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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.

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

by jmv (#47384005) Attached to: How Did Those STAP Stem Cell Papers Get Accepted In the First Place?

This is not a new phenomenon, it seems to just be getting worse again. But remember that Shannon had trouble publishing his "Theory of Information", because no reviewer understood it or was willing to invest time for something new.

That's the problem here. Should the review system "accept the paper unless it's provably broken" or "reject the paper unless it's provably correct". The former leads to all these issues of false stuff in medical journals and climate research, while the latter leads to good research (like the Shannon example) not being published. This needs to be more than just binary. Personally I prefer to accept if it looks like it could be a good idea, even if some parts may be broken. Then again I don't work on controversial stuff and nobody dies if the algorithm is wrong. I can understand that people in other fields have different opinions, but I guess what we need is non-binary review. Of course, reviewers are also just one part of the equation. My reviews have been overruled by associate editors more often than not.

Comment: Re:The people that invent things must be compensat (Score 1) 131

You think progress is slow now? See what happens when companies actively hide how they do things rather then relying on patients to protect their IP.

Yeah, imagine all these iPhone owners with rounded corners they can't even see because Apple had to hide them.

Comment: Re:Encryption (Score 1) 220

by jmv (#47097483) Attached to: PHK: HTTP 2.0 Should Be Scrapped

How do you explain to the user well their data might be encrypted yet their data is not protected since it is not trusted?

I'm talking about http here, not https. The idea is that even with http -- where you don't pretend that anything is secure -- you still encrypt everything. It's far from perfect, but it beats plaintext because the attacker can't hide anymore -- it has to be an active attack. I don't pretend to know all about the pros and cons of http 2, but plaintext has to die.

Comment: Re:Encryption (Score 5, Insightful) 220

by jmv (#47096403) Attached to: PHK: HTTP 2.0 Should Be Scrapped

Nothing is NSA-proof, therefore we should just scrap TLS and transmit everything in plaintext, right? The whole point here is not to make the system undefeatable, just to increase the cost of breaking it, just like your door lock isn't perfect, but still useful. If HTTP was always encrypted, even with no authentication, it would require the NSA to man-in-the-middle every single connection if it wants to keep its pervasive monitoring. This would not only make the cost skyrocket, but also make it trivial to detect.

10 to the minus 6th power Movie = 1 Microfilm