Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment: Public domain? (Score 2, Interesting) 298

Does anyone know if *any* work has become public domain in the last few years in US and Canada? From what I see it just sounds like anything that's was copyrighted will now forever be copyrighted as copyright gets extended by X years every X years (with X=20 here).

Comment: Re:Then ID would be required (Score 1) 1089

by jmv (#49301619) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US

Having lived in Australia for a few years (though not a citizen), I have to say I wish we had that voting system back in Canada (both compulsory voting and preferential voting). What most surprised me in the elections that were held when I was there was that the day before the vote, the candidates would still be campaigning "normally" rather than just trying to convince people to actually get out and vote like they have to do in Canada (and I assume the US too). I also don't recall hearing "A vote for [3rd party] X is a vote for Y [because it divides the vote]", which is also a good thing. Of course, it didn't prevent you guys from electing Howard, but I guess nothing's perfect :-)

Comment: Re:What do they spend the money on? (Score 1) 161

by jmv (#48438727) Attached to: Mozilla's 2013 Report: Revenue Up 1% To $314M; 90% From Google

Yes, browsers have indeed become so complicated. It's not just Mozilla, Google's putting even more resources on Chrome than what Mozilla can afford. A browser is now essentially an operating system (see FirefoxOS) that can do pretty much everything *and* needs to do it in a way that's secure against untrusted code (JS). On top of that, Mozilla is involved in projects that reach beyond just the web, like the Opus audio codec and the Daala video codec that I'm personally involved in (there's many more of course).

Comment: To be expected (Score 2) 239

by jmv (#48116983) Attached to: Where Intel Processors Fail At Math (Again)

There's nothing I find particularly alarming here and the behaviour is in fact pretty much what I would expect for computing sin(x). Sure, maybe the doc needs updating, but nobody would really expect fsin to do much better than what it does. And in fact, if you wanted to maintain good accuracy even for large values (up to the double-precision range), then you would need a 2048-bit subtraction just for the range reduction! As far as I can tell, the accuracy up to pi/2 is pretty good. If you want good accuracy beyond that, you better do the range reduction yourself. In general, I would also argue that if you have accuracy issues with fsin, then your code is probably broken to begin with.

Comment: Re:In the spotlight (Score 1) 993

by jmv (#48078781) Attached to: Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

There's a difference between attacking a piece of software and attacking the author. I personally have no opinion on systemd (hell, I don't even know what init system I'm running atm), but I feel like any complaint people have should be directed at whoever *chose* systemd, rather than who wrote it. You can't blame someone for writing software. If you don't like it, don't use it and/or tell distros not to use it.

Comment: Windows is updating (Score 4, Interesting) 210

by jmv (#47889783) Attached to: Turning the Tables On "Phone Tech Support" Scammers

I like to get these scammers on the line for as long as possible, but without wasting my time. So far, what I've seen to work well was "Oh, my computer just crashed, I need to reboot" and "Now windows is applying updates". This means they'll wait without me having to think of stuff to tell them. Any other effective tricks?

Comment: Re:Tenure-hunting discourages risk (Score 3, Insightful) 203

by jmv (#47832789) Attached to: Is There a Creativity Deficit In Science?

In my opinion the peer-review should be changed to a double-blind system: the reviewer should not see name and affiliation of the authors, and judge the work as it would grade an undergrad paper (i.e. harshly). Like this I believe the signal-to-noise ratio in journals would increase, and only good papers would get published.

Please no! The problem with this approach (and it's already happening) is that what will get published is boring papers that bring tiny improvements over the state of the art. They'll get accepted because the reviewers will find nothing wrong with the paper, not because there's much good in there. On the other hand, the really new and interesting stuff will inevitably be less rigorous and probably more controversial, so it's going to be rejected.

Personally, I'd rather have 5% great papers among 95% of crap, than 100% papers that are neither great, nor crap, but just uninteresting. Reviews need to move towards positive rating (how many thing are interesting), away from negative ratings (how many issues you find in the paper). But it's not happening any time soon and it's one of the reasons I've mostly stopped reviewing (too often overruled by the associate editor to be worth my time).

Comment: Re:All software is full of bugs (Score 3, Insightful) 150

by jmv (#47547835) Attached to: Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

Software on Internet-connected devices is a bit different from your examples though. No matter how insecure cars are, it would be really hard for me to steal a million cars in one night, let alone without being caught. Yet, it's common to see millions of computers/phones being hacked in a very short period of time. And the risk to the person responsible is much lower.

Comment: Re:We should expect some wingnuts to say... (Score 1) 109

by jmv (#47396029) Attached to: How Did Those STAP Stem Cell Papers Get Accepted In the First Place?

It would certainly be nice, but it's not realistic. For a simple paper, it would likely cost a few thousands, but for anything that requires fancy material, it could easily run in the millions. The only level where fraud prevention makes sense is at the institution (company, lab, university) level.

Comment: Re:We should expect some wingnuts to say... (Score 1) 109

by jmv (#47386703) Attached to: How Did Those STAP Stem Cell Papers Get Accepted In the First Place?

So you're saying that reviewers should have to reproduce the results (using their own funds) of the authors before accepting the papers or risk being disciplined? Aside from ending up with zero reviewers, I don't see what this could possibly accomplish. Peer review is designed to catch mistakes, not fraud.

Comment: Re:Simple: Peer review is badly broken (Score 1) 109

by jmv (#47386313) Attached to: How Did Those STAP Stem Cell Papers Get Accepted In the First Place?

I think what is missing is that a) more reviewer actually need to be experts and practicing scientists and b) doing good reviews needs to get you scientific reputation rewards. At the moment,investing time in reviewing well is a losing game for those doing it.

Well, there's also the thing that one of the most fundamental assumption you have to make while reviewing is that the author's acting in good faith. It's really hard to review anything otherwise (we're scientists, not a sort of police)

I agree that good reviews do not need to be binary. You can also "accept if this is fixed", "rewrite as an 'idea' paper", "publish in a different field", "make it a poster", etc. But all that takes time and real understanding.

It goes beyond just that. I should have said "multi-dimensional" maybe. In many cases, I want to say "publish this article because the idea is good, despite the implementation being flawed". In other cases, you might want to say "this is technically correct, but boring". In the medical field, it may be useful to publish something pointing out that "maybe chemical X could be harmful and it's worth further investigation" without necessarily buying all of the authors' conclusion.

Personally, I prefer reading flawed papers that come from a genuinely good idea rather than rigorous theoretical papers that are both totally correct and totally useless.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS