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Comment Re:Consumers getting it deep once again with this. (Score 2) 515

I pushed for usage based charging in my university as an alternate to the previous scheme of free bandwidth except for fining the top 20 users at £2/gig. They now charge by the amount charged per gig by the UK academic network (JANET) of ~15p (23c) and I think that's perfectly reasonable. Usage based charging is not a bad idea. In fact, it's pretty great for the majority of consumers. Why shouldn't people pay for what they use? Where it's bad is where there isn't appropriate competition to drive the price to the correct network cost, but monopolies are a problem for fixed rate plans, too.

Comment Odd story (Score 2) 85

So, I work in this field (computational condensed matter physics). I was going to do a PhD with one of his competitors in the random-structure field but eventually chose another. Weirdly, like, earlier today before I saw this announced, Prof. Oganov added me on Facbeook. So, questions: a) Why did he add me? b) Did he know I've got vague connections to his field? Curiouser and curiouser.

Comment Re:Well, that explains things. (Score 2, Insightful) 1268

The thing is every time someone talks about new ways of teaching math to fix problems in understanding like the one in the article, such as one way I saw of encouraging children to realize that e.g. '4', '2+2', '3+1', '1+3' are all the same thing, they're derided as some sort of wacko modern maths that makes no sense. Make your mind up, children aren't in general stupid, but their teaching certainly can be.

Comment Re:How is this news? Oh, its on the web!!! (Score 4, Informative) 143

It sounds very like by the wonderful mySociety which has been running in the UK for a while now, and working quite well, all for free. It's effective because it streamlines the often awful web reporting mechanism that city councils have into a single system that handles the reporting and the public presence of the report that other people can see (to see how effective the council is).

Crowdsourcing the Department of Public Works 143

blackbearnh writes "Usually, Gov 2.0 deals mainly with outward transparency of government to the citizens. But SeeClickFix is trying to drive data in the other direction, letting citizens report and track neighborhood problems as mundane as potholes, and as serious as drug dealers. In a recent interview, co-founder Jeff Blasius talked about how cities such as New Haven and Tucson are using SeeClickFix to involve their citizens in identifying and fixing problems with city infrastructure. 'We have thousands of potholes fixed across the country, thousands of pieces of graffiti repaired, streetlights turned on, catch basins cleared, all of that basic, broken-windows kind of stuff. We've seen neighborhood groups form based around issues reported on the site. We've seen people get new streetlights for their neighborhood, pedestrian improvements in many different cities, and all-terrain vehicles taken off of city streets. There was also one case of an arrest. The New Haven Police Department attributed initial reports on SeeClickFix to a sting operation that led to an arrest of two drug dealers selling heroin in front of a grammar school.'"
United Kingdom

Submission + - UK election captures the Geek Vote (

dominux writes: With the UK getting ready for a General Election the political parties are figuring out the importance of the geek vote. As a result of the protests and general backlash against the Digital Economies bill (our DMCA equivalent) that was being shoved through at the last minute the Liberal Democrat party has dropped it's support for the bill and it will now probably fail. Voter initiatives such as Democracy Club and Vote Geek are making this the an election where technology policy makes a difference.

Comment Re:You never discard the data (Score 4, Insightful) 190

As other people have pointed out - sometimes the data is just crap due to the difficulty of making measurements. Sometimes you've measured something other than what you actually need to compare to theory, sometimes there's too much noise. The skill of a great experimentalist is being able to take good enough data that you can't justify ignoring it if it comes out different to what you expected.

The Neuroscience of Screwing Up 190

resistant writes "As the evocative title from Wired magazine implies, Kevin Dunbar of the University of Toronto has taken an in-depth and fascinating look at scientific error, the scientists who cope with it, and sometimes transcend it to find new lines of inquiry. From the article: 'Dunbar came away from his in vivo studies with an unsettling insight: Science is a deeply frustrating pursuit. Although the researchers were mostly using established techniques, more than 50 percent of their data was unexpected. (In some labs, the figure exceeded 75 percent.) "The scientists had these elaborate theories about what was supposed to happen," Dunbar says. "But the results kept contradicting their theories. It wasn't uncommon for someone to spend a month on a project and then just discard all their data because the data didn't make sense."'"

Comment Re:If we evolved to have them... (Score 5, Interesting) 260

Whether or not we "need" them can only be judged retrospectively, and not after a fairly sudden (in evolutionary terms) change in environment before the consequences have worked out - us having evolved to have them would probably indicate that they give some sort of advantage to not having them.

China Enforces Even Stricter Regulation On Games 235

eldavojohn writes "Chinese gamers have a pretty hard life. From crackdowns on 'undesirable' games to bans on gangster games to delayed World of Warcraft expansions, they suffer. The worst part is that in order to qualify for operating in China, you face a maze of conflicting bureaucracy and regulation. Well, it just got a little worse. Now, if you want to operate, you need to hire a 'specialist' to oversee content, and you need to 'enhance socialist values' in your game. They also want to limit in-game marriages and how many player-versus-player combat sessions one can engage in. The circular issued from China's Ministry of Culture contained all the vague verbiage giving them easier reign over who operates and who doesn't. It's a large market, but is it worth the gamble to game developers?"

CERN Physicist Warns About Uranium Shortage 581

eldavojohn writes "Uranium mines provide us with 40,000 tons of uranium each year. Sounds like that ought to be enough for anyone, but it comes up about 25,000 tons short of what we consume yearly in our nuclear power plants. The difference is made up by stockpiles, reprocessed fuel and re-enriched uranium — which should be completely used up by 2013. And the problem with just opening more uranium mines is that nobody really knows where to go for the next big uranium lode. Dr. Michael Dittmar has been warning us for some time about the coming shortage (PDF) and has recently uploaded a four-part comprehensive report on the future of nuclear energy and how socioeconomic change is exacerbating the effect this coming shortage will have on our power consumption. Although not quite on par with zombie apocalypse, Dr. Dittmar's final conclusions paint a dire picture, stating that options like large-scale commercial fission breeder reactors are not an option by 2013 and 'no matter how far into the future we may look, nuclear fusion as an energy source is even less probable than large-scale breeder reactors, for the accumulated knowledge on this subject is already sufficient to say that commercial fusion power will never become a reality.'"

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department