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Comment: Re:And so this is Costco's fault? (Score 2) 440

by MattskEE (#46618149) Attached to: Million Jars of Peanut Butter Dumped In New Mexico Landfill

A bit of salt makes most foods taste better (in the opinion of most people) and adding salt is in no way a scam.

I personally have a strong taste preference for the natural style peanut butters which have just peanuts and salt, but I have been disappointed whenever I have tried an unsalted nut butter.

Comment: Re:RFID? (Score 1) 130

by MattskEE (#46401919) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Automatically Logging Non-Computerized Equipment Use?

At my uni some labs rely on a RFID badge system for charging for the access, others rely on a logsheet. Access is basically always restricted to authorized users by RFID badge.

The logsheet works well if a lab has proper oversight, most labs I've seen that run like this have a fully booked reservation calendar anyway so they know pretty well who is using it at any time. People who don't show up for reserved time or don't log time properly get in trouble and may have access restricted or revoked if the problem continues.

No matter the system you basically need to have "boots on the ground", i.e. somebody in charge of the equipment who is in the lab pretty regularly and makes sure that people show up for their reservations, makes sure they stay logged in with their swipe card or fill out the logbook properly, and makes sure they use the equipment properly and safely.

This is mainly a people problem, not a technical problem.

Comment: Re:Penny wise and pound foolish? (Score 1) 130

by MattskEE (#46401729) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Automatically Logging Non-Computerized Equipment Use?

I don't think you fully understand how this type of setup works in a University - this type of billing setup is common in the labs and departmental machine shops at my uni. It's important to keep in mind that even within a department there are a number of fairly independent faculty members and their research groups who win grants to do their work and buy equipment with this grant money for their labs, and then there may be multiple departments within a single building. Overhead charged to research grants helps pay for the building maintenance and department staff but usually doesn't generally pay for any upkeep of equipment, supplies, or staffing of any of the research labs.

If a professor lets other people use his equipment without paying for it then lots of people will want to use it (because it's free) and it can become a money sink where the professor who owns the equipment is paying for all supplies and upkeep but he can't enforce oversight of the equipment because there's no cost recovery to pay for a tech or grad student to maintain the tool, train new users, and watch over usage. Since there's no oversight parts will get misplaced, people will mistreat it and damage the tool. I've seen it happen. So they need to charge other users something, to fairly allocate cost it might as well be hourly.

If there is a group of professors who all benefit from each others' labs then they can share access equally, and each professor is responsible for the cost of maintaining and staffing their lab, much like a network peering arrangement. But if it's a very one-sided sharing then charging for access makes a lot of sense, otherwise one professor ends up subsidizing the others.

Comment: Re:First blacks, (Score 2) 917

by MattskEE (#46343049) Attached to: Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

By redefining marriage, in turn the effect is telling religions that they must redefine themselves. Are you really going to claim that all religions, many with histories extending back for millennia, must all redefine themselves? All the Jewish variants, the Christian and assorted protestant faiths, the Muslim believers, the native American nations with their beliefs, they must all redefine their religions for the convenience of the US government?

I don't care whether or not churches redefine themselves. I make no demand on them whatsoever. They can do whatever they please within the bounds of the law because it does not affect me. I even respect their right to grant the marriage sacrament only to straight couples, though I would personally prefer that such discrimination not be legal for an organization which is able to claim significant tax privileges.

My point in my first post was that if a religious organization wants a sacrament of union that doesn't share a name with a civil status that can be conferred on homosexual couples then the churches can rename their sacrament. That's all.

Maybe I got a little carried away by telling religious groups to suck it up but it makes so unhappy to hear about people who oppose gay marriage and homosexuality in general, or think that homosexuality is a choice, or a sign of moral decay, or a result of sexual trauma. Many of the staunchest critics of homosexuality push their views in the context of an organized religion, which tends to make me think poorly of organized religions in general since I can find no logical reason to be opposed to homosexuality.

I decided to spend 5 minutes looking into the precedence issue and found a random online source about the history of marriage which seems to suggest that civil marriage predates religious marriage in Rome anyway. This may persuade some (if civil marriage does truly predate religious marriage), but religious and civil origins or marriage are both millennia past and don't matter much in my opinion.

Comment: Re:First blacks, (Score 3, Insightful) 917

by MattskEE (#46341467) Attached to: Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

The word marriage is heavily entrenched in law and contract as a civil status. Religion may have used the term first (I don't actually know, nor do I care) but it's a legal word now and religious institutions should suck it up. It would probably even be expensive for the government to change the name of marriage to civil union.

If religious institutions don't like sharing a word for marriage because gays are finally allowed to get married in a subset of states then religions should invent a new term which refers solely to their religions sacrament (maybe "religious union"? "no-gays-allowed union"?) because they are the ones who have a problem, not us.

Religious people who oppose homosexuality are fleeing in vain from the march of history, because the march towards equal rights will not stop despite the loud but few voices against homosexuality. If religions can get on board we'll get equal rites too.

Comment: What's the killer app for flexible ICs? (Score 1) 15

by MattskEE (#46288187) Attached to: Hard Silicon Wafers Yield Flexible Electronics

I have to wonder what the killer app is for flexible chips? Wearable electronics is always mentioned in this sort of press release, but we have Google Glass already which doesn't require flexible chips. Flexible circuit boards are already in wide use, sometimes with rigid areas to reinforce specific areas that don't need to flex. What applications truly require a flexible integrated circuit?

Flexible displays make sense for flexible integrated circuits but I'm still a bit skeptical about that because it seems like the sort of thing which would get damaged really easily. Unless flexible displays end up being used primarily for conforming to non-flat rigid surfaces but that seems like a pretty limited application still.

Maybe I'm not thinking ambitiously enough but I just don't see flexible integrated circuits meriting the buzz that they get.

Comment: Re:Celsius (Score 2) 359

If you can't easily divide the number ten into two equal halves, then perhaps you have bigger problems than just which set of units to use.

GP never said it couldn't be... you're deliberately missing the obvious point that 12 can be divided into by thirds and quarters with integer results while 10 cannot.

A base 10 unit system is better because (and only because) base 10 is our primary number system. A meter is better than a foot because (and only because) it is the more popular international standard. We could scale Imperial unis with base-10 SI prefixes if we wanted to, and some people do.

I would tend to argue that Imperial units tend to be more natural since things like inches, feet, tablespoons, teaspoons, gallons, and miles came out of practical usage rather than a top-down choice of a base unit standard and subsequent base-10 scaling by SI prefixes. But I also readily admit that I may be wrong and merely biased since I grew up with Imperial units.

Comment: Re:Variety ! (Score 4, Insightful) 543

by MattskEE (#46043757) Attached to: 20,000 Customers Have Pre-Ordered Over $2,000,000 of Soylent

I cannot imagine having to eat the same thing every day,

Funnily enough nobody is forcing you. You are clearly not the target for this product, but so far about 20,000 other people are.

I am one of the pre-orderers of Soylent. Why? I enjoy tasty and varied food but I don't always have the time or money to eat the way I'd like to eat, so I end up spending more money than I'd like on restaurants/takeout or eating really unhealthy food like Cup Noodles. Soylent appears to be a relatively affordable way to get a fast and nutritious meal replacement. While I try it out I will probably replace lunch and/or dinner with Soylent since for me these tend to be the most inconvenient meals. Other pre-orderers seem to view it differently and see food as more of a hastle that Soylent will help them avoid, but to each their own.

You might ask why Soylent and not an existing meal replacement drink? *shrug* For me at least it's really down to supporting Rob's stated vision for the project. I haven't done detailed research on how or if Soylent is different from existing products but I do know that his goal is different and going for total food replacement is probably a higher standard than instant breakfast drinks or diet drinks, which may mean something or nothing. I just ordered one of the lower tiers to try it out and if I like it I'll buy more, assuming the product continues to be produced.

Comment: Re:Single finger zoom gesture (Score 1) 255

by MattskEE (#45979779) Attached to: Google Removes "Search Nearby" Function From Updated Google Maps

It's a good feature, but an important feature of any UI is discoverability since most people don't read manuals anymore. Buttons are easy to discover and manipulate. It took me about 2 months to discover the single-handed map zoom gesture. I also think it requires slightly more brainpower to use while driving which is when you really want an easy to use single handed map zoom function.

Don't even get me started other poor discoverability and fiddly gesture features in Android Kit Kat that replace the older more discoverable features like the fiddly camera settings tree, and swipe to reject/accept calls which has no indication of which direction is which until you start swiping. Some of these changes may predate KitKat, I was happily sitting on Android version 2.something for a couple of years, but I'm not as happy with the new version.

Comment: Re:Stop interning (Score 1) 196

by MattskEE (#45093675) Attached to: Foxconn Accused of Forcing InternsTo Build PS4s Or Lose School Credit

Engineering students in the US have pretty good internship opportunities which are frequently paid well over minimum wage and if they like you it can lead to job offers and help young engineers build their professional network.

That other industries might not even pay their interns seems very wrong to me. Companies aren't in the business of training interns for charity so the company must derive some benefit, therefore the interns should be paid at least minimum wage. Even if the work output is low the company can use internships as a recruitment and assessment method for hiring new full-time workers.

Comment: Re:No mention of economics.... (Score 1) 165

by MattskEE (#44966647) Attached to: New Solar Cell Sets Record For Energy Efficiency

Multi-junction cells are expensive to produce, using techniques similar to semiconductor device fabrication, usually metalorganic vapour phase epitaxy but on "chip" sizes on the order of centimeters. In cases where outright performance is the only consideration, these cells have become common, they are widely used in satellite applications for instance, where the power-to-weight ratio overwhelms practically every other cost.

MOVPE/MOCVD growth methods are not inherently limited to small chips that are centimeters in size. Researchers might be growing smaller samples during R&D because of limited reactor sizes, and the expense and difficulty of handling large wafers. Once the technology is demonstrated on small wafers the design can be scaled up for growth on larger wafers.

Commercial MOCVD reactors may grow on dozens of small wafers simultaneously in a single chamber, and the wafer sizes can also be increased. Commercial LEDs are grown by MOCVD on 6" wafers, maybe even 8" by now I'm not sure.

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