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Comment Re:Heh (Score 1) 59

One thing I've noticed is someone who is very good at a tech job isn't just twice as productive as someone who is lousy at it; the discrepancy could easily be 10x; or it could be that he produces positive progress and the lousy guy produces anti-progress. This is clearly true for software developers, but I've seen it happen with network administrators too: small cadres of happy, super-productive admins outperforming armies of miserable tech drones.

But the thing is if you don't understand anything about (a) the technology or (b) human beings, how do you get a worker to be more productive? You make him work longer.

I'm not talking about striking while the iron is hot. When opportunity produces the occasional 80 hour work week, that's a totally different matter than having no better idea of what to do than setting unrealistic goals and leaving it to workers to make it up through sheer, unsustainable effort. Too often in the latter case you end up producing the semblance of progress. Yeah, I finished the module but someone's going to have to throw it out and rewrite when it blows up in the customer's face.

Comment Re:Wait for the results. (Score 1) 69

Well he *is* going to test the hypothesis. But he has to test the *procedure* as well on a smaller scale before he uses it on his research subjects.

People underestimate how much of science is like this. Advancing science isn't just a matter of creating more theoretical knowledge; a lot of the time it's about advancing know-how.

Comment Re:duh? (Score 1) 80

You can use different kinds of evidence different ways. Credible anecdotal evidence can disprove some things, or it can suggest other things, but for the most part can't prove that one thing causes another.

Example: Suppose my friend Larry gets lung cancer a few years after he quit smoking. This disproves the notion that if you quit smoking you are guaranteed not to get lung cancer. It suggests that smoking causes long-term damage to the cells of the lung. It doesn't prove that quitting smoking causes cancer.

Randomized controlled studies are generally the most useful evidence points when it comes to trying to prove causation, but individual studies still can't do that. What you need is a pattern of evidence that includes RCTs and other, independent lines of inquiry.

Comment Re:No Apple (Score 1) 87

Err...nope. They are using m4a and standard h.264 (and h.265), and have been doing for ages. You could possibly say their .mov container is proprietary I suppose, but for years and years they've always used standard formats.

There was a brief time at the beginning when they used Fairplay DRM on audio because they were forced to, despite many pushes from them to get that dropped. I believe Amazon broke that one and was the first DRM-free store - not entirely sure on that one. iTunes store followed shortly after, as soon as the studios let them.

Apple do use DRM on their bought/rented video from the iTunes store. But then so does Amazon, and so does Netflix, and so does MS. They're in exactly the same situation.

Comment Not true. (Score 1) 173

There are airborne optical alternatives that can beat the * out of fiber - provided the weather is clear.

Fibre provides more frequency and better SNR than you'll get in the air, thus more bits

But a single fiber provides ONE PATH. Optics can provide MANY paths.

Imagine ten thousand fibers. Now imagine the ends poking out of a billboard in a 100x100 array - behind a 100x100 array of collimating lenses that beams the light toward your house. At your house imagine a telescope imaging that billboard onto a slide containing another 100x100 array of fiber ends. (Of course the fibers work both ways0 The air path may be of lower quality than physical fibers, but it's hard to beat a four orders of magnitude more paths. You'd need to run an actual bundle of hundreds or thousands of fibers from the billboard site to your house to beat it.
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Now go back to the billboard and insert another 100x100 array of fibers through it - slightly offset so the same set of lenses but beams toward your next-door neighbor's house. (We'll assume the array is spaced out sufficiently that an optical telescope can resolve the two houses.) Repeat for ALL the houses served.

Not practical as described, of course. But it shows the principle: Wireless paths can multiplex spatially and reuse the bandwidth a hysterical number of times.

(Of course a real system using spatial multiplexing could be expected to use various wave-mechanical hacks rather than actual resolved paths - just as MIMO does down at radio frequencies.)

Comment Re:duh? (Score 1) 80

The point is that the relationship between sleep and the strength of the immune system has been well know and tested for years...

For a certain value of "well-known" and "tested". You could actually read the paper abstract and see what was novel about this particular study.

Comment Re:duh? (Score 4, Interesting) 80

Knowing it in principle and knowing when to put that knowledge to work are two different things.

I used to catch *everything* that was going around, including some things most other people didn't. I got sick three, maybe four times a year. I always put it down to having a lousy immune system, until in one checkup I mentioned to my doctor that I'm a pretty loud snorer. "Better have you checked for sleep apnea," he said, and sure enough I had it, although only a relatively mild case. He prescribed sleeping on a CPAP machine, and since I've been doing that I almost never get sick. Maybe once in four years.

Anecdotal evidence, I know, but my point is this. Now that there's research demonstrating the impact of sleep on immune system performance it makes sense to make questions about sleep quantity and quality a routine part of health surveillance. I just happened to mention snoring to my doctor on one visit; if I'd been asked twenty years earlier it would have saved my employers a lot of sick time and me a lot of misery.

Comment Re:Here's the thing about disasters. (Score 1) 228

A win-win game is not the only kind of non-zero-sum game there is. Suppose I set up a game in which the amount I win is 1/10 of what everyone else loses. I win $100; everyone else loses $1000. If I add up the net gains in the whole game, what we have as a net loss of $900 for all players. It's not fair; it's not reasonable for the community of players to favor such rules, but nonetheless I'm still up $100.

Broken windows may not be a net good thing for the community as a whole, but it certainly is a good thing for the glaziers.

Comment Re:Free speech hundreds of miles out in the desert (Score 3, Insightful) 179

I'll bet a lot of people love the fact that all this "free speech" will be taking place hundreds of miles out in the desert...

You don't know people very well then. As Lord Macaulay observed in his The History of England from the Accession of James the Second,

“The Puritans hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.”

You see it is not enough for prigs and busybodies that they're not involved in any way in the things you do that give you pleasure; their problem is with you enjoying something they don't enjoy, or perhaps understand.

Comment Here's the thing about disasters. (Score 1) 228

There's no such thing as a disaster that's a disaster for everyone. War is a disaster for people in general, but it's great for munitions makers. Hurricanes are no good for the people who live through them, but very good for companies that sell them building materials.

Every catastrophe is a windfall for someone. If the public saves tens of trillions of dollars by slowing down climate change then that's tens of billions of dollars of revenue somebody won't be making.

Comment I'd like to take a moment to express appreciation (Score 4, Interesting) 131

for the maintainers. The bootloader is a not particularly glamorous problem to work on, but it's critical to everyone and because it involves differing interpretations of standards by manufacturers and various OS developers it had to have been a headache.

Of course later projects had the luxury of a clean sheet, hindsight, and more hardware resources, but without a solid bootloader in the early says of Linux, history would have been very different.

We want to create puppets that pull their own strings. - Ann Marion

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