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Programming

Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014 634

Posted by timothy
from the why-change dept.
New submitter InfoJunkie777 (1435969) writes "When you go to any place where 'cutting edge' scientific research is going on, strangely the computer language of choice is FORTRAN, the first computer language commonly used, invented in the 1950s. Meaning FORmula TRANslation, no language since has been able to match its speed. But three new contenders are explored here. Your thoughts?"
Biotech

Luke Prosthetic Arm Approved By FDA 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-have-the-technology dept.
necro81 writes: "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."

Comment: It depends, but I've owned a lot of printers... (Score 2) 381

by sanermind (#45210467) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best SOHO Printer Choices?
I'm not old enough for a daisy-wheel (although my dad had one, and I remember it from when I was tiny) ...but I've owned a lot of printers over the years, and I tend to be the go-to guy to set up and configure those of family and friends.

First off, the only reason to have an inkjet is for photo printing. But the consumables are rediculous, so only get one if you can get third party ink at reasonable prices. Also plan on printing something at least once or twice a month, or the heads will clog, necessitating wasting even more ink! I'll just print out a cute picture or webcomic to put up the fridge if I have nothing else. And I may not bother buying a new one in the future... but I have an old epson 6-color (CMYKcm) printer that's almost 10 years old and still works great (as long as you don't let the heads dry out)... which also takes super-cheap generic ink. Newer ones can have issues with DRM chips in the ink cartridges which can make it harder to get generics sometimes. YMMV. But it costs me less to print a full page photo on cheap glossy-photo or matte paper, then it would to order it online, so I've stuck with it. ;)

But for any normal printing (i.e. NON-PHOTO), you're going to want to use laser printers exclusively. Their more durable, much much much faster (a 8x11 photo in hi quality on the ink jet takes something akin to 12 minutes to print)... on a laser, everything is blindingly fast.

You also definitely want to find a laser printer with cheap non-OEM toner that's readily available. I have two laser printers for day-to-day printing, a cheap ass low-end 600dpi brother (which is perfect for text buisness documents, word processing, printing the ocassional groupon or amazon return lable, etc) and generic replacement toner is dirt cheap. Even the drums are very reasonably priced. Use this for standard monochrome documents (comes out to under $0.01 a page (not including paper, and assuming %5 coverage, standard text documents, not solid black, etc))

I also have a nice office color laser (full duplex is a bonus in these larger higher-capacity office printers). There a lot of options here, look for a refurbished one online. (Also verify you can get generic toner) Mine was $300 and comes to about ~$0.06 a page.

Are you getting a theme here? ;) Bottom line, whatever printer you get, make sure you can buy non-OEM consumables readily.

Comment: Just be sure to own your platform! (Score 1) 290

by sanermind (#44539091) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best/Newest Hardware Without "Trusted Computing"?
http://blog.hansenpartnership.com/
(Scroll down, it's the third blog post down)

Has instructions on how to own your platform. It's not that hard. You first install KeyTool.efi to backup your original shipped keys, then you generate and install your own, and sign an authorization to delete it... then you can toggle between tpm setup mode and user mode at will, and add or remove whatever keys you want. Should take you maybe 20 minutes (and a few reboots) or so if you know your way around a command line.

Personally, when I got a new windows 8 laptop, this was the second thing I did. (The first one being to install the non-crapware oem version of windows 8 onto an external bootable usb3.0 drive so it's there if I ever really need it for something, but doesn't waste space on my primary drive for the ocassional dual boot)... ((PS: to do the latter you need to get your registration key from the last string of /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM))

Comment: But isn't this a good thing? (Score 4, Insightful) 211

by sanermind (#44263649) Attached to: Energy Production Causes Big US Earthquakes
But isn't the advantage... that by lubricating faults what's happening is that built up tension is being released sooner, rather than later when it's built up even more?

Honestly, this ought to be seen as an advantage. More frequent smaller earthquakes are most likely very prefereable to infrequent but much larger earthquakes.
Privacy

NSA Claims It Would Violate Americans' Privacy To Say How Many of Us It Spied On 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
colinneagle writes "Would you believe the Inspector General from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it would violate the privacy of Americans for the IG office to tell us how many people in the United States had their privacy violated via the NSA warrantless wiretap powers which were granted under the FISA Amendment Act of 2008? The Act is up for a five-year extension, but Senator Ron Wyden said he'd block FAA renewal until Congress received an answer from the NSA about how many 'people in the United States have their communications reviewed by the government' under FAA powers."

Comment: 2048x1536 @120hz here. RIP CRT's :( (Score 2) 565

by sanermind (#40266331) Attached to: Where Are All the High-Resolution Desktop Displays?
You're not the only one, brother. I'm still running on an old 23" CRT that does 2048x1536 @ 120hz ...it also has kelvin color temperature controls (and sRGB and a few other) color profiles built in. The color detail for editing photographs is vastly better than you can get on LCD's.

Also, since it does 120hz, I also can use it for stereo3D (yes, this is a 12-14 yr. old monitor!) at 2048x1536... (which is BLOODY AWESOME for nvidia 3D-vision gaming, especially since I can turn the brightness -way- up to 100 and solve all the issues with shutter-glasses dimness you see with LCDs)

..unfortunately, I suspect it might finally be starting to die. When I first turn it on, the color brightness and darkens intermittently for a minute or two until it's fully warmed up (it didn't ever use to do that before)

The worst thing, is that when CRT's were on there way out 4-5 years ago, I looked up the price of a new one (I was thinking of getting another one for my girlfriends computer, but she insisted on a 'flat panel') ...and they were still for sale, and marked down ridiculously... I could have gotten a spare for under $300 (-including shipping-!!!) ...I figured "well, thats nice! CRT's are so cheap now, cause everone want's LCDs, silly people! Good to know!" Of course, now, that I likely need to get a new one soonish, they're no longer available anywhere at any price.

*cries*

Comment: The only way, regardless of eductatopm (Score 1) 523

by sanermind (#38189372) Attached to: How Does a Self-Taught Computer Geek Get Hired?
You have to show you skills. Make a name for yourself. Contribute validly to some projects.

If you're skills ultimately are matter of 'gimp' playing-around? Than you're probably screwed and haven't learned anything real yet.

(Well, unless you want to specialize in photo-editing or graphic-design or some-such... in which case, community college might be your best bet) If you want to be hired as a coder, without the often-times nonsense of formal education, than you have to prove yourself. Contribute to a meaningful opensource project. Be noticed for contributing some code that actually does something (vs. confused bug reports). Real skill is rare enough, and a resume that shows an active participation and contribution to a notable project is probably a better thing that a formal accreditation (from many schools, at least).

Comment: It just begs for civil disobedience. (Score 2) 255

by sanermind (#37623290) Attached to: HADOPI To Disconnect 60 People In France
Myself, I generally don't bother to pirate things much... but if anyone pulled that sort of nonsense, I'd be seriously tempted to start downloading crap left and right, and encourage all of my friends to do so as well.

Let's see them kick -everybody- off the internet, and see how that works, hmmm?

Comment: Finite cycles of Li batteries make this rediculous (Score 1) 247

by sanermind (#37531400) Attached to: Returning Power From Electric Cars To the Grid
The real problem with electric cars is the limited lifetime of the battery. Modern lithium-ion batteries degrade, and are good for maybe 700 charge/discharge cycles. (The initial Hybrids extend this somewhat, IIRC, by avoiding charging above %70 or so (and beneath %30 or so) of design capacity), but the electrodes only have so much 'flux' of absorption/dissipation they can handle, before they begin degrading significantly in performance.

This is one of the real issues with electric cars that's going to bite people in their shiny-metal a**ses sooner than most of them expect. Especially the people who hardhack their hybrids to run fully electric. Replacing those batteries after 4 or 5 years of normal driving is going to be extremely expensive.

Heck, I have the replace the Li batteries in my phone every two years years or so because of this. I'm sure you've noticed it with laptops too... when it was brand new it'd run for four hours on battery, now you're lucky to get two and a half or three. These cars have a -lot- more battery.

Comment: subjectivist nonsense (Score 1) 289

by sanermind (#36449354) Attached to: Reason Seen More As a Weapon Than a Path To Truth
Success in propagating a meme isn't necessarily related to it's truth-value, merely to it's value in engendering behavior in others. But the mechanisms of intelligence are involved even there. Appeals to emotion or other assorted well documented fallacies have been well described (by reason). The problem, perhaps, is in some philosophical jig where the word 'reason' (traditionally the most gloried phenomenon of human thought) somehow takes on multiple meanings. ...So what is reason? Is it logic? The claims (referred to in) this article, would seem to negate a pure aristotelian glory of A implies not B and the like. Thus it would seem to cheapen the idea of those who bother to think logically. It leans towards suggesting that 'reason' is merely a sociological, nay, anthropological phenomenon. A matter of primates beating their chests, albeit with their brains instead of hairy arms. And this is utter nonsense. First of all, it denies the fact that fallacy is -necessary- in order to convince another thinking being of a false truth, and then turns around to imply that reason has no truth outside of a group phenomenon. Obviously, pre-and-up-to-humans evolved language to share ideas. (It's audible telepathy, afterall!) And that was adaptive ..why? Because a meme, a social construct, a compellingly successful narrative could coordinate collective group behavior in an adaptive manner? Of course. But however does any argument manage to do such a thing? By presenting a compelling explanation to other individuals that they fail to refute the truth of. It all comes down to the personal analysis of truth of the part of the recipient of an argument, though. To be crass, we all have personal bullshit detectors. ;) And some worse than others, of course. But to decry the the fact that false but compelling arguments can be accepted too-readily negelects the very fact that they succeed BECAUSE THEY ARE COMPELLING. That they make a logical and self-consistent sense to the recipient. To the recipients own personal sentience, thought, and reason (however mistaken). Many people may be ill-educated, worse; evilly-educated into a false set of hot-button moral certitudes (due to the social-darwinisticly-adaptive usefulness of such levers, perhaps, so as to facilitate obedience to certain top-down social hierarchy command structures)... But it's still the reasoning of their own minds that reaches either accepts or rejects any such rhetorical exercise. Reason is beautiful. Were it not for man's ability to reason, we'd still be living in caves, at best! Nowadays we use ion-beam lithography to carve out features thousands of times smaller than a single hair on our bodies. Nowadays we know the chemical composition of the outer atmostphere of stars billions of light years away. And how? From reasoning.

If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.

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