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Comment It's free (Score 4, Interesting) 99

The hosting of open-source projects is free, but the company still needs to make money. They use the open-source portion of their business to drum up paid business. They still need to pay for the servers, coders, and network bandwidth that keep the thing going. I wouldn't get angry when a free service doesn't do everything I ask of it.

Comment How about a $4 billion investment in mass transit? (Score 0) 276

Gas or electric, cars consume a tremendous amount of energy shuttling one person from place to place compared to mass transit. How about encouraging denser housing, so people don't have to commute so far to work. Or support that whole "walkable community" thing that so many people want to live in.

Comment Re:No it isn't (Score 1) 62

If someone is publishing 5-10 papers a year, this means someone else is doing the actual work and that person is only authoring the papers. That brings up the topic of authorship. Whose names should go onto a paper, and in what order? The first author is sometimes a person who puts together the manuscript template, gets comments from everyone else, and searches EndNote's pubmed connection for manuscript titles that match the context without actually reading the cited article. (You know what I'm talking about!) What about the person who did the actual analysis, the person who came up with the idea for the analysis, the person who collected the data? Where does the head of the lab's name go? usually at the end, just because his grant paid for the staff, even though he barely looked at the manuscript before submission? What about the rest of the research staff who made it possible for the first author to have anything to write about?

I'm the software engineer in my dept. I write the tools that everyone uses to do the analysis for their papers. The software is so ubiquitous in our department that no one mentions it in their papers unless I specifically ask them to cite my original article. Authorship is always a big thing and hard to sort out. You sometimes have to be forceful to get recognition.

In my lab, we have one guy who writes the majority of the papers. He sits as a right-hand man to the lab director, and is first author on nearly all papers. Is he the smartest one in the lab? Absolutely not. Did he do the work for the papers? Not really; the research assistants collected and cleaned the data, the software person wrote the analysis tools, and the analysts do most of the analysis. And all of them wrote large sections of the paper. Did he come up with the analysis ideas? Nope. His job is basically to summarize everyone else's work and then be the corresponding author. Does he redo the analysis when a revision comes back? Nope. So, this one lucky individual gets authorship on tons of publications because he knows how to work the lab director. Even in academia, it's politics that determines authorship and recognition.

Comment Warranty service (Score 1) 439

My only concern of not having a dealer is who to take the car to in the event of a recall or other service that can only be performed by a factory-authorized repair shop. Maybe it's possible to have Toyota or Ford certified garages, but dealers have to live up to much better standards than corner garages or else they could lose their dealership status. The difference between a dealer's service shop and a corner garage is significant.

Comment Re:This is what happens.. (Score 1) 494

Could be the case. It could also be the case that an engineer thought it up and said it could be implemented and no one would notice, and the management agreed. Either way, it only seems plausible that management and the engineers must have both known about it. Maybe not the CEO. But, we'll probably never find out who really knew what.

Comment Eastern US (Score 4, Funny) 385

Personally, I'm disappointed in the weather. I like the heat, and I don't like cold and snow. But I live in New England. I've been hoping since I can't relocate my family to warmer climate, that the warm climate would come to me. But it's certainly taking its sweet time getting hot around here! The rest of the globe is getting warm while I'm still freezing in New England. I'm disappointed.

Comment Science vs software engineering (Score 1) 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.

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