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Comment: Re:Why is this a surprise? (Score 1) 41

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48900105) Attached to: Fish Found Living Half a Mile Under Antarctic Ice

Considering all the extreme places we've found life on earth, I would actually have expected to find some.

I'm not a subject matter expert; but my surprise isn't "life"(there's some sort of extremophilic bacterium cracking molecules that would make a biologist cry and only a chemist would identify as a possible energy source basically anywhere we've been able to look); but that it's big, energetic life.

These probably aren't the world's peppiest fish; but even so, a fish is a big, demanding, multicellular, operation. Some sort of spore-former bacterium that wakes up and divides a couple of times every decade or two is one thing; but fish populations mean a fair amount of active cellular metabolism swimming around in what you would expect to be a very low-energy zone.

Comment: Critical mass? (Score 1) 172

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48899707) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?
Given the value of having other people using the same software that you are(they encourage commercial support and/or contribute to FOSS support, they sometimes save you a ghastly bug-slog by running into it before you do, the work that they start but don't finish, or that needs maintenance, may be your next job, etc.) isn't 'being underrated' itself a defect, however unfair it feels?

Ubiquity isn't always a good thing, especially if it makes it harder for everyone to distinguish between barely adequate crap and excellent stuff; but (with the specific exception of somebody who has mastered a specific set of skills and tools and would be very pleased for it to become an esoteric specialty just in time to land a few lucrative consulting gigs before retirement), are there really situations where you say to yourself "Yeah, Language X is great and all; but it would be better if there were fewer people using it, less incentive for commercial support or non-bitrotting FOSS support, less useful advice floating around, and fewer openings for people with a knowledge of it."?

It is obviously the case that a pure monoculture is not a recipe for success(barring a yet-to-be-invented language that can in fact be all things to all people, well); but a language that is good, possibly even modestly superior; but lacks some specialty feature of elegance and power, are you ever better off on the underrated one?

Comment: Re:Disintegration of the ecosystem (Score 3, Insightful) 103

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48897001) Attached to: Twitter Moves To Curb Instagram Links
In this case, it's actually rather impressive how badly the twits appear to have forgotten.

"Hey, let's select a group of our most influential users and then annoy them with an unexpected and minimally useful nag screen when they try to use our service!" is a plan that sounds like a joke, not a strategy; but apparently twitter is now doing exactly that. Are they really gambling that all those users are just morons who are too stupid to realize that twitter has a given set of features; but would totally love to embrace them over a competitor they already use if only they are nagged enough? That seems...a trifle optimistic.

Comment: Rant mode (Score 1) 387

by TeknoHog (#48895641) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?
I don't have an answer, but I'm reading this with keen interest as I feel similarly about input devices. I recently wrote up some of my ongoing keyboard rants where scrollwheels are also discussed. One general issue seems to be that those who don't learn to use keyboards properly, will reinvent similar functionality in mice (arrow keys and pgup/pgdn -> scrollwheels).

Comment: Re:Interstellar missions... (Score 1) 202

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48890841) Attached to: At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far
Some applications can get away with the 'trickle charge the capacitor, wake up and work quickly once the threshold voltage is hit' approach(works nicely for solar data logging, as long as you don't need moment-by-moment results); but a nanoamp is likely to fall below the self discharge rate of any capacitor of reasonable capacity; and would sleep for a long time even with an idealized 100% efficient capacitor.

Comment: Re:Not a lot of power. (Score 1) 202

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48890815) Attached to: At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far
The durability is impressive. It's not like cleanroom fabrication and high-purity metallurgy were exactly top of the line in 1840, so I would have naively guessed that some mixture of corrosion and non-current-generating side reactions among impurities or airborne contaminants would have trashed it in less than a century, possibly a lot less, depending on the exact arrangement of the battery, even if the energy density is totally plausible in physics-experiment-land.

Comment: Re:Not trying to excuse what he did (Score 1) 358

by thephydes (#48888471) Attached to: Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT
You have obviously never worked with vulnerable people. Their very vulnerabilty leaves them open to being "forced" - read coerced here - into doing things that most people would not do. And it's not just a matter of a person deciding what their interaction with their computer or the internet will be. It is far more complex than that.

Comment: Re:Is there something wrong with me that .,.. (Score 1) 176

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48887567) Attached to: New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed
Snakebites are a bit of an edge case: the production of antivenoms essentially involves inducing an immune response (in a convenient, usually large, animal) and then extracting and purifying the neutralizing protein produced. So, it is very much the case that you can prime an immune system to recognize and respond to venom.

The trouble is that snakes tend to (in the case of actually dangerous snakebites, a dry strike is just a couple of puncture wounds) introduce a substantial amount of venom into the wound, and the venoms frequently kill (or cause nasty localized tissue destruction, there are lots and lots of neat variations) substantially faster than the human immune system can synthesize the necessary counteragent, even if the person has prior exposure.

An antivenom has the advantage of being a relatively massive amount of the correct counteragent, ready to be injected into the bloodstream faster than you could synthesize it yourself.

For the less dangerous venoms, and the lower-volume strikes, acquired immunity is more useful.

Comment: Re:what the vaccine actually do? (Score 1) 176

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48886331) Attached to: New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed
I've sometimes wondered whether the techniques used to produce vaccines against exogenous drugs could be modified to produce vaccines that suppress endogenous ones. If enforced nicotine withdrawl is unpleasant, I can only imagine that, say, losing the effect of endorphins might really ruin your day...

Comment: Re:Is there something wrong with me that .,.. (Score 1) 176

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#48886269) Attached to: New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed

I find this offensive?

We're spending science mind power, money and time researching a way to make a drug that replaces a persons weakness of character and lack of willpower. If you want to stop smoking, just stop. Don't buy cigarettes.

I feel that our culture is sliding away from any concept of holding people personally responsible for their own choices. If a person smokes, overeats, under-exercises - those are their choices. They must be held accountable.

Aside from the crass pragmatists' "Well, I bet I can develop a drug that compensates for weakness of character and lack of willpower faster than most of the population can develop strength of character and lots of willpower..." Why does this bother you?

Is there evidence that people actually develop more willpower(rather than just smoking more) when these 'replacements' are available? If there isn't, surely reduction in smoking related mortality is a win regardless of willpower, and even if there is; exactly how many people of weak character are on the acceptable losses list?

On the more theoretical side, would you condemn a drug that was actually a general-purpose willpower simulant? That actually gave the person taking it all the changes associated with 'strong will' while it is in their system? Or would you consider that to be a great breakthrough, a drug that produces a highly valuable personality trait?

Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three -- and paradise is when you have none. -- Doug Larson

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