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Comment: Re:Economists (Score 2, Informative) 778

by mdfst13 (#47493735) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

It's a bit baffling how "some economists" weren't fully cognisant of what would happen when the minimum wage was raised. I mean it's not as though it's the first time it has happened, the effects should be well known by now.

The problem is that it's not clear what happens when the minimum wage increases. It's also not clear whether something different happens when a city or state does it versus a national change.

Case in point: thirteen states increase the minimum wage and employment increases faster (on average) in those states than in those that do not increase the minimum wage. The presumption in the post is that the causality is that increasing the minimum wage causes employment increases. What if the causality goes the other way? Increasing employment could make states more willing to raise the minimum wage. Correlation does not indicate causality, so economists can't differentiate between the two explanations.

There's actually been quite a bit of study of the effects of raising the minimum wage. The problem is that it's impossible to produce a real double blind study. Without that, there will always be reasonable doubt. In one study, they won't be able to eliminate the possibility that employment would have gone up faster without the change. In another study, they won't be able to tell if people are moving from the comparison area to the change area for the higher wage jobs. In another study, perhaps employment increases occur because kids drop out of school to take jobs.

Economics isn't anywhere near as mature a science as physics or chemistry. It doesn't lend itself to repeatable experiments. Without objective data, subjective opinions take a far greater role.

Comment: Re:To Summarize (Score 1) 211

by mdfst13 (#47192273) Attached to: Amazon Confirms Hachette Spat Is To "Get a Better Deal"

Which seems a little strange in the context that they appear to have been the ones who decided to take this particular action as a way of slapping around Hachette.

Actually, these actions seem driven by them not having a contract rather than chosen by Amazon. Without a contract, Amazon can't be sure of filling pre-orders at the promised price. Without a contract, Amazon can't return unsold books. The result is that they can't allow pre-orders or order books they aren't sure they'll sell. It also may be that Amazon normally gets credit for warehousing books with limited sales.

This is what the business looks like when selling without a contract.

Without an actual look at the contract negotiations, it's hard to say who's to blame for the lack of a contract. Perhaps both are. Perhaps authors are to blame for not demanding better contracts (authors often make less for digital books than print books, even though publishers charge Amazon more for them). The only thing that we can say externally is that book prices are often ridiculous. There is no reason for the digital copy of a new bestseller to be more expensive than the print copy.

+ - Mozilla offering free phones in hopes of bolstering Firefox OS app developmen->

Submitted by abhi10abhi
abhi10abhi (2836149) writes "Attention HTML5 virtuosos: Mozilla is thirsty for your talents. So much, in fact, that the outfit is baiting developers with a free smartphone in the hopes they'll return the favor with fresh Firefox OS apps. In order to qualify for a device, you'll need to submit a proposal to Mozilla outlining the app you wish to build or port to its new mobile platform. If your pitch is accepted, the company will hook you up with a free Geeksphone Keon to thank you for your labor. Sure, the device's 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz Snapdragon S1 processor, 512MB of RAM and 3-megapixel rear-facing camera are entry-level at best, but remember you're getting this handset gratis. The program is set to close at the end of the month or when supplies run out, whichever comes first. So, if you're interested in adding "Firefox OS developer" to your resume, hit up the source link to apply."
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+ - Transfusions reverse aging and disease, drug isolated.->

Submitted by symbolset
symbolset (646467) writes "Published today in the journal Cell and reported by WBUR radio in this interview Drs Richard Lee and Amy Wagers have isolated GDF-11 as a negative regulator of age-associated cardiac hypertrophy. Through a type of transfusion called parabiotic or "shared circulation" in mice — one old and sick, the other young and well — they managed to reverse this age-associated heart disease. From there isolated an active agent GDF-11 present in the younger mouse but absent in the older which reverses the condition when administered directly. They are also using the agent to restore other aged/diseased tissues and organs. Human applications are expected within six years.

Since the basis for the treatment is ordinary sharing of blood between an older ill, and younger healthy patient, someone is likely to start offering the transfusion treatment somewhere in the world, soon, to those with the means to find a young and healthy volunteer. It may be time to have the discussion of the consequences of drastically prolonging human life."

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+ - Girl Receives Synthetic Trachea Made With Her Stem Cells->

Submitted by kkleiner
kkleiner (1468647) writes "A toddler born without a trachea has received the first completely fabricated trachea that utilizes stem cells enabling her to live a normal life. Previously, related implants relied on a donor trachea that would act as a scaffold for the patient's stem cells. In this case, the scaffold is synthetic and made from nonabsorbable nanofibers, while the stem cells were harvested from the girl's bone marrow."
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+ - Grocery delivery is greener than driving to the store->

Submitted by vinces99
vinces99 (2792707) writes "Those trips to the store can take a chunk out of your day and put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But now University of Washington engineers have found that using a grocery delivery service can cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least half when compared with individual household trips to the store. Trucks filled to capacity that deliver to customers clustered in neighborhoods produced the most savings in carbon dioxide emissions, but there are even benefits with delivery to rural areas."
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Comment: Re:Jules Verne (Score 1) 203

by mdfst13 (#43527531) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Science Books For Middle School Enrichment?

Not only Jules Verne. What about H.G. Wells? I'd also include Arthur Conan Doyle. Most of the science fiction in Sherlock Holmes has turned into science fact, but in some ways that actually makes it more relevant for your purposes.

More recent classics would include the Heinlein juveniles (almost everything he wrote before Strange in a Strange Land plus some of what he wrote afterwards) and (as others mentioned) the Asimov books. The robot series is more for programmers than scientists, but there's quite a bit of interesting science floating around Asimov.

Not classics, but the Tom Swift and Danny Dunn books are oriented towards juveniles and promote science.

Comment: Re:Controlled descent? (Score 1) 148

by mdfst13 (#42669923) Attached to: New Asteroid Mining Company Emerges

It would probably be a lot cheaper to bring an asteroid to Earth first and then mine it, rather than send robots up to do it.

That's true of the first asteroid, but after that, you get too much loss from having to send out the scouts and sample collectors from the Earth's surface. The advantage with this system is that once it's set up, they can build their spacecraft in space. That saves the energy costs of a ground to space launch.

It's also worth noting that energy is cheap in space. On the ground, you either have to worry about radiation (fission reactions) or atmospheric loss (solar power). In space, solar panels are effectively more efficient, as they can operate around the clock (no night) and with direct solar radiation. Therefore, a factory built in space does not require earth bound resources to operate.

The first phase (where they launch everything from the ground) is incredibly expensive and offers minimal return. Once they are set up though, it becomes much cheaper. Your proposal would leave them always in the expensive first phase. It is a cheaper version of the first phase, but that doesn't help since the first phase is so much more expensive.

That's essentially been the problem with our space program. We've always been in the first phase. We launch everything from the ground, which uses up ground based resources. This is expensive. What if we changed to only launch people from the ground? It would be much cheaper and easier to obtain iron and other needed minerals in space. Until we do that, our space program cannot sustain itself. It's a drain of resources, not a generator.

Network

+ - WaveRelay Rescues US Coast Guard ->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "After Hurricane Sandy the Coast Guard's network has been down in NYC. We used our Wave Relay MANET system to establish connectivity from mid-town Manhattan all of the way out to the Coast Guard station on Staten Island. We setup the whole network in 5 hours and the network has been used operationally since last Thursday. The network is still up and running and the wired connectivity has not been restored yet. Right now they are tightening up the install as we brace for the next storm which is coming in Wednesday and Thursday.
In addition to providing connectivity to the Coast Guard Station, we also extended the network out to their cutter ship which is anchored in NY Harbor. Commercial ships had not been permitted into NY harbor while the Coast Guard network was down. They believe that by installing this network ships were able to return to NY Harbor around 96 hours sooner then waiting for the wired network to be restored which is still not restored.
This was a great feat since those ships that were not allowed to enter carry gas, supplies, food, etc."

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Medicine

+ - A piezoelectric pacemaker that is powered by your heartbeat->

Submitted by
MrSeb
MrSeb writes "It sounds like the theoretical impossibility of perpetual motion, but engineers at the University of Michigan have created a pacemaker that is powered by the beating of your heart — no batteries required. The technology behind this new infinite-duration pacemaker is piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity is is literally “pressure electricity,” and it relates to certain materials that generate tiny amounts of electricity when deformed by an external force — which, in the case of the perpetual pacemaker, the vibrations in your chest as your heart pumps blood around your body. Piezoelectric devices generate very small amounts of power — on the order of tens of milliwatts — but it turns out that pacemakers require very power, too. In testing, the researchers’ energy harvester generated 10 times the required the power to keep a pacemaker firing. Currently, pacemakers are battery powered — and the battery generally need to be replaced every few years, which requires surgery. According M. Amin Karami, the lead researcher, “Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years,” he said. “You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented.” This piezoelectric energy harvester is about half the size of a conventional battery, too, which is presumably a good thing."
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Comment: Re:Who said there was no revenue? Free != no reven (Score 2) 156

by mdfst13 (#41880883) Attached to: Publisher of Free Textbooks Says It Will Now Charge For Them, Instead

Software needs support because it is complex and buggy. Books, not so much.

Really? Many textbooks are used by professors at universities and supported quite heavily. I think that the problem that these guys had was that they tried to follow the old model, where textbook writing subsidizes the university professor's salary. A more realistic model is for a group of professors to band together to write a textbook (or rewrite one that is in the public domain). That can work because professors are paid based on prestige (i.e. the university is effectively subsidizing the textbook rather than the other way around). However, that model doesn't include a publisher, except one that does print-on-demand (as Amazon and university presses do).

I think that the biggest problem is that near-perpetual copyright means that books have to be quite old before they go out of copyright. That means that all the existing public domain books are out of print and out of date. Writing a book from scratch takes time. Once they have the books, it will probably be easier to keep them up to date under an open source model. Unfortunately, it's hard to get started.

+ - Ask Slashdot: How to organizing articles and reports in a small company?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "I m working in the research department of a small company. Over the years we have collected tons of articles related to our field. Additionally there are reports written by my colleagues and me. In total this is about 1000 documents. It would be great to be able to (fulltext) search these documents and have some keywords as well. Revision control is not as important as some kind of auto-import function. It would be great if the keywords of articles could be automatically detected / downloaded (Elsevier, Jstore, IEEE,...) .
I am not sure what to google for. On the one hand a DMS seems to be the right choice to keep different revisions of a document and for fulltext search on the otherhand a reference management system (bibliographie) seems to be creating less work. In short I would like top have these features:

1. Fulltext search for the following formats doc, docx, pdf, txt
2. Some kind of auto import for the purchased articles/journals
3. An easy way to import reports me and my colleagues wrote and add some tags
4. Simple interface to search or add information which can be used by different users at a time. So far this would be a maximum of 7 users most likely not more than 2 at a time.

How would this system be named? What is your experience with using such a system, does it really help or just create a lot of overhead? I would be happy about suggestions of practical/simple solutions."
Power

+ - Researchers Claim to have solved Efficiency Problem of Power Amplifiers-> 2

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) writes "Two MIT electrical engineering professors, Joel Dawson and David Perreault, have claimed that they have cracked the age old efficiency problem related to the power amplifier in smartphones by designed a new amplifier that consumes just half the power as compared to their current counterparts. Current transistor based power amplifiers consume power in two modes – standby and output signal mode. The only way to reduce power consumption and increase battery life is to use the least possible power when in standby mode. The problem here is that if the power is kept very low when in standby mode, because of sudden jumps from low-power standby mode to high-power output mode, signals get distorted. This is why current technologies waste a lot of electricity as standby power levels are kept at a relatively higher level to avoid distortion. The new technology, dubbed asymmetric multilevel outphasing, is basically a blazingly fast electronic gearbox that would select the best possible voltage to send across to the transistors that would minimize power consumption."
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Games

+ - Will Star Citizen project fund Linux and Mac ports for CryENGINE 3?-> 2

Submitted by
Mr. Jaggers
Mr. Jaggers writes "Chris Roberts, game designer of Wing Commander fame, has had great success with his new crowd-funded Star Citizen project — so much that the $2m base goal has been smashed with weeks to go on the kickstarter portion of the campaign. Now Chris is floating a list of stretch goals for fans to vote on, with Linux and Mac support both listed as stretch goal candidates. Since Star Citizen is based on the popular CryENGINE 3 game engine, these stretch goals are equivalent to funding Linux and Mac ports of CryENGINE. Chris couldn't make any absolute promises yet, since he doesn't own the engine, but CryENGINE 3 already supports Android so at least there is existing OpenGL ES support to be leveraged towards adding Linux and Mac OpenGL support. If there is enough outpouring of cross-platform support from fans in this poll, Star Citizen could turn out to be the high-profile game that brings a AAA game engine to the growing Mac and Linux gaming communities — analogous to the role played by Wasteland 2 in bringing official Linux support to the Unity 4 engine popular among so many Indie developers."
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I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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