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Comment: Re:Maybe the FAA should inform the stewardesses (Score 1) 128

What airline is that? There are Standard Operating Procedures. They make their own rule.

As far as I know, the FAR's basically say that it is up to the operator (the airline) to decide which devices are OK to use [1491.21, and, for typical airline operations: 121.306].

Comment: Re:zotero (Score 1) 91

by (#47373243) Attached to: WebODF: JavaScript Open Document Format Editor Deemed Stable
Generally, something like Dropbox and LaTeX work fine - unless you have two people editing the same file at the same time. Then, any VCS or something like Dropbox fail miserably. I have tried, but of course I'd like to keep using my local Aquamacs instead of a web-based solution. Maybe I'll write a synchronization tool for Emacs. The issue is then that we need to integrate people who don't use Emacs...

Comment: Wow! (Score 2) 91

by (#47368443) Attached to: WebODF: JavaScript Open Document Format Editor Deemed Stable
This is fast and responsive. Does it avoid long-standing Word problems, such as figures that jump away from captions, paragraphs that adopt the adjacent style just because you're moving them around, and the like? For professional writing, I'll stick to LaTeX for now. For collaborative writing, something like this could be nice (and improve on half-baked solutions like the editor in OneDrive (very slow) or Google Doc (not word-compatible). So, I think this would have to be able to export / import Word docs seamlessly, due to business pressure everywhere...

Comment: Assistant Professor in Tech: Having' a good time! (Score 0) 538

by (#47292753) Attached to:
Sorry to spoil the party, but I'm having a good time.

Yes, I spent my late 20's and early 30's doing a PhD and a longish poorly-paid post-doc at one of the top US institutions. But I enjoyed it. I did not have to do my professor's work. I develop a research agenda instead.

I'm tenure-track faculty at a very large, research-intensive state school now. My salary is where I'd start out at Google as an engineer with a PhD, because the university has recognized the need to compete with the private sector. I chose not to take the Google job at the time because I wanted to run my own lab, but the decision was close. I now have a few PhD students, some very limited grant money coming in. I do have to teach: some of it is fun, and I'm trying to give something back to my "customers" without spending valuable time on it (which I need to spend on research).

I do see some people that work crazy hours. They tend to either be very good at what they do, or they go for every grant opportunity they see (and still have a poor success rate). With the low chances of getting a proposal funded at certain important institutions (like NSF, NIH), I feel I need to economize and only send in core work.

Yes, a lot of teaching is offloaded on teaching faculty with year-to-year jobs. Science is not in their career goals, but they are much more dedicated educators. Given the poor preparation and an attitude among our undergrads to "pick up a degree" in lieu of "learning something profound", I think this is the right choice. We do not work with adjuncts all that much, but it's widely agreed that working as an adjunct for more than a year is labor of love, not a career.

I'm happy with my job for it offers plenty of intellectual and practical freedom. The downside is having to live in a college town rather than in NYC or SFO, or in a much more interesting European city. I'll live with this trade-off.

Comment: Administration: regulation and legal exposure (Score 1) 538

by (#47292701) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job
It is true that many universities world-wide are run more my administrators and their helpers, sucking up resources that are not spent on the universities core mission. In the U.S., anyway, a good bit of that has to do with two things: (a) regulation forces universities to check and double-check compliance with a complex set of rules imposed by federal and state governments and other sponsors. (b) Exposure. A larger university is much more likely to lose large sums of money (and public credibility) as a result of litigation when things go wrong. The system over-reacts because the stakes are high. In science, empiricism means that we do not conclude anything from anecdotal evidence (sample size: one). "Learning from experience" in policy-making means that when one person messes up one thing, everybody else will have to fill out more forms for rest of their lives.

Comment: evaluation? (Score 1) 231

I wonder how this is evaluated, if at all. As others have been pointed out, the fact that Carl Linnaeus means that they define "influence" in a fairly poor, counter-intuitive way. Many mentions might make someone famous, but not influential in a deep sense. Deep influence, to me, affects the answer to a simple question. If the contributions of person A hadn't been made, would our world be a fundamentally different place? This will work for largely fictional figures (such as Jesus), as for evil people (Hitler). It will, IMHO correctly state that Mary (as in mother of Jesus) or Queen Elizabeth weren't all that influential.

Comment: Re:The hard part (Score 1) 195

by (#45989789) Attached to: Building an Open Source Nest
If you think of a thermostat as a device that closes a switch when the temperature is below or above a set point, you're certainly right. But if you had some vision, you would see a new generation of devices, "smart homes", real-life ubiquitous computing, energy sustainability, and opportunities for data-mining or even networked intelligence. That's why I have two Nests - right now it's just good-looking and convenient (remote control!), but I'm adopting technology that, in a few years, may change the way I live.

Comment: Someone disagrees - and gets fired? (Score 1) 409

by (#45951061) Attached to: Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian'
Is this what corporate America is, these days? Someone disagrees in an e-mail with the head office and gets dismissed for that? Oracle would be unethical, but also downright stupid if they fired everyone who didn't share the views of their superiors. I can't believe that...

Comment: Visa requirements - above-average salary? (Score 1) 409

by (#45951037) Attached to: Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian'
That guy from India presumably needed a visa, such as an H1B. In order to get this, a company needs to demonstrate to the Dept of Labor that the person in question can command an above-average salary. How do they do this if they undercut people in comparable jobs?

Comment: Re:Yet another great argument... (Score 2, Interesting) 402

by (#44155431) Attached to: D.C. Awards Obamacare IT Work To Offshore Outsourcer
I'm not sure you're familiar with the facts. First, the number of H1B's given to this company indicates precisely that they are _not_ an offshore, outsourcing enterprise - the place of employment (and where taxes are paid by the employer and employees) is the US. Second, H1B requires that employers "Pay the nonimmigrant workers at least the local prevailing wage or the employer's actual wage, whichever is higher; pay for non-productive time in certain circumstances; and offer benefits on the same basis as for U.S. workers;" ( Of course, there is some wiggle room, but that is natural and appropriate for a free market society. The H1Bs I know are getting paid far above what certain US nationals make in similar jobs, because they're worth it. Their job hunt is international, and so are their careers. For other H1Bs - well, don't forget that this country was founded based on immigration. I agree that there are problems though - see Moryath's comment below. The bigger question for me is why it takes $50M to make a website backed by a database, to serve a tiny state in which most potential users will have employer-provided healthcare anyway.

Comment: Re:lateral transfer / evolution (Score 1) 159

by (#44092751) Attached to: New Links Found Between Bacteria and Cancer
Perhaps because the classic evolution model typically involves vertical transfer? But, of course, the selection process continues to work very well, so you're right from that perspective. "HGT has been shown to be an important factor in the evolution of many organisms." -

The person who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.