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Comment: Trolleys and electric companies (Score 2) 116 116

That's similar to how many electric companies in the United States started because they had excess generation from their electric trolley lines and then got into the electric supply and distribution business. Eventually the energy companies survived, but their trolley business faded away.

Comment: Science vs software engineering (Score 1) 444 444

I work in psychiatry research, analyzing and maintaining the sexy fMRI neuroimaging data. I also write the storage and analysis database that we use. The database usage has been growing exponentially as data sharing projects have started and the NIH has mandated data sharing. In other words, my workload of maintaining this software system has also grown exponentially. What my PIs do not understand is that software is not at all like scientific papers. Once one of their analysts (or post-docs) writes a paper and gets its past reviewers, its done. If there is a major or minor flaw, chances are good that no one will notice or say anything.

It's completely different with software engineering. If there is a tiny bug, people will notice. Having transitioned from analyst to programmer, my work is viewed entirely differently. If the papers published from workplace underwent the same scrutiny that the software does, we would produce much more robust science.

Comment: Re:meeses (Score 1) 361 361

In college, my friend came to my apartment and saw the lint in my mouse and said "Let me clean that out..." and I was like "No, don't take it off! It's felt on the rollers, its supposed to be there!"
I really thought there was a layer of felt on the rollers that was part of the mouses design... I had obviously never looked closely at a clean or new mouse before.

Comment: Excellent summary (Score 4, Insightful) 249 249

I've heard this story on NPR, which tends to be known for accurate reporting and lack of sensationalism. This was an excellent summary on Slashdot. I hope the editors, or what's left of them, continue to pick stories that are factual and not sensational. The comments on Slashdot resulting from those type of stories are often more readable too.

For the story itself, it's interesting to see the business side of nuclear and the real reasons why plants are built and decommissioned. ie, its not always about environmentalism or NIMBY. Nuclear is a decent way to generate power compared to fossil fuels because the nuclear by-products can be contained more assuredly than greenhouse gases, assuming that all of the environmental factors are taken into account. Those environmental factors however are what make it difficult to accept because its very expensive to ensure everything is contained.

Comment: Model cycling (Score 4, Insightful) 213 213

Hopefully the home ISP market won't follow the cyclic model of the cell phone industry. With cell phone data, first you paid by the kB, then they introduced unlimited data plans, then they capped the limits and you paid by the GB, now they're going back to unlimited data plans. I'd prefer the home ISPs to not do that. They've always been unlimited (within reason) so I'd wouldn't like to see some small company changing the model for the industry.

Comment: Yes (Score 1) 445 445

I work at a hospital, in a research department. Surprisingly its more efficient to talk to people over the phone than it is through other means. You can only type so fast, and sometimes you need to use a lot words back and forth when you're talking with someone who's in a different field than you.

I'm not talking about help desk stuff... if a scientist needs clarification from an engineer about a technical problem.. the phone is the best method. If you are trying to recruit participants for medical experiments... the phone. If you are talking to someone from a different department about transferring data... the phone. If you are talking to a nurse or surgeon on a medical unit about a patient in a research study... the phone.

As always, just because the engineers think it will people time if they improve technology doesn't mean it actually will. Hospitals have tried replacing phones with other devices, and it just doesn't work. The phone is the simplest device for communication, and it will stay.

One of the biggest challenges engineers face is accepting that the current technology is adequate and that no radical changes are necessary.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351

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