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Comment Re:Science Requires Effort (Score 1) 246

What, exactly, is useful about memorizing facts, in a world where any fact you want is at your fingertips on demand?

When you're talking to someone in a professional setting, saying "hang on, I'll just check up on that" multiple times is a very good way to encourage them to leave and not participate in an exchange of goods or services.

When I go to fast food restaurants, I would like cashiers to be able to instantly tell me the answer to allergy questions (e.g. are your chips fried in peanut oil).

If I'm presenting to biologists about a differential expression analysis on samples they've been working on, I need to be able to tell them what a particular statistic means so that they can better understand the results.

Comment Re:For a moment, I was excited (Score 1) 17

I've mentioned this before, but I might as well say it again. Our nervous system is designed to learn how to control random systems, so putting a "specialised processor" in between the nervous system and a control system is probably not going to improve things, and may make them worse. Just provide the most basic interface possible to the control system via the nervous system, and let the brain (or any other limb) do the training.

Comment Re:application of "whole proteome tiling microarra (Score 2) 111

They have a mixture of a very large (2 million) number of probes to match DNA/RNA sequences of all known viruses which infect vertebrates. They use these to amplify viral sequences and then use normal high throughput DNA sequencing (Illumina, in this case) to see what they've got.

Yep, that seems a fair explanation. I liken it to trying to hit an ant with a minigun. It's probably not higher profile because probe capture has been done before (e.g. for ribosomal enrichment / exclusion); this is just taking it to the extreme. I wouldn't be surprised if someone follows this up later on with a 1 billion probe capture design for bacterial sequencing -- there'll always be more probes that can be added into the mix.

Comment Re:Since processes can be patented... (Score 1) 215

Yes. People have this idea in their mind that all intellectual property is the same, which causes confusion when litigation happens correctly. In this particular case, the debate will be whether or not Lexmark's patents are infringed by the process that the second-hand suppliers use, rather than the sale of the end product.

Richard Stallman has a good talk about the differences between the three main types of intellectual property, and says that anyone who tries to lump them together to be dealt with as a whole is doing it wrong.

  • Patents protect the use of processes or functions by a business
  • Trademarks protect the mindshare of a product or business
  • Copyrights protect the creative/artistic presentation of a product

Disclaimer: not a lawyer; please consult a lawyer who is familiar with the specific area of interest to work out what is wrong with what I've typed here.

Comment Re:I don't think you want an OSI license. (Score 1) 85

Creative commons licenses don't fit their preferred use case, because it allows redistribution:

A single license that gives users access to the code but limits the ability to redistribute the code and distribute patches to the "core" is what we'd prefer.

More generally, creative commons licenses aren't an appropriate fit to software. They're designed with creative works in mind and protect the expression of a work, rather than the way in which that expression is created.

Comment Birthday Attack (Score 1) 187

Keep the option to retrieve your account number by submitting your password, since even weak passwords are far harder to guess than 4-digit PIN numbers.

I don't think that's a reasonable assumption to make, particularly if you don't care about which account you get access to. Instead of guessing a lot of passwords for a single user, you can guess a small number of passwords for a lot of users. This also gets around any limits regarding access for a single account, as has been suggested as a solution. Getting multiple boxes to carry out this operation gets around limits regarding account access from a single IP address.

If you choose a sufficiently common weak password (and United's password system allows people to enter such passwords by default), then the chance of discovering a correct user/password combination is pretty high.

Comment Re:Feature (Score 2) 193

This is like a car manufacturer claiming that their car will have 20 horsepower, but much more if they look after it, and after several months/years the people who have preordered it finally get theirs and are careful about looking after it, and find out it has 1000 horsepower and the manufacturer says its a good thing because it encouraged them to be careful.

Comment Front leg jumping (Score 1) 62

What I'm most impressed by with the videos is that it looks like the initial power for the jumping is coming from the front legs, rather than the back legs (which have more leverage).

It seems to be the case (at least on one standing start cheetah jump that I've seen, as well as a lion jump) that the front legs are moved back for balance and the back legs used for the power push for the jump.

Comment Re:How powered off is "powered off"? (Score 1) 184

You may be right in case of other equipment, but enterprise grade drives are really better.

BackBlaze disagrees with you:

Overall, I argue that the enterprise drives we have are treated as well as the consumer drives. And the enterprise drives are failing more.... Enterprise drives do have one advantage: longer warranties. That’s a benefit only if the higher price you pay for the longer warranty is less than what you expect to spend on replacing the drive. This leads to an obvious conclusion: If you’re OK with buying the replacements yourself after the warranty is up, then buy the cheaper consumer drives.

Comment Re:Real problem, bad solution (Score 1) 301

Even better is a study linked to by that page, point IV here:

The idea was to plan an experiment together, with both of them agreeing on every single tiny detail. They would then go to a laboratory and set it up, again both keeping close eyes on one another. Finally, they would conduct the experiment in a series of different batches. Half the batches (randomly assigned) would be conducted by Dr. Schlitz, the other half by Dr. Wiseman. Because the two authors had very carefully standardized the setting, apparatus and procedure beforehand, “conducted by” pretty much just meant greeting the participants, giving the experimental instructions, and doing the staring.

The results? Schlitz’s trials found strong evidence of psychic powers, Wiseman’s trials found no evidence whatsoever.

Take a second to reflect on how this makes no sense. Two experimenters in the same laboratory, using the same apparatus, having no contact with the subjects except to introduce themselves and flip a few switches – and whether one or the other was there that day completely altered the result. For a good time, watch the gymnastics they have to do to in the paper to make this sound sufficiently sensical to even get published. This is the only journal article I’ve ever read where, in the part of the Discussion section where you’re supposed to propose possible reasons for your findings, both authors suggest maybe their co-author hacked into the computer and altered the results.

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray