and asphalt isn't terribly costly; call it $10 million or so per mile of 4-lane interstate. Building wider bridges, digging supplementary tunnels, constructing complex interchanges, realigning adjacent utility conduits and ramps--well, that costs quite a bit more. Expropriating massive amounts of land adjacent to existing interstates in dense urban areas - or adding parallel routes, or building stacked or buried lanes - is extraordinarily, sometimes ruinously, costly. (Boston's Big Dig cost something like $200 million per lane-mile.)

And each lane gets you about 2,000 cars per hour, at best. If you have a million people in the suburbs who want to get to work between 8 and 9am, and they're all driving their own vehicles, your system grinds to a halt unless there are 500 live Interstate lanes into the city. Worse, each additional car you add to the city means more traffic on the roads in town, and demand for parking, and production of local air pollution, and so forth. "Build more lanes" is a solution that ultimately just doesn't scale.

In contrast, bus rapid transit systems can achieve at least 10,000 passengers per hour and sometimes as high as 30,000 per hour depending on configuration. Light rail achieves similar passenger numbers. Metro (subway) systems typically top out north of 30,000 passengers per hour, per line; Hong Kong's metro system clears 80,000 per hour on its highest-traffic lines. (For those keeping score, that's enough to offset 40 Interstate lanes.)

Comment: Re:Sensors can't monitor climate change (Score 5, Insightful) 116

by Idarubicin (#48539637) Attached to: NSF Accused of Misuse of Funds In Giant Ecological Project

Sensors can monitor only weather. They can monitor neither climate nor change. Both must be calculated from series of data points.

That's sort of like saying you can't measure the area of a room using a tape measure,. After all, you have to perform a calculation based on the measurements you collect; the tape measure doesn't have an "area" reading. By one sufficiently pedantic, narrow, arrogant, obnoxious measure, you could argue that you were correct--and you probably would get punched by a lot of tradespeople who recognized you were just being an insufferable prick instead of making a useful contribution.

The sensors - or the tape measure - are necessary tools for the process, even though they don't directly output the final processed result.

Comment: Re:Only 25% positive? (Score 2) 342

by Idarubicin (#48495089) Attached to: Breath Test For Pot Being Developed At WSU

So the cops blood tested all of these people with what I assume is probably cause and only 25% were actually under the influence? Or do they just randomly blood test everyone and 25% of all Washington drivers are high?

Could be neither. In many jurisdictions, the roadside breath test (or field sobriety test) merely provides probable cause for law enforcement to obtain a warrant, with which they can compel a blood sample. I wouldn't be surprised if they are allowed to test for a range of intoxicating substances - including THC - and not just ethanol with these tests.

Note, as well, that "25% tested positive" is not the same as "25% were 'high' or intoxicated". Detectable amounts of THC or metabolites don't mean, necessarily, dangerous or intoxicating quantities. (Depending on exactly what was being tested, and the sensitivity of their instruments, they could have been seeing very low levels associated with marijuana use days or even weeks previously, or even with secondhand exposure.)

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