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Comment: Article asks an important question (Score 5, Insightful) 387

by davidwr (#49616083) Attached to: No, NASA Did Not Accidentally Invent Warp Drive

From the article [numbers added for clarity]:

So let me ask you this, aspiring (or armchair) scientists: what would be the criteria you'd demand as the extraordinary evidence necessary to convince you that this is real? For myself, here's what Iâ(TM)d demand at minimum:

  • [1.] A detection of thrust that scaled with input power: the greater the power, the greater the thrust, in a predictable relationship.
  • [2.] A thrust that was at least many standard deviations above the measurement error.
  • [3.] An isolated environment, where atmospheric, gravitational and electromagnetic effects were all removed.
  • [4.] A reproducible setup and a transparent device design, so that other, independent teams can further test and validate the device/investigate the mechanism.
  • [5.] And finally, a detailed results report with the submission of an accompanying paper to peer review, and acceptance by the journal in question.

* I would certainly demand #4 - this combined with #3 (or a substitute - see below) is the gold standard for "there is really something here even if we don't know what it is".
* I would demand #5 or a similar process of independent peer review
* I would allow "enough reproductions over enough diverse environments to rule out environmental factors" as a substitute for #3.
* As for #2, the less the measurement error could lead to misleading results, the better, but a result that is "at least many standard deviations above the measurement error" may not be necessary to declare that we have an interesting, publishable result worthy of further study.

I would let #1 go: If the phenomenon was caused by something that did NOT scale with input power, it could still be interesting. It might not get us to space, but it would be worth publishing and studying.

Comment: Well, if you really want recent college grads... (Score 1) 538

by davidwr (#49615915) Attached to: Recruiters Use 'Digital Native' As Code For 'No Old Folks'

... create a job where the essential functions of the job really do require at least 30 clock-hours of recent (in the last 5 years) training OR equivalent on-the-job/volunteer/self-study experience in a broad list of non-technical courses typically taught in undergraduate programs AND which candidates who have not been in school the last 5 years likely won't have.

For example, most recent graduates who went to school full-time the last 4-5 years studied at least one semester of
* American history
* Writing or composition ("English 101")
* Differential Calculus

If you have a job that really does make use of these jobs - even if you've deliberately gone out of your way to engineer the job requirements so that someone without this knowledge would have difficulty doing the job - you should be alright.

Round out the list with "relevant" technical courses. For example, for a programmer position, structure the job so that it really does require that a candidate recently had 30 classroom hours of ALL of the following courses or had the equivalent experience or self-study in these areas:
* algorithm design
* computer hardware
* [list two programming languages that weren't in vogue 10 years ago here]
* [list another skill that is widely taught in school but which only a small fraction of "industry hires" will have more than a passing knowledge of here]

Then for good measure throw in things like "must have given at least 3 technical presentations of at least 15 minutes each in the last 5 years, at least one of which is to a non-lay audience."

Again, this will only work if the job really does require the knowledge and skills that the job description asked for. If a motivated candidate that lacks one or more of the requirements could reasonably be expected to "fill in the gaps" through self-study before he needed to use those skills between the time he started the application/resume process and the time he needed them on the job, then making them a job requirement could be seen as a sham and it could get you into trouble.

Here's a hypothetical "engineered" job designed specifically to require such skills:

Job posting: Web programmer Level I
Salary range: [keep it on the low end but not OMGTHISMUSTBEANHB1POSITION low]
Primary duties: Work under supervision to design, implement, and maintain web sites using [list 2-3 fairly new web-development environments]
Secondary duties: Give short talks about your projects to other teams in the company; attend short talks given by other teams and provide feedback; present papers at technical conferences
Non-technical duties: Represent company in college- and high-school outreach including participating in "adult vs. youth" contests like "Are you smarter than an 11th-Grade American History Student," giving talks to middle school students on topics such as "how to make a ripple-carry adder circuit from the things you find at home," and giving talks to high school Calculus students on topics like "not all computers are digital."

Now, Mr. Employer, I have to ask you:

Is it really worth re-jiggering your employees' job duties specifically so your typical industry hire would not be qualified but your typical recent B.S.-holding technical-degree-graduate would? Add to that the fact that more seasoned professionals bring certain hard-to-define qualities to the job that you typically just can't get from less-seasoned professionals and recent grads? Also, don't forget loyalty: People who have kids-in-tow or who have lived in the area for awhile are very unlikely to want to move to a new area once they hire on with you. While you can't ask about kids or length-of-current-residence in a job interview, you can generally assume that your average person over 30 is more stable/reliable and less likely to "jump ship" for more money or a minor on-the-job annoyance than someone under 25.

Oh, and as for salary:
It's not like the 1990s, we, the "older tech workers," get it: We know that despite the benefits we bring to the table from our years or decades of technical experience, you are paying us to fill a specific role that does not require the benefits of our long experience. We get that we shouldn't expect any more pay now than the 22-year-old college grad who is also interviewing for the position and we get that unless we earn a promotion or change jobs internally, we won't be given any more in the way of pay raises than the 22-year-old will get if he gets the job. We accept this as an economic reality. If we wanted or needed more money, we wouldn't be applying for jobs that a 22-year-old with almost no "real-world" experience could do.

Comment: OT: Texas shooting Re:Good (Score 1) 251

by davidwr (#49608877) Attached to: VA Tech Student Arrested For Posting Perceived Threat Via Yik Yak

Stick their grievances in their face and when they show up to squabble about it cut them down in the street.

Showing up to shoot an unarmed-but-uniformed school police officer is hardly "showing up to squabble about it."

Good news: Media reports that the unarmed school police officer that one (or both?) of the gunmen shot has been released from the hospital.

"Don't mess with Texas" isn't just an anti-litter slogan.

Comment: Well, this wouldn't be so bad if only.. (Score -1, Offtopic) 72

... if only
* His assumptions were backed by solid, peer-reviewed research,
* Research into the bias or lack of bias in all-male research groups were done and we had solid evidence regarding the whether all-male groups had a bias requiring rejection of all papers on this topic by all-male research teams, and if so, that such papers were rejected.

Of course, neither one is the case. But if they were ....

Comment: Reminds me of free books in WWII (Score 1) 126

by davidwr (#49594237) Attached to: Obama Announces e-Book Scheme For Low-Income Communities

From Publishers Gave Away 122,951,031 Books During World War II: And, in the process, they created a nation of readers:

In 1943, in the middle of the Second World War, America's book publishers took an audacious gamble. They decided to sell the armed forces cheap paperbacks, shipped to units scattered around the globe. Instead of printing only the books soldiers and sailors actually wanted to read, though, publishers decided to send them the best they had to offer. Over the next four years, publishers gave away 122,951,031 copies of their most valuable titles.

[follow title-link for the rest of the article]

Comment: Be careful with alleged "reproductions" (Score 1) 174

If you are unethical and try to reproduce a given experiment 100 times and it reproduces 10 times, you can publish a paper saying "I reproduced this experiment 10 times successfully" and destroy the evidence of the other 90 trials. Find 2 or 3 "independent" shills to do the same type of fake "reproduction" over the course of a few months and people will just assume that the experiment is valid and stop trying to disprove it.

It works in reverse too:

If you are unethical and try to reproduce a given experiment 100 times and it reproduces 90 times, you can publish a paper saying "I tried and failed to reproduce this experiment 10 times" and destroy the evidence of the other 90 trials. Have a few "independent" shills repeat the sham "failure to reproduce" a few times and the original experiment will be discredited, probably along with the original research team and its institution.

Comment: This is good for green in more ways than one (Score 3, Interesting) 513

by davidwr (#49593901) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

If I'm a "wind/solar" or other non-24x7-generating company and I know what fraction of my customers have a several-hour-backup power supply, I can offer them lower rates in exchange for "turning them off" or even "buying electricity back from their batteries" in times of peak demand. This will let me offer services to more customers than I normally could handle.

Comment: Reason for two different OSes (Score 1) 263

by davidwr (#49578253) Attached to: Crashing iPad App Grounds Dozens of American Airline Flights

Imagine what would happen if the most recent, well-tested update had a bug such that it would crash at a specific time.

By having different OSes and different applications serving up the same data, the odds of such a bug on both the main and backup devices happening simultaneously are greatly reduced.

I say "greatly reduced" instead of "eliminated" because different OSes may still use the same buggy source code (there's BSD- or similar-licensed code in many OSes and applications).

Comment: Re:No excuse for this (Score 1) 55

by davidwr (#49572361) Attached to: Researchers Mount Cyberattacks Against Surgery Robot


Something about if they have physical access means you won't have any security anyway


What does that have to do with anything? If someone on-site is compromised,

Actually, the grandparent has a point: Someone with physical access to the robot prior to the surgery could replace or reprogram the robot. Someone with physical access to a machine "inside" the hospital's network (or for that matter, the network of the hospital where the human driving the robot is at) might be able to remotely-control the robot in ways that someone "outside" the network wouldn't be able to do if there was a site-to-site secure VPN but no machine-to-machine secure communications channel. Like physical access to the robot itself, the physical access to the "on-LAN" equipment doesn't even have to be during the operation.

Comment: Re:I know what will happen... (Score 2) 55

by davidwr (#49571321) Attached to: Researchers Mount Cyberattacks Against Surgery Robot

Which is worse for a patient with a condition that is typically not fatal and for which on-site surgery has a known risk of fatality:

* Sorry, you'll have to wait for a doctor who may never come
* We'll give you remote surgery but there's a chance someone will hack the system in a way that could kill you, plus there is still the normal risk you will never wake up from the anesthesia

Comment: No excuse for this (Score 3, Interesting) 55

by davidwr (#49571277) Attached to: Researchers Mount Cyberattacks Against Surgery Robot

You can't completely prevent your communication going down due to malice, accident, or acts of nature. When those fail you have to have a backup plan such as going into a failsafe mode.

BUT You can and must detect interference and either correct for it or treat it like a total communications failure. There is no excuse for being fooled into taking instructions from an unauthorized party (well, unless the instruction is "you think I'm hacking your communications but I'm really doing a side-channel attack to trick you into doing what you normally do when you lose communications, now obey me and do what you normally do when your communications are hosed, thank you.").

Chairman of the Bored.