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Comment: Re:Snake oil (Score 1) 213

by pz (#49095563) Attached to: Sony Offers a "Premium Sound" SD Card For a Premium Price

As (another) analog designer who happens to be in the middle of designing a mixed-signal board, I can assure you that the right answer depends on how sensitive your analog circuitry is, and it could very well be that the answer is, "enough to drive you crazy trying to eliminate the interference."

Proper shielding of analog circuitry from digital interference, when the two are in close proximity, is really very, very hard. That's why you see all of the high-end audio cards have either (a) full faraday cages (plus careful PCB layout technique), or (b) are external to the computer case, or (c) both.

Five unshielded single-ended lines switching 1.8V at 208MHz that might not be properly terminated? Sounds like a powerful AM transmitter to me if my uV to mV level analog traces are anywhere near them.

Comment: Re:Cancer just doesn't have that "it" factor!! (Score 4, Informative) 96

by pz (#49081173) Attached to: Researchers Block HIV Infection In Monkeys With Artificial Protein

The biggest contribution from the massive levels of research on AIDS is not curing the disease. That will be wonderful when, and if, it happens. The biggest contribution will be that, as a result of trying to cure AIDS, we have learned immense, really truly immense, amounts about the immune system and it's incredible intricacies.

And, guess what? Ultimately, it is the immune system that keeps your body free of cancer. Cancers happen frequently in your body, and the immune system beats them down. When it fails at that for some reason, only then does clinical disease happen. I've heard it said that most people have 6 or so small cancers in their bodies at any given time, all being properly managed by the immune system.

Understanding the immune system, because we have been trying to cure a disease of the immune system, will eventually do more good for human health than any other single effort since the invention of antibiotics, with the possible exception of magnetic resonance imaging.

But let's look at the GP's assertion about money. The National Cancer Institute's budget appropriation for FY15 was $4.9B. They're the part of the NIH that sponsors cancer research. The National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, the NIH that is charged with fighting AIDS, had $4.3B appropriated for FY15. Even if we assumed that the entire NIAID budget went to AIDS (and it does not), the NCI has a bigger budget. So the GP is just flat out wrong with his initial assertion: much less research effort in the form of NIH extramural support is spent on AIDS than on cancer.

Comment: Re:GOTO is a crutch for bad programmers (Score 1) 677

by pz (#49041005) Attached to: Empirical Study On How C Devs Use Goto In Practice Says "Not Harmful"

You could do the following, and with a little non-standard indenting, it's rather more elegant, I think.


void func() {
      if (AcquireResource1()) {
      if (AcquireResource2()) {
      if (AcquireResource3()) {
            DoStuffWithResources();
            Cleanup3;
      }
            Cleanup2;
      }
            Cleanup1;
      }
}

Comment: Fun Science But ... (Score 1) 73

by pz (#49017675) Attached to: Underwater Vehicle Uses a Balloon To Dart Like an Octopus

I'm all for this sort of noodling around, but it seems, ah, a little low-brow for such an esteemed bunch of folks, and I say this with two of my three degrees from MIT whence the research came.

From the article, "While it at first glance might appear to be a glorified toy..." and that is certainly the truth. Dispelling that impression is in no way helped by the audio track on the released video where someone intones "pewnnnnnnggggggg" as the vehicle is released, making the same sound that a kid would.

I'm sure there's serious science buried beneath it all, somewhere, but it isn't evident in the article, nor in their materials apparently released to the public.

Comment: Re:Show me my doppelgangers! (Score 4, Interesting) 153

by pz (#49004977) Attached to: Facebook Will Soon Be Able To ID You In Any Photo

I'd like to be able to ask Facebook:

"Out of all the hundreds of millions of Facebook users, which ones look the most like me?"

I'd rather ask, out of all those people which ones look like Mark Zuckerberg enough to pass for him at the corporate headquarters? Just to make a point.

Comment: Re:No, he's not (Score 4, Insightful) 222

by pz (#48994699) Attached to: GPG Programmer Werner Koch Is Running Out of Money

And subtract retirement, and insurance payments, etc., after all that, no one is going to get rich on EUR 90K per year. Not going to starve, but not going to get rich, either.

To present some perspective, as an employer in the US (yes, I realize things are probably different in Germany), if my personnel budget is USD 90K, that means my employee is getting only USD 61K in salary. The rest goes to various overheads that I pay to support the position.

Comment: Re:Good for developers ... (Score 2) 175

by pz (#48989631) Attached to: Greg KH Favors Rolling Release Distros

I run a small scientific laboratory (3-5 people depending on the season) that is very much like a startup. Our primary product is scientific output, and stability is paramount for us, even though we're small. We have standardized (by edict from me, The Boss) on one version of Word, one version of OpenOffice, one version of Matlab, one version of Windows (well, two, because we have some older XP systems used in data collection), etc. The versions selected for standardization shift, but only slowly (ie, it's about time to update from Word 2003, but we'll probably stick with Word 2010). Although I use Fedora for my desktop and laptop systems all of the other Linux boxes are CentOS.

For me, Fedora's 18 month support cycle is really too short ... so I end up going well past EOL and only update to the most recent version when critical things stop working well.

Rolling releases? NFW.

Comment: Re:What burns in a data center? (Score 1) 148

by pz (#48934157) Attached to: Former NATO Nuclear Bunker Now an 'Airless' Unmanned Data Center

PCBs (printed circuit boards), plastics used as insulation, coatings, and physical parts (card holders, connectors, IC bodies, fans, etc.), paint, capacitor innards (electrolyte and the aluminum), lithium batteries (boom!), and so forth in the servers themselves. Then there's the cabling and connectors between servers and between racks, possibly the floor and ceiling materials, lots more paint, any structural materials used to create the room, etc. Perhaps not as much as in a residence or office, but lots and lots of potential fuel.

Comment: Re: Time for Wine (Score 1) 156

by pz (#48869781) Attached to: Windows Server 2003 Reaches End of Life In July

Really? Fired? Funny, 'cause I'm the boss. If we had an application running under Windows 95, _and it worked_, there would be absolutely zero reason to do anything with that machine when there are other, more important, ways to spend our time. Granted, that hypothetical machine would not be on the net, 'cause we aren't stupid.

The real machines we have running XP, run our experiments (and they have never been on the net for other reasons); until such time as the boxes die, they will continue to run our software, and continue to run it under XP. And then, they will be replaced with the identical backup hardware we have, giving us enough time to get a grant funded to have someone port the code to a more modern system. Until then, we have science to do. Computers, in my lab, are like any other tool that is to be used to collect data and advance knowledge -- pens, screwdrivers, oscilloscopes, whiteboards -- and are not an end unto themselves.

Comment: Re:Time for Wine (Score 2) 156

by pz (#48864327) Attached to: Windows Server 2003 Reaches End of Life In July

Didn't work for us. We have an application that has been developed over about 10 years in VB6. No one has the budget -- either in finance or time -- to port. We looked at Wine as a plug-and-play replacement for XP and the application did not work correctly, 100%. The application is mission-critical, making anything less than 100% compatibility a non-starter. So we're stuck with XP until the next big grant comes in and we can afford to pay someone to port it to a more modern system.

Don't get me wrong, Wine is an impressive amount of work, and my hat is off to the brave folks who have put so much time and effort into it. It just isn't good enough for our needs, unfortunately.

Comment: Re:So what do we expect to see? (Score 1) 219

by pz (#48784087) Attached to: LAPD Orders Body Cams That Will Start Recording When Police Use Tasers

A large reduction in taser use, higher reports of police brutality, slightly higher use of lethal force?

My crystal ball says that there will be an unexpectedly high level of malfunctioning video equipment, triggering a big-money follow-on contract with the manufacturer to correct the problem. The follow-on contract will achieve a just-above the threshold of measurability improvement in reliability. Then, later, when the current brouhaha has been forgotten, the cameras will be left to accumulate drawers with the official evaluation that they were fundamentally defective and so no longer required. And, of course, the real problem will be intentional damage to the equipment caused by the officers required to wear them who have something to hide.

But perhaps I've got my cynical hat on ...

If you analyse anything, you destroy it. -- Arthur Miller

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