Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re: Lots of unwarranted concerns (Score 2) 319

Speaking as a Belgian, living in Belgium since I was born, I'd say he is right. We have 5 different governments that partially overlap, we have 3 official languages, and the 2 major language groups can't stand each other. I think Belgium is a great place to live, but that doesn't mean I can't also acknowledge that our political system is pretty dysfunctional and nothing sensible gets done unless it is an emergency.

Comment No, not really... (Score 4, Interesting) 245

I work for a company that makes Orphan drugs. Yes, they're ridiculously expensive. The reason is that the number of patients for our drugs number in the couple of thousands globally. Our workforce to run the entire plant, do QA, maintenance, regulatory administration and production processes etc numbers in the several hundreds. Those people need to be paid every month by what a couple thousand people pay for their meds every month.

And that is without taking into account that this entire plant was built for making this drug, which was an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, with several millions annually for upkeep and maintenance.

I agree that we probably make a decent profit or we wouldn't be doing it.
However, if subsidizing we to stop, we'd just stop making it because with the numbers I mentioned above, it is impossible to make our drugs in a manner that would be affordable without it. And that would mean those people would simply die.

Comment Re:Some wrong assumptions made in comments thus fa (Score 1) 134

There is no technical reason they should be so expensive, components wise I mean. But the development and QA processes, and regulatory filings, audits, and all the other crap to make it suitable for medical purposes, make it so. That is why a WII balance board costs peanuts, but a medical device with similar functionality costs 10K. If has to be developed according to FDA regulatiosn, there need to be mandatory QA controls in place, software needs to be developed according to medical use standards, there is a regular FDA audit to deal with, liability, studies and validations, etc.

The WII balance board just needs to work. For a while. Non calibrated, non validated, and if it doesn't do what is expected in some cases, you get to call tech support instead of file a million dollar lawsuit.

Comment Re:umm, ok...? (Score 1) 134

In meaning, there is a difference. But in reality there isn't. Medical applicances are subject to a lot of regulatory requirements that you cannot skip. If you have something that was not developed and released according to the applicable rules, it simply does not meet the standards and none in the medical field can use it for medical applications. You may think it is annoying or stupid or whatever, but it is law. Those regulations and mandatory QA processes exist to make sure that all bases are covered and that you don't get embarrassing 'oopsies' and people fall dead because you forgot to check for something.

Even today, problems still arise, but the goal is to minimize this as much as possible. And when it goes wrong, lawsuits are files for millions of dollars. Whether the distibutor made any money or not doesn't matter. Your well meaning open source project leader -assuming they somehow fullfilled all legal requirements to releasing something for medical use- would be bankrupted in court, even though he never made a penny.

Comment Re:Why isn't all medical equipment open source? (Score 1) 134

Because all distributors of medical equipment are liable for the damages in case of malfunction. Doesn't matter if you package it up and distribute for free. Your ass is on the line if something goes wrong. That is why there are expensive certifications, regulations, and oversight watchdogs such as the FDA and FAGG (Europe). If you create an ECG appliance, then you had better hope nothing ever goes wrong, because someone dies due to a malfunction, you're bankrupt. That is why even your development and QA processes are subject to severe regulatory requirements.

Comment Re:Sounds counter-productive... (Score 2) 1160

A short delay? You've obviously never worked in the pharma industry.
It takes about 7 to 9 years between building your installation and FDA market approval.
There is a huge amount of testing and red tape to prevent 'oopsies' like the softenon fuckup.

If a big pharma company decided -today- to retrofit one of their plants for making this product, you'd be a decade further before it would become available. Even with a known drug that would not require additional research. And that is assuming there are no legal hurdles like patents or other things that can slow things down even further. I work in a pharma plant. I started there during the engineering phase so I do have a good idea of what is involved in bringing a drug to market.

Comment Re:yeah no (Score 1) 682

I take it you don't have kids? Firstly, 5 and 4 are very different ages and toddlers have wildly varying capabilities. Secondly it also depends a lot on the situation we're talking about. A bus stop near a grand central station is different than the bus stop at the end of the street in a quiet little village where the bus driver knows you.

As for sense of responsibility:
a) they're toddlers, not responsible adults.
b) parents requiring their toddler to travel alone are the irresponsible ones.

That is why little kids need to be under supervision. You cannot expect them to always act rationally and responsibly. They're toddlers ferchrissakes. Not fully developed intelligent mini adults. If something unexpected happens, they're scared, without resources, and unable to help themselves.

Comment Re:yeah no (Score 3, Insightful) 682

The kid is 4. If he 'misses his bus' then something is catastrophically wrong, because a 4 year old should not go to the bus stop and find his way home by himself. Dealing with a 4 year old is at the basic principle- no different from transporting a prisoner. They should always be in the care of someone: a teacher, guardian, babysit, parent, ...

If you have to wonder if a 4 year old kid will make it home by himself in time for diner, then you're doing it wrong.

I agree there are many applications where allowing a toddler on the phone is nice. But he shouldn't need it to fend for himself.

Comment Re:Scales? (Score 1) 183

The super majority doesn't drop. The drop of the supermajority is one of the things introduced by John Paul II and removed again by Benedict. His reason for removing it was that any simple majority could simply block the election until the supermajority requirement had dropped, thus making it completely irrelevant. So now a 2/3 majority is needed at all times.


Comment Re:Of course, It begs the question... (Score 5, Informative) 161

Far from dodgy companies. This is a common feature in many (all?) cash registers used in small business, especially restaurants.
I know people who work in restaurants, and they told me that this is a public secret.

The way it works is that at the end of the day, you can make the register change the numbers by an amount or a percent. Ther register will then do the math to change the number of coffees served and muffins sold and things like that. It does this so that the numbers still make sense and correlate with expected ratios.
At that point, the business day is closed, the register is printed, and you get some money out of the till under the table. If the inspectors should come in during the day, you can just print whatever the current status is, which will then be immutable at the end of the business day to avoid discrepancies.

This functionality is not advertized in writing, but all sales persons know about it and know how they can explain this to the owners. All major registers have features like this, and I can understand why the inspectors would require open source. Because skimming money becomes an order of magnitude more difficult if you don't have a register to help you create a phony audit trail.

Comment Re:Beats sitting in front of a computer? (Score 1) 201

It is a niche market, and you won't get rich. I am an apprentice level smith. A friend of mine (who is a master smith) says that the only way to end up with a small fortune in smithing is to start with a big fortune.

I forge kitchen knives and straight razors mostly. From bar stock to finished item can easily take 8 hours or more. Even if I can sell them at a decent price for such items, my hourly rate is very low. The profit for a 100 euro kitchen knife, per hour, is much less than if I had been flipping burgers at Mc Donalds. The only way to make it as a smith are to work your ass off, from dawn till dusk, and be lucky and skilled (it takes both) enough that you're able to get enough 'fame' in your niche that people will pay big bucks to own something you made.

I know many smiths, and like me, most of them do it as a hobby which they can pursue with a lot of passion. Because it is very unlikely that you're skilled and lucky enough that your shop time is more profitable than e.g. your time as a systems engineer. There are people who succeed in making it their profession, but they are very few.

Of course, as a hobby it is a totally different story. Because it allows me to do something I like very much and make some pocket money doing it.

Comment Re:Would love to do this (Score 1) 201

Actually, it is not too bad. Of course you'll use some muscles you don't use at a desk job, but -if you don't have to do it as a full time job- forging is not too bad if you keep a couple of things in mind. First, work hot enough during the rough stages. Hotter -> softer -> more efficient metal displacement. Second, use proper hammering technique, using the wrist, elbow and shoulder. And third, hammer at the right place, from the correct angle, so that you don't do things to your workpiece that take more effort to undo.

It is definitely not easy and takes a lot of practice to get experienced enough to work efficiently. But from the physical side of things, it is not too bad once you've gone through the initial muscle aches that everyone gets when they use muscles they otherwise don't.

Slashdot Top Deals

fortune: cpu time/usefulness ratio too high -- core dumped.